ONE OF OUR GREATEST PROBLEMS

There are lots of crazy things I do from day to day. Often when going into a public restroom I never think to make sure I locked the door until after I am indisposed. Forgetting to make sure there is toilet paper is quite another. Still, one of the worst habits any of us can get into is talking about our problems. For many of us it has become an addiction. Like any addiction it can be extremely hard to break. Why is it important to break this habit? We are going to look at two very good reasons why we should switch from being addicted to discussing our problems to being addicted to discussing our dreams and joys.

First, there is the obvious reason – it feels terrible. Talking about and thinking about your problems can be exhausting phyisically, mentally and emotionally. The goal in our lives should be to live where we feel fulfilled in all of these areas of our lives. Talking about our problems ad nausem will not leave us feeling fulfilled in any way. When we feel down and drained emotionally and spiritually, our energy levels and immune system usually follow closely behind. This can not only make our existing problems worse, but add additional problems of sickness and lack of prodcutivity. Not only do they leave us feeling this way, but they can also bring down those we are talking to. Would you enjoy being around someone who is endlessly discussing everything that is wrong in their lives? I know I wouldn’t. Thus, you may find yourself starting to be very unpopular.

A second reason is slightly more metaphysical. Anyone who knows the slightlest thing about the law of attraction knows the saying “Where focus goes, energy flows”. In other words, what you focus on becomes more a part of your world. This has much to do with a part of your brain called the reticular activating system. This is discussed in more detail in my upcoming book, Living the Dream. As an example, have you ever bought a new car or even a new outfit and started to see it everywhere? Do you think many of the people in the world just started buying the same thing you did? Of course not. What happened was it became something of consequence to your brain. The RAS acts as a filter of sorts. It brings to our attention and into our realm things that we focus on and that our important to us. If you are focused on your goals and what makes you happy, you will tend to see opportunities and reasons for joy. If we are constantly talking about and focused on our problems we will not only notice more of them, we will receive more of them.

The reason talking about problems can be an addiction is because a lot of people tend to do it. Stop and listen to a conversation at work. Read posts on social media. Watch the nightly news. They are a constant stream of problems, problems, problems. If you hear someone start to say things like, “Why does this always happen to me?” or “I always have the worst luck.” You might want to consider walking in the other direction. Get into the habit of discussing your joys. What makes you happy? This may seem difficult or even awkward at first, but stick with it and notice how much better you feel. After you become a ‘joy discussion expert’ you will notice people will want to talk with you. Maybe even new social opportuinites will present themselves to you. As a bonus, you will feel better and begin to attact even more of what makes you joyful! Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

BECOME LIKE GOD


I must confess to making today’s headline a little click bait. Looking at the quote above by one Fred Rogers (whom most of you know is one of my favorite philosophers) it might not be that far from the truth. Whatever your spiritual belief might be, I think we can all agree that seeing the best in our ‘neighbor’ is something very special. In a world that seems to focus on our differences and who we think is to blame for what, it becomes even more special. I am sure Mr. Rogers would agree.
There is a positive flipside to seeing the best in everyone and everything. Your world looks a lot brighter. When your world looks a lot brighter, you feel a lot better. When you feel a lot better you treat others better and your world becomes…well…better.
This is where a lot of you may come in and tell me that would be ‘looking at the world through rose colored glasses’. You may be right. Looking for what is right with the world can seem like a delusion of sorts, especially to those who have never done it. Looking for and appreciating, especially out loud, what is right in others and the world around us does not mean ignoring what is wrong. In fact, knowing what is wrong can be very helpful to note ways in which things can be better. What is advocated here is to not focus on what is wrong.
It is here that pessimists and even realists may say I am being willfully ignorant. Maybe so, but it feels good and leads me to have a better life. I know there are lots of things wrong with people and the world they live in. I chose to focus on what is wonderful about both and solutions for what is not. There are plenty who fill the role of spreading gossip about others and their faults. I choose to do the opposite. My world is not any less real.
Here is a third bonus to this behavior. You will become a lot more popular. After all, who would not want to be around someone who sees the best in everything? Be like God and notice and grow what is right with each other and the world.

DON’T LET THEM WIN

Here is something I have always found hard to understand. I listen to someone who has been a ‘victim’ of someone else. Whether that be something that was done to them, said about them or a multitude of other grievances. They relay what terrible thing has been done to them with as much passion as if it were happening to them at that very moment. As is often the case in the world of a DJ, I can look across the room and see the perpetrator laughing and enjoying time with their friends not having a care in the world. On occasion I listen to how this person even intends to ‘get back at them’. To me this always sounds quite immature, but to that I digress. What thought is foremost in my head is “Why on earth are you wasting your energy on this?”

The energy is takes to continue to hold this anger could be used to constructively pursue one of your own goals. By focusing on this action of others that offended you so greatly, not only are you continuing to upset yourself, but you are also taking away time and energy that you could be using to further yourself and your life ambitions. In my mind this makes no sense. Meanwhile, those who have offended you have often moved on. Even if they haven’t, why shouldn’t you? If you continue to let them drag you down, the blame no longer falls on them, but on you.

The same can be said for gossip and negative talk about others. While you are busy telling the world how awful someone is, you are not spending time building the good people in your life up, making new friends and speaking words to empower your own life. You are actually doing two different things to damage yourself by hanging on to this anger. You are both holding on to feelings that are not good and you are taking energy from furthering the good in your life. Keep this in mind next time you wish to hold a grudge or utter a negative word about someone else.

SEASON 5 EPISODE 6

Working in the bar scene as a DJ has some benefits. I get to meet people of many diverse backgrounds, I get to learn a lot about music, and engage in a lot of interesting conversation. As with any job working with the public there is also a fair share of conversation of the negative variety. This includes people who constantly complain. Those who seem to have their eyes on everyone’s business but their own. Together the aggregate of these conversations and many others can fall under one title – drama. I do my best to stay clear of all of this. I do not care what that person said about this person, or what this person may or may not be doing with that other person. It just doesn’t interest me.

Regardless, people continue to share this information with me. For me it is relatively harmless. For others it can become almost addicting. While discussing this with a good friend of mine he captured why this is quite well. “I fell like I am in season 5 episode 6 and I just have to see how this ends.” This is how I imagine people become addicted to soap operas. My question has always been why? I do not know about you, but I certainly have enough going on in my life that I have no time to worry about what others are doing in theirs.

How do we not become addicted or invested in other people’s drama? The first step was alluded to earlier. Busy yourself so much with improving your own life that you have no time to worry about other people’s drama. That is not to say you shouldn’t care about other people’s lives, just do not invest in their drama. For example, relationships. This is probably the most drama-filled category there is. If I hear gossip, I would say it is 75% about relationships. I just chuckle. Working on creating the best relationship with Margie I can is a full-time job. I am constantly creating and thinking of new and wonderful ways to both show her I love her and keep our relationship fresh. If I had time to worry about another relationship to me that would be a sign that I was not working hard enough on my own.

One  of my favorite ways to eliminate the possibility of becoming addicted to drama is to do your best to find the good in everyone and everything. This can be challenging and is certainly a full-time job in itself, but is a lot more productive and will help you feel a lot better than spending your time on drama or belittling someone else. My favorite way to approach this is to turn it into a game. When someone says something negative about someone, especially someone not there to defend themselves, try countering with a positive statement about that person. The interesting thing is in the course of that conversation the one speaking positive will walk away feeling better, while the one speaking negative gossip will walk away feeling negative. After a while gossipers do not realize the negative effect their gossip has on their own well-being. You will notice that most people who gossip negatively about others tend to be unhappy with their own lives. Meanwhile, people who spread positive gossip, although they are a lot fewer, tend to be more positive individuals.

Do this for a week yourself. Once a day say something nice about someone who is not around to hear it. Start to spread positive gossip. Do so once a day for at least 7 days. Notice how you feel. During this period if you hear some negative gossip, counter with at least one positive thing. You will notice your sense of inner peace as well as your sense of joy will increase. As a side-effect you will start earning a reputation as someone who speaks positively about people. As a result I would not be surprised if the amount of people wanting to be around you increases as well. You can start by sharing something positive about someone in the comments below.

RETURN SOME GIFTS THIS YEAR

I love receiving gifts. It is not that I am materialistic, but the fact someone thought of me, and then acted upon that thought means the world to me. It can be something they made, a poem they wrote anything really. This is not the gifts we are talking about today. If you have not read the little comment above, I may suggest you do so now as it will make everything you read from here forward a lot more sensible.

As kind and compassionate as I try to be, there are still some who chose to offer me the ‘gifts’ mentioned in the picture above. Working 3 nights a week in the bar setting I witness a good deal of insults, he said/she said and gossip. It would seem a lot of people get terribly upset if others do not speak of them or see them in just the right light. This reminds me of a saying I came across a while back. You might work as hard as you can to grow the perfect peaches, but some people just don’t like peaches. I come across this when people report this website as offensive. I think to myself, how can anyone find reducing stress, increasing joy and improving yourself offensive? Then I remember, some people just don’t like peaches.

This is a good thought to keep in mind. Others will not like you because of many different reasons. Your skin color, your beliefs, who you are friends with and a million other reasons they will come up with. Remember that speaks more about them, than about you. They will insult you, gossip about you and even make up terrible lies about you. Just like the picture above says, “If you do not accept something given to you, it belongs to the sender.” If you are honestly working to be the best person you can be, your actions will speak a lot louder than their words. In fact, the only way to counter insults truly is to act at such a high level, that the one insulting you looks foolish.

I encourage all of you to leave your tips for dealing with insults and negative gossp. The more ideas we have, the better chance of success we have. I am going to leave you with this quote from Frank Sinatra.

“The best revenge is massive success.”

THE PATH TO INNER PEACE

As I sit here full of bliss sipping my green tea at Starbucks, I know not everyone is this lucky. I have found the key to having an amazing life is being grateful for the life you have. I also have found the quote in the picture above to be very true. A quick glance at most social media accounts will show how much we value the opinions of others. There is a lot of ‘He said/she said’. In person I hear people get so excited about what is being said about them. There are two young ladies in particular who I think live to worry about what is the hottest items on the gossip wire. As they come excitedly to me to relay what is being said about who, I great them with the same reply, “Don’t know. Don’t care.”

This line of thought when it comes to both gossip and rude people has brought me more peace than almost anything else I do. When you stop and think about it, what other people think about you is really their business. Sometimes you can learn little things you might improve, but generally gossip holds no redeeming value. I recall when one of those ladies I mentioned earlier was concerned as to what people may be saying to me, she could not tell me enough. Again I gave her my same reply, “Don’t know. Don’t care.” She asked how I could not be concerned as to what people whispered behind my back.. The answer is easy, if they are doing it behind my back, then that is where I leave it – behind me. If those I love and care about have some concern with me and tell it to me personally, I definitely would take the time to discuss it with them. Otherwise, it is not worth the energy and feelings to worry about.

As far as rude, critical, and argumentative people the answer is the same. On one of the Apps I share my positivity on a gentleman became enraged with me. As he continued to place one comment after another on my post becoming more and more angry I did my best to explain that being upset about my writing was not doing him any good. I even suggested he ‘mute’ me on that site so he would not have to see my posts which obviously upset him. He continued throughout the evening to comment and work himself up. He even continued by posting about it the next day. The funny thing about all of this is what he was upset about – my title was in all capital letters. He thought that should be reserved for emergencies, which was his right. My title was 6 letters long. It included the word ‘I’ which should be capitalized as well as the first letter of the title. So, this man was angry for 2 whole days over 4 letters being capitalized.

Margie, in her sweet loving way, always wishes to go online and defend me to these people. Again, I remind her that it really doesn’t matter. The majority of people appreciate what I write and enjoy the content. In fact, in six years, over several social media platforms as well as print there has never been one person to be upset that my title was in all capitals. That is saying quite a bit as I am followed in over 100 countries by over 20,000 people, not to mention the casual viewer.

This man certainly had a right to his opinion. By him getting so upset the only person he really hurt was himself. Buddha had a great quote about anger.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

Anger, like worry, causes the release of acid in the system. Have you ever worried so much you actually started to feel sick to your stomach? Same with anger. Your blood pressure rises, your heart rate increases and your breathing becomes shallow. All of those have negative impacts on your immune system as well as your overall feeling of well-being. You must ask yourself, “Is this worth getting upset over?” I can promise you the answer 9 times out of 10 will be a resounding ‘no’. Do yourself a favor. If you are working to be the best person you can and do the best you can, do not waste an ounce of energy on what other people may be saying. If someone approaches you to tell you all about what this person or that person is doing or saying I suggest giving them my response – “I don’t know and I don’t care.” Your sense of inner peace will thank you.

THE SIDE EFFECTS ARE HALF THE FUN

Working with the public I have seen this far too often. Oddly enough I have noticed that it is men who seem to do this more. There are exceptions to every rule, but when it comes to belittling people in public to try and gain favor with others I feel men take the cake. Perhaps they view it as some macho thing to do. I once put forth to a friend of mine who made a habit of doing so. I asked him, “If the lady you are trying to impress sees you do this to your friends, what do you think she will imagine is in store for her?” I have always found building your friends up not only shows a great deal more of self-confidence, but makes a far better first impression.

Regardless of which gender you fall into, putting down others to make yourself seem great is really a move for those who do not have any strengths to be proud of. I liken it to hanging around with people shorter than you in order to feel tall. It doesn’t actually change your height any, only your perception of it.

I know an individual who lives his life in this pattern. Wherever he is, he has nothing but negative things to say about those around him. Sure, sometimes he may get a chuckle from others at people’s expense, but eventually those laughing will be the ones being made fun of when they are out of earshot. Not only does this man exhibit his fear and lack of self-confidence, but shows he is not a very trustworthy or loyal person either. Often times he can be found sitting alone or searching out people to talk to.

Do not be like this person. Gossip works much the same way as belittling others. Although they may not be able to hear what you are saying, or be embarrassed by it, it still amounts to putting others down. I encourage all of us to try doing the opposite. Make a game out of it. Try complimenting others in public. Not in a flattering type way, but a genuine nice way. When people start to gossip, try throwing in something good about someone.

At first it may make you feel like an outcast, but eventually you will notice some really cool side effects of taking this action. Immediately, you will notice you start to feel good inside. Yes, even though what you say is something nice about someone else, doing so will give you an emotional lift. It almost seems selfish at first, but it is an example of reaping what you sow. The second side effect you will experience is an increase in popularity. This should really seem like a no-brainer. Who would not want to be around someone who might just say something nice about them? In addition, it feels good to hear good things about people. The third side effect is an increase in loyal friends. The person I mentioned earlier has people talking poorly about him, just as he does of others. Deep down I think he knows people are not likely to get close to him knowing how ill he talks of others. When you are known for building others up they appreciate that and will do the same for you when you are not around. How good does it feel to hear someone said something nice about you when you were not around? The sure way to hear that more often is to start doing the same for others. Again, as you sow, so shall you reap.

The final side effect is my favorite. Therefore I decided to take a moment to expand a little bit more on it. By knowing that you are going to genuinely compliment people more you will start looking and thinking about what is good in people in advance. Before long, your mind will subconsciously start to do this whenever you are on your way to meet someone. Your mind will begin to think, “I am on my way to see Nicole. What wonderful things can I say about her to those around us?” The one place this tends to have the most extreme results is in your intimate relationships. I can tell you without a doubt your spouse would love to hear you tell others the wonderful things you love about them. What is even better is to know that you do it when they are not around. Too many times these days people gather together and complain about their spouses to each other. That baffles me. At the post office or even while working with Margie I can hear these stories some that seem to go on and on. I am often tempeted to stop them after a while and ask, “If they are such a terrible person, what kind of fool would decide to be with them?” It is easy to complain when those we love anger us, but ask yourself, would you want them to do the same? Instead share what your partner does to make you happy. It will not only make you look better it will make you feel better about your relationship. As we mentioned earlier this is exactly how it works with friendships, coworkers and any other relationship you can think of.

It has been my experience that after a while you will start doing the same thing about situations, places and things. Looking for what you like and begin sharing that. In return it will give you even more ways to feel good about yourself.

JOHNNY APPLE SEED AREN’T WE ALL?

Countless are the times that people have come up to me and said things such as, “I was thinking about what we talked about a while back….” I am sure we have all heard this in our lives. We have all been on the opposite side too, haven’t we? Something someone was telling us didn’t make sense to us at the time, but through some change in life circumstance, we can appreciate it now. Maybe it is a loving thing they told us, the reminder of which has helped us make it through a tough time we are currently facing. This can work in the opposite way too. How many times have we remembered something hurtful that was said or done to us? I am not sure why we choose to do that, but that can be how the human brain works.

What we must keep in mind is that everyday we go through life we are planting seeds. Much like a farmer, what we grow will depend on what seeds we plant. We can plant beautiful flowers, fruit, or even a poisonous plant. The seed may take root or it may not. It may grow in our garden or others may be left to benefit, or be poisoned by what grows. In this way we have an ability to affect not only our life, but the world at large. Allow me to explain what I mean by use of a historical figure.

Johnny Appleseed, better known as John Chapman was an American Pioneer nurseryman who planted apple trees in several states and in part of Canada during the late 18th and early 19th century. A lot of the trees he never saw grow, but in the places he visited people were eating apples long after he was gone. We do much the same things with our words and actions. They may not be apple trees, but we are planting seeds just the same.

If we think in terms of Johnny Appleseed’s story, what will grow from the seeds we plant? If we are planting seeds of kindness and encouragement every where we go, we will see kindness blossom and grow. We will see the confidence and joy continue to grow in the hearts of our friends and family. If we plant seeds of gossip and complaint, we will see melancholy, sadness and resentment blossom all around us. In this way we do a great deal to shape the world in which we live.

What about the world at large? Truly, the seeds we plant can’t make much of a difference on a global scale? Think about this. When you go to purchase a cup of coffee at your local Starbucks, treating the employee with extra kindness could ease a tough day they are having. There you affect one person. Due to that act of kindness, they may treat the next person in line with an extra amount of customer service. Then you have affected two people. Maybe that person is on the way to the airport to fly home to a different city or even country and now feels good thanks to the good service they received. They may go on to treat people they encounter on their journey with more kindness and compassion. Thus, your simple act of kindness could affect people halfway across the world. It may not reach such global proportions, then again with comments on social media and the internet we can spread a great deal of seeds without even leaving our homes.

Although this was a positive example, the same holds true in reverse. You may think comments and they way you treat people are harmless, but you are forever planting seeds. We may not see them grow and it may take years for them to blossom, but given time they will. Let us all do our part to plant seeds of kindness, compassion, encouragement and joy. We will grow a garden of positive results. Let us be equally vigilant against casting seeds of negativity, gossip and judgment to the wind. They too, will grow into a world of negative people, places and things.

Let us all remember we are Johnny Appleseed in our own way. Let us plant seeds to grow positive families, friends, communities and the world at large.

SPEAK THROUGH THE 3 GATES

This is a great litmus test to put our words through. How many times a day do we let something escape our lips that we shouldn’t? Having these 3 questions in mind would help prevent that from happening. Remember you cannot unsay something.

How do we keep these questions front and center? Use this picture as your screensaver, pertain jot them down on an index card you carry with you. Then, put it into practice. Try doing this just for a conversation here and there. Eventually, it well become a way of not only speaking, but thinking as well.

So you don’t feel too down on yourself when you first try this, allow me to share my experience. I tried this at work and all I can say is “wow!” I never realized how many useless negative things I say there! Even someone who writes positivity for a living! Although a bit taken aback, I was excited. There is so much room for me to improve my conversation skills.

Try this yourself. I’m about to meet a friend for coffee and am going to try again. I think you will notice different people bring out different conversations. I would love to hear your experience as well!

EVOLVE, DO NOT INVOLVE

Here is a simple question I have learned to ask myself that has reduced my stress by a great margin. In addition to the stress reduction, it has kept me focused and helped me improve almost every aspect of my life. What is this amazing question? Will this help me evolve in any way? Now this can be financially, spiritually, emotionally, physically or any other way in which you might come out a better person.

Routinely I see and hear about people concerning themselves with things that do not matter in the slightest. They argue passionately (and sometimes even hold grudges) about things such as sports or politics. They get involved in gossip. They worry about celebrity activities. The ironic thing about all of this is it seldom affects the people they get so passionate about. The political landscape will not change because you and your coworker are no longer on speaking terms. Your team will not change its approach to the game because you and your best friend end up screaming at each other. In fact, they probably will never even know or care that the discussion happened. How will it affect you? It will stress you out, put a little wear and tear on your nervous system and probably a lot of your relationships.

Then there is the matter of gossip. Margie and I go to great lengths to keep this as far away as possible. Working in bars as a DJ, however, I have the unfortunate displeasure of seeing this more often than I care too. People who have no involvement in an issue throw their opinion and quite often themselves into others business. I cannot think of a time when this has resulted in anything but more of a mess.

Begin this week to ask yourself “Will this help me evolve as a person?” Maybe the book you are about to read will help you learn something, or maybe it will give you a laugh or some heartfelt entertainment. Will voicing your disagreement as to how your football team played verses how your friends played do anything but start a disagreement?

While thinking of this, be careful to know the difference between instant gratification and evolving. Sure screaming at your spouse when they make you mad may allow you to blow off some steam, but will it do anything to help your relationship evolve? Will giving a not so friendly gesture to the person who cut you off in traffic really do anything to help the situation?

This takes a little practice and we all have moments that we do things that have us asking ourselves, “Why did I do that?” If we make a practice of asking ourselves “Will this help me evolve?” more often, we can avoid asking ourselves the first question.