Saying goodbye is always a difficult time. It could be the end of a relationship, someone moving away, leaving a job or worst of all someone you love passing away. From 2017 – 2018 I had quite a few people pass away. It began to seem like just a product of getting older. Each one hurt and their leaving left a void in my heart. I searched to find something that would make saying goodbye just a little less painful. What I found is wonderfully displayed in this quote from one of my favorite philosophers, the loveable furry bear Winnie the Pooh.
As I thought of each of the people I cared about who passed away I realized and was taught many things. Not the least of which was this; the reason their loss hurts so much is because you loved them so much. The reason someone is loved has to do with many things. Shared great memories, being there for each other, and many other wonderful moments. How fortunate were you to have a person in your life that you shared so greatly with and loved so deeply? Many people never have that experience. As the years and people continue to pass I am forever grateful for everything they have brought to my life.
This does not make the pain of missing them any less but it does temper that feeling of loss with a feeling of gratitude. How lucky was I to have such amazing people in my life. Recently, I saw a drink that my late aunt Virginia used to love. She passed away at the end of last year. Sure it made me miss her, but it also brought back memories of times shared drinking one of these beverages. As I continued to recall other great memories of my aunt the end thought was the same, “Damn, I miss her but I sure was lucky to have such an amazing person in my life.” My heart may be filled with sadness at missing her, but there is also a smile on my face remembering all of the good times.
These thoughts are not just for those we have lost. They work just as good for those who are still here. When I leave for work in the morning my beautiful Margie is usually still lost in blissful slumber. As I drive to work I am missing the sleep I should be getting, but most of all I am just missing her. I wish I could still be in bed with her arms wrapped around me. Suddenly, I am even more frustrated I am not an independently wealthy, best-selling author….yet. Before these feelings turn my day upside down I have to reflect why I am so bothered by all of this. I have the most amazing and beautiful woman that I would much rather be with. She makes me happy and puts a smile on my face and in my heart. In an instant I go from frustrated to grateful and excited to make it through the day and be back home.
This is also true when it comes to a great workout or walk with my mother, a great conversation with my friend Russ, coffee with my friend Nick or a million other moments I wish would never end. When they are over I just reflect with gratitude on how lucky I am.
As I returned to work from an extended vacation, I began to return to my normal routine. Part of the routine is after I shave I use this fabulous item. ‘BeardSconsin old fashion small batch beard oil’. I must confess a little over a year ago I had some confusion as to what beard oil actually was. It was obvious it was some oil you put on your facial hair, but why?
At a local October fest celebration there happened to be a stand selling this item. I asked questions and was informed as to all of the benefits of beard oil. Smoothing facial hair and the skin beneath it. This product was offered in a wide array of scents and I was afforded the opportunity to smell them all. The old fashion scent was the most pleasing to me.
In a surprise move, Margie decided to purchase this for me and give it to me as a surprise. It is little things this that keep our relationship alive and well. Then again, in reflection perhaps she was hinting my goatee was out of control or even smelled bad? Regardless, it was a sweet gesture and I greatly appreciated it. That evening I tried the oil for the first time and was amazed at how well it worked.
To this day every time I pull it out of the cabinet in the bathroom I cannot help but be taken back to the evening she surprised me with it. I also feel that same feeling of gratitude and appreciation for the nice gesture. This went on for months. Recently, I scolded myself. “You should be telling her how grateful you feel.” I realized by not doing so I was keeping all of these wonderful feelings of love, gratitude and appreciation to myself.
In the days and weeks that followed, I have thanked her a few times. She may even be growing tired of hearing of it. Still, it is important to convey great memories and especially feelings of appreciation whenever we have them. It is a gift to ourselves and to those we love.
Here is my suggestion. Pick an item that has a positive strong memory attached to it. Whenever you see or handle that item allow yourself to be transported back to the moment in which it came into your life. Feel all of the great feelings of love, joy, gratitude or whatever else it conjures up. Do this every time you come across this item. It could be a coffee mug given to you by your children. It could be the picture of the one you love in your purse or wallet. The possibilities are endless. When you are done enjoying these feelings, make sure you convey them to those involved.
You can even try picking a different item each week or month. It will not only add joy to your life, it will add it to those you share it with. It will also help strengthen your relationships. I would love to hear about your experiences and what item or items you have chosen.
There are 3 aspects to your life – the past, the present and the future. Each one plays an important role and each one is necessary. We must learn from the past. We must fully appreciate the present. We also must take actions today to positively affect our future. You must guard against putting the accent on one to the fault of the others. We cannot stay stuck in the past, we cannot live in the present with total disregard to how our actions affect the future. We also cannot let fears and concerns of the future paralyze us into inaction. As you can see each one of these times periods plays a role in our lives, but each one must be included.
One area this can serve us greatly is one you may never have thought of – gratitude. When you ask someone if they are grateful or when someone asks you if you are grateful we usually think of being grateful for all of the good that has come into our lives. This is great and there is nothing wrong with it. By focusing on what we have to be grateful for, the good will only expand in our lives. Taking this formula into consideration, it would make sense that the more grateful you are, the more you will have to be grateful for.
An interesting thing about this is the fact we may be ignoring two-thirds of what we can be grateful for. How can this be? By being grateful for all the good things that have come into our life that is focusing on the past. That is one third of what we can be grateful for. It can serve us greatly to find things that our currently in our life to be grateful for. This will not only help us realize that the present is a very wonderful place to be, but it will have us feeling pretty great as well.
Often, the present is ironically viewed through the negative. For example, are you grateful for the job that pays the bills or do you complain about having to go to work everyday? Trust me, I can understand how hard this can be on any given day. The truth is if you lost your job, had to make it without any income for a while and then were to get that same job back, chances are you would be very grateful. Another example; are you grateful for your relationships only when they are happy or even when they are not exactly going the way you wish they would? Merely having someone in your life to be upset with can be a blessing. It can also be a great learning experience. Being grateful for the present allows us to fully enjoy the wonders of our life as it is today and may wake us up to some great things we have been missing out on.
Lastly, there is the future. Are we grateful for things that are coming to us? According to those in the law of attraction field, it is this very thinking that helps us create our reality. While listening to Michael Beckwith, a great teacher and speaker, he spoke of being able to get to the point of being grateful for the challenges. How does this happen? What on earth would prompt you to think, “I am so grateful some crappy situation is coming my way!”? We must understand that even those are gifts. They will teach us lessons about life and ourselves. They will develop our strength of character and provide us with opportunities to polish our skills in fields like anger management, forgiveness, apologizing and being humble. If this seems like a reach at this point, don’t worry you’ll get there. Start by thinking of all the good things you would like to come your way. Vacations you will experience. Special times with those you love. Maybe meeting that special person you will love.
Make sure you are including the past, the present and the future in your gratitude practice. It will have you feeling on top of the world and manifesting more things your heart desires.
A great quote from our friend Darren Hardy. I think everything in our life falls in one of these two categories. The great thing about approaching life this way is that you always learn. When you seem to make mistakes it may just be a warning that you are heading in the wrong direction. When we see someone who seems to have it all we can often feel tempted to be jealous. If we use that person’s success as an example of what is possible we can win that way too.
Begin to think of the people in your life. Which category do they fall in? Here is the important part, both roles are necessary. Those who are an example can teach us quite a bit. When I speak with people such as my friend Kyle I always walk away feeling upbeat and inspired. Then I remember to try harder to do that for others. Kyle serves as a great example of a positive conversationalist. I can learn from him and my conversations with others will be more positive and inspiring going forward.
What about those who are not so positive? How can they serve us? We often need a reminder of what could happen if we continue to be in a negative state of mind by being forced to spend what may seem like an eternity with someone who suffers from being ‘sunshine challenged’. I know this holds true for me. Have you ever been in conversation with someone who is so negative you want to go home and take a shower just to get the negative vibes off of you? I know I have. Having that feeling motivates me to watch my own conversation when talking to others. I do not want them to feel that way when they leave my company. Thinking this way I end up with thoughts of gratitude for our friend who resembles Eeyore from the Winne-the-Pooh stories. Not only have I traded feeling negative and frustrated for feeling grateful, which is a win. I have also had a great reminder and therefore my conversations with others will be better and more positive going forward.
As you can see, everyone in your life can be a positive motivating factor, even those who are not so positive. By learning from both you can help yourself become more of an example than a warning. What happens when we make a mistake or become a warning to others? There is an opportunity there as well. How we face a challenge or even a seeming failure can serve as an example to others facing challenges. When we view life as an opportunity to grow there are only chances to learn and grow and life becomes much more positive and…amazing!
Just a quick reminder in the middle of the week. We all have flaws, but we all have so much to be grateful for. Feel free to share what are some of the things you are most grateful for in your life?
Last post I told you about some people I interviewed that had every reason to be negative and jaded about life. You will be able to read all the interviews in my upcoming book Living the Dream. Right now I will tell you their challenges included miscarriages, abuse of physical, emotional and sexual nature. They had major health challenges. Their families were killed and they were forced to flee countries due to a civil war. Despite, and in some cases because of these challenges, they are some of the most positive people you will ever meet. I asked myself, and them, how is that possible?
The secret was they were all able to control their thoughts and thus controlled their lives. How did they do it? Honestly, they all had their own unique ways which you will be able to read about in my book. For today’s post, however, I am going to share one thing they all had in common. If you add this one thing to your life it will do a great deal to help you overcome whatever challenge you have in life. We are going to look at what that common trait was and some fun ways to use it in our own lives.
You may have guessed from the picture that the common trait that all of these people shared was gratitude. In challenges far greater than I had ever faced, each one of them found reasons to be grateful. If they can do it facing the kind of challenges we mentioned above, surely we can utilize gratitude to take control of the thoughts and challenges in our own daily lives.
Finding something to be grateful for in a challenging situation can be difficult, especially in the beginning. Like any other muscle, our gratitude muscle will grow stronger with use. In the beginning, however, it helps to have a few tools and tips to help foster a sense of gratitude. My advice when diving into this is to resist the temptation to attempt to change everything at once. Remember, you are trying to change thought patterns you have built up over years. Pick one topic and start slow. Not only will it be less difficult, but it will actually increase your chances of success. Let us look at a few ways in which to start infusing our lives with more gratitude.
The first method is pretty straight forward and works well for difficult areas of our lives. Pick an area of your life that does not bring you joy. For our example let us say that you are not crazy about your job. At a time where you are not otherwise occupied, such as driving in your car or at the job you dislike so much, grab a pen and piece of paper. Next, get comfortable. Maybe make yourself a fresh cup of coffee or tea if that is your thing. Put on some relaxing or fun music. Now begin to think of everything about your job in which you are grateful for. You may find your mind a little reluctant at first, but stick with it. Maybe you don’t feel your job pays you what you would like, but be grateful it does pay you. It may not allow you to take that vacation to Fiji, but it does allow you to keep the lights on. It gives you a reason to get out of bed and be active. It introduces you to different people. Sure, they may not all be perfect people, but it allows you to be social. It also allows you to practice and strengthen your skills of being hopeful and positive. Just like muscles, these things only grow and get stronger when they are challenged. When you have a pretty good list going put it in a jacket pocket or in the car. Somewhere you can take it with you. Next time you are on the way to work look at and review this list. Read it right before you walk in the door. It will at least help balance the frustration.
The next way to put more gratitude in your life can be looked at as a game to play. I do this one on the way to work as well and find it puts my mind in a great place before I get there. As I drive along I look for as many things as I can that I love. This can be the color of a house I am driving by, or the humor behind someone’s personalized plates on the car ahead of me. Sometimes it is a nice dog walking down the street, or a fun jacket someone waiting for the bus is wearing. A good practice is to say these things out loud. “Wow! I love that jacket!” or “What a fun color to paint a house/door/car!” Even hearing yourself say these things out loud can put you in a better frame of mind.
These are just two ideas for increasing the feeling of gratitude in your life. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below. There are a million ways to add and strengthen the gratitude you already have in your life. I encourage you to try them all. The more grateful you are, the more likely you are to have control of your thoughts.
Today is Tuesday. Usually, for people Monday is the roughest day of the week. Back to work after a weekend away. The usual responsibilities come pouring back into our lap. We have to get up at an hour earlier than we would like. By Tuesday morning we are usually back into the mindset of a working person. If we are not careful we can spend our weekdays in a “Pay bills and then die” kind of mindset.
The question I get asked a lot is how can I change my life to one full of passion and joy? One of the things I recommend is changing your focus. Specifically, I advocate becoming a gratitude focused individual. Starting your day with an attitude of gratitude is one of the most powerful things you can do to transform your life quickly. At my seminars, and in my upcoming book, one of the exercises I have people do is to start a gratitude journal. It can be as simple as a spiral notebook and a pen, or a fancy journal and a fancy pen. Simply write down 3 to 5 things a day you were grateful for and why. Then review that list right before bed and first thing upon waking.
What a lot of people get hung up on is where to begin. No matter what challenges you are facing, realizing you are here to face the world is the first thing we should all be grateful for. When I hear individuals tell me how terrible their life may feel because of health challenges, career or relationship concerns or any other reason, I have to remind them that they are at least here to complain about them. Being alive gives us one very important opportunity – to begin to make things better. A few weeks ago a lot of us made New Year’s resolutions with the coming of the new year. You do not have to limit this to the first of the year. Every day that you open your eyes is a chance to start to improve your life. This is true no matter how bad things may appear. This is also something to be extremely grateful for. As long as we open our eyes we have another shot to create a life we love.
This morning before the thoughts of dreading work fill our brains, or we start to plan the seemingly endless list of things we have scheduled that day, let us try something else. When we open our eyes let us say, “Thank God I have another shot at this life!” or “I did it! I made it to another day!” This may seem corny or make you laugh at first, and that is ok, laughter is a good way to start the day as well. Still, try doing this for 21 days straight and see what a difference it makes. I would love to hear your inspirational lines you are going to use in the comments below.
As we wrap up our holiday celebrations and prepare for the coming new year, I feel it would be a great opportunity to pause for a moment of reflection. Think of what this past year has brought us. There have been stress and challenges for sure, but there have also been moments of joy and celebration. We must appreciate and grow from all of these.
When reflecting on the past year and preparing to make our New Year’s resolutions, or even just plans for what we would like to accomplish in the coming year, there can tend to be a feeling of despair as to how far from our goals of last year we came, or how quickly we gave up on them. That is ok. A little bit of that pain can serve us to be more motivated this coming year. Staying in a feeling of regret and anger at ourselves does not serve us. We need to grow from what happened.
This is what I suggest. As we sit down to ponder what the coming year has in store for us, let us grab a pen and a piece of paper. Writing down your goals and resolutions as we tend to call them this time of year, has great power in creating a mental/physical bond with them. If we notice some of those goals look a lot like the goals from the year before, this might not be that bad of a thing. As we write down those goals, we can also write down what transpired that prevented us from achieving them in the year prior. Then we can begin to think of ways in which we can move forward while preventing those same obstacles from stopping us this year. By doing just such a thing, we can move forward in the accomplishment of our goals.
Let us also think of the challenges we have faced in the last year. Write them down. It may not seem fun to relive moments of the past year that were less than pleasant, but they can serve us as well. How? If we then write down what we learned or gained by going through them. Was it a greater appreciation for those who stood by our side? Was it new skills we were forced to learn? Was it just learning how strong we could be when we had to? All of these things are items we can be grateful for.
Lastly, let us not forget the moments of joy we had. Remember the accomplishments we did make. Sure, you may not have followed that gym routine like you intended, but you did go for a couple of weeks…days…hours…maybe you just joined a gym. Knowing what we learned about the challenges we overcame from the steps above, let us celebrate the gains we did make by looking forward to an even greater success in the coming year. Now would be the time to give ourselves a well-deserved pat on the back for all we did do. It might not have been perfect, or turn out exactly how we wanted, but let us remember all the good we did do this year.
In the coming year, this blog will continue to bring you thoughts and actions that will improve your life if you put them into action. I invite all of you to share this website with at least one other person you know who is doing their best to live a more inspired and positive life.
Six years ago on this very day I began this blog. It was Thanksgiving of 2012. A lot has changed since then as you might imagine. My post that day in 2012 was about gratitude. In the six years since that post was written I have learned, and experienced, a lot more about gratitude. It’s power to transform how you feel and perceive life. That, in turn, ultimately transforms the quality of your life. I have included a special section on gratitude in my upcoming book Living the Dream.
Recently, I read an article that gave me a whole new outlook on gratitude. It including something even more powerful and life altering – being grateful. Today, as we all hopefully are spending at least part of our day focused on what we have to be thankful for, allow me to introduce you to what I learned in this article. It will allow you to take what we observe on this most wonderful of holidays and use it to create a life that is far more rich and rewarding.
Thanksgiving. It is more than just a holiday it is an observance. Many spiritual practices have rituals of thanksgiving. Taking time out to observe and make special mention of all that we have in our lives that is going well and that we can be thankful for. This can happen once a year such as we are doing today. It can happen during religious or spiritual ceremonies or on special moments when we get together with friends. It may change our way of thinking and feeling for that day, or even for a couple of days. Soon, the thought of what is missing in our lives creeps back in and we live in a state of lack until that time again next year. That is true unless…
We tap into the power of gratitude. Gratitude to me should be something that we practice daily. Several times a day as often as we can. Why? Because the more we practice gratitude the better our life becomes. The definition for gratitude is to be appreciative for all the good you have in your life. You have hot water? You have electricity in your home? You have a job to earn a living? You can express gratitude for all of those things. Trust me when I tell you there is always something in your life to have gratitude for. You may be so out of practice in looking for the good it may take you a while to find it, but it is there. When you start looking for good things in your life they start to become easier to find. This, in turn, causes an increase in good feelings. What does an increase in frequency and intensity in good feelings get you? A more enjoyable life. That is where a lot of people stop, and that certainly is a great state to be in, but there is something better.
Grateful. How is being grateful different from expressing gratitude? Being grateful does not depend on good things happening to you. Remember our examples above? Let us take a another look at them? What happens if your hot water goes out? Being grateful means you understand what a blessing it is to have hot water as a normal circumstance and being without is a great reminder. Being grateful means you are still thankful that the water is clean and you have means in which you can heat it. Electricity go out? Being grateful means being thankful not only that it is usually available, but there are hard-working people on the job 24/7 to help get it back on track. Your job not what you like? Perhaps you even lost your job? Grateful is a chance to improve your budgeting skills and yourself while you pursue something that will bring you spiritual as well as monetary fulfillment.
If that last state sounds a bit like looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, it kind of is. Do yourself a favor and imagine what your life would be like if you were able to find joy and the good in life no matter what the outside circumstances were? You would be in a state of bliss most of the time! What would that give you? One hell of a great life. Trust me when I tell you I know this isn’t easy. I am working to develop a feeling of being grateful in my life. What a goal to pursue. Everyday I become closer to being able to appreciate the joy in life even in the toughest circumstances. That does not mean there are not days in which I falter. We will all have them. The sooner you get them out of the way, and the more you learn from them, the closer you will be to living a life feeling grateful.
As you observe this wonderful day of thanksgiving, begin to ponder how you can foster that feeling more often. I suggest starting with having gratitude for all the good that comes in your life. Taking a moment and appreciating those things. Then strive to feel grateful even in the face of challenges. Celebrate the fact you are alive every day to experience all the world has to offer. There is even beauty in pain. When we arrive at the state in which we can experience that, life becomes a state of magic.