NOTICE THE BEAUTY AROUND YOU

We can get so busy in our everyday lives that we miss a lot of the amazing beauty that surrounds us. The above picture is one I took while I was waiting at a red light returning from work on my off day. I was lost in my thoughts of everything that I wanted to get done when I got home along with a host of other thoughts. There are some moments I am even surprised I noticed the light is red. I do not know what prompted me to look over to my left, but I saw this face staring at me. There is something about a look that a dog can give you that can cause you to question your own behavior. This is just another reason there are days when I like animals better than a lot of people. I respected this dog’s ability to take in the world around him. Sadly, there are times when I drive to work and when I arrive I wonder who drove. This is made even scarier by the fact that I am the only one in the car.

Here is another example. This photo was taken of a goose waiting to enter the post office where I work. Just the silly nature of the moment was something that very well could have passed me by. In fact, I am sure there are a million of these moments that do pass me by that I fail to notice. We live in a world filled with distraction. If you are stuck in line at the grocery store behind the lady that has not one, but two carts filled to the top (this actually happened this past weekend) instead of taking in the moment, we pull out our phones. When we are driving we have music or an audiobook playing and seldom notice the people, or dogs, around us. In the case of this photo, I was busy doing a little landscaping and may have not even noticed this goose. I just happened to look up at the right time.

One last example. My drive to work now happens somewhere between 5 and 6 am. There is not a lot of traffic and I usually have time to think. I am working on making my thoughts far more positive and productive. Still, there are days when they are filled with thoughts of not wanting to go to work. Most days it also includes how little sleep I received the night before. This is where I was on this particular morning. Lost in thoughts that were not serving me. Suddenly, I stop at a red light on a bridge overlooking a freeway and glance this sunrise. Instead of focusing on all of the things that were not exactly as I wished them to be, I realized how much better my day would start if I focused on all of the things I had to be grateful for. I had a job to go to. There is usually very little stressful traffic at this hour. There was a beautiful sunrise to be seen. I had vision to take in this sunrise. I was driving a car I owned to take me to work. I had a home to return to. The list could have been endless, yet I had already wasted 3/4 of the journey focusing on what I was lacking.

We all know better. We know the quality of our feelings and consequently our life, would be better if only we were to focus on that which we have to be grateful for. We would enjoy and savor life if we were better able to be present and see the beauty and humor like in the first two photos above. If we were to focus on what IS working in our lives and not what is lacking we would feel so much more fulfilled and blessed. If we were to be more present and make an effort to look for the beauty and humor in life, we would enjoy our life so much more. Why don’t we? We are too busy distracting ourselves. We need to take some time to sit with ourselves in silence. We need to block out some time and write down a list of things we are grateful for in our life. We need to read and add to that list daily. We need to say to ourselves, “I am going to look for what is beautiful today.” The distractions we fall victim too not only take us away from doing this, but they often fill our time with negativity. News you receive on your phone, posts you can see on social media and many other distractions can be a terrible disservice to our attempts at living a positive and rewarding life. There is a place and time for these items (although I debate how necessary the news is) let us not let them distract us from living our lives.

COMPARE AND BE GRATEFUL

Recently, much to my dismay, I found myself back in the hospital. I began experiencing severe chest pain Sunday night. Considering it has not been that long since my open heart surgery, I went into the Emergency Room at the local hospital. There I lay for several hours as they filled me up with a vast array of pain killers, none of which seemed to do very much. I received a CT scan which showed I had fluid around my heart. A decision was made to transfer me to the hospital that my surgeon works out of so he could take a better approach at observing me.

Very early Monday morning they boxed me up in an ambulance and whisked me away to the next hospital. The ride was bumpy, but they gave me a free stuffed alligator for being a good patient. I rather enjoyed that personally. I arrived at my new digs around 6 am and was told that I could not have anything to eat or drink, including water, in case they wanted to do a test. Mind you I ate dinner around 7 the night before. This lasted until 4pm, when the doctor left for the day and it was clear they were not going to test me. In other words, it was all for nothing. Having morphine and other heavy duty pain killers in your system on an empty stomach was not very thrilling. Worse yet, they informed me at 7 pm that evening I was back to no food or water in case they wanted to test me the following day. This lasted until 11 am the following day. After persistent “Test me or give me a damn cracker!” outbursts from yours truly, the finally decided they were not going to test me for anything that day either.

My alligator from the folks at Bell Ambulance

Here I was, day three in the hospital, still in pain and nobody could give me an answer as to why. They had added an ultrasound to the CT Scan and now informed me there was no fluid around my heart. Later, a chest x-ray was added. I think this was just so they could say they did all of the imaging tests. By this time I was growing quite frustrated. Even the nurses, who were wonderful and helpful people, were also growing frustrated at the doctors lack of appearances or answers.

I stayed in the hospital 2 more days. These 4 days amounted to the same amount of time I had spent in the hospital after my open heart surgery. I had seen 3 doctors that were not even ones I go to. It was not until one of them did a little more poking around that they came to the conclusion that I had a rare condition that affects 5% of heart surgery patient. It is a sort of late onset inflammation. By the time I was going to be released, I was pretty frustrated. In addition to enduring 18 hours of no food and water one day followed by 14 hours of the same the following day for absolutely no reason, it was like pulling teeth to get answers or talk to a doctor. Then, I refocused. This was aided by 2 events, one very tragic and one pleasant.

As I was putting all of my stuff in a bag to take with me, I received a message I was not expecting. I have been out of my day job since the 11th of January because of my surgery. I just learned one of my coworkers, only a year my senior, had passed away. Little did I know that 2 months ago when I saw him, it would be the last time. Sure, I was leaving the hospital with ‘best guess’ diagnosis and treatment, but at least I was leaving. My friends and family would be happy for my return and not mourning my loss. I suddenly felt a little guilty for feeling the way I was. I am sure this man would have preferred to return to his family and his friends.

That night as I went to sleep, I noticed how my mattress, that had always felt rather uncomfortable, felt like a cloud compared to the bed in the hospital. What was even better was that I was sharing it with the most beautiful woman in the world. The very one who snuck me in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in case they tried make me endure a third day of forced hunger strikes. This brief moment of pain and struggle was nothing compared to what it could have been. I made it out of the hospital. I was feeling quite better than when I went in. I did have a bed to return to. I also had someone extremely special to share it with. It was then I recalled the quote from Gandhi above. No matter how much life seems to be throwing at you, it is throwing a whole lot more at others. Not only that, but it will certainly remind you of all you have to be grateful for that you may have forgotten.

YOU HAVE MORE GIFTS THAN YOU REALIZE

As we had into a weekend that contains holidays for many of us, let us do so with a heart filled with gratitude. Not only for the gifts so thoughtfully given, but to have those in our lives to celebrate with. It is unfortunately true that many of us may be facing our first holiday without a loved one. Still, let us be so grateful we had them in our lives to create such beautiful holiday memories with. Let us savor those memories and allow their spirits to live on.

There are so many things in our lives to be thankful and grateful for that it amounts to a pile of presents under a tree. Here is a great suggestion to help you feel the holiday spirit. This can be done in your head or even out loud. It can be a great new holiday tradition to start with the family.

With each person that is in your life, be they family, friends or coworkers, think of each person and all they bring to your life. Each positive thing is a gift to your sprit. If you list each thing as you think of them, you will realize how truly blessed and abundant you are. If you wish to take it to the next level, write them down and share with that person. Can you imagine the joy they would feel getting a card/email or other message that begins “this holiday, I want to thank you for bringing into my life the gifts of…”

The gifts will be different for everyone. Some will be the gift of laughter. Some people may give you the gift of encouragement. There are people who help with the gift of faith. The lists could be endless. Do this for as many people as you can and you will feel not only like you received a lot of presents this year, but you will feel very grateful and very blessed.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ALL OF US AT SECRET2ANAMAZINGLIFE.COM TO ALL OF YOU!😀

CHECK ON YOURSELF

Today is Wednesday. Some people view this as “hump day”. They view it as just something to get past to make it to the weekend. I like to view as a time to check in with myself. Make sure that I am making the best use of the week. If I discover that I’m not, then I make adjustments.

A quick example is the post we had on Monday. We were to write 3 words on an index card – enjoy, appreciate and cherish. Am I asking myself what I am enjoying, appreciating and cherishing? If not, time to refocus and recommit. If we are, can we up our game? Can we ask ourselves one more time during the day? Can we add another word such as grateful?

Use Wednesday to check our progress for the week and make adjustments. Let us set ourselves up to finish the week strong!

THE ONE THING YOU SHOULD DO TO IMPROVE YOUR LIFE

The most common question I am asked anywhere I go from my day job, to book signings, to live events is this, “What is one thing that I can do to improve my life?” In a society where people are used to quick universal solutions, it can be hard to understand that the solutions can be as varied as the individual. That being said, there is one thing that I would recommend to everyone looking to improve their life. It is at once both universal and customizable. This may sound crazy, but let me assure you that it is 100% true. How can the same solution work for both neighbor Bob and me if I am trying to get in shape and he is trying to fix his relationship?

Let us take the example of getting in shape. Although this can work no matter what area of life you are working on, from parenting to going to a job that seems to suck your soul out of you. If you were to ask someone what the best thing to do to get in shape is, you would, no doubt, receive a million different answers. Some people, like my mother, say walking is the best exercise. I have read that a rowing machine uses roughly 87% of your muscles. Throw swimming, bicycling and other such things in the mix and before long your head starts to spin. If I seek the advice of my friends at peak physique, Jodi and Ricky, I may hear weight lifting, cardio or yoga. So who is right in all of this? They all are. What determines success in fitness, as well as self-improvement, is consistency. While it is true that certain activities use more muscles that others, they do not use any unless you do them. Therefore, the great secret to improving your life? Find something you enjoy. Why? Because you are more likely to keep doing it. Maybe you like battle ropes like the people in the picture above? Let me say, for the record, I have never seen anyone smiling while doing battle ropes, especially while being ‘encouraged’ by a trainer as seems to be the case here. While rowing or walking may use more muscle groups, if you do not like those activities, you are less likely to maintain doing them.

What does all of this have to do with the broad topic of self-improvement? Everything! What events are more likely to change your life? I think fostering an attitude of gratitude is number one on the list. How can you do that? The way that works for you. Do you like keeping a gratitude journal? Then do that because you are likely to stick with it long enough to make a difference. How about carrying a little talisman in your pocket to remind you of something you are grateful for? Then do that. The secret is maintaining a behavior long enough to see results. Relying on will power sets you up for limited success at best. The best chance at success in whatever area of life you are trying to improve is to find something you like and start with that. As things improve, which they will, you will find it easier to add things that may be more beneficial, but would have been harder to stick with in the beginning. You gain momentum by doing an activity that you enjoy. You can use that momentum to make sticking to the more difficult activities that might be needed to accomplish your goals. I would love to hear some of your favorite activities that you use to improve different areas of your life.

10 PHRASES TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

Continuing our theme on gratitude, I want to offer this little gem. A collection of sayings to get your day started right. I suggest printing out this picture to start. Then, coming up with a more personalized list of 10 affirmations for your own life. The more personal and emotional the affirmations, the quicker and greater your life will transform for the better. If you feel comfortable, share some of your affirmations in the comments below!

FIND THE GOOD

This site does not often touch on different spiritual beliefs. I believe that living an amazing life includes a spiritual aspect, but that aspect is a personal decision. As long as your path does not involve bringing harm to anyone else and includes becoming the best version of yourself it should not matter to me or to anyone else what that path is. Here is a great secret – the same holds true for the beliefs of others. There are some of us who feel that anyone who does not adhere to the exact same spiritual beliefs that we do is someone who is wrong or in the worst cases, an enemy. This creates not only undo stress, both in the party receiving the angst, but in the life of the people who carry these beliefs. Imagine going through life thinking everyone is wrong or your enemy? Very stressful. It also limits the opportunities for growth and collaboration. When you think someone is wrong on any level, it can be hard to include them as much, even in another level.

Today’s post is to remind you that people can be different without being wrong. Judgement drains a lot of energy and focus from our lives. On the contrary, acceptance and understanding can free up energy and create new and exciting opportunities for growth and collaboration. Accepting someone does not mean we agree with them or that we are even going to join them in their endeavors. If we focus on how we are alike instead of how we are different, we can do great things. It may be hard to both understand and accept someone who is different, but if we focus on the things we have in common it can do a lot to both bring us closer and to learn from each other. When I go out with my friends who are different faiths, they may dress different, eat different things and have different views, but they have many things in common.

The other day, I had lunch with two friends. One is Christian and one is Muslim. At one point, the topic turned to faith. I was interested to see how this might play out. They discussed their different ways of offering prayers and why they do what they do. They also came to the conclusion that they both do it for the same reason, to become more spiritually enlightened and to become closer to the God they follow. One said to the other, “Funny how a conversation can bring us so much understanding when according to the outside world we are supposed to hate each other.” They chuckled, as they had been friends for years. I thought of the sad truth of that statement. The media, politicians and even some religious leaders, keep our differences as talking points and what is most important. I think we can learn a great deal from each other if we only open our hearts and our minds.

One of the things that all spiritual paths have in common, that we can focus on today and share with each other, is the power of gratitude. All spiritual paths focus a great deal on being grateful. There are prayers of thanksgiving in any faith. I think beginning a practice of including one of those before we retire for the evening can work miracles in our lives. If we can also add being grateful for those who may be different than us, it can go a long way to opening our hearts and minds when we are awake. What is right for us, does not necessarily have to be right for everyone else. Last night, my mom, Margie and I were discussing our dream cars. Guess what? they were all different. None of us argued that the others should switch their car to ours. They liked their car for their reasons as we did for ours, and that was ok. We could listen unattached to why someone might like the car they did and even appreciate why without feeling as though they should change their minds and agree with us. Why can’t this be done with more personal things such as politics and religion? I do understand that there has been, and in some cases remains, persecution of individuals based on these categories. This is completely unacceptable. The truth is, this can only be changed by learning to accept, understand and love each other with open hearts and open minds.

Learning to accept and enjoy those who are different than us will not only create a more amazing life on the outside for all of us, it will create a more amazing life inside of our hearts. We will live life with a far greater peace of heart and mind than if we viewed everyone who is different as wrong or as our enemy. Let us all work on opening our hearts and minds and let us all end our day with a grateful heart. Not only for all that we have in our life, but for those who are different than us who can teach us so much and bring color and contrast to our world.

START ACTING LIKE IT!

Students of the law of attraction know that wherever your focus goes, energy flows. In short, whatever you are spending a good deal of your thoughts and emotions on tends to feel more important in your life. Are you focused on how inconvenient it is that your car is in the shop for the afternoon? Then you will begin to notice all of the places you would like to drive to right this minute. Places you would probably not have the urge to even think about if your car was sitting in your driveway. It is human nature. If you tell someone they can’t do something, they are going to want to do it.

Much of what we do on this site is turn what seems to be a flaw or a negative on its head and put it to use for us. What if we used our focus to expand the good in our lives. We are all living lives with incredible blessings we take for granted. I do NOT in any way advocate spending a great deal of time watching the news. It will just fill your daily life experience with lots of negativity. Whenever we are greeted with some not so pleasant news, there is a simple solution here. When you hear unfortune circumstances, after sending some love and light to the affected party, pause for a moment of gratitude that it was not your life that was affected.

We often focus on what needs ‘fixing’ or ‘improving’ in our lives. That is healthy and keeps us moving forward. That is why this whole industry is referred to as the ‘self-improvement’ industry. To do so, however, with a total lack of appreciation as to what is working and what we do have to be grateful for is detrimental. Here is your challenge for the remainder of the week – try to have one more grateful thought every day than you do negative thought. Sounds easy doesn’t it? When you start noticing how many negative thoughts you have in the running conversation with the person in the mirror, it may seem a bit more challenging. A simple way to do this, every time you catch yourself having a negative thought such as, “I hate having to wear glasses!” Catch yourself and follow that up with a positive thought such as “At least with them I can still see.” Then, pick a time to throw in a grateful thought for good measure, such as when you wake up for right before you go to sleep. Waking up to and falling asleep to thoughts and feelings of gratitude will be enough to positively impact your life. Matching every negative thought with a positive and grateful one will have you appreciating and enjoying your life more than ever before, regardless of your circumstances.