HOW TO GET RID OF THE A.N.T.S IN YOUR LIFE (trust me, you have some)

In the grand scheme of things, ants are pretty cool creatures. They have super human strength. They don’t have lungs or ears. Some ants are both farmers and can swim. They have two stomachs and some species are asexual. If you are anything like me, you probably didn’t know many of these fun amazing facts. Do you know when ants suck? When they are in your house exploring your watermelon, ruining picnics and crawling between your toes as your are sleeping. Sorry for that horrible thought, but it is the month of scary things. Generally, even if we admire all of their cool traits, we would rather not have ants in our lives.

This post is about a different kind of ant. If you noticed in our title, A.N.T. is an acronym. It stands for automatic negative thoughts. These are the pesky little thoughts that can creep into our minds while we are enjoying our watermelon. It can ruin a seemingly fun time we are having at a picnic. For all I know they might even crawl between our toes as we are sleeping. They certainly crawl through our minds no matter what we are doing. Just like the pesky little insects, they can literally come out of nowhere and multiply by the thousands!

Much like the interesting, although annoying, insects, negative thoughts can be tricky to get rid of. If you find yourself having several negative thoughts ruining your picnics or crawling through your toes while you are sleeping, the question is how to rid ourselves of them. We are going to use several mental versions of the ant killer above. In this case, it would be A.N.T. killer. The first is to acknowledge they are there. If you do your best to ignore the ants in your pantry, not only will they stay there, they may very well grow in number. Same holds true of our negative thoughts. Closing your eyes and saying over and over, “There are no ants.” will not get them out of your pantry or your head. What will? We are going to look at a few steps to take that are not only affective, but enjoyable as well.

First things first. Get a handle on the A.N.T.s you have. I recommend doing this for a the very minimum of 3 days. Carry a little pocket notebook with you and jot down any of the negative thoughts you have. We can’t begin to deal with something unless we have a concrete idea of what it is. At the end of each day take a look at your list. Are these thoughts true? Most of the time the answer is ‘no’. In this case the simple solution is every time you catch yourself thinking that thought, counter with a firm dismissal and replacement of a positive thought. An example would be if you are constantly saying to yourself, “I am so stupid!” or some version of that. As soon as the thought enters your mind, say to yourself, “I am not stupid! This is my mind’s weak attempt to hold me back from becoming all I might be!” This is not only true, but correcting yourself and reminding yourself that you are in control of your mind and not the other way around, will go a long way to turning things around. Follow this up with a more constructive thought. “I am intelligent in many ways and expanding my knowledge base daily.” In fact, spend some time thinking of what an empowering statement would be to you. Jot that down in your notebook you carry with you. This may seem awkward at first, but it will feel empowering soon enough.

Another tool is to surround yourself with things that are inspiring. As you can see, I am writing at Starbucks today and this is my screensaver. It is a picture of myself and my lovely lady, Margie. Not only does her cute face make me smile, but the knowledge that there is someone who loves me that I get to come home to is a very positive thought. I suggest using screensavers, as many of us look at them a million times a day, to inspire us. If that is a picture of the person you love, your dog, a special spot in nature or an inspiring quote. Do this on your phone, your computer and any other place you can think of. Print out pictures and place them on your desk, your mirror and here is a great idea, keep one on your dash in your car! We drive almost everywhere these days and having some inspiring picture to look at along with some ‘feel good’ music will make that journey an empowering one. Even if some A.N.T. tries to hitch a ride.

A few last thoughts about A.N.T. or automatic negative thoughts. Just like the insects, they are never going to be totally gone. One will always continue to pop up now and then and be dealt with, whether that means catching it and setting it free, or stomping on it and crushing it into submission. The next thing to remember is just like insects in your home, thoughts in your head are best dealt with quickly before they have a chance to establish themselves and start to grow. If you have an established colony of A.N.T.s in your head, know that it may take longer than if there were just a few strays. Also, remember after extermination, if you don’t keep on top of them they can come back and start another infestation. There are also many ways to get rid of ants, both the thoughts and the insects. Some work better than others and some work better in certain circumstances than others. We have looked at just a few in this brief article. I would love to hear your methods for getting rid of the automatic negative thoughts in your life. If you want to include something for the insects as well that wouldn’t hurt.

THE BEST REPLY TO A FOOL

The weekend is right around the corner. A lot of us are breathing a sigh of relief and looking forward to not having to answer to the alarm clock…or push snooze a million times. Whatever your morning habit is, it usually is more relaxed on the weekend. We switch from focusing on our jobs to more fun and social activities. This can be time with the family, friends, going out for coffee or perhaps some cocktails. Our stress levels begin to decrease as well.

One thing this can do is give us a lot more time to think. In the mad rush of the workweek, we are often too busy to be bothered with petty things going on around us. It would seem one of the side effects of having time to ourselves is knowing how to make constructive use of it. We also tend to place additional importance on the actions of others and how they impact our lives. This can be a positive if we are feeling grateful for our spouse and all they do to keep the household going. Feeling grateful for time with friends that allows us to blow off some steam and stress built up during the work week is certainly a plus as well.

There are, however, those individuals who give us a little less to be grateful for. It can be the rude server or cashier when we are doing our best to have a relaxing night out. It can be the person who likes to speak gossip and start drama that ruins an otherwise good time for everyone else. How to we respond to these folks? In what sort of way to we spend our energy addressing their nonsense? If you read the picture above, I think you can guess the answer. We don’t. We don’t engage them. We do not waste our time or energy on them.

A good way to not be tempted to be sucked into energy-draining behavior is to think long-term. If you boat has a leak and keeps filling up with water, if all you do is bail the water out over and over again, you will not only continue to have the same problem, you will also be very tired. This is just like reacting to every foolish, drama-filled thing that passes through your life. If you respond to every fool and their actions, you will not only continue to have this problem, you will also be very tired. If, in our boat example, you fix the leak, then the problem will cease to exist. This is the same as not responding to a fool. Fixing the problem would be eliminating that person or their actions from affecting your life. Use your energy to improve your life and leave the gossip and drama with the people who created it…the fools.

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.

LEARNING WHAT YOU NEVER KNEW

Last post we discussed addressing some issues we may not have known we had inherited from our family, neighborhood or other influences. It may make some people uncomfortable to think they are changing or God forbid, improving something about themselves. I get it. In today’s world it can be hard to admit we are anything less than perfect, even if it is through no fault of our own. Nobody likes to admit they have something to work on. Do you know what nearly everyone likes? Realizing they are getting better at something. It can be close to downright exciting to think you may be working on mastering something. Here is some great news, there are plenty of areas in which we can do this!

If we stop and think of the very important issues in life, how many were we taught or have we stopped to research? What do you think is important in your life? Where did you learn how to do it well? Did you ever stop to learn how to do it well? Relating to others is one of the most important skills a human can have. How well did you do in your ‘relating to others’ class in school? Do you recall when your parents sat you down and explained some of the many aspects that go into a healthy and sustainable relationship? Me neither. How about communication? The ability to both convey your thoughts, feelings and emotions to others as well as hear and understand theirs is skill that is as rare as it is valuable. How many years did you study that in school? If your education was anything like mine, that answer would be less than one. . What good is learning our alphabet and how to spell words if we are never taught how to effectively convey and use those very words.

It would seem a great deal of important subjects are left for us to learn by chance, or for far too many of us, by trail and error or not at all. The problem with this is that the stakes are far too high for most of us to learn that way. One mistake in how we relate to others can not only cost us a job, it can ruin relationships and cause emotional trauma to others, including those we truly care about. We occasionally get some instruction on interviewing to get the job we are seeking, although even that is limited. Did ever seem odd that nobody ever told us how to ask the right questions to discover if someone would be the right life partner for us? The same holds true with maintaining a healthy mental and emotional state. As far as I know, there exists very little, if any, instruction in public education on this subject. Is it any wonder, as the stresses in life continue to rise, we are seeing a host of people with mental health challenges. We were never even told how to deal with the stress that is all too prevalent in our lives.

We repeat here the axiom from the last post that fault does not equal responsibility. It is certainly not our fault we were never taught how to succeed in some of the most important areas in life. This is not a knock on our teachers and parents. They were never taught these things either. It is, however, our responsibility to educate ourselves on these very subjects. If a healthy relationship is important to us we need to learn what the components of one are and how to get them. If being able to communicate to others and have them understand you may be valuable, don’t you think it might be worth a few hours of research? How much effort is living a life with less stress and more joy worth to you? What other areas are important? Do you think being a great parent to your child is important? Do you think you may have received some bias or incomplete information on that subject growing up? Would you like to give your children the best possibility of success as they grow up?

When I share this information I hear a lot of groaning about having to dedicate additional time learning. “I spent enough time studying in school.” is a refrain I hear all too often. If that is your mindset you must then become comfortable at the thought you will not develop past the person you were when you left school. “I don’t have time.” is another answer I hear. To that I say this – it is not that you don’t have time, it is that it is not a priority for you. If I told you that you could have ten million dollars but I would need 2 days worth of your time starting tomorrow at 6am, where would you be at 5:59?

Dedicating time for study in these subjects is worth more than that ten million dollar price tag mentioned earlier, it is priceless. Being able to better understand, and even more importantly meet, the needs of your spouse? How much would you pay for that? Not feeling so stressed out at the end of every work week, or even every work day, how much would that be worth to you? You see, studying the main topics in life is like digging in a vain of solid gold. The knowledge you get can not only positively transform your life, it can do the same for lives of those you care about. Can you imagine sitting down to share topics like these with your children while at the same time listening to what concerns they may have? How valuable would that be? How about learning how to help people feel good about themselves? Would that be skill that might come in handy with the boss at the office or the one you love at home?

Here is the grand upside to all of this. The knowledge on all of these subjects is readily available and it is free. All it takes is some time and effort on our part. There are literally millions of books available in the public library system at no charge to us. There are forums, articles and experts available online with a click of a mouse. There are audiobooks we could listen to in the car, seminars we can attend, videos on YouTube we could watch while we are in line at the grocery store. There is so much information out there, in so many different forms that there is no excuse not to become an expert in any area of life that is important to us. Learning one new thing a month, which is painless to do, can give us 12 tips to a healthier lifestyle. Can you imagine incorporating 12 new things this year to improve your health? How much of an impact do you think that would have? What if we learned one new way to improve our intimate relationship a week? This is still insanely easy to do. Do you think adding 52 improvements to your relationship in a year would positively impact your love life?

There is no excuse not to begin to become an expert on the important areas of our life starting today! How important is the success of your children? How important is the happiness of the love of your life? How valuable would having extra energy and health be? Decide what is important to you and begin to study today! Your life is far too valuable not to.

HOW TO HIRE YOUR OWN BRAIN

One of the most interesting things about being a self-improvement writer is that your mind is always working on noticing ideas to write about. This happens subconsciously a great deal of the time. I will notice several people noticing the same issue in their lives and struggling to deal with it. Sometimes I will read something online or hear it on the news. The reason this works is scientific. It involves the use of a part of the brain called the reticular activating system or RAS. This is the part of your brain that decides what is important and what is not. I liken it to when you buy a new car or outfit and begin to see that very car or outfit everywhere. It would seem obvious that not everyone went out and bought the same thing you did, despite how charming and cool you are. It is just that our brain said “Hey we have one like that. It must be important.”

Why is it important to know that my brain is always on the lookout for great ideas and tools to share with all of you in this blog important? More to the point, how can knowing this benefit you? Glad you asked. Knowing about this phenomenon can allow you to put your subconscious mind to work for you! Once you realize the power of this, it becomes quite exciting. I go into further detail about how to do this in my latest book, Living the Dream, but will give you the abridged version here so you can begin to put it to use. If you would like to delve further into the subject, I highly suggest heading over to Amazon when you are done reading this blog and pick up a copy of that very book.

I have no idea what half of this means

Do not let this complex diagram intimidate you. I have no idea half of what they are showing us. It does show that the RAS is indeed a real part of the brain, but you do not need to know every nuance to understand how it works, or more importantly, how to put it to work for you. There are several ways to impress upon your mind what is important and what it should work on while you are busy doing more important things like binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix. The first is through repetition. An example I like to give is one that happened shortly after Margie and I started dating. I was at the grocery store and wanted to pick her up a little something to brighten her day. Here is the problem – I had no idea what the heck that would be. Although we had been shopping together several times at this point, I never paid attention to what made her smile. Every time we went shopping after that, I would tell myself “Remember to pay attention to what she likes.” It was through this I learned what kind of sugar she buys, what size of egg and things that just make her smile. I kept doing that so often that even now as my conscious brain is busy reminding her that the store does indeed close and we need to wrap up our shopping trip, my subconscious mind is still noting what brand of hot sauce she likes.

The second way to impress upon our subconscious mind what is important is by creating an emotional attachment to it. To me, being able to create a sense of happiness in the life of the woman I love creates such a sense of joy in my own life that my brain knows it is important. You can create an emotional attachment in your own mind by visualizing the end result you are pursuing. The more powerfully you do this, the more engaged the subconscious mind will become. One way to do this is by using as many senses as you can. Looking for ways to fund that next vacation? Picture the beach, but also smell the salt water, feel the ocean breeze, hear the seagulls and best of all, taste that daiquiri. Soon, you will find your mind catching ads for resorts out of the corner of your eye, or overhearing someone mention they are a travel agent.

Your subconscious mind is working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If we put it to work for us, it is like hiring a person to spend their entire day on the lookout for things that are important to us. I can tell you in the example I have used in my own life, it has paid off big time. Whether it is making up for the extremely rare times I do something upsetting in our relationship, or if it is just used to add more joy, I do so with the knowledge that my subconscious mind has gained for me. Hire your own brain today. It will be the best employee you ever have.

DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME ON NONSENSE!

As we grow older we realize what we thought was important in our youth may very well turn out to be quite less important in later years. If we think about our own lives we undoubtedly will realize that this is true for us. I have heard people say “Ask yourself if this will mater 10 years from now.” Some things in life that seem make or break we can’t even remember a year from then. Gossip, even work related issues that can certainly be tricky at the time, can pass by to be forgotten. In looking back, I have been upset by some pretty silly and stupid things. How do we know what not to waste our time on? How do we know if the issue we are currently dealing with will even matter a year from now? After all, in the heat of the moment, most things do seem pretty important. There is a simple way to reduce the time we spend getting upset with, and wasting our time on nonsense. This will not only reduce the amount of time we spend upset, thus reducing a good deal of stress in our lives, but will also allow us to put that formally wasted time to better use.

A great way to make sure we do not spend time on what does not matter is to spend some time deciding what does matter. This is best done when you are not emotional. Being able to reflect on what is truly important in your life will allow you to often see the nonsense of life for what it truly is. This is helpful when you find yourself in a highly emotional state. If what is important to you is your spirituality, your family and your health, does it really matter what foolish thing a politician does? Is it worth wasting your time arguing the point with your coworker or the guy standing next to you at the bus stop? Probably not. Then again, if your politics are very important to you, it might be. If you can spend an afternoon (or whatever time of day works for you) pondering what you value in life and writing it down, this could pay great dividends down the road. When you find yourself greatly upset about something, refer to your list. If it is not on there in some capacity, find a way to let it go.

These are one of those times that recognizing that we are different in this regard will also save you a lot of stress. All of us place importance on different things in life. If it frustrates you why your spouse does not get as upset as you do about a certain issue it may serve you well to consider it just might not be that important to them. Although that might also frustrate you, it could certainly help you to understand your spouse and the situation better. If you are in the market for someone to spend your life with, this is also a great exercise to do. Finding someone who is passionate about the same issues as you do, could save a lot of stress as the years progress. If you are already in a relationship, being able to articulate what upsets you in a clear and concise manner to your partner will be helpful in both reducing upsets, but also getting to know one another on a deeper level. Like most relationship tools, this does not only work in an intimate relationship, but in other relationships as well.

As we grow older it is helpful to realize what is important to us and what becomes nonsense can and should change. As we mature, so does what is worth our time and energy. When I was younger, I placed great importance on solving every issue with people in my life. As I grew older, I began to value my own peace of mind more. When there was an issue that involved a conflict of values, or some unnecessary drama, the question went from “How can we solve this?” to “Is this an issue that really needs to be solved?” Sometimes we just have to agree to disagree. On a few occasions, when the other party refused to do so, it was sadly time to let that person go. My own peace of mind was more valuable than maintaining a relationship full of conflict. As a result of getting clear what is most important to me, I have been able to not only reduce the stress in my life, but use the time that would have been wasted on this unproductive conflict to further and deepen the healthy relationships in my life. One secret to an amazing life is periodically checking in with ourselves to ask “Are there some issues in my life that I spending time on that are just a bunch of nonsense?” As the years go by that answer will change and develop as we do.

DON’T LOSE YOURSELF

I am a people pleaser. I love to see those around me succeed and be happy. On more than one occasion I have found myself doing things that were not high on my list of enjoyable just so someone else can have a little more sunshine in their lives. I think this is part of being a decent human being. Something I no longer find myself doing is feeling pressured to do something out of the fear of being disliked or losing someone. If a person in your life creates situations and ultimatums like that, you must ask yourself the value of that relationship.

How do you manage to not lose yourself while attempting to please others? There seems to be a thin line between the two. One of the first things we can do is setting healthy boundaries. If something causes us to violate our beliefs or standards, that would be something we should not do, even if it displeases someone else. You can eloquently explain that you cannot do something based on the principles you believe in. If someone would hold that against you, that is a reflection on them, not on us. Another boundary to be made clear is doing things that sacrifice your own mental or physical well-being for the happiness of another. This does not mean refusing to help a friend move because you might be sore the next day. An occasional sacrifice such as this is certainly understandable. If you are physically, mentally or even spiritually exhausted than pushing yourself beyond those limits is not only unhealthy but can lead to feelings of resentment in the future. Take care of yourself and you will be better able to serve others. A good friend should be able to understand this.

Another way in which we can lose ourselves is by responding to people and situations that drain and misdirect our energy. Office gossip, some comment on social media or political or office drama does not, and more often than not, should not get our attention, energy or participation. We can lose our focus and sense of purpose by being dragged into other people’s negativity. Spending an hour arguing politics online can cost us 60 minutes of reading something that may inspire or motivate us. We could spend that time in meditation, going for a walk or even cleaning our house. The time we waste on other people’s drama literally drains our life of enjoyment. Ponder that point before you join in at the water cooler next time.

Stay true to yourself and your principles. This may cause some people to leave your life. The cost of keeping people like that in your life can be considered a sort of emotional blackmail. Refuse to pay it. Do not let your happiness and peace of mind be held ransom by these kidnappers of joy and peace. Further more, do not let your course in the sea of life be redirected by the waves of other people’s negativity or drama. Own your life and stay true to yourself. In the end this will lead to happiness and a sense of inner peace.

DRIVING HOME THROUGH THE TROPICS

FIJI

Most of you know I live in the city of West Allis in the state of Wisconsin in the country of the United States. The weather here can best be described as 9 months of winter and 3 months of poor sledding. That is to say it is cold or at the very least rather cool here most of the year. Personally, I love the beach, warm and sunny climates and the overall vibes of tropical locations. To that end, I am forever looking for ways to bring the tropics home to where I live.

One of the great axioms in life that I follow is “There is no law of physics that state your mind and body have to be in the same place at the same time.” This began as a sort of tongue in cheek thought at my day job. While laboring away at the post office physically, my thoughts were drifting to sitting on a beach drinking out of a coconut. Once you realize that unlike your physical body, your mind does not have to suffer the same physical limits, it becomes very freeing. Taking these ‘mental vacations’ throughout the day help save me sanity and maintain my positivity.

One of the more difficult situations I face as the weather grows colder is my daily commute. Roughly 35 minutes long, driving on snow covered roads or surrounded by trees that have lost their leaves and brown grass can become less than inspiring. To fill this void of cheer, I often listen to music I enjoy or some inspiring or self-improving content in my travels. This past Friday, I decided to try something different and it made a positive impact. On the way home from my day job I decided to play a recording of ocean waves with birds from the sea shore. I believe it was recorded In Thailand, but that was not as important as it being a tropical ambience.

As I drove along, some interesting things happened. First of all, I felt more relaxed than normal. This was to be expected as the sound of ocean waves are generally considered a relaxing sound. That means the drivers who cut me off or drove recklessly seemed to bother me a little less. Stopping at another red light? That’s ok. Speaking of red lights, when stopping at a red light I could feel the warmth of the sun on my driver’s side arm. The wind blowing through the window felt like a tropical breeze. It was all I could do to keep from closing my eyes and picturing laying on a beach. I am sure the motorists behind me would not enjoy that once the light turned green. Even more amazing is I swear I could smell the ocean! I was surrounded by exhaust from other vehicles, a chicken place on the side of the road and other city scents. Still, I swear I could smell salt water blended with tanning lotion. I am sure that was my mind somehow connecting the sounds I was hearing, the warmth of the sun and the slight breeze and using that to create the scents I was experiencing as well.

The grand result of the experiment was that I arrived home feeling much more relaxed and in a better mental state than had I just drove home in the regular way. I have always know that although our bodies are confined to occupying the physical space they are in, our minds are free to travel wherever they may want to go. The result of my 35 minute commute home between 2 Wisconsin cities by way of several tropical beaches refreshed my spirit and kept my stress level low. I think I will add a coconut air freshener to the mix to make it more authentic. It was so good, if were not for the sexy lady meeting me at the door, I might have wanted to add a few more minutes to the commute. Now if only I can convince Margie to come to the door in her swimsuit.

I would love to know what destinations you would like to travel on your mental vacation. What steps could you take to make them feel like a reality? Think of using as many of the 5 senses as you can. Much like my journey using the sound of birds and ocean waves, the feel of sun on my skin and a gentle breeze and perhaps the scent of a coconut air freshener. I am next going to try this same experience on the way to work and see if it will help me enjoy the work day even more.

GRATEFUL IT DIDN’T WORK OUT

Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, once said “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” This is one of the easiest quotes to understand, but one of the hardest to actually accomplish. Learning to trust yourself and the way the universe works is a very big secret to an amazing life. Knowing this will help your life immensely can be easy to grasp intellectually, but very tricky to act on emotionally. The fact that it can be extremely difficult does not make it any less true.

Another more relatable example can be found in a country song by the artist Garth Brooks. In this song a young man has a crush on a particular girl. He prays every night that the girl will fall in love with him and they will live happily ever after. She doesn’t. Sounds like a typical country song so far, right? What happens in a later verse I always enjoyed. He ends up falling in love with another woman and they have a wonderful family. He and his wife run into this crush he had so many years ago. He looks at her and realizes that she is not everything he imagined when he was young. He then looks over at his wife and realizes the amazing woman he would have missed out on had he been granted his wish of having the first lady fall in love with him. He is then very thankful for his seemingly “Unanswered prayer”.

BELIEVE IT!!!

Giving yourself over to the flow of life while maintaining a positive attitude will go a long way to creating a positive life. The secret is discovering how to do this. One way is to imagine how we may benefit from or be able to use the challenge we are currently facing. Didn’t get that job that we just know would have made our lives so much better? Perhaps there is an even better opportunity just ahead that we would have missed if we were comfortably engaged in the employment of the afore mentioned job. I recall a lot of jobs, events and circumstances that I wish would have went differently. I often wish I still had my radio program. I wish I would have moved to a warmer climate. Still, I look at my life now and think of what I would have missed had that happened. I would not be with the amazing and beautiful lady who wrote the forward to my latest book, Living the Dream. I would not have met some of the wonderful people I have from bartending, DJing and working at the post office. That is not to say if I were offered a six-figure radio gig in San Diego that Margie and I may not be looking for moving companies, but that is for another day.

To some of you this may sound like a lot of positive Pollyanna, but it is actually a great secret to an amazing life. Trusting that the dots will somehow connect looking backwards will keep us from getting down with the obstacles we are currently facing. The everything happens for a reason mentality can go a long way in reducing our stress. One of the ways that I put this to work is to ponder what reason that may be. If I am faced with a great challenge or seeming setback in my life I sit down and literally say something like this to myself; “I know everything happens for a reason, but what the hell reason can this be?” Not only do a shake my head and have a little chuckle at the expense of myself and the challenge that I am currently in, but my brain begins to consider possible answers to that question.

Here is a little inside secret. When we ask our mind a question, our subconscious mind will not rest until it comes up with an answer. It is our job to ask the question in such a way as to come up with a positive answer. Instead of the usual “Why me?” which our mind could come up with many not so inspiring answers to, try wording it more positively. “I know everything happens for a reason. What possible positive reason could this challenge be happening for?” or simply, “How are these dots going to connect in a positive way for me in the future?” Even if your first answer is “I have no idea in hell how they will connect, but I know they will.” That is a great first step. Begin practicing this with the next challenge you face and know that your life will begin to change for the better. We may never know why something may have occurred, but our subconscious minds will continue to work in the background searching for positive explanations. Fostering this trust in our lives and the purpose of the universe will reduce our stress and help us lead a more amazing life.

DON’T PUT THIS OFF!

How many of us have heard this saying before? Raise your hand if you have. Ok, now put your hand down because it would look funny if you continued reading with your arm in the air. Most of us, at some point in our lives, have heard this advice. It really rings true. Like most of the quotes attributed to Mr. Franklin, can help us with productivity and accomplishing our life goals. The quicker we do things, the quicker they will be done. Often, if we do put something off it can delay the accomplishment of our goals and dreams by months or even years. That sounds pretty important doesn’t it? We are going to apply this theory to something even more imporatant!

What could possibly be more important than the accomplishment of our goals and dreams? That determines the success of our entire life! This is true. Hard work and avoiding procrastination, which we are all guilty of to some degree, has a huge impact on our material success. Notice the word in italics. That is because if there is anything more important than our success on a material level, it is our success on an emotional and spiritual level. One of the most important ways in which we can develop a healthy emotion and spiritual life is to give kindness to others.

The quote from Emerson above highlights a what is perhaps the most important reason for not delaying our kindness – we never know when it may be too late. I am big into reading biographies of people I respect and admire. One of my favorite stories is the life of Louis Armstrong, the famous jazz musician. When he was young, a kind Jewish couple bought him a trumpet. He went on to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, trumpet players of all time. How different might his life, and consequently the world at large, been different without that act of kindness? There are so many people struggling with accomplishing goals and projects they are working on that a little kindness might keep them going. If they keep going, their accomplishments could go on to change the world.

Of course it is very important to give an act of kindness to keep people hope when they are engaged in pursuing their goals, but there is something even more vital to consider. The quote above is a big hint as to what that might be. What seems like a small act of kindness to us, could make a great amount of difference to the receiver. This kindness can be a matter of life and death. What makes life so valuable, is that we never know when it may be taken from us. We may think, “I’ll message that person tomorrow.” or “I really have to get around to telling that friend of mine how much I appreciate their presence in my life.” Tomorrow comes and that person may be gone from our lives forever. This may seem like a slightly morose thought, and I suppose it is, but it should inject a sense of urgency as well. If there is anything we should not delay in doing it is spreading kindness.

Something I cannot stress enough is the undeniable fact that we never know what battles and demons someone may be fighting inside of their mind. We may think we know someone inside and out but there is always something we don’t know. Margie and I are very open with each other, but she still never fails to surprise me. Your friend, coworker and yes, even your spouse, can seem perfectly happy and even tell you they are perfectly happy but can be waging a war in their minds. Your act of kindness may supply the little bit of hope they need to keep going. In my 46 years on this planet, I have known far too many people that have succumbed to the pressures of the world and took their own life. Most of them I had not a single clue they were suffering. When we lose someone it is too late to share that bit of kindness we may have bestowed. The worst feeling we can be left with after losing someone is not grief, but regret. In my own life, I have had too many “should have” and “could have”.

Procrastination always has a very high price, but none so much as procrastinating giving kindness. We are delaying a feeling of emotion and spiritual well-being and helping our fellow humans (or animals). We may also be depriving the world of some great accomplishment the receiving party could only achieve if only they had a little more kindness and encouragement. To, of course, the greatest cost of all time, a human life. Whether that is someone passing away unexpectedly, or worst of all, someone taking their own life. Our acts of kindness are far more valuable than we can possibly imagine. If there is any act of kindness you are even considering doing, I implore of you to do that act today. Do not wait. Do not delay. Kindness can never be given too soon, but it can certainly be given too late. Share with all of us what act of kindness you are going to act on today in the comments below.