I have just returned from the Luxury Bahia Principe in Jamaica. It was an amazing time. In the course of planning this trip I learned 3 amazing ways that vacations change your life before you even leave your house.
If you use these same 3 elements you can instantly add more joy to your life starting today! By the time your toes hit the sand your heart will already be full of happiness. Click the link below and watch the 2 minute video right now. By the time the video is over, you will know exactly what to do to start adding joy to your life right now!
The definition of the word altruistic is as follows – showing a disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others; unselfish
How then, can I claim that being altruistic is selfish? For one simple reason. When you are down, when life seems to kick you as you are down, nothing can lift your feelings as much as helping someone else. Certainly, that is not the only time you should limit your acts of helping others, but it still holds true. Most of you know my story about how my life was turned around by helping at a meal program feeding the homeless. It not only gave me a new and refreshing perspective, but the act of being able to do something for someone else feels good.
That should not be your only motivation to do good, but keep that in mind. The more you do for others, the better you will feel. Thus, being altruistic is both unselfish and selfish at the same time. Why do I think that is ok? If, in an attempt to help yourself feel a little happier you go around doing random acts of kindness for others, the world would be a significantly better place.
As with anything we share here, do not take my word on this. Feel free to test the theory yourself. For 21 days, do one act of kindness with no expectation in return. Not financial compensation, not a promotion, do not even worry about getting a simply ‘thank you’. You may even want to record your acts to make sure you do not miss a day. After 3 weeks notice if your own happiness has improved.
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.
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.
Love, appreciation, respect and many other words all fit into this thought. What else could replace making someone’s heart sing? That is something money can’t buy. Give someone you care about the best gift ever, help them see the beauty in themselves.
A thermstat verses a thermometer, which one are you? Obviously I am not speaking literally. Both of those devices are inanimate objects and could not be reading this article. In a more figurative sense, each one of us is either a thermostat or a thermometer. Usually we are a little bit of both. In order to better understand what I mean let us look at each device and the service they perform.
We will start with a thermometer. What is the function of a thermometer? It matters little difference if it is used for meat or medicine. The main purpose of a thermometer is to measure the temperature of its surroundings and read accordingly. It is what we would call a reactionary device. If the temperature is hot the thermometer will read accordingly. If the temperature is cold it will show that. The thermometer has little effect, if any, on what is is measuring. We all know people like this, don’t we? If they find themselves in a room full of people who are productive and happy, they will be productive and happy. If they are in a room full of people who would rather stand around and gossip than work, that is what they will tend to do. These people, much like a thermometer, have little or any impact on their surroundings. If you are looking for a leader you would not want a thermometer. If you are looking to be productive you would not wat to rely on a thermometer.
This is not to say there are not times when adapting your behavior to the situation is appropriate. You certainly would not want to wear a tuxedo to the corner tavern any more than you would want to show up at the opera in ripped jeans and a flannel shirt. There is a big difference between adjusting to the current social situation and changing the very essence of who you are. Let us look at our above example of being in a room filled with individuals more content to discuss the actions of others than to take any action themselves. In this case it would not be a good idea to adopt the current culture. What should we do if we find ourselves in just such a situation? That will bring us to our next point.
A thermostat. That funny shaped device on the wall that regulates our inner enviroment. How does a thermostat work? Simply put, if we set a desired temperature it will utilze the heating and cooling systems to acheive that temperature. Should the room drop to far below the set temperature the thermostat will engage the heating systems to warm the room to the desired condition. Should the temperature rise too far above the set number it will utilize the air-conditioning to bring it back down. The thermostat not only has a great impact on its enviroment, it actually sets the enviroment.
We all know people like this too, don’t we? There are people who can light up a room as soon as they walk in. There are also people who can bring everyone down with a simple conversation. In other words these people set their enviroments. I know a person who never seems to have a bad day. I asked him his secret and he told me quite simply, “I just decide to have a good day.” Much like the thermostat, he adjusts as the day goes along. If things start to go bad he kicks in his ‘heating system’ to bring the level of joy up. If he finds himself getting upset over traffic, the acts of a rude cowoker or anything else he turns on his ‘air-conditioning’ to relax and cool himself down. Thermostat people are action people. If they see a situation that does not suite them, they take actions to change the situation.
Ask yourself today if you are a thermostat controling your enviroment, or are you a thermometer just reacting to whatever the world is handing you. If the sun is out and traffic is great you are happy. If it is raining and the car won’t start you are unhappy. Why put control of your emotional well-being in the hands of other people and things. Be like my friend and decide to have a good day. If challenges do come up as they always will, ask yourself two very important questions, “What else can this mean?” and “How can I use this?” These two questions will allow you to be in control of your enviroment.
If you were to print this list out and hang it on the bathroom mirror it would be a great way to start the day. In every day if we look hard enough we can find something to feel blessed, grateful, excited, thankful and happy for. Even if the world seems to be crashing down around you, which I know can happen, it is good to get into the practice of doing this.
Here is what I suggest. Print this out, or write it down. Place this somewhere you go every morning. The bathroom mirror is an easy idea because most people visit that room before they begin their day. Then ask yourself the questions, “What do I feel blessed about today?” “What am I grateful for today?” “What am I excited about today?” “What am I thankful for today?” and finally, “What am I happy about today?” Do your best to come up with answers for as many of the questions as possible. Do this every day. Make it a habit. Try this for 30 days and see how much better you feel.
All of us have things in life that we don’t like to do. Cleaning the bathroom, doing the dishes, waking up early on our day off. Life is full of things that drain our happiness as well as our energy. The crazy thing is we really drag these items out. I am not necessarily talking about the actual act of doing them, although in some cases that might happen too. What I mean is we start dreading them long before we actually begin them. In the course of doing them often we can spend as much time complaining as we do acting. If we don’t do so out loud, we often spend countless moments cursing under our breath.
What I am suggesting? Certainly not whistling and dancing with one hand, toilet brush in the other? Not exactly, but if you can find a way to do that let me know. What I am advocating is striving for a little balance. We can do this in two ways. First, spend time every day on something you enjoy. Whether that is eating a Kit Kat or a taco. Maybe it is sitting down to a nice relaxing cup of coffee or tea. Perhaps listening to your favorite music? Whatever your moment of bliss is, make sure to schedule it. When you do, spend a few minutes getting excited about it before you actually begin. Think about how good that Kit Kat will taste, or imagine what toppings you will get on your taco. Hard shell, soft shell or both? Think about the scent of the coffee brewing or the feel of the warm liquid as you sip it. Then pay attention as you prepare the activity. Get excited as you brew the coffee. Smell the tea bag as you open it.
Lastly, be present while you are engaged in the activity. I can’t recall the times I have been looking forward to a particular dinner and I am half way through before I really slow down to enjoy the taste. With the delicious meals Margie creates that is about as close to a sin as you can get. Slow down and pay close attention to every detail of happiness. Why not? Enjoy it to the fullest. Use as many of your senses as you can. Feel the chocolate melt in your mouth as you eat the Kit Kat. Hear the crunch as you bite into it. Smell the chocolate. Enjoy the look of the perfectly formed wafers. Taste all the mix of flavors with each bite.
Second, try if you can, to incorporate some things that make you happy into some of the activities you dread. Of course you shouldn’t have a Kit Kat in hand and a toilet brush in the other. The potential for disaster certainly looms in that one. If you can however turn up some great music while you work, why not? Maybe treat yourself to a Kit Kat or taco after you finish cleaning the bathroom. I would, however, recommend washing your hands. It may even give you a little joy in what otherwise would be an arduous task.
Let us all schedule some bliss in our day. When we do let us make full use of it. Drink every last drop of joy and happiness out of the situation. Be totally present and treat it as a sort of mini vacation if you can. I would be elated to learn some of your moments of bliss. What activities bring joy into your life? Share them in the comments below!
Be that kind of person. What kind of person am I talking about? The one who always has something good to say about someone. The person who always has a smile to share. It may not seem to make a difference, but it does. As I write this I am sitting at a local coffee shop a few blocks from my day job at the United States Postal Service. I am reflecting on the countless times I have been in this exact situation. The service I receive from the person behind the counter can really help, or maybe distract from my writing. To the person helping me behind the counter I might be just another face in a sea of people wanting some kind of beverage and that is understandable. Even if they knew that their service may add a little extra step to a author doing his best to inspire the world to become the best versions of themselves it may or may not make a difference.
The truth is we all have this power. We do not know what the person we run into in the grocery store is up to. It could be a surgeon worried about performing open-heart surgery on an infant the next day. It could be a person struggling with personal loss that could use a bright spot in their lives. It could be a person struggling with depression and thinking about taking their own life. It could even be someone full of rage and thinking about taking the lives of others. The cases do not have to be this extreme and may not be, but we may never know. It could simply be a former bartender and current postal worker looking to better themselves and the world around them.
This is all about the power of a smile, of a simple ‘hello’. In all of us there lies a great power. It is a generally untapped power for the most part. That is the power of kindness. It makes a difference. It may be a big difference, it may just be that added inspiration the person needs. Chances are we will never know the effect that it has. Trust me when I tell you it has an effect on every single person you use it on. They probably will not even know you are using it. The more you practice this random acts of kindness the bigger effect you will have on the world.
I warn you that there is one side-effect you must be aware of. This kindness will come back to you. It may not come from those you have shared it with, but it will and must come back to you. That is a universal law. As you sow, so shall you reap. Before long you will notice those smiles and ‘hellos’ coming your way. You may find yourself with new friends and connections you never would have met. In addition, some people report a second side-effect. That is an increased sense of well-being. Seeing the positive way you affect others can only serve to put a smile on your face.
I would love to hear ways that you use the power of kindness. It would be great for all of us to learn simple ways that we can positively affect the lives of those around us. Share your ideas in the comments below!