GATHERING POWER

This is a picture of me at my favorite place, Wisconsin State Fair, at one of my favorite stands, El Jefe corn stand. Normally I preach about living in the moment and savoring each and every second you can out of life. As a general rule taking pictures of everything or being on your phone takes away from that. Just like any rule, however, there are a few exceptions. The fair is an event that happens once a year for eleven days in August. I make the most of this by even taking vacation from my work and going every day for the last eleven years. Some people think I’m foolish, some people think I’m crazy, but I don’t really mind. If something makes you happy and doesn’t harm others or yourself than do it to the fullest.

The time of the fair seems fleeting to me because I do enjoy it so much. Combine that with the fact that the weather is usually the kind I enjoy, warm and sunny and one can understand that it is the perfect coming together of many things I enjoy. Nature, food, sun, warmth, music, more food, Rum, friends, and many other fabulous things.

Here is the trouble and where the exception to the rule comes into play. In Wisconsin our state fair lasts eleven days, and winter seems to last about eleven months. For someone with seasonal affective disorder who really dislikes cold that ratio can be tough. What can one do? I can’t extend the fair or shorten winter. This is where a lot of people would resign themselves with a “it is what it is” type mentality. Not me! Finding ways to capture the spirit of summer and the state fair is my goal. One way is certainly to be present and create the most wonderful memories possible. Another is to collect memories such as souvenirs, and photos.

I know there are a lot of people, like myself, not really keen on having pictures taken with themselves in them, but in this case it can be a powerful tool. When the snow is flying in December and a January I can look at this goofy picture of myself and reflect. Even just going there in my mind can help.

So, make sure you remain present and get every drop of joy and fun you can out of life, but also make sure to stop, if only occasionally, to take a little bit with you. Feel free to share your ideas for taking happiness with you.

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM SAD EVENTS

Many of you may know that the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, committed suicide on July 20th. There is a very important lesson we can take from this. By all accounts Chester can be considered a man who had it all, at least how it is defined in modern society. He was a famous front man of a popular band who had sold millions of records. He had a large bank account which allowed him access to almost any material thing he could desire. He had millions of adoring fans. He had a family.

If a man who seemingly has it all can find himself in a place where he feels ending his life is his best option, what about the rest of us? What about the man who just lost his job? The woman who has been the victim of sexual assault? A category that really stands out is Veterans. After seeing the horrible things that man can do to each other in the name of war, and maybe even having to do some of them as well, how can they deal with the reality of that?

In case you have not been personally touched by suicide or think it is something that just happens to somebody else, please allow me to share a few statistics from the American foundation for Suicide Prevention (afsp) According to their website

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US
  • each year 44,193 Americans die by suicide
  • for every suicide there are 25 attempts.

If you multiply the last 2 stats that means over one million people were at a place emotionally that they tried to take their own lives. Although I am certainly filled with love and compassion for those individuals, I am also often frustrated that we lose so many amazing souls each and every day. This blog is all about living an amazing life, so to see so many losing theirs breaks my heart.

Being a solution oriented person, the question that screams in my mind loud as can be is this, “What can we do to help?” This is both a complicated and simple question. The reasons for suicide are as diverse as the people affected by it. Even a quick glance at the statistics page on the AFSP website can shine a light on some ways to help. Native Americans have the highest rate of suicide, the rate of suicide is highest in middle age, and many more insights. I highly recommend visiting their website, a link will be listed at the end of this blog. There you can find ways to help including, but not limited to, joining your local chapter of AFSP, knowing the warning signs, walks to bring awareness and a host of other valuable information.

On a personal level I encourage you to do 2 more simple things that can make a big difference. First, occasionally inquire with all of your friends, whether they are seemingly doing well or not. If the death of Mr. Bennington taught us anything is that someone who seems to be doing quite well can be silently suffering. When you do ask, take time to really listen. That is what can truly make a difference. Second, and I find this to be fun, genuinely compliment everyone you know. I am not talking about some silly flattery, but letting them know how much they mean to both you and the world. Do they make you laugh? Have they given you a good memory that helps you through the tough times? Imagine what a difference you could make in their life no matter where they are emotionally. Being genuinely appreciated is one of the greatest gifts we can give one another.

LINK FOR THE AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION

LIFE LONG LEARNER

I am a big advocate of life-long learning. What I like about this quote is that it reminds us of something very important. When someone tells you that you can’t do something it is time to be grateful. Doesn’t that sound very confusing? Why would you be grateful somebody is basically telling you that you are not enough?

This day and age if there is anything we have an abundance of it is information. It used to be that if you wanted to learn anything you could go to the library and with a little effort and some research you could find an answer, free of charge! Today it is even better. When you have a question you can just ask google, Suri or whatever online search tool you use and there is the answer! If words are not your thing you can even pop over to YouTube and watch a video of someone doing the very thing you are trying to learn.

What this means is that we can choose to be an expert in just about anything. One important thing to remember is this – you can’t pay anyone to do your push-ups for you. That is a quote I took from Zig Ziglar. It means there is a certain amount of effort to be put into anything, but with today’s technology you have the best chance of succeeding and showing anyone that you can do anything!

JUST PUSH THE MUTE BUTTON

The other night we tested our new equipment while DJing. I am still learning all of the buttons, knobs and controls. One of the controls that I have figured out is the button you see lit up in this picture.

What this button does is mute whatever channel is operating. In this case happens to be my microphone. When you push the button and the red light comes on you cannot use that channel. In this case even if I had the microphone on and the volume all the way up you would not be able to hear me. That is beyond my regular projection.

This would be about all to this post if this was a blog about being a DJ or sound equipment, but it is not. It is a blog about improving your life and steps you can take to do so. Sometimes improving our lives involves a mindset change. A different way of looking at things. Here is how these two items correlate.

During the course of our show I spoke to two of my friends about negative people in their lives. One of them spoke to me about how they feel some people who perform rather well judge her. Certainly, we do everything at our shows to make sure the focus is on fun and enjoying yourself. A night out with friends should be just that. Personally I do my best to find something nice to say about everyone who performs. The goal of myself and my lovely lady Margie is to have people feeling better when they leave than when they came in. We do our best to make sure our shows our judgment free zones. You are welcome to come and perform no matter what your level of ability. We also encourage everyone to…well…encourage everyone. We hope people will think of our shows as much for the karaoke aspect as much as an opportunity to make new friends, have fun and be supported.

The other touched on an aspect that we also work very hard to limit and do without at our shows – gossip. She informed me that is why she prefers to come to our shows verses some others she has been to. When you work at several local bars there is always some amount of “He said/she said” or “Did you hear what she said about her?” kind of thing. It can creep into the act of merely trying to put on a good show and I must confess can be frustrating when you try to deal with it. We are blessed that Margie and I have made it clear that we want nothing but positive vibes at our shows and that gossip is not welcome. For the most part we are fortunate that most people respect that as well.

What does all of this have to do with a new mixer? Most of all the little red light and mute button pictured above? This is where it gets fun! Sometimes having a picture or analogy in your head can serve you quite well. In my case, when people around me start speaking negatively about someone, or gossiping in my head I push that button and the little red light comes on. In effect, I mute them. After which time no matter how much they tell me, or how loud they choose to tell me I simply can’t hear it.

I shared this idea with the two ladies I spoke with and now I am sharing it with you. When someone comes to you with an earful of gossip, or some negative conversation I encourage you to simply push the mute button. Do not let any of that to even enter your mind. The good news that the mute button on the mixer, as well as the one in the mind can be pushed again, allowing them to be heard, provided the person stops with the negative input. Just like a poisonous plant will only grow if it has access to food and water, negative conversation will only grow if it has an audience. Sure, there will always be people willing to listen to such nonsense, just make sure people know you are not that person. Watch the joy in your life increase tremendously.

I welcome any analogy or ideas you have for limiting negative people and their influence on your life. Please share with our readers in the comments below. I can assure you that there are a lot of people who are struggling to deal with this very topic.

ARE YOU IN CONTROL??

In every situation in life that we approach the one and only thing we can have control of is ourselves. The reason I said can have control of is because quite often we relinquish that control. We allow others to determine how we are feeling and acting.

Instead of taking actions that we choose for ourselves and the course we would like to take our life on, we live our life in reaction based on the actions chosen by others. If someone were to ask you directly if you would let someone run your life for you the answer usually is a resounding “No!”. That is exactly what you are doing when you live in reaction to others and your environment.

Taking charge of your emotions is not the easiest thing to do, but the rewards far outweigh the risk of giving control of your life to anyone but yourself. One simple way to begin to take back control of your emotions and as such your life is to ask yourself this question several times a day, “How would the best version of myself deal with this situation?” This especially proves helpful in times of challenge and conflict. Even if you discover you do react instead of acting, take some time after the event is over to replay it in your head and think of how the best version of yourself would have handled things. By doing this, even in your head, next time you find yourself in that situation you are more likely to choose your actions instead of having others decide how you will act.

feel free to share your tips for controlling your emotions in the comments below!

REVISITING A MAGIC FORMULA 

 

Until you change yourself, nothing else will change. Once you change yourself, everything else will change” – Neil Panosian

Last week we examined the fact that change comes from within. Changing yourself can be quite a struggle though. It is not easy admitting something about us could use a little improvement. Self-improvement always involves a little humility. We have to confess to ourselves we are not perfect. What we are doing, however, is creating a better person for tomorrow. That is not to say that the person we are today is not amazing, but that we want to bring an even better version of ourselves to those we care about.  I like to picture those road construction signs you see on the side of the road. Perhaps one that reads self-improvement work ahead or maybe even A better me under construction. I think if people were able to see those signs and know that although things in our life may look a bit crazy, they are really just under construction, they might be a bit more patient. Remember though that they can’t so letting them know we are working on things can help.

It amazes me how much the accent is on removing things in our life today. “Lose all that extra weight” or “Get rid of all that negativity”. Sure, both would be beneficial, but there is an easier way. Instead of going on a diet, or pushing people away, try adding. In my seminars one of the principles I teach is this, “The easiest way to eliminate the negative is by adding the positive.” In other words, forget the diet, try adding exercise and a few healthy foods. If you eat a salad, for example, you have that much less room to eat a twinkie. Spend some time with someone who really feeds your soul? That is time that cannot be spend listening to someone gossip.

As you add these positive changes you may find you have the momentum to start to reduce or eliminate some of the negative things. Maybe you will even discover how much you enjoy the positive and then will have even less room in your life for the negative. It is easier for people to add things into there life than to remove them. Removing things can cause a feeling of being deprived, or a feeling of lack and that something is missing. When you add something to your life it is relatively painless. Filling up on the positive will definitely leave you to full to consume the negative.

Feel free to share any suggestions you have to add positivity to your life in the comments below!

A BAD WORD

When we are young we are told when we say a bad word. Depending on language and culture what these bad words are can be different. As adults, however, it seems we are left to our discretion as to what words are acceptable. Sure there are social rules, but they are sadly too often ignored.

I firmly believe there is a list of words that as an adult should be taken out of our vocabulary. Especially if as an adult you want to be a successful and driven adult. One of the first words I would recommend reducing, if not eliminating, is try. When I hear a person say they are going to try something it sounds weak to me. I am reminded of the quote from Yoda above.

In writing my next book I strove to answer the question everyone seems to ask me. That question is, “How did you become the person you are today?” There are a million different tools and tricks I use daily, but meditating on that question today I came to realize they all point back to one guiding principle. The thing that changed my life more than anything else can be, and has been, called many different things. In his best-selling book Think and Grow Rich Napoleon Hill calls it ‘definiteness of purpose’. In my own book I refer to it as your declaration, or life mission. When someone declares something they are not trying it. They are saying they will keep working at it until it is done.

Prove to yourself the truth of what we are talking about here. Find a place where you can be alone, or if you are confident feel free to try this right where you are. Pick a goal you would like to accomplish. For example, I am working on becoming a best-selling author. Now, relax, clear your throat and say you will try your goal. In my case, “I will try to be a best-selling author.” How does that feel to you? To me it feels like I will put in some effort, but the result is up to outside circumstances, something beyond my control. Now, stand up, maybe shake things out a bit, clear your throat again and replace the word ‘try’ with the word ‘determined’. It should sound something like this “I am determined to become a best-selling author.” Spoken with a sense of conviction and backed by a strong ‘why’ you can’t be beat. Judge for yourself. How did the second statement sound? To me it sounds like I will keep going until I find a way that works.

As adults we do not value both the power of words as well as the influence of our internal conversation has over our lives. Begin now to change your outer conversation and try to reduce and eventually eliminate words like ‘try’ and ‘impossible’. These words not only do not motivate us, but give us an out, or more directly, an excuse for not accomplishing our goals.

Feel free to share other words you feel should be eliminated from the vocabulary of successful people.