In honor of my upcoming book, Monday Morning Miracles, I wanted to share a quick inspiring thought to start the week. Monday can be a tough day for all of us. Back to work, back to school and just time away from our family and friends.
If this Monday has you feeling uninspired, here is a solution, inspire someone else! If you woke up feeling unmotivated after only 2 hours of sleep because you had to DJ (purely hypothetical 😉) motivate someone else! Feeling sad and already missing time with those you love? Spend a good portion of your Monday cheering up someone else!
When we help others it not only brightens their day, but it can’t help but reflect on us! Not to mention, it fills our surroundings with inspired, motivated and happy people! OWN MONDAY, DON’T LET IT OWN YOU!
The statement above is one everybody should do their best to remember. It is one that everyone should do their best to live by. No matter what kind of leader in life we are, and trust me we are all leaders of some sort, it bears noting that what truly inspires others is not our words, but our behavior. It is even more important that our words and actions are in accord. What is your opinion of someone who constantly says one thing, but then acts in a way contrary to their words? There are lots of names we have for these people, none of which are good. What about someone who feels the need to go around and share their opinion on a topic with everyone who wasn’t even aware they wanted to listen? Again, fun titles we may bestow on these folks as well.
Think of the people who inspire you? Is it the person who is constantly telling you that you ‘should do this’ or ‘should do that’? Especially if they are not doing anything or worse doing the opposite of what they are telling you to do. Do these people inspire you? They inspire me…inspire me to do without their company. How about the people busy working on what they think is important in life? The friend that has been diligently saving and now has enough to buy themselves a new car? Certainly more inspiring than the friend who tells you that you should be saving more while they are out spending their entire paycheck at the local watering hole. How about your boss that tells you to be more dedicated to your work while he leaves early every Friday to work on his golf game? Then there is the boss who is there working when you get in and is still there when you leave. Which one would you rather work for.
The most important category that I can think of where this principle comes into play is being a parent. This doesn’t even have to be a biological parent. It can be adoptive parents, step parents, aunts, uncles, or anyone that a child may look up to. We can spend hours or longer thinking of the perfect lessons to think of for our children. In reality, only one will matter – how we live our lives. Do our children hear us saying things like, “It is no use. I will never be able to do/afford that.” or such dangerous clichés as “Rich people must have screwed people over.” What we say repetitively can be absorbed more than we think. Still, it is our example that will be picked up by children the most. We tell them to always be honest and take care of their obligations, but we are 2 months behind on the electric bill and are trying to buy more time by saying we never received the bill that is sitting on our coffee table. We tell them all people should be treated with kindness and respect but don’t say something when our friends make racist or prejudiced comments. I believe if you want to positively affect a child’s life, whether you are a parent, teacher or just an adult who has influence in the child’s life, start thinking more in terms of “What can I show this child?” instead of “What can I tell this child?”
One of the greatest things we can do is lead by our example. How we conduct ourselves does a lot more to tell the world about us than what we say. How we conduct our relationships tells the world how much we love our spouse than what we say when they are sitting next to us. How we approach our work will tell others what kind of discipline we have. Saying someone’s time is very important to us is a nice gesture, but do you think they will believe us if we are constantly showing up late to meet them? Begin to think what actions we can take to truly express our character and what is important to us. I would love to hear some of yours in the comments below.
The joy of hard times? Were you dropped on your head when you young or what Neil? Actually, that did happen once, but that is a story for a different time. You might think the idea of hard times containing any amount of joy is a crazy notion, but just a little reflection can tell us there is a great deal of truth in that idea.
As the picture with the great philosopher, Winnie-the-Pooh shows us, one of the way hard times bring us joy is the revealing of true friends. How many times have you faced a challenging situation, only to receive an act of kindness from a friend that was completely unexpected and overwhelmingly gracious? It has been my good fortune to experience more of those than I can count. You may know that you have a good friend, but in challenging times we have the ability to feel that we have a good friend.
The revelation of true friends, although one of my favorite, is not the only gift of joy hard times give us. There are others that we need to appreciate. One of them is the gift of resilience. If someone said they consider you a resilient person, would that not be a good compliment? Yet, if we were to think about it, how could one become resilient without facing a good deal of hard times and surviving them? How resilient would you be if everything was provided for you? If you never had to withstand any of the storms of life, how strong would your character be? Many of you might be mumbling under your breath, “Keep your resilience! I don’t want anymore challenges.” I can understand that. It is never a good feeling to have life throw something at us that we were truly not expecting, but that does not change the fact that it contains something that is helpful.
Which brings us to the last gift that hard times bring us – manure! You may be wondering what the product that comes out of the wrong end of an animal has anything to do with our life and our suffering? Plenty! There are things that happen in life that happen to us that are a complete pile of…well…let us say manure to keep the censors happy. Much like the organic product itself, these life problems stink and we wish they were not a part of our lives. That does not mean we cannot put this to work for us. One of the main uses of manure is for fertilizer. The same is true of the manure in our lives. Our challenges, our set backs and all of the manure type events in our lives can either make our life stink, or we can use it to grow some wonderful blessings. A seed that is buried in the ground and covered in…manure, which can be how our lives feel at certain points, grows into a tough and sturdy plant. Let the manure in our life do the same for us.
Hard times never feel good and it is my sincere wish that all of you never experience more hard times than can be helped. As much as I wish that, we are all bound to experience some times that really challenge our ability to smile. It is that deep knowing and understanding that even in the darkest of times there is light to be found, that can keep us moving forward. Look for the gifts in the hard times my friends. Notice the friends that reach out and help. Feel the strength of character and resilience you are building by just withstanding the storm. Use all of the manure situations in life as fertilizer and grow blessings out of the dung that life throws at us.
Who likes to wait for their goals? If I were back to giving seminars, I would not expect very many hands to be raised in regards to this question. Many of us are like this small child in the picture above. We get on that new diet, head to the gym, maybe even go inside and then come home and look in the mirror to see if magically we lost a few pounds on the drive to and from the gym. We have all done something like this, haven’t we? Expected results that were disproportionate to the time we had spent working on them.
I once read a description on the relativity of time that stated “How long 3 minutes is, depends on what side of the bathroom door you are on. The same is true when you are working on your goals. I know the journey of getting in shape is certainly an example of this. When you begin to eat healthier, it may feel like you haven’t had pizza in the last decade, when really it was just last Thursday. Same thing for working out. You may hear yourself telling your friend that you can’t remember the last time your muscles didn’t hurt. It is then when they help you with a comment like, “What do you expect? It has only been a week since you have been working out .”
It is the middle of the week as we post this. So much can seem overwhelming or that we are even running short on time to accomplish our goals for the week. We must remember to be patient with ourselves. Remain focused on the long-term solution that we are striving for. The principle of compound interest works not only in the world of finances, but in our professional and personal goals as well. Beginning with small steps towards our goals and maintaining and building on them is the formula for success. After 20 years of poor dietary choices, swapping fast food for a healthy lunch may not seem to make the pounds melt off, but doing so for 6 months will make a huge difference. Building on that lunch time improvement to discover additional healthy meals, some you may want to try for dinner, can lead to a healthier lifestyle long-term. Attempting to give up all your burgers and fries and only eat salad and water for every meal, would certainly lead to you giving up and going back to the burgers and fries. Not to mention, it is not very healthy to begin with.
Remember to be patient with yourself as you work towards your goals this week. Consider what small steps you could take, that will be sustainable. This is the secret to success. In a world where we are all looking for the ‘six-minute abs’ solution to all of our problems, remember lasting change is the secret to success. Look for small action steps you can take and maintain over time. Remember that there is a good deal of time between planting and harvesting. A quick note on that. Different plants take different amounts of time until they are ready for harvest. Your beans do not ripen at the same time as your tomatoes. In fact, one tomato plant may bloom before the one right next to it. Although this seems obvious, we may forget this same rule applies to people as well. Just because neighbor Bob got his degree and new Bugatti by the time he was 40, does not mean we are falling behind. It may be that our plans may bloom later. Sure, it may be a little deflating waving to neighbor Bob in his fancy ride from our Ford Escape, but we must be patient with ourselves and keep tending our own garden. Like compound interest in investing, our small actions over time will lead us to look up one day to amazing results!
Many of you wrote in to express how much you enjoyed our posts on self-care. With that in mind we decided to do another and bring you a little something different. I think the picture above is a great example of why we need to recharge our batteries, as well as that of our cell phones. In fact, if you need a good reminder to take care of yourself, every time you plug in your cell phone let that be reminder to charge your own batteries as well. Most of us cannot even imagine taking as much time for ourselves as we give to let our cell phones charge. Writing that just sounded crazy to me. Most of us take better care of an electronic device than we do of our own bodies.
What happens as our cell phone battery begins to get low? We may drop a call. Our connection to the internet may be spotting or may not exist at all. Perhaps our applications we are running slow down. We look at our phone and realize it is because the battery is low. We not only know this, but we expect it. As the energy in the phone becomes lower, so does its performance. How come this does not transfer to our thoughts on people, most of all ourselves? We realize our phones run best with a full battery. Wouldn’t it make sense we would too? We often feel guilty for saying no to someone or for taking time for ourselves.
Let us look at what happens when we let our battery run low. This can be skipping sleep, working extra long hours or not addressing stress in our lives. What are some of the symptoms? Let us first look at the physical or ‘outside’ manifestation of this. It often first appears as general fatigue. Much like our phone slowing down, so do we. Just like an electronic appliance, if we keep going at this rate we will eventually stop. Either by passing our or passing away. We also can get headaches. There are even specific pain relievers marketed as “tension headache relief”. If Madison Avenue can figure out stress can cause us physical discomfort, how come we can’t? Add muscle cramps or pain. This can come not only from stress, but not practicing other self-care methods such as staying hydrated.
Many of us “battle through” these symptoms. Some even consider them a badge of honor of sorts. Let us look at how this can affect our mental state or our mood. Stress can bring on feelings of anxiety or even paranoia in extreme states. Even milder cases can drain our motivation. This can cause us to get less done which can stress us even further. Talk about an equation for disaster! How about feelings of restlessness or overwhelm? Those are fun aren’t they? You may be tempted to say “So what! As long as I am making the boss happy, who cares if I am a wreck?” This brings us to our next reason taking time for self-care and to recharge is so important.
We may think being continually stressed and running ourselves on empty only impacts us, but we could not be more incorrect in that thinking. Being both physically and mentally drained can cause our behavior to change as well. We can be prone to angry outbursts. Have you ever found yourself snapping at someone who did nothing wrong except to cross your path when you were stressed and burnt out? Not only is this not good for our relationships, it also adds the stress of having to repair the damage your stress did in the first place. We can begin to overeat or even under eat when we are not taking time to focus on our well-being. We certainly wouldn’t be eating the stuff that will fuel our body and allow it the best chance of coping with what we are putting it through. Some people even turn to drug or alcohol abuse to help them cope with the stress when they are no longer able to do so physically or mentally. This often can be true of high-achievers, who have a hard time taking time out from chasing their goals to focus on themselves. Can you imagine how one or several of these behavior changes would impact the lives of those close to you or even those depending on you?
Most of us charge our phones at least once a day. Make sure you do at least that much for yourself. As you can see your cell phone is not the only thing that performs poorly when its battery is drained or it has too many programs running at the same time. Make sure you are getting enough rest, eating and drinking the right things to fuel our brains and bodies. Lastly, make sure you are taking steps to address stress. This can be meditation, exercise, talking with a professional or even a friend. Make sure you do not have too many applications running in your own life. Keep the batteries charged and you will keep yourself running smoothly.
Here we are. Another Monday, the beginning of another work week. I know that may excite some of you and some of you may be less than enthused. If you are reading this post on the site “Secret2anamazinglife.com” it would be a fair assertion that you are looking to make your life…well…more amazing. The secret to living a more amazing life is having less stress, more joy and working to become the best version of ourselves. This should seem fairly obvious. The real question is how do we do this.
I have dedicated over 20 years to exploring this question. Many of the answers can be found both on this blog as well as in my two books, A Happy Life for Busy People and Living the Dream. One of the greatest areas the influences the amount of both stress and joy in our lives to a great degree is our relationships. This is such an important area that I have dedicated a section to it in both of the afore-mentioned books. “Picking your Posse” as the sections are called, is one of the most important decisions you can make.
Forming your ‘Spirit Tribe’ as the quote above calls it, is something far too many of us do without any or much thought. Instead of making a conscious effort to choose who to have, or in some cases eliminate, from our lives, we let circumstance decide. For an area that has such a great impact, and that we have a good deal of control over, why are we leaving such a good portion of it up for chance? We have to take advantage of our ability to both bring in and let out people in our lives. Here are a few examples of how to do that. If you would like to dive deeper into this subject, please click the link at the end of this post to be taken to my author page and order one or both of my books.
The first step in “picking your posse” is to decide who you would like in it. This could be specific people or even the type of people. If you know the specific people you would like to spend more time with, the answer is pretty straight forward. Call them up, shoot them an email, or better yet go up to them in person and make some plans. Grab some coffee, get dinner, go the the gym or for a walk. Whatever you would desire to do, reach out and make it happen. What if you know the type of people you would like in your life? Think of the qualities of the people you would like in your life. Would you like encouraging people? People who are driven? People who like to work out? People who like to visit art museums? Write that down. If you look at your list and can think of people you know who have those skills, just follow our earlier example and make some plans with them
What if you do not know people with the traits, skills or attitudes that you are desiring to be more a part of your life? In that case, thank the powers that be you live in the time you do. Picking a posse has never been easier. With the internet and social media we can join groups, follow pages and join discussion groups in any area of interest we have. There we will find many people who also share that interest with us. It goes without saying you should always exercise caution and common sense when meeting someone new for the first time. There are also groups who meet regularly at libraries, coffee shops and many other places in town. They are definitely worth exploring.
The added bonus of adding all of these great people to your life is that it will leave you less time to be stuck with people you do not desire. This can be a Godsend for those too polite or even scared to eliminate the negative people from their lives. Think about who you would like in your posse, or spirit tribe today. Reach out, do some research and start spending time with them. The right people can transform our lives for the better and do so in a hurry!
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.
How often have you asked yourself “Why is this happening to me?” I urge you to stop asking that question as it seldom equals a positive result. Instead frame it in a more positive way. Something to the effect of “What positive result could possibly come of this negative situation that is currently happening in my life?” Not only will you begin to train yourself to see the positive side of more situations, but you will undoubtedly have a greater feeling of control in your life.
Despite doing all of this, there are still situations that are such a challenge that any positive we may be able to mine out of them will not outweigh the negative contained within. The sadness of certain situations may pass or lessen with time, but will not change the cause of the sadness. Our upstairs neighbor may eventually stop his tap dancing lessons at 3am, but we will still have lost any sleep we may have been able to get. When a loved one leaves on a trip, we know they will be back eventually but that does not stop the sting of them being gone.
The irony of all of these situations is they bring us a blessing. That blessing is the appreciation of the situation when the cause is not present. We are able to appreciate the emotion of joy after a long period of sadness. We appreciate the silence when our neighbor is away at a tap dancing contest. To, of course, the joy we feel when we greet our loved one after they come home from a hard day working at the Post Office, or so I am told. One of the best ways that this has been brought to my attention is at my day job. There are days when I have not slept much the night before and my enthusiasm for my occupation may be less than stellar. It may seem like a struggle at times to make it through the day. It may feel tough, but then the next day, I show up…with a head cold. Suddenly, that tough day you had before would seem like a dream. “Boy, would this job be easier if only I didn’t have this stupid head cold.” You can’t wait to feel healthy again. After only a few days of good health, we can begin to take it for granted again.
My goal for both myself and everyone reading this post is twofold. First, appreciate all the blessings we take for granted. Get a flat tire on the way to work? At least it is not raining. Oh, it is raining? Well, at least you have a job to go to. You get the idea. Second thing that I hope we all get out of this, myself included, is to see the blessing in negative situations. When going through something completely draining, just think of how happy you will be when it is over and how much it will make you appreciate the time when that situation is no longer in your life. This is not only a secret to an amazing life, but quite often the secret to making it through life.
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.
The month of October is filled with scary stories, decorations and Halloween parties. In this blog, I want to discuss something even scarier than your favorite horror movie – continuing the issues that plague generation after generation. What is even scarier is that these issues can be silent killers that are very hard to spot. Why? Simply put, that is how things always were. If you were raised in a family that always said “Children are to be seen and not heard.” It may be very difficult to give time to and respect for the emotional wants and needs of your own children. Grew up in a family where your parents, and perhaps even your aunts and uncles fought and got divorced? It may be more difficult to know the ingredients that make the recipe for a successful relationship. Recognizing these situations for what they are can make them seem a lot less intimidating. They are great opportunities for both growth and ending generations of communication failures.
As if these challenges were not scary enough, there may be lessons we are not even aware that we can improve upon. Perhaps you grew up as an only child, you may have a little more difficult time learning to compromise in a relationship. If that childhood included a single parent as well, it may be even more difficult. Did you grow up in a tough neighborhood? You may feel great for having made it out, and congratulations are in order to be sure, but realize you may have lingering issues trusting the motives of others or have difficulty letting your guard down. What served you in situations past, may hinder you moving forward. Discovering and healing these issues is not easy, but doing so will help you live a fuller, richer and more rewarding life going forward.
Solving these issues can be as tricky as the issues are, but they don’t have to be. Often, just realizing we have them and being aware of them can go a long way. Knowing you have and issue and admitting you have an issue does not solve an issue. Telling someone “I have trust issues because my last partner cheated on me.” can be helpful. It can help your partner understand some of your behavior and even adjust some of their behavior to account for that issue. Telling another party in a relationship that you have ‘communication issues’ and expecting them to just be understanding while you do nothing to change those issues is not only unfair, but it is unhealthy. Admitting a struggle we may have but doing nothing to address that challenge places the onus entirely on the other party. Any relationship involves two or more parties and so should any solution for a challenge in that relationship.
How do we overcome relationship challenges that may have existed in our family long before we were even born? The answer is many faceted as the challenge itself. The first step is always to come to terms with the fact that we have this challenge in the first place. This can take long time of reflection, discussions with our partner or every therapy in some cases. People can be very sensitive when it comes to discovering this. It takes suspending our egos and viewing it as a growth opportunity and not as discovering a fault. This can be easy to understand intellectually, but another to grasp emotionally. It also requires an understanding that fault and responsibility are completely unrelated. Although it may not be our fault that we picked up the bad habits of our parents or friends, it is our responsibility to address those issues.