WHY ARE THINGS SO HARD?

Today’s post is more opinion than strategy. It is a way of looking at things that I found to serve me. I invite you to take it in for consideration. It has made my life a lot less stressful at perhaps the worst times imaginable.

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You have been putting extra effort in at work, maybe even skipping sleep and working weekends. You show up for work one morning determined to do a good job only to find a note on your desk from the boss explaining your job has been eliminated do to downsizing. How about this lovely situation – You found that special someone. You finally have let your walls down and put every once of energy into creating the most loving and romantic relationship possible. You found out they have been doing the same exact thing… with your best friend. Maybe you have scrimped and saved to buy that new car you have been dreaming about. You even updated your insurance. Then your car is totaled by a hit and run driver, the day before your new insurance kicks in.

I think in life we have all faced situations where we have given it our all, with the best of intentions only to have life hit us on the blind side. Let me tell you from a motivational and inspirational perspective – it sucks. This can leave us scratching our heads or even laying on the floor in the fetal position searching for the answer why. It can even leave us jaded with the opinion, “Why bother to try, things will just go wrong anyway.” I recall when my car was totaled in front of my house as I was inside taking a nap things going from bad to worse. The gentleman was elderly visiting from Greece without a license. It was a cold January day in Wisconsin. I could see blood coming from his head and invited him inside to stay warm. After his son came and we exchanged information I mentioned maybe taking him to get checked out. As I waited for the insurance to get ironed out, I even sent the gent a get well card.

What was the result of my remaining cool and compassionate in the face of such a challenging situation? Well, even though we have the same insurance company it took weeks for them to settle. I ended up buying a car from a dealership down the street that sold me a lemon. After spending thousands of dollars to try and keep it running I gave in and sold it at a huge loss. Times like that can leave us angry at the world. Luckily I have learned some things to help me along my journey of life. One of them is to place motivational quotes where I can see them when needed. I happen to find this quote in the middle of all the car chaos.

Keep your head up. God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.

I thought of some of the people I have known who have faced challenges far greater than I was going through at the moment. They remained positive and I was determined to do so as well. It reminded me of the ugly world of politics. Before an election you see advertisements attacking opponents. Do they attack the opponent who is last places in the voting? Never. It would be a waste of money and resources. It is always the person closest to them in votes. Life is that way too. I have learned people usually attack you or try to bring you down because they view you as some sort of threat. I have seen that with negative people attacking my writing because it is a threat to their pessimistic, blame oriented view of life. To consider that they have a good deal of responsibility for, and thus control over their life is a threat to their way of thinking.

It is when you are getting closest to achieving your goals that the challenges become the greatest. It is as if life is both testing to see if you both really want what you are chasing and if you are prepared to receive it. The old cliché that it is always darkest before the dawn holds some truth to it.

Next time life has you up against the ropes remember two very important things. One, life wouldn’t even bother challenging you if you were weak. There is no joy in defeating a weak opponent. Two, and this may be even more important, if you manage to make it through whatever situation you are facing, you will come out stronger and more likely to be able to kick some ass at whatever will come your way in the future. Much like working out, the heavier the weight, the bigger the muscle gain. Keep in mind you are never alone. There are others who have been through challenges as well and we stand with you.

WHY I DO WHAT I DO

Early in my writing career, and every so often to this day, I ask myself the ever important question, “Why do I do what I do?” This may seem like an odd question to be asking yourself, but knowing yourself and why you do things is important to developing a strong why. Having a strong why is what will keep you doing what you are called to do long after the urge to do it has passed.

My answer is really twofold. The first part is a spiritual one. I believe this is what the creator has called me to do. I was given a gift to be able to find the light in even the darkest situation. This didn’t happen overnight and on occasion takes longer than on others, but eventually I see the positive in everything. I was also bestowed with other gifts as well. When I was a small child riding the city bus with my mom she quizzed me on vocabulary and now I have a rather large vernacular. In what can be viewed as either a blessing or a curse, I am very empathetic. I feel the pain others go through and as such, have a strong desire to make this world a better place.

On the more secular side of things, I have a very strong desire to share what I learn. Why? Why not just keep that knowledge to myself and use it to create a life I love? I certainly have done the second half of that. I do indeed love the life I live. It is not without its challenges, but I love it. My life is in a constant state of improvement. That in itself is exciting to me. I know that no matter how good or bad of a day I am having, I will learn something in the future that will allow me to reduce my stress and increase me joy even more.

Back to the question at hand, “that’s all great, but why feel compelled to share it with others?” Those of you who know my story will have some idea why. My life as a writer and seeker of light began in the darkest of situations. My job was being downsized, my health was in serious trouble and my relationship was in the dumpster. It was out of this despair that a determination to learn how to transform the life I was living to a life I would be loving was born.

As I began to learn and apply things my life began to transform. I noticed the people that were in my life had a lot of the same struggles I had faced. Wanting to see everyone experiencing the joy I was, I began to share everything I was learning. In return, some amazing things happened. First, people shared with me things they had learned and we compounded our knowledge. My friends Amelia and Sharon come to mind. Second, I found myself surrounded by people who were not only grateful, but becoming more joyful and positive, just like I was. This was not only more pleasant to be around, but helped make my journey that much easier and more enjoyable as well. Truly proof you receive that which you give away.

These are the main reasons I do what it is that I do. It is also reasons that all of you should do what it is you have been called to do as well. When we share our gifts and knowledge with each other, we not only brighten each other’s lives, but begin to create a shift in the world at large. We create a ripple effect and the gift and knowledge we share can touch the hearts and lives more people than we will ever know. I can’t think of a stronger why to share the gift of you with the world.

WHEN LIFE IS A PILE OF…

This is an emoji of… well… a pile of poo. This is insanely popular for some reason. Margie has even received several orders for cupcakes in this design. I am using it for when our life feels just like a pile of poo. Your car breaks down, a relationship ends, you lose your job or even worse, you lose someone you love. Sometimes the poo really adds up in a hurry. At this point, life really starts to stink, both literally and figuratively.

We all have these periods. Even though it may not seem like anybody is having a worse time than we are, there are people out there who have it worse. Certainly not what we want to hear when the poo hits the fan in our life, or even worse, when we feel like the fan. However, a change in perspective can give us pause to think. So, your car broke down? There are people who cannot even afford a car, much less repairs. There are people, lots of them in fact, who have to walk miles every day for clean drinking water. It was Gandhi who said, “I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.” No matter how dire our situation, there is always something to be grateful for. Your relationship ended or someone you loved passed away? Remember they say It is better to have lost in love, than never to have loved at all. There are people who never find that special someone to love. There are people who never have their parents in their lives. Be grateful for every day you experience love. Even if that love changes it does not mean it has to stop. Try finding just one thing to be grateful for. It will lead you to find another and then another.

Even if you are having trouble finding something to be grateful for, you can still use the poo in your life. How on earth do you use poo in life? Here we are obviously speaking in metaphors, but using a literal comparison can help. We are talking about poo situations in our life as we discussed above, but we can use the same logic as we do for the organic matter itself. I do not recall if it was Meijer, Walmart or somewhere completely different, but I found myself strolling through the garden center fantasizing that I had the ability to grow things when what did I see? Poo! bags and bags of the stuff. Ok, here it was called manure and did not have an emoji on it, but the contents was the same.

That is when the light bulb went on. If we literally use poo to grow stuff in our gardens, why do we not use it for growth in our lives as well? Just like our last post when we discussed failure, if we just dwell on the poo in our lives it would be like sitting in that manure. Just try and picture sitting in a pile of manure and complaining how awful it is. If you were to plant a few seeds in that manure instead of just complaining about it what may happen? You would grow new and wonderful things! Things that would smell far better than the poo itself.

What does that all have to do with our lives when they seem…well..in the toilet? Plenty! If a relationship fails, you can use what went wrong to improve your future relationships. If you did something that brought about the end of the relationship, do not do that thing again. Maybe you were just connected to the wrong person. Going forward be aware that you may wish to start a relationship with someone more aligned with your goals and values.

Did you lose your job? Use that to brush up on your interviewing skills. Perhaps you should consider going back to school? Maybe taking that time to finish the book you have always wanted to write? When you start looking for a new job, apply in a field you enjoy and not the one that just pays the most. In that way the loss of a job can serve as the growth of a new and more rewarding career!

Did you lose someone you love? That is always hard and very painful. If you find yourself sad a great deal of the time, remember that is ok. If your heart feels broken, that just meant it has loved. Be grateful for all of the moments you shared with that person. I have an article coming out next month on this very subject. I can tell you one of the best ways to ease burden of loss is to try and replace some of the light that person brought to the world. Did your grandmother always make people feel welcome? Then you should do that. Did your brother have a great sense of humor? Then focus on bringing laughter into the lives of others. Another emotion that comes up when we lose someone we care deeply for, and I speak from experience, is regret. We find ourselves uttering the all too common phrases “I would’ve/I should’ve/I could’ve” Use this to motivate yourself to live in the moment and put all your love and effort into the relationships you have now. That person may be gone, but they can certainly help you make the most of those you love that are still with you.

Use the poo in your life my friends. Just like the manure in the garden center, use the poo situations in your life as fertilizer to grow new and wonderful things. Pain and challenge can be one of the best catalysts for growth.

STOP WAITING!

Last post we discussed enjoying the process. That is, whatever goal you are chasing, whatever you are trying to accomplish, whatever outcome you are working towards, remember to focus on the enjoying the journey. Celebrate small victories. Understand challenges and what may seem as temporary failures are really learning opportunities and stepping stones to where you wish to go.

Why is this so important? It is paramount! Up to 90% of our life is spent on the journey from one point to another. If you catch yourself uttering phrases like, “I will be happy when..” Stop right there. By stating that you will only be happy when the goal is achieved, the destination is arrived at, you are postponing your happiness. Who decides when you should be happy? You do! You do this by assigning meaning to daily events. The difference between happy, successful people and those who feel life is hard are whether or not you do so consciously.

We do not get to decide what circumstances arrive daily, but we do get to decide 100% on what it means to us. It is the difference of life happening to you or you happening to life. If you are living in reaction you are giving up control of your emotional well-being to other people, other circumstances, the weather and a million other sources. It is our decisions, not our circumstances that should control our life. Do not wait for the weekend, do not wait for graduation, to not wait until you are married or get that dream job. Decide to be happy starting today, starting right now.

If you wait to be happy in your relationship until you are married, you may never get there. Decide to create as much happiness in your relationship starting today and when wedding bells chime, your heart will be exploding with more joy than you can imagine. Postpone your happiness until that dream job arrives and you may not only be passed over for a more enthusiastic and cheerful candidate, you may even lose the job you are not enjoying now. Decide to find even the smallest things to enjoy and be grateful for in the job you are in now, and you will find yourself receiving praise from those around you and you will find in a short time you will have outgrown your position!

The most important benefit of this decision will be the improvement in the quality of your life. You will have good days and bad days. What is for certain, when you adopt this attitude, you will grow on each and every one of them. You will also find your hardest days will be your greatest blessings. Develop an attitude that says ‘Either I will win, or I will learn’

3 LEVELS YOU MUST MASTER

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What you are about to read will change your life. That is not hyperbole, it is not an exaggeration. If you are to really understand what I am about to share with you it will transform the way you view the world. It applies, and can be utilized in every area of your life. Personally, I am just beginning to grasp the power and magnitude of what I am about to share with you. Since coming across this knowledge only a short time ago, it has revolutionized how I write and teach.

There are three levels to every person. You, me, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, Mother Teresa all have three levels. How we use and become aware of these three levels will affect every area of our lives. Want to be a great parent? There are three levels to that. Want to get healthy? Three levels there too. Want to have a great relationship? Three levels of love. I am going to share with you what these three levels are, how I came across this information and then we are going to scratch the surface of how we can put this to use to transform our lives. I say ‘scratch the surface’ because I could write and entire book on this subject. I also say that because I am only beginning to work with this information and I am continuing to learn and find new and exciting applications for it daily.

Without any more build up, here are the three levels you, me and the rest of the world share.

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Emotional/Spiritual

This may not sound too profound at first, but stick with me and I think you will become as excited as I am.

First, allow me to share with you how I came to understand this principle. On a Wednesday at my Post Office job I had a very physical day. Sadly, that night I had to work as a DJ as well. Fortunately for me, my lovely lady was kind enough to put together a dinner as I took an hour nap. I slept well the physical nature of the work was exhausting. Thursday work at the Post Office was slightly less physical. I left and went to write and work on my upcoming book. I tried to do some self editing, which I enjoy slightly more than getting a root canal. I also created and worked on some posts for this website. I came home feeling even more tired than the night before. The following day, Friday, I planned to have a nice relaxing day. I arrived at work only to be told my job was looking at being eliminated. Something the Post Office seems to like to do rather often. I was informed by a coworker that not only was this the case, but the boss had also called into question my work ethic. Which, next to my integrity, is one of the most important things to me. You can imagine how frustrated, disappointed, and to be quite honest angry I was feeling. I few hours later the boss returned from lunch and I asked if I could speak with him. Knowing the discussion he had with our coworker he informed me that he expected to talk with me. To make a long story short, he cleared up that both issues were not at all true. My job was safe, for the time being, and he appreciated the job I did. You can imagine the change in emotions then. I went to back feeling relief, gratitude and a sense of pride in my work. I also felt something else – exhausted!!!

While pushing around a pallet jack, I stopped to share what I noticed with a coworker who happened to be standing there. I inquired whether she had noticed you can be tired in three totally different ways, physically, mentally, and emotionally or spiritually. Being that she is what we could safely say as not the most self-aware person, she stared and said, “Umm… I guess so.” Being that I was just kind of thinking out loud, I nodded and moved on.

As I was letting this information bounce around in my head as I worked, one of the benefits of having a job that does not tax me to mentally, a quote suddenly came to mind.

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill

Suddenly, the light bulb started to glow. I would say it lit up, but sometimes information takes a moment to develop in my brain. I thought to myself, “If there are three forms of exhaustion, there must be three ways to energize!” This simple thought has began to change my life. Here is what I came up with. Let us say you are having a day where you are sleep walking through everything you do. You could stop at your local Starbucks and grab a double espresso, the caffeine would give you a little boost. If you are anything like me, there are days where I swear my body laughs at my feeble attempts to bring it to life. Perhaps that same day you come across an article on a subject that really interests you, or you have a conversation with a friend about a project you are working on. Now you are mentally stimulated. The body will more than likely come along for the ride. Here is where things get interesting to me. If, on this day of working with an energy deficit, you come home to find your spouse has surprised you with tokens of affection you totally did not expect. Maybe a friend calls you to tell you how much they appreciate you. Suddenly, your soul is on fire! Nothing can top that. Sleep? Who needs it.

This applies to more than energy. Trying to lose weight? If you just try to eat better foods (Physical) your chances of success are slim to none. If you study the effects of being overweight (mental) such as less years in your life, complications that can arise as you age, your motivation will be better. If you really want to improve your odds of success, you may want to look at your children or grandchildren and realize you might not see what they will become in life. Maybe you will think about how much you will miss doing with them while you are here because you will not be able to keep up with them physically. This will cause a powerful emotional response. Your motivation then becomes part of your spirit. When that happens, you will change your thinking (mental) and change your actions (physical)

This works for healing too. Let us say you were in a car accident. Your cuts, scraps and bruises will heal. It may take a while for you to remember that your odds on being in another accident are rather slim. Still, in a traffic jam it may take you a while not to have your heart race and your nerves be on edge.

There are so many more areas of life and examples we could touch on, but I wanted to introduce you to this principle and allow you to begin to work with it in your own life. I would be elated to hear what areas you can think of where you could use the knowledge of the three levels and how you can put what we are learning into practice.

USE YOUR PAIN

This man is Inky Johnson. I highly recommend you look up his story, but I will give you a brief outline here. Inky was born into challenging situations to say the least. A very poor neighborhood, 16 people living in a two bedroom house. He had to sleep on the floor. Once a week he got to sleep in a bed…with 5 others. He was surrounded by family and friends going in and out of prison. Truly a recipe for disaster.

Inky decided to take a different path. At the age of 7, with some help from a coach, he decided he was going to play professional football. He practiced every day. Often running light pole to light pole with no shoes on. Eventually he received a scholarship to the University of Tennessee. With 8 games to go he was told he was going to be a first round pick. Imagine being told finally you will be able to erase generations of hurt, pain and financial suffering for your family. He immediately called his mother and grandmother to inform them they would no longer have to live in poverty.

Two games later while making a tackle that all changed. Inky felt like he had the wind knocked out of him. He woke up in the hospital where he was told he had to be rushed into surgery or he would die. Waking up from  that the doctor said he had some bad news. Considering he was still alive, Inky was confused. The doctor explained he had sustained nerve damage and would no longer be able to play football again. Imagine being that close to helping your family, having worked all your life, never cheated and it is stolen away in one play.

The reality of what he was left to deal with sank in when the doctor informed him “Son, you will never be able to use your arm again. You will never be able to use your hand again.” Inky’s reply?  “No disrespect sir, but I am going to use this arm and hand everyday. I am going to use it to inspire people. I am going to use it to help people not give up.” Today Inky Johnson is a motivational speaker and has several videos on YouTube.

When I heard that I had to fight back tears. Wow. I pray that I would be able to see things that way. Which is ironic, because that is what I am challenging all of us, myself included, to do here today. We have all had pain in our lives. Most of us not to the magnitude of the story above, some even worse. My question to you is this, what are you going to do with that pain? My answer is this, you went through the pain, put it to use for you. Use what you have went through to inspire and push you. Use it to motivate and give hope to others. DO NOT WASTE YOUR PAIN.

Maybe someone broke your heart? Use it to not only motivate you to make your next relationship your best relationship, but to help those who are also heartbroken. You lost your job? Use that as a tool to motivate you to chase a job you would enjoy. Do so while maybe helping at a meal program helping those who are in an even tougher situation. Turn your pain from a liability into an asset.

WHY FIGHT IT?

I hear many people say they don’t like or are afraid of change. This makes as much sense to me as being afraid of breathing. Change has to happen. Learning to embrace change is one of the best things you can do to make your life easier. Sure, it is nice to be able to count on certain things. Sometimes the desire to avoid too much change can cause us to work harder, but then we must understand working harder to have a greater control over our environment is also a change. So was learning how to walk, talk, use the bathroom by ourselves and lots of other things we now take for granted. If we get a raise at work, that is a change.

What most people mean is that they do not like change that does not feel good to them. Children say they wish their parents never got divorced. Would you rather they stay together if they were unhappy? We all have people we wish would have never left us and passed away. Even in this there are valuable lessons on loving the people left behind even more. Change is not always easy and not always enjoyable, but we can always use it to our advantage if we learn and grow from it. Lose your job? Maybe you should look at going to work for yourself, or brushing up your skills. Experience a health scare? Maybe you should take the time to take better care of yourself.

When a challenging change comes know that we can either let it drag us down or use it to push us forward. Change is like a wave, we can either drowned or learn to surf. One way it destroys us, the other way we put it to use for us. Next time you are faced with what seems to be an uncomfortable change, ask yourself “How can I use this to surf?”