30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #28)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

Just like yesterday’s post about small objects we use, small things that happen may get quickly forgotten if not overlooked entirely. I’m not sure about you, but I find myself guilty of doing that myself more often than I care to admit. The most wonderful thing could happen to me, perhaps the nicest twist of fortune, and I could forget. Have just one thing go wrong, however, and it seems to stick with you. Why is that? I think we are so determined to avoid pain that the emotion tends to be a little more pronounced.

Isn’t it true if we stuck with the small things that we could be grateful for as long as we stuck with our small irritations that life would be a lot more enjoyable? The answer to that is obvious. We would all like our lives to be more enjoyable or else we would not be reading a blog called Secret2anamazinglife. Then why is it so difficult for us to do? It certainly is not complicated. Just remember and think about the good stuff more than the bad.

The answer, I believe, is not only emotional as mentioned above, but practical as well. Gratitude is a habit, a way of living that needs practice just like anything else. Ever try eating healthy after years of consuming pizza and rum? It is not that easy, trust me on this one. Again, not that complicated. Just eat more healthy food and less junk food. Why does it seem to be so difficult? We are used to doing things in a certain way. We are used to complaining about the boss or coworkers when we get to work. We may be used to complaining on social media. We may even be used to focusing on how upset a certain person or situation has made us.

This is why this 30-day gratitude challenge is so wonderful. It has us focus daily on one small area of our life to be grateful for. It is my sincere hope that when the 30 days are complete all of us, including myself, will live life in spirit of more intense gratitude. The payoff will be a happy disposition, more inner peace and hope, and a more amazing life. If that is not motivation to answer these fun questions daily, I don’t know what is.

As for my answer, my small thing was a fairly good experience at Walmart. I am not sure how Walmart is where you live, or if they even have one, but here they can be quite an adventure. The one I usually stop at in Greenfield Wisconsin has me dodging carts in the parking lot, walking over and around things laying in the middle of aisles and enduring some of the worst customer service one could possible experience. Today, however, none of that happened. The parking lot was relatively clean. I even parked fairly close for it being a busy time of day. I found the item I was looking for and had eye contact with my cashier. All together a rather positive transaction. Tonight, I will have dinner with Margie, her daughter Siraya and my mother. That should be a good time as well.

I am always suggesting journaling for a million different reasons. It serves as an excellent way to develop an attitude of gratitude. Writing one thing you are grateful for each day and why will force you to stop and think of something you are grateful for. There are several other tips for developing this grateful attitude in my books. Feel free to click the link below to get your copy.

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING! 🙂

HOW CAN I LIVE WITHOUT YOU?

HOW DO I LIVE WITHOUT YOU? For those of us who have lived an appreciable amount of time this is a question we have asked. Maybe to ourselves, maybe to God, maybe to the universe or maybe to those who have passed away. We are left with words we wish we would have said, or things we wish we would have done with those we have lost. Even more often we see things that remind us of those who have passed on and we wish we could share those things with them.

What do we do with all of these thoughts? What do we do with all of this love? Let me begin by saying there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Whatever helps you get through is what you must do, as long is it does not bring harm to yourself or others. What I am about to share with you is what I feel not only helps me deal with loss, but helps others and honors those I am missing. If it doesn’t work for you that is ok. If you are looking for something to help you, it might be worth giving a try.

Why I am sharing this with you today? Last week I attended the Wisconsin State Fair, one of my favorite places to be. I even was fortunate enough to write several articles about the fair, including one for chow down in Milwaukee in which I mentioned going to the State Fair with my grandfather at least once a year. That sure made me miss that. It started to bring to mind people I have lost and what I always do to honor them.

In addition a few of the days I had parked a few blocks away next to a lady I had known for years in the neighborhood. This wonderful lady had lost her son a few years ago and was really having a tough time coming to terms with it. I cannot imagine the pain a parent would feel losing a child. It is something I wish no parent ever had to feel or go through. On a few occasions she stopped me to share stories about her son and how much she was still missing him. These moments often resulted in tears shared as well. She also shared stories with me from support groups she attended and what others in situations similar to hers were going through. Some of them were so painful I am not even going to share them here.

Needless to say, there are far too many parents going through this pain. With the rise of the opioid crisis, sadly the numbers look to be climbing. What solace can we offer anyone who has experienced a loss? That is the question that kept bouncing around in my head as I was hoping to offer something to this lady that would bring her even a measure of peace. What I told her is simply two things that I find work. Again, I am not sure they will help her, although I hope they do.

First, I mentioned keeping a journal in which she could write to her son. When she was having an especially hard night she could sit down and have a ‘conversation’ with her son. Sure, it is really a one-sided conversation, but it can be quite rewarding. From a practical standpoint it can help us get a better handle on what exactly we are feeling. The act of writing something down can bring a great amount of clarity. Especially it such an emotionally charged situation as death and grief.

It can also be a safe and healthy place to share our feelings. Sharing our feelings of sadness and grief each and every second can leave us wondering if we are being emotionally draining to others. Even if we have to most wonderful people in our lives who are extremely supportive, there are things we may not be comfortable sharing with others that we would want to say to our loved one who has left us.

The other idea I shared with her is an idea I began to put into practice when I lost my Grandmother. It has seen me through several moments of loss. That is doing what the picture above advocates. Taking the love that you have for that person you have lost and spreading it around. How do we manage to do this? Make sure you share what you feel with others. Never let a day go by without bringing light to another’s life.

The best way that I have found to honor others while healing myself is to do my best to replace some of the light the world has lost with their passing. I recall my Grandmother being welcoming and hospitable. So now I do my best to be that way. Whether it is when I DJ shows with Margie or even having people over for dinner, I do my best to get them what they need and be a gracious host. Certainly, you will not be able to do everything the person who has passed away could do. That is part of what makes each person in this world such a special gift. My Grandmother made a great cheesecake. I simply do not share her talent for that.

I humbly offered to this lady there might be a way to share some of the light her son shared while he was alive. She thought and mentioned how at his funeral people in a wrestling chat room he belonged to told her how much he always cheered them up. She said, “Maybe I could join that chat room and cheer up those young men.” I told her that was one great idea and she could always come up with more as time went on.

Nothing will ever replace the loss of a loved one, nor should it. We feel sadness and pain because we loved and loved a great soul. If there are ways we can honor our loved ones and bring a measure of joy and happiness to our souls and the world around us I believe it is worth a shot. Again, I put this forth to you with humble suggestion. There is no right or wrong way to deal with grief, this is merely what works for me and I share it with you in hopes it may help you as well.

If there is another way you use that helps you with the pain and sense of loss you feel, please share it in the comments below. There are a lot of others who are hurting and by coming together we may be able to bring a measure of peace to them. At the very least we can let them know they are not alone.

WHAT ARE YOU TAKING TIME FOR?

When I first read the above picture I had to take a second and appreciate how profound that actually is. Sure, we all like to vent and sometimes that is very helpful, but how far is too far when it comes to venting? If you find yourself spending more time finding ways to complain and share your pain and unpleasant emotion state with the rest of the world than actually working on a solution to change your situation, that is too far.

If you look at the above example we could learn a lot. The first thing, feel like sh*t, some people like to just stay in this state. I could never understand that. If I am upset, angry, sad or any other unpleasant emotion I will do anything to change that state.  If it doesn’t work, then I will do something else, if that doesn’t work… well you get the idea.

The second item is complaining. Again, venting is one thing, but dwelling on it is certainly another. Les Brown, one of my favorite authors and speakers put it this way, “Don’t bother telling other people your problems. 80% don’t care and 20% are glad it’s you.” This sounds cynical, but it is true. Unless you think the person you are telling your problems to can help you, tell them something you are grateful for instead. It will help both of you feel better.

The third item, checking social media. If you are already in a bad mood adding the drama of others, or reading any unpleasant news would only serve to bring you down further. You would be better served visiting a motivational website, or reading a good book.

Let us look at the solutions they offer. Meditate. It can help you feel more relaxed and think clearly. It can offer a different perspective on your situation. It brings down your heart rate, releases ‘feel good’ brain chemicals and creates an overall sense of well-being. Going hand in hand with meditating is writing in your journal. Anyone who knows me even a little knows how much of a fan of journaling I am. A journal is like a therapist that is always open and does not charge a great amount of money to listen to you. Much like meditating, it can offer clarity and a sense of release.

Writing down what you are grateful for and your goals can work in two amazing ways as well. Focusing on what you are grateful for can change your feeling from lack to abundance and from sadness to joy quicker than just about anything else I know. Goals will not only change your focus on whatever crappy situation you are in presently to the fabulous situation you want to be in, but will also get you moving. Instead of focusing on where you don’t want to be, which is feeling bad, you can focus on where you want to be. By doing so actions that will bring you closer to that will come in to focus as well. So, next time you find yourself tempted to do any of the first three things on the list, try instead to do one of the last three and notice the difference.

NOT WHAT I THOUGHT

This picture shows that I now have 1000 likes on my blog. That alone is a thought that is very humbling. 1000 people all like the same thing and it happens to be the content that I put out on this very blog you are reading. This is the subject I fully intended to write about this fine day. As happens often with writers and inspiration, something went left when I thought it would go right.

What am I talking about? A new fun and exciting thing we can all try together that will not only put a smile on our faces and hearts but make our life far more amazing. Are you in? This simple exercise requires three things. 1. a pen 2. a small journal or notebook. 3. a fairly good sense of introspection and observation. That’s it. No complicated tools, no degree from a famous university, no occult secret and no magic formula.

Ok, so what on earth is this activity. Here is the story of how this post came to be and this idea came to me. For the last two or three days I have not been feeling well. Some sort of stomach flu or something. Spent most of that time laying in bed. My car issues are on the way to a wonderful conclusion and things around the house have been crazy. What I really needed was some relaxing quality time with my lady. So we decided to go to the mall today for lunch and she was going to shop while I wrote. She is actually there now so I better make this short so I can pick her up.

We decided to check out a new brew pub that just opened up there. We were greeted friendly and could feel a very positive vibe right off the bat. We saw a few friends while we were there and I exchanged information with a gentleman also on the path to self-enlightenment. It was a marvelous experience. Not to mention after lots of stress physically and emotionally both my lady and I were smiling and actually had some time together. As I left to write this, the sun was shining and it was not to insanely cold, which for Wisconsin this time of year is a win. I began to just think of all of these things and then it hit me. A great idea! A fun idea! A life transforming idea!

Enough with the story behind the idea, here is the idea. I was going to write about 1000 different people all liking my blog and how that felt like such an honor. These people come from over 70 different countries, across all social, religious and political fields. Then the idea came to me. I bet this one person (that would be me, which at the time I guess I was referring to in the third person) likes 1000 different things. I started noticing the afore mentioned things I was enjoying. The sunshine, the nice people I met, the amazing time with my lady. Guess what? I had me feeling as if I were floating instead of walking. I thought “wouldn’t it be great to feel like this more often?”. Then, as I am want to do I followed that with the thought “How can I?”. The solution my friends is simple, fun and I am going to share it now.

Keep a journal of what makes you happy. That’s it? Yes, that is it. Whatever it may be. Sunshine, balloons, penguins, the way the person you love smiles at you. Write them down in a special journal. Do it whenever the mood strikes you. Just keep the journal handy. Why write them down? It makes it more visceral. Not to mention when you open to write the next time you will be greeted by the last things that make you happy.

What can you do with this information? Lots of things. You can use it when you are feeling down for things to try to turn things around. When loved ones ask you what you might enjoy doing or what gift you may enjoy ideas are there. Looking for things to put in a gratitude journal? How about things that make you happy. Not to mention something else happens that makes life more of an enjoyable adventure rather than a arduous task. You become more aware of the things that make you happy when they occur.

I am blessed to have a lady in my life that has a very unique skill. When I am down and suddenly listing things that all suck in my life (Yes even self-improvement authors have these moments) she is quick to point out things that are going right, or could go right. This can seem slightly annoying when I just feel like complaining, but let me tell you it is an amazing blessing, because it gets me out of that state. I can only imagine doing this fun activity will only make her job easier. Another bonus I just thought of, if she reads my happy journal she will know lots of things that make her man happy.

So please will you try this activity with me? Share this with all of your friends. Let us all be happier in 2017!

STAY CONNECTED

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Several years back I was heading on vacation. The young lady I was dating was unable to go with for a variety of reasons. We were discussing how much we would be missing each other when an interesting thing happened. She then asked me what time zone I would be in. After telling her I could see she was doing some rough calculations in her head. She then asked if I could do her a simple favor. Being one who likes to make their partner happy I was more than happy to oblige. This was her favor “Tomorrow night at 10pm your time can you stop and look up at the moon for about 60 seconds?” This seemed like an odd request considering there seemed to be nothing special going on with the moon that I knew that day. After assuring her I would I had to inquire why she asked that I do that particular thing. “Because even though we are apart I know at the exact same time we will be staring at the exact same moon” When I first heard it I thought it sounded rather corny and a little cliché, but agreed anyway. Fast forward 24 hours. I find myself on a beautiful tropical island with some friends sharing dinner and cocktails. Now I cannot explain why I happened to look at the clock when I did, but it just happened to be 9:55. In my rum induced state I had almost forgotten the promise I had made. Not wanting to appear too much like a hopeless romantic I just told my friends I had to use the men’s room, which wasn’t a complete lie after rum anyway. So there I found myself standing on the beach in front of the ocean looking at my watch thinking to myself “All I have to do is quickly look up at the moon right at ten so I can say I did it and then I can go back to my cold and refreshing cocktail” So I waited about the 90 seconds I had to go before ten o’clock and my brain played a funny trick on me. Suddenly I started to wonder if she was doing the same thing. Before I knew it ten o’clock had arrived. I went to take my quick glance and noticed how amazing the clouds passing by the moon looked that night. It had a shade of dark purple I had never seen before. As I looked for a few seconds I began to picture the girl I left behind doing the same. Suddenly I wasn’t is such a hurry to get back to my rum (one of the few times that can be said) the rest of the evening was filled with thoughts of her and the moon. Sure I enjoyed the company of my friends and even a few more cocktails, but I felt a connection with a woman thousands of miles away I just can’t explain.

So what is the point of this story? The point is this. At some point in any relationship you will be apart from the one you love. This can be a healthy thing as everyone needs a little room for themselves and to experience and discover things they can bring back to the relationship. It also underscores the power of symbols and how you can use them to stay connected to your partner even when they are not around. Perhaps you have a piece of amazing jewelry they made you? Perhaps they wrote you a nice letter about everything they love about you? Even the journals we discussed in a previous post can serve as a way of staying connected even when you have to be apart physically. So find that symbol or create one with your partner. I have seen everything from necklaces that have puzzle pieces that fit together to matching tattoos. Whatever works for you and your partner. Also remember it never hurts to stop and look at the moon.