As we had into a weekend that contains holidays for many of us, let us do so with a heart filled with gratitude. Not only for the gifts so thoughtfully given, but to have those in our lives to celebrate with. It is unfortunately true that many of us may be facing our first holiday without a loved one. Still, let us be so grateful we had them in our lives to create such beautiful holiday memories with. Let us savor those memories and allow their spirits to live on.
There are so many things in our lives to be thankful and grateful for that it amounts to a pile of presents under a tree. Here is a great suggestion to help you feel the holiday spirit. This can be done in your head or even out loud. It can be a great new holiday tradition to start with the family.
With each person that is in your life, be they family, friends or coworkers, think of each person and all they bring to your life. Each positive thing is a gift to your sprit. If you list each thing as you think of them, you will realize how truly blessed and abundant you are. If you wish to take it to the next level, write them down and share with that person. Can you imagine the joy they would feel getting a card/email or other message that begins “this holiday, I want to thank you for bringing into my life the gifts of…”
The gifts will be different for everyone. Some will be the gift of laughter. Some people may give you the gift of encouragement. There are people who help with the gift of faith. The lists could be endless. Do this for as many people as you can and you will feel not only like you received a lot of presents this year, but you will feel very grateful and very blessed.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ALL OF US AT SECRET2ANAMAZINGLIFE.COM TO ALL OF YOU!😀
We are almost to the end of the week. There are probably goals that you are working hard to achieve. Maybe your efforts are focused on just making it through the week. Although we should focus on thriving instead of surviving, some weeks can be tougher than others. With the holidays, you have not only your regular responsibilities, but additional stress as well. This is why this one activity must be included in every day, no matter how busy you are!
What is this activity that is all so important? Taking time to do at least one thing that makes you happy. Before you start arguing that you’re too busy, or simply don’t have the time, let me explain why this is so important. Taking time to do something that simply brings us joy can go a long way to reduce stress. By doing so, we help bolster our immune system. Which in today’s world is very crucial. We also take care of our heart. By exposure to prolonged bouts of stress, there are numerous cardiac events that cloud occur, none of them good. We also increase dopamine levels, or the feel good chemical in our brain.
All of these allow us to be there for those we love, increase our productivity, and enjoy life more. This doesn’t have to be anything grandiose. It can be simply enjoying a peaceful cup of quality coffee or a nice hot bath and really savoring the moment. What activities are you going to do to bring yourself some joy?
You may have noticed that last Friday’s blog post seemed to lack a little something…like being there. I apologize for that, but Thursday started our state fair here in Wisconsin. I have been attending this festival ever since I was born in 1975. Around 1996, I made a decision that was rather unique to me back then. If I really enjoyed every time I went to the State Fair, why not go as often as I could. In this case, that would be 11 days as that is how long our state fair lasts. Beginning that year I have done just that very thing. The Wisconsin State Fair became my annual vacation. I take those days off from my day job and make every effort to have other obligations either rescheduled or taken care of.
I have received my fair share of flack for this decision over the years. People ask me such questions as how do I not get bored going every day, how do I manage to afford it and certainly questions about the health aspects of such an adventure. These are all valid concerns and here are some quick answers. Doing something you love rarely tends to become boring. Doing it 11 days straight, for almost 20 years can bring that into possibility. For me, this has never been a problem. As a personal characteristic, I cannot remember the last time I was bored. It is a fact that if I had 3 lifetimes I could not do all that I wanted to do. Involving different people in my life makes each experience new and different. Margie likes to see bands and shop. My mother, she likes the baby animals and doing the garden and art walks. Everyone loves to explore new and exciting foods. Trying them makes each yea, and sometimes day, different and exciting. I learned I can apply this to anything I enjoy in my life. Going for coffee with my mom is one experience. Doing the very same thing with my friend Nick is something different entirely.
Another question was how do I afford going to the fair every year? Several ways. They all involve planning ahead of time. In about April, they begin to sell tickets at a discounted price. This saves me $5 a day. They also have coupon books available. I purchased one for $4 and if I use the ones I plan to, that will save me a total of $70 on food, drink and items throughout the 11 days. It is also using my time there to discover where and what presents the best deals. Nachos may be a dollar cheaper at one stand, but you may get twice as much at another. I turn it into a fun game. Thinking of the different foods and drink and where is the best place to go.
Speaking of food, another concern, often voiced by my doctor, is the health aspects of spending 11 days eating fair food. I’ll be the first to agree this is not the healthiest 11 days I spend in a year, but there are several factors to consider here as well. The first being that this is an exception and not the rule. As Margie, Amanda, my mother and myself were sampling several of the new foods for a review on Chow Down in Milwaukee (which I will link at the end of this post) We all discussed how we do not normally consume fried food (Like the fried fish fry above, which was rather delicious)Another tip is while finding the best value at the state fair, I also look for several healthier options. There is a gluten-free stand for those that need those foods. There is a stand that serves grilled chicken over a bed of rice. Snacks such as dried tart cherries and cranberries can be found among all of the chocolate and fudge. Same holds true with beverages. You can always find soda, beer and cocktails. You can however find water, juice and even a stand for a business named Urbal Tea that serves…you guessed it, herbal tea. Not only healthier option, but refreshing one as well. Couple these tricks with the incredible amount of walking I do and a trip to the Wisconsin State Fair is not as unhealthy as it could be.
When you find something that does not harm you or others that you enjoy in life, I recommend incorporating it as much as you can. There are ways to make it exciting, economical and healthy. Try doing it with different people and notice how that can expand your enjoyment. You may notice things that escaped your attention. Find ways in which it can be planned and maybe done more economically. This could involve purchasing tickets ahead of time like I do, or joining and organization, going in with others or a host of other ideas. Find ways to make it healthier too. Is there a particular run/walk you do every year? Maybe get a group of friends to start training with you. Whatever it is you enjoy in life, think of ways in which you cannot only do it more, but do it better. I would love to hear what activities you enjoy doing every year.
What is the secret to an amazing life? Oatmeal. Wait. What? Oatmeal? Well, not exactly oatmeal but in my case it is. When it comes right down to it, what makes a life amazing is enjoying it. That may sound like a no brainer, but it is really the great secret of life. You may be thinking, “Doesn’t everyone know this already?” You would think so. Still, we hear of people doing anything they can for money, for power, for fame and even so someone would click the little ‘thumbs up’ button on their social media post. What they fail to realize is they do all of those things for one reason and one reason only – to feel good.
So the secret of life is just doing only things we love? Sure Bucky, and well you are at it you could find a magic unicorn to ride to the playground to eat the cotton candy that is good for you. I have seen a lot of self-improvement books and seminars telling people to focus on trying to eliminate things in their lives that are unpleasant and make them less than happy. This certainly is a logical step. The less things we have in life that we don’t like, the more we will feel good. In fact, this is part of the seminars I teach. Notice I said that it was part of living a life that feels good.
Here is a terrible news flash. We are all going to die. We are all going to have to file taxes. We, at some point in our lives are going to have the terrible situation of losing someone we love. In other words, there are going to be situations in our life that we cannot control and mitigate. Certainly, limiting these as mentioned above is one option. What happens when you have to work with that annoying boss because you really like the job and need the money? How about members of your spouse’s family you have to put up with to keep the peace at home? There are always situations that seem to require us to do things that are less than pleasant. In that case how do we manage to still feel good even when doing things that don’t feel good? That is the million dollar question. Once we look at the answer, we will discover a tool we can use to transform our entire life.
How do we enjoy doing the things that we know we must do but really do not enjoy? The first part of the answer comes in asking this question in the first place. It amazes me when I look and listen to people’s success plans, almost nobody includes ‘having fun during the process’. Try asking this question to yourself next time you embark on a goal. Ok, so how do we enjoy the process and what on earth does all of this have to do with oatmeal? So glad you asked. One thing I asked myself was how to start eating healthier with my new work hours. I have limited time to heat and consume anything. This usually pushes you toward fast food and unhealthy options. One thing that is healthy and fast is oatmeal. Although not a terribly exciting food, oatmeal has a host of health benefits.
My challenge in all of this was simple. How could I enjoy eating the not very exciting dish of oatmeal every day? The first thing I needed to do was quantify my emotional state. On a scale of 1 to 10 how excited am I about eating oatmeal? I gave it a 4. Then I asked myself the important question, “Where do I want to be?” Realistically, I decided I would like to be between an 8 to 10. Depending on the day, I could be more or less excited, but I wanted to stay in that range. Then the million dollar question – “What can I do to go from a 4 experience to a 10?”
Why is that a million dollar question? Stick with me here. I began to think of what could make eating oatmeal a more fun and exciting adventure. The first was to have a ‘cool’ oatmeal bowl. That is mine in the first picture. It was given to me by my mother and has an inspirational saying on it. Sadly, two days ago I dropped and broke the spoon. Next, I wanted to research all of the benefits that eating oatmeal bring to your health. I figured if I could picture this happening with each bite, my oatmeal consumption would become infinitelymore enjoyable. I looked online and read some great articles. I also decided to look for fun and healthy oatmeal. Why stick with the boring flavors? I found Kodiak high protein oatmeal filled me up and gave me the most energy. Better oats gave me some healthy options. All of these things increased my enjoyment of eating oatmeal. I even look forward to going to different stores to see what kinds they have. I also found fun and healthy things to add to my oatmeal.
If you stuck with me this long, here is the golden ticket this represents. You can apply this same power to anything in your life you would like to become more enjoyable. How can you deal with that annoying coworker? Maybe imagine him with a cartoon head while he is talking to you, or be grateful that he is allowing you to practice your patience skills. How can you enjoy working out more? Maybe treat yourself to a new workout outfit, or running shoes? Listen to some music that really gets you pumped up! Imagine how good you will feel when you are done. There are a million different options. Just keep asking yourself how can I go from a four experience, to say a six or a seven. Work your way up.
Here is another coo thing. This works in reverse. Why would you want to take a good experience and make it bad? Let’s say you have some unhealthy habits you enjoy. Drinking soda maybe? Eating too much candy or fast food? Try picturing that adorable gummy bear floating in anchovy juice. Picture what that greasy burger is doing to the inside of your body. In fact, get some pictures printed out. Looking at a picture of a smoker’s lung or clogged arteries can certainly achieve that emotional connection you are looking for. Use this tool for creating more joy in your life. It will help you enjoy the things that add to your life, and help you stop enjoying the things that subtract from your life.
We have talked many times about how you receive what you give away. This is especially true when it comes to positivity. If you treat everyone in a positive manner, if you pay them genuine compliments, show them compassion, and give them the gift of your time, they will definitely be more likely to treat you in a similar fashion.
This doesn’t sound overly complicated, does it? Then I encourage you, I beseech you, I implore you to be as kind as you can be to as many people as you can be. The kinder you are, the more people you are kind to, the greater the positive impact will be on your life.
Why wait? The sooner you start, the sooner your life will become more positive. Even if you are happy with the life you have right now, try increasing the joy you bring to others. Try this for the next 7 days. You will create connections and joy with others that will last a lifetime!
I welcome ideas on how to bring joy to others. How do you positivity affect others? How has this impacted your life?
Last post we looked at how our focus determines a great deal of how we see the world. That goes with the first half of the quote above, keeping our eyes positive. Seeing the possibilities and not just the obstacles. Seeing what is working while working on what could use some fixing. Looking at the good in a situation and just the bad.Changing how we look at the world will change the world we look at a great deal whether that is positively or negatively. That is why it is so important to keep our eyes positive.
Let us now look at the second half of that statement. Keeping our tongue positive will have the world loving us. Some of you may say “I don’t care how the world sees me!” or “The only person’s opinion that matters in mine!” To that I would say you probably have yourself fooled about other things as well. It is true that we should not live our life predicated on what other people think of us and what we are doing. That being said, if your friends, your family and your spouse go to bed thinking what a jerk you are every night, that is going to weigh on you no matter how self-centered of an individual you may be.
Considering you are reading a blog called Secret2anamazinglife, I assume you have a good deal of affection for your fellow humans. Not to mention, it always feels good to hear a kind and encouraging word throughout the day. Think of how you feel after you have been the recipient of some love and praise. Perhaps you feel energized? A little more confident. You feel believed in and supported. How would this affect your productivity? Would this affect the way you treat others you come in contact with? Wouldn’t it be great if everyone came from a place of feeling energized, loved, believed in and supported? Wouldn’t it be great if you came from that place…daily?
The truth is your world can be this way. Those you meet can, eventually, come from a place of love, appreciation and positive energy. You can come from this place and you can do so on a regular basis. Not only can this happen, but it is easier than you may think and all it takes is one decision from you. This is not some self-improvement hype or positive thinking theory I am giving you. It is the truth.
All we have to do is to decide to use our tongue to spread positivity. Let us look at how this will play out. First of all, if you know someone is walking up to you and, through past conversations you know the conversation is likely to be a positive one, how will you treat them? Chances are you would greet them with a smile, and genuinely welcome their company. When you share positive conversation with others it will make them feel loved and appreciated. That will positively impact their lives and in turn will positively impact how they act in association with you. Can you imagine if you did this with everyone in your life? Would that mean everyone in your life would be positive? Not exactly. We would be fooling ourselves if we didn’t admit that we share the world with people that see the rain in every rainbow. I know a person that if I gave them a golden goose would complain it poops on the sidewalk. Still, these people would certainly be the exception and not the rule.
This may sound like a fantasy world, but it is not. It is a simple mathematical equation. If people are exposed to positivity and encouragement, they tend to be more positive and encouraging. Not every day. We all have times when life gets the best of us. The more you spread positivity, however, the more likely you are to receive it as well. Here is the great bonus in all of this. The more you receive this positivity in return, the easier it is to go on spreading the positivity. It continues to grow in both frequency and intensity the more this equation is put into place. The exciting part is it is all up to us to start it. Use your tongue to spread positivity today and watch your life change in the days to come.
There are plenty of toxins floating around today. I am not even speaking of the covid-19 pandemic we are in the middle of. No, I am talking about emotional and spiritual toxins. There are news stories about violence in your city and throughout the world. There are demeaning and disrespectful political comments. There is even the sad news about this corona virus and how many lives have been lost. Somedays we are exposed to more things that are hazardous to our emotional and spiritual well-being than we can handle.
I have a suggestion that can help us be proactive and save us from a good deal of emotional and spiritual suffering. You know how it feels when after a hard day at work you come home to see climbing death tolls on the news or hear some elected official calling other people names. It is a anchor to your already sinking soul. You see the fear in the eyes of people on the street about a virus that seems to be growing stronger by the day. Even little things that used to lift your spirits such as the smile on the face of a stranger are now hidden beneath a mask. The world can seem to be growing darker by the day.
What we need is an antidote. What do I mean? While an antidote is something taken to counteract a particular poison. We are familiar with being bitten by a venomous snake and then having to get a dose of antidote. What about the venomous people and things we encounter everyday that poison our spirit? Is there an antidote for them? There sure is! Much like each poison has its own antidote, so does each spiritual poison. They also vary from person to person. This is where you get to be an explorer and discover antidotes for you. This is an adventure you should undertake without delay. You certainly wouldn’t want to wait until after you get bit by the snake to start looking for an antidote. While we all may not be exposed to venomous snakes, there are a few snakes in the grass in every community. We all are vulnerable to certain toxins depending on our particular situation.
Let me share some personal examples of toxins in my own life and the antidotes I have put in place to counteract them. My day job is at the United States Postal Service, my night job is DJing. Although there are plenty of nice people I consider friends at both locations, there are also those who may call my faith in humanity into question. Add those to the inevitable sunshine challenged individuals we all come in contact with and you can find yourself feeling rather antisocial. That is the effect of the toxin of unpleasant people. What is my antidote? I have a group of people that always do a great deal to restore my faith in humanity. Here in West Allis Wisconsin, where I live, there are 2 options I use. (there are more, but for sake of brevity we shall stick to two) My friend Curtis at Urban Joe’s café is always full of good humor and serves amazing food and coffee with a smile. If I need an emotional lift, not to mention a great breakfast or lunch, I stop at Urban Joe’s and see Curtis. The same is true of my friends Ricky and Jodi at Peak Physique. It is a local gym that can help find ways to keep you fit during quarantine. Both of these folks are great at bringing a smile to your face. Ricky and I have had great conversations exchanging information on sources of self-improvement. Just a few stops around the neighborhood and I have an antidote for the poison of unpleasant people.
What about all of the stressful news we are exposed to on a daily basis? Hard to avoid seeing less than inspiring items on television, online or even to some extent on social media. Luckily for us, there is an item that can be a great antidote for the toxin of negative news. It is the show Positively Milwaukee. I have written about this show before when I was fortunate enough to be invited to be a part of it. For those of you who may have missed that post, allow me to share a brief description of the show. It is a show that highlights some of the most positive people, places and events in the city of Milwaukee. It is hosted by a young lady named Carole Meekins. She is passionate about sharing positivity and it shows. Every Sunday morning she is there supplying an antidote for all of the negative news we may be exposed to. What if you do not live in Milwaukee? You certainly can still benefit from this show as the episodes are all available on YouTube as well. I will share the link to the episode I appeared on at the end of this post. I encourage you to check out as many other episodes as you can. Each one will bring a smile to your face and joy to your soul.
Whether it is finding people like Curtis, Ricky and Jodi in your own community or discovering a wonderful gem like Positively Milwaukee, I implore of you to find your antidotes today! Some other suggestions are things like joining positive pages on Facebook, following positive people on Twitter and just finding other things that bring us peace and happiness. I would love to get more ideas of antidotes from you. Share what you do to counteract the negativity in your life in the comments below.
Everyone is looking for something simple and quick to change their lives for the positive. I can’t blame them. We live in a nanosecond world. We can look up just about anything and find answers to it on the internet. There are ‘quick fix’ pills for weight loss and even feeling happy. Most of these are just band-aids and offer quick fixes that treat symptoms but do not address problems.
I have found there is one thing that I do that touches on every area of my life. Having one of these can positively impact my emotional well-being, my productivity, my fitness journey and my life in general. The best part about this tool is that there are many customizable options. It can involve nothing more complex than a pen and piece of paper. It can also be portable and be in your phone, laptop, tablet or any other device. This secret to an amazing life can be had for little to no financial investment but can literally be worth millions of dollars over your life time. It requires very little stress or work to put into action, and what little work is involved is actually quite fun, but the returns can bring you inner peace and joy. As you grow and evolve this tool can grow and evolve with you.
To recap, this tool is inexpensive, takes very little time, requires very little effort, the effort it does require is enjoyable, it is customizable to the individual, it is portable, it can bring you inner peace and save you millions of dollars over your life time. One additional item I forgot to mention is it can cut the amount of time it takes you to reach a goal in half. Interested to know what this simple, yet powerful tool is? This secret to an amazing life that can do all I described and more is – a list.
A list may not sound all that sexy when it comes to changing your life, or that powerful for that matter. Let me assure you it is. Let us take the area of happiness as an example. In our lives there are lots of things that bring us joy. How many of you have a certain movie you like to watch because it makes you laugh, cry tears of joy, or just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy? I know I do. In fact, I have several of them. Do you know what happens when I come home feeling depressed, angry or just in need of a lift? I cannot remember any of those damn movies! Lucky for me, I have created a list of them. I regularly workout 5 to 6 days a week. There are also about 4 to 5 days a week I do not feel like working out. Guess what? In my phone I have a list titled ‘Workout Motivation’. It is a collection of videos that get me fired up and ready to go. I also have a playlist titled ‘Workout Music’ which is music for, you guessed it, working out. In my book A Happy Life for Busy People, I advocate that people create a ‘Happy playlist’. That is simply a list of songs that get you feeling good. Having this stored in a YouTube playlist or on your Ipod will make quick work of getting out of that funk you are in.
If you are anything like myself, we have days that can be extremely funky. We might need to call in several tools to help improve our emotional state. I have just the thing! This occurred to me as I was typing this and I think can be a great help to all of us. Create a Happy Journal. A what? Get a small notebook (or fancy journal if you like) and put your lists in there. Movies that make you happy. Meals you particularly enjoy. Spots in nature that just bring you peace. Pictures of vacations. Books you enjoy reading. Places you go because the service in friendly, the view is nice or because there are more dogs than people.
Why is it important to create these lists? Why the sense of urgency? When your in a negative mindset it can be next to impossible to think of things to make you happy. As I tell many of the people whom I have the pleasure of speaking with, the time to learn to swim is on the shore, not when the ship is sinking. If I waited to look up something to motivate me to go to the gym, I would never make it to the gym and end up watching videos of panda bears learning to walk or something similar. If I have my handy ‘Happy Journal’, I can sit in my most comfortable clothes watching a movie that makes me smile while ordering my favorite pizza and drinking my favorite rum. All of these would be listed in my ‘Happy Journal’. Here is the great part about making these lists – they are fun themselves!
The lists are ever evolving. My ‘happy playlist’ started with 12 songs. It is now up to 215. Every time I hear a song I enjoy, I add it to the list. Same holds true for many of the other lists of things that make me happy. If I put them all into a handy book of “Things that make Neil happy” it would be a very valuable resource. Not only for increasing the joy in my life, but think if you had a list such as the ones we mentioned for someone you cared about? Then, if you wanted to make them happy you would know places they would like to eat, what wines they enjoyed, what movies they like to watch, places they like to go and a million other lists of things that make them happy. How much easier would it be to go shopping for that perfect gift? Knowing this information could be priceless when you are doing your best to cheer up the one you love after a tough day.
Make your lists today. Tough days always surprise us. This time be ready! Be equipped with your secret to an amazing life, your Happy Journal. A book filled with lists of different things that bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart! Start today and tomorrow you will know what to do to increase the happiness in your life!
Here is a photo that is worth a thousand words. Don’t worry, we will be well under that today.
Your happiness. What makes you happy? Think of how many things you can rely on to put a smile on your face and joy in your heart? You noticed the word in italics? That is because there is really only one source we have control over that we can rely on to make us happy and that is ourselves.
It is true that seeing a smile on my lady’s face melts my heart and puts a smile on my own face. It is further true that I have a good deal of influence on that. If that is what I rely on solely to bring me happiness, I could be very disappointed. There are days when I do the best I can and due to situations beyond my control her smile is fleeting at best. This leaves me frustrated and sad, although determined to find a way to bring her joy.
There are other simple items that bring me joy outside of myself. I enjoy relaxing in a coffee shop enjoying a steaming beverage. Right now they are all closed here due to the Corona virus pandemic. I enjoy warm sunny days. As you read this the high temperature where I live is slightly above freezing with a possibility of snow.
Not that enjoying many things outside of yourself to increase your happiness isn’t good, it is great and we will discuss that in greater detail coming up in the next few posts. What I am recommending is that you find a few things inside of yourself that bring you joy. These should be things in which you have control over. A few examples are meditation, reading, going for a walk in nature, singing a simple song you enjoy, whistling or even just daydreaming.
These are a few of my personal happiness hacks. I would love to hear what you do that makes you happy. What internal activities bring a smile to your face? If you don’t have any, now would be a great time to come up with a solid list.