DON’T PUT THIS OFF!

How many of us have heard this saying before? Raise your hand if you have. Ok, now put your hand down because it would look funny if you continued reading with your arm in the air. Most of us, at some point in our lives, have heard this advice. It really rings true. Like most of the quotes attributed to Mr. Franklin, can help us with productivity and accomplishing our life goals. The quicker we do things, the quicker they will be done. Often, if we do put something off it can delay the accomplishment of our goals and dreams by months or even years. That sounds pretty important doesn’t it? We are going to apply this theory to something even more imporatant!

What could possibly be more important than the accomplishment of our goals and dreams? That determines the success of our entire life! This is true. Hard work and avoiding procrastination, which we are all guilty of to some degree, has a huge impact on our material success. Notice the word in italics. That is because if there is anything more important than our success on a material level, it is our success on an emotional and spiritual level. One of the most important ways in which we can develop a healthy emotion and spiritual life is to give kindness to others.

The quote from Emerson above highlights a what is perhaps the most important reason for not delaying our kindness – we never know when it may be too late. I am big into reading biographies of people I respect and admire. One of my favorite stories is the life of Louis Armstrong, the famous jazz musician. When he was young, a kind Jewish couple bought him a trumpet. He went on to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, trumpet players of all time. How different might his life, and consequently the world at large, been different without that act of kindness? There are so many people struggling with accomplishing goals and projects they are working on that a little kindness might keep them going. If they keep going, their accomplishments could go on to change the world.

Of course it is very important to give an act of kindness to keep people hope when they are engaged in pursuing their goals, but there is something even more vital to consider. The quote above is a big hint as to what that might be. What seems like a small act of kindness to us, could make a great amount of difference to the receiver. This kindness can be a matter of life and death. What makes life so valuable, is that we never know when it may be taken from us. We may think, “I’ll message that person tomorrow.” or “I really have to get around to telling that friend of mine how much I appreciate their presence in my life.” Tomorrow comes and that person may be gone from our lives forever. This may seem like a slightly morose thought, and I suppose it is, but it should inject a sense of urgency as well. If there is anything we should not delay in doing it is spreading kindness.

Something I cannot stress enough is the undeniable fact that we never know what battles and demons someone may be fighting inside of their mind. We may think we know someone inside and out but there is always something we don’t know. Margie and I are very open with each other, but she still never fails to surprise me. Your friend, coworker and yes, even your spouse, can seem perfectly happy and even tell you they are perfectly happy but can be waging a war in their minds. Your act of kindness may supply the little bit of hope they need to keep going. In my 46 years on this planet, I have known far too many people that have succumbed to the pressures of the world and took their own life. Most of them I had not a single clue they were suffering. When we lose someone it is too late to share that bit of kindness we may have bestowed. The worst feeling we can be left with after losing someone is not grief, but regret. In my own life, I have had too many “should have” and “could have”.

Procrastination always has a very high price, but none so much as procrastinating giving kindness. We are delaying a feeling of emotion and spiritual well-being and helping our fellow humans (or animals). We may also be depriving the world of some great accomplishment the receiving party could only achieve if only they had a little more kindness and encouragement. To, of course, the greatest cost of all time, a human life. Whether that is someone passing away unexpectedly, or worst of all, someone taking their own life. Our acts of kindness are far more valuable than we can possibly imagine. If there is any act of kindness you are even considering doing, I implore of you to do that act today. Do not wait. Do not delay. Kindness can never be given too soon, but it can certainly be given too late. Share with all of us what act of kindness you are going to act on today in the comments below.

A THOUGHT TO CARRY WITH YOU

Another reason to subscribe to positive pages on your social media. I saw this quote and couldn’t help but share it with all of you. Stop and think about this for a moment. A stranger somewhere is remembering your kindness. How does that make you feel? For me, it makes my heart feel warm and happy knowing that I positively affected someone. Not to turn this into an altruistic post, but one of the benefits of helping others with no expectation in return is the fact that it does help us…feel better.

As a matter of practice, I do my best to be as nice as I can to everyone I meet. There are people who are fighting silent battles that we are often unaware of. It is important to help these wonderful folks especially. How, you might ask, are we to help people who are fighting battles we are unaware of if we are, well…unaware of them? The simple answer? Be kind to everyone. This is easy when it comes to those who serve us. This can be the person who takes our order at the coffee shop (this is where this piece is currently being written) to the person helping us find something we are looking for at the store. There are also jobs that we should be thankful for that either get overlooked or looked down on. Have you ever had to pass through security at the airport or going into a sporting event or concert? Is it a pain in the butt? Sure. Are they doing their job and also keeping us safe? The answer is also yes. These folks often get told less than pleasant things. Imagine how much it would mean if someone showed them an act of kindness? What jobs do you think fit this category?

What about those people who seemingly do not deserve our kindness? The people who are quick to anger or just sunshine-challenged to begin with? Should we be nice to them? Absolutely! This can be one of the hardest things to do, but I am going to share two things to keep in mind that might make that easier. The first may sound cliché, but I am going to share a story that really drove the point home for me. Let us do our best to remember that we never know what someone is going through. They could be in the midst of a break up or divorce. Maybe they just lost their job? In the case of Stephen Covey, the author and educator, maybe it would be best to keep this in mind before we open our mouths. There is a story where Stephen was on the subway and there was a father who was letting his kids run around, yell and just cause trouble. At first, Mr. Covey did his best to ignore the children, but as time went on the father seemed to be doing a better job of being oblivious to the children’s actions than he was, Stephen found himself becoming more and more annoyed. Not wanting to spend his entire subway journey this way, he finally spoke up. “Do you think maybe you should do something about those kids?” he asked the father. He did not get the reply he expected. “Yeah, I suppose you’re right. Truth is they just lost their mother and I am not sure they know how to deal with it. As a matter of fact, neither do I.” Can you imagine how terrible Stephen felt? He learned a valuable lesson that day. We never completely know why people act the way that they do.

What about those folks who act that way because they are unpleasant human beings? Those people who act miserably for the simple fact that they like others to be miserable? We really shouldn’t be nice to those people should we? Yep! It is my belief that nobody is mean or unkind to others without some story behind it. For the sake of argument, let us just pretend we couldn’t know or find it. This is often the case when the person who is being unkind is a total stranger.

There are a few reasons I keep in mind when I am doing my best impersonation of a sorcerer and trying to conjure up a spell of kindness. It is fun to imagine what happens hours later when these folks are not in our presence. Often, they can end up feeling guilty they were so unpleasant to someone who was still kind to them. Kind of hard to justify being a jerk to someone who is nice. I imagine that their guilt may help them change their behavior in the future. It may also destroy one of the main reasons people try to excuse themselves for treating people unkindly. They believe, or at least say it to justify their actions, that the world is mean, out to get them or self-serving. How can they say that when someone they were cruel to was nice to them? Sometimes they will just be mad that they could not accomplish their goal of making someone upset. I am not going to lie, that does make me smile. Knowing I ruined someone’s plans of trying to make the world a little more miserable makes me a little more happy. Here is a bonus thought. The abuse you took at the hands of this person could have been bestowed on someone who would have been less able to handle. it. Like the father in the story above. Can you imagine being screamed at after you have just lost someone you love? So, if we can absorb that so someone else doesn’t have to, we are doing a most unique public service.

Do what the Dalai Lama advises is to do – always be kind. I think we have outlined several reasons to do so above. If you have other reasons you can think of to be kind, or a story of when you were kind to a stranger, or even when a stranger was kind to you, please share them in the comments below.

MAKE SURE YOU SAY THIS!

How many of us are quick to criticize, but slow to compliment? Ask yourself, how many times have you thought something nice about a stranger, or even a friend and yet chose to keep it to yourself?

I’ve been told that it feels awkward to give someone a compliment. Many of us feel uncomfortable accepting a compliment. Why is that? Perhaps because it is so rarely given. The funny thing is, there is really no downside to giving genuine compliments, but there stands to be a huge upside. You can make someone’s day, make them smile, make a new friend or, in a rare case, you might even save someone’s life.

Next time you notice something nice about someone feel free to share it. It may seem a little awkward at first, but with practice you will become a compliment artist! Take the chance here. Leave a comment that is a compliment about someone you know!

ARE YOU A GOOD NEIGHBOR?

Even the casual follower of this blog, not to mention anyone who knows me personally, knows that I am a big fan of Mr. Rogers. A host of a children’s television program, but also a modern day teacher and philosopher who mastered the art of human fundamentals. That is to say he could break down the most complex subject so that children could understand. Divorce? He had a show for that. Senseless violence? He was able to talk to children about that. In doing so, he took subjects that were multi-layered and broke them down to the most basic aspect.

By doing this to benefit children, I think it had the unexpected result of benefiting adults as well. Just as a star athlete will practice the basic moves in which their sport is made of, we as adults must practice basic emotional and societal actions. There are steps such as finding a way to not only express our feelings in a healthy way, but allowing others to do the same that can make a huge impact on the world. Discovering what to do when you are mad. How to help yourself when you feel lonely. These are lessons that Mr. Rogers taught to children every day on his television show but that many of us have forgotten in this crazy work-a-day world.

The quotes in the two pictures I have featured represent 2 paths to changing the world. Sounds like a bold claim. Follow 2 quotes from a man who used to host a television show for children and we could change the world? Remember how an athlete becomes a star. They practice the fundamentals every day until they can do them without thinking. Let us get back to our human fundamentals. At a basic level all of humans have a great deal in common. We all want to be loved. We all want to be treated well. We all would like to be significant in some way. We want to feel like we make a difference.

Let us look at these two pieces of advice. The first one is to “offering, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.” He implores us to imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like. Can you imagine what your neighborhood would be like if everyone offered just one kind word to another person? If people walking around complimenting each other makes you think of a ‘neighborhood of make believe’, that should tell you how far we have strayed from human decency. How difficult is it to offer a person one kind word? How much effort does that take? Even offering them one kind thought. Is that really that difficult? Of course it isn’t. So why is it that imagining people doing that seems so far removed from reality? What can we do about it? We can let it start with us. When you see your neighbors share with them a kind thought or at least a kind word. Watch the difference it makes. Become that agent of change.

The second quote is a little more complex in both thought and words, but still something even a child could understand and certainly something an adult could do. It really breaks down into 2 sections. The first is, “To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now” A few things I would like to point out. First is the word strive. We may not always be successful in our attempts to accept those who are different than us. It takes a great amount of patience and compassion. Not only with the people who are different, but ourselves who may fail to do so. What is important is that we are striving to do so. If our intent is to love and accept our neighbor as they are, more often than not we will succeed in doing so. In the times we fail, we can apologize and even ask for their help in understanding. The second part is to “go on caring through the joyful times and through times that may bring us pain.” Right now a lot of people are experiencing pain and tough times. All of them for their own reasons. It may be difficult to understand what they are facing if we ourselves have not faced similar situations. It is for that reason it is so important that we go on caring for our neighbors.

It is the basic things that will allow us to become a united people. It is being loving and caring for each other. In this global world and economy that will live in, it is understand that we are all neighbors. We have the unique ability to affect people not only in our direct neighborhood, but in our world neighborhood as well. Will we use that power to divide or will we use it to show love to our neighbor and bring us closer together?

WHAT IF THEY WERE YOUR JUDGE?

I must confess to not being terribly familiar with this legend, but it brings up a good point. What if all of the animals that we have come into contact with were to judge us? I am going to take this to an entirely different level and ask the same thing about the people you come in contact with. Family, friends, coworkers, the server at dinner last night or the person who cut you off in traffic. Is it easy to be nice to all of these people? No. Is it always easy to be nice to us? I think we would also agree that the answer is also ‘no’.

Do we not appreciate it when, despite our own poor behavior, someone still treats us nicely? I know I do. We have discussed, numerous times, how important it is to treat everyone with dignity and respect. We never know what someone else is going through. We have also mentioned that being kind to others can often have a ripple effect. Small random acts of kindness can change the world. So work hard and be nice.

I cannot be 100% sure what waits for us beyond this physical existence. Could all the animals we have come in contact with be there to stand in judgement of us? Could all of the people we have met in our lives be there waiting as well? Maybe. Maybe not. What I do know is that in the physical world we live in right now there is no reason to treat each other any other way. If the fear that these people may be your judges in eternity helps you remember that, I am all for it.

MAKE THE WORLD MORE BEAUTIFUL

Today’s world may seem like it is on the brink of collapse. With COVID-19, murder hornets, doomsday media and politicians impersonating chicken little on every television station things can seem fairly grim. What may appear even more daunting is the ability to turn it all around. There are certainly things we can do to limit the amount of negativity filling our eyes and ears. Turn off the news, or at the very least limit our exposure to a certain amount of time each day. Get rid of Negative Nancys on social media. Fight our urge to post the latest hot button negative topic we have just read.

These are all great ideas and will help us limit the bad but the question still remains, what can we do to start a positive shift in the world? Trying to change the negative can not only be exhausting, but a complete waste of energy and time. An axiom that I not only teach, but have had great luck in following can serve us well in these trying times. The best way to reduce negativity is to increase positivity. Simply by adding kindness to your world, you will not only make your world better, but make the world better for others. This may seem small if not even insignificant. It is not. Consider the ripple effect. If you restore someone else’s faith in humanity with your kindness, this in turn will help them from adding more negativity to the world. This is turn will limit the negativity those they come in contact with will experience. Multiply that by one person you come in contact with every day and that will be 7 people a week, 30 people on month and 365 people a year! You can begin to see the power of this.

It is true they may be in a rush to relieve themselves. We have all been there and it is not fun. They could also be driving on the way to say goodbye to a loved one who is fighting for their last breath. Perhaps they just said goodbye to a loved one and their mind is not focused on driving. Most of us have been there too. How would it feel is someone added even more stress to that situation. Maybe they are just someone full of anger and rage. If we add even more to that feeling, what do you think will happen when they get home to their family? How will they treat the next person they come in contact with? Now, how do you think an act of kindness and understanding will affect them? How about seeing a smile through a car window? In an age where actually seeing a smile on someone’s face is rare, that could really help.

Another aspect to consider is the difference your actions make in the world of another. As mentioned often in this blog I have a way to diffuse my stress when people drive creatively around me. I jokingly say to myself, or Margie who happens to be in the car often, “Maybe they have to poop.” It is a little something silly that changes my state but it does a lot more. It reminds me there are two sides to every story. I could just assume this person is a jerk for driving in a rude and unsafe manner. I could even honk, wave with one finger or some other dazzling way of letting them know exactly how I felt. Will it help them drive safer in the future? Perhaps, but highly unlikely. What is far more likely is that it will increase the amount of anger and stress they are experiencing and will increase their reckless driving.

The point of this post is to never underestimate the power of seemingly small acts of kindness. It may not seem like it will change the world, but that is exactly what it does. We especially change the world for the person whom we act kindly to. In turn, they act more kindly towards others. This spreads and the kindness makes a far bigger difference than we can imagine.

CHANGE THE WORLD. BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER.

MY FAVORITE ANTIDOTE TO FEAR AND DESPAIR

We have spoke at length about how to deal with feelings of fear and negativity. What happens on those days that you just can’t find any positive thoughts no matter how hard you look? Is your place of work where happy feelings go to die? Does even driving up to the building fill you with dread? Maybe every word that comes out of your mouth seems to cause disagreements with those around you. Trust me, we all go through periods of times like that. When we live in a world filled with darkness. It is then that you must switch from looking for the sunshine to being the sunshine. The million dollar question then becomes, “How on earth can I find sunshine to spread, when I can’t even find any sunshine in my own head?

This goes back to a lot of the tools we discuss in this blog and that are mentioned in my book A Happy Life for Busy People. You will find a link to purchase that book at the end of this blog. There are a few things we can do that only take minutes a day that can add sunshine into our life. It is for this reason I recommend doing these before the negativity starts to affect you. Meditation, vision boards and happy playlists. For more details on these and many other activites feel free to search this blog and the pages of the afore mentioned book.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, you can increase your happiness by giving it away. By shifting your focus from all of the negativity in your own life, to bringing light to someone else’s you will increase your own. In addition to the feeling you will get from seeing the smile light up their face, you will walk away with a feeling of accomplishment. Why a feeling of accomplishment? You have brought a great deal of positivity to a world that sorely needs it. That is a feeling that will stay with you long after you have left the smile you created.

How important is one small act of kindness? Let us do the math quickly. There are 7 billion people on earth. Even if we could achieve a 50% rate of people doing random acts of kindness that would be 3.5 billion smiles created. 3.5 billion positive moments brought to light. Imagine living in a world where that happens. It may sound like a crazy dream, but that is only half of the people. Can you imagine if we could get close to 75%? It is not out of the realm of possibility. How can we achieve this? Start with ourselves. As many days in a row as you can do at least one act of kindness. Even if you only did this on the weekends that would be 104 smiles you created a year. Do you think this would affect the state of the world? Feel free to leave any suggestions for kind acts in the comments below.

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

WE ALL BLOOM DIFFERENTLY

Another great example of a picture is worth 1000 words. I will do my best to expand on this picture and keep the word count below 1000. Everyone blooms in their own way reads the caption of the photo. Represented here is someone playing music, someone walking in nature, someone being greeted by a dog and lastly, it appears and adult holding a child. Each of these experiences are causing that person to bloom. What exactly does that mean? I interpret blooming to mean allowing more of themselves to show. Having the self-confidence or happiness to cause us to reveal more of our true nature to the world.

I particularly enjoy the last photo of the adult and the child. As you can see the love exchanged between them is causing both of them to bloom. I wonder if the same could be said of the dog, or the people hearing the music the person in the first photo is playing. Becoming more of ourselves is the greatest gift we can give the world. Living a life that feeds your soul is about the most important thing you can do, not only for yourself, but for others as well. What the world needs most is individuals whose souls are on fire.

To that end, my challenge for you is to find what causes you to bloom. Do more of that. How do you know what causes you to bloom? It is whatever makes your soul feel on fire. Ask yourself if you woke up tomorrow with no financial worries, what would you do? How about the next day? In my case, I love going out for coffee with friends, listening to some classic jazz, reading and learning things I can do to improve my life and those that I care about, and sharing what I have learned with all of you who follow this blog. At the end of each day what feeds my soul the most is laying next to the woman I love and falling asleep in each others arms.

One more important element to consider is what feeds the souls of those around you. Encourage them to not only discover that, but devote time to it as well. When those around you are living from a place of fulfillment and are fully in bloom you will certainly notice a difference. This is also another reason in a long list of reasons to be kind and encouraging to others. You never know what inspires them. If you see a local musician playing encourage and support them and their passion. See another person out enjoying nature? Pass on a smile and a quick hello. Let people pet your dog while you are out walking them. Also make sure to love not only your children, but everyone in your life. By doing so we will all bloom. Like a garden full of flowers in bloom, the earth will become a truly magical place.

ONE THING TO CHANGE THE WORLD


It would seem most of us would love to change the world for the better. Certainly, if you read a blog such as this you are looking to lead a more amazing life. Everyone is looking for that grand gesture that can affect millions of people. I think that is a great thing and I would certainly encourage you to keep doing just such a thing. There is, however, a much simpler and quicker way to change the world – start with just one person.
I recall hearing how a Jewish family gave Louis Armstrong his first trumpet. In this case they not only changed the world for Mr. Armstrong himself, but he in turn changed the world for both musicians and everyone who listened to his music. There are countless stories like this one. By changing the world for someone, we are, in a way, planting a seed. That seed of kindness can sprout and grow in that person and they can go on to change the lives of others.
This means that by doing something truly kind for someone will not only change their life, but they could go on to change others who will go on to change others and that can continue for a lifetime. This ‘ripple effect’ of kindness is one of the quickest and most impactful ways to change the world. It is the best and most honorable legacy we as humans can leave behind – positively impacting the lives of others.

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

KEEP THE DARKNESS AT BAY

I saw this picture on the Facebook page of my local neighborhood association. (That would be the East Allis Neighborhood Association.) I found it to ring so true. A lot of us can fall into the rut of thinking there is nothing we can do to change the world. This is far from true.

One of the problems that can generate such thinking is having us think we need a grand gesture in order to make a big difference in the world and the lives of those in it. It is the little things that make the big differences. To prove this is more than a cliché saying that you can find on a Hallmark greeting card, I am going to share two personal stories with you that reflects how this can work both positively and negatively. I think once you see both sides of the equation you will begin to not only intellectually appreciate this, but understand it emotionally as well. This is important because once something gets into our spirit we are more likely to act on it.

I am going to start with the negative example for no other reason than we can end on a positive note. The other day at work I was checking with a group of mail carriers to see if they had anything to go to the other post office to which I was headed. That day I happened to be wearing a new colgne that I just purchased. I am not sure how you are, but I am always a little nervous when trying a new fragerance for the first time. As I passed one of the carriers she expressed her displeasure on how it smelled to her. Not that big of a deal. Normally that would just be a valuable source of feedback. It was, however, they way it which she did so that made all the difference. Instead of letting me know she did not find my new scent pleasing one on one, she began yelling to the whole post office about how terrible it was. To her this was no big deal, but it threw my day for a loop. Considering I have never said anything but compliments to this lady, it really got under my skin. Her small act had a rather big impact on my day.

On the exact opposite side of the coin, I would like to share a great example of how a simple act can make someone’s day. I was at home and had just stepped out of the shower. Wearing just the bare essentials, shall we say, I was digging in the closet for a shirt to wear on a special date I was taking my beautiful lady on. That very lady stuck her head in the room I was in to check on my progress of getting ready. Observing me looking for my shirt in the closet she remarked, “You look very sexy my love.” Mind you her and I always do our best to make sure we point out things we love about each other often. She doesn’t often use the word ‘sexy’ and that really made me feel good. I work hard to look appealing for her and to know that was working really meant a lot. For the rest of our date I had a smile in my heart thanks to her off-handed compliment.

Whether it is paying someone a compliment, picking up a piece of trash to help the neighborhood look better or making a small charitable donation, it is the little things that make a big difference. You may think how can picking up one piece of trash make my neighborhood look better? If we extrapolate that over a few hundred neighbors that is a lot of trash! Now what if those same 200 or so neighbors decide picking up one piece of trash is not worth the effort? Now you have 200 pieces of trash floating around the neighborhood. The same works for the charitable donation. I have roughly 40,000 followers for this blog in about 100 countries. The thought of what it would be like if each one sent me $5 has not escaped my thinking. To them $5 would most likely not be that big of a deal, but multiply that times 40,000 and it becomes substantial. If they all decided that donating $5 would not make much of a difference, no money would show up at all. Think of how this works for your favorite charity next time you ponder if your small donation would make a difference.

We may all not be able to do the grand acts we desire, but we can all do something. By doing even a small something we become part of the solution. If we decide that a small act is not worth bothering with, we remain part of the problem. Do what you can with what you have today and know even your small acts can have a great impact.