IN THE COMPANY OF ANGELS 

Angels, what exactly are they? If you look up the definition online it will tell you they are “spiritual beings superior to humans in power and intelligence.” Where do angels come from? You can often hear people say when someone has passed away that they have become their guardian angel. I’m not 100% sure that this is true as I am still alive, but it is something that certainly sounds wonderful.

This post is not about death, what happens after we pass away or even angels in the biblical sense. It is about our daily angels. Daily angels are the people I truly believe bless this world. When you see a young person open the door for an elderly or physically challenged person, to me that person in acting angelic. There will be a section in my upcoming book filled with examples of these people and what we can learn from them. I’m going to include a few of them here as well, both specifically and the kind of people in general that I believe qualify as angels.

The other night I was out with my lady at a friend’s birthday party. A gentleman I have known since I was very young, grade school age, came up to talk to me. Not only was he effusive in his praise, but let me know that he was proud of the life I was living and the accomplishments of both my lady and I. He shared a lot of the good memories he had of us and left me feeling very happy and good about myself. Someone who brings only joy and positivity to others and helps them feel good about themselves fits my definition of an angel. Therefore I would say Scott is a living angel

My aunt has never really had a high paying job, lived in a glamorous house or even driven a car. On top of this she has had five different kinds of cancer and beat them all. How does she manage to do this? A great (although strange at times) sense of humor. She makes herself and others around her laugh. She never gave in to any of her health challenges, and continues to live on the ‘sunny side of the street’. Maintaining and sharing a positive attitude in the face of such personal challenges fits my definition of an angel. Therefore I would say my aunt Virginia is a living angel.

One final personal example. Sometimes doing the simplest acts with the certain attention to detail and compassion and love for your fellow human beings makes you an angel in my book. There are two gentleman I routinely run into at coffee shops I frequent. They serve delicious drinks and they do so quickly. If you love coffee as much as I do that can mean the world, but it does not make them an angel. What does is their attention and care for their customers. They get to know you, care about you and are not afraid to show it. When you can make customers feel like friends and bring people joy while you are merely doing your job that fits my definition of an angel. Therefore, Curtis and Kyle are living angels.

Whether you bring light into the world with a smile for those you meet, listen to a friend who is sharing their troubles or a host of other selfless acts I believe that is what makes an angel. Let us recognize all of the people in our lives who fill our souls with love and hope on a daily basis. We are daily in the company of angels.

This post would not be complete without the mention of two very important things. First, my own personal little angel, my love, my Margie. I could tell you all the hard work she puts in around our house in terms of keeping it clean and full of love. I could tell you the countless smiles she has brought with all the effort she puts into her cakes that bring joy to the lives of everyone who orders one, but I need to let you in on something else. Currently I have been going through a lot of personal challenges in my own life. Some that must also make life very difficult for her as well. The more love, patience and understanding she shows me on a daily basis the more I see I am blessed to have my own little angel next to me every day.

The final piece of information I am going to leave you with is this. The world never has enough angels. If you can’t seem to find all that many in your life I encourage you to really begin to look for them. If you are overwhelmed with gratitude for all the angels you see, let them know. Whether you fall into either category, or somewhere in between, do yourself and the world a favor, become an angel. Look for ways you can serve your fellow human beings with love, compassion and joy.

Feel free to recognize some living angels you know in the comments below or by sharing this post with them.

THINK OF THIS…

Here is a quote I have always enjoyed. So much so it is in my book A Happy Life for Busy People. What I am encouraging you to do today is stop and think about this for a minute. Let us picture taking one of those wonderful long hot showers. Maybe in one of those spa showers where water comes at you from every angle. Using your favorite body cleanser lathered all over. Before I lose you in a blissful shower fantasy, let me ask you a question. Even after this amazing shower how would you feel 3 days later if you didn’t bathe again? Probably not so fresh. Why not? Well as we go through life working, playing or even sleeping there is dirt, sweat and even oils from our own bodies that start to collect and make our appearance, if not our smell unpleasant to be around.

The same holds true for our emotional well-being. Even if you just finished reading an amazing life-changing book (please see above) or attended a seminar by said author, things may not last so long. Is that because the material didn’t work? Absolutely not, no more than the soap did not work in the afore mentioned shower example. You could leave the book or seminar very motivated filled with great tools to positively change your life. That might last 2 days, or even a week. Eventually, however, you will get ‘motivationally dirty’ again. Just like the dirt that collects on the body, there is emotional dirt that collects in our spirits. Negative coworkers, the media, traffic jams. They can all chip away at the feeling of happiness and motivation we have. That is why it is so crucial we replenish our emotional and happiness reserves.

How can we do that? Keep something motivational to listen to in the car. Maybe subscribe to one of the free apps on your phone that sends you inspiring quotes every day. I certainly recommend signing up to follow this site daily to fill your inbox with tips to improve the quality of life every day.

So next time you find yourself feeling a little down, remember to take your motivational shower and wash off all that negativity.

I FINALLY GOT IT!!

This is me…I believe that I am lost in thought here. At least that is what I am telling myself. If you have read my book or followed this blog for any length of time you know that I am an advocate of filling your life with motivational and inspirational things daily. In addition to that I recommend listening to them over and over again. Why would we want to listen to something we have already listened to? Wouldn’t we be better served listening to something new? Actually we should do a mixture of both. As to why we should listen to the same message several times, it is to get the most out of it.

Depending on our mood at the time we can hear and look at things in an entirely different way. Another reason is that as we experience different things in life we can appreciate things differently. Getting married changes our perspective on relationships. Being in a different economical bracket can change our opinions on what places to eat at. It doesn’t have to even be such major changes. Meeting new people, learning new things can all change how we view the world. Sometimes it takes hearing something several times for it to click.

I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person, but just the other day a concept I had understood on an intellectual level finally made sense emotionally. You could say I finally got the message in my spirit. That message is you have to give to get. The first time I heard it the message sounded like a paradox. How can you give the very thing you wish to receive? If you are looking for financial freedom how does giving away some of your money help? This was made clear through the help of many of my mentors. First, Earl Nightingale, the dean of personal development. Earl described the life some people live as sitting in front of a woodstove saying “Give me heat and then I will put in the wood.” It just doesn’t work that way. Zig Ziglar, another great speaker, put it this way, “You can’t pay anyone to do your pushups.”

Still the one that finally made it click was a video by Greg Plitt the late fitness model and motivator. I was close to hyperventilating on a treadmill while watching one of his videos. In this video he talked about people who go to the gym for the month of January and then give up because they are not seeing any results. He used a very great analogy. Imagine your body as a lump of cold clay. You place that clay on a pottery wheel and begin to try and shape it. You put some water on it as well as the friction and heat of your hands. What happens? At first not much. The clay has been sitting like that for quite some time, so even if you push very hard it will not move much. Now, keep spinning it and rubbing it with your hands and the clay begins to warm up. That is like starting to go to the gym when you are out of shape. Your body has not moved for years, now suddenly you are moving and working. It is like pushing on the cold clay, it doesn’t change very much. After the clay begins to heat up, however, it begins to get easier and easier to mold. If you stop and let the clay get cold again, you have to start all over. Most people just get to the place where they are about to see changes, or when the clay is warm if you will, and then stop. If only they had pushed on a little longer they would have seen the beginning of the results they were seeking.

Ok, great story, but what does it all mean. I realized then and there (maybe lack of oxygen had something to do with it) that everything truly worthwhile in life I had to give something to get. When I learned to bartend I studied great communicators as well as drink recipes. When I was getting in better shape I had given up some of my free time to the gym.

If you are looking at a specific goal take some time to think what you may have to give up to get that goal and start giving!

YOU NEED TO ARM YOURSELF

Arm yourself? Is this turning into a blog about gun control? Certainly not. If this phrase sounds a bit to confrontational for you, let me remind you of one thing. We are in a fight. Some of us may not look at it that way, but that is truly what it is. We are in a fight for control of our mind, our body and our spirit. Daily we are exposed to negative influences on social media, in advertising and even through the people and situations we come in contact with.

If we are honest with ourselves, hasn’t there been a day where stress and overwhelm has stolen our day? You had things you wanted to get done, but then something happened that just left you feeling totally drained and overwhelmed due to some stressful situation? Maybe it has even stolen some joy out of your day. You had a nice party to attend or lunch to enjoy with a friend and because of something you are overwhelmed by you can’t fully enjoy it? Sometimes it can even make the littlest thing seem so stressful. 

Have you ever noticed when you are totally stressed out that is when everything seems to fall apart? You are running late for work because your car won’t start, and because you are rushing you spill coffee on your lap. Then halfway to work you realize you forgot your cell phone and cannot tell your spouse you will have to stay a little later at work resulting in them being upset you will come home late without telling them.

Whew! I don’t know about you but that makes me tired just reading that story. So how do we keep from getting overwhelmed? I am going to share something I do that not only helps from getting me too stressed out, but also helps me improve my life and learn more than I ever thought I would. Care to find out what that is? I have developed that habit of asking two very important questions. Yes, that is it. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Well it is and it isn’t. All that is required is remembering two questions. You may even wish to write them down on a piece of paper because during stressful and overwhelming times trying to remember those two questions Neil told you to ask to keep from being overwhelmed can be…well…overwhelming. The ‘difficult’ part about this is learning to come up with constructive answers. There is no shortcut that I know of to being able to do this. What I recommend is to begin doing this today. You do not have to wait for stressful situations either. You can ask these two questions about any event in your life and the result will be more knowledge and more productivity.

So what are the two magic questions? I was beginning to think we would never get to them myself. Here is the first question, “What else can this mean?”. Let us say we were supposed to meet a friend for lunch at noon. Here it is 12:30 and we are sitting alone with no call or text. Our first reaction may be that our friend is rude, that they do not respect our time. These options could be true, but if we ask ourselves “what else can this mean?” we open ourselves up to other possibilities. Perhaps our friend was in an accident? Perhaps they are having a day like we described above? Maybe they are stuck in bad traffic and do not want to use their phone and are more worried about getting to us safely. Maybe we didn’t communicate the time correctly? Maybe they just do not understand how important being on time is to us? When we start to explore these other options it not only prevents us from being stuck in a feeling of anger and frustration, but surely prevents the friendship from taking too much of a blow even if we have to explain when we say to meet at noon we would really like to do so. Coming up with positive alternatives to negative situations can be tricky. Especially in the beginning when our brain is not used to it. To help it along we can pair it up with the second question.

Ah, the second question. This question is one of my favorites and has helped me survive quite a few stressful situations. If I was to be perfectly honest it has probably helped the welfare of the few of the people involved in stressing me out too. What is this question? When faced with a challenge and even one you may not be able to come up with a single positive meaning for, although I promise that will get easier with time, use the second question. Ask yourself, “How can I use this?” If you can find a way to get some good use out of a stressful situation you have, in effect, used it instead of allowing it to use you! How cool is that? When you realize there is something you can get out of a stressful situation it loses its power over you. Take our friend being late for lunch example. We could use that to practice patience certainly, but we can also use it to practice communicating something that bothers us with tact. We could use the extra time to do a quick meditation. Maybe we could read our favorite inspirational blog on our phone as we wait?

When stress comes knocking and bad things happen keep yourself armed with these two questions to fight off the effects of negativity and to keep from being overwhelmed. “What else could this mean?” and “How can I use this?” Feel free to list some of your examples of how you put a negative situation to use for you in the comments below and inspire other readers.

LET’S GET STARTED!!!

Last post we talked about improving our lives. Here is one simple way we can do just that. Work on strengthening our decision muscle. It is true one decision can literally change our lives. The decision to say “It’s over!” or “Let’s begin!”. Can you think of some decision you have made that has totally changed your course of life? Going to work at a certain place of employment? Dating a certain person?

Let us decide to make one new decision that will positively affect our lives. Before we do so, however, let us look at what it actually means to decide. According to membean.com “The root word cis and its variants cid and -cide come from a Latin root which means to ‘cut’ or ‘kill.’ A decision, for instance, is a ‘cutting off’ of all possibilities except for one; if you are decisive you have ‘killed’ all other options.” Think of that, you have killed all other options.

I like to use the word ‘declare’ more than the word ‘decide’. I feel it has more emotional power. If you decide you are going to be more healthy, you could decide tomorrow you are going to eat a whole pizza. On a side note, these two things have both happened to me in the past. When you ‘declare’ something it is like shouting it from the rooftops. You are saying “this is how it is going to be no matter what.” If you are faced with an obstacle you work around it. If you do not succeed at some point, you pick yourself up and start again.

Great lives were created one decision at a time. Let us all choose one decision to change our life today. Feel free to share your inspiring decision in the comments below.

IT IS THE SMALL THINGS 

In reflection it has come to my attention how many moments that seemed insignificant at the time ended up being life-changing. Here is what I mean. When a friend suggested in 2006 I see the movie ‘The Secret’ I thought it would be just another movie. It turned out to change the way I look at the world. When I ordered my first Tony Robbins product off an infomercial I thought it would end up on a shelf collecting dust. Now I practice a lot of what I learned from that. In addition I have made my life’s mission to help others learn how to better their lives and the world around them. When I started this blog which is going on 500 posts ago, I thought it would merely be an outlet for my philosophical musings. It has turned into a book A Happy Life for Busy People as well as several speaking engagements.

Even when my boss at the time told me that my hours at the post office were going to be cut from 45 a week to 10 due to down-sizing I thought that was going to be a major negative moment. It was that event that pushed me into the self-improvement field. So never underestimate the effect that things can have on you. Keep your ears and mind open. Also stay present in the moment to be able to take from life what you can. Each moment presents its own lessons and its own opportunities. Make sure to grab them all.

Lastly, some moments may not become important until long after they have passed. My grandfather was a very important figure in my life and taught me many things. Some of which I thought were crazy or even disagreed with at the time. He passed away years ago, but often I find myself thinking of things he said and appreciating them in a whole different level. He is still teaching me long after he is gone. Sometimes there are things you have to experience, or a place in life you have to be before the lesson can be fully appreciated.

The takeaway here is to soak up everything in life. It may seem insignificant at the time, but you never know when it may be just want you need!

THE MAGIC KEY

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When I first saw this picture I thought “that is kind of redundant”. Actually it is quite profound. Seeing the best in the world, or the ‘glass half full’ is a good part of what keeps me happy. Does that mean denying the half of your glass that is empty? Not at all. It is merely focusing on the part that is full.

In my own life there have been countless situations that could certainly look terrible. If you need an example please see the previous post about the pigeon. I know that in life whatever you look for you will find. Stop and read that last line again, maybe even a third time. Let it sink in. This is really the key to both happiness and success in your life. If you are focused on what is working in your life and what there is to enjoy and be happy about you will find it. Truth is that it is there all along just waiting to be noticed.

My law of attraction friends will tell  you that whatever you focus on expands. I believe that, but I also believe this: the more you focus on something the better you get at finding it. It may seem like more of what you are focusing on is appearing, but I also think you are also noticing more of what is already there.

Why is this so important? Let’s recap. What you focus on both expands and you tend to notice that thing easier and more often. That means you get to choose what your life will be filled with! Want joy and prosperity? Start to look for all the opportunities for both joy and prosperity in your life. Now, before you say “Neil, I try but there are still problems” that is true, we need to focus on them only enough to develop and begin working on a solution. After that, switch to what you have to be grateful for.

If you are anything like me, you may still have some lingering doubts. That’s good, do not accept what I am saying without proving it to yourself. I have a little experiment for you. Try this for at least 3 days, more if you like. Pick a color you enjoy. Mine would be blue, but pick whatever color you like. As often as you can for the next couple of days try to notice all the things of that color when you enter a room. By about the end of the third day you should notice something. Things of your determined color seem to jump out at you. They seem to be all over the place. This experiment works easier because there is no emotion attached. Changing to a positive focus takes a little more work, but you can see how it will happen using this little activity. Do it with a friend. Compare your results and discuss them with each other. Share this post with others and get them involved as well. Remember you create your own life.