DAY 1 OF THE 7 DAY JULY CHALLENGE!

Our first day! 7 days, all positivity, no negativity!! Giving our souls a little vacation. If you are just joining us, for the first 7 days of my birth month we are going to 1.) Cease from posting anything negative and 2) post one thing positive each day. By the end of the week we should have raised our vibration and begun to not only change ourselves but the world around us.

Here is mine. It is my sincere desire these 7 days begin to change the narrative. The more we change the focus to that of love and gratitude, we will inspire others to do the same. In turn, perhaps they may go on to share a smile or kind word to another. Thus, creating a ripple effect of kindness.

Can you ‘catch’ love from another person? I think you know the answer to that is yes. How do you feel when someone pays you a genuine compliment? Let’s you know how proud they are of you, or best of all, says they love you. You chest swells a little and joy seems to radiate from within.

The great thing about love, the more we share, the more we create! Putting more love into the world not only creates a more loving world, but a more loving you! Thunk of how you feel when you tell someone how wonderful they are, how proud you are of them or how much you love them? You feel better inside!

That is my positive thought today let us start a pandemic of love and let us share it wherever we can!

HERE’S YOUR NEW JOB!

As most of you know, I am a big fan of Mr. Fred Rogers. For the younger generation that follow me who may not have ever heard of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, it was a children’s show on public television. On this show Mr. Rogers taught kids very valuable life lessons. Things like how to express your feelings. The importance of maintaining a positive attitude. He also spoke of complicated things like death and divorce. He discussed these topics in a simple way that children could understand them.

In my mind, this had to be a very difficult thing to do. As adults we tend to over complicate nearly everything we do. Taking a complicated subject, such as divorce, and breaking it down to help children understand what is going on takes a lot of work. Mr. Rogers also broke down many barriers before their time. When people of different races were not allowed in the same swimming pool and tensions were high, Mr. Rogers invited his neighborhood friend Officer Clemmons, who is African-American, to soak his feet in the swimming pool with him. They sat and talked. Not about Racism or even the current pool segregation. Instead they talked about how hot it was. When Officer Clemmons remarked he did not have a towel, Mr. Rogers quickly volunteered to share his.

This may not seem like anything so remarkable on the surface, but in 1969 when the episode aired, it was. People of different colors were not supposed to swim together and certainly not share a towel. Now take time to think that this was on a children’s television show. People in their formative years were watching this. They were not hearing an argument as to what was or should be. They were not being preached at. They were being shown an example of how people should treat each other.

Leading by example was something often seen on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. I recall an episode where he visited a restaurant to show children what that was like. He was courteous, and well-mannered. He didn’t say, “Now this is how you behave here.” He just did. Another thing I recall from both that episode and others, was how he seemed in awe of everything and everyone. Some may take a person making a sandwich for granted. Not Fred Rogers. He genuinely complimented the people throughout his entire visit. He also seemed entirely grateful. He seemed to find joy in the smallest things. From everything I have seen and read, Fred Rogers was this type of person off the screen as well.

Here is where you and your job comes in. Mr. Fred Rogers died in 2003. He was a dynamic man with a heart bigger than most people I can think of. His ‘Neighborhood’ was a fictitious place, but it doesn’t have to be. Each one of us can be the Mr. Rogers of our own neighborhoods. We can teach by example. We can treat everyone we meet with reverence and respect. As one of my other mentors, Earl Nightingale, said, “We do this because that is how people ought to be treated.” Treat each day and thing as a miracle – because they are. Foster an attitude of gratitude. There is always so much to be thankful for. When others try to divide us, love one another. A loving example can be just as powerful as a speech, sometimes even more so.

This piece of advice was given by Mr. Rogers during many crisis. It couldn’t hold more weight today. In this social media driven world we can tend to see and focus on only the bad and negative. That is very easy to do, it is plastered all over the place. One way we can be like Mr. Rogers and help us all to have more ‘beautiful days in the neighborhood’ is to look for the helpers, the people who are helping. Find the people helping to clean up the environment. Find those trying to help the old and sick. Find those who are trying to bring people together instead of driving them apart. Join these people. Support these people. Most of all – become one of these people. In short – become the Mr. Rogers of your neighborhood.

WORK ON YOUR DIET AND CHANGE THE WORLD

Here is one of those fabulous things I happen across on my social media viewing. I was blessed to have many friends who shared this exact picture. More importantly, I believe they also genuinely feel that way. Once again, I must mention how grateful I am to have people in my life that feel and act this way.

In a world where many people may feel confused or concerned how to speak to and treat one another, there is one guiding principle that can make things a little easier and a lot less stressful. That principle is to have a genuine love and appreciation for all of us sharing this planet. It can be a hard thing to do at times, but if you can show love to everyone, including those who may seem not to deserve it, you will have a truly amazing life.

I know you might be thinking, “That sounds great Neil, but how can I learn to do that?” A first great step would be to watch your diet. You might be wondering how watching what you eat can help you to become a more loving and compassionate individual. Your diet is not only the food you consume. Your diet also consists of the music you listen to, the books you read, the people you hang out with and everything you consume not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. At the end of this post I will give you a little healthy treat for your diet. Make sure you read on for that.

If you spend your time in fear of what words or phrases may be acceptable these days, or you just are concerned with saying the wrong thing, there is a simple solution to that as well – become an encouraging. This world that can seem crazy and chaotic is woefully short on reasons to be encouraged. Help someone heal. Help them believe in themselves. If this is your intentions, your heart will guide you to the right words.

By having and more importantly showing love for each other, we do something wonderfully important – we help people believe in themselves. There are many great agents of change, spiritual and cultural leaders that have doubted themselves at some point. Without their contribution, the world would have been a darker place. The great thing about this is that there is always opportunities to help someone believe in themselves and in turn help them change the world.

Don’t believe it? Think of some of these examples. You encourage a young lady who is learning the art of cake decorating. Instead of giving up when her wedding cake looks more like abstract art than a culinary masterpiece, she tries again. She remains confident and goes on to create edible works of art. How does this change the world? Imagine the joy that adds to every special occasion her cakes are a part of. They will add something special to every event. A heart-melting sigh when the bride and groom see their cake on their wedding day. The ear to ear grin on the young child when they see their favorite character sitting right on top of their birthday cake.

Perhaps it is a young writer? Maybe pondering if the words he shares truly impact the lives of others. How would an encouraging word help this young fellow and how would it then change the world? Perhaps it would encourage him to continue to develop his craft and keep sharing his words knowing someone is listening. Then those words could reach a lost and lonely soul halfway across the world and bring them joy. Those words could then be shared from Armenia to Zimbabwe. Changing the day for many.

These are totally random and hypothetical examples, but they hold true just the same. We never know what someone is facing in life or where their heart and mind may be at. Maybe it is encouraging someone singing on a microphone for the first time, or the lonely kid sitting by themselves at lunch. Just letting these people know that you have love for them will make their world brighter, the world as a whole brighter and just might save their life.

As promised I am going to give you a little something good to add to your diet and will help you to remember to encourage and have love for people of all kinds. If you click the link below you will be treated to a great performance by the artist Michael Franti. Not only is Michael a great ambassador for love and peace, he represents a lot of us. He was adopted as a young child. His mother was European and his father a mix of African and Native American. He has a sister who is a lesbian and a brother who is a police officer. Well-rounded you might say. I strongly encourage you to click on the link below to listen to this song for yourself. Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions for encouraging and having love for each other below.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW AND LISTEN TO THE GREAT MICHAEL FRANTI SONG

YOUR 3RD STEP TO HAPPINESS

Welcome to day 3 of our happiness journey! As a quick reminder we are starting from the bottom of staircase and climbing our way to a happier and more amazing life. A quick review of day 2. Watch less, do more was our guide. As we discussed, watching can have a great deal of benefits but nothing compares to being out in the arena taking action!

Now let us get to today, day 3! This day may be one of the hardest days for a lot of people. Judge less, accept more. It can be hard for many of us to accept those who live their lives in a different manner than we feel is right. The one fact we must keep in the front of our mind is that it is their life to live. We may disagree with how they are spending their days, but it is their time they are spending. Often, some of our most passionate beliefs such as spiritual, sexual and political can be the hardest to accept someone that is different than us. One of my main goals as a writer is to help the world be more unified and accepting.

One fact that people often confuse is they feel one way can only exist in humanity. I have friends who have different sexual preferences than I do. Never, have I felt that either one of us would have to change how we are in order to be friends. Never have I thought less of them because they do. I have friends of many different spiritual beliefs. I feel their differences often show me ways to enhance and deepen my own beliefs. Politics…I seldom see the benefit to judging or trying to change anyone in this arena. As long as there exists love, I feel any other difference can be overcome. Which leads me to conclude that to limit our judgement, we do not need to work on increasing our acceptance, but on increasing our love.

One area in which I struggle with is watching others live a life that is far less than I know they are capable of. I see people act and speak in ways that often bring chaos and unhappiness into their lives. All I see is the beautiful person inside that has so much to offer the world. It can be tempting to relieve some of this frustration by offering to help them by sharing things I have learned that allowed me to turn my own life around. I must remember that this path is not for everyone and that some people are more content to live their lives in the manner in which they do. As an odd twist of fate, I found that loving and accepting those people can help them even more than the words and ideas I can share. Like I said, it is something I am working on.

If you feel comfortable sharing some of your struggles in turning judgement into acceptance in your own life, I think we all would love to hear them. Sometimes that might give others the strength and inspiration to do the same.

1 ANTIDOTE FOR FEAR

As you can see I got this picture from a website I follow called Metal Motivation. I highly recommend you check them out. A lot of good material there. This photo brings to mind a good counter to fear – hard work. When I find myself in a situation that brings a fair deal of uncertainty to my life, I immediately get to work. Not in a crazy random fashion, but by taking steps to either address the fear, or at least improve myself and my situation. Tony Robbins once said “Progress equals happiness.” Not only is that true, but it does a hell of a number on fear too. Let us take a look at a few examples.

Today people have a great deal of fear about the coronavirus. While most of us cannot get to work on finding a cure or vaccine, we can get to work on improving our situation and ourselves. One of the best things we can do is work on our health and strengthening our immune system. Ways we can tackle this are making sure we do our best to maintain our physical fitness, eat healthy and make sure we are getting the proper nutrients. Although this will not make certain that we do not contract COVID-19, it will provide us with a better chance of making it through. Combine this with the recommended safety measures and you will take a great deal of fear out of the situation. After all, fear compromises your immune system.

Another situation many of us are rightfully concerned about is employment. Will our job be eliminated? Maybe it already has been and we are worried what happens when the unemployment runs out. As we wait for the world to reopen, and the economy to get back to fully operational there are many things we can do to put ourselves in a prime situation to thrive once it does. There are plenty of places offering free courses to help expand our knowledge base. If logging in to an online university is not your style there are plenty of free videos on YouTube to aid us in learning a new skill. Perhaps brushing up our resume and applying for new jobs is something we can put our time to use. Networking, making connections, exploring employment sites. Working hard on all of these things can give us a little more feeling of control.

Lastly, after spending some time in quarantine with our significant other, we may worry they might become disenfranchised with us. If this time together has you concerned about your relationship in any way, there is one solution. GET. TO. WORK. Yes, relationships are work, but that work pays some of the highest wages. Keeping the one you love happy will ensure that your castle remains a sanctuary and not a battlefield. There are many books, cds and even DVDs you can pick up to give you some pointers to improve your relationship. Still, with all of the media and online tools available, relationships are not ‘one size fits all’. That is why my main suggestion to anyone looking to help their spouse fall in love with them all over again, or even just to strengthen the love they already have is to listen. This may not sound glamorous, but it is a golden ticket when it comes to love. You can learn so much when you listen from a position of seeking to understand and learn. Perhaps you wife mentions loving fresh cut flowers, pick a fun and cheery bunch up on your way home. Maybe your husband mentions his favorite kind of beer…you are getting the idea. People will generally share their likes, dislike, wants and don’t wants if we just listen closely. Then there is the ultimate, the gift of truly being heard. Just pausing to listen without any other purpose than to let your partner be heard and understood.

Whatever element of your life you may be feeling fear in, combat it with a lot of hard work. It will offer you a feeling of control and you will end up a better person at the end of the day.

I AM THAT

Sometimes finding simple definitions of who you are can really help. I rather fit into that statement above. By knowing who we are we can find other like-minded souls to complete our tribe. Also a sense of identity will help us steer our own internal moral compass. Think of how you feel when you act out of character? Maybe you do something unkind and think to yourself, “Man that is really not who I am.” We have all done it. Unfortunately, I do it to this day. That is why developing a good definition of the kind of person we would like to be is so important.

Think of how easy it would be to turn away from temptation if you had a definition of who you are. Would it be easier to walk away from those doughnuts in the breakroom if you consider yourself a healthy and conscious eater? Would it be a little more difficult to ignore a friends troubles if you wanted to be considered someone who cares deeply for those around them? Sit down by yourself and think about who you really want to be. Then create a short, concise statement encompassing what you have come up with. Carry it with you and let it guide your daily speech (especially to yourself) your actions and your thoughts. Before long you will have become the living embodiment of what you have on that piece of paper.

IF I DID SOMETHING WRONG

It never ceases to amaze me how many times this shows up in my life. In the past, it used to show up in my life. On occasion it still does, but for the most part I have learned the importance of expressing one’s emotions. I know in the grips of painful emotions this is not always easy. It took a great deal of effort and a good deal of patience and help from Margie to help me develop this skill. Here is what I learned. If you are able to express yourself in a healthy constructive manner your results will be far better.

How often have you heard one of your friends tell you about someone who is really doing something to upset them? When you ask if they have told them, the answers vary. Sometimes you hear things like “They should know!” or “They could tell by how upset I am.” These always make me laugh. How can someone be so upset as to tell an uninvolved third party, but not the offending party? I get it. I was guilty of this in the past. You may very well think this person knows, but never under estimate the ingnorance of some individuals. You really cannot hold someone accountable unless you are 100% sure they know what they are doing. Let me be specific here. The only way to be 100% sure is by telling them.

Here is where it can get a little tricky. Simply telling them what a jerk they are being or how much they are upseting you will only make things worse. Think of how you would feel if someone had to tell you that they were upset with you. That is a good measure of how to say something. Often, being told you are doing something that upsets someone can put us on the defensive. Nobody likes to think of themselves as ‘the bad guy or girl’. That is why it is helpful to begin with a phrase like, “I’m sure you don’t mean to, but I want you to know it upsets me when you ___” or even ask for their input by saying something like this, “It upsets me when you ___. I am sure that is not your intent, but how do you think we could fix that?” Be open to understanding that you may play a role in helping. Perhaps approaching things from a different perspective. In some cases it may require patience, compassion and understanding from you as the person works with you to resolve whatever issue is bothering you.

On the opposite end, when someone comes to you with something you are doing that upsets them it is important to exercise the same things. First, remember they may do so with more of a confrontational style. Not everyone has learned the proper way to express their hurt and pain. Realize by bringing it to you they are really having a cry for help. It may seem and feel as if you are being attacked, but remember this person is in pain and may not be acting in their best nature. This can be very difficult to do. Being able to do so, however, will make people feel more comfortable to come to you in the future. This will not only make your relationships better, but it will help you grow as a person as well. At some point, you could even use this as a teaching moment. Saying something like, “I really appreciate you letting me know that I have upset you. That wasn’t my intent. In the future could you please let me know before you get too upset. I do not want to risk losing you as a friend.”

Being able to do these things is not easy. It will take patience and having a thick skin. You cannot take the way people bring their pain and upset to you. Especially before you have a chance to discuss that aspect with them. Being able to do so will allow them to feel more comfortable to do so in the future. When bringing up your own upsets, remember to ask yourself, “How would I like to be told about this?” That will insure you do so with attention to the other parties feelings. Following these rules will transform your life for the better.

CREATE A LOVE STORY

This is one of my favorite pictures. I was sitting outside a local coffee shop, I believe it was a Starbucks, enjoying the sun and a good book. You will notice my bookmark that day was a picture of my lovely Margie. It happens to be one of my favorite pictures of her. Although I must confess, having a picture of the most beautiful woman in the world blowing you a kiss can be a rather distracting choice for a bookmark.

I took this picture to show Margie that as I was relaxing soaking in the sun she was never far from my mind. Not only is that statement 100% true, it made her feel loved. For those of you who know us personally as a couple, or even if you follow us casually on social media, you will know this is just one of many such things we do to show each other that we are thinking about and loving the other. We do our best to find new and exciting ways to show our love every day. It not only keeps the relationship fresh, it provides us the ability to remind the other they are loved. This can be important during a trying episode, when either one of us is stressed or even on a sunny cheerful day when we have to be apart.

How many times have you seen the lateset romantic comedy, or watched your favorite romantic movie, and thought, “I wish I had a love story like that!” I am here to tell you that you can have one. You just have to create it. Sure, wisking your loved one away to a tropical escape where you drive them around the island in your Italian sports car may be beyond your means, but that is not what is truly important. A few posts ago we demonstrated how being an active listener in relationships can be transformative. Taking this knowledge and putting it into action can make all of the difference.

How would it feel if your spouse listened to what favorite treat you liked from the grocery store was and brought it home for you? What if you casually mentioned that you would like music from a certain artist and a few days later the latest CD of that artist comes home with the one you love? What if you lost someone you love very much and your partner anticipates the hurt and sense of loss you may be feeling during the holidays and has a local artist render a great drawing of the two of you for a Christmas gift?

Everything from knowing that you like soggy french toast, to buying you items adored with bears and pizza because they know they are two of your favorite things and saw them when they were out and thought of you. These things go a long way to creating a love story. How can you create your love story? I suggest sitting down by yourself with pen and paper and ask yourself what you can do to creat your own love story. Can you create a piece of jewelry for the one you love? Is it opening the door for them even when it is cold and raining? Small acts of giving when done with great amounts of love can transform a good relationship to a great one. Not sure of what some romantic ideas would be? Dust off that movie and see if there are certain things you can incorporate into your own relationship. Google ‘romantic gifts/gestures/ideas” Read books about helping your partner feel loved. Most importantly, listen and remember when they tell you what is important. Sometimes…just listen. Create your own love story today.

SHUT 1, OPEN 2

Margie and I routinely take turns picking out movies to watch. One night it is her turn, the next night it is my turn. This way it keeps things fair and interesting since we can often have very different tastes in movies. On this particular night the movie that was chosen to watch was “What Women Want” staring Mel Gibson among others. If you haven’t seen the movie I will given you the plot very briefly. A man who generally has little regard for women is suddenly able to hear their every thought. By being able to do this, it has a big impact on his life and career.

As valuable as this ability might be, as far as we are aware it is impossible to hear the minds of the opposite sex. To some this could be frustrating, but to many they should probably be grateful. I am sure we can all recall many moments when we have heard friends say, or even said ourselves, “I wish I could know what goes on in their head!” On occasion I have even said this about myself, but that is a topic for a different day. Trying to know what is in the minds of someone, be it a man or a woman, can be frustrating. The amazing thing is that there is a way to do this and it is also easier than you think. Of course there are a million books on ‘How to read someone like a book’ or ‘how to understand your partner more’. Trust me I have read a good deal of them and they all have something valuable to offer.

The tricky thing about reading and applying the knowledge you learn from these books is that it can vary from person to person. To say all men are alike or all women think and act in the same manner is obviously ludicrous. A lot of our nature has to do with genetics, experiences and goals. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a simple formula that could work to help us gain deeper insight into anyone we are working to know on a deeper level? How much would it be worth to know how your boss felt about certain things? How helpful would knowing what motivated your employees and coworkers be? Would it be valuable to you to understand why members of your family continue to do things that drive you crazy? To, of course, the most valuable aspect of this formula. How much would you pay to know more about the inner workings of the mind contained in the head of the person you loved? What if you could know more about what made them happy? Would knowing what upset them as well as what made them happy and relaxed be worth something to you?

The great news is that there is such a formula. The better news is I am about to give it to you for free! No strings attached. You can choose to use it, or you can choose to dismiss it because of its simplicity. The choice is up to you. My promise to you is this – if you put this formula to work with an honest effort, you will acheive everything mentioned in the paragraph above and more. Personally, I would recommend starting with one person until you really get the hang of this. After a while, applying this formula will become second nature to you and all your relationships will be taken to amazing new levels. You will be able to impress your boss with regularity. This could lead to a raise, a promotion or countless other great items. You could motivate your employees and coworkers while making them happy at the same time. Imagine the work enviroment this could lead to! Most importantly, you will have your intimate partner feeling happier and more loved than ever before. I have been applying this formula in my own relationship and can tell you it is one of the main reasons both of us are so happy.

What is this magic formula? How can you apply it for your own benefit today? The formula is the title of this blog – SHUT 1 AND OPEN 2. You may wish to write this simple formula down as a daily reminder. Let me explain further what this formula means. Again, I strongly caution you against dismissing it based on how simple it may sound. Most profound thoughts are simple. The first part of the formula ‘shut one’ refers to your mouth. Most of us love to explain to our partners our feelings (a very important aspect of communication) but we are so busy talking about ourselves, we forget to do the second part of the formula. That second part ‘open 2’ refers to both our ears and our eyes. Call it actively listening, focused observation or any other term you like. Using this second part of the formula will bring you all the riches you desire when it comes to personal relations.

Let us delve a little deeper into the second part of this formula. Focused observation involves listening to, and watching someone with a particular goal in mind. In this case to learn more about them. Most couples can tell you that they can tell when their partner is upset when they give them “the look”. Actively listening or applying the second part of this formula involves paying attention to what proceeded that look. What was said or done to ilicit that expression? The same can work in reverse. When we see a genuine expression of joy on our partners face, their eyes lighting up, a smile adorning their face, it causes us to be happy as well. How often do we stop and ask ourselves “What caused this expression of joy?” More importantly in these examples is making a mental, or written, account of that. Remember what caused the pain or upset and what caused the joy.

I applied this very formula in my own relationship with astounding results. I did it without really knowing what I was doing. Now that I know and have perfected this formula, I continue to use it everyday and the results have only become more amazing. I was at our local food coop and wanted to pick up a little gift for Margie to let her know I was thinking about her. We had been to that store a few times as well as other grocery stores. The funny thing was I did not have any clue as to what a good surprise would be. I thought to myself, “Boy if only she was here I could see what she liked and then pick that out.” Suddenly it hit me, I should be doing that all of the time. In the countless times we had been to the grocery store I did not really pay attention to what she may have picked up or what aisles she gravitated towards. I made a decision next time we went shoppping I would observe carefully to what she did and said to learn what would be a good surprise next time I was alone. I can tell you that I learned more about my beautiful Margie in that shopping trip than I had in all the time we spent leading up to that moment.

I was so proud of myself until I realized one very important thing. There was no reason to have waited to learn about the love of my life. It is not just what she likes in the grocery store that can make me a hero for the day. I began to pay attention to what movies she picks out. What colors she enjoys having around. What she says she likes, and what lights her up. I have seen her get upset with both me and others and noticed what caused that. I noticed what songs she listens to when she is upset, and which she listens to when she wants to relax. I observed her as a scientest would do when observing an experiment. Then I began to test what I had learned. Slowly I found ways to make her feel more happy and loved than I had done up to that point. This practice continues to this day. Some days I may not learn anything, but just be reminded of things that are important to her. Other days I learn so much I feel I didn’t even know the woman I have been blessed to be with.

It never fails to surprise me how many people do not know the most basic elements about their partners. What is their shoe size? What are their favorite colors? Movies? Songs? This formula can give you what many would percieve as an unfair advantage. Do not take my word for it, Prove it to yourself using this 24 hour experiment. For the next 24 hours pick someone to observe. Some may find it easier to start with someone they are not so attached to, others may see more benefit in jumping right in to the person closest to you. For 24 hours become an active listener. Watch their every move. Listen to every word they say. Even more important, try to learn what is behind these words and actions. Record what you learn. As a bonus you can even go deeper. Look at their social media accounts and what they put out for the world to see. Have they expressed what is important to them? Have they mentioned what upsets them or goals they are trying to reach? Make note of this too. It may sound like you are stalking them, and it way this is true. What you are doing is focusing all of your efforts on learning how this person thinks and feels. Imagine what amazing things you can do with this information? To them it may seem as if you can read their minds and atticipate their needs and desires. Imagine how that will change your relationships?

TODAY OF ALL DAYS

 

Today in the United States we celebrate Valentine’s Day. One of the more polarizing holidays. There are two very distinct camps of people when it comes to this holiday. There are those who consider it a ‘Hallmark holiday’. “We should celebrate love all year, why do we need a special day for it?” While I agree with celebrating love everyday, the rest of that thought makes as much sense as not celebrating birthdays because you are alive every day.

Then there are those like myself, who take this opportunity to celebrate the love they appreciate each and every day. I do not think it is a day I must purchase extravagant gifts or go out for an expensive dinners. Today ask yourself this one vital question. What is the best way to celebrate love? This does not generally bring to mind flowers or chocolates. There are many ways I celebrate love. I won’t give you all my secrets, but I will share two important ones. 

The woman in the picture above is Margie, the love of my life. As you can see, I am beyond blessed to have what I feel is the most beautiful woman in the world. I work hard to be the best man I can be for her on days that end in ‘Y’. Taking one day out of the year to celebrate my good fortune at having not only a very lovely lady, but an amazing relationship seems like a no-brainer to me. While I enjoy surprising Margie with all kinds of goodies on this and every other day, to me that is not the best way to celebrate love.

The first way in which I celebrate love is by developing an attitude of gratitude. You may remember me telling you how gratitude can transform your life quicker than any other thing I know. If it is that powerful for your life in general, imagine how well it would work if you focused it on a certain area of your life, like your relationship perhaps? The difference is like feeling the warm sun on your skin, to focusing it through the lens of a magnifying glass.

Today I focus on the many things Margie gives me to be grateful for. On top of the pride of having such a stunning woman at my side, she keeps our love fresh and full of surprises. Take the other morning for example. Margie had discovered she could balance a broom on its bristles. You can only imagine the effect a broom standing up by itself in the middle of the room can have on a person half asleep at 4am leaving for work. There are other such surprises involving cats and coat hangers, movie theater garbage cans, and a million other things. She just sees me shake my head or raise my eyebrow, but I am really loving the fact that life is never dull with her. She also introduces me to many new things. I recall the first time she informed me I would be eating pork steak with cinnamon and cilantro. My eyebrow must have been on top of my head. Now it is one of the meals I like the most.

The second thing I like to do on Valentine’s Day is think of myself. Think of yourself when you have such a beautiful woman? What am I crazy? Seond question first – maybe just a little. Yes, I do think of myself. I think of my performance as the man in her life this past year. I ask myself what I did good. What mistakes did I make? What can I learn from both? It what ways can I learn more about her and how to love her better? Just like a yearly job performance, you should give yourself a yearly relationship performance. If you are really brave you can get together with your boss (your spouse) and ask them ways that you can add more value to the relationship in the coming year. Be open and eager to learn new and improved ways to strengthen and deepen your love for each other. Having a committed spouse who is looking for ways they can better themselves so that your relationship can improve is one of the best gifts you can give.

Today spend time really listening to the one you love. Do activities you both enjoy and think about all of the reasons you have to be grateful and ways you can improve. Next year, you will have even more reasons to celebrate.