USE THE LITTLE THINGS

Throughout the years I have started many habits that, at this point, almost unconsciously allow me to live a positive and amazing life. I encourage you to do the same. Yours will not be the same as mine, but that is the fun of it. There are little things that only you may know about, that will bring a smile to your face. The goal is to add so many to your life that on any given day you are doing several of them. I realize this may seem a bit vague, so allow me to give you a few of my personal examples and it may help you get the ball rolling.

Like many of the tools that I use and teach, many of these “Little things” came to me by accident. One of the first ones that I can remember doing involved working at the post office. One of the busiest times we had when I worked up front with the customers was tax filing time. Unlike the holiday season, when people usually have a little joy in their heart for what they are mailing, tax time has very little of that joy. One elderly lady was giving me a personal history of how the government took advantage of her. This may or may not have been exaggerated on her behalf. The government does a lot of strange things. Whether they focus on elderly women in the village of Greendale Wisconsin is hard to say. After listening to this our entire transaction, the time came to affix the postage. I looked in straight in the eye and asked with a serious expression, “Would you like to me use love stamps on this?” I thought this would be a fun and sarcastic form of silent protest. She, however, was not in on the joke. She suggested several suggestive drawings that I would not have guessed would come out of the mouth of an elderly woman. I mentioned this might lead to being audited and we left it at that. The idea of putting love stamps on bills seemed so ironic and silly, I started doing it. The few bills I mail now would get one.

Whether your “little things” involve throwing coins in a wishing well, or saying hello to a large statue of a rooster (things I may or may not admit to doing) you should find small things that bring you joy. In my first book, I mention I used to say hello to a heard of cows as I drove to the rural office I was postmaster of. Of course the cows did not understand me, but that was not the point. It was a “little thing” that I did that brought me joy. For myself, little things involving nature seemed to bring an extra amount of joy. You don’t have to do these out loud if you are worried about people questioning your sanity. At this point I am far from worrying about such a thing, so I say “Hello” to animals I meet, and have other fun actions that make me smile.

If you have enough of these in life, you are always doing something that makes you smile inside. Another thing that is almost guaranteed to work, is to make someone else smile. Even if they do not appreciate your attempts, knowing you did your best to bring a smile to the face of someone else will put a smile in your heart. It also has a funny way of coming back to you. In addition to finding the people you are nice to return the favor, people around you will begin to see how you treat others and this will begin to spread. Find your “little things” and start doing them today. If it brings you joy and does not harm others, do it as often as you can!

SECRET TO AN AMAZING…RELATIONSHIP!❀

One of the most important areas of our lives is our relationships. I am not sure if there is anything that has a greater impact on our emotional well-being than our relationship to others, especially our intimate relationship.

The relationship field is a multi-billion dollar industry. There are books, seminars, therapy, coaching and a million other options. Add to that things like candy, flowers,greeting cards and other gifts and the dollar amount soars. I’m here to tell you there is one thing you can do that will mean more to your spouse than any of those things. It is also cheaper. It can even be free! One thing that can improve your relationship no matter how good, or not so good, it is currently.

I promise if you do this one thing, your relationship will be stronger, more fun and your partner will be more in love with you than ever before. I go into greater detail about this in my second book, Living the Dream, but I’ll give you the short version here. The Secret is…become the best version of you that you can be.

Investing time and effort in yourself may seem selfish, but it is actually one of the best investments you can make in your relationship. The better you make yourself, the better your relationship will be. Work on becoming a better listener, that will have positive effects on your relationship. Get in better shape? You will have more energy and become more attractive to your spouse. Learn a new skill? It is another interesting aspect you bring to life with your partner.

As you can see, I use this in my own relationship with my beautiful Margie. Here is another great thing. You can always work on improving yourself. There are always ways to become a better version of yourself. This means there is always a possibility of your relationship getting better! How cool is that?

As a very important added bonus, if things don’t work out in a relationship, working on yourself helps limit the regret. There is no wondering “if only I had…” You can rest assured you brought your best self to your relationship. Sure, you going to make mistakes, but as long as you learn and keep improving, so will your relationship

Although this is most noticeable in a romantic relationship, it holds true for any relationship in your life. It also holds true for your life in general. When you improve, so does your relationships and so does your life.

ARE YOU TRULY WHAT YOU ARE?

At first, this question may seem silly. Of course you are who you are. Looking at the quote above, we can dig a little deeper. The quote from Mr. Jung, whom I do not always agree with, brings some good questions to mind. How many of us know people who always seem to be preaching one thing, but doing another? You know the ones. They talk about how you should be healthy, all while they go out and get drunk several nights a week. How about those who tell us they can’t stand drama, but a few minutes later are whispering the latest gossip in your ear? I am sure we all know people like this.

Here is where things can get a little uncomfortable. It many ways, that person could be found in the mirror. On my YouTube channel (Neil Panosian) and in my second book, Living the Dream, I advocate an exercise that can be very beneficial. That is to write our own eulogy. This can sound morbid to some, but it is a very powerful tool for transforming your life. It has certainly made a huge difference in my own. This idea occurred to me while contemplating the death of my cousin in his early twenties. It solidified when I was asked to write 5 eulogies in 2 years. I began to think of what people would say about me when I was gone.

More to the point, I began to think of what I wanted them to say. I quickly scratched a few notes down on paper. I wanted to be known as someone who made a positive difference in people’s lives. I wanted to be a light that caused others to keep going when they wanted to give up. I wanted to be an example for how a man should treat a lady. I wanted to give to the greater good and leave the world a better place than I found it. I had parroted most of these statements for years. Then I had to ask myself a very important question – was I living them? In many ways, the stark truth was that I was not. At least I was not doing so to the fullest. In some cases I was at sometimes, and then not others. No consistency. My actions did not always match my words.

How about you? Do your actions match your words? Do you honestly think people will describe you as you hope to be when you pass on? In my own life, doing this exercise of writing my eulogy, helped me become clear, for the first time in my life, as to the person I wished to be. It also helped provide me a good course of action as well as a set of guidelines. These were not rules others were telling me, but instead ones that went with the values I had chosen to be remembered as. I can ask myself, is what I am doing an example of how to treat the one that you love? How about be a gentleman? What about leaving the world a better place? If the answer is ‘no’ I know that I need to change those actions to better match the person I am striving to be. If the answer is ‘yes’ I know that the actions I am taking are in line with the values I have and the kind of person I wish to be remembered as. How about you? How do you wish to be remembered? Are you taking actions that will lead others to remember you that way, or are you someone who they will remember as a person who said one thing and did another?

HOW DO YOU CHERISH?

I love this quote by Bob Marley. It causes us to take a step back and reflect how we treat the people in our lives. When you have a person with a certain skill set, do you cherish or use that skill? There is nothing wrong with ordering a cake from someone you know who has a talent at creating them, hypothetically. It is also important to cherish that skill and that person. What is the difference in this case? I think cherish can be replaced by the word appreciate. I think that is what is tricky in this situation. Even those of us, myself included, need a gentle reminder to cherish as well as utilize the people in our lives.

The obvious next question is how we can do this. I think this is where many of today’s technological offerings can be put to good use. If people only spoke with me when they needed some writing, that can go two ways. On one hand, it certainly is a compliment. You know my skill set and would like to make use of it. If, however, that is the only time you ever speak to me, after a while, I could feel somewhat used. If you were to blend this with a mention on social media, or even a compliment in person, that would mean the world to me.

Cherishing a person does not even have to be limited to professional avenues either. Do you have a spouse that is an amazing cook? A friend that is a great listener? Let them know! Maybe even get them a little card to say thank you. Send them an email. Buy your spouse flowers and let them know you appreciate their hard work in the kitchen. It can be easy to unconsciously almost take people for granted. Whether that is making a cake, writing, being a good cook, a good listener or just a good friend. It is for more likely for us to think, “I need someone to listen to me. I know Jane is a good listener. I am going to call her.” Than to make that same call to thank Jane for being a good listener. We often assume they know how we feel. They may not. Even if they do, it is good to both be reminded and cherished, or appreciated.

How do you appreciate all of the amazing people in your life? From the friendly bus driver to the helpful person at the coffee shop. How can you make them feel like the cherished people they are? We are always looking for good ideas. Please share yours.

CREATE YOUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD

One glance at the picture above and I am instantly transported to Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. As most of you who have followed me for any length of time already know, I am a big fan of that famous childhood program. I still think the self-improvement fundamentals taught on that show could apply to many adults to this very day. Do you know of anyone who could benefit from watching the episode “What to do when you are mad”? It would appear many of us have either forgotten, or could use a gentle reminder of many of the qualities that make us all good humans.

In today’s social and political climate, it is “You either agree with me or you are evil”. It would seem many of us have forgotten how to be civil to each other. Add to that, many of us do the bulk of our communicating behind a keyboard and it becomes worse. It seems without the personal accountability and responsibility of face to face communication, we do not feel constrained by manners. Social media, ironically, has made us forget how to be properly social. There are terrible acts of violence against each other in the news almost daily. Some are politically motivated, some are completely random. When I come across these items it makes me long for a neighborhood like Mr. Rogers had on his program. One of mutual respect and admiration.

Then it occurred to me. Each of us is responsible for creating this neighborhood. It is in not only teaching the fundamentals that were taught to children on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, but even more importantly, living them. Include people who are different. Learn about them and their culture. Not with a motive to judge, but to understand and appreciate. Learn to respect those whose opinions may be different than those of your own. Learn new skills, sing songs and yes, learn what to do when you are mad. A great way might be to check out some episodes of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Yes, the program was made for children, but the values are just as important, if not more, to adults of today’s world.

Many will say this is wishful thinking. They will argue how much difference can one person spreading kindness and compassion make in a world of people spreading hate and judgement. Can you imagine what a difference it would make if every ‘one person’ who was told that would have taken action? There are roughly 8 billion people on this planet. Can you imagine what it would be like if even 1 out of every 10 decided to indulge in random acts of kindness? Think of the ripple effect and how many people that would affect? Do you know where it starts? It all starts here and with you. Be that one person. Start that ripple effect. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Create your own neighborhood.

TAKE A BREAK FROM IT ALL!πŸ˜ƒ

One of the best ways to improve any situation is to improve your mindset in regards to it. We seldom have control over outside variables, and waiting for them to change will only add to the frustration we have with the situation we are involved in. What we do have complete control over is our mindset. If that seems down, we can change it. It sounds clichΓ©, but we hear viewing something as a teaching moment verses a failure can help us so much. All of this may sound easier said than done, but there is a way we can begin to change our mindset.

Last post we spoke about taking Monday off to make us find it less offensive. This doesn’t have to be limited to Monday. Kids getting on your nerves and you find yourself snapping at them when you shouldn’t? It may be time to call a sitter and spend an afternoon at the spa. Your spouse working on your last nerve? Maybe a shopping trip with the girls, or a fishing trip with the guys will refresh your outlook. I am not advocating running away from your problems. If there is something that needs addressing, by all means do so. Sometimes, however, all we need is a little time to catch our breath and revive our outlook.

It amuses me how many people talk themselves out of being able to do these things. “I can’t get a sitter unless I really need one.” I think if it improves the relationship with your children, then some ‘me time’ might be something you need. “My spouse will be unhappy if I go shopping/fishing.” They might be, but if it means you come back with more love and patience for them, and it improves your relationship in the long run, I think they will be happy with that. Especially if you state it like this, “My love, I feel like I am not able to give my best to you and this relationship and a little time away would help me do that.” Who could argue with a statement such as that? Do not say this if it is not genuine. If you are having relationship burnout, which happens in the best couples, it is important to address it before it leads to even greater problems.

It may help to view these breaks as what they are – investments. Taking a break is like a strategic retreat. It will allow you to regroup and meet life head on in a far more productive manner. If you find any part of your life overwhelming, run away from it…for a while. Take a break. Take some ‘me time’. Regroup and come back stronger than ever. Invest in yourself.

DO NOTHING… IT CAN BE QUITE PRODUCTIVE

The title of this post may sound counter intuitive to most, but that is precisely why it is so important. Doing nothing is often frowned upon. This is especially true in this material driven world we live in. We are made to believe if we are not working away on some chosen project, we are somehow guilty of a modern world sin. This could be housework, physical fitness, grocery shopping or pretty much any goal-driven activity. Even worse, we were told for a while that we should be a great multi tasker. Further research shows this is not only bad for productivity, but can lead to burnout. That is a subject for another post.

Even relaxing has us searching for distraction. We have our Ipods, books,tablets or phones. It feels we have to be doing something even when we are doing nothing. We can’t even relax completely. It is in this world of never ending motion that we find ourselves in a constant state of physical and mental stress burnout. This leads to a loss of productivity. It also suppresses our immune system. This, of course,leads to illness.

What can we get from doing nothing? How on earth can it be productive? So glad you asked. Doing nothing gives our brains a chance to cleanse themselves. It gives our bodies, and our minds, a chance to decompress. This allows us to return to our busy bee life with more energy, and more importantly, more resilience. It gives our immune system a chance to repair and re-energize. This keeps us healthy. It can refresh our spirit. In addition to reducing the likelihood of burnout, it also helps reduce the risk of depression and overwhelming.

As amazing as all of those benefits are, to me, they are not the best thing one can get from doing nothing. My favorite benefit is the creation of great thoughts and ideas. When I wrote my first book, A Happy Life for Busy People, I had plenty of time to think. It took me roughly a year. After which, I started writing for several magazines, a food review site, and my blog. All this while working full time at the post office and working as a DJ. Factor in a relationship with the world’s most beautiful woman and my dance card was full.

With six jobs and a great relationship, my second book, Living the Dream, took 5 years to write. The funny thing was that was not due so much to lack of time writing, but lack of time just being. When we are alone with our thoughts, that is when they seem to appear. You can’t call someone if the line is always busy. If it is busy long enough, you stop calling all together.

Leading up to my heart surgery, I wrote like a man possessed. I wanted to get out as much content as possible in case I found myself on the other side of the great divide. I feel the quality suffered. Without time to sit and think, my brain could not come up with any new brilliant ideas. If it did, I was too busy to hear them.

After my surgery, I was forced to take 3 months to do nothing. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t go to the gym. I was instructed to just relax. Guess what happened? Ideas started to come to me all day long. Perhaps they had always been there, but now I was free enough to notice them. My third book was written in 6 short months. (It should be available late July/early August) I also started to think of new ways to improve my life…in all areas.

My favorite thought happened when I began to write. Often, when I sit down at a coffee shop to write, my mind is filled with thoughts that have nothing to do with writing. Most often, those thoughts are of my beautiful Margie. Either I am missing her because we have not seen hardly enough of each other, or I am missing her because I just had some amazing moments with her. Before my surgery, I would try to focus and ‘persevere’. After my surgery, I thought to myself, I’m going to enjoy these thoughts.

What happened next was a miracle. My love for my beautiful woman began to increase exponentially! Just when I thought I could not love her more, a new reason, memory or idea how would pop in my head. I began to think of new ways in which I could both make her happy and improve our relationship. The best part was,once my heart was full of love, the writing just flowed.

I went home to my little miracle more in love and excited to share my life with her than when I had left. All of this was made possible because I took the time to do nothing. Can you imagine the positive impact that had on our relationship? Think of the impact it could have on yours, or any area of your life you stop and think about. Do nothing for a little while today. It might be the most productive thing you do.

GROW THAT GARDEN!🌾

Last post we talked about the importance of planting seeds. Not actual plant seeds, but one of inspiration, motivation and love. What happens when we plant a seed; water and take care of it? It blossoms and bears fruit!

What seeds do you plant in life? Are you going through life planting seeds of love and respect for your fellow humans? If you do, those seeds will grow and blossom. The fruit they bear will be deeper relationships, respect, and love and happiness in return.

The seeds will often grow even if you plant them and walk away. Just like in plants, the seeds will grow quicker and stronger if they are watered and nurtured. Same holds true for your seeds of joy and love. The more seeds you plant, the bigger your garden will be, and the more fruit it will bear. Plant seeds of joy and love wherever you go!

MIRACLES ARE EVERYWHERE!πŸ˜ƒ

A few posts ago we looked at a quote from Albert Einstein. It highlighted the choice between living life as though nothing was a miracle, or living life as though everything was a miracle. Can you really live life as though everything was a miracle? You can and it can be easier than you think!

I believe there are two keys to living your life as though everything was a miracle. The first is to begin to look for them. There are two examples in the pictures above. The first is how the scoop came out of my protein powder. I was on the way to the gym and not really feeling my workout and there appears a smiley face on my scoop from my protein powder! The second was a majestic sunrise on my way to work. Seldom am I feeling it on the way to work. Seeing this wonderful example of natures beauty does give a lift to the spirit!

The second key to living life as though everything was a miracle is to ask yourself “what is the miracle in this?” Again, we get an example of some majestic natural beauty. That would be the love of my life, Margie. When I think of our love and ask myself, “What is the miracle in our love?” There are many answers to choose from. It is a miracle that we found each other. It is a miracle that we made it through many difficult challenges early on before our love even had a chance to grow. It seems like a miracle how we find new ways to make our love grow. Imagine how your view of your relationship might change if you asked yourself, “What is the miracle in my relationship?”

Try doing those two things this month. Look for the Miracles around you. Then pick situations and ask yourself “What is the miracle in this?” You will be surprised how that will change your view of your relationship, your job, and even your time in line at the grocery store. Walking through the park, I saw the miracle of life with this baby duck and its mother. You can live life as though everything was a miracle by doing these two things. Soon you will discover that, indeed, everything is a miracle.