IT IS A GOOD DAY TO DIE

You would not expect such a line on a positive blog, but let me explain. This line is attributed to the Sioux Chief Crazy Horse. It may have been actually said by a different man, Low Dog first, but the idea is the same. The idea behind it is that we must live life so that if we were to meet an untimely demise, we would pass on with no regrets. I always understood the idea behind this phrase intellectually, but it has only been the last few years that I have really felt it in my spirit.

In about a month, I will be having open-heart surgery. Although the doctor is fairly confident, it still has a good amount of risk. Facing death is one of the best ways to give life a truer sense of meaning. Knowing there is a chance that death could be around the corner, can intensify your experience of life. Everything becomes more precious. Colors are more vibrant, times with friends become precious moments. You feel compelled to make sure everyone you care about that knows exactly how you feel. You live life with a overwhelming feeling of gratitude. This feeling is not only for all that we have, but even the challenges in life and for our life in general.

I feel fortunate to have been blessed to learn this lesson. There was a few ways in which this came to be so powerful for me. I would like to share them with you. Why? Because this is the way we should live. The sad and somewhat scary truth is that any day we have may be our last. When we discovered my heart issue, I was feeling on top of the world, yet without surgery, I was a walking timebomb. My heart stands the chance of literally exploding any day. As you can imagine, the prognosis after that would happen would not be good. There are many situations, most that are beyond our control, that could severely shorten our life expectancy. We should live our life accordingly.

It doesn’t have to take facing a serious health challenge or even realizing one could arise tomorrow to motivate us to live life to the fullest. I am going to give you two more ways in which this philosophy was driven home to me. The first is actually a very positive one. I can describe in one word the miraculous event that made me want to live life as the best possible version of myself and appreciate every breath that I take. That one word? Margie. Meeting a woman who genuinely cares so deeply for me and works so hard to be the best person she can be leaves me feeling thankful she chose me to share her life with. (Or did I chose her? The debate rages on.) Having someone who loves you, whether that is a parent, a child, a dog or, like in my case, the most beautiful woman on the planet, really fires up a desire inside of you to give them the best of everything. The surest way to have the best relationship you can is to work on becoming the best person you can. You may want to read that last line several times.

The most recent lesson of living your life in such a manner that it would be “a good day to die” is legacy. Years ago, I did a video for my YouTube channel (Neil Panosian) about writing your own eulogy. The purpose of that is to really focus on the kind of person you would like to be remembered as. This ties in with the love I have for my lady. I believe the worst feeling to have when you are facing death or the death of someone you care greatly for is not loss, but regret. When they ask people who were facing their earthly demise what they regretted about their lives the most, it was not the mistakes or the crazy things they had done. No, what a person who knows their time is drawing short regrets is things they have not done and have not tried. It is also realizing that the little things are the big things. I would love to treat Margie to everything her heart desires. I want to make all of her dreams come true. If I knew I only had a little time left, I would want to know I made her life, and every life I came in contact with a little better for my being here. I also would want to treasure some of the little things more. I would want to sit across the table from her sipping a cup of great coffee and letting her beautiful smile melt my heart. I would want to lay in bed next to her and wrap my arms around her and feel close to the woman I love so much.

Never knowing when a moment will be the last has us savoring it so much. Finding out I needed this dangerous surgery really gave us a stark reminder of that fact. Finding such an amazing woman had me knowing it all along. I encourage you to take a step back from your busy life to realize how fragile and precious it is. Those we love may not be here tomorrow and we may not be either. That is why we must enjoy every day, every moment and every breath. We must appreciate them for the priceless gifts that they are. We must live our lives so full that it would be a good day to die.

In my life I have been surrounded by great friends and family. I have had the opportunity to use the gifts that the creator has given me to bring joy to others. I have the privilege of loving what I believe to be the most beautiful woman I have ever known. My heart has known the great love that she has returned to me. There is certainly a lot more I wish and desire to accomplish and share, but my life has been good and if I were to leave this world today, it would be a good day to die.

YOUR GREATEST ADVENTURE!

Whether you are a fan of sci-fi, fantasy, action/adventure or even fair tales, there is one thing they all have in common. The hero. Think of the warrior setting out on his fateful journey. Whether that be to rid the world of evil, save the princess, slay the dragon or a host of other exciting adventures, that is usually a core theme of any good story. Even in modern times, the warrior may look different, but it is one of the classic themes. Either man verses the world, man verses man, or man verses himself. One of those challenges has to be overcome to make the story great.

I don’t pretend to know all of your professions, but I doubt any of us are saving a princess, ridding the world or evil or slaying a dragon, or are we? It may feel as though our life is lacking a great adventure, but that is far from the truth. Are you ridding the world of evil? Let me ask you this, are you a parent? Are you raising your children to be polite, accepting and compassionate individuals? Are you someone who is trying to unite people and bring them together for the common good? Are you simply someone who does their best to leave everyone a little happier than when they came in contact with them? I can tell you that is a great adventure this day and age. I can also tell you our friends in retail would look at you as a hero coming in to save them from all of the complaining and negative people they are bound to come in contact with.

Saving the princess? How many of us know a princess personally? How many of us even live in a country where there is a princess? You may think the answer would be very few of us. I am here to tell you the answer is every one of us! How can that be? Do you have a significant other? There is your prince or princess, depending. Of course they are not being held captive by an evil warlord. They are not trapped in a dungeon. This is not exactly true. Are they trapped in a stressful job 8 hours a day? Are they faced with a stressful commute? Maybe drama with friends or family? How would they view someone who brings them flowers or a romantic card? Maybe takes them out to dinner? Takes out the garbage without being reminded or just holds them and reminds them how beautiful and loved they are? That, my friends is saving the princess or prince. Don’t have that special someone in your life yet? If you do this for people you care about, you will be their hero and soon find yourself in the arms of that special someone.

Ok, you may be thinking you can relate to all of that, but slaying a dragon? Dragons are not even real! There are no dragons to slay in the real world. That statement couldn’t be more incorrect. They may not be mean-looking fire-breathing reptiles, but there are dragons a plenty to slay. Are you battling an addiction? You know all about slaying the dragon. That becomes a daily dragon to face. Working on eating better and getting to the gym? Dragon to slay. Doing your best to not give in to the negative influences all around you? Dragon to slay. Just as a warrior would never go into battle with a fierce dragon without a weapon and a shield, we must do the same. Our faith in our spiritual beliefs can be our shield. Our focus on a better future can be our weapon. Whatever dragon we are going to face, we should do so prepared. We should celebrate when the dragon is slayed as any good warrior would, and then we must prepare for the next dragon we will face.

Our life is our greatest adventure. We embark everyday on a great quest. We are ridding the world of evil, rescuing princesses and princes and slaying dragons. Sometimes all three in a single day. It is another reason that self-care is so important. As any great warrior, we must take time to let our wounds heal so we stand the greatest chance at succeeding in our quest! Stay strong my fellow warriors.

THE ONE THING YOU SHOULD DO TO IMPROVE YOUR LIFE

The most common question I am asked anywhere I go from my day job, to book signings, to live events is this, “What is one thing that I can do to improve my life?” In a society where people are used to quick universal solutions, it can be hard to understand that the solutions can be as varied as the individual. That being said, there is one thing that I would recommend to everyone looking to improve their life. It is at once both universal and customizable. This may sound crazy, but let me assure you that it is 100% true. How can the same solution work for both neighbor Bob and me if I am trying to get in shape and he is trying to fix his relationship?

Let us take the example of getting in shape. Although this can work no matter what area of life you are working on, from parenting to going to a job that seems to suck your soul out of you. If you were to ask someone what the best thing to do to get in shape is, you would, no doubt, receive a million different answers. Some people, like my mother, say walking is the best exercise. I have read that a rowing machine uses roughly 87% of your muscles. Throw swimming, bicycling and other such things in the mix and before long your head starts to spin. If I seek the advice of my friends at peak physique, Jodi and Ricky, I may hear weight lifting, cardio or yoga. So who is right in all of this? They all are. What determines success in fitness, as well as self-improvement, is consistency. While it is true that certain activities use more muscles that others, they do not use any unless you do them. Therefore, the great secret to improving your life? Find something you enjoy. Why? Because you are more likely to keep doing it. Maybe you like battle ropes like the people in the picture above? Let me say, for the record, I have never seen anyone smiling while doing battle ropes, especially while being ‘encouraged’ by a trainer as seems to be the case here. While rowing or walking may use more muscle groups, if you do not like those activities, you are less likely to maintain doing them.

What does all of this have to do with the broad topic of self-improvement? Everything! What events are more likely to change your life? I think fostering an attitude of gratitude is number one on the list. How can you do that? The way that works for you. Do you like keeping a gratitude journal? Then do that because you are likely to stick with it long enough to make a difference. How about carrying a little talisman in your pocket to remind you of something you are grateful for? Then do that. The secret is maintaining a behavior long enough to see results. Relying on will power sets you up for limited success at best. The best chance at success in whatever area of life you are trying to improve is to find something you like and start with that. As things improve, which they will, you will find it easier to add things that may be more beneficial, but would have been harder to stick with in the beginning. You gain momentum by doing an activity that you enjoy. You can use that momentum to make sticking to the more difficult activities that might be needed to accomplish your goals. I would love to hear some of your favorite activities that you use to improve different areas of your life.

IT’S ALL IN HOW YOU LOOK AT IT

I would love to share a story about one of the most unique gifts that I received for my birthday, which was July 29th. It was from the fabulous city of Lake Geneva, here in Wisconsin where I live. Margie, in her very loving manner, planned a surprise for me. We drove out to Lake Geneva, which is about 45 minutes away. She had an address typed into my GPS so I did not know where I was going. When we arrived at the destination, there seemed to be less parking spaces than there were cars looking for them. Whatever this surprise was, it was due to happen at a certain time which was rapidly approaching. We circled the area for several minutes getting a little more nervous with every second that ticked off the clock.

Then it happened. I circled the block and there was a spot right in front of where we were going. Someone had just vacated and I pulled in. We celebrated our good fortune and hastened to our send off spot. I discovered this was a port and we were to get on a boat. This took you around the lake that gave the city of Lake Geneva its name. It was a guided tour that explained each of the houses on the side of the lake. They belonged to business tycoons such as Wrigley and Nabisco. During this informative trip out on lake, they also served us a delicious ice cream sundae. Margie relaxed in my arms as we listened to the information tell us all about the lake and the people who lived there. By all accounts it was a wonderful experience.

the boat we were on

As the tour ended and we began to pile off the boat, I felt sorry for all of the people who parked far away. After such a relaxing tour, some had to walk quite a way back to their vehicles. I felt grateful for our good luck in finding an open spot so close to the boat. Then I saw it – a little piece of paper under the windshield wiper. About 6 stalls down from where we parked there was a “metered parking” sign. Not familiar with the area, and in such a hurry I did not stop to look around. Margie was rather upset. Having planned this fun excursion, she did not want it dampened by a citation. I was a lot less bothered. It is true that I did park illegally. It was also true that it wasn’t very clear that it was a metered spot. Still, I did commit the infraction. It even had my birthday on the ticket. It was only $20 and gave me a good little chuckle. Seeing how upset Margie was and how worried she was that it might lessen my ability to enjoy my birthday, melted my heart. It was a great sign of how she really cares.

To me, this parking ticket will remind me of the fun boat tour we went on. It will remind of all the neat things we learned as she relaxed in my arms. It will remind me how we laughed as we enjoyed our ice cream. It will remind me of how much she cares and how she was so worried that it might impact my ability to enjoy my birthday. It will even remind me of the other cool surprise of the day. We went to a drive through safari! There were bison, camels, emus and lots of other animals that would come right up to the car. The bison even stuck his head in and grabbed the bucket of food right out of Margie’s hand. We had a big laugh about that. This one ticket will forever remind me of all of this.

I certainly could have let the ticket ruin the fun times we were having. What good would that have done? I knew Margie felt bad as it was and if I would have gotten upset it would have only served to make her feel worse. At the end of all of that, I still would have owed $20 to the city of Lake Geneva. I could have focused on how poorly the signs were placed for someone unfamiliar with the city. I could have called and yelled at the city clerk. Sure, maybe they would have thrown out the ticket, but at what cost to me? Loss of peace of mind and quite possibly one of the best days I have had in a long time. I would have also made the love of my life feel terrible when she worked so hard to plan everything. That would have been inconsiderate. Instead, I am using this ticket as a physical reminder of all the fun we had that day and the amazing lady I had that planned it all. Plus, I hope the few dollars I spent on the ticket went to do some good for the city that hosted all of that fun and the people who work in it. Can you think of a situation that you can turn around and use for your advantage?

WHAT TO SAY TO PEOPLE EVERYDAY

It is Friday! We are heading into the weekend. It is usually reserved for social interactions with those we are truly excited to be around. We are also more likely to attend social functions. As for me, I will be on my last weekend of vacation attending our local State Fair, hopefully running in to old friends and making new ones. It some fashion, I think weekends are about friendships for most of us.

Here is something very important to consider, what impact can you have in passing? We are asked about our ‘elevator speech’ or how we describe what we do in 30 seconds or less. Roughly the same time we ride the elevator with someone. Here is a thought, what is your 30 second impact speech? We greet friends, and to a lesser degree even strangers, several times a day. What impact do we have on them? Negative? Demanding? Positive? Inspiring? Most of the time we do not put much thought into this at all. “I’ll talk to them more next time I see them.” We think. As we grow older, we realize the importance of each moment. The poignant, and kind of scary, fact is that one day what we will say to them will be the last time we ever speak to them. Here is another fact, we never know when that may be. Even if it is a coworker we see every day or a family member we see every holiday.

Life throws so many curve balls at us we never know when the last time we see somebody might be. Sure the odds of it being the last time we see 90 year old uncle Harry may be greater than our 25 year old coworker, but that still doesn’t bring them down to zero. Without getting overly morose, there are several reasons why life can take someone out of our life. We also never know who may be struggling that day. Some people are certainly better at hiding their pain than others. If we talk to and treat everyone as if they were really hurting and it would be the last time we would see them, we will be filled with a lot less regret and worry. What if we do see them again and we have told them we care about and love them? I don’t think any relationship would be hurt by telling someone you truly feel as though they are a gift in your life.

This weekend treat everyone as if they are the most important person on earth. We do this for two very important reasons. First of all, according to that person, they are. Secondly, that is how human beings should treat each other. You do this and I promise you that you will be rewarded with deeper relationships and be content that everyone has walked away feeling better for your company. It will give you an inner sense of peace and make you a lot more friends.

WHICH ONE DO YOU DO?

This is one of those lessons that seem like a no-brainer. To be honest, this is one that needs reminding in the lives of all of us. Margie really helped me master this concept. It is also one of the most difficult to remember in the heat of an emotional disagreement. The question is how can we change from having arguments to having discussions? I think there is a two-fold answer to this and it begins as soon as the situations comes up.

When we are hurt/sad/upset/angry with something that someone else did or said, or maybe even something we think they did or said, it is important we bring that feeling into light. The reason it is important is because repression grows into resentment. You might want to read that last part again. When we repress our emotions, the other person may continue to do the very thing that angered us in the first place again and again. Not because they are trying to make our life some living hell, but because they are ignorant to the fact we are upset in the first place. That is our fault and our problem to address.

Here is where it gets a little tricky. Before we begin to convey our feelings, we should take a second to ask ourselves some very important questions. The first question I would ask myself is, “If I was in their place, how would I want this brought to my attention?” Nobody likes to hear they upset someone or hurt their feelings. It can feel like they failed. It is also important to not place them on the defensive. Saying things like “You really hurt me” and “You did this just to make me mad!” Can place people on the defensive. Even if they did do something malicious on purpose, you will only compound the issue by attacking them. Remember to ask yourself how you would like to be approached. A more positive approach, and one I recommend very highly, is to ask them for help. Nobody likes to be reprimanded, but everyone likes to feel like they helped. An example could be, “I was wondering if you could help me with something. When you said _____ it really hurt my feelings. I know that wasn’t what you meant to do, but is there a way we could word this differently?” You notice you are asking for their assistance in discovering a solution? You also give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their intent, which we can never truly know anyway. How would you respond if someone approached you that way?

The second, and just as important, thing to ask ourselves is “What is the desired outcome?” Seldom is the answer “I want to make them feel bad because they hurt my feelings.” It may feel like that at the time, but if we are honest with ourselves, the answer is completely different. We usually want to create a mutual understanding that what was said or done caused some emotional distress. It is important to do that with eloquence. Once it is said and understood, immediately switch to working to create a plan to avoid the same situation from happening in the future. I actually ask myself that several times in my head in the course of a discussion. “What is my end goal?” Again, ask for help. “How can we work together to make this work in the future?” stands a far greater chance of success than, “You better not do that again!”

Remember, in any relationship, when there is a disagreement, a discussion is a far better result than an argument. Focus on how you would want to be talked to and realize the other party would probably like to be talked to in the same manner. Stay focused on a solution and not dishing out blame. In fact, blame does little or nothing to create solution. Ask for help. involve the other party and you will have many more productive discussions.

IT IS A SPECIAL OCCASION FOR YOU

You may be finding yourself thinking, “How does Neil know what is a special occasion in my life?” You may even think that today is just an ordinary day, that there is no special occasion. The odds of it being your birthday are about 1 in 365 best I can figure. Still, today is a very important day for you. Why? The reasons are all around us. When you think of the odds that allow you to be exactly who you are, they are more than staggering. From the moment of conception to all the experiences that have brought you to this point, they are all worth celebrating.

While it is true that a good amount of things that we encounter in life do not work out how we had hoped and imagined, they have all played a part in making us the amazing people we are today. Even the hardest lessons have given us some of our greatest gifts. If we face a particular health challenge, we can better relate and counsel those who face the same situation. If we have lost our job we face the prospect of finding a new, and often better suited job. If our hearts were broken, we have a chance to begin again with a wiser outlook as to the kind of person that would better help us grow both ourselves and our love. Even what I think is the worst pain, the pain of losing someone we love, can teach us the value of life and those we share it with.

This may sound like some new age inspirational speech, and it some ways I guess it is, but let us look how it relates to our life today. If you do not think today is a special occasion, ask yourself how it would feel if you knew you would not have a tomorrow. Now ask yourself how sure you can be that you do have a tomorrow coming? Can you be 100% sure? How about 90%? There is a great deal of factors that could sway that number in one direction or another. How dangerous your job is, the safety of the area you live in, and your current health status. Even if those are all in the positive, you still face unexpected dangers we may never consider. Car accidents, random violent strangers or a sudden unexpected health crisis. So much for the new age inspirational speech. While I am not trying to focus on the negative that may happen in life, it does not change the reality that they are possibilities. Tomorrow is not promised for any of us. Today may be the special occasion we never knew we were having.

If today were your last day with sight, how much time would you take to sit in nature and enjoy the scenery? How long would you gaze lovingly at the face of the person you love? What song would you listen to if you knew you may wake up without your sense of hearing? The risk is not only ours either. People in our lives that we care deeply for share those same inherent risks. Think about that for a minute. Today may be that last time your spouse may be able to see your smile, would you deny that to them just because they forgot to put the milk away? It may be the last time they are able to hear you say “I Love you” wouldn’t you want them to be able to hear that one more time? It may very well be the last time you can share a moment with someone. Would you not want them to know in their heart how much they mean to you and how much you love them? In my own romantic relationship, I tell Margie everyday, “There are two things I am going to tell you everyday. I need you to know how beautiful you are and how much I love you.” To this day, I don’t think a single day has went by in which I didn’t remind and show her those two things. Tomorrow, either her or I could be gone and I would not have the chance to tell her.

This may beginning to sound a bit morbid to some of you, but it is true just the same. This is not saying we should live our lives in a state of fear that something may go wrong, but with the knowledge that it might. Often, things are only appreciated after they are gone. We complain about that job until we lose it. We complain about our spouse until they are gone. We take for granted someone in our life until they pass away. Moments can sometimes become special because they were the last. The last time you said “I Love you” to someone you care about. The last time you got to see a friend’s smile. I think we should take Mr. Einstein’s advice above and live life as if everything were a miracle. You never know when moments will be last ones, so treat each one as if it were. Live, love and laugh like there were no tomorrow.

THE RIGHT VALENTINE’S DAY GIFT

Above is a graph on Valentine’s Day spending. As you can see, men spend an average of $200, women spend an average of $100. The average is not too hard to figure out, $150 a person. In total, over $20 billion dollars will be spent on Valentine’s Day this year. Yes, that is billion with a ‘b’. If you read my blog you will know that I advocate investing in your relationship 100% of the time you are in it. Still, taking time to just celebrate your love like you would the birth of someone, should be a fun and enjoyable experience. What are we spending all of this money on, you ask? Let us take a look.

Jewelry is far and away the number one investment we make to express our love. Not a bad investment. It can make your special someone feel beautiful and valued. Clothing is second. That is good I guess. We all need to be clothed. Ironically, if there was a day to be clothing optional it would be Valentine’s Day. Evening out rounds out our top 3. That is a good one. Creating memories is one of the joys of having a loving relationship. Some other items are flowers and candy. Seems like a good stimulation for the economy. If every year the world makes a $20 billion dollar investment in love, what is the return? That brings us to our next graph.

So this is a sober statistic. On average, over half of marriages end in divorce. There are over 100 divorces an hour. Well, at least we learn from our mistakes as we go along, right? We take the mistakes from the first marriage and learn from them. Wrong again. The divorce rate jumps nearly 20% for your second marriage and another 13% for the third. How can this be? We are investing record amounts to express the love we have for our partner, yet the divorce rate is higher than it has ever been. The problem is not the money we are spending. It is what we are spending it on! Imagine spending $20 billion on concrete looking to cure disease. I am not a doctor, but I don’t think this would get us very far.

We take this same approach to love. Whether it is on Valentine’s Day or any other day. When we think about investing in love, we should consider the ROI or return on investment. If you buy flowers, they may cause a good amount of joy for the moment, but what will the return be? Will it bring the two of you closer? Will it help you to get to know your partner on a deeper level? Will it help you get to know yourself better so you are better able to serve your partner? These are the questions we should be asking when investing in our relationship. Discovering your partner’s love language or how they express and receive love, do you think that would come in handy? Finding ways to help your partner discover their own inner beauty would make an amazing gift.

We spend a great deal of time and effort to invest in our homes, our cars and our retirement. When it comes to love we somehow imagine after we are together it will somehow take care of itself. Much like a business, we need to invest in research and development. This investment can impact every area of our life and offer great returns. While shopping for the love of our life this year, let us choose a gift that will be an investment in our relationship.

THIS WEEK, SPREAD THE ENERGY!!

We have talked many times about how you receive what you give away. This is especially true when it comes to positivity. If you treat everyone in a positive manner, if you pay them genuine compliments, show them compassion, and give them the gift of your time, they will definitely be more likely to treat you in a similar fashion.

This doesn’t sound overly complicated, does it? Then I encourage you, I beseech you, I implore you to be as kind as you can be to as many people as you can be. The kinder you are, the more people you are kind to, the greater the positive impact will be on your life.

Why wait? The sooner you start, the sooner your life will become more positive. Even if you are happy with the life you have right now, try increasing the joy you bring to others. Try this for the next 7 days. You will create connections and joy with others that will last a lifetime!

I welcome ideas on how to bring joy to others. How do you positivity affect others? How has this impacted your life?

SAME BUT DIFFERENT… IT’S WHAT YOU WANT

In my seminars and talks that I give many people are forever telling me that they wish their partner was easier to get along with. I ask them what the problem is and a good deal attribute their problems with their partner being too different from them. I am going to let you in on a little secret – that is not the problem. If you and your partner were the same your relationship would fail or fall flat in a short amount of time. It would make choosing what movie to see or going out to dinner a lot easier.

I am here to tell you the secret to compelling and passionate relationship is the differences. Yes, it is certainly imperative to have specific things in common for your relationship to succeed. Having the same values is very important. They may be to a greater or lesser degree, but knowing and understanding what your partner values is a very important aspect to a successful relationship. Sharing the same relationship goals and knowing what the future holds is also important. To, of course, a mutual respect for the other individual. The similarities are like a strong foundation. They allow you to build on this relationship. 

Take the relationship I have with my beautiful Margie. People look at us from the outside and think we also get along and share all of the same interests. We have even been tagged in posts with the #relationshipgoals. Humbly, I would say they are right. We do have an amazing relationship and it gets better every day. The reason that is true is not because we get along all of the time or are really alike. Neither of those are true. It is the differences that give our relationship its spice. Just like in food, there are times when we have a little too much spice, or differences, and we end up getting burned. Just like a recipe you refine, we learn from that and move along.

Allow me to share with you some of our differences and how we actually benefit and grow from them. Let us take music for an example. We do like some of the same bands. We discovered our love for the artist Michael Franti together, and have been to see Jackyl a few times. As a general rule, Margie is more pop and r and b, while I am 80’s hard rock and country. On any given day she will be listening to Pink and Chris Brown and I will be listening to Ratt and Chris Janson. How does this benefit us? When we DJ together we are able to help a wide range of people pick songs or put a name to a particular song they are trying to think of. We also can introduce each other to new artists and songs the other may not have heard.

Then there is the speed in which we get ready. I can be ready at the drop of a hat. 30 minutes later Margie is still trying on different hats. This gives me time to do things like enjoy a cup of coffee, look up directions for where we may be going or simply warm up the car. Margie can also be sillier than I am. She feels more comfortable doing goofy things in public than I do. In this difference, she teaches me to be a little more relaxed in public and I keep her from fines and jail time.

shortly after reading

Some differences are what make our relationship as wonderful as it is. We both like to learn but do so in very different ways. I love to read. If Margie reads, she is asleep in half a paragraph. Our solution? At night I read to her as we lay in bed together. Not only does this allow both of us to learn, which makes us happy, it is a wonderfully romantic solution to a challenging problem. She loves shopping and I love walking in nature. How do we solve this? In addition to occasionally joining each other for these trips, we use the time wisely. She spends time with her daughter who also likes to shop, and I walk in nature with my mother. Time apart makes our hearts grow fonder and we both have time with others that we love.

she loves candy and I do not

The problem in relationships is not the differences, but what you do with them. Differences give you contrast and variety. It is that excitement at spark. Differences in what you enjoy intimately can lead to many new and fun discoveries. Differences allow you to show love. If you do your best to enjoy something your partner really loves and you do not, how can they not love and appreciate that? You can use those differences to learn more about you, your partner and the love you share. Next time you are tempted to blame a difference for a problem in your relationship, ask yourself, “How can I use this difference to make my relationship even better?” The answers you discover may very well surprise you.