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.

BE A PART OF THE NEW HOLIDAY!!

Starting now

With all of the craziness going on in the world, I am proposing a brand new holiday – UNIFICATION DAY. This holiday will be all about bringing the people of the world together.

We are all tired of this

UNIFICATION DAY should involve commitments by groups to do a better job working together for common goals. That could be different faiths setting aside the ritualistic differences and work towards common goals such as love and compassion. Reduction of violence between religions and many other common goals.

It should also include those of different political leanings. Work together for the good of the people. Help each other become more understanding. Work together to help small businesses and to educate those who may not usually have the opportunity. When we are all educated, the world benefits.

Love one another

Lastly, let there be commitment to work together as members of the human race. Let us refuse to be divided by race,economic standing, or any other issue that could divide us.

UNIFICATION DAY can be a day where we stand up to those that seek to divide us and do it with a spirit of love for one another. Host a UNIFICATION DAY party where you invite others that differ from you to celebrate, love and respect one another. Learn about a different faith. Perhaps give your time and effort to help those struggling with issues that you are grateful enough to not have in your life. If you have any ideas for ways we could celebrate UNIFICATION DAY feel free to share them in the comments below.

AN IMPORTANT ELECTION DAY REMINDER!!!

Let us all remember this

In the United States, today is election day. It seems every four years when we choose the leader of our country things get more tense and divided than the election before. Civility and respect tend to disappear and are all too often replaced by things such as insults and in the worst case violence.

Win or lose, this last year has been tough on all of us. There has been,of course, a terrible pandemic that has affected everyone in the world in some fashion. There have been losses, both financial and of life. Dreams have been shattered and lives turned upside down.

With all of these trying circumstances, you would think it would help feed feelings of compassion and a desire to help each other. I believe that is yet to come. Although we may differ greatly on the paths to take, I believe we all want the same things. We would like an end to the pandemic. We would like an opportunity to pursue our dreams and see our friends and family again. We would like to see the smiles behind the masks once more.

Our plan forward

While we cannot force things to change, there are certainly things we can do until that happens. We can fill our hearts with hope for s better future and for it to arrive sooner than later. We can pray, whatever our faith may be. We can pray for the health of the world. We can pray for the healing of our, and other’s hearts. In the meantime we can fill our lives and our world with as much joy as possible.

It is our love and compassion for each other than has not only helped us get through the most difficult times, but has lead to the greatest breakthroughs and advances in history. In a world that often seeks to divide us, let our love be stronger than their division.

WHERE TO SPEND YOUR ENERGY

Last post we spoke about resisting posting or responding to negative content online. We also mentioned using these platforms, whether they be Facebook, Twitter or any other social media, to spread love and appreciation we may be hesitant to voice in person. Today we are going to expand that principle. We are going to ‘take it outside the classroom’ as they say.

As responsible human beings we always want to fix what is wrong. That is a good urge and one I could certainly get behind. The method in which this is often done can be focused incorrectly. We worry about fighting a world in which all people are not treated equal. That in itself is a rather noble pursuit. In my opinion our focus should be on creating a world where everyone is treated equal. This may sound like the same thing, but it is not. Instead of focusing solely on eliminating hate, we should spend the bulk of our time on spreading love.

This may seem difficult to do when we look at issues of things such as racism, spiritual persecution, bullying and other societal behaviors. It would indeed be rather overwhelming to change all of that, but what we do have complete control over is ourselves. Let us focus on creating the new that we desire with our own behavior. Do we desire a world that is more loving and accepting? Let us be more loving and accepting ourselves. Let us join groups and organizations that promote unity and love.

Beginning today, let us focus our energy on growing the new world in which we wish to live. Let us do it by both changing our own actions as well as promoting and joining forces with individuals and groups that do the same. Instead of focusing on fixing what is wrong, let us instead focus on growing what is right.

A TOUCHING STORY I WAS TOLD

There are times when inspiration to write finds me. This is one of such stories. I was at my day job at the post office discussing one of our new employees, Gina, with two other coworkers. They told me they found her to be pleasant and hard-working. I told them that I would take their word for it because both of them had more contact with her than I did and would have had the opportunity to get to know her better.

Just then a customer walked up to the counter and said “That’s right!” All three of us looked at her as we were not aware she had been listening to our discussion. What she said next was one of the best stories I have had the pleasure of hearing in a long time. After she had finished telling the three of us her story I was so struck with inspiration that I gave her my card and asked her permission to share the story with all of you here. Not only did she agree, but she continued to share more pleasantries with the three of us.

This lady, her name was Joy, told us this story. “Take for example when I met my husband for the first time.” she began. She told us how she did not find this man appealing. He was 11 years her senior and his style and even his hairstyle were not attractive for her. Whenever he met with her, he kissed her hand. It was a way of being a gentleman for him but seemed a bit antiquated and off-putting to her. Everything this man tried to impress this young lady did not work. This continued for 20 years. He tried to impress her and she didn’t reciprocate.

What changed? In her words, “It took 20 years before I even gave him a minute. Then I sat down and as soon as he opened his mouth I realized this man has the most beautiful soul.” She explained the more they talked, the more beauty she saw in this man. I am not sure if he changed his fashion or if those things just seemed to fall away in importance. What I do know is that after 20 years of failed courting this man had captured the soul of this woman. She told us she has found him to be the most beautiful man she has ever known. They were soon married and have been so for I think she said 14 years. What I thought really spoke volumes is what she said next. “In all those years, we haven’t been apart a day since. You must look at someone’s heart to see how beautiful they truly are.”

I want to thank Joy for not only sharing her story, but for giving me permission to share it with all of you. She brings us a very good point to consider. Someone we may be quick to dismiss on how they appear on the outside, could be hiding one of the most beautiful souls. It is unwise to judge someone based on their outside appearance. Dig deeper and you will usually find beauty in each and every soul. On the opposite side of the coin, do not immediately chase someone based on their outside appearances. Find people who speak to your soul and include them in your life. This holds true of friends as well as lovers. Let us not only look for the beauty in each other’s souls, but work on improving the beauty in our own soul as well.

2 SECRETS TO AN AMAZING RELATIONSHIP

Here is a subject on which I feel I can speak with great authority. I say that for two very good reasons. One, I have a relationship, that although is far from perfect, it is amazing and we are working on making it better every day. The second reason is that I have screwed up so much in the past I have quite a few ideas of what doesn’t work in creating an amazing relationship. In this post we are going to unlock two insider secrets that if you put them into play, I promise will not only improve your relationships, but will improve your life. As an added bonus, it will also improve your most important relationship. That is the one with the person in the mirror.

In this blog we explore ways in which you can live a more amazing life. There is no greater area of your life that influences whether your life is amazing or not than your relationships. Although we are going to look at this from the point of an intimate relationship, you can apply these two secrets to any relationship from friend to coworker and watch them blossom into something very special. In fact, if you honestly give these two secrets I am about to share with you an honest try for 30 days, I promise you that your life will be better than it has ever been. One of these secrets will not only make you more popular, but will give you the appearance of having an almost supernatural power to make anyone feel special and appreciated. The other secret will not only take your relationships to a whole new level, but will have you happier, healthier and more full of inner peace than you thought was possible! Sound like a lot of hype? I promise you that it is not. Remember, I have been on both sides of the coin. I know what doesn’t work and have made most of the mistakes. (Sorry baby, but I am sure there are still some I am have yet to get to) and I have also used these tools, and continue to use them, to create some of the most rewarding and dynamic relationships I have even had. Are you ready to learn these simple yet powerful secrets so you can put them to use in your own life? Before we jump in to what they are and how to use them, a quick warning is needed. These secrets are deceptively simple. You may hear them and assume you already are using them. Let me assure you that odds are you are not. You may also assume that since they are so simple they will not work. Not only am I living proof, but the countless people I have shared these two secrets with can attest to their magical quality. Heed these two warning as you read on and I promise you that your life is about to transform.

LISTEN

The first amazing tool is to listen. Before you start telling me how you have been listening to your spouse complain for years, let me stop you. This is a different kind of listening. This type of listening will help you get inside your partners head. It is active listening, or as I like to call it, listening with a purpose. The picture above is of myself and my love Margie. Fear not, her tongue is not normally blue. I want to share a quick story about how listening changed my relationship with this beautiful young lady. Early in our relationship I found my self at the grocery store wanting to bring her home a little something to let her know I was thinking of her. The sad part was I did not know what she would like. What kind of cereal did she like? I didn’t know. What fruit might she enjoy? I was clueless. I made up my mind to focus on what she seemed to gravitate towards next time we were at the store together. When I did the information was overwhelming. As we walked and did our normal shopping I suddenly heard her tell me about her passion for black olives and why Lucky Charms should be considered a healthy cereal.

I was so happy and excited with all of my new found knowledge that I couldn’t wait to go to the grocery store again and be able to pick out something she would like. I must confess that I almost missed the true value of this. It does not just have to be limited to the grocery store. I began to listen to find our what made her happy. I watched as she seemed to brighten up around certain flowers. I learned that when she is stressed shopping at the craft store is good for her. Not so good for the bottom line, but I digress. If you listen to your partner to discover what they like and what they don’t, what makes them happy and what makes them mad. Recently, I recall hearing Margie mention she wanted a water bottle that broke down how much water she should drink by certain times of the day. Without saying I word I looked online and found one in colors she enjoys. The effect on your partner is the true reward here. They will not only be happy you are doing more of what makes them happy and less of what makes them mad, but they will feel listened to and valuable. For your benefit, you will now have the ability to bring joy and happiness to your relationship almost at will. The great thing about this is that the more you listen and learn, the better you will be at making your partner feel loved.

BE THE BEST VERSION OF YOURSELF

This secret I have only really come across recently. When things seem to be struggling in your relationship, focus on yourself. It may be true that your partner is treating you unfairly. It may be true times are just rough. What is a certain truth is you have no control over your partner nor outside circumstances. Trying to get and maintain control over either of those things will not only drive you crazy, you probably will end up a jerk as well. What you do have complete control over is yourself. Why is this important? If you are working on improving yourself, it is pretty hard not to win the admiration of your partner. If you work on getting in better shape and becoming healthier you will have more energy to bring to the relationship. Maybe you could work on expanding your knowledge base (Learning new things). That will provide more stimulating conversation in your relationship. How about working on your relationship skills in general? There are plenty of fun and amusing guides on how to become more romantic, adventurous, charming and whatever else you may wish to be.

What if you do all of this and your relationship still falls apart? Believe it or not, this is the best part about using this tool. If you truly work to become the best version of yourself and things do not work out, you can be confident in two very important things. First, if the relationship did not work when you were the best version of yourself, than it would not have worked at all. The worst thing about the end of a relationship is saying the ‘should of’ and ‘what if’. If you did the best you could, you should have no regrets. The second thing is even better. If you continue to work on yourself to improve every day and things do not work out with your partner, you are going to be in a far better position to start your next relationship. I enjoy learning new ways to make my love smile. Everyday at the gym I know I am working to be a healthier and happier version of myself. On the days I do screw things up, I am always eager to learn something new about improving myself and what I bring to our relationship.

In the end, becoming someone who can listen with a purpose and constantly improving ourselves will not only benefit our relationship, it will make us better and more powerful people. Being able to listen to someone, not to reply, but to learn and understand is so rare it could be considered a super power. Developing the drive to work on ourselves everyday will not only set us up to have our partner falling in love with us all over again, but at the end of the day we will be a better person. Practice these two relationship tools. They really are the secret to an amazing life.

WHAT TO SAY AT A FUNERAL

One of the most difficult times in anyone’s life is when someone they love passes away. Two years ago I lost a great deal of people I cared about. As it so happens I was asked to say a few words at several of their services. What an honor that is. At the same time it is a lot of pressure. When you are selected to speak at a major life event a good deal of trust is being placed in you to capture the moment in five to ten minutes of time. These are moments when words fail to live up to the gravity of the situation. How can you possibly do justice with words the feelings that are in the hearts of someone at such an occasion? Everyone is feeling a wide range of emotions from anger and sadness to loss and regret. How can you possibly speak to all of those?

I am going to give you two extremely valuable lessons I have learned that will help you in what can be very trying times. Let us first talk about being asked to speak at these occasions. Most of you reading this may never be asked to speak at a memorial or celebration of life event. That is probably a good thing. In recent studies, people placed the fear of public speaking ahead of the fear of even death. Which means, in a nutshell, most people would be more comfortable being the person the service is about than speaking at it. Still, there is questions like, “What do I say to the family and friends of the person who has departed?” and “What could I possibly write in this card that would do any good? In a way all of these questions can be answered using the same idea

When I was about to speak all these crazy thoughts came into my head. “What if they don’t like what I have to say?” “What if I break down and cannot finish what I have written down?” These were all legitimate concerns, but only to me. Realizing I was focusing on my concerns and worried about if I did something wrong how it would be received. What I had to do was change my entire mindset. Whether it is filling out a card, giving a heartfelt words to family and friends or standing up in front of a large gathering filled with emotion to give a speech when you are also filled with that same emotion, the answer is the same. When Albert Einstein was asked why we were here his answer was quick and simple, “We are here to serve others.” That is what we need to focus on during times of sorrow.

When I changed my mindset to one of service and began to ask myself what can I say that can give a little comfort or solace to those who were gathered there, the rest took care of itself. Was I emotional at some? Yes. Did I have to take a moment and compose myself before continuing? Yes. I believe that is of some service too. Knowing that your words come from a place of love and respect mean just as much as the words that are being said. I am generally thought of as a positive chap who promotes motivation and positivity. I thought things like that had no place at a memorial. What I have learned is being yourself and speaking (whether that is in person or in a card) words from the heart is all that matter.

Another thing to remember is that losing someone sucks…big time. This may seem like a no brainer but we must remember death affects everyone differently. We must also remember each of us grieve differently. People will be sad and that is alright. It is not our job to try to lift that sadness. Leave that to a power much great than yourself. Our job as fellow humans is to offer a bit of love and light to those who are hurting and to do so in our own particular way. To let everyone know we care. The way to do so is by being the wonderful caring people we are. We may stumble over our words and even get mixed up and say things completely wrong. That is okay. What matters is the love we have and the service we give. One day we will need the same.

ARE YOU A GOOD NEIGHBOR?

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

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

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

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

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

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