DON’T WASTE IT!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This picture really sums things up quite well. Here is something to think about, the hourglasses in this picture could easily be reversed. As I was preparing to write this I learned a close childhood friend of mine passed away on his 41st birthday. It would be nice if we all had hourglasses or some other sign to know when our time was about to expire.  Here is the thing that is rather sad, as people see that your time is drawing to a close they are more likely to tell you they love you, spend quality time with you and share emotionally with you.

Why is that sad? It is sad because we should not wait until the sand in our hourglass is running out to treat each other that way. It is easy to remember when your 80 year-old relative is in the hospital, but like the passing of my friend shows, it can be any time. Treating each other with dignity, compassion and respect should be a daily activity.

Here is another thought to ponder, not only are we unable to know when the sands of time are running low for those we love, but we never know how much sand we have left ourselves. Try asking yourself every morning if today was my last day what would I want to tell those I love? In what ways would I go out of my way to spread love? The crazy thing about asking that question is one day you will be right.

 

 

 

DON’T WASTE $86,390


Building on our last post, this is another way of looking at how negative people can affect your life. When someone spends time gossiping or complaining to us that is like the $10 that was wasted. When we spend time upset or thinking about what they said, that is like throwing the other $86,390 away.
Time, in fact, is worth far more than money. We can always find a way to earn more money but time, once it is gone, is gone forever. We never know when we will breath our last breath or something may happen to dramatically alter our lives. Is losing even more of our precious time here worth someone else’s negativity? That is like good money after bad as they say.
When some of your time is wasted do not waste even more by being upset about it. Learn from it, use it and then move on.

YOU ARE SPEAKING A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE


This blog post was inspired by two people. First Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages. If you haven’t read this book yet I highly suggest you add it to your list of books to explore. The second person is my mother who also has not read this book and reminded me that a lot of other people haven’t as well.

Let me give you the summary of this book. Keep in mind this is the very abridged version and there is so much more amazing information to be had by reading this book. The premise of this book is that everyone expresses and receives love in one of 5 ways. This may seem confusing if you have never considered the concept before. It should be crystal clear if you ever done your best to do something loving for that special person in your life only to have them seem to be mildly affected at best, or totally unaware of what you were doing at worst.

Perhaps you have heard “I was trying to show I love you.” and thought to yourself, hopefully not out loud, “Yeah, never would have got that.” It can seem as if you and your partner are speaking two entirely different languages. In some respect you are. Hopefully, it is not shocking for you to learn men and women are different. It should also be noted every person depending on their upbringing and life experiences are different. Certain things mean more to one individual than another. All of this information should be common sense. Why is it so far fetched to think that when it comes to expressing and receiving love we can be equally as different?

In his book, Gary Chapman states that there are 5 basic ways in which people both express and receive love. They are – receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service(devotion) and physical touch. Most people tend to be a mix of these to some degree, but one of them usually takes priority. For example, you may like it when your husband gives you a hug, but you really feel loved if he would help you with the dishes. You may feel loved if your wife brings you home a small gift, but it would mean a lot more if she would take the time to sit down and tell you why she loves you and what it is that you do that makes her feel loved. Maybe your examples are exactly the opposite. The point is everyone is different and that is perfectly wonderful. Complicated, but wonderful just the same.

Why take the time to learn your partners love language? The reason should be obvious, but it case you missed it we will cover it again. When you express love to your partner you want to do it in the most intense and concise manner possible. You also want your partner to feel as loved as possible. There can be very few things as frustrating as trying to be loving to your partner and they don’t feel the love you are doing your best to convey or at least not to the extent you feel your efforts warrant. It is not either person’s fault, you are both just speaking entirely different love languages.

As if this wasn’t complicated enough there is one more caveat to the equation. Nobody said love was easy, just worth it. Everyone not only receives love in a different way, they also express it in a different way as well. To make matters even more tricky, those ways may be entirely different as well. Funny thing is, we may not even realize what language we speak. Luckily, there is a quick and fun quiz you and your partner can take in the back of this book to help discover what your love languages are.

Once you learn what your partner’s love language is you can not only make them feel more loved than they have felt in a long time, but you can do so with less effort and less frustration on your behalf. If that sounds like a win/win it is because it is. As a side bonus, this works with friends, relatives and anyone else in your life, not just your partner. Knowing what makes your boss feel loved and appreciated could really help you out as well. Want to make your mother-in-law or father-in-law feel special and loved during the holidays? Learn their love languages.

There are several ways to accomplish this. Of course you could buy those you love in your life the book The 5 Love Languages. This can be pricey and in the case of your boss may be a little awkward. There are, however, other ways. First, the obvious is pay attention to what lights people up. Does a heartfelt thank you note cause their eyes to beam? Maybe picking up a small something that reminds you of them next time you are out will make them feel very special? Experiment. You will have fun as you learn and you will make people feel good while doing it. Lastly, you could buy yourself the book, learn your love languages and be better able to express what is important to you to the ones you love. Once again, they learn and you can feel more loved, win/win. You can also try working some of the questions in the quiz in your conversation with them and learn that way.

Regardless of what route you choose to go, learning your partners and your own love languages will make life more enjoyable and easier for everyone. I strongly suggest checking out The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Draw your own conclusions. I would love to hear what you take away from this amazing book.

NOT ALIKE BUT TOGETHER

Here is some information that will save you a lot of stress and a lot of lost time with the one you love. When it comes to any relationships, but more so in intimate relationships.

Think together and do not think alike. Sometimes differences in opinions, styles and manner of accomplishing goals can feel like obstacles just screaming to be solved. “If only I could get them to do things my way.” This can crop up in both the little and the big things. I can tell you this, the time you spend trying to ‘correct’ or change your partners behavior is wasted time.

Margie and I can go through periods where is seems like we disagree on everything from the percentage of chance there is a dead body in the dumpster to how criminal it is to use a tortilla without warming it up. If we spent all of our time trying to have the other do things the way we do them we would miss out on time that could be spent watching a movie, walking in the park or many more activities that will bring us joy.

How do you not let these little things crawl under your skin? I have found several ways. One, understand that is exactly what they are, little things. At the end of the day what difference will it make in your relationship if your spouse folds a towel different than you do? Does that change the person they are? If it does for you there may be other issues that we need to look at.

Also, this is a great opportunity to practice several things that can help with the longevity of a relationship. What things am I talking about? How about acceptance? Being able to accept that the person sitting across from you can somehow exist without the aid of a caffeinated beverage and that is ok. It is also a chance to practice patience. Do they clean things in a way you know they shouldn’t be done? Maybe it is time to focus on what you have to be grateful for, like the fact they are cleaning at all.

How about communicating? We are going to discuss this in a little more detail in an upcoming post. Does your spouse not put the same importance on body language that you do? Perhaps they are more physical and you are more verbal? This is a chance to basically learn and teach a new language. When you talk to your spouse about what means love to you it is important to understand that may be different. Here is where being a great listener comes in. By discovering how you and your partner differ when it comes to expressing and receiving love, you can open a whole new level to love. Imagine if you try to force them to express love and feel love in a different way? That would be terribly unrewarding for both parties. When you understand the differences here you can better express love to your partner and realize when they are trying to express it to you. Thus, you increase the total amount of love in the relationship.

This works fine for the little things, but what about the big things? Spiritual beliefs say? Remember differences help us expand our way of thinking. As long as the values are not radically different it is certainly ok to have different approaches in this manner. Again, it provides us an opportunity to use compromise and to seek a deeper level of understanding for our partner. Having someone who approaches the world in an entirely different manner can offer you more insights than a narrow approach of the exact same way of thinking. 

The more we understand our partner and how they differ from us, the greater we can love them. Whatever your goals in your relationship are, having two unique approaches will offer more wonderful discoveries along the way to accomplishing them. Imagine how much deeper your partner’s love for you would be if they saw you were trying to understand and appreciate the differences you share without trying to change them?

LOVE YOUR CITY, LOVE YOUR LIFE

I am always on the lookout for ways to promote the great city I live in. Most of us can be unaware of many of the great things the cities we live in offer. The news and social media may highlight areas that need improving, but if you dig just a little bit deeper you will find a host of reasons to love your city. I am going to show you how to capture these as well as how to use them to create fun and exciting moments with your family. Further more we are going to look at how doing this can transform other areas of your life as well.

The above picture was taken at an event called Beecher Street Bash. The event is held in my hometown of West Allis Wisconsin. The event was created by a gentleman named Mark Lutz. Mark owns a business called West Allis Cheese and Sausage Shoppe. For those of you who read my food reviews on Chow Down in Milwaukee you already know what a wonderful place this is. For those of you who might have missed it, let me assure you if you are looking for a great place for brunch or to pick up some locally produced gifts for others or yourself you would be hard-pressed to find a better location.

Once a year Mark, along with the other business owners, close down the street in front of their businesses and throw what amounts to one amazing customer appreciation block party. There are offerings to be had for a mere $2! This year included delicious food such as brats, meatballs, spicy watermelon and chicken wings. There was also a band named AcousticClowns entertaining the crowd. Despite my unique fear of clowns, the music was quite fabulous. Neighbors mingled about including the mayor, members of the common council and other business owners. It was a great chance to enjoy some great weather, food and company.

This is just one of many great events that the city offers. I am going to share with you something my beautiful lady Margie and I do that helps us make the most of the few months of good weather as well as our busy schedule. Once a month we sit down and look at all of the events happening around the city. We learn about them through the city newsletter, recreation department catalog as well as social media outlets such as the group West Allis News, Events & Stuff. We compile a list of places we would like to go and things we would like to try. We have a great new brewery in town called Westallion Brewing Company that offers tours on Saturdays and puppy playdates on Sundays. It seems every month there are new places opening to eat. There are live concerts in the park and classes on everything from Yoga to making things out of clay.

In your city there are probably similar events as well. With a little digging such as subscribing to news letters, looking on social media and checking your local library you too can compose a list of amazing things about your city. After a few months of doing this you will not only get to know many new places and faces, but start to really develop a love for the city you live in. Margie and I are already looking forward to trying the new beer gardens as well as the new old-fashioned butcher shop as soon as that is open.

Here is a little secret for you to use. As well as this works for falling in love with your city, it will work for any other area of your life. Looking to increase the love between you and your spouse? Once a month create a list of things you are grateful for them and things you are looking forward to, or would like to try with them. Want to dread your job less? Once a month compose a list of things you are grateful for at your job, or good things that happened there, even just a kind word from a coworker. You would be surprised at how taking a few minutes once a month can help you discover all the wonderful things in your city and in every other area of your life.

HOW THIS MAN CAN IMPROVE YOUR RELATIONSHIP

I know you may be thinking how can an old man with a crazy beard and mustache improve my relationship? Look he even has his arms crossed and does not look very open to communication. At least that is what I would be thinking.

This man is Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, Russian physiologist. He is best known for his experiments in classical conditioning. More to the point he was the guy who did the experiments with ringing a bell and giving the dog some food. First the dog would salivate only when the food was presented but sooner or later even the sound of the buzzer would cause the dog to salivate. It was a great example of using positive reinforcement to create a desired effect.

Here is the uncomfortable truth – it works just as good in humans. This is not a bad thing. We can use this information to improve our relationships. Do you mean we should train our spouse like the dog in the experiment? Well…actually…kind of. Let me explain. Let us say you like it when you partner calls to check in and see if your ok. Maybe that makes you feel loved and cared for. Next time your partner does that show them a great loving sign of appreciation. Do you really like it when your spouse brings you home little surprises from the grocery store to show they were thinking about you? When they present them to you reward them with a big hug or kiss. In other words, reward their behavior with positive reinforcement.

When I share this idea often people tell me that they feel they are tricking or training their partner. To that end I say this, when your partner makes you feel loved or appreciated for doing a certain thing do you not want to do that thing more? I know I do. Conditioning someone to do something you enjoy by making them feel good is a win/win situation. Both parties leave the situation feeling better than they did before and the likelihood such event will happen in the future only increases.

What if you would like your partner to do something they currently do not do? The standard operation procedure is to yell or nag or even just say in a forlorn tone how you wish they would do this or that. Using positive conditioning is not only a much better way, but will once again leave both parties feeling good with no hurt feelings or disagreements. Let us take a look at how this would work with our above examples.

You would really like your partner to call and check on you once and a while. It would make you feel like they really care about you and love you. They really do love and care but they just do not know you would like them to show you in such a manner. I am all for direct communication in a relationship, but sometimes a little grace and tact can go a long way. In this example when your spouse is out or running late you call them. When they assure you that they are ok follow it up with a statement similar to this, “I am so glad you are o.k. I just wanted to call because I wanted you to know I care and was worried.” Same with the grocery store example. If you would like them to bring you a little surprise to show they are thinking about you, try doing it yourself first. Give them the surprise and say, “I couldn’t help but get this for you. I was loving you so much and couldn’t think of a better way to show you than picking you up a little something.”

After a few times of doing this, your partner may very well pick up on that and do the same for you. Here is the great thing about this, they will also get to feel the pride of thinking of and doing the action themselves. Anther win/win situation. Whatever the situation in your relationship, always do your best to use positive reinforcement. That way both parties have a chance to feel good while improving the relationship.

WANT A GREAT LIFE? USE A FOUR- LETTER WORD!

This is a post you can read at work. Although the usual warnings do not apply, this is a post about a four-letter word that used to offend me far more than all the others. It is also about how not only making peace with this word and the concept it represents, but putting it to work for me as well, changed my life in ways that I can’t possibly begin to explain.  Although now that I think about that is what I am about to attempt to do.

Would you like to improve every single aspect of your life with the use of just one word? What if there was no required writing or hard work on your part? What if all you had to do was ponder this one four-letter word and your friendships would improve, you would become more productive and the stress in your life would go down? What if using this four-letter word could make you money and help satisfy your partner? I realize this sounds a bit over-the-top but it really is true. The ironic thing is that most of us groan or run the other way when we hear this word. I get it. I’ve been there. When I heard this word growing up and all through school my stomach would twist in knots and I would start to feel sick. Now, when I think of this word I am filled with excitement because I know it will bring everything I desire to me quicker and with less stress.

What is this amazing word already? Before I tell you what this word is I must ask you to do your best to keep your preconceived notions to the side for a few moments. Remember I told you I used to run from this word. Another word of caution is that this may sound too simplistic to be powerful. All the great ideas usually do. If applied correctly, this one small word can have a great impact on every area of your life you apply it to.

The word to which we are referring is goal. When I used to hear the world goal my mind would focus on expectations and the prospect of failure. It brought to the mind the dreaded days of bringing home a report card. In the present day it can bring to mind sales goals at work or perhaps the fitness routine that didn’t last as long after the first of the year as you hoped. Thinking of all of these examples it is no surprise that people have a negative connotation to the word goal.

How exactly can we use this maligned word to transform our lives? By setting and applying our own goals. If that word is still a little to tainted for you we can try substituting the words ‘vision’ or ‘purpose’ in it’s place. For the sake of this post we are going to continue to use the word ‘goal’. By the time we are done here I think you may very well have a different view of the word all together such as I have.

Here is the basic formula for using goals to revolutionize your life. Decide in advance what your goal for any activity can be. This can be helpful for trying circumstances. Let us say you are about to leave for work. Decide what your goal for the drive in is. Maybe it could be to not become overwhelmed with dread. Maybe to enjoy some great music or an audio book on the way? When you get to work what is your goal? Is it to work as hard as you can on a certain project? Is it to demonstrate how valuable you are to your boss? Maybe it is to collect your paycheck without harming your coworkers?

Start small and work up I suppose. This not only helps us with challenging situations, but can help us with enjoyable situations as well. Having lunch with a friend? What is your goal? Is it to just enjoy their company? Maybe to tell them how much they mean to you? Maybe to show them how much they mean to you? Maybe it is just to fully enjoy your pizza? Attending the State Fair? What is your goal? Is it to learn about agriculture? Is it to pet animals you normally do not see? Perhaps take in a great local blues band? Maybe try new craft beers? Enjoy a great evening with friends?

You may be tempted to think, “Neil, do I really have to think of a goal for each and every thing I do?”. The answer in short is ‘no’. By incorporating goals and deciding in advance what your purpose in any action and situation is will help you make the most out of the situation and out of life. Arguing with your spouse? The goal is not to be angry or to get them the same, but to convey and solve and upset. Can you see how having a clear goal in that situation may cause you to take a more helpful set of actions? In the going out to lunch with your friend example. If your goal is to help them feel how much they mean to you, imagine what things you might throw into the conversation and how amazing they will feel when they leave? I would love to hear some of your goals, how you may have used them in the past or how you plan to use them in the future!

FREE YOURSELF

I love this quote, but more to the point I like the thought behind it. Too many of us focus on and dwell on the hurt that has been done to us in the past. Here is a shocking bit of news for you – the only person you are continuing to hurt is yourself. By reliving the pain and hurt you experienced, you are simply choosing to experience that pain and hurt all over again. The ironic thing is that the only person to blame this time is you. I know you might be saying, “But Neil if they wouldn’t have hurt me in the first place I would have nothing to relive.” That may be true, but they have moved on and it would serve you to do the same.

Will Smith said it best when he remarked “fault and responsibility are not linked.” It may be their fault that they hurt you but it is your responsibility to not only move on from that hurt, but better yet, put that pain to work for you and stop letting it hold you back. Still stewing over what your ex did to you years ago? How do you think that will affect your current relationships? If we were to put what you are doing into words it would sound something like this, “I am not only going to feel this pain and heartache every day, but I am going to let that pain screw up my current and future relationships.” Doesn’t sound very sensible does it?

In the above quote Nelson Mandela was speaking about a government who had kept him in jail for 25 years based on the color of his skin. Was that his fault? Of course not. Was that fair or right? Absolutely not. If he focused on that anger and bitterness when he was freed who would suffer? Not those who jailed him. It would be himself that would feel anger and bitterness in his heart. It would be him that would eventually fall victim to physical ailments due to those emotions. As he said if he did not let those emotions go he would not be free.

I am not advocating letting people walk all over you. Far from it. Be cautious against those who have hurt you, but do not relive the pain. It does not affect them and it can only hurt you. Remember fault and responsibility are not linked. It sucks, but it is true. Free yourself from your hate, sadness, bitterness and anger. Enjoy the freedom you deserve.

LOOK FOR THE SIGNS.

Today will be a quick but powerful idea. Pick an emotion in your life you would like to increase. This could be love, peace or happiness. Then think of a symbol that represents that emotion. This could be a heart for love, a sun for peace or a smiley face for joy. These are just basic examples. Choose whatever symbol makes sense to you. Nobody but you will know what you’re doing. Unless of course you want to involve friends, family members or your spouse. This could be fun, but it not necessary.

Everytime you see that symbol think of and practice that emotion. You may even wish to write down when you come across them and where. It is imploring the universe to help you remember to include that emotion in your day. Try this new routine for at least 21 straight days.

I suggest keeping a journal of this activity for two reasons. One, it makes the sightings more powerful and easier to remember. Two, at the end of the 21 days it is a great way to see your progress!

Feel free to share your symbol and/or the results of your experiment! What emotion are you looking to capture more of in your life?

ARE YOU A LION OR A GAZELLE?


I have always loved this quote. In fact, I have a copy in my writing room. I always thought the gazelle had the better motivation. After all, if the gazelle doesn’t run fast enough it dies. If the lion doesn’t run fast enough it goes hungry. I suppose enough of those days and it could also die, but at the moment I always figured the gazelle was more motivated. Then something happened to completely change my perception. Has that ever happened to you? Like one minute you view things one way and with a bit of different information it all changes?
I was listening to a talk by Eric Thomas, one of my favorite motivators, and he pointed out something I had not thought of. If the gazelle does not see a lion, it does not run. It is quite leisurely eating grass spending the day with its friends. Its motivation relies on outside motivation. The lion, however, has the motivation coming from the inside, his stomach mainly. He will hunt regardless of whether it is a gazelle, water buffalo or some other animal. He does not need outside motivation. His motivation comes from a hunger within.
Let me tell you where this train of thought went. One of the areas that I am proudest of in my life is my relationship with the love of my life, Margie. We are far from perfect and don’t always see eye-to-eye, but we are always learning and more importantly, loving. Quite often both of us are told how lucky we are. Although I am truly fortunate and blessed that the powers that be put us in the same place at the same time, there is a lot of hard work involved. In every successful relationship there is. The reward for this is…well…a successful relationship.
I realized in my relationship I am successful because I am a lion. Before I lose some of you, let me explain what I mean. In the United States currently over 50% of marriages end in divorce. Looking at some of the couples I see and I am surprised that number is not higher. What happens from the time we get together blissfully in love to wanting to leave each other? More importantly, what do the couples that stay together do differently? They are lions and not gazelles when it comes to their relationships.
Most people fall in love for various reasons, but most of them are predicated on the person they fall in love with. There is rarely a thought of what they are looking for and equally as important, what they are looking to avoid. Margie and myself both came from long relationships before we met each other later in life. By this time we were a lot more clear on what we wanted and want we did not enjoy in a relationship. Quick note, she still surprises me by showing me things I did not even know I wanted in a relationship. Then people generally go on autopilot. When loving things happen, they feel loving. When stressful things happen, they feel stress. They are reactionary people. I am not sure how your life works, but in my life there are usually a lot of challenging things. That can leave you feeling stressed more often than loving. Stretch this out of a length of time and it is not so surprising a lot of relationships fail.
There are times when we put forth efforts. Birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine’s day come to mind. Then it is still the outside influence of the calendar that is motivating us. We are still a gazelle that depends on outside motivation to put forth a great deal of effort in our relationship. One of the most comical, yet sad things I witness is when you suddenly see someone become the best romantic partner ever. That is in the presence of another lion. A attractive young lady in a revealing outfit or a muscular gentleman with perfect features approaches your spouse and suddenly you are by there side showing the world, and more importantly that other lion that they are yours. I even heard people who never utter a romantic word become the next Shakespeare or Robert Browning, all but reciting romantic sonnets in the middle of a club, grocery store or wherever this romantic challenge happens. Yes, they are being romantic, but why? It is to defend and retain the romantic affections of there partner. They are still being a gazelle, dependent on that outside influence for motivation.
Sure, their romantic overtones are probably greatly appreciated, but it is usually obvious why they were made. I must confess to being guilty of this myself a time or two. In the world of being a DJ, it can be quite apparent that people have little to no respect for another’s relationship. I may have even occasionally attacked another lion, but I digress. What Margie and I do to make our relationship success is we are both lions. Our motivation for being loving and romantic with each other is a burning hunger to love and create the most loving relationship we can. Remember the lion in our first example? The motivation came from an inner hunger. It did not need an outside force for motivation.
How can you be a lion in a relationship? Even if someone would come up to Margie when she left the house in the morning and told her she was beautiful, I make sure I have already reminded her of that fact several times. My desire is to be the best romantic partner and friend I can be. My reward for this is a great connection with Margie. My hunger will make sure I am never content with that connection either. While I bask in the joy of our love, there is always an inner hunger to take our love and our relationship to greater heights. I do not need a special day or the influence of some other person to generate a desire to create love in my relationship. It is my hunger to be the best man I can be and to create the best relationship that drives me. In all areas of your life be a lion. channel that inner hunger to hunt down the best relationship, job or whatever else it is you are hunting.