WHERE DID IT ALL COME FROM?

These last few days have been filled with sadness as we have been mourning the loss of Margie’s mother Ruthanne. I have always been someone who searches for the light in the darkness. There is no more difficult time to do this than when we lose somebody who means so much. If there is anything my faith has taught me is that there is always something to be grateful for.

Of course we would all very much like to have Ruthanne back to hear her sing one more song, laugh one more time with us or even just to put things in perspective the way only she could do. Thankfully we have lots of videos, pictures and memories where those moments will live on. In addition to the great lessons in life that she has left behind, there is another gift I have discovered in the midst of this somber time.

While making arrangements for the celebration of life planned for Ruthanne, there were generations worth of pictures to sift through. I am a big fan of history to begin with, but being able to see first hand the family history of the woman I love is something truly special. Of course we would love to have Margie’s mom present to go through these photos with us, especially to enlighten us as to who some of the less familiar faces may be. Yet, it is through her passing that the gift of discovery and in some cases revelation of many family facts and stories.

On a more personal note, I could not be more grateful and excited to learn more about where the love of my life came from and the people, places and events that help shape her into the amazing woman she is today. Plus, adorable baby pictures like the one above are hard to pass up. I was honored to get to know her mother and see how Margie learned a lot of the traits that make her the woman I love. I am also humbled to be the man she chose to have by her side as she goes through with what is the most difficult time of her life. It is my sincere hope that the knowledge I am gaining by listening to the stories (and Storys) and looking at the pictures will help provide me with more and better ways to help provide her the love she needs as her heart makes the long journey towards healing.

STOP WAITING!

Last post we discussed enjoying the process. That is, whatever goal you are chasing, whatever you are trying to accomplish, whatever outcome you are working towards, remember to focus on the enjoying the journey. Celebrate small victories. Understand challenges and what may seem as temporary failures are really learning opportunities and stepping stones to where you wish to go.

Why is this so important? It is paramount! Up to 90% of our life is spent on the journey from one point to another. If you catch yourself uttering phrases like, “I will be happy when..” Stop right there. By stating that you will only be happy when the goal is achieved, the destination is arrived at, you are postponing your happiness. Who decides when you should be happy? You do! You do this by assigning meaning to daily events. The difference between happy, successful people and those who feel life is hard are whether or not you do so consciously.

We do not get to decide what circumstances arrive daily, but we do get to decide 100% on what it means to us. It is the difference of life happening to you or you happening to life. If you are living in reaction you are giving up control of your emotional well-being to other people, other circumstances, the weather and a million other sources. It is our decisions, not our circumstances that should control our life. Do not wait for the weekend, do not wait for graduation, to not wait until you are married or get that dream job. Decide to be happy starting today, starting right now.

If you wait to be happy in your relationship until you are married, you may never get there. Decide to create as much happiness in your relationship starting today and when wedding bells chime, your heart will be exploding with more joy than you can imagine. Postpone your happiness until that dream job arrives and you may not only be passed over for a more enthusiastic and cheerful candidate, you may even lose the job you are not enjoying now. Decide to find even the smallest things to enjoy and be grateful for in the job you are in now, and you will find yourself receiving praise from those around you and you will find in a short time you will have outgrown your position!

The most important benefit of this decision will be the improvement in the quality of your life. You will have good days and bad days. What is for certain, when you adopt this attitude, you will grow on each and every one of them. You will also find your hardest days will be your greatest blessings. Develop an attitude that says ‘Either I will win, or I will learn’

WHY NOT?

This picture really says it all. If you are alive right now, you should be enjoying your life to the fullest. Sure, you might not have the perfect body, you might not have the perfect job and unless you are as lucky and blessed as I am you might not have the perfect mate. So what!

You are alive and the possibility to improve exists. You can become healthier, wealthier and whatever else you are chasing. While working towards whatever goal you have there is one thing you should had to the top of any goal, no matter what that goal is. What should be included in any list you have whether it is goals, to do, or even shopping lists, somewhere on that list you should have some version of these words – enjoy and have fun during the process.

Why? A better question is, “Why Not?” We only go once around the ride and if you are not finding ways to enjoy your life, you are wasting it. Want to get in shape? Maybe start walking with a friend? Sharing your progress online with a supportive group of people. Looking for that perfect person to share your life with? Maybe find entertainment in the ‘unique’ people you will no doubt have to go through. Stuck in a job you dislike? Be grateful for as many things as you can in that job even if it is just the motivation to look for something better for yourself.

I know people who actually do the very opposite of this. See if this sounds familiar. You are at a fabulous all-inclusive resort in the tropics. The sun is shining, the love of your life is across from you with a big smile on their face. Suddenly, from the table next to you a voice can be heard. It is a man complaining his burger is too well done. Not only is he complaining about it, but he seems to be almost obsessing about it. Then he adds how dry the bun is. Forget that the weather is perfect, you can smell the ocean and flowers and birds are everywhere, his hamburger is dry. Sound ridiculous? Some people really live this way. Don’t be one of them. If your burger is dry, take a nice slow slip of rum and say to yourself with a chuckle, “Next time I will get the jerk chicken.”

How can we enjoy the process? There are several ways. Ask yourself questions like these, “What can I be grateful for in this situation?” “What can I find that I love?” Also look for the humor is challenging situations. If all else fails, shake your head and say, “At least I am going to have a good story.” Remember every bad day only serves to make us more grateful for the good ones. Let us all remember to enjoy our life to the fullest.

THE ONE THING YOU SHOULD DO FIRST TO CREATE AN AMAZING LIFE

Through the course of my writing here and in my books you will find a wealth of tools to help improve the quality of life. Use any of them and they will increase the level of joy, satisfaction and success you have in your life. There is one thing that will make all of them work even better. It is the most important thing you can do to begin to live a life you not only can be proud of, but enjoy living. It is so important that you should add it to every goal you write down, every New Year’s resolution you have and make it a part of your daily routine.

What could be so important? Before you start wondering if this is something you have ‘time’ to do, let me reassure you that it will take no extra time at all. It will take some extra effort in terms of remembering, but even putting forth this effort will bring a smile to your face. It would not be too over the top to say this would be a matter of life and death. Reason being, when you do this, life comes alive. You have excitement. The little things not only cease to get you down, you can view them in a more positive light.

Here is, in my opinion, the most important thing you can do to transform your life positively. Enjoy the journey. That may sound very simple and basic, but it is life altering. How many times have you heard, or even said, “I’ll be happy when…” Roughly 90% of our life is spent on our way from here to there. Even when you achieve the goal you are working towards, you can end up with a feeling of let down if you are not prepared with another.

If we spend 90% of our lives on a journey, we should do our best to find ways to enjoy that journey. A great example is when I began focusing on gratitude. If I chose to wait until I developed a grateful attitude to be happy, I would miss all of the great things I discovered on my journey there. Even when I messed up and began to focus on what I perceived as being ‘wrong’ with my life, I was excited because I knew that is what would eventually fade away.

As well as any tool of self-improvement has worked for me, enjoying the process of using it has been the greatest thing I have learned to do. When you are enjoying the journey of life, challenges become redefined as stepping stones. This may seem like putting on rose-colored glasses, but that is not true. We can seldom control, and then only to a limited degree, what happens in our life. What we have complete control over is what it means to us and how we can use it.

One of the journeys most of us seem to be on is one of becoming more financially comfortable. Instead of saying “I’ll be happy when I can afford a new car.” Which I did utter with the PT cruiser quite a bit, soak in that feeling. Not that you should relish in a bad feeling, but realize that is what it is showing you. Then focus on how great you will feel when your goal is accomplished. About the 832nd time my PT cruiser was at the repair shop (Only a slight exaggeration) I remember thinking how terrible it was to have to take time off of work to spend money so I could get to work. Then I remembered, I was one step closer to getting there. Of course I would loved to not have been there, but it was teaching me patience, allowing me to practice a lot of the tools I write about, preparing me to be grateful for the car I would have, among a million other things.

You may be thinking that is easy for you to do, but not me. It wasn’t in the beginning. Sitting in an auto repair shop watching your Jamaican vacation take the shape of a new muffler, it is hard to discover the joy in that. I managed to, and if a man with seasonal affective disorder can do that in the middle of the Wisconsin winter, so can you. It takes asking yourself new questions. “How can I use this?” “What else could this mean?” Not only asking yourself these questions, but coming up with positive answers. Trust me when I tell you this doesn’t happen overnight so do not get discouraged when the first answer you brain spits back at you is “Nothing! This situation sucks!” Certainly, it may not be your first choice, but what you do with that situation is 100% up to you. If you just sulk and dwell in the negative emotion it first gave you there is nobody to blame but you. This is not an easy change and will take a lot of practice, but enjoying the journey of life will transform your life and make everything else more enjoyable.

If I had one gift to leave this world when I am gone, it would be to help everyone enjoy the journey more. To that end, please not only share your suggestions for doing so in the comments below, but your challenges as well. Let us start a healthy conversation and help each other enjoy the journey we are all a part of, the journey of life.

MY APPEARANCE ON THE ‘BOLD MOVES’ PODCAST!!

I had the great fortune to appear on the ‘Bold Moves’ podcast. We discussed a wide range of topics from my personal story, my upcoming books to secrets that can turn your life around. Click on the link below, but only if you are prepared to be positively inspired!

CLICK HERE TO SEE THIS AMAZING PODCAST

DEATH MAKES YOU YOUNG

 

 

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This title may have you scratching your head and wondering if I have returned to drinking large amounts of rum. I can certainly understand if you were thinking both, but the reality is far more inspiring.

How can death make you younger? Truly, that sounds close to insanity. This touching and inspiring story is not mine, but was emotionally relayed to me by a gentleman at a show that my lovely lady and I were DJing this past Sunday. This man came in with a group of people and signed up to sing a song. Fairly straight forward at this point. In this group there was a gentleman who was a little older than the average person that comes to our shows. When he stepped up to the microphone he seemed to just exude not just happiness, but a true passion for simply being there. No matter what seemed to be going on around him, the smile never left his face.

A while later the younger gentleman came up to sign him up to sing again and what he told us was such an inspiring tale I implored him to let me share it with all of you. He was kind enough to agree, so for that I am grateful. The older man was his father. He had been in the hospital fighting some serious issues. A formerly healthy man had found himself down to 150 pounds and fighting for his life. In two separate instances, his wife, the young man’s mother, was asked if she wanted to ‘pull the plug’ and end his misery. She replied defiantly, explaining her husband was a fighter and she was sure he was not giving up so neither was she. The doctors were not as hopeful as she was and tried to ease her into accepting the inevitable. She knew the man she loved better than them and was having none of it. Sure enough with the love of his wife and son, as well as others this gentleman continued to fight and pulled through.

This truly was a great story, but what does it have to do with growing younger? Recall the way I described how the gentleman had approached singing that night. He never lost his smile and seemed to just radiate passion for simply being alive. After hearing his story it is easy to understand why that might be. As beautiful as his state of being was, it had an even greater aspect, it was contagious! As his son told his story, tears filled his eyes. “Look at him.” he said as he pointed to his father. “He is just so happy to be alive.” You could tell his son treasured each day with his father as what it was, a gift that almost taken away by illness.

It was not just this man and his son that was affected by his ordeal. Him and his wife were like teenage lovers. The whole evening they looked at each other with love in their eyes and joy in their hearts. You could tell this woman who made the ever so difficult choice of not pulling the plug when her husband was suffering so greatly, was truly living the dream. She now had more time with the man she loved and almost lost. I do not know what their relationship was prior to this, but I imagine like many others it might have fallen victim to the law of familiarity. There is a lot of love, but even subconsciously, we begin to take the person and even the love a little for granted. We assume they will be there tomorrow and the next week and next year. It seems only an experience such as the one this couple went through can move us out of this rut.

The takeaway today is this – let us not wait for a tragedy, or near tragedy of our own to begin to fall in love with our life and those inside of it. Hopefully, this story will do for you what it did for me, that is realize how quickly something, and someone can leave us. This year I have lost 3 people very close to me. One was in his 80’s, one was only in her 40’s and one was in between. As truly heartbreaking as these loses were, the end result was the same; I had the great urge to run home and wrap my arms around my lovely Margie and remind her how beautiful and loved she is. It inspired me to laugh more, to love deeper and to not take anything or anyone for granted.

It is often through our greatest loss, that our appreciation for what remains can be rekindled. Life has a way of blinding us to the beauty that surrounds us everyday. You could certainly think of those who have already crossed over and what we wish we could have shared with them, but let us not forget all those who are still in our lives and mean so much to us. Take a few moments and ponder how much your life would be turned upside down if you lost that job you always tread going to. Look into the eyes of those you love and ask yourself what if you lost them today? What would you most regret not telling them. Most importantly, tell them now. Realize it is never too early to let someone know how much you love them and never too late to fall in love with your own life.

On a side note, the young man told me something else that really touched me. His father read one book before he went into the hospital and again while he was recovering, my book.  A Happy Life for Busy People To be a part of such a heart-warming story means more to me than I can explain.

ARE YOU IN CONTROL, OR BEING CONTROLLED?

Another picture I saw, read and had to take a deep breath and appreciate. This man has mastered what Earl Nightingale referred to as the magic word. This word, more than any other thing will control not only how successful we are in life, but how much we enjoy life as well. It will determine how well people and the world treat us. It has the greatest bearing on our physical and mental health as well.

What is this magic word? The word is attitude. A positive attitude will yield a positive life. As you can see in the picture above attitude has less to do with outside circumstances and far more to do with inside circumstances. We all know people who seem to have nothing, but remain positive and upbeat. We know people facing every sort of challenge you can imagine but seem to overcome them not only with ease, but we joy in their hearts and on their faces. How on earth are they able to do this? That was the question I kept asking myself when I began to get involved in the field of self-improvement.

These people have a good attitude not always because of their situation, but quite often in spite of their situation. That’s all great, and maybe your situation sucks too, but how the heck can you still manage to be happy? First of all, I am not discounting whatever you are going through. We all have struggles that others can’t begin to comprehend. That is one of the keys, remembering we all have struggles. How can we go from feeling defeated, sad and depressed by our challenges to empowered, motivated and positive? Asking that question is the first great step. I am going to give you one very important thing to remember – Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% what we do with it.

Sounds all warm and fuzzy right? You want to know how we turn the crap life gives us into something good? What if I told you that we have the ability to have complete control over our lives? Sounds a little too good to be true? What if I also told you that you routinely give that control away to others, your emotions or just choose not to use it at all? Don’t get upset, I still do this sometimes too. How do we take complete control over our life? By using two very important super powers you have. Yes, I said super powers. Don’t worry, you don’t need to wear a cape and you can keep the underwear on the inside of your pants. Why are they super? They are super powers because these two items control both the direction and feeling of our life and we have complete control over them.

The two super powers are focus and meaning. In any situation we choose both of these. Sure it may be hard to focus on anything other than the fact the person who cut you off in traffic is a rude jerk, but that is only because instead of choosing how to act, we are used to reacting to life. Which means in short that person is going to leave us angry, frustrated, frazzled or just plain pissed off, depending on how you want to score that.

Another world for focus can be perception. Is what really happened to us that bad? It can seem so in the moment for sure. Again, not to discount anything you may be going through, but changing our focus onto what we may be grateful for in the situation can do wonders and we can choose to do that. It is here I would like to insert a quote here for you to ponder.

“I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.” – Mahatma Gandhi

What if we chose to decide the reason that man cut us off was to refocus our energy on our safe driving practices? Maybe it means he was rushing to a family emergency we should be grateful we don’t have? Maybe he just received some terrible news and is so upset he is having a hard time focusing on driving? Maybe the meaning of it is he really is a jerk, but if we run into someone else who is in an upset mood maybe they had the displeasure of sharing the road with him earlier? Does this sound like some pie-in-the-sky or Pollyanna? Look at the other option. We could decide this man was a jerk, be super upset and let it ruin our whole day. In other words, react to him and give him complete control over our emotions.

Is this limited to a stranger on the road? Not at all. It can happen with a boss who is in a bad mood. It can happen by watching the evening news, reading the paper or some other not so inspiring action. Those of you who work with the public have a chance to practice taking control of your emotions and not reacting to the influence of others far more than you probably would like. Just the same, if a customer treats you rudely and you let it ruin your mood, in effect this is what you are saying, “You, my totally rude and disrespectful friend, your opinion means so much to me that the fact you have treated me poorly will affect my emotional state for the rest of the afternoon, day, week…etc.”

Why give anyone else control over how you feel? It is time to stop reacting, and time to start choosing how you want to act! Will it be easy? Not at all. New habits and wrestling control of your mind after you have let it run its own course for years can be compared to beginning dog training when the dog is two years old. It will take some patience and perseverance on your part. Will it be worth it? To never let your emotions, and thus your life be controlled by anyone other than you? I can’t think of anything more deserving of your efforts.

So next time life gives you a big pile of crap to deal with, remember you have a choice. You can let it sit around and stink up the place, or you can use all of those lessons and so called failures as you can manure, as fertilizer to help grow something bigger, better and more beautiful!