DO NOT BE A DEAD FISH IN 2019

I like this quote only dead fish go with the flow. If you think about it, that is so true. If you were a fish and could swim anywhere you please, you would…um…swim anywhere you please. While that doesn’t sound terribly profound, it really is. Think of things a fish would want. They would want food and swim towards that. They would not want to be near a predator and would swim away from that. They, depending on species, would prefer oxygen-rich water and would certainly swim around looking for that. Unless you are planning on being a fish (or a whale) in your next life this may not seem like useful information, but it is.
This works the same for humans as it does for fish. It has been said 95% of us do not even know why we get up and go into work in the morning. We can give answers such as, “Well everybody goes to work.” or the ever popular, “To pay the bills.” If that is solely what your life consists of you will have a ‘wake up, pay bills and die’ kind of existence. Since you are reading a website called Secret2anamazinglife.com, I would venture a guess that is not what you wish for yourself. What do we need to do so we can live a life that does not resemble a dead fish flowing downstream? Incidentally, if you picture that and are honest with yourself, isn’t that what life can feel like sometimes?
What we need to do is take control of our lives. How do you do that when you have a boss that tells you when to come to work and when to go home? You have a spouse and kids who rely on you and family members that may need you. First things first, know the difference between things you can and things you can’t change. Yes, your boss does set your work time, for the most part. You can apply for a different job that suits your needs better or even start your own business, but those have pros and cons as well. To avoid being a dead fish in 2019, there are two steps you must commit to.
First, create a life mission statement. I go into more detail on this subject in my upcoming book Living the Dream. To cover it in the simplest terms, you will never get where you are going if you do not know where the hell that is. When you decide on a purpose and a mission for your life you know if every action is in line with that mission or not. Back to our fish analogy, this lets you know which way you should swim. Even if you get off track, being able to see and determine that gives you a feeling of control over your life. You may have to turn around and go back the way you came, but at least you are the one determining that.
The second thing you must do to avoid being a dead fish in 2019 is to set, and eventually raise your standards. This might not sound exciting or life changing, but it really is. The only reason we get more than what life chooses to hand to us is because we demand it. I am not speaking of demanding things from others. No, for true control of your life, you need to change the demands you put on life and on yourself. If your goal, like so many of us, is to get in shape in the new year, you need to make going to the gym 3,4 or 5 days a week your standard. I would advise when starting out, set all of your standards to a minimum, but stick to them. When you get used to holding yourself to a standard, then you can raise them. That is when life really gets exciting.
One of the hardest standards I have had for my life is making sure I have time for myself. Whether that is time to read, meditate or just walk in the park, in the past I have not done a very good job and making sure I had that. There are work obligations, social obligations, a third book to write and of course the most beautiful woman in the world at home to spend time with. Still, I know that if I do not have enough time for myself I cannot be the best person in all of those other situations. Therefore, I am going to make taking time for myself at least twice a week my standard.
Set your purpose, and your standards today. By the end of 2019 we will all be healthy fish swimming in a pond of our choosing full of food and free of sharks. I welcome and encourage you to share your life mission statements, and your standards you are going to work on with us in the comments below.

REMEMBER WE ARE ALL IN THE PROCESS

It is no secret to anyone who follows this website and my work in general that I have spent over 20 years in the field of self-improvement. One thing that I must remind myself of every so often is the fact that not everyone else has. This may sound silly and an obvious point, but it can be a fact that gets away from me.

When I hear someone constantly complaining about how unfair life is or how terrible their life is, I am tempted to remind them how they do a great deal to create their own reality. We all have challenges great and small. That is part of life. It is really how we respond to life’s challenges that does a great deal to determine how life treats us. There are a lot of people who are ignorant to even that basic equation. I was fortunate enough to be raised in an environment where reading and thinking where encouraged. In the course of reading hundreds of books, listening to just as many CDs and videos as well as attending seminars and listening to as many people as I can I have learned a great deal.

One of the greatest challenges to me is having the patience and understanding to realize although most people have the opportunity to do the same, many have not. When I speak to people about ways they can reduce stress, increase joy and become the best version of themselves, I am often met with resistance and sarcasm. On a rare occasion even violent resistance. It would be easy to come off as condescending, but it serves as a great reminder of many things for me. First off, I am so grateful for all I have been given and all I have learned. My life is far from perfect, but I am constantly discovering new ways to reduce stress and have more happiness in my life. I am also grateful that I do have the life I do. I have friends who love me, a beautiful and loving lady, and supporters from over 100 countries who read what I write.

The second thing I am reminded of is everyone is working towards becoming the best version of themselves. If you don’t believe me, just walk into a gym shortly after the first of the year. Not everyone has the tools to successfully accomplish all they desire. That would be evident by visiting that same gym 30 days after the first of the year and noticing how many less people are there. Still, everyone is giving it their best shot. There are very few people I know who are not interested in improving their lives. Some do not understand the only way to do that is by improving themselves. That is the main focus of my second book.

Some really wish to improve themselves and their lot in life, but lack the necessary tools. Some do not even know where to look for those tools. That is why I am always happy to share what I learn and am still learning. There are those as mentioned earlier who even when given the tools will refuse to believe them. This could be because they have been raised in a negative environment or are so cynical that they are getting in their own way. Those are people I still try to help. Whether that is leaving a card for them when they are ready, or being an example of what it looks like to live life using the tools I put forth.

Let us all do our best to understand everyone is working towards a better life. Even those seemingly following the wrong path may just be misdirected or lacking hope and direction. When we understand that we are all doing the best we can it is far easier to approach others with compassion and a genuine desire to help.

THE POWERFUL

We all know the people with grand dreams. They seem to move through life undeterred by any obstacle facing them. Why do you think that is? It is my belief it stems from having a compelling vision of themselves and what they would like to be. They know what direction they want to move in. If the course they are taking seems to not be taking them in that direction, the adjust the course. If they run into a wall and seemed to be stopped, they back up and begin again with a new plan of action. If they get knocked down by others or even by life in general, they take a moment, pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again. Trying hard, or as I would prefer to say, working hard, seems not to bother them. In fact, them seem to really enjoy it.

Compare that with the way the average work-a-day person goes about their life. Waking up dreading to go into work. Maybe even worried about what could go wrong at work or the traffic they will have to face on the way in. At best they are looking forward to a vacation they have coming up. They have no profound vision to drive their life. It seems as if they have settled into the “Work, pay bills and die” routine. Without a strong vision and reason to get up in the morning, life can feel like a prison sentence instead of the great gift filled with possibilities that it is.

I encourage all of my readers to develop a strong vision of the person they want to be. Write it down and hang it on the bathroom mirror or somewhere you can see it every day. Perhaps even find inspiring quotes or pictures to hang up as well. Find an inspiring vision of the person you are working to become and make life your goal.

STARFISH STORY

In my work there are many days in which I feel I am not creating the impact I would like. Stats may be down on my YouTube channel or blog post. Maybe there are not ‘likes’ or comments on a particular post and I can wonder, “Is anyone reading this?” My goal is to help create a world filled with positivity in which people can coexist despite their differences. I enjoy facilitating dialogue between parties in an effort to create an understanding, or at the very least a sense of compassion.

Most of us have days where we feel that we are just not making a difference. It can be professionally, personally or something different entirely. It is on those days I am reminded of the story above. There have been days people have come up to be and mentioned how my writing has affected them. Some say it has helped them make it through a hard time. Others mention that it helps them keep perspective. One gentleman even told me this website and what I write here helped him think twice when he pondered taking his own life. Often I find myself being humbled by these compliments. It is then I sit back, and like the little boy, can say “I made a difference to that one.”

Another aspect of helping that one person we must keep in mind is the ripple effect. By inspiring, helping or saving one person, you never know what they may go on to do for others. It is like the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. We not be able to see what the world would have been like if we had not been there, but rest assured you make a difference.

While I would enjoy thousands of likes and views on YouTube or Secret2anamazinglife.com, I must remember the difference I made in the lives I have and use that to continue. Every time I get behind the keyboard I think of the soul who feels they have no reason to go on. I imagine sitting across the table from the teenager who is pondering taking their own life after being the victim of a bully. I think of the single parent who just lost their job, or the person who just lost their spouse of many years. It is for these wonderful souls and countless others that I write what I do.

I encourage you to remember that if you positively affect even just one life, you are changing the world. I am constantly reminded how little we know how many people we affect when I run into someone who tells me although they never mention anything online, the read what I write everyday and it makes a big impact in their life. I usually respond that I never even knew they read my writing. I am sure there are many more people we all positively affect that we never know.

Keep being a light in the world of darkness. If someone has inspired you, let them know. It may be just the motivation they need to keep going. I personally cannot express how much it means to me to hear how my writing affects people. Every time I do I want to run to my laptop and write some more. I want to take a second and thank each and every person who has inspired me.

WHO WOULD’VE THOUGHT?

This is me. Not a very glamorous photo I know. Today at the gym I noticed my heart rate was a tad high. Ok maybe more than a tad, around 220. I felt fine but by the advice of my young lady I called the doctor and was told to go to the hospital.

After several tests and despite assuring the doctors i was able to walk, having to use a bed pan for the first time. Eventually the verdict was I have a bad heart valve, enlarged aorta and a-fib.

In fact, below is a picture the doctor drew of my heart

Not quite what you hope for. While contemplating everything this means for my life, a few things occurred to me. First, I am so grateful to have my beautiful Margie and so many friends and family that care about me.

Second, and the message of this post is how urgent it is to get my message out to the world. My desire to help and inspire as many people as possible has never been stronger.

I’ll keep everyone updated on my condition, but know I’ll be working harder than ever to share as much knowledge with all of you. Again, my heartfelt gratitude to all of you who sent me well-wishes. Be kind to yourselves and each other.

WHY I DO WHAT I DO

Early in my writing career, and every so often to this day, I ask myself the ever important question, “Why do I do what I do?” This may seem like an odd question to be asking yourself, but knowing yourself and why you do things is important to developing a strong why. Having a strong why is what will keep you doing what you are called to do long after the urge to do it has passed.

My answer is really twofold. The first part is a spiritual one. I believe this is what the creator has called me to do. I was given a gift to be able to find the light in even the darkest situation. This didn’t happen overnight and on occasion takes longer than on others, but eventually I see the positive in everything. I was also bestowed with other gifts as well. When I was a small child riding the city bus with my mom she quizzed me on vocabulary and now I have a rather large vernacular. In what can be viewed as either a blessing or a curse, I am very empathetic. I feel the pain others go through and as such, have a strong desire to make this world a better place.

On the more secular side of things, I have a very strong desire to share what I learn. Why? Why not just keep that knowledge to myself and use it to create a life I love? I certainly have done the second half of that. I do indeed love the life I live. It is not without its challenges, but I love it. My life is in a constant state of improvement. That in itself is exciting to me. I know that no matter how good or bad of a day I am having, I will learn something in the future that will allow me to reduce my stress and increase me joy even more.

Back to the question at hand, “that’s all great, but why feel compelled to share it with others?” Those of you who know my story will have some idea why. My life as a writer and seeker of light began in the darkest of situations. My job was being downsized, my health was in serious trouble and my relationship was in the dumpster. It was out of this despair that a determination to learn how to transform the life I was living to a life I would be loving was born.

As I began to learn and apply things my life began to transform. I noticed the people that were in my life had a lot of the same struggles I had faced. Wanting to see everyone experiencing the joy I was, I began to share everything I was learning. In return, some amazing things happened. First, people shared with me things they had learned and we compounded our knowledge. My friends Amelia and Sharon come to mind. Second, I found myself surrounded by people who were not only grateful, but becoming more joyful and positive, just like I was. This was not only more pleasant to be around, but helped make my journey that much easier and more enjoyable as well. Truly proof you receive that which you give away.

These are the main reasons I do what it is that I do. It is also reasons that all of you should do what it is you have been called to do as well. When we share our gifts and knowledge with each other, we not only brighten each other’s lives, but begin to create a shift in the world at large. We create a ripple effect and the gift and knowledge we share can touch the hearts and lives more people than we will ever know. I can’t think of a stronger why to share the gift of you with the world.

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.