HEAL YOURSELF ūüßė‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹ

It is shocking that even in this day and age, self-care is considered selfish by many. This could not be further from the truth. There are many reasons why this is so, but we are going to look at two that I think we should consider. The first should be rather obvious. When you work on healing yourself, be that from a personal trauma, or just from the stress of daily life, you allow your best self to shine through. Why is this so important? You then become the best version of yourself. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give to others. Showing up to meet your friend for coffee when you are lacking sleep, barely able to concentrate on what they are saying and falling asleep when they are talking is not that great of a gift. Sure, it is great that you are spending time with them, but it is not quality time. Now, saying, “I am sorry I need to get some rest. How about meeting next week?” may seem selfish. If you show up next week and are able to not only to stay awake for their story about sick aunt Agnes, but offer valuable insight on their story as well, that is a far greater gift.

Bringing your best self to any situation is a great gift. It means you are being the best parent, the best friend and the best lover. Taking the time to heal and make sure you are able to share your gifts with those around you is not selfish at all. In fact, by taking the time to bring your best self, you are giving them a gift. You are giving them the best of you that you can.

The second reason that self-care is not selfish may be even more important. The knowledge you gain and are able to share. When you discover ways to heal yourself, you can pass those ways on to others. Maybe you are really busy and live a stressful life. You find ways to balance that stress and not get overwhelmed. How do you do that? Do you think there are other people who would like to know how to do that as well? I bet there are. Have you found a way to heal your soul after losing someone very close to you? Taking that time, and engaging in those practices, will allow you to help someone else heal too. That is one of the best things we can put out into the universe, to help others heal. If you rush through life, do not take time to heal yourself, it will not only cost you, but it will cost others. You will show up as only a shell of yourself. You will not learn any healing methods that work for you and may help others. To me, this is far more selfish than taking time for yourself.

Take time for that meditation or yoga retreat. If you need to say “No”, than do it. Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It is actually one of the greatest gifts you can give to those around you and the world itself. Taking care of ourselves will allow us to share the best of who we are and every healing modality we learn. Self-care is not only care for ourselves, but it is one of the best things we can do to care for others.

STRENGTHEN THIS IMMUNE SYSTEM

These days everyone is concerned about strengthening their immune system, and for good reason. There are many things that we can do to accomplish this. I, personally, take a few supplements, do my best to eat right, try to get as much sleep as I am able and workout. Strengthening your immune system is not a one shot deal. It is not as if on Monday you can take a vitamin and say, “great I am good for the week.” This is how it works for your physical immune system. Today, I would like to talk to you about an even more important immune system we need to strengthen. One that affects not only how you feel physically, but how you feel emotionally and spiritually as well.

What I am talking about is your spiritual or emotional immune system. Both immune systems are vital to your overall well-being, but I contend that your emotional immune system is of even greater importance. Why do I say that? I say so because your spiritual and emotional states have a great impact on how you feel physically and the strength of your physical immune system. For example, think of how you feel when you are worried or stressed about something. You certainly cannot be in a good emotional state. Prolonged over any length of time and you begin to feel tired and worn down. Your bodies energy is being focused on handling an event that has not, and may never, actually occur. What about emotional events that do occur? Say you have a moment of discord with your spouse. You have elevated heart rate, your blood pressure increases, you release lactic acid into your system. (Yes, all of this really happens when you get angry) What happens later in the day? Perhaps you develop a headache. Maybe your stomach is upset and you don’t eat as you should. You could be tempted to have a alcoholic drink to ‘calm the nerves’. How does all of this affect your physical body and its ability to fight off disease and illness? I think you can certainly see that is would leave you in a more vulnerable state.

Why is strengthening this immune system so important? Just like our physical immune system it is something we must do every day. We cannot foster a feeling of inner peace one day and expect to be good for the rest of the week. We must take care of our emotions and feelings everyday. Check in with ourselves to see where are focus and mindset are. Just as taking care of our physical immune system supplies us with a layer of protection for our bodies, we must form a ‘protective bubble’ of emotional protection around us as well. We can do this in many different ways. We can keep a journal to help record and vent our thoughts and emotions. We can start a daily practice of meditation to help calm and reset ourselves. We can watch funny movies to help encourage laughter and taking things lightly. My favorite boost for my emotional immune system is to surround myself with people and things that encourage and inspire me. Whether that is my inspirational calendar or having coffee with an inspirational friend, both leave me in a healthier emotional state than I was before.

Another important aspect to remember about this is that you cannot always see things that might affect your emotional and spiritual health. A person can appear perfectly healthy and may share germs with you that may make you sick if you are not careful. You usually never know when you are going to run into someone who may be feeling ill. That is why it is important to keep up your immune system in advance. The same holds true for things that may affect your emotions and spirit as well. This point was brought home during a conversation I had with my friend Russ the other evening. He mentioned there was a lady he worked with that seemed to bring everyone down. He mentioned having to put up a shield before even talking to this person so that their emotions wouldn’t bring him down. Sadly, we all know someone who seems to be perpetually in a negative state. It is not always that easy to predict emotional challenges. Sometimes it might be a song that really hits you on the radio. Perhaps the sight of dead animal on the side of the road. Often times, we may not even be consciously aware something has affected our spirit, just like the germs we cannot see. It could be a news story that was on in the room as we ate dinner. Maybe a conversation we overheard at work.

Regardless of the source of emotional ills, they are always out there. Just as you need to develop and strengthen your physical immune system daily, we need to put into place daily rituals that strengthen our emotional and spiritual immune system. It is of the utmost urgency that we begin to do this right away. Emotional challenges will affect us everyday. We need to be prepared and protected. Begin to develop your emotional immune system practices today. It can be as simple as reading from a book of faith or subscribing to and reading a positive social media page daily. In this case less in NOT more. Just like your physical immune system, the more you can do to strengthen your emotional and spiritual immune system the better.

Please feel free to leave your suggestions for strengthening your immune systems in the comments below.

MAKE ‘QUALITY’ TIME FOR WHAT YOU LOVE

This is a picture of my beautiful, but silly, Margie and myself out for a late-night breakfast. It was from a while ago as you can see I still have long hair. It is worth noting that we work quite a bit and between that and our social obligations we rarely find time to escape just the two of us. For those of you who have followed my work for any length of time,  you know Margie is the thing I love most in my life. For those of you new to the game, now you know as well.

Today’s post is all about not just taking time for the things you love in life, but making sure that time is quality time. Spending time with those you love is a great example. If you are on a romantic date, keep your phone off the table and out of your hand. Look into each other’s eyes when you are speaking to one another. My writing is another thing that I am extremely passionate about and look forward to. When I am going to write I need to have my mind focused on writitng, I need to have a fair amount of time available. If I am bothered by a situation that is upseting me or know that I have to be to work shortly, the writitng will not only suffer, but the time spent doing it will be rushed and not enjoyable.

How do we make sure the time we spend doing the things we love with the people we love is of the best quality? That is a question that we should ask ourselves on a regular basis. Life is short and fleeting. Magical moments we have can happen only once in a lifetime. We owe it to ourselves to make sure that we make the most out of them. When you are about to spend time with someone you love or do something you love, take a few minutes ahead of time to ask yourself, “How can I fully enjoy and make the most out of what I am about to do?” The answers will vary from situation to situation, but just by focusing on the situation will increase your odds significantly.

In general there are two things I find that can help you get the most out of any situation. These are not by any means the only things you can do, but are a good foundation. The first thing I suggest is setting a goal for the time you spent. This may sound terribly unromantic and not spontaneous, but hear me out. When my friend Russ came up for a visit from Arizona we had a million things we would like to do. In an effort to accomplish a fraction of them we set goals of what we would like to accomplish. Certainly, we did not get them all done but did make the most of the time we spent together. Having a goal for the time you spend doesn’t mean you have to be regid or not spontaneous. When a long work week has kept Margie and I apart, I always think how much I want to spend quality time in her presence. Sometimes that includes an evening of snacks and a movie at home. Knowing I want to enjoy her more than the movie, I make sure to steal glances at her beautiful face. I appreciate her lovely eyes and enjoy all of her cute expressions as she watches the movie. As the movie progresses, I even enjoy the sound of her sleeping next to me.

Having a goal makes doing the next thing I recommend a little easier. Always do your best to be present in the moment. Let us say you are going for a nice stroll through the park with the one you love. (Something Margie and I are looking to do more often) Instead of spending all of the time on your phone, try looking for animals in the park together. Notice how beautiful the natural scenery is around you. Being present is more than just being physically present. Make sure you are also mentally present. This can be even more difficult, but is even more important. If you are spending time with family and friends but worried about a situation at the office you will fail to enjoy the break you have. Do your best to clear your mind. Often, that is when solutions can present themselves. Meditation exercises can help this.

I would love to hear what steps you take to make sure the time you spend is quality time. Let us share with each other and we can all begin to live amazing lives!

YOU MUST DO THESE 3 WORKOUTS TO BE SUCCESSFUL

While mowing the lawn the other day something profound occurred to me. In these blog posts I occasionally use physical fitness as an analogy to self-improvement. What occurred to me is that there are three parts to an individual and all three of these must be worked out and in top shape for us to have an amazing life. The three parts of a person are the body, the mind and the spirit or soul. To keep all of these in shape requires some of the same principles. Let us look at each one briefly to get an idea of what we may need to do.

First, let us look at¬†the body. Depending on what shape you are in really depends on what kind of workout you need to do. Is it maintaining or getting in shape? You should spend several days a week working on your physical fitness, while at the same time allowing periods of rest and recovery.¬†To reach your¬†fitness goals may take months or it may take years. It always makes me chuckle how¬†busy gyms are after the first of the year, only to be empty a month later. It would seem that people who have¬†had an unhealthy lifestyle for years think that can be turned around after¬†only a few workouts. Trust me, it can’t. I tried. As Jim Rohn said, “No one else can do your push ups for you.” ¬†To achieve great¬†physical fitness you must put in the work. ¬†Once you achieve your desired state of physical health it is important to institute a regular maintenance routine. If we get in shape and then stop we will begin to decline.

¬†Next, let us look at the mind. Whether you are a sitting with a college degree or chasing your GED the principles are the same. If you haven’t dusted off the grey matter at the top of your head in a while it may be a little more difficult to get back into the habit of learning. This is very similar to working out. The worse shape you are in, the more sore your body will be when you start. A lot of us do not have intellectual goals like we do fitness goals. It is important to do so. How will you ever know if you have arrived if you do not know where you are going? When you do arrive, you must also have a regular maintenance routine just like fitness. If you think intellect doesn’t fade as fast as muscle, try opening a high school math book to realize how much you have forgotten. With intellectual fitness this can range from reading something inspiring every day, watching an instructional video or even using one of those fabulous brain fitness apps for your phone.

Finally. let us look at our spiritual health. This is the area that most of us ignore, yet is one of the most important. Think of how many celebrities you hear of that have all of the physical tools, they are accomplished in their career and then take their own lives. To be¬†successful and unfulfilled is one of the greatest failures. Luckily, there are steps we can take to keep our spirit in shape the same as we can do for our body and our mind. Interestingly enough, these are more individual than either of the afore mentioned. What helps your soul develop and heal is as unique to you as it is to the next person. To some, it involves going to a house of worship one day a week. To¬†others, it involves spending quality time in nature. Recently, I had a conversation with my friend Kurt. When people and life becomes overwhelming¬†enjoys relaxing in a darkened room for several hours and taking a day to recalibrate. Personally, after¬†often the same exposure to…shall we say the same stressors, I enjoy listening to some classical music and spending time in nature.

 We should also have a regular maintenance to keep our spirit and vibration high. You may think you do not have time for that, but as short and precious as life is, I am here to tell you that you do not have the time not to focus on that. A lot of us think that we should worry about paying the bills and then we will worry about our own happiness. As you can see from the example of celebrities above, that can lead to a tragic ending. I am all for trying to improve your situation, but I strongly suggest implementing a plan to enjoy the process and feed your spirit along the way. As I write this, Margie is having therapy shopping. I am enjoying a good cup of hot coffee. I also need to meditate regularly and sometimes just be alone and read. It allows me to enjoy the rest of my life so much more.

Focus on all three of these workouts to have a life that is completely fit and healthy. I encourage you to write down plans for your physical, intellectual and spiritual fitness today. Feel free to share what some of the items you do to keep all three of these areas healthy in the comments below.

WHAT TO DO WITH THE WINTER BLUES


Here is the latest addition of See Beyond magazine. I invite you to not only check out my article on page 32, but do read through the rest of the magazine as there is plenty of good information you can use.
My article is about my personal struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) and the ways in which I do my best to counteract it. Just click on the link below to read the whole article. Again, it is on page 32.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE LATEST ISSUE OF SEE BEYOND

LEARN ENOUGH TO UNLEARN

Continuing on our theme of looking at the world in an entirely different way, I present to you the quote in the picture above. To be educated just enough to believe what they have been taught but not enough to question it. I suggest you read that line a few times and really let it soak in. Most of what we have been taught has come from those who were around us when we were growing up. This group could include our family, friends, teachers and others. Let me ask you this question. As well meaning as these folks were in teaching us, could it be that perhaps they had a certain prejudice? Maybe they were just passing down beliefs they had been taught unquestioned? Do you think what may have been correct say 50 years ago, may not be correct anymore? Cigarettes and soda used to be considered ‘health tonics’ in the not so distant past.

Doing things because “That’s the way they have always been done” makes as much sense as riding a horse to work instead of your car.

I suggest questioning a lot of what you believe. That is not to say it is incorrect. Quite to the contrary. Questioning what you believe can lead to a greater understanding and strengthen your faith in it. I turn to the Dalai Lama for an example. One of the leaders of Tibetan Buddhism, he could have easily just followed tradition and did things the way they had been done for centuries. Instead, he has challenged convention and opened up dialogue with other faiths. He also has questioned his own faith. Instead of accepting the power of his form of meditation, he encouraged scientific study of it. He challenged neuroscientist Dr. Richie Davidson to switch his focus of study from anxiety, depression and fear to study qualities like kindness, compassion and equanimity. He even gave permission to have Buddhist monks studied while they meditated. What he discovered only strengthened his faith.

I encourage all of us, myself included, to take a look inside at some of our long-held beliefs and ask why it is we believe them. Perhaps they could use a little tweaking? Perhaps they are totally invalid in light of our own personal experiences. Perhaps, like in the case of the Dalai Lama, by questioning them we will gain an even deeper understanding and appreciation of them.

TRADITIONS

The Holiday season is almost upon us. At local stores decorations are starting to go up, I even heard a Christmas song on the radio the other day. With the holidays coming up we can find our minds turning toward traditions. There are many different kinds of traditions. There are traditions based on our different faiths. This can encompass many different things from fasting, praying, style of dress and many more. These traditions are very important for cultural reasons. The connect us as a faith-based community and refresh our spiritual nature. There are also different family traditions. These can include shopping for holiday gifts together, creating a holiday meal together or just gathering at a certain family members house for great times. The traditions here can be as unique as the family itself.

The tradition I would like to discuss today is more individual. It can be between spouses, brother and sister, friends or even an individual tradition. The picture I used for this blog post is one of Margie and me at one of our favorite breakfast places. We have been going there since shortly after we met. Sadly, this day we missed another tradition of ours which was an event called ‘Cider Sunday’ in which a local nature preserve celebrates all things apple. We also have other traditions that we have began. Most of them both add love to our life, as well as keeping that love fresh and fun. Do you have something like this with the love of your life? Maybe a special place you go on a birthday? Maybe an event you look forward to attending every year? Do you celebrate the first day of spring by having a picnic in the park for example?

If you do not have a romantic tradition, or would like to include more, why not get together with your love today and discuss that? This also works with brother and sisters, friends, coworkers and anyone else you would like to include. My suggestion is this, create traditions that help that relationship grow. Maybe something that fosters a feeling of gratitude and appreciation in the relationship, or perhaps a way to grow and learn together? In the case of romantic partners, use Margie and me as an example. Create traditions that feed love and keep it fresh and growing.

Personal traditions may be something that is not as familiar with a lot of you, but I think they can have a great impact on our lives. Perhaps start a tradition of keeping a gratitude journal every night or at the very least once a week. A daily or weekly meditation practice could serve you as well. They can be traditions that add joy to your life. I do things to celebrate the first day of spring and summer each year. I also attend a bicycle expo every year as it helps me look forward to spring and being able to get out and ride.

Feel free to share any traditions you have with us in the comments below. Whether they are Faith, family, romantic or personal. This way we can all inspire each other with great ideas!

 

ARE YOU CHASING YOUR HERO?

I have always been a fan of Matthew McConaughey’s movies. Usually, they are fun and his characters are always amusing to me. Recently, I saw the video of his Oscar speech for best actor. In the speech there were a lot of things I learned that I liked about Matthew McConaughey the person. I will include the link to the video at the end of this post.

The one that that I want to share with you has to do with chasing your hero. In the video someone asked him who his hero was. After some thought he said “I know who my hero is. It is me ten-years from now.” The same person saw him ten years later and asked him, “So are you your hero now?” After informing him that he was not he explained that again his hero was still ten years away.

As I am want to do, I sat and meditated on that for a while. Why would your hero be you ten years from now? What I believe Mr. McConaughey meant was that ten years from now you want yourself to be the best you can be. How that happens is by focusing on the being the best we can be every day. There will be days that we stumble. There will even be days that we fall. Even those days provide a chance to be our own hero. What would your hero do if they fell? When facing a challenge Heroes learn, grow and adapt. We can too.

Think of who you want to be ten years from now. Who would you have to be to start along that path today? I encourage you to watch this video because there are a lot of other great things in there. The importance of family, of faith and of gratitude. These are common themes throughout our time together on this site. It is always encouraging to see someone who has accomplished so much being humble enough to realize that.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO

THIS IS ALL A BUNCH OF B.S.

If you have read the post before this one you have heard my story. If not I encourage you to do so. For the sake of this post the abridged version is that due to the stress that life gives us I went from being a bartender and singer in a rock band who was too cool for self-help to an author and speaker on the subject. I originally laughed at all those ‘crazy people’ meditating and looking to increase their inner peace. In short, I thought the whole idea was a bunch of B.S..¬†The point that never failed to escape me was that I was doing my laughing as I was broke and sitting in my apartment in a not so nice part of town. I was in a job I did not find fulfilling, but most importantly I wasn’t happy myself.

I don’t recall the exact beginning of my journey into self-improvement, but last post I gave my earliest memory. As my life continued to suck I began to read and try more things. The biggest event happened when the fine folks at the United States Postal Service decided I was expendable after over a decade of devoted employment. I found myself at rock bottom. To be a little more accurate, my life was sitting in a pile of B.S..

It was this situation that forced a change in direction. I began to at least conceive that some of the more mainstream ideas could at least be workable. I wasn’t about to perform a ceremony where I marry myself, but listening to a few Tony Robbins CDs I had ordered off television at 3a.m. seemed doable. It wasn’t as if I wanted anyone to know what I was doing, but as I noticed my stress going down and my joy going up, my mind began to open to the possibilities. What was even more important is that I saw others struggling as I had just because they were to intimidated by terms like self-help which to me sounds like you should be laying on a couch telling someone in a lab coat your problems. It was then I decided to devote my life to showing people that improving yourself is not only cool, but helps your life suck a lot less.

It was then I learned that life really is made up of B.S. Rather than the stuff that comes out of the back end of a bull, I mean B.S. as in belief systems. What you believe will dictate what you try and what you do. If you believe you are a late person, you will never be motivated to arrive on time. If you believe life will always suck for you, it will. I am not merely suggesting you start thinking you will have a great life and suddenly people will send you checks for being your awesome self. If it were that easy I wouldn’t be writing you this today. What I will tell you is that what you believe has not only a great influence on your actions, but more importantly on your sense of well-being. Which after all is really how we determine our quality of life. If you were as wealthy as could be, but you were miserably unhappy, your life would suck.

This may seem a bit much to take if you are new to some of these concepts. In fact, when I first heard of things like the Law of Attraction and other such belief systems that was my thought as well. As quantum physics begins to unravel more of the mysteries of the science of the mind we are beginning to understand how powerful our beliefs are. Why not be on the cutting edge and take control of one of the most powerful forces in your life?

For my left-brained friends who may still be having a hard time grasping this notion, allow me to share a real-life example. Most of you know the story of Roger Bannister. For thousands of years it was accepted as a truth that the human body was not capable of running a mile in less than four minutes. On May 6th, 1954 Roger Bannister did just that. While that is the story most people know, there is an even bigger story. Since he completed this historic feet, countless other have also run sub four-minute miles. What happened? Did the human race suddenly get stronger all over the world? Of course not. What happened was now they could believe that it was possible. If one change in belief can alter the course of track and field across the globe, what can it do for your life?

I USED TO BE TOO COOL FOR THIS

I recall some of my first exposure to the principles of self-improvement. They seemed hokey and new age at best, far out and ridiculous at worst. I was a singer in a band, I was a bartender. I had no desire to take my inner child on a play date. When I heard someone talk about meditation or keeping a journal I thought they would be someone sitting alone in a tent in the middle of the desert giving advice or something. That was actually a description I gave to my good friend Russ. In short I thought all of this self-help stuff was a bunch of B.S..

My dramatic change from someone who mocked all things that might be labeled¬†‘self-improvement’ to someone who is not only a proponent of such material, but a creator and distributor as well,¬†happened over a period of time. It is like the story of boiling a frog in a pot of water. If you put a frog in¬†a pot of hot water it will jump out, but if you turn the heat up slowly it will sit there until it boils to death.¬†Please know I am not advocating harm to animals,¬†but my life proceeded along a similar path. As life slowly turned the heat up on¬†me I found myself literally boiling to¬†death in a¬†pool of stress.

One of the first stresses I can think¬†of is when I was working at a telemarketing job. For those of you who have never had a job in this field, just consider what you have said, or heard other people say to telemarketers.¬†Now, imagine being the person on the other end of the phone…eight hours a day…6 days a week. I remember listening to Bob Marley’s Legend album on my lunch hour every day. I would close my¬†eyes, push play and picture being on a beach in¬†Jamaica. Little was I¬†aware I was practicing visualizing and meditation.¬†Not¬†that I called it that. At the time I just said I was “unwinding on lunch”. All I was sure of¬†is that is made me feel better and be able to withstand the constant barrage of colorful phrases people share with telemarketers.

Fast forward a few years and I find myself awake at 3a.m. ready to go to the post office job I was thrilled about. This was after working an entire bartending shift I was also growing weary of. As you can imagine this and other stresses also affected my relationships with others at the time. While sitting on the couch putting on my shoes I saw an infomercial. It was for a collection of CDs from Tony Robbins. Being half asleep and feeling frustrated with the direction my life was going at the time, I thought “What the hell do I have to lose?” I ordered the tapes, went to work and soon forgot all about it. A week later they arrived. I listened on my short commute I had to work at the time and soon found myself taking detours to listen to more.

Soon I found myself looking at life from a different angle. Shortly thereafter, my job was downsized and the real test began. I found myself at the local library looking for answers. Those of you who have read my book or followed me for any amount of time have no doubt heard this story countless times. After finding things that helped a former ‘rock star’ and bartender who was too cool for self-help, I wanted to share it with others who thought themselves too bad ass for this material, but were silently, or not so silently suffering on the inside. That lead to the creation of this website, a book, a YouTube channel and seminars. In short, it brought us to where we are now.

If you came across this on accident, or are postponing on taking the leap on learning tools that could improve your life because you are simply too cool, I urge you to reconsider. First of all, get rid of the term self-help. I never liked that term to begin with. It has the feel like you are helpless and can only succeed with the help of someone else. I prefer the term self-improvement. The truth is you don’t need anyone else. What you may be lacking is information and a plan. As long as you have the desire, there are many paths that can lead you to success.

The other thing you might wish to consider is that in the beginning nobody needs to know what you are doing, or that you are doing anything at all. You can read in private. You can rent and watch movies in the privacy of your own home. You can start like I did listening to things while you are alone in the car. Once you see, and more important feel the increase in joy and reduction in stress, you can decide how public you may want to be with your quest to become the best version of yourself.

As a bonus, here are a list of a few recommendations I have for improving yourself after spending over two decades in the field. This is not a complete list by any means and if you would like to add to it feel free.

Books

  • A Happy Life for Busy People
  • Think and Grow Rich
  • The Power of the Subconscious Mind
  • The Tao of Pooh
  • The Secret

CD or MP3 Programs

  • The Strangest secret
  • Personal Power
  • Any videos or audio by Tony Robbins, Earl Nightingale, Les Brown or Eric Thomas