LOVE IS THE REWARD

We have spent the last few posts discussing relationships. How to increase the odds of finding a good one. How important it is to bring the best version of you to the relationship you are in. How important it is to respect yourself while you are respecting your partner. These are all great ideas. They are not always easy to do, but the reward is certainly worth it. What is that reward? It is a relationship that supports and adds joy to your life. Whether that be a great friendship or an intimate relationship.

Even while working hard to craft these skills, life can put us in situations that make maintaining our joyful and loving relationship difficult at best. Although it may not look like it from the outside, Margie and my relationship is no different. From the beginning we dealt with people whose self-serving nature tried their best to pull us apart. Add to that issues of family stress, working in the bar industry where the idea of a healthy relationship and the respect shown to other relationships is extremely low. Makes life challenging at times. Recently, you add the passing of quite a few people close to us, most recently Margie’s mother and my discovery and hospitalization for a genetic heart issue and you can imagine there is almost as much stress as there is love at times.

How do we, and more to the point, how can you deal with the stress of life and keep on loving? Whether it is family, friends or your spouse the answer is the same. The easiest, and to be honest, most enjoyable way to do this is to realize the little things are the big things. This sounds cliché, as many things with love can, but the reason something is said so often is because there is truth in it. How can we turn the little things into the big things? How can we take a cliché and turn it into a part of our lives? Allow me to share with you a few personal examples that may help you.

The way Margie and I accomplish this is first and foremost keeping an attitude of gratitude. When we have challenges in our relationships, or even in our life in general, it can be easy to lose sight of all that we have to be grateful for. If we are so busy with work we do not have time to sit down to a wonderful dinner together, at least we have each other and something to eat. When one of us complains, the other does their best to find something to be grateful for in the situation. It helps that both of us have this desire.

In the middle of  the whirlwind of stress we often face, there is one thing we do more than any couple I know and it makes all the difference. We love. What I mean is in the middle of a karaoke show, or last night while shopping at Best Buy, if one of us feels love for the other we show it. This can be anything from stopping for a quick hug or kiss, or even just focused compliments and words of affection. Last Friday while doing a show I happened to notice just how beautiful Margie looked at that moment and I told her. I held her hand looked in her eyes and said, “I’m sorry I know we are really busy, but I just had to let you know how beautiful you look to me right now.” The words touched Margie who thanked me and leaned over and gave me a kiss. Sadly, the grown woman who was standing next to our DJ area who witnessed this responded in what I can only describe as a immature and cynical way. She said “Eww! Eww!” and made a motion like she was going to get sick. Did I mention the bar atmosphere can often not be the best place for a couple?

In your own relationships, take time to make sure the little things become the big things. Whether it is family, coworkers, friends or the special someone you love, take time to show appreciation and gratitude. When you feel love for that person make sure you pause and take time to express that. It could be a hug, an email, a card or a quick phone call. When you see two people sharing a moment like this try and understand all the stress and challenges they may be facing. Taking time to enjoy each other, even if only for a quick hug or kiss may be the special reward that keeps that relationship working.

3 LEVELS YOU MUST MASTER

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What you are about to read will change your life. That is not hyperbole, it is not an exaggeration. If you are to really understand what I am about to share with you it will transform the way you view the world. It applies, and can be utilized in every area of your life. Personally, I am just beginning to grasp the power and magnitude of what I am about to share with you. Since coming across this knowledge only a short time ago, it has revolutionized how I write and teach.

There are three levels to every person. You, me, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, Mother Teresa all have three levels. How we use and become aware of these three levels will affect every area of our lives. Want to be a great parent? There are three levels to that. Want to get healthy? Three levels there too. Want to have a great relationship? Three levels of love. I am going to share with you what these three levels are, how I came across this information and then we are going to scratch the surface of how we can put this to use to transform our lives. I say ‘scratch the surface’ because I could write and entire book on this subject. I also say that because I am only beginning to work with this information and I am continuing to learn and find new and exciting applications for it daily.

Without any more build up, here are the three levels you, me and the rest of the world share.

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Emotional/Spiritual

This may not sound too profound at first, but stick with me and I think you will become as excited as I am.

First, allow me to share with you how I came to understand this principle. On a Wednesday at my Post Office job I had a very physical day. Sadly, that night I had to work as a DJ as well. Fortunately for me, my lovely lady was kind enough to put together a dinner as I took an hour nap. I slept well the physical nature of the work was exhausting. Thursday work at the Post Office was slightly less physical. I left and went to write and work on my upcoming book. I tried to do some self editing, which I enjoy slightly more than getting a root canal. I also created and worked on some posts for this website. I came home feeling even more tired than the night before. The following day, Friday, I planned to have a nice relaxing day. I arrived at work only to be told my job was looking at being eliminated. Something the Post Office seems to like to do rather often. I was informed by a coworker that not only was this the case, but the boss had also called into question my work ethic. Which, next to my integrity, is one of the most important things to me. You can imagine how frustrated, disappointed, and to be quite honest angry I was feeling. I few hours later the boss returned from lunch and I asked if I could speak with him. Knowing the discussion he had with our coworker he informed me that he expected to talk with me. To make a long story short, he cleared up that both issues were not at all true. My job was safe, for the time being, and he appreciated the job I did. You can imagine the change in emotions then. I went to back feeling relief, gratitude and a sense of pride in my work. I also felt something else – exhausted!!!

While pushing around a pallet jack, I stopped to share what I noticed with a coworker who happened to be standing there. I inquired whether she had noticed you can be tired in three totally different ways, physically, mentally, and emotionally or spiritually. Being that she is what we could safely say as not the most self-aware person, she stared and said, “Umm… I guess so.” Being that I was just kind of thinking out loud, I nodded and moved on.

As I was letting this information bounce around in my head as I worked, one of the benefits of having a job that does not tax me to mentally, a quote suddenly came to mind.

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill

Suddenly, the light bulb started to glow. I would say it lit up, but sometimes information takes a moment to develop in my brain. I thought to myself, “If there are three forms of exhaustion, there must be three ways to energize!” This simple thought has began to change my life. Here is what I came up with. Let us say you are having a day where you are sleep walking through everything you do. You could stop at your local Starbucks and grab a double espresso, the caffeine would give you a little boost. If you are anything like me, there are days where I swear my body laughs at my feeble attempts to bring it to life. Perhaps that same day you come across an article on a subject that really interests you, or you have a conversation with a friend about a project you are working on. Now you are mentally stimulated. The body will more than likely come along for the ride. Here is where things get interesting to me. If, on this day of working with an energy deficit, you come home to find your spouse has surprised you with tokens of affection you totally did not expect. Maybe a friend calls you to tell you how much they appreciate you. Suddenly, your soul is on fire! Nothing can top that. Sleep? Who needs it.

This applies to more than energy. Trying to lose weight? If you just try to eat better foods (Physical) your chances of success are slim to none. If you study the effects of being overweight (mental) such as less years in your life, complications that can arise as you age, your motivation will be better. If you really want to improve your odds of success, you may want to look at your children or grandchildren and realize you might not see what they will become in life. Maybe you will think about how much you will miss doing with them while you are here because you will not be able to keep up with them physically. This will cause a powerful emotional response. Your motivation then becomes part of your spirit. When that happens, you will change your thinking (mental) and change your actions (physical)

This works for healing too. Let us say you were in a car accident. Your cuts, scraps and bruises will heal. It may take a while for you to remember that your odds on being in another accident are rather slim. Still, in a traffic jam it may take you a while not to have your heart race and your nerves be on edge.

There are so many more areas of life and examples we could touch on, but I wanted to introduce you to this principle and allow you to begin to work with it in your own life. I would be elated to hear what areas you can think of where you could use the knowledge of the three levels and how you can put what we are learning into practice.

THIS IS IMPORTANT 

As you are reading this i will be in sunny Las Vegas. In doing so I am taking a break from being a Postal worker, a DJ, a bartender and to most extent an author and blog writer. In past posts I have stressed the importance of taking a rest and the ability it provides us.

In today’s world the importance of self care is often overlooked. There are commercials about getting ahead in business, in finance, in taking care of your loved ones and many others. These are for sure all important, but everything you do, including taking care of others can be done better when you take care of yourself. As I often say an empty pitcher can never fill anyone’s cup.

When taking care of yourself you need to provide yourself the undivided attention you would for a family member or important client. I have friends who have diligently carved out time for themselves and tell me they still feel stressed and overwhelmed. On occasion we will all feel these feelings, that is just a part of life. Here is what is important – when you take time for yourself, make sure you are really devoting that time to yourself.

These next few examples may sound silly to some, but they really have happened. I know of a friend who interrupts his meditation when he hears his text message alerts go off. People use their visualization time to plan and think about that nights dinner. This is really not our fault. Today we try to accomplish 25 hours of work into one day. Sleeping? Only if there is time for that. Trust me, I am as guilty as anyone of this. If we are wise enough to take this time to recharge let us use it wisely.

There are a few steps you can take that can greatly increase the success of your recharging time. One, let others know not to disturb you. This is especially effective if you have a routine time of day you set aside to take care of the important person in the mirror. Tell the kids every day from 6-6:30 is “mommy time”. Also dispose of any guilt associated with taking this time. Remember by taking care of yourself you will be better to help assist the needs of others and do so with less stress and more effectiveness. It is really a win/win situation. Next, turn off all devices. Put your phone on silent. You deserve this time. Finally, look into some clearing exercises that help you empty your mind before you begin. Simply paying attention to your breathing and focusing on that can work. Another fun and easy way to approach this is purchasing CDs that guide you through this meditation. All you do is relax, push play and you are on your way. This can be especially helpful for people just beginning. Another perk is usually they last 30 minutes to an hour so when the cd ends, your time is up. One of my favorite site is brain sync they have several different choices depending on what you are after.

The point here is to start the new year devoting time to the most important person in your life, you. Improved mental and physical well-being will increase your productivity and reduce your stress allowing you to be better at life and enjoy it more. Feel free to share how you set aside time and what you do to recharge your batteries in the comments below. Also feel free to share this post.

LIVING TREASURES 

Here is a man I encountered during a recent event at the local historical society in West Allis where I live. His name is David HB Drake. As you can see in the photo he plays several unique instruments and sings as well. What makes Mr. Drake special is that a lot of what he plays and sings are songs from the past. He also knows the story behind what he sings and passes it along to those who listen to him. To attend one of his performances is both educational as well as entertaining.

I am not sure of Mr. Drake’s age, but he is what we consider a senior citizen. In this country often that designation comes with an impression of helplessness, or someone who is passed their prime and does not have a lot to offer. The sad thing is that by taking that view we miss the great gifts these people have to offer us. The knowledge Mr. Drake has gathered has taken him a lifetime. To learn, practice and perform all of the songs he does can only be done with years of actually doing it. The passion he delivers it with is special and unique to him. A young person could not come in and do what he does. We could read books to learn the facts he delivers, but we would not experience them. The sparkle he has in his eye while telling you about what life was like in logging camps of the 1800’s cannot be read, but must be felt.

There are stories and gifts like this in every senior we know. I personally recall my grandfather telling me stories of his time in the south pacific during the second world war. Those stories could not have been read in any book on the subject and give me a personal perspective to add to what I do read about that period. Wisdom comes with time and experience and is something money cannot buy. So please treat your elders as the living treasures they are. Mine all of the ‘gold’ you can from them before they are gone. Ask questions, listen to their stories. You will not only be helping them understand and feel how valuable and treasured they are, but you will also be learning and helping yourself.

Feel free to share this post with as many as you can so we will not lose any more living treasures without experiencing the gifts they have to offer.

IT IS THE SMALL THINGS 

In reflection it has come to my attention how many moments that seemed insignificant at the time ended up being life-changing. Here is what I mean. When a friend suggested in 2006 I see the movie ‘The Secret’ I thought it would be just another movie. It turned out to change the way I look at the world. When I ordered my first Tony Robbins product off an infomercial I thought it would end up on a shelf collecting dust. Now I practice a lot of what I learned from that. In addition I have made my life’s mission to help others learn how to better their lives and the world around them. When I started this blog which is going on 500 posts ago, I thought it would merely be an outlet for my philosophical musings. It has turned into a book A Happy Life for Busy People as well as several speaking engagements.

Even when my boss at the time told me that my hours at the post office were going to be cut from 45 a week to 10 due to down-sizing I thought that was going to be a major negative moment. It was that event that pushed me into the self-improvement field. So never underestimate the effect that things can have on you. Keep your ears and mind open. Also stay present in the moment to be able to take from life what you can. Each moment presents its own lessons and its own opportunities. Make sure to grab them all.

Lastly, some moments may not become important until long after they have passed. My grandfather was a very important figure in my life and taught me many things. Some of which I thought were crazy or even disagreed with at the time. He passed away years ago, but often I find myself thinking of things he said and appreciating them in a whole different level. He is still teaching me long after he is gone. Sometimes there are things you have to experience, or a place in life you have to be before the lesson can be fully appreciated.

The takeaway here is to soak up everything in life. It may seem insignificant at the time, but you never know when it may be just want you need!

NEVER TELL YOURSELF YOU CAN’T DO IT!

This is a picture of my lady and I before a charity run we did recently. It is before we ran as if I shared the one after it may not be safe for me to come home. There are many things about doing a charity run/walk that lead to an amazing life. You take good care of your body, you help a good cause and you meet other souls doing the same thing.

In this post we are going to discuss another important aspect and gift we both received from this event. First let me inform you it was hot…very hot out. Second it involves a distance of over 3 miles. Leading up to this event both of us had our doubts. My lady especially had been through some personal challenges and was not able to train as much as she would have liked. She even mentioned that she was not 100% confident she would make it. That wasn’t her exact words as they tend to be a little more dramatic. I swear she is going to be the next author in our household.

So what was the gift? The gift was the challenge itself. As we both made our way through the course watching others go by, and the heat refusing to do the same another partner joined us on the course. That partner’s name was doubt. Voices in our heads told us how hot it was out, how people would understand if we bowed out. It is funny how when your body is preoccupied with pain and suffering your mind is free to come up with all kinds of things. Keeping the demons at bay when trying to suck in hot and humid air is a very unique challenge.

Crossing the finish line was a victory on many fronts. Testing yourself to limits both physically and mentally draws strength out you in ways nothing else can. The feeling you get when you finish knowing you shut those voices up, when you overcome physical challenges you own your body, you own your mind. Next time those voices come up you know you can tell them to sit down and shut up. You know you can accomplish more than you know so test yourself today!

Feel free to share your ideas for testing yourself in the comments below and feel free to share this post as well.

ONE OF MY BELIEFS 

This picture sums up one of my firm beliefs. No matter what you believe spiritually, or even if you believe anything spiritually, you were put here for a reason. Even if you don’t agree with that much you cannot argue that your time here is limited. People ask me why I think happiness is so important. Why is it worth spending over a decade of my life studying? Why should everyone focus on it? If you go to my seminar I explain why in a lot more detail, but to give you the quick version what I tell people if you are not enjoying your life, you are wasting your life.

It is true in life there are challenges and there are obstacles that we have to tackle and solve. Why do we do that? Daily we face the world and do things because they make us feel good. Now I can hear a lot of you saying things like “going to work is for paying the bills, not to feel good”. In some ways this is true, but ultimately what does paying the bills get you? Less stress knowing that the lights will stay on? Happiness knowing you will be able to afford a good dinner and hopefully take yourself out every now and again. One of the main principles of this website as well as my books and seminars is this – happiness is not a destination, but a decision – read that line a few more times and let it sink in. It is the answer to how some people who seem to have everything can still be miserable, while people who seem to face every challenge show up daily with a smile on their face. They decide to. Sounds great, but it is easier said than done. How can we be someone who makes that decision?

Let us get a few things clear right away. Making this decision will not suddenly make life sunshine and rainbows. In fact it might just do the opposite in the short term. When you make a decision life usually decides to test you to see if you are serious. Ever decide to start eating healthier only to arrive at work and notice doughnuts sitting on the break room table? You need to be firm, know it will take some time and that you may experience setbacks. You also need a plan. I recommend fostering an attitude of gratitude. Look for the lesson and joy in every challenge. Water heater goes out and will cost money you don’t have to spend? Be grateful up until that day you have always had the option of hot water anytime you want. Know in the future, although it may be a financial drain, you will have it again. A large portion of the world has no hot water or even a place to live with running water. Happiness is largely a matter of perspective.

One last thing, by becoming a happy person and enjoying your life you are giving the world the greatest gift you can. How much better is your day when you encounter a happy giving soul in your daily journey? Be that gift for others and for the rest of the world. Even better, be that gift for yourself!

IT IS FUN TO MAKE THE BEST OF IT

Sometimes life doesn’t go exactly according to plan. Sometimes life ‘throws you a curve ball’ as they say. The great secret to living an amazing life is to not let those detours throw you off course, and to enjoy them whenever you can. Take the picture above. Last Friday I told you about a beer garden that my lady and I went to. The park it was in was beautiful, the weather was perfect for her (a little chilly for me) and time together is rare and was appreciated. Still there were a few challenges. The food offered was limited at best. It was also very pricey. Image our dismay when after we paid they informed us they had no buns to match what they were selling so they put the brat and hot dog we ordered on a hamburger bun. They were also out of most of the condiments they offered. Keep in mind this was not at the end of the evening either.

Ok, so what does my terrible food service experience have to do with living an amazing life? It is what happened next. We all know far to many people who would have stood there complaining to the workers, who should have informed us before we paid about being out of so many things. Worse we all have witnessed people who would have let this ruin their evening and spent the rest of the day complaining about it ignoring the weather, the scenery and all the other amazing aspects I mentioned. How do I know? In the past I was all too often one of those people. Before beginning my quest for improving my own life I even let things ruin some of my time on vacation! For those of you who know how much I love the tropics this was a really stupid and costly mistake on my part that prevented me from living an amazing life. There are still times it is tricky to deal with all of the crazy things that pop up in life.

So how can we not let circumstances that are less than ideal steal our momentary joy? Take a new perspective. One, understand that everything is temporary. Even the worst minute of your life only has 60 seconds. Also know making through the tough times can give us a great feeling of accomplishment. We can also learn a lesson. In this case, we make want to bring some food with us next time to both save money and make sure we have something good to eat. Try seeing the humor in the situation. In this case, the way the combination looked was hilarious. Not to mention the worst situations usually make for the best stories after they are done. Speaking of Story (my lady’s last name) she did another valuable thing, she got creative. This happens to be one of her many skills normally but applied to this situation it turned a bad into a good. She cut the sausages in half and we made a sandwich out of them. Not only did they fit the bun better, but we each got to try what each other was eating. This is a solution that would not have come to us if we were focused on how unfair or awful the situation was. Anger and frustration not only steal your joy, but they steal your peace and creativity as well.

So next time things do not go according to plan try adjusting your plan. If that is not possible, try adjusting the way you are looking at what is going on. Being upset only hurts one person and that is you. Feel free to like, comment and share this post with friends.

 

 

 

A BETTER LIFE MADE EASY…ER

To change your life for the better I am going to give you a secret. When life and is challenges seem overwhelming I am going to give you a secret. When your ups are few and your downs are plenty, there is a secret.

So by now you must be wondering what is this secret? I will share that with you in a second, but first let us all get on the same page here. Have you ever looked at one area of your life, or perhaps even your life as a whole and become overwhelmed with the amount of things you would like to change? Perhaps you would like to quit smoking, but you also want to lose weight, but you would like to begin working on that book you have always wanted to write, but you also would like to spend more time with your family. Whew! Even typing that was exhausting. Still that is how most of us feel. As the years go by the things we would like to change keep piling up. It can seem too large of a task to even begin. So how to do this and make it as fun and painless as possible? I have the answer.

First of all understand you never eat your whole dinner in one bite. What does that mean? When you eat dinner you take a bite of this, then a bite of that. Before you know it you have finished your entire meal. Life is much like this. We must take one step at a time. You could no more climb a mountain in one leap that transform your life over night. So what is the secret? How can we do this and how can it not seem like such a struggle?

The answer is almost revealed in the picture above. I think they actually have it backwards. If we are forever trying to ‘cut this out of our life’ or ‘stop doing that’ life can seem not only like a struggle, but like we are always sacrificing and giving up things in our lives. That does not sound fun at all. I propose the opposite. Make small changes to your life a little at a time. Interested in being healthier? Instead of saying I have to give up candy and soda try adding a salad or some healthier snacks. Try adding water in addition to the soda you are drinking. Eventually when you start seeing progress and momentum you will be more motivated to add even more. Want to have a more positive outlook? Instead of focusing all of your energy on stopping complaining, try focusing on adding compliments and gratitude. This will not only seem like less of a struggle, it will be a lot more fun. The great thing about this approach is the negative things in your life will begin to fade away naturally. One of the best ways to get rid of something negative in your life is by adding something positive. Try this in every area of your life and feel free to let us all know how it works for you.

WHY THE DOG IS HAPPIER

Although this picture pretty much says it all, there are some important points to touch on. The first is obvious, the dog is only thinking about one thing which brings him a lot less stress. The man, as is so common in our world today is multi-worry-tasking. Yes, this is a term I just came up with, but it accurately describes what many people to today. Not only do we waste time worrying (which has zero transformational value) about one thing, quite often we have several worries on our mind all at once. What we do not realize is that we are not doing ourselves, or the situation any good by occupying our mind with what could go wrong.

Another more subtle point here is the dog is the only one present in the moment. They are both out it what appears to be a rather pleasant relaxing setting. The man, preoccupied with his thoughts, is unable to fully appreciate the good he is literally sitting in the middle of. The dog, however, is in the moment. His thoughts are on what is happening at that very second. My confession here is I am often the man myself. In this crazy world it is hard not to be mentally a million places all at once. There was a time I focused on just being in the now (see the post ‘Relish the now’ april 19th) My lady had a hot bath with scented salts, candles and wine all ready for me. I purposely noticed every detail, every sensation using every sense I could. Another thing I did was make sure my thoughts were not somewhere else. Next post we will explore how this can be a good thing, but for right now we will continue. Truth is I was doing all of this because I wanted to write a blog about the whole affair. That is the mind of a writer for you. Still what a great gift that was and the memory is so much more clear, and what a great memory that was.

So how can you begin to stay focused? How can you begin to limit all the mental chatter and needless worry? My number one recommendation is meditation. For those of you who think this involves hours of sitting in an odd position chanting think again. There are plenty of good books, cds and videos on simple meditations. In fact if you go to YouTube and search ‘guided meditation’ there will be several you can just listen to as they walk you through. Next, try journaling. I know I constantly suggest it, but truly giving your thoughts an outlet can often relieve them of their power and help your thinking become more clear. Lastly, and probably the most fun is watch the masters. Watch those who can remain focused on the now and stealing every ounce of joy out of the day. Who are these wise teachers? Pets and children. Watch kids on the playground. Watch your pets. See the joy they experience in the simplest of things. Feel free to share this with anyone who could enjoy life more if they could just live in the present. I believe it is a skill we can all work on.