A GREAT FEELING

Here is a picture I took at our local library. I happened to be searching for a few films to bring home when I decided to search for my own book. Imagine my joy when not one, but four copies came up! It gave me a great feeling to know that many people were interested in what I had written.

I do not share this out of conceit, but as a tool. A personal revelation is that I suffer from seasonal affective disorder. This time of year there are times when it is very hard for me to remain upbeat. The lack of sun and cold weather can really sap my energy and my spirit.

As an author, blog writer and speaker on all subjects positive this can leave me with an interesting challenge. I have recently written what I think is a very enlightening and helpful article for the January issue of See Beyond magazine. For today, I will share with you one of the tools I personally use to get me thorough this tough season.

Surrounding myself with reminders of positive aspects of my life good a long way to lift my spirits. Whether it is vacations, race medals or pictures of my book being available at the local library.

Reminders of what we have done right in life are always a good idea to keep on hand. What items do you use to remind yourself what a great person greets you in the mirror every morning?

WHAT ARE YOU UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF?

Recently, I have been called a ‘Social Media Influencer’. I see that term a lot lately. It  forced me to take a look at what is influencing me. When you look at what you read, listen to and who you hang out with it is easy to see what may be influencing you. I know a lot of you may be thinking, “Not me I am too strong to be influenced by anything!” Congratulations if that is true, but I believe to at least some degree we are influenced by all of the things mentioned above.

Currently, there is an election going on in this country which means an abundance of ads exploring all of the negative situations that politicians have brought to us. There may be a small smattering of promises of what the candidate will do for you, but mostly just want their competition will not do. With our ears being filled to capacity with such drivel we can find ourselves being a bit drained at the end of the day and certainly not filled with hope.

Influence can be subtle as well. Like the few glasses of wine you had with dinner that do not seem to affect you until you stand up to go to the bathroom. Influence can creep into your life without you even realizing it. Move to another country, or even to a different part of your country for a year and it would be shocking if you did not pick up an accent or dialect from that region.

One of the most difficult things people will admit is the influence the people around them have. “I am my own person!” They proclaim. That may be true and you may be very good at staying true to your values, but as many studies have shown, we are usually a composite of the 5 people we spend the most time around. If you spend your days around people who constantly eat junk food, eating a salad once or twice a week may feel pretty healthy. start hanging around people who take their health and fitness seriously and you may feel differently. This is why it is important to include driven and motivated people in our inner circle.

The great thing about all of this is we have complete control over what may be influencing us. We can turn off that news channel and pick up an inspiring or motivating book. We can stop subscribing to pointless political or drama-filled websites and join sites that will add more to our life, fill us with joy and help us become the best versions of ourselves. I gave you a great example in Monday’s post. If we know we have people in our lives that are not the best influence, we do not have to get rid of them, but perhaps balance the time we spend with them with someone we know would bring out the best in us and not the stress in us.

A great way to begin to change what we are under the influence of is to compile a list of all the major things we do daily. Do we watch a certain television show? Visit a certain website? Talk to certain people? Then on the list, honestly decide if that item is a plus or minus. Write a plus or minus next to that item. When you are done look at what you could do to limit or replace the minus and grow or add to the plus. Become intoxicated with love, laughter and success.

A GREAT MOTIVATIONAL EXAMPLE

I am always on the lookout for examples and ideas that can help us live a more positive and rewarding life. Today one such example was made clear to me. I am going to share this tale with you as I think it is something we can all use to keep us focused and motivated to stay on the right track.

Recently, my mother was cleaning out a room in her house and had come across some boxes of my old toys and such. Wanting to clean out her house and not wanting to just throw these items away she asked…no she told me to come get them. They included toys from G.I. Joe, Star wars and other such items. After loading them into my car and carrying them down into my basement I had no idea what to do with them. I knew that I wasn’t going to sit down and play with them. I knew they had some value, but am not very talented or well-versed on things like eBay or online selling. I put a message on my Facebook page wondering if there was anyone who might be interested.

One of the more helpful replies I received was from a high school friend named Bill. Apparently Bill was an avid Star wars collector and would be interested in taking a look at what I had. After a few false starts because of my health issues, we got together this evening. Bill informed me that he had recently left his job and began to work from home. I am always interested in stories where people make such a radical change in their lives and what is behind it.

After handling the matter of the toys transaction I asked what he did from home. He explained he sold on eBay. The story he told me is what I would like to share with you. Bill had been working Third shift in an injection molding factory for about 20 years. One Thursday evening/Friday morning he was told he would have to work the next day and it was mandatory. He felt like that was the last straw. We have all had that moment at our jobs at one point or another. I know I have. If you haven’t, you are extremely fortunate and have a great job. What Bill did next is what most of us do not have the comfort to do, he turned around and walked out. Now working from home selling on eBay he has time to take his daughter to school and go on field trips, all while earning a living.

This story is good enough to be inspiring, but there was one more detail I thought would  benefit all of us here.  Whether you are an author working on your next book, a song writer working to create that next hit, or even a blog writer trying to positively affect the world, there can be times that motivation to continue seems to wane. It is then we need to remember our ‘why’. We should have our goal in front of us daily to drive us. Not only to remind us of where we wish to go, but why we started in the first place. The day that Bill left his job he still was wearing his work shirt. He told me today that work shirt hangs right by his computer to remind him why it is important he succeed in his eBay career. It also reminds him of what the world he left was like and all he has to be grateful for with his work-from-home position.

Do you have a job you want to leave? Are you pursuing your passion on the side? Do you have to miss important dates and family gatherings because your boss needs you on the job? Are you wishing (or in my case needing) that tropical vacation? Find something to motivate you to stay focused. A picture of the islands, a picture of your current job, a picture of your soulless boss or any other such thing that will remind you of what you are chasing, and what will be the result if you give up. Use both the pleasure and the pain. Please share with the rest of our readers what you use for motivation.

VICTIMS OR SURVIVORS?

Perception and definition, things we have control of. As you are currently reading this I can assume you are alive and kicking. No matter what has happened or is happening in your life you have survived it. You have made it through. You have a 100% success rate at surviving whatever it is life has thrown at you. It does not mean you do not have some scars and battle wounds, but you made it through.

It may have changed you. It may have changed the way you look at the world, but how that happens is a great deal up to us. It depends a great deal on whether we view ourselves as victims of what happened to us, or survivors. As a victim, you may feel like because of a situation you have went through you will never be able to trust anyone again. As a survivor you may decide you will learn for additional behaviors that could lead to deception. As a victim you may feel broken because of a challenge life has put you through. As a survivor you will feel stronger for making it through. Victims are left with a feeling they will never be happy again. Survivors realize although life may never be the same, there is blessings in everything and new ways to discover joy they may be forced to find.

Again, this is not to say you will not have scars. It is not to say that life will not knock you down every now and again. The difference between a victim and survivor is whether you stay down or get back up. When we are sad, hurt or angry and going through some very dark period it may help to lock ourselves in a room with a mirror and yell into that mirror, “I am a survivor! You cannot beat me!” It may sound silly, but it will certainly change your outlook. Couple this with some inspiring music of your choice and it will get you through whatever it is you are going through. It may take a few times and it will take some faith on your time, but before long you will come out on the other side as a survivor and not a victim!

BE ON PURPOSE

I did a YouTube video on this subject a while back titled Waking up in Neutral. You can find the link on the bottom of this blog post. It is a subject that bears repeating. In my daily work I see and hear people who leave their lives up to circumstance. Oh sure, they may not view it or certainly say it this way, but that is indeed what they are doing. I will hear such reasoning as “Did you see how much mail I have to deliver?” or “Can’t you see it is raining outside?” Quite often I have to stop myself from inquiring, “Let me get this straight, you are telling me the amount of work/sunshine will determine how happy you are going to be?”

What I want to remind all of us, including myself is that we are giving away one of the greatest powers we have – choice. When we put our feet on the ground first thing in the morning we have a choice. We can decide it is going to be a bad day, a good day or as most of us do, wait and see what kind of day it will be. As someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder and lives in a state where the two seasons consist of 9 months of winter and 3 months of really bad sledding, I can fully understand some days are a little bit more of a struggle to smile in than others.

Some of us wake up in pain every single day. Some of us are facing life-long health challenges. Some of us are really going through some tough challenges. Understand in no way am I making light of your challenges. What I am telling you is even though it may not seem like it, you have a choice. Let us take the example of Helen Keller. She was both deaf and blind. More of a challenge than most of us face. Yet she wrote several books, became the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. Do you think she could have done all that by saying “I’ll be happy when I can see and hear again.”? Of course not. What did she have to say about life?

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

If someone facing that much of an obstacle can overcome their own feelings and accomplish great things, why can’t we? When you wake up first thing in the morning you can say to yourself or out loud would be even better, “Today will be a great day!” Why let you job, the weather, your health or anything else tell you what kind of day you are going to have? You decide. Say to yourself, “No matter what comes my way, I am going to have a great day.” You might feel down at times, you may get angry, you may cry, but do not let that stop you from having a great day. You boss may chew you out, don’t let them ruin your day. Your spouse may be in a bad mood, don’t let that ruin your day.

Easier said than done? You bet, but that is due in large part because we are out of practice. We have given away control over our own emotional well-being for so long it is almost hard for us to understand that we can have control over how we feel. I am going to give you 3 quick tips to help you along the way. Use these when the car breaks down, when you are asked to work overtime and you really just want to go home or any other such challenge comes up.

First and most important, begin each day with gratitude. This has been such a cliché these days you may be tempted to overlook it – don’t. Beginning your day saying to yourself, “At least I am still employed. I am have chance to earn some money.” starts you off in a far better mood than “Do I really have to go to work again?” The next two items can turn any day into a game of finding the way to succeed. When a challenge comes up I want you to do two things. First ask yourself, “Am I going to let this have control over MY day?” It is indeed your day. Why give your happiness, your well-being over to the boss, the spilled cup of coffee or whatever else is upsetting. Next I want you to ask yourself this question, “How can I use this?” The boss blaming you for something that isn’t your fault? How can you use that? Maybe practice your ability to stay calm and convey your opinions in a constructive manner. It is raining and you had a fun day at the ballpark planned. How can you use that? Stay home and work on that book you planned on writing.

If you look hard enough you can always find ways to use whatever life throws at you. If Helen Keller can use her blindness and deafness to her advantage, can’t we do the same with whatever struggle we are facing?

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO

THERE IS NO SHORTCUT

We are fast approaching holidays, followed by a brand new year. Personally, I feel excited about what 2019 will bring and I am working now to make sure it will be the best year it can be. I am back to 5 days a week at the gym, I am starting to clean a lot of the clutter out of my life physically and spiritually. I am also putting in the work with my writing career to help advance that as well. I was doing very well in 2018 until a few personal and health issues derailed my progress.

If you are a person who spends any amount of time trying to maintain your physical fitness, I am sure you can relate to the next thought. I had spent the first 6 months of the year working on getting back in shape. In mid June I was sent to the ER with what was later determined to be a serious heart issue. I was out of commission for about 30 days. When I returned to the gym it was as if those first 6 months had never happened. How frustrating. Only now, 3 months after getting back to the gym am I starting to feel like I am close to getting back in shape.

What is really important to keep in mind is there is no shortcut. Everyday I have to show up. Every single day I must put in the work. This has held true for my writing career as well. 7 years ago I began this website. 5 years ago I released my first book. I would have thought I would be all over television and on the radio talking about my 4th book. Next year my second book will be published. Everyday I showed up and wrote something. It would be great if we could all workout one time and be in shape for the rest of our lives. It would be great if our relationships would be filled with joy every moment. It would be great if we were successfully working a career we loved, were good at and made a great deal of money from. Life, as we know, does not work that way.

The reward is that the harder we work for something the greater the sense of accomplishment when we achieve it. Not only does struggle and discipline increase our feeling of satisfaction, but also is the best catalyst for growth and evolution. We may not realize it at the time, and trust me I get that it may feel like you have paid more than your share of dues, but sometimes there is just something that we have to learn, some growth we have achieve.

This can be especially hard to grasp when you watch others around you achieving more with what appears to be far less struggle. First, we must remember we never know everything that goes on behind the scenes with even the people closest to us. The relationship they have may have taken a lot more work than we know. That promotion they got? They may have studied and worked for years we do not know. Second, they are not us. This may seem like a tip from captain obvious, but think of how unique each of us are. We all learn in a different way. Some like to read, some are visual, some are audio-based learners. Does that make one better from the next? Of course not.

Those who have toiled the longest often end up with the greatest sense of joy. If you are handed a promotion because of who your father or mother is verses having to work for it, you may very well appreciate your job less. Be grateful for the struggle my friends. It may seem like a painful thing to go through, but it can be the greatest teacher. Also, remember we are all going through it. Struggle is a universal experience. It may not all be in the same area of life, some may be better at hiding it but we all go through it. Be thankful for the lessons. Be grateful for the practice in patience and the chance to grow. Whatever you do, just do not give up.

“You can’t hire someone else to do your push-ups for you.” – Jim Rohn

BECOME A FISHERMAN

As you well know this is not a career website. We are not actually going to teach you how to be a fisherman in the literal sense, but in the metaphorical. I love the quote in the picture above. In the last post we talked about planting the seeds of inspiration in the souls of those we met. In other words, becoming farmers of inspiration. Today we are going to look at a different option. A lot of people think what I do is motivate and inspire people, but that is only partly true.

A few of my posts are pure inspiration, and sometimes that is what we need. Still as Zig Ziglar pointed out, “Motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing. That is why I suggest both daily.” Motivation is like the fish in the quote in the picture. It may feed our spirit for a period of time. Maybe that motivation will last a day, maybe even several days. Sooner or later though you are going to need another dose of motivation to get you through. Reading that it almost sounds like a drug. I guess it kind of is. A drug that does not have any negative side effects.

I do not just want to be a ‘motivational dealer’ so to speak. I want to teach others how to fish, not just give them a fish. This website, my books and my seminars provide the tools that individuals can use to help themselves. I will teach you how to foster an attitude of gratitude, but it is up to you to put in the work. Once you do you can feed your spirit for the rest of your life. I encourage you to balance life between inspiring others and teaching them how to live an inspired life.

BECOME A FARMER

On any given day life can find us short on feelings of motivation and inspiration. A good deal of my work involves helping people become the best versions of themselves. One of the biggests hurdles is remaining motivated and inspired to keep working on improving yourself. For that very reason, this blog focuses on helping to motivate and inspire, but today we are going to take it a step further. How can you take inspiration and motivation a step further? We will do so by finding something that will increase the length and intensity of being inspired. This seems like a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want to feel inspired more often and to a greater degree? I think we all would.

My family two generations ago were mostly farmers. This is Ironic as I struggle to keep my house plants alive. As you read this I have a spider plant that is nearing the end. One of the great things I admire about farmers is how much their work can affect so many. One farm can grow enough food to feed the entire community or more depending on the size of the farm. Taken on a smaller scale, even one apple tree can yeild many apples to be enjoyed by others. Both of those examples started with one person planting a seed in the ground. In this way I have learned that I could still carry on my family legacy of farming. By planting seeds.

This may all sound a bit confusing, so let me explain. The great secret I have discovered in my 20 plus years working in the self-improvement field is the greatest way to become inspired is to inspire others. When I first got started in the field of self-improvement I did so because my life was the one that needed improvement. I began by listening to tapes (It was 20+ years ago) of Tony Robbins. I liked what he said and so I began to try some of the things he suggested. Low and behold they worked! I began to read more self-improvement authors such as Wayne Dyer, Deepok Chopra and others. I wrote down what worked best for me from each person. Often, it was a combination of principles from several people. Sometimes I tweaked them based on my own personal experience.

It was suggested by a friend of mine to begin sharing these tips on a website. I never thought of myself as a teacher in the beginning. I was simply sharing what I read. To a great deal, this is still what I do today. As the years passed I began to see common threads that ran through all of the teachings I read. I tried to break everything down to these core principles. That began my writing which two years after starting my website lead to my first book, A Happy Life for Busy People. This same formula followed as I began to watch motivational videos, then started my own YouTube channel. I attended several seminars and soon realized I should offer one of my own.

In each of the these cases I have learned that the best way to be inspired is to inspire others. To plant the seed of motivation as it was planted in me by people like Earl nightingale, Eric Thomas, Les Brown and more. To watch that seed blossom into something wonderful in someone you have reached is one of the most amazing things that can happen. When we are in each other’s company we are all planting seeds. They can be either seeds of gossip or seeds of joy. Whatever you plant, in others, or even in yourself will grow. Especially if you nuture it. Be a farmer of inspiration today.

THERMOSTAT OR THERMOMETER?

A thermstat verses a thermometer, which one are you? Obviously I am not speaking literally. Both of those devices are inanimate objects and could not be reading this article. In a more figurative sense, each one of us is either a thermostat or a thermometer. Usually we are a little bit of both. In order to better understand what I mean let us look at each device and the service they perform.

We will start with a thermometer. What is the function of a thermometer? It matters little difference if it is used for meat or medicine. The main purpose of a thermometer is to measure the temperature of its surroundings and read accordingly. It is what we would call a reactionary device. If the temperature is hot the thermometer will read accordingly. If the temperature is cold it will show that. The thermometer has little effect, if any, on what is is measuring. We all know people like this, don’t we? If they find themselves in a room full of people who are productive and happy, they will be productive and happy. If they are in a room full of people who would rather stand around and gossip than work, that is what they will tend to do. These people, much like a thermometer, have little or any impact on their surroundings. If you are looking for a leader you would not want a thermometer. If you are looking to be productive you would not wat to rely on a thermometer.

This is not to say there are not times when adapting your behavior to the situation is appropriate. You certainly would not want to wear a tuxedo to the corner tavern any more than you would want to show up at the opera in ripped jeans and a flannel shirt. There is a big difference between adjusting to the current social situation and changing the very essence of who you are. Let us look at our above example of being in a room filled with individuals more content to discuss the actions of others than to take any action themselves. In this case it would not be a good idea to adopt the current culture. What should we do if we find ourselves in just such a situation? That will bring us to our next point.

A thermostat. That funny shaped device on the wall that regulates our inner enviroment. How does a thermostat work? Simply put, if we set a desired temperature it will utilze the heating and cooling systems to acheive that temperature. Should the room drop to far below the set temperature the thermostat will engage the heating systems to warm the room to the desired condition. Should the temperature rise too far above the set number it will utilize the air-conditioning to bring it back down. The thermostat not only has a great impact on its enviroment, it actually sets the enviroment.

We all know people like this too, don’t we? There are people who can light up a room as soon as they walk in. There are also people who can bring everyone down with a simple conversation. In other words these people set their enviroments. I know a person who never seems to have a bad day. I asked him his secret and he told me quite simply, “I just decide to have a good day.” Much like the thermostat, he adjusts as the day goes along. If things start to go bad he kicks in his ‘heating system’ to bring the level of joy up. If he finds himself getting upset over traffic, the acts of a rude cowoker or anything else he turns on his ‘air-conditioning’ to relax and cool himself down. Thermostat people are action people. If they see a situation that does not suite them, they take actions to change the situation.

Ask yourself today if you are a thermostat controling your enviroment, or are you a thermometer just reacting to whatever the world is handing you. If the sun is out and traffic is great you are happy. If it is raining and the car won’t start you are unhappy. Why put control of your emotional well-being in the hands of other people and things. Be like my friend and decide to have a good day. If challenges do come up as they always will, ask yourself two very important questions, “What else can this mean?” and “How can I use this?” These two questions will allow you to be in control of your enviroment.

THE END OF THE DAY

With all of the outside stress that is heaped on us throughout the day courtesy of the media, coworkers, other drivers and a million other sources, we need to control our own. What I mean is at the end of the day, and at various points throughout the day, we can often find ourselves filling our own head with negative talk. We can end up beating ourselves up over events and decisions that happened throughout the day.

It is natural to have thoughts of “I wish I would have not hit the snooze button again.” or “I should not have gotten so upset with Sally at the office this morning.” None of us are perfect. That simple fact should give you a feeling of solace at the end of a hard day. If you were doing the best you could at the time, realize that too. If you didn’t act as you should have, you have the right to feel a little disappointed in yourself. What we need to do then is learn from that and commit to making better decisions in the future. If you know better and commit to doing better than getting upset with yourself is like convicting an innocent person. You have grown and are not the same person who did the action even earlier that day.

Some things seem not to turn out no matter how hard we try. That is because there are always lots of other variables. Weather, cars, other people and even rabid squirrels that may jump in front of our cars. You never know what you will face when you step outside your door to face the day.

Give yourself a break this week. If you approach life with the purest of hearts and the best of intentions you have done the best you could. If you did not approach life that way you have learned, which is the best you can do in that situation. They say an honest man’s pillow is his peace of mind, let that be true for us as well. Let us conduct ourselves in the best way we can and fall asleep knowing we did the best we could and that was enough.