YOU HAVE BEEN PLANTED, NOT BURIED

You can’t help but to relate when you look at this picture. We have all been there. Asking ourselves, or the powers that be, “Why on earth am I in this terrible situation?” I often think my talents could be better served in a more conducive work enviroment in a warmer climate. Then I realize that I have the opportunity to grow and inspire others through this enviroment.

Another aspect of this picture that is worth pondering is what you can be buried in. When the ‘manure’ of life seems overwhelming we must remember one thing – what is the purpose of spreading manure on the ground? If you answered ‘to help things grow’ you are correct! The same holds true in our lives. Can you think of a time life covered you in a large dose of manure? You may have felt like the seed in the second picture. That life was over. It seemed dark and unfair. You may have felt hurt and pain. Inevitably, if we make it through all of that, what ends up happening? The painful and trying events that buried us and felt like it turned our lives into a big pile of manure, ended up teaching us some of the greatest lessons.

Although lessons can suck to go through, they always force us to grow. What happens when we grow is really quite simple – we become stronger and better people. Seeds will not grow well without being buried. Add a little manure on top of them and they tend to grow even faster. The same is true of us. The harder our life, the more the opportunity to grow. When life has you covered it what seems like a blanket of manure, tell yourself, “I’m not buried. I am planted!” Shout it out if you can. It may seem a little hokey, but it may very well take you from feeling self-pity, to looking for how to put the situation to work for you and what you can get out of it in terms of growth.

HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR LIFE?


How do you see life? This is a question that came up in a book I reading. I am forever telling people how powerful the words they choose are. Sometimes How you say something is just as important as what you are saying. A quick example, “This job is killing me!” verses “This job sure is a challenge.” Say them both out loud now. Do they conjure up different feelings? I think you could even answer that without reading them. Now imagine multiplying this example thousands of times over the course of a day. Can you see how many times you affect your mood?

Back to our original question – How do you see life? This overall theme can also determine a great deal when it comes to your life. Some people say life is a battle. They will be on guard to defend themselves. Every challenge may seem like a battle to them. When they wake up in the morning it may very well feel as if they are going to war with the world. They may seldom get to appreciate all of the good times because they will be using that time to prepare for the next foe or situation that may attack.

Some of us say life is a circus. We will tend to notice the absurd and perhaps view life as something we are watching. This does have it’s perks. When something happens in your life that you can hardly believe, it is like a crazy act at a circus. You will notice ring leaders, lion tamers and certainly a fair share of clowns. You might miss out on chances for serious growth and contribution. You may not realize that you are also part of the circus and playing your own role in someone else’s circus.

Some of us view life as a party. One can understand how this may be beneficial. You will be forever on the lookout for something to celebrate. This is one of the three questions I recommend everyone ask themselves when they wake up in the morning, “What can I celebrate today?” Sometimes the answer is just that you woke up. Sometimes, like in my case, you are celebrating waking up next to the woman of your dreams. The fact that you are employed, even if it may not be your dream job, can be worth celebrating. What could be bad with this outlook on life? If life is a party, often we can be lax on our responsibilities. Maybe we go out with friends before realizing that we needed that money for our heating bills? We could not spend the amount of time on introspection that would benefit us.

As you can see each way of looking at life can have pros and cons. I am not here to tell you which one is better or worse. That will depend greatly on you and what you wish to feel and accomplish in your life. What is important is to ask yourself, “How do I see life?” If you are not living an amazing life, perhaps your definition of life in general has a great deal to do with that. I would LOVE to hear how you define life.

3 KEYS TO A GREAT LIFE

We all know that to quickly get us out of trouble when using a computer we can press ‘ctrl + alt + Del’. This picture reminds us when we find ourselves facing a tough situation in life we can do the same thing.

‘Ctrl’ the first button reminds us to control ourselves. The truth is, we cannot control life, only how we react to it. We cannot control the actions of others, only how much we choose to let them affect us. As you can see, by looking at how we control ourselves, we can go a long way to controlling our life.

‘Alt’ the second button, reminds us to search for alternate solutions. What we have been doing up to that point may not have been working so well. Looking for different ways of attacking, or even looking at, the problem may be just what is needed.

Lastly, there is ‘Del’. Reminding us that as painful as it may be, sometimes deleting the situation that is causing us stress is what is needed.

Use this computer analogy to help you quickly adjust to all of life’s challenges. If the situation seems to have you stressed or stuck, just push ‘control + alt + delete’.

SHUT 1, OPEN 2

Margie and I routinely take turns picking out movies to watch. One night it is her turn, the next night it is my turn. This way it keeps things fair and interesting since we can often have very different tastes in movies. On this particular night the movie that was chosen to watch was “What Women Want” staring Mel Gibson among others. If you haven’t seen the movie I will given you the plot very briefly. A man who generally has little regard for women is suddenly able to hear their every thought. By being able to do this, it has a big impact on his life and career.

As valuable as this ability might be, as far as we are aware it is impossible to hear the minds of the opposite sex. To some this could be frustrating, but to many they should probably be grateful. I am sure we can all recall many moments when we have heard friends say, or even said ourselves, “I wish I could know what goes on in their head!” On occasion I have even said this about myself, but that is a topic for a different day. Trying to know what is in the minds of someone, be it a man or a woman, can be frustrating. The amazing thing is that there is a way to do this and it is also easier than you think. Of course there are a million books on ‘How to read someone like a book’ or ‘how to understand your partner more’. Trust me I have read a good deal of them and they all have something valuable to offer.

The tricky thing about reading and applying the knowledge you learn from these books is that it can vary from person to person. To say all men are alike or all women think and act in the same manner is obviously ludicrous. A lot of our nature has to do with genetics, experiences and goals. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a simple formula that could work to help us gain deeper insight into anyone we are working to know on a deeper level? How much would it be worth to know how your boss felt about certain things? How helpful would knowing what motivated your employees and coworkers be? Would it be valuable to you to understand why members of your family continue to do things that drive you crazy? To, of course, the most valuable aspect of this formula. How much would you pay to know more about the inner workings of the mind contained in the head of the person you loved? What if you could know more about what made them happy? Would knowing what upset them as well as what made them happy and relaxed be worth something to you?

The great news is that there is such a formula. The better news is I am about to give it to you for free! No strings attached. You can choose to use it, or you can choose to dismiss it because of its simplicity. The choice is up to you. My promise to you is this – if you put this formula to work with an honest effort, you will acheive everything mentioned in the paragraph above and more. Personally, I would recommend starting with one person until you really get the hang of this. After a while, applying this formula will become second nature to you and all your relationships will be taken to amazing new levels. You will be able to impress your boss with regularity. This could lead to a raise, a promotion or countless other great items. You could motivate your employees and coworkers while making them happy at the same time. Imagine the work enviroment this could lead to! Most importantly, you will have your intimate partner feeling happier and more loved than ever before. I have been applying this formula in my own relationship and can tell you it is one of the main reasons both of us are so happy.

What is this magic formula? How can you apply it for your own benefit today? The formula is the title of this blog – SHUT 1 AND OPEN 2. You may wish to write this simple formula down as a daily reminder. Let me explain further what this formula means. Again, I strongly caution you against dismissing it based on how simple it may sound. Most profound thoughts are simple. The first part of the formula ‘shut one’ refers to your mouth. Most of us love to explain to our partners our feelings (a very important aspect of communication) but we are so busy talking about ourselves, we forget to do the second part of the formula. That second part ‘open 2’ refers to both our ears and our eyes. Call it actively listening, focused observation or any other term you like. Using this second part of the formula will bring you all the riches you desire when it comes to personal relations.

Let us delve a little deeper into the second part of this formula. Focused observation involves listening to, and watching someone with a particular goal in mind. In this case to learn more about them. Most couples can tell you that they can tell when their partner is upset when they give them “the look”. Actively listening or applying the second part of this formula involves paying attention to what proceeded that look. What was said or done to ilicit that expression? The same can work in reverse. When we see a genuine expression of joy on our partners face, their eyes lighting up, a smile adorning their face, it causes us to be happy as well. How often do we stop and ask ourselves “What caused this expression of joy?” More importantly in these examples is making a mental, or written, account of that. Remember what caused the pain or upset and what caused the joy.

I applied this very formula in my own relationship with astounding results. I did it without really knowing what I was doing. Now that I know and have perfected this formula, I continue to use it everyday and the results have only become more amazing. I was at our local food coop and wanted to pick up a little gift for Margie to let her know I was thinking about her. We had been to that store a few times as well as other grocery stores. The funny thing was I did not have any clue as to what a good surprise would be. I thought to myself, “Boy if only she was here I could see what she liked and then pick that out.” Suddenly it hit me, I should be doing that all of the time. In the countless times we had been to the grocery store I did not really pay attention to what she may have picked up or what aisles she gravitated towards. I made a decision next time we went shoppping I would observe carefully to what she did and said to learn what would be a good surprise next time I was alone. I can tell you that I learned more about my beautiful Margie in that shopping trip than I had in all the time we spent leading up to that moment.

I was so proud of myself until I realized one very important thing. There was no reason to have waited to learn about the love of my life. It is not just what she likes in the grocery store that can make me a hero for the day. I began to pay attention to what movies she picks out. What colors she enjoys having around. What she says she likes, and what lights her up. I have seen her get upset with both me and others and noticed what caused that. I noticed what songs she listens to when she is upset, and which she listens to when she wants to relax. I observed her as a scientest would do when observing an experiment. Then I began to test what I had learned. Slowly I found ways to make her feel more happy and loved than I had done up to that point. This practice continues to this day. Some days I may not learn anything, but just be reminded of things that are important to her. Other days I learn so much I feel I didn’t even know the woman I have been blessed to be with.

It never fails to surprise me how many people do not know the most basic elements about their partners. What is their shoe size? What are their favorite colors? Movies? Songs? This formula can give you what many would percieve as an unfair advantage. Do not take my word for it, Prove it to yourself using this 24 hour experiment. For the next 24 hours pick someone to observe. Some may find it easier to start with someone they are not so attached to, others may see more benefit in jumping right in to the person closest to you. For 24 hours become an active listener. Watch their every move. Listen to every word they say. Even more important, try to learn what is behind these words and actions. Record what you learn. As a bonus you can even go deeper. Look at their social media accounts and what they put out for the world to see. Have they expressed what is important to them? Have they mentioned what upsets them or goals they are trying to reach? Make note of this too. It may sound like you are stalking them, and it way this is true. What you are doing is focusing all of your efforts on learning how this person thinks and feels. Imagine what amazing things you can do with this information? To them it may seem as if you can read their minds and atticipate their needs and desires. Imagine how that will change your relationships?

WORK ON YOUR BUSINESS EXPRESSION

It amazes me how much people will spend on items to promote their business, yet not invest much if any time and money on themselves. If you read the quote above you will see what I mean. “Your smile is your logo” is the first part. How many places to you enter where they do not even offer you a smile? Margie and I recently went to one of our favorite breakfast spots. When we entered the sign said “Hostess will seat you” the hostess, without looking up, asked how many were in our party. After informing her there were only two so she would not have to strain her neck by looking up, we expected to be seated. While still not looking up, she waved her hand in a general direction and said, “You can sit over there.” Had this been our first trip to this place we may not have even bothered sitting down. Margie, in her not so patient with poor customer service way, asked the hostess for some clarity as to what the wave of a hand and ‘over there’ meant. Luckily, a lady caught our confusion and clarified. We were shown to a table and treated to great service by a young lady named Izzy. Had we not ate here before it would not have even come to that. A smile can either make or break a first impression. Best of all? It doesn’t cost a single thing.

“Your personality is your business card” is the second part. Before this breakfast experience, we had went to look for a new vehicle. While at the dealership we ran into the issue of being shown the vehicle for a test drive at the same time another couple was. Our sales man pushed the other salesman out of the way and they exchanged explicatives with each other. As I turned the key I noticed the ‘check engine’ light was on. That coupled with the fact the sales staff was almost at blows, caused me to leave the lot without a purchase. The man gave me his business card on the way out. However, his personality is what I will remember more. Acting with a sense of professionalism and customer service is not that difficult. Neither is refraining from swearing at or punching your coworker. Having a great personality with customers is priceless but does not cost you anything.

The last part of the quote, “How you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.” Think about how people must feel after having left your presence. I believe this practice should be uniform throughout your business as well as your personal life. Not only is it near impossible to fully ‘switch’ personalities, but it is far easier and less stressful to maintain a great personality. On a personal level, when we DJ there are 3 things I do my best to leave with everyone I come in contact with. First, I like to make them laugh. Everyone needs a little humor, especially when you are out having fun. Second, I want them to feel good about themselves. That is why my humor is usually positive and inspiring. Lastly, if there is a couple in attendance, I try to instill and magnify feelings of love between them. If you go home from our show laughing feeling good about yourself and with a new appreciation for your partner, why would you not want to come back?

All of these items are free from a monetary standpoint. The time and effort you invest in them will be worth its weight in gold. Next time you are in the process of purchasing new business cards or marketing materials for your business, ask yourself, “Am I, and all the members of my staff doing what they can to leave the customer with a good experience?” If the answer is ‘no’ then you might be better off putting your investment there. If the customer has a bad service experience, no fancy business card or flashy mailer will impress them. Spend your time and money on books and materials that can assist you in better relating to people. It will not only help your bottom line, it will also help your reputation. With people sharing their lives on social media and through word of mouth, you cannot afford a poor customer service experience.

REGRET CAN BE YOUR SUPER POWER!

On this blog we do things to try to limit regret in our lives. Regret is one of the worst emotions to have. At a funeral the toughest emotion to get over is not sadness, but regret. “I wish I would have….” feeling. Part of the Secret to an Amazing Life is doing less things you regret and regretting less things. If you live life in the best manner you can, you have less to regret.

Despite our best efforts, we all end up with some regret in our lives. Those of us who really work hard to be the best we can be, can have the most difficulty getting over regret. As I often do, let me share a personal example with you. When I reflect on relationships I have had with people in the past I can sometimes cringe at the memory of how I acted. In some cases the person’s actions may have not been the best either. I recall a boss I had when I first started at the Post Office that was always belittling. You could understand acting in a disrespectful or defensive nature to someone who did not respect you. Although their actions may be disrespectful, it does not excuse us from being the same.

As with all of us, I have had friendships that have been damaged. Maybe even some that have been lost due to things that were said and done between both parties. Special moments have been ruined or at least dampened due to behavior. Upon reflection I would become frustrated with myself. Then I heard something from Les Brown, “If you wouldn’t do the same thing today, then you are convicting an innocent person.” It was then I turned regret on its head. Instead of avoiding the sting of regret I put it to work for me. Whenever I am tempted to act in a manner beneath the best version of me I pause and remember the outcome of a time I did so and regret it. I ask myself, “Do you really want to feel like that again?” Especially if the pain is strong enough, it is enough to put me back on the right track. Regret has done more to shape my current behavior than most other things.

It is not just for keeping you from acting like a social degenerate. Regret can motivate you to do the right thing when you lack the inner drive. I recently read a story of a father in the UK who couldn’t go on a ride with his son because he was too large to fit into the cart. He used the sadness in his son’s face as well as his own embarrassment to lose almost half of his weight. Having a painful memory like that not only drove him to lose the weight but also allowed him to keep it off.

Many of you may recall the story of not going to the rummage event with my grandfather before he passed. It really wasn’t enjoyable for me at the time, but it really brought him joy. Now when I know there are things that others enjoy or that bring them happiness, I focus on the fact that I am helping the one I love. That is not to say I am constantly putting myself in a position to do things I dislike, for that would be a regret too, but doing the occasional thing I am not thrilled about in order to bring a smile to the one I love is not the worst in the world.

I encourage you to make a list of your worst regrets in life. This may be painful, but think of how you can use them for motivation to do better in the future. 

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING 🙂

WHY BOTHER?

We just finished up a 30-day Gratitude challenge. Many of the people out there may ask, “Why bother?” With all the challenges life throws at us, why bother challenging ourselves and pushing ourselves to do more? The answer is simple – you don’t have to. Not doing so is the difference between just surviving, that is working, paying bills and dying or actually thriving and getting every last drop of juice out of life.

It is natural to fall into a rut sometimes. I do so more than I care to admit. That is why it is so important to follow a blog like this one. I follow several pages on social media and connect with other like-minded souls that will help me expand and grow. Those that do not, such as people who have lives filled with drama or busy themselves with trivial things such as political debates, I silently send them love, delete them and move on.

Soon we are going to begin a new process of ways to fall in love with our lives in 30 days, spending just 2 to 5 minutes a day. Each day we are going to look at simple rituals we can put in place to do just that. If this sounds like a tall order, I encourage you to give them a try. They will take no complex tools or talent. At most you will need a pen and a notebook.

Most of them require no tools at all. If you are like me you may be tempted to start all of them, but I recommend picking one and trying it out for 30 days. Although all of them are quick and easy to implement, trying to add too many rituals at once may leave us feeling overwhelmed. Once you try one of the tools we explore for 30 days you will gain momentum and that will allow you to add another ritual and then another. Slowly your life will change as if by magic!

As you go through this you will have company – me. I will be putting these rituals into place in my own life as well. I hope you are as excited as I am. We begin tomorrow with an idea that extends the 30 days we have just completed.

A word of wisdom, if one idea doesn’t speak to you, that’s ok. Wait until the following day and see if the next idea better fits you and your life. 

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING 🙂

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #30)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

Our last day of gratitude posts. I am already missing sharing this experience with you. We have covered some interesting areas of life that we may often forget about. I have enjoyed rediscovering how much I have in my life to be grateful for. Throughout the course of this challenge I have learned a lot about myself, my friends and even a few strangers. One of these days even gave me the motivation for my next book. Which one? That you will have to wait and see.

Today’s subject delivered two pleasant surprises. When I first glanced at this question (I always wait to do so until right before I begin to write) the answer that popped in my head was “the skill has to be writing of course!” With only a few more seconds of thought, the answer changed. The skill that I have that I am most grateful for is being able to help others feel good. When I DJ my goal for each person I call up is to help them either laugh, feel good about themselves or the one they love. Usually I can do at least one of those three. Daily, I do my best to treat others as I would love to be treated. This includes being polite and letting everyone know the things that are amazing about them. To know that I have positively affected someone’s life, or even just to see a smile spread across their face, is the greatest reward for me.

This post does not stipulate that we must pick one or the one we are most grateful for. To that end, I am going to mention a few other skills I am grateful to have. I am certainly grateful for the skill of writing as mentioned before. Being able to put thoughts and emotions into words is just something that comes natural for me. I never thought of it as much of a skill, I am guessing because it does come so natural. As the years go by I am learning new ways of putting it to use in serving others. I am very grateful for the skill of learning. I have a fairly decent retention that makes learning easier for me. (Although it does exasperate Margie at times) I am grateful for my skill in seeing the positive in most situations. It has not only made my life more pleasant, it has allowed me to help others.

How about you? What amazing skills do you have that you are grateful for? Share them with all of us.

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING 🙂

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #27)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

What small thing that we use daily are we grateful for? I love these questions that cause us to think about things that may slip our minds in the regular course of life. A popular answer to this question I assume would be ‘cell phone’. After all, we can use it to listen to music, check our email, enjoy social media, navigate and read great blogs like this one. Quite a powerful tool for something that can fit into our pockets. The folks at Google, Samsung and Apple are always giving us new and improved ways to put this pocket-sized device to work for us.

What other small things that we use daily can we be grateful for? How about our credit/debit cards? We can have access to our money without carrying around a bunch of bills or ending up with a pocket full of change at the end of the day. There is no counting just a slide of the card and we are off. We can use them to pay for things online or over the phone. This allows us to order things that may be out of reach for us and certainly allows us to get them quicker.

How about something as simple as a travel mug? Being able to have a container that allows me to take a cup of hot coffee with me when I leave for work at 4a.m. is a God send. The fact that many of them keep this coffee warm for hours, or at the very least until the car warms up, makes them worth their weight in gold. Imagine trying to hold a regular mug while driving. Not only would your mouth not be able to enjoy your hot coffee, but your lap probably would. Yes, travel mugs are a small thing I use daily that I am grateful for.

I’m sure given a few more minutes of thought I could easily double this list and then some. That is the beauty of this 30 day gratitude challenge. If asked out of the blue what small thing you use daily that you are grateful for, many of us would struggle to answer, or give the quick answer such as ‘cell phone’. If we sit for even a few minutes and think of answers the list becomes quite extensive.

This is true not just for some objects we use daily, but for life in general. If you give it a little thought you will discover just how many things in life there are to be grateful for. 

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING! 🙂

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #25)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

This day of gratitude happens to fall on a Monday. That is actually perfect for us. As we read these words, think back to the week prior. What moments are you grateful for that happened the week proceeding this one? Sure there were ups and downs, but let us start this week by thinking about last week and what went right for us. There is no better way to start the week than to do it in a spirit of gratitude. In fact, that is the best cure for a case of the ‘Mondays’ I can think of.

What are your moments of gratitude from last week? Mine was being able to spend the new year at home with those I love for the first time in many years. Being a bartender and DJ, your services are usually in high demand this time of year. Especially if you are good at what you do. It is also one of the least enjoyable times to work in those professions. This year I was able to relax with some excellent food that Margie had cooked and enjoyed watching a great movie with her, my mother and her husband. I wook up the following day feeling well rested. It was great.

How about you? What in the previous week has brought joy to your heart? I look forward to hearing all about it.

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FULL OF IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING!!