MASTER THE FUNDAMENTALS

Recently I was asked a very good question. “Neil, do you ever get angry or depressed?” Reading my material it would be easy to assume I am floating through life on a cloud, and to be honest, that is my general state of being. This is only possible because of the two decades of research and work in the self-improvement field, and even more so because of the continued work I do on improving myself.

There are days, however, that emotions get the best of me. Being an author and speaker does not make me immune to the trials life gives us all. In fact, 2017 might have been the single most trying year of my adult life. One dislocated shoulder, 3 cars, 4 funerals and 3 eulogies makes for a year you would rather not repeat.

A better question to ask is what difference all of this self-improvement work makes when life gives you a challenge. The difference it makes is that the tough times do not last as long, and generally become less intense. When you are focused on increasing the passion and joy you feel in life, you are not focused on anger and sadness.

There are days when both emotions creep up on even the best of us. Just last Saturday I woke up feeling very sad and I couldn’t even figure out why. Talk about frustrating. Here is what made the difference, fundamentals. The picture for this post is of one of my favorite philosophers, Fred Rogers. People always get a chuckle when I mention that, but he was a master of the fundamentals. Such as the title in the picture, “What do you do with the mad that you feel?” How many adults do not have a constructive way of dealing with anger? Quite a few I would say.

Having mastered the fundamentals of what works to calm you down and help you focus when you are angry, or cheer you up and change your focus when you are sad, makes a big difference. These tools can vary from person to person, but should be thought of and practiced before sadness strikes. When you are angry or depressed, you are most likely not in your most constructive and creative mindset. Having developed these tools ahead of time takes the thinking out of the situation which can be very helpful when you are in a state of high negative emotion. Like I tell people at my seminars, the time to learn to swim is on the shore, not when the boat is sinking.

Personally, I have a playlist of songs (you can also burn a CD of songs) that make me happy. I am constantly updating this list as I hear new songs and think of ones I have forgot. I also have a list of movies that make me laugh, places I enjoy going and even people I enjoy talking to. Being able to just push play and hear music to help me change my state, or grab a list of movies and pop one in and be taken away to somewhere happier for two hours without having to think about it has helped me more often than I can think of.

There are lots of other tools that make a big difference. I have a lot of them in my book, A Happy Life for Busy People and at my live seminars. The important thing to remember is that a lot of these should be set up and practiced daily to help you avoid falling into that state. When it can’t be helped, or when life just gets the better of you, then you will have tools you know work and have already practiced. You will have learned to swim on the shore.

One more thing I should mention makes a big difference, your posse. That being the people you surround yourself with on a daily basis. Make sure there are people in your life that know what makes you tick. Even if you have all of the tools, sometimes when you are in an especially dark place, or just one of those funks you can’t get out of they can help you remember what makes you happy even when you can’t. Last Saturday, I spoke with both my beautiful lady Margie, and my good friend Russ. Both of these people know me better than I know myself on occasion. They helped to remind me of what is important to me and what I should be focused on. Having a supportive network of encouraging and loving people can make the biggest difference.

THE IMPORTANCE OF ACTING LIKE A FOOL

Yesterday we spoke of doing things from our youth and how it can prevent our minds from growing old.  There is another way to keep our minds young and flexible.  Acting crazy.  Now before you think I am going to suggest something that would land you in jail or a nice comfortable padded room with a jacket that fastens in the back, let me explain.  What way to you drive to work?  Have you ever arrived there and not remembered anything about the trip there?  Providing you arrived sober let me explain what happened.  When we travel the same course five or six days a week it becomes almost ingrained in our mind how to get there.  So much so that much of the duty of arriving there safely is delegated to the subconscious mind.  Think of the act of driving itself.  When we first learned to drive our minds were on overdrive. There seemed so much to pay attention to.  How fast are we going, don’t look at that too long, check the review mirror every 8 seconds.  After a few months we pretty much just get into our car and well, drive.  We don’t think about making sure our foot is on the brake before we put it into drive.  It all seems to happen automatically. So what is the problem with this?  Well, when we lose our focus on the present two major things occur. One like physical exercise if we use our brain for the same things over and over again we plateau.  We cease making new pathways in our brain and it fails to get a workout.  How many times has a new business opened up on the path to your work and you fail to notice until somebody else points it out to you?  Just because you are not looking for something you ‘know’ is not there.  The other thing that happens is we fail to appreciate the beauty of the present.  A lot of what we do on a daily basis is nothing short of a miracle and was considered, even by ourselves in the beginning, to be a monumental task.

So, how can we avoid getting in these ruts? How can we keep our brain sharp? I am going to take a lesson from the Shaman.  For those of you who do not know Shamans were spiritual, and sometimes political leaders of indigenous Peoples.  Quite often people would think of them as crazy.  They would do things like walk backwards, eat hot food cold and cold food hot, wear ridiculous outfits, or even say things that seemed to make no sense.  This all was part of the way of keeping the shamans mind from falling into a rut.  Now I am not suggesting you come into work dressed in drag as the boss may frown. What I am suggesting is do a few things to shake up your routine.  Take a slightly different path to work.  Eat a breakfast meal for dinner.  Most of the things we do out of habit are really not all that serious.  It will give your mind a jolt and keep it sharp!

SUNRISE

“There was never a night or a problem that coud defeat sunrise or hope”

-Bern Williams

This quote is almost a ‘secret weapon’ of sorts.  What does it take to keep going when the going gets tough?  What should we do when all seems hopeless and lost?  The answer can be found in this quote.  When we keep our minds, hearts and spirits full of hope, when we focus on the end result (see the post on vision boards) the obstacles and challenges that will inevitably show themselves lose a great deal of their power.  So let us keep our goals and dreams in front of us so that we may keep our drive and motivation.