WHAT I LEARNED FROM 4TH AND 5TH GRADERS

As I mentioned last post, I recently had the opportunity to speak to several 4th and 5th graders about being a writer and how to improve their school and their community. I approached the day of my talk with some trepidation. How would I take many of the seemingly complex subjects we discuss on this website and in my book and convey them to these young children? After all, many adults take a while to grasp some of the concepts! Then the above quote from Albert Einstein came to mind. “If you can’t explain it simply, you do not understand it well enough.”

These wonderful young people were giving me a great opportunity to learn a new way to convey my teachings in a simpler format. Could that be done? I recall one of my favorite virtual teachers growing up, Mr. Rogers. His children’s television program routinely tackled very complicated subjects such as death and divorce and broke them down to simple ideas children would understand. I would do the same with the issues I believe allow young people to make a big difference in their community. I wanted them to know that each of us has a unique and special talent, different from our friends and family, but just as important. I wanted to show them the different talents people were using to better our community. We have artists painting murals on several buildings throughout the city. Those are artists using their talents. We have engineers that are redesigning streets to make them safer and easier to travel on. Those are people using talents in math, design and many other skills. It is by pursuing what you enjoy and are passionate about that can lead to a better community. A city full of people pursuing their passions would be a great community indeed.

I also wanted to instill the idea of believing in yourself and your dreams, even if others don’t and it may seem as if they are right. My grandfather, the older person in the picture above, only had an 8th grade education due to growing up during the depression. Despite this challenge, he ended up teaching college welding classes. He did so because that was his passion and he invested in teaching himself. In my own journey, as some of you may know, I was told by a well-meaning English professor that I should never pursue a career in writing. The sad truth is many people cannot see what talents may lay untapped inside of us. In fact, it may take us a while to see and believe in those talents ourselves. If I had listened to that English teacher I would have never written my book that has touched thousands of lives.

Bullying. The last bit of information I wanted to relay to these amazing young people was the need to work together. Especially in today’s world, we are connected more than ever. Not a day goes by that we do not rely on others for things we do and use. Anywhere from the engineers I mentioned earlier that design the streets we drive on, to the people who make our clothes we live in and the cars we drive. There is the farmers who help bring food to our table, the garbage men and women who make sure our waste does not collect rats and flies to, of course, our amazing teachers who instruct and inspire our young.

I used an example to speak to children, but I think it can benefit adults as well. Think of the Avengers. It is a group of different super heroes. Each one has their own talent. Spiderman can climb tall buildings where the Hulk cannot. If they were to arm wrestle the Hulk would win every time. Each super hero has their own talent, but they can do the most good when they work together. Each hero brings something different they can do well, even if it is different from what we can do well. We all have our own ‘super power’. What creates great change and a great community is when all of us ‘super heroes’ come together and use our super powers to make our schools, families and communities better.

I am so grateful to the three teachers who gave me the great opportunity to not only speak to and inspire and empower their students, but who forced me to take a new look at what I teach and to be able to pass that knowledge on to young people. If we can teach our children how best to be not only good citizens, but good neighbors and good people, we have done a great gift to our world and to our future. It is with that thought in mind I want to take a moment to acknowledge the effort and difference teachers of all kinds make in the world. They have not only one of the greatest responsibilities and one of most difficult jobs, but one of the most noble – shaping our future through the lives of the young.

ARE YOU A GOOD NEIGHBOR?

Even the casual follower of this blog, not to mention anyone who knows me personally, knows that I am a big fan of Mr. Rogers. A host of a children’s television program, but also a modern day teacher and philosopher who mastered the art of human fundamentals. That is to say he could break down the most complex subject so that children could understand. Divorce? He had a show for that. Senseless violence? He was able to talk to children about that. In doing so, he took subjects that were multi-layered and broke them down to the most basic aspect.

By doing this to benefit children, I think it had the unexpected result of benefiting adults as well. Just as a star athlete will practice the basic moves in which their sport is made of, we as adults must practice basic emotional and societal actions. There are steps such as finding a way to not only express our feelings in a healthy way, but allowing others to do the same that can make a huge impact on the world. Discovering what to do when you are mad. How to help yourself when you feel lonely. These are lessons that Mr. Rogers taught to children every day on his television show but that many of us have forgotten in this crazy work-a-day world.

The quotes in the two pictures I have featured represent 2 paths to changing the world. Sounds like a bold claim. Follow 2 quotes from a man who used to host a television show for children and we could change the world? Remember how an athlete becomes a star. They practice the fundamentals every day until they can do them without thinking. Let us get back to our human fundamentals. At a basic level all of humans have a great deal in common. We all want to be loved. We all want to be treated well. We all would like to be significant in some way. We want to feel like we make a difference.

Let us look at these two pieces of advice. The first one is to “offering, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.” He implores us to imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like. Can you imagine what your neighborhood would be like if everyone offered just one kind word to another person? If people walking around complimenting each other makes you think of a ‘neighborhood of make believe’, that should tell you how far we have strayed from human decency. How difficult is it to offer a person one kind word? How much effort does that take? Even offering them one kind thought. Is that really that difficult? Of course it isn’t. So why is it that imagining people doing that seems so far removed from reality? What can we do about it? We can let it start with us. When you see your neighbors share with them a kind thought or at least a kind word. Watch the difference it makes. Become that agent of change.

The second quote is a little more complex in both thought and words, but still something even a child could understand and certainly something an adult could do. It really breaks down into 2 sections. The first is, “To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now” A few things I would like to point out. First is the word strive. We may not always be successful in our attempts to accept those who are different than us. It takes a great amount of patience and compassion. Not only with the people who are different, but ourselves who may fail to do so. What is important is that we are striving to do so. If our intent is to love and accept our neighbor as they are, more often than not we will succeed in doing so. In the times we fail, we can apologize and even ask for their help in understanding. The second part is to “go on caring through the joyful times and through times that may bring us pain.” Right now a lot of people are experiencing pain and tough times. All of them for their own reasons. It may be difficult to understand what they are facing if we ourselves have not faced similar situations. It is for that reason it is so important that we go on caring for our neighbors.

It is the basic things that will allow us to become a united people. It is being loving and caring for each other. In this global world and economy that will live in, it is understand that we are all neighbors. We have the unique ability to affect people not only in our direct neighborhood, but in our world neighborhood as well. Will we use that power to divide or will we use it to show love to our neighbor and bring us closer together?

HERE’S YOUR NEW JOB!

As most of you know, I am a big fan of Mr. Fred Rogers. For the younger generation that follow me who may not have ever heard of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, it was a children’s show on public television. On this show Mr. Rogers taught kids very valuable life lessons. Things like how to express your feelings. The importance of maintaining a positive attitude. He also spoke of complicated things like death and divorce. He discussed these topics in a simple way that children could understand them.

In my mind, this had to be a very difficult thing to do. As adults we tend to over complicate nearly everything we do. Taking a complicated subject, such as divorce, and breaking it down to help children understand what is going on takes a lot of work. Mr. Rogers also broke down many barriers before their time. When people of different races were not allowed in the same swimming pool and tensions were high, Mr. Rogers invited his neighborhood friend Officer Clemmons, who is African-American, to soak his feet in the swimming pool with him. They sat and talked. Not about Racism or even the current pool segregation. Instead they talked about how hot it was. When Officer Clemmons remarked he did not have a towel, Mr. Rogers quickly volunteered to share his.

This may not seem like anything so remarkable on the surface, but in 1969 when the episode aired, it was. People of different colors were not supposed to swim together and certainly not share a towel. Now take time to think that this was on a children’s television show. People in their formative years were watching this. They were not hearing an argument as to what was or should be. They were not being preached at. They were being shown an example of how people should treat each other.

Leading by example was something often seen on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. I recall an episode where he visited a restaurant to show children what that was like. He was courteous, and well-mannered. He didn’t say, “Now this is how you behave here.” He just did. Another thing I recall from both that episode and others, was how he seemed in awe of everything and everyone. Some may take a person making a sandwich for granted. Not Fred Rogers. He genuinely complimented the people throughout his entire visit. He also seemed entirely grateful. He seemed to find joy in the smallest things. From everything I have seen and read, Fred Rogers was this type of person off the screen as well.

Here is where you and your job comes in. Mr. Fred Rogers died in 2003. He was a dynamic man with a heart bigger than most people I can think of. His ‘Neighborhood’ was a fictitious place, but it doesn’t have to be. Each one of us can be the Mr. Rogers of our own neighborhoods. We can teach by example. We can treat everyone we meet with reverence and respect. As one of my other mentors, Earl Nightingale, said, “We do this because that is how people ought to be treated.” Treat each day and thing as a miracle – because they are. Foster an attitude of gratitude. There is always so much to be thankful for. When others try to divide us, love one another. A loving example can be just as powerful as a speech, sometimes even more so.

This piece of advice was given by Mr. Rogers during many crisis. It couldn’t hold more weight today. In this social media driven world we can tend to see and focus on only the bad and negative. That is very easy to do, it is plastered all over the place. One way we can be like Mr. Rogers and help us all to have more ‘beautiful days in the neighborhood’ is to look for the helpers, the people who are helping. Find the people helping to clean up the environment. Find those trying to help the old and sick. Find those who are trying to bring people together instead of driving them apart. Join these people. Support these people. Most of all – become one of these people. In short – become the Mr. Rogers of your neighborhood.

WORK ON YOUR DIET AND CHANGE THE WORLD

Here is one of those fabulous things I happen across on my social media viewing. I was blessed to have many friends who shared this exact picture. More importantly, I believe they also genuinely feel that way. Once again, I must mention how grateful I am to have people in my life that feel and act this way.

In a world where many people may feel confused or concerned how to speak to and treat one another, there is one guiding principle that can make things a little easier and a lot less stressful. That principle is to have a genuine love and appreciation for all of us sharing this planet. It can be a hard thing to do at times, but if you can show love to everyone, including those who may seem not to deserve it, you will have a truly amazing life.

I know you might be thinking, “That sounds great Neil, but how can I learn to do that?” A first great step would be to watch your diet. You might be wondering how watching what you eat can help you to become a more loving and compassionate individual. Your diet is not only the food you consume. Your diet also consists of the music you listen to, the books you read, the people you hang out with and everything you consume not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. At the end of this post I will give you a little healthy treat for your diet. Make sure you read on for that.

If you spend your time in fear of what words or phrases may be acceptable these days, or you just are concerned with saying the wrong thing, there is a simple solution to that as well – become an encouraging. This world that can seem crazy and chaotic is woefully short on reasons to be encouraged. Help someone heal. Help them believe in themselves. If this is your intentions, your heart will guide you to the right words.

By having and more importantly showing love for each other, we do something wonderfully important – we help people believe in themselves. There are many great agents of change, spiritual and cultural leaders that have doubted themselves at some point. Without their contribution, the world would have been a darker place. The great thing about this is that there is always opportunities to help someone believe in themselves and in turn help them change the world.

Don’t believe it? Think of some of these examples. You encourage a young lady who is learning the art of cake decorating. Instead of giving up when her wedding cake looks more like abstract art than a culinary masterpiece, she tries again. She remains confident and goes on to create edible works of art. How does this change the world? Imagine the joy that adds to every special occasion her cakes are a part of. They will add something special to every event. A heart-melting sigh when the bride and groom see their cake on their wedding day. The ear to ear grin on the young child when they see their favorite character sitting right on top of their birthday cake.

Perhaps it is a young writer? Maybe pondering if the words he shares truly impact the lives of others. How would an encouraging word help this young fellow and how would it then change the world? Perhaps it would encourage him to continue to develop his craft and keep sharing his words knowing someone is listening. Then those words could reach a lost and lonely soul halfway across the world and bring them joy. Those words could then be shared from Armenia to Zimbabwe. Changing the day for many.

These are totally random and hypothetical examples, but they hold true just the same. We never know what someone is facing in life or where their heart and mind may be at. Maybe it is encouraging someone singing on a microphone for the first time, or the lonely kid sitting by themselves at lunch. Just letting these people know that you have love for them will make their world brighter, the world as a whole brighter and just might save their life.

As promised I am going to give you a little something good to add to your diet and will help you to remember to encourage and have love for people of all kinds. If you click the link below you will be treated to a great performance by the artist Michael Franti. Not only is Michael a great ambassador for love and peace, he represents a lot of us. He was adopted as a young child. His mother was European and his father a mix of African and Native American. He has a sister who is a lesbian and a brother who is a police officer. Well-rounded you might say. I strongly encourage you to click on the link below to listen to this song for yourself. Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions for encouraging and having love for each other below.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW AND LISTEN TO THE GREAT MICHAEL FRANTI SONG

IT’S SUCH A GOOD FEELING

People laugh when I mention that Mr. Rogers is one of my favorite philosophers. They say things like, “You mean the children’s television show guy?” While it may be true that Fred Rogers was the host of a television program meant for children, I am going to show you an example of why his knowledge is just as good, if not better, for adults. We are going to explain this fact using the song that was sung at the conclusion of every episode of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

We will start with the first line. It’s such a good feeling to know you’re alive. How many of us start the day like that? When we wake up, what is the first thought in our minds? Is it “Another day of work again?” or “I would have had much better sleep had they just stopped snoring?” When really these are all great gifts. Many people would love to have a job. Sure, the one you have might not be your dream job, but you are getting paid and in many cases have things like insurance or retirement. Snoring might not be the best sound to fall asleep to, but it is also an audible reminder that you have someone who loves you enough to not only sleep next to you, but accept you with all of your imperfections. To lastly, the greatest gift of all, the gift of being alive. Our lives, bodies, relationships and jobs may not be exactly what we want, but by waking up every morning we have a chance to improve them and to bring joy to others.

Now let us tackle the second line. It’s such a happy feeling you’re growing inside. One of the people who started my journey into self-improvement was Tony Robbins. He says that happiness can be summed up in one word – progress. When we feel like we are progressing, or better put, growing inside, we feel happy. This brings us a sense of pride. What many of us fail to realize is that we are always growing inside, or at least we could be. Everything from painful experiences to the mistakes we make can help us grow. This is only true if we learn from them. Next time you find yourself feeling bad, just ask, “What can I learn from this situation?” By doing so you will be progressing to become a better version of yourself. You will not only feel a sense of pride, joy and accomplishment, you may actually feel yourself growing inside.

And when you wake up ready to say,”I think I’ll make a snappy new day.” I love this line! I once did a video for my YouTube channel (Neil Panosian) called waking up in Neutral. One of the most important things we can do when we wake up is set a positive intention for the day. What do 90% of us do, however? We wake up in neutral. That is we let the world decide what kind of day we are going to have. If we are late, spill our coffee, get stuck in traffic or a million other little things go wrong, our day is shot. How different would it be if we woke up and said to ourselves, “I am going to have a great day no matter what!” or more simply “I think I’ll make a snappy new day.” Even though those other things may still go wrong, they will not affect us as greatly.

It’s such a good feeling, A very good feeling, The feeling you know, that I’ll be back, when the day is new. The last part of that is very important. I’ll be back when the day is new. Having something to look forward to is a key ingredient to having a happy life. Knowing that you will have a friend (or television neighbor) that will return to your life is a very intense joy that many of us fail to treasure as much as we should. After waking up and deciding it will be a snappy new day, the very next thing we should focus on is what we have to look forward to in the future. It could be something that afternoon or further in the future When the day is new.

And I’ll have more ideas for you. New ideas and thoughts are also something we should both be grateful for, and look forward to. Perhaps the solution to a question that has been bothering us may come to light. Maybe a wonderful poem or lyrics to a song? Perhaps, like in our household, an idea for a new flavor of cake and cupcake or idea for an intriguing blog post. Hearing new ideas from our friends can be exciting too. They have a completely different life and way of looking at things. By listening to them we expand our own world in ways we never could have imagined. I hear from people and Online Neighbors thanks to this blog post. I am blessed enough to hear from people across the country and the world. I may hear from someone in Italy about a great hard rock band I have forgotten about or someone in Peru with a delicious recipe I would like to try. Their ideas make my life better.

And you’ll have things you’ll want to talk about, I will too. Much like the previous line, I am so grateful for the wonderful neighbors I have met through this blog. Having conversations with different people helps me think and know what to write about. A conversation with a good friend can make us feel better when we are feeling down, can help us become inspired when we need to be and can even give us some helpful advice and encouragement when we need it. Realizing everybody has things they will want to talk about can remind us that we should spend equal amounts of time listening as well as sharing.

I hope by breaking down this song from the program has given you a glimpse into why I believe Mr. Rogers can be a blessing and a teacher to all of us. His ability to break down and teach what I like to refer to as Human fundamentals is a rare and valuable gift. How many adults do you encounter in a week who could stand to watch episodes that teach ‘What to do when you are mad’ or just gain knowledge of how to be a better neighbor? Pull up the video of this song online and play it whenever you need a reminder of how to have such a good feeling!

CLICK HERE TO WATCH MY YOUTUBE VIDEO ABOUT WAKING UP IN NEUTRAL

CHILDREN ARE NOT THE ONLY BULLIES.

When I look back at my formative years, I am not sure there is too much that I am extremely proud of. As the years went by a lot of things seemed to change as happens with most people. Some seemed to improve, such as my ability to use humor in a constructive and healing way. Some things seemed to go in the opposite direction. When I was in third grade the teacher kept my stories when the year was over because she liked them so much (This is true. My mother will vouch for me) By my senior year in high school my English teacher informed me she prayed to God I would never have a career in writing. Some things didn’t change. Once, on a Facebook post people were asked what they remembered about me. A lot of them said my hair, but some said that I always seemed positive and nice. (who would have guessed I could’ve turned that into a career) In my yearbooks people made mention that I was always questioning everything and that I asked too many questions. I guess that didn’t change either.

One thing I am very proud of is that I never heard I was a bully to anyone. In my memory, I never thought of myself above anyone. There was enjoyment to be had in the company of almost everyone I am came in contact with. The same holds true of me as an adult. I do my best to find the good in every person I meet. There are a few who make me work harder than others. If I can’t find something to like in someone I find that to be my failure, not theirs.

Growing up all kids were not like me. I am grateful for that or it would have been pretty boring. Unfortunately, some kids were bullies. Especially when I was very young, there were kids I would dread even seeing and do my best to avoid. As I grew older I realized the best way to avoid having to deal with bullies is confront them. Not in a physical way, but by realizing bullies are generally people who have more problems than those they attack. It is by accenting the flaws of others they hope to hide flaws of their own. In many ways their insults and hurtful behavior are nothing more than a cry for help. This is hard to imagine, especially as a young child whose last name resembles that of a Disney character. When I would confront them it would usually be with a question as to why they say such unpleasant things. I would often follow that up with a compliment, which is what most bullies crave most of all. I would say something like, “I really admire your _____ and can’t understand why you feel the need to be so mean.” Even if that didn’t stop the action at that moment it usually provided food for thought at the next encounter.

As I started to mention earlier, I did not have much trouble with bullies. In part, I guess that was because I genuinely cared for everyone, even most of the bullies. When I ask you how things are going, I stop and listen to the answer. It was hard to pick on someone who cared about your well-being. I also understood that usually their cruel actions were nothing more than a thinly veiled mask for their own insecuries. I would usually find something good about them and pay them a compliment. Many times instead of picking on me they would open up and share some of their issues with me. I enjoyed helping even if it was just really listening to what they had to say. I truly hoped by relieving some of their pains, it may reduce the pain they inflicted on others.

Well, that is all done and over with now that I am older right? Wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth. I recall when I first started working for the United States Postal Service. In the office I worked there was an undertone of anger and hostility. Some of the rudest most insulting people were sad and lonely. In the world of being a DJ, I see it every night. Add alcohol to the mix and people’s insecurities are heightened that much further. The more insecure they feel? You guessed it, the more they seem to take it out on others. Some do not even realize they are doing it.

The sad part is they never healed from childhood. What they have failed to realize is that the pain they are inflicting cannot help them at all. Sure it may feel good in the short term. It may even hide some of their flaws they are so afraid of revealing. What it will not do is help them heal. Sadly, the effect it has on those they act out against can also be negatively life-transforming. It also trickles down. When they hurt others, those people either withdraw or then go on to hurt others. If you extrapolate this over time, the trend and amount of bullies will only increase.

Why are some children and some adults so mean and cruel? I believe the answer can be found in two words – fear and ignorance. It can be scary to face our own insecurities, much less share them with someone who may be able to help us. That takes a great amount of courage. What takes less and almost no courage is to find someone we perceive as weaker or in a lower social standing and put them down to make ourselves feel better. At the end of the day when we are in our beds, those actions will only intensify our feelings of guilt and inadequacy. The other side of the coin is ignorance. Even if we develop the courage to express ourselves, to show others our faults and be very strong as to ask for help with them, how do we do that? Those answers are best left to professionals and can be as complex as the people asking them and the problems. What we can do to help stem and stop the spread bullying is to be kind to everyone we meet and make an effort to listen to and provide a safe space for people to share their feelings and problems. I am going to leave you with a quote from one of my favorite philosophers to end this on an uplifting note.

WHO IS YOUR HERO? WHAT IS A HERO?

I was watching an interview with Sammy Hagar, I’ll share the link at the end of this blog, and these two questions came to mind when it was over. Think what you will of his music. ( I am personally a fan) or which version of Van Halen you like better (I am a fan of both) but after listening to this interview you can’t help but love the guy. Small bits of information I picked up are how he donates to food banks in every town he plays in and often goes down in person to help. Why? As he says, “There is much more to charity than just writing a check.” Not to mention he set up an entire business (Sammy Hagar’s Beach Bar and Grill) where the entire profits go to help children with terminal illnesses and their family. That, to me, is a stand up guy.

As I drove home I thought about the word ‘Hero’. Lately, a lot of attention has been given to that word. For once I am happy to say I think we have our head on straight as to how we are thinking about it. Perhaps because a lot of the folks we usually give those titles to, such as professional sports players and reality show actors are out of the picture and deemed ‘Not essential’ that we are able to focus on those who really make a difference. A lot of those in the medical profession, lower paid employees who show up daily just to make our lives easier, and anyone who puts themselves in danger so that our lives may be easier. Are these people your heroes? What makes them a hero? These are the questions that popped in my head as I drove home.

I thought about those whom I consider a hero. A name that comes to mind is Fred Rogers. Host of the television show Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. I admire him for his deep-rooted care and concern for youth. How he worked so hard to use the medium of television for something good. His ability to find the positive in even the darkest situation. One of my favorite things about both the man and the show was the importance he placed on what I refer to human fundamentals. I am pretty sure that is a term I just created, so allow me to expand on it. Human fundamentals are basic skills we all should learn to be a good…you guessed it, human! Many think of Fred Rogers as someone who just spoke to children, but I think his messages resonate just as much, if not more, with adults today. How many of us know someone who might benefit from the episode “What to do when you are mad”? There are many adults who are afraid to talk about their feelings and even if they could wouldn’t know the first thing about how to do it. He used to end each show by saying “You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the world like you, and I like you just the way you are.” How many people, ourselves included, could stand to hear that message?

Another name that comes to mind when I think of heroes is Mother Teresa. She was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary. I always admire those who dedicate their lives to a spiritual pursuit even if I do not necessarily agree 100% with the dogma that comes with such things. What makes Mother Teresa special in my eyes is her social work that was done with a spiritual motivation. In 1950 she founded the Missionaries of Charity. It was a group of nuns that were active in over 133 countries as of 2012. They did far more than just preach and share their religious beliefs. They managed homes for those unfortunate souls dying of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, leprosy, tuberculosis and many others. They also ran schools, medical clinics, soup kitchens and a host of other useful services. What really impresses me about her is that she encouraged and let everyone know we are all capable of doing great things. We do them by doing even the small things with great love.

These people did not do any of what they did for fame and fortune. Although they did realize that the fame allowed them to do even more good. I am just a humble author and blog writer, but I do must best to use my gift with words to help as many people as I can and to make the world a better place the best I can. Those mentioned above, along with a host of others, inspire to do so. To me, what makes a hero is genuine integrity. Fred Rogers was the same person off camera as he was on camera. His concern for youth and for the world in general was genuine. Mother Teresa dedicated her life to helping the souls that many looked down upon. Sammy Hagar used his fame and fortune to help those less fortunate. I am sure all of these people have flaws, as we all do, but to me they are heroes for their integrity. Their desire to do the right thing. More importantly, wanting to it not for fame or fortune, but simply because it is the right thing to do. To me that is a hero and all of you out there doing what is right, simply because it is right, you are a hero in my book.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE SAMMY HAGAR INTERVIEW THAT INSPIRED THIS BLOG

BEST NEWS SO FAR IN MY JOURNEY WITH CORONAVIRUS

That’s me rocking the quarantine look. Today is roughly day 6 since being diagnosed with coronavirus. It is the best I have felt so far. Shortness of breath is hanging on, but getting better. As an example, last Monday I took out the garbage and didn’t even get back to the house before feeling winded. Today, I took out both the garbage and recyclables and was just a little short of breath when I got back inside. This may not seem like a big difference but I sure felt better. The dizziness is also getting better. It seems less intense and certainly less frequent. Also, my sense of smell seems to be returning slowly. This symptom is the worst. It affects your sense of taste as well. I am hoping it continues to get better every day.

People are asking me what Margie and I are doing during this time. We are doing the same as many of you. We take turns watching movies, we play games and are creating and enjoying meals together. We also have read to each other. Margie has a hard time staying awake during reading so I usually read out loud to her. I rather enjoy this as I feel it is an activity that brings us closer together and we both get to learn something in the process.

One of the books I read during this time was How to live to be 100…or more. It was written by the comedy legend George Burns. I was never a big George Burns fan until recently. Not only does his humor amuse me, but in many ways his relationship with his wife Gracie Allen reminds me a fair deal of Margie and I. People ask how we can work together, live together and sleep together without killing each other. This quarantine time was not that big of an adjustment for us because we do spend a lot of time together. (about the only time we are apart is when I am at the post office) Doing so takes a great bit of effort and comprimise. I am sure a lot of you are discovering this as we speak. I think it is a great way to get to know your partner and strengthen your relationship.

Today we also left the house for the first time. We both walked around our neighborhood. It felt good to get some fresh air. My shortness of breath would not have allowed me to go much further. It is funny to think that just 2 weeks ago I was running on a treadmill and now it is tough to walk a few blocks. It makes me grateful for my health. I am also grateful that my symptoms were mild enough I could breath, especially with my asthma. It also made me grateful for the neighborhood I live in. Margie and I live on a busy street, but the streets behind us is a rather closed in little neighborhood. It is a shame we do not take the time to walk there more often. I hope these coming days will get us a chance to see and meet more of our neighbors (from at least 6 feet away) and say hello. I recall a conversation I had with a former alderperson who said the best way to improve your neighborhood is get out in it. I couldn’t agree more.

Speaking of getting out in your neighborhood, I aim to do that as soon as possible and I encourage all of you to do the same. When this world regains a sense of normalcy, I encourage all of us to get out and support the local businesses in our neighborhoods. They are certainly going to need our help. It is not just the business and business owner (who is often a neighbor) that you will be supporting, but you will be supporting all of your neighbors who are employed there. Small businesses are what drive the economy. It is important to take care of them. By doing so we are taking care of our neighbors and our neighborhoods. Mr. Rogers would like that I dare say. If you are reading this and you live in my neighborhood, Margie and I look forward to meeting and getting to know a lot more of you. So if you see us out supporting a local business please come up say hello and introduce yourself. Let us use this challenge we have all faced to build a better world.

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

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #8)

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.

There is an obvious answer here and that would be my book, A Happy Life for Busy People. It is true I am very grateful for that book. It has opened so many doors in my life and introduced me to so many wonderful people. It is also owned by rock stars, movie stars and billionaires. If you would like your own copy there will be a link at the bottom of this post. Yes, that is one of the books I am most thankful for.

There are, however, a handful of books that I would recommend everyone read. Let us start with my favorite book of all time, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I read this book on average once a year. I gain something new everytime I read it. That is the amazing thing about a great book. You always gain something new from them each time you read them. Not because they are different, but because you are. I also loved the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. This law of attraction classic is filled with great basic ideas and formulas. The World According to Mr. Rogers is another favorite filled with great stories and fundamentals. Anyone who knows me knows that I am also a big fan of the Winnie-the-Pooh books by A.A. Milne. Not only are they uplifting and full of joy, they often have great lessons hidden in their pages.

 Books are stored knowledge. You can save yourself years of work by reading the lessons someone who went before you wrote. You can escape by slipping into pages that transport you to entire different worlds. You can learn, you can be inspired. There are so many books to be inspired by. Which are some of your favorites?

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

BECOME LIKE GOD


I must confess to making today’s headline a little click bait. Looking at the quote above by one Fred Rogers (whom most of you know is one of my favorite philosophers) it might not be that far from the truth. Whatever your spiritual belief might be, I think we can all agree that seeing the best in our ‘neighbor’ is something very special. In a world that seems to focus on our differences and who we think is to blame for what, it becomes even more special. I am sure Mr. Rogers would agree.
There is a positive flipside to seeing the best in everyone and everything. Your world looks a lot brighter. When your world looks a lot brighter, you feel a lot better. When you feel a lot better you treat others better and your world becomes…well…better.
This is where a lot of you may come in and tell me that would be ‘looking at the world through rose colored glasses’. You may be right. Looking for what is right with the world can seem like a delusion of sorts, especially to those who have never done it. Looking for and appreciating, especially out loud, what is right in others and the world around us does not mean ignoring what is wrong. In fact, knowing what is wrong can be very helpful to note ways in which things can be better. What is advocated here is to not focus on what is wrong.
It is here that pessimists and even realists may say I am being willfully ignorant. Maybe so, but it feels good and leads me to have a better life. I know there are lots of things wrong with people and the world they live in. I chose to focus on what is wonderful about both and solutions for what is not. There are plenty who fill the role of spreading gossip about others and their faults. I choose to do the opposite. My world is not any less real.
Here is a third bonus to this behavior. You will become a lot more popular. After all, who would not want to be around someone who sees the best in everything? Be like God and notice and grow what is right with each other and the world.