WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE MOON

Inspiration can find us anywhere. The other night I was walking in the house after parking my car when I happened to look up at the moon. On this particular night the moon appeared as if it had been cut perfectly in half. I thought to myself how it was interesting that it looked as if half of the moon were completely missing. Thanks to science and astrological knowledge we know that is not true.

Here what occurred to me, if someone had told me there was half a moon in the sky they would be right. If someone told me the entire moon was in the sky they would also be correct. Depending on where this moon was viewed, there would be lots of other distinctions. If there were clouds, a person would say you could not see the moon tonight. Speaking to a person who was looking up through clear skies they would disagree.

Two very important distinctions came to mind through this observation. The first being the unique aspect of reality. When we stare up at the sky and see half a moon all of our senses would tell us there is only half of the planet up in the sky. We could take pictures and video and it would prove us to be correct. From an observation of the facts presented us that would be reality. Life can be like that sometimes. We can see the facts in front of us and be certain of something. Things can seem impossible looking at what is in front of us. Facts, figures, pictures and videos can all tell us something is impossible. Just like half of a moon, there can be something that is there that we can just not see. Reality can be different than all of the facts we have before us.

The second thing I learned was how reality can depend on perspective and experience. Two different people looking at the moon in two different places can see it in two entirely different ways and both of their perspectives would be correct. Life is like that as well. Depending on our reality and experiences we can see the world in a million different ways and all be correct. That is why experience and compassion are so important.

When you feel there is no way you can win and the facts seem to be against you, remember the moon. When you encounter a person who has an opinion that may seem totally against what you think is true, remember the moon. Look up and consider all we can learn from the night sky.

YOU WON’T BE INJURED

Here is a point to ponder – what does it hurt to be positive? I hear all of you pessimists out there screaming that you will constantly be disappointed, and to some extent that may be true. Really disappointment is tied to expectations. If you maintain a positive attitude and strive to find the best in everything it is very hard to have a bad day.

When you first start out it is a little rocky and you could be tempted to give up when life starts to go sideways. We all can feel that way at times. Once you develop positivity as a lifestyle it becomes easier to maintain. It is like anything we start. Take diets and working out for example. If you decide you are going to “Start working out” or “go on a diet” that is a lot different than “Committing to living a healthy and active lifestyle. A diet is not the same as “committing to eating healthier”.

There are two very distinct and important differences. One is a trial. I am going to go on this diet or go to the gym and there really is no long term commitment. As a matter of fact, most diets advise you not to follow them for a prolonged period of time. That should tell you that they may not be the best for your health. Committing to a healthy eating program or a more active lifestyle also gives you a little more freedom. From a psychological standpoint diets usually involve you ‘giving up’ something. A workout program entails you ‘having’ to go to the gym. One leaves you feeling deprived, one leaves you feeling forced. When you commit to a more active lifestyle that can start with parking far away and walking to the store. Eating healthier can start by adding more vegetables to dinner. These are things you are adding to your life. This will give you a much better chance of sticking with it in the long term.

It also gives you options. Maybe the gym is not your thing? All of the sweaty people and the occasional grunting individual can be a bit much for me at times. That is why I enjoy taking my bike out and going for a ride. I also enjoy walks around the neighborhood. Not only does it allow me to be active, but get to know some neighbors as well. When it comes to eating healthy I enjoy trying new dishes, learning about exciting meal prep options and a host of other things. I still have my occasional pizza or nacho night because I enjoy those things and feel it is good to enjoy them in moderation.

My main point I would like to make is living a more positive and rewarding life is the same. You do not have to start by walking on rainbows and sprinkling glitter everywhere you go. Start with whatever feels right for you. Maybe smile at one stranger a day? Perhaps mail out one thank you card a week? There are a million different options. Once you add one you may choose to add another because it feels so good. Do it at your own pace and when you feel it is right.

NEVER STOP


Here is something that takes strength to do, but can transform your life! Not being a bad person because of bad people. This is again a reminder that is is crucial that we be selective with who we surround ourselves with. It is a lot easier to not have to guard against the effect of bad people when there are no bad people around. Of course inevitably we will come across that one individual that may be so unhappy with themselves and their own life that they wish to spread that feeling to others.

You know the type, you hold the door for them to be kind and helpful and they take it as an insult that they can’t do it themselves. I have actually witnessed someone at a coffee shop screaming at the employee because they thought their coffee was 3 degrees to hot. I am not sure if they carried a thermometer in their pocket or had some super power that allowed their tongue to take accurate temperature readings to 3 degrees, but either way is that worth treating someone so harshly? I think not. I am just generally happy there is coffee that someone else made for me.
The sad part is when you hear the employee utter something about how terrible working with the public is. It is true there are a lot of sunshine-challenged people in this world, but let us not let them hold more weight than the amazing people we meet everyday. In the case of holding the door, I have been tempted to let the door shut on my ungrateful worldly neighbor at times. What would this accomplish? Adding another unpleasant person to the world is not what is needed in that situation.
I know it can be difficult to maintain a smile when it seems the world is doing its best to wipe it off your face. I do my best to remember if I respond in kind to their unpleasant treatment of me, or worse allow it to bring down my positivity, than I am letting their negativity win. That will not only prove them right in their negative thinking, thus reinforcing it, but also bring down our emotional well-being as well. Considering a negative emotional state can lead to a suppressed immune system as well as heart and digestive issues is this really worth while? Let us be a ray of light to their darkness. Never let anyone take that away from you.

WANT A GREAT LIFE? USE A FOUR- LETTER WORD!

This is a post you can read at work. Although the usual warnings do not apply, this is a post about a four-letter word that used to offend me far more than all the others. It is also about how not only making peace with this word and the concept it represents, but putting it to work for me as well, changed my life in ways that I can’t possibly begin to explain.  Although now that I think about that is what I am about to attempt to do.

Would you like to improve every single aspect of your life with the use of just one word? What if there was no required writing or hard work on your part? What if all you had to do was ponder this one four-letter word and your friendships would improve, you would become more productive and the stress in your life would go down? What if using this four-letter word could make you money and help satisfy your partner? I realize this sounds a bit over-the-top but it really is true. The ironic thing is that most of us groan or run the other way when we hear this word. I get it. I’ve been there. When I heard this word growing up and all through school my stomach would twist in knots and I would start to feel sick. Now, when I think of this word I am filled with excitement because I know it will bring everything I desire to me quicker and with less stress.

What is this amazing word already? Before I tell you what this word is I must ask you to do your best to keep your preconceived notions to the side for a few moments. Remember I told you I used to run from this word. Another word of caution is that this may sound too simplistic to be powerful. All the great ideas usually do. If applied correctly, this one small word can have a great impact on every area of your life you apply it to.

The word to which we are referring is goal. When I used to hear the world goal my mind would focus on expectations and the prospect of failure. It brought to the mind the dreaded days of bringing home a report card. In the present day it can bring to mind sales goals at work or perhaps the fitness routine that didn’t last as long after the first of the year as you hoped. Thinking of all of these examples it is no surprise that people have a negative connotation to the word goal.

How exactly can we use this maligned word to transform our lives? By setting and applying our own goals. If that word is still a little to tainted for you we can try substituting the words ‘vision’ or ‘purpose’ in it’s place. For the sake of this post we are going to continue to use the word ‘goal’. By the time we are done here I think you may very well have a different view of the word all together such as I have.

Here is the basic formula for using goals to revolutionize your life. Decide in advance what your goal for any activity can be. This can be helpful for trying circumstances. Let us say you are about to leave for work. Decide what your goal for the drive in is. Maybe it could be to not become overwhelmed with dread. Maybe to enjoy some great music or an audio book on the way? When you get to work what is your goal? Is it to work as hard as you can on a certain project? Is it to demonstrate how valuable you are to your boss? Maybe it is to collect your paycheck without harming your coworkers?

Start small and work up I suppose. This not only helps us with challenging situations, but can help us with enjoyable situations as well. Having lunch with a friend? What is your goal? Is it to just enjoy their company? Maybe to tell them how much they mean to you? Maybe to show them how much they mean to you? Maybe it is just to fully enjoy your pizza? Attending the State Fair? What is your goal? Is it to learn about agriculture? Is it to pet animals you normally do not see? Perhaps take in a great local blues band? Maybe try new craft beers? Enjoy a great evening with friends?

You may be tempted to think, “Neil, do I really have to think of a goal for each and every thing I do?”. The answer in short is ‘no’. By incorporating goals and deciding in advance what your purpose in any action and situation is will help you make the most out of the situation and out of life. Arguing with your spouse? The goal is not to be angry or to get them the same, but to convey and solve and upset. Can you see how having a clear goal in that situation may cause you to take a more helpful set of actions? In the going out to lunch with your friend example. If your goal is to help them feel how much they mean to you, imagine what things you might throw into the conversation and how amazing they will feel when they leave? I would love to hear some of your goals, how you may have used them in the past or how you plan to use them in the future!

SOMETIMES THERE IS NO POINT


Here we are in the middle of the week. A time I like to pause and ponder. The quote in the picture above is great to meditate on. In all of our relationships it is important to understand the different perspectives. This can be extremely hard to do, especially when that perspective contains a strong emotional attachment. That is why topics such as money, sex, politics and religion are best avoided being discussed by those of differing opinions.
Sometimes it is not only helpful but necessary to have these discussions. Maybe your occupation is in one of the fields mentioned above? The same holds true if you are a parent talking to a child. It is especially important in intimate relationships where the more you understand your partner, the better your chances for success are. When I speak of these issues at some of my seminars or during coaching sessions one of the first questions I am asked is “How can I get my partner to agree with me?” or for the more enlightened, “How can I come to an agreement with my partner?” The answer to both of these questions is you do not have to. What the goal of such conversations should be is to come to a mutually understanding of each others perspectives and beliefs without judgment.
When you do so, you can then consider the best way to proceed that includes actions that both accept and respect both sides. I cannot begin to convey the healthy growth that will happen in any relationship when you realize, “This person views the world differently than me and that’s ok.” You will be able to better predict how a person may act or react to a certain situation. It will help you with knowledge in many areas including, but not limited to, what makes them happy, what motivates them, what will upset them and what will make them feel loved and appreciated. You can see the importance of becoming someone who does not waste their time with disagreeing with a different perspective, but instead one who seeks to understand.
When we happen to cross paths with someone who is not so enlightened (and why do these people seem to be some of the loudest and most opinionated?) we can either direct them to this blog or just calmly thank them for their opinion and move on. It will not serve them to explain that we have a different perspective and it certainly will not serve us. Be open to different perspectives. Just because you do not agree with them, do not let that stop you from using them to help you better understand and relate to others.

LET US NOT CONFUSE THE TWO

Much like last post, I must begin by saying in no way am I saying any religion, or religion in general is not good. Religion gives many people structure and guidelines that often help them to grow. As Haile Selassie pointed out in the statement above, it helps them grow spiritually. It is the goal of religion to help people grow and mature in a spiritual fashion.

Many of the practices include some of the same elements although they may be used in different ways. These include, but are not limited to, prayer, fasting, meditation and study. Whether you fast for Ramadan or for Lent you fast to mature and confirm your spiritual beliefs. It is your religious beliefs that are helping you to grow spiritually. Once again, this is a similarity to remember we all have in common. The same with prayer and meditation. The exact methods may differ but the reason and result is the same – to help us grow spiritually.

If you happen to observe someone engaged in a religious practice different than your own, please keep in mind they are doing what helps them grow spiritually. Just as people may use different exercise to improve their physical bodies or different types of learning to mature intellectually, we also use different practices to grow spiritually. Let us work toward and look forward to a day when everyone can become spiritually mature no matter what their belief. It will be then that we can accept each other in a spirit of love and understanding.

SIMPLE SOLUTIONS

Let us begin this post with a disclaimer. Although the title of this post is “Simple Solutions” I do realize not all problems have simple solutions. Although the picture offers unique and creative ways of addressing the problems listed I realize there are very few ‘one size fits all’ solutions. All this being said, let us take a look at a few of these ideas.

I am going to just talk about a few, but I would love to hear your feedback on any you have tried or any you think may work better. Let us look at the one on grief. Loss, sadness usually is one of the most difficult things to overcome. This takes time and patience. Just as a physical wound takes time to heal, so does a spiritual and emotional wounds. Just like its physical counterparts, the bigger the emotional or spiritual wound, the longer it takes to heal. How can starting a new ritual help? Rituals not only help define who we are, but often determine who we are. When you are stressed if your ritual is to go for a run, that will have an entirely different outcome than if your ritual for stress is to drink yourself to sleep. Rituals can also help keep us present and pay honor to people and beliefs. Starting a new ritual can help us heal by reminding us to enjoy the present while mourning the past. Ritual can serve honor to the loss we are grieving. Rituals can also serve as a great reminder that our life has more to live. That is a very important message to give ourselves.

If you are lonely, calling someone you love just to say “hello” is a great solution for several reasons. One, it is proactive. Loneliness can often be accompanied by or followed by a feeling of helplessness. By reaching out to someone else we are exercising control. The other reason is simple, it will bring them joy. How will it make you feel to bring someone else joy? How will that affect your loneliness? Lastly, who is to say they are not feeling a little lonely themselves? Even if they are not feeling lonely, who would not want to hear a “Hello” from a dear friend? Somebody calling with no agenda other than to share a good conversation.

Lastly, the solution offered for feeling inadequate. Remember your strengths. I feel it is a good idea to keep a list of both your strengths and accomplishments nearby at all times. When I feel that my writing isn’t reaching anyone or making the impact I desire I have a list of people I have helped in the past. I also can look at my Amazon.com review on my book A Happy Life for Busy People. If you want to add to them, I would certainly welcome your contribution. The world is always to quick to tell you what it is you are no good at. It is up to us to often be our own cheerleaders.

Take this list as a suggestion. An even better idea is to create one of your own. After all, nobody knows better what works for you than you. Think of the areas of your life and emotions that always seem to get you down. Create a chart like the one above tailored to you personally. Feel free to leave some of your suggestions to help others get started.

WE CAN ALL DO SO MUCH MORE!

Being an independent author I found this picture most agreeable as you may imagine. Although the picture is specifically geared toward authors, the same would hold true for other artists such as musicians, magicians, cake designers and any other person in the creative arts trying to bring joy to the world.

By helping those of us who are using our creative talents to add to the world you are giving a gift to a great many people. Obviously, you give a gift to the creator itself. Second, by giving the creation whether it be a book, music, cake or anything else you give a gift to the receiver. More indirectly, you give the gift of hope to all the independent artists that struggle to make a living. When considering gifts for holidays or any other reason, consider an independent artist.

When you do make a purchase, if you enjoyed what you purchased, make sure to spread the word by posting reviews and sharing your purchase.

REFLECTIONS IN INSANITY

On March 22nd the band Motley Crue released their long-awaited biography The Dirt. Being a big fan of 80’s rock I was interested in seeing how this all came out. I watched several interviews with members of the band who recalled their crazy days and everything they went through. Nikki Sixx, the bass player, admits he is shocked they were still alive.

As many of you know I was a singer in a band myself for many years. On a phone call with my bass player/co-writer/best friend Russ, we recalled some of the crazy stuff that went on with us. These events contained, but were not limited to – almost setting his garage on fire while, ironically, playing the song Live wire by Motley Crue, being arrested while jamming at a house party hosted by our friend Nick (I still maintain for us this was more of a wrong place/wrong time situation) crazy nights that included way too much rum and kicking flaming balls down city streets. There was many other events that should probably remain in conversation between the two of us.

What was the point of all this insanity? Maybe it is something that you do when in a rock band? Maybe it is the blatant disregard for common sense that is so prevalent in youth? Regardless of what it was, we both came to the same conclusion – we were lucky to be alive and for all purposes unscathed. For all the various band members there were stints in rehab, failed jobs and relationships and health scares. Looking back on some of the things we did, words like insane and foolish come to mind. One word stands out and that is grateful. Quite easily, one of us could have spend a prolonged time in jail or ended up killing ourselves or someone else.

Another thing we were grateful for was our friendship. It has been roughly 30 years since we first met and we still talk at least once a week even though we live in different states. He has become a terrific funeral director, helping people in what is often the roughest periods of their lives. Myself, I have become an author and motivational speaker doing my best to do the same.

In our last conversation, recalling all of our band craziness, we were inspired. Realizing that despite some of the unnecessary distractions we invited into our lives, we created some amazing music, lyrics and memories. Much like Motley Crue, who did some of their best work when all of the members of their band were sober, we began talks of working together on a new creative project.

Neither of us are sure exactly what that will be, but we are sure of one thing, we wasted a good amount of our time together. In the middle of having fun we never realized what great creative potential we had as a team. Our band also included a very talented guitar player named Karl. It was a shame that we did not stick together long enough to make a bigger impact on both each other and the world around us.

The one redeeming factor is after everything we have been through we have learned and came out on top. He has moved to further his career in a state he loves (Arizona), I have met the love of my life Margie, who supports and honestly pushes me to share my talent. Without all that we put ourselves and each other through we may not appreciate what we have now as much.

I am sure each one of us can look back on our lives and think of some points that we would call “Wasted Youth” but if you learn the lessons it is never a waste. Our mistakes have instilled us with not only a sense of gratitude, but one of determination to make the most of our creative talents going forward. I am eternally grateful to be at a point in my life where I have a friend and brother of 30 years to remind me of what is important as well as a loving lady who will push me to make sure I put it to use.

As you look back on your own life be grateful for the lessons and those who have stuck by you. Do not live in your past, but learn from it and use it to drive you forward.

ONE THING TO REMEMBER ABOUT THE PAST

The past…it can be many things. When used intelligently, the past can be a teacher, a healer and a great place to escape. If we are not careful, the past can also be a depressant, an anchor and a jailer. It is the latter of the two options we are going to discuss today. We are going to look at how our past, and our story about it, can often stop us from achieving the greatness and joy we so rightly deserve.

Have you ever heard others, or maybe even caught yourself saying things like this? “Every time things start going right in my life they end up going wrong.” or “I can never get ahead something always goes wrong for me.” While this may have been true to some extent in your past, my guess is that there was plenty of times when everything did go right…at least for a while.

We have all heard sayings such as life is a marathon not a sprint or do you see the glass half-full or half-empty? I actually did a great video about these on my YouTube channel Neil Panosian, you will find the link at the end of this post. The truth is life is both a marathon and a sprint. The glass is both half-full and half-empty. The only difference is which one we focus on. By focusing on the good it does not make the bad any less true, just as when we are focused on the bad it does not make the good any less real. The only difference it makes is how it makes us feel. I made that statement a different color for a reason, I would like you to read that again and really think about it. When we consider the truth of that statement we realize the power we have in our lives.

It is important to consider the sprint verses marathon view as well. If we focus on life in the short term we fall victim to the ups and downs of life. If we feel our life is generally one of misfortune and bad things we will see that. They exist in every life I know of. If we feel our life will always turn out, that will be true. We just need to focus on the marathon. Eventually good things happen. Yes, eventually bad things happen as well, but again how we feel is based on which one we focus on.

Just because things have always gone a certain way does not mean they cannot change. When we focus on the negative we tend to notice that. When we focus on the negative that we experienced in the past we tend to avoid taking actions that can lead us to different opportunities in the future. Let the past be a teacher, not a jailer.

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