I’M DISAPPOINTED IN MYSELF. WHY THAT’S GOOD.

Above is the results for a 5K race that I ran last Wednesday. I run this race every year. It is held at the Wisconsin State Fair park. This is one of my favorite places to go. This year, I had open-heart surgery in January. My goal was to come back and finish the race in 30 minutes or less. As you can see, I fell short by 7 minutes. I was disappointed to learn this. My cardiovascular and breathing were just not up to the task. I vented to those that did the race with me. I figured 6 months after surgery would have been enough to get back in shape. I was reminded for the first 4 months after surgery, you are advised to do little, if anything at all. This means that I really only had 2 months to train for this race.

Although this made me feel slightly better, I am still a little disappointed I did not make me goal. Normally, I am the fellow who advises you to find and focus on the positives in a situation. This is true here too. After having my chest sawed in half and a chunk of my heart cut out and replaced (and dying for a brief period of time) I still finished with the same time I did the year prior. It was only 6 months after surgery, and I was told it will take a full year to be back at 100%. Still, I want to keep this feeling of disappointment with me. Why on earth would I want to do that? I want to do what I advise everyone to do in my book Living the Dream. Find a way to use your emotions instead of letting them use you.

In this case, on the days I do not feel like going to the gym, I am going to remember that feeling of disappointment. When I do not feel like eating better, I am going to remember how it felt to struggle as I ran. These feelings will not only serve to keep me on track, but will push me to better myself. That is how to put negative feelings to work for you. Is there something you are disappointed in yourself for? Did you yell at your spouse when they didn’t deserve it? Use that to push you to get a better control of your temper and to find ways to make it up to yourself. Disappointed you didn’t get what you wanted done at home? Use that feeling to get you up and out of bed the next day to tackle the activity you want to accomplish.

So called negative emotions will always be a part of our lives. As we work to limit them, we should also find ways to put them to use for us as well. In that way we turn what used to be a negative into a positive. What are some ways in which you have done this in your own life?

GET THE ANTIDOTE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

There are plenty of toxins floating around today. I am not even speaking of the covid-19 pandemic we are in the middle of. No, I am talking about emotional and spiritual toxins. There are news stories about violence in your city and throughout the world. There are demeaning and disrespectful political comments. There is even the sad news about this corona virus and how many lives have been lost. Somedays we are exposed to more things that are hazardous to our emotional and spiritual well-being than we can handle.

I have a suggestion that can help us be proactive and save us from a good deal of emotional and spiritual suffering. You know how it feels when after a hard day at work you come home to see climbing death tolls on the news or hear some elected official calling other people names. It is a anchor to your already sinking soul. You see the fear in the eyes of people on the street about a virus that seems to be growing stronger by the day. Even little things that used to lift your spirits such as the smile on the face of a stranger are now hidden beneath a mask. The world can seem to be growing darker by the day.

What we need is an antidote. What do I mean? While an antidote is something taken to counteract a particular poison. We are familiar with being bitten by a venomous snake and then having to get a dose of antidote. What about the venomous people and things we encounter everyday that poison our spirit? Is there an antidote for them? There sure is! Much like each poison has its own antidote, so does each spiritual poison. They also vary from person to person. This is where you get to be an explorer and discover antidotes for you. This is an adventure you should undertake without delay. You certainly wouldn’t want to wait until after you get bit by the snake to start looking for an antidote. While we all may not be exposed to venomous snakes, there are a few snakes in the grass in every community. We all are vulnerable to certain toxins depending on our particular situation.

Let me share some personal examples of toxins in my own life and the antidotes I have put in place to counteract them. My day job is at the United States Postal Service, my night job is DJing. Although there are plenty of nice people I consider friends at both locations, there are also those who may call my faith in humanity into question. Add those to the inevitable sunshine challenged individuals we all come in contact with and you can find yourself feeling rather antisocial. That is the effect of the toxin of unpleasant people. What is my antidote? I have a group of people that always do a great deal to restore my faith in humanity. Here in West Allis Wisconsin, where I live, there are 2 options I use. (there are more, but for sake of brevity we shall stick to two) My friend Curtis at Urban Joe’s café is always full of good humor and serves amazing food and coffee with a smile. If I need an emotional lift, not to mention a great breakfast or lunch, I stop at Urban Joe’s and see Curtis. The same is true of my friends Ricky and Jodi at Peak Physique. It is a local gym that can help find ways to keep you fit during quarantine. Both of these folks are great at bringing a smile to your face. Ricky and I have had great conversations exchanging information on sources of self-improvement. Just a few stops around the neighborhood and I have an antidote for the poison of unpleasant people.

What about all of the stressful news we are exposed to on a daily basis? Hard to avoid seeing less than inspiring items on television, online or even to some extent on social media. Luckily for us, there is an item that can be a great antidote for the toxin of negative news. It is the show Positively Milwaukee. I have written about this show before when I was fortunate enough to be invited to be a part of it. For those of you who may have missed that post, allow me to share a brief description of the show. It is a show that highlights some of the most positive people, places and events in the city of Milwaukee. It is hosted by a young lady named Carole Meekins. She is passionate about sharing positivity and it shows. Every Sunday morning she is there supplying an antidote for all of the negative news we may be exposed to. What if you do not live in Milwaukee? You certainly can still benefit from this show as the episodes are all available on YouTube as well. I will share the link to the episode I appeared on at the end of this post. I encourage you to check out as many other episodes as you can. Each one will bring a smile to your face and joy to your soul.

Whether it is finding people like Curtis, Ricky and Jodi in your own community or discovering a wonderful gem like Positively Milwaukee, I implore of you to find your antidotes today! Some other suggestions are things like joining positive pages on Facebook, following positive people on Twitter and just finding other things that bring us peace and happiness. I would love to get more ideas of antidotes from you. Share what you do to counteract the negativity in your life in the comments below.

SEE THE EPISODE OF POSITIVELY MILWAUKEE I APPEARED ON BY CLICKING HERE

EXTEND POSITIVE EXPERIENCES

One of the aspects of improving myself I am still working on is raising the rent in my head. Let me explain. When something happens that affects me negatively it tends to pop back into my head over and over. Does this happen to you? Hours later, the thought seems to pop into your head out of nowhere! You will be seemingly mentally occupied doing something else when a question like, “Why on earth did he say that?” or worse an emotionally charged thought like, “That makes me so mad she did that!” shows up. This happens in my mind more often than I care to admit. The language tends to be a little more colorful, but the basic thoughts are the same.

It frustrates me because it will only serve to amplify and intensify the negative emotions. In other words, not only have I allowed my emotions to be affected in a bad way by this person in the first place, now I am the one allowing this situation to affect me again and again! This person is not continuing to hurt or upset me, I am doing it to myself with my thoughts. How stupid is that? Like I mentioned at the start of this blog, it is something I am working on with myself.

To amplify the frustration I was already feeling, another thought came into my head. How come the same thing doesn’t happen with positive experiences? I thought about what I do to keep this negative experiences hanging around and decided to do the same thing with the positive ones. In the negative example I had unconsciously used negative self talk to relive and feel that emotion again and again. Why this did not seem to happen with good thoughts with equal frequency and intensity was beyond me. What I did decide was to pursue it consciously.

One of the best ways to keep a positive experience alive in our thoughts and in our conversation, both in and outside of our head, is to express gratitude for that experience. This is a great option for many reasons. Let us take a look at a few. First, it allows the other party to feel appreciated. When someone feels that you genuinely feel appreciative for something they did for you, they are more likely to do more nice things for you. That would be the second benefit. The third benefit is the improvement in the quality of your inner dialogue. When your self-talk improves, so does your emotions. Thinking about why that person made us feel angry has us feeling….well…angry. That certainly sucks. If, however, we focus how nice someone was to do something for us we feel grateful. We can also feel such feelings as loved, appreciated, valued and many other positive emotions. All this good emotion brings us two other benefits. One, a positive effect on our health. Being in a positive emotional state helps our immune system, allows us to heal quicker and a host of other positive benefits. By doing so it helps eliminate many of the health ramifications of negative thinking. The raised blood pressure of anger, the upset stomach of worry and the suppressed immune function of depression. Here is one of the best benefits of being grateful – it gives you less time to think and feel all of those terrible thoughts.

Our minds can only focus on one thought at a time. Why not make it a good one? If we allow ourselves to get worked up by negative circumstances, we owe it to ourselves to put just as much effort into getting worked up and excited over positive experiences. For every minute we are happy, we lose 60 seconds of unhappiness. The longer we can express our gratitude for all of the good things happening in our life, the better our life will be.