WHAT I LIVE BY

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This is, by far, my favorite quote. It is a lesson I find we should all live by. There are two ways I enjoy looking at this quote. The first one is about ‘walking the walk’. One of the worst things we can see is someone who professes one thing, but then does another. If you want your life to be filled with less drama, but you spend your afternoon writing on social media about how filled with drama everyone else is, you are only adding to that. If you want the world to have less drama, start with yourself. There is only one person that we can have complete control over in this world and that is ourselves.

That brings me to the second way in which I enjoy this quote, as sense of hope. This is why I am writing what I do today. For those of you unfamiliar with my story, it was at the depths of darkest despair that my journey of positivity started. I was facing many negative situations in my personal life and was desperately seeking a solution from outside of myself. Everywhere I looked it seemed as if I saw one negative thing after another. The newspaper was full of negative news meant to sell and shock. The evening news on television was more of the same. I saw posts on social media that were certainly less than inspiring.

All of this negativity everywhere was not only frustrating, but had me enraged at times. It may be how some of you feel. I felt angry at politicians and celebrities that seemed to have no regard for human decency. The media only reporting these stories caused more frustration. Seeing people treating each other with hate and prejudice made me so mad.

I wanted to change governments to be more responsible and caring towards the people they serve and less driven by profit. I wanted celebrities to use their fame and position for good. It would also be nice for more of them to respect the people that allowed them to achieve that status. I wanted more people to live in light and love and treat each other with respect and compassion.

Do I still want all of these things? Absolutely. The difference is I decided to be that change. I joined political causes I believe brought about unity and positive change. I made sure I did my best to be an example of treating people with respect and compassion. Daily I work to spread positive news and keep the negative things I hear to myself. I wished more men acted as gentleman, so I do my best to treat my lady as I want to see all men treat theirs. In every way I strive to lead by example. I realized the best thing I could do to reduce the amount of negative people in the world was not be one of them.

What change do you wish to see in the world? Ask yourself honestly, do you embody that change? It may seem like changing yourself is only a small change, but doing so has caused several big changes in my own life. First, by focusing on being positive and not adding to the negative, I have felt more positive myself. I have attracted into my life people who have the same goals and aspirations as I do. Changing yourself has a ripple effect that touches the lives of so many others. If every one of us focused solely on being the change we wished to see in the world, the world we see would change.

DON’T LET THE DEVIL LIE TO YOU

Ah the devil… Satan… whatever you care to call him. Some refer to this as negative side of the universe. Some just call it negativity. The name we attach to this power of evil is not important to what we are going to discuss today. What we are going to discuss is the lies we have all been fed. These come from all kinds of places, the media, coworkers, history, even well-meaning friends and family. Sometimes the voice seems to come from inside our own head.

The messages may seemed varied, but they all serve the same purpose, to lower our vibration. Whether it is politicians doing their best to convince you that a certain group of people are bad because of their skin color, religion, political belief or maybe even just based on where they live. Maybe the message is coming from the media telling you the world is going downhill fast. There is more violence than ever, there is more hate than ever. Convincing you that you have to live and walk in fear. Even our friends and family telling us not to get our hopes up about that dream we are saying or not to venture away from that seemingly safe career we have because we will fail if we try to do it on our own. They mean well, they are wanting us to be safe.

It is my belief these messages all come from the same source and are intended for the same purpose; to create a world full of fear and devoid of love. When we are divided against ourselves, when we are so busy finding reasons to hate each other it is difficult if not impossible to work together to solve the real problems that exist. Two people’s ideas put together may do a great deal to end world hunger or bring a cure to a certain disease, but if they are refusing to talk because they look different or worship or vote in a different way the world will remain darker.

I propose working together and finding the reasons to come together in a spirit of love and community to solve issues. This does not mean ignoring the problems that plague us all, but working together looking towards creating a solution instead of assigning blame. Is there more violence today or is the world better connected and we can hear about each and every incident? Are guns the problem or is it the promotion of lack of respect and sanctity of life promoted in movies, television, music and video games? I don’t pretend to know those answers. What I do know is this, by focusing on how terrible things are without an accent on finding solutions and healing the hearts and minds of people everywhere, we are letting the powers of darkness win.

So next time you hear the ‘devil’ whisper in your ear about how bad the world is, how truly bad people have become and how hopeless both you and your life are, next time you hear him whisper that you cannot withstand the storm. You need to face that demon, whether it is the media, a negative coworker or even a voice in your own head and reply with conviction that you indeed are the storm! You are a storm of love and compassion that will not be defeated. Even though you are hearing how scary and bad the world is, you will do your part to bring love and brighten a stranger’s day. When you hear about anger leading to violence and death, you can use it as a reminder to respond to hurt with empathy and compassion.

No matter what you hear about the world and people around you, the fact is that the power to change that world lies in each and every one of us. Your act of kindness and of love, no matter how small will have a ripple effect that will affect far more than you will ever know. What you may not think about is so will your anger and negative actions, even your apathy. Do not let the devil lie to you. It is you who are the storm, you who have the very power to change the world and we do so through love and compassion.

PRAYERS TO THE DEVIL

Oddly, having a blog post titled prayers to the devil seems rather fitting on a Monday. Before you fear this has anything to do with evoking the dark lord, let me reassure you that is not what we are speaking about here today. What we are going to talk about is complaints which Bob Marley referred to as ‘prayers to the devil’. Which I must confess I find a fairly accurate description.

Are complaints really that bad? Let us stop and take a look. Frist, so we are all on the same page, let us define what a complaint is. To me a complaint is a negative observation about a person, place or thing with no intent on finding a solution or remedy. This is different from merely observing a situation that needs improving and voicing that while pondering what can be done to make the situation better. Forms of complaining can range from mood-killing banter to gossip. Yes, gossip is a form of complaining. I don’t recall every hearing negative gossip about someone that included a plan to assist them in getting better.

Are they really so bad we should compare them to the devil? What do complaints do? By voicing their negative opinions out loud it increases the focus on the person sharing them. We all know where focus goes, energy flows. Therefore, the persons negative mood will only increase as they share this negativity with others. What about the others? Hearing what is wrong in the lives of people they know can at the very least kill the good vibe buzz one might be feeling. If the person receiving the complaint is already in a bad mood it will only serve to sink them further. As you can see complaining will only serve to foster a negative atmosphere. If you think of something that can poison the souls of most it is shared with and bring the one sharing even lower, I can’t imagine many things worse.

Understand I am not saying if you see something you do not like, or have a bad experience that you have to keep it to yourself. Not at all. What I am saying is when you tell someone about it, think about why you are. Let’s say someone is asking your opinion on an Italian restaurant you don’t care for. Instead of saying, “That place sucks!” or worse beginning to list everything you dislike about it, try following it with a solution. Wouldn’t you rather hear this? “I didn’t really like that place, but the bistro down the street is really good.”

We all know people that when asked, “How is it going?” will proceed to offer a list of every social and medical malady they have faced since the age of five. How do you feel after even a brief conversation with someone like that? On occasions when I have the unfortunate circumstance to converse with someone who is determined to find the cloud in a blue sky there are two things I do. First, I turn it into a game to avoid their feelings rubbing off on me. I ask them what is good in their life at the moment. Sometimes I point out things that they have to be grateful they may have overlooked. If the situation seems right I may even share one of my corny jokes with them. Then, I go directly home and take a shower. Now I am keenly aware that the shower does not actually wash the emotions from my being, but as the water flows over my skin I close my eyes and imagine the negativity flowing off me. Some days that is enough, some days I have to exfoliate.

We all have times we need to vent and get things out of our system. I am as guilty as the next person. When you are done, however, consider what can be done to change what you are lamenting. If you can’t think of anything ask for a solution and focus on something to be grateful for while you are awaiting an answer. Think of how listening to complaints make you feel before you share them with others. Remember where your focus goes, your energy flows.

ONE OF MY FAVORITE THOUGHTS

This is one of those thoughts that would be worth printing out and hanging up somewhere. Using the law of physics to explain how something cannot bother you unless it gets inside you is very helpful.

Whether it is an unpleasant coworker, the evening news or any other circumstances that we face, it is important to realize their effect on us is also determined by us. It used to be when I would see or hear something that goes against something I passionately believe in, I would find myself growing ever so upset. It was like a volcano with the lava slowly working its way to the surface. At some point it would have to erupt. That could have been in a discussion with a friend, or even an online post. I realized I had become one of those people. You know the ones, the kind that end up speaking in a very loud voice about some injustice they see in the world. The problem with that is two-fold. First, the person you are venting to can rarely, if ever, do anything other than commiserate with you on the same subject. The second problem is what those feelings do to you. Let us look at a quote to meditate on.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned” – Buddha

Let us think about that for a moment. Take the recent political climate and the anger and division it has fostered. If we go around complaining about politicians without doing anything else, only one thing will change. We will feel terrible, dismayed for the future and could possibly end up physically ill. Instead, if we focus on doing whatever small part we can to foster a solution, even something little as saying ‘hello’ to a stranger who is different from us, we will not only not let the anger affect us negatively, but we will be a part of the solution and not the problem.

How did I manage to turn my own situation around? By seeing the challenges as opportunities. Sounds kind of cliche, but it is true. As an author and motivational speaker specializing in happiness and stress reduction when I see someone stressed out and unhappy I have two choices. I can see that as a sign the world is negative and give up, or I can see it as an opportunity to help and that there is still a need for my services and a chance for me to help someone improve their life.

Just as the ship uses the water, that could sink it, to propel it forward. It uses something that could bring it down, and by virtue of not allowing it to get inside of it, literally rises above it. A lesson we could all use.

A SIMPLE FORMULA

I am forever searching for simple things the average person can do to improve the quality of their life. It is my passion. It was what found me writing a book titled A Happy Life for Busy People.

That is why I like the formula above – keep your gratitude higher than your expectations I would, however, add a caveat to that. I encourage people to expect good things to happen to them. Why? Because eventually they will. Sure, bad things will happen too but allow me to explain the difference.

When we expect negative things to happen to us, we walk around with a feeling foreboding and dread. If something good were to happen to us we wouldn’t enjoy it because we would be busy telling ourselves “Sure things seem good now, but just wait something bad always happens to me.” Imagine how you would feel with self-talk like that!

When we expect good things to happen to us, there exists a feeling of hope and, well… positive expectation. If we are expecting a positive thing to happen and along comes something negative we can just say to ourselves, “Well that wasn’t the positive thing I was expecting. It must still be on its way”

You might find yourself thinking “Wait a minute! In both examples good and bad things happened! It’s really just the same.” You would be exactly right. Good and bad things happen to everyone in some degree, but notice the difference in feeling when you change your expectations.

Then…. you add what I think is truly a superpower – gratitude. If you can remain grateful while keeping a positive expectation, you will find yourself in possession of more joy and happiness than you have known in quite some time.

As a of fact, I’m going to print this picture out and keep it in my car! I encourage you to do the same.

THE EASIEST WAY TO DECREASE NEGATIVITY IS INCREASE POSITIVITY

THE ESSENTIAL KEYS TO SUCCESS KEY #2

One of the things I am asked the most is “How can I quickly change my life?” Such a tricky question because your life up to this point has taken years to develop. Still, I understand we live in that nanosecond world where we expect change instantly. It is with this understanding that I have distilled my essential keys to success. These represent the pillars that most of my teachings are based on. Each one is a powerful belief that you can adapt into your life that will have a profound effect.

Trying to eliminate negative things from our life can be so difficult. Getting rid of that extra weight, getting rid of that addiction, and of course removing negative people from our lives. The problem is with the act of getting rid of something. Our brains are hard-wired against depriving ourselves. It is actually a survival mechanism. Consider it like an anti-starvation method.

This information makes for good trivia, but amounts to little unless we can find a way to use it. That brings us to the second key to success, the easiest way to decrease the negativity in our lives is to increase the positivity. In short, add something positive. One of the areas this is most useful, but certainly not the only one, is our social media. We all have that one person who sent us a friend request and we accepted with complete ignorance to the amount of drama or negativity that they bring with them. Sure, we could eliminate them, but that may only bring more drama especially if it is someone we see on a regular basis. I am specifically thinking of family and coworkers. There is usually an option to ‘hide’ the information we are exposed to from them. If we do this you know aunt Betty will ask if we have seen pictures of her latest medical procedure. It would seem this is a lose/lose situation, but there is a solution!

Increase your positivity. While you are on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media site you use, search words like motivation, inspiration, happiness or even any subject you are interested in from fly fishing to makeup. Then, in addition to the usual political bickering and personal drama your page will be filled with inspiring quotes, subjects (or people) you are interested in and a host of other fabulous things. It will not only make dealing with the negative a lot easier, but also bring some joy to your day as well.

This works in many other fields as well. Trying to eat healthier? Try adding one healthy meal or snack a day. Notice the difference in how you feel. It will also fill you up so you may be less likely to have another tasty doughnut from Meijer. It works fairly well for that last one, trust me. Trying to get more physically fit? Try going for a walk after dinner. Maybe add a weekly bike ride. This will not only get the muscles stimulated you may find you enjoy it so much you will want to build upon it.

The takeaway is to add instead of fight against. It makes it easier to succeed and requires a lot less will.

ARE YOU IN CONTROL, OR BEING CONTROLLED?

Another picture I saw, read and had to take a deep breath and appreciate. This man has mastered what Earl Nightingale referred to as the magic word. This word, more than any other thing will control not only how successful we are in life, but how much we enjoy life as well. It will determine how well people and the world treat us. It has the greatest bearing on our physical and mental health as well.

What is this magic word? The word is attitude. A positive attitude will yield a positive life. As you can see in the picture above attitude has less to do with outside circumstances and far more to do with inside circumstances. We all know people who seem to have nothing, but remain positive and upbeat. We know people facing every sort of challenge you can imagine but seem to overcome them not only with ease, but we joy in their hearts and on their faces. How on earth are they able to do this? That was the question I kept asking myself when I began to get involved in the field of self-improvement.

These people have a good attitude not always because of their situation, but quite often in spite of their situation. That’s all great, and maybe your situation sucks too, but how the heck can you still manage to be happy? First of all, I am not discounting whatever you are going through. We all have struggles that others can’t begin to comprehend. That is one of the keys, remembering we all have struggles. How can we go from feeling defeated, sad and depressed by our challenges to empowered, motivated and positive? Asking that question is the first great step. I am going to give you one very important thing to remember – Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% what we do with it.

Sounds all warm and fuzzy right? You want to know how we turn the crap life gives us into something good? What if I told you that we have the ability to have complete control over our lives? Sounds a little too good to be true? What if I also told you that you routinely give that control away to others, your emotions or just choose not to use it at all? Don’t get upset, I still do this sometimes too. How do we take complete control over our life? By using two very important super powers you have. Yes, I said super powers. Don’t worry, you don’t need to wear a cape and you can keep the underwear on the inside of your pants. Why are they super? They are super powers because these two items control both the direction and feeling of our life and we have complete control over them.

The two super powers are focus and meaning. In any situation we choose both of these. Sure it may be hard to focus on anything other than the fact the person who cut you off in traffic is a rude jerk, but that is only because instead of choosing how to act, we are used to reacting to life. Which means in short that person is going to leave us angry, frustrated, frazzled or just plain pissed off, depending on how you want to score that.

Another world for focus can be perception. Is what really happened to us that bad? It can seem so in the moment for sure. Again, not to discount anything you may be going through, but changing our focus onto what we may be grateful for in the situation can do wonders and we can choose to do that. It is here I would like to insert a quote here for you to ponder.

“I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.” – Mahatma Gandhi

What if we chose to decide the reason that man cut us off was to refocus our energy on our safe driving practices? Maybe it means he was rushing to a family emergency we should be grateful we don’t have? Maybe he just received some terrible news and is so upset he is having a hard time focusing on driving? Maybe the meaning of it is he really is a jerk, but if we run into someone else who is in an upset mood maybe they had the displeasure of sharing the road with him earlier? Does this sound like some pie-in-the-sky or Pollyanna? Look at the other option. We could decide this man was a jerk, be super upset and let it ruin our whole day. In other words, react to him and give him complete control over our emotions.

Is this limited to a stranger on the road? Not at all. It can happen with a boss who is in a bad mood. It can happen by watching the evening news, reading the paper or some other not so inspiring action. Those of you who work with the public have a chance to practice taking control of your emotions and not reacting to the influence of others far more than you probably would like. Just the same, if a customer treats you rudely and you let it ruin your mood, in effect this is what you are saying, “You, my totally rude and disrespectful friend, your opinion means so much to me that the fact you have treated me poorly will affect my emotional state for the rest of the afternoon, day, week…etc.”

Why give anyone else control over how you feel? It is time to stop reacting, and time to start choosing how you want to act! Will it be easy? Not at all. New habits and wrestling control of your mind after you have let it run its own course for years can be compared to beginning dog training when the dog is two years old. It will take some patience and perseverance on your part. Will it be worth it? To never let your emotions, and thus your life be controlled by anyone other than you? I can’t think of anything more deserving of your efforts.

So next time life gives you a big pile of crap to deal with, remember you have a choice. You can let it sit around and stink up the place, or you can use all of those lessons and so called failures as you can manure, as fertilizer to help grow something bigger, better and more beautiful!