IS IT A WARNING OR AN EXAMPLE?

A great quote from our friend Darren Hardy. I think everything in our life falls in one of these two categories. The great thing about approaching life this way is that you always learn. When you seem to make mistakes it may just be a warning that you are heading in the wrong direction. When we see someone who seems to have it all we can often feel tempted to be jealous. If we use that person’s success as an example of what is possible we can win that way too.

Begin to think of the people in your life. Which category do they fall in? Here is the important part, both roles are necessary. Those who are an example can teach us quite a bit. When I speak with people such as my friend Kyle I always walk away feeling upbeat and inspired. Then I remember to try harder to do that for others. Kyle serves as a great example of a positive conversationalist. I can learn from him and my conversations with others will be more positive and inspiring going forward.

What about those who are not so positive? How can they serve us? We often need a reminder of what could happen if we continue to be in a negative state of mind by being forced to spend what may seem like an eternity with someone who suffers from being ‘sunshine challenged’. I know this holds true for me. Have you ever been in conversation with someone who is so negative you want to go home and take a shower just to get the negative vibes off of you? I know I have. Having that feeling motivates me to watch my own conversation when talking to others. I do not want them to feel that way when they leave my company. Thinking this way I end up with thoughts of gratitude for our friend who resembles Eeyore from the Winne-the-Pooh stories. Not only have I traded feeling negative and frustrated for feeling grateful, which is a win. I have also had a great reminder and therefore my conversations with others will be better and more positive going forward.

As you can see, everyone in your life can be a positive motivating factor, even those who are not so positive. By learning from both you can help yourself become more of an example than a warning. What happens when we make a mistake or become a warning to others? There is an opportunity there as well. How we face a challenge or even a seeming failure can serve as an example to others facing challenges. When we view life as an opportunity to grow there are only chances to learn and grow and life becomes much more positive and…amazing!

STOP GIVING YOUR TIME TO FOOLS


I am not much for April fools day. Today, however, we are going to be discussing fools. The people in your life that bring drama, negativity and many unpleasant emotions. We are going to look at not only why it is so important to keep from being affected by these sunshine-challenged folks, but more importantly, how to do that.
The first course of action is to limit your exposure to these individuals. Are there people you spend time with out of feelings of guilt or obligation? Realize your primary obligation is to live your life in the most positive and rewarding fashion possible. It is by doing this that you can bring the best to others. If you have people in your life that seem to be draining the joy from your life like an emotional vampire, it is time to level with them.
I advocate doing this with compassion and a desire to invoke a positive change. Let them know what it is you want. This can be done without directly assigning blame or pointing out their actions. Letting them know you prefer conversations that are positive and solution oriented instead of those that consist of rehashing the problems of the world and life with no focus on fixing them. Let them know you have no desire to discuss the lives of others or engage in negative gossip and instead would like to focus on how to improve your own life and focus on the success others have. You may even have to do this mid conversation. If they start to get angry or defensive, just remind them you are letting them know what you would like, they are free to engage in behavior they enjoy.
Sometimes, they may either not get the point or have no desire to adjust their negative behavior. We must understand this is their right. We have no authority to tell others how to live their lives no more than others should tell us how to live ours. What we do not have to do is continue to be a part of theirs, at least as often. When the person notices that you are around less they may ask why. Again, you can be honest without being hurtful. Tell them you decided to take a day to focus on being positive. Or you wanted to focus on some healthy personal growth.
Once you notice someone draining you the time to do something about it is now. If your attempts are met with failure or indifference, and remember that is their right, then it is time to move on. We are only granted one life. It is our responsibility to make the most of it.
What about those we can’t avoid? Perhaps coworkers or even a negative boss or family member? We will take a closer look at positive steps to address those next post, so please come back tomorrow. If you have suggestions for dealing with negative people in your life, feel free to share them in the comments below.

WORK IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT

Today is Halloween so I will share a scary story with you. As most of you know, I have a day job at the United States Postal Service. In addition to the monetary aspect, it also allows me to practice many of the tools I put forth here. I always strive to be a source of positivity and help my coworkers foster a sense of gratitude and joy. As a matter of course, I always welcome the mail carriers back when they return from their routes. I also routinely ask my coworkers if they are having a good day or having fun at the moment. A gentle reminder that while doing our best to get our jobs done, we can still focus on having fun. Most of the time this is met with some jocularity and on occasion, some comments of encouragement of their own.

There is one young lady, however, that seems quite sunshine challenged. When I inquired if she was having a good day she informed me in no uncertain terms that I should never ask her that as long as she is at work because the answer will always be ‘no’. After 21 years of working there, I am no stranger that the Post Office can supply some challenging situations, as can any job. There are days that are tough, and days that are not. I could not imagine going to some place every day where you know with certainty that you will have a bad day, and doing so voluntarily.

This young lady is a carrier on what they call a ‘rural route’. This means she seldom has to leave her truck and drives up to the mailbox to put the mail in. I think on a nice spring or fall day driving around in a rural setting listening to your favorite music all while getting paid a good wage could sound nice to some people. Sure, there are days when it is raining, or here in Wisconsin snowing, that I can imagine driving for several hours could be a drag, but not every day. How could this be?

The answer was supplied to me last Saturday. This young lady called me over to her case where she sorts her mail. She handed me the scanner all carriers use and said in a rather angry tone, “This is the f*&king sh*t I have to deal with!” I glanced at the scanner. On it was a warning to pay attention to the signs of heat stroke. On this day we were experiencing an early October snow storm. Ironic? For sure. Funny? I thought so. As far as something she had to put up with, I found a message that could easily be deleted and even laughed at to be not that big of a deal. Her perception was that everything was against her and that this was a large obstacle. When viewed through a filter of that nature any job will seem terrible.

This brings to mind a great reminder. We have the option to how we see things. We can find the humor, or we can find the frustration. We can find the gratitude, or the lack. We can find the joy, or we can find the pain. It is all up to us. When we look for the good in things it can transform our days and jobs into things we enjoy, or certainly do not dread.

POLITICAL AD BURNOUT

Ah election time. Here in the United States it is election time. With this triumphant event comes the onslaught of political ads. These, I am to believe, are meant to sway your opinion from one candidate to another. The amount of money spent on these ads amounts to the income of many small countries. What good could be created if this money was put to a more productive use is frightening. It is my firm belief there is enough money there to allow all the candidates to fulfill their outrageous promises.

This would not be so bad if these ads contained useful tips on how to better connect with your government or say get that awful smell out of your gym shoes. Instead let us look at what we do get for all of the tax money and other funds allocated for such endeavors. All but a slight percentage of ads actually feature the opposition. If that party is an incumbent it will proceed to explain how everything that has went wrong in your life can be attributed to this individual. Be that the crime in your neighborhood going up, the quality of your life going down or that stain you discovered on your new shirt. If, by contrast, the party featured in the ad has yet to obtain an office the ad will likely feature a doomsday prediction of what will happen if this person is elected. Things such as taxes rising 3 million percent, everyone’s job disappearing and your dog packing up and running away from home. In short, both ads will tell you what a terrible world you are living in.

It would not be so bad if we had an option to avoid all of this negative banter and mudslinging. These ads, however, find their way into every facet of our lives. There are of course television spots filled with images of impoverished neighborhoods, homeless individuals and other dire circumstances set to spread across the land unless you vote the prescribed way. There are radio ads that fill our ears with such inspiring terms as ‘liar’, ‘thief’ and ‘scoundrel’. There are ads that fill our mailboxes that combine both. There are even emails, online ads, and today I received a text to go along with those very effective automated phone calls.

Being exposed to all of this negativity can have several bad consequences. If you are a staunch political opinioned party member they are designed to get your blood boiling and heart rate higher until you are telling everyone you know how they should vote and attacking friendly neighbors even if they display the slightest chance of supporting party. If, on the other hand, you are someone like myself who is focused on your little corner of the world and votes for the best candidate regardless of party affiliation, you can still be left feeling depressed and hopeless. You may become frustrated at all of the negative things you hear and read. Even if you do not vote and could care less who wins, you are still having to take out more garbage and your favorite program is being interrupted with more and more commercials.

What can we do to avoid getting political ad burnout? There are a few things. First of all, remember just like any disagreement, the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle of the two sides. All parties do some right and some wrong. I say all parties because it bears remembering there are many different parties to choose from so if you have had it up to here with all the negative banter between the two major parties you do have other options. Another very important thing to keep in mind is all you can do is cast your one vote. Sure, you can hold rallies or put a sign in your yard, but when all is said and done we all have just one vote.

Here is another thing that could make this season a little more bearable and even inspiring. Election time inspiring? Yes indeed. Every time you hear, see or receive a political ad say something nice about someone. Maybe send someone some well-wishes. A few of my friends even suggested turning this into a drinking game. Unless you would like to be incapacitated until mid-November I would not suggest this course of action.

Most importantly, remember to respect others. For whatever reason, politics can seem to bring out the worst in people who otherwise seem like fairly normal and even slightly sane individuals. Do not swallow the brainwashing that all people belonging to a certain political party secretly worship the devil and want to eat small children. Although they may subscribe to a different ideology, that does not make them, or you, any less of a person. It is only by working together that we can truly change this world to a better place.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand” – Abraham Lincoln.

THERMOSTAT OR THERMOMETER?

A thermstat verses a thermometer, which one are you? Obviously I am not speaking literally. Both of those devices are inanimate objects and could not be reading this article. In a more figurative sense, each one of us is either a thermostat or a thermometer. Usually we are a little bit of both. In order to better understand what I mean let us look at each device and the service they perform.

We will start with a thermometer. What is the function of a thermometer? It matters little difference if it is used for meat or medicine. The main purpose of a thermometer is to measure the temperature of its surroundings and read accordingly. It is what we would call a reactionary device. If the temperature is hot the thermometer will read accordingly. If the temperature is cold it will show that. The thermometer has little effect, if any, on what is is measuring. We all know people like this, don’t we? If they find themselves in a room full of people who are productive and happy, they will be productive and happy. If they are in a room full of people who would rather stand around and gossip than work, that is what they will tend to do. These people, much like a thermometer, have little or any impact on their surroundings. If you are looking for a leader you would not want a thermometer. If you are looking to be productive you would not wat to rely on a thermometer.

This is not to say there are not times when adapting your behavior to the situation is appropriate. You certainly would not want to wear a tuxedo to the corner tavern any more than you would want to show up at the opera in ripped jeans and a flannel shirt. There is a big difference between adjusting to the current social situation and changing the very essence of who you are. Let us look at our above example of being in a room filled with individuals more content to discuss the actions of others than to take any action themselves. In this case it would not be a good idea to adopt the current culture. What should we do if we find ourselves in just such a situation? That will bring us to our next point.

A thermostat. That funny shaped device on the wall that regulates our inner enviroment. How does a thermostat work? Simply put, if we set a desired temperature it will utilze the heating and cooling systems to acheive that temperature. Should the room drop to far below the set temperature the thermostat will engage the heating systems to warm the room to the desired condition. Should the temperature rise too far above the set number it will utilize the air-conditioning to bring it back down. The thermostat not only has a great impact on its enviroment, it actually sets the enviroment.

We all know people like this too, don’t we? There are people who can light up a room as soon as they walk in. There are also people who can bring everyone down with a simple conversation. In other words these people set their enviroments. I know a person who never seems to have a bad day. I asked him his secret and he told me quite simply, “I just decide to have a good day.” Much like the thermostat, he adjusts as the day goes along. If things start to go bad he kicks in his ‘heating system’ to bring the level of joy up. If he finds himself getting upset over traffic, the acts of a rude cowoker or anything else he turns on his ‘air-conditioning’ to relax and cool himself down. Thermostat people are action people. If they see a situation that does not suite them, they take actions to change the situation.

Ask yourself today if you are a thermostat controling your enviroment, or are you a thermometer just reacting to whatever the world is handing you. If the sun is out and traffic is great you are happy. If it is raining and the car won’t start you are unhappy. Why put control of your emotional well-being in the hands of other people and things. Be like my friend and decide to have a good day. If challenges do come up as they always will, ask yourself two very important questions, “What else can this mean?” and “How can I use this?” These two questions will allow you to be in control of your enviroment.

REMEMBER WE ARE ALL IN THE PROCESS

It is no secret to anyone who follows this website and my work in general that I have spent over 20 years in the field of self-improvement. One thing that I must remind myself of every so often is the fact that not everyone else has. This may sound silly and an obvious point, but it can be a fact that gets away from me.

When I hear someone constantly complaining about how unfair life is or how terrible their life is, I am tempted to remind them how they do a great deal to create their own reality. We all have challenges great and small. That is part of life. It is really how we respond to life’s challenges that does a great deal to determine how life treats us. There are a lot of people who are ignorant to even that basic equation. I was fortunate enough to be raised in an environment where reading and thinking where encouraged. In the course of reading hundreds of books, listening to just as many CDs and videos as well as attending seminars and listening to as many people as I can I have learned a great deal.

One of the greatest challenges to me is having the patience and understanding to realize although most people have the opportunity to do the same, many have not. When I speak to people about ways they can reduce stress, increase joy and become the best version of themselves, I am often met with resistance and sarcasm. On a rare occasion even violent resistance. It would be easy to come off as condescending, but it serves as a great reminder of many things for me. First off, I am so grateful for all I have been given and all I have learned. My life is far from perfect, but I am constantly discovering new ways to reduce stress and have more happiness in my life. I am also grateful that I do have the life I do. I have friends who love me, a beautiful and loving lady, and supporters from over 100 countries who read what I write.

The second thing I am reminded of is everyone is working towards becoming the best version of themselves. If you don’t believe me, just walk into a gym shortly after the first of the year. Not everyone has the tools to successfully accomplish all they desire. That would be evident by visiting that same gym 30 days after the first of the year and noticing how many less people are there. Still, everyone is giving it their best shot. There are very few people I know who are not interested in improving their lives. Some do not understand the only way to do that is by improving themselves. That is the main focus of my second book.

Some really wish to improve themselves and their lot in life, but lack the necessary tools. Some do not even know where to look for those tools. That is why I am always happy to share what I learn and am still learning. There are those as mentioned earlier who even when given the tools will refuse to believe them. This could be because they have been raised in a negative environment or are so cynical that they are getting in their own way. Those are people I still try to help. Whether that is leaving a card for them when they are ready, or being an example of what it looks like to live life using the tools I put forth.

Let us all do our best to understand everyone is working towards a better life. Even those seemingly following the wrong path may just be misdirected or lacking hope and direction. When we understand that we are all doing the best we can it is far easier to approach others with compassion and a genuine desire to help.

THE SIDE EFFECTS ARE HALF THE FUN

Working with the public I have seen this far too often. Oddly enough I have noticed that it is men who seem to do this more. There are exceptions to every rule, but when it comes to belittling people in public to try and gain favor with others I feel men take the cake. Perhaps they view it as some macho thing to do. I once put forth to a friend of mine who made a habit of doing so. I asked him, “If the lady you are trying to impress sees you do this to your friends, what do you think she will imagine is in store for her?” I have always found building your friends up not only shows a great deal more of self-confidence, but makes a far better first impression.

Regardless of which gender you fall into, putting down others to make yourself seem great is really a move for those who do not have any strengths to be proud of. I liken it to hanging around with people shorter than you in order to feel tall. It doesn’t actually change your height any, only your perception of it.

I know an individual who lives his life in this pattern. Wherever he is, he has nothing but negative things to say about those around him. Sure, sometimes he may get a chuckle from others at people’s expense, but eventually those laughing will be the ones being made fun of when they are out of earshot. Not only does this man exhibit his fear and lack of self-confidence, but shows he is not a very trustworthy or loyal person either. Often times he can be found sitting alone or searching out people to talk to.

Do not be like this person. Gossip works much the same way as belittling others. Although they may not be able to hear what you are saying, or be embarrassed by it, it still amounts to putting others down. I encourage all of us to try doing the opposite. Make a game out of it. Try complimenting others in public. Not in a flattering type way, but a genuine nice way. When people start to gossip, try throwing in something good about someone.

At first it may make you feel like an outcast, but eventually you will notice some really cool side effects of taking this action. Immediately, you will notice you start to feel good inside. Yes, even though what you say is something nice about someone else, doing so will give you an emotional lift. It almost seems selfish at first, but it is an example of reaping what you sow. The second side effect you will experience is an increase in popularity. This should really seem like a no-brainer. Who would not want to be around someone who might just say something nice about them? In addition, it feels good to hear good things about people. The third side effect is an increase in loyal friends. The person I mentioned earlier has people talking poorly about him, just as he does of others. Deep down I think he knows people are not likely to get close to him knowing how ill he talks of others. When you are known for building others up they appreciate that and will do the same for you when you are not around. How good does it feel to hear someone said something nice about you when you were not around? The sure way to hear that more often is to start doing the same for others. Again, as you sow, so shall you reap.

The final side effect is my favorite. Therefore I decided to take a moment to expand a little bit more on it. By knowing that you are going to genuinely compliment people more you will start looking and thinking about what is good in people in advance. Before long, your mind will subconsciously start to do this whenever you are on your way to meet someone. Your mind will begin to think, “I am on my way to see Nicole. What wonderful things can I say about her to those around us?” The one place this tends to have the most extreme results is in your intimate relationships. I can tell you without a doubt your spouse would love to hear you tell others the wonderful things you love about them. What is even better is to know that you do it when they are not around. Too many times these days people gather together and complain about their spouses to each other. That baffles me. At the post office or even while working with Margie I can hear these stories some that seem to go on and on. I am often tempeted to stop them after a while and ask, “If they are such a terrible person, what kind of fool would decide to be with them?” It is easy to complain when those we love anger us, but ask yourself, would you want them to do the same? Instead share what your partner does to make you happy. It will not only make you look better it will make you feel better about your relationship. As we mentioned earlier this is exactly how it works with friendships, coworkers and any other relationship you can think of.

It has been my experience that after a while you will start doing the same thing about situations, places and things. Looking for what you like and begin sharing that. In return it will give you even more ways to feel good about yourself.

99 SECONDS WITH NEIL EPISODE 16 – POSITIVE SOCIAL MEDIA

In this YouTube video you will learn the secret to changing your social media from a place of drama and negativity to one of positivity and inspiration.

If you enjoy this video, don’t forget to give it a ‘thumbs up ‘. If you would like to see these videos before anyone else, make sure to subscribe to my channel. If you have any feedback feel free to leave it in the comments

CLICK HERE TO WATCH 99 SECONDS WITH NEIL EPISODE 16

POSITIVE SOCIAL MEDIA

Daily we hear how much negativity and drama there is on social media. Just this afternoon at the post office I overheard a co-worker say, “I don’t go on Facebook there is too much negativity on there.”

I am always struck by the same thought – who decides what shows up on your social media page? The answer is you do! If you are thinking “Well I didn’t plan on Michelle posting a page long rant about how terrible life is!” You have a valid point. If, however, Michelle keeps posting one negative thing after another it may be time to remove her from your page. You can ‘hide’ her posts or delete her completely.

I discuss this more in my next book, but for the sake of brevity in this post, I’ll keep it simple. If you notice someone, or some group is a source of negativity and drama remove them. If, for some reason, you cannot (Let’s say it’s your relative or boss) then drown them out. What do i mean by that? As we discussed last post increasing positivity will decrease negativity. If crazy Eric’s posts are mixed in with motivational quotes, pictures of puppy dogs and other things that make you smile it is a little more bearable.

Search words such as happy or positivity and see what comes up. I recently joined several new groups like lightworkers of the world, love/light group, truth for thought, The 11:11 movement and others. I have already connected with great people and read some inspiring things.

Will this eliminate all of your social media woes? Of course not. Just this evening I had a fellow post several comments on my page that were angry and belligerent. Why? He did not like that my titles are in capital letters. There will always be fine folks like that. They help us practice our patience and compassion.

With a balance of inspirational and positive influences, your Facebook, Twitter or any social media outlet will become a source of escape instead of stress.