SPREAD THE LOVE

Further proof you can find inspiration anywhere; here is a sign I saw in the men’s room while on a date with my beautiful Margie. Yes, I am always on the lookout for something beneficial I can share with all of you. Don’t worry, I did wash my hands.

In today’s world it can seem like there is a new tragedy everyday. We read about war, we see news coverages of mass shootings and rising crime. Here in the United States, we are having an election. That is a time when lots of people try to convince you how terrible the world is, and who is to blame. Here is a news flash for all of us – There is a lot of good and beauty in the world. It doesn’t get a lot of press. It doesn’t sell.

Here is another wonderful fact. Our world is not out of our control. There are very powerful forces that would like you to believe that, but it simply is not so. Sure, there are variables that can provide the unexpected challenge, but even our reaction to those are up to us. There is also a great deal we can do to positively influence the world around us. This sign is a great example. It is a simple and universal message that would leave to a better world. What other signs can you think of that would do the same? I encourage you to spend some time thinking of some. Here is another powerful idea – put these signs up where you can. The more messages of inspiration and motivation we put out there, the more we can change the negative narrative we are being fed. What would your sign say? Where would you put it?

BE THE LIGHT 💡

This picture was sent to me by Terri, a friend of Margie and mine. In a world where there appears to be a lot of darkness, it can often feel uninspiring. I am often asked how people can remain positive in a world that seems bent on making sure we are surrounded by negativity. This is a really good question. It can be difficult. It used to be that you would have to to seek out negativity. This could be by opening a newspaper or turning on a television. Now the negativity follows us. It will even send us a little alert in our pocket. “Hello, negativity here. Come see what is wrong with the world.” It might not be that straight forward, but will disguise itself as a social media notification. Worse yet, everyone else is subjected to this same negative atmosphere and will be happy to walk up and share it with you. Many times you do not have to even ask.

How then, with all of this negative influence, can we hope to have a positive, and amazing, life? The answer is almost counterintuitive, we must give one. This isn’t a post about the law of attraction or a testament to the biblical saying of “As you sow, so shall you reap.” It does, however, give credence to both. I am going to give you two quick and personal examples of the application of this strategy in real life.

I have told this first story on this blog and in my second book, Living the Dream, but it bares a quick recap. There was a point in my life that I was facing the loss of a job, personal problems at home, a car that was breaking down and other life-altering problems. They began to consume me and I had a hard time seeing any solution. In an effort to get out of my head, I decided to put in extra time at a meal program I volunteered at. I did this despite the fact that I may very well need it in the not so distant future. Two things happened that day. First, I saw people in far worse situations than I was in with far better attitudes. Second, I realized that I had a gift to serve and to inspire others. By giving the people that came that day not only the gift of food, but of respect and kindness, I could see their burden lighten. In turn, that lightened my burden as well.

The second example is more current and ongoing. As most of you know, during the day I work for the United States Postal Service. This is an institution that seems constantly gripped with staff shortage, political upheaval, and a general feeling of stress. The employees are often pushed to do as much work as they can until they, or their bodies, give up. All of this often happens in a combative and stressful work environment. Honestly, this could be greatly improved with some communication and appreciation. Unfortunately, by the time someone is in a position of management they can be too bitter to offer much of this. The result? Workers and bosses find themselves fighting against each other all while trying to accomplish a near impossible job. This can all feel pretty hopeless on any given day. My solution? Be the one who brings the communication and appreciation. I am constantly letting people know they did their job well, or offering a bit of encouragement. Sadly, I am often told that I am the only one who does so. One of the greatest feelings is when you hear the lines of encouragement you offer repeated by those who have received them.

I like to think of a dark room. What happens when you flip a light switch? The darkness disappears. The same can be said with kindness. Start with just one person and soon that light and that kindness will begin to spread. You will help create a positive world around you.

AS THE WEEK ENDS…

THE WEEK IS OVER. MOST OF US ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO THE WEEKEND.  THERE ARE PLENTY OF THINGS WE SHOULD CARRY INTO THE WEEK WITH US. WE SHOULD CHERISH THE GREAT MEMORIES WITH LOVED ONES. WE SHOULD REMEMBER AND FEEL ALL THAT WE HAVE TO BE GRATEFUL FOR. WE SHOULD ALSO MAKE GOOD USE OF THE LESSONS WE LEARNED. WHAT WE SHOULD LEAVE BEHIND IS ALL THE NEGATIVITY. WHY HANG ON TO SOMETHING THAT WILL END UP WEIGHING US DONE? LEAVE THAT IN THE PAST.

AS FOR GOING BEAST MODE WHEN IT COMES TO HAPPINESS, IT CAN OFTEN TAKE THAT AMOUNT OF EFFORT TO MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE. DON’T BELIEVE ME? TRY TO GO 24 HOURS WITHOUT A SINGLE NEGATIVE THOUGHT. HOW FAR DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD GET? SOMETIMES THE EFFORT HAS TO COME BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR OWN MIND.

THIS WEEKEND, SEARCH FOR THE LIGHT AND LEAVE THE DARKNESS BEHIND!! GO BEAST MODE AND SHOW THE WORLD, AND YOURSELF THAT YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY!

DON’T LOSE YOURSELF

I am a people pleaser. I love to see those around me succeed and be happy. On more than one occasion I have found myself doing things that were not high on my list of enjoyable just so someone else can have a little more sunshine in their lives. I think this is part of being a decent human being. Something I no longer find myself doing is feeling pressured to do something out of the fear of being disliked or losing someone. If a person in your life creates situations and ultimatums like that, you must ask yourself the value of that relationship.

How do you manage to not lose yourself while attempting to please others? There seems to be a thin line between the two. One of the first things we can do is setting healthy boundaries. If something causes us to violate our beliefs or standards, that would be something we should not do, even if it displeases someone else. You can eloquently explain that you cannot do something based on the principles you believe in. If someone would hold that against you, that is a reflection on them, not on us. Another boundary to be made clear is doing things that sacrifice your own mental or physical well-being for the happiness of another. This does not mean refusing to help a friend move because you might be sore the next day. An occasional sacrifice such as this is certainly understandable. If you are physically, mentally or even spiritually exhausted than pushing yourself beyond those limits is not only unhealthy but can lead to feelings of resentment in the future. Take care of yourself and you will be better able to serve others. A good friend should be able to understand this.

Another way in which we can lose ourselves is by responding to people and situations that drain and misdirect our energy. Office gossip, some comment on social media or political or office drama does not, and more often than not, should not get our attention, energy or participation. We can lose our focus and sense of purpose by being dragged into other people’s negativity. Spending an hour arguing politics online can cost us 60 minutes of reading something that may inspire or motivate us. We could spend that time in meditation, going for a walk or even cleaning our house. The time we waste on other people’s drama literally drains our life of enjoyment. Ponder that point before you join in at the water cooler next time.

Stay true to yourself and your principles. This may cause some people to leave your life. The cost of keeping people like that in your life can be considered a sort of emotional blackmail. Refuse to pay it. Do not let your happiness and peace of mind be held ransom by these kidnappers of joy and peace. Further more, do not let your course in the sea of life be redirected by the waves of other people’s negativity or drama. Own your life and stay true to yourself. In the end this will lead to happiness and a sense of inner peace.

WATCH WHAT YOU EAT!

First post of the new month! Last full month of summer. We want to finish this month on a really healthy diet. Don’t worry, if you have been working on that summer body since you were 12, we are talking about an information diet. This is so important, because like our regular diet, sometimes we consume information without being conscious to the fact that we are doing it. Sometimes it just becomes the norm and we do not realize that we should be a little more selective on what we feed our minds.

One of the issues that arises is that we are so often surrounded by things that are toxic to our mental well-being that we are unaware they are affecting us. It is like the analogy of the frog in the pot of boiling water. If you turn the temperature up quickly the frog will jump out. If you turn it up slowly and gradually, the frog will boil to death. Not a really cheery analogy, but it works for our point here. If you were to through a person into a group of gossiping back biters, chances are they would say “Get me out of here!” If, however, it happens to be the same talk around the water cooler, it can slowly become the normal. We must stand guard at the gate of our minds as Jim Rohn used to say. Quite often, this negative influence will come from friends, family and even coworkers we don’t mind sharing time with. They may be well-meaning, but it will affect us just the same.

What can you do in these situations? You can’t just tell a person to “Shut up!” Well, I suppose you could, but I can safely tell you that will not lead to quality friendships, which in turn will not lead to an amazing life. We can do some other fine things. We can do our best to remove ourselves from that situation. Excuse ourselves to go to the restroom, for a walk around the block, check the food in the kitchen or the goldfish in the living room. What happens when someone is in the restroom, it is raining outside, the food is gone and the goldfish has a babysitter? One, your luck wouldn’t be too good that day, but there are other options. You can try injecting a positive comment in the mix. Do your best to turn this into a game. I have found this makes it easier. When the gossip train makes a stop at your friend Phil’s station, try thinking about the best thing you can think of about Phil. Throw it out there and see what happens. I can tell you 2 things I know for sure. You will immediately make everyone else a little uncomfortable. That’s ok. If they are gossiping, they should be uncomfortable. The other thing is that you will quickly become known as the person who says nice things about people…behind their backs. That’s a good reputation to have. People trust people like that.

There are times when to paraphrase a popular cliché, ‘drama happens’. You do your best to avoid it, but it sits next to you at work, on the bus or even at home. You throw a life preserver of compliments into this ocean of negativity, but the waves keep coming. Repeated exposure to situations like this can leave you feeling worn out at best, dejected and hopeless at its worst. That is why we need to prepare! I stress having as many positive influences in your life as possible. Inspirational calendars ( I have a day by day one) Something inspiring as the screensaver on your phone. (mine is the cutest picture of the woman I love) You can even subscribe to an inspiring magazine. (I have a local one that only includes positive news) I also recommend having a list at the ready of things that give you a dose of positivity. Is there certain places you like to go? The zoo? A certain park with a great view? How about people that put you in a good mood? Write their names, phone numbers, emails or whatever contact information you have down. How about foods that make you smile? Songs? Movies? I say write these all down now. Eventually, there will be a time you need a negativity detox. It also serves as a good preventative. When someone asks me “What can I do to fight off all the drama and negativity I am exposed to?” It can be as simple as “Read three pages of something inspirational and call me in the morning.”

Let us remember as we are working on our nutritional diet, that we should work on our emotional and spiritual diet as well. Feed your body something good for sure, but do not forget to nourish your mind and soul as well. You never know when you might find yourself in an environment that would leave you starving.

DOES MICHAEL JORDAN WRITE YOUTUBE COMMENTS?

Last post we talked about exposing yourself to as much intelligent content and great leaders as you can. This post comes from such a venture. Recently, I was watching to the Joe Rogan podcast where he was interviewing Kevin Hart. There was a great deal of surprising content on this show. I learned a good deal about both men, especially Kevin Hart.

At one point in the podcast, they were discussing the negativity so prevalent online. It is a reason why we do what we do on this website. It is safe to say this part of the conversation really resonated with me. The focus narrowed to people who feel the need to be contrary. You know the ones. You are having a discussion about a movie or band you like and out of nowhere they pop up and say, “I don’t like them, they suck.” When pressed for a reason, often they don’t even have one. This goes ten times when you post something online. You are sharing a nice romantic date you had with your spouse. A fancy dinner, a show and maybe some quality time together after. No sooner is it posted, the comments begin. “That restaurant is overrated.” “You saw what show? That was terrible and boring!” or even just an attack on your love itself. “Stop with all of the romance already!” or even comments like, “You make me sick with all of that love.”

The million dollar question is why do people feel so compelled to be negative? They could keep their opinions to themselves. They could simply just keep scrolling. Instead, they stop, take time and what to be a cloud to your sunshine. Apparently, they have so much free time that this is possible. Online there is no repercussion for a total lack of manners. You can hide behind a keyboard and say as many negative things as your heart desires. Sadly, I have seen this begin to show itself in person as well. You could be discussing your favorite recipe with a coworker and here comes the sunshine-challenged. “What? I would never eat that! I can’t stand onions.”

While discussing this on the podcast, Mr. Rogan made a joke, but it had a very good point. “Do you think Michael Jordan comments on YouTube videos?” he asked. The point is that Michael Jordan is busy running his businesses and basketball teams to bother with such trivial matters. He is busy improving his life to comment some contrary statement on a social media post. Taking time to leave a little encouragement or motivation on a friend’s post can really do wonders for them. What do you think is accomplished with doing the opposite? What is the point really?

Next time you feel the urge to inject a contrary or negative comment on someone’s post or in their conversation, ask yourself, “What am I going to accomplish by doing this?” “Is there a better way I could use my time?” You can rest assured Michael Jordan, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk or any other driven and accomplished individual is not wasting time on such activities. Let us build each other up, not tear each other down.

HAVE YOU LOST IT?

Although this photo may sound a bit harsh, it is still very true. It never ceases to amaze me how many of us will sit behind our keyboards spewing words that are not only negative, but can be both mean and hurtful. It seems almost daily I read comments on people’s political or spiritual beliefs that I would imagine would not be said in a face to face meeting.

That is not to say you have to agree with everything that everyone says. Quite the contrary. It is the variety of opinions and beliefs that make this world a beautiful place. Ask yourself, if this person expressed this opinion in person what would I say? Even if it is something you disagree with, would you even bother expressing that? If so, would you do so in a hurtful angry way?

The same holds true about what you post. If you have a negative opinion about something will you feel the need to share it with every person you come across? Would you do it by calling those people names to their faces? It is very important to remember that seeing your words in black and white can be even more hurtful to someone than hearing them in person. Before you type that phrase or respond to that post or comment, ask yourself, “Would I say this if we were in person?” Chances are the answer would be ‘no’. Let it go. The world has more than enough anger and hate.

If there is any advantage that we can use behind a keyboard, it is to overcome the shyness of expressing our love and appreciation for each other. It may seem awkward for some of us to tell someone how much they mean to us. In today’s society this is not often the norm. Sad, but that is the case. Let us use social media and our online presence to remove some of the uncomfortable feelings associated with that. You can tell your friend how amazing they are or how much you love them online without having to worry about being uncomfortable. The great part about sharing positivtiy online is it can be reviewed at a later date should the receiving party need to hear it again. (That being said, you can also see the danger of posting hurtful things online)

Having a reputation of spreading the positive online will have people wanting to have you as an online presence in their lives. After all, there is no shortage of negative things available to read online. Having even a brief positive thought to read is a pleasant escape. Even if the positive thought expressed is not about the person reading it, just the fact that there is a positive post can make them feel good.

Let us not lose our basic human decency just because we do not face immediate consequences for the words we type. Fight the urge to respond to every negative post and comment. Do not add to the problem. Do not say anything you would not say if you were face to face. If you are going to use your social media for anything, why not use it to express thoughts of love and appreciation you may be uncomfortable doing in person. They will make the receiving party feel good and you will not have to worry about feeling awkward. If each one of us reading this would take these actions we would go a long way to making the world a more positive place.

THIS WEEKEND, WALK AWAY

Some people, for the life of me I don’t know why, must attend every drama party they are invited to. Another thing that leaves me scratching my head is that when people try and walk away from drama, others treat them poorly. On occasion, this causes them to reconsider their decision to remove themselves from the stressful situation. As if the people who created the drama opinion matters. They are just afraid they will have no reaction to their drama.

When you walk away from a negative situation, expect there to be drama. Expect the offending party to put up a great amount of resistance. You may lose some friends, that is okay. If someone is willing to stop talking to you because of your refusal to participate in gossip, drama or any other negativity they are not worth being concerned about. Understand your inner peace is worth more than other people’s opinion of you. You owe it to yourself to remove yourself from any situation that does not serve you.

One of the reasons people cannot break the cycle of participating in drama is they let their emotions rule their thoughts. Remaining calm in a stressful situation is worth working towards. It will allow you not to react to others but to choose your actions. If you are looking for a secret to an amazing life it would be developing an ability to ACT and not to REACT. This is not easy by any means, but the payoff will be worth it.

This weekend, do yourself a favor and practice emotional self-control. You will benefit by having more inner peace and control of your life. That is a priceless secret to an amazing life.

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.

CONTROL IT OR IT CONTROLS YOU

Doesn’t it suck when you are having a great day, minding your own business. Maybe you are even whistling a happy tune, talking to the birds. Whatever you do when you are full of joy. Then you get a text, a phone call, someone drives by and yells out of their car window or maybe someone posts something not so nice about you on social media. In other words, somebody does something to rain on your parade. Suddenly, you go from whistling a happy tune to growling unpleasant wishes to the offending party.

Did you ever wonder why people do that? If you are minding your own business, enjoying life, why do they have to bring their negativity on you? Why do they feel compelled to ruin your day? Here is a secret – I think some people are just jerks. While that may not really be a secret, it is the truth. Some people like to be mean. I never quite understood it. It might have to do with their own self-image. It could be a coping mechanism for their own pain. All I am sure of is it sucks. I would be inclined to guess you agree.

This quote from Eleanor Roosevelt is both a hard truth and the secret to having a lot more amazing days in life. Have you ever imagined what it would be like if you refused to let these people get you down? After all, we determine how we feel. We decide what certain actions in our life mean. That is why when a stranger says something hurtful about you it is far less painful than if a friend would say the same thing. Why is that? It could be the same words, the same idea. It is because we decide that it hurts more for someone close to us to say something hurtful. If we can, however, practice restrain and emotional control it will only increase our personal power. Next time you read a negative comment about you, get a nasty text or someone just insults you in person. Try repeating this to yourself, or better yet, out loud. In response to what you heard or read say, “No thank you. I am going to have a great day today.” If they follow that with even more intense negativity just keep repeating your statement.

This accomplishes several things. First, it programs your subconscious mind by repeating the positive statement over and over again. Second, it will begin to give you a feeling of control over your own mind and emotions. Once you master your own mind, you can master just about anything. Third, it will give you a feeling of inner peace and strength. Knowing that outside forces cannot dictate how you feel on the inside anymore. Lastly, it seems to annoy the person bent on making you feel negative. This is just an added bonus really. In the future, they will spend their negative energy on someone they can more easily get a rise out of.