WHY BE YOUR BEST?

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with my good friend Russ. We have known each other for roughly 30 years. Whenever we talk I always gain a great amount of inspiration and clarity. Not only on life itself, but on me. A friend who has known you for that length of time can really share some insightful things. I am always grateful for that. In our most recent conversation, Russ noted that I am “always positive and encouraging” While this may be a slight exaggeration, it is indeed my goal.

After some discussion as to why this is I had what can only be described as an ‘A-ha moment’. I told him the reason why I appear to be positive all of the time is because I bring who I am to everything I do. For example, my goal in writing these posts is to share knowledge I have come across in hopes of helping all of us live a more amazing life. Why? The reason is simple. I want to leave this world a better place than I found it. When I DJ, my goal is to help every person I come in contact with feel better about themselves or about life in general. Same thing at the post office, when I go out for coffee or grocery shopping.

This can be both a blessing and a curse. Earlier in my life, I brought myself everywhere I went as well. The problem was I was not the best version of myself. This is a very important reason to always be your best. You follow you wherever you go. We can do our best to pretend to be somebody else, but at the end of the day our true persona will always shine through.

There is another very important reason to always do your best to be the best version of yourself. Inevitably we will be faced with challenges and disappointments in life. We will lose a job, a relationship will end or worst of all, we will lose somebody we love. When we are the best versions of ourselves it will save us a good deal of heartache. One of the worst feelings anyone can pile on a bad situation is regret. If we lose a job that is not the time to say to ourselves, “I wish I would have performed better.” If we lose a relationship it is a little too late to say, “I wish I would have been better for that person.” At funerals would you believe loss is not the most painful feeling? It is regret. I wish I wouldn’t have spoke harshly to that person, or I wish I would have said I love you one more time.

Chances are in your life all three things will happen at some point. If they don’t we can certainly practice gratitude, but that is another topic. If we are normal adults these situations will all happen. If we do our best at our jobs and still end up losing them at least we can say, “Well they lost a good employee!” and it will certainly help us land our future occupation. Even if your boss is a jerk, even if you dread going there, do your best. Not for them, but for you. The same holds true in a relationship. You may spend all of your energy and romance on someone and they still might break your heart. It is sad but true. How much better would it be to realize they just lost the best thing they will ever have. Not to mention it will save you years of beating yourself up over “I should have” and “What if…” When it comes to the loss of a loved one there will always be pain. That pain will only be compounded if we honestly did not give our all to that relationship. We will always wish we had more time with that person and did more, but if we did our best we can have peace in our hearts.

I urge you to call that person that needs to hear from you. Give your effort at work. Think of, and act on romantic notions you have with your partner. Even if things end badly, you will have the confidence and inner peace of knowing you did your best.

GOAL VERSES MISSION STATEMENT

One of the questions I get most at my seminars or when I am speaking is “What is the difference between a goal and a mission statement?” This is a very good question. In my upcoming book we address both. Goals and a mission statement are tools that can help you live an amazing life in a lot shorter time than you may expect. Which one is more important and how do they differ? Those are the two questions that we will address here today. I encourage you to pick up a copy of my book, Living the Dream, for deeper reading.

To begin, let us look at how goals and mission statements are different. In the simplest of terms, goals define what we are going to accomplish and a mission statement defines who we are. By this definition you may be tempted to think that a mission statement is more important. The truth is goals and mission statements work synergistically. In my book I suggest developing a well thought out mission statement. You could do so using the tool above or many of the great tools online. When you have a great idea of who you wish to become, what you need to become can be broken down into smaller goals. Thus, the mission statement can generate some great goals. Once again, if you would like more information about mission statements or how they will help you pick up my soon-to-be-released book, Living the Dream.

If you were to approach this from the other directions and start crafting goals, you can certainly use those goals to discover who you are trying to become and what direction you are heading. By doing so you can craft a mission statement. Personally I find this way a bit more complicated, but you may enjoy it.

Having a mission statement and goals will really propel you to the life you deserve to have and both should be a part of everyone’s plan of success. One important thing to note is that both goals and mission statements can, and will change and evolve as you do. Knowing this, the most important thing to do is get started. I would love to hear examples of your mission statements and goals you are currently working on. I will leave you the example of my mission statement below. I look forward to reading yours.

“To become someone who helps all individuals reduce stress, increase joy and become the best versions of themselves.”

WHEN THE NIGHTMARE BECOMES THE MIRACLE

Every day as part of my day job I drive several miles. On this daily commute I listen to the country music station. Whether you like that music or not, I would like to share a very interesting thought that was brought to light by doing just such a thing. On this particular day the song Living by Dierks Bentley came on. This song is about the difference between just ‘being alive’ and really living. In the lyrics he references really noticing a tree he has seen a thousand times, stopping to enjoy the rising sun and “Drink it in like whiskey”. There is also a mention of stopping to watch a bird on a branch and watching it fly away.

My favorite part of this song is about his lady. After noticing all of the amazing things in nature he goes back inside to fire up a pot of coffee (nature and coffee can you see why I like this song?) As he is doing so his lady walks in wearing his shirt “Like she always does” the song says. Suddenly he is overcome with love and gratitude for her. He kisses her like it is the first time and tells her he loves her and can’t live without her. He also mentions that he knows he doesn’t express those feelings enough.

 This song reminded me of the countless stories I have read or heard about someone confronting their mortality and suddenly looking around and seeing the beauty in everything. Often when we are confronted with or overcome our greatest nightmare, that is when we begin seeing miracles everywhere. When there is the possibility that this may be your last day on earth suddenly everything becomes a treasure. The smell of a summer breeze, the smile on a loved one’s face or in the case of the song, sunshine, trees and birds. Why does it so often take death to make us appreciate life? The truth is these miracles are around us every day.

I would like to also take a moment to discuss the other verse of the song. The one where his lady walks into the kitchen wearing his shirt and he falls in love with her all over again. When you think about love it really is a miracle. No matter how amazing of a person you are, having another person be able to be around you everyday can present its challenges. To have that person not only tolerate you, but to look forward to see you and enjoy your company is a miracle.

I am grateful through practicing living a life of gratitude and doing my best to be present I have had some amazing gifts bestowed on me. Most obvious is my beautiful Margie. When I look at her and think of how hard she works and the amazing things she creates, the beauty just flows from her. Just this morning in the kitchen she had been up for over 24 hours making cakes and DJing. Her hair was put up she was wearing a shirt she didn’t mind getting full of dye and frosting. As I watched her knowing that she was pushing herself to not only earn income to help our household, but to bring joy to somebody (or in this case multiple somebodies) special day, I couldn’t help but thinking “Damn, I have one amazing and beautiful woman.” I told her that, which is something I wish more men understood to do. She couldn’t imagine after not sleeping, her hair a mess and not being dressed up  how she could be beautiful to me. If she only knew. Actually she will know when she reads this.

The point today is that life and love are two miracles that are around us everyday. There is a difference between just being alive and truly living. It is my suggestion that we use the power of gratitude and living in the present to give us this amazing life. It is difficult to do all of the time, but the more you practice it the more your life will be amazing.

I would LOVE to hear your stories of when you were not just alive, but truly living.

LEARN TO SUCK AT SOME THINGS

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Why on earth would learning to suck at some things be a good idea? Why would we feature it on a website about living an amazing life? Two very good questions. We will tackle them both in the brief paragraphs that follow.

In the picture above you see my current work area at a local Starbucks. The folder of paperwork you see to the right of my computer is my upcoming book. I had received it back from my esteemed editor Johnny L, who brought back with him from Mexico where he lives. On this draft he made several corrections in red. Most of them are grammar and syntax issues. I purposely shot this picture from far away so you can’t readily see how much red is on the paper.

When I wrote my first book, A Happy Life for Busy People, it came back with more red than black. I am happy to announce that the copy for this book did not receive the same treatment. My accomplishment is not my improvement in writing, however slight. The improvement I am most proud of is my receptivity to the corrections. Being an author is almost like giving birth to a child. I am sure many art forms are similar. I recall bringing songs to bands I was in, the feeling was the same. You worked quite hard to give birth to this special project. (The gestation period for my last book was five years) It is really a part of you. Then here comes your editor, fellow bandmates, art critics, jealous haters or a million other people telling you what you did wrong.

Those of you who are parents, imagine how it feels to hear there is something wrong with the child you created. How do you feel? Judged? Defensive? Angry? These are all natural and understandable feelings. The hard truth in all of this is that there is not only at least a little truth in the criticisms, but an opportunity to learn and grow. In trying to correct the errors in my first book after several days of looking at spelling and grammar errors I was tempted to say “F%$k it! Maybe I shouldn’t be an author if I have this many errors.”

In reflection, that was both an immature and limiting reaction. Although I can understand why I, and anyone else in a similar situation, can feel that way, it really does not serve us. First of all, by looking at ways in which what we created can be improved will undoubtedly bring a more quality product to life with our name attached to it. Secondly, the feelings of being judged, anger or defensive do not serve us emotionally and can even damage us physically. What is amazing about that? Nothing.

I have learned to understand every round of editing, every criticism only helps me become stronger and deliver a better version of me and my products to the world. I have now been a writer for nearly 10 years in some form or fashion. This is only professionally and does not take into consideration the stories my third grade teacher thought were amazing and kept for herself. This experience could leave me an entitled or aloof attitude when it comes to criticism. Instead, the more I grow as both a writer and a person in general I enjoy hearing ways I can improve. On occasion this may take some time, just ask Margie, but eventually I have learned to make every situation in life one to grow from.

When your life seems to have more red than black, be that literal or figurative, just remember it is a change to improve what you do and come back stronger. Yes, it may sting at first, but use that feeling to your advantage. A special shout out to Johnny L for having the patience to realize my fingers often move faster than my brain and to Margie who works with me as I learn and grow through life.

WHY IT WORKS: HAPPY PLAYLIST

In this picture is the lead singer of the rock band Jackyl and myself. You will notice that Margie has artfully cut her beautiful face out of the picture. I rather enjoy this band’s music and their live shows even more. Their music puts me in an energetic and fun frame of mind. Their lyrics may not be for everyone, but they work for me.

In my first book, A Happy Life for Busy People, as well as in my upcoming book, I strongly advocate putting together a ‘Happy Playlist’. This is exactly what it sounds like. Songs you enjoy that put you in a happy frame of mine. It just so happens my playlist includes several songs by the band Jackyl. In addition to their music bringing to mind enjoyable thoughts, they have also been fun and wonderful people every time that I have met them.

What does having a happy playlist accomplish? What it can do is facilitate a state change. An example is as follows. Let us imagine a position at your job opens up that will allow you to work more hours and earn more money. After coming back from a well-deserved vacation you discover your boss has decided that not only will you not have this job, they are going to do their best to eliminate it. This leaves you feeling not only under appreciated but disrespected as well.

Now, every time you come into work you know how little your boss values your contribution. This could leave you feeling less than motivated and rather dejected… I mean I would imagine that is how you feel. In order to approach your job and everything you need to accomplish you cannot come from that state or you will not do your best.

If you put on your headphones and turn up so 80’s hard rock (or whatever music does it for you) suddenly your mood shifts to something better. Will this change the fact that your boss is taking food off your table to make the situation more convenient for them? Of course it doesn’t. What it does do is allow you to approach your job, and your coworkers in a more healthy and objective state. This will prevent your bad mood and trying situation to grow like a snowball rolling downhill.

I suggest having a happy playlist stored in your phone, MP3 player or somewhere else handy.  The wonderful thing about this tool is that it works not only for unappreciative bosses, but for flat tires, traffic jams or anything else you face in life. It may not do much if anything to change the actual situation, but it will allow you to face that challenge in a much healthier state. That, my friends, can make all of the difference.

ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S HARD

In this blog we explore many ways in which to have an amazing life. A lot of that focus tends to fall on how to have an amazing relationship. After all, relationships, more than anything else, have a great impact on our lives. Let us be honest, if our relationships are less than amazing, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for our lives to be amazing. That is why I recommend relationship building as a life-long study regardless of the field you are in.

Even in the best relationships things can go south. Despite our best efforts, despite all of our best intentions and study, things often zig when they should have zagged. It happens. When we find ourselves in a state that seems to be less then amorous with our partners it can be easy to stray from the things we know we should do. The ironic part is that is when it is most important.

One of the things I always do for Margie is open her car door. To me it is a sign of respect. It is a little thing I can do to show her how much I value and treasure the lady she is. Another thing we do for each other is kiss each other at red lights. This does two very important things. First, it places a loving action in what is generally a mundane and occasionally stressful activity. Second, it turns red lights from something to dread, to something to look forward to.

When things in the relationship are running on less than ideal terms certain thoughts come to mind. I am reminded she is physically capable of opening her own door and how nice it would be to get into the car and relax myself. There are times when I could look straight ahead and focus on the waiting for the red light to change instead of leaning over to kiss her. It is these times, however, when it is most important to do these actions.

This is why. When I open the door for her even when we are not seeing eye to eye, it shows her that even though I may not be happy with the situation, I still respect and honor her as my lady. When I lean over to kiss her at a red light on a night we might not be on the best of speaking terms it says, “Even though we not be liking each other a lot right now, I still love you.” It is vitally important to maintain little actions that show respect and love in times of discord. Quite often these can soften the hardest of hearts, even if that one is your own at times.

Here is a great side-effect that arises from maintaining these loving actions. At the end of the day you can look back and know that despite circumstances, you were the best version of yourself. You can also be confident that you did what was right for your relationship. It would be easy, and even excusable, to forgo certain loving actions when you are angry. What it will not do is give you an amazing relationship. That, as we discussed earlier, will make it very difficult to have an amazing life.

A PART OF SUCCESS

After my heart diagnosis, I have spent a good deal working on finding a workable stimulant-free preworkout. Something that will give me a little extra ambition to go to the gym without making my heart explode. I have already tried quite a few. None have really worked extremely well. When I try one and I really don’t feel anything I think to myself, “Ok, this one didn’t work. I will have to try a different one.”

Over the course of the last year since I was advised to limit my caffeine consumption I would guess I have purchased and tried somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 or so of these supplements. When they fail to achieve the desired result I just consider it a learning experience and move along to the next one. I do not dwell, at least very long, on the money invested. I do not have some fatalistic thoughts about how I will never find something that works.

This is a personal example but another is one we have all went through. Ask a parent how long they would give their child to learn to walk before giving up and deciding they will crawl for the rest of their lives. The average parent will tell you that their child will keep trying until they learn to walk. If you could get into the complex thoughts of this toddler, I highly doubt you would find depressing thoughts of giving up. They just keep getting up, falling, getting up again and repeating the cycle. First they take one or two steps, then five or six. Pretty soon they are running around like a college student after four espressos. Their parents wishing, if only for the moment, they hadn’t learned to walk quite yet.

 Why is it as adults we cannot maintain this persevering attitude? We start a new business and it goes belly up. We decide perhaps being our own boss is just not for us and look for a new 9 to 5. We fall in love and end up getting our heart broken. Do we learn from that experience and searching for someone who is more in tune with our values and values us more? A lot of us decide love is not for us and we should spend our lives in a one bedroom apartment surrounded by small furry animals.

I do believe part of the issue is mistaking life for a series of destinations instead of a journey. I can’t recall any person who accomplished anything of great value who did so without overcoming a few, or more likely quite a few, challenges along the way. Success is rarely if ever a one-step process. You do not wake up with a goal, go out and nail it the first time and be done with it. On occasion that would be nice, but let us face it that would also make life pretty boring.

I think the world ‘failure’ is too often used and has a terrible connotation. As the picture says, failure is not the opposite of success, it is part of success. This brings to mind one of the best definitions of success I have ever heard. Coming from Earl Nightingale, one of the most profound teachers of success principles. He defined success as follows, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” Meaning, as long as we are working towards our well-defined goals we are a success. It also means success is progressive. It is not all ‘all or nothing’ proposition. Mistakes, lessons and what we often refer to as ‘failure’, are merely steps getting us every closer to our final goal.

DON’T LET THEM WIN

Here is something I have always found hard to understand. I listen to someone who has been a ‘victim’ of someone else. Whether that be something that was done to them, said about them or a multitude of other grievances. They relay what terrible thing has been done to them with as much passion as if it were happening to them at that very moment. As is often the case in the world of a DJ, I can look across the room and see the perpetrator laughing and enjoying time with their friends not having a care in the world. On occasion I listen to how this person even intends to ‘get back at them’. To me this always sounds quite immature, but to that I digress. What thought is foremost in my head is “Why on earth are you wasting your energy on this?”

The energy is takes to continue to hold this anger could be used to constructively pursue one of your own goals. By focusing on this action of others that offended you so greatly, not only are you continuing to upset yourself, but you are also taking away time and energy that you could be using to further yourself and your life ambitions. In my mind this makes no sense. Meanwhile, those who have offended you have often moved on. Even if they haven’t, why shouldn’t you? If you continue to let them drag you down, the blame no longer falls on them, but on you.

The same can be said for gossip and negative talk about others. While you are busy telling the world how awful someone is, you are not spending time building the good people in your life up, making new friends and speaking words to empower your own life. You are actually doing two different things to damage yourself by hanging on to this anger. You are both holding on to feelings that are not good and you are taking energy from furthering the good in your life. Keep this in mind next time you wish to hold a grudge or utter a negative word about someone else.

SAYING GOODBYE IS A LITTLE EASIER


Saying goodbye is always a difficult time. It could be the end of a relationship, someone moving away, leaving a job or worst of all someone you love passing away. From 2017 – 2018 I had quite a few people pass away. It began to seem like just a product of getting older. Each one hurt and their leaving left a void in my heart. I searched to find something that would make saying goodbye just a little less painful. What I found is wonderfully displayed in this quote from one of my favorite philosophers, the loveable furry bear Winnie the Pooh.
As I thought of each of the people I cared about who passed away I realized and was taught many things. Not the least of which was this; the reason their loss hurts so much is because you loved them so much. The reason someone is loved has to do with many things. Shared great memories, being there for each other, and many other wonderful moments. How fortunate were you to have a person in your life that you shared so greatly with and loved so deeply? Many people never have that experience. As the years and people continue to pass I am forever grateful for everything they have brought to my life.
This does not make the pain of missing them any less but it does temper that feeling of loss with a feeling of gratitude. How lucky was I to have such amazing people in my life. Recently, I saw a drink that my late aunt Virginia used to love. She passed away at the end of last year. Sure it made me miss her, but it also brought back memories of times shared drinking one of these beverages. As I continued to recall other great memories of my aunt the end thought was the same, “Damn, I miss her but I sure was lucky to have such an amazing person in my life.” My heart may be filled with sadness at missing her, but there is also a smile on my face remembering all of the good times.
These thoughts are not just for those we have lost. They work just as good for those who are still here. When I leave for work in the morning my beautiful Margie is usually still lost in blissful slumber. As I drive to work I am missing the sleep I should be getting, but most of all I am just missing her. I wish I could still be in bed with her arms wrapped around me. Suddenly, I am even more frustrated I am not an independently wealthy, best-selling author….yet. Before these feelings turn my day upside down I have to reflect why I am so bothered by all of this. I have the most amazing and beautiful woman that I would much rather be with. She makes me happy and puts a smile on my face and in my heart. In an instant I go from frustrated to grateful and excited to make it through the day and be back home.
This is also true when it comes to a great workout or walk with my mother, a great conversation with my friend Russ, coffee with my friend Nick or a million other moments I wish would never end. When they are over I just reflect with gratitude on how lucky I am.

KEEP THANKING

As I returned to work from an extended vacation, I began to return to my normal routine. Part of the routine is after I shave I use this fabulous item. ‘BeardSconsin old fashion small batch beard oil’. I must confess a little over a year ago I had some confusion as to what beard oil actually was. It was obvious it was some oil you put on your facial hair, but why?

At a local October fest celebration there happened to be a stand selling this item. I asked questions and was informed as to all of the benefits of beard oil. Smoothing facial hair and the skin beneath it. This product was offered in a wide array of scents and I was afforded the opportunity to smell them all. The old fashion scent was the most pleasing to me.

In a surprise move, Margie decided to purchase this for me and give it to me as a surprise. It is little things this that keep our relationship alive and well. Then again, in reflection perhaps she was hinting my goatee was out of control or even smelled bad? Regardless, it was a sweet gesture and I greatly appreciated it. That evening I tried the oil for the first time and was amazed at how well it worked.

To this day every time I pull it out of the cabinet in the bathroom I cannot help but be taken back to the evening she surprised me with it. I also feel that same feeling of gratitude and appreciation for the nice gesture. This went on for months. Recently, I scolded myself. “You should be telling her how grateful you feel.” I realized by not doing so I was keeping all of these wonderful feelings of love, gratitude and appreciation to myself.

In the days and weeks that followed, I have thanked her a few times. She may even be growing tired of hearing of it. Still, it is important to convey great memories and especially feelings of appreciation whenever we have them. It is a gift to ourselves and to those we love.

Here is my suggestion. Pick an item that has a positive strong memory attached to it. Whenever you see or handle that item allow yourself to be transported back to the moment in which it came into your life. Feel all of the great feelings of love, joy, gratitude or whatever else it conjures up. Do this every time you come across this item. It could be a coffee mug given to you by your children. It could be the picture of the one you love in your purse or wallet. The possibilities are endless. When you are done enjoying these feelings, make sure you convey them to those involved.

You can even try picking a different item each week or month. It will not only add joy to your life, it will add it to those you share it with. It will also help strengthen your relationships. I would love to hear about your experiences and what item or items you have chosen.