A HUMOROUS PERSPECTIVE….

I laughed when I first saw this picture. Then I started thinking about it. Seldom do I drink enough water. That is important for your body in so many ways. If you don’t trust me, feel free to Google “Ways that water helps your body function”. Finish this blog first because that will be a lot of reading and today’s message is really short. I also do not get enough sun. My work has not a lot of windows and mother nature in West Allis Wisconsin where I live seems to be at least a month behind.

As I pondered this quote I realized we are far more than house plants with complicated emotions. Each one of us has within us world-changing potential. What also occurred to me is that we often take better care of our house plants than ourselves. We make it a point to make sure we water and give our plants a nice spot in the sun. With the exception of how it works in our house, this usually keeps them alive and happy. When it comes to making sure we are hydrated and have enough vitamin D from that great ball of fire in the sky we fall short.

This week let us make a point to spend a little more attention to our self-care. Set an alarm on your phone to make sure you drink enough water. I believe there is also an app for that. Step outside should the weather have some sun. Even if you have to do it on lunch. Maybe stop at the park and walk through the grass without your shoes on. This feels amazing. As adults we tend not to do these things. With the level of stress increasing it is even more vital. Not to mention the more we take care of ourselves the better we can take care of those we love….and our house plants.

 

ALL IN HOW WE LOOK AT IT

Challenges. We all go through them. Some are small, like leaving your cup of coffee on top of your car as you drive away. Some are big, such as a breakup or losing someone. We have little or no control over most of these. Who would voluntarily give up their dose of caffeine just to decorate the outside of their car?

What we all have in common is the fact that our lives include challenges. Some may appear to have more than others, but if we look closely we discover we all have them. What separates us is how we respond to challenges. How come some of us walk away bitter and some walk away better? This can even happen differently with the same person depending on the situation. I can say that I do not always respond best from challenges and often it takes the help of others to put me on the right track.

What makes the difference? The key here is perspective. As the picture above notes, some people have muscles and some have wounds. It is not a matter of minimalizing your pain or struggle, but putting it to work for you. As Eric Thomas, one of my favorite coaches reminds us, don’t waste your pain. It is bad enough that terrible things happen in life. Let us do our best to make use of them by gaining strength from the struggle we have survived or in some cases are currently going through. Print out this picture or maybe even just write it down for some good motivation!

ARE YOU A LION OR A GAZELLE?


I have always loved this quote. In fact, I have a copy in my writing room. I always thought the gazelle had the better motivation. After all, if the gazelle doesn’t run fast enough it dies. If the lion doesn’t run fast enough it goes hungry. I suppose enough of those days and it could also die, but at the moment I always figured the gazelle was more motivated. Then something happened to completely change my perception. Has that ever happened to you? Like one minute you view things one way and with a bit of different information it all changes?
I was listening to a talk by Eric Thomas, one of my favorite motivators, and he pointed out something I had not thought of. If the gazelle does not see a lion, it does not run. It is quite leisurely eating grass spending the day with its friends. Its motivation relies on outside motivation. The lion, however, has the motivation coming from the inside, his stomach mainly. He will hunt regardless of whether it is a gazelle, water buffalo or some other animal. He does not need outside motivation. His motivation comes from a hunger within.
Let me tell you where this train of thought went. One of the areas that I am proudest of in my life is my relationship with the love of my life, Margie. We are far from perfect and don’t always see eye-to-eye, but we are always learning and more importantly, loving. Quite often both of us are told how lucky we are. Although I am truly fortunate and blessed that the powers that be put us in the same place at the same time, there is a lot of hard work involved. In every successful relationship there is. The reward for this is…well…a successful relationship.
I realized in my relationship I am successful because I am a lion. Before I lose some of you, let me explain what I mean. In the United States currently over 50% of marriages end in divorce. Looking at some of the couples I see and I am surprised that number is not higher. What happens from the time we get together blissfully in love to wanting to leave each other? More importantly, what do the couples that stay together do differently? They are lions and not gazelles when it comes to their relationships.
Most people fall in love for various reasons, but most of them are predicated on the person they fall in love with. There is rarely a thought of what they are looking for and equally as important, what they are looking to avoid. Margie and myself both came from long relationships before we met each other later in life. By this time we were a lot more clear on what we wanted and want we did not enjoy in a relationship. Quick note, she still surprises me by showing me things I did not even know I wanted in a relationship. Then people generally go on autopilot. When loving things happen, they feel loving. When stressful things happen, they feel stress. They are reactionary people. I am not sure how your life works, but in my life there are usually a lot of challenging things. That can leave you feeling stressed more often than loving. Stretch this out of a length of time and it is not so surprising a lot of relationships fail.
There are times when we put forth efforts. Birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine’s day come to mind. Then it is still the outside influence of the calendar that is motivating us. We are still a gazelle that depends on outside motivation to put forth a great deal of effort in our relationship. One of the most comical, yet sad things I witness is when you suddenly see someone become the best romantic partner ever. That is in the presence of another lion. A attractive young lady in a revealing outfit or a muscular gentleman with perfect features approaches your spouse and suddenly you are by there side showing the world, and more importantly that other lion that they are yours. I even heard people who never utter a romantic word become the next Shakespeare or Robert Browning, all but reciting romantic sonnets in the middle of a club, grocery store or wherever this romantic challenge happens. Yes, they are being romantic, but why? It is to defend and retain the romantic affections of there partner. They are still being a gazelle, dependent on that outside influence for motivation.
Sure, their romantic overtones are probably greatly appreciated, but it is usually obvious why they were made. I must confess to being guilty of this myself a time or two. In the world of being a DJ, it can be quite apparent that people have little to no respect for another’s relationship. I may have even occasionally attacked another lion, but I digress. What Margie and I do to make our relationship success is we are both lions. Our motivation for being loving and romantic with each other is a burning hunger to love and create the most loving relationship we can. Remember the lion in our first example? The motivation came from an inner hunger. It did not need an outside force for motivation.
How can you be a lion in a relationship? Even if someone would come up to Margie when she left the house in the morning and told her she was beautiful, I make sure I have already reminded her of that fact several times. My desire is to be the best romantic partner and friend I can be. My reward for this is a great connection with Margie. My hunger will make sure I am never content with that connection either. While I bask in the joy of our love, there is always an inner hunger to take our love and our relationship to greater heights. I do not need a special day or the influence of some other person to generate a desire to create love in my relationship. It is my hunger to be the best man I can be and to create the best relationship that drives me. In all areas of your life be a lion. channel that inner hunger to hunt down the best relationship, job or whatever else it is you are hunting.

THE POWERFUL FORCE

The last few posts we have looked at how we as different faiths share the common bond of love and the desire to mature spiritually. It is when approaching someone who is not only different than us, but one that we may be at odds with that this becomes most paramount.

If our desire is to forge a bond with those who are considered our enemy we can only do so by relating to them on a level that we share. Using the power of love, which is a feeling everyone desires and everyone has the ability to give, is the most powerful way to do so. Looking back in history can only serve to prove this correct. Starting with the above example Martin Luther King jr. He did not curse those who persecuted him based solely on the color of his skin. No, he preached love, equality and acceptance. Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for a quarter of a century could have very easily moved to start a revolution upon his release and nobody would have blamed him. Instead he said, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” That my friends takes a lot of love, but look what he was able to do.

As we think of those we consider enemies, let us begin to consider ways in which we can use love instead to make them our friends. It will not only be better for creating a result, it will be better for our heart and better for the world as well.

LET US NOT CONFUSE THE TWO

Much like last post, I must begin by saying in no way am I saying any religion, or religion in general is not good. Religion gives many people structure and guidelines that often help them to grow. As Haile Selassie pointed out in the statement above, it helps them grow spiritually. It is the goal of religion to help people grow and mature in a spiritual fashion.

Many of the practices include some of the same elements although they may be used in different ways. These include, but are not limited to, prayer, fasting, meditation and study. Whether you fast for Ramadan or for Lent you fast to mature and confirm your spiritual beliefs. It is your religious beliefs that are helping you to grow spiritually. Once again, this is a similarity to remember we all have in common. The same with prayer and meditation. The exact methods may differ but the reason and result is the same – to help us grow spiritually.

If you happen to observe someone engaged in a religious practice different than your own, please keep in mind they are doing what helps them grow spiritually. Just as people may use different exercise to improve their physical bodies or different types of learning to mature intellectually, we also use different practices to grow spiritually. Let us work toward and look forward to a day when everyone can become spiritually mature no matter what their belief. It will be then that we can accept each other in a spirit of love and understanding.

THE MAGIC FORMULA

Half of my time engaged in my writing career includes observing the ideas of others. After all, finding ways to live a positive rewarding life should include as many successful resources as possible. Today’s post was learned watching a talk given by Jack Canfield, one of the authors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Jack was speaking about his great book The Success Principles. One of the things he mentioned that really grabbed my attention was a formula you can use to determine and control the success and joy experienced in your life.

A formula for figuring out life? If you are picturing a chalkboard full of equations do not worry. This formula only has three parts and can be used by everyone. The beautiful thing about researching is that a great deal of the information you come across is very similar. The unique thing is how it is presented. This formula is such an example. It can be difficult or at the very least not very motivating to try and remember some esoteric phrase or cliché quote. A formula is simple and easy to adjust. Let us take a quick look at the formula and discuss how we can use it to change our life and the level of joy we experience in it.

E (Event) + R (Response) = O (Outcome)

Using a math comparison let us say this equation is 2 + 2 = 4. Sounds pretty simple, does it not? The first part of the equation – Event – we often to not have control over. It is like the first number ‘2’ in our example. Let us say we are not thrilled with the outcomes in areas of our lives. That would be the ‘4’ in our example. If we have no control over the first ‘2’ and we are not happy with ‘4’ as the outcome, we must change the second ‘2’. This is also known as our response. This we have complete control over. It may not be easy, but when we learn to control our response to any event it will change our outcomes. This will change our life and the amount of joy in it. I suggest printing or writing this formula somewhere you see it every day.

Let us take this one step further. In our equation let us use negative numbers to represent negative aspects. If the first number or the first ‘2’ is negative, that is a negative event. These often happen to us and again are beyond our control. We get fired, the love of our life finds they love someone else or a million other situations can happen. We have the choice of not responding, or making the second ‘2’ a ‘0’, that leaves the situation equally as negative as when we began. We can also respond with negativity. This could range from anger, sadness, revenge and depending on the severity could be anything from a ‘-1’ to a ‘-100’. The great the number behind the negative sign, in other words the more negative our response, the more negative the outcome will be.

On the other hand, we could also respond positively. Perhaps the situation was mildly negative, like a long wait in line at the store. We will say this is a ‘-1’. We could use this time to send our spouse a text message letting them know how much we love them and how proud we are to be with them. That would be a positive response to the situation. We could say this response was a ‘+3’. -1 +3 = 2. The situation could still turn out positive by the time we get home. Our spouse could be filled with love and gratitude for our gesture. If, on the other hand, we spend our time thinking about how much this is an inconvenience on our day and get ourselves all worked up we would be having a negative response. We will say this is a ‘-3’. Again, that would depend on the level of anger. Now our formula looks like this -1 + -3 = -4. We have taken a bad situation and made the outcome even more negative. What could this mean? Perhaps we treat the cashier harshly, or come home to our spouse in a bad mood and jeopardize the chance for a romantic evening.

If we are dealt a terribly negative situation, say a ‘-10’. Let use our lover leaving us for this example. It was beyond our control. We have already seen by responding negatively, such as spreading bad gossip about them or trying to do something vengeful, will only lead to a greater negative outcome. What if we can use this to our advantage? Perhaps we can learn lessons about modifying our own behavior for future spouses? Maybe we can take notes as to what type of people to avoid dating in the future? These positives could only amount to say a ‘+5’. Plugging that into our equation -10 + 5 = -5. You could see the situation may still suck, but not quite as bad. The ability to create the most positive responses can increase our ability to overcome, or at the very least lessen the effect, of the most negative situations.

Lastly, there is what to me is the most puzzling of all equations, but one I witness far too often. That is where we have a positive event. Let us say we get a raise which could be a ‘+4’. Again, the number could depend on the amount of the raise, how  bad we needed the raise or even how expected the raise was. A normal response would be joy or gratitude, let us say a +3. That equation would be 4 + 3 = 7. The outcome would be made even more positive by our response. There are those who do what I consider baffling. They receive their raise a +4 and instead of adding positivity to that event, do the very opposite. Perhaps they complain it wasn’t enough or how long it was overdue. They might even end up feeling dissatisfied or even angry with getting more money. This response could be anything from a ‘-4’ to perhaps a ‘-6’. Our equation now looks like this 4 + (-6) = -2. You can take a positive event and turn it into a negative outcome!

So, print out this equation and work on controlling your response. The more positive your responses, the more positive your outcomes will be. Lots of positive outcomes lead to a positive life. It will help us cope better with the negative and only intensify the positive!

WHAT I LEARNED FROM NOT GETTING A TATTOO

Let me begin this by saying I have nothing against tattoos. In fact, this is a picture of my beautiful Margie’s arms, tattoos on both. I admire people who have the bravery to get a tattoo. The reason I have never gotten a tattoo is that I cannot think of many things I like on a consistent basis. Even people I admire have changed over the years. My favorite band is Ratt, but as of late they have become the most dysfunctional drama-filled mess. I used to be a big fan of Lance Armstrong. I admired how he overcame his cancer and went on to win several bike races. I could have gotten a tattoo of him. Then he came out and admitted he cheated and used performance enhancing drugs.

This got me thinking about what I do for happiness in my life. If you place your happiness in the hands of other people, no matter how wonderful they may be, they will at some point let you down. People are different and that is just how the world goes. Same with attaching your happiness to material things. Money can come and go. A hurricane can come and blow down your house you invested years and quite a bit a money on. As the saying goes don’t put the key to your happiness in somebody else’s pocket.

What, then do we have our happiness depend on? Make it internal. Things like our Faith, our sense of hope and those things that are eternal. In the above example, my lovely lady wanted to place her love for both singing and her mother on her arms. Those are things that come from inside her. It would do us a great service to spend some time on compiling a list of things that bring us joy that come from inside. Those are the things we should put our focus on. If we want true joy in our lives we should enjoy all of what life has to offer, but place our focus on what comes from the inside.

SIMPLE SOLUTIONS

Let us begin this post with a disclaimer. Although the title of this post is “Simple Solutions” I do realize not all problems have simple solutions. Although the picture offers unique and creative ways of addressing the problems listed I realize there are very few ‘one size fits all’ solutions. All this being said, let us take a look at a few of these ideas.

I am going to just talk about a few, but I would love to hear your feedback on any you have tried or any you think may work better. Let us look at the one on grief. Loss, sadness usually is one of the most difficult things to overcome. This takes time and patience. Just as a physical wound takes time to heal, so does a spiritual and emotional wounds. Just like its physical counterparts, the bigger the emotional or spiritual wound, the longer it takes to heal. How can starting a new ritual help? Rituals not only help define who we are, but often determine who we are. When you are stressed if your ritual is to go for a run, that will have an entirely different outcome than if your ritual for stress is to drink yourself to sleep. Rituals can also help keep us present and pay honor to people and beliefs. Starting a new ritual can help us heal by reminding us to enjoy the present while mourning the past. Ritual can serve honor to the loss we are grieving. Rituals can also serve as a great reminder that our life has more to live. That is a very important message to give ourselves.

If you are lonely, calling someone you love just to say “hello” is a great solution for several reasons. One, it is proactive. Loneliness can often be accompanied by or followed by a feeling of helplessness. By reaching out to someone else we are exercising control. The other reason is simple, it will bring them joy. How will it make you feel to bring someone else joy? How will that affect your loneliness? Lastly, who is to say they are not feeling a little lonely themselves? Even if they are not feeling lonely, who would not want to hear a “Hello” from a dear friend? Somebody calling with no agenda other than to share a good conversation.

Lastly, the solution offered for feeling inadequate. Remember your strengths. I feel it is a good idea to keep a list of both your strengths and accomplishments nearby at all times. When I feel that my writing isn’t reaching anyone or making the impact I desire I have a list of people I have helped in the past. I also can look at my Amazon.com review on my book A Happy Life for Busy People. If you want to add to them, I would certainly welcome your contribution. The world is always to quick to tell you what it is you are no good at. It is up to us to often be our own cheerleaders.

Take this list as a suggestion. An even better idea is to create one of your own. After all, nobody knows better what works for you than you. Think of the areas of your life and emotions that always seem to get you down. Create a chart like the one above tailored to you personally. Feel free to leave some of your suggestions to help others get started.

THE DIFFERENCE A SPACE MAKES

I enjoy the reminder is this picture. As we begin the week are we mindful or is our mind full? Taking time to focus on filling our minds with specific things we desire such as relaxed visions of our goals and dreams or things we are grateful for is perfectly wonderful, but that is not what our minds are usually full of is it? No, usually we have passwords, a code to our ATM card, everything on our ‘to do list’ and we can throw in doing our best to remember to pick up toilet paper from the store before we find ourselves in a most unfortunate situation.

Being mindful has an entirely different meaning. Being able to keep in mind the feelings of those around you is important. Being able to keep yourself in the present will help us realize how much beauty surrounds us every day. I use the example of taking your car to the grocery store by yourself. Upon arriving looking around and wondering who drove. I have been guilty of this myself a time or several. Our thoughts can be so busy with the next thing we never appreciate the current thing. Is was John Lennon who said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” 

With most of us walking around with our faces buried in our cell phones, we may miss the beautiful sites of nature. As we drive to work worried about all we have to do once we get there, we may miss the fabulous new coffee shop that just opened, or even just the beautiful weather outside. As we wait impatiently for our specialty coffee drink to be created, we fail to notice how hard the employees are working, the wonderful smells in the café or all of the interesting people who are enjoying their day there as well.

Life is full of moments. We owe it to ourselves to enjoy each and every one of them to the fullest. We do not want to arrive at the end of life wondering where it all went. We want to go peacefully filled with the blissful and loving memories of a life well lived. Today, don’t just have a mind full take a moment to be mindful.

LESSONS FROM THE CIVIL WAR WE HAVE FORGOTTEN

The American Civil War (never really did understand that term) was about far more than just slavery. It represented rural verses city life. It pitted national governing against local governing. In broad terms, the southern way of living against the northern way of living. Of all of these issues the basis was the same, different people with strong ideological beliefs on both sides.

It can still be argued as to whether rural or city planning is better and healthier. I am sure there are benefits to both national and local governing. What I felt was really a no-brainer was dismissing the human rights of someone based on either the color of their skin or their ethnic upbringing. In today’s world of division, this can, and often does, include political and religious differences as well. While it is certainly ok and quite natural to disagree with each other on these issues, what is not acceptable is to vilify or dehumanize others who are or believe different than we.

As I tend to surround myself with people who are as accepting and open-minded as myself, these issues are not always front and center in my mind. In my own way I think of things like prejudice and racism as not only arcane, but ludicrous. Would you really deny yourself a blood transfusion because Dr. Charles Richard Drew, who invented a way to process and preserve blood plasma was African-American? Would you do without such inventions as paper, printing and umbrellas because they come from Chinese inventors? Would you do without all of Albert Einstein’s contribution to science because you are anti-Semitic? The fountain pen, windmill and one of the most important inventions to my writing – coffee are all of a Muslim origin.

To do without any of these inventions because you believe this or that group of people are less than you would not only be foolish, it would be ignorant and stupid. Every culture has its heroes and its villains. To condemn an entire race or group of people based on the actions of one, or some of its people is not only irresponsible, but asinine. Do I hate all of my German friends because back in the 30’s and 40’s there was a neurotic freak named Hitler who killed millions of people? Of course not. Do I hold a grudge against all of my Christian friends because many of them lead to the death of over 100 million Native Americans? That would be senseless.

If we are to hate someone based solely on the racial/religious or political differences we have with them, then we should be prepared to do without all of the amazing contributions brought on by that group. As I look around my group of friends and notice the vast difference in color, culture and creed, I look forward to learning from and working with all of them to make our world a better place. As the Dalai Lama said, we are all brothers and sisters.