FRIENDS AND COMMUNITY

The above picture was taken at the christmas party for the neighborhood association I belong to (East Allis Neighborhood Association) One of the goals of this neighborhood association is to encourage engagement with the community.

Not only have a felt a bond with the people in the picture above, who are in the association, but they routinely have social nights where they meet at local establishments to talk, socialize and get to know each other and the people there. Margie and I made new friends at the last social at GM’s dog house.

This particular event was held at another place called ‘Jonny Hammers’. The owner, Jon, is on the board of directors for the association and was happy to host the event. Jodi, Dave, Judy, Marie, Criag, Robin and other members were also there.

We were looking forward to meeting all of them but were surprised by meeting some other friends as well. Our friend Lisa was having a jewelry party there. In attendance that day was Lisa’s friend, Brandy. To this point, she had been a great online friend. We discussed how great it is to have those last week. That being said, it was great to meet this young lady in person. She was friendly and effusive in her praise for my lady’s beauty and the love we share. (This is always a great way to become fast friends with Margie)

We also were blown away by the courteous and thoughtful service of the bartender Jasmin. Our other friend Lisa was there to greet us as well.

Margie and I left feeling loved and like we had made some new friends. The point is this, if you wish to make new friends, improve your community and have a good time you have to get out there. Do not spend all your time online. Read your daily inspiration from secret2anamazinglife.com and get outside! I reccomend joining a neighborhood group such as the association I mentioned. If that’s not your thing, at least get out and enjoy your neighborhood and more to the point, your neighbors!

WORSHIP WITH YOUR FRIENDS

Last week we looked at different places that serve as great locations to meet new friends. That was scheduled to be a one week theme, but due to all of the wonderful feedback and suggestions I received we are going to highlight a few more this week as well. I am grateful for each of you who shared with me your favorite places to meet new friends. Keep them coming for the benefit of all our readers.

Today’s post is about houses of worship. As I write this, Hanukkah is beginning. When I shared this idea with people around me, they seemed to fall on two extreme sides of the equation. Some would say that is the only place to meet true genuine friends. Others would say the place is full of people who are judgmental and condescending to different beliefs. I believe the truth is somewhere in the middle. I think houses of worship are a great place to meet friends. Why? What about the two extreme arguments? Let us take a look at each one.

First, the fact that houses of worship are the only place to meet true friends. I find this argument to be ridiculous for several reasons. Even in the same faith there are many different houses of worship and you can run into fellow believers at many different locations. Personally, I have met some of the most spiritual people in some of the most unique places. Whether they were there to enlighten others or just enjoying their lives, it was only after getting to know them that I learned their spirituality. Great people of faith can be found anywhere.

How about the cynics view that everyone there is judgmental and condescending? Sadly, this is where a few bad apples tend to spoil the whole bunch. I find there are people like that in every faith and in every house of worship. In fact, there are people like that almost everywhere. Yet, houses of worship are a great place to meet people devoted to not only their faith, but their love for their fellow humans. Just like anywhere else, it is a matter of finding those that walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

Houses of worship can be a great place to find those who share the same values as we do and care about others. Whether your faith is Christianity, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, or any other religion, you can find caring devoted people who love and accept others, even if their faith is different. If you can’t find such a person, be one and make as many friends as you can to be a shinning example.

I highly suggest using your place of worship as a place to make new friends. Attend a social function outside of the regular service. Volunteer for projects that not only promote your faith but help the community. You will not only make great friends within your faith, but within your community.

 

WHERE DO YOU FIND THEM?

This week’s posts will all feature a common theme. Where to find good friends. When we are young, finding good friends seems to be easy. We are in a new class every year. We are surrounded by kids in school every day.

For these reasons and many more it seems easier to make new friends as children. As we grow older we go to the same job every day, often with less people than our school had. We tend to keep our circle small and tight.

This week I will show you some surprising, and not so surprising, places I found new and interesting friends. It is my hope we will shed a light on how to interact and meet people in today’s busy world.

I encourage you to come back starting tomorrow to learn the first place I met new friends and every day during this week. I would also like to invite you to share your thoughts and locations you go to meet new people.

THANKSGIVING TO GRATITUDE TO GRATEFUL

Six years ago on this very day I began this blog. It was Thanksgiving of 2012. A lot has changed since then as you might imagine. My post that day in 2012 was about gratitude. In the six years since that post was written I have learned, and experienced, a lot more about gratitude. It’s power to transform how you feel and perceive life. That, in turn, ultimately transforms the quality of your life. I have included a special section on gratitude in my upcoming book Living the Dream.

Recently, I read an article that gave me a whole new outlook on gratitude. It including something even more powerful and life altering – being grateful. Today, as we all hopefully are spending at least part of our day focused on what we have to be thankful for, allow me to introduce you to what I learned in this article. It will allow you to take what we observe on this most wonderful of holidays and use it to create a life that is far more rich and rewarding.

Thanksgiving. It is more than just a holiday it is an observance. Many spiritual practices have rituals of thanksgiving. Taking time out to observe and make special mention of all that we have in our lives that is going well and that we can be thankful for. This can happen once a year such as we are doing today. It can happen during religious or spiritual ceremonies or on special moments when we get together with friends. It may change our way of thinking and feeling for that day, or even for a couple of days. Soon, the thought of what is missing in our lives creeps back in and we live in a state of lack until that time again next year. That is true unless…

We tap into the power of gratitude. Gratitude to me should be something that we practice daily. Several times a day as often as we can. Why? Because the more we practice gratitude the better our life becomes. The definition for gratitude is to be appreciative for all the good you have in your life. You have hot water? You have electricity in your home? You have a job to earn a living? You can express gratitude for all of those things. Trust me when I tell you there is always something in your life to have gratitude for. You may be so out of practice in looking for the good it may take you a while to find it, but it is there. When you start looking for good things in your life they start to become easier to find. This, in turn, causes an increase in good feelings. What does an increase in frequency and intensity in good feelings get you? A more enjoyable life. That is where a lot of people stop, and that certainly is a great state to be in, but there is something better.

Grateful. How is being grateful different from expressing gratitude? Being grateful does not depend on good things happening to you. Remember our examples above? Let us take a another look at them? What happens if your hot water goes out? Being grateful means you understand what a blessing it is to have hot water as a normal circumstance and being without is a great reminder. Being grateful means you are still thankful that the water is clean and you have means in which you can heat it. Electricity go out? Being grateful means being thankful not only that it is usually available, but there are hard-working people on the job 24/7 to help get it back on track. Your job not what you like? Perhaps you even lost your job? Grateful is a chance to improve your budgeting skills and yourself while you pursue something that will bring you spiritual as well as monetary fulfillment.

If that last state sounds a bit like looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, it kind of is. Do yourself a favor and imagine what your life would be like if you were able to find joy and the good in life no matter what the outside circumstances were? You would be in a state of bliss most of the time! What would that give you? One hell of a great life. Trust me when I tell you I know this isn’t easy. I am working to develop a feeling of being grateful in my life. What a goal to pursue. Everyday I become closer to being able to appreciate the joy in life even in the toughest circumstances. That does not mean there are not days in which I falter. We will all have them. The sooner you get them out of the way, and the more you learn from them, the closer you will be to living a life feeling grateful.

As you observe this wonderful day of thanksgiving, begin to ponder how you can foster that feeling more often. I suggest starting with having gratitude for all the good that comes in your life. Taking a moment and appreciating those things. Then strive to feel grateful even in the face of challenges. Celebrate the fact you are alive every day to experience all the world has to offer. There is even beauty in pain. When we arrive at the state in which we can experience that, life becomes a state of magic.

THE HIGHEST FORM OF APPRECIATION

Are you one who ‘talks the talk’ or do you ‘walk the walk’? As we approach my favorite holiday and begin to focus on what we are grateful for, let us think of this quote. Let us show our appreciation not just in words (although I encourage everyone to do that as well) but in actions. Let us not just speak our gratitude, but show our appreciation through our actions too.

Grateful for first responders? Make sure we are pulling over to let them pass and driving slow when we drive past them. Grateful for someone in your life? After you tell them, make sure to do something to show them as well. This is not just for Thanksgiving, but all year.

A GREAT FEELING

Here is a picture I took at our local library. I happened to be searching for a few films to bring home when I decided to search for my own book. Imagine my joy when not one, but four copies came up! It gave me a great feeling to know that many people were interested in what I had written.

I do not share this out of conceit, but as a tool. A personal revelation is that I suffer from seasonal affective disorder. This time of year there are times when it is very hard for me to remain upbeat. The lack of sun and cold weather can really sap my energy and my spirit.

As an author, blog writer and speaker on all subjects positive this can leave me with an interesting challenge. I have recently written what I think is a very enlightening and helpful article for the January issue of See Beyond magazine. For today, I will share with you one of the tools I personally use to get me thorough this tough season.

Surrounding myself with reminders of positive aspects of my life good a long way to lift my spirits. Whether it is vacations, race medals or pictures of my book being available at the local library.

Reminders of what we have done right in life are always a good idea to keep on hand. What items do you use to remind yourself what a great person greets you in the mirror every morning?

WHAT ARE YOU UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF?

Recently, I have been called a ‘Social Media Influencer’. I see that term a lot lately. It  forced me to take a look at what is influencing me. When you look at what you read, listen to and who you hang out with it is easy to see what may be influencing you. I know a lot of you may be thinking, “Not me I am too strong to be influenced by anything!” Congratulations if that is true, but I believe to at least some degree we are influenced by all of the things mentioned above.

Currently, there is an election going on in this country which means an abundance of ads exploring all of the negative situations that politicians have brought to us. There may be a small smattering of promises of what the candidate will do for you, but mostly just want their competition will not do. With our ears being filled to capacity with such drivel we can find ourselves being a bit drained at the end of the day and certainly not filled with hope.

Influence can be subtle as well. Like the few glasses of wine you had with dinner that do not seem to affect you until you stand up to go to the bathroom. Influence can creep into your life without you even realizing it. Move to another country, or even to a different part of your country for a year and it would be shocking if you did not pick up an accent or dialect from that region.

One of the most difficult things people will admit is the influence the people around them have. “I am my own person!” They proclaim. That may be true and you may be very good at staying true to your values, but as many studies have shown, we are usually a composite of the 5 people we spend the most time around. If you spend your days around people who constantly eat junk food, eating a salad once or twice a week may feel pretty healthy. start hanging around people who take their health and fitness seriously and you may feel differently. This is why it is important to include driven and motivated people in our inner circle.

The great thing about all of this is we have complete control over what may be influencing us. We can turn off that news channel and pick up an inspiring or motivating book. We can stop subscribing to pointless political or drama-filled websites and join sites that will add more to our life, fill us with joy and help us become the best versions of ourselves. I gave you a great example in Monday’s post. If we know we have people in our lives that are not the best influence, we do not have to get rid of them, but perhaps balance the time we spend with them with someone we know would bring out the best in us and not the stress in us.

A great way to begin to change what we are under the influence of is to compile a list of all the major things we do daily. Do we watch a certain television show? Visit a certain website? Talk to certain people? Then on the list, honestly decide if that item is a plus or minus. Write a plus or minus next to that item. When you are done look at what you could do to limit or replace the minus and grow or add to the plus. Become intoxicated with love, laughter and success.

THE MOST IMPORTANT VOTE YOU WILL CAST

Today is election day in the United States. We will be voting for a host of local and state officials. I encourage everyone to vote because it is a privilege that not many around the world have.

Today I would like to discuss a more important vote than governor, senator or even President. This vote is not cast every four years, or even every two years. You don’t go to the polls to cast this vote. It has nothing to do with politics, but affects your life greatly.

This vote is cast daily. Sometimes multiple times a day. It is done at home in bed first thing in the morning. It is done on the job, in houses of worship and in traffic. How you vote on this issue would decide your career, your relationships and your overall sense of well-being.

This is whether or not you will vote for yourself. I’m not talking about running for office, although this certainly requires being a leader. Would you give yourself a vote of confidence? Are you proud of the person you are? Do you fulfill the promises you make to others, and especially to yourself? Do you deserve re-election to run your life?

If the answer is no, make the changes now that you need to. Become the most appealing candidate for the office of your life. Start being a person of your word. Become someone of great character.

If the answer is yes, make sure to give yourself that vote of confidence. Understand that you are the one who has your best interests at heart. Stop being victims to celebrities, social media, your boss or whoever else you are allowing you to tell you how to live your life.

Vote for You and elect to office the one person qualified to run things. Make sure to listen to your constituents such as your spouse, your family and your boss, but know the final vote lies with you. Make sure the person you elect maintains the highest character and makes the best decisions with the information they have. As with any elected official, be tough but fair.

So, get out and vote today. Make your voice heard, but most important cast the important vote for yourself!