THE HATERS CALLED IT AN INSULT, I LIVE IT AS A COMPLIMENT

No matter who you are, or what you are doing in life, you will have negative detractors. These days these people are known as ‘haters’. Especially with the advent of the internet it would seem people are more than happy to offer their negative feedback on you and your life. How do you combat such people? I have found the simplest way is to live the best version of yourself. When you do so you make them look as if they are the foolish ones. When someone says something about you and you are doing the best you can, that says something more negative about them than it does about you.

Let me share a personal story that better explains what I am talking about. A year or so ago, there was a party Margie and I were invited to. When we arrived we were told there would be snacks and people playing games. Margie and I love board games so we figured this would be right up our alley. We could not have been further from the truth. In this particular game, you could write your own answers. As the created answers rolled off the pens of those in attendance, I found myself a mixture of shocked and appalled. From this group of seemingly well-mannered individuals, came answers filled with racism and extreme prejudice. Not at all what I had expected. In a very short time, the answered went from mindless, bigoted stupidity, to advocating violence and other horrific acts against people for their race, religion or orientation. I had had enough. I informed Margie I was leaving.

When I got home, I felt so coated in negative energy I had to jump in the shower. Why did this bother me so much? Simple, racism and bigotry are stupid. They are an arcane belief that shows both a lack of culture and a great deal of ignorance in the individual speaking it. In a world where most of us are a mix of nearly everything, it makes absolutely no sense. With the internet and other advanced forms of communication, it takes only the smallest amount of effort to see how similar we are and how small the world truly is. As we are pone to thinking a great deal in the shower I thought of the dangerous implications this gathering could cause. Even in a group of such close-minded individuals there are always a few that are even more morally bankrupt and impressionable than the rest. Where most of them may have found this a sick sort of humor, there are people who think these acts may actually be permissible and proceed to act on them. This is how we end up with the violent acts we recently seen against the Asian-Americans in Atlanta and the attacks on the LGBTQ community in Orlando several years ago. These individuals were undoubtedly exposed to the same sort of racist and violent discussions.

Knowing I had to do something, I used the one platform I had to express my concern and feelings by writing on the issue. There is no doubt that several people in attendance that evening wrote what I had written. Fast forward 12 months and that group was having another party. I was not invited this time. (I was certainly happy with that) At the party one young lady expressed her joy at my absence telling a mutual acquaintance, “It is sure good Neil is not here. He is really offended by this.” While it was her attempt at painting me as a person who was overly sensitive to racist remarks as if that were a bad thing, I received it as a compliment. By speaking up for what I had felt was right, I now, apparently, had a reputation for someone who did not stand for discrimination of any kind. This woman was saying, in essence, “Neil is offended by our humor demeaning and advocating hatred and violence towards others who are different than us.” I stand guilty as charged. I believe everyone deserves respect and compassion. When I see that is not the case I speak up about it. If people think of that as a negative character trait of mine, they are welcome to it.

In this case, by living by the principles I have in my life, I have not only shown the haters for who they truly are, but turned their attacks into compliments in my opinion. They may mock my sensitivity to their racist and bigoted humor, but I will thank them for it. Live the best version of yourself my friends. It is better to be hated for who you truly are than to live a life that does not live up the standards you have set for yourself.

THE VACATION YOU SHOULD PLAN NOW!

Ah.. vacation

Ah vacation. Who doesn’t love a good vacation? I have been longing to travel to a tropical destination to perfect different expressions of repose. With the current pandemic and travel restrictions, I find myself stuck in the less-than-tropical environment of Wisconsin where I live. In this post we are going to explore a different kind of vacation and how to prepare for it.

Fun in the islands

Before we get to that, let’s look at your typical vacation. 2 long years ago, Margie and I traveled to Jamaica. It was our first international vacation together and we had a blast! We met so many wonderful people and ate some delicious food.

I love the sun and the water. As you can see in the pictures above,there was plenty of both. To plan this vacation we took our time. We visited a local travel agency. We compared resorts. We looked at prices verses amenities. We organized our schedules to have time free from our many labors and Margie being Margie, we also did a lot of shopping for things we needed and even some we didn’t. All this planning and activity took longer than the actual vacation, but was certainly enjoyable.

You simply must purchase this album

Last post I mentioned during my employment as a telemarketer, I often listened to Bob Marley as a stress relief option. Fast forward 27 years, or so, and we find myself listening to Michael Franti for the same reason. Today I was listening to his latest release Work Hard and Be Nice to People.

There is a wonderful track called daycation that mentions taking a one daycation to get your head on right. How many of us have felt that way a time or 500? I know I have. (Did I mention I work for the Post Office?) How many of us have really acted on that thought? Not many I would venture a guess.

The question is, why not? Taking some time off can reduce stress and even increase productivity once you return. Is it a question of feeling guilty for not being at the office? Trust me they would feel no guilt in replacing you. That’s why you must take care of you first. Make sure your physical and mental health are doing great. It will help you be more productive at the office, but more importantly, it will help you enjoy your free time more and live longer to enjoy it. Don’t believe it? Look up scientific evidence for the benefits of vacation. Print one out for your boss too.

My quandary has always been how much can you really do in one day? The answer is plenty, if you plan it right. On my days off I am usually involved in a literary pursuit, doing a project at home or, like today, having my car repaired. It will not shock you to know this does not feel like a vacation.

What we should do is develop a plan for several one daycations. Whether that is a fancy dinner out followed by a trip to the spa or a day at the water park with friends followed by a nice hotel after. Maybe a picnic in the park with the one you love? The important part is to plan this. Write down your itinerary. This can be fun. Usually it helps to make it away from the house if possible. This way you will be free of the many distractions that await you there.

Taking several of these one daycations can help you unwind and recharge. It can help you return to be more productive at the office and at home!

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SONG THAT INSPIRED THIS POST

HOW IT HAPPENS

Obviously not me as I am a man

Many of you who have read both my book and these blogs may have questions as to how some of the material comes about. Trust me when I tell you that on some days I find myself asking the same thing. With that thought in mind, I am going to share with you a personal epiphany I had the other day that shed light on how I began practicing an early version of one of my main tools of self-improvement. I began doing this years before I was in the self-improvement field, and even more years before I knew what the heck I was doing.

This is what a phone used to look like

The year was 1993. Recently graduated from high school, I was exploring the work world as a telemarketer. You think it is annoying receiving those calls, try making them 8 hours a day, 6 days a week! The best way to prepare for a career in telemarketing is to call a friend repeatedly and have them yell obscene thinks at you and hang up. Do this over and over again for hours. That’s pretty much what it is like.

As you can imagine a day like that can be tough on the nerves and tougher on the self-confidence. Even though you know it is not personal, hearing what people hope the proctologist does to you and your family gets a little exhausting. I do suppose it was a little better for me as I tend to be a friendly sort of chap. I refused to follow the “If the potential customer says ‘no’ then you say ____” This is also why I am no longer a telemarketer.

On lunch I needed to find a way to escape. Recently, my life-long friend Kevin had introduced me to the musician Bob Marley, and therefore reggae music. For those of you unfamiliar, most of Bob’s music has a very positive and almost spiritual aspect to it.

The most popular album people know from Bob Marley is Legend, which is a greatest hits of sorts. I can tell you that I listened to this recording on repeat for my entire lunch hour. I did this nearly every day. Changing my mindset to one of a more positive and hopeful one allowed me to take the second half of the verbal onslaught that awaited me. On many occasions this required another listen when I arrived home at the end of a day.

For some reason, it took about 6 years for the thought to occur to me that creating a happy Playlist, that is a collection of songs that bring joy to your heart might be a good idea. I explain the idea in my book, A Happy Life for Busy People, and have even updated that on my new book as well. With technology, this is now even easier than ever. With MP3, YouTube and streaming services, you can have a happy Playlist in seconds! It took a conversation with my Rastafarian friend, David, for me to remember how this all began.

CLICK HERE FOR A POSITIVE BOB MARLEY VIDEO

HOW FAST ARE YOU?

What do you think of when I say the word fast? A slick sports car? Maybe a supersonic jet? A cheetah? If you are really into nature maybe you think of a peregrine falcon, which is actually the faster animal on land. None of these can match the fastest object that has been on earth. While we think of all these sleek and sexy images when we ponder the word fast, the truth is quite less sexy. The fastest object ever recorded on earth was a… manhole cover.

Like the description for the word, when we wish to go fast in life we think of all of the outside circumstances. A really fast engine or muscle and aerodynamics. While these certainly do help the situation, they are not the most important. What is really important is what is driving or propelling you. Let us take the story of the manhole cover. In 1957 the United States was conducting underground nuclear testing. Just to be sure they covered the site with a half-ton iron manhole cover. I am not sure if that weight was chosen with some sort of science behind it, or because it just sounded really heavy.

After said experiment, our friendly nuclear scientists went out to retrieve the manhole cover. To their surprise, they could not locate it. Where had it gone? The repeated the experiment, because large nuclear explosions underground must be terrible fun. This time they set up a high speed camera to see if the could see what happened to the cover. By studying the film, they discovered the manhole cover to be traveling at 125,000 miles per hour or 5 times the escape velocity of earth. That means at this time both covers are somewhere around pluto.

A manhole cover isn’t tricked out with anything fancy and doesn’t go fast, if anywhere, on it’s own. Put a nuclear explosion behind it and it will become the fastest object ever on earth. The same can be said for you. You may not view yourself as the fastest, the smartest, the luckiest or whatever other adjective you are pondering. If you put enough energy behind you, there is no limit to what you can accomplish. I am not recommending you stand above a nuclear explosion. No, in humans our propulsion is our why. It is this motivating factor that determines our speed, our persistence, and our drive. If you are not moving fast enough, strengthen your why. Increase the internal explosion and it will blast you towards any objective.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE STORY ABOUT THE MANHOLE

IN SEARCH OF ADVENTURES

Never did find this

Everyone who knows even just a little about me knows that my distain for cold weather is equal to my love for sunny warm water. This fact can make living in the location that I do a bit of a challenge.

In a state that has 9 months of winter and 3 months of questionable sledding, you can find me inside a great deal between October through May. The tricky part is that I really love being out in nature. To that end, my mother seems to not let the fact that the weather is too bad for even animals to venture out or that the temperatures mean most of nature is either frozen or covered in snow stop her from venturing outside.

Even the branches were frozen!

On this particular day, there was an alternative reason for me to venture out into the frozen wasteland that is Wisconsin in the winter – a monolith. As you may have heard in the news recently, these curious objects have been popping up in the desert of Utah, Europe and other locations. One recently showed up in one of the locations that we like to hike.

Someone captured it

We began in search of this local monolith on snow covered paths. As the wind whipped its fury and the below freezing temperatures did their best to creep inside our jackets we continued on, one step at a time. What I found shocking was the amount of other souls in quest of the same discovery. It was a sort of communal feeling of adventure. “Are you looking for the monolith?” Replaced ‘hello’ and ‘good morning’. Each person offering their ideas as to where it might be.

View from the top of one of the hills

Each person shared pictures they had saved off local websites. Carefully removing gloves and exposing hands to the elements to compare the picture with the local landscape before quickly replacing the gloves and shoving their phone into their jacket. We saw a gentleman with what appeared to be professional photography equipment, a family pulling each other in sleds and a gentleman with a beard that was almost to his belly button. All looking for the monolith, none of whom found it.

If they knew where the monolith was, they were not telling.

Although we discovered many different surprises that frozen morning, we never did glimpse the monolith. Were our spirits a tad cold after walking away from our mission without success? Not really. Discovering how motivating a sense of adventure can be, realizing you can still hike several miles despite not being able to feel your feet and meeting other local explorers made the whole experience worthwhile.

This winter I encourage you to find an adventure to take with your friends. Get outside and stay active. It will help your body, it will help your mind and it will certainly serve your spirit!

GIVE THE GIFT OF EXPERIENCE

Our friends, the Dorfners

Last post I wrote about a local amazing store called oniomania that I had recently visited. While writing about that specific store and all the wonderful gifts they have, I got a great idea. One of the best gifts you can give is the gift of experience!

One of our favorite breakfast places

How do you give the gift of experience? Think of places you have just fallen in love with. In our city of West Allis, there are many local businesses that fit that description. With all of the hard times businesses are facing, why not give the gift of an experience at a local business?

Who to see if you love skateboarding

There are so many ways to celebrate with friends while supporting local businesses. Margie and I love stopping at Westallion, the local brewery, to enjoy some very festive and unique brews. We often visit there with friends and family. West Allis Cheese and Sausage is a great place to not only take friends for breakfast or lunch, but has a great little store filled with delicious gifts to feed the stomach and the soul. For our more active friends we have Transaction Skate Shop, filled with everything you could need for skating.

Great gift ideas here!

If you can’t support a local business in person during the busy holiday season, why not purchase gift cards to give to others? You will be both giving the gift of a great experience to someone you care about, but giving the gift of a great holiday to local business owners and your neighbors they employ. The possibilities are endless! We have great places to eat such as Urban Joe Cafe and Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli, plus places to work it off like Peak Physique. Giving the gift of a great meal or cup of coffee? How about the gift of health and fitness? All well helping the business owners, their employees and all of their families enjoy the holidays more? It is a win for everyone!

MAKE A FORTUNE!

There is so much great information out there I wish I had three lifetimes to consume it all! There is information on developing wealth, discovering and pursuing your passion, how to increase the quality and quantity of your network as well as anything else you would like to pursue.

Want to be more charming? You can learn that. Want to discover how to get healthy and lose those last couple of pounds? Yep, that’s out there. Want to know how much we have learned from the ancient Egyptians? It’s out there. Want to discover why your aunt has no manners while out in public? Well…I am sure you can discover something about behavior in public.

In the not-so-distant past, like when I was a child, you had to go to the library and look up a book on the subject you wished to learn. At the very least you would have to hunt through an encyclopedia. For you younger people that is a collection of printed books that were like Wikipedia. These methods would take you hours,if not days.

Fear not! Today,as most of us know, information is a mere click away. We don’t even have to read if we don’t want to. There are services like YouTube where we can watch videos that teach us everything we need to know. Videos on avoiding bear attacks, how to build your own log cabin,or even how to politely approach your family member about those manners.

Yet, with all of this information out there, most of which can be accessed from a device in our front pocket, how come we use it mostly for discovering who sang that song we can only remember one line from? I get that, nothing can be more frustrating than singing the same one line over and over again.

With all of the information out there and knowledge to be had, I challenge you to pick something grand you would enjoy learning. Embark on a fun quest to fill your cerebral library a little more. Don’t worry, there will be no grades or even tests to take. You can learn through articles, books, audio books on the way to work or even videos in the comfort of your own home.

By increasing our knowledge base we set ourselves up to not only be a far more entertaining guest at holiday parties, but increase our chances at earning a fortune as well!

THIS WEEK, SPREAD THE ENERGY!!

We have talked many times about how you receive what you give away. This is especially true when it comes to positivity. If you treat everyone in a positive manner, if you pay them genuine compliments, show them compassion, and give them the gift of your time, they will definitely be more likely to treat you in a similar fashion.

This doesn’t sound overly complicated, does it? Then I encourage you, I beseech you, I implore you to be as kind as you can be to as many people as you can be. The kinder you are, the more people you are kind to, the greater the positive impact will be on your life.

Why wait? The sooner you start, the sooner your life will become more positive. Even if you are happy with the life you have right now, try increasing the joy you bring to others. Try this for the next 7 days. You will create connections and joy with others that will last a lifetime!

I welcome ideas on how to bring joy to others. How do you positivity affect others? How has this impacted your life?

GREAT NEWS! MY CAR BATTERY DIED!

This is not an actual picture of me

With a title like this, you may think I have lost my marbles or that maybe Margie slipped something in my coffee. While those may be true on any given day this is not the case here.

What is actually going on is the payoff of years of practicing the principles we share on here. It allows me to view circumstances with a different perspective than most. The reward for this? A better emotional state during and after what most would perceive as a negative experience.

Yep.. still not me

A quick version of what happened. Margie and I had concluded our DJ work for the evening and I had stopped for gas a few blocks from home. It was a blustery early morning and a few snowflakes were falling. As I stood filling my gas tank the wind gusted and I looked forward to getting back in the warm car and more so the warm bed with my hot lady.

I jump in the car, turn the key and…nothing! A few more tries, same result. Lucky for me I have AAA, roadside assistance. I called and they told me it would be an hour. Not what you want to hear when it is below freezing, but there was hope.

90 minutes later I cake called to see what happened to the hour. It was now 3am and I could not feel my feet. The nice lady explained there were not many people available and the man would be there in a half an hour. 60 minutes later he arrived and I stumbled out of the car unable to feel my legs.

What i thought would happen

“I don’t think it’s the battery.” He grimaced. Probably the starter or alternator. Fearing I would attempt a show of strength similar to the picture above, I asked him to try and jump it anyway. The car roared to life. After trying a few things and looking at some reading on a machine I have never seen before, he assured me it was the battery.

We settled up and I drove home anxiously watching the dim dash lights. After making it home and turning off the car (it did not restart) I wanted to run inside and jump in a warm bed. Being that I could now not feel anything from the waist down it took a bit longer than I thought.

Although how I felt, still not me

Less than 12 hours later I am so grateful for this experience. “Did he just say grateful?” Yes I did. I am sincere about that statement as well. Let me share the reasons why.

This happened at a gas station open 24 hours with hot coffee and a bathroom, which I made use of twice. (Grateful) I had AAA who were able to send someone even at such an early hour. (Grateful) Even though it took the man 2.5 hours, he was pleasant and got me up and running. Even waited for me to call him and let him know I got home ok. (Grateful) This morning my mother took me to get a new battery(Grateful) The folks at Auto Zone by my house were super friendly and even carried everything out to my car(Grateful) Lastly, although I had to be stranded for 2.5 hours, I did so next to the most beautiful woman in the world. Even though she was extremely cold as she always foolishly dresses for form over function (that is me yelling at her for both her mom and mine) she never complained and was actually rather encouraging. (Grateful)

This may all sound like I have a supply of sunshine where it is not supposed to shine, but it is true. I think the evening would have been longer, colder and far more unpleasant had i taken a ‘whoa is me’ attitude. I actually came out of this situation feeling so lucky for all I have instead of unlucky for all of the misfortune that happened.

This is a younger picture of me

To some of you this may seem like I am looking at this situation through rose colored glasses. It is not denying that the situation was less than ideal, but that despite the challenges there was a lot more to be thankful for and I was able to see and feel that. Even better I was able to do in the midst of it occurring. Ask Margie, I am not always able to do this. The more I practice the principles we share here, the better I get at seeing the light in the darkness. Do you know what that leads to my friends? That leads to an amazing life!