Last post we discussed enjoying the process. That is, whatever goal you are chasing, whatever you are trying to accomplish, whatever outcome you are working towards, remember to focus on the enjoying the journey. Celebrate small victories. Understand challenges and what may seem as temporary failures are really learning opportunities and stepping stones to where you wish to go.

Why is this so important? It is paramount! Up to 90% of our life is spent on the journey from one point to another. If you catch yourself uttering phrases like, “I will be happy when..” Stop right there. By stating that you will only be happy when the goal is achieved, the destination is arrived at, you are postponing your happiness. Who decides when you should be happy? You do! You do this by assigning meaning to daily events. The difference between happy, successful people and those who feel life is hard are whether or not you do so consciously.

We do not get to decide what circumstances arrive daily, but we do get to decide 100% on what it means to us. It is the difference of life happening to you or you happening to life. If you are living in reaction you are giving up control of your emotional well-being to other people, other circumstances, the weather and a million other sources. It is our decisions, not our circumstances that should control our life. Do not wait for the weekend, do not wait for graduation, to not wait until you are married or get that dream job. Decide to be happy starting today, starting right now.

If you wait to be happy in your relationship until you are married, you may never get there. Decide to create as much happiness in your relationship starting today and when wedding bells chime, your heart will be exploding with more joy than you can imagine. Postpone your happiness until that dream job arrives and you may not only be passed over for a more enthusiastic and cheerful candidate, you may even lose the job you are not enjoying now. Decide to find even the smallest things to enjoy and be grateful for in the job you are in now, and you will find yourself receiving praise from those around you and you will find in a short time you will have outgrown your position!

The most important benefit of this decision will be the improvement in the quality of your life. You will have good days and bad days. What is for certain, when you adopt this attitude, you will grow on each and every one of them. You will also find your hardest days will be your greatest blessings. Develop an attitude that says ‘Either I will win, or I will learn’



Oddly, having a blog post titled prayers to the devil seems rather fitting on a Monday. Before you fear this has anything to do with evoking the dark lord, let me reassure you that is not what we are speaking about here today. What we are going to talk about is complaints which Bob Marley referred to as ‘prayers to the devil’. Which I must confess I find a fairly accurate description.

Are complaints really that bad? Let us stop and take a look. Frist, so we are all on the same page, let us define what a complaint is. To me a complaint is a negative observation about a person, place or thing with no intent on finding a solution or remedy. This is different from merely observing a situation that needs improving and voicing that while pondering what can be done to make the situation better. Forms of complaining can range from mood-killing banter to gossip. Yes, gossip is a form of complaining. I don’t recall every hearing negative gossip about someone that included a plan to assist them in getting better.

Are they really so bad we should compare them to the devil? What do complaints do? By voicing their negative opinions out loud it increases the focus on the person sharing them. We all know where focus goes, energy flows. Therefore, the persons negative mood will only increase as they share this negativity with others. What about the others? Hearing what is wrong in the lives of people they know can at the very least kill the good vibe buzz one might be feeling. If the person receiving the complaint is already in a bad mood it will only serve to sink them further. As you can see complaining will only serve to foster a negative atmosphere. If you think of something that can poison the souls of most it is shared with and bring the one sharing even lower, I can’t imagine many things worse.

Understand I am not saying if you see something you do not like, or have a bad experience that you have to keep it to yourself. Not at all. What I am saying is when you tell someone about it, think about why you are. Let’s say someone is asking your opinion on an Italian restaurant you don’t care for. Instead of saying, “That place sucks!” or worse beginning to list everything you dislike about it, try following it with a solution. Wouldn’t you rather hear this? “I didn’t really like that place, but the bistro down the street is really good.”

We all know people that when asked, “How is it going?” will proceed to offer a list of every social and medical malady they have faced since the age of five. How do you feel after even a brief conversation with someone like that? On occasions when I have the unfortunate circumstance to converse with someone who is determined to find the cloud in a blue sky there are two things I do. First, I turn it into a game to avoid their feelings rubbing off on me. I ask them what is good in their life at the moment. Sometimes I point out things that they have to be grateful they may have overlooked. If the situation seems right I may even share one of my corny jokes with them. Then, I go directly home and take a shower. Now I am keenly aware that the shower does not actually wash the emotions from my being, but as the water flows over my skin I close my eyes and imagine the negativity flowing off me. Some days that is enough, some days I have to exfoliate.

We all have times we need to vent and get things out of our system. I am as guilty as the next person. When you are done, however, consider what can be done to change what you are lamenting. If you can’t think of anything ask for a solution and focus on something to be grateful for while you are awaiting an answer. Think of how listening to complaints make you feel before you share them with others. Remember where your focus goes, your energy flows.


Earlier this week we talked about the person looking back at us in the mirror and how we can decide who that person is. How can we change from someone who sleeps in to someone who goes to the gym five days a week when we are ‘not a morning person’? Better yet, how can you decide to be a morning person when you just really are not a morning person? Leverage.

What do I mean by leverage? One way of looking at this is putting pressure on yourself. This may sound like a terrible idea to some. Being under pressure is generally not a good feeling for most. If we want to change, however, it can be a great tool. Hate cleaning the house? How much can you get done when you discover you are having an unexpected visitor in a little while? If we want to make a change we cannot rely on our willpower alone. After all, if it were that easy we would have made the change already.

How does one get leverage on oneself? One way is to make it imperative. In the above example of you saying, “I would love to go to the gym 6 o’clock in the morning, but I am just not a morning person.” What if I told you every morning you show up before work I am going to give you $5000? Where would you be tomorrow before work? Where would you be at 5:59a.m.? What has changed? It was what became important. What you need to do is find reasons that what you are trying to accomplish is important to you. To this end I suggest using two methods. What pleasure you will receive by doing it and what pain you will experience by not doing it. Then have those reminders in front of you…daily! Don’t like how you look in the mirror? Take a picture and look at it every morning. Being happy with your appearance may get you to the gym. If being that extreme isn’t comfortable, try hanging up an outfit you would really like to fit in. Keep that in front of you daily. Maybe try it on of few times a week.

We touched on the other thing that can keep us from succeeding, and that is our personal identity. How many times have you told yourself, “I am not a morning person?” How many times have you said it to others? That is why our list of who we wish to become is so important. Reading out loud twice a day “I am a morning person!” will slowly get you moving in the right direction. This will not happen overnight. Your identity has been created over years, maybe even decades of beliefs and saying and doing the same things over and over again. Try telling yourself a new story for 60 or even 30 days and see what changes.

Get leverage on yourself. Make the change you desire to make important. Change the story you tell yourself and others and you will be amazed at what kind of changes show up in your life. It will seem like magic!


Today we celebrate Valentine’s day. It is, traditionally, a day to express love to that special someone in your life. As anyone who reads this website would know, I advocate doing so everyday of the year, but it is nice to have a day that is dedicated to love. Some of you may dismiss this as a ‘Hallmark holiday’, and if you only express love once a year and make this day all about buying cards and gifts, then I suppose you are correct.
To me, however, having a day set aside to remember love is a great thing in this busy world. To that end, we are going to discuss one of the greatest gifts you can give your Valentine, or anyone for that matter. You can give this gift not only today, but each and every day you want to spread love. That gift is a genuine and sincere compliment. It is my opinion the best compliments involve something the person truly did. This is where a lot of my gender goes wrong. Telling a lady she has beautiful eyes, or a nice smile is great, but they have little control over those with the exception of how often they show that amazing smile.
Now, if you were to compliment your lady on how well the outfit she picked out for your special evening looks, or what a great job she does applying her make-up, that is something she did. It was her effort and skill that made it possible. It also shows the thought you put in and the fact you appreciate her. Thus, it is almost as if you are giving her several gifts all at once.

Speaking of appreciation, that is the next great place to go for expressing a genuine compliment. Above is a picture of my valentine, my lovely Margie. There are so many amazing things she does that make me love her that no Valentine’s day would be complete without letting her know they do not go unappreciated. In addition to telling her some of those tonight, I am going to share a few here with you. She works very hard. Not only does this allow us to have a house in which we can love, but it gives me a woman I can be very proud of. On the other side of the coin, she is silly. I cannot tell you the times she will send me silly pictures, or I come home to find the silliest things going on. I often just shake my head and say to myself “That is my baby.” Recently, she told me she thought I did not really appreciate that about her. What a wake up call. Those pictures, those silly memories keep a smile on my face each and every day as my co-workers at the Postal Service can attest to.

I urge you today to begin a practice of slowing down, noticing and appreciating out loud to your partner the things they do to make your life special. This not only holds true with romantic partners, but friends, family and others we love. There is no greater gift than to feel appreciated for who you are and what you do.

Let us not treat this as a Hallmark holiday, but a reminder to refresh our practices of love that we share in our life. Love is one of the few gifts that can be as good for the sender as well as the receiver. Take today to think of more ways you can express love. Start with the two we mentioned here and feel free to share your ideas with our readers in the comments below.


Valentine’s day is coming up and if you are anything like me you find yourself trying to think of the perfect gift. Who doesn’t want to get a gift we know the receiver will just love? It doesn’t have to be Valentine’s day. It can be a birthday or any other special holiday. What if I told you one word can help you find the perfect gift? It doesn’t matter who you are buying the gift for, or what the occasion is. Would you like to know what one word this is?

One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is the gift of happiness. To do and say things that not only bring joy to spouses, friends, family and coworkers, but quite often truly touch their heart. What if I told you this magic word would allow you to know just the right things to say and do, and perhaps just as important, what things to avoid saying and doing, would you be interested?

How can one word unlock the key to making people happy as well as avoiding making them upset? How can that same one word help us pick out the perfect gift that we will know that they will love? This word can do all that and more! It can also show this person their feelings are important to us. It can show them we pay attention to what they say and we value them as a part of our life.

“Wait a minute Neil! You are telling me one word can do all of this?” Yes it can. I personally use this word daily in all of my relationships. I have to thank Margie. It was a trip to the grocery store that began my use of this powerful word. I was at a local co-op shopping for produce and other such fun things. At the time Margie was at home creating one of those cakes that look so good you cannot believe it is edible. Considering how hard she was working and how much I was loving her, I wanted to bring her home something to surprise her and let her know how much I love her and was thinking about her. Then it hit me, I had no clue what that was. I began to push the shopping cart up and down the aisles one by one. My head was spinning. To be honest, I cannot even remember what I settled on that day.

Fast forward a few weeks later. Both of us were at this same store and I was about to tell her how frustrated I was last time I was here looking for that little surprise for her. (Men if you know something you could bring your lady home from the grocery store that makes her feel loved, you are far ahead of most) Right before the words were going to leave my lips a voice in my head spoke to me. Generally these consist of urging me to do things I shouldn’t like eat another slice of pizza or hit the snooze one more time. This time was different, it was a eureka moment. I discovered the magic word and since then I have used it to not only transform my relationship with my beautiful Margie, but virtually everyone in my life and now you can use it too.

What is this magic word? Before I share it with you, a few words of caution, do not dismiss this word based on its simplicity. I promise if you utilize this word in the way described in this post you too will experience a great increase in the quality of your relationships. The word is LISTEN.

When we say listen we mean active listening. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Wikipedia defines active listening as “It requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said.” Read that definition once more slowly. Read it out loud. You may even wish to write that down somewhere. Active listening is most commonly used in conflict resolution. Can you imagine how much difference your disagreements would be if you used active listening? If we are completely honest, we often listen with the intent of responding and not understanding. This is especially true during a disagreement. As the other party is explaining why they are upset we are already busy in our minds composing our rebuttal or how we can prove their point wrong. Changing that to concentrating, understanding and maybe repeating what they said to make sure it is understood as well as remembering what they said to avoid the disagreement in the future would certainly improve your relationship.

Although helpful, so much so I thought I should include it, this is not about disagreements. Let us go back to that day in the grocery store. Instead of sharing my previous frustration with Margie, I decided to watch and listen to her very carefully that day, making mental notes of items she looked at and what she said she liked and did not like. Yes, this kind of listening requires both your ears and your eyes. Up to 90% of communication is nonverbal. Watching her eyes light up with this product, or wrinkling her nose at that product helped me learn a lot more about the wonderful woman I share my life with. I learned more about Margie in that one grocery shopping trip than I normally learn in a month.

The next time I found myself at that grocery store I gleefully picked out several items (little oatie, peach rose) and was confident they would bring her joy when I returned home. I was correct and it filled me with a sense of confidence and accomplishment. I made the woman I love truly happy. It also showed Margie I had listened and paid attention to what she enjoyed. It showed her that her, and her likes and dislikes were very important to me. I began to practice this kind of listening with her more often. I watched and listened to what made her smile, what made her laugh. Even when I make mistakes, I notice what makes her upset. I do my best to practice the active listening mentioned above.

If this sounds like a lot of work, or that you may freak out the one you love by watching their every move, rest assured this is not what we are talking about. Try doing this a couple of times a week. If you are out to dinner notice what sides she likes, how she orders her steak. This is not just about food or even picking out gifts you know they will love.

If we listen long enough people will share with us what makes them happy as well as what makes them unhappy. They will tell us what they enjoy and what they do not. Next time you are out having coffee with a friend, notice what they like to talk about. Notice what interests them. Do they like to talk about history? Maybe a book on Ancient Egypt would make a good birthday gift.

This takes a little effort, but the returns are worth their weight in gold. Do this long enough and you will be the best spouse, friend, or coworker. Picking out gifts will be easier than ever and they will be received with more joy than ever before. The conflicts in your life will be reduced. You will find people will want to spend time around you and enjoy doing so. So remember the magic word LISTEN. Use it daily and your relationships will be better than ever.


Have you ever felt defeated? Have you ever felt that everything you worked for might not work out? Have you ever felt like all the signs were pointing to the fact you should give up?

The picture above is of Nick Foles. After working hard in his youth to become a great professional football player, he had to wait until the third round to hear his name called. That could give you a feeling of being unwanted, watching player after player being picked before you. Knowing teams thought this player was better than you.

Nick didn’t give up though and joined the Philadelphia eagles. Eventually Nick earned the position of starting quarterback. Time to feel great right? Nick did not hold that position long and was traded to the Rams. Again, he was not wanted.

Nick didn’t give up though. Playing the best he could, often in the back up role. Soon, however, the Rams cut him from their team. Not even wanted as a back up.

Nick did not give up though. Soon he was resigned again by the Philadelphia eagles. This time, he was once again a back-up quarterback. Watching a younger player take the team to the top of their division and into the playoffs while he sat on the bench watching.

Nick did not give up though. What did all of this persistance get Nick Foles? A terrible injury took out the starting quarterback and suddenly he had to lead the team against the best defense in the league. Knowing if he were to lose he most likely would hear if they still had their starting quarterback they would have won.

Nick lead the team to a victory in the championship game, and into the super bowl. Now, on the biggest stage on the world against a team that had already won five super bowls in recent years.

Nick did not give up though. On super bowl Sunday Nick Foles went on to not only lead the eagles to their first ever super bowl victory, but was named the most valuable player as well.

You see my friends, sometimes when life seems to be giving us every reason to give up it is really just preparing us and giving us strength for a greater test and greater victory if only we were to hang on for one more day.

Never give up on yourself, and one day, just like Nick Foles, you will find you are the MVP of your own life.


This man is Inky Johnson. I highly recommend you look up his story, but I will give you a brief outline here. Inky was born into challenging situations to say the least. A very poor neighborhood, 16 people living in a two bedroom house. He had to sleep on the floor. Once a week he got to sleep in a bed…with 5 others. He was surrounded by family and friends going in and out of prison. Truly a recipe for disaster.

Inky decided to take a different path. At the age of 7, with some help from a coach, he decided he was going to play professional football. He practiced every day. Often running light pole to light pole with no shoes on. Eventually he received a scholarship to the University of Tennessee. With 8 games to go he was told he was going to be a first round pick. Imagine being told finally you will be able to erase generations of hurt, pain and financial suffering for your family. He immediately called his mother and grandmother to inform them they would no longer have to live in poverty.

Two games later while making a tackle that all changed. Inky felt like he had the wind knocked out of him. He woke up in the hospital where he was told he had to be rushed into surgery or he would die. Waking up from  that the doctor said he had some bad news. Considering he was still alive, Inky was confused. The doctor explained he had sustained nerve damage and would no longer be able to play football again. Imagine being that close to helping your family, having worked all your life, never cheated and it is stolen away in one play.

The reality of what he was left to deal with sank in when the doctor informed him “Son, you will never be able to use your arm again. You will never be able to use your hand again.” Inky’s reply?  “No disrespect sir, but I am going to use this arm and hand everyday. I am going to use it to inspire people. I am going to use it to help people not give up.” Today Inky Johnson is a motivational speaker and has several videos on YouTube.

When I heard that I had to fight back tears. Wow. I pray that I would be able to see things that way. Which is ironic, because that is what I am challenging all of us, myself included, to do here today. We have all had pain in our lives. Most of us not to the magnitude of the story above, some even worse. My question to you is this, what are you going to do with that pain? My answer is this, you went through the pain, put it to use for you. Use what you have went through to inspire and push you. Use it to motivate and give hope to others. DO NOT WASTE YOUR PAIN.

Maybe someone broke your heart? Use it to not only motivate you to make your next relationship your best relationship, but to help those who are also heartbroken. You lost your job? Use that as a tool to motivate you to chase a job you would enjoy. Do so while maybe helping at a meal program helping those who are in an even tougher situation. Turn your pain from a liability into an asset.