30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #23)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

As we continue our journey of gratitude into the new year, we take a look at traditions. This is something I think changes a little as we age. When I was younger I used to find certain traditions archaic at best and ridiculous most of the time. Fast forward many years to my current state looking over this keyboard as I watch the sun set as I write. Now, I find myself looking forward to taking part in certain traditions and even creating others.

To me, traditions offer us a chance to mark time when it comes to certain aspects of our lives. When you are younger, you have little or no choice in what traditions you take part in. I think parents could benefit greatly by allowing their children to have more of a say in the creation of traditions the family observes. As we grow older, however, we more or less choose what traditions we wish to observe and which ones no longer serve us.

When it comes to creating traditions these days, I focus on those that bring joy and togetherness. One of my favorite yearly traditions is the Wisconsin State Fair. Not only to I literally jump out of my skin when the first day arrives and it is time to go with the love of my life, we found ways to create traditions throughout the year. I enjoy taking a day off of work and going with Margie to purchase our tickets in advance and then go out to breakfast. We make rough plans for the things we look forward to seeing and doing together once the time arrives. In the summer there is a 5k run that Margie, her daughter Siraya and I have done the last few years. It is great fun and gives us chance to see where we are at physically. It also gives us something to work toward in these cold winter months.

Another tradition I love is the yearly bike expo here in April. By this time my Seasonal Affective Disorder has usually gotten the best of me and quite often there is still snow on the ground. When I walk into the expo hall to attend this great event held by local bicycle company Wheel & Sprocket, it is as if the warm weather has arrived. There are many bikes to choose from all at good values. There are clothes, helmets, and accessories to purchase. There are also bicycle clubs to join and rides to sign up for. It gives you hope and something to look forward to in the warmer weather. Walking hand in hand through this event with Margie gives me the resolve to make it through the remainder of the cold weather.

What traditions are you grateful for? Being that we are reading this in the beginning of the new year, what traditions would you like to start this year? How do you think traditions can be used to positively affect our lives and bring more joy to them?

TIME TO REFLECT

Today is the first day of a new year and a new decade. I want to thank all of you for continuing to be a part of this online community to better ourselves. Together, sharing with each other we can change our world for the better. If we all continue to do this, the world as a whole will become a more beautiful place for us all. We just have to take care of our little corner of the world and we can be a part of a global change.

On a more personal level, I want to talk about something we all face. In the past year we may have lost someone close to us. Relationships end, people pass away. As the writer Robert Frost said, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” Despite the ends I have mentioned, our lives go on. The loss may not have happened even in the past year, but as the calendar turns we are reminded that we face another year without someone we wish was by our sides.

In this way, a time of fresh perspectives and possibilities can be veiled in sadness. How can we approach this? To remember a very obvious, but important fact – we are still here. Our very presence means two very important things. First, we have the ability to collect and create new and wonderful memories in the new year. Those we love that are still here can bless our lives in ways we cannot imagine. Something I have learned since my grandfather passed away, and with every loss since, is those who are gone can also continue to teach us even though they have not been with us physically for quite some time. I cannot count how many times I have thought of something my grandfather, or someone else I lost, has told me and I finally understand something they were trying to tell me so many years ago. It is for this very reason I am so grateful to have had so many people in my life that were amazing that I feel their loss to this very day. That may sound like a statement full of contradiction, but it is quite the contrary.

When you miss someone so greatly, it is because you loved just as great. They brought something special into your life. That could have been a supportive love. It could have been encouragement. It could have been the sharing of many happy moments spent together. That is something to be truly grateful for – having a person that is so special in your life, even if it is not as long as we would have desired. Those memories are gifts we can take with us into the new year as well. It is a way of keeping that person in our hearts as the years pass by.

That brings me to the second point that our presence means. This, by far, is the most important thought to carry into the new year. The fact that we are still hear means that we can bring joy and blessings to those who love us. One day we will return to the dust from which we came as well. Those that love us will be missing us and wishing we were there with them into the new year. The important thing to remember is that time is not now. We still have the responsiblity and the pleasure to share life and love with those we care about the most. Even with complete strangers. We have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of all of those we touch.

After my heart problem was brought to my attention, I realize now more than ever that every year, every day and even every moment is a blessing and more importantly an opportunity. In my condition I could be gone tomorrow. Armed with this knowledge I do my best to live each day with the fullest. That is my plan for the new year and one I want to share with all of you.

What are your secrets to living life to the fullest? Share with all of us so we all can make 2020 the most amazing year yet.

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HOW TO BEAT A CHALLENGE


In life there never seems to be a shortage of challenges. Whether you are a financially struggling blog writer and author or a well-established millionaire, there are going to be challenges. I will have to speculate on the second one for the moment. As you read this where I live the temperature will be -50 degrees with the wind chill. Those temperatures are in Fahrenheit where freezing is +32 degrees. In other words, it will be really cold outside.
Whether your New Year’s resolution was to go to the gym more often, or just get to work on time, today will be a challenge. When it is this cold cars tend not to start, energy drains and the temptation to stay in bed with the one you love can be hard if not impossible to overcome. That is just life. The challenges will not always be this extreme, but they will always be there.
The question is how to overcome these challenges. To make it very simple we will break it down to two words – face them. When you look a challenge straight in the eyes (if the challenge has eyes. If not, you just have to imagine them) and say as my friend Travis is inclined to say, “Bring it!” It may seem as if the challenge gets the best of you. Maybe you wish to go to the gym but the car will not start. Then go inside and do a little workout routine at home. If you are a little late for work again learn what caused you to fall behind and work on that for tomorrow. To put it as the picture says, ‘Challenge your limits’. Doing this daily you will be surprised at how much further you can go. You will see your life improve in each and every area.

WHY WE ARE WARRIORS

A lot of us are struggling to keep up with resolutions we made a little over a week ago. Some of my friends I know have already broken theirs. This can leave you feeling like a failure. I am here to remind you it is ok to try and fail as long as you do not fail to try. Being a warrior is a daily battle. Life is about the daily battles. Some you will win, some you may lose. The goal in life is to do our best to win more than we lose.

Whether that battle is staying true to your fitness plan or even to your faith, it is a daily challenge. Even though we do our best, we may not win every day. A true warrior dusts themselves off every day and begins with a fresh and positive attitude no matter what yesterday has delivered. It is important to remember the war itself will never be won. Everyday we must face our demons and overcome the challenges not only from without, but even harder from within.

When we fail to keep a resolution or goal we have set, we must use that to fuel our motivation to do better next time. Winston Churchill defined success as “Going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” That is exactly what we must do to become successful. If your cheat day on your new healthy eating plan was taco Tuesday and that turned into burger Wednesday and pizza Friday, just start even more determined on Saturday. We all try and fail, just make sure you never fail to try. 

DO NOT BE A DEAD FISH IN 2019

I like this quote only dead fish go with the flow. If you think about it, that is so true. If you were a fish and could swim anywhere you please, you would…um…swim anywhere you please. While that doesn’t sound terribly profound, it really is. Think of things a fish would want. They would want food and swim towards that. They would not want to be near a predator and would swim away from that. They, depending on species, would prefer oxygen-rich water and would certainly swim around looking for that. Unless you are planning on being a fish (or a whale) in your next life this may not seem like useful information, but it is.
This works the same for humans as it does for fish. It has been said 95% of us do not even know why we get up and go into work in the morning. We can give answers such as, “Well everybody goes to work.” or the ever popular, “To pay the bills.” If that is solely what your life consists of you will have a ‘wake up, pay bills and die’ kind of existence. Since you are reading a website called Secret2anamazinglife.com, I would venture a guess that is not what you wish for yourself. What do we need to do so we can live a life that does not resemble a dead fish flowing downstream? Incidentally, if you picture that and are honest with yourself, isn’t that what life can feel like sometimes?
What we need to do is take control of our lives. How do you do that when you have a boss that tells you when to come to work and when to go home? You have a spouse and kids who rely on you and family members that may need you. First things first, know the difference between things you can and things you can’t change. Yes, your boss does set your work time, for the most part. You can apply for a different job that suits your needs better or even start your own business, but those have pros and cons as well. To avoid being a dead fish in 2019, there are two steps you must commit to.
First, create a life mission statement. I go into more detail on this subject in my upcoming book Living the Dream. To cover it in the simplest terms, you will never get where you are going if you do not know where the hell that is. When you decide on a purpose and a mission for your life you know if every action is in line with that mission or not. Back to our fish analogy, this lets you know which way you should swim. Even if you get off track, being able to see and determine that gives you a feeling of control over your life. You may have to turn around and go back the way you came, but at least you are the one determining that.
The second thing you must do to avoid being a dead fish in 2019 is to set, and eventually raise your standards. This might not sound exciting or life changing, but it really is. The only reason we get more than what life chooses to hand to us is because we demand it. I am not speaking of demanding things from others. No, for true control of your life, you need to change the demands you put on life and on yourself. If your goal, like so many of us, is to get in shape in the new year, you need to make going to the gym 3,4 or 5 days a week your standard. I would advise when starting out, set all of your standards to a minimum, but stick to them. When you get used to holding yourself to a standard, then you can raise them. That is when life really gets exciting.
One of the hardest standards I have had for my life is making sure I have time for myself. Whether that is time to read, meditate or just walk in the park, in the past I have not done a very good job and making sure I had that. There are work obligations, social obligations, a third book to write and of course the most beautiful woman in the world at home to spend time with. Still, I know that if I do not have enough time for myself I cannot be the best person in all of those other situations. Therefore, I am going to make taking time for myself at least twice a week my standard.
Set your purpose, and your standards today. By the end of 2019 we will all be healthy fish swimming in a pond of our choosing full of food and free of sharks. I welcome and encourage you to share your life mission statements, and your standards you are going to work on with us in the comments below.

DO THIS INSTEAD OF A RESOLUTION!

The above stats reflect the growth of this website. In the top photo you can see we have grown pretty consistently in the number of viewers since inception in 2012. A good thing to also note is that we have come close to doubling our views in the last year! While I was pondering such statistics and looking forward to watching them grow in the future, an idea occurred to me in regards to personal development as well.

Today is New Year’s Eve. On this day for a good portion of us, our focus turns towards ‘New Year’s resolutions’. I am going to encourage you to do something different this year. If you find it ironic that a website dedicated to becoming the best version of yourself is encouraging you not to make resolutions for the new year, let me further explain myself. I would like us all to make a new kind of resolution for the coming year. Generally, resolutions consist of things we would like to do. Things such as ‘start going to the gym’ or ‘quit smoking’. While both of these are certainly admirable goals and ones I would encourage you to take, I would like to approach the new year in a different way.

Instead of focusing on what we would like to do in the coming year I would like us to change that focus. This year I would like us to focus on two different personal areas. The first being who we would like to become. After all, when it comes to improving our lives that is the ultimate goal, to become more. In the case of the above examples, quitting smoking and joining a gym, one could change that to ‘I will become a non-smoker this year’ and ‘I am going to be more fit and healthy’. Not only does this provide us a psychological change in identity, but can provide us both more options to our success and more motivation to do so. In the case of becoming a non-smoker we can avail ourselves to the many treatment options available to us. In the case of becoming healthy and fit, we could not only go to the gym, but walks after dinner, bike rides, play sports, start dancing or any other activity that gets you closer to your goal.

The other thing I would like to focus on is how we can give. All of us have so many gifts to share with the world, our focus in the coming year should be how to bring more of them to light. If you would want to live a life filled with passion, joy and vitality, you could make no better choice than to live your gifts. This doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your day job and running off to the tropics. Although I can appreciate that urge more than you can imagine. What it means is finding more ways in which you can bring what you love and what you are good at to the world. What if you are already living your gift? How about finding ways to share even more? Let us say your passion is riding your skateboard. Last year you made it a point to spend some time every week enjoying that passion. This year you may wish to start a blog about riding skateboards, or the skateboard life in general. Perhaps you could start a YouTube Channel showing how you do different tricks.

Let me share with you some of the goals I have for sharing my gift more in the coming year. First and foremost, my second book will be officially released early next year. I plan to continue the growth of this blog by exploring new avenues of sharing it as well as new partnerships with other blog writers. There will be a Secret2anamazinglife clothing line available by summer. We will accomplish our goal of reaching 1000 posts on this site. The YouTube channel Neil Panosian will reach 100 videos and look to expand its reach as well.

Think of who you would like to become in the new year and how you would like to give and share your gifts even more. Feel free to share with us in the comments below. We can all encourage each other in the next 12 months and stand a better chance of success.

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THAT TIME OF YEAR

As we wrap up our holiday celebrations and prepare for the coming new year, I feel it would be a great opportunity to pause for a moment of reflection. Think of what this past year has brought us. There have been stress and challenges for sure, but there have also been moments of joy and celebration. We must appreciate and grow from all of these.

When reflecting on the past year and preparing to make our New Year’s resolutions, or even just plans for what we would like to accomplish in the coming year, there can tend to be a feeling of despair as to how far from our goals of last year we came, or how quickly we gave up on them. That is ok. A little bit of that pain can serve us to be more motivated this coming year. Staying in a feeling of regret and anger at ourselves does not serve us. We need to grow from what happened.

This is what I suggest. As we sit down to ponder what the coming year has in store for us, let us grab a pen and a piece of paper. Writing down your goals and resolutions as we tend to call them this time of year, has great power in creating a mental/physical bond with them. If we notice some of those goals look a lot like the goals from the year before, this might not be that bad of a thing. As we write down those goals, we can also write down what transpired that prevented us from achieving them in the year prior. Then we can begin to think of ways in which we can move forward while preventing those same obstacles from stopping us this year. By doing just such a thing, we can move forward in the accomplishment of our goals.

Let us also think of the challenges we have faced in the last year. Write them down. It may not seem fun to relive moments of the past year that were less than pleasant, but they can serve us as well. How? If we then write down what we learned or gained by going through them. Was it a greater appreciation for those who stood by our side? Was it new skills we were forced to learn? Was it just learning how strong we could be when we had to? All of these things are items we can be grateful for.

Lastly, let us not forget the moments of joy we had. Remember the accomplishments we did make. Sure, you may not have followed that gym routine like you intended, but you did go for a couple of weeks…days…hours…maybe you just joined a gym. Knowing what we learned about the challenges we overcame from the steps above, let us celebrate the gains we did make by looking forward to an even greater success in the coming year. Now would be the time to give ourselves a well-deserved pat on the back for all we did do. It might not have been perfect, or turn out exactly how we wanted, but let us remember all the good we did do this year.

In the coming year, this blog will continue to bring you thoughts and actions that will improve your life if you put them into action. I invite all of you to share this website with at least one other person you know who is doing their best to live a more inspired and positive life.

TRANSFORM TOGETHER

There are many good places to meet friends for social reasons.Here is one that not only accomplishes that, but has an added bonus of science. The science behind making good friends? Before we get ahead of ourselves, let me back up and talk a little more about the social pluses of today’s place to make friends. Today’s place to make friends and generally improving your life is the gym. Before you start rolling your eyes and clicking off this website, let me assure you I can relate to your doubts.

At the gym I am usually in a state close to hyperventilating, dripping with sweat, smelling less than ideal and in short, not my ideal self. Why on earth would this be a good place to meet someone? First of all, chances are most people there are in a similar state. Second, all of you already have one thing in common, you are chasing the goal of being healthier. Sure, your goals may be different. It may be you are facing a serious health condition, maybe you are trying to get in shape for your Jamaican vacation or you just want to fit into the clothes in your closet better. That gives enough variety to start some interesting discussions.

Here comes the science. The first one has to do more with working out than making friends, but it good to know just the same. It would fit under the category of psychological science. When working to obtain our fitness goals having a workout partner dramatically increases our chances of success. We find it easy to make excuses to ourselves, but most of us tend to feel a lot worse if we let someone else down. Having a partner that can not only talk us into the gym when we don’t feel like going, but hold us accountable when we don’t make it, will have our butts cursing on the treadmill far more often than when we try to go it alone. Adding to the fact two heads are always better than one when it comes to figuring out how to use that complex machine you never see anyone on but looks like it could really help your fitness.

The second half of the science as to why the gym is such a good place to make friends is even more impressive. When we exercise the brain releases ‘feel good chemicals’. These chemicals are called endorphins. No, they are not the cute animals that swim around the ocean. Those are dolphins. They do, however, cause very similar reactions in our bodies and brains. Endorphins, again the chemical not the aquatic animal, interact with receptors in your to reduce your perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling in the body. They have been compared to a natural form of morphine.

Imagine everyone you meet being on morphine. There would be a lot less conflict and a lot more mellow happy people. That is exactly what happens after we work out. It is also something I recommend couples try working into their routine. Spending time around someone who has just experienced the rush of chemicals compared to natural morphine should be pretty easy. If both parties are experiencing that feeling such as a workout partner or your loving spouse, great feeling are bound to occur. As the new year approaches lots of your friends will join gyms and those gyms usually run specials to get people to join. Why not find a friend to make that commitment with you? Can’t find a friend who is looking to get healthy? Join yourself and begin to talk to people there. Trust me when I tell you most people would be more than happy to talk about their workouts, diet and fitness routine. I don’t know if this is due to endorphins or just the fact they love to have people working with them.

Try taking and making friends at the gym. You won’t be disappointed. As an added bonus, you will become healthier and happier yourself.

TIME TO ADD!

One of the tenets of my philosophy has been adding positive to limit or eliminate negative. In my life this would translate to eating a salad to have a little less room for another slice of pizza. The premise here is that it is easier for the brain to add things verses subtracting them. It eliminates the feeling of depriving yourself and makes change easier and less painful. By doing so, your chances of success are greatly increased.

This does not always have to revolve around achieving a goal, or making a change in your life. Taking a few moments to stop and think of what you would like more of in your life can go a long way to giving you a life you really enjoy. That is the first thing I suggest we do today. Pick a time when you have a few minutes to yourself, it can even be fun to do this with your spouse or friend, as long as you both have your own list. Write down a handful of things you would like more of in your life. They can be things from the picture above, or things you just wish to do.

Here comes the part that a lot of you may find strange. Pull out your calendar, or put a reminder in your phone of days you would like to do these very events. Again, set yourself up to win by picking a day on which you can fairly depend. For example, Saturdays I work 2 jobs so there likely will not be much time to include new activities. Also, try to plan on the minimal side. What do I mean by this? Perhaps you would like to meditate 20 minutes every day? Start out by picking at least one or two days a week to do so. That way you can gain a feeling of momentum and success. Before long that momentum may carry you to every day. By contrast, if you pick every day and do not make it, it will give you a feeling of failure and that will go against having a more joyous life.

Why is this exercise so important? We schedule jobs, meetings and all sorts of obligations into our lives, it is vitally important we schedule some joy as well. If this seems like a foreign or crazy idea to you, consider how you feel as you are getting close to a planned vacation? Imagine that feeling, although perhaps to a slightly lesser degree, once a week? It will help return the passion and zest to life. Our lives, in addition to being of service to others, were meant to be enjoyed. If you are not loving your life a fair amount of time you are doing it all wrong. Sure, we all go through tough times, but having something to look forward to can even help with those.

Feel free to share with other readers some of the fun things you plan to add in 2018 in the comments below!