Have you ever tried teaching someone something you know how to do rather well? It can be frustrating and take a great deal of patience. The other evening I had the great pleasure of sharing coffee and conversation with my friend Nick. As so often happens when the two of us get together the conversation turned to personal development and growth. I had to confess something to him and I am going to share it with you now in hopes it may help a lot of you.
One of the greatest struggles we can endure is maintaining a sense of compassion and understanding of our fellow humans we share this planet with. Some of us can refer to this as judging others. If you were to ask me if I were a judgemental person, for the most part I would have to say ‘no’. I have friends that I care deeply for that belong to many different races, religions and other such groups. I really understand that we never know what happens behind the scenes or what someone’s story may entail.
One of the areas that does tend to upset me is those who are not evolved emotionally and spiritually. Those who tend to judge others or carry a rather negative attitude into life. I guess that is because the information is available and it is free. Books can be had at any library. Videos are a click away on YouTube and Google can tell you anything you need to know from the Law of Attraction to enlightenment. Still, there are those who are even ignorant to these facts. Hopefully, the fact that you are reading this blog signifies that you do not fit into the afore mentioned category.
There are even those who are aware of personal development and know they, and their life, could be so much more but choose not to pursue that. I even heard someone brag once about how they avoided making more of their life. To me this is very hard to understand. It is my desire to help everyone create more joy, passion and success in their lives. When I find someone who displays an ignorance for universal laws or an obvious lack of emotional maturity it is both frustrating and a seeming cry for help. It is my struggle to understand and also respect the fact that they might not be intrested in or desire improving their lot in life.
This is a struggle I face whenever I try to reach someone who may not have had the years of experience in the field of personal development I have. It must be the same for those who have so many more when they are teaching me. We all learn at a different pace and learn different things. Share all the good you can, but do so with patience and compassion. If you become frustrated with spiritual ignorance of those around you, feel free to refer to this quote.
Last post we discussed ways in which fashioning your life after a movie director would be beneficial. There was one item I left out that can go a long way in helping us out. It has been featured in my book A Happy Life for Busy People. That is creating a soundtrack for your life.
In my book I refer to it as a ‘happy playlist’. You can create one in a few simple steps. Compose a list of songs that bring joy to your life. Then just create a playlist on your MP3 player or other device. I have several in my cell phone thanks to YouTube. I have playlists for working out, meditation and motivation as well as of course being happy. It is amazing what a song that strikes a deep emotional chord with you can do to change your state. Why leave the soundtrack of your life up to the whim of the DJ on the local radio station?
In a movie, songs are chosen to give the film more dramatic flair and set the mood in various scenes. Wouldn’t you like to be able to do the same in your life? You can! Simply create a soundtrack for all areas of your life. You will be amazed at the difference it can make. What are some of the songs that will be on your soundtrack?
This is a picture of one of my favorite directors, Jerry Bruckheimer. I learned something amazing about him lately. It is not only the fact that he has an uncanny resemblance to actor Kevin Bacon. What I learned is that I am a lot like him…and so are you. No, it is not the fact that all three of us have directed some of the best action movies ever made. No, it is not the fact that all three of us are millionaires. Although maybe you are but I am still working my way there. What I learned is that Mr. Bruckheimer, you and myself are all movie directors.
At this point you may be saying “Wait a minute Neil. Other than the Facebook live video I did and that quick thing for Snap Chat I am would not consider myself a director.” Not knowing the length or effort you put into your social media posts, I am here to tell you we are still all directors. It just so happens the movie we are directing is called Our Life.
Whether you are conscious of the fact or not, you are directing your own life. Still do not believe me? Let us Google the job of a movie director and see what it says.
There are so many good things here let us take this bit by bit. The first line, “A film director controls a film’s artistic and dramatic aspects.” Everything we do in life can be a work of art. Some of you may remember the story I shared of the man at the homeless shelter I help at showing me how there is even an art to washing dishes. Dramatic Aspects? Believe it or not, you control the drama in your life. Before I start hearing the cries of “This person or that person creates drama in my life.” Let us be clear it is your choice to not only respond to that drama but have that person in your life. (more on that later). Every good film needs a little drama or it tends to be boring. Your source of drama can be chasing a goal and the excitement that comes from that. Even challenges can be drama that your star (that would be you) has to face and overcome.
The next line, “Visualizes the screenplay while guiding the technical crew and actors in fulfillment of that vision.” Do you have a vision for the movie of your life? If not, how do you know if you are making the right moves? Are you moving closer to success or further away? Once again we are reminded of Earl Nightingale’s quote on success, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” How can you know you are progressing if you do not know what the goal is? Can you imagine directing a movie that has no plot or end in mind? Let us take a look at the second part of that line, “Guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfilment of that vision.” Leaning on and learning from the people in our lives (the actors) and employing the use of outside experts when we need them (the technical crew) can help us achieve the screenplay for our life that we are seeking.
Lastly, “The director has a key role in choosing the cast members, production design, and the creative aspects of filmmaking.” This can be likened to the people we choose to both bring into our lives and eliminate from our lives. It can be the job we choose, how we have our house and the way in which we approach life. If you are a director of a movie and a particular actor seems not to fit the role, they are replaced. The same can be true of spouses, friends and business partners. On occasion an actor will walk out on a picture. This is like when a break up happens, or a friend leaves our life. We are forced to recast the part. We can do so with a better idea of what may fit the film. Production design. This can refer to what car we choose to drive, how we choose to decorate our house, wordrobe..etc. All of these can be broken down to a blog post themselves. For the sake of brevity, just imagine how they all affect the movies you have seen. Can you imagine a western where the outlaws are riding horses wearing suits? Creative aspects of filmmaking. This is the manner in which you live your life. Is it a comedy full of laughs? Is it a dark drama? A tragedy? It also refers to how you chose to tackle obstacles and challenges.
Here is a fun way to play with this. Begin to write your own screenplay now. Cast certain roles. Perhaps you want your star to be tough with a soft and humorous edge? Maybe they should be dating a driven and beautiful cake designer? Maybe they are struggling through a day job while pursuing their passion? What would you write that they do to get out of that trap? This can help us add vision and purpose to our lives and have a little fun at the same time. For quick motivation, think of what the title of your life’s movie would be? Feel free to share yours in the comments below.
I would like to begin this post with a mea culpa of sorts. In my books I advocate using the separation of mind and body to our advantage, especially in stressful situations. In fact, I have been quoted as saying “There is no law that says your mind and body have to be in the same place at the same time.” This is indeed true and can be helpful when you are in a stressful situation. It can also be used for motivation. Please allow me to explain both.
Let us say your boss is pressuring you for a deadline, or just being the pain bosses can be on occasion. As you practice patience and compassion in an effort to remain employed, you can go somewhere else in your mind. I transport myself to a beautiful beach in Jamaica sipping out of a coconut. It also reminds me that the job I am working will help me get to that destination. When I am working out at the gym feeling like I am going to have to start breathing through a brown paper bag and wondering if I wouldn’t be better off at home laying on the couch eating a pizza, I think of that same beach. This time I imagine how I would look sitting on the beach in my current shape. Usually, that is enough to help me power through the remainder of my workout.
So far this all sounds pretty good doesn’t it? There is one word of caution. In using this I have become a little too good at it. What do I mean by that? There are times when it serves us to have our mind at body in the exact same place and time. For sake of continuity and because I love writing about the tropics when it is below freezing here in Wisconsin where I live, we will stick with the Jamaican beach example. Let us say you finally reach that fabulous vacation you have been saving for. Now you are on the beach with the one you love enjoying the sun and frigate birds. It would serve you well to be both physically and mentally present in the moment. Paying attention to all that is transpiring and soaking in the ocean water and the memories. You should make an effort to not only remember, but relish in the sun on your skin and the joy in your heart.
What do we as humans tend to do? We do the exact opposite. When the boss is yelling, everything is in chaos and you have only been at work for an hour, what do we think about? How little your pay seems to match what you have to put up with? How many hours you have yet to struggle through? Wait….is that clock actually going backwards? Why are there not more windows in this office? When we finally make it to vacation or even just home from the office do we focus on all of the great things we finally have in our grasp? Often, the answer is ‘no’. We then think of how much the vacation is costing. We worry about the pet we left back at home. Or worse yet, we begin to have thoughts of having to go back to the office.
We can do a lot to correct this lack of being present with exercises to take control of our mind. A daily practice of meditation, even 5 minutes a day to start, can be very helpful. If you are unsure or just not familiar with meditation there are several CDs you can purchase (Brain sync is one of my favorite companies) or even just look at guided meditation on YouTube. Then you just pop on some headphones, sit back, relax and follow along.
Even more simple is taking time to be fully in the moment. As I write this I am sitting at a coffee shop. I can pause and notice the mingling of music and the blend of voices. I can feel the fabric of the chair I am sitting on. I can smell the aroma of fresh ground coffee beans. I can even pause, take a sip of my coffee…feel the texture of the cup against my lips, notice the temperature, smell the scent of the coffee and taste the mix of the slight bitterness of the coffee mixed with the mellow flavor of coconut milk I added.
Try doing this while engaged in a host of different events. You could try it while you are at a stop light. Notice the feel of the steering wheel in your hands. Smell the air in your car. Do you have the windows open? Can you smell fresh air? Can you feel a breeze? Maybe you are in a cold climate like me and can feel the heat coming out of the vents? Notice the sound of the engine, the passing cars, the birds chirping outside. Just make sure you notice when the light turns green again or you might also be able to notice the sound of the horn of the driver behind you.
Start practicing the separation of mind and body at the appropriate times. When you work, work hard. When you play, play hard too. Soak in the joy when it is there and escape back to it when it is not.
If you would like to be considered truly great, never stop learning. This quote from Michelangelo at the youthful age of 87 proves just such a thing. It would have been understandable after all that he had created to rest on his accomplishments. Being truly great in any field takes a great deal of obsession. It becomes less of what you do and more a part of who you are. In this vein of thought I am close to being a great consumer of pizza, but I digress.
With the rapid pace of change in nearly every field, it would be foolish for anyone to think they know everything about…well…anything.
Buckminster Fuller created a scale known as the “Knowledge Doubling Curve” which as you might have guessed is how long it takes human knowledge to double. Here is what he discovered. Until 1900 the scope of human knowledge doubled every 100 years. Fast forward 45 years to the end of Word War II and knowledge doubled every 25 years or in a quarter of the time it took less than 50 years before. While that was impressive, here are the current numbers – as of 2013 knowledge doubled every 13 months! That is roughly 1/25th of the time it took in the 1950s. By the year 2020 it is estimated knowledge will double every 12…hours! In case your knowledge of math has not doubled recently, that is twice a day! By the time we wake up tomorrow the entire scope of human knowledge could be four times what is was when we went to sleep the night before!
If you are currently enrolled as a student, or trying to learn a new occupation this rate of change can sound scary. What it really represents is opportunity. With the internet people are sharing and connecting information faster and easier than ever. You could be reading this shortly after I wrote it and doing so halfway around the world. I live in a small town called West Allis in the United States, yet some of my most ardent followers come from India, Canada and various tropical islands I did not know existed, but are not on my travel list. With Artificial intelligence we are learning to predict and map human behavior in many different ways.
To some, this may sound intimidating and even a little ‘big brotherish’ but with knowledge comes responsibility. We can use this knowledge to serve and create or to enslave and destroy. That is why I encourage all of you reading this blog to learn as much as you can. Effort and knowledge are the two great equalizers. With today’s technology change is right around the corner and it is at the fingertips of every person with access to a local library.
Be like the great artist above. When your 87th birthday rolls around let us hear you proclaim, “I am still learning.”
Let us clear something up going into the new year, we need to act. I am a big fan of the Law of Attraction. I know it works and personally use it. What some people who see the movie The Secret, or read books on attraction misconstrue is the fact you have to act. You can use vision boards, recite affirmations, journal and meditate, but if you do not follow that with inspired action nothing good will happen. Kind of a bummer I know.
The good news in all of this is once you do the things mentioned above, it will be come more clear and easier to know what actions to take. Those listed in the pictures above would be a great place to start. I particularly like the ‘smile more, be excited’ line. A smile can not only improve the lives of those around you, but will elevate your mood as well. Even when you don’t feel like smiling, give it a try anyway. Often by changing our physical state we can influence our mental and emotional state as well.
Action does another great thing for us, it gives us joy. Tony Robbins said progress equals happiness. I have found that to be very true. If you are working towards a goal and taking steps you are being successful. Another favorite author and speaker of mine, Earl Nightingale, defined success as the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. The word to notice in that definition is progressive. You are not just a success when you achieve your goal, but even as you are working towards it. In other words, if you know where you want to go and are working on getting there you are a success. Even if the steps you are taking do not work out this time, you have just eliminated something that would not work.
This year let us put our minds to work, but we cannot forget to get off the couch and make it happen as the picture above reminds us. Try a few of the items listed above and see how they change your life. I would love to know what action steps all of you are going to take in the new year!
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.
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.
What you are about to read will change your life. That is not hyperbole, it is not an exaggeration. If you are to really understand what I am about to share with you it will transform the way you view the world. It applies, and can be utilized in every area of your life. Personally, I am just beginning to grasp the power and magnitude of what I am about to share with you. Since coming across this knowledge only a short time ago, it has revolutionized how I write and teach.
There are three levels to every person. You, me, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, Mother Teresa all have three levels. How we use and become aware of these three levels will affect every area of our lives. Want to be a great parent? There are three levels to that. Want to get healthy? Three levels there too. Want to have a great relationship? Three levels of love. I am going to share with you what these three levels are, how I came across this information and then we are going to scratch the surface of how we can put this to use to transform our lives. I say ‘scratch the surface’ because I could write and entire book on this subject. I also say that because I am only beginning to work with this information and I am continuing to learn and find new and exciting applications for it daily.
Without any more build up, here are the three levels you, me and the rest of the world share.
This may not sound too profound at first, but stick with me and I think you will become as excited as I am.
First, allow me to share with you how I came to understand this principle. On a Wednesday at my Post Office job I had a very physical day. Sadly, that night I had to work as a DJ as well. Fortunately for me, my lovely lady was kind enough to put together a dinner as I took an hour nap. I slept well the physical nature of the work was exhausting. Thursday work at the Post Office was slightly less physical. I left and went to write and work on my upcoming book. I tried to do some self editing, which I enjoy slightly more than getting a root canal. I also created and worked on some posts for this website. I came home feeling even more tired than the night before. The following day, Friday, I planned to have a nice relaxing day. I arrived at work only to be told my job was looking at being eliminated. Something the Post Office seems to like to do rather often. I was informed by a coworker that not only was this the case, but the boss had also called into question my work ethic. Which, next to my integrity, is one of the most important things to me. You can imagine how frustrated, disappointed, and to be quite honest angry I was feeling. I few hours later the boss returned from lunch and I asked if I could speak with him. Knowing the discussion he had with our coworker he informed me that he expected to talk with me. To make a long story short, he cleared up that both issues were not at all true. My job was safe, for the time being, and he appreciated the job I did. You can imagine the change in emotions then. I went to back feeling relief, gratitude and a sense of pride in my work. I also felt something else – exhausted!!!
While pushing around a pallet jack, I stopped to share what I noticed with a coworker who happened to be standing there. I inquired whether she had noticed you can be tired in three totally different ways, physically, mentally, and emotionally or spiritually. Being that she is what we could safely say as not the most self-aware person, she stared and said, “Umm… I guess so.” Being that I was just kind of thinking out loud, I nodded and moved on.
As I was letting this information bounce around in my head as I worked, one of the benefits of having a job that does not tax me to mentally, a quote suddenly came to mind.
“Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill
Suddenly, the light bulb started to glow. I would say it lit up, but sometimes information takes a moment to develop in my brain. I thought to myself, “If there are three forms of exhaustion, there must be three ways to energize!” This simple thought has began to change my life. Here is what I came up with. Let us say you are having a day where you are sleep walking through everything you do. You could stop at your local Starbucks and grab a double espresso, the caffeine would give you a little boost. If you are anything like me, there are days where I swear my body laughs at my feeble attempts to bring it to life. Perhaps that same day you come across an article on a subject that really interests you, or you have a conversation with a friend about a project you are working on. Now you are mentally stimulated. The body will more than likely come along for the ride. Here is where things get interesting to me. If, on this day of working with an energy deficit, you come home to find your spouse has surprised you with tokens of affection you totally did not expect. Maybe a friend calls you to tell you how much they appreciate you. Suddenly, your soul is on fire! Nothing can top that. Sleep? Who needs it.
This applies to more than energy. Trying to lose weight? If you just try to eat better foods (Physical) your chances of success are slim to none. If you study the effects of being overweight (mental) such as less years in your life, complications that can arise as you age, your motivation will be better. If you really want to improve your odds of success, you may want to look at your children or grandchildren and realize you might not see what they will become in life. Maybe you will think about how much you will miss doing with them while you are here because you will not be able to keep up with them physically. This will cause a powerful emotional response. Your motivation then becomes part of your spirit. When that happens, you will change your thinking (mental) and change your actions (physical)
This works for healing too. Let us say you were in a car accident. Your cuts, scraps and bruises will heal. It may take a while for you to remember that your odds on being in another accident are rather slim. Still, in a traffic jam it may take you a while not to have your heart race and your nerves be on edge.
There are so many more areas of life and examples we could touch on, but I wanted to introduce you to this principle and allow you to begin to work with it in your own life. I would be elated to hear what areas you can think of where you could use the knowledge of the three levels and how you can put what we are learning into practice.
This is me…on the roof of my work. Every few months I like to go up there and look for things that need fixing. This serves a dual purpose. First I check for things that need fixing on the roof. Today I found some broken metal brackets and loose covers. Last year it was a few bad goose eggs stuck in a vent.
It also allows me to do something else. As I walk around the border of the roof I can examine things on the ground below at a quick glance. I can see the entire landscaping and what needs attending to. I can see the parking lot and where there may be issues. In short, I can see a lot of things that may not be apparent when I am looking at them on the ground.
What does this have to do with living an amazing life? Life is not much different than what I do here. Sometimes in my life I need to take a step back and view things from an entirely different angle. I think it was Les Brown who said, “sometimes it is hard to see the picture when you are in the frame.” In other words, when we are emotionally involved in a situation it can be hard to see it objectively.
Have you ever been working on a problem for what seems like forever and a friend comes along and points out what is a simple, and should have been obvious solution? How frustrating is that? We were so focused and attached to the problem we were unable to see the solution. Albert Einstein said “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
That is what I am going to suggest you do for the next 24 hours. Try looking at situations from a different viewpoint. Pretend you are someone else, maybe even someone who has the opposite views you do. If you are facing a challenge try this simple method, write down all the facts of the matter with as few opinions and beliefs attached to them as possible. When you are done, trying looking at the problem from as many different angles as you can. You never know what ideas may come to the surface.