WHAT I LIVE BY

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This is, by far, my favorite quote. It is a lesson I find we should all live by. There are two ways I enjoy looking at this quote. The first one is about ‘walking the walk’. One of the worst things we can see is someone who professes one thing, but then does another. If you want your life to be filled with less drama, but you spend your afternoon writing on social media about how filled with drama everyone else is, you are only adding to that. If you want the world to have less drama, start with yourself. There is only one person that we can have complete control over in this world and that is ourselves.

That brings me to the second way in which I enjoy this quote, as sense of hope. This is why I am writing what I do today. For those of you unfamiliar with my story, it was at the depths of darkest despair that my journey of positivity started. I was facing many negative situations in my personal life and was desperately seeking a solution from outside of myself. Everywhere I looked it seemed as if I saw one negative thing after another. The newspaper was full of negative news meant to sell and shock. The evening news on television was more of the same. I saw posts on social media that were certainly less than inspiring.

All of this negativity everywhere was not only frustrating, but had me enraged at times. It may be how some of you feel. I felt angry at politicians and celebrities that seemed to have no regard for human decency. The media only reporting these stories caused more frustration. Seeing people treating each other with hate and prejudice made me so mad.

I wanted to change governments to be more responsible and caring towards the people they serve and less driven by profit. I wanted celebrities to use their fame and position for good. It would also be nice for more of them to respect the people that allowed them to achieve that status. I wanted more people to live in light and love and treat each other with respect and compassion.

Do I still want all of these things? Absolutely. The difference is I decided to be that change. I joined political causes I believe brought about unity and positive change. I made sure I did my best to be an example of treating people with respect and compassion. Daily I work to spread positive news and keep the negative things I hear to myself. I wished more men acted as gentleman, so I do my best to treat my lady as I want to see all men treat theirs. In every way I strive to lead by example. I realized the best thing I could do to reduce the amount of negative people in the world was not be one of them.

What change do you wish to see in the world? Ask yourself honestly, do you embody that change? It may seem like changing yourself is only a small change, but doing so has caused several big changes in my own life. First, by focusing on being positive and not adding to the negative, I have felt more positive myself. I have attracted into my life people who have the same goals and aspirations as I do. Changing yourself has a ripple effect that touches the lives of so many others. If every one of us focused solely on being the change we wished to see in the world, the world we see would change.

SORRY TO BE A BOTHER…

There are lots of things that are posted on here that may be issues I am struggling with myself. This happens to be one of them. It is a very interesting dilemma that was brought to my attention by both a coworker and a very good friend. Who do you talk to when you are feeling bad, anxious or nervous about something in your life? Do you have a few certain people you confide in? Perhaps you just write in a journal. let me tell you what I do. The reason I am sharing this is so you will not do it as well. Most people see me as the guy that is “happy all the time” first of all that is not exactly true which is an issue we discussed in the post titled ‘frequently asked question’. The fact remains that shockingly I live in the real world too and sometimes it just sucks. not very inspiring I realize, but true. So what does Neil do when I am in a bad mood? Well the thought process in my head, which can be scary at times, goes something like this. “I’m the guy that likes to make everybody happy, but now I am not happy” “well, you can’t be the person who makes everyone unhappy and brings them down” “maybe you should just not be around people until you are happy again” Let me tell you this is really the wrong way to handle things for several reasons. There are a lot of people who say “I prefer to handle problems on my own” That statement is an excuse. what it usually translates to is “I’m afraid to make myself vulnerable and let other people see me when I am hurting” or in my case and several other giving people I know “Everybody is dealing with their own problems I don’t want to be a ‘Debbie downer'” it is true that nobody enjoys being around somebody who is always down. It is also true that everybody has bad days. When you are more of a giver you tend to see other people’s problems greater than your own. I remember a situation when I stopped myself from sharing why I was having a bad day because of work issues with a friend of mine because they had just broken up with their boyfriend which I figured was truly more painful than what I was going through. I didn’t want to ‘bother’ my friend with my little problem. Then I heard a story about two guys going out for dinner and one fellow who was a little better off refusing to let the other fellow buy. While he felt he was being considerate he forgot to think about how his actions may affect the other man. “How dare you!” yelled the second man. He felt he was being deprived of the honor of treating his friend for dinner. The other man was thinking that since he had more money he would just pay. Unfortunately this only accentuated the other person’s financial situation. it made him feel like he was taking advantage of the fact that his friend had more money. Obviously this was not the first man’s intent at all. I must confess again, I can be guilty of this very crime. When your behavior tends to lean toward being a giver it can be hard to receive yet by graciously receiving a gift from someone with gratitude you are also giving that person a feeling of joy from giving as well. This was a material example, but the same holds true for what this post is really about. Sharing things that may be bothering you. When you keep problems bottled up inside you are depriving your friends of the feeling of being helpful, needed and a valuable friend. Of course that is not our intent, we just do not want to add to their list of things to worry about or be concerned about. Yet, it conveys a feeling of trust, closeness and demonstrates you either value their opinion or just their ability to listen. Now do not get me wrong, sometimes some solitude and time to think come in handy. As does writing in a journal which we discussed last week. But let us remember we must all be a giver and a receiver. When someone never is allowed to help you they may feel uncomfortable sharing their problems with you out of fear of the friendship being one-sided which will only lead to a distance between friends and a weakening of the friendship. Remember sometimes receiving help can be giving a gift to those who offer it. When you accept that gift whether it be dinner, or just the gift of their time with gratitude and humility you are creating a win/win situation and bringing the friendship closer together. So next time I am having a problem I think I will reread this email and do a little better at receiving.

IT MAY NOT BE YOU…

“Sometimes it is not all about you”

-Kaylene

My friend Kaylene told me this once and I must confess it took me quite some time to appreciate the full value of this statement. She said “Neil, sometimes it is not all about you”. My first reaction was what the hell are you talking about? I’m telling you about a problem that I have, of course it is all about me! The truth of what she was trying to say is we never really know the full extent of all the variables in the situation. If we offer a friend some gentle constructive criticism and they explode, you may leave thinking “was I do tough in my review?” “what did I say wrong” Truth is your friend may have very well appreciated your honesty, but maybe they had just been yelled at by their spouse for the same thing. Maybe it is a subject they are very sensitive on that you never knew. Truth is their anger may have little or nothing to do with you. If you respond with a harsh statement yourself such as “Don’t be a jerk, I was just trying to help you” it may damage the friendship beyond repair. Even when being left by a lover, or being dismissed from a job, we must remember it may not mean we are a bad lover or employee. If you know you have given your best and it still hasn’t worked out, remember there are lots of other factors we must consider. Try as we might we cannot control as much of the outside aspect of our lives as we may desire to do. So when life seems to be handing you more lemons than you could ever make into lemonade just remember, “It’s not all about me” This also works on the flip side. When you succeed in any endeavor it is seldom all about you as well. Sure feel proud, as you should. Just be sure to give thanks, even if only internally, to all those who may have taught or supported you. Take your fair share of responsibility but remember as my wise Aussie friend says, “Sometimes it is not all about you”

CELEBRATE THE VICTORY!

I’d like to share a fun memory with you.  Do you have one amazing friend that you feel you have known forever.  In fact, what you stop to reflect on your history together it seems hard to imagine you at one point in time didn’t have each other in your lives?  Well this is such a story, and it comes with a very valuable lesson as well.  I had met a this person through a long time friend of mine.  As far as first impressions go it was an interesting one.  In an attempt to cheer up our friend who was having relationship problems she went on to tell stories of why she didn’t care for men and how insensitive they can be.  Being the only man at the table I learned it was probably wise just to not say anything at this point then say the wrong thing.  As it turns out throughout our friendship I have made up for that plenty of times by saying the wrong thing, quite often at the wrong time.  I dare not repeat the parting words of this conversation, but it did end with a toast.

Fast forward a few weeks and the same friend asks if I would like to me her and a few lady friends out for martinis.  Well never being one to turn down such an offer I was excited to go.  Well, this poor friend was still having relationship issues shall we say.  As I got there I noticed the same girl who had voiced her displeasure with my gender was in attendance.  She seemed extra joyful this evening.  I was later to learn this is her normal state of being and the ‘man hating’ if you will was just an attempt to make our friend feel better about the certain situation.  I soon learned part of the reason for the joyous atmosphere was they were celebrating my friend Angela getting a new job.  Now maybe it is because I don’t have friends who either switch jobs or are too worried about being employed, but I had not been to such a celebration for a while.  Not that I need a reason to enjoy a good martini, but I began to think of reasons I could be celebrating. First I started with the obvious, I was with 3 beautiful women drinking martinis. Then I thought about the fact that I am employed, I was meeting new friends…the list went on.  Now I know this sounds close to finding reasons to be grateful and it is, but there is a very distinct difference. I am grateful daily for my beautiful friend Angela who was the one celebrating that evening. I am grateful for all the adventures we have had. Every time we get together (although those times are rare now that she moved out of state) we always seem to be celebrating something.  That is truly how life should be, one continuous celebration. So next time you find yourself with a cocktail in your hand, or a cup of coffee, tea or whatever else you may be enjoying, even if you are by yourself, raise your glass and propose a toast.  Even if all you can manage is “here’s to me because I am amazing” celebrate my friends because every day of this life we enjoy is a gift.  I want to thank Angela for showing me that and for providing me one of the greatest gifts to celebrate our friendship