ONE CHANGE THAT COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING

It is always entertaining to discover the ways that some of the most life-changing knowledge comes to our attention. What is even more amusing is that often these moments stem from what can initially be defined as a negative experience. Another example of modern day alchemy. We all have the power to turn a negative experience into a positive one. Before I lose everyone completely, allow me to share with you the exact experience I had and the realization that came out of it.

The other afternoon I was riding my bike in the park. It was a rather hot day and I was taking my time enjoying nature in all its glory. Ahead of me was a young man around the age of 6 I would guess. As we rounded the curve in the trail there were a few birds sitting on the grass. As the young man approached them he yelled “Get out of here stupid birds! You are ugly! Goodbye stupid ugly birds!” It appeared the young man had really no malice in his words or towards the birds, but hearing that made my heart sink. My first reaction was to feel bad for the birds. I know this may sound silly as birds to not speak the same language as humans, but sending out that negative energy towards another living thing cannot be constructive. A little while later down the path, when asked his opinion of a certain tree, the child replied using the same descriptions of ‘stupid’ and ‘ugly’. Again, it is my opinion this was more a product of environment and not any malice as the young man seemed rather happy at the time.

As I found my own spirit a little brought down by the young man’s words it got me thinking. In the past I would have felt a little foolish, or even weak for allowing another person’s words and actions affect me. Now I realize it is just part of my gift as an empath and spiritual person. The event stuck in the back of my mind as I went about my day.

3 a.m. found me awake and reading on the couch when the experience popped back into the front of my mind. I began thinking how someone should tell the young man about the law of energy. It may sound silly to do so to someone at such a young age, but if we wait often habits and language patterns can become set and harder to change. What is the big deal about what words we use? Imagine several random people coming up to you and informing you that you are ugly or stupid. Can you imagine how you would feel after that? Even if you give their opinion much weight, it still would not be a good feeling. Now, imagine several random people coming up with wonder in their eyes and informing you how beautiful or inspiring you are. Can you think about how that would feel?

Words do not only affect others. When we, like the young man in the story, go around calling everything stupid or ugly. When we look for things to criticize about people, places and things. Our world becomes filled with things that we see as ugly, stupid or some other negative description. Can you imagine how it would feel to be surrounded by ugliness and stupidity every day, all day? By speaking in such a manner and seeking out the faults in everything we chose to do that to ourselves.

With my feelings working their way downward as I was thinking about all of the people who do this to themselves as well as how often I still find myself doing the same thing, a great realization came to me. If we can make our lives a living hell by the words we chose to use, could we use that same power to transform our lives to one of beauty and joy? Of course we can. There is always two sides to every story.

Immediately my mind began to work on how this could be put into use. The answer was simple. To create joy and positivity all we have to do is the opposite of what brought us the pain and negativity. In this case, what if that young man was taught to find the beauty and magnificence in everything he saw? What if we all learned how to see everything as a miracle. It was Albert Einstein who said, “There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as thought everything is a miracle.” If one of the smartest minds on the planet lived by this concept, I felt it might be wise for me to as well.

Today I am going to begin to look at the beauty in everything I see. In addition, I am going to use words like ‘wonderful’ and ‘beautiful’. If we find the beauty in everything we see, no matter how hard it may be, our lives will be filled with a great amount of beauty and joy. Can you imagine how different it would feel if we were surrounded daily by everything we thought was beautiful? Our lives, in turn, would become beautiful.

One great key to finding the beauty in even the toughest situations was supplied to me by a quote from Mr. Rogers. This quote was sent to me by a neighbor who knew I was a fan of the children’s television show host. The quote was “Frankly there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.” Perhaps if the young man in our story know that birds he was calling stupid could navigate 2000 miles without the use of a map he may not think they were so stupid after all. The greatest irony of all. After all the knowledge that came out of the afternoon in the park, the young  man’s words became a thing of beauty for all they taught me and all I could share with you.

WHAT NOW?

When I decided to be a motivational speaker I thought it would be an easy and natural progression. Taking the material in both my book and website and sharing it with people would be simple and enjoyable. What challenges could come from sharing how to live a more positive and rewarding life with others.

I have discovered being able to appreciate the beauty in others and express that beauty in the written words has bestowed upon me one of the most challenging, yet personally rewarding honors I have faced. In the past 12 months I have spoken at 5 funerals. Being asked to speak about the life of someone who everyone in attendance cared so deeply for is both a tremendous honor, and great responsibility. One that I do not take lightly. It has also taught me to learn and think a great deal about how I approach the subject of death. In doing so, I have discovered what will not only help ease the burden of grief we feel when we lose someone we love but will help them live on every day in our lives. I would like to share what I learned with all of you in hopes it may help you or someone you know who may be experiencing the grief of losing someone you love.

On May 8th our family experienced a great loss in the mother of my lovely lady, Margie. Shortly after her mom’s passing, Margie asked if I would like to speak at the funeral. I must confess to having cringed a little. Being that my love and respect for both of those ladies was quite high, it was an honor, but it would be an emotional challenge to deliver. Certainly, when asked to perform such an important honor, it is hard to say no. As I began to think about what I would say, a new challenge presented itself. I was about to compose words about the woman the lady in my life was lucky enough to call her mom. Nothing but the best would do. The words came to me at 3 o’clock one morning. I grabbed my laptop to capture them.

In all my writing I try to give the reader something they can use to reduce the stress, or in this case grief in their life and add some joy or positivity. Fortunately for me, Margie’s mother, Ruthanne, led life that provided most of what I needed to say.

Most eulogies include memories of the person they honor. I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to answer the question that all of us, in some form or fashion, have in our hearts and minds when we lose someone we love – now what? What do we do now that we have lost a great parent, grandparent, spouse or even dear friend? How do we keep them alive both in our hearts and the world around us? How can we help their legacy live on?

I am going to share what works for me in hopes that it may help you. I have found although honoring someone with a memorial or candle-light vigil is thoughtful, the event is over in a day. For me, the best way to keep someone alive in our hearts and in our daily life is to replace some of the light the world has lost with their passing. I would like to explain this further by using the life of Ruthanne as an example. I must add Ruthanne gave more light in her 79 years than most people could do if given 179 years. Her life could best be summed up by recalling her last few days with us here on earth.

When Ruthanne was told her time on earth was ending, she voiced two desires. It wasn’t a fancy car or an exotic vacation. She wanted to go to the casino and karaoke one more time. She wanted to die as she lived, feeling the joy in her life, surrounded by the people she loved. Ruthanne understood that joy and peace are more important than status or wealth.

When it became clear she was not going to leave the hospital we asked her if she would like us to bring her anything. Her answer spoke volumes. She said quite firmly, “I don’t need things. I need people.” Ruthanne understood the material gifts we are given we cannot take with us, but the lives we touch and the memories we create is what will live on long after we are gone. She knew the most valuable gift we can give someone is our time and our love. That is what she wanted from us.

It was not receiving that gift that most concerned Ruthanne. Every person who visited her in the hospital asked her the same question, “How are you doing?” You might think she would lament the conditions that plagued her or the time she had left. Not once did I hear this. Instead, she asked people how they were doing. She did not do this just for conversation, but with the genuine sincerity of someone who truly cares. She asked to see pictures of babies and how their jobs were going. Ruthanne understood how important it is to let someone know they are loved and significant.

If you attended Ruthanne’s funeral or visited her in the hospital you would notice the people she surrounded herself with came from every race, culture and creed. Ruthanne may joke with you about your look some days, but she would never let how someone looked stop her from loving them. Although a Christian, she would not let believing in a different faith stop her from loving you. Ruthanne gave us the gift of acceptance.

Sometimes, those she loved let her down. They may have been in trouble with the law, developed habits or addictions they shouldn’t have, or even hurt her or the ones she loved. I think at some point all of us that knew her failed to live up to our own standard. What did she do when this happened? She loved us anyway. Ruthanne gave us the gift of forgiveness.

With all the gifts mentioned above that she gave us, it is easy to see why at the 79th birthday party Margie threw her over 100 people showed up. If I were to guess almost three times that many either visited or sent well-wishes when she was in the hospital. With that much love and popularity you could not blame Ruthanne if she would boast with the rest of them. When she was told people had to leave her room because more were waiting to visit her she would tell us, “I don’t know why people love me so much. I am just me.” Ruthanne gave us the gift of humility.

Ruthanne gave me those gifts and I must add giving birth to the most beautiful woman I share my life with. Sadly, she will no longer be here to teach me these gifts in person. It falls upon me and those she knew, in her honor and memory, to share these gifts with those lives we touch. Every time I am accepting, forgiving, every time I make someone laugh or remind them how important and loved they are, I will think of and thank Ruthanne for being a living example of these virtues and many more.

When we lose someone we truly love, let us all work together to replace the light the world has lost with their passing. It will not only help ease our grief, it will keep them with us every day we share the gifts that they gave us.

SEE THE SIGNS

When people find that I am an advocate for positive living, the same question seems to pop up, “Why bother?” They want to know why you should bother being nice to people. Why is it important to stop and greet strangers with a smile? Why is it important to check in with friends even if you really have nothing else to say? Why is it important to keep courting the love of your life, long after they have agreed to the ‘happily ever after’?

These are all very good questions. Some people who may fit into the pessimistic lifestyle even ask me questions such as “Why bother being nice to people when all they will do is end up taking advantage of you?” No doubt this question has arises from some past experience they have had. The funny thing about that is it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you treat people with the forgone conclusion that at some point they are going to take advantage of you or do something hurtful, you withhold certain things. You may not give them the full amount of trust. You may not be completely open and vulnerable with them. Perhaps you may even skip doing the little extra things that may inconvenience you but mean the world to them. After all why would you go out of your way when sooner or later you are going to end up with the short end of the stick?

The ironic thing here is by doing these actions you perpetuate those very circumstances. How? If someone makes you feel like they can’t trust you, how would that make you feel about them? If they never seem to share about themselves and seem guarded would you feel close to them? Trying to keep yourself from getting hurt ends up pushing people away.

Here is another reality – no matter how hard you try at some point you will get hurt. Your paths will cross with some malevolent people, and even good people on occasion do things that hurt us without meaning to. Especially if they don’t know you well enough to know what might upset you.

So why be nice? Why go out of your way to do the things mentioned in the first paragraph? Here’s why. In the picture you see both a sign and a card. The first my lovely Margie left the sign on the mirror while she was shopping with her daughter and I was at the gym. How do you think that sign made me feel as I left for work? Loved? Grateful? Happy? All warm and fuzzy inside? Yes to all the above! The reason she did it she told me was because of how I was making her feel.

The card is an even better story. I shared with Margie how hard it is for me when the Wisconsin State Fair ends. It is not only the end of that festival, which I have loved since a child, but the end of my vacation that year and summer coming to a close. Three things I enjoy coming to a conclusion all at the same time can leave me feeling a little blue. Knowing this the love of my life bought me a ‘get well’  card of sorts. Cheering me up and reminding me of good times to come.

Do you think that would’ve happened had I taken or relationship for granted? Assuming your relationship is ‘handled’ because it is going ok is one of the biggest mistakes a couple can make. Love is one thing you should never put on autopilot. Let me be clear, the reason I put in so much effort in making my lady understand how much she is loved and how beautiful she I find her is not so I can see what creative and wonderful surprises she can leave me. I do it because I am the man in her life and I believe that is what a real man should do. I work as hard as I can to give her a man she can be proud of. I also do my best to not only tell her, but show her how beautiful she is to me and how loved she is. As you can see, the rewards I receive are well worth it.

Here is a wonderful thing I have done with both the card and the sign. I put them inside my laptop and every time I write I open it up to find examples of the love she has shown me. This not only helps on the days when a reminder comes in handy, but each and every time that I see them. It has taken two single very thoughtful moments from my love and made them gifts that give me joy every time I open my computer to write. This not only has me feeling loved it puts me in a great mood to write. It also fills me with gratitude for the amazing woman I have.

How do you think having these reminders serves our relationship? When we are not seeing eye to eye on something, having an example of how great our love can be creates an urge to get back there. When I am away writing, looking over and seeing these reminders helps me stay focused and get my work done so I can come home to the wonderful lady who created them. They are gifts that continue to keep on giving.

Take the time to share with the one you love. The only way for them to love all of you is if all of you loves all of them. That might be tricky to read, but it certainly will make your relationship a glorious source of joy and growth like Margie and I are blessed to have. It also helps to carry reminders of your love with you when you go somewhere.

GRAB YOUR CAMERA

When people hear that I am a self-improvement author and motivational speaker a lot of them imagine what I do as being a lot of positive thinking and Pollyanna. Although having a positive attitude is important it is a result of what I learn, not the goal of. When you are living a more productive, less stressful life of course you will tend to be more positive.

Please do not misunderstand what I am attempting to say here. Your attitude is of vital importance. The right attitude can make you unstoppable. The wrong attitude can leave you whipped before you even begin. How we develop the former and stay away from the latter is the million dollar question. The most important thing we can learn about attitude is that it is something in our life that is 100% up to us.

Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% what we do with it. We have all heard of people coming from the worst circumstances and using that to propel them to never have to live like that again. We also know people who give up on life because they were ‘born on the wrong side of the tracks’. What is the difference between these two? The difference is attitude.

A lot of what I do is help individuals deal with stress. The first thing I help them do is to develop a change in focus. You already have went through, or are even currently going through the stress, now it is your choice to either succumb to it, or put it to work for you. As cliché as it sounds, you can either become bitter or better. It is changing from a mindset that involves merely surviving, to one that is working towards thriving. The fact that you went through the pain once is bad enough. If you do absolutely nothing with it, that is allowing it to hurt you twice.

One tip I offer people who attend my seminars, and is in my upcoming book that I will give you here as well is to write down two simple questions on an index card. Doing this will do more to help you develop a positive attitude than almost anything I know. What are these two amazing questions? Glad you asked. They are as follows –

  1. What else can this mean?
  2. How can I use this?

These two questions can turn any situation into an advantage for you. If you try to come up with as many positive answers to both of them as you can you will have begun to transform your life. This does not happen overnight and will take a bit of effort, but the rewards will be an unstoppable attitude.

I ask that you share your ideas for creating a powerful attitude and focus in the comments below. The more ideas we have, the more likely we are to be successful.

HOW FULL IS YOUR GLASS?

I’m going to put forth to you, good reader, the age old question – is the glass half full or half empty? As I’m sure most of you can guess my answer is closer to the full side. Your answer to this question is supposed to reflect your overall outlook on life.

Did you ever wonder why they never follow this up with three quarters full or a quarter empty? How about three-eighths verses five-eighths? Would that make you slightly less negative or more positive? I don’t suppose it really matters.

This question is a matter of perspective. It is a reflection of whether you are grateful for what you have or upset about what you don’t have.

My pessimistic friends, or the glass half empty folks, as well as some of my friends that call themselves “realists” will make sure to point out either opinion does not change the reality of the situation. Whether you are happy or sad, the glass still contains half the liquid it could.

If you stop and think of it, that is the beauty of the truth. All of our lives are like that glass, they are not as full as they could be. We have lots to be grateful for, as well as lots to be upset about. There are challenges we get that are just unfair, but if we are perfectly honestly with ourselves, we all have breaks of good fortune that are more than we deserve.

What is the point here? Who is right? The point is this, our lives, much like the glass are both half full and half empty. By virtue of that assessment, both the optimists and the pessimists are right.

Before you think you have just read all of this for nothing let us look at the major difference, one feels good most of the time and one feels bad. Stop and read that again. If both having a cheerful and expectant attitude will mean your life will have its ups and downs, and have a bitter and sour disposition will mean your life will have its ups and downs the only difference is how you feel when you are here.

The only sure thing I know about life, is that you don’t get out alive, so why not enjoy it as much as we can while we are here? One more glaring reason to see the glass half full will be offered next post. Now while I was busy pondering whether the glass was half-full or half -empty, I believe Margie drank my rum.

A NEW FRIEND

This was a picture that my lady took of me on a fun day we had at the zoo. This friendly duck flew over by us and was content just hanging out. He posed for several pictures and didn’t fly away until some children tried to grab him. After which time we went to the park and were greeted by other animals that seemed to follow us.

In addition to a great inspiring story, it demonstrated something I always find to be true. That day both my lady and I were in a very happy mood. At the zoo then at the park later. The animals, and people as well I believe can sense what kind of mood we are in.

This is yet another reason why maintaining a positive attitude is so important. Is it easy? Of course it is not, but it is worth it. By falling victim to worry and petty things that upset us we run the risk of throwing into jeopardy things like friendships, relationships and even our careers. By keeping our attitude positive, or at least doing our best to do so, we begin to attract into our lives all manner of good things. New friends, opportunities and yes even friendly ducks. All these things give us even more reason to smile. It is worth noting the opposite is equally true. When we are crass, sarcastic and angry and depressed often we repel the very situations that would change or situations and disposition for the better.

Therefore, all change must begin from within. Begin to get everyone, and thr world with kindness, compassion and a smile. It may take a bit, but sure as the sun rises in the east, you fortune will begin to turn.

For those of you thinking “I’ll smile when the world gives me something to smile about!” I would like to give you an analogy Earl Nightingale used to describe that way of thinking. He said it is like sitting in front of a wood stove and saying “Give me heat and then I’ll put the wood in.” We must give that which we wish to receive.

MAKE THE MOST OF SPECIAL MOMENTS

Monday we began a special journey of putting our mind to work for us and bringing great transformations to our life by doing so. If you haven’t read Monday’s post I encourage you to click the link below and do so now.

I DARE YOU….

Each day this week we are going to discuss ways to help improve your process and make the journey easier and more enjoyable.

Today’s post focuses on special moments. Above is a picture of a litter of puppies. Seeing such a sight and being able to hold and play with them would put most people in a very joyous mood. When you are in these moods it is valuable to know how to make the most of these moments. Take a picture such as this to remember the moment by.

Another very valuable and powerful thing you can do is take a moment to repeat your affirmation and/or visualize the achievement of your goal while you are in this joyous state. Don’t worry you would only have to stop playing with the puppies for a few seconds. When we are in a happy state it is often a lot easier to picture positive solutions and to believe them as not only possible, but being created as we discussed in Monday’s post.

All the good moments you come across take a moment to pause, feel grateful and picture your goal as realized and say a quick affirmation. Telling yourself “Perfect health is now filling my body and expressing itself in me.” Sounds a lot better and is a lot easier to believe after rolling around with a group of puppies. Now, if you will excuse me as soon as my lady reads this I will be required to find a group of puppies so she can test out this theory. Be sure to come back tomorrow for even more ideas to enjoy the journey to achieving our goals.