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.

IS HAPPINESS HARDER TO FIND???

“If you want other to be happy, practice compassion. if YOU want to be happy, practice compassion”

-The Dalai Lama

 

Here are some interesting facts I pulled out of this months Success Magazine according to a May report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here are some interesting facts for the years 1999-2010

Suicide in adults age 35-64 rose 28.4%

it rose 48.6% for men in their 50’s

it also rose 59.7% for women age 60-64

So what solution does this article recommend for this issue? Altruism, or simply put, helping others. I know to a lot of you this may sound “new age-ish” but let me assure you it is not. Shawn Achor, author of the book Before Happiness and author of the article cites recent positive psychology research. I am going to cite not so recent Neil past events. There was a time a few years back my life was a mess, my job at the post office was in limbo at best, my relationship had ended and I just seemed more depressed every day. Now of course this is before I started researching and applying lots of the knowledge on display here and in my new book. Back to that time however, I didn’t know which way to go. My friends and family had grown tired of listening to my “woe is me” attitude and quite frankly, so did I. So seeing the post office didn’t care to use my talents I decided to head down to the meal program I helped at once a month. It was not the day that I normally helped, but figured they could always use an extra hand. That simple decision impacted my life dramatically. First, it put in prospective my problems. I still had a job, albeit barely. I was healthy. I had a roof over my head. the people we served that day could only make claim to a few of those, some not even one. Not only that, their expressions of gratitude and genuine wishes of goodwill for me were overwhelming. By the end of the day not only had I pretty much forgotten about my problems I was feeling grateful and even happy. Seeing that you can make someone else smile has a profound effect. Looking back that may have been the beginning of my passion to serve and help others. Which was later brought to the forefront by my amazing friends Carmen and Alyssa. (More on them tomorrow.) The great thing about helping others is it really is one situation in life that is win/win. When you bring joy or just simply a smile to the heart of another person they obviously feel good, but seeing that reaction and knowing you played a part in it brings a joy like nothing I have ever experienced. you do not have to help at a meal program or a shelter to have this effect. Notice people who do not normally receive a lot of compliments. try giving them a sincere and kind word or maybe even just a smile and hello. When, at Christmas time, the post office becomes the personification of chaos I cannot begin to tell you how much the words “Thank you for your hard work during the holiday season” mean. Not to mention all the homemade cookies and candy! So perhaps a kind word to a busy cashier, or an extra tip for a busy waitress this weekend. You may not stay to see the results, but knowing you had a positive effect on a person’s day can make your day as well. So go ahead and be kind for selfish reasons. If we all were this world would be an amazing place!