DAY 3 OF THE JULY WORLD-CHANGING CHALLENGE!

Today is one of those positive things that just come to you, or in this case me. My day started out like any other, waking up early to go to the gym. On this fine morning I had to get up a little earlier than normal to get my workout in. I had to stop at the mechanic as my battery in my Ford Escape had seemed to have broken free of its confines. I made it to the mechanic with time for them to look at it and still make it to my day job at the United States Postal Service. Fortunately for me, the repair only took a matter of minutes and they were able to correct the problem for the moment.

While this was good on one hand, it left me with too much time to go to work, but not enough time to go back home. I decided I would visit the Starbucks that is conveniently located next to the Post Office I work at. I parked and began to walk up. There were two young ladies already sitting outside enjoying the sunny day. They informed me that only seconds before a lady had rushed to the door and taped up a sign that said “Sorry closed” and locked the door. I chuckled thinking to myself, “Perhaps they knew I was coming.” They only other thing open in near proximity was a sandwich shop. I availed myself to one of their delicious offerings and took it outside to sit in the sun. Only moments into enjoying my unplanned lunch, the manager of the now closed coffee shop came out and inquired if I would be interested in a free Nitro coffee. After affirming quickly she disappeared inside again. When she came out she explained that the hot water heater had exploded and the entire store was under water! She knew I was a good customer and wanted to make sure I still got something. Sitting in the hot sun, the cold coffee tasted ever so good.

This was a positive event for several reasons. First, I got a free delicious coffee. You can never go wrong there. Second, it reminded me how important it is to be nice to everyone you encounter. (More on that tomorrow) Had I not been a frequent and nice customer, I doubt there would have been such an offer made. It was also impressive that the manager took the time to think of me while she was busy trying to salvage items in the face of the oncoming flood. I left with a very positive feeling and it was a great start to the rest of my day!

I hope you are having great luck finding one positive thing you can post. Do not forget to share them online and spread the joy this first week of July!

DAY 2 OF OUR FUN JULY CHALLENGE

Day 2 of our challenge! I hope you made it through day 1 without posting anything negative and remembering to share at least one thing positive online. With most of us still quarantined at home, life exists to a greater degree online. Therefore, the positive changes we are making can have an even greater impact.

I have a great deal of positive to share today. I am going to start with this morning. For the last few years I have had a lingering calf issue. I enjoy jogging despite not being built for such endeavors. After a week or two of jogging I would always get a terrible pain in my calf that would last roughly 2 weeks. This on again, off again training did not allow me to get into much of a rhythm. The last time this injury happened I was alone on a local hiking trail here and over a mile from my car. A long painful limp back, plus the fact that it turned black and blue, prompted me to say, “enough is enough!” I went to the doctor only to discover I had a strain and slight tear in my Achilles tendon. Without physical therapy I risked surgery and weeks of being off my feet all together.

All of this may not sound positive to you, but to me it was. Not only did I finally learn what the problem was, I had a plan to correct it. I found myself at the sports medicine center and in the capable hands of Griffin. After several questions and a complete exam, he developed a plan for my recovery. He informed me that in about 4 to 6 weeks I should really be seeing improvement. I was given several exercises to do at home and soon should be running, jumping and playing with the other kids!

The next bit of great news is that I finally have my ‘office’ back. That was a line I borrowed from my good friend Scott. Since March, the coffee shops here have been closed to inside seating. Recently, they just opened up with social distancing practices in place. Although writing at home with a beautiful lady can be fun, it can also be quite distracting. I always want to give her my attention when I am in her presence. When I am by myself in a coffee shop I tend to disappear in my own little writing world. Sometimes this can be quite amusing as I look up and all of the people around me have changed and I was completely unaware. This is not where the good news ends!

Another great thing about today’s visit is the thoughtful nature of my beautiful lady. When she heard that Starbucks was opening she wanted to buy me my first coffee. She presented me with a gift card at lunch the other day. As I am writing this, I can’t help but think of her thoughtfulness. Not to mention she is on my screen saver. Filled with love, writing just seems to flow.

That is 3 pieces of positive news! I have already found myself looking for things to share that are positive. I hope you are having luck finding your positive news. Feel free to share your positive stories in the comments below, but don’t forget to share them online as well!

YOUR CHALLENGE FOR JULY

Today’s post is a simple one. With all the craziness going on in the world today it can seem overwhelming. Realizing how much we would like to change about the world around us can have us feeling powerless.

It is with that thought in mind that we look at today’s post. July is my birth month (the 29th) and I’m looking to begin to do nothing short of changing the world. To some that may seem a bit extreme, but it really is not. Considering this blog is followed in over 130 countries at last count, I am hoping some of you will join me in my challenge. Share this with your friends and family. If we can get a few people to share this challenge from each country on their social media accounts, we could start a big change that would improve all of our lives!

The picture challenges us to not post anything negative for the first 7 days of July. I am going to take this one step further and encourage you to not only refrain from the negative, but post one thing positive each day. Not sarcastically positive, such as “look my politician is better than yours” kind of thing. No, I mean something truly positive. Something to brighten someone’s, or many someones, day.

As you do,I would love for you to come back each day and share your adventures with me. Each of the 7 day’s I’ll be sharing mine with you. We start tomorrow. We can do this!

10 STEPS TO HAPPINESS

Here is a challenge for us all, myself included. I found this great picture and we are going to spend the next 10 days taking steps to happiness and discussing our actions and results right here on this blog. I am excited and I hope you are too! At the end of these 10 days we will have taken a great leap to expanding the level of joy and happiness in our lives. Consider it a staircase to enlightenment. Not that after 10 days we will find ourselves sitting blissfully on a mountain top breathing deeply supplying the world with all the answers it seeks. We just might smile a little more and stress a little less.

We are going to begin today by taking the first step. Ironically, we are going to start with number 10 and work our way up to number 1. As you can see by looking at the photo above, step number 10 says Complain less, appreciate more. As we set out today let us look for areas in our lives that we often complain about that we can find things to appreciate about.

Take the morining commute as an example. It can be easy to get frustrated with drivers who seem to either have no connection to, or little regard for reality. Just the other day I saw a wonderful driver crawling along down a mainstreet at about 10 miles per hour when suddenly they felt compelled to turn left from the right lane. This means they esentially cut across four lanes of traffic at the same brisk pace in which they were traveling to their desitinations. In this particular event we can often apprecitate our creative nature to discover different titles to attach to that driver or colorful adjetives to describe their driving. We here at secret2anamazinglife.com like to keep things a little more positive, however. Instead we could appreciate the fact nobody was hurt by this driver using the force more than their 5 senses. We could also appreciate the fact there are not more drivers like this on the road. I do suppose we could appreciate that this safety-impaired individual was unable or unwilling to put more weight on the gas pedal.

Another area in which it is all too easy to find ourselves complaining these days is the grocery store. We complain that we occasionally have to wait to even get in the store. Once inside we complain about the atmosphere and how full of fear it is. To, of course, the lack of available products. We lament the fact that our own personal hygiene may be compromised due to the advanced planning of the 20 year-old purchasing enough toilet paper for the rest of his natural life. Yes, we would like some yeast, but find ourselves relegated to enjoying pitas because some folks may be planning to bake until they fall over. All very understandable reactions. We must remind ourselves that in most cases there are alternatives. Maybe a cheaper brand of toilet tissue. Yes, this is not ideal, but we should appreciate those lovable Charmin bears as we wait for their return. We can appreciate the fact that although we have to wait, at least we are assured of an open store and that they are taking safety precautions to help us. Yes, people are full of fear, but we can appreciate how much more our smile and friendliness will mean to other shoppers and especially those hard-working souls there to help us.

These are but a few examples. I invite you to continue throughout your day looking for areas in which you can transform complaints into appreciation. You will notice a decrease in your own stress as well as an increase in your joy and connection with your fellow humans. Tomorrow we will get together to discuss the next step and share our results with the last one. Feel free to share any ideas you may have currently and stop back for the next post to share your results.

ARE THEY READY?

Have you ever run into this problem? A friend of yours comes to you for help. You really care for this person and do not want to see them hurting anymore, so you do your best to help them. A week, or maybe even sooner, they are back with the same problem. I know a person who does really ill-advised things when they drink alcohol. They come to me with lines such as, “I wish I would have never said that.” or ” I wish I would have never done that.” With as much compassion as I can muster, I offer the suggestion that perhaps they should stop drinking. “You are right. I should.” A week later…same story. When you mention the fact that they were going to give up the thing that was causing the problems in their life, they have a range of excuses. They were going to. They thought they could control themselves.

Maybe you have a friend that is trying to get in shape and wants to work out with you. Meet me at the gym after work and we will workout together you offer. That time comes and they had a tough day at work and just want to relax at home. Maybe they are unwilling to give up eating junk food and drinking soda. Yet as they are slamming Mountain Dew with one had and eating a doughnut in the other, they are also complaining about how they just can’t seem to lose weight. Spending your time developing a workout routine or nutrition plan with these folks may not be the best investment of your time.

The hard truth is this – if someone is not willing to help themselves by letting go what is holding them down, there is little you can do for them. It is like tossing someone a life preserver who is still hanging on to an anchor. A friend that is not intent on getting out of that relationship that is bringing them down, yet they always ask you why they are not happy. Until they are willing to help themselves, you cannot help them no matter how hard you try. It will only end up with you feeling as defeated as them.

There is one caveat to this. If the person you are trying to help is genuinely working hard on changing but is having a difficult time. You can perhaps work with them to develop a plan to help them succeed. If you see a person really desires to change but is lacking the knowledge how, encouragement and working with them is a noble and great thing to do. Just be aware there are those who want others to fix their lives for them. Unless they are willing to let go of the negative in their life, any positive you offer them will be of little to no use.

MY FAVORITE ANTIDOTE TO FEAR AND DESPAIR

We have spoke at length about how to deal with feelings of fear and negativity. What happens on those days that you just can’t find any positive thoughts no matter how hard you look? Is your place of work where happy feelings go to die? Does even driving up to the building fill you with dread? Maybe every word that comes out of your mouth seems to cause disagreements with those around you. Trust me, we all go through periods of times like that. When we live in a world filled with darkness. It is then that you must switch from looking for the sunshine to being the sunshine. The million dollar question then becomes, “How on earth can I find sunshine to spread, when I can’t even find any sunshine in my own head?

This goes back to a lot of the tools we discuss in this blog and that are mentioned in my book A Happy Life for Busy People. You will find a link to purchase that book at the end of this blog. There are a few things we can do that only take minutes a day that can add sunshine into our life. It is for this reason I recommend doing these before the negativity starts to affect you. Meditation, vision boards and happy playlists. For more details on these and many other activites feel free to search this blog and the pages of the afore mentioned book.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, you can increase your happiness by giving it away. By shifting your focus from all of the negativity in your own life, to bringing light to someone else’s you will increase your own. In addition to the feeling you will get from seeing the smile light up their face, you will walk away with a feeling of accomplishment. Why a feeling of accomplishment? You have brought a great deal of positivity to a world that sorely needs it. That is a feeling that will stay with you long after you have left the smile you created.

How important is one small act of kindness? Let us do the math quickly. There are 7 billion people on earth. Even if we could achieve a 50% rate of people doing random acts of kindness that would be 3.5 billion smiles created. 3.5 billion positive moments brought to light. Imagine living in a world where that happens. It may sound like a crazy dream, but that is only half of the people. Can you imagine if we could get close to 75%? It is not out of the realm of possibility. How can we achieve this? Start with ourselves. As many days in a row as you can do at least one act of kindness. Even if you only did this on the weekends that would be 104 smiles you created a year. Do you think this would affect the state of the world? Feel free to leave any suggestions for kind acts in the comments below.

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING!!

I ALMOST FORGOT IT MADE ME HAPPY

This idea was given to me by my beautiful Margie. In these crazy times we all need to remind and use things to create a little sense of joy in our lives. In my book A Happy Life for Busy People, I encourage people to create what I call a “Happy Playlist”. Quite simply compile a list of songs that bring joyful memories to you. I put mine on my phone. I created a list on YouTube and add songs on a daily basis as they occur to me. Currently, it has a total of 187 songs. The great thing about this list is that anytime I find life giving me a hard time I ‘just push play’ and I am greeted by songs that bring back fond memories or transport me to someplace I would rather be. Some make me think of my friends and quite a few make me think of my lovely lady.

Music is a powerful way to transport your mental state quickly than anything else I know. Once you do the list of songs you may realize how powerful this is and want to add other mediums as well. Favorite movies that you love that make you laugh or put a special feeling in your heart. It is great to have a collection of books that can take your mind to a different world. At this moment when many of us have a little more time it is a good idea to put some of these together.

Why now? I often use the comparison to learning to swim. It is certainly a better idea to learn to swim when you are safely on shore than waiting until you are on a sinking ship. When we return to work we will face a lot of new challenges. Some of us may have to begin looking for new jobs. Life will take a lot of getting used to and having a things that could make us happy will really come in handy. Whether your happiness comes from music, books or even kittens (that is Margie’s contribution to today’s post) Let us all use the time we have to create some ideas of people, places and things that bring joy into our lives. When the world returns to normal, let us spend more time doing those very things.

WIN THE MORNING BY DOING THESE 2 THINGS

Recently, I exchanged some wonderful messages with a good friend. They thanked me for the work I do, which I must confess is what drives me to keep writing. They had mentioned they were working on reducing the negative mental chatter in their head first thing in the morning. This is a struggle I think we can all relate to.

I have the great fortune to sleep next to who I believe to be the most beautiful woman in the world, my lovely Margie. My day job requires me to wake up at 4 a.m. At that hour this time of the year the temperature where I live is usually below freezing. Let it be known that if I had my choice I would be living on a remote tropical island. Add to this that the situation at my day job has recently become less than ideal and you have a perfect storm of reasons to wake up negative.

Many days that is exactly what happens. Dreaming I am back at the coffee plantation in Jamaica with Margie when the alarm clock goes off. I look outside to see a blanket of snow while realizing how good the warm blankets and hot woman next to me feel. (Not only is the ‘hotness’ referring to her amazing physical appearance, but she is generally quite warm and great to snuggle with) It takes all of my will to drag myself from that warm cocoon. I then realize nobody has made coffee yet. I also recall the fact I park outside and as mentioned it is below freezing.

Starting your day in a positive state is very important. Those of us familiar with the law of attraction know that like energy attracts like energy. If you begin your day focused on all of your challenges, it will only bring more of those challenges to you. For your best chance at an amazing life it is important to start your day on a positive note. Living in a cold climate, suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder and going to a job that neither respects or appreciates you on very little sleep makes this quite difficult. What is the solution? Take it out of your hands and make it automatic!

As the coffee machine springs to life, I glance at the calendar next to it. Knowing my difficulty doing mornings I purchased a day-by-day calendar that greets me with an inspirational quote every morning. I peel back yesterday to reveal the wisdom of the day. By then the coffee machine is ready to go and I am greeted with the amazing smell of brewing coffee. We have a great picture that reminds us to be grateful in our house that slowly begins to change my focus. As I fight the elements and get into my cold car cursing on occasion, I do so with a delicious and warm cup of coffee. As I start my car (something to be grateful for in cold weather) I am greeted with either an inspired audiobook or uplifting music. As I drive toward my job I am reminded of empowering principles I can write about later.

Did you notice the two things I did? First, I did not work on fighting against my negativity. Trying to get myself to like the cold simply is not happening. Instead of trying to delete the negative, I focused on adding positive items. Fighting against things is still focusing on them and giving them your energy. Not to mention, trying to eliminate something from our life is psychologically difficult. The more positive items you add, the less room there is for negative items.

The second thing I did was take it out of my hands. It can be very hard to rely on nothing but will to turn your mind around. After all, your mind is already in a negative state. By utilizing things like the calendar and grateful sign I don’t even have to think about these positive influences. I also recommend having an app on your phone that will send you positive quotes. You can even set an alarm with a positive reminder. Having pictures of goals and those you love can certainly do wonders.
Remember if you win the morning, you are setting yourself up to win the day!

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FULL OF IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING!

IT IS THE SIMPLE THINGS


This picture was taken at ‘Harvest Fair’, a local celebration of all things fall. I am one who is a great fan of fairs so Margie and I generally attend this festivity every year. There is an exquisite farmers market where you can purchase squash, vegetables and many other delicious and local items. There are bands, food stands, vendors, friends and everything that makes a fair…well…a fair.

This year there was something new, a smores truck. Everyone was issued a plate with the ingredients for smores. You then took your ingredients and ‘roasted’ them over a small coil. This was a little less gratifying than an open fire, but accomplished the same task.

Everyone roasted their marshmallow to their liking. Some just enjoyed having it warm. I prefer a nice golden brown color with a slight caramel flavor bestowed upon it. Margie, on the other hand, believes without a little bit of charring the marshmallow is not done.

I watched the collection of people all gather together on what was an unseasonably cold September evening to do something simple like making smores. That was great to begin with but there was more. As you can see on my plate there was a sticker instructing me to give someone there a compliment. Each plate had its own positive suggestion. I thought that was a very nice touch.

My compliments to the fine folks at Hershey’s for sponsoring this. Not only did they add a special activity to an already special event, but for going the extra mile and encouraging people to do random kind things. I wish I had taken the time to look at more of the plates. A special shout out to the great people at the Wisconsin State Fair for deciding to make this a part of Harvest Fair.

I am looking to do something similar to this and am asking you, dear reader, to help me. How can we encourage people to do positive things like the stickers on the plates did? I feel attaching them to something positive like Hershey did with the smores was a brilliant idea. I am asking all of us to put our heads together and come up with a way to do something similar and bring positivity to our neighborhoods.

This blog is followed in over 100 countries and I can just imagine how amazing it would be if in every city, in every country where this blog is read we all start random acts of kindness and positivity. The ripple effect would be world-changing! I would LOVE to hear your ideas in the comments below!
I will also include an instructional photo of my lovely lady’s marshmallow so you can see how it should be done according to Margie.