FIRM IN YOUR GOALS, FLEXIBLE IN YOUR APPROACH 

Be firm in your goals, but flexible in your approach. That is a mantra i have heard many times! This morning while occupied at my day job a fine example of this occurred to me.

Before I share this example with you let me begin with a question. Have you ever heard somebody say “I’ve tried a million different things but it just won’t work!” It always amuses me to ask them to name the million things they have tried. After which they usually reply “well ok it has been hundreds.” When pressed to name them we usually discover the individual has tried a few things, usually things they have done in their past, and they didn’t work. This always makes me question the importance of the issue at hand. If it is a problem with their relationship you would think they would keep trying until they return to love.

When a baby is trying to walk they just keep at it. Why? Because walking is that important to them. Perhaps it is all the disappointment we experience as adults that lowers our level of persistence.

Here is another way to look at this. As I mentioned earlier, I was working at my day job when I started thinking how much I’d like to go to Fiji. My thinking is my lady and I would fly there first class and spend time relaxing and mixing with the local culture. What would happen if I was invited for a speaking engagement there? Maybe instead of flying I win a cruise? Perhaps Tony Robbins invites me to his resort to work on a project together? Would I say no because it was not exactly what I had envisioned? Of course not. The goal is to get to see Fiji, how it happens could vary.

My point here is you have to keep trying until you find something that works.  It may seem impossible at first, but so did walking as a baby. Just keep trying and you will succeed. Oh, and if you happen to have an extra ticket to Fiji…

LIVE LIKE YOU’RE ON VACATION

If you can belive it, this is me at work. Why on earth am I wearing a tropical shirt and hat from Jamaica? It was all inspired from a line in a song by the rock band Kiss. The line is this, Don’t need to wait for an invitation . You gotta live like you’re on vacation. This line was the beginning of a great quest for me. Personally I love tropical vacations. Literally I am transformed into a different person when I step off the plane. It is a different mindset. Anyone who has went on vacation knows exactly what I am talking about. Working on my upcoming book Living the Dream the question foremost in my mind was how can we take this mindset back with us like a valuable souvenir? How can we tolerate bosses who insult us or workplaces that are negative? One I have been working on lately. How can we tolerate freezing temperatures with no sun when we would much rather be at the beach?

While pondering this question for months on end I discovered a great and powerful secret. One I am going to share with you free of charge right here in this blog post. Those of you who will be able to wrap your head around this secret will at once understand the freedom it provides for anyone who uses it. I have personally used this secret everyday since I discovered it. Not only has it provided me a great sense of freedom, but it has made my life so much more enjoyable. Here is the great and powerful secret.

There is no law of physics that states your mind and body have to be in the same place at the same time.

I encourage you to read that statement again slowly. Ponder what that means for you. Cleaning the toilet? Why have your mind focused on the task at hand and all the not so pleasurable things that go with it. Working out? Think of how great you will feel with your new body on the beaches of Fiji. That is why a lot of us listen to music or other such things while we workout. I am in the gym 5 days a week and I can promise you that would not be possible without the encouragement of Tony Robbins, Eric Thomas or the music of Motley Crue and Shabba Ranks.

When we realize this power, it is important to note the two sides of it. When you are in a not so pleasant situation. Say working at the post office with a boss who walks the thin line between sane and insane, hypothetically. Then you can imagine being on the vacation that job allows you to save for. What beach will you go to? What will you see while snorkeling? Before you know it, the time clock will tell you it is time to go.

Here is the other fun part of this. It can really benefit you to be fully present during the good times. Once my lady had a bath with scented bath salts, a few candles and a glass of wine waiting for me. (yes I do have one amazing lady and don’t I know it) Now I knew this was going to be a great experience so I tried to soak it in with all of my senses. I felt the warm water relax my muscles. I took a deep breath and enjoyed both the scent from the bath salts as well as the steam. I took time to really enjoy the taste of the wine, the glow of the candles. I hope you are getting the idea. Do this with every pleasure, big and small, that life gives you. How many times have we driven somewhere only to park and wonder who drove when we were the only person in the car? This can be good if we are fighting rush hour, but if we are taking a drive to the grocery store via the parkway, take time to enjoy the scenery. Enjoying a great meal? Take time to savor every bite. The smell, the taste, the texture of the food in your mouth. We are preparing to go on vacation to Jamaica in November and I am already excited to soak that all in.

Here is my advice to you. Be present when life is pleasurable. When it is not, send your mind on vacation. Go skiing, or camping. Think of an especially good memory you have or maybe something you really are looking forward to.

Remember, your mind and body do not have to be in the same place at the same time.

WHEN TO PLANT A TREE

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What does this phrase mean? It is one of the most powerful mantras you can ponder,  which is your homework for the weekend.
What do I mean by all of this? Let my explain by way of a personal story.  In 2001 i took a course on copywriting from American writers and artists Institute. It was a great course and helped me learn how to write persuasive copy. I took that course because my day job at the post office had become unbearable. Well, a change in location, the job was a bit easier and the copywriting? I never did a thing with it. Why? Two reasons. One, i became more comfortable in my day job and two, I was afraid to start something new and go through the period of looking foolish and being new. Nobody likes that right? Fast forward 14 years. The post office is now claiming i am making up the fact I have asthma and the shoulder I dislocated? Yeah I should be back to work the next day or I would be written up.
So naturally I started kicking myself saying “if only I would have stuck with copywriting and even done it in the side”  then I would have been past the foolish stage and had more control over my situation. If only I would’ve planted that tree 20 years ago, or in this case 14. That is where a lot of people may stop. The may become resigned to their fate.  If you read yesterday’s post i think you will know that’s not me. No, I’m taking charge of me. The second best time to plant a tree? NOW! So I contacted the school and am going through a refresher. I am more determined than last time and will succeed!
So how about you? Is there a tree you should’ve planted 20 years ago? Go out and start digging today! You might not get to see it grow as tall, but it will never start growing until you plant it!

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!

THE COMMON THREAD..PART ONE

In yesterday’s post I told you that most happy people I have interviewed both at the bar, the post office, Starbucks…really any place you can find me on a regular basis, had many things in common. Well, one line at the end of that post is what we are going to discuss today. I also told you that the unhappy people I ‘interviewed’ had a common thread as well. I will give you an example. There is a lady I have worked with the last 15 plus years at the post office. She is one of those people who are determined to remain unhappy. I think she is so unhappy she doesn’t even realize it herself. I’m sure nobody else knows anyone like this, but in the off-chance you do let us proceed shall we? When I decided I would ask negative people what made them happy she was the first person that came to mind. For the fist time in countless years I was excited to have a conversation with her. So I asked her, “What makes you happy?” her answer, though not terribly surprising, was enlightening. she said “It will make me happy when I know longer have to work here” Now we have all had days that we certainly would rather be somewhere else than our jobs. Why I know I felt that way…ummm…yesterday I believe. The point here was the question was not “What would make you happy, or what makes you unhappy” In answering what made her happy she inferred the removal of something that makes her unhappy. In this case, her job. So that is point one. Unhappy people, or even happy people who are feeling less than happy are focusing on an issue that makes them unhappy. Now, we all have to tackle tough issues in our life. Focusing your emotion, time and energy on them only makes them seem larger and destroys your happiness. At the bare minimum just figure “this sucks, let’s tackle it” The other answer she gave, which was also not a huge surprise was the following “I’ll be happy when I have enough money that I don’t have to come here anymore” This point is really easy. You want to be unhappy, focus on what you are lacking. not only does it make you feel unhappy, but it gives you a feeling of loss of control, rejection, poverty and lots of other fun emotions. The sad part here is a lot of the other unhappy people I asked shared the same answer. There was one more interesting thread that did not show up in all of the unhappy people, but enough that it is worth noting. a lot of them gave me a simple three word answer “I don’t know”.  The sad point here is if you never took the time to figure out what makes you happy, how on earth can you hope to be happy? By chance? There is also a chance a bar of gold might fall out of the sky and land at my feet and make me rich. Not likely though. Which is why a lot of unhappy people feel they have no control over their own lives. They ‘wake up in neutral’ as I like to say. Waiting for the world to tell them if they should be happy or not. I hope you all are sitting down when I tell you this. If you wait for the world to tell you to be happy, or decide what mood you should be in, you are going to be unhappy a very long time. So my suggestion here, review the common traits of unhappy people, check your own life for where these may pop up. Tomorrow we will look at the answers the happy people gave.

A PART OF THE SOLUTION…

Working with the public both at the Post Office and at the bar I find myself mixed up in many different conversations.  Most very intriguing and interesting, but some rather negative and not so pleasing.  How many times have you found yourself telling someone about the job you applied for only to hear a 30 minute lesson on how bad the economy is? Now the reality of the financial state of things is interesting.  Whenever we complain about something or just talk about ‘how bad it is’ not only do we leave feeling upset which does not help our personal situation, but we also give energy to the very situation we are lamenting.  Perhaps you are wondering how can my opinion really effect change halfway around the world?  The best analogy I have heard to explain this is place a drop of red ink in a glass of water.  As hard as you may try it cannot stay separate.  This is how our energy affects the world.  The ink will certainly not make the whole glass red, but it will, without a doubt, change the chemical make up.  Now imagine dropping three or four drops.  Now maybe 10 or 20.  You can see how a group of people standing around gossiping or complaining can really put a lot of negative energy out into the world.  So what to do about it?  Let’s face it at some point in time we are going to find ourselves wrapped up in one of these conversations.  Here is 3 things we can do at that point.  One, change the conversation to something more positive, or if that is unable to happen excuse yourself and walk away.  Two, begin to develop ‘positive gossip sessions’ ask a group of friends or coworkers what their favorite place to go on vacation, or favorite childhood memory.  Just keep the talk positive.  Start throwing some good energy out there.  Lastly, make a point to surround yourself with as many people who have positive attitudes as you can.  I had lunch with my good friend Jamie the other day and even in discussing events that many would perceive as negative, she managed to find the positive side of them.  These people are worth their weight in gold.  Try to schedule as much time with them as you reasonably can.  Better yet, try to be one of them yourself.  You will be amazed at how much better you will feel and how much better your life and the world around you will seem!

WHO THE HECK ARE YOU??

This may sound like a rather silly question. I hear lots of you saying “I’m Bob, I’m Mary”.  No, that is your name.  I am talking about your identity.  Who we are is how we define ourselves.  So I ask you again, who are you? Notice what is the first thing that comes to your mind?  For a lot of us, it is our occupation.  We may not realize it, but we often identify ourselves by where we work or what kind of work we do.  Especially if we have done that job for a while.  I learned this the hard way.  After giving the postal service 15 great years, I was faced with the real prospect of losing my position for nothing more than office politics.  Suddenly I felt like, “Now what? What will happen to me?”  Those feelings of fear were because after so many years I identified myself as ‘Neil the postal worker’.  Lucky for me I had a few friends I could talk to who knew me before I worked for the postal service.  I had to ask Jason, Jenny, and Russ, my good friends, what was I like 16 years ago before the I started working there.  After a few jokes about stress levels I came to realize there was a Neil before the United States Postal Service and there will be one after as well.  Here we are a few years later and I find myself in the same situation.  What is different now is I realize I am not my occupation.  So who am I? More importantly, who are you?  We are who we choose to define ourselves to be.  I heard something recently that may help to show the example I am trying to get at.  “There is a great difference between doing something stupid, feeling stupid, and being stupid”  We have all done something stupid in our lives.  Some more than others. We have all felt stupid at times.  When we say we are stupid, that creates a whole different mentality.  If you say you are stupid, or overweight, or lazy, whatever term you use it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I’m really good at this for saying “I am a procrastinator”.  Now if I hold that as a belief or even more so as a conviction, my actions will have to be in line with that identity.  So really think how you define yourself.  Take a moment to write a few beliefs about yourself that you hold.  See which ones serve you and which do not.  If you are like me and have one or two that may be holding you back it is time to switch them up.  Write down the person you wish to become.  Carry it with you and read it throughout the day.  At first it may seem like you are lying to yourself especially if it is the opposite of what you currently believe to be true of yourself.  Stick with it. You didn’t develop the beliefs you have about yourself overnight and you are not going to change them overnight either.  So let us all redefine ourselves and become the people we desire to be!