IT IS REALLY THAT SIMPLE

For most of us, despite our differences, would fit into these categories. Ironically, often we search until we can find something that makes a person different from us. It is almost as if saying, “That person is a lot like me.” Somehow diminishes either one of you. When we understand that we all share the same basic needs and wants, judgment and hatred become all but impossible.

If you are a person who loves others and does not want to harm them, and reading a blog like this it would be a safe assumption you are, then it would serve you well to surround yourself with other like-minded individuals. Does it really matter where on this planet they are from? By writing these posts I have met and befriended many other like-minded souls from over 100 different countries. They have brought not only a unique perspective, but a great deal of joy to my life. Does it really matter what color they are? I am blessed enough to have friends of every race. Not only does it include many great and loving people, but our pictures together are a lot more colorful. Politics? Ooh…that is a good one. Quite often we can almost be at each others throats because of different ways to address the same problem. Instead we should focus on the fact that we are both trying to solve the same problem. Maybe their solution takes into account something we overlooked? Maybe a combination of both solutions would work the best? We will never get to that point if we busy ourselves with such low level minutia such as what political party is the correct one.

Even my wonderful friend Nick who sent me this picture, and by doing so inspired this post, has different opinions than me on a wide array of different subjects. Do you know what? That is great to me. Often when we talk he will bring to my attention a way of looking at things I had not considered. Even on subjects where we just ‘agree to disagree’ we still have the same respect and admiration for each other. Not only is it ok with us that we are different in some regards, but it is quite cool that we are also the same in many ways. It is that similarity that prompted him to share the above picture with me and allowed me to share it with you.

Today, celebrate the fact we are all a little different, and when it comes down to the core of who we are, most of us are really the same. Both of those should be reasons to celebrate with your fellow humans.

THE BEST ACCESSORY 

Last year people spent over 55 billion dollars (yes that is billion) on cosmetics. Jewelry and fashion were both multi-billion dollar a year expenditures as well. We spend time and money reading and perusing fashion and style magazines. Presidents and other leaders in both politics and business pay people to write speeches for them and even pick out what they are going to wear. Why? Everyone, whether you are a leader or a follower wants to look good.

Still, the number one thing we can do to look good is often over-looked and does not cost a thing. What is this accessory? A smile. When we meet someone and they are wearing a smile we are more likely to believe what they have to say. We are more likely to trust them. When you are wearing a smile people are more receptive to your ideas and what you have to say. Not to mention wearing a smile feels good and makes those we come in contact with feel good.

With all these benefits why is everyone not wearing a smile? It’s free, it is emotionally and physically healthy, it encourages others to listen to you and makes them more receptive to what you have to say. You would think every job interview, every first date, every important business deal and appearance by a public official would all contain many smiles.

Why do more people not smile? I guess there are several reasons. One, is they simply don’t realize they are not. I used to be guilty of this in the past and to some extent are still in the present. We get lost in our thoughts or what we are doing and may unintentionally find ourselves wearing a blank look, or even worse a scowl when really our inside emotions do not match. Eventually our physical actions affect our emotional well-being. If you are feeling down, try putting on a smile and leaving it there for 2 minutes. Slowly you mood will begin to shift. Try also looking at pictures of people (or animals) smiling. I have several pictures of people smiling on my phone. My screensaver is my lady wearing a bacon hat with the biggest smile on her face. Looking at these pictures will also help bring you out of that funk.

Another reason I have heard people do not smile is they are afraid. Afraid of smiling? You bet! Why would people be afraid of smiling? I have been told they are worried people will think they are up to something. To me this is foolishness. We are all up to something and if us looking happy makes people nervous that is on them. I’ve also been told that “I’m afraid people will take it as an invitation to start talking to me.” Yes, this sometimes does happen. As long as you do not make it a habit to smile at the strange man on the corner in a clown suit holding a knife what is the worst that could happen? In fact, some people are lonely and looking for someone they can share their stories with. You never know, sharing a smile with someone may even save their life. When you feel that nobody cares a smile from a friend, or even a stranger can turn your day, and your world around. Think of how you feel when someone shares their smile with you, why would you not want to give that gift to others?

So let us all do our part to share a few more smiles. Still nervous, uncomfortable or afraid? That’s ok start slowly. I suggest begin with the person in the mirror. Give yourself a smile every morning with a positive affirmation like “Let’s make this a great day!” Then, begin to branch out. Start with loved ones, maybe move on to friends, coworkers, the person helping you at the coffee shop? When you see how good it makes people feel and how they react to you, trust me, you will be tempted to share more. Also try practice wearing a smile while you are engaged in work. I have started this when I am writing and notice I feel a lot less tired when I am done. I am going to close this with a quote from the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln “Every man over forty is responsible for his face.” I am sure Mr. Lincoln meant to include woman in that statement as well.

I would love to hear about your experiences sharing a smile in the comments below!

WHY WE ARE ALL TIRED 

This quote comes to us courtesy of the movie “The Green Mile”. In todays world of extreme politics and social conflict there has been a fair share of ugliness. On social media everyday we see conflicting opinions which are healthy when presented in a healthy way. We also see our share of name calling, and sarcastic portrayals of those who have a different opinion than that of the person doing the posting.

Let us take a step back and look at what this accomplishes. Some may say it causes the person posting to be a little happier and that may be true, only temporarily. You see in order to post something like that the person has to focus on this conflict and the low opinion they have of that group. How “Stupid” there are or how “Hateful, Racist or evil” they are. Try saying these words out loud three times, “Stupid, hate, racist and evil”. If you are unable to try even saying them to yourself. Do it now, I’ll wait….Ok, how does that make you feel physically? Did you notice an effect? Even focusing on things we strongly dislike and thinking about them make us feel sick. It can even make us feel helpless. Plus, remember what we said about the RAS and how the brain seems to begin to notice more of what we focus on?

So should we ignore all the injustice we see? Absolutely not! What we should focus on is solutions we can think of. Perhaps find examples of people or situations that are the opposite of those that upset us. We will still be victim to reading how wrong we are for feeling what we feel, but understand as much as we may disagree with someone they have a right to feel as they do too. Again going back to the golden rule, we no more want to hear that we have no right to feel as we do or are stupid, evil or any other negative term for doing so than anyone else does. Not to mention by attacking others we only add to the feeling and atmosphere of hate and conflict.

Here is what I suggest. Does racism bother you? Then promote everyone getting along. Does war leave you feeling sad? Then promote peace. Poverty leave you feeling sick and helpless? Promote an atmosphere of giving and everyone having enough. It was this very thinking that caused me to embark on the life path I am on now. It was my disgust at the vast amount of negativity in the world that had me determined to begin to promote positivity and to provide tools to help others do the same.

So next time you catch yourself saying “Did you see what that person/politician/company did?” ask yourself, “What am I doing?”. Sure maybe we cannot make as big of a difference as the president of the United States, or Walmart, but all of us doing little acts of kindness and love can counterbalance those doing that which we disagree with.

I invite you all to share groups that do good or even your own ideas to promote love instead of bashing hate. Let us all work to be a little less ugly to each other and make the world a little more beautiful.

PARETO MUST WIN THIS ELECTION !

As you’re reading this i can only imagine the questions you are asking.  “Neil don’t you know the election is over?” and “who is this Italian guy your talking  about?”

First things first. Yes I know the election is over. Donald Trump is now the president of the United States. Shocking to some, wonderful news to others. So why am I saying another person should win the election and who is he?

Vilfredo Pareto was a French economist who died in 1923 in Switzerland. So am I advocating dead people to not only vote but win? Not at all. Mr. Pareto was known for many things including a principle named after him. In a nutshell the principle states that, for many phenomena, 20% of invested input is responsible for 80% of the results obtained.

There are many adaptations of this principle including my favorite that states when faced with a challenge we should allocate 20% of our time, energy and focus on the problem and 80% on possible solutions. This has served me very well both in business and in personal relationships. How many times have you wasted time disagreeing with someone about something trying to decide who’s fault it is, who is to blame and why things are bad? Once you decide who takes the blame you are often nowhere nearer to solving the problem than when you began.

As this election unfolded several issues were brought up and people became divided and hateful. After the election is over these issues still remain and some may save have only become magnified. So now what do we do and what can we take from a dead Frenchman?

First, the 20%. We need to all get together and spend 20% of our time on these challenges. There are several challenges facing this fine nation. The first step to solving any challenge is getting clear as to what the challenge is. This may sound silly at first, but how many times have you seen or even been a part of a disagreement only to discover the two parties (or more) were disagreeing about completely different things. The next step is to discover the cause of these issues. Now here is where a lot of people turn to blame. First of all it is very seldom, if ever, only one party’s fault. Often there is a failure to communicate clearly. Perhaps there is a lack of knowledge on a subject or even person. Often if we really spend more time getting to know each other at our very core we would find it a lot more difficult to disagree.

That brings us to the 80%, the solution. When you find yourself faced with a challenge it is very important to know what both sides desire and ask yourself “what is a solution that could make both parties happy?”. Sometimes this is not possible, but when you approach a challenge this way you are far more open to hearing both sides. Explore every option, hear every opinion. Spend 80% of your time on the solution verses the problem and we will be amazed and what we can accomplish.

So although this election has divided many of us, I urge all of us to focus 20% on what our issues may be and 80% on how we can solve them for the best interest of everyone. That includes our newly elected president as well as those who came up short.

I will leave you with a final thought from one of my favorite presidents

“A House divided against itself cannot stand” – Abraham Lincoln