THE ONE THING YOU SHOULD DO FIRST TO CREATE AN AMAZING LIFE

Through the course of my writing here and in my books you will find a wealth of tools to help improve the quality of life. Use any of them and they will increase the level of joy, satisfaction and success you have in your life. There is one thing that will make all of them work even better. It is the most important thing you can do to begin to live a life you not only can be proud of, but enjoy living. It is so important that you should add it to every goal you write down, every New Year’s resolution you have and make it a part of your daily routine.

What could be so important? Before you start wondering if this is something you have ‘time’ to do, let me reassure you that it will take no extra time at all. It will take some extra effort in terms of remembering, but even putting forth this effort will bring a smile to your face. It would not be too over the top to say this would be a matter of life and death. Reason being, when you do this, life comes alive. You have excitement. The little things not only cease to get you down, you can view them in a more positive light.

Here is, in my opinion, the most important thing you can do to transform your life positively. Enjoy the journey. That may sound very simple and basic, but it is life altering. How many times have you heard, or even said, “I’ll be happy when…” Roughly 90% of our life is spent on our way from here to there. Even when you achieve the goal you are working towards, you can end up with a feeling of let down if you are not prepared with another.

If we spend 90% of our lives on a journey, we should do our best to find ways to enjoy that journey. A great example is when I began focusing on gratitude. If I chose to wait until I developed a grateful attitude to be happy, I would miss all of the great things I discovered on my journey there. Even when I messed up and began to focus on what I perceived as being ‘wrong’ with my life, I was excited because I knew that is what would eventually fade away.

As well as any tool of self-improvement has worked for me, enjoying the process of using it has been the greatest thing I have learned to do. When you are enjoying the journey of life, challenges become redefined as stepping stones. This may seem like putting on rose-colored glasses, but that is not true. We can seldom control, and then only to a limited degree, what happens in our life. What we have complete control over is what it means to us and how we can use it.

One of the journeys most of us seem to be on is one of becoming more financially comfortable. Instead of saying “I’ll be happy when I can afford a new car.” Which I did utter with the PT cruiser quite a bit, soak in that feeling. Not that you should relish in a bad feeling, but realize that is what it is showing you. Then focus on how great you will feel when your goal is accomplished. About the 832nd time my PT cruiser was at the repair shop (Only a slight exaggeration) I remember thinking how terrible it was to have to take time off of work to spend money so I could get to work. Then I remembered, I was one step closer to getting there. Of course I would loved to not have been there, but it was teaching me patience, allowing me to practice a lot of the tools I write about, preparing me to be grateful for the car I would have, among a million other things.

You may be thinking that is easy for you to do, but not me. It wasn’t in the beginning. Sitting in an auto repair shop watching your Jamaican vacation take the shape of a new muffler, it is hard to discover the joy in that. I managed to, and if a man with seasonal affective disorder can do that in the middle of the Wisconsin winter, so can you. It takes asking yourself new questions. “How can I use this?” “What else could this mean?” Not only asking yourself these questions, but coming up with positive answers. Trust me when I tell you this doesn’t happen overnight so do not get discouraged when the first answer you brain spits back at you is “Nothing! This situation sucks!” Certainly, it may not be your first choice, but what you do with that situation is 100% up to you. If you just sulk and dwell in the negative emotion it first gave you there is nobody to blame but you. This is not an easy change and will take a lot of practice, but enjoying the journey of life will transform your life and make everything else more enjoyable.

If I had one gift to leave this world when I am gone, it would be to help everyone enjoy the journey more. To that end, please not only share your suggestions for doing so in the comments below, but your challenges as well. Let us start a healthy conversation and help each other enjoy the journey we are all a part of, the journey of life.

1 MORE THING WRONG

Here is what inspired me today, while going down the demilitarized zone that is 60th street the exhaust on my car broke off – I laughed.

While you may all question my sanity, something I have grown used to, let me explain. After 8 terrible months with this PT cruiser, I start driving my new vehicle tomorrow. So, one last thing going wrong was almost comical at this point.

Here is the inspiring point, 2 weeks ago i would not have laughed at all about this. In fact, I probably would have selected vocabulary not fit to print here. The ironic thing is we all can choose our reactions. Sure, it is easier when you have a car ready to take its place, but I still could have responded with more frustration. It just reminds me how much control I have in how I react, and thus, how I feel

WHY ME??? WHY YOU???

The other day I had a discussion with my friend Terri. We discussed how both of us have bought ‘new to us’ cars that have proven to be lemons. Mine is a PT Cruiser who in the first 5 months of owning has cost me $2000 in repairs and still runs rough. Daily I am looking forward to going back to driving an SUV. Terri’s plight is much the same. She bought a car and now things have started to go south.

What does our car trouble have to do with living an amazing life? Terri asked me a very thought-provoking question. That question was this, “How to keep calm, cool and collected when life is throwing me disappointment and struggles?” This is an excellent question and one I think we have all asked at some point or another. No matter who you are or how together you have your life, at some point life will hand you a bunch of lemons in the form of challenges and disappointments. This is never fun.

How do we stay calm, cool and collected as Terri so wonderfully put it? The first point I suggest is to gain perspective. In our situations, we bought a car that turned out to be not what we had thought. This can be especially hard when you are truly excited and then get let down. By her sharing her story with me, we found out neither of us were alone in our troubles. This can be a healing itself. The next thing we need to do is work on what questions we ask ourselves, or more importantly, what answers we give ourselves. It is all to easy to ask the question “why me?” when things go wrong. God knows I asked this when I found out all that needed to be repaired on my car. What you answer is more important. I am a fan of putting everything that happens to me in my life to work for me. When I asked myself, after my last vehicle was totaled while parked in front of my house by a elderly man visiting from Greece as I was sleeping, why did I get a car that was filled with issues? Truly neither of them were my fault. I could focus on how unfair it all was and how much of a victim I was, but that would not serve me and only serve to make me feel helpless and terrible.

Here is another secret, what you focus on in any given situation can literally transform that situation. What should we focus on? Here are two things I suggest; first, what you have to be grateful for. In my case, I was not in the car when it happened. His car was so badly damaged he could not drive away and not be held responsible. He and everyone else was safe for the most part. Let me be perfectly clear right here, this is not an easy habit to do. Focusing on what you have to be grateful for in the middle of a challenging situation takes practice and patience. When you master it, however, it will soften the blow of disappointment you encounter.

The second thing I recommend focusing on is what is positive about the situation, or another way to word it is how to use what happened. What did I find positive about my car being totaled while I was inside sleeping? Like I mentioned, I was inside sleeping for one. Another is maybe there was an impending problem with my car that could have surfaced while driving 70 miles per hour on the freeway, that now will never happen. Another great thing that happens when challenges arise is you find out who really supports you. This is something that can only happen during a challenge. Someone can tell you they will be there for you, but until the ‘chips are down’ you never know for sure. In this case there were so many who were. There were also other benefits of this awful situation. I became better at dealing with rental car companies. Something I just would not randomly do. Also got practice researching used vehicles to purchase. Obviously I still have a way to go on that one. There was the extra practice┬áin asking for and receiving help. I have written about that in the past, but allowing others to help you can be giving them a great gift as well.

All of those skills I would not have had a chance to learn if my car had not been unfairly totaled. Did it inconvenience me? Absolutely. It happened in the coldest month of the year. Did that suck? Yes indeed. Still I gained valuable skills and appreciation for both patience and people. My love and I had to learn new fun ways to entertainment which serve us to this very day. Even having the new car problems has put me into contact with some truly amazing people.

We all will have challenges in life. Remember you are not alone. Take time to focus on what will serve you. Be grateful for the lessons and look for the positive. This will not be easy, but if you keep at it the rewards will be a far happier, and yes more amazing life.

PULL OVER!!!

This is a picture of me at the end of the evening after a lovely date with my lady. The fabulous light behind me is the local police department who pulled me over. Without getting into the terrible details of my car troubles I’ll just say I had a headlight out and they can’t seem to figure out why. 

The time was roughly 1am and we had just come from a late viewing of the latest installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. We were coming from a rural area back into the city. It was a long day and I was looking forward to my bed. 

Being frustrated with my car and very tired it would have been easy to be irritable with the officer who pulled me over. I have heard a lot of stories where this has been the case. Many friends of mine have regaled me with tales of when they “let the officer have it.” I never quite understood the purpose of this. First, it will only make a bad situation worse for you. Second, with all of the stress our members of law enforcement go through the last thing they need is more stress for doing what they are paid to do. 

Certainly, it is no fun to be pulled over. Most of the time it is not much fun for the officer either, especially in cold and rainy weather. They are doing their part to keep us and the cities we live in safe. In this case I thanked the officer for letting me know there was a problem with my car. I can’t say for sure, but I think he appreciated my sincere appreciation for the job he did. He was professional and so was I. Just wish i would’ve gave him a card for this website.