WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING YOU GET FOR FREE?

There are so many things in life that we fail to appreciate because they are free. Yet, often these are the things that would affect our life the greatest if they were missing. Can you imagine your life with no laughter? What if you never saw anyone smile ever again?

Please take a second and share what free thing in your life means a lot to you.

DO NOTHING… IT CAN BE QUITE PRODUCTIVE

The title of this post may sound counter intuitive to most, but that is precisely why it is so important. Doing nothing is often frowned upon. This is especially true in this material driven world we live in. We are made to believe if we are not working away on some chosen project, we are somehow guilty of a modern world sin. This could be housework, physical fitness, grocery shopping or pretty much any goal-driven activity. Even worse, we were told for a while that we should be a great multi tasker. Further research shows this is not only bad for productivity, but can lead to burnout. That is a subject for another post.

Even relaxing has us searching for distraction. We have our Ipods, books,tablets or phones. It feels we have to be doing something even when we are doing nothing. We can’t even relax completely. It is in this world of never ending motion that we find ourselves in a constant state of physical and mental stress burnout. This leads to a loss of productivity. It also suppresses our immune system. This, of course,leads to illness.

What can we get from doing nothing? How on earth can it be productive? So glad you asked. Doing nothing gives our brains a chance to cleanse themselves. It gives our bodies, and our minds, a chance to decompress. This allows us to return to our busy bee life with more energy, and more importantly, more resilience. It gives our immune system a chance to repair and re-energize. This keeps us healthy. It can refresh our spirit. In addition to reducing the likelihood of burnout, it also helps reduce the risk of depression and overwhelming.

As amazing as all of those benefits are, to me, they are not the best thing one can get from doing nothing. My favorite benefit is the creation of great thoughts and ideas. When I wrote my first book, A Happy Life for Busy People, I had plenty of time to think. It took me roughly a year. After which, I started writing for several magazines, a food review site, and my blog. All this while working full time at the post office and working as a DJ. Factor in a relationship with the world’s most beautiful woman and my dance card was full.

With six jobs and a great relationship, my second book, Living the Dream, took 5 years to write. The funny thing was that was not due so much to lack of time writing, but lack of time just being. When we are alone with our thoughts, that is when they seem to appear. You can’t call someone if the line is always busy. If it is busy long enough, you stop calling all together.

Leading up to my heart surgery, I wrote like a man possessed. I wanted to get out as much content as possible in case I found myself on the other side of the great divide. I feel the quality suffered. Without time to sit and think, my brain could not come up with any new brilliant ideas. If it did, I was too busy to hear them.

After my surgery, I was forced to take 3 months to do nothing. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t go to the gym. I was instructed to just relax. Guess what happened? Ideas started to come to me all day long. Perhaps they had always been there, but now I was free enough to notice them. My third book was written in 6 short months. (It should be available late July/early August) I also started to think of new ways to improve my life…in all areas.

My favorite thought happened when I began to write. Often, when I sit down at a coffee shop to write, my mind is filled with thoughts that have nothing to do with writing. Most often, those thoughts are of my beautiful Margie. Either I am missing her because we have not seen hardly enough of each other, or I am missing her because I just had some amazing moments with her. Before my surgery, I would try to focus and ‘persevere’. After my surgery, I thought to myself, I’m going to enjoy these thoughts.

What happened next was a miracle. My love for my beautiful woman began to increase exponentially! Just when I thought I could not love her more, a new reason, memory or idea how would pop in my head. I began to think of new ways in which I could both make her happy and improve our relationship. The best part was,once my heart was full of love, the writing just flowed.

I went home to my little miracle more in love and excited to share my life with her than when I had left. All of this was made possible because I took the time to do nothing. Can you imagine the positive impact that had on our relationship? Think of the impact it could have on yours, or any area of your life you stop and think about. Do nothing for a little while today. It might be the most productive thing you do.

GROW THAT GARDEN!🌾

Last post we talked about the importance of planting seeds. Not actual plant seeds, but one of inspiration, motivation and love. What happens when we plant a seed; water and take care of it? It blossoms and bears fruit!

What seeds do you plant in life? Are you going through life planting seeds of love and respect for your fellow humans? If you do, those seeds will grow and blossom. The fruit they bear will be deeper relationships, respect, and love and happiness in return.

The seeds will often grow even if you plant them and walk away. Just like in plants, the seeds will grow quicker and stronger if they are watered and nurtured. Same holds true for your seeds of joy and love. The more seeds you plant, the bigger your garden will be, and the more fruit it will bear. Plant seeds of joy and love wherever you go!

YOU ARE JUST LIKE THEM!

Here is a good thought to remember- hurting people back makes you just like them. This can be difficult to remember in the middle of an emotional situation when all you want to do is see the other party hurting just as bad as their actions hurt you.

If we are being honest, not only is that becoming just like them, it is the lowest course of action we could take. Giving into our emotions and reacting makes us a slave to both our emotions and the other person’s actions. If we take a breath, and a moment to ourselves, until we are able to respond, then we can make the choices and take the actions that are best for the situation.

It also keeps the door open for the future of the relationship. Reducing the amount of hurt and terrible things done or said,in any relationship, increases the likelihood that relationship will continue.

Next time someone gets you upset, before you react, and hurt them, ask yourself if you are going to be a slave to your emotions and let them control you. Instead, take a moment and respond. That way you are in control. Not the other person’s actions. Not your emotions. You are in control. It will only benefit your relationships in the long term.

THE RIGHT VALENTINE’S DAY GIFT

Above is a graph on Valentine’s Day spending. As you can see, men spend an average of $200, women spend an average of $100. The average is not too hard to figure out, $150 a person. In total, over $20 billion dollars will be spent on Valentine’s Day this year. Yes, that is billion with a ‘b’. If you read my blog you will know that I advocate investing in your relationship 100% of the time you are in it. Still, taking time to just celebrate your love like you would the birth of someone, should be a fun and enjoyable experience. What are we spending all of this money on, you ask? Let us take a look.

Jewelry is far and away the number one investment we make to express our love. Not a bad investment. It can make your special someone feel beautiful and valued. Clothing is second. That is good I guess. We all need to be clothed. Ironically, if there was a day to be clothing optional it would be Valentine’s Day. Evening out rounds out our top 3. That is a good one. Creating memories is one of the joys of having a loving relationship. Some other items are flowers and candy. Seems like a good stimulation for the economy. If every year the world makes a $20 billion dollar investment in love, what is the return? That brings us to our next graph.

So this is a sober statistic. On average, over half of marriages end in divorce. There are over 100 divorces an hour. Well, at least we learn from our mistakes as we go along, right? We take the mistakes from the first marriage and learn from them. Wrong again. The divorce rate jumps nearly 20% for your second marriage and another 13% for the third. How can this be? We are investing record amounts to express the love we have for our partner, yet the divorce rate is higher than it has ever been. The problem is not the money we are spending. It is what we are spending it on! Imagine spending $20 billion on concrete looking to cure disease. I am not a doctor, but I don’t think this would get us very far.

We take this same approach to love. Whether it is on Valentine’s Day or any other day. When we think about investing in love, we should consider the ROI or return on investment. If you buy flowers, they may cause a good amount of joy for the moment, but what will the return be? Will it bring the two of you closer? Will it help you to get to know your partner on a deeper level? Will it help you get to know yourself better so you are better able to serve your partner? These are the questions we should be asking when investing in our relationship. Discovering your partner’s love language or how they express and receive love, do you think that would come in handy? Finding ways to help your partner discover their own inner beauty would make an amazing gift.

We spend a great deal of time and effort to invest in our homes, our cars and our retirement. When it comes to love we somehow imagine after we are together it will somehow take care of itself. Much like a business, we need to invest in research and development. This investment can impact every area of our life and offer great returns. While shopping for the love of our life this year, let us choose a gift that will be an investment in our relationship.

THIS WEEK, SPREAD THE ENERGY!!

We have talked many times about how you receive what you give away. This is especially true when it comes to positivity. If you treat everyone in a positive manner, if you pay them genuine compliments, show them compassion, and give them the gift of your time, they will definitely be more likely to treat you in a similar fashion.

This doesn’t sound overly complicated, does it? Then I encourage you, I beseech you, I implore you to be as kind as you can be to as many people as you can be. The kinder you are, the more people you are kind to, the greater the positive impact will be on your life.

Why wait? The sooner you start, the sooner your life will become more positive. Even if you are happy with the life you have right now, try increasing the joy you bring to others. Try this for the next 7 days. You will create connections and joy with others that will last a lifetime!

I welcome ideas on how to bring joy to others. How do you positivity affect others? How has this impacted your life?

SAME BUT DIFFERENT… IT’S WHAT YOU WANT

In my seminars and talks that I give many people are forever telling me that they wish their partner was easier to get along with. I ask them what the problem is and a good deal attribute their problems with their partner being too different from them. I am going to let you in on a little secret – that is not the problem. If you and your partner were the same your relationship would fail or fall flat in a short amount of time. It would make choosing what movie to see or going out to dinner a lot easier.

I am here to tell you the secret to compelling and passionate relationship is the differences. Yes, it is certainly imperative to have specific things in common for your relationship to succeed. Having the same values is very important. They may be to a greater or lesser degree, but knowing and understanding what your partner values is a very important aspect to a successful relationship. Sharing the same relationship goals and knowing what the future holds is also important. To, of course, a mutual respect for the other individual. The similarities are like a strong foundation. They allow you to build on this relationship. 

Take the relationship I have with my beautiful Margie. People look at us from the outside and think we also get along and share all of the same interests. We have even been tagged in posts with the #relationshipgoals. Humbly, I would say they are right. We do have an amazing relationship and it gets better every day. The reason that is true is not because we get along all of the time or are really alike. Neither of those are true. It is the differences that give our relationship its spice. Just like in food, there are times when we have a little too much spice, or differences, and we end up getting burned. Just like a recipe you refine, we learn from that and move along.

Allow me to share with you some of our differences and how we actually benefit and grow from them. Let us take music for an example. We do like some of the same bands. We discovered our love for the artist Michael Franti together, and have been to see Jackyl a few times. As a general rule, Margie is more pop and r and b, while I am 80’s hard rock and country. On any given day she will be listening to Pink and Chris Brown and I will be listening to Ratt and Chris Janson. How does this benefit us? When we DJ together we are able to help a wide range of people pick songs or put a name to a particular song they are trying to think of. We also can introduce each other to new artists and songs the other may not have heard.

Then there is the speed in which we get ready. I can be ready at the drop of a hat. 30 minutes later Margie is still trying on different hats. This gives me time to do things like enjoy a cup of coffee, look up directions for where we may be going or simply warm up the car. Margie can also be sillier than I am. She feels more comfortable doing goofy things in public than I do. In this difference, she teaches me to be a little more relaxed in public and I keep her from fines and jail time.

shortly after reading

Some differences are what make our relationship as wonderful as it is. We both like to learn but do so in very different ways. I love to read. If Margie reads, she is asleep in half a paragraph. Our solution? At night I read to her as we lay in bed together. Not only does this allow both of us to learn, which makes us happy, it is a wonderfully romantic solution to a challenging problem. She loves shopping and I love walking in nature. How do we solve this? In addition to occasionally joining each other for these trips, we use the time wisely. She spends time with her daughter who also likes to shop, and I walk in nature with my mother. Time apart makes our hearts grow fonder and we both have time with others that we love.

she loves candy and I do not

The problem in relationships is not the differences, but what you do with them. Differences give you contrast and variety. It is that excitement at spark. Differences in what you enjoy intimately can lead to many new and fun discoveries. Differences allow you to show love. If you do your best to enjoy something your partner really loves and you do not, how can they not love and appreciate that? You can use those differences to learn more about you, your partner and the love you share. Next time you are tempted to blame a difference for a problem in your relationship, ask yourself, “How can I use this difference to make my relationship even better?” The answers you discover may very well surprise you.

A TOUCHING STORY I WAS TOLD

There are times when inspiration to write finds me. This is one of such stories. I was at my day job at the post office discussing one of our new employees, Gina, with two other coworkers. They told me they found her to be pleasant and hard-working. I told them that I would take their word for it because both of them had more contact with her than I did and would have had the opportunity to get to know her better.

Just then a customer walked up to the counter and said “That’s right!” All three of us looked at her as we were not aware she had been listening to our discussion. What she said next was one of the best stories I have had the pleasure of hearing in a long time. After she had finished telling the three of us her story I was so struck with inspiration that I gave her my card and asked her permission to share the story with all of you here. Not only did she agree, but she continued to share more pleasantries with the three of us.

This lady, her name was Joy, told us this story. “Take for example when I met my husband for the first time.” she began. She told us how she did not find this man appealing. He was 11 years her senior and his style and even his hairstyle were not attractive for her. Whenever he met with her, he kissed her hand. It was a way of being a gentleman for him but seemed a bit antiquated and off-putting to her. Everything this man tried to impress this young lady did not work. This continued for 20 years. He tried to impress her and she didn’t reciprocate.

What changed? In her words, “It took 20 years before I even gave him a minute. Then I sat down and as soon as he opened his mouth I realized this man has the most beautiful soul.” She explained the more they talked, the more beauty she saw in this man. I am not sure if he changed his fashion or if those things just seemed to fall away in importance. What I do know is that after 20 years of failed courting this man had captured the soul of this woman. She told us she has found him to be the most beautiful man she has ever known. They were soon married and have been so for I think she said 14 years. What I thought really spoke volumes is what she said next. “In all those years, we haven’t been apart a day since. You must look at someone’s heart to see how beautiful they truly are.”

I want to thank Joy for not only sharing her story, but for giving me permission to share it with all of you. She brings us a very good point to consider. Someone we may be quick to dismiss on how they appear on the outside, could be hiding one of the most beautiful souls. It is unwise to judge someone based on their outside appearance. Dig deeper and you will usually find beauty in each and every soul. On the opposite side of the coin, do not immediately chase someone based on their outside appearances. Find people who speak to your soul and include them in your life. This holds true of friends as well as lovers. Let us not only look for the beauty in each other’s souls, but work on improving the beauty in our own soul as well.

DO IT BECAUSE YOU ARE WATCHING

Today we are going to discuss one of the greatest secrets to an amazing life. This secret will allow you to have more free time, get things done with ease, not worry about the opinions or judgement of others and have a lot more confidence in yourself. Sound interesting? I assure you that this secret will bring you all of that and more. This secret to help you achieve an amazing life is a disciplined mindset. When I first heard of this secret, I thought it would do the exact opposite. A lot of this has to do with our association of the word discipline. When we think of the world it is most often associated with a form of punishment.

The discipline we are discussing here is self-discipline. The self-accountability we have. Although we can be tough on ourselves when we make a mistake, in general we are very lax on the discipline it takes to prevent us from making that mistake. When I first looked into self-discipline I thought it would take away a lot of my freedom. I came to discover the opposite is true. In the morning if you make your bed, get your workout in you not only can celebrate that you accomplished something and already have a win, but that you held yourself to a standard. If you find yourself sleeping in and waking up at the last moment, how does your day feel? Do you feel like you have lots of time and are not rushed? No. You feel like you are racing to do one thing after another. That is not freedom.

The hard truth is that discipline equals freedom. When you focus and accomplish the things you know you should do in a day, you have the freedom to spend the rest of the day as you please. If you procrastinate and hit the snooze several times, if you only work hard when the boss is watching or any other type of situation where you think you are giving yourself freedom, you will soon discover that freedom is at a sacrifice of your freedom later in the day. If, on the other hand, you continue to be self-disciplined, things will begin to take care of themselves. You do not have to worry if the boss is looking over your shoulder. You are doing the best job you can because that is your standard. You do not have to worry about trying to fit everything into a day because you have worked hard and were disciplined to begin with.

We have discussed at length what you stand to loose if you are not self-disciplined, but let me share a few things you will gain if you maintain self-discipline. These are personal examples that have happened in my own life since I have embraced self-discipline. The first is the gym. Let me tell you that leaving my warm bed with my hot Margie in it is never easy. Who would want to leave a beautiful woman and a comfortable bed to go outside in cold weather to go to a gym and put your body in an uncomfortable situation. I know the benefits exercise gives me both physical and mental, but those are hard to keep in mind when you have the arms of the one you loved wrapped around you. After forcing myself for several weeks to get up and go, the weirdest thing happened – it became easier. It is just what I did. I worked out first thing in the morning. Here is an additional reward. I had more energy to enjoy my time with Margie. I also wasn’t taking time away from us in the evening and had time to enjoy things such as watching a movie or enjoying a nice dinner. A huge plus was that I felt better about myself. I knew I was living up to my standards in that area.

My favorite example is the relationship I have with Margie. This is where being disciplined can offer some of the biggest rewards. Everyone knows about the ‘honeymoon period’. You know that feeling of floating through the clouds in love. Nothing seems to bother you. How long does that last? 6 months? 6 weeks? Eventually, it fades. In our relationship I have discovered a way to not only keep that feeling alive within myself, but keep it alive in Margie as well. You guessed it, self-discipline. How is self-discipline romantic? Most of us go the extra mile only when the situation calls for it. A birthday, Valentine’s Day or some other holiday. Forgot the time and came home a little too happy and a lot too late after a night with the fellas? These are times we make sure to do the extra little things. However, if we practice self-discipline in our relationships and make sure to do the ‘little things’ with focus and never let ourselves slip, it takes the relationship to a whole different level.

Is it any wonder that the Honey moon period starts to decline a little after we become a little less attentive to the little details? We hold doors only if we find ourselves to be in the position to do so. We only send a loving text if it is a special occasion or we know they are having a hard day. Familiarity can lead us to take certain things for granted. How many of us truly listen to our partners and try to learn new things about them after years together? We assume we know everything about them. Why spend all of that energy and effort? The reward of being self-disciplined in a relationship far outweigh the effort. If you hold the door for your partner even if it is raining or snowing, or even if you may not be too happy with them at the moment it sends a very clear message. That message is, “I respect you not only when it is convenient, but at all times.” Even though it may not be expressed outwardly, that goes a long way. Random acts of kindness and romance tell your partner that they mean as much to you, hopefully even more, than when you were in that honey moon period. Listening with an intent to understand and learn instead of just replying will keep you informed of your partners changing needs and likes as well as make them feel valued and like an important part of your life. How do you think someone who feels respected, important and valued act? Imagine if you are disciplined with actions and words that remind them they are both loved and beautiful. How will that impact your relationship? The honey moon period may change, but it will never end.

When we practice self-discipline in our life we will not only gain more freedom, we will develop more confidence and live a more rewarding life. What are some areas of your life that you need to practice better self-discipline and how can you do it? I recommend reading the book Discipline Equals Freedom By Jocko Willink. There are lots of great ideas in there.

IF I DID SOMETHING WRONG

It never ceases to amaze me how many times this shows up in my life. In the past, it used to show up in my life. On occasion it still does, but for the most part I have learned the importance of expressing one’s emotions. I know in the grips of painful emotions this is not always easy. It took a great deal of effort and a good deal of patience and help from Margie to help me develop this skill. Here is what I learned. If you are able to express yourself in a healthy constructive manner your results will be far better.

How often have you heard one of your friends tell you about someone who is really doing something to upset them? When you ask if they have told them, the answers vary. Sometimes you hear things like “They should know!” or “They could tell by how upset I am.” These always make me laugh. How can someone be so upset as to tell an uninvolved third party, but not the offending party? I get it. I was guilty of this in the past. You may very well think this person knows, but never under estimate the ingnorance of some individuals. You really cannot hold someone accountable unless you are 100% sure they know what they are doing. Let me be specific here. The only way to be 100% sure is by telling them.

Here is where it can get a little tricky. Simply telling them what a jerk they are being or how much they are upseting you will only make things worse. Think of how you would feel if someone had to tell you that they were upset with you. That is a good measure of how to say something. Often, being told you are doing something that upsets someone can put us on the defensive. Nobody likes to think of themselves as ‘the bad guy or girl’. That is why it is helpful to begin with a phrase like, “I’m sure you don’t mean to, but I want you to know it upsets me when you ___” or even ask for their input by saying something like this, “It upsets me when you ___. I am sure that is not your intent, but how do you think we could fix that?” Be open to understanding that you may play a role in helping. Perhaps approaching things from a different perspective. In some cases it may require patience, compassion and understanding from you as the person works with you to resolve whatever issue is bothering you.

On the opposite end, when someone comes to you with something you are doing that upsets them it is important to exercise the same things. First, remember they may do so with more of a confrontational style. Not everyone has learned the proper way to express their hurt and pain. Realize by bringing it to you they are really having a cry for help. It may seem and feel as if you are being attacked, but remember this person is in pain and may not be acting in their best nature. This can be very difficult to do. Being able to do so, however, will make people feel more comfortable to come to you in the future. This will not only make your relationships better, but it will help you grow as a person as well. At some point, you could even use this as a teaching moment. Saying something like, “I really appreciate you letting me know that I have upset you. That wasn’t my intent. In the future could you please let me know before you get too upset. I do not want to risk losing you as a friend.”

Being able to do these things is not easy. It will take patience and having a thick skin. You cannot take the way people bring their pain and upset to you. Especially before you have a chance to discuss that aspect with them. Being able to do so will allow them to feel more comfortable to do so in the future. When bringing up your own upsets, remember to ask yourself, “How would I like to be told about this?” That will insure you do so with attention to the other parties feelings. Following these rules will transform your life for the better.