CHANGE PERSPECTIVE 🤔

This is a view from the hotel that I took my lovely Margie for her birthday 🎂 Stepping back and looking at the city from this angle certainly changes how you view things. In the thick of things with the pollution, hustle and bustle you can miss some of the beauty of the architecture, the lights, and the cityscape itself.

The same can be said for life. In the middle of our work-a-day world, focused on working and paying bills, we miss a lot of the beauty of our lives. It’s not our fault. Life gets so busy it seems to fly by in a blur. We need to “push pause” and appreciate the beauty of our lives.

If life is so busy, how can we manage to do this? Who has time to step back and just appreciate life? Lately, Margie and I have been crazy. I’ve been working about 50 hours a week at my day job, plus working on my fourth book and of course bringing you this daily inspiration. Margie was finishing school, under the weather and still making delicious desserts to brighten people’s lives. We, like many other busy couples, fall into the habit of being too busy for each other.

I’m sure you have felt it. You both are working hard and feeling tired. Suddenly, you find yourself being irritated with the person you share a living space with. Everything you have going on and they want to spend quality time together? You may even snap at each other or speak in a less than loving tone. Not because you are necessarily upset with them but because there is too much life on your plate.

When this happens, that’s when you need to pull the emergency brake. Trust me, if you don’t notice it is happening, your partner may gently remind you it is. Here are some secrets to getting a new perspective. First, apologize. Explain that you lost focus. This is not a bad thing, but will let your partner know that life, not them, is what has your nerves frayed. Second, take a step back – literally. When you take a physical action, it can change your emotional state. There is a whole chapter about this in my second book, Living the Dream. Wherever you are, take one step back. Take a deep breath and slowly let it out while your at it.

Next, change what you focus on. Last night Margie made us quesadillas for dinner. I took a step back and watched her flipping them on the griddle. All i could think was “How is such a beautiful and funny woman also such a great cook?” That got me thinking how grateful I was that we were together. How she can always make me laugh,or at least raise one eyebrow.

In your life, take a step back regularly. The more you do it the more you will see a great deal of the beauty you may have missed while you were busy living life.

SECRET TO AN AMAZING…RELATIONSHIP!😍

Last post we discussed 2 actions we could take to help us live an amazing life. If you haven’t read that, I highly encourage you to do so. Today we are going to focus that even further. We are going to look at 2 things you can do to have an amazing relationship. People often ask Margie and I what the secret to our amazing relationship is. In a nutshell, we tell them lots of hard work. That may turn some people off. “I don’t want to be in a relationship that is hard work.” We hear them say. If you want any relationship to be the best it can be, even the relationship with ourselves, it takes work. That work can be some of the most enjoyable and enlightening work you will ever do in your life. The payoff? It is more valuable than gold. The question then becomes what kind of work should we be doing? Let us look at just 2 things you can do daily that will have a huge positive impact. There are endless ways and actions you can take to improve the quality of relationships, but let us start with just 2.

Before we jump into the first secret to an amazing relationship, let me ask you a question. If you worked really hard to get in the best shape of your life, and got there, then stopped working out, what would happen? Would you maintain that physique? Of course not. If you work really hard to create the relationship of your dreams, and you even get there, what would happen if you stopped working on it? Would it remain the relationship of your dreams? If you learned all there was to know about computers, and then stopped learning, where would your knowledge be 2 years from now? Computers are a rapidly changing and advancing field. You would be little better informed that someone who has never turned a computer on. Do you know what changes more rapidly than a computer? People! Specifically, in this case, your partner. You need to grow and develop in this field just to maintain the love that you had, not to mention, growing it to new heights.

The first secret to an amazing relationship may sound basic, but it is not. That first secret is to listen. Not just to formulate a response to what your partner is saying, but to learn. Ask yourself, “What is my partner sharing right now?” or “What is my partner really feeling right now?” Do what is called ‘active listening’. Do not just passively absorb words, but really listen to understand. In an age where everyone is looking to get noticed, how valuable of a gift is it to help someone feel significant and noticed? Why would you not want to do that for the most important person in your life? When we listen to our partners with a desire to increase our knowledge about them, there are so many gifts that come with that. We learn what makes them happy. We learn what does not make them happy. We learn what would make a good gift for them. We learn their hopes and dreams. If we put effort into our listening, we will end up making our life easier and our relationship better.

That leads us into our next secret for an amazing relationship. That is to learn something new about our partners everyday. You may think that you have been together so long, there is nothing left to learn. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There are so many ways to learn about your partner. You can do so by listening with the intent to learn. Keeping the question in your head, “What can I learn about my partner from what they are telling me?” will help you listen intently. You can also learn by observing. When you are out at the grocery store together, notice what brand of ketchup they like. What kind of tortilla chips do they like? Are they the same kind you do? (this is a big one in our house and I can tell you the answer is no.) When you are out celebrating together, notice what dishes they like to order. What do they like to drink? All of these bits of information can serve you and your relationship later. Here is both the gift and the frustration. Once you learn all of these things, a lot of them will change. People learn and grow and their tastes change. That means you will never have your partner 100% figured out. This sounds frustrating, but it is a good thing. You always have an opportunity to learn.

There you have it. Two little things that will make a big difference in your relationship. Imagine learning one thing a day about your partner. In a year you will have learned 365 new things. Even if they are little things, that will make a huge difference in your ability to be a good partner and to create a loving relationship. Many people may think this sounds like too much work. They think they can’t be so disciplined everyday. It is a lot of work, but it will be fun and enjoyable work. Unwrapping your partner and relationship is much like solving a great mystery. When you don’t feel like putting in the work, think of our fitness and computer analogy. Even if you have an amazing relationship at the moment, if you don’t continue to put in effort, it will not stay that way for long. As for being disciplined to work on your relationship everyday? I will just leave you with the quote below.

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.