SHHH….

Today is valentine’s day. Some call it a hallmark holiday and in many ways I do suppose it is. Much like Christmas,Easter and several other holidays the true meaning makes way for commercial interests. Just like the aforementioned holidays, we do not have to fall victim to this mentality and can focus on the meaning behind the day. 

In the case of today it is love. The cynical may say it is foolish and you should love everyday. This is one time I may be inclined to partially agree with the cynic. While it is true you should celebrate love each and every day (and I am sure that those of you that know my lady Margie and I realize we do) but having a day specifically set aside to remind us of the important role love plays in all of our lives can be very healthy. 

Above is a picture of the couple my lady and I are going to spend the evening with,  our friends Heidi and Bret. This couple, like all couples, have had their share of challenges. Still here they are back, and dare I say, better than they were a year ago. 

What is their secret to love? Well as we all know love is a very complex subject that has filled countless books and inspired even more movies and songs. To say there is one key to love would be selling ourselves short. 

However, because this is a blog and we should be brief i am going to share a secret Heidi and Bret, Margie and myself and countless other couples use to grow their love. Not in a relationship? That’s fine this one thing can unlock the secrets to capturing the heart of anyone you are interested in. 

These are all big claims but can all be achieved by doing one simple thing – listening. Before you dismiss this idea let’s take a look. The kind of listening I am talking about involves listening to learn. 

Let’s take a look at disagreements. When passions run high we can all too often listen just to contradict what our partner is saying. Come on, we have all done it. I know I have. Have you ever found yourself in this situation, you are arguing so intensely and for so long you actually forget what the argument is about? Even worse have you been in a disagreement only to discover you and the other party were totally disagreeing about two different things? These are all things that can happen when we don’t listen to understand what is upsetting our partner. 

When we actively listen which includes asking questions such as “what is truly upsetting you?” And “what can I do to make it better?” can shorten the duration and lessen the intensity of any disagreement. It will also show your partner you can and want to find a solution and not just who is to blame. 

Let’s not be all doom and gloom here. Listening has a very fun and exciting side. Don’t you wish you could always give the one you love the perfect gift or situation to light up their heart regardless of the funds you have available? Listening to the rescue! When I shop with Margie I listen closely  (ok most of the time). This has allowed me to learn what her favorite flowers are, what meat she likes the best, her taste in fashion. Even the conversations we have while doing the simplest things have given me clues as to what she likes and also what she dislikes. By paying attention and taking mental notes it has kept me in the first category. 

So this valentine’s day give your spouse the gift of truly listening to them. It can not only be a great gift for them  (who doesn’t enjoy really being heard and feeling important) and you (they will tell you lots of secrets if you pay attention) but also a great gift for your relationship (it will give you opportunities to grow love and limit upsets). 

*the author would also like to note listening will work in any relationship, friend coworker and clients. 

LIVING TREASURES 

Here is a man I encountered during a recent event at the local historical society in West Allis where I live. His name is David HB Drake. As you can see in the photo he plays several unique instruments and sings as well. What makes Mr. Drake special is that a lot of what he plays and sings are songs from the past. He also knows the story behind what he sings and passes it along to those who listen to him. To attend one of his performances is both educational as well as entertaining.

I am not sure of Mr. Drake’s age, but he is what we consider a senior citizen. In this country often that designation comes with an impression of helplessness, or someone who is passed their prime and does not have a lot to offer. The sad thing is that by taking that view we miss the great gifts these people have to offer us. The knowledge Mr. Drake has gathered has taken him a lifetime. To learn, practice and perform all of the songs he does can only be done with years of actually doing it. The passion he delivers it with is special and unique to him. A young person could not come in and do what he does. We could read books to learn the facts he delivers, but we would not experience them. The sparkle he has in his eye while telling you about what life was like in logging camps of the 1800’s cannot be read, but must be felt.

There are stories and gifts like this in every senior we know. I personally recall my grandfather telling me stories of his time in the south pacific during the second world war. Those stories could not have been read in any book on the subject and give me a personal perspective to add to what I do read about that period. Wisdom comes with time and experience and is something money cannot buy. So please treat your elders as the living treasures they are. Mine all of the ‘gold’ you can from them before they are gone. Ask questions, listen to their stories. You will not only be helping them understand and feel how valuable and treasured they are, but you will also be learning and helping yourself.

Feel free to share this post with as many as you can so we will not lose any more living treasures without experiencing the gifts they have to offer.

EVERY LIFE MATTERS


Yesterday the world lost a great, and one of my favorite actors. Gene Wilder was a comic genius who happens to be from my hometown. So how did this man change the world and what can we learn from him and the life that he led? Born in 1933 he was coming of age just as a world war was coming to a close, the depression had just ended and the economy was just starting to pick back up.

Mr. Wilder chose to live his gift in that circumstance and give the world what it needed, a reason to laugh. He stared in and co-wrote movies with Mel Brooks both of them showing through comedy the virtues of a race that had just been persecuted. Gene Wilder was good and living a role and developing the characters he played. He stared in several of my favorite movies and has brought joy to several of my days.

Here is the point I am making, some people may look at this man and say “All he does is make people laugh what is so special about that?”. Perhaps people say something similar about you, or maybe you even find that you say that about yourself? I have heard things from friends and people at my seminars like “I’m just a stay at home mom.”. Just a stay at home mom? You are raising the next generation and you somehow have been lead to believe that is no big deal?  Are you a good friend? Do you help around the house? Do you serve customers with a smile? Everyone is good at something and that something can change the world. Maybe it just will change the world of those you know, maybe your actions will have a ripple effect and go on to change lives you may never know. My point is the best way of doing this is living the person you are at the very core. If there is something you enjoy and are naturally good at that is where you should go. It is there you can make the biggest difference.

So let us all use the passing of this great talent to remind us that we are all great talents. We all have something great to bring to the world. Feel free to share or tag anyone you know has a great talent to remind them that they change the world.

IT IS THE SMALL THINGS 

In reflection it has come to my attention how many moments that seemed insignificant at the time ended up being life-changing. Here is what I mean. When a friend suggested in 2006 I see the movie ‘The Secret’ I thought it would be just another movie. It turned out to change the way I look at the world. When I ordered my first Tony Robbins product off an infomercial I thought it would end up on a shelf collecting dust. Now I practice a lot of what I learned from that. In addition I have made my life’s mission to help others learn how to better their lives and the world around them. When I started this blog which is going on 500 posts ago, I thought it would merely be an outlet for my philosophical musings. It has turned into a book A Happy Life for Busy People as well as several speaking engagements.

Even when my boss at the time told me that my hours at the post office were going to be cut from 45 a week to 10 due to down-sizing I thought that was going to be a major negative moment. It was that event that pushed me into the self-improvement field. So never underestimate the effect that things can have on you. Keep your ears and mind open. Also stay present in the moment to be able to take from life what you can. Each moment presents its own lessons and its own opportunities. Make sure to grab them all.

Lastly, some moments may not become important until long after they have passed. My grandfather was a very important figure in my life and taught me many things. Some of which I thought were crazy or even disagreed with at the time. He passed away years ago, but often I find myself thinking of things he said and appreciating them in a whole different level. He is still teaching me long after he is gone. Sometimes there are things you have to experience, or a place in life you have to be before the lesson can be fully appreciated.

The takeaway here is to soak up everything in life. It may seem insignificant at the time, but you never know when it may be just want you need!

SUNSHINE WARRIOR 


After learning and teaching ways to be more positive in life I have come to a important conclusion – it is a constant struggle – for anyone who has embarked on this journey this is not too shocking. When you make the decision to live a more positive, loving and passionate life something strange happens. At first people pat you on the back and say things like “good luck” and “that’s great”. It all starts off well and good. Fast forward at most a week or so and things change. People begin to get less comfortable with your decision. I’m not sure why this is.  I have a theory or two. Perhaps they realize how much their own lives are not full of joy and fulfillment. Perhaps in some strange way they feel if you succeed it somehow means they fail.  Another interesting thing people tend to do, even well-meaning people, is they begin to show you examples of how dark the world can be. You begin to hear things like “How can you be positive when ___ happens?” or look how bad the world is getting and they sight some recent negative event the media is feeding off of. The truth is there is good and bad in the world. Light and dark. Positive and negative. Whether you are spiritual, or not that is easy to see. You meet nice people and experience nice things and you also face challenges and meet people so unpleasant conversations with them leave you wanting a shower.

So what side are you going to be on? Make no mistake, what you choose to focus on decides a great deal of your life. What meaning you assign to things decides how they make you feel. This is the most important decision you can make in your life. Why? It determines how you feel. There will always be wins and loses what they mean to you will determine how they affect you. If you believe the world is out to get you and always to expect the worst you will feel one way. We all know some people who actually do not allow themselves to be happy even when something good happens. They always look for what could go wrong. I knew a man who won an all-inclusive vacation. I was happy for him, but he did not seem so happy. “Yeah, but I have to pay the taxes” he informed me. The taxes amounted to $100. He, and his wife, were going to Jamaica airfare, hotel, meals and cocktails for a week for $100 and he was sad. These are the people who fall victim to the world around us. The negative mind programing we see on TV, online and in the papers everyday. Still, we all know people who remain happy no matter what. If they get a flat tire they muse that it may have prevented them from being in an accident further down the road. Some people call this naïve, but it is no more fanciful than focusing on the negative.

So what side do you find yourself on? Daily in the news we hear of tragedy, hateful speech, how the environment is falling apart, how morals are decaying and a host of other dark and negative events. Seldom to we hear about the people that come together to help the victims of violence, a new inspiring speech that was given, or how some high school students are coming together to clean up a river. These things are not ‘good news material’ they do not sell.

So what do I believe? What does the man who brings these words to you think? Here is what I believe. Make no mistake, your joy, your well-being, your very spirit is under attack. We are in the eye of a hurricane of hate and negativity. The world has become darker in many ways. I think a lot of that is owed to the focus on what is wrong in the world. It has dimmed the light of hope in the hearts of many. Which is why my motivation for writing only grows stronger. We need more people to spread joy, to focus on what is just, good and right. We need more healers of all kind. We need people to bring us together to stand against those trying to tear us apart. Before you jump to sign up let me assure you of one thing, this is not for the faint of heart. In order to be a source of light in a dark world you must be brave. You will find yourself ridiculed. You may often find yourself being attacked by those closest to you and on occasion even standing alone. Many souls find themselves negative and uninspired because today that is the easy way. To be an inspired soul and even greater to inspire others takes courage, takes inner strength and not everyone is up for that.

If you find yourself disgusted with both what you read and see in the news as well as on the streets I urge you to become a sunshine warrior. Put on the armor of positivity. Be warned, however, we are out numbered and the fight will be both long and difficult. You will not come out unscathed. The reward for this fight is your life, and the lives of those you care about and come in contact with. Whether we live in a world of darkness or a world of light depends greatly on whether we choose to join this fight. There will be many who will complain about the world as is, but there will be very few who are brave enough to do their part to change it.

If you find yourself tagged in this post you are a sunshine warrior. Do your part and share and tag those you feel show the courage to bring light to our world.

YOU DESERVE IT!!

How many times have we done something we regret? If you are like me it ranges from weekly when things are going well, to several times a day when they are not. We all make mistakes and do things ways in which to not serve us. If we would know better, we would do better. When we hurt someone they may remind us of that and they may very well have a right. Still if we wouldn’t do the same thing today they are convicting an innocent person. It is the same when we hurt others. Most times they do not mean to hurt us. Reminding them, and ourselves about there transgressions against us only hurt both parties. Do your best to correct each situation and move on to creating joy. If someone constantly reminds you of what you are failing at for the only reason of hurting you then you should move on. There are those who love us and want to help us grow and let us know when we are not living up to our own potential, but these people will also let us know when we do a great job and they are proud of us as well. You need people like that to help you grow. Just remember to practice forgiveness both for yourself and others. You deserve to be happy and so does everyone else. Do not forget that.