LANGUAGE IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS

Throughout our time together in these posts, I am often reminding you of how much impact the language you use (especially in conversations with yourself) has on the outcomes of your life. It is a subtle, yet powerful influence people often overlook. Sometimes, however, the actual layout of a word can answer some very deep and difficult questions we have. Today’s post is one such example. If you keep this post in mind it will help you improve your repour with others. It will help take your health and fitness to the next level and will do the same for your business or career. How to we go from being just like everyone else to having a life that is full of passion, excitement, good health and abundance. In other words, what is the secret to an amazing life?

Let’s take a look at the word ordinary. As you can see it is an adjective meaning not unusual or special. The part that really hits home is the second definition, “Neither very good nor very bad: not very impressive” There are certainly worse things than you can be than ordinary. As the definition reads, you would not be very bad. Such as if you receive ordinary service. It is certainly better than bad service. Of course, as the definition continues, it is not very impressive either. If someone asked to describe any facet of our lives, I do not think we would want someone to say we were not very impressive. How is this employee’s work ethic? “It is neither very good, nor very bad: not very impressive.” Maybe you don’t really care what your boss thinks of you? Try this one. Perhaps that special someone is getting together with their friends and they are asked, “How is your relationship?” or even a little more of a personal subject, “How is your spouse at making love to you?” Hey, I don’t know how personal you and your friends get. In either case how would you feel if your spouse answered either of those questions by saying, “It is neither very good, nor very bad: not very impressive.” Yeah, that might sting a little.

I think we have established that fact that we do not want to be ordinary. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that. If you are reading a website called Secret2anamazinglife.com, you are not looking to be ordinary. We do not want our careers, our health or certainly our relationships to be defined as “Neither very good nor very bad: not very impressive” No. We want to be….

We want to be extraordinary! It is defined here as 1. very unusual or remarkable. 2. unusually great. If someone asked a customer about the service they received at your business, how happy would you be to hear that it was “remarkable”? If your spouse was asked about your love-making or relationship acumen, how would it make you feel to hear that they told your friends you were “unusually great”? That certainly would be better than hearing that you were “Not very impressive”. What about our physical health? Our stress levels? Our financial health? How about our ability to get along with others? What if your boss was asked about your work ethic? What if your spouse was asked about your work ethic in the relationship? Would you be not very impressive or would you be remarkable and unusually great? Would you settle for ordinary or would you want to be extraordinary?

How do we get from not very impressive to unusually great? How do we take our level from ordinary to extraordinary? The answer is in the very word itself. To go from one to the other, just add a little extra. In your relationship instead of giving flowers for birthdays and anniversaries, give them because your spouse is beautiful and they deserve it. Even better yet, give them for no reason at all. In your job, do not just do your job. Do your job to the best of your ability and with a great attitude. This is not so your boss is pleased, but so you will go from being a person and worker who is described as “remarkable and unusually great” and not one who is “Not very impressive” When it comes to our health, let us put in that little extra. You got your 10,000 steps today? Great. How about adding a healthy meal to go with that. We certainly want our health to be remarkable. How do you think it would impact your life if your mental and physical health were neither very good or very bad and not very impressive? Would you have more or less energy and vitality as someone whose health is remarkable and unusually great? The answer is obvious.

One word can help to remind us how we can take every area of our lives to the next level. How we can transform our lives from the blah state of “Neither very good or very bad: not very impressive” to one that can be described as “remarkable, unusually great”. We can stop living an ordinary life and start living an extraordinary life. All we have to do is add a little extra.

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.

DOES IT CONTROL YOU OR MOTIVATE YOU?

Today’s post will be the first in a series about controlling what we can. I am going to offer you two personal examples of this particular decision and how it impacted parties involved. I hope you will be able to take what we talk about here and apply it to your own life. If you do, I promise you can change something that used to be an anchor in your life, something that would weigh you down and hold you back, into one of the strongest forms of motivation to propel you forward.

Our first story starts many years ago at a funeral for a family member of mine. After a formal service and before the wake there was some walking around and polite “Nice to see you.” “Sorry for you loss.” type remarks. I ran into one of my family members who was upset and distraught. They were sobbing uncontrollably and asking the rhetorical question “why them?” They went on to further state that their life would never be the same and they could never be fully happy again. This person saying all of these things was quite young and it would have been a sorry state if they allowed this to be true.

Moments later, I ran into another family member. This person was the exact same relationship to the deceased and roughly the same age. Their take on the situation was much different. “Boy this sure makes you think, doesn’t it?” the young man said. You could tell he was upset, yet looking at this from a different angle. He went on to say how sometimes it really takes a funeral to make you feel alive. After a quizzical look from me, he explained. He said it served as a great reminder how important it is to not only make sure you tell those you care for that you love them, but to live your own life in a compassionate and meaningful way. Knowing that life ends is one of the best ways to make sure you really start living.

Two people, same situation, two entirely different viewpoints. Both people were equally close to the person who passed, yet looked at their passing in entirely different ways. One could only see the loss and end that had occurred. The other saw the motivation to really start loving and living. Death, my friends, can either be a merciless jailor or the greatest motivator. When we lose someone we love, that can be hard enough. We only compound that pain when it paralyzes us. If, however, we can find some type of positive, even if it is only that we must love those we have in our life while they are here, then the pain has at least served a purpose.

Please do not misunderstand what I am saying. There is no right way to grieve. To feel loss and pain when we lose someone we love so dearly is natural. It is my sincere hope that I may offer you something that will put your pain and feeling of loss to work for you. That may not lessen the hurt you are feeling, then again it might, but it may very well keep you from being paralyzed by despair.

The second example comes from a conversation I had with a dear friend of mine. The topic of discussion was mistakes we had made in the past and how we could still kick ourselves for some of the stupid things we had done. This can be especially true when it comes to relationships. When a relationship ends we feel a host of emotions – sadness, anger, loss, maybe even relief depending on what side of the equation you are on. One common feeling after a relationship comes to an end is regret. Again, this can take many forms. You may regret that you did not speak your feelings better. You may regret the way you treated the person or the way you let them treat you. You could regret not being more romantic. You could even end up regret wasting so many of your years with such a jerk.

I know many people who continue to beat themselves up with this regret years after the other half of the relationship has moved on. “I really regret not being more loving to her.” or “I really regret staying with him when he was such a jerk.” These people stew over this. They still get upset and usually it becomes contagious, as the person they are talking to regrets being in that conversation. They relive the pain, the hurt, the anger and the frustration. This not only does not serve them, but prevents them from moving on to a new and healthy relationship.

I have many regrets in my life, as we all do. Not just in relationships, but who I was as a man. There are even times when I catch myself pondering why I did so many stupid things in my life. Why did I sacrifice my character and integrity by not living up to my own standards. What I do is use this as fuel. My relationship now is one that I am extremely proud of. I am with what I do believe is the most beautiful woman on the planet. She deserves the best version of me. When there are times I feel like shirking my responsibilities as a man or as her man, I think of the pain of regret I feel for all of the time I let myself and others down. I want to give her the best man I can be, and I use this regret for motivation. I recall times that I was unhealthy, unfriendly, careless, not compassionate and other ways I failed to live up to my own standards. There is nothing I can do about those situations. They are done and over with. The jobs have been lost, the feelings have been hurt and the years of good health are gone. What I can do is use the pain of that regret to make sure I work as hard and as good as I can. Make sure to care for other’s feelings and treat my body as the temple and expression of the divine that it is.

We all have death and regret in our lives. Pain is unavoidable. What is up to us is whether we let that pain be our jailor or our motivator. Regret and loss suck. There is no nicer way to put it. As long as they have to be a part of our life, why not put them to work for us.

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.

WHERE TO SPEND YOUR ENERGY

Last post we spoke about resisting posting or responding to negative content online. We also mentioned using these platforms, whether they be Facebook, Twitter or any other social media, to spread love and appreciation we may be hesitant to voice in person. Today we are going to expand that principle. We are going to ‘take it outside the classroom’ as they say.

As responsible human beings we always want to fix what is wrong. That is a good urge and one I could certainly get behind. The method in which this is often done can be focused incorrectly. We worry about fighting a world in which all people are not treated equal. That in itself is a rather noble pursuit. In my opinion our focus should be on creating a world where everyone is treated equal. This may sound like the same thing, but it is not. Instead of focusing solely on eliminating hate, we should spend the bulk of our time on spreading love.

This may seem difficult to do when we look at issues of things such as racism, spiritual persecution, bullying and other societal behaviors. It would indeed be rather overwhelming to change all of that, but what we do have complete control over is ourselves. Let us focus on creating the new that we desire with our own behavior. Do we desire a world that is more loving and accepting? Let us be more loving and accepting ourselves. Let us join groups and organizations that promote unity and love.

Beginning today, let us focus our energy on growing the new world in which we wish to live. Let us do it by both changing our own actions as well as promoting and joining forces with individuals and groups that do the same. Instead of focusing on fixing what is wrong, let us instead focus on growing what is right.

HAVE YOU LOST IT?

Although this photo may sound a bit harsh, it is still very true. It never ceases to amaze me how many of us will sit behind our keyboards spewing words that are not only negative, but can be both mean and hurtful. It seems almost daily I read comments on people’s political or spiritual beliefs that I would imagine would not be said in a face to face meeting.

That is not to say you have to agree with everything that everyone says. Quite the contrary. It is the variety of opinions and beliefs that make this world a beautiful place. Ask yourself, if this person expressed this opinion in person what would I say? Even if it is something you disagree with, would you even bother expressing that? If so, would you do so in a hurtful angry way?

The same holds true about what you post. If you have a negative opinion about something will you feel the need to share it with every person you come across? Would you do it by calling those people names to their faces? It is very important to remember that seeing your words in black and white can be even more hurtful to someone than hearing them in person. Before you type that phrase or respond to that post or comment, ask yourself, “Would I say this if we were in person?” Chances are the answer would be ‘no’. Let it go. The world has more than enough anger and hate.

If there is any advantage that we can use behind a keyboard, it is to overcome the shyness of expressing our love and appreciation for each other. It may seem awkward for some of us to tell someone how much they mean to us. In today’s society this is not often the norm. Sad, but that is the case. Let us use social media and our online presence to remove some of the uncomfortable feelings associated with that. You can tell your friend how amazing they are or how much you love them online without having to worry about being uncomfortable. The great part about sharing positivtiy online is it can be reviewed at a later date should the receiving party need to hear it again. (That being said, you can also see the danger of posting hurtful things online)

Having a reputation of spreading the positive online will have people wanting to have you as an online presence in their lives. After all, there is no shortage of negative things available to read online. Having even a brief positive thought to read is a pleasant escape. Even if the positive thought expressed is not about the person reading it, just the fact that there is a positive post can make them feel good.

Let us not lose our basic human decency just because we do not face immediate consequences for the words we type. Fight the urge to respond to every negative post and comment. Do not add to the problem. Do not say anything you would not say if you were face to face. If you are going to use your social media for anything, why not use it to express thoughts of love and appreciation you may be uncomfortable doing in person. They will make the receiving party feel good and you will not have to worry about feeling awkward. If each one of us reading this would take these actions we would go a long way to making the world a more positive place.

I DON’T MAKE MISTAKES

Reading the title of this post it may sound I am being as foolish and narcissistic as someone who calls themselves a ‘stable genius’ but allow me to explain. I tell people not to make mistakes in their lives. This may sound like creating both unrealistic expectations, but also putting a lot of pressure on themselves. It would be if that meant trying to be perfect. That is not what we are advocating here. To understand what we mean by not making mistakes, we must first look at how the average person defines a mistake. It is usually an action or judgment that is wrong. Furthermore, it is something they spend a great deal of time regretting, agonizing over, beating themselves up about…you get the idea.

Margie will be the first to tell you that I, on occasion, make a judgement or take an action that is wrong. I know, hard to believe, but it is true. If that is true, however, how can I say that I do not make mistakes? To me it is the use of the word ‘mistake’ that is what is a mistake itself. I have learned a great deal of maintaining a positive outlook when I do something a little south of correct is to say, “I have not made a mistake. I have created a learning experience.” This may sound like a polite way of excusing yourself, but it is much more. When we view something as a mistake, we feel as though we have failed. We have done something wrong and that is it. When we say we have created a learning experience we not only eliminate a good deal of the negative connotation behind our actions, but create a possible positive outcome of our incorrect action.

Let take the action of doing something to upset your spouse. Let us say you used a word that really upset your spouse. You did not think it had such a negative meaning, but to them it was truly hurtful or offensive. You could, and should, apologize and let them know your intent was not to hurt them. This is what you would do with a mistake. A learning experience may be to inquire what a better way to express your feelings might be. To inquire why they find that word so hurtful. Maybe you came home a little later than expected and find your partner less than amorous. Again, begin with an apology. Then follow up with some questions that will turn this mistake into a learning experience. Did they want you to call even if it meant pulling over and adding a few minutes to being late? Should you have given yourself a little more wiggle room when stating what time you would be home? Almost any misunderstanding in any relationship can be turned into a learning experience to bring both parties closer. This is true as much for coworkers and friends as it is for intimate relationships.

How about mistakes at work? Those sure are fun aren’t they? You not only run the risk of looking foolish, but it may end up costing you the very source of income you rely on. By turning mistakes at work into learning experiences, you can actually become an employee the boss knows they can rely on. The first thing is to own your mistakes. A lot of people afraid of looking foolish or worried about what the boss may think of them, look for others to blame. This does not cast us in the best light. By taking responsible for your own mistakes the boss will realize you are someone who does not shy from responsibility and can be relied on to tell the truth. Following that up by stating what you will do better to avoid the mistake in the future as well as asking if there are any additional steps they would suggest will show you to be an employee who is committed to learning from their mistakes and always improving. These are opportunities you can only have when you do make a mistake. Do not go into work tomorrow looking to screw up, but when you do, turn it into a learning experience.

Saying and feeling we just make mistakes and do things wrong will leave us feeling depressed and not motivated to create an amazing life. Realizing every mistake that we make can set us up to learn new and interesting ways to improve both ourselves and our situations in life with at least soften the blow of the mistake. Practice this enough and you may find yourself seeing mistakes for what they truly are – stepping stones to success.

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.

I’VE BEEN DOING IT WRONG ALL ALONG! (YOU MIGHT BE TOO)

Prayer. No matter what your spiritual beliefs, prayer is usually a very important part of it. I recall as a little fellow I was taught to pray to God for what you wanted and needed. Almost as if the almighty were some kind of Santa Claus in the sky. As I grew a little older and found myself in high school, prayer showed up a little less regularly. It was usually the day before a big exam. One of those, “Please God let me pass English class so I can graduate.” sort of things.

It always seemed a little odd to me to approach the supreme being in such a begging type fashion. It wasn’t until I pursued my quest of spirituality outside the walls of the building of organized religion that I really came to understand prayer. One book I recall reading at a young age was The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy. I was always a student of science and often struggled with melding both science and religion. This book went a long way to helping that process. Inner dialogue, of which prayer is even though it is directed at a supreme power, utilizes the subconscious mind. If you are a spiritual sort, you must ask yourself why did the power that be give us such a mind?

Another thing that I have learned by being exposed to many different spiritual beliefs is that you should not pray to change others or the outside world. One, this is trying to project your will and beliefs on others, and that is just not nice. Instead, I focus on the one person I can change – me. Instead of praying others were more polite and considerate, I focus on becoming more compassionate and understanding myself. Instead of asking the Great Spirit to give me an easier life, I pray that I may have a stronger soul. When life becomes overwhelming I focus on finding the beauty and learning the lessons. A little divine intervention is often needed, and I feel is a fair thing to request in suplication.

This may sound odd to many of you, but one of the areas in which this pays the biggest dividends is in my romantic relationship. First of all, it is my opinion that the divine placed in my life a woman who is beautiful, creative and easy to love. In order to never lose that ‘honeymoon phase’ and let little annoyances grow over time, I pray to see the beauty in those too. If there is any area of our live that serves as a merciless mirror to see the parts of ourselves we may not be the most proud of, it is our intimate relationships. The person closest to us sees all sides of us at all different times. That is why I pray daily to be the best man I can be for the woman I love. There are also thoughts and prayers that I may never miss the beauty in all that she does. Whether that is her love of family and friends, her silly sense of humor or her spontaneity, I never want to miss the beauty she shows.

There are so many things partners can do that may be cute at first, but grow to really grind on us and begin to tear away at our love and passion. You may get annoyed at the many loud sounds arising from the person slumbering next to you, but that means you have them in your life. You may become frustrated when they fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow and you lay awake counting more sheep than exist in all of Ireland. That means they feel safe and comfortable enough around you. Your partner asks you to run to the store after a grueling day at work? They rely on you and you have a chance to do something to make their life easier.

Now we come to the most powerful prayer of all, that of thanksgiving. In this blog I have had countless posts on the power of gratitude. It can change your entire life quicker that anything else I know. There are many ways to develop an attitude of gratitude. You could start a gratitude journal, you can write what you are grateful for each day and why. You could create a vision board with pictures of everything you are grateful for. I like and personally recommend all of these items. That being said, one of the most powerful daily practices is to spend time each day offering up a prayer of thanksgiving for all that you have. This does not have to be anything overly religious or formal. Just make sure it is heartfelt. When you thank the divine power you believe in for what you have in life, magic happens. When you can become grateful and thankful for everything in life, or better yet for life itself, you will know peace.

This is a more spiritual post than I normally have, but I think realizing the power of prayer is important aspect of self-improvement. Do not treat the Divine as a Santa Claus in the sky. Instead use prayer to become the best version of yourself. Pray to develop an attitude of gratitude and be thankful for all that you have. Doing this will not only add to whatever faith you follow, but will bring you a great deal of inner peace.