What is the one word that would change our world? It is the kind word that Mr. Rogers mentions in the quote above. Would it be fair to say that our ‘neighborhoods’ in which we spend our time make up our world? We have our ‘work neighborhood’ made up of our coworkers, bosses, customers, clients and whoever else we come in contact with. These folks make up our neighborhood 40 hours or more of our week. We also have what some would consider our ‘actual neighborhood’ be that our block, our city or however we choose to define it. We even have our ‘family neighborhood’ that consists of the people we share our household with.
Imagine to what degree we could increase the quality of these neighborhoods not just for ourselves, but for those we share them with? A simple kind word could change a cold, uninviting neighborhood to one filled with love and acceptance. Do you think that would make a difference? Do you think it would change how productive that neighborhood would be? How about how supportive and encouraging? Do you think people would act different when they feel more loved and accepted? I believe they would. I also believe we have a moral obligation to offer words of kindness in all of our neighborhoods and to make them the best they can be.
Do your part today. Take Mr. Rogers challenge and offer a word of kindness in your neighborhood. Do it in all of your neighborhoods! Offer one kind word a week and you can positively affect your neighborhood a little. Offer one kind word a day and you can have an even greater effect. Offer words of kindness to everyone you meet and you can be a catalyst for change in any neighborhood you find yourself in. I would love to hear how you positively affect your neighborhood.
I’ve always been a fan of Bob Marley. Well, at least since my friend Kevin introduced me to him many years ago. Although we may differ in our recreational habits, I admire a great deal of his philosophy. Like the quote above. There is one caveat I would add to Mr. Marley’s quote. integrity and positive influence, you couldn’t buy it for all the money in the world. If you do not believe me, try walking into Walmart and asking what aisle integrity is in. I would love to see the look on the face of the employee trying to help you with that one. No, I believe these things are true wealth.
As this week draws to a close, try shifting some of your time spent focused on material gain to increasing your integrity. Not only with others but with yourself. Think of the standards you have. Do you always live up to them? I would say it is difficult to do all of the time and that there is always room for improvement. That is one of the great things about being a human being, there is always room for improvement. Do you always keep your word with others? What else could be included in your definition of integrity?
How about your ability to affect those around you positively? How much do you work on that? Do you just do so in the moment or do you spend some time thinking of it? Do you try to incorporate being a positive influence in every area of your life? That is something I can honestly say I am proud of is that I work very hard to be a positive influence on all of those I come in contact with. Whether that is at the Post Office during my day job, as a writer here on this website or in my books, or even when I am simply ordering a pizza. As mentioned above, there is always room for improvement. I keep trying to find new and better ways to bring joy and positivity to others. Perhaps that is why I order so much pizza, but I digress.
I can honestly say that when I feel I am being my authentic self or a affecting those around me positively, that is when I feel the wealthiest. The better I find myself in these two categories, the wealthier I feel. How do you measure wealth? How do you feel your bank account would add up by Bob Marley’s definition? I would love to hear your answers.
We have discussed in the past that we can have multiple identities, but still be just one person. We have to be one person at work, another at the gym and yet another at home. Still, at the end of the day we are still us. The same can be true of where we live. We must also take a great care of all of the places we live. We are going to look at three of them and, as we do here at Secret2anamazinglife, we are going to give you a bonus location to think about as well. Let us get started.
Your Body. Let us start with this one. No matter where you are sleeping, in a mansion, in a loft in the city or even on the streets, you are sleeping in your body. When you walk or have to do something physical, you are in your body. We take many measures to make our homes the best it can be. We call in a plumber if our pipes are not flowing correctly. Do we do the same for our cardiovascular system? The body’s plumbing? If our power goes out it is a an emergency, but do we make sure to eat and hydrate enough to maintain our body’s energy level? Our body is the home we live in until the day we die. We cannot trade it in for another it would make a great deal of sense to treat it the best we can.
Our World. This one may seem a little too big to control. In some respects that is true. We cannot control what a farmer in the Congo does, or how the market is run in Iraq. Unless, of course, that is our job. Even in that case, there would be lots of other things we could not control. How can we take care of our world then? We can do our part. This may seem like a small thing to do but in reality it is everything. If we recycle in our household it may not stop the pollution of the oceans but what if every family just recycled in their own household? Even if have the families made that one simple step? How big of a difference would that be? You want to live in a cleaner world? Pick up one piece of litter a day. Doesn’t seem like it would do a lot, but that is 365 pieces of garbage a year. If you and your spouse did that it would be 730 pieces of trash. That still may seem like a small amount when you look at the streets about you, but try dumping 730 pieces of garbage on your front lawn and you will see what a difference you are making. Can you imagine if half of the people in the city you live in picked up one piece of litter a day? You would live in the cleanest city ever. You never realize what a great change seemingly small actions make.
Our Mind. Much like the body, we are only afforded one mind in our lifetimes. Despite how many people you feel could really benefit from a lobotomy, they are just not that common. When our minds start to fail us, it is not only hard on us, but on those we love. Wouldn’t it make sense to take the best care of our minds that we can? I am not just talking about learning and keeping them sharp, although that is a big part. When it comes to our mind, rest and fun are just as important. Mixing knowledge with humor is one of the best ways I can think of doing this. I spend hours a day learning and researching, but then Margie and I share jokes with each other and watch a funny movie. Just like any machine, if you push a mind too hard it can burn out. Just like a well-running machine, you need the right fuel as well. If your diet consists of snickers and Mountain Dew or beer and cigarettes exclusively, you will certainly not be operating at your best mental capacity.A healthy nutritional diet with a good amount of physical exercise will help keep us mentally sharp as well.
We have many more homes than the house we live in and it is important we take care of all of them. As I promised here is a bonus location to ponder. We also live in the hearts of others. Think of how you leave people after you have spent time with them. It is important to take care of our homes in the hearts of others. Tell people they are loved and appreciated. Show them love, respect and genuine interest. If we take care of all of our homes, we will feel right at home no matter where we happen to be.
Recently, I held my book release party for my second book, Living the Dream. It was, by all measures a great success. Not only did I get to share my books with many new readers, but many wonderful friends returned to check out my newest literary offering. Having this happen made me realize several things. It also gave me several great feelings. Thus, I stole the title of this blog from a song in the popular Mr. Rogers children’s television show. I would like to share them with you in this blog here today. You will also have a chance to see many pictures of this fun event.
The first feeling was that of excitement. It may have felt like nervous quite a bit, but I was truly excited to bring this latest book to the world. It was 5 years of writing along with an additional 3 years to get it to market. After waiting a total of 8 years to share all you have learned with the world can feel like an explosion when it finally happens! It is my wish to put this book in the hands, and more to the point, in front of the eyes of everyone who could gain something from reading it. I was excited to see what everyone thought of the contents and excited to hear how it helped them. The initial response was that everyone loved the foreword written by my lovely Margie. As I write this blog the next day, I am still filled with anticipation and excitement to hear what everyone thought of the event and more importantly, what everyone thinks of the book!
Another great feeling I had was that of friendship. Wait, is friendship a feeling? I say it is. Seeing all of these great people I treasure so dearly show up to support me was overwhelming. I wish I had the time to sit down and thank each and every one of them. Later, as things slowed down, I did have the chance to walk around and thank a great deal of people. I was so grateful for all of the new friends, friends I have not seen in a long while, soul friends, coworkers, and my best friend and love of my life. I enjoyed taking pictures with several people and being able to discuss my first book with them, if they had indeed purchased one.
Most powerful feeling of the night? Grateful! There was so much to be grateful for this evening. Watching some people enjoy a beverage and others dive right into the book. The weather called for severe thunderstorms, it didn’t even rain. I was grateful to have a wonderful venue like Westallion Brewery to hold this event. Not only were people able to purchase one of my books, they were able to enjoy a wonderful beer and each other’s company after. An unexpected surprise was the adorable plant in a smiley face mug given to me by my great friend Shannon. I was grateful for the amazing balloon sculpture created by our friend Bella. So thankful that everyone seemed to have a good time and shared that feeling with each other. Margie gave me a lot to be grateful for as well. She made some delicious cupcakes that had smiles on everyone’s face. She helped me set everything up and take everything down. Not to mention she gave me a great big hug when it was all over. To have all of these wonderful people in my life is a gift that could not be bought for all of the money in the world. That, my friends, makes me a very rich man!
Enjoying such a great evening next to the lady I love, surrounded by great friends was truly Living the Dream. I could not have hoped for a better result. It is my sincerest desire that those who have this book will use it to help turn the lives they have into lives they love even more. I know that I am living the dream and I hope you are too!
Here at Secret2anamazinglife, we always look for simple methods that will have a great positive impact on our lives. One of these easy things to do is to change your perspective. There is so many things in our life that we do almost unconsciously. We drive the same way to work everyday. We tend to frequent the same restaurants. We even tend to see the same people for the same events. We go out to dinner with these people, we go to the ball game with this group of people. Don’t get me wrong, if it works that is a great thing. Sometimes, even when it comes to things that seem to work just fine, it is worth exploring other options. Can you imagine if at the turn of the century people said “These horses seem to be working just fine. Why would we want this automobile thing?”
Another great reason to explore different options is that often our hands are forced. A personal example for me is that I always tend to drive the same way while working at my day job. Recently, they closed the main road I used. I wasn’t sure what roads went through and which provided the smoothest streets, least traffic and best scenery. Why? Because I always drove the same way. The first day I spent a few minutes extra detouring and trying to figure out where I was going. This could have all been avoided had I bothered to try a new route every once in a while. The same is true about people. If you always go to the games with Fred and then Fred moves, then what? There is another important reason to switch this up we will get to next. How about going out to eat? Sure, you always go there for Italian, but what if that business closes or just has a day off? It is good to have options. When you need pizza, you often need pizza!
Another reason to switch things up? It can change the entire experience. One of my favorite places to go is our zoo here in Milwaukee. I have been to many different zoos, and I feel it is one of the best I have been to. The zoo is usually open from 8am to 5pm currently. On this day, they switched it up and had night time hours. Margie and I went and we were able to see things that we normally didn’t see. The animals that were usually active were a little more relaxed and those that were usually sleeping were up and about. We even saw some behaviors not often exhibited during the day. Take the elk going for a swim in the first picture or this bear which not only stood on top of its platform, but ended up climbing the tree. Same zoo that I have been to thousands of times, but I was able to see it in an entirely different light. Do you tend to order the same thing when you go to a certain restaurant? Maybe you are missing out on a dish that you would love even more? What if you went out to the ball game with your friend you usually go out for coffee with? I bet it would be an entirely different experience. Would you agree that the people we do something with often have a greater impact on us than the event we are doing with them? There are people who could almost make going to the dentist fun and then I know people that could even ruin a pizza for me.
Today’s lesson – add a little twist to your life. Change up the route you drive to work. If where you live is anything like where I do, one of the roads is bound to be under construction soon and it would make your life less stressful to have a workable back up plan. Change where you eat, what you eat and who you eat it with. It could open up new worlds for you! Experiencing things in a new way can open up worlds of knowledge and often change the way we look at the world entirely. Even a little shift can be healthy to dust of the cobwebs in our brains. I would love to hear about what things you do to gain different perspectives.
Today is Wednesday, the middle of the week, so we are going to keep it light. Just because we are going to keep it light does not mean we still cannot share some valuable information. Today we are going to look at one of the main secrets that I use to help keep my life amazing. This is not only something I have read about, there is a great deal of science to back it up, but something I have used, and still use, in my own life. This secret not only provides an amazing life, but it helps you live a long life too. It is why George Burns and Bob Hope lived to be 100. It is why Mel Brooks is not only still alive, but still working at the age of 95. Hopefully, this same secret will have me sharing my thoughts with you for at least another 50 years.
What is this great secret and what on earth does the picture above have to do with living an amazing life? The great secret we are going to talk about was best described by Steve Rizzo, author, stand up comedian and motivational speaker. He calls it “Getting in touch with your Humor being” I will include the link to one of his entertaining videos at the end of this blog. In short, he encourages us to find the humor in our lives. So many situations provide humor that we often take them for granted. Sometimes they require us to stop and think of things for a moment instead of rushing from one thing to another. Very often, if we approach life looking for the humor we will find it.
Now to explain the picture above. This was taken at one of the shows Margie and I DJ. Took the picture myself…in the men’s room. Let me begin by explaining that is not a place you will usually find me pulling out my phone to take a picture. Come to think of it, unless there is some very odd or strange occurrence, you will never find me taking pictures in the men’s room. No ‘bathroom selfie’s’ for this fellow. Here is why I took this picture, and more importantly, why I am sharing it with you. First of all, the obvious. It is a sign urging you to practice social distancing. This is not a problem that often occurs in the men’s room. We are all pretty good about maintaining distance. That was the first thing I found funny about the choice to place the sign there. Then I realized yet another humorous side. Not only is this social distancing sign in a men’s room, but it is taped to a condom machine. It would almost seem as if they are urging you to observe a practice that would make the need for this machine totally unnecessary.
Perhaps you don’t find this situation as funny as I did. Maybe you find it more. The point is that in the middle of this evening, it was a part of reality that I could find the humor in and that added a little bit of joy, no matter how off-color it may seem, to my life. Do this often enough and you will begin to see the humor, often the absurdity of life. This will certainly help when the bad times come. I would love to hear some of your humorous events from your own life. The more we share with each other, the more we can help our humor beings to shine through.
In today’s instant gratification culture, fewer and fewer people take the time to read a book. As an author, this is not only deeply economically troubling, but emotionally as well. “I will wait until the movie comes out.” is a phrase that is heard more and more often. I can certainly appreciate that there are times when we want to experience a bout of entertainment from beginning to end and do not have the time for an entire book. Reading, however, allows us to exercise our minds in ways that watching a film never could. It is the difference between an active involvement and a passive involvement. Using our imagination to picture the story as we read the pages creates a depth (see picture above) that we simply don’t get from watching a movie. I am sure this can take things to a whole different level. I’m thinking Fifty Shades of Grey could have provided some interesting exercises in imagination.
As the old cliché goes, art often imitates life, or is it the other way around? Never was too sure about that one. The point is when it comes to life, especially in this social media driven world, this holds true. We often see people’s profiles online and think we really know everything there is to know about them. In reality, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. It is like watching a highlight reel of an athlete. You would think they never make mistakes. As human beings, we always have the urge to hide our faults, or more to the point, accent our strengths. We also have a tendency to judge based on the thought that we have all of the information. We never know what is happening behind the scene.
This week, I encourage you to take a deeper look and get to know those around you on a deeper level. Also, if you are brave enough, share a little more about yourself. Not just your highlight reel. Be vulnerable. Show the world the pain you struggle with everyday. Help the world get to know you. Just like reading a book will open up a whole other world that watching a movie never will, getting to know people on a deeper level will do the same for your relationships.
Above is my favorite quote. It is a guiding principle that I use when I am sharing in the field of self-improvement. When I first set out on this journey, I had little to no idea what I was doing. After over 2 decades of learning and sharing I realized this quote is still one of the most powerful. At seminars I hold, book signings, or even just in personal interaction, people often inquire as to what they can do to change the world. They come with many different motives. Some people have a great deal of hope and ambition. Others, come from a place of frustration. They see the division and hate on television and in the media and really want to do something to make a difference.
My advice to all of these people is the same – focus on changing your corner of the world. This can confuse some and further frustrate many. After all, they want to make a BIG change. I understand that thinking. Daily, I write these blogs and books to help facilitate change throughout the world. The best way to do this is to focus on what we really can change. Like the quote above, be the change you are wanting to see. You wish for a world filled with more love and less hate? Then be a more loving individual. You would be surprised at the effect that can have on others and how quickly it spreads. You wish more people would volunteer to help worthwhile causes? dedicate some of your spare time to doing the same. This may seem like you are making an insignificant difference, but stop and consider this bit of thinking. What if everyone in your city did the same thing? Focused only on doing what they can in their own lives. I live in a town of roughly 60,000 people. Imagine that many people working toward a positive change? Even half of those people, just trying to bring joy and love to those in their circle.
Proof that you attract the people you need in your life, I would like to share an adventure that happened to Margie and I just the other day. We decided to go out for lunch at a local spot we both enjoy. We asked to be seated in a section that had a fun server. We were greeted by Heather, a very pleasant young lady that confessed to being a bit new. As she took our order the conversation turned to the weather outside. It was a particularly cool July afternoon. Weather a lot of folks would enjoy being out in. There was Mention of the vast number of positions and places that were hiring and how we wished there could be a way to connect them to all of the people standing on the corners with signs looking for work. After a contemplative pause, Heather said, “I would stand on a corner with a sign.” Margie and I looked at her with curiosity. She continued, “Yes, I would have a sign asking for change, but not monetary change, social change!” It was then that I knew the three of us would become good friends.
Heather brought up a very good point. Encouraging others for change of a social nature is another great way to improve our corner of the world. I am speaking of asking for change in an encouraging thoughtful manner. Asking your friends to help you with a cause your are volunteering for. Inviting everyone to send a thank you card to one of their friends. Asking strangers to share a smile with someone they don’t know. The best way to encourage this change and make it most likely others will join you? That is to be the change you wish to see in the world!
I know it can be tempting to look for the biggest way in which you can make a change. Just remember often the most powerful way to make a change is to change your own corner of the world. That could include holding a sign asking for positive social change, volunteering for a worthwhile cause, or just sharing a smile with a stranger. Margie and I are thankful to Heather for the great reminder of this important point. We look forward to many good conversations with her in the future!
You may be finding yourself thinking, “How does Neil know what is a special occasion in my life?” You may even think that today is just an ordinary day, that there is no special occasion. The odds of it being your birthday are about 1 in 365 best I can figure. Still, today is a very important day for you. Why? The reasons are all around us. When you think of the odds that allow you to be exactly who you are, they are more than staggering. From the moment of conception to all the experiences that have brought you to this point, they are all worth celebrating.
While it is true that a good amount of things that we encounter in life do not work out how we had hoped and imagined, they have all played a part in making us the amazing people we are today. Even the hardest lessons have given us some of our greatest gifts. If we face a particular health challenge, we can better relate and counsel those who face the same situation. If we have lost our job we face the prospect of finding a new, and often better suited job. If our hearts were broken, we have a chance to begin again with a wiser outlook as to the kind of person that would better help us grow both ourselves and our love. Even what I think is the worst pain, the pain of losing someone we love, can teach us the value of life and those we share it with.
This may sound like some new age inspirational speech, and it some ways I guess it is, but let us look how it relates to our life today. If you do not think today is a special occasion, ask yourself how it would feel if you knew you would not have a tomorrow. Now ask yourself how sure you can be that you do have a tomorrow coming? Can you be 100% sure? How about 90%? There is a great deal of factors that could sway that number in one direction or another. How dangerous your job is, the safety of the area you live in, and your current health status. Even if those are all in the positive, you still face unexpected dangers we may never consider. Car accidents, random violent strangers or a sudden unexpected health crisis. So much for the new age inspirational speech. While I am not trying to focus on the negative that may happen in life, it does not change the reality that they are possibilities. Tomorrow is not promised for any of us. Today may be the special occasion we never knew we were having.
If today were your last day with sight, how much time would you take to sit in nature and enjoy the scenery? How long would you gaze lovingly at the face of the person you love? What song would you listen to if you knew you may wake up without your sense of hearing? The risk is not only ours either. People in our lives that we care deeply for share those same inherent risks. Think about that for a minute. Today may be that last time your spouse may be able to see your smile, would you deny that to them just because they forgot to put the milk away? It may be the last time they are able to hear you say “I Love you” wouldn’t you want them to be able to hear that one more time? It may very well be the last time you can share a moment with someone. Would you not want them to know in their heart how much they mean to you and how much you love them? In my own romantic relationship, I tell Margie everyday, “There are two things I am going to tell you everyday. I need you to know how beautiful you are and how much I love you.” To this day, I don’t think a single day has went by in which I didn’t remind and show her those two things. Tomorrow, either her or I could be gone and I would not have the chance to tell her.
This may beginning to sound a bit morbid to some of you, but it is true just the same. This is not saying we should live our lives in a state of fear that something may go wrong, but with the knowledge that it might. Often, things are only appreciated after they are gone. We complain about that job until we lose it. We complain about our spouse until they are gone. We take for granted someone in our life until they pass away. Moments can sometimes become special because they were the last. The last time you said “I Love you” to someone you care about. The last time you got to see a friend’s smile. I think we should take Mr. Einstein’s advice above and live life as if everything were a miracle. You never know when moments will be last ones, so treat each one as if it were. Live, love and laugh like there were no tomorrow.
I am not a huge fan of the term “Social Distancing”. It is my belief that it should have been called physical distancing. During this pandemic, I think it was important to stay as social and connected as we could. communication and social interaction is very important part of keeping our emotional and mental health running smoothly. Video chatting with family, zoom meetings with not only work, but friends as well, texting, messaging and of course a good old-fashioned phone call are so important. It can provide both us and them a feeling of connection, love and support.
Now that, in some places, restrictions and rules are being lifted we are able to gather with each other once again. In some situations, we can shake hands and give each other a hug. Which not only makes us feel good physically, but has great effects mentally as well. Even being able to see a face not covered up with a mask is almost enough to send a heart soaring. This may sound like hyperbole, but after so long of not being able to see smiles on the faces we encounter every day, it is not far from truth.
If there was one plus to having to maintain distance from everyone, it is that we had to maintain distance from those who do not serve our best interest. Whether that is someone who is a gossip and says bad stuff behind our back, or just the Debbie downer type person who always has a black to our white, being away from them probably did us some real good. As we are adjusting our lives back to what is the new normal, we should seriously consider leaving these folks in the rear view mirror.
This may sound harsh or mean to some, but it is the exact opposite. Your peace of mind and inner joy is worth so much more than you realize. Take the time and effort to recreate your life to your standards. If there are pieces, or more to the point people, that to not add to your life, it may be time to let them go. This does not have to be done in the spirit of anger or malice, but of love for yourself. We are presented a unique opportunity in these challenging times. Now that we are slowly adding events and individuals back into our lives, we can do so with the thought of building a better life. I encourage you to put you and your happiness first when it comes to forming new connections as we move forward. You deserve to have the best life possible, do not settle for anything less.