WHAT IS YOUR STORY?😕

One of my favorite exercises to have people do is to write their own eulogy. I feel it helps people get clear, often for the first time in their lives, what kind of person they want to be remembered as. It also makes it pretty clear if there are on track to be remembered as that kind of person. Going forward, it gives them a pretty good set of self-enforced guidelines. If you know what kind of person you would like to be remembered as, are the actions you are taking going to lead to that? If not, change them. If so, do them more often. It makes life simple and helps steer the rudder of our ship of life, if you will.

There are many people who have an issue with this exercise, or in some cases flat out refuse to do it. They have a hard time getting past the death part. Les Brown said it best, that you can’t get out of life alive. He also said, “Most people die at 25, but don’t get buried until they are 65.” Death is a natural part of life, but I do not want someone’s fear of it to get in their way of success. It is just this thought that I was pondering, along with what the subject of my fifth book will be, when the answer to both questions came to me!

Let me ask you a question that I really want you to think about. If you were to write your autobiography, that is the story of your life, what would the title be? I have been encouraged to write one myself. The best title I could come up with is The Amazing Life of an Ordinary Man. I will explain that in a future post. What I want to plant in your mind is the seed of what story you will leave behind. Will it be one of someone who inspired others or who was only out for their own gain? Will it be of someone who gave or someone who was always looking to take? A “What is in it for me?” sort of attitude. Let me give a clue to those people. As Denzel Washington once said, “I have never seen a U-Haul behind a hearse.” You can’t take it with you. Think of the title of your story. How will it read? Even if you find yourself down and out at the moment, that can be where your story changes. How many of us like to go to a movie or read a book where the main character rises up from the ashes to achieve a level of greatness? The story wouldn’t be as good without the struggle.

Want to take this exercise a step further to help improve your life even more? Imagine someone else was writing your biography, what would they say? What would they title it? Notice how this will be different with each person you think of. If you want to be the best spouse you can be, imagine your better half is about to begin work writing your life story. You certainly would not want them to say you were an inattentive lover. You wouldn’t want to read that you were emotionally unavailable. You want to read how you made their heart sing. You want to read that you made them feel safe both physically and emotionally. Ok, if that is what you want to read, what actions can you take to make that the story? How about if your children were going to write your biography? What would they say about you? Are there ways you could improve that story? Take those actions now.

Think about your own autobiography. Is it what you want it to be so far? If not, what actions can you take to change that? I would start with this first. Then when you are comfortable that you are on track to live the story you would want to write, think of others. What would your spouse write? Your children? Your friends? What actions could you take to make their story one that would make you proud. This should be a fun and insightful exercise. I would love to hear about your experience.

SHARE YOUR STORY 📖

In the next two posts, we are going to look at ways of becoming immortal. Don’t worry, this has nothing to do with magic potions, the occult or some guy trying to sell you snake oil. In fact, I want you to sell me something. If there was one thing that I would love everybody in the world to do it is this – share your story. I used to say I think everyone should write a book, and that still holds true, but writing a book is not for the faint of heart. After three of them, just trust me on that. Fortunately, for all of us, there are so many avenues in which to tell you story, you don’t have to write a single thing. My most recent book is about my heart surgery, but when I wanted to tell my story about the first person in my community to get Covid-19, I used YouTube videos. Now, to reach more people, I have started a podcast. You also have social media and many other outlets.

Nothing frustrates me greater than to hear someone exclaim, “I don’t have a story to tell.” Everyone has a story to tell. When I inform them of this, I hear some replies that leave me speechless. As anyone who knows me personally, that takes some doing. I have heard people say things like, “I am just a server.” “There is nothing special about me.” “I am just a parent.” or “I am not succeeding really well in life.” Those last two really get me. You are just a parent? So you are just responsible for crafting another human life and raising a future generation? Yeah, no big deal. You are not doing so well in life? Despite what you may see on Facebook, how many people would you guess have areas of their lives they are not doing so well at?

There are two VERY important reasons you should share your story. The first is the lessons you can teach the world. Before you tell me that you are not a teacher, or even haven’t been very good at something, let me tell you that you are a teacher. If you have not been very successful in life up to this point. Maybe you have made a lot of mistakes, or you let one big mistake continue to haunt you, do you think there are lessons you could give others in those mistakes? Even if your story consists of “Don’t do all of the stupid stuff I did.” You could very well save someone else’s life by doing so. Think I am being overly dramatic? Maybe that person would not be as resilient as you and would not be able to make it through. People get hung up by things that may not bother us. Let us say you have accomplished some things in life. Do you think there is lessons in them as well? “If you want a good relationship like me do this….” (My advice would be to become an active listener and work on being the best version of yourself)

Second reason you should share your story is that there are a lot of other people just like you out there. Those people may be feeling alone in their struggles. If you think of yourself as just a parent, how many other parents are out there that could relate to your struggles? That is the point, sometimes we just need others to relate to. When I am with fellow authors, guess what we talk about? The struggles of writing! When athletes get together they talk about their sports. Now imagine if you could reach a wider audience. How many people do you think you could affect? If you are a server, would you enjoy reading stories of unique customer challenges other servers have went through? Of course you would! I can just imagine you reading it shaking your head and saying “I know what that is like!” How about a parent going through the struggle of the ‘terrible twos’? I am sure just reading a story about it could help lots of other parents.

Share your stories my friends. You never know who you will reach. You never know who you will connect with. You never know who you will help.

SECRET TO AN AMAZING…RELATIONSHIP!❤

One of the most important areas of our lives is our relationships. I am not sure if there is anything that has a greater impact on our emotional well-being than our relationship to others, especially our intimate relationship.

The relationship field is a multi-billion dollar industry. There are books, seminars, therapy, coaching and a million other options. Add to that things like candy, flowers,greeting cards and other gifts and the dollar amount soars. I’m here to tell you there is one thing you can do that will mean more to your spouse than any of those things. It is also cheaper. It can even be free! One thing that can improve your relationship no matter how good, or not so good, it is currently.

I promise if you do this one thing, your relationship will be stronger, more fun and your partner will be more in love with you than ever before. I go into greater detail about this in my second book, Living the Dream, but I’ll give you the short version here. The Secret is…become the best version of you that you can be.

Investing time and effort in yourself may seem selfish, but it is actually one of the best investments you can make in your relationship. The better you make yourself, the better your relationship will be. Work on becoming a better listener, that will have positive effects on your relationship. Get in better shape? You will have more energy and become more attractive to your spouse. Learn a new skill? It is another interesting aspect you bring to life with your partner.

As you can see, I use this in my own relationship with my beautiful Margie. Here is another great thing. You can always work on improving yourself. There are always ways to become a better version of yourself. This means there is always a possibility of your relationship getting better! How cool is that?

As a very important added bonus, if things don’t work out in a relationship, working on yourself helps limit the regret. There is no wondering “if only I had…” You can rest assured you brought your best self to your relationship. Sure, you going to make mistakes, but as long as you learn and keep improving, so will your relationship

Although this is most noticeable in a romantic relationship, it holds true for any relationship in your life. It also holds true for your life in general. When you improve, so does your relationships and so does your life.

ARE YOU TRULY WHAT YOU ARE?

At first, this question may seem silly. Of course you are who you are. Looking at the quote above, we can dig a little deeper. The quote from Mr. Jung, whom I do not always agree with, brings some good questions to mind. How many of us know people who always seem to be preaching one thing, but doing another? You know the ones. They talk about how you should be healthy, all while they go out and get drunk several nights a week. How about those who tell us they can’t stand drama, but a few minutes later are whispering the latest gossip in your ear? I am sure we all know people like this.

Here is where things can get a little uncomfortable. It many ways, that person could be found in the mirror. On my YouTube channel (Neil Panosian) and in my second book, Living the Dream, I advocate an exercise that can be very beneficial. That is to write our own eulogy. This can sound morbid to some, but it is a very powerful tool for transforming your life. It has certainly made a huge difference in my own. This idea occurred to me while contemplating the death of my cousin in his early twenties. It solidified when I was asked to write 5 eulogies in 2 years. I began to think of what people would say about me when I was gone.

More to the point, I began to think of what I wanted them to say. I quickly scratched a few notes down on paper. I wanted to be known as someone who made a positive difference in people’s lives. I wanted to be a light that caused others to keep going when they wanted to give up. I wanted to be an example for how a man should treat a lady. I wanted to give to the greater good and leave the world a better place than I found it. I had parroted most of these statements for years. Then I had to ask myself a very important question – was I living them? In many ways, the stark truth was that I was not. At least I was not doing so to the fullest. In some cases I was at sometimes, and then not others. No consistency. My actions did not always match my words.

How about you? Do your actions match your words? Do you honestly think people will describe you as you hope to be when you pass on? In my own life, doing this exercise of writing my eulogy, helped me become clear, for the first time in my life, as to the person I wished to be. It also helped provide me a good course of action as well as a set of guidelines. These were not rules others were telling me, but instead ones that went with the values I had chosen to be remembered as. I can ask myself, is what I am doing an example of how to treat the one that you love? How about be a gentleman? What about leaving the world a better place? If the answer is ‘no’ I know that I need to change those actions to better match the person I am striving to be. If the answer is ‘yes’ I know that the actions I am taking are in line with the values I have and the kind of person I wish to be remembered as. How about you? How do you wish to be remembered? Are you taking actions that will lead others to remember you that way, or are you someone who they will remember as a person who said one thing and did another?

ARE YOU RUNNING WITH THE PACK?🐺

Running in packs sure can have its advantages. Just ask wolves. Their cooperative hunting strategies have allowed them to flourish and be more successful. They same can be said for those of us working on team projects. It certainly can come in handy in our spiritual faith. When we feel that faith faltering, it can be our ‘pack’ that can lift us up. How about our friends and family? That can be an amazing pack! They can check on us and have us feeling loved and cared about. They can also be a great source to lean on when we are down.

Where packs can turn from an asset to a detriment, is when we allow the pack to do our thinking for us. This seems especially true in both politics and faith. As we described earlier, the latter can help us a great deal. I am not sure about the former, but I digress. I have seen, in my own family, people leave their own family behind for no other reason than their faith was different. It is important to be able to step back from the pack, on occasion, and think for ourselves. If your pack is asking you to believe, and act in a certain way, it is ok to question that way. It does not make you a ‘bad’ member of the pack. In fact, you could be the one to lead the pack in an entirely different direction. You can still make good use of the pack, and be able to think and act on your own.

It can certainly be tempting to allow our thoughts and actions to be influenced by the pack. It is something we must stand guard against. If your pack infers, or outright says, that people of a certain group should be avoided, or worse looked down upon, because they are different, ask yourself if that is what you truly believe. In a word that seems to be growing more divided by the day, it is our pack of humanity that must learn to work together. Just like the wolves, we will survive and be more successful if we do.

HOW DO YOU CHERISH?

I love this quote by Bob Marley. It causes us to take a step back and reflect how we treat the people in our lives. When you have a person with a certain skill set, do you cherish or use that skill? There is nothing wrong with ordering a cake from someone you know who has a talent at creating them, hypothetically. It is also important to cherish that skill and that person. What is the difference in this case? I think cherish can be replaced by the word appreciate. I think that is what is tricky in this situation. Even those of us, myself included, need a gentle reminder to cherish as well as utilize the people in our lives.

The obvious next question is how we can do this. I think this is where many of today’s technological offerings can be put to good use. If people only spoke with me when they needed some writing, that can go two ways. On one hand, it certainly is a compliment. You know my skill set and would like to make use of it. If, however, that is the only time you ever speak to me, after a while, I could feel somewhat used. If you were to blend this with a mention on social media, or even a compliment in person, that would mean the world to me.

Cherishing a person does not even have to be limited to professional avenues either. Do you have a spouse that is an amazing cook? A friend that is a great listener? Let them know! Maybe even get them a little card to say thank you. Send them an email. Buy your spouse flowers and let them know you appreciate their hard work in the kitchen. It can be easy to unconsciously almost take people for granted. Whether that is making a cake, writing, being a good cook, a good listener or just a good friend. It is for more likely for us to think, “I need someone to listen to me. I know Jane is a good listener. I am going to call her.” Than to make that same call to thank Jane for being a good listener. We often assume they know how we feel. They may not. Even if they do, it is good to both be reminded and cherished, or appreciated.

How do you appreciate all of the amazing people in your life? From the friendly bus driver to the helpful person at the coffee shop. How can you make them feel like the cherished people they are? We are always looking for good ideas. Please share yours.

CREATE YOUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD

One glance at the picture above and I am instantly transported to Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. As most of you who have followed me for any length of time already know, I am a big fan of that famous childhood program. I still think the self-improvement fundamentals taught on that show could apply to many adults to this very day. Do you know of anyone who could benefit from watching the episode “What to do when you are mad”? It would appear many of us have either forgotten, or could use a gentle reminder of many of the qualities that make us all good humans.

In today’s social and political climate, it is “You either agree with me or you are evil”. It would seem many of us have forgotten how to be civil to each other. Add to that, many of us do the bulk of our communicating behind a keyboard and it becomes worse. It seems without the personal accountability and responsibility of face to face communication, we do not feel constrained by manners. Social media, ironically, has made us forget how to be properly social. There are terrible acts of violence against each other in the news almost daily. Some are politically motivated, some are completely random. When I come across these items it makes me long for a neighborhood like Mr. Rogers had on his program. One of mutual respect and admiration.

Then it occurred to me. Each of us is responsible for creating this neighborhood. It is in not only teaching the fundamentals that were taught to children on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, but even more importantly, living them. Include people who are different. Learn about them and their culture. Not with a motive to judge, but to understand and appreciate. Learn to respect those whose opinions may be different than those of your own. Learn new skills, sing songs and yes, learn what to do when you are mad. A great way might be to check out some episodes of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Yes, the program was made for children, but the values are just as important, if not more, to adults of today’s world.

Many will say this is wishful thinking. They will argue how much difference can one person spreading kindness and compassion make in a world of people spreading hate and judgement. Can you imagine what a difference it would make if every ‘one person’ who was told that would have taken action? There are roughly 8 billion people on this planet. Can you imagine what it would be like if even 1 out of every 10 decided to indulge in random acts of kindness? Think of the ripple effect and how many people that would affect? Do you know where it starts? It all starts here and with you. Be that one person. Start that ripple effect. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Create your own neighborhood.

ANOTHER WAY TO BEAT LIFE’S CHALLENGES

Last post we talked about the frustration of road construction and how we can view it differently. I am going to share another method for not being set back by life’s little challenges. This great and power secret (which really isn’t a secret at all) is to find the humor in the situation. Like the meme I found above in regards to road construction signs. I never thought about how the ‘end road work’ sign could sound like a protest. It made me laugh out loud when I read it. Guess what happens every time I pass one of these signs? You guessed it, I chuckle to myself. This is particularly good because I am usually just leaving some road construction I have just driven through.

Steve Rizzo calls this ‘getting in touch with your humor being’. He says that when stuck in traffic he talks like the lion from Wizard of Oz. Why? Because it makes everything more humorous. What if you picked your favorite comedian and tried to imagine the situation through their eyes? I find Groucho Marx works good for this, but that is a personal preference. What about a famed explorer? How about a television reporter who is covering your situation? A narrator in the movie of your life? “Margie looked down at the floor to discover the bag of powdered sugar she was carrying had left a trail showing where she had been.” Does this sound a little absurd or insane to you? Good! Life can be both a little absurd and insane. Go with it.

Doing this does two very important things for us. First, it adds something to laugh at. The more time you spend smiling and laughing in life, the better your life is. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it reduces the amount of stress in a situation. It may even transform it into a situation that causes you to laugh. Do you know what you call a life that has less stress and more laughter? A better one! Who would not want a less stressful, more joyful life? I know I would!

I will continue to search for the humor in life. Lucky for me, and for all of us, life is constantly supplying us with situations full of humor if we are looking for them. I have a lady that also supplies a great deal of humor. If you are not so blessed as to have a spouse who does the same, there are plenty of ways to add humor to your life. You can add an app to your phone that sends a joke a day. Perhaps get a group of friends together that look for funny signs. That way you all are working to bring humor to the group. What about a funny day by day calendar? How about joining a humorous social media page? The more ways you find humor in life, the more ways YOU win!

THE RIGHT KIND OF LABOR

Today is a day where we are scheduled to take a well-deserved break from our labors. I think this is important. It is also helpful to recognize all of the sacrifices those before us have made to create the safe working conditions we now enjoy. As we are contemplating all of this, may I humbly suggest another thought to consider? If you are looking to have a fulfilling and successful life, one way to assure that, is to find a need and fill it. If you can help enough people get what they want, they will help you get what you want.

Today, I suggest we spend a moment thinking of how our labors can best serve others. No matter what your occupation, it helps serve others. A focus on that aspect can not only help improve our performance, but also help us stay motivated and understand what a difference we make. If you are not content with the way your current occupation serves the greater good, perhaps you can pursue a passion on the side that is more in line with your values? You may find yourself switching occupations all together! If the world needs anything, it is more people pursuing their passions and doing their best to serve others. How can you do this?

WHAT WE CAN DO ON A BAD DAY

Bad days, we all have them. Certainly, there are things we can do to minimize the possibility of one occurring, but there are just too many variables for us to contend with. One thing we have complete control over is the state of mind and attitude that we bring to each day. We all know people who can face the worst circumstances and have it bounce off of them like nothing ever happened. There are people who seem to turn every disadvantage to a learning and growing experience. Wouldn’t it be great to be one of those people?

We can! It only takes working on one thing – our attitude. We cannot know what variables are coming our way, nor can we hope to control them all. Trying to control every aspect of our lives, which often includes the lives and opinions of others, will drive us crazy. Just ask any micromanager. All we can control is our attitude towards life and its challenges. The way we do this is to surround ourselves with inspiring things such as calendars, screen savers and pictures. We also listen to empowering things on our daily commute. We read inspiring material. It is even more powerful if we do so to begin our day.

If you want to be a person who does not fall victim to every challenge in life, forget working on controlling everything. Switch your focus on controlling just one thing – your attitude.