IF IT ISN’T 1 THING…

Here I sit at Starbucks writing my second book (and presently this blog post). You will notice a copy of my first book on the right, and a double espresso and a green tea on the left. In addition there is a card from my lovely lady that encourages me. I keep in in my keyboard so the first thing that enters my mind as I begin to write is the wonderful lady I have at home. It also helps me stay connected with her as writing, even in a crowded coffee shop, is a fairly solitary endeavor.

This is not a story about coffee, or even the wonderful lady I have in my life…well…kind of. The title of the book I am working on is called Living the Dream. It has been in the works for roughly 3 years. A good portion of it is complete, but there still seems to be some work to do. Allow me to share with you something I have learned in the creation of this book. One of the biggest secrets to living the dream is understanding you already do. What on earth does that mean? Look at my set up, I have a laptop, coffee, tea, a woman who loves me and I am working on my dream of helping to inspire the world. All of this is a dream come true.

Let us spin this a different way. It may also be said after two decades in the self-improvement field which has included writing a book, writing posts on a website five days a week for over 5 years, appearances on several podcasts and radio and television shows, book signings, author festivals and live seminars. After all of this I am still not close to where I want to be. This is all true as well and I must confess is my outlook more often than it should be.

The secret is looking at life the first way. At this point you may very well be thinking “Neil, this sounds like one of those ‘glass half full’ speeches!” In a way you would be right. Both situations are true, but depending on which one we focus on life has an entirely different feeling and flavor. When we focus on what we have we tend to feel more abundant and joyful. When we focus on what we lack we feel depressed and poor. A successful life is about feeling good. If you find yourself thinking it is more about the fancy cars, big house and large bank account you are only partly right. Why do we want those things after all? It is for the feelings they will give us. The fancy cars may make us feel powerful, the big house significant and the large bank account may give us a sense of freedom or at the very least security. There is nothing wrong with the goal of having all of those, but what if you could work on developing the feelings they would give you while you pursue them.

Think of this, if your emotional well-being is tied to material objects or situations than it can disappear as quick as it came. Maybe even quicker. While you are saving up for the fancy car and big house perhaps you can begin to feel significant by creating joy in the lives of others. While looking to better yourself financially, find security in the relationships of your family and friends. What good are all of the ‘things’ in life if by the time you have them you have no peace and joy in your heart to enjoy them?

By all means write down your goals. Get an image of that car or house. Start your vision board to help create that reality. It will keep you moving forward and give purpose to your life. While you are doing that do not forget to find joy in the process and stay grateful for that which you do have. We spend most of our lives in the journey if we can enjoy that it makes the destinations that much more rewarding when we get there.

WRITE YOUR OWN EULOGY 

I promised you a powerful activity and here it is. A while back i recorded a very powerful video you can watch by clicking the link at the end of this post. Today we are going to revisit the principles discussed in that video. 

If you have spent a fair amount of time on this planet you have no doubt heard a eulogy. Maybe you have even had to write and deliver one yourself? One fact of life is this, when it comes to the end whether you are Bill Gates or a man who lives under a bridge, when you die someone will say something about you. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, black, white or any other color of the rainbow. It doesn’t matter what faith you follow. When you pass on words will be said to describe your life. 

Now this may come across as a dark or morbid thought to many of you. To me, it is just a fact. If you were to leave this planet tonight what would they say about you? What would you, and your life, be known for? Is it what you would want to be known for? Have you done what you wanted to with your life? 

If we are honest, most of us, to some extent would have to answer ‘no’ to some degree. There is always more we would like to do and accomplish. There are lives we would like to touch and things we would like to be remembered for. What would you like your legacy to be? This is a question we don’t spend a good deal pondering. Death is a subject rarely discussed and just as rarely thought of except at funerals. 

As uncomfortable as the thought of our own mortality is, it can serve as a great motivator. There is a Native American saying that goes “today is a good day to die.” Meaning we should live life so that if we should pass away today our soul would be at peace.

A great way to accomplish all of this is to write our own eulogy. When my day comes and people are gathered around remembering Neil, what would I like them to be saying? Sit down and think about that. Write down what you would like to hear about you and your life. Chances are you will not have done, or even be that kind of person yet. Knowing what you want to be remembered for will certainly help you gain clarity and motivation to get there. 

Doing this exercise will change your life. I encourage you to do it and feel free to share what you discovered and how it impacted you. 

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO 

WHAT MOTIVATES ME

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Some things in life are oddly simple yet go completely unaware. Take the issue of personal motivation. Different things motivate different people. There are people who do things for money. There are people who do things to feel significant. The “carrot” is different for everyone.

Allow me, if you will, to share my personal story and then we will look at how we can apply this to our lives and use it to make them even more amazing.

Much like some of you, what motivates me has changed through the years as I have grown older and hopefully matured. What really motivates me now is making a difference in people’s lives as well as the world as a whole. Being able to see that is what keeps me writing. Do not misunderstand me, book royalties, and speaking fees sure are nice, but when I read a comment online about how what I have written impacts someone’s life or hear from someone one in person who shares their story with me that is why I continue to work so hard at researching and bringing you the best tools to reduce stress, increase joy and become the best versions of ourselves. If I were to make a great fortune doing this and never know that it make a difference there would be no motivation for me to continue.

How does all this affect our lives and how can we use it to improve our lives? Staying motivated daily can give us energy to accomplish great things in our lives, the lives of others and the world we all share. How do we manage to stay motivated, especially on the really tough days? There are a few simple steps taken with some inner reflection that can have us waking up with more energy and vitality than ever before.

The first step is where the inner reflection comes into play. Figure out what is our principle motivation in life. Do we work just for the money? Chances are if you reflect on this for a while the answer is not so cut and dry. Perhaps you work for the freedom the money affords you. The freedom to purchase what you want, or do want you want. Maybe you work because the money allows you to support your family? I was speaking to a friend of mine who has spent their entire life as a server in the restaurant industry. A lot of people would either ask him why he didn’t try to “go further in life” or consider him a failure. When I asked him why he stayed in the hospitality field in the role of a server his answer was simple. He told me he likes the impact he can have on people’s lives. He makes very decent money, but to him that was not what was important. When you do this exercise I suggest grabbing a pen and a piece a paper. Write down what is important to you.

Now that have our motivation a little more clear, what do we do with it? Find a way to make it measurable. This can often be tricky, especially with the less material. How do you measure the job you are doing taking care of your family? Sometimes giving yourself a ‘grade’ or rating yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 can help. Maybe illicit the help of others. Ask your spouse how good of a partner you are doing. Being honest with yourself here helps. If there happens to be a day you think you did not live up to your own standards, use that for motivation.

Here is the third and final step, put more of what motivates you into your life. Some of that has been accomplished with the second step, but find ways to take it further. In my personal example I encourage others frequently to offer their input on my writing. This post and letting people know that hearing from them and learning how my writing impacts their life is what motivates me will help. Also, knowing the more my writing improves, the greater the chance that I will write something that will touch someone keeps me working to improve my writing. Knowing that I can help someone enjoy their life more and bring a smile to their face and heart motivates me to research more ways of doing just that so I can share them with all of you.

I would love to hear what motivates you and how you plan to include more of that in your life. When we do we wake up with a drive and sense of purpose that makes life a lot more fun to live!

YOU MAY NOT WANT TO HEAR THIS

“The rich get richer,while the poor get poorer”.  How many of us have heard this saying before? Lord knows I must have heard it a million times growing up. Not to inspiring especially if you find yourself in the latter of the two categories. It doesn’t sound fair does it?

It would be great if I were here to tell you that isn’t true, or some secret method to beat the system, but I am not. In fact, quite the opposite. I am here to show you how this is not only true in the world of finance but in most other areas as well. Great you might be thinking, just what I need to hear today. Do not become discouraged. Knowledge is potential power and what you are going to learn here today is something that you can use to your advantage. It will not change much of what you may be doing to improve any area of your life by itself.

So why read any further? What are we going to learn here today and how will it serve us? We are going to learn why the axiom above is true in so many areas of life and how we can use that to increase our drive and commitment to obtain our goals. We will learn why that skinny person at the gym barely has to brake a sweat and we just look at a slice of pizza and gain a pound. Why they can workout 30 minutes and stay as fit as a fiddle, while we can spend our whole day in the gym and not notice a single improvement. We will also learn why that happy person in the office just manages to stay bubbly even if the world is falling down around them and how stress just seems to pass them by while we feel like we are dragging a lead weight behind us.

I am going to start with the fitness example first, but as you will see they are actually all interchangeable. I am working out at the gym, because like some of you I cannot say ‘no’ to any slice of pizza offered my way. While doing so I listen to different things to inspire me and keep me moving when my body is begging to quit. One of those things is videos by the late Greg Plitt, who was a fitness model as well as a great motivator. He taught me something I never knew and always wondered. I am going to share it with you here because unless you are really into fitness this may also be news to you. So why does that person who is already fairly fit not have to work as hard to maintain that level of fitness as do those of us who are trying to obtain it? It has to do with Muscle verses fat. Fat is stored energy and does not require the effort by the body to burn as does muscle. At first this sounded great I don’t have to work as hard to burn fat? Not quite. What this means is to move muscle and fiber requires more effort and calorie usage than moving fat. Meaning if a fit person and a person who is not so fit walk a mile at the same pace the fit person will actually burn more calories. Not before you succumb to the urge to knock the skinny person off the treadmill in front of you let me explain what this means. As we continue to get more in shape our ability to burn calories efficiently will also continue to improve. It is like trying to mold clay. When you first start and the clay is cold the clay is not easily molded. As the we keep working the clay and it heats up the rate in which we are able to shape it also increases. While this may seem to really suck as we begin a fitness routine, it may also keep us in the gym well past when most people quit because they are not seeing results.

Ok, so what does this have to do with living an amazing life and maintaining a positive attitude? Plenty! The same principle applies. A lot of people tell me “It is easy for you to not let things get you down because you are so positive”. In a way that is true, but it was not always that way. As the years went by and I have practiced a lot of the principles I teach on this site, at seminars and in my book A Happy Life for Busy People I began, in essence, to build my positivity muscle. Through practices like being grateful and asking how I can use challenges I learned to be more positive and as a result more resilient. So, the more positive you are, the easier it is to remain positive in the face of challenges.

Here is what we have discovered. The rich get richer, the fit have and easier time staying so and being positive helps you stay the way when the world throws you a curve ball. This news may not seem that great if you are financially challenged, overweight or negative. Again, knowledge is potential power, so what you do with this information is up to you. You can let it get you down, or provide proof the world is stacked against you. You can also use it to keep you chasing your fitness goals knowing the more you help your body, the more it will help you. You can use it to work on developing that positive and grateful attitude now so when you face a challenge in life you are better prepared.

All this will not happen overnight. Knowing that once you get to the tackle any challenge it will be easier to maintain those results than it was to achieve them should keep us all pushing.

THE RICH GET RICHER . ..

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We have all heard this expression, “the rich get richer while the poor get poorer”. This works for a lot of different situations other than money. At first glance this may seem and sound unfair, but upon closer examination it is actually very helpful.

This was brought home by a conversation I had with a new coworker of mine. We were discussing his online classes and he mentioned how one teacher only dictated and there was no interaction. I asked him what he liked least about that. What he told me really got me thinking. He said the part he liked least was the inability to perceive emotion. He said the lesson could really be interpreted differently depending on what mood he was in. He then gave me the example of how if someone sends you and email and you open it in an anger mood some of what they say could seem confrontational where the same email opened in a pleasant mood would not draw those same conclusions.

Here is the interesting part of all this. The same is true on the opposite side. What really is powerful is the fact that this is a self-fulfilling lifestyle. What do I mean about this? Let us play this situation out. You wake up in a bad mood. You start the day by checking your emails. A friend sent you an email letting you know they can’t make the dinner you had planned later in the week. Great you think, he can’t even call me? You feel a little rejected. You grab your coffee and go off to work. “Damn why can’t the car be warm already?” you find yourself thinking. My coffee won’t stay warm for long you think. You begin to think about everything you dislike your job. Suddenly you just want to turn around and go back home to bed. By the time you reach work you are in a less than pleasant state. As you walk in a coworker greets you with a nod. “can’t even say good morning?” Nobody has time for being pleasant you say. This is just the beginning of your day.

Now let’s look at the opposite. You wake up after a good nights sleep in a pleasant mood. You start your day by checking your emails. A friend sent you an email to let you know they can’t make it to the dinner you planned next week. Nice of them to let me know and not just show up, you think. I really must plan something with Joe you say. Feeling grateful your friend let you know ahead of time. You leave feeling thankful for having such considerate friends. You grab your coffee and head off to work. “Damn it’s cold out here, glad I have a car to drive to work” As your driving you are thankful for your hot coffee until the car warms up. By the time you reach work you are feeling pretty good about how many amazing things you have in your life. A coworker greets you with a nod. “Nice he noticed me” you think. feeling you have friendly coworkers. This is just the beginning of your day.

Notice, none of the situations on the outside changed. Just your perception of them and how they made you feel. This may seem extreme to you but it really is not. Being in a bad mood does more than just color your view of the world, it also may cause you to miss out on certain opportunities that may present themselves or friendships that may be available. This is why some of the most successful people tend to be the happiest. It is not because they are grateful they have everything it is because they are grateful for everything they have! This is why it is important to foster an attitude of gratitude and happiness as soon as we are able. Feel free to use the tools presented in this blog as well as discover your own. Also feel free to share any you have in comments below for other readers.

This is why the happy tend to get happier. If you enjoy what you read here please feel free to let us know and to share this with all of your friends.

WHAT ARE YOU PAYING FOR?

“Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing”

-Albert Einstein

So we featured a quote from this famous physicist in yesterday’s post, but this one was a little hard to pass up. What does this exactly mean to living a rewarding life? Let us look at some of the most expensive things we spend money on and in essence what we get out of them. One of things a lot of money people spend money on are status symbols. Fancy cars, giant yachts, expensive jewelry, trips to the spa and other such items to pamper and spoil us. Why do we do these things? Well we do them for all the same reason. At first it may seem hard to believe that we will buy a sports car for the same reason we get a massage but it is true. We buy them all just to have a feeling. Whether it is one of accomplishment, importance or peace of mind they are all just feelings. Now I am a big fan of symbols and what they can bring to our lives. So I am not saying that you should not reward yourself or have things that make you feel good. By all means, use those things to motivate yourself. The important part is to understand the feelings that you are chasing with those objects. If owning that fancy car you have always dreamed of will make you feel like you have truly accomplished something in your life that by that car. Notice though that feeling doesn’t strike when you turn the keys for the first time or even when you sign the title. No the feeling usually comes over you on the way to the dealership when you know the car is yours and that you are now the proud owner of a feeling of accomplishment as well as a pretty hot ride. Notice you cannot have the car without first having the feeling. So I say while chasing the dream of the car, the new house, the unicorn whatever it is you are chasing chase that feeling as well. After all it is not the object that is why you have accomplished something. A lottery winner could buy ten of them and all they have accomplished was buying the right ticket. No, practice celebrating the feeling daily when you can. If you celebrate your small accomplishments soon they will lead to even greater ones and before you know it you will be picking me up in your new car to celebrate!