WHAT I LIVE BY

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This is, by far, my favorite quote. It is a lesson I find we should all live by. There are two ways I enjoy looking at this quote. The first one is about ‘walking the walk’. One of the worst things we can see is someone who professes one thing, but then does another. If you want your life to be filled with less drama, but you spend your afternoon writing on social media about how filled with drama everyone else is, you are only adding to that. If you want the world to have less drama, start with yourself. There is only one person that we can have complete control over in this world and that is ourselves.

That brings me to the second way in which I enjoy this quote, as sense of hope. This is why I am writing what I do today. For those of you unfamiliar with my story, it was at the depths of darkest despair that my journey of positivity started. I was facing many negative situations in my personal life and was desperately seeking a solution from outside of myself. Everywhere I looked it seemed as if I saw one negative thing after another. The newspaper was full of negative news meant to sell and shock. The evening news on television was more of the same. I saw posts on social media that were certainly less than inspiring.

All of this negativity everywhere was not only frustrating, but had me enraged at times. It may be how some of you feel. I felt angry at politicians and celebrities that seemed to have no regard for human decency. The media only reporting these stories caused more frustration. Seeing people treating each other with hate and prejudice made me so mad.

I wanted to change governments to be more responsible and caring towards the people they serve and less driven by profit. I wanted celebrities to use their fame and position for good. It would also be nice for more of them to respect the people that allowed them to achieve that status. I wanted more people to live in light and love and treat each other with respect and compassion.

Do I still want all of these things? Absolutely. The difference is I decided to be that change. I joined political causes I believe brought about unity and positive change. I made sure I did my best to be an example of treating people with respect and compassion. Daily I work to spread positive news and keep the negative things I hear to myself. I wished more men acted as gentleman, so I do my best to treat my lady as I want to see all men treat theirs. In every way I strive to lead by example. I realized the best thing I could do to reduce the amount of negative people in the world was not be one of them.

What change do you wish to see in the world? Ask yourself honestly, do you embody that change? It may seem like changing yourself is only a small change, but doing so has caused several big changes in my own life. First, by focusing on being positive and not adding to the negative, I have felt more positive myself. I have attracted into my life people who have the same goals and aspirations as I do. Changing yourself has a ripple effect that touches the lives of so many others. If every one of us focused solely on being the change we wished to see in the world, the world we see would change.

MASTER THE FUNDAMENTALS

Recently I was asked a very good question. “Neil, do you ever get angry or depressed?” Reading my material it would be easy to assume I am floating through life on a cloud, and to be honest, that is my general state of being. This is only possible because of the two decades of research and work in the self-improvement field, and even more so because of the continued work I do on improving myself.

There are days, however, that emotions get the best of me. Being an author and speaker does not make me immune to the trials life gives us all. In fact, 2017 might have been the single most trying year of my adult life. One dislocated shoulder, 3 cars, 4 funerals and 3 eulogies makes for a year you would rather not repeat.

A better question to ask is what difference all of this self-improvement work makes when life gives you a challenge. The difference it makes is that the tough times do not last as long, and generally become less intense. When you are focused on increasing the passion and joy you feel in life, you are not focused on anger and sadness.

There are days when both emotions creep up on even the best of us. Just last Saturday I woke up feeling very sad and I couldn’t even figure out why. Talk about frustrating. Here is what made the difference, fundamentals. The picture for this post is of one of my favorite philosophers, Fred Rogers. People always get a chuckle when I mention that, but he was a master of the fundamentals. Such as the title in the picture, “What do you do with the mad that you feel?” How many adults do not have a constructive way of dealing with anger? Quite a few I would say.

Having mastered the fundamentals of what works to calm you down and help you focus when you are angry, or cheer you up and change your focus when you are sad, makes a big difference. These tools can vary from person to person, but should be thought of and practiced before sadness strikes. When you are angry or depressed, you are most likely not in your most constructive and creative mindset. Having developed these tools ahead of time takes the thinking out of the situation which can be very helpful when you are in a state of high negative emotion. Like I tell people at my seminars, the time to learn to swim is on the shore, not when the boat is sinking.

Personally, I have a playlist of songs (you can also burn a CD of songs) that make me happy. I am constantly updating this list as I hear new songs and think of ones I have forgot. I also have a list of movies that make me laugh, places I enjoy going and even people I enjoy talking to. Being able to just push play and hear music to help me change my state, or grab a list of movies and pop one in and be taken away to somewhere happier for two hours without having to think about it has helped me more often than I can think of.

There are lots of other tools that make a big difference. I have a lot of them in my book, A Happy Life for Busy People and at my live seminars. The important thing to remember is that a lot of these should be set up and practiced daily to help you avoid falling into that state. When it can’t be helped, or when life just gets the better of you, then you will have tools you know work and have already practiced. You will have learned to swim on the shore.

One more thing I should mention makes a big difference, your posse. That being the people you surround yourself with on a daily basis. Make sure there are people in your life that know what makes you tick. Even if you have all of the tools, sometimes when you are in an especially dark place, or just one of those funks you can’t get out of they can help you remember what makes you happy even when you can’t. Last Saturday, I spoke with both my beautiful lady Margie, and my good friend Russ. Both of these people know me better than I know myself on occasion. They helped to remind me of what is important to me and what I should be focused on. Having a supportive network of encouraging and loving people can make the biggest difference.

A TOUGH DAY

Did you ever have a moment where you looked in the mirror and did not like who you saw staring back at you? I had just one of these days last Sunday. The ironic thing is I love my life. I really do. I have an amazing lady, first of all. She is beautiful, smart, silly, funny and very loving. I have amazing friends that are loyal and caring. I have a great passion that allows me to share my passion of improving life and by doing so hopefully help and inspire some of you.

So what gives? If all of this is true, and it is, why did I feel so bad this past Sunday? Even those of us who are far along the path of working on ourselves run into this from time to time. At the risk of getting too personal. Just was not liking my look that night, was frustrated with not being able to reach and help more people. I left feeling unattractive and like a failure. Now some logical reflecting could have changed that. Obviously if I have a very attractive lady I must be attractive to at least her which is all that matters to me. This blog is followed in over 70 different countries so even if I don’t always hear about it I am at least reaching a fair amount of people and hopefully affecting them in a positive way. Still all of these conclusions might have well been locked in a secret vault buried deep in the remote parts of the arctic for me to see in my current emotional state.

The million dollar question then is how did I discover this answer and begin to turn my state around. Thankfully I have developed tools on my own and learned from some of the great spiritual and motivational masters that I put into use. Even these, however, were not all available at the location both geographically and emotionally that I was at. No, what I did have is something else I continue to learn and treasure – great friends. First, when I excused myself to ‘get some fresh air’ my friend Pat, came up to me and just let me know he was there for me. Let me know that he cared and did not like to see me upset. I wrote about Pat in an earlier blog as an example of what a great man should be. On this evening he just provided yet another example. Then my good friend Bret could see through me and inquired what was wrong. Confiding in a vague way Bret first provided some verbal reassurance, but also followed it with a wonderfully supportive text.

Last, and certainly not least was my beautiful Margie. At the time we happened to be DJing a show, which for the record is not the perfect place to be overwhelmed with depressing feelings of self-doubt, she began healing me in ways only she knows how. First of all, she expressed her frustration with how I was feeling. At first blush this really didn’t seem to help at all, but as the night went on and I realized by expressing that she was actually showing me how much she thought of me and how difficult it was for her to understand how I was feeling. Then, she finished the show on her own, treating the people to her special form of DJ magic and allowing me to just take some deep breaths. When we got home she lovingly explained how she felt about me and did something that makes me love her so much. She began to use things that I teach in helping me. I recall her saying to me “You don’t like how your writing and speaking is coming along? Then change it!”. She was, of course, right. If you are depressed or frustrated with your current situation the best way to turn those feelings around is through massive action to change that situation. She also provided me some wonderful ideas to do so and pledged her commitment to be by my side through it all.

In looking back I realize there was many great blessings in this tough day. One, I was able to see the benefit of taking care of your friends and being a good friend. Two, I was able to feel the gratitude for the amazing friends and divine woman I have in my life. Finally, I was able to increase my motivation to carry my message to as many people as I can and will be announcing the first of my new seminars for 2017 soon. As a bonus I was also able to see how powerful the things we learn and share on this site work.

So if you are having a bad day, know that each has a host of blessings and to just hang in there, the light at the end of the tunnel may be you.

THE GRAND SOLUTION

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We all have times when life seems to be handing us lemons.  Sometimes we can even question the purpose or meaning of it all.  I know there are even times when we can feel useless.  I know, I’ve been there myself.  There is a grand solution that can not only help is during these times,  but help others,  and the world at large.

What is this solution?  Before I tell you exactly let me assure you that everyone has access to this solution.  In fact, the worse your life seems to be or the more unpleasant things you have been through the better you will be at this. OK enough of the hype, what is this solution that will help everyone including ourselves?

Altruism, that is helping others.  If this sounds like an additional effort or some new age idea it really isn’t.  It is easier than you may think and can be backed up by science.  Allow me to explain.  One of the best ways to help others is by sharing our story, our natural talents or just things we enjoy. Recently I have become friends with a wonderful lady named Ann. She shared with me some of her life experiences and asked me what direction she should go in.  After only a few minutes of learning about her it was clear Ann had a lot to share.  She overcame a weight issue,  cared for a love one and learned a lot about health and fitness.  I’m excited to say she is now sharing her story at AnnieOrganic her own website.
My beautiful lady Margie is another example of this.  Her talents are too many to number and she is always eager to put them to good use.  Whether she is making a cake for someone’s celebration,  jewelry to compliment an outfit, or just lending a comforting ear to someone who needs it she is happy to share what she knows and help teach others.

So what if your thinking “I don’t have that kind of talent” trust me everyone has something.  Have you every overcame a hardship in your life?  Then you can share how you did it. Ever suffer a painful experience?  Then you can comfort others and assure them they are not alone.  Have a hobby you enjoy?  Consider teaching others or joining a like minded group.

What does all this accomplish and how does it work?  By helping others we give our life meaning and get outside of ourselves.  It also helps us better understand ‘there is a reason for everything’ when seemingly negative things happen in your life,  you will nite find yourself asking “how can I use this? ” and understand even in just sharing your experience can bring a sense of comfort and peace to someone else.
So next time life seems to be getting the better of you,  get out and find a way to help someone else. Let’s face it, the world needs more of that.

TAKE BACK CONTROL!

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Last post we talked about not holding on to negative emotions. The easiest way to do this is to not have too many of them in the first place. Easier said than done right? After all how can we help how our family, boss, coworker or even spouse treats us? We can’t tell them “I’m trying to live a more positive life, could you please not act like a jerk?” OK we could tell them that, but not with very positive results.

So how do we limit the effect that other people’s actions have on us? This can be done by asking two very simple questions. I suggest you write them down on a small piece of paper and carry them with you for when such an event takes place.

The first question is this, “what else can this mean?” Quite often the answer can be the other person is just a jerk or has just treated you poorly. Which again is on them and not you. What others do is their business, how we react is ours. So look for a deeper meaning? Often they are hurting and may be expressing that hurt in a very unproductive way or in other words taking it out on you. Another popular thing to note is that often anger is a cry for help. Hearing your spouse say “If you ever stopped playing golf long enough to do something else” may be their way of saying “I would really enjoy spending more time with you” Which brings us to the next item. Sometimes they are bringing to our attention some aspect of our character that could use some work. This is often hard to see if done hurtfully, but ask yourself if there may be a ring of truth to what they are saying? Could you improve a little bit in that area?

The second question we should ask is “How can I use this?” Turn their hurtful emotions to your benefit. Can you use it as positive motivation? Can you use it to learn something about them or even you? Perhaps you can just use it as practice to control your emotions or practice forgiveness?

Either way, understanding we can control our emotions by asking two simple questions “What else can this mean?” and “How can I use this?” Will certainly give control to us.

If you still get upset or hurt see our last post on the power of forgiveness and how it is truly a gift we give to ourselves.

IN OUR DARKEST DAYS

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Quite often we find ourselves in a situation we cannot see the good in. Why did this happen? Try as we might we are unable to see the light in the darkness. What to do then? Just accept the fact that life sucks at the moment? If you know anything about me personally I believe feeling what we perceive as negative emotions can be a great learning experience as long as we choose not to live there. So after some head scratching and maybe even a few colorful words what should we do? Take a look around. See what we still have in our lives that haven’t left us. Maybe it is our faith? Maybe it is even our job obligations? Sounds weird, but when we feel on the outside of life looking in, knowing that our job needs and expects us to be there can go from a burden to a blessing.

Here is another great thing to look at. Who is still there. We have all had moments in our lives when things are not going our way. The worst times I can think of is when we don’t live up to our own standard and let those we care about down. Take a look around and see who is still there. They always say you can only see the stars when it is the darkest. Ask yourself, who are the stars in my life? Who shines the brightest when I am at my darkest. be thankful for them. Use the down periods to be grateful for what is left, then focus on reclaiming what you want to be.

A FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION…

This is by far the question I am asked the most often in regards to both this blog and my upcoming book. “How can I remain happy when my loved one passed away/I was diagnosed with a serious illness/I was just fired” you name it. In fact, the day after I started this blog a woman who had all of those and them some asked me that very question. Now, at the time I was a bit overwhelmed by the screaming in her tone to answer. Even though her delivery was debatable, her question is a very valid one. Judging by how many times I am asked that question in one form or another first let me assure you that you are not alone. Everyone in life faces struggles. When it comes to death of a loved one, or serious and terminal illness, often a very serious struggle. So what them Mr. Smiley? What do we do then? In short – you cry. What kind of advice is that coming from a blog like this? An honest one. Let me start by again stating the goal of this blog, and of life in general is not to be happy one hundred percent of the time. Not only is this unrealistic, it also sets us up for feelings of failure. The idea behind self improvements is to make the good parts of life more intense and frequent and the trying times less frequent and less intense.

Look sometimes life gives us a little more than we can handle. Whether it be at work when you feel so overwhelmed being unemployed and homeless seems like a less stressful plan, or something more serious happens to bring us down, you have a right to feel sad. Pain is one of the most powerful tools of change and growth IF it is looked at in just such a light. A perfect example of this was given to me by a friend I know from the bar I work at, Tina. Recently she had a family member pass away. this is never an enjoyable experience for anyone. Listening to Tina’s story about the event I was struck by just what an empowered and inspirational view this woman took. Yes, she cried. When we lose someone we care about it is expected we should feel sad. Yet, she remarked how amazing it was to learn not only about the woman who has passed on, but about the rest of her family as well. She heard exciting stories from the past and learned things about her family she had not known. She told me there was as much celebration of life, if not more, than morning of loss. It gave her pride in not only the way she dealt with her grief, but the way her family did as well. I really got the feeling listening to her that is drew her family closer as well. it also inspired her to take a long hard look at her own spiritual beliefs. Again, sometimes pain is the best catalyst to growth. If given the choice I am sure Tina would have chosen not to go through that event. She understood all to well the realities of life. Sadness and grief should be given their respect and time. They can cause us to look inside, to grow and to reflect. If you have taken the steps to add joy to your life, when darkness does come, you will be better prepared to focus on and find the light at the end.