DAY 4 AND STAYING POSITIVE!

Today in the United States we celebrate our country’s independence. My condolences to my friends in Great Britain. This is also the fourth day of our week of posting nothing negative and at least one thing positive. There are so many things I wish to focus on today. To keep this short we are going to stay focused on the world independence.

One of the phrases I have been reciting for years now is, “There is no law of physics that states your mind and your body have to be in the same place and the same time.” On any given day this is no doubt used to help me make it through a situation I would rather not be in. A long tough day at work, using a gas station rest room, stuck in line behind someone of questionable hygiene or a million other circumstances I could find myself in. It takes a little imagination and a lot of effort to try and convince yourself the toilet at the local petrol station is really a beach chair in Fiji, but it can be done.

These days when many of us can find our travel options restricted at best, nonexistent at worst, the freedom of independent thought is something that can’t be over looked! We may be under some form of quarantine, but our mind and our thoughts are not! We are still free to dream, to create and to use our amazing imaginations to soar as we please. As we wait for the day when we can all enjoy cocktails on a beach near the ocean, we can all plan, watch videos on YouTube and maybe even reflect on past vacations. Our focus greatly determines our emotional state. Let me repeat that for those who may have missed it – Our focus greatly determines our emotional state.

If we focus on all of the things that we cannot do as we wait for everything to be sorted out we will find ourselves in a miserable state. The great thing is we don’t have to! We have independence of thought! That is a miracle of the human mind. It may also be a miracle of the animal mind, but they can’t read so this blog does not pertain to them. We can change our focus to what these restrictions are giving us time to do. We can organize that area of our house we claim we never have time for. We can begin to write that book we always knew we had inside us but never had the time to focus on. We can focus on the things we can do. Personally, I have enjoyed spending more time in nature and reading great new books! Take advantage of your independence of thought. It is a great gift and something positive!

DAY 3 OF THE JULY WORLD-CHANGING CHALLENGE!

Today is one of those positive things that just come to you, or in this case me. My day started out like any other, waking up early to go to the gym. On this fine morning I had to get up a little earlier than normal to get my workout in. I had to stop at the mechanic as my battery in my Ford Escape had seemed to have broken free of its confines. I made it to the mechanic with time for them to look at it and still make it to my day job at the United States Postal Service. Fortunately for me, the repair only took a matter of minutes and they were able to correct the problem for the moment.

While this was good on one hand, it left me with too much time to go to work, but not enough time to go back home. I decided I would visit the Starbucks that is conveniently located next to the Post Office I work at. I parked and began to walk up. There were two young ladies already sitting outside enjoying the sunny day. They informed me that only seconds before a lady had rushed to the door and taped up a sign that said “Sorry closed” and locked the door. I chuckled thinking to myself, “Perhaps they knew I was coming.” They only other thing open in near proximity was a sandwich shop. I availed myself to one of their delicious offerings and took it outside to sit in the sun. Only moments into enjoying my unplanned lunch, the manager of the now closed coffee shop came out and inquired if I would be interested in a free Nitro coffee. After affirming quickly she disappeared inside again. When she came out she explained that the hot water heater had exploded and the entire store was under water! She knew I was a good customer and wanted to make sure I still got something. Sitting in the hot sun, the cold coffee tasted ever so good.

This was a positive event for several reasons. First, I got a free delicious coffee. You can never go wrong there. Second, it reminded me how important it is to be nice to everyone you encounter. (More on that tomorrow) Had I not been a frequent and nice customer, I doubt there would have been such an offer made. It was also impressive that the manager took the time to think of me while she was busy trying to salvage items in the face of the oncoming flood. I left with a very positive feeling and it was a great start to the rest of my day!

I hope you are having great luck finding one positive thing you can post. Do not forget to share them online and spread the joy this first week of July!

DAY 2 OF OUR FUN JULY CHALLENGE

Day 2 of our challenge! I hope you made it through day 1 without posting anything negative and remembering to share at least one thing positive online. With most of us still quarantined at home, life exists to a greater degree online. Therefore, the positive changes we are making can have an even greater impact.

I have a great deal of positive to share today. I am going to start with this morning. For the last few years I have had a lingering calf issue. I enjoy jogging despite not being built for such endeavors. After a week or two of jogging I would always get a terrible pain in my calf that would last roughly 2 weeks. This on again, off again training did not allow me to get into much of a rhythm. The last time this injury happened I was alone on a local hiking trail here and over a mile from my car. A long painful limp back, plus the fact that it turned black and blue, prompted me to say, “enough is enough!” I went to the doctor only to discover I had a strain and slight tear in my Achilles tendon. Without physical therapy I risked surgery and weeks of being off my feet all together.

All of this may not sound positive to you, but to me it was. Not only did I finally learn what the problem was, I had a plan to correct it. I found myself at the sports medicine center and in the capable hands of Griffin. After several questions and a complete exam, he developed a plan for my recovery. He informed me that in about 4 to 6 weeks I should really be seeing improvement. I was given several exercises to do at home and soon should be running, jumping and playing with the other kids!

The next bit of great news is that I finally have my ‘office’ back. That was a line I borrowed from my good friend Scott. Since March, the coffee shops here have been closed to inside seating. Recently, they just opened up with social distancing practices in place. Although writing at home with a beautiful lady can be fun, it can also be quite distracting. I always want to give her my attention when I am in her presence. When I am by myself in a coffee shop I tend to disappear in my own little writing world. Sometimes this can be quite amusing as I look up and all of the people around me have changed and I was completely unaware. This is not where the good news ends!

Another great thing about today’s visit is the thoughtful nature of my beautiful lady. When she heard that Starbucks was opening she wanted to buy me my first coffee. She presented me with a gift card at lunch the other day. As I am writing this, I can’t help but think of her thoughtfulness. Not to mention she is on my screen saver. Filled with love, writing just seems to flow.

That is 3 pieces of positive news! I have already found myself looking for things to share that are positive. I hope you are having luck finding your positive news. Feel free to share your positive stories in the comments below, but don’t forget to share them online as well!

DAY 1 OF THE 7 DAY JULY CHALLENGE!

Our first day! 7 days, all positivity, no negativity!! Giving our souls a little vacation. If you are just joining us, for the first 7 days of my birth month we are going to 1.) Cease from posting anything negative and 2) post one thing positive each day. By the end of the week we should have raised our vibration and begun to not only change ourselves but the world around us.

Here is mine. It is my sincere desire these 7 days begin to change the narrative. The more we change the focus to that of love and gratitude, we will inspire others to do the same. In turn, perhaps they may go on to share a smile or kind word to another. Thus, creating a ripple effect of kindness.

Can you ‘catch’ love from another person? I think you know the answer to that is yes. How do you feel when someone pays you a genuine compliment? Let’s you know how proud they are of you, or best of all, says they love you. You chest swells a little and joy seems to radiate from within.

The great thing about love, the more we share, the more we create! Putting more love into the world not only creates a more loving world, but a more loving you! Thunk of how you feel when you tell someone how wonderful they are, how proud you are of them or how much you love them? You feel better inside!

That is my positive thought today let us start a pandemic of love and let us share it wherever we can!

YOUR CHALLENGE FOR JULY

Today’s post is a simple one. With all the craziness going on in the world today it can seem overwhelming. Realizing how much we would like to change about the world around us can have us feeling powerless.

It is with that thought in mind that we look at today’s post. July is my birth month (the 29th) and I’m looking to begin to do nothing short of changing the world. To some that may seem a bit extreme, but it really is not. Considering this blog is followed in over 130 countries at last count, I am hoping some of you will join me in my challenge. Share this with your friends and family. If we can get a few people to share this challenge from each country on their social media accounts, we could start a big change that would improve all of our lives!

The picture challenges us to not post anything negative for the first 7 days of July. I am going to take this one step further and encourage you to not only refrain from the negative, but post one thing positive each day. Not sarcastically positive, such as “look my politician is better than yours” kind of thing. No, I mean something truly positive. Something to brighten someone’s, or many someones, day.

As you do,I would love for you to come back each day and share your adventures with me. Each of the 7 day’s I’ll be sharing mine with you. We start tomorrow. We can do this!

IMPROVING YOUR LIFE EASILY? BECOME FAMOUS!

Today’s post is the definition of a secret to an amazing life. Do you remember the movie Pinocchio? In it, Pinocchio has a cricket that served as a representation of his conscious. It would show up and remind him what he should and should not be doing. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have some sort of small friend that would encourage us to act on our best behavior? Someone to not only hold us accountable but to remind us what we should and shouldn’t do? I don’t know about you but I do not have such a voice in my head. In fact, mostly I hear something about eating more pizza and how good a nap would feel right about now. Neither of which do much in the way of self-improvement.

How easy is it to forget about the pledge we made to be healthier? To not act as courteous to others as we should. Perhaps we fail to use our turn signal or leave our shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot. Wouldn’t it be great if there was something that would keep us acting in the best interests of ourselves and humanity at large? The good news is there is such a thing and I have found it. (That is a line I borrowed from Earl Nightingale) Would you like to know what you can do to greatly increase the quality of your daily actions? Would you like to increase your will power with little effort? Be able to stop yourself before you yell at a coworker or store employee who might innocently be unable to help you? All it takes is one simple thought – IMAGINE YOURSELF FAMOUS.

To some of you this may sound ridiculous but hear me out. Think about what happens if a celebrity were to walk in your grocery store. What would happen? Everyone would be watching them. People would probably pull out their cell phones and start filming them. They would be well aware of that. Do you think this person would be likely to steal something from the store? Do you think they would get into a shouting match with their spouse? Probably not. Would they go out looking sloppy and unkempt? Again, the answer would probably be a ‘no’. There seems to be countless news stories of what this actor or this athlete wore when they were out to dinner or even taking out the garbage. Personally, I find these stories rather silly and pointless, but people eat them up. Normally, my thoughts are how terrible that must be to not be able to take out the garbage without someone there taking a picture.

Then I decided how to even put this to use in my life. I would act as if I was famous. Should I bother getting dressed to go out or just grocery shop in my Winne-the-Pooh onesie? When I am really tempted to let that person who lazily left there grocery cart sit 10 feet from the cart corral instead of putting it away know exactly how I feel about that, I imagine people holding up their cell phones filming me. Truth be told, this isn’t a 100% fix. There are times, such as eating a tostada, that you just can’t help looking less that refined.

To some of you this may sound a bit far-fetched. With everyone walking around with cameras in their pockets, if not in their hands, it really isn’t. You do not want to be the guy caught scratching some part of himself he shouldn’t in the produce department. So what? Some person takes a picture or video of you doing something embarrassing or not in your best character. What is the big deal? With the likes of social media and the internet you can be in a video or picture that goes viral. Suddenly, several million people see a video of you scratching your back end with one hand while grabbing a lemon with the other. Then everywhere you go people will point and recognize you. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? It can be even worse for people doing things that are illegal or just plain stupid. So, before you decide to cough on some produce or lick an ice cream container and put it back, remember even if you don’t think so you could be on camera. Doing dumb things like this could not only make you famous for all of the wrong reasons, but could result in criminal charges.

Every time you step out of your house think of how life would be if everyone was watching you. It will definitely keep you acting on your best behavior. After a period of time, this behavior will become your your new normal.

A STRANGE OPPORTUNITY

It amazes me how life presents us opportunities that we routinely miss. Misfortune, challenges and pain. Those are three things nobody likes to have in their life and things that everybody does have in their lives. When you are going through something it is often very hard to see the positive in it. Whether that be a heartbreak, job loss, loss of a loved one or a host of other unpleasant situations, we can put them to use for us and others.

This is the very method I used to put the situation of getting the Coronavirus to work for myself and for others. When we go through something challenging, there are 3 ways in which it can be turned from a negative to a positive. Are you interested? I hope so. If we can turn the negatives in our life into positives, can you imagine how that would improve the quality of our life? It would make it, dare I say, amazing! Let us take a look at them one at a time. By using even one of these 3 secrets we can begin to put life to work for us instead of being at the mercy of life.

The first secret is learning and growing. People have one of two relationships with challenges and failures. Either they view it as the end. They lost. It won’t work. Things such as that. Then there are others who view it as a stepping stone to success. As Thomas Edison continued to fail in his attempts to find something to use as a filament in the light bulb, he remarked, “I have not failed, I just discovered another way not to make a light bulb.” Even something as painful as the loss of a loved one can teach us many things. It can help us discover ways to help us heal our heart. It can deepen our spiritual connection. It can even show us who will be there for us when we are at our lowest. Lessons are most often not fun to learn, but they help us grow and develop more than any other period of our life. We always learn more from our trials than our successes.

The second thing we can do is what today’s picture speaks of. We can inspire others by the way we handle things. When I shared my virus Journey with everyone it helped me as much as I helped others. On the days I did not feel like getting up and writing a post or shooting a video for my YouTube channel, I thought about the people watching my journey. Often, things are not that public.

We can use the fact people are watching us to motivate us. I am always on the lookout for ways I can improve and be the best man I can be in my relationship with my lady Margie. One of the many ways I use to stay motivated is that I remind myself how many people are watching how I treat her. Her family, her children, our friends and even those who might want to take my place in her heart. I would say at least once a week someone comments on our relationship. Usually, these are compliments about how loving we are. To me they serve not only as a reward for working so hard on our relationship, but a reminder that her and I do not live in a vacuum. People are watching.

The last positive thing we want to discuss about challenges is this – it provides you tools. When you go through something it gives you skills you can then use to help others going through the same situation. It gives you credibility. When someone is troubled, they will be more likely to listen to someone who has actually went through what they are going through. Following this equation, the more things you go through in life, the more you can help others. It is almost as if every challenge is a painful gift of sorts.

These three things may not take the pain or feeling of loss out of a situation in the moment, but they will help in time. Here is an added bonus – the more you use these three things, the more they become a part of you. When they become a part of you, the time it takes to go from pain to learning, inspiring and teaching becomes quicker and quicker. In my own life when something bad happens it has become so quick that I catch myself thinking, “Well this sucks but I will be able to use it for something good.” I would love to hear what you use to turn the negatives in your life into positives. The more ideas we share the more we can help each other!

THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS

How many times have you heard, or even said yourself “I’ll be happy when – ” Have you also stopped to notice these people are rarely, if ever, happy? The secret of happiness is this – Happiness is not a journey but a way of traveling. Our life is primarily made up of being on journeys. If we tie our happiness to destinations, which are far and few between, our happiness will be, you guessed it, far and few between. This seems like a foolish way to approach things does it not? That is exactly what you are doing when you say, “I’ll be happy when”

The funny thing is, when most people reach their ‘When’ they are still seldom happy. They either discover the truth in that old adage ‘the grass is not always greener’ or they spend countless wasted time worrying if their ‘when’ may be stolen from them. As you can see in our quote above, when you tie your happiness to a reason, the reason can be taken away from you. We see this when couples separate, jobs are lost or someone passes away. Sure, those are all times to express remorse and be said. What we are saying is do not let your happiness depend on an outside situation.

Instead of looking for a reason to be happy, I suggest looking for every reason to be happy. Here is a personal example of this. Today I went for a walk in the park. I was hoping to find some painted rocks that a group of people hide in the neighborhood. As I walked for the first mile I saw nothing. I noticed I became a bit discouraged. I stopped myself right there. “Are you saying that if you do not find a colored rock you will not be happy?” People walking by began to look at me funny. Not only because I was yelling at someone, but I seemed to be the only one present. Little did they know that was exactly who I was yelling at. When you ask yourself a pointed question like this one, the absurdity of the situation becomes clear.

It was then I began to feel a little foolish. Still not very positive, but better than discouraged. I looked around me. It was a very pleasant day. The sun was just setting behind a baseball diamond where a family was gathered. The temperature was just cool enough to walk without discomfort. Then I looked down and saw a family of ducks. the young ducks seemed to be exploring the park with a keen sense of fun and adventure. I was missing all of this because I was sad I had not found some of the great works of art created by the members of the West Allis Rocks Facebook group.

With an additional spring in my step and enjoying the evening that much more I walked another mile, smiling all the way. A funny note is that although I did not find any rocks as I searched diligently in my first mile, as I just walked and looked around for everything I could happy about in the second mile I found 4 rocks! When you make happiness a way of traveling instead of a destination, great things just seem to happen!

HERE’S YOUR NEW JOB!

As most of you know, I am a big fan of Mr. Fred Rogers. For the younger generation that follow me who may not have ever heard of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, it was a children’s show on public television. On this show Mr. Rogers taught kids very valuable life lessons. Things like how to express your feelings. The importance of maintaining a positive attitude. He also spoke of complicated things like death and divorce. He discussed these topics in a simple way that children could understand them.

In my mind, this had to be a very difficult thing to do. As adults we tend to over complicate nearly everything we do. Taking a complicated subject, such as divorce, and breaking it down to help children understand what is going on takes a lot of work. Mr. Rogers also broke down many barriers before their time. When people of different races were not allowed in the same swimming pool and tensions were high, Mr. Rogers invited his neighborhood friend Officer Clemmons, who is African-American, to soak his feet in the swimming pool with him. They sat and talked. Not about Racism or even the current pool segregation. Instead they talked about how hot it was. When Officer Clemmons remarked he did not have a towel, Mr. Rogers quickly volunteered to share his.

This may not seem like anything so remarkable on the surface, but in 1969 when the episode aired, it was. People of different colors were not supposed to swim together and certainly not share a towel. Now take time to think that this was on a children’s television show. People in their formative years were watching this. They were not hearing an argument as to what was or should be. They were not being preached at. They were being shown an example of how people should treat each other.

Leading by example was something often seen on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. I recall an episode where he visited a restaurant to show children what that was like. He was courteous, and well-mannered. He didn’t say, “Now this is how you behave here.” He just did. Another thing I recall from both that episode and others, was how he seemed in awe of everything and everyone. Some may take a person making a sandwich for granted. Not Fred Rogers. He genuinely complimented the people throughout his entire visit. He also seemed entirely grateful. He seemed to find joy in the smallest things. From everything I have seen and read, Fred Rogers was this type of person off the screen as well.

Here is where you and your job comes in. Mr. Fred Rogers died in 2003. He was a dynamic man with a heart bigger than most people I can think of. His ‘Neighborhood’ was a fictitious place, but it doesn’t have to be. Each one of us can be the Mr. Rogers of our own neighborhoods. We can teach by example. We can treat everyone we meet with reverence and respect. As one of my other mentors, Earl Nightingale, said, “We do this because that is how people ought to be treated.” Treat each day and thing as a miracle – because they are. Foster an attitude of gratitude. There is always so much to be thankful for. When others try to divide us, love one another. A loving example can be just as powerful as a speech, sometimes even more so.

This piece of advice was given by Mr. Rogers during many crisis. It couldn’t hold more weight today. In this social media driven world we can tend to see and focus on only the bad and negative. That is very easy to do, it is plastered all over the place. One way we can be like Mr. Rogers and help us all to have more ‘beautiful days in the neighborhood’ is to look for the helpers, the people who are helping. Find the people helping to clean up the environment. Find those trying to help the old and sick. Find those who are trying to bring people together instead of driving them apart. Join these people. Support these people. Most of all – become one of these people. In short – become the Mr. Rogers of your neighborhood.

WORK ON YOUR DIET AND CHANGE THE WORLD

Here is one of those fabulous things I happen across on my social media viewing. I was blessed to have many friends who shared this exact picture. More importantly, I believe they also genuinely feel that way. Once again, I must mention how grateful I am to have people in my life that feel and act this way.

In a world where many people may feel confused or concerned how to speak to and treat one another, there is one guiding principle that can make things a little easier and a lot less stressful. That principle is to have a genuine love and appreciation for all of us sharing this planet. It can be a hard thing to do at times, but if you can show love to everyone, including those who may seem not to deserve it, you will have a truly amazing life.

I know you might be thinking, “That sounds great Neil, but how can I learn to do that?” A first great step would be to watch your diet. You might be wondering how watching what you eat can help you to become a more loving and compassionate individual. Your diet is not only the food you consume. Your diet also consists of the music you listen to, the books you read, the people you hang out with and everything you consume not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. At the end of this post I will give you a little healthy treat for your diet. Make sure you read on for that.

If you spend your time in fear of what words or phrases may be acceptable these days, or you just are concerned with saying the wrong thing, there is a simple solution to that as well – become an encouraging. This world that can seem crazy and chaotic is woefully short on reasons to be encouraged. Help someone heal. Help them believe in themselves. If this is your intentions, your heart will guide you to the right words.

By having and more importantly showing love for each other, we do something wonderfully important – we help people believe in themselves. There are many great agents of change, spiritual and cultural leaders that have doubted themselves at some point. Without their contribution, the world would have been a darker place. The great thing about this is that there is always opportunities to help someone believe in themselves and in turn help them change the world.

Don’t believe it? Think of some of these examples. You encourage a young lady who is learning the art of cake decorating. Instead of giving up when her wedding cake looks more like abstract art than a culinary masterpiece, she tries again. She remains confident and goes on to create edible works of art. How does this change the world? Imagine the joy that adds to every special occasion her cakes are a part of. They will add something special to every event. A heart-melting sigh when the bride and groom see their cake on their wedding day. The ear to ear grin on the young child when they see their favorite character sitting right on top of their birthday cake.

Perhaps it is a young writer? Maybe pondering if the words he shares truly impact the lives of others. How would an encouraging word help this young fellow and how would it then change the world? Perhaps it would encourage him to continue to develop his craft and keep sharing his words knowing someone is listening. Then those words could reach a lost and lonely soul halfway across the world and bring them joy. Those words could then be shared from Armenia to Zimbabwe. Changing the day for many.

These are totally random and hypothetical examples, but they hold true just the same. We never know what someone is facing in life or where their heart and mind may be at. Maybe it is encouraging someone singing on a microphone for the first time, or the lonely kid sitting by themselves at lunch. Just letting these people know that you have love for them will make their world brighter, the world as a whole brighter and just might save their life.

As promised I am going to give you a little something good to add to your diet and will help you to remember to encourage and have love for people of all kinds. If you click the link below you will be treated to a great performance by the artist Michael Franti. Not only is Michael a great ambassador for love and peace, he represents a lot of us. He was adopted as a young child. His mother was European and his father a mix of African and Native American. He has a sister who is a lesbian and a brother who is a police officer. Well-rounded you might say. I strongly encourage you to click on the link below to listen to this song for yourself. Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions for encouraging and having love for each other below.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW AND LISTEN TO THE GREAT MICHAEL FRANTI SONG