RETURN SOME GIFTS THIS YEAR

I love receiving gifts. It is not that I am materialistic, but the fact someone thought of me, and then acted upon that thought means the world to me. It can be something they made, a poem they wrote anything really. This is not the gifts we are talking about today. If you have not read the little comment above, I may suggest you do so now as it will make everything you read from here forward a lot more sensible.

As kind and compassionate as I try to be, there are still some who chose to offer me the ‘gifts’ mentioned in the picture above. Working 3 nights a week in the bar setting I witness a good deal of insults, he said/she said and gossip. It would seem a lot of people get terribly upset if others do not speak of them or see them in just the right light. This reminds me of a saying I came across a while back. You might work as hard as you can to grow the perfect peaches, but some people just don’t like peaches. I come across this when people report this website as offensive. I think to myself, how can anyone find reducing stress, increasing joy and improving yourself offensive? Then I remember, some people just don’t like peaches.

This is a good thought to keep in mind. Others will not like you because of many different reasons. Your skin color, your beliefs, who you are friends with and a million other reasons they will come up with. Remember that speaks more about them, than about you. They will insult you, gossip about you and even make up terrible lies about you. Just like the picture above says, “If you do not accept something given to you, it belongs to the sender.” If you are honestly working to be the best person you can be, your actions will speak a lot louder than their words. In fact, the only way to counter insults truly is to act at such a high level, that the one insulting you looks foolish.

I encourage all of you to leave your tips for dealing with insults and negative gossp. The more ideas we have, the better chance of success we have. I am going to leave you with this quote from Frank Sinatra.

“The best revenge is massive success.”

MIRROR MIRROR ON THE WALL…


Most of us are familiar with this scene from Snow White in which the queen asks the mirror for answers. In the new year I would like to encourage us all to do something very similar. It may be a bit intimidating for some of us, but it will be well worth it and will lead to an increased sense of self-satisfaction and growth as the year progresses.
Before we get to this fun, enlightening and easy new tool, allow me to share a quick back story on how this came to my attention. Margie and I attended my work’s Christmas party last night. Not only is it rare that my work actually has a get together, but we had the opportunity to meet and talk to some new people as well. It is interesting what topics can come up when you share conversations with new people. Especially at the end of the evening after a few cocktails have been consumed.
One of the people we shared conversation with was the wife of one of my coworkers. After raving about my lovely lady’s beauty, the discussion turned towards what everyone did for a living. When the prospect of motivation and self-improvement came about this young lady shared something she did with her children growing up that could be a great help to all of us at any age. When her children were very young she had them look in the mirror and asked them a very thought-provoking question, “What do you see?”. Initially, the children responded with answers such us their names or “my reflection”. These are answers most of us would give is asked the same question. After pressing them a bit more with the same question the children began to look a little deeper and their answers changed. “A smile” said one. “Strength” said the other. This exercise was repeated as the children continued to grow up, stressing the importance of self-evaluation.
It occurred to me how beneficial this would be for the rest of us as well! I encourage all of us to spend some quality time in front of the mirror. You can do this after your shower or before you head off to work. It can be done in private. Really look at who you see staring back at you. What do you see? For most of us the first few words that will tend to pop up may be less than positive. “Too much grey hair” “wrinkles” “a person who could stand to lose some weight” These thoughts can be constructive in many ways. First of all, it can show us that we really need to change our focus on the positive when it comes to how we see ourselves. If we do not like what we see, we can begin to know what we should work on. The more we do this, the more we could witness the improvements and keep our focus on what we need to do.
That being said, I encourage you to begin to search for the positive in your reflection. Do you see someone with a giving heart? Do you see someone who wishes the best for everyone? Do you see someone who has overcome a lot and continues to push forward? Begin to note all of the good you see in the mirror as you work to improve on what you see. The more comfortable and positive we feel about ourselves, the better and more positive our view of others and the world around us will be. As we start a new year, I can’t imagine a greater gift we could give to ourselves, others and the world around us. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

YOUR VERY IMPORTANT DECISION

This comes to us from one of my favorite authors and speakers Billy Alsbrooks. It is a theme that is universal to many different schools of thought, but is not often acted upon. We need a clear and definite description of who we are. We need to be crystal clear on what we stand for and what we refuse to stand for. We need to establish for ourselves a clear set of values and standards.

Why is this so important? Without this identity, we are at the mercy of the others and the world around us. This would be no problem if the world was a place committed to everyone’s best interests and maintaining a healthy and happy environment. As we are aware this is not the case. There are companies spending large amount of money to tell us things such as we are not cool enough unless we are wearing their particular brand of shoes or we must be a part of a certain social media group. Everything from alcohol to outfits has a definition of what is cool and what is not. Often, this message is backed up by those in the acting and music profession. We hear songs promoting the same brand of shoes or alcohol that the companies would like us to believe is cool. The only thing that is gained through this is an increase in that companies bottom line, and chances are, a decrease in ours.

Corporate influence is actually one of the tamer, and other than financial, harmless sources striving to control our thinking. Media outlets, politicians, and even coworkers, classmates, family and friends can all do the same. Their intentions can be good, or on occasion not so good. Either way what is right for them is not necessarily right for us. Conveying that in a firm, but nonjudgmental way can be tricky but is necessary.

Why is this so important? If we allow ourselves to be at the mercy of corporate, political and social agendas of others our lives will be in a sense indentured servants to their goals and dreams. We can end up saying and doing things that go against our spirit. This will leave us feeling disappointed in ourselves and on occasion with a feeling of distain toward our behavior and who we have become. The ironic thing about this is that it can be hard to diagnose. It will leave us feeling down, dejected and unhappy with our lives. It may not be apparent as to the source of the issue.

The solution is to spend some quality time defining the person looking back at you in the mirror. It will not only reduce the stress in your life, but provide you drive, purpose and a strong sense of identity. This will set you up to live an amazing life!  

 

SOMEONE NEEDS YOU!

Whenever I speak to an audience I am usually asked about how I became an author. If you have ever been to one of my seminars or heard me speak you will undoubtedly have heard the story of my high school English teacher. If not, let us say she encouraged me to do everything but write. At the time I couldn’t blame her. I had little to no interest in exploring the written word as a profession. Fast forward…umm…some years and here I sit with two books written, a blog with 1000 posts and several articles in major publications.

How did we get here? It started merely as an experiment in fixing my own life. As I discovered in twenty plus years working in the field of self-improvement, there are a lot of other people like me. Being an author for the last 6 years has taught me something else that I would like to share with you today. Everyone has a story within them. I don’t care if you think your life is as exciting as watching the grass grow, you have something someone out there needs.

Whether you are a stay at home parent, a busy professional or a high school student, there are millions who find themselves in the very situation you do. Perhaps they are looking for answers to some of the struggles you have overcome? Maybe they could benefit from hearing about some of the mistakes you have made so they could avoid them? Maybe they just need someone to relate to so they know they are not alone.

While you are working on your story, remember what you do is equally important. If you are a top CEO, or the person who cleans up after a top CEO, your service is needed. More to the point, you are needed. I have a friend who has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to plants and animals. Imagine how often I ask them things like, “I saw this bird/spider/chupacabra do you know what it is?” I have another friend who makes hand-crafted stuffed animals. How amazing would it be to give someone such a unique and wonderful gift? I have friends who are good at talking, some who are good at listening. Each and every one of them are as important to me as the next.

Whatever it is know that the world would be less without you doing it. Also know that someone would benefit from hearing your story. It could be about who you are, what you do or how you think. Inside of each and everyone of us is a best-seller that could change lives and change the world. Whatever you do, please to not die with your music still inside of you. It is just what someone needs to hear.

THE IMPORTANT QUESTION

Our life is mostly made up of the questions we ask. These questions can be conscious or subconscious, but they exist just the same. We may ask ourselves “Is this good or bad?” or disempowering questions such as “Why does this always happen to me?” Chances are that is doesn’t always happen to you, but if that is the question you are asking, your mind will find examples that support that. In this way your mind is both your best friend and your worst enemy. It will do anything to prove to yourself that you are right. That is the best friend part. It will do so even to the point of having you overlook all the good in your life so that it feels like your life is one big suck fest. That is the worst enemy part.

This is really good news if we know how to use it to our advantage. I go into more depth with this subject in my upcoming book Living the Dream. For today I will just give you the basic tools so you can start putting your mind to work for you. It is really not that complicated at all. It really amounts to changing our question. While I admit this is not very complicated, it does not mean it is easy. We have been asking ourselves the same question so long we often do so without even consciously thinking of it.

So how do we fix this dilemma and begin to use questions to help us live the dream? That in itself is a great question. Some of what I am going to tell you may sound like a little bit of overkill but realize we are working to overcome years, sometimes decades of negative self-programing. We are going to need any advantage that we can muster. Trust in the tools and try them for a month. You really have nothing to lose.

We are not going to struggle against removing the old question. What we are going to do is replace it with a more positive and self-serving question. Here is where you get a chance to be creative. Pick an area of your life you would like to improve. For this example we will use the every popular one, money. If you asked Santa for a thin body and fat bank account last Christmas and he seemed to mix them up, have no fear! We will give the jolly ol’ man a helping hand this year. You are going to think of a question that will focus your mind in the opposite direction. Such as, “How is my life more prosperous every day?” or “How can I add more abundance to my life today?”

Once you have decided on a question, there are two more steps to put your mind to work for you. This next step is very important – write your question down. Some may ask, “Why do I have to do that? I know what it is.” Remember we are working against our imbedded thought patterns. Your mind will do everything to go back to the question it is comfortable with. Write this down on an index card or something else you can carry with you. Another popular way to do this is to make your question your screensaver on your phone. Most of us look at those a million times a day.

The last step is to read your question either out loud or to yourself at 3 very specific times of the day. 1.) When you first get up in the morning. 2.) Right before you go to bed at night. These are the times your mind is most available to suggestion. We are also using biological science to our advantage as well. 3.) One other time during the day. They say doing something for 21 days starts a new habit. I like to round up to one month for 2 reasons. My mind is very stubborn when it comes to change, and I do not like trying to figure out when 21 days are up. If we can just go from the 11th of the month to the 11th of the next month that is a lot easier.

Pick your question today. “What makes me a great parent?” “How can I be a better teacher?” “What reasons do I have to be grateful?” You can see the list can be endless. After 30 days you can either choose to stay with the question you are using and create even more positive change, add another area of life you are looking to improve or go back to having your mind focus on whatever not so inspiring question it chooses. I would love to hear your results on the 11th of next month! Who knows, you might be in my next book!

THE MOST IMPORTANT PLACE TO FIND A FRIEND

Today’s post is the most important of the week. Of all the places to make friends this one takes the cake. Not only is it the closest and easiest to find, but the most important location of all. Dare I say, if you cannot make friends here you will have a very difficult time making healthy and lasting friendships anywhere else. It just so happens to be one of the hardest places to make friends for so many. What is this exotic location? The mirror.

This may sound a bit hokey to some of you, but it still is true. If we don’t enjoy the person staring back at us in the mirror, it is hard to bring true and genuine joy to those we meet. I know we all have hang-ups and problems with ourselves, that is human nature. Learning to love yourself despite the things you see that you do not enjoy will bring you the greatest amount of inner peace and joy. Let’s face it, this is one friend you will be stuck with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We really should do all we can to form the best relationship we can with this woman or man.

How do we make friends with the person in the mirror when we don’t like what we see? That is a billion dollar question. No really. An entire industry has cropped up to help us love ourselves. There are books, CDs, seminars and life coaches to help us along the way. I am going to give you a few quick tips to get you started, but I encourage you to look into more. After all, if you are going to invest in a relationship, this one will give you the biggest return. To this very day I work on improving the relationship I have with myself. By having a healthier and happier relationship with myself I can do better in my relationship with everyone else.

So, how do we increase the joy and love we feel towards ourselves? At first glance this statement may seem self-centered, but we are not talking about ego-driven love. We are talking about learning to appreciate the truly wonderful people we are. It is understanding that we all are beautiful in our own way. Margie put a decal on our bathroom mirror that reads Be your own kind of beautiful. It is a great reminder that whatever you do you should try to be the best, most beautiful version of YOU. “What if people don’t like that version?” I am often asked. It reminds me of a saying I once heard.

You might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but not everyone drinks tea.

Simply put if you are the best loving version of yourself the right people will like you.

What, other than placing inspirational saying somewhere you will see them often, can you do to fall in love with yourself? Another tip is to keep a record of your accomplishments. Many of us will put ourselves down for mistakes we made days, weeks or even years ago. Dragging up these memories will not only leave us feeling terrible, it will leave us with a less than favorable image of ourselves. Taking note of, and keeping a record of things we have done well will remind us that even though we may not be happy with ourselves on a particular day, there have been others where we have really kicked butt.

That leads to my last suggestion. Keep a written statement of your goals. Knowing what on earth you are getting out of bed for can make life a lot more inspiring. Even if you are not there yet, knowing you are working towards a worthwhile goal can give you a little boost of self-confidence.

When you are free of the mental baggage that most of us are carrying around you will bring a lighter, more loving version of yourself to the world. Who wouldn’t want to be around someone like that? It also will allow you to help others see the best in themselves. As you can see by improving the friendship we have with ourselves, not only will our lives be better, but we will be able to bring a lot more the lives around us.

 

A GREAT FEELING

Here is a picture I took at our local library. I happened to be searching for a few films to bring home when I decided to search for my own book. Imagine my joy when not one, but four copies came up! It gave me a great feeling to know that many people were interested in what I had written.

I do not share this out of conceit, but as a tool. A personal revelation is that I suffer from seasonal affective disorder. This time of year there are times when it is very hard for me to remain upbeat. The lack of sun and cold weather can really sap my energy and my spirit.

As an author, blog writer and speaker on all subjects positive this can leave me with an interesting challenge. I have recently written what I think is a very enlightening and helpful article for the January issue of See Beyond magazine. For today, I will share with you one of the tools I personally use to get me thorough this tough season.

Surrounding myself with reminders of positive aspects of my life good a long way to lift my spirits. Whether it is vacations, race medals or pictures of my book being available at the local library.

Reminders of what we have done right in life are always a good idea to keep on hand. What items do you use to remind yourself what a great person greets you in the mirror every morning?

THE MOST IMPORTANT VOTE YOU WILL CAST

Today is election day in the United States. We will be voting for a host of local and state officials. I encourage everyone to vote because it is a privilege that not many around the world have.

Today I would like to discuss a more important vote than governor, senator or even President. This vote is not cast every four years, or even every two years. You don’t go to the polls to cast this vote. It has nothing to do with politics, but affects your life greatly.

This vote is cast daily. Sometimes multiple times a day. It is done at home in bed first thing in the morning. It is done on the job, in houses of worship and in traffic. How you vote on this issue would decide your career, your relationships and your overall sense of well-being.

This is whether or not you will vote for yourself. I’m not talking about running for office, although this certainly requires being a leader. Would you give yourself a vote of confidence? Are you proud of the person you are? Do you fulfill the promises you make to others, and especially to yourself? Do you deserve re-election to run your life?

If the answer is no, make the changes now that you need to. Become the most appealing candidate for the office of your life. Start being a person of your word. Become someone of great character.

If the answer is yes, make sure to give yourself that vote of confidence. Understand that you are the one who has your best interests at heart. Stop being victims to celebrities, social media, your boss or whoever else you are allowing you to tell you how to live your life.

Vote for You and elect to office the one person qualified to run things. Make sure to listen to your constituents such as your spouse, your family and your boss, but know the final vote lies with you. Make sure the person you elect maintains the highest character and makes the best decisions with the information they have. As with any elected official, be tough but fair.

So, get out and vote today. Make your voice heard, but most important cast the important vote for yourself!

THE FIRST CHANGE

When I hear people complain about problems that persist in their lives, I am reminded of myself in my early 20’s. I found the same drama-filled people going in and out of my life. No matter where I seemed to go I found myself in some dysfunctional situation. Sound familiar?

What I leaned was that I was looking at the situation all wrong. It seemed like I was a victim, but really I was at worst causing all of my problems, at the very least I was allowing it to exist in my life.

What I soon realized was when I became the person I wanted to be, the people and situations around me changed. By changing who I was, different people were attracted to be around me. That went a long way to changing the situations I found myself in.

Instead of looking around for other people and things to blame I took a long hard look in the mirror and said to myself, “Neil, why are you allowing this stuff into your life?” After getting over the fact I was talking to myself in the third person in my own bathroom I had done tough decisions to make.

I urge you to check in with yourself and ask yourself am I the kind of person that the people I want in my life would want to be around? Also ask if there may be some people and situations that would be healthier left behind. You only get one life, don’t give it away to anyone or anything else.