THE REAL PRIZE

It

It is both the end of the week and the end of the month. Hopefully we have accomplished some goals and are on our way towards others. One goal that should be perpetually on our list is to love ourselves. Yes, I realize that sounds a little new age for some, but it does not make it any less essential. Liking, or more accurately loving, yourself is one of the most important life challenges.

Let us begin by looking at why loving yourself is so important. After all, if we know why something is important we are far more likely to be on board with it. So, why is loving yourself so important? We can discover this be looking at what happens when we are not happy with ourselves. When we are not happy with ourselves one of two things usually happen. We can begin to treat others harshly. When your spirit is not filled with joy little irritations become big. Our patience with others can wear thin with others. Have you ever made a mistake and been so upset with yourself and then find yourself yelling at others? Maybe even the person we have hurt. After all, we can’t really yell at ourselves can we? Oh yes we can!

That leads us to the second possibility. We spend hours, sometimes the entire day, engaged in negative self-talk. This not only further diminishes our mood and opinion of ourselves, it disempowers us. We turn down opportunities. We resist trying new things. Those things we do try we approach with a sense thought of failure before we even begin. A prolonged streak of this can lead to physical ills as well as a sense of hopelessness and maybe even suicidal thoughts.

How do we begin to think higher about the person in the mirror? There are several options. We are going to highlight a few right here, but I encourage you to further explore other self-appreciation techniques on your own. The first is to recite a daily affirmation twice a day, once in the morning and once right before retiring. Your morning affirmation could sound something like this – today I am going to do the best I can. I may stumble and fall, but I will get back up and continue to give the best I can. Your evening affirmation can sound similar – today I did the best I can. I did not succeed at everything but I gave it my all and tomorrow I will try again. The secret to affirmations is to say them with emotion and conviction. That is why I like the proceeding affirmations. They do not say you are going to be perfect. They just say you will do the best you can.

One of the main reasons people get down on themselves is they fail to live up to their own standards. When you fail with what someone else expects of you that is one thing, but when you do something that goes against the very nature of who you are, that is a different kind of pain all together. When we fail ourselves in this regard it is important to remember to be forgiving to ourselves but do so in away that reaffirms our commitment to what it was we failed at. “I know I said some not so nice things about people today and that is not who I am. From this moment on I am committed to do better at only empowering others.” You do not deny your failure, but you also do not beat yourself up over it.

Finally, record your wins. Many people discount the good they do and exaggerate their failures. Did you hold the door for a stranger? Did you ask someone how they were doing and really listened to their answer? Write that down. They all do not have to be big wins, although you certainly want to record them as well. When you let yourself down, take a look at your list. You may even want to say to yourself, or even out loud, “I sure messed up today, but I have done some really great things as well.” None of us are perfect human beings. Holding ourselves to a high standard can be a good thing as long as we remember to include a dose of humility and forgiveness as well.

DO NOT WASTE YOUR ENERGY ON THIS

Here is something that does not serve us – being jealous of someone else. We touched on this a few posts ago when we explored comparing our private struggles with other’s public successes. If we were to be given their lives and their problems, quite often we would long to have our own back.

More to the point, jealousy is a nonproductive emotion. If I were to be jealous of Michael Jordan’s ability to play basketball, that would not change the fact that I am vertically challenged and not well-versed in the sport of basketball. If I were to constantly compare myself to him while working on my own skills I would leave disillusioned and disappointed. Staying focused on how I have improved my own skills and noting those improvements will keep me excited and pushing forward.

Here is another thing to consider, the best person you can be is the best version of you. If you try to be someone else, the best you can do is come in second. They are the original and you will be nothing better than the best copy. Doesn’t sound too impressive does it? I am an author and a coach. There are many authors and coaches I admire. Although I learn from and on occasion borrow from them, I do not want to be them. I want to be the best author and coach Neil can be. Not to mention if an inspiring author and coach were to send me a book I certainly would take the time to get back to them.

Be the best version of you that you can be. It will be the greatest gift you can give to the world and large and those you love. Most importantly, it will be the greatest gift you can give to yourself. Never spend your time and energy being jealous of other’s lives. Instead, spend that time and energy improving your own.

YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES!


The focus of this post will look at two different items, perspective and potential. Let us look at the first one, perspective. A lot of us when chasing a goal, be that a job, relationship or certain economic stature, compare our private beginnings to others public achievements. Let us say we are trying to promote a book we have recently written. We may have been working on this several months or even a year. We look up and see other authors who are routinely on the New York Time’s bestseller list. We wonder why we don’t have the same fortune as a Dean Koontz let’s say. Better yet, why hasn’t our book become a major motion picture like Stephen King had?
Comparing our struggle to someone else’s accomplishments not only makes little sense, it also does not serve us. We do not know the struggle they have also went through. We may be further along than they were at the same point in their career. Think about how comparing your worst with someone else’s best would make you feel? It would leave you doubting yourself and leaving you with a lack of motivation at best, depression at its worst. Do not do this to yourself. Each individual has their own skills. It may serve you to research those you emulate and discover the challenges they have faced along the way. You may learn how they made it through and better yet, how they overcame some of the same challenges you may now be facing.
The second area of focus is potential. You may want to be the next LeBron James, but you are having trouble making your high school basketball team. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team. That is not to say without countless hours of practice you cannot excel as well. You may have a better three-point shot or be better defensively. You never know what skills you have buried inside of you. They say hard work is the great equalizer. It also happens to be a great tool for developing and polishing skills you naturally have. In my case, by writing every day my skill as a writer has improved dramatically.

A fun thing to do is to look back as see how different you may be now than you were years ago. It may cause you to cringe at times but you will be able to see the improvement. This is great in the gym too. I know there are times I feel like I am not getting anywhere. I look at photos or compare numbers from the year prior and realize how much further I am. It is also a great motivator to keep working. There is nothing worse than looking back and seeing you have moved in the wrong direction.
A quick note to add. This not only takes place with comparing ourselves to famous people, but can hold just as true with the neighbor down the block. You look at the soccer mom who seems to balance it all and have a tendency to be jealous. Really behind closed doors she is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. We cannot judge what goes on in public with what we struggle with for years in private. Think of your own life and what people may think of you without knowing what you do in private. You have the potential and can develop the perspective to be truly great!

MONDAY PROOF


Welcome to Monday, a day most people dread. The work week is ahead of us and as many people fear, the opportunity to make mistakes. Personally, I don’t mind making mistakes. There are three wonderful, yes I said wonderful, things that come from mistakes.

First, like the picture said they are proof you are trying. There is no way to live a mistake free life. Sure, you could sit around and not do anything, but then you don’t live at all and in my mind that is the biggest mistake. We might misjudge, need to improve physically, mentally or emotionally. There are a million reasons why we might make mistakes. Maybe we just didn’t have all the information needed to make the correct decision or take the correct action.
Not only is it proof we are trying, but it is an opportunity to learn. When we make mistakes we often think to ourselves such disempowering things as, “I can’t believe I did that!” or “I was so stupid for making that mistake!” What if you replaced those statements with ones such as, “Next time I know how I will do that!” or “I am so glad I learned how to do this. I will be better next time!” It is a totally different mindset. Mistakes are some of the best teachers.
The third thing I think is wonderful about mistakes is that is provides us a unique opportunity to show our character. Owning up to mistakes and not letting them get you down shows that you have a strong character. You cannot display this unless you do make a mistake. Through showing what kind of character you have you can earn respect from others. Everyone loves and respects someone who owns up to their mistakes, don’t they?
From now on let us put mistakes to work for us. It sucks when they happen, but we can turn them from a negative to a positive using the three examples above.

YOU ARE ALLOWED

A lot of people think they can only be considered a success when they achieve their goals. That is not even close to true. Being someone who loves the process is just as important as achieving your goals. You can set a great example in several ways. Let us take a look at a few of them.

First is your ability to stay focused and moving forward. Some people call this ‘drive’ some people call it ‘persistence’. Whatever you call it, managing to go through the process day after day can inspire others to do the same. A lot of individuals I know have a hard time staying focused, especially when they are not seeing results. Seeing someone who continues to put the work in despite the results not being visible right away is inspiring. Think of that person who is struggling to get in shape, but still shows up at the gym every day. Personally, I find those people inspiring.

Another way to  be a masterpiece while you are a work in progress is to show how you handle adversity. Everyone can be smiling and positive when the chips are going their way, but when the wheels fall off and things start going downhill that is when a person’s true character is revealed. Someone who can handle obstacles while staying calm, motivated and positive is a masterpiece!

Lastly, do not give up. It was Babe Ruth, the famous baseball player who said, “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” If Babe Ruth would have given up every time he struck out, he would not be the masterpiece of professional baseball that he is now. Believe in yourself. Not only will you be a masterpiece, but you may inspire others to do the same. 

THEIR GAME IS OVER

In working in fields that are highly social it is interesting to note how many perfectly amazing people allow themselves to be held hostage by the opinions of others. While it is ok to value the opinions of others, it is important to put greater importance on what we think of ourselves. I am not talking about conceit or arrogance. For deep down, those souls seem to have the lowest opinions of themselves. I am not talking about treating others harshly or that they are less than you. If you are a person that acts like that, could you honestly have a great self-image?

What we are talking about is a healthy respect for the person in the mirror. You have good qualities. What are they? Yes, you have flaws and it is important to really own them too. By doing so it will allow you to know what you have to work on. While you are working on it, know that each day you will improve a little more. Give yourself some patience as well. Saying such things as “I know I am not where I need to be with my _____ but I am working on it and getting better each and every day.” This can do wonders.

For reasons that are completely beyond my understanding there are those who live for nothing other than to point out others faults and shortcomings. Perhaps it is to deal with their own deep-seated insecurities. Perhaps they just feel bad about where they are in life and this helps them deal with it. Maybe they even made a deal with the devil. Who knows and who cares? It is hurtful when they do so. We must remember that what people say about us speaks more about them than it does about us. This may matter little when someone puts us down in public, but that is where a healthy amount of self-love can help.

When we are honest about who we are and can find ways to love ourselves despite what people may view as negatives, the insults of others lose their power. I have heard people put down for their height, weight, lack of hair, over abundance of hair and a million other things. They can sting and again I encourage all of us to focus on complimenting people on their strengths, for we all need to hear that more. It is getting to the point of not relying on the opinions of others, whether good or bad, that will give us true freedom.

Let us start loving ourselves more today. Whether that is through affirmations, therapy, writing down what we love about each other or just working harder towards our goals, let us all increase the love we have for the person we see in the mirror every morning. When we realize what a challenge this can be after years of neglect, negative self-talk and opinions of others, we may more inclined to point out the good in others and overlook their faults. 

ONE THING TO REMEMBER ABOUT THE PAST

The past…it can be many things. When used intelligently, the past can be a teacher, a healer and a great place to escape. If we are not careful, the past can also be a depressant, an anchor and a jailer. It is the latter of the two options we are going to discuss today. We are going to look at how our past, and our story about it, can often stop us from achieving the greatness and joy we so rightly deserve.

Have you ever heard others, or maybe even caught yourself saying things like this? “Every time things start going right in my life they end up going wrong.” or “I can never get ahead something always goes wrong for me.” While this may have been true to some extent in your past, my guess is that there was plenty of times when everything did go right…at least for a while.

We have all heard sayings such as life is a marathon not a sprint or do you see the glass half-full or half-empty? I actually did a great video about these on my YouTube channel Neil Panosian, you will find the link at the end of this post. The truth is life is both a marathon and a sprint. The glass is both half-full and half-empty. The only difference is which one we focus on. By focusing on the good it does not make the bad any less true, just as when we are focused on the bad it does not make the good any less real. The only difference it makes is how it makes us feel. I made that statement a different color for a reason, I would like you to read that again and really think about it. When we consider the truth of that statement we realize the power we have in our lives.

It is important to consider the sprint verses marathon view as well. If we focus on life in the short term we fall victim to the ups and downs of life. If we feel our life is generally one of misfortune and bad things we will see that. They exist in every life I know of. If we feel our life will always turn out, that will be true. We just need to focus on the marathon. Eventually good things happen. Yes, eventually bad things happen as well, but again how we feel is based on which one we focus on.

Just because things have always gone a certain way does not mean they cannot change. When we focus on the negative we tend to notice that. When we focus on the negative that we experienced in the past we tend to avoid taking actions that can lead us to different opportunities in the future. Let the past be a teacher, not a jailer.

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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!