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.
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.
With all of the outside stress that is heaped on us throughout the day courtesy of the media, coworkers, other drivers and a million other sources, we need to control our own. What I mean is at the end of the day, and at various points throughout the day, we can often find ourselves filling our own head with negative talk. We can end up beating ourselves up over events and decisions that happened throughout the day.
It is natural to have thoughts of “I wish I would have not hit the snooze button again.” or “I should not have gotten so upset with Sally at the office this morning.” None of us are perfect. That simple fact should give you a feeling of solace at the end of a hard day. If you were doing the best you could at the time, realize that too. If you didn’t act as you should have, you have the right to feel a little disappointed in yourself. What we need to do then is learn from that and commit to making better decisions in the future. If you know better and commit to doing better than getting upset with yourself is like convicting an innocent person. You have grown and are not the same person who did the action even earlier that day.
Some things seem not to turn out no matter how hard we try. That is because there are always lots of other variables. Weather, cars, other people and even rabid squirrels that may jump in front of our cars. You never know what you will face when you step outside your door to face the day.
Give yourself a break this week. If you approach life with the purest of hearts and the best of intentions you have done the best you could. If you did not approach life that way you have learned, which is the best you can do in that situation. They say an honest man’s pillow is his peace of mind, let that be true for us as well. Let us conduct ourselves in the best way we can and fall asleep knowing we did the best we could and that was enough.
In my work there are many days in which I feel I am not creating the impact I would like. Stats may be down on my YouTube channel or blog post. Maybe there are not ‘likes’ or comments on a particular post and I can wonder, “Is anyone reading this?” My goal is to help create a world filled with positivity in which people can coexist despite their differences. I enjoy facilitating dialogue between parties in an effort to create an understanding, or at the very least a sense of compassion.
Most of us have days where we feel that we are just not making a difference. It can be professionally, personally or something different entirely. It is on those days I am reminded of the story above. There have been days people have come up to be and mentioned how my writing has affected them. Some say it has helped them make it through a hard time. Others mention that it helps them keep perspective. One gentleman even told me this website and what I write here helped him think twice when he pondered taking his own life. Often I find myself being humbled by these compliments. It is then I sit back, and like the little boy, can say “I made a difference to that one.”
Another aspect of helping that one person we must keep in mind is the ripple effect. By inspiring, helping or saving one person, you never know what they may go on to do for others. It is like the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. We not be able to see what the world would have been like if we had not been there, but rest assured you make a difference.
While I would enjoy thousands of likes and views on YouTube or Secret2anamazinglife.com, I must remember the difference I made in the lives I have and use that to continue. Every time I get behind the keyboard I think of the soul who feels they have no reason to go on. I imagine sitting across the table from the teenager who is pondering taking their own life after being the victim of a bully. I think of the single parent who just lost their job, or the person who just lost their spouse of many years. It is for these wonderful souls and countless others that I write what I do.
I encourage you to remember that if you positively affect even just one life, you are changing the world. I am constantly reminded how little we know how many people we affect when I run into someone who tells me although they never mention anything online, the read what I write everyday and it makes a big impact in their life. I usually respond that I never even knew they read my writing. I am sure there are many more people we all positively affect that we never know.
Keep being a light in the world of darkness. If someone has inspired you, let them know. It may be just the motivation they need to keep going. I personally cannot express how much it means to me to hear how my writing affects people. Every time I do I want to run to my laptop and write some more. I want to take a second and thank each and every person who has inspired me.
This week is all about areas that affect our lives in a major way. Today we are going to talk about the person looking back at us in the mirror. It is time to give them a fresh look. When you see yourself in the mirror, what do you see? More importantly, how did you come to that opinion? If you were asked to describe yourself, what would you say? What if you could change that description? Even change parts of you that you may think could never be changed?
It is amazing when I hear people tell me “I am a procrastinator.” or “I am just not a happy person.” My first question is “Really? When did you decide that?” They will either give me one of those looks people give you when you ask thought provoking questions they do not expect, or I receive answers that include the following, “I didn’t decide, that is just who I am.” “I don’t know I have always been that way.” Sometimes an especially introspective individual will share with me some event from their childhood, or maybe their last relationship that prompted this belief. I listen carefully and calmly tell them, “Actually you did choose to be that way and you did so this morning.” Again, more crazy looks.
Here is the uncomfortable truth a lot of us do not like to consider. We choose daily who we are. If you are a person who is always running late, when could you decide to change that? If you are a person who was hurt by an uncaring person in your last relationship, when can you begin to deal with and heal from those experiences? The answer is right now. Let me assure you, I am not trying to make light of anything you have been through. I know a lot of you have been through very painful experiences. Allowing them to continue to hurt you, or to force you to live your life stunted, not experiencing the fullness of joy and love that is available to you is a choice we must make, consciously or unconsciously, every morning when we wake up. It may take seeking professional help or just reaching a point where you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, but you are the one who must choose who looks back at you in the morning.
Some of us have even allowed others to tell us who we are. Les Brown, one of my favorite authors and motivational speakers was told throughout his childhood he was educable mental retarded. It took an embarrassing moment of having to tell the teacher he was too ‘dumb’ to solve a problem on the chalkboard to change his life. What the teacher told him not only changed his life, but can change ours as well. The teacher walked around the desk, looked right into his eyes and said, “Never let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality.” Read that statement a few times. You may even want to print it out and hang it somewhere.
A lot of us were told by well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) teachers, parents and others growing up that we were not so good at this, or never will amount to that. I personally recall my senior year in high school my English teacher telling me, “I hope to God you never have a career in writing.” I have a website with about 800 posts and am about to publish my second book. More importantly, I have touched the lives of countless of people and will reach even more in the future. What if I listened to that teacher, and several classmates I might add, what would have happened? I never would have attempted to set up a website. I never would have believed I could write a book let alone more than one. All the lives I have helped? I never would have been able to reach them. Just thinking of that gives me a sadness in my heart.
Here is what I suggest. Take some quality time by yourself and think about who you would wish to be. Write down the ideas you come up with. It is vital you do NOT consider your current situation when coming up with this list. If I had done so back in my senior year, becoming a best-selling author and speaker would have never made the list. When you come up with your list take a good hard look at it. Then, take a look at that person in the mirror. Read this list to yourself every morning when you wake up and every evening before you go to bed.
Next time you reach for that twinkie, think of your list. If ‘I am a healthy vibrant individual’ is on there, you might want to give that a second thought. If you choose to eat that twinkie, remember you have made that decision. If you need help, seek help. Remember you and only you should define the kind of person you wish to be. It is time to take control of the person we see in the mirror. Tomorrow we look at another way in which we can gain leverage on ourselves and help move us in the direction we are wishing to go.
Here is a great reminder for the week ahead. Whatever you are, be a good one. We are so obsessed with being thinner, stronger, wealthier, or more popular we lose sight of something very special – us! There is nobody who is put together just the same way you are. Sure, you may desire some of the things we mentioned above, but if we all walked around with what we feel is the perfect ideal, life would be pretty boring.
Here is another wonderful thing to consider. Quite often, what we like least about ourselves can be what someone else likes the most. There are times when I am feeling so unattractive and I find my lady staring at me and then she says “I was just thinking how handsome you are.” I may shake my head in disbelief but it really feels good.
So, what about things we do? Same holds true here. I recall when writing my book A Happy Life for Busy People it took me forever to decide what to put in, and what to keep out. When it was published there were certain things I was thrilled with and certain things I thought people would just find silly, or not enjoy. Here is what happens, often things I write that I may not think are my best work tend to touch the most people and have the greatest impact. I have learned to just be myself and share what I am feeling.
Being genuine is something you just can’t fake. Let that sink in for a moment. Think about receiving compliments. If someone is complimenting you just to gain favor with you or because they feel obligated to do so, you can tell. If someone is genuine in their praise you can tell and it feels really good.
What about all the faults you have? Like a quick temper? Maybe you are not as organized as you would like? Faults provide two important things. First, they allow others to often feel more comfortable around you. Knowing the person they are around is not perfect can often help people feel more comfortable about their own faults and opening up to you. Second, they give you a chance to show you are working on improving part of your life. If you read a blog like this one, I can only imagine you are looking to constantly improve yourself, even the things you are good at.
The takeaway from today’s post is this – fall in love with yourself. Sure there are things you can always work on. We all have those, embrace them. Become ‘constructively discontent’. Use anything you think you could improve on as motivation. Remember, it is what makes you, well…you. If there is one thing that nobody can do better than you it is being yourself. Now I just have to figure why the woman in the picture has the head of a goat.
“To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness”
When facing any challenge from a new job to trying to live a more amazing life, why are we so quick to be hard on ourselves? I remember training some people at the Post Office who picked things up at a slower pace than the rest of us and I was always very encouraging. When I was first learning, however, I recall being upset with myself for every little mistake. Now if it was somebody else and they did it, I would remind them that we all make mistakes and the important thing is to keep trying. Keep going towards your goal. So why are we so hard on ourselves? It has been said we are always hardest on those closest to us, and if that statement holds true I suppose it would make sense that we are our own worst critics. I have a friend who is working on getting back in shape and she recently missed going to the gym for three whole days. I heard her say things like “It’s no use, I’ll never get back in shape” and “why can’t I just stick with things?”. We share a mutual friend who is also trying to live a healthier lifestyle and I asked her what she would say if she heard her saying the same thing. After a long pause she looked at me and yelled “It’s not the same!” I kind of chuckled, which really did not help the situation any, but then I told her “give yourself a break” and told her to encourage herself and give herself a little pep talk. “Give myself a pep talk? That sounds silly” was her reply. I asked her if it was any crazier then yelling at yourself. She thought for a minute and then started laughing. “I guess not, maybe you’re right” she said. Ok, so after that we did have an ice cream cone, but she assured herself that was ok, and she was recommitted to her fitness routine.
Now I am not saying it is not constructive to hold yourself responsible for failing to do something you have set out to do. Just don’t continue to beat yourself up over it. This week let us treat ourselves like we would treat our best friends. After all, we are stuck with ourselves for the rest of our lives, we might as well be friends. You wouldn’t continue to stay with someone who yelled and criticized you every day, would you? No, you would tell them to get lost, you don’t deserve to be treated that way. So next time your inner critic comes calling, tell them the same thing. Say to yourself “I deserve to be treated better than this” because you are amazing and you do! Enjoy your week my friends!