THE BEST BLACK FRIDAY PURCHASE

Invest in yourself

Whatever you may be shopping for on black Friday, there is one purchase you should be making – investing in yourself.

The majority of people stop learning when they conclude their formal education, whether that be high school, college or a PhD. However, investing in ourselves will give us the greatest dividends.

If we invest in our health it will give us quality years with those we love. If we invest in learning, it will give us increased income and success. Investing in stress reduction will give us an increased peace of mind and better health.

So this black Friday if you are out shopping do not forget to invest in yourself. Next week we will look at specific investments we can make in ourselves.

USE YOUR EYES AND YOUR MOUTH!

Last post we looked at how our focus determines a great deal of how we see the world. That goes with the first half of the quote above, keeping our eyes positive. Seeing the possibilities and not just the obstacles. Seeing what is working while working on what could use some fixing. Looking at the good in a situation and just the bad. Changing how we look at the world will change the world we look at a great deal whether that is positively or negatively. That is why it is so important to keep our eyes positive.

Let us now look at the second half of that statement. Keeping our tongue positive will have the world loving us. Some of you may say “I don’t care how the world sees me!” or “The only person’s opinion that matters in mine!” To that I would say you probably have yourself fooled about other things as well. It is true that we should not live our life predicated on what other people think of us and what we are doing. That being said, if your friends, your family and your spouse go to bed thinking what a jerk you are every night, that is going to weigh on you no matter how self-centered of an individual you may be.

Considering you are reading a blog called Secret2anamazinglife, I assume you have a good deal of affection for your fellow humans. Not to mention, it always feels good to hear a kind and encouraging word throughout the day. Think of how you feel after you have been the recipient of some love and praise. Perhaps you feel energized? A little more confident. You feel believed in and supported. How would this affect your productivity? Would this affect the way you treat others you come in contact with? Wouldn’t it be great if everyone came from a place of feeling energized, loved, believed in and supported? Wouldn’t it be great if you came from that place…daily?

The truth is your world can be this way. Those you meet can, eventually, come from a place of love, appreciation and positive energy. You can come from this place and you can do so on a regular basis. Not only can this happen, but it is easier than you may think and all it takes is one decision from you. This is not some self-improvement hype or positive thinking theory I am giving you. It is the truth.

All we have to do is to decide to use our tongue to spread positivity. Let us look at how this will play out. First of all, if you know someone is walking up to you and, through past conversations you know the conversation is likely to be a positive one, how will you treat them? Chances are you would greet them with a smile, and genuinely welcome their company. When you share positive conversation with others it will make them feel loved and appreciated. That will positively impact their lives and in turn will positively impact how they act in association with you. Can you imagine if you did this with everyone in your life? Would that mean everyone in your life would be positive? Not exactly. We would be fooling ourselves if we didn’t admit that we share the world with people that see the rain in every rainbow. I know a person that if I gave them a golden goose would complain it poops on the sidewalk. Still, these people would certainly be the exception and not the rule.

This may sound like a fantasy world, but it is not. It is a simple mathematical equation. If people are exposed to positivity and encouragement, they tend to be more positive and encouraging. Not every day. We all have times when life gets the best of us. The more you spread positivity, however, the more likely you are to receive it as well. Here is the great bonus in all of this. The more you receive this positivity in return, the easier it is to go on spreading the positivity. It continues to grow in both frequency and intensity the more this equation is put into place. The exciting part is it is all up to us to start it. Use your tongue to spread positivity today and watch your life change in the days to come.

A MOMENT OF REFLECTION

In the spirit of ‘Throwback Thursday’ I wanted to take a moment to look back at this blog and see where we have come from and where we are heading. Just like when you are walking up a steep hill and running out of energy, it can help to stop, look down and see how far you have already climbed. To me, growing this blog can sometimes seem like climbing a hill. Although I am extremely passionate about helping others and learning and sharing ways to improve our lives, the business of growing an audience can, on occasion, feel daunting. How I measure success in my writing, speaking and coaching business is the amount of lives I have touched. When it comes to this blog, the metrics are pretty much the same.

Lucky for me, I can see the stats daily. This not only shows me how many people my words are reaching, but also where these people are! So far we have reached over 150 countries and all 7 continents! Imagine how thrilled I was the day I received notice that someone at a base in Antarctica was reading what we share here. Still no Greenland. Perhaps everyone on that island country is living the life of their dreams. I must confess as to not having the pleasure of visiting there. I look to having more ‘meet and greets’ and book signings in many more locations as soon as the world goes back to a degree of normal.

Back to our friendly stats. As you can see I began this blog in 2012, eight years ago. That seems like a different lifetime entirely to me. When I began it served more as a place to record not only the best of what I had discovered in the world of personal-development, but my own thoughts of many of the challenges facing the world today. I began that year on Thanksgiving and by the end of the year had over 100 people visit this site. I was shocked to discover there were that many people interested in discovering secrets to an amazing life. Fast forward several years and we had grown our community to almost 15,000 visitors. I was excited to share with, and learn from so many wonderful people. My goal this year is to double the size of our community. Imagine having that many minds sharing secrets that have allowed them to lead an amazing life?

As we look ahead I am excited to see what the future holds. I would love nothing more than to continue to develop this online community and discover more ways to be of service to all of you. With that in mind, I humbly request you share this site with anyone you might know who would enjoy learning and sharing with us secrets to living an amazing life. This site is completely sharable on all social media platforms. Feel free to share it with your friends on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and anywhere else you think would be served with a little light and love. If you have any suggestions to increase our following or add to what you would like to see on this site, I encourage you to leave them in the comments below. Once again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for a great 8 years and look forward to an even better next 8 years!

CHANGE YOUR LIFE BY ANSWERING ONE QUESTION…DIFFERENTLY

The picture above is of my friend Travis and I. It was taken before a seminar I was giving in Franksville Wisconsin. We were “Backstage” if you will. At this seminar he went out to introduce me and to warm up the crowd. Travis, who goes by Treezy, has been my friend for many years. We met when I was serving drinks at a place called ‘6500 bar’. Local corner bar, lot of fun people. I leave the story of how we met for another day, but I will tell you it involved 2 watches, a hotel room and a girl named Sarah. Before long Travis and I had discovered we had a mutual passion for learning how to be positive and helping others do the same. We started working as a team at the bar and before long it was standing room only.

Once I left that establishment I lost touch with my friend for a while. In the meantime, I started working at a new place called ‘The Hideout’. I was only a few days into my employment when I heard the door open. I had been busy washing dishes and without looking up said some version of “How can I help you?” The reply came with a hint of laughter in his voice. “I will have a bottle of Budweiser my old friend.” I had to look up to see who could possibly be my friend at a place I just started at. Well, time and fate had reunited our two souls for some reason once again. As I transitioned from bartender to DJ and met the love of my life, Margie, all three of us became fast friends. Travis, or more to the point Treezy, has a great gift of performance and using that to lift the mood of a show and keep it positive. To this day, him, Margie and myself work to run positive shows that leave you feeling better when you leave than you did when you came in.

Margie, Travis and myself forming our version of the Triangle offense

I can hear you thinking to yourself, “Neil, this is a very touching story about you and your friend, but how does this help me improve my life?” That is a good question. Recently, Treezy showed up ready to perform at one of our shows. I inquired as to how he was doing. Nothing out of the normal here. How many times a day do you ask, or are you asked, how you are doing? I would think several times a day. It happens at restaurants, work, coffee shops and yes at shows at clubs. Most of us either say “Good” “fine” or perhaps we have a standard answer we give. Treezy has one too. When I inquired as to his state of being his answer was “I am blessed, highly favored and positive. How are you my friend?” This is, by all accounts, his standard answer. As with most of his performances, he delivers this line with a feeling of passion and sincerity.

The reason this line comes out with such passion is because he believes it to be true. It is true. For most of us, we live in a country that allows us certain freedoms. We have a roof over our heads and food on our table. Those circumstances make us ‘Blessed, highly favored and should make us positive’. Here is the power about working on your standard answer to “How are you doing?” You will say this line several times a day. That, in essence, is an affirmation my friend. What you proclaim yourself to be out loud several times a day will greatly influence your life. Why not spend several minutes putting together several positive and empowering answers to the question “How are you?” Have fun trying them out. Try each one for a week. See if it doesn’t have you feeling a bit more positive. Perhaps it will increase the amount of gratitude you have in your life. If that one doesn’t seem to work, try another. Decide on a line that really resonates with you.

Take a lesson from my friend Travis and use the power of words to positively influence your life. “How are you doing?” is as close to a rhetorical question as most people get. Your answer can inspire both you and them if you craft it right. Put this seemingly mundane daily exchange to work for you. As a side note, to our group we have recently added our friend Terri. She brings her own insight and positivity. Having the four of us in a room working to improve everyone’s outlook to be a little more positive than when they got there can be a powerful force indeed.

TAKE IT EASY WHILE YOU’RE PUSHING

Today’s post is one of simple reassurance. If you subscribe to a blog like this, you are undoubtedly a person who is driven to learn and utilize secrets to an amazing life. It is worth noting and something we must be careful of when working to improve our lives, we must enjoy the process. This can be difficult to do during the best of times, but takes special care when we feel like we are failing or even moving backwards.

When we are trying to improve any aspect of our lives there comes a time when we face an obstacle or a set back. It can seem as if we are trying to push a giant marshmallow up a hill. Maybe we are doing our best to improve our physical fitness and we sustain and injury. After weeks of rest, going back to the gym and having to ‘start all over’ can be quite deflating. Perhaps we are working on completing our next book and accidentally hit ‘delete’ instead of ‘save’, wiping out weeks or more of work. (I did this once, it was followed by feeling of being nauseous) All of these moments can lead to doubt. What can doubt do? As Shakespeare said, “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” There is a lot said in that one line, and all of it is true. Doubting ourselves can lead to giving up too soon or even failing to try.

Once returning from injury to the gym, I remarked how deflating it was to have to lower the weights so far from what they were prior to injuring myself. I was told something that not only applies to the gym, but to every other task in life – “You are still further ahead than everyone who is just sitting on the couch.” Unless your job is a professional couch tester, this is quite true. Were you supposed to write 1000 words and only could come up with 750? That is better than sitting on the couch (which is where I am writing this ironically) not writing anything.

Some days you may fail all together. What about those days? There are expected too. If you are striving to be your best, that is what counts. We often do not succeed at the level we wish to. We can use it for motivation to work harder the next day. We can recall days that we crushed it more than we expected and realize it all balances out in the end. We can also realize that we are going to have days that we try and fail and even a few where we fail to try. As long as they are the exceptions and not the rule, we should not be too hard on ourselves. Just make sure to get back up and kick butt again!

SO YOU WANT TO SMACK PEOPLE?

The above quote may sound funny, but in most cases of ‘enlightened’ people in rings true to some degree. I have been working in the field of self-improvement for over 22 years now. Most of that time is spent working on, fittingly, improving myself. You would think if you worked on something for 22 years and still haven’t perfected it that you might become frustrated. That is why it is so important to fall in love with the journey and not the destination. The field in which I work is called self-improvement, not self-perfection. It is about getting that little bit better every day.

You can do everything right and still fall victim to your emotions every once in a while. It is not only understandable, but is fairly predictable. Plus, in this world there are people who may very well benefit from a good smacking. People who purposely do harm to children, animals and those who cannot defend themselves. People who act with no regard to others feelings or rights. A prime example. My mother and I had went for a nice walk through the park. It was fairly warm and by the end we decided we had earned stopping for a nice ice coffee. Wanting to enjoy our iced coffee on the outdoor patio we sat at a table under a nice tree. It became apparent in a short time that we would not be enjoying the fresh air sitting under this tree. Sitting right under the ‘no smoking’ sign at a table that had a ‘no smoking’ sign on it was a man who was…smoking. This man was smoking a cigar that was only slightly smaller in circumference than a baseball bat. He sat at this table with four other adults and one child. They were all dressed nicely and I venture a guess that at least one of them could either read or make sense of the sign of a cigarette in a circle with a slash through it. Still, he sat and puffed away. Probably, deserved a smacking.

Yes, at the time this guy was puffing out fumes like a coal furnace in a non-smoking area the thought of a rap in the back of the head did occur. Maybe his friends did not mind the smell of smoke that resembled garbage on a hot day, but realizing there were others sitting in this non-smoking area that might have would have been considerate. Here is the ironic thing; my thoughts of smacking him were just as bad as his actions that gave me those thoughts. It is true that what he was doing was rude and not very thoughtful, but it is not my place to judge him or his actions. Getting upset over his actions did not bother him or encourage him to be more thoughtful. All it did was upset me.

We all have moments where other people can set us off into anger. What we really need to realize is that it is not them who make us feel the anger. What we feel and how we react to a situation is 100% determined by us. When you find yourself saying, “That person made me mad.” Rephrase that to, “That person made me decide to be mad.” After all, isn’t it true that a person can still do something unpleasant or even mean and we cannot let it upset us? Of course it is. Is it easy? No. That is why they call it self-improvement. This does not mean we should let people walk all over us or act in a way that is demeaning to ourselves or others. What it means is that we should not let their negative action cause a negative emotion inside of us. That is only multiplying the negativity in the situation. Take what actions are necessary to address the problem and send them thoughts and prayers of being more thoughtful in the future. When you do this, make sure to say a prayer for yourself that you may remain patient and understanding of others as well.

The point we are trying to make is that if you feel like giving someone a gentle physical reminder upside that head that is normal. It is what we do with those feelings that matter. Do we stew on them it get ourselves upset? To we yell at the offending party and threaten a physical action? Do we even walk over and let our hand demonstrate what our emotions are feeling? None of those actions will lead to a positive outcome for yourself, the offending party or the situation. If you have the urge to smack someone, just know that it is a test from the universe and that person is a personal trainer for your emotions. Making your sense of restraint and positivity even stronger.

ARE YOU A GOOD ONE?

Whatever you are, be a good one. It seems like a pretty obvious statement. After all, we would never want to be a bad one of anything I would guess. Sometimes the simplest statements can be some of the most profound. That holds true in this case as well I feel.

Let us look at ‘what you are’. In life, many of us play several different roles. As a personal example, I am not only the creator and main content provider behind this website, I am also an author of 2 books, I am a food critic for the website Chow Down in Milwaukee, I am a Postal worker and DJ as well as writing for several magazines. Looking at that in print it seems like a bit too much. That is without factoring in the speaking and seminars that I do. How do I not become overwhelmed? I just focus on what I am doing at the moment. If I am writing a book, I do my best at that. Working at the Post Office, I do the same. As I write these blogs I do my best to convey something that is both entertaining and useful.

What are your roles? Are you a CEO? A bartender? A parent? A grandparent? Whatever it is, we should do our best to be a good one. We are all someone’s friend. To that end, do your best to be a good friend. This seems rather obvious but have you ever really sat down to think about how best to be a good one? This occurred to me on the way home from writing the other night. I asked myself, “How can I be a good friend?” Are there ways I could listen better? I could communicate how much people mean to me and how important they are.

One of the ways I have unconsciously used this to make the biggest change in my life is in my romantic relationship. Asking myself, and the love of my life, how I can be a good man for her has brought about some of the greatest breakthroughs. Whatever roles you fulfill in life, stop and ask yourself how you can be a good one.

Two quick closing thoughts. Ask yourself this question often. As we grow and learn in life more ideas will come to us. There is always room to improve. Include others in the asking too. They may offer suggestions to help. Lastly, remember the quote doesn’t say “Whatever you are, be a perfect one.” If you make a mistake that is alright. In fact, mistakes allow us to be good ones by providing us a chance to demonstrate being humble and gracious. Admitting, and better yet working to atone for and correct our mistakes, makes us a good one. We might not be a perfect friend, a perfect parent or a perfect spouse. If we are doing our best to be a good one, we will get better and soon our life will be amazing!

YOUR BIGGEST ASSET IN THE WORLD

This picture is worth a thousand words! You can see the people all walking in the same environment, but having completely different experiences. You can also see the difference and the determining factor in the experience they are having is largely determined by what is happening inside their minds. They all have to seem to have their share of problems. Don’t we all seem to have our fair share? Even the man with the ‘flower’ over his head I am sure has his share of issues that need attending in his life.

What makes the difference is what they choose to focus on. It would appear that the others seem to be focusing on what is going wrong in their lives. Some, it would appear, are worried about work, a dominating spouse, and one looks like a rock or gray volley ball. Whatever it is, it doesn’t look good. To some of you, walking around thinking about a flower may seem absolutely ridiculous. That’s quite alright. It doesn’t have to be a flower. I have allergies and thinking of a flower might induce me to think of sneezing. It could be thinking of the person you are in love with. This works best if you are getting along. It could be remembering a fun and sunny vacation during a cold winter drive into work.

When it comes to our physical health there is a great deal of importance, or at least should be, of what we are eating. When it comes to our mental well-being the attention should often focus to what is eating us. When you are taking worry for a walk it can be hard to enjoy the fresh air, the sunshine or just about any other pleasant aspect of life. When we think of having a parasite inside of us eating away it can sound both rather unpleasant and scary. Which, I would imagine it is.

Having that worry, anger and sadness inside us is no different. Think of worry. How do you feel when you are worried? Your stomach churns. your breath is shallow. You are not able to focus on what you are doing. Sometimes you develop a headache. How about when you are angry? Your blood pressure rises. Your nerves are on edge and everything seems to bother you. How about sadness? You can walk around feeling as if a Weight is on your shoulders. You are not able to sleep well. In all three cases your immune system in depressed. How do you think having these physical conditions for an extended period of time would affect our health? Can you imagine having excess stomach acid for several weeks or longer? This is what happens when we walk around in a state of worry. It can lead to ulcers, digestive issues. How about constantly raised blood pressure? That can lead to a serious heart issues. A depressed immune system can leave you open to a host of terrible ailments.

Here is the upside to all of this. Just as we go to a doctor when we have a physical ailment, so should we see someone to correct a concern with our emotional or spiritual side. Whether that is seeing a therapist, talking to a trusted spiritual leader, seeking the company and conversation of a good friend, reading a book, meditating or whatever else we need to do to address our compromised mindset. You would not leave an open wound sit because you were embarrassed to have people know you went to a doctor? The same holds true about addressing conditions that exist on the inside. We all have problems we are dealing with. If they become too much for us to deal with on our own, we should seek outside help. This should not make us feel embarrassed or that we are less than. Quite the opposite. It should make us proud. We are brave enough to recognize and admit we are struggling in an area. (Trust me at any given time we all are) On top of that, we are smart enough to be doing something about it. We are working to be the best version of ourselves.

You wouldn’t feel bad about taking your car to an expert mechanic to be fixed. You wouldn’t hesitate to take your cell phone back to the store if it wasn’t working right. You should feel just as confident seeking professional help to address any issue that may be bothering you. If you do, you have a fully supportive group here on this website behind you. It is not only important to your health, but in the long run will determine the quality of the life you live. Here, we want to live amazing lives. Let us all help each other do so.

TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE

Last post we looked at casting actors to play in your own movie. This can go a long way to improving the quality of your life. You can increase your happiness and productivity, you can foster a greater sense of inner peace and you can have a lot more fun and success than you have ever had before. This sounds a little too good to be true? There is, I confess, one caveat.

Just like in the world of Hollywood, there is an executive producer. Call it God, the universe or whatever term you use. Sometimes they put people in our feature picture that we would rather do without. When this happens to me, I imagine the kind of movies I like to watch. Whether you enjoy Disney movies or are more a fan of Fifty Shades of Grey, in all of those movies there are challenges and villains the hero has to overcome. It is what gives the movie a sense of adventure. It is what makes your hero stronger and develop greater qualities. Can you imagine watching a movie in which the lead character wakes up, wins the lottery does anything they want, doesn’t age has perfect health and just repeats that over and over again? Does not sound like a very exciting movie to me. Do you think the star of that movie would grow stronger? I am guessing not so much.

In our own life we may have our friendly and fair boss replaced by one that is two-faced and emotionally unable to handle their position, lashing out and everyone the moment they become stressed. Hypothetically. In my own place of work we have a coworker who is quite less than pleasant. For the sake of argument we will call them “Michelle”. This person always comes in with a very negative attitude. The curse, they belittle and they generally bring a dark cloud with them on a daily basis. Is that someone you would cast in a movie you are staring in? I am guessing not. Every great character needs an antagonist. When I think of the negative, or as I like to call them sunshine-challenged, people in my life, I stop and ask myself, “How would the star of a movie handle these people?” This often allows me to handle them as the best version of myself or as the character I would wish to be in my movie. In the case of our previously mentioned coworker, I imagine my leading actor would not only use that to practice and improve their patience, but to remind them of the importance of staying positive. They would use that person’s negativity to remind them how valuable being positive to all of their costars is.

What about challenging situations? This is where thinking of your life as a movie and you as the director may really come in handy. In the picture above we see a director telling the camera person what to focus on. Can you imagine if we had someone to do the same for us? We do, it is ourselves. When a challenging situation pops up, we can decide what to focus on. Let us say we just lost our job. We can focus on all of the disadvantages we have. Perhaps we are too young and do not have the experience someone older would have. Perhaps we are older and lack the energy and long-term investment we think an employer would be looking for. Instead of focusing on what is against us, remembering we are the hero of our own movie and think to ourselves, “What would a hero choose to focus on?” Maybe it is that we have the health to go out and find a new job. Maybe it is the opportunity to begin again and find something that pleases us more?

What about those situations in life that just suck? A loved one passes away or a major health challenge occurs. When we are in the middle of the whirlwind of emotion these can be one of the most difficult situations to handle. Give yourself time to grieve and feel what you need to. Even the bravest heroes and biggest stars have moments like these. I am reminded of Will Smith’s character in The Pursuit of Happyness. At one point it seems everything is against him. He is unemployed and homeless. He is sleeping in a public restroom with his son and an angry man is trying to get inside to use the bathroom. I am hoping your life is nowhere near that bad. What happens in this movie? The character does not give up and ends up landing a great job and being able to take care of his son. (This movie was based on a true story. In other words someones life that was turned into a movie) In situations that you are under extreme stress it can be helpful to look at it as a director of a movie would and ask yourself, “Ok, if this happened in a movie I was directing, how would I have the star bounce back from their sadness, pain or depression?”

Looking at our life from this emotionally unattached position can offer us creative possibilities that we may otherwise miss. It can also help give us emotional strength we are otherwise unable to find. If the hero in our movie can do it, maybe we can too? Remember, you are the star in your movie. You are the director as well. Write yourself a great plot and do not let your hero be defeated by anything!

WHO IS IN YOUR MOVIE?

Last post we mentioned being the best star you can be in your own movie. We also mentioned when it comes to thinking of your life like a movie, it is important to remember the other roles that we play. One of those roles is that we cast our movie. Sometimes when we feel our life is not what we would like it to be, we need to examine who we have chosen to share it with.

Perhaps our life does not seem very hopeful. Maybe is seems kind of dark and depressing. As we look to improve and develop our own attitudes as discussed in our last post (Which is where I suggest you should begin) we must also take a look at who we are surrounding ourselves with. If we are hoping to develop a more joyous attitude but our world is filled with people who could do a voice over for Eeyore in the classic Winne-the-Pooh stories, it might make our journey more difficult. Maybe we wish to develop a more ‘can do’ attitude. If we are surrounded by people who are dream killers and who have given up on their dreams it will be tough going.

If there happens to be a shortage of quality people in your life, don’t worry. This is an area of great opportunity that can be easily corrected. Putting yourself in the position of a casting agent makes the process fun and easier to do. If you were creating a movie about a life (sometimes forgetting it is your own can make it easier) ask yourself who would I cast in that movie? If I was looking for a open-minded yet health conscious character I would cast my friend Nick for that role. Perhaps I was looking for a character who was very intelligent, but covered themselves in a veil of eccentricity, that would be a perfect role for my friend Bret. If I were looking to cast a beautiful leading lady who was creative and quirky, someone who would keep our leading actor on their toes…well as you know I cast that role to my lovely Margie.

Thinking about this exercise can be fun. It can help writing it down to help keep less in your head. Maybe there is a certain role you are looking to fill that you do not know anyone who has those exact traits. Write down the traits you are looking for in that person. Maybe it is your leading lady or man. Maybe it is just a costar you would like to feature on occasion. Maybe it is a place you would like the star of your movie to work, to play or to spend their vacation? Write that down and review it often. Keeping these thoughts in the back of your mind will help you notice and attract that person, place or thing. Remember, this is your movie cast accordingly. What about certain characters or situations we have in our movie that we might have cast differently? That is an issue we will discuss in tomorrow’s post. Make sure you return.