Here is something that is of the greatest importance, but easy to improve. That is your morning. It should not surprise anyone that how your morning goes, does a lot to determine how your day will go. If this is rather easy to understand, why is it that we do not take better advantage of it? Here is why, getting up early can be a challenge for a lot of us. I am guilty as charged. When I returned to work after my heart surgery, I was on a roll of not hitting the snooze button. About 2 months straight I was very disciplined. Then, one day after a long night of being a DJ, I needed those few extra minutes. Guess what has happened since? I have not got out of bed without hitting the snooze button.
This may not sound like such a big deal, but it has affected how the rest of my day has went. I guess I did not realize the degree in which it has until I was on vacation. When I have those extra ten minutes in the morning, I can do a lot more. More important, I can do everything with a lot less stress. When I was not hitting the snooze, I was able to leisurely make my cup of coffee, plank for at least 3 minutes and do ten squats. This would get my mind and body fired up. It also helped me achieve some wins before I left the house. This is why I tell people to make their beds before they leave. I would, but there is a sexy lady still sleeping in mine. Not sure she would appreciate me making the bed around her at 445am.
Next post, we will look at some things we can do to set our morning up for victory. Until then, try to make it one day without hitting the snooze. Begin that discipline. You will notice how much less stress you have to start the day. Less stress is always success!
One of the best ways to improve any situation is to improve your mindset in regards to it. We seldom have control over outside variables, and waiting for them to change will only add to the frustration we have with the situation we are involved in. What we do have complete control over is our mindset. If that seems down, we can change it. It sounds cliché, but we hear viewing something as a teaching moment verses a failure can help us so much. All of this may sound easier said than done, but there is a way we can begin to change our mindset.
Last post we spoke about taking Monday off to make us find it less offensive. This doesn’t have to be limited to Monday. Kids getting on your nerves and you find yourself snapping at them when you shouldn’t? It may be time to call a sitter and spend an afternoon at the spa. Your spouse working on your last nerve? Maybe a shopping trip with the girls, or a fishing trip with the guys will refresh your outlook. I am not advocating running away from your problems. If there is something that needs addressing, by all means do so. Sometimes, however, all we need is a little time to catch our breath and revive our outlook.
It amuses me how many people talk themselves out of being able to do these things. “I can’t get a sitter unless I really need one.” I think if it improves the relationship with your children, then some ‘me time’ might be something you need. “My spouse will be unhappy if I go shopping/fishing.” They might be, but if it means you come back with more love and patience for them, and it improves your relationship in the long run, I think they will be happy with that. Especially if you state it like this, “My love, I feel like I am not able to give my best to you and this relationship and a little time away would help me do that.” Who could argue with a statement such as that? Do not say this if it is not genuine. If you are having relationship burnout, which happens in the best couples, it is important to address it before it leads to even greater problems.
It may help to view these breaks as what they are – investments. Taking a break is like a strategic retreat. It will allow you to regroup and meet life head on in a far more productive manner. If you find any part of your life overwhelming, run away from it…for a while. Take a break. Take some ‘me time’. Regroup and come back stronger than ever. Invest in yourself.
Above is the results for a 5K race that I ran last Wednesday. I run this race every year. It is held at the Wisconsin State Fair park. This is one of my favorite places to go. This year, I had open-heart surgery in January. My goal was to come back and finish the race in 30 minutes or less. As you can see, I fell short by 7 minutes. I was disappointed to learn this. My cardiovascular and breathing were just not up to the task. I vented to those that did the race with me. I figured 6 months after surgery would have been enough to get back in shape. I was reminded for the first 4 months after surgery, you are advised to do little, if anything at all. This means that I really only had 2 months to train for this race.
Although this made me feel slightly better, I am still a little disappointed I did not make me goal. Normally, I am the fellow who advises you to find and focus on the positives in a situation. This is true here too. After having my chest sawed in half and a chunk of my heart cut out and replaced (and dying for a brief period of time) I still finished with the same time I did the year prior. It was only 6 months after surgery, and I was told it will take a full year to be back at 100%. Still, I want to keep this feeling of disappointment with me. Why on earth would I want to do that? I want to do what I advise everyone to do in my book Living the Dream. Find a way to use your emotions instead of letting them use you.
In this case, on the days I do not feel like going to the gym, I am going to remember that feeling of disappointment. When I do not feel like eating better, I am going to remember how it felt to struggle as I ran. These feelings will not only serve to keep me on track, but will push me to better myself. That is how to put negative feelings to work for you. Is there something you are disappointed in yourself for? Did you yell at your spouse when they didn’t deserve it? Use that to push you to get a better control of your temper and to find ways to make it up to yourself. Disappointed you didn’t get what you wanted done at home? Use that feeling to get you up and out of bed the next day to tackle the activity you want to accomplish.
So called negative emotions will always be a part of our lives. As we work to limit them, we should also find ways to put them to use for us as well. In that way we turn what used to be a negative into a positive. What are some ways in which you have done this in your own life?
Today is the first day of summer where I live. To me, it is one of the best days of the year. I was born in the summer, I love the sunshine and I can never have enough summer fun. Thus, the official start of the season is greeted with great joy and enthusiasm. I am sure the same is true for those of you who enjoy fall or spring. I can’t really wrap my head around those of you who feel this way about winter, but the same must hold true there as well. Another thing that makes this day so special is that where I live summer is very short and fleeting. It makes the season we do have that much more special.
I do my best to enjoy as many wonderful events during this season as I can. As you read this, I will be attending an exciting bike race taking place just blocks from where I live. There will be a street party and many other fun things to do. I will also be enjoying the sunshine and the company of the woman I love. Finding new and exciting ways to celebrate the season I love is a fun adventure. I will do the same, with the help from my lady, for my birthday. We are also planning to take our first vacation in several years.
Both celebrating and planning fun things to do only serves to extend the joy of the actual event itself. Looking at videos of different resorts will certainly put us in an excited state. Perhaps planning a tour or two? Maybe even just planning where will we eat dinner on what night can be exciting. Looking at all the fun places to explore and learn about. This is all before the plane touches down on the runway. Same is true for my thoughts of summer. Margie and I were talking about more picnics and bike rides this year. My mother and I were talking about exploring new parks and woods to hike in. This is all before the season of summer has actually begun. Getting excited for these events will make them more enjoyable, and thought out, when they actually happen.
What events or times of year do you look forward to? How do you celebrate? Remember there is always something to celebrate and be grateful for!
What is your first thought upon waking? If you are like most of us, that can be beginning to fret over the list of things you have to do, or worrying about how little time you have to get ready and get to work. The attitude we bring to our day will tend to follow us the remainder of the day. How much better would we feel if we began our day with a feeling of gratitude for the gift of waking up to another day? How about the excitement at being able to show those we care about in our lives how special they are? The opportunity to make someone else smile? The chance to witness nature and all of its miracles?
Look, I get it. At 4:45 in the morning, these are generally not my first thoughts as the alarm clock wakens me from a blissful slumber. The realization I have to leave a warm bed and a hot lady to drive 35 minutes to go to work is not the most inspiring thought. How can we change this? I have several suggestions and I am looking for more! How can we wake up and focus on what is right with our lives instead of what is wrong? In the first 20 minutes after waking we are most susceptible to suggestion. This is true even when it comes to our own thoughts. That is why it is so important to start the day with a good one!
Here is one of the secrets, making the best of everything. Perhaps having this quote printed, or even written out, next to our bed for us to see first thing in the morning could change our mentality after that alarm goes off? We don’t even have to wait that long. A good deal of us use our phones to wake us up. Do you know there are so many ways to customize your alarm? You can pick a favorite song to wake up to. You can pick something funny or inspiring. I even learned you can type in a saying that your phone will say to you when the alarm goes off. How cool is that?
Another tool we can use is giving ourselves something to look forward to. I mentioned some of the thoughts I had early in the morning. Leaving my warm bed and hot lady. Driving 35 minutes, especially if the weather is not the best. None of these are things to look forward to. One of the things I do in the morning is make myself a cup of coffee. Having a coffee I like would be something to look forward to. What if on that 35 minute drive I had a good audiobook or some music to listen to? That would certainly be something worth waking up for. Sure, we may rather sleep in on any given morning, but having something to look forward to would inject a little positivity into our day.
Another thing I have is a daily calendar that features positive and inspiring quotes. Not only does reading something positive first thing in the morning help, but even looking forward to what they might say goes a little way to help me get out of bed in the morning. You can also get apps on your phone that do the same thing. I have such a thing. Regretfully, they do not post until 7am, almost three hours after I wake up, but it is something to look forward to.
Starting your day in a positive fashion can make the rest of the day, even the challenges, go more smoothly. What do you do, or what could you do to start you day off right? Could you place a picture of the one you love on the bathroom mirror? What about your favorite inspiring quote by the coffee maker? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments below. Let us all share our ideas with each other for a more positive morning and thus a more positive day and positive life!
If you have followed me for any length of time, you know I am a fan of many different authors and speakers. Today’s post is courtesy of one such individual, David Goggins. David is a raw and real speaker that may be offensive in his language to some. He does, however, have a wealth of knowledge and great information. One of my favorite subjects he speaks on is the mindset of greatness. His best comparison is that of a job interview. When we are first interviewing for a job, what do we do days, weeks or even longer before? We make sure our clothes are ready, have our coffee cup out, a breakfast ready to be made. In short, we are preparing to make it as easy as possible to bring our best self to the interview. It usually works, and we get the job. What happens several months to a year down the line? We no longer put our clothes out the night before. Maybe our breakfast isn’t ready. Perhaps we are a few minutes late because we had to wait for the coffee to brew. We become comfortable. We have the job and so why spend the time doing all of the extras?
This can happen even sooner for some of us. It is a natural sort of progression. Should the company face the prospect of having to downsize, or we hear a rumor that we might lose our job, then we amp up our efforts once again. Of course, once that threat lessens or goes away entirely, we are back to going through the motions of going to work and coming home. Les Brown, another favorite speaker, once said we do enough at a job not to get fired, and they pay us just enough not to quit. That may very well be true. Another fact is that if you are looking to be promoted or to get a raise, all you need to do is to do more work than is required for you. Companies will not want to lose an employee with that mindset. They will do everything they can to hang on to someone who is willing to ‘go the extra mile’.
Our job is not the only place this thinking shows up. One of the places were we tend to do this the most is in our intimate relationships. When we are trying to win someone’s affection, or shortly after we do so, we act a certain way. We send flowers for no reason. We are more likely to do things for that person without complaint. Fast forward being together for years and what happens? We, almost subconsciously, take the relationship, if not the person, for granted. We think to ourselves that area of our life is ‘handled’ and we can place our energy elsewhere. We start to compliment them less. Maybe we show less affection. When they ask us to do something, it feels more like a chore.
Much like our job, if a challenge arises, so do our efforts. If the person we are with suddenly has an attractive new coworker, or maybe they do something that indicates they might be thinking of moving on, then we begin to put more effort into our relationship with them. Maybe we come home with some flowers. We might take time out of our work day to send them a loving text or perhaps a quick call. Once we become comfortable again, our efforts may start to dwindle. If you want a more amazing and deeper relationship, the steps are the same as getting a promotion or raise at work. All we have to do to take our relationships to the next level is go the extra mile. In short, do all of the amazing things we did when we were trying to win them and we will only serve to strengthen and deepen the relationship we have.
A good bonus of this thinking is that there should be more ideas the longer you are together. In the years Margie and I have been together, I have learned many new things that make her happy and feel loved. In some cases, I have been there when she discovered them for herself. I was able to do so by active listening. This means every day I am consciously on the lookout for those things that bring joy to the heart and a smile to the face of the woman I love. This took some effort and reminding myself in the beginning, but now it is second nature to me. The rewards of this have been worth their weight in gold. At any time I have a growing list of things I can do, say or make happen that will not only make her happier, but strengthen and deepen her love for me. I confess, I should probably be doing this more often, but as our love continues to grow so does the opportunities to make it grow.
Don’t worry if you have been guilty of falling into these ruts. We all do so to some degree. The secret is being able to recognize that and to pull ourselves out of them. Another way to look at this – the longer you have been in this rut and the deeper you are, the greater the opportunity for improvement! When you begin to look for and do the little extras, your life, your job and your relationships, both intimate and others, will transform before your eyes! I would love to hear what other areas of your life you feel this could come in handy.
We can get so busy in our everyday lives that we miss a lot of the amazing beauty that surrounds us. The above picture is one I took while I was waiting at a red light returning from work on my off day. I was lost in my thoughts of everything that I wanted to get done when I got home along with a host of other thoughts. There are some moments I am even surprised I noticed the light is red. I do not know what prompted me to look over to my left, but I saw this face staring at me. There is something about a look that a dog can give you that can cause you to question your own behavior. This is just another reason there are days when I like animals better than a lot of people. I respected this dog’s ability to take in the world around him. Sadly, there are times when I drive to work and when I arrive I wonder who drove. This is made even scarier by the fact that I am the only one in the car.
Here is another example. This photo was taken of a goose waiting to enter the post office where I work. Just the silly nature of the moment was something that very well could have passed me by. In fact, I am sure there are a million of these moments that do pass me by that I fail to notice. We live in a world filled with distraction. If you are stuck in line at the grocery store behind the lady that has not one, but two carts filled to the top (this actually happened this past weekend) instead of taking in the moment, we pull out our phones. When we are driving we have music or an audiobook playing and seldom notice the people, or dogs, around us. In the case of this photo, I was busy doing a little landscaping and may have not even noticed this goose. I just happened to look up at the right time.
One last example. My drive to work now happens somewhere between 5 and 6 am. There is not a lot of traffic and I usually have time to think. I am working on making my thoughts far more positive and productive. Still, there are days when they are filled with thoughts of not wanting to go to work. Most days it also includes how little sleep I received the night before. This is where I was on this particular morning. Lost in thoughts that were not serving me. Suddenly, I stop at a red light on a bridge overlooking a freeway and glance this sunrise. Instead of focusing on all of the things that were not exactly as I wished them to be, I realized how much better my day would start if I focused on all of the things I had to be grateful for. I had a job to go to. There is usually very little stressful traffic at this hour. There was a beautiful sunrise to be seen. I had vision to take in this sunrise. I was driving a car I owned to take me to work. I had a home to return to. The list could have been endless, yet I had already wasted 3/4 of the journey focusing on what I was lacking.
We all know better. We know the quality of our feelings and consequently our life, would be better if only we were to focus on that which we have to be grateful for. We would enjoy and savor life if we were better able to be present and see the beauty and humor like in the first two photos above. If we were to focus on what IS working in our lives and not what is lacking we would feel so much more fulfilled and blessed. If we were to be more present and make an effort to look for the beauty and humor in life, we would enjoy our life so much more. Why don’t we? We are too busy distracting ourselves. We need to take some time to sit with ourselves in silence. We need to block out some time and write down a list of things we are grateful for in our life. We need to read and add to that list daily. We need to say to ourselves, “I am going to look for what is beautiful today.” The distractions we fall victim too not only take us away from doing this, but they often fill our time with negativity. News you receive on your phone, posts you can see on social media and many other distractions can be a terrible disservice to our attempts at living a positive and rewarding life. There is a place and time for these items (although I debate how necessary the news is) let us not let them distract us from living our lives.
For our Christian friends, Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent. This is a month of introspection, fasting or acts of service to help deepen their faith. I applaud this idea. Anything that not only helps improve yourself, but also deepens your spiritual beliefs is a win/win in my book. The irony, in my humble opinion, is that next month our Muslim friends celebrate Ramadan. What is that you may ask? It is a month of prayer, fasting and introspection to help deepen their faith. It surprises me how much we all have in common, yet still can find reasons to wage war in the name of God.
What I would like to discuss, is the very act both of these periods of time accomplish and how we view them. In the example of Lent, which is upon us, one is to give up meat on Fridays. A little sacrifice to allow yourself to be more mindful, that is good stuff. If you accidentally eat a salad that has real bacon bits on it, what happens? Do you consider yourself a failure? Have you committed a terrible sin that has offended your creator greatly? No, my guess would be that you may chastise yourself and be a little more focused on what you eat in the future. The purpose here is to become more mindful. If you forgot you gave up eating sweets, as an example, and you accidentally eat a homemade doughnut your girlfriend made in baking class, do you quit and forget the rest of Lent? Of course not. The whole point in doing these activities is to strengthen your faith and your character.
One of the great lessons we can take from these wonderful moments of spiritual introspection is that success and improvement is seldom, if ever, a linear equation. We may stumble. We may make mistakes and not be as mindful or thoughtful as we should be. This does not make us failures and often leads to some of the greatest character building. We have to remember that these challenges make us who we are. We also can use these experiences to practice compassion for ourselves. Whether you are undergoing Lent this month, or Ramadan next month, may you see a great sense of spiritual growth and may you learn to be patient with yourself as well as others.
Even if you do not find yourself following either of these spiritual paths, there is something to be learned about periods of self-improvement and reflection. What we can learn is that we will go backwards and stumble as we make our way forward. A side-effect of improving ourselves or deepening our faith is that we must learn to practice compassion. For ourselves, for others and for the world around us. If we do not, we will not succeed with improving much in our lives, spiritual or otherwise.
It is the middle of the week and we are all starting to wear down a little. I think there comes a time in all of our lives, mine happens several times, that we say defeating things to ourselves. Some of my not-so-self-serving thoughts include phrases like, “Why do I always go the extra mile for people who would not do the same?” “What is the point of working hard when your boss doesn’t appreciate you?” or “What is the point of always doing the right thing when it doesn’t seem to get you anywhere?” Trust me. I get it. Life can be hard and the rewards and purpose for giving it our all can be a little gray to put it kindly.
The picture above should make it perfectly clear as to why we keep going when the going gets rough. You may think if you are not a parent or a teacher that this does not apply to you. That couldn’t be further from the truth. You never know who is watching you where. It also doesn’t have to be a child. There are so many people that may choose not to give up because they have seen us do the same. I recall a gentleman thanking me for opening the car door for Margie because it reminded him of something simple he could do to make his wife feel loved and valued. I didn’t know this man. Haven’t seen him before or sense. I also wasn’t opening the door to inspire him. I actually do it as a sign of respect for the lady I love. Still, it inspired him.
It is the middle of the week. Hump day as it is known to some. The week may be starting to wear on you. Don’t slip, don’t give up that effort or discipline. You never know who you may be inspiring and you may never know. One thing you can know for sure is that you are inspiring someone.
I love this sign! It goes a great way to show how people respond kindly to you when you treat them positively. This is reflective in my own life. I can recall quite a few times when the fine folks working at the coffee shops have told me things like “This one is on us today” or thrown in a few little extra items for me. I attribute this, not only to their kindness and generosity, but to the fact that I always treat them with kindness and respect. Still, there is a small change I would make to this sign. I would have it read as follows:
“Small coffee!” = a small coffee
“Small coffee, please” = a medium coffee
“Hello, one small coffee please” = a large coffee
I would word it this way because I believe that the kinder you are, the more life returns to you. Let me be perfectly clear, paying less or getting more should not be your main motive for being kind and respectful to others. You should do that because, as Earl Nightingale used to say, that is how we ought to treat each other. If all the self-serving folks did decide to be kind because they thought there was more in it for them, I guess that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. For the rest of us, it is worth noting that life will return what we give out. It may not be from exactly who we give it to, or in the exact same fashion, but it will be returned to us.
Our life tends to be more positive and rewarding when that is how we are to the world. This is not terribly mind-boggling. If you are a fun smiling sort, people look forward to your presence and thus, treat you with more kindness and respect. Do this wherever you go and soon you will find kind people wherever you end up. “What about those people who are not kind to me even though I am kind to them?” I can hear some of you asking. First of all, those are the people who need it the most. They me broken in ways that we cannot perceive. Maybe they just lost someone they love, had a break up, told there job will be outsourced or simply were not raised with manners. Not only is it essential we lead by example, but the next time around they may remember the kindness we showed them and return the favor. Maybe they will simply treat the next person in line with a little more gentleness and thus we have still done our part to make the world a better place.
In life we are here to serve one another. One of the easiest, yet most important ways to do this is through treating each other with kindness and respect. It will not only improve and add joy to our life, but to the world at large. It doesn’t cost us a single dime, but the returns can be worth their weight in gold.