THE MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME IS WHEN YOU ARE DOING NOTHING ๐Ÿ˜Œ

When something is scarce, it becomes valuable. The less there is of it, the more valuable it becomes. Coffee, for example, used to be extremely expensive. Now, with better international shipping, a cup of coffee can be had almost anywhere. This is great news as a blog writer and future best-selling author. In the modern world, many things have become more available and thus, more economical. There is one thing that has become extremely rare. It may be something that many of us think has little or no value. The truth could not be more different.

What is this thing that has become more rare and is often overlooked for its extreme value? The answer is this – down time. In today’s world, we are so busy trying to accomplish as much as we can that taking a break can have many of us feeling guilty. We are so well connected that being ‘disconnected’ feels wrong. The other day I drove by a high school on my way home from work and what did I see at the bus stop? Roughly 5 kids all staring at their phones. I won’t get into the online verses personal connection, that is for another post. What is sad, is that we are always busy doing something.

I love to go for walks in nature. I see people walking, jogging or riding their bikes. If they are alone, they usually have headphones in or a phone in their hands. What is the cost of all of this business? Lack of connection with the most important person in our lives – ourselves. We spend so little time in our own heads, we often have no idea what is going on there. I hear so many people say “I just feel down and I don’t know why.” Maybe it is because we are not paying attention to the thoughts and emotions we are feeling? We are busy watching, reading, and listening to things that we drown out the voice coming from within. You know, the one that might have warned us something was bothering us before it became overwhelming!

How do I know this to be true? Because one of the people I have heard say these things more often lately is the man writing this blog. On more than one occasion feelings of dread or sadness have overcome me and I have had no idea why. Not only is this a negative feeling, but it is frustrating as hell. How can you fix something when you don’t even know what is wrong? How indeed! What we need to do is spend some time doing nothing. Just relaxing and being present. It will not only be good for our mental health, which is worth its weight in gold, but good for our productivity. How can doing nothing be good for productivity? We all have hundreds of million dollar ideas in our wonderful brains. The reason we usually never realize them, and act on them, is because it is too loud for us to even hear them.

I am not just talking at you, I am talking to the man at the keyboard. Today I leave for my first real vacation in over 4 years. I will be gone for a whole week. Do you know when the last time I took a week away from everything? Here is the sad part, neither do I. These blogs will be written and scheduled ahead of time. My fourth book that is due out in the next few months? It will have to wait. What will be true is my mind will be clearer and better able to complete that book and bring you insightful thoughts in future blogs after this week. I encourage all of you to schedule some downtime and do so soon. It will not only help you be more productive, it will be a goldmine for your mental health!

1 OF THE BEST LESSONS I’VE LEARNED. ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿซ

In this crazy world, I have learned lots of lessons. This has become accelerated the older I get. That is a lesson itself. People generally go one of two ways when they get older. They become more rigid, or stuck in their ways, or they realize that they ‘don’t know what they don’t know’. I am fortunate enough to fall into the latter category. The older I get, the more open and compassionate I have become. Going through challenges in life can make you hard or allow you to relate to others in a deeper and more meaningful way.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned through everything is the importance of remaining calm. Extreme emotions can be beneficial. They can give us a boost of energy when we need it. Extreme fear can heighten our senses to keep us safe. More often than not, extreme emotions are a negative. They drain us of valuable energy and deplete our immune systems. Yes, you may get a boost of adrenaline at first, but it comes with a price eventually. When we are in the whirlwind of emotion, it can cloud our judgement and we may make decisions we will regret. Things that seem like the right thing to say or do when we are angry, sad, depressed or a host of other intense emotions, can have us asking for forgiveness for years after.

The quote above is some great advice. Decisions that could affect you long-term are best not made in an extreme emotional state. Why? When you act impulsively, you are transferring control of your decisions from your logical mind, to your irrational emotions. When you are able to stay calm, it is almost like being able to look down on a situation from above. When you act emotionally, it is like looking out from inside a whirlwind. You may not have all of the information to make the best decision. Even if you do, you may not be taking it into consideration.

I am not going to be foolish enough to tell you that staying calm in the middle of an emotional decision is easy. It is not. It takes a good strategy and a lot of practice. What is a good strategy for staying calm? That varies as much as the individual. You can try deep breathing, counting to ten, picturing something that makes you laugh. Whatever works for you. There is plenty of books and research on the topic I invite you to investigate on your own. What I can tell you is that developing the ability to stay calm is worth all of the effort. Staying calm is not only a talent, it is a rare and valuable talent. It allows you to maintain control when others lose it. It saves you the stress and heartache of regret over something you said or did that you should not have. One more thing that staying calm requires is patience with yourself. This is not a talent that will come all at one. No matter how much you study and practice methods on your own, it will be a lot different when you have to put them into practice.

My advice is to invest some time and energy into developing the ability to stay calm. It will not only give you the ability to objectively approach challenges in life, but will save your relationships much of the pain you will inflict by acting emotionally. Invest time in discovering strategies for staying calm. Invest time in practicing them. Your relationships will thank you. Your stress level will thank you. Your life will thank you.

1 FOR THEM… 3 FOR YOU ๐Ÿค”

I am sure many of us have heard this saying growing up. When you point a finger at someone, there are three more pointing back at you. This is usually mentioned in terms of accountability. This is helpful to think about. Especially if we consider the law of attraction and how we create our own reality. Often, others behavior and words can depend a good deal upon us and what we bring to the world. Seldom people that are being fed a diet of positive and encouraging words will lash out and hurt others. In this way, we can be part of the solution instead of the problem. What is in our life is more about what we bring to it, than what is brought to us.

There is another aspect I would like you to think about. That is what we say about others. If we are projecting and bringing to light the positive aspects of others, what do you think others are more likely to say about us? If, on the other hand, we are constantly pointing out others faults and negative aspects, what do you think that shows about us? The same goes for how we look at situations. Are we the one always pointing out the negative? Are we the person trying to find the light in the darkness? What is our finger pointing at in life? Remember, what we are pointing out and accenting has a way of coming back to us. Make sure you are speaking and thinking positivity and light my friends. Remember, 1 for them…3 for you.

YOUR MIND๐Ÿง  AND YOUR HEART โค๏ธ

Last post, we talked about the importance of setting a good example for the generations to come. What are you saying to the world? Most of our communication is nonverbal. It is time to reflect on if our words and actions are matching. Think about the message you would like to share with the world. What is it? Are you sharing that message with the words you speak? More importantly, are you demonstrating it with your actions? If not, how could you do better?

This may be a short post, but there is a lot to think about. How can we promote our values with both our words and our actions? How can we both speak life and positivity into the world as well as bring it with our actions? It is worth it to take some time to think about what you are bringing to the world today and everyday.

MAKE YOURSELF UNFIT ๐Ÿง 

I find Frederick Douglass to be one of the most remarkable individuals. After escaping slavery himself, he went on to lead many abolitionist causes. This, in itself, is not all that remarkable. What I find so impressive is his wonderful oratory and the fact he was able to use his own story to serve the cause of bringing freedom to so many. He did this by writing a total of three autobiographies. His story of slavery cast a light on the horrors suffered by so many. He was able to do all of this by educating himself. He knew one of the best ways to demonstrate the absurdity of slavery was to serve as a counterexample of the enslavers’ argument that slaves lacked the intellectual ability to function as American citizens. In doing so, he spurred more change than had he lead a violent revolt, or turned sword and pistol on those who had enslaved him. In fact, by doing so, he would have actually lent credibility to their argument.

This may strike you, as it does me, a very powerful story from our past. It is much more than that. If we think of the racism, prejudice, and division that grips our world today, Frederick Douglass gives us a course to correct many of them. That is to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. This can be accomplished through educating and improving ourselves. We all represent more than just ourselves. We represent our city, our race, our faith, our political party and a million other associations we have. Fair or not, this is how it is. When we act in a manner that is less than our best, it reflects negatively on everything we represent. This is true whether we want it to be or not. Conversely, if we educate and evolve, it reflects positively on all we represent to others.

Another amazing thing about Frederick Douglass, was his understanding of the need to engage in meaningful dialogue with those who would oppose, or even enslave us. When people asked him how he could talk to enslavers, he would answer with the quote above, “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.” When we look at the current state of politics and social reform, it would seem the modern world could take a great lesson from Mr. Douglass. How about in your life? Are you willing to work with people you may not agree with if it will result in serving the greater good? Are you willing to go along with others in your group and not stand up in opposition even if you know it is wrong?

Frederick Douglass gave us a lot of great lessons. Two of which are the power education serves in freeing an individual. This is not only true of racial suppression, but freedom from economic slavery, ideological slavery, intellectual slavery and many other conditions that will keep us from rising to become the best versions of ourselves. If you find yourself held down, held back or held up from being all that you can be, the secret is education. This does not even have to be formal education. Daily visits to the local library can transform our lives and give us the power to rise above our current circumstances.

The second lesson from Frederick Douglass was the importance of engaging in meaningful dialogue with those we may view as our opposition. If we want to accomplish anything to serve the greater good, we must work together. It is a lesson not only for our world leaders, but for us to take into our own lives. This is how we solve disputes with coworkers, angry neighbors and any other situation we find ourselves in. I encourage you to study the life of Frederick Douglass and to read his autobiographies. It will not only be a great lesson in history, but you will learn many great lessons you can apply to your own life.

ONE SMALL STEP…๐Ÿšถโ€โ™‚๏ธ

A lot of us are looking to make a great change in the world. I can appreciate that. It is my own desire to be a best-selling author who positively impacts the lives of millions. In our urgency to create drastic change, we must keep in mind that every journey starts with that first step. We look forward to the end result we are pursuing, but seldom take a hard look at those first steps. Life seldom creates change all at once. The odds I am going to wake up as a best-selling author tomorrow are fairly slim. (Oprah, you know the number. Feel free to call.)

My work as a life coach reminds me often of how to accomplish large goals. In life coaching, we take a look at where someone wants to go first. Let us take the example of wanting to be a best-selling author who positively impacts millions. Good goal. Next, we take a look at where that person is. In this case, a local author working diligently on his fourth book. Then we work backwards to develop a list of smaller goals to bridge the gap from where that person is to where they want to go. When you work backwards like this, you can begin to see the value in the smaller steps you must take.

NEIL PANOSIAN

In the case of me becoming a best-selling author, I need to take some steps to get there. One of the first steps was to write a book. That sounds like an obvious first step. What we need to do is drill down even further. We need to write the first chapter, the first line, the first word. Even before we write anything we need to consolidate our ideas and research and organize them. After we write, we must decide what route to go for publishing. Even after the book is in our hands, we need to discover the best way to get it into everyone else’s hands. If we focused on how to get our book to the masses before we even write it, that would not be very productive.

Whatever goal you are currently chasing, try using the same process we just outlined. Get clear what the goal you are working to accomplish is. Next, discover honestly where you are currently. This is a step many people struggle with. Think of a map. If you have a place you would like to get to, but you do not know where you are, how would you even know what direction to travel in? Next, break down that journey into smaller and smaller steps. The more steps you have, the more likely you are to continue to make progress. Once you begin to make progress, then you gain momentum. That will keep you going. Before long your goal will be in sight. Take that first small step. You never know where it may lead.

IF YOU DON’T HAVE THIS, GO BACK TO BED ๐Ÿ›Œ

Picture this. A man gets in a taxi cab. The driver asks him, “Where will you be going today?” The man refuses to tell the driver. How far do you think he will get? If the cab drives off at all, he will be lucky to get anywhere. Let us picture a different situation with our friend in the cab. After the driver inquires as to his desired destination, our peculiar traveler has not only one answer, but several. As soon as the driver begins to take him anywhere near a destination he changes his mind and yells out a new one. What will happen then? Depending on how patient the cab driver is, the man will spend the afternoon driving around the city and paying the cab driver a lot of money.

These situations may sound comical to us. How ridiculous would it be to start out on a journey without having a destination in mind? How far would we get if we change our destination as soon as we make any progress toward the one we are traveling to? We would not get very far at all. Yet, as we begin a day and just go through the motions, that is exactly what we are doing. When we set out in life without a purpose, we end up being used to serve someone else’s purpose. It is equally as senseless to start one thing and hop to another and another. We end up making very little progress.

Like the photo above says, if you wake up without a goal, go back to bed. We excel so much greater when we have a purpose and direction in life. I suggest having a goal every day. If we do not it would be like getting in our car, shifting to neutral, and pressing the accelerator. We may put a lot of energy and power behind it, but without direction, we will get nowhere.

IMPORTANT DISCOVERY THAT WILL DETERMINE THE QUALITY OF YOUR LIFE ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

This post comes from the minds of two of my favorite people. First, there is William James. If you read his life story, it is one of failure and depression. He was considered to be a disappointment to his family much of his early life. He then went on to become the father of psychology and was the first to offer it as a course of study. This quote about the power of our thoughts could not be more true. Our thoughts not only determine our emotional well-being and the quality of our lives, but what actions and activities we will pursue. Maintaining positive and self-empowering thoughts is one of the most powerful things we can do. There is one other thought and emotional state that we should focus on to improve the quality of our life. This comes from the second of my favorite people to be included in this post.

Here is another wise and thoughtful philosopher. Yes, it is my beautiful and sometimes crazy lady, Margie. Just this morning she surprised me by waking up with a deep thought that serves as the second part of our post today. It is the importance of living with inner peace. When you live in a state of peace within yourself, the chaos outside can affect you less. When you have peace in your heart, you are far less likely to inflict pain on others. There is a clichรฉ that only hurt people, hurt people. There is a good deal of truth to that statement. The benefits of having inner peace cannot be overstated. It will help foster a feeling of compassion for others. It will help keep you from being negatively in your emotions. It will give you inner strength as well.

The million dollar question then becomes, “How do we develop inner peace?” There is no one quick answer to this question. The answers are as varied as the people trying to put them into action. One of the most important is to attach yourself to a purpose greater than yourself. When life is all about you, it is easy to let the outside world affect you. When you are living for a purpose greater than yourself, it takes a lot more to rattle you. That purpose can range from helping make the world a better place for our animal friends to increasing awareness and action when it comes to child and domestic abuse.

Inner peace can also be achieved a great deal through confronting our demons and putting them to use for us. When we suffer some physical or emotional trauma, especially early in life, it can haunt us and deprive us of our inner peace for the rest of our life. Through the use of a journal, or perhaps seeking professional help, we can confront and conquer these demons. When we do, we can reach back and help others who have faced, and are facing, the same trauma. In this case, we take a liability and turn it into an asset.

It takes work to do all of this. The payoff of developing and working to maintain inner peace benefits ourselves in terms of a healthier emotional state. This can lead to things such as a stronger immune system, increased joy and decreased stress. It can benefit others around us by making us more compassionate and understanding. This will make us a better spouse, friend, parent, coworker and any other role we choose to play. It will benefit the world at large by reducing the amount of stress and setting examples of how better to treat each other. It will also allow us to bring the best version of ourselves to everything we are involved in. This is what the world needs most. I would love to hear all of your suggestions for developing more inner peace.

THEY ARE BOTH AVAILABLE. WHICH ONE WILL YOU CHOOSE?๐Ÿค”

Here is a point that I have made over and over again. What is right is always available to focus on. Why do more people not do that? Because what is wrong is also available to focus on. I do not have to tell you which one is presented to us more often. That is why both an optimist and a pessimist are equally right when it comes to life. The glass is both half-full as well as half-empty. If this is true, than what does it matter? It matters due to the distinct difference in emotional state that each perception has. Why is emotional state so important? In life, it is the determining factor! It is not money that decides the quality of life. If that were the case, no wealthy people would ever suffer any forms of anxiety or depression. We know that is the case. On the flip side, no poor people would ever be happy. We also know this is not the case.

If it is not finances that determine the quality of life, it must be health right? Having good health plays a big role in our emotional well-being and that is why it is so important to take control of our health and to do what we can to increase the quality of our health. That being said, it is not the determining factor in our emotional well-being. If that were the case, no sick people would ever be happy and no healthy people would ever be sad. In fact, our emotional state can play an important role in our physical healing. When we are in a good emotional place, our immune system is stronger and we are more likely to take actions that will lead to healthier outcomes. Negative emotions, on the other hand, will lower our immune response and can often generate physical ailments in the body. Have you ever worried yourself to a sick stomach? Ever gotten so angry that your blood pressure went through the roof? Imagine what would happen if we continued these emotional states chronically?

We have all heard the saying, “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how you react to it.” The secret to our emotional state is focus and meaning. What we choose to focus on, and what we decide it means. Let us take the most difficult situation any of us can face; losing someone we love. We are going to experience the most terrible emotional pain. That is what happens. With great love we suffer great loss. What will we do with that pain? What will we decide that pain means? Does it mean that God does not love us and our life will be filled with pain? If that is what we decide, then yes. If we decide that it is a reminder of how much we can love and how important it is to cherish and create memories with those we love, than yes, that is what it will mean.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not trying to minimize the pain of losing someone you love. Whenever you remember them, there will be feelings of loss and sorrow. It is what we do with those feelings that matter. It can serve as a great reminder to communicate with those who are close to the end or facing some serious medical challenges. It can also be a great reminder to create memories with those who are still with us, as life can change in a second.

Tough times and tough situations are never fun. Just remember, in every life there is plenty of good to focus on. This does not mean being ignorant to that which is less than ideal, but to perhaps reframe it so we can put it to use for us instead of allowing it to use us.

HOW TO GO FURTHER IN LIFE๐Ÿšถโ€โ™‚๏ธ

I heard this adage in a motivational speech I was listening to the other day. It really struck me as one of the great secrets to an amazing life. It not only works in the realm of walking, but transfers to all areas of life. If you tie your motivation for doing something to the end goal, you will only be motivated for so long and at a certain intensity. Not to mention, goals and destinations change. What we need to do is fall in love with processes. What do I mean by falling in love with the process and not just the end goal? Let us take a look.

If we take the example of walking, it will show us what we are looking at. If you are motivated to walk simply to reach a destination, you will approach it in a certain way. You will just consider what it will take to get from point A to point B. If, however, you are looking to enjoy the process of walking, you will approach it in an entirely different manner. You will look for the most comfortable walking shoes. You will make sure you are hydrated and take water with you for your walk. You would take steps to enjoy the process. This is the same if you are trying to get in shape, advance in your career, or any other aspect of life.

Most of our life is spent on the journey and very little of it is spent arriving at a destination. If we tie our happiness to the achievement of goals, we will be unhappy the majority of the time. It would be far wiser, and serve us far greater, to find happiness in the process of achieving our goals. Think of something you are currently chasing. This could be wanting to achieve that summer beach body, create more joy and less stress in your life or anything else. Then, ask yourself the very important question – “What can I do to bring joy to the process of what I am now doing?” If it is getting in shape, find an activity that you enjoy. This could be walking in nature. It could be swimming and pretending you are on vacation. It could be playing basketball with friends. If your goal is to create more love in your relationship, how could you make the process of that fun and enjoyable? As a bonus, the more you can enjoy the process, the more likely you are to stick with it. As it was stated in the title, you are likely to walk further.