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.
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.
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!
Last post we discussed lists and how valuable they can be. Today we are going to focus on one of those lists and how a strange side effect of keeping that list can add an unexpected positive element to your life. This list will change your life for the better quicker than almost anything else I know. It is a list that I recommend to everyone. It is also one of the first steps that I advise making to your life to increase your happiness and improve your outlook on your life. It also has what seems to be a magical effect on the lives of all who try it. In my own life, it completely changed the person I was for the better! All of this may sound like hyperbole, but it is 100% true. This list? A list of things you are grateful for every day and why.
I recommend everyone try making a list of 3 things they are grateful for and why each night and then read that list the following day 3 times a day – morning, noon and night. Do this for 30 days and I promise you life will never have felt more amazing. You add the why to make it more compelling. You are grateful for the sunshine, that is fine, but why? Maybe the sunshine gives you feelings of hope? Perhaps it reminds you of pleasant vacations taken with family and friends? You were grateful for the good service you received. Wonderful! Why was that so important to you? Did the kindness and courtesy of a stranger lighten the load of a stressful day? Did it reaffirm for you that there are good people in the world? I promise you reading and remembering these moments will change the way you experience life.
Here is something fun and interesting that I did not notice before. Not only will utilizing this secret to an amazing life change your mindset to one of living life in a state of gratitude, but it will also give you a great look at what you tend to focus on. This side effect can be very enlightening. If I review my entries in my gratitude journal, I see that there are several references to things in nature. The afore mentioned sunshine. Going for a walk in a new and exciting natural area, the smell of spring in the air, passing a herd of deer on the way home and several others. I discovered that nature and natural things not only instill a feeling of gratitude in my heart, but bring me a great deal of joy.
The same can be said for thoughtful actions of others. When Margie knew I was going to write at home today as all of the coffee shops are closed, she prepared a little area for me including plugging in my ‘happy lamp’ because it was a very gloomy day. I was very grateful for this. If she had bought me a pizza or a bottle of rum I would have been grateful for that. Not because of the material aspect, but because of the thought behind it. When strangers hold doors for me or smile and share a kind word, these things mean a great deal to me.
Learning these facts were useful because I could now make it a plan to spend more time in nature and with thoughtful people. It is ironic because I learned this by keeping track of what I was grateful for, but by putting these two items into action it will make it easier for me to achieve and maintain my grateful mindset. An interesting, but very helpful side effect I never noticed!
Begin keeping a gratitude journal today! Write 3 things you are grateful for every day and why. Then review those things at least 3 times the following day, morning, noon and night. Do this for 30 days. At the end of those 30 days, go back and see if you can see any patterns of things, people or situations that have you feeling grateful. Do your best to put more of those into your life and before long you will be walking around with a grateful heart!
Here is a photo that is worth a thousand words. Don’t worry, we will be well under that today.
Your happiness. What makes you happy? Think of how many things you can rely on to put a smile on your face and joy in your heart? You noticed the word in italics? That is because there is really only one source we have control over that we can rely on to make us happy and that is ourselves.
It is true that seeing a smile on my lady’s face melts my heart and puts a smile on my own face. It is further true that I have a good deal of influence on that. If that is what I rely on solely to bring me happiness, I could be very disappointed. There are days when I do the best I can and due to situations beyond my control her smile is fleeting at best. This leaves me frustrated and sad, although determined to find a way to bring her joy.
There are other simple items that bring me joy outside of myself. I enjoy relaxing in a coffee shop enjoying a steaming beverage. Right now they are all closed here due to the Corona virus pandemic. I enjoy warm sunny days. As you read this the high temperature where I live is slightly above freezing with a possibility of snow.
Not that enjoying many things outside of yourself to increase your happiness isn’t good, it is great and we will discuss that in greater detail coming up in the next few posts. What I am recommending is that you find a few things inside of yourself that bring you joy. These should be things in which you have control over. A few examples are meditation, reading, going for a walk in nature, singing a simple song you enjoy, whistling or even just daydreaming.
These are a few of my personal happiness hacks. I would love to hear what you do that makes you happy. What internal activities bring a smile to your face? If you don’t have any, now would be a great time to come up with a solid list.
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.
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.
In the course of writing these blogs and my books I often wonder what is the most important key to improving yourself and living an amazing life. When I was writing A Happy Life for Busy People I recall asking myself how I could write a book about making people happy when different things work for different people. I answered that by finding universal truths that do apply to everyone and that are uniquely able to be customized by the individual. Through doing so I had solved the problem of ‘the same but different’. The next question was, if people needed to improve themselves how could I make it affordable. 90% of the tools mentioned in my book are less than $5 and many can be done for free. As a bonus I also made them fun to do so people were more likely to stick with them. There was also the question of time. A book that mentions happiness for busy people couldn’t very well give you a complicated 12 step process that required a great deal of time. Although the set up may take you some time, depending on what you choose, the actions required to use the insider secrets shared in that book only take 2 to 5 minutes a day. Less time than it take to enjoy your morning coffee. Many you can even do while enjoying your morning java juice.
I thought I had solved all of the challenges that a determined individual might face when trying to improve their lot in life. The tools were able to be customized to fit the reader. They were so cheap anyone could afford to begin improving their life no matter what financial state they were in. They only took 5 minutes at most a day. Many of them could be done while drinking your morning coffee or some other daily ritual. They were even fun! Still, I encountered people I know had read my book that seemed not to be experiencing the full and rich life they so truly deserved. This greatly disturbed my otherwise congenial spirit. It was, after all, why I wrote the book in the first place.
I learned the one thing all of those wonderful folks were missing – effort. The next question was naturally, “Why are they not putting forth the effort when it is minimal and fun?” The answer, as is the case in many things in life, was not that simple. People didn’t give the effort for many different reasons. I had to learn what they were. It would not only allow me to better help people live an amazing life, but help me stay committed to the changes I was seeking to make in my own life. Let us look at some of those reasons now.
The main reason people do not act on changes they know will change their life for the better also happens to be the key to making it as effortless as possible. That reason is their why is not strong enough. If, for example, you want to get in better shape to look better in your clothes, that could be rather motivating. If you have the unfortunate experience of going through a heart attack and almost dying, that is a lot more motivating. By no means am I suggesting one goes through a heart attack to strengthen their why. It does give us a clue as to a tool we can use. Let us create 2 lists. The first can be fun. Think of the great benefits you will get by obtaining your goal. You will look better in your clothes. You will be able to climb the stairs without seeking oxygen and a Sherpa. You will have more energy. If you have to bend over you can…well…get back up. The second list may not be as fun, but may be more motivating. Think of all you stand to lose if you don’t act on your tools of self-improvement. In this case, you may miss out on some fun events because you lack the energy or physical ability. You will miss out on extra fun with your spouse because ill health negatively affects libido. Use both the carrot and the stick.
Another reason, one I am guilty of on occasion is thinking too far ahead. As the great quote from Martin Luther King Jr. says above, just take the first step. Jack Canfield put it brilliantly in the movie The Secret. He mentioned that the average headlights on a car shine 100 feet ahead. Yet, by continually looking 100 feet ahead you can drive from New York to Los Angeles, 100 feet at a time. Can you think how ridiculous it would be if you only took trips if you could see the entire journey at once? We would never go anywhere! I would never make it to the tropics! That is a scary thought. Why then, do we do this will our self-improvement journey? We may not be able to see how a gratitude journal can help us chance our mindset. How do you really set up a vision board? Sometimes we just have to jump in and figure it out as we go. This leads us to the next problem.
This definition of success sucks! For a better one, I go back to quote one of my mentors Earl Nightingale. “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” I put the word in italics for a very good reason. If we only celebrate achieving goals we are missing the point entirely. One of the best ways to assure you live an amazing life is to find ways to enjoy the process. Life is a journey, not a destination. Every day that we work on ourselves is one day closer to a better life. In fact, if we work on ourselves every day, the end of the day is a better life than the beginning. Have you every thought of life in this fashion? Even mistakes and terrible days bring us more enlightenment. We either win, or we learn. Nobody is perfect (my beautiful Margie comes close, but then again I am biased) do not expect yourself to be. Feel free to laugh at your silly mistakes and be grateful for all of the lessons learned.
There are a million different reasons to not put forth the effort in improving your own life. What are some of yours? Once identified, you can begin to discover ways in which you can override them. That journey in itself is reason for celebration! Something to tell yourself, or better yet hang on the mirror, is something I tell Margie all of the time –
Throughout my 2 decades in the self-improvement field, I have constantly asked myself one question, “Why do people not make the changes they know will improve their lives?” It has vexed me most, especially in the early going, most about the person looking back at me in the mirror. As I learned things that I knew intellectually would transform my life for the better they seemed to remain fleeting in their appearance. Even when I experienced how they would affect my life emotionally I found it difficult to remain committed to taking these actions daily. Why was that? I knew, and in some cases saw and felt, how they changed my life for the better but still couldn’t manage to keep up with my own standards.
I recall an particularly vivid example which I discuss in detail in my book A Happy Life for Busy People. I had been involved in a practice of making an attitude of gratitude a part of my daily routine. After a month or so it was as though I had taken some sort of magic happy pill. It is usually when you get to this state the universe enjoys testing your commitment even further. The day in question I had drove off to work while leaving the coffee on top of my car. By the time this had occurred to me I was well on my way. “Oh well, there is a Starbucks on the way.” I said to myself cheerfully. When I arrived, in pouring rain, at said Starbucks I ran in thinking how much better a hot coffee would taste in the cold April rain. Yes, this is how you can find yourself looking at life when you master an attitude of gratitude. I arrived inside only half-soaked but entirely disappointed as I was informed that Starbucks, this almost seems too unreal, was out of coffee. It was only 7 am, but I was informed a machine had malfunctioned, the coffee gods were angry or some other reason I confess I only half heard. Back through the rain into my car spirits still refusing to be dampened with the weather.
I began to drive toward work thinking of some delicious hot tea that I could brew once I got to the office. Just as I was thinking, “This could be worse. At least I have a car and I am not stuck out in the rain.” My positivity was about to be put to the ultimate test. As I was driving along in the rain at 55 miles per hour a young man pulled out in the middle of the busy street and just stopped. The next thing I remember was being loaded onto a stretcher and being asked a million questions. My Jeep was totaled and there was a big hole in the windshield. I later learned that is where is had decided to eject me. As soon as I was settled in the hospital I called my boss at the Postal Service who promptly yelled at me for using a sick day.
You would think after such an ordeal I would be eager to get back to the gratitude and feeling good. Well, let me tell you that flying through your own windshield changes one’s perspective more than just geographically. For a while I was rather angry. Why did that young man stop in the middle of the road?(turns out the street was flooded and he just froze) Why was my boss such an uncaring jerk (still working on that one) I began thinking about all of the hospital bills, lawyers and other such fun that comes with an accident. I really began to get myself in a funk. Here is what I learned that day and have been reminded of on several occasions sense – being an angry self-centered jerk does not feel good, does not get you anywhere you really want to be and is not a hell of a lot of fun.
Not sure if it was the pain pills, the want of something entertaining to do in the hospital or the hand of the divine. I am guessing a little of all three. I decided to challenge myself. Could I recapture even a fraction of the feeling of gratitude I was feeling before the accident? Pondering what on earth I could be grateful for in my situation. “Some young stupid kid just caused you to be in an accident.” was the first thing my not so helpful mind came up with. Then, as if a light bulb turned on I thought of the kid. He would not only be injured (gladly not as bad as myself) but his insurance would have to pay out as it was his fault. I began to feel a little sorry for the young man. My brain fought this as well. Then the nurse came in with a hot cup of coffee. This was accompanied by a pain pill. Two more things to feel grateful for. Soon I had people show up to give me a ride home. Yet another thing to be grateful for.
Much like a diet or that new fitness plan we are trying to start, self-improvement takes persistence. As nice as it would be, you don’t work out once and stay in shape. You don’t eat healthy one day and then can go back to eating pizza every day. Trust me, there have been times I tried. No, you have to work at it every day. You must have faith that the results are worth it. As Earl Nightingale said, “Persistence is just another word for faith. If you didn’t have faith, you wouldn’t persist.” Wise man that Earl. The price we pay is working at it every day. Next post we will look at the magic key needed for all of this wonderful self-improvement stuff to work.
Today is my birthday. 45 years of fun on this planet. Normally, I have a YouTube video for you all, but today my lovely Margie is taking me to some unknown destination. I will keep you all posted as to where that is.
In the meantime, there is something I would really like to discuss with all of you today. As I am sure a lot of you do, I happen to reflect a great deal on my birthday. For many, it is a time to look back at the year. If that is you, I hope you are doing it with a sense of gratitude for all that you have had in your life. The peaks and the valleys. We learn and grow from everything. For some it is a time to look forward. How many more years on this round ball of fun do I have? Some just like to celebrate the present! I made it another year. Still undefeated. I like to do a little of all three.
To begin with I like to look back on the past year and celebrate how much further I am than I was a year ago. It is true not everything may have gone as I had planned, but even the lessons taught me things I needed to move forward. There are things that I had planned to do this year that did not get done. That should do one of two things. Make me decide that may not have been as important as I thought, or increase the passion and sense of urgency to get it done in the coming year. Which leads us to looking forward to the year ahead. I do so by reviewing a lot of my actions. Asking myself the question quoted in our first picture – Does this support the life I’m trying to create? There are some that are indeed moving me in the right direction. Maybe I just need to be persistent in my actions. This could be applied to my going to the gym six days a week. Sure, I am not where I want to be, but I am moving closer to the body I want to create. Then there are actions that may need to be tweaked a little. My book and writing promotions. I will need to do slightly different actions if I would like to expand the influence of my message.
Then there are the actions that I am doing to maybe please others or that just do not serve my purpose. Spending too much time concerned with items at my day job or on pleasing other people. Yes, even someone who has been in the self-improvement field for over two decades can use some reflection and improvement.
In closing, I would like to leave you with a short birthday wish list, if I may. To help me celebrate my 45 years on this planet I would love any suggestions or assistance in helping me to spread the message of positive self-improvement and life-fulfillment that we share here on this blog. Although it is my birthday, I want to leave you the gift of one of my favorite quotes. It demonstrates the kind of thinking I do my best to foster here, and will be looking to build on in the next 45 years.
As we begin our week we may face a lot of insecurities. This is a good reminder when faced with feelings of fear, replace them immediately with a faith that you will make it through.
This can seem difficult, but if you are reading this your record for making it through thr challenges of life is 100%! You are still here! Whatever has happened to you, and I am sure there have been plenty of daunting challenges along the way, you are still here!
Considering all that you have faced and the fact that you are still here, do not let worry and fear enter your mind today. Instead, say to yourself, “I have made it through tough times before and survived. This problem has nothing on me!” Believe in yourself because you should!