YOUR MOST USEFUL ASSET

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What is your most useful asset? Are you smart? Are you physically attractive? Maybe you are strong? Perhaps you have a lot of wealth? Maybe you are a good conversationalist? The ironic thing about any of these traits, is that they are of little use unless they are put into the service of others. If you are strong, but do nothing with your muscles how useful are they? If you acquire a great deal of wealth, but never spend anything what good does that wealth amount to?

Each one of us has assets. Maybe it is a nice smile? Maybe a good deal of compassion? As the week draws to a close, let us spend the weekend taking stock of our unique skills and talents. After we do so, let us also find ways in which we can put them into the service of others. The picture above gives us three very good ideas. Let us make sure we approach others with our hearts full of love, our ears ready to listen to all they have to share and our hands ready to help them as they need.

In our modern world many people will do anything for a feeling of significance. What many of them fail to realize is that you do not need to make a video for YouTube of you doing something ridiculous or dangerous. You do not have to prove how important or better you are than anyone else. To be a truly useful, valuable and yes, important person, all you have to do is be of service to others. Who would not want to be around someone who is loving, listens to what we have to say and is always willing to help.

If you still want to make that crazy video for the internet, why not show off your talent in the service of others? Use that amazing smile to brighten the lives of others. Use that wealth to help those less fortunate. Maybe use your muscles to help your neighbor with a project they are working on. The more you help others, the more useful you become.

SEE THE SIGNS

When people find that I am an advocate for positive living, the same question seems to pop up, “Why bother?” They want to know why you should bother being nice to people. Why is it important to stop and greet strangers with a smile? Why is it important to check in with friends even if you really have nothing else to say? Why is it important to keep courting the love of your life, long after they have agreed to the ‘happily ever after’?

These are all very good questions. Some people who may fit into the pessimistic lifestyle even ask me questions such as “Why bother being nice to people when all they will do is end up taking advantage of you?” No doubt this question has arises from some past experience they have had. The funny thing about that is it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you treat people with the forgone conclusion that at some point they are going to take advantage of you or do something hurtful, you withhold certain things. You may not give them the full amount of trust. You may not be completely open and vulnerable with them. Perhaps you may even skip doing the little extra things that may inconvenience you but mean the world to them. After all why would you go out of your way when sooner or later you are going to end up with the short end of the stick?

The ironic thing here is by doing these actions you perpetuate those very circumstances. How? If someone makes you feel like they can’t trust you, how would that make you feel about them? If they never seem to share about themselves and seem guarded would you feel close to them? Trying to keep yourself from getting hurt ends up pushing people away.

Here is another reality – no matter how hard you try at some point you will get hurt. Your paths will cross with some malevolent people, and even good people on occasion do things that hurt us without meaning to. Especially if they don’t know you well enough to know what might upset you.

So why be nice? Why go out of your way to do the things mentioned in the first paragraph? Here’s why. In the picture you see both a sign and a card. The first my lovely Margie left the sign on the mirror while she was shopping with her daughter and I was at the gym. How do you think that sign made me feel as I left for work? Loved? Grateful? Happy? All warm and fuzzy inside? Yes to all the above! The reason she did it she told me was because of how I was making her feel.

The card is an even better story. I shared with Margie how hard it is for me when the Wisconsin State Fair ends. It is not only the end of that festival, which I have loved since a child, but the end of my vacation that year and summer coming to a close. Three things I enjoy coming to a conclusion all at the same time can leave me feeling a little blue. Knowing this the love of my life bought me a ‘get well’  card of sorts. Cheering me up and reminding me of good times to come.

Do you think that would’ve happened had I taken or relationship for granted? Assuming your relationship is ‘handled’ because it is going ok is one of the biggest mistakes a couple can make. Love is one thing you should never put on autopilot. Let me be clear, the reason I put in so much effort in making my lady understand how much she is loved and how beautiful she I find her is not so I can see what creative and wonderful surprises she can leave me. I do it because I am the man in her life and I believe that is what a real man should do. I work as hard as I can to give her a man she can be proud of. I also do my best to not only tell her, but show her how beautiful she is to me and how loved she is. As you can see, the rewards I receive are well worth it.

Here is a wonderful thing I have done with both the card and the sign. I put them inside my laptop and every time I write I open it up to find examples of the love she has shown me. This not only helps on the days when a reminder comes in handy, but each and every time that I see them. It has taken two single very thoughtful moments from my love and made them gifts that give me joy every time I open my computer to write. This not only has me feeling loved it puts me in a great mood to write. It also fills me with gratitude for the amazing woman I have.

How do you think having these reminders serves our relationship? When we are not seeing eye to eye on something, having an example of how great our love can be creates an urge to get back there. When I am away writing, looking over and seeing these reminders helps me stay focused and get my work done so I can come home to the wonderful lady who created them. They are gifts that continue to keep on giving.

Take the time to share with the one you love. The only way for them to love all of you is if all of you loves all of them. That might be tricky to read, but it certainly will make your relationship a glorious source of joy and growth like Margie and I are blessed to have. It also helps to carry reminders of your love with you when you go somewhere.

WHO’S DRIVING?

This post is going to be very simple. This picture was captured at a red light. I sent it to my lady in an attempt to bring a smile to her face. She told me to her it looked like the dog was driving the car. To me that made the picture even funnier.

I encourage you to be on the lookout for funny scenes like this. Trust me, they are everywhere. You don’t have to take pictures of them, but you might want to so you can smile at them later. Share them with friends. This will do a few things. One, it will give you an album of pictures that can make you smile when you need it, which is always good. Second, it will get your brain in the habit of seeing the silly side of life. With reminders on every corner of all the trouble in the world, this can be a great skill to have. I bet after doing this for a while, you will see your mood get better and better!

Feel free to share what you do to stay focused on the silly side of life and feel free to share any fun silly pictures you have in comments below.

WHY I SHOP AT MEIJER MORE AND WALMART LESS

Here is a picture of the new Meijer store that opened not far from my house. For years my lady and I shopped at Walmart. Mostly because we are DJs and it is open 24 hours a day, has very reasonable prices and a pretty good selection. 

So then Meijer opens up. They are closer to home, also have a wide selection and are open 24 hours for our convenience. Although their prices are slightly higher, I prefer to shop there. Why? Is it because it is closer to my house? That’s convenient, but not the reason. Is it because it has a Starbucks inside? Fun, but again not the reason. 

These stores, although seem similar, have one major difference. This point was driven home to me today in my recent shipping trip when I returned to Walmart for something. 

When you enter the Meijer store, like Walmart there is a greeter. At Meijer they greet you and ask if you would enjoy a copy of the latest sales flyer. Every employee you run into says “hello” and a few even ask if you need help finding something. 

When we used to shop at Walmart the customer service there was so poor that is became the subject of many jokes. Cashiers not only skip any greeting or conversation, but quite often any eye contact as well. Employees can be found huddled around the front door smoking and using language that would make a sailor blush. On my most recent trip I saw roughly 20 employees. Cashiers, people stocking and even a ‘greeter’ at least in title, not actual action. None of the employees spoke a word to me and only one out of the entire group managed a smile. 

Now I am not putting down employees of Walmart in general, or even the ones at this store. What I am questioning is what certain corporations make a priority. Perhaps the powers that be at Walmart assume people will go there whether their people are friendly or not as long as the prices are low. Which could probably be true in several cases. Maybe they don’t focus enough on the well-being of their employees to keep them smiling? Whatever the answer may be, today was a stark reminder as to why I  will continue to spend my hard earned dollars (even if it happens to end up to be a few more) at Meijer. Dignity, happiness and respect are free, but to me they are more valuable than any roll back at the store founded by  Sam Walton. 

FOREVER YOUNG

I’m sure we all know some old 18 year olds and some young 80+ year olds. What is the secret to staying young? Mindset. Ok, that sounds easy but how does one keep a young mindset? This can be a challenging thing to do the older we become. Pain, heartache all can leave one feeling older by the minute.

In my life there have been three great keys to staying young. First, surround yourself with people who have a young mindset. There is nothing better than a friend who encourages you to laugh and to live. Take chances, try new things.

The second key to staying young has been learning to take care of my body. To live life to the fullest you need energy. The best energy can come from being physically fit and healthy. You do not want to run out of gas climbing the mountain of success. Incorporate a daily walk in the park into your routine. Even 10 minutes of exercise can get you on the right path. Eat healthy meals more often. Trust me, some of them taste amazing.

The third and final key to staying young may be the most important. Grow and maintain your sense of humor. There is no anti-aging product that works as well as laughter. It truly is the best medicine. Taking life too seriously is the quickest way to grow old before your time. Watch a funny movie with the one you love. Draw a silly picture. Learn one new joke a day. Just keep that smile on your face.

Feel free to share any tips you have for staying young in the comments below.

THE BEST ACCESSORY 

Last year people spent over 55 billion dollars (yes that is billion) on cosmetics. Jewelry and fashion were both multi-billion dollar a year expenditures as well. We spend time and money reading and perusing fashion and style magazines. Presidents and other leaders in both politics and business pay people to write speeches for them and even pick out what they are going to wear. Why? Everyone, whether you are a leader or a follower wants to look good.

Still, the number one thing we can do to look good is often over-looked and does not cost a thing. What is this accessory? A smile. When we meet someone and they are wearing a smile we are more likely to believe what they have to say. We are more likely to trust them. When you are wearing a smile people are more receptive to your ideas and what you have to say. Not to mention wearing a smile feels good and makes those we come in contact with feel good.

With all these benefits why is everyone not wearing a smile? It’s free, it is emotionally and physically healthy, it encourages others to listen to you and makes them more receptive to what you have to say. You would think every job interview, every first date, every important business deal and appearance by a public official would all contain many smiles.

Why do more people not smile? I guess there are several reasons. One, is they simply don’t realize they are not. I used to be guilty of this in the past and to some extent are still in the present. We get lost in our thoughts or what we are doing and may unintentionally find ourselves wearing a blank look, or even worse a scowl when really our inside emotions do not match. Eventually our physical actions affect our emotional well-being. If you are feeling down, try putting on a smile and leaving it there for 2 minutes. Slowly you mood will begin to shift. Try also looking at pictures of people (or animals) smiling. I have several pictures of people smiling on my phone. My screensaver is my lady wearing a bacon hat with the biggest smile on her face. Looking at these pictures will also help bring you out of that funk.

Another reason I have heard people do not smile is they are afraid. Afraid of smiling? You bet! Why would people be afraid of smiling? I have been told they are worried people will think they are up to something. To me this is foolishness. We are all up to something and if us looking happy makes people nervous that is on them. I’ve also been told that “I’m afraid people will take it as an invitation to start talking to me.” Yes, this sometimes does happen. As long as you do not make it a habit to smile at the strange man on the corner in a clown suit holding a knife what is the worst that could happen? In fact, some people are lonely and looking for someone they can share their stories with. You never know, sharing a smile with someone may even save their life. When you feel that nobody cares a smile from a friend, or even a stranger can turn your day, and your world around. Think of how you feel when someone shares their smile with you, why would you not want to give that gift to others?

So let us all do our part to share a few more smiles. Still nervous, uncomfortable or afraid? That’s ok start slowly. I suggest begin with the person in the mirror. Give yourself a smile every morning with a positive affirmation like “Let’s make this a great day!” Then, begin to branch out. Start with loved ones, maybe move on to friends, coworkers, the person helping you at the coffee shop? When you see how good it makes people feel and how they react to you, trust me, you will be tempted to share more. Also try practice wearing a smile while you are engaged in work. I have started this when I am writing and notice I feel a lot less tired when I am done. I am going to close this with a quote from the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln “Every man over forty is responsible for his face.” I am sure Mr. Lincoln meant to include woman in that statement as well.

I would love to hear about your experiences sharing a smile in the comments below!

NOT WHAT I THOUGHT

This picture shows that I now have 1000 likes on my blog. That alone is a thought that is very humbling. 1000 people all like the same thing and it happens to be the content that I put out on this very blog you are reading. This is the subject I fully intended to write about this fine day. As happens often with writers and inspiration, something went left when I thought it would go right.

What am I talking about? A new fun and exciting thing we can all try together that will not only put a smile on our faces and hearts but make our life far more amazing. Are you in? This simple exercise requires three things. 1. a pen 2. a small journal or notebook. 3. a fairly good sense of introspection and observation. That’s it. No complicated tools, no degree from a famous university, no occult secret and no magic formula.

Ok, so what on earth is this activity. Here is the story of how this post came to be and this idea came to me. For the last two or three days I have not been feeling well. Some sort of stomach flu or something. Spent most of that time laying in bed. My car issues are on the way to a wonderful conclusion and things around the house have been crazy. What I really needed was some relaxing quality time with my lady. So we decided to go to the mall today for lunch and she was going to shop while I wrote. She is actually there now so I better make this short so I can pick her up.

We decided to check out a new brew pub that just opened up there. We were greeted friendly and could feel a very positive vibe right off the bat. We saw a few friends while we were there and I exchanged information with a gentleman also on the path to self-enlightenment. It was a marvelous experience. Not to mention after lots of stress physically and emotionally both my lady and I were smiling and actually had some time together. As I left to write this, the sun was shining and it was not to insanely cold, which for Wisconsin this time of year is a win. I began to just think of all of these things and then it hit me. A great idea! A fun idea! A life transforming idea!

Enough with the story behind the idea, here is the idea. I was going to write about 1000 different people all liking my blog and how that felt like such an honor. These people come from over 70 different countries, across all social, religious and political fields. Then the idea came to me. I bet this one person (that would be me, which at the time I guess I was referring to in the third person) likes 1000 different things. I started noticing the afore mentioned things I was enjoying. The sunshine, the nice people I met, the amazing time with my lady. Guess what? I had me feeling as if I were floating instead of walking. I thought “wouldn’t it be great to feel like this more often?”. Then, as I am want to do I followed that with the thought “How can I?”. The solution my friends is simple, fun and I am going to share it now.

Keep a journal of what makes you happy. That’s it? Yes, that is it. Whatever it may be. Sunshine, balloons, penguins, the way the person you love smiles at you. Write them down in a special journal. Do it whenever the mood strikes you. Just keep the journal handy. Why write them down? It makes it more visceral. Not to mention when you open to write the next time you will be greeted by the last things that make you happy.

What can you do with this information? Lots of things. You can use it when you are feeling down for things to try to turn things around. When loved ones ask you what you might enjoy doing or what gift you may enjoy ideas are there. Looking for things to put in a gratitude journal? How about things that make you happy. Not to mention something else happens that makes life more of an enjoyable adventure rather than a arduous task. You become more aware of the things that make you happy when they occur.

I am blessed to have a lady in my life that has a very unique skill. When I am down and suddenly listing things that all suck in my life (Yes even self-improvement authors have these moments) she is quick to point out things that are going right, or could go right. This can seem slightly annoying when I just feel like complaining, but let me tell you it is an amazing blessing, because it gets me out of that state. I can only imagine doing this fun activity will only make her job easier. Another bonus I just thought of, if she reads my happy journal she will know lots of things that make her man happy.

So please will you try this activity with me? Share this with all of your friends. Let us all be happier in 2017!