YOUR CHALLENGE FOR JULY

Today’s post is a simple one. With all the craziness going on in the world today it can seem overwhelming. Realizing how much we would like to change about the world around us can have us feeling powerless.

It is with that thought in mind that we look at today’s post. July is my birth month (the 29th) and I’m looking to begin to do nothing short of changing the world. To some that may seem a bit extreme, but it really is not. Considering this blog is followed in over 130 countries at last count, I am hoping some of you will join me in my challenge. Share this with your friends and family. If we can get a few people to share this challenge from each country on their social media accounts, we could start a big change that would improve all of our lives!

The picture challenges us to not post anything negative for the first 7 days of July. I am going to take this one step further and encourage you to not only refrain from the negative, but post one thing positive each day. Not sarcastically positive, such as “look my politician is better than yours” kind of thing. No, I mean something truly positive. Something to brighten someone’s, or many someones, day.

As you do,I would love for you to come back each day and share your adventures with me. Each of the 7 day’s I’ll be sharing mine with you. We start tomorrow. We can do this!

IMPROVING YOUR LIFE EASILY? BECOME FAMOUS!

Today’s post is the definition of a secret to an amazing life. Do you remember the movie Pinocchio? In it, Pinocchio has a cricket that served as a representation of his conscious. It would show up and remind him what he should and should not be doing. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have some sort of small friend that would encourage us to act on our best behavior? Someone to not only hold us accountable but to remind us what we should and shouldn’t do? I don’t know about you but I do not have such a voice in my head. In fact, mostly I hear something about eating more pizza and how good a nap would feel right about now. Neither of which do much in the way of self-improvement.

How easy is it to forget about the pledge we made to be healthier? To not act as courteous to others as we should. Perhaps we fail to use our turn signal or leave our shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot. Wouldn’t it be great if there was something that would keep us acting in the best interests of ourselves and humanity at large? The good news is there is such a thing and I have found it. (That is a line I borrowed from Earl Nightingale) Would you like to know what you can do to greatly increase the quality of your daily actions? Would you like to increase your will power with little effort? Be able to stop yourself before you yell at a coworker or store employee who might innocently be unable to help you? All it takes is one simple thought – IMAGINE YOURSELF FAMOUS.

To some of you this may sound ridiculous but hear me out. Think about what happens if a celebrity were to walk in your grocery store. What would happen? Everyone would be watching them. People would probably pull out their cell phones and start filming them. They would be well aware of that. Do you think this person would be likely to steal something from the store? Do you think they would get into a shouting match with their spouse? Probably not. Would they go out looking sloppy and unkempt? Again, the answer would probably be a ‘no’. There seems to be countless news stories of what this actor or this athlete wore when they were out to dinner or even taking out the garbage. Personally, I find these stories rather silly and pointless, but people eat them up. Normally, my thoughts are how terrible that must be to not be able to take out the garbage without someone there taking a picture.

Then I decided how to even put this to use in my life. I would act as if I was famous. Should I bother getting dressed to go out or just grocery shop in my Winne-the-Pooh onesie? When I am really tempted to let that person who lazily left there grocery cart sit 10 feet from the cart corral instead of putting it away know exactly how I feel about that, I imagine people holding up their cell phones filming me. Truth be told, this isn’t a 100% fix. There are times, such as eating a tostada, that you just can’t help looking less that refined.

To some of you this may sound a bit far-fetched. With everyone walking around with cameras in their pockets, if not in their hands, it really isn’t. You do not want to be the guy caught scratching some part of himself he shouldn’t in the produce department. So what? Some person takes a picture or video of you doing something embarrassing or not in your best character. What is the big deal? With the likes of social media and the internet you can be in a video or picture that goes viral. Suddenly, several million people see a video of you scratching your back end with one hand while grabbing a lemon with the other. Then everywhere you go people will point and recognize you. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? It can be even worse for people doing things that are illegal or just plain stupid. So, before you decide to cough on some produce or lick an ice cream container and put it back, remember even if you don’t think so you could be on camera. Doing dumb things like this could not only make you famous for all of the wrong reasons, but could result in criminal charges.

Every time you step out of your house think of how life would be if everyone was watching you. It will definitely keep you acting on your best behavior. After a period of time, this behavior will become your your new normal.

NEVER CUT DOWN A TREE IN WINTER

This is a very important statement to ponder. You may even wish to print it out and keep it somewhere as a reminder. As I write this I am sitting in a newer Starbucks that has windows almost everywhere. This normally would be ideal, except it is like winter in Wisconsin where I live. Add to that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what this disorder, more commonly known as S.A.D., is allow me to explain. S.A.D. is a condition that physically changes a person during the dark dreary months of winter. There are changes in hormonal levels that cause irritability at best and can bring on seasonal depression at worse. 

As you may imagine, this can be quite a challenge for someone who lives for inspiring and encouraging others. That challenge is compounded by living in a state that seems to have winter 9 months out of the year. We are working on changing that. (San Diego stay tuned) I can be in moods that are less than ideal in the coming months. Fortunately for me, the passion I have leads me to look for solutions instead of just acknowledge the problems.

It has also instilled in me a passion for controlling my emotional states. This can be helpful all year long. It is often tempting to make a decision when we are in an extreme emotional state. Especially when we are angry. The adrenaline these emotions give us can leave us feeling more powerful and motivated. Generally, this is a positive aspect of life and can be great if we use it to go to the gym and have an intense workout for example. This is why it is so important to have a healthy way of dealing with anger put in place before it occurs.

Extreme emotional states can twist our perception of reality. We tend to see things different than they really are and very often worse than they really are. Remember just as we have days that are meant to challenge us and make us grow, so do others. A good portion of the world has not learned to use challenges for growth. Sometimes their ignorance may manifest as poor treatment of you. Instead of getting mad and treating them harshly, why not use their treatment of you as an example of how to use challenges for growth. In my past, I did not always respond to challenging situations in a healthy way. It was those who responded with patience and understanding that taught me far more than those who responded with anger of their own.

Here is another reason, albeit a bit more selfish one, to not respond in anger. It saves you from looking like a fool. We all know a couple that personifies this. One day they are posting how terrible each other are on social media. They next day they are madly in love. Not only does this make you look silly, it weakens your relationship and calls into question the integrity of your character. Although having it in black and white for the world to read is pretty dramatic, the same holds true for what you say in person. If you are having a disagreement with someone be it your friend, spouse or coworker and you proceed to share the details and bad mouth them to everyone you see, it does not reflect as poorly on them as it does on you. Imagine what the person you are talking to will think when you have a disagreement with them? Fight to master your emotions. It will serve you, it will serve those who are in your life. 

IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL…

First of all I would like to apologize for putting this song in your head. The purpose of this post is not to have you singing Disney songs for the next 48 hours. What I am going to attempt to do is explain an abstract concept of quantum physics and metaphysics by way of the internet and social media.

Let us pause here and take a deep breath as we have just used the words Disney, quantum physics, metaphysics, internet and social media all in one small paragraph.

Hopefully we are all back to taking in nourishing breaths of oxygen-rich air once more. This may sound daunting, but I am going to explain what amounts to a complex theory in simple terms. I am going to share a personal story that will provide an example of this concept in action. Not only did it help me grasp something I couldn’t quite get my head around, but it may just do the same for you.

Let us begin with the science part of this. If this sounds a bit too complicated, just keep reading I promise it will come together even if you have no idea in hell what this paragraph is about. Quantum physics tells us that at its very core everything in the universe is energy. The difference between say the pig you saw at the farm and the one sitting next to your eggs is the rate at which they are vibrating. In theory, if we could control vibration we could change our Honda CRV into a Dodge Viper. It also means that because not only are all forms of matter energy, but the space between matter is energy as well. Extrapolating that out further, that means everything is connected. We should, by all accounts, be able to slap our annoying co-worker 2 cubicles down without getting out of your seat. Sadly, we have not figured that out. I guess it might not be too sad if you happen to be the annoying co-worker.

If all of the talk about energy and quantum physics has your head spinning, or if you can’t quite grasp the energy concept, do not worry. Let us approach this from a different metaphysical and social angle. There are theories that everyone is only 6 degrees away from being connected to everyone else. The number changes depending on who you are talking to, but usually falls somewhere into that area. That means if I approach a person in Melbourne Australia and talk to one of their friends, and then talk to one of their friend’s friends, and carry that on for six levels eventually we would come across someone who knows me here in West Allis Wisconsin. Personally, with the advent of the internet, I think the levels may be down to 2 or 3.

Still having a hard time grasping this idea? Don’t worry so was I at first. Let me tell you a story that may bring it into focus a little better. In the beginning of my bartending career I worked at a small bar here in West Allis, not far from my home. There I met a gentleman named Rick who happened to be a regular that lived across the street. Shortly thereafter, I met his daughter Becky. So far not too complicated of a story. Becky fell in love with a gentleman named Jason. They were married and I had the pleasure of becoming his friend as well. It turned out Jason’s father worked with my mother several years prior. While my bartending career moved on to another bar in the city I met another gentleman. Through the wonder of Facebook I became connected with all of these fine people. While DJing at our Sunday show I ran into Becky’s mother. She recognized us from seeing things on her daughter’s Facebook page. Now we are ‘friends’ on social media as well. She informed me the gentleman I met at the second bar was her nephew and Becky’s cousin. Also, I do a good portion of my writing at coffee shops throughout the city. At several I have run into Jason’s brother. Basically, what this proves is that it is indeed a small world after all.

It also proves one other very important fact. Even if we have a hard time grasping the quantum physics concept of everything being connected, we can certainly see it in people. Now, through the power of the internet and social media, no matter what you do in this world it will end up having a consequence on you at some level. This will help us appreciate and see how Karma works. It can really make clear how what you sow, so shall you reap works. That should prompt us to be more responsible and compassionate individuals. Knowing our words, actions and even thoughts will, in some form or fashion, come back to us.

99 SECONDS WITH NEIL EPISODE 16 – POSITIVE SOCIAL MEDIA

In this YouTube video you will learn the secret to changing your social media from a place of drama and negativity to one of positivity and inspiration.

If you enjoy this video, don’t forget to give it a ‘thumbs up ‘. If you would like to see these videos before anyone else, make sure to subscribe to my channel. If you have any feedback feel free to leave it in the comments

CLICK HERE TO WATCH 99 SECONDS WITH NEIL EPISODE 16

POSITIVE SOCIAL MEDIA

Daily we hear how much negativity and drama there is on social media. Just this afternoon at the post office I overheard a co-worker say, “I don’t go on Facebook there is too much negativity on there.”

I am always struck by the same thought – who decides what shows up on your social media page? The answer is you do! If you are thinking “Well I didn’t plan on Michelle posting a page long rant about how terrible life is!” You have a valid point. If, however, Michelle keeps posting one negative thing after another it may be time to remove her from your page. You can ‘hide’ her posts or delete her completely.

I discuss this more in my next book, but for the sake of brevity in this post, I’ll keep it simple. If you notice someone, or some group is a source of negativity and drama remove them. If, for some reason, you cannot (Let’s say it’s your relative or boss) then drown them out. What do i mean by that? As we discussed last post increasing positivity will decrease negativity. If crazy Eric’s posts are mixed in with motivational quotes, pictures of puppy dogs and other things that make you smile it is a little more bearable.

Search words such as happy or positivity and see what comes up. I recently joined several new groups like lightworkers of the world, love/light group, truth for thought, The 11:11 movement and others. I have already connected with great people and read some inspiring things.

Will this eliminate all of your social media woes? Of course not. Just this evening I had a fellow post several comments on my page that were angry and belligerent. Why? He did not like that my titles are in capital letters. There will always be fine folks like that. They help us practice our patience and compassion.

With a balance of inspirational and positive influences, your Facebook, Twitter or any social media outlet will become a source of escape instead of stress.

WATCHING YOUR DIET

People are so careful about their diets today. Gluten-free, Paleo, low-carb, high-fat. It seems every day there is another healthy way that we should all be eating. Then there are the new allergies that people have to look out for. Some are allergic to nuts. Some people cannot consume dairy products or shellfish. In other words, these days people are being far more discerning as to what they put in their bodies. All this is good. It is good that we are eating with the idea of helping our bodies function at peak efficiency.

Ironically, and somewhat tragic to me, is that is where the discernment stops. We spend our days listening to music that is sometimes filled with violence and a total lack of respect. We watch television shows where characters try to get laughs by putting each other down with sarcastic barbs. We read stories in the newspaper, online and social media (more about that tomorrow) that are filled with harsh judgments, political rancor and other drama. Then at the end of the day we wonder why our energy is drained and we feel stressed out.

Like the picture above mentions, we need to mindful of the things we put into our body emotionally, spiritually, and physically. We will do our best to avoid that sweet treat that will only end up giving us cavities and some extra pounds to carry around with us. We should take the same approach on deciding if what we are going to consume with our eyes, ears, mind and spirit will serve us or contribute to our daily downfall. Will reading that article about the latest mass shooting really bring anything good into our lives? Does being inundated with the latest chapters of what is wrong with the world give us anything but a sinking feeling of depression and a sense of hopelessness?

Am I saying we have to be worried about every little thing we watch, read, listen to or even people we hang around? Not at all. That will only cause you to be stressed out about the things that can be unconsciously stressing you out. That would be…well…very stressful. What I am asking you is to be more aware of what is going into your body. In the beginning especially it can be hard to think of I have to get rid of that or I have to stop doing that. That can leave you feeling like your brain is fighting you and with a feeling of deprivation. As I do in all of my practices, here I advocate increasing the positive to decrease the negative.

How do we do that? Do your best to include reading a few pages of something inspirational. Those Chicken Soup for the Soul books work well. Filled with short inspiring stories that fill you with joy, they can add a little something special to your day. On this site and in my book we talk about creating a Happy Playlist of songs that bring cheer to your day. Spend time with people who make you laugh, smile and bring your spirit to life. As far as social media, we will delve into that tomorrow. If you have any other suggestions for things to add to your Diet feel free to leave them in the comments below.

TAKE IT WITH YOU

Above you find two great nature photos. The top one is actually pretty neat. It is a photo of my lovely Margie taking a photo right outside Greenfield park before we began our nightly walk there. Later I will share one that we managed to capture while walking in the woods. The lower picture is of a great blue heron, which happens to be my favorite bird. It was taken just outside the post office I work at. I was walking to the bank and it happened to be right there.

One of the great things about technology is it can either serve to take us away from nature, or help draw us to it. I never would think of carrying a camera while at work, but did have my cell phone handy. In a world of selfies and social media I think using our cell phones to capture the joy of nature is a wonderful use of technology. While the debate rages on about the environment, I just enjoy finding new ways to enjoy it. Use your cell phone to get you out in nature! Capture all the natural beauty you can find.

I invite all of my readers to share some of their favorite photos in the comments below. I would love to see all the natural beauty we have captured. Whether it is an elephant in South Africa, or a squirrel in South Milwaukee please let us share your joy.

THE FIRST PLACE TO CREATE PEACE

How often have you heard that we live in a crazy, chaotic world? If you don’t hear it daily from someone you know, you can read it splashed across the television screen, on the front page of the daily newspaper and on every social media site you go on. Reading and absorbing all of this negative news can leave us feeling scared, overwhelmed or exhausted. Sometimes we can feel all three with a host of other unpleasant emotions thrown on top! What are we left to do when we have a day feeling this way?

What many of fail to lose sight of is the fact that if we have inner peace, the outside world has little, if any, impact on our life. Sounds great, but if having inner peace was so easy, how come everyone is not sitting in the park in a state of bliss. To some extent it is not our fault…exactly. We have been lied to by the media, politicians and others. We have been told that we should worry if hypothetically we have a world leader that seems determined to make enemies of friends, create a world filled with division and hate. We have been told to worry if others different than us seem to be receiving some sort of advantage. Countries are about to go to war. The price of oil is going to go through the roof. The stock market is going to fall through the floor.

The truth of all of this is that while some of it may have an impact in our life to a greater or lesser degree, it is mostly beyond our control. We can do what is in our power such as voting against that politician or writing our congressman. We can plan trips and do our best to make the most of the fuel we purchase. If we spend countless hours being upset and discussing or even worse disagreeing with our friends and coworkers about it, that will do us no good.

I have spoken at length about worrying about what you cannot control. The benefits to such actions simply are not there and the negatives abound. First of all it will create stress. Stress has been noted to be a factor in over 80% of medical conditions. In addition, stress causes you to age prematurely. In other words, you will look older and possibly experience health problems sooner. Sounding good so far? I didn’t think so.

As if compromising your health and physical appearance were not enough, lacking inner peace and worrying about and complaining about things outside of our control can affect our social life in a negative way. Almost nobody likes to be around someone who is stressed out and complaining all of the time. I said almost because the only people who seem not to mind are those who complain themselves. Not exactly the people you would want to surround yourself with.

Lastly, and in my mind most important, dwelling on what is wrong does little if anything to create solutions. It is important to note what is wrong in order to define what we would like to be happening, but dwelling on how wrong or terrible it is does us no good. Instead, it would be better to focus on how wonderful the solution would be and what steps we could take to make it happen.

To foster inner peace starting today let us focus and discuss what is beautiful and right with the world and how we can grow that. When we come across something that is not right, let us do what we can in our control to change it and focus on what would like to see. When we see someone who could use some inner peace, share with them what we learned in this article.

TIME TO ESCAPE

This was my view at about 7:30 this morning as I prepared to go for a bicycle ride. Only a small journey from where this picture is taken is a small clearing I like to go to and think, read or just relax. It not only provides me a nice walk in the park, but it gives me a place to recharge my soul.

In today’s busy world where we are constantly surrounded by people and technology, it can be hard to escape. That is why this weekend I recommend you have an escape. If you don’t have a special spot like mine, it may be a good time to start pondering where a good place for you might be. Ideally, this place should be a spot in nature. Losing all of the urban sounds that we experience daily will give you more peace than you can imagine. Even if you live in the heart of the city, find a park like I did where you may not be able to escape the sounds of the modern world entirely, but you can lose yourself by focusing on the sounds of nature. The wind blowing through the trees, birds singing, maybe even a small brook or creek near by.

The other caveat about selecting a spot is it should be somewhere you can be alone. As you can see in the photo above, you might have some visitors from time to time. In a world filled with constant interaction, whether it be in person, or now even on social media when we are by ourselves, finding time to spend with the person in the mirror is far and few between. Isn’t it great to spend time with others? Of course it is, but without spending time alone with our thoughts we can end up feeling lost. What do I mean by this? That is a great question. Let me ask you something and you tell me if it rings true for you. Have you ever found yourself feeling overwhelmed? Have you ever walked into a room and forgot if you were coming or going?

A lot of us are so focused on giving to others we forget to stop and think of what we may need or what our goals for our life is. We are focused on giving to our families, our job and our friends. There is nothing wrong with helping others and being a productive member of society. If we do that at the expense of ourselves we can end up feeling burnt out and unable to give anything to anyone.

Take time to escape this weekend. Spend at least 30 minutes alone and preferably in nature. If you are anything like me you will leave not only recharged, but with a sense of joy and inner peace you did not have when you arrived. Begin to think of your spot today and escape with yourself this weekend. I would love to hear how it affected you. Feel free to come back to this post on Monday and share in the comments below. Even though you will be by yourself, you never know who you will meet.