FIND THE GOOD

This site does not often touch on different spiritual beliefs. I believe that living an amazing life includes a spiritual aspect, but that aspect is a personal decision. As long as your path does not involve bringing harm to anyone else and includes becoming the best version of yourself it should not matter to me or to anyone else what that path is. Here is a great secret – the same holds true for the beliefs of others. There are some of us who feel that anyone who does not adhere to the exact same spiritual beliefs that we do is someone who is wrong or in the worst cases, an enemy. This creates not only undo stress, both in the party receiving the angst, but in the life of the people who carry these beliefs. Imagine going through life thinking everyone is wrong or your enemy? Very stressful. It also limits the opportunities for growth and collaboration. When you think someone is wrong on any level, it can be hard to include them as much, even in another level.

Today’s post is to remind you that people can be different without being wrong. Judgement drains a lot of energy and focus from our lives. On the contrary, acceptance and understanding can free up energy and create new and exciting opportunities for growth and collaboration. Accepting someone does not mean we agree with them or that we are even going to join them in their endeavors. If we focus on how we are alike instead of how we are different, we can do great things. It may be hard to both understand and accept someone who is different, but if we focus on the things we have in common it can do a lot to both bring us closer and to learn from each other. When I go out with my friends who are different faiths, they may dress different, eat different things and have different views, but they have many things in common.

The other day, I had lunch with two friends. One is Christian and one is Muslim. At one point, the topic turned to faith. I was interested to see how this might play out. They discussed their different ways of offering prayers and why they do what they do. They also came to the conclusion that they both do it for the same reason, to become more spiritually enlightened and to become closer to the God they follow. One said to the other, “Funny how a conversation can bring us so much understanding when according to the outside world we are supposed to hate each other.” They chuckled, as they had been friends for years. I thought of the sad truth of that statement. The media, politicians and even some religious leaders, keep our differences as talking points and what is most important. I think we can learn a great deal from each other if we only open our hearts and our minds.

One of the things that all spiritual paths have in common, that we can focus on today and share with each other, is the power of gratitude. All spiritual paths focus a great deal on being grateful. There are prayers of thanksgiving in any faith. I think beginning a practice of including one of those before we retire for the evening can work miracles in our lives. If we can also add being grateful for those who may be different than us, it can go a long way to opening our hearts and minds when we are awake. What is right for us, does not necessarily have to be right for everyone else. Last night, my mom, Margie and I were discussing our dream cars. Guess what? they were all different. None of us argued that the others should switch their car to ours. They liked their car for their reasons as we did for ours, and that was ok. We could listen unattached to why someone might like the car they did and even appreciate why without feeling as though they should change their minds and agree with us. Why can’t this be done with more personal things such as politics and religion? I do understand that there has been, and in some cases remains, persecution of individuals based on these categories. This is completely unacceptable. The truth is, this can only be changed by learning to accept, understand and love each other with open hearts and open minds.

Learning to accept and enjoy those who are different than us will not only create a more amazing life on the outside for all of us, it will create a more amazing life inside of our hearts. We will live life with a far greater peace of heart and mind than if we viewed everyone who is different as wrong or as our enemy. Let us all work on opening our hearts and minds and let us all end our day with a grateful heart. Not only for all that we have in our life, but for those who are different than us who can teach us so much and bring color and contrast to our world.

YOUR PASSION

In today’s world things can be very dark. It can seem that there is no good news to be had. We can struggle to find something to keep our spirits up. One way is to help others regain their smile. We discussed a little about how to do that in the last post. If you did not read it, it would be worth checking out. Many of us find ourselves without places to go or people to see. It can feel dark and alone.

One way in which we can put some more joy back into our day is to pursue our passion. I know many of us think we do not have time to pursue our passion. It is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. Even if it is taking time to write a few words toward that book we have always wanted to write. It could be fun to try our hand at photography. Get out in nature and capture some of its beauty. Even researching a topic that we are interested in to learn more about it can bring us a sense of joy.

Another very positive step is to increase the depth of our relationships. If there is one thing we are all passionate about it is the relationships we have with others. Our friends would love to engage in some wonderful conversation with us. As I write this I am thinking of some of the friends that I have know the longest. One of the funniest things that popped into mind is that I do not know any of their favorite colors. Calling some of them just to let them know you were thinking of them can make a real difference. You can recall some of the fun memories you share and maybe plan some new adventures for when things return to normal.

There is, of course, the most emotionally strong relationship in our lives. That is the relationship we share with the person we love. Quarantine can be very hard on a relationship if you are not prepared for it. When we go from spending 12 hours with the one we love to spending 24 a lot can change. One way to assure that change is positive is to continue to learn about the person you love. Sure, you may know their favorite color, but what about their favorite smell? Do you know what their favorite memory of your love is? Planning adventures, be they everyday or intimate, with your partner can be one of the most enjoyable things to do. I am a big fan of the personality test books. You take a simple 10 to 20 question quiz and it reveals different aspects of your personality. Perhaps you can even learn more about yourself!

Lastly, this is a great time to deepen your spiritual relationships. We all too often focus on the material aspects of life. Social obligations can force us to put our spiritual needs on the back burner. When we are feeling down, it is our faith and our feeling of spiritual connection that can keep us going. Perhaps reading the spiritual texts that our faith has. There are many inspirational journals and workbooks to help us along the way. Even spending time meditating our our spiritual beliefs can make a big difference. Do not really have any beliefs? Now may be a good time to explore different schools of thought and see what might be right for you. Find what it is that brings you inner peace, let that be your sanctuary.

WHY BOTHER?

We just finished up a 30-day Gratitude challenge. Many of the people out there may ask, “Why bother?” With all the challenges life throws at us, why bother challenging ourselves and pushing ourselves to do more? The answer is simple – you don’t have to. Not doing so is the difference between just surviving, that is working, paying bills and dying or actually thriving and getting every last drop of juice out of life.

It is natural to fall into a rut sometimes. I do so more than I care to admit. That is why it is so important to follow a blog like this one. I follow several pages on social media and connect with other like-minded souls that will help me expand and grow. Those that do not, such as people who have lives filled with drama or busy themselves with trivial things such as political debates, I silently send them love, delete them and move on.

Soon we are going to begin a new process of ways to fall in love with our lives in 30 days, spending just 2 to 5 minutes a day. Each day we are going to look at simple rituals we can put in place to do just that. If this sounds like a tall order, I encourage you to give them a try. They will take no complex tools or talent. At most you will need a pen and a notebook.

Most of them require no tools at all. If you are like me you may be tempted to start all of them, but I recommend picking one and trying it out for 30 days. Although all of them are quick and easy to implement, trying to add too many rituals at once may leave us feeling overwhelmed. Once you try one of the tools we explore for 30 days you will gain momentum and that will allow you to add another ritual and then another. Slowly your life will change as if by magic!

As you go through this you will have company – me. I will be putting these rituals into place in my own life as well. I hope you are as excited as I am. We begin tomorrow with an idea that extends the 30 days we have just completed.

A word of wisdom, if one idea doesn’t speak to you, that’s ok. Wait until the following day and see if the next idea better fits you and your life.¬†

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING ūüôā

1 LESSON I STILL STRUGGLE WITH.


Have you ever tried teaching someone something you know how to do rather well? It can be frustrating and take a great deal of patience. The other evening I had the great pleasure of sharing coffee and conversation with my friend Nick. As so often happens when the two of us get together the conversation turned to personal development and growth. I had to confess something to him and I am going to share it with you now in hopes it may help a lot of you.
One of the greatest struggles we can endure is maintaining a sense of compassion and understanding of our fellow humans we share this planet with. Some of us can refer to this as judging others. If you were to ask me if I were a judgemental person, for the most part I would have to say ‘no’. I have friends that I care deeply for that belong to many different races, religions and other such groups. I really understand that we never know what happens behind the scenes or what someone’s story may entail.
One of the areas that does tend to upset me is those who are not evolved emotionally and spiritually. Those who tend to judge others or carry a rather negative attitude into life. I guess that is because the information is available and it is free. Books can be had at any library. Videos are a click away on YouTube and Google can tell you anything you need to know from the Law of Attraction to enlightenment. Still, there are those who are even ignorant to these facts. Hopefully, the fact that you are reading this blog signifies that you do not fit into the afore mentioned category.
There are even those who are aware of personal development and know they, and their life, could be so much more but choose not to pursue that. I even heard someone brag once about how they avoided making more of their life. To me this is very hard to understand. It is my desire to help everyone create more joy, passion and success in their lives. When I find someone who displays an ignorance for universal laws or an obvious lack of emotional maturity it is both frustrating and a seeming cry for help. It is my struggle to understand and also respect the fact that they might not be intrested in or desire improving their lot in life.
This is a struggle I face whenever I try to reach someone who may not have had the years of experience in the field of personal development I have. It must be the same for those who have so many more when they are teaching me. We all learn at a different pace and learn different things. Share all the good you can, but do so with patience and compassion. If you become frustrated with spiritual ignorance of those around you, feel free to refer to this quote.

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FULL OF IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING!!!

YOU MUST DO THESE 3 WORKOUTS TO BE SUCCESSFUL

While mowing the lawn the other day something profound occurred to me. In these blog posts I occasionally use physical fitness as an analogy to self-improvement. What occurred to me is that there are three parts to an individual and all three of these must be worked out and in top shape for us to have an amazing life. The three parts of a person are the body, the mind and the spirit or soul. To keep all of these in shape requires some of the same principles. Let us look at each one briefly to get an idea of what we may need to do.

First, let us look at¬†the body. Depending on what shape you are in really depends on what kind of workout you need to do. Is it maintaining or getting in shape? You should spend several days a week working on your physical fitness, while at the same time allowing periods of rest and recovery.¬†To reach your¬†fitness goals may take months or it may take years. It always makes me chuckle how¬†busy gyms are after the first of the year, only to be empty a month later. It would seem that people who have¬†had an unhealthy lifestyle for years think that can be turned around after¬†only a few workouts. Trust me, it can’t. I tried. As Jim Rohn said, “No one else can do your push ups for you.” ¬†To achieve great¬†physical fitness you must put in the work. ¬†Once you achieve your desired state of physical health it is important to institute a regular maintenance routine. If we get in shape and then stop we will begin to decline.

¬†Next, let us look at the mind. Whether you are a sitting with a college degree or chasing your GED the principles are the same. If you haven’t dusted off the grey matter at the top of your head in a while it may be a little more difficult to get back into the habit of learning. This is very similar to working out. The worse shape you are in, the more sore your body will be when you start. A lot of us do not have intellectual goals like we do fitness goals. It is important to do so. How will you ever know if you have arrived if you do not know where you are going? When you do arrive, you must also have a regular maintenance routine just like fitness. If you think intellect doesn’t fade as fast as muscle, try opening a high school math book to realize how much you have forgotten. With intellectual fitness this can range from reading something inspiring every day, watching an instructional video or even using one of those fabulous brain fitness apps for your phone.

Finally. let us look at our spiritual health. This is the area that most of us ignore, yet is one of the most important. Think of how many celebrities you hear of that have all of the physical tools, they are accomplished in their career and then take their own lives. To be¬†successful and unfulfilled is one of the greatest failures. Luckily, there are steps we can take to keep our spirit in shape the same as we can do for our body and our mind. Interestingly enough, these are more individual than either of the afore mentioned. What helps your soul develop and heal is as unique to you as it is to the next person. To some, it involves going to a house of worship one day a week. To¬†others, it involves spending quality time in nature. Recently, I had a conversation with my friend Kurt. When people and life becomes overwhelming¬†enjoys relaxing in a darkened room for several hours and taking a day to recalibrate. Personally, after¬†often the same exposure to…shall we say the same stressors, I enjoy listening to some classical music and spending time in nature.

 We should also have a regular maintenance to keep our spirit and vibration high. You may think you do not have time for that, but as short and precious as life is, I am here to tell you that you do not have the time not to focus on that. A lot of us think that we should worry about paying the bills and then we will worry about our own happiness. As you can see from the example of celebrities above, that can lead to a tragic ending. I am all for trying to improve your situation, but I strongly suggest implementing a plan to enjoy the process and feed your spirit along the way. As I write this, Margie is having therapy shopping. I am enjoying a good cup of hot coffee. I also need to meditate regularly and sometimes just be alone and read. It allows me to enjoy the rest of my life so much more.

Focus on all three of these workouts to have a life that is completely fit and healthy. I encourage you to write down plans for your physical, intellectual and spiritual fitness today. Feel free to share what some of the items you do to keep all three of these areas healthy in the comments below.

NOT ALIKE BUT TOGETHER

Here is some information that will save you a lot of stress and a lot of lost time with the one you love. When it comes to any relationships, but more so in intimate relationships.

Think together and do not think alike. Sometimes differences in opinions, styles and manner of accomplishing goals can feel like obstacles just screaming to be solved. “If only I could get them to do things my way.” This can crop up in both the little and the big things. I can tell you this, the time you spend trying to ‘correct’ or change your partners behavior is wasted time.

Margie and I can go through periods where is seems like we disagree on everything from the percentage of chance there is a dead body in the dumpster to how criminal it is to use a tortilla without warming it up. If we spent all of our time trying to have the other do things the way we do them we would miss out on time that could be spent watching a movie, walking in the park or many more activities that will bring us joy.

How do you not let these little things crawl under your skin? I have found several ways. One, understand that is exactly what they are, little things. At the end of the day what difference will it make in your relationship if your spouse folds a towel different than you do? Does that change the person they are? If it does for you there may be other issues that we need to look at.

Also, this is a great opportunity to practice several things that can help with the longevity of a relationship. What things am I talking about? How about acceptance? Being able to accept that the person sitting across from you can somehow exist without the aid of a caffeinated beverage and that is ok. It is also a chance to practice patience. Do they clean things in a way you know they shouldn’t be done? Maybe it is time to focus on what you have to be grateful for, like the fact they are cleaning at all.

How about communicating? We are going to discuss this in a little more detail in an upcoming post. Does your spouse not put the same importance on body language that you do? Perhaps they are more physical and you are more verbal? This is a chance to basically learn and teach a new language. When you talk to your spouse about what means love to you it is important to understand that may be different. Here is where being a great listener comes in. By discovering how you and your partner differ when it comes to expressing and receiving love, you can open a whole new level to love. Imagine if you try to force them to express love and feel love in a different way? That would be terribly unrewarding for both parties. When you understand the differences here you can better express love to your partner and realize when they are trying to express it to you. Thus, you increase the total amount of love in the relationship.

This works fine for the little things, but what about the big things? Spiritual beliefs say? Remember differences help us expand our way of thinking. As long as the values are not radically different it is certainly ok to have different approaches in this manner. Again, it provides us an opportunity to use compromise and to seek a deeper level of understanding for our partner. Having someone who approaches the world in an entirely different manner can offer you more insights than a narrow approach of the exact same way of thinking. 

The more we understand our partner and how they differ from us, the greater we can love them. Whatever your goals in your relationship are, having two unique approaches will offer more wonderful discoveries along the way to accomplishing them. Imagine how much deeper your partner’s love for you would be if they saw you were trying to understand and appreciate the differences you share without trying to change them?

GROWING SPIRITUALLY, CHANGING PHYSICALLY


This post comes courtesy of a conversation I had with a friend I had not seen in a long time. After exchanging the usual “Hello how are you?” I informed the gentleman he looked healthy and good. It was an honest assertation. There seemed to be more of a content look about him. It was his response that inspired this post.
“I’m good.” the young man replied. “I’m going through some stuff and when you change spiritually, you change physically.” That quote is what we are going to discuss today. If you look at the picture above it will give you a good analogy as to what spiritual growth is like. When a snake reaches a point of growth that its current skin can no longer contain, that skin is shed. For a while during this process the snake looks as if it is literally falling apart. As it is making its transition bits of skin will cling to its body until they are rubbed off revealing a shining ‘new’ snake. After sometime the snake’s skin becomes dull and the process is repeated. Another interesting fact I discovered while doing research for this post is that this process occurs six or seven times the first year and then can slow down to once a year or less.
This process is not much different than human spiritual development. When we are beginning to grow spiritually, or shed the skin of our old beliefs, we can appear as if we are coming undone. Often, there is a lack of sleep, a look of uncertainty and a general physical dishevelment. Until, at last, you achieve a look of inner peace and balance such as this man had. That is not to say everything is perfect in your life, but that you have come to peace with who you are and how that impacts your life. There are many who may not appreciate the look of the shiny new snake, especially those who have not grown to the same state you are at, or those who consider your growth a threat to themselves or your relationship with them. Sometimes it is necessary to leave them behind much like the skin the snake sheds.
Another interesting parallel was the rate of change. Much like the snakes who shed several times in the beginning of life and then do so at a reduced rate as their life progresses, we humans grow the same spiritually. As young children we absorb knowledge like a sponge. learning and taking in new ideas and beliefs at a rate that is surprising. As we grow older our learning is balanced with responsibilities and our attachment to our beliefs. Our willingness to change them slows. This is not always a bad thing, but that means our spiritual growth can take a lot longer, but it is also a lot more dramatic.
It would be great if all of us as adults could take a few weeks off of work, travel to India and meditate and study with the Dalai Lama, or whatever other spiritual adventure calls us. We could spend a few weeks shedding the skin of our outdated beliefs and emerge with a fresh and healthy new perspective. Instead, most of us have to balance spiritual growth with work, social and family obligations and a general lack of time to pursue them. This can lead us looking like we, and our lives, are totally falling apart as we feel that everything inside is beginning to fall in place.
Remember this snake analogy when you are either witnessing someone going through their spiritual rebirth, and especially when you are going through your own. As you develop new and empowering beliefs they may not fit into your current modalities. This can seem like your life is forever trying to put a round peg in a square hole. This is not only because you have changed, but because there may be things in your life that no longer serve who you are as a person. This is also life’s way of initially testing your commitment to your new beliefs. Hang in there as soon you will too reveal the shiny new more empowered you underneath the skin of the beliefs you have outgrown.

LET US NOT CONFUSE THE TWO

Much like last post, I must begin by saying in no way am I saying any religion, or religion in general is not good. Religion gives many people structure and guidelines that often help them to grow. As Haile Selassie pointed out in the statement above, it helps them grow spiritually. It is the goal of religion to help people grow and mature in a spiritual fashion.

Many of the practices include some of the same elements although they may be used in different ways. These include, but are not limited to, prayer, fasting, meditation and study. Whether you fast for Ramadan or for Lent you fast to mature and confirm your spiritual beliefs. It is your religious beliefs that are helping you to grow spiritually. Once again, this is a similarity to remember we all have in common. The same with prayer and meditation. The exact methods may differ but the reason and result is the same – to help us grow spiritually.

If you happen to observe someone engaged in a religious practice different than your own, please keep in mind they are doing what helps them grow spiritually. Just as people may use different exercise to improve their physical bodies or different types of learning to mature intellectually, we also use different practices to grow spiritually. Let us work toward and look forward to a day when everyone can become spiritually mature no matter what their belief. It will be then that we can accept each other in a spirit of love and understanding.

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.

THE PATH TO ETERNAL BEAUTY

Look in any magazine or watch any reality show and you will run across the same thing, everyone is trying to find the key to eternal youth and beauty. There are ads for creams, lotions, even cosmetic surgery has been refined to an in and out process. There is a new cool laser that can make your fat cells disappear. People spend millions of dollars a year on both hair removal and hair restoration. No matter how many advances or your financial ability to obtain them, one thing is for certain, eventually they will fade.

Do not misunderstand me. I believe there is plenty of physical improvements that make sense to do from not only an appearance stand point, but from a health stand point as well. Having dental work done will not only increase your chances of smiling, adding beauty right there, but help your health in many ways. Engaging in physical exercise will not only have your figure looking fit and trim, but help your heart and circulatory system run efficiently as well. Choosing a healthier way of eating over a crash fad diet will pay dividends for years to come.

Considering the amount of money we spend on items in the first category that serve only as a temporary cover up at best, we certainly could do better. Even the time, energy and effort we spend on items in the second category will only take us so far if we continue to ignore the single most important category to increase our physical appeal. The area of our life we should address first is often relegated to an after thought.

What is the area of our life that will bring us the greatest return on investment in regards to our beauty? It is our spirit, our heart, our inner peace. This may sound a bit clich√© to many of you, but it is true. How many times have you come across someone who may not be your normal physical ‘cup of tea’ as it were, but something just attracted you to them? We all like to be around people who make us laugh, smile and enjoy life more. On the flip side, even if the person we are with has graced the cover of a million magazines,¬†if they suck our spirit dry and leave us feeling emotionally drained there is no way we would want to be around them.

How do we invest in this portion of our lives? The answer is simple. Invest in ourselves. When we work to become better as individuals, we have more to offer each other and the world at large. Do something to refresh your spirit. Discover new ways to cultivate joy, engage in activities that make you smile. Foster an attitude of gratitude. Always look for the best in others. If you do these simple things and any others that will lead to an improved you, before long you will become more beautiful from the inside out. The upside here is the more you do this, the greater the beauty becomes. Keep it up and this beauty will never fade. No pills, lotions, fad diets or insane workouts needed.