IF IT ISN’T 1 THING…

Here I sit at Starbucks writing my second book (and presently this blog post). You will notice a copy of my first book on the right, and a double espresso and a green tea on the left. In addition there is a card from my lovely lady that encourages me. I keep in in my keyboard so the first thing that enters my mind as I begin to write is the wonderful lady I have at home. It also helps me stay connected with her as writing, even in a crowded coffee shop, is a fairly solitary endeavor.

This is not a story about coffee, or even the wonderful lady I have in my life…well…kind of. The title of the book I am working on is called Living the Dream. It has been in the works for roughly 3 years. A good portion of it is complete, but there still seems to be some work to do. Allow me to share with you something I have learned in the creation of this book. One of the biggest secrets to living the dream is understanding you already do. What on earth does that mean? Look at my set up, I have a laptop, coffee, tea, a woman who loves me and I am working on my dream of helping to inspire the world. All of this is a dream come true.

Let us spin this a different way. It may also be said after two decades in the self-improvement field which has included writing a book, writing posts on a website five days a week for over 5 years, appearances on several podcasts and radio and television shows, book signings, author festivals and live seminars. After all of this I am still not close to where I want to be. This is all true as well and I must confess is my outlook more often than it should be.

The secret is looking at life the first way. At this point you may very well be thinking “Neil, this sounds like one of those ‘glass half full’ speeches!” In a way you would be right. Both situations are true, but depending on which one we focus on life has an entirely different feeling and flavor. When we focus on what we have we tend to feel more abundant and joyful. When we focus on what we lack we feel depressed and poor. A successful life is about feeling good. If you find yourself thinking it is more about the fancy cars, big house and large bank account you are only partly right. Why do we want those things after all? It is for the feelings they will give us. The fancy cars may make us feel powerful, the big house significant and the large bank account may give us a sense of freedom or at the very least security. There is nothing wrong with the goal of having all of those, but what if you could work on developing the feelings they would give you while you pursue them.

Think of this, if your emotional well-being is tied to material objects or situations than it can disappear as quick as it came. Maybe even quicker. While you are saving up for the fancy car and big house perhaps you can begin to feel significant by creating joy in the lives of others. While looking to better yourself financially, find security in the relationships of your family and friends. What good are all of the ‘things’ in life if by the time you have them you have no peace and joy in your heart to enjoy them?

By all means write down your goals. Get an image of that car or house. Start your vision board to help create that reality. It will keep you moving forward and give purpose to your life. While you are doing that do not forget to find joy in the process and stay grateful for that which you do have. We spend most of our lives in the journey if we can enjoy that it makes the destinations that much more rewarding when we get there.

WE ARE LIVING MIRACLES

This is my friend Kyle and his girlfriend Jamie. Today is Kyle’s birthday. That is not the only reason I bring him to your attention today. Today is a day he will be celebrated by family and friends. They will celebrate his birth, his coming into this world. He will be the one receiving the material gifts, but the simple fact he is being thought of by so many others speaks to the fact of what a gift his life has been to them.

One of Kyle’s best traits is his humility. He may not think his life makes a great deal of difference in the grand scheme of the world. This is like many of us. We often fail to understand how the simple positive things we do affect the lives of others. Kyle, is a prime example. He is a barista at the local coffee shop I often write at. There are quite a few others that work with Kyle, but none that have his positive outlook and demeanor. His compassion for, and attitude towards his customers is second to none.

Being a friendly barista may not seem like something that can change the world, and I know Kyle may not think so, but to me, nothing is further from the truth. What we never know is the story of the people in front of us. Even close friends may not share everything that is on their mind or in their hearts. Imagine a complete stranger in a coffee shop.

How much is a positive word worth to you? How much would a smile affect you if you were having a bad day? They are priceless. You cannot buy genuine caring no matter how much money you have. Kyle gives this freely. He genuinely cares about his fellow man. In the course of career I cannot begin to imagine how many smiles he has brought to the faces of his customers and how much joy he has put in the hearts of those he has met. It would not surprise me if he has directly, or indirectly saved the lives of people who may have came in feeling their lives did not matter. He did all of this by simply being himself.

To be sure Kyle has days when he does not live up to his own expectations, as we all do. I had the honor of interviewing him and Jamie for an upcoming book of mine and learned that one of the reasons they are perfect for each other, is they realize each other is not perfect. The next time Kyle is feeling down, or does something to disappoint himself or others I hope he remembers what a gift his life is and how many miracles he has created simply by sharing the love he has for his fellow man.

Yes, today is Kyle’s birthday and we are celebrating his birth and life, but we only do so because of the difference it has made in our lives. I want to take a second to wish this fine example of a human being the happiest of birthdays followed by many more.

I encourage all of you to tag someone in this post that you feel creates miracles in the lives of others. Let them know what a difference they make.

TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

This is me, reading at Starbucks. Usually when I’m here I am busy writing these blogs, working on my next book or enjoying the company of good friends.

Not on this day though. No, I was enjoying the feeling of the sun on my skin and the great book we spoke about yesterday. The great thing about doing this is that in addition to being very relaxing, it also helps the time I’m working.

When you relax it gives your brain a chance to straighten everything out. That way when you focus again, your focus will be so much better and your productivity will be that much better!

So don’t feel guilty taking time to relax. In fact, know by doing so you will be making your work time even more productive!

WE ARE ALL TEACHERS

Recently, as in moments ago, I had a conversation with a good friend of mine, Kenny, about him becoming a history teacher. I am a big fan of history so we had a very good conversation about learning from history and the cyclical nature of history. Kenny has a great love of people and a terrific personality. The fact that he will be in charge of educating our youth fills me with both great excitement and great joy.

I recall thinking to myself “I wish all the great people I know would become teachers”. No sooner had that thought popped into my crowded head then it was followed by another.  “We are all teachers”. If you are a supervisor at work, perhaps a parent at home you are teaching. We teach our friends, our families and even those we just come in contact with. How and what we teach them depends on the situation and a great deal on us.

So how do we teach and what on earth are we teaching? We teach in many ways. There is of course the direct way of telling and showing people how to do things we know. Trust me, you know a lot more than you think. The other day I had to help someone order at Starbucks using all of their crazy lingo. We also teach in subtle ways. We teach by example. Children learn a great deal by watching their parents, but it is not limited to children. We can learn by watching and listening to our spouses during a disagreement. They are showing us what bothers then and how they need to be loved. How soon we get that lesson will determine how many of these ‘teaching opportunities’ we will have to go through. That’s not just for spouses either. It holds true for friends and coworkers alike. When you fail a class, you have to retake it. The same holds true for life. If we don’t learn from a situation we are doomed to repeat it.

Speaking of coworkers and spouses, mine happens to be one in the same. She has thought me the skills I needed to go from being a bartender to a dj. Hopefully along the way I brought something new to the table that she might have learned.

The takeaway is this,  in life we are all students and we are all teachers. I think there is a moral obligation to pass along what we know to others. If we do not that knowledge becomes useless. By doing so we often sharpen our own knowledge and learn something new. The other night I watched my lady convey the finer aspects of the law of attraction to her son and our good friend. In doing so I think she reminded herself of a lot of that knowledge.

So learn all you can, and pass along what you do learn!

HOW THIS MAN CHANGES THE WORLD AND HOW YOU CAN TOO

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This is my friend Kyle. As you may be able to tell he works at one of the Starbucks I frequent. So how does this barista change the world? How can one man serving coffee change the entire world? More to the point what lesson can we take from him that can allow us to do the same? Keep reading for the answers to all these questions and more.

Here is one great thing about Kyle, his customer service may be second to none. So does that change the world? In short, yes. Not only does he craft amazing beverages, one of which I am currently enjoying, but he does it with a flair and a kindness far beyond what is asked and expected of him. This is just how Kyle is. He has a good heart and likes to leave people with both a smile and a great drink.

So how does being so fun and friendly change the world? The countless number of people that flow through this Starbucks come in all races, shapes and with different stories. Some may be having a great day already and Kyle’s service may just put them over the top. Some may be on the verge of a bad day and having the pleasure of being served by him may turn their day into a great one. Still, the most important thing is there are people who certainly come in contact with Kyle who are having a bad day. They may even be having the worst day they have had. Seeing how much the local employee at the coffee shop cares for them and their order may go a long way into changing their state. They will then be able to react better to those they encounter. It is a ripple effect. Kyle never knows how much his kindness may affect people, and that is not why he does it. Still it has a ripple effect that blesses the lives of a great many people. It may even save the lives of a few who think nobody cares.

So what can Kyle teach us about changing the world? Treat everyone we come in contact with as if they were the most important person in the world. We do this for two reasons. One, to that person they are the most important person in the world and because that is how we should treat each other. Now when we do this that person may go home and be more understanding with their spouse or children. They may pass along this kindness to others. Imagine a world full of this? Does this sound like a fantasy? It doesn’t have to be. A kind world starts with one person at a time, and that person is us. So if you want to change the world for the better the simplest thing you can do is treat everyone as you would like to be treated. Share an encouraging word, a smile and some positive vibes. It not only will brighten their day, but you never know who else it will go on to effect. Be like Kyle, change the world

Feel free to share this post as well as any stories you may have of people you know who change the world.

ANOTHER BENEFIT OF FOCUS

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Yesterday we talked about the importance of focus. Here is a picture of me from last Friday. Why does me sitting in front of a DJ board have to do with focus? Just about everything. Let me explain. I normally DJ with my lovely lady who has been doing just such a thing for over 15 years. When something goes crazy, she knows what button to push, or what plug may be lose. On this evening she had to focus on her goal of creating designer cakes which is another one of her amazing talents. So there I was alone for the first time as a DJ. If I had focused on everything that could go wrong and how much I still have to learn that evening would have been a disaster, but I decided to focus on what I did have and what was working for me. The owner of the bar is also a DJ and could help if I needed. My lady was only a phone call away. The people that attend our shows are very understanding if I were to make a mistake.

When I tell people about looking at what is working instead of what is not I hear a lot of things about living in a fantasy world, or not admitting things are wrong. That is not at all what this is about. It is important to realize what is not working so you can be on the lookout for a solution. Just don’t live there. Once we know what is not right we can begin to work on making it right and begin to look for what is working. We do not have to focus on how terrible things are and what we lack, when all of us, no matter what our situation is, has so much. So is this a fantasy world? No. There is nothing less true about what is working than what is not.

This has more to do with feeling. Seeing what is both bad and good in any situation and choosing to focus on the good not only helps you feel better and enjoy your life more, but also helps you see solutions better and accomplish more. Why? Let me ask you when are you more productive when you are happy or when you are sad?

Here are two examples to prove this theory and an experiment you can try to prove this to yourself. Recently I dislocated my shoulder. I had to miss a few days of work. My job gave me a lot of grief. I have to ask for help doing the most basic activities. If I focus on this, which does happen on occasion, I feel frustrated. I really start to dislike both my job and my boss who has been not very understanding. In that same breath, that feeling has me focused on completing my schooling and moving forward with that. It has me realizing how many great people around me who are willing to help me with all of my needs. Both of those are equally real. Looking at my current situation either way would be true, but one feels a hell of a lot better. That is a big difference between living a life that feels great and one that feels terrible.

Ok, one more example and you can try this yourself with your current situation. Look around and find everything about your situation that sucks. I am writing to you from Starbucks. The door keeps opening because people are coming in and out. It is loud and a bit hard to concentrate. The coffee is rather pricy. They are a corporate giant that can put some small coffee shops out of business. These are all true. If I were to focus on this I would be having a rather uninspired time here. Ok, now look at your situation and find everything good about it. In my case, they have free internet I can use without having to pay for it. The have a reward program where every 12th drink is free. With my reward card I can get a refill on my high quality coffee for less than a dollar. The people who work here including my friend Kenny are both helpful and amazing. They are a corporate giant allowing them to offer these things at many locations which are always close to where I am.

Both of those views are true. One feels good and helps me enjoy life, the other does not. Try it yourself in your current situation.

JAMES AND A CUP OF COFFEE

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Here is my current work situation,  a small table in the corner of a local Starbucks. I was deep in thought with the current post I was writing for this site when an interesting thing happened. A gentleman approached me and asked me if I could help him fix the Facebook messenger on his phone. My knowledge of technology does not rank near the top of the pile, but I told him to go into his app setting and try updating them. A few minutes later I was working away and the same kind gentleman came over to thank me and let me know that it worked. There was something in his approach and genuine sincerity that made his interruptions a pleasure. So as I watched him return to his seat a few tables away I felt the urge to share with him this site. What happened next is proof you should listen to your hunches. I went over there and give him my card. He thanked me and explained he could really use some motivation because in addition to being recently divorced he had just returned from a trip to Syria, where he was from, in which he was lucky to get out of the country. He explained to me the trouble was while he was there he was under suspicion because he was an American citizen. So he finally returns and guess what happens when a person of the Muslim faith returns from Syria? Yes again suspicion. He explained how frustrated he felt because he loved both countries and yet both of them were suspicious of him. We went on discussing our beliefs on compassion and life philosophy. We exchanged phone numbers and he even mentioned he might have an idea for my next book. All of this because I had the good fortune of helping a gentleman with his cell phone issues and trusting my hunches. There are many lessons that can be taken away from this, but I will leave today’s lessons up to your interpretation.