THE VACATION YOU SHOULD PLAN NOW!

Ah.. vacation

Ah vacation. Who doesn’t love a good vacation? I have been longing to travel to a tropical destination to perfect different expressions of repose. With the current pandemic and travel restrictions, I find myself stuck in the less-than-tropical environment of Wisconsin where I live. In this post we are going to explore a different kind of vacation and how to prepare for it.

Fun in the islands

Before we get to that, let’s look at your typical vacation. 2 long years ago, Margie and I traveled to Jamaica. It was our first international vacation together and we had a blast! We met so many wonderful people and ate some delicious food.

I love the sun and the water. As you can see in the pictures above,there was plenty of both. To plan this vacation we took our time. We visited a local travel agency. We compared resorts. We looked at prices verses amenities. We organized our schedules to have time free from our many labors and Margie being Margie, we also did a lot of shopping for things we needed and even some we didn’t. All this planning and activity took longer than the actual vacation, but was certainly enjoyable.

You simply must purchase this album

Last post I mentioned during my employment as a telemarketer, I often listened to Bob Marley as a stress relief option. Fast forward 27 years, or so, and we find myself listening to Michael Franti for the same reason. Today I was listening to his latest release Work Hard and Be Nice to People.

There is a wonderful track called daycation that mentions taking a one daycation to get your head on right. How many of us have felt that way a time or 500? I know I have. (Did I mention I work for the Post Office?) How many of us have really acted on that thought? Not many I would venture a guess.

The question is, why not? Taking some time off can reduce stress and even increase productivity once you return. Is it a question of feeling guilty for not being at the office? Trust me they would feel no guilt in replacing you. That’s why you must take care of you first. Make sure your physical and mental health are doing great. It will help you be more productive at the office, but more importantly, it will help you enjoy your free time more and live longer to enjoy it. Don’t believe it? Look up scientific evidence for the benefits of vacation. Print one out for your boss too.

My quandary has always been how much can you really do in one day? The answer is plenty, if you plan it right. On my days off I am usually involved in a literary pursuit, doing a project at home or, like today, having my car repaired. It will not shock you to know this does not feel like a vacation.

What we should do is develop a plan for several one daycations. Whether that is a fancy dinner out followed by a trip to the spa or a day at the water park with friends followed by a nice hotel after. Maybe a picnic in the park with the one you love? The important part is to plan this. Write down your itinerary. This can be fun. Usually it helps to make it away from the house if possible. This way you will be free of the many distractions that await you there.

Taking several of these one daycations can help you unwind and recharge. It can help you return to be more productive at the office and at home!

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SONG THAT INSPIRED THIS POST

HOW IT HAPPENS

Obviously not me as I am a man

Many of you who have read both my book and these blogs may have questions as to how some of the material comes about. Trust me when I tell you that on some days I find myself asking the same thing. With that thought in mind, I am going to share with you a personal epiphany I had the other day that shed light on how I began practicing an early version of one of my main tools of self-improvement. I began doing this years before I was in the self-improvement field, and even more years before I knew what the heck I was doing.

This is what a phone used to look like

The year was 1993. Recently graduated from high school, I was exploring the work world as a telemarketer. You think it is annoying receiving those calls, try making them 8 hours a day, 6 days a week! The best way to prepare for a career in telemarketing is to call a friend repeatedly and have them yell obscene thinks at you and hang up. Do this over and over again for hours. That’s pretty much what it is like.

As you can imagine a day like that can be tough on the nerves and tougher on the self-confidence. Even though you know it is not personal, hearing what people hope the proctologist does to you and your family gets a little exhausting. I do suppose it was a little better for me as I tend to be a friendly sort of chap. I refused to follow the “If the potential customer says ‘no’ then you say ____” This is also why I am no longer a telemarketer.

On lunch I needed to find a way to escape. Recently, my life-long friend Kevin had introduced me to the musician Bob Marley, and therefore reggae music. For those of you unfamiliar, most of Bob’s music has a very positive and almost spiritual aspect to it.

The most popular album people know from Bob Marley is Legend, which is a greatest hits of sorts. I can tell you that I listened to this recording on repeat for my entire lunch hour. I did this nearly every day. Changing my mindset to one of a more positive and hopeful one allowed me to take the second half of the verbal onslaught that awaited me. On many occasions this required another listen when I arrived home at the end of a day.

For some reason, it took about 6 years for the thought to occur to me that creating a happy Playlist, that is a collection of songs that bring joy to your heart might be a good idea. I explain the idea in my book, A Happy Life for Busy People, and have even updated that on my new book as well. With technology, this is now even easier than ever. With MP3, YouTube and streaming services, you can have a happy Playlist in seconds! It took a conversation with my Rastafarian friend, David, for me to remember how this all began.

CLICK HERE FOR A POSITIVE BOB MARLEY VIDEO

THE SECOND STEP IN COPING WITH ANXIETY

We have been discussing anxiety and ways in which to approach healing from it. Last post we discussed using physical strategies. Today we will discuss social coping strategies for anxiety. We began with physical coping strategies because they are a good first step. It requires very little use of the mind and thus can be easier to put into action. Anxiety can have us feeling keyed up and jittery. Expelling some of that energy through physical exercise, or consuming a calming tea can be a good first step. Ironically, anxiety can leave us feeling both mentally and physically exhausted. It can have us feeling completely drained. Changing our diet to a more healthy option as well as removing things like caffeine and alcohol can give us an energy boost.

When you are suffering from anxiety, being social with others may be one of the last things you want to do. The difficult part, is it can be one of the best things for you. There are ways to mitigate the additional stress often occurred when socializing. Certainly, we are not advocating attending a business networking event filled with strangers giving you highpressure sales pitches. A small gathering at a familiar place with close friends and family can help us feel calm and collected. Discussing our feelings with those who care and we know we can trust can help us feel less alone in battling the challenges we are facing. There are occasions when focusing on the anxiety can only prove to make it worse. The focus does not have to be, and quite often should not be your anxiety. Spending time trading jokes, recalling fond memories or even fantasizing about a future vacation, trip around the world or what it would be like to win the lottery can help change our focus, even if only for a moment.

You may not feel comfortable sharing some of your inner most thoughts or feeling with your friends. Maybe it is uncomfortable to feel that vulnerable with someone you are that close to. Those are understandable and valid feelings. If you are not ready or feel comfortable seeking out a professional counselor or therapist, there are still plenty of good options. As a friend and reader of this blog mentioned on our first post on the subject of anxiety, it would be wise and helpful to talk to your priest, rabbi, shaman or other spiritual leader. Not only are they generally the most compassionate people, but if we are honest, helping those in a challenging emotional state is in their job description. Depending on the the source of your anxiety, life coaches can be another good option. Although they do not deal in challenges of the past, they certainly can help you map out a plan for the future. Sometimes knowing where we are going and having actionable steps to take can relieve a lot of the anxiety we feel.

The challenge with all of these options is that often when we are suffering from anxiety we do not even feel like leaving the house. Thanks to modern technology, and even more so because of the current pandemic, all of these services are available online. As a life coach, I have had several meeting via zoom which not only allowed my clients to feel safe, but allowed me to service individuals across state and even international borders. There are services that allow you to speak to spiritual advisors as well. You can do so through the telephone, online or a mix of the two. There are also plenty of online forums and groups that you can join. There are even ones specific for people dealing with anxiety. I have included a link from verywell mind that lists the top 7 online anxiety support groups for 2021 at the end of this post. Knowing you are not alone is a very important element when experiencing anxiety. Knowing there are several options to explore, I encourage you to reach out and try one. It can be as simple as clicking the link below.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN THE TOP 7 ONLINE GROUPS FOR STRESS IN 2021

MAYBE I CAN HELP

Today we are going to discuss something that touches the lives of everyone – anxiety. In these crazy days of political bickering, health worries due to the pandemic as, well as financial and job worries, it would seem you fit into one of two groups. You have some degree of anxiety or you know someone who does. It is not just the 3 big factors we mentioned either. Each one of us has a whole host of small worries and concerns that we become anxious about. Children and other family members, bosses and coworkers plus a million other issues that can creep up. Maybe even just reading that sentence caused a feeling of anxiousness in you. Trust me when I tell you the one thing you can be certain of is that you are not alone in feeling this way. In the United States alone, 40 million adults suffer from some form of anxiety. That is roughly 18% of the population. That is the bad news. The good news is that anxiety disorders are highly treatable. Sadly, only about 37% of those affected receive treatment.

I am certainly not a doctor or psychologist. I recommend having an honest and open conversation with, at the very least, your general physician. As a certified life coach with over 2 decades of self-improvement experience, I am confident I can offer some tips that will help. As with any challenge in life, I recommend a multi-faceted approach to treatment. In the next few posts we are going to look at several of these starting today. The first thing is to recognize that having anxiety is not something to be embarrassed about. As we discussed you are in some very good company. With all that we experience, it is completely natural to reach a state where we are totally overwhelmed. The next thing that is important to know is that anxiety is treatable. With a proper plan, you can begin to regain control of your life.

Where did it come from?

One of the first steps in treating anxiety is understanding the source of that anxiety. It may be a single source, but oftentimes it comes from several different sources. Looking at the pictures above we can see several of them. Some come from genetic and family backgrounds. Some are organic in nature, meaning it can involve chemicals in the brain. Even these are treatable with proper medical care. A portion of anxiety can be onset by a tragic or very emotional life event. PTSD is a very serious and complex issue. It may involve several different methods of treatment, but can certainly be treated. In today’s world, there is also a good deal of social anxiety. This can come in the form of things like cyberbullying. It can also be an over exposure to negative and fear driven social media. Speaking of social media, we can even feel a good deal of anxiety viewing our friends social media pages. What people post on social media tends to be their best lives. We see the end result, but not very often the struggle that goes into it. That can leave us feeling like we are failing or falling behind. You see the couple that is always posting loving photos while you sit eating fast food for one.

Which brings us to our first major question, “How do I discover the source of my anxiety?” There are several paths to explore discovering your source of anxiety and you will have to discover what will work for you. I am going to look at 4 to get you started. Do not feel limited by these, but at least explore them. The first is the obvious one, talk to a trained medical professional. This can be a trip to your regular doctor who may have some answers or be able to steer you in the right direction. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your doctor or may be looking for something more specific or confidential, I suggest taking advantage of your workplace’s Employee Assistance Program or EAP as they are often known as. Most large companies have one. If you are not sure if that is something your workplace offers, check with your boss or human resources department.

Perhaps seeing someone in person is a little too uncomfortable for you. There are 2 other methods we are going to look at. There are doctors and professionals available in a virtual setting. You could speak to someone over the phone or even have an online session. With all that is happening in the world these resources are expanding at a tremendous rate. A simple Google search will offer you many options to get you started. Many are available for little or no cost to you.

If you do not feel comfortable sharing yet, there is one therapist that I use and recommend to everyone – a journal. It is private, it is extremely low-cost and can be a valuable tool in self-discovery and treatment. Often recording our feelings can result in a great deal of clarity. When we take the emotions and anxiety we are experiencing in our heads and put it on paper it can diffuse a lot of the emotion or offer us a clearer picture of what we are feeling. I relate it to taking a step back or taking a moment to breath. This makes a journal not only a great tool for discovering the source of anxiety, but can do a great deal to treat it as well. Journaling has some added bonuses too. Should you discover you may want to speak with someone in the future, having a record of your thoughts for the last few days/weeks/months can help them better understand and assist you. Not sure how to get started? It can be as simple as sitting down and beginning to write down how you are feeling and what comes to mind. Some moments, even getting started can be difficult. Do not worry, there are plenty of sites that offer free prompts to get you started such as the ones pictured above from our friends at journalBuddies.com.

Discovering the source of our anxiety can be a very liberating and helpful first step. I encourage everyone to take that step. Even those of us who feel we have a good handle on our anxiety can benefit from developing a relationship with someone, even if that is a journal, for when life overwhelms us. Discovering the source of our anxiety is just a first step. Next post we will begin to look at the three different methods for treating anxiety and which one may be right for you.

ONE DAY AT A TIME

Is this you?

I found this picture rather amusing. As I looked at it I was beginning a run of 14 days in row of working. Just for good measure, 3 of those days had 2 jobs and one had a job and a seminar. It included driving at least 50 miles everyday and on one occasion, more than 100. I felt exhausted just typing about it!

While these words are being constructed, it is day 14 of those 14. I am just preparing to head out to DJ. I am looking forward to a nice day off tomorrow. My plans are to visit the Milwaukee County Zoo and go out to lunch with my lovely Margie and my mother. It is to a Mexican restaurant so I would think a quick nap might follow that. The evening calls for a nice dinner and movie at home with my love.

Relaxing with my love

As tough as the last 2 weeks have been, and as wonderful as tomorrow will be, I realize my meditation on the subject that I am wasting a great deal of my energy. Thinking of how challenging the upcoming working days were going to be had me feeling exhausted before the alarm clock went off on the first day. This made each day seem a little tougher than it needed to be. Keeping this thought in my mind had me mentally exhausted. Doing this daily lead to physical exhaustion as well.

Looking forward to my wonderful day tomorrow is certainly a noble pursuit. However, I must be careful not to dread the journey of arrival.

Both of these activities drain our energy and both have the same simple solution – live in the present moment. It is something I remind my life-coaching clients and seem to have forgotten myself. You can certainly plan for tomorrow. Lay your clothes out ahead, get the coffee ready and other such activities. Yet spending time worrying about the arduous day ahead will only steal the joy and energy from the day at hand.

The same can be said for suspending joy until a future event. It is great,and I feel vital, to always have something to look forward to. Supressing the joy of today in anticipation of the joys of tomorrow makes little or no sense. In this case, it makes perfect sense to be greedy. Look for joy every second of every day! Look for joy in the present, while being excited for the joy to come!

Living in the present gives us a great many gifts. One of those gifts is more mental and physical energy. Next time you feel yourself thinking “Next week was exhausting!” Slow down, and remind yourself to take one day at a time!

WHEN YOUR TIRED, GO FOR A WALK?

In these days where we are rightfully concerned about our physical well-being and making sure that we take care of our immune system getting enough sleep is a very important aspect of that. Considering that last statement, how do we find ourselves beginning a post titled “When you are tired, go for a walk”? That is a great question. We are going to explore several reasons for doing just that as I share both a story and pictures of a recent walk that I went on. This walk itself followed an eight-hour work day that began at 5 am and followed a night of little or no sleep. As you can imagine, I was very tired. What would prompt me to take that time to go for a walk?

My mother and I routinely go for walks through nature. Being that the period for good weather here in Wisconsin, where we live, is short, we do our best to take advantage of every good day. As I write this, the temperature has dropped and Autumn is setting in. Soon, the snow will fall and walking will become more of an adventure and less of a relaxing stroll. Back to our day in question. I had just completed a shift at my day job working 5am to 1pm. This was day 10 of working 13 in a row. Although I was certainly feeling tired, the sunshine and pleasant late summer weather was calling me. On my way home I spoke with my mother by telephone. She informed me she planned on going for a walk through the woods on a new path she had discovered.

My mother agreed to pick me up, as she knew where this path was to be found. A short drive later we arrived at our starting point behind a large hospital complex. This space was formerly used as the Milwaukee County Asylum/Hospital for the Insane as it was called. It was shuttered in 1914 in light of questionable practices as well as a more modern venue with updated treatments for those with mental health conditions. Knowing this, the woods often take on a somewhat haunting ambience. Not in a bad way, but as if they have secrets to be shared that can only be discovered by exploring their sun-dappled paths. There is even a marker letting you know that buried in the grounds are the remains of over 200 souls that had no friends or family to claim them. Before we left, my mother and I stopped at this marker to offer thoughts and prayers for the souls of these individuals.

We enjoy walking for its many health benefits. When it comes to a good walk, there are a multitude of physical benefits. It is great for your heart. By walking you bring up your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and help circulation. Walking can also help you shore up your bones, lose weight, strengthen your muscles, improve your sleep and help your joints. Certainly, all of these are great reasons to walk and are some of the benefits we are chasing. However, by choosing this path and others in nature there are other reasons we are walking. Back to more reasons for walking this fine day. Often, our feelings of physical exhaustion can really be an outward display of emotional and spiritual exhaustion.

Walking in nature has many additional emotional as well as health benefits you cannot even find walking at the gym or throughout the city. That is because different parts of our brain are activated when we walk in nature. Some of the benefits you can see are helps control depression, reduces anxiety, helps battle cold and flu, speeds recovery time after sickness and makes you happy. Why is this? Science is still working to discover exact answers. In a 2015 study researchers compared the brains of healthy people who walked 90 minutes in either a natural setting or an urban one. They found significantly lower activity in the prefrontal cortex of those who walked in nature. That is the part of the brain that is active during rumination or repetitive focus on negative thoughts.

As if all of these benefits were not enough, there is even more. Nature sounds such as frogs, birds and just the sound of the wind through the trees help reduce blood pressure as well as cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. In addition, visual focus on greenery and natural settings seem to distract your mind from focus on negative thoughts. How much nature is enough, you may ask. It is recommended to try for 30 minutes in nature 3 days a week. This can be trip to the beach, a walk through the local park or even a camping trip on the weekend. Combining the physical health benefits of walking and the emotional and spiritual benefits of nature, you will find yourself feeling tired but refreshed at the conclusion of your journey.

I hope you enjoyed the photos I shared with you in this post from my walk with my mother through Sanctuary Woods as they are called. I encourage you to find a natural place near you to explore a few days a week. You will find rewards of both the spiritual as well as physical. What if you are unable to escape due to factors beyond your control? Science tell us that by listening to nature sounds and looking at pictures of natural settings can help offer some of the benefits you may get from being in the environment itself. You would lose the physical benefits of walking as well as the fresh air you can smell in the woods, but something is better than nothing. I encourage you to share picture or stories of your escapes into nature.

EXTEND POSITIVE EXPERIENCES

One of the aspects of improving myself I am still working on is raising the rent in my head. Let me explain. When something happens that affects me negatively it tends to pop back into my head over and over. Does this happen to you? Hours later, the thought seems to pop into your head out of nowhere! You will be seemingly mentally occupied doing something else when a question like, “Why on earth did he say that?” or worse an emotionally charged thought like, “That makes me so mad she did that!” shows up. This happens in my mind more often than I care to admit. The language tends to be a little more colorful, but the basic thoughts are the same.

It frustrates me because it will only serve to amplify and intensify the negative emotions. In other words, not only have I allowed my emotions to be affected in a bad way by this person in the first place, now I am the one allowing this situation to affect me again and again! This person is not continuing to hurt or upset me, I am doing it to myself with my thoughts. How stupid is that? Like I mentioned at the start of this blog, it is something I am working on with myself.

To amplify the frustration I was already feeling, another thought came into my head. How come the same thing doesn’t happen with positive experiences? I thought about what I do to keep this negative experiences hanging around and decided to do the same thing with the positive ones. In the negative example I had unconsciously used negative self talk to relive and feel that emotion again and again. Why this did not seem to happen with good thoughts with equal frequency and intensity was beyond me. What I did decide was to pursue it consciously.

One of the best ways to keep a positive experience alive in our thoughts and in our conversation, both in and outside of our head, is to express gratitude for that experience. This is a great option for many reasons. Let us take a look at a few. First, it allows the other party to feel appreciated. When someone feels that you genuinely feel appreciative for something they did for you, they are more likely to do more nice things for you. That would be the second benefit. The third benefit is the improvement in the quality of your inner dialogue. When your self-talk improves, so does your emotions. Thinking about why that person made us feel angry has us feeling….well…angry. That certainly sucks. If, however, we focus how nice someone was to do something for us we feel grateful. We can also feel such feelings as loved, appreciated, valued and many other positive emotions. All this good emotion brings us two other benefits. One, a positive effect on our health. Being in a positive emotional state helps our immune system, allows us to heal quicker and a host of other positive benefits. By doing so it helps eliminate many of the health ramifications of negative thinking. The raised blood pressure of anger, the upset stomach of worry and the suppressed immune function of depression. Here is one of the best benefits of being grateful – it gives you less time to think and feel all of those terrible thoughts.

Our minds can only focus on one thought at a time. Why not make it a good one? If we allow ourselves to get worked up by negative circumstances, we owe it to ourselves to put just as much effort into getting worked up and excited over positive experiences. For every minute we are happy, we lose 60 seconds of unhappiness. The longer we can express our gratitude for all of the good things happening in our life, the better our life will be.

THE GIFT YOU GIVE YOURSELF

As we noted last post, yesterday was my birthday. One gift that I make sure to give myself every year is the gift of ‘unplugging’. I do not take as much time as I should for self-care and that is certainly one thing I am working on in the coming year. It can be hard to dance that line between being driven and being able to pull back and give yourself the space to rest and recharge.

One thing that makes me shake my head on occasion is how good we take care of some of our ‘stuff’ in comparison to how we take care of ourselves. “Don’t leave your laptop outside too long or it will overheat and damage it.” Someone should have told me that one earlier. Yet, we will be outside without making sure we are staying cool or drinking enough water. We are using a paper shredder and it gets to a certain point and overheats forcing us to let it cool before we can begin again. In the same token we go without sleep. We consume vast amounts of coffee or energy drinks to get everything we need done in our lives.

It is no wonder that many of us suffer nervous breakdowns or at the very least have our health compromised by high stress levels. Are you aware that 90% of hospital visits can in some way be related to stress? Sound crazy? Many of today’s leading causes of death such as heart disease, cancer and many others are to a great extent lifestyle driven. If we put enough stress on a chain it will break on its weakest link. If we put too much stress on our bodies and minds, they will break at the weakest link. For some of us that might be a genetic condition we already have such as coronary health. It could be a cancer that runs in our family. Perhaps a breathing condition.

There is a reason when you are seriously sick they say you have a disease. If you break the world down it becomes dis-ease. That is a body that is not at ease. We may think we are saving time, money or stress by working ourselves to the bone, but it may cost us far more in the long run. Remember the quote we began this post with – almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. INCLUDING YOU.

Give yourself that gift today. Unplug and relax. You will feel better in the present and thank yourself in the long-run.

ACCEPT IT… THEN WE CAN MOVE ON

I have always been a fan of Michael J Fox. Good actor, great human. Being open with his struggles with Parkinson’s disease and his desire to help those similarly affected. This post is not so much about the man or the condition, but about the approach demonstrated in both the situation and the quote above.

I think acceptance is one of the most important first steps in whatever situation you are facing. The issue for many of us is that we confuse acceptance with resignation. When you accept something, it does not mean you are ok with it. It also does not mean you are not going to work to improve or find away to work despite it. If you find there is a situation that is not to your liking there are two ways in which we can approach this. We can argue, fight and complain about it. We can continue to deny and work against it. This usually results in wasted energy on our behalf and a lot of additional stress. No real benefit there. You certainly will not find yourself any closer to an amazing life.

The second way, and far more recommended way, is to first accept the situation as it is. Perhaps you were let go from your job unfairly. You could complain and let everyone know just how bad the company ‘did you wrong’. Chances are you will still be remain unemployed at the end of the day. Your time would have been better served working on the situation. Saying to yourself, “I was let go. It shouldn’t have happened but it did.” Then begin to analyze the situation to see what, if anything, you can learn from it. Were you too comfortable being involved in workplace politics? Did you leave yourself vulnerable and relied too much on a single source of income? Did you not keep your resume up to date? Maybe the same holds true for your education and your skill set?

Once you discover what you can learn from the situation, do not beat yourself up over that. Instead, note that it is so and learn from that. Didn’t keep your resume up to date? Time to work on that. Need to brush up on some skills? Go ahead and do that. Maybe next time try to keep a better lookout for a workplace with a lot less drama and politics. These steps work for both people and situations. If your friend has a different political or social view than you, don’t waste your time trying to “change them over to your way of thinking.” The more productive path is to accept your friend for who they are and make sure to steer situations and conversations in a direction that does not bring up that subject.

The best place that acceptance can pay off is with yourself. Accept your faults or things that you could improve on. This requires both a great deal of honesty and bravery. Then, go to work on those things. Without admitting there is an issue to begin with, it makes it very difficult to craft a plan to improve it. Accepting you have a shortcoming (newsflash – we all do) does not make you less of a person. Quite the opposite. It means you are brave enough to admit, even to yourself, that there are areas in which you can improve. Then, accept that and begin to work on finding a way to work through it. By doing this in all areas of your life you will reduce stress and find your speed and success and solving problems will increase.

IT IS ABOUT YOUR 90%, NOT THEIR 10%

In this day and age there is a lot we cannot control. It can leave some people feeling scared or uncertain. Then again, others seem completely unfazed. Do these people shelter themselves from what is going on in the world today? Are they more ignorant to the news and the other scary and negative information the rest of us are being fed? The answer is ‘no’.

We see it in our friends, family and coworkers as well. It seems people fall in one of two categories. Either they break a nail and the day is over. You know the type. Over-emotional. Stress out something terrible. It is worse when those people seem to take it out on others. It is even worse if you have a boss like that. So I have heard anyway. Then there is the other side of the coin. There are people that nothing seems to get them down. They get a flat on the way to work and they take it in stride. They lose a job and somehow find the positive in the situation. These people used to drive me crazy, that is until I became one.

There is one axiom that helped me turn it all around and I am going to share it with you in hopes it can do the same in your life. That pillar of knowledge is not only true, but is worth printing out and hanging in every corner of your house. Maybe putting one in the car for when some less enlightened soul cuts you off in traffic. Need one at work? I would imagine that would be the case. This nugget of knowledge may be hard to believe at first, but use it and you will find it is true. Almost everyone has heard this statement before but not many agree with it. They almost seem to fight it even though it is the key to adding both joy and opportunity to your life. Why would someone fight something that could be so powerful? When you understand and make this statement part of your life you not only feel more in control, but you are more in control. Who among us would not want more of that in their life? Here is the reason why more people do not subscribe to this belief. Along with joy, opportunity and control this statement requires you to take responsibility for your emotions, your inner peace, your sense of joy and the current state of your life.

Yes my fine friends, that is the secret. “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” Before I start hearing all the excuses as to why this isn’t true, let me share a personal story with you. I was employed through a temporary service that was supposed to let me know after 30 days if the company I was working for would like to hire me. If they did, it would mean a raise of $4/hour. Thirty days came and went and no news. I called every day and was told they had not heard anything. After 3 days of this I called the company I was working at. They told me that they had asked to hire me but the temp service had not gotten back to them. When I confronted the service about it I was told they did it so they could keep me because I was a good worker. I will spare you the details of what happened after that except to say that I kept my head and looked elsewhere. The job I would’ve gotten moved to Mexico 6 months after I would have been hired. I then got a job that put me in position to get the job I have now, making more than I would have.

You may be thinking that it worked for me, but it wouldn’t work for you. When you decide what things mean and how to use them in your life, you are greeted with a lot more happiness and inner peace. When you choose how to act, instead of letting your emotions choose how you react, you win. This is simple, but it is not easy. The more you practice this, the better you will become. Then when the next challenge comes, ask yourself “How am I going to choose to react to this?” When you ask yourself this question it will go a long way to helping you go from reacting…to acting. You make the decision, not your emotions. Again, this is not easy but it is so worth it. You will find yourself slowly developing a positive mindset and discovering ways to turn negatives into positives.