LIVE LIKE YOU’RE ON VACATION

If you can belive it, this is me at work. Why on earth am I wearing a tropical shirt and hat from Jamaica? It was all inspired from a line in a song by the rock band Kiss. The line is this, Don’t need to wait for an invitation . You gotta live like you’re on vacation. This line was the beginning of a great quest for me. Personally I love tropical vacations. Literally I am transformed into a different person when I step off the plane. It is a different mindset. Anyone who has went on vacation knows exactly what I am talking about. Working on my upcoming book Living the Dream the question foremost in my mind was how can we take this mindset back with us like a valuable souvenir? How can we tolerate bosses who insult us or workplaces that are negative? One I have been working on lately. How can we tolerate freezing temperatures with no sun when we would much rather be at the beach?

While pondering this question for months on end I discovered a great and powerful secret. One I am going to share with you free of charge right here in this blog post. Those of you who will be able to wrap your head around this secret will at once understand the freedom it provides for anyone who uses it. I have personally used this secret everyday since I discovered it. Not only has it provided me a great sense of freedom, but it has made my life so much more enjoyable. Here is the great and powerful secret.

There is no law of physics that states your mind and body have to be in the same place at the same time.

I encourage you to read that statement again slowly. Ponder what that means for you. Cleaning the toilet? Why have your mind focused on the task at hand and all the not so pleasurable things that go with it. Working out? Think of how great you will feel with your new body on the beaches of Fiji. That is why a lot of us listen to music or other such things while we workout. I am in the gym 5 days a week and I can promise you that would not be possible without the encouragement of Tony Robbins, Eric Thomas or the music of Motley Crue and Shabba Ranks.

When we realize this power, it is important to note the two sides of it. When you are in a not so pleasant situation. Say working at the post office with a boss who walks the thin line between sane and insane, hypothetically. Then you can imagine being on the vacation that job allows you to save for. What beach will you go to? What will you see while snorkeling? Before you know it, the time clock will tell you it is time to go.

Here is the other fun part of this. It can really benefit you to be fully present during the good times. Once my lady had a bath with scented bath salts, a few candles and a glass of wine waiting for me. (yes I do have one amazing lady and don’t I know it) Now I knew this was going to be a great experience so I tried to soak it in with all of my senses. I felt the warm water relax my muscles. I took a deep breath and enjoyed both the scent from the bath salts as well as the steam. I took time to really enjoy the taste of the wine, the glow of the candles. I hope you are getting the idea. Do this with every pleasure, big and small, that life gives you. How many times have we driven somewhere only to park and wonder who drove when we were the only person in the car? This can be good if we are fighting rush hour, but if we are taking a drive to the grocery store via the parkway, take time to enjoy the scenery. Enjoying a great meal? Take time to savor every bite. The smell, the taste, the texture of the food in your mouth. We are preparing to go on vacation to Jamaica in November and I am already excited to soak that all in.

Here is my advice to you. Be present when life is pleasurable. When it is not, send your mind on vacation. Go skiing, or camping. Think of an especially good memory you have or maybe something you really are looking forward to.

Remember, your mind and body do not have to be in the same place at the same time.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM A FARMER PART 2

If you recall a while back I wrote a post about what I learned from a farmer. WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE FARM Here is another thing we can learn from a story I have heard about an old farmer.

This farmer was asked about what he was doing to address that squirrel problem. He was asked, “What are you doing about these squirrels? They are eating half of our crop! Are you trapping them? Are you poisoning them?” The farmer just smiled and shook his head as he replied, “nah, I’m just planting twice as much.”

You see that farmer discovered something I was just reminded of recently. We can fight against what is holding us back, or we can work twice as hard and still succeed. The farmer could have trapped or poisoned the squirrels and just been faced with more. That is not to say we should not address challenges, just remember to work on what we have control over as well. Like the farmer let us plant twice as much.

So, if your business is struggling make twice as many calls as you normally do. You and the spouse not getting along that well? Instead of focusing on what you think they might be doing wrong, focus on being twice as loving yourself. Feeling more stressed out lately than normal? Do twice as much to take care of yourself. Maybe add a second stress relieving activity to your day or meditate twice as often?

Even taking control of our lives gives us a boost knowing we are not leaving the quality of our life up to outside circumstances and people. While there will always be ‘squirrels’ in life, we must always remember to plant twice as much.

*disclaimer* I am actually a fan of squirrels and no squirrels were harmed in the writing of this blog.

YOU NEED TO ARM YOURSELF

Arm yourself? Is this turning into a blog about gun control? Certainly not. If this phrase sounds a bit to confrontational for you, let me remind you of one thing. We are in a fight. Some of us may not look at it that way, but that is truly what it is. We are in a fight for control of our mind, our body and our spirit. Daily we are exposed to negative influences on social media, in advertising and even through the people and situations we come in contact with.

If we are honest with ourselves, hasn’t there been a day where stress and overwhelm has stolen our day? You had things you wanted to get done, but then something happened that just left you feeling totally drained and overwhelmed due to some stressful situation? Maybe it has even stolen some joy out of your day. You had a nice party to attend or lunch to enjoy with a friend and because of something you are overwhelmed by you can’t fully enjoy it? Sometimes it can even make the littlest thing seem so stressful. 

Have you ever noticed when you are totally stressed out that is when everything seems to fall apart? You are running late for work because your car won’t start, and because you are rushing you spill coffee on your lap. Then halfway to work you realize you forgot your cell phone and cannot tell your spouse you will have to stay a little later at work resulting in them being upset you will come home late without telling them.

Whew! I don’t know about you but that makes me tired just reading that story. So how do we keep from getting overwhelmed? I am going to share something I do that not only helps from getting me too stressed out, but also helps me improve my life and learn more than I ever thought I would. Care to find out what that is? I have developed that habit of asking two very important questions. Yes, that is it. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Well it is and it isn’t. All that is required is remembering two questions. You may even wish to write them down on a piece of paper because during stressful and overwhelming times trying to remember those two questions Neil told you to ask to keep from being overwhelmed can be…well…overwhelming. The ‘difficult’ part about this is learning to come up with constructive answers. There is no shortcut that I know of to being able to do this. What I recommend is to begin doing this today. You do not have to wait for stressful situations either. You can ask these two questions about any event in your life and the result will be more knowledge and more productivity.

So what are the two magic questions? I was beginning to think we would never get to them myself. Here is the first question, “What else can this mean?”. Let us say we were supposed to meet a friend for lunch at noon. Here it is 12:30 and we are sitting alone with no call or text. Our first reaction may be that our friend is rude, that they do not respect our time. These options could be true, but if we ask ourselves “what else can this mean?” we open ourselves up to other possibilities. Perhaps our friend was in an accident? Perhaps they are having a day like we described above? Maybe they are stuck in bad traffic and do not want to use their phone and are more worried about getting to us safely. Maybe we didn’t communicate the time correctly? Maybe they just do not understand how important being on time is to us? When we start to explore these other options it not only prevents us from being stuck in a feeling of anger and frustration, but surely prevents the friendship from taking too much of a blow even if we have to explain when we say to meet at noon we would really like to do so. Coming up with positive alternatives to negative situations can be tricky. Especially in the beginning when our brain is not used to it. To help it along we can pair it up with the second question.

Ah, the second question. This question is one of my favorites and has helped me survive quite a few stressful situations. If I was to be perfectly honest it has probably helped the welfare of the few of the people involved in stressing me out too. What is this question? When faced with a challenge and even one you may not be able to come up with a single positive meaning for, although I promise that will get easier with time, use the second question. Ask yourself, “How can I use this?” If you can find a way to get some good use out of a stressful situation you have, in effect, used it instead of allowing it to use you! How cool is that? When you realize there is something you can get out of a stressful situation it loses its power over you. Take our friend being late for lunch example. We could use that to practice patience certainly, but we can also use it to practice communicating something that bothers us with tact. We could use the extra time to do a quick meditation. Maybe we could read our favorite inspirational blog on our phone as we wait?

When stress comes knocking and bad things happen keep yourself armed with these two questions to fight off the effects of negativity and to keep from being overwhelmed. “What else could this mean?” and “How can I use this?” Feel free to list some of your examples of how you put a negative situation to use for you in the comments below and inspire other readers.

DON’T LET IT KILL YOU!

Stress..wouldn’t it be great if our life didn’t have any? Sure a few days where everything goes along perfectly would be nice every now and again, but when it comes to having no stress in our lives at all let us be careful what we wish for. 

Ok before I lose you completely let me explain what i mean. Imagine if everything we had to lift was as light as a feather? Sounds great, but how on earth would we build the muscles needed for our body to work properly? It would be great if our partners agreed with everything we thought, but where would the variety in our relationships be? I can just imagine what you are thinking,  “Neil, i really could skip the stress that comes with disagreeing with the one i love. “. It is no fun going through the frustration and sometimes hurt feelings that come with disagreements, but often times this is when we learn the most about and grow closest to our partner. 

You see whenever stress appears in our lives the easiest way to not let it get to us is to ask one very important question,  “how can i use this?”. By asking this, and by using the stress to better ourselves it will keep us from feeling overwhelmed. Here is a list of  some of the possible things we can come up with. 

  • I learned something about the person i disagreed with
  • I learned something about myself
  • Here is an opportunity to show something great about my character 
  • I made it through this stressful time

So next time stress appears in your life look it square in the eyes and say “I’m going to use you, you will no longer use me.”

WE ARE ALL GUILTY 

Do you ever stress about things you can’t change? I think we pretty much all do. Whether I’m at a show as a DJ,or working at the post office, giving a speech or seminar it just wondering through this amazing life i often hear people stressed over things outside their control. 

Sometimes it is the current political climate or what some elected official did. I have even seen people to the point of tears based on the performance or actions of their favorite sports team. What i find even more unbelievable is the petty personal issues. Who said what about who online, who is dating who, etc. 

Not only do all of these items bring us mental and emotional exhaustion, but acting this way over a prolonged period of time can cause us physical distress as well. Leading to such conditions such as ulcers,lack of sleep and even fatal conditions such as heart attacks  (for which the 1 risk factor is stress and job dissatisfaction)

So what to do about the things that upset us that are out of our control? Let us learn to do what we can and let go. Don’t like what a politician is doing? Write letters, start an online petition or just support his opponent. Your favorite team not doing well? Write a letter to the coach or general manager. Don’t like some personal thing someone is doing? Either let them know if you feel it is a must, or just focus on all your friends doing things that make you happy and proud. 

Constantly talking and complaining about conditions, especially those out of our control, does us no good and plenty of harm. Instead, do what most successful and happy  people i know do,  focus on the person in the mirror. Concentrate on improving their condition and on making them a better person. It will not only reduce your stress, but as you improve and progress it will give you something to be proud of. That will be something worth talking about!

Feel free to share your tips about letting go of what we cannot change in the comments below.  

LIVE LIKE YOU ARE ON VACATION!

After yesterday’s post this may seem a bit confusing. There are times when being present may not be the best option. Perhaps you are in a meeting with a very angry coworker. Perhaps you have a long commute on the subway. There are several times when life is not always a dream. What to do then? Certainly when your car breaks down and it is so could your breath is freezing as it comes out of your mouth you do not want to be present and relish every detail. Trust me, I have been there and can tell you this with some great certainty. Here is a magical secret I use that will not only make the hard times easier, but make life more enjoyable as well.

Your mind and body do not have to be in the same place at the same time. Read that line again and really let it soak in. Last post we proved how people tend to use this principle in the negative by worrying on vacation and missing a lot of the joy they could have had. Even just thinking about a bill you have forgot to pay while you should be enjoying coffee with your friend is an example of this principle.

We also discussed how to begin to control our thoughts. The same can be used to take a ‘mental vacation’ any time you need. As I write this physically I am at the local coffee shop, but mentally I am on a beach sipping out of a coconut. How can you develop this skill. First thing, it is almost impossible to develop this skill when you are trying to use it. So pick a time you can relax and not be disturbed. Now close your eyes and picture your favorite get away spot. Is it on a beach? In the mountains? At a secluded cabin? Picture yourself there. Now try to add as many senses as you can. What do you smell? In my case it is suntan lotion and the ocean. What do you feel? I feel the warm rays of the sun and a tropical breeze. Really feel that. If you have to go somewhere to have similar experience. What do you hear? Can you taste delicious food? Cocktails maybe? A great cup of coffee?  If it helps at first try writing your ideal experience down. Sometimes this makes it easier to visualize it.Now practice this several times a week. Do it at first when you can be alone and undisturbed. Soon try it while you are doing other things. Try changing a few things. Maybe add a hike if you like the mountains? Add other people you enjoy hanging around. Change the menu. Before long you can become a master of the mental vacation.

Feel free to leave any ideas you have on ways to add to this experience. Also feel free to share your results with trying a mental vacation. As always feel free to share this post as well.