SOMEONE NEEDS YOU!

Whenever I speak to an audience I am usually asked about how I became an author. If you have ever been to one of my seminars or heard me speak you will undoubtedly have heard the story of my high school English teacher. If not, let us say she encouraged me to do everything but write. At the time I couldn’t blame her. I had little to no interest in exploring the written word as a profession. Fast forward…umm…some years and here I sit with two books written, a blog with 1000 posts and several articles in major publications.

How did we get here? It started merely as an experiment in fixing my own life. As I discovered in twenty plus years working in the field of self-improvement, there are a lot of other people like me. Being an author for the last 6 years has taught me something else that I would like to share with you today. Everyone has a story within them. I don’t care if you think your life is as exciting as watching the grass grow, you have something someone out there needs.

Whether you are a stay at home parent, a busy professional or a high school student, there are millions who find themselves in the very situation you do. Perhaps they are looking for answers to some of the struggles you have overcome? Maybe they could benefit from hearing about some of the mistakes you have made so they could avoid them? Maybe they just need someone to relate to so they know they are not alone.

While you are working on your story, remember what you do is equally important. If you are a top CEO, or the person who cleans up after a top CEO, your service is needed. More to the point, you are needed. I have a friend who has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to plants and animals. Imagine how often I ask them things like, “I saw this bird/spider/chupacabra do you know what it is?” I have another friend who makes hand-crafted stuffed animals. How amazing would it be to give someone such a unique and wonderful gift? I have friends who are good at talking, some who are good at listening. Each and every one of them are as important to me as the next.

Whatever it is know that the world would be less without you doing it. Also know that someone would benefit from hearing your story. It could be about who you are, what you do or how you think. Inside of each and everyone of us is a best-seller that could change lives and change the world. Whatever you do, please to not die with your music still inside of you. It is just what someone needs to hear.

HOW CAN I LIVE WITHOUT YOU?

HOW DO I LIVE WITHOUT YOU? For those of us who have lived an appreciable amount of time this is a question we have asked. Maybe to ourselves, maybe to God, maybe to the universe or maybe to those who have passed away. We are left with words we wish we would have said, or things we wish we would have done with those we have lost. Even more often we see things that remind us of those who have passed on and we wish we could share those things with them.

What do we do with all of these thoughts? What do we do with all of this love? Let me begin by saying there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Whatever helps you get through is what you must do, as long is it does not bring harm to yourself or others. What I am about to share with you is what I feel not only helps me deal with loss, but helps others and honors those I am missing. If it doesn’t work for you that is ok. If you are looking for something to help you, it might be worth giving a try.

Why I am sharing this with you today? Last week I attended the Wisconsin State Fair, one of my favorite places to be. I even was fortunate enough to write several articles about the fair, including one for chow down in Milwaukee in which I mentioned going to the State Fair with my grandfather at least once a year. That sure made me miss that. It started to bring to mind people I have lost and what I always do to honor them.

In addition a few of the days I had parked a few blocks away next to a lady I had known for years in the neighborhood. This wonderful lady had lost her son a few years ago and was really having a tough time coming to terms with it. I cannot imagine the pain a parent would feel losing a child. It is something I wish no parent ever had to feel or go through. On a few occasions she stopped me to share stories about her son and how much she was still missing him. These moments often resulted in tears shared as well. She also shared stories with me from support groups she attended and what others in situations similar to hers were going through. Some of them were so painful I am not even going to share them here.

Needless to say, there are far too many parents going through this pain. With the rise of the opioid crisis, sadly the numbers look to be climbing. What solace can we offer anyone who has experienced a loss? That is the question that kept bouncing around in my head as I was hoping to offer something to this lady that would bring her even a measure of peace. What I told her is simply two things that I find work. Again, I am not sure they will help her, although I hope they do.

First, I mentioned keeping a journal in which she could write to her son. When she was having an especially hard night she could sit down and have a ‘conversation’ with her son. Sure, it is really a one-sided conversation, but it can be quite rewarding. From a practical standpoint it can help us get a better handle on what exactly we are feeling. The act of writing something down can bring a great amount of clarity. Especially it such an emotionally charged situation as death and grief.

It can also be a safe and healthy place to share our feelings. Sharing our feelings of sadness and grief each and every second can leave us wondering if we are being emotionally draining to others. Even if we have to most wonderful people in our lives who are extremely supportive, there are things we may not be comfortable sharing with others that we would want to say to our loved one who has left us.

The other idea I shared with her is an idea I began to put into practice when I lost my Grandmother. It has seen me through several moments of loss. That is doing what the picture above advocates. Taking the love that you have for that person you have lost and spreading it around. How do we manage to do this? Make sure you share what you feel with others. Never let a day go by without bringing light to another’s life.

The best way that I have found to honor others while healing myself is to do my best to replace some of the light the world has lost with their passing. I recall my Grandmother being welcoming and hospitable. So now I do my best to be that way. Whether it is when I DJ shows with Margie or even having people over for dinner, I do my best to get them what they need and be a gracious host. Certainly, you will not be able to do everything the person who has passed away could do. That is part of what makes each person in this world such a special gift. My Grandmother made a great cheesecake. I simply do not share her talent for that.

I humbly offered to this lady there might be a way to share some of the light her son shared while he was alive. She thought and mentioned how at his funeral people in a wrestling chat room he belonged to told her how much he always cheered them up. She said, “Maybe I could join that chat room and cheer up those young men.” I told her that was one great idea and she could always come up with more as time went on.

Nothing will ever replace the loss of a loved one, nor should it. We feel sadness and pain because we loved and loved a great soul. If there are ways we can honor our loved ones and bring a measure of joy and happiness to our souls and the world around us I believe it is worth a shot. Again, I put this forth to you with humble suggestion. There is no right or wrong way to deal with grief, this is merely what works for me and I share it with you in hopes it may help you as well.

If there is another way you use that helps you with the pain and sense of loss you feel, please share it in the comments below. There are a lot of others who are hurting and by coming together we may be able to bring a measure of peace to them. At the very least we can let them know they are not alone.

STARFISH STORY

In my work there are many days in which I feel I am not creating the impact I would like. Stats may be down on my YouTube channel or blog post. Maybe there are not ‘likes’ or comments on a particular post and I can wonder, “Is anyone reading this?” My goal is to help create a world filled with positivity in which people can coexist despite their differences. I enjoy facilitating dialogue between parties in an effort to create an understanding, or at the very least a sense of compassion.

Most of us have days where we feel that we are just not making a difference. It can be professionally, personally or something different entirely. It is on those days I am reminded of the story above. There have been days people have come up to be and mentioned how my writing has affected them. Some say it has helped them make it through a hard time. Others mention that it helps them keep perspective. One gentleman even told me this website and what I write here helped him think twice when he pondered taking his own life. Often I find myself being humbled by these compliments. It is then I sit back, and like the little boy, can say “I made a difference to that one.”

Another aspect of helping that one person we must keep in mind is the ripple effect. By inspiring, helping or saving one person, you never know what they may go on to do for others. It is like the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. We not be able to see what the world would have been like if we had not been there, but rest assured you make a difference.

While I would enjoy thousands of likes and views on YouTube or Secret2anamazinglife.com, I must remember the difference I made in the lives I have and use that to continue. Every time I get behind the keyboard I think of the soul who feels they have no reason to go on. I imagine sitting across the table from the teenager who is pondering taking their own life after being the victim of a bully. I think of the single parent who just lost their job, or the person who just lost their spouse of many years. It is for these wonderful souls and countless others that I write what I do.

I encourage you to remember that if you positively affect even just one life, you are changing the world. I am constantly reminded how little we know how many people we affect when I run into someone who tells me although they never mention anything online, the read what I write everyday and it makes a big impact in their life. I usually respond that I never even knew they read my writing. I am sure there are many more people we all positively affect that we never know.

Keep being a light in the world of darkness. If someone has inspired you, let them know. It may be just the motivation they need to keep going. I personally cannot express how much it means to me to hear how my writing affects people. Every time I do I want to run to my laptop and write some more. I want to take a second and thank each and every person who has inspired me.

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.

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM SAD EVENTS

Many of you may know that the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, committed suicide on July 20th. There is a very important lesson we can take from this. By all accounts Chester can be considered a man who had it all, at least how it is defined in modern society. He was a famous front man of a popular band who had sold millions of records. He had a large bank account which allowed him access to almost any material thing he could desire. He had millions of adoring fans. He had a family.

If a man who seemingly has it all can find himself in a place where he feels ending his life is his best option, what about the rest of us? What about the man who just lost his job? The woman who has been the victim of sexual assault? A category that really stands out is Veterans. After seeing the horrible things that man can do to each other in the name of war, and maybe even having to do some of them as well, how can they deal with the reality of that?

In case you have not been personally touched by suicide or think it is something that just happens to somebody else, please allow me to share a few statistics from the American foundation for Suicide Prevention (afsp) According to their website

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US
  • each year 44,193 Americans die by suicide
  • for every suicide there are 25 attempts.

If you multiply the last 2 stats that means over one million people were at a place emotionally that they tried to take their own lives. Although I am certainly filled with love and compassion for those individuals, I am also often frustrated that we lose so many amazing souls each and every day. This blog is all about living an amazing life, so to see so many losing theirs breaks my heart.

Being a solution oriented person, the question that screams in my mind loud as can be is this, “What can we do to help?” This is both a complicated and simple question. The reasons for suicide are as diverse as the people affected by it. Even a quick glance at the statistics page on the AFSP website can shine a light on some ways to help. Native Americans have the highest rate of suicide, the rate of suicide is highest in middle age, and many more insights. I highly recommend visiting their website, a link will be listed at the end of this blog. There you can find ways to help including, but not limited to, joining your local chapter of AFSP, knowing the warning signs, walks to bring awareness and a host of other valuable information.

On a personal level I encourage you to do 2 more simple things that can make a big difference. First, occasionally inquire with all of your friends, whether they are seemingly doing well or not. If the death of Mr. Bennington taught us anything is that someone who seems to be doing quite well can be silently suffering. When you do ask, take time to really listen. That is what can truly make a difference. Second, and I find this to be fun, genuinely compliment everyone you know. I am not talking about some silly flattery, but letting them know how much they mean to both you and the world. Do they make you laugh? Have they given you a good memory that helps you through the tough times? Imagine what a difference you could make in their life no matter where they are emotionally. Being genuinely appreciated is one of the greatest gifts we can give one another.

LINK FOR THE AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION

THE MOST IMPORTANT LOSS PREVENTION

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One of the most frequent questions I am asked about positivity is this; “isn’t there more important things than being happy?” or “what is so important about being happy?” Often people see focusing on themselves as being selfish. After all what good can I do by being happy? What difference does it make if I am happy around others or not? Here is a very emotional answer to that question.

Less than a year ago a high school classmate and friend of mine, David, killed himself. This morning his mother invited my lady and I to an suicide awareness walk. What I learned there will forever change me. I want to share a good deal of that with you here today and it is my sincerest wish that you share it with everyone you know. In fact, I challenge you to do so. The main point they kept repeating was removing the stigma of suicide. Which had me asking myself my own thoughts on suicide and what I knew. Here is some of what I learned.

Myth: suicide has warning signs. Usually the people are depressed or talk about it. I would know if anyone I knew was thinking about it.

fact: The people who led today’s walk were parents of a 13 year old girl who was a straight A student. She killed herself about 2 years ago. She was always happy, a musician, into sports and had a lot of friends. The fact is you never know what people are dealing with on the inside. You never know when your joking sarcastic comment could really hurt. You also never know how important a kind word and a smile might be.

myth: Suicide is an extreme and rare situation I will never have to deal with it.

fact: according to the American federation of suicide prevention(afsp) One person commits suicide every 13 minutes. that is over 110 people a day. When this walk began there was 100 people there. Today there was over 1000. There were people who lost children, parents, siblings, friends and classmates. suicide touches a lot more people than a lot of us realize.

myth: people who commit suicide are “crazy” or “weak” or just plain “selfish”

fact: Of the 110 people we lose to suicide a day 22 of them are veterans. These are brave men and women who sacrifice the safety of their own lives to defend ours. They leave the love of their family knowing full well they may never return. When they do they are never the same. They see things most of us will never know. When they return they need our love and support more than ever. They also need our understanding.

Those of you who know me well know the question that is foremost in my mind. What can we do to help this growing problem. an easy step is to go to American federation of suicide prevention and become a field advocate. Let your voice be heard. One of the greatest issues facing those who need help is the ideas we have about people who have mental issues such as depression, and social anxiety. The truth is one in four of us has some form of mental illness. Remember to treat others with compassion and understanding. Signs of their struggle may not always be visible on the outside. Understand the truth about suicide and inform others. You would be amazed what I learned merely attending this walk. Please click on the link above to learn more. Also know the suicide prevention hotline which is 1-800-273-8255. Never be afraid to ask someone if they need help. It is not offensive, it is a sign you care.

Finally, work on yourself. Try to limit the stress and negativity in your own life. Find ways to grow your bliss and joy. Bring that joy to others. Limit your use of sarcasm and ‘joking insults’ you never know what someone may be dealing with. Also do your best not to judge others. My lady was saying how quick some of us are to assume the person who is out of shape is lazy, when it could be a genetic issue or perhaps stress from losing a loved one. The person dressed poorly could be going through a hard economic time and not have many options in what to where. Share a smile and a kind word wherever and whenever you can. It is free and can change a life or even save a life. Share this website http://www.secret2anamazinglife.com with anyone you can. I will promise you to do my part with bringing as much joy and positivity as you can. Let us all be a light to those in darkness.

ANOTHER TRAGIC REMINDER

There are a lot of people who tell me “I have to focus on my finances once they are under control then I will be happy” or “boy if I was only famous like all those rich celebrities, then I would be happy all the time”  Well with the untimely suicide of country star Mindy McCready we are once again reminded that Happiness is far more valuable than money.  Which is why when considering investments, we should consider investing in ourselves and our own mental well-being first and foremost.  Why is being happy now so important? If you won the lottery tomorrow you still would have challenges and quite often the same mental outlook just about how the lawn looks in front of the mansion instead of how it looks in front of the building that houses your 1 bedroom loft apartment.  So let us see the best in what we have, so that by law we may receive even better.  Let us invest in the fund with the biggest return, ourselves and our own happiness.