A FUN GAME TO PLAY WITH FRIENDS

It is hump day! The middle of the week. We are quickly approaching the weekend. We are beginning to be excited for the weekend and any plans we may have, even if they are just relaxing and not working. I am currently on vacation and have lots to enjoy. Here is fun game you can play with family and friends. The winner will really benefit, but even those who don’t ‘come out on top’ will still win! The prize? Not some plastic participation trophy or ribbon, but a greater sense of joy and inner peace.

The game is simply this, find as many things you can be truly grateful for and why. The why is important because it makes things compelling. To appreciate the sunshine (which I do more than most of you can imagine) is one thing. To realize you are appreciating it because it gives you a feeling of being alive or reminds you of being on vacation in the tropics is an entirely different animal. Pick a group of friends and family and see who can find the most things to be grateful for. Most of us live in such an abundance of riches, it is almost a disgrace what we take for granted. There is a big push to wash your hands often these days. Can you imagine how difficult that would be without clean running water? Water than can be set to a desired temperature and is pretty much available everywhere we are? The ability to wash our entire bodies anytime we desire in that same water? We have personal space where we can adjust the temperature to our liking, take our time and be clean and healthy? So many things in those two statements alone. Write down as many as you can think of and compare with those you are playing the game with. At the end of it, everyone will realize, and hopefully feel, how truly rich we all are and how much we have to be grateful for.

Looking around your life for what you have to be grateful for can be a magical transformation. This may sound like a bunch of hype, but trust me it is not. No, wait. Do not trust me! Try it for yourself. This is what caused me to realize how powerful this was. I wrote down what I was grateful for in my life for 30 days. I did it to prove it didn’t affect much. 20 years later I am writing my third book in the field of self-improvement. This fun game stands the power to transform your life. Even the fact you have the ability to read this information is truly something amazing! I would love to hear your results of playing this game.

IT’S SUCH A GOOD FEELING

Recently, I held my book release party for my second book, Living the Dream. It was, by all measures a great success. Not only did I get to share my books with many new readers, but many wonderful friends returned to check out my newest literary offering. Having this happen made me realize several things. It also gave me several great feelings. Thus, I stole the title of this blog from a song in the popular Mr. Rogers children’s television show. I would like to share them with you in this blog here today. You will also have a chance to see many pictures of this fun event.

The first feeling was that of excitement. It may have felt like nervous quite a bit, but I was truly excited to bring this latest book to the world. It was 5 years of writing along with an additional 3 years to get it to market. After waiting a total of 8 years to share all you have learned with the world can feel like an explosion when it finally happens! It is my wish to put this book in the hands, and more to the point, in front of the eyes of everyone who could gain something from reading it. I was excited to see what everyone thought of the contents and excited to hear how it helped them. The initial response was that everyone loved the foreword written by my lovely Margie. As I write this blog the next day, I am still filled with anticipation and excitement to hear what everyone thought of the event and more importantly, what everyone thinks of the book!

Great and supportive friends!

Another great feeling I had was that of friendship. Wait, is friendship a feeling? I say it is. Seeing all of these great people I treasure so dearly show up to support me was overwhelming. I wish I had the time to sit down and thank each and every one of them. Later, as things slowed down, I did have the chance to walk around and thank a great deal of people. I was so grateful for all of the new friends, friends I have not seen in a long while, soul friends, coworkers, and my best friend and love of my life. I enjoyed taking pictures with several people and being able to discuss my first book with them, if they had indeed purchased one.

Most powerful feeling of the night? Grateful! There was so much to be grateful for this evening. Watching some people enjoy a beverage and others dive right into the book. The weather called for severe thunderstorms, it didn’t even rain. I was grateful to have a wonderful venue like Westallion Brewery to hold this event. Not only were people able to purchase one of my books, they were able to enjoy a wonderful beer and each other’s company after. An unexpected surprise was the adorable plant in a smiley face mug given to me by my great friend Shannon. I was grateful for the amazing balloon sculpture created by our friend Bella. So thankful that everyone seemed to have a good time and shared that feeling with each other. Margie gave me a lot to be grateful for as well. She made some delicious cupcakes that had smiles on everyone’s face. She helped me set everything up and take everything down. Not to mention she gave me a great big hug when it was all over. To have all of these wonderful people in my life is a gift that could not be bought for all of the money in the world. That, my friends, makes me a very rich man!

Enjoying such a great evening next to the lady I love, surrounded by great friends was truly Living the Dream. I could not have hoped for a better result. It is my sincerest desire that those who have this book will use it to help turn the lives they have into lives they love even more. I know that I am living the dream and I hope you are too!

CHALLENGE OF THE HOLIDAYS

We are closing in on my favorite holiday – Thanksgiving. I love the idea of taking a day out of our busy year to focus on being grateful. Just like many holidays, the focus of the holiday has shifted from being grateful to cooking a large meal. This year, much like everything in life, things are different. Physical distancing and the fear of the virus has put limits on family gatherings. I always try looking at the positive side of everything and there is something positive to be had in this.

The one way to appreciate anything is to do without it for a period of time. If our significant other goes away on vacation we realize how much their presence means in our life. Even our job, which can often bring us a great deal of frustration, can be appreciated with a period of unemployment. This year, we have many things that have been taken away from us by this terrible pandemic. The plus side is that we can be reminded how much we have to be grateful for. There are so many things that we may have taken for granted that now we can feel how much we miss them. On a positive note, it has also forced us to find new and exciting ways to stay connected even when we have to be apart physically. Finding ways to put technology to work through zoom meeting and even video calls to stay in touch with friends and family. Using technology for the purpose of bringing us closer is yet another thing to be grateful for.

There are also old-fashioned things that we may have forgotten that can benefit us greatly in these chaotic times. Sending someone a greeting card in the mail to say nothing other than I love you, I miss you or I am grateful to have you in my life. Cooking a home cooked meal together and then sharing that meal with friends and family as you spend the evening watching a movie together. Maybe enjoying playing board games together and learning about each other while laughing and having a good time. Finally having time to catch up on those good books you have been meaning to read and never seem to have the time for.

Whether it is enjoying and benefiting from new technology that allows us to remain close even when we have to stay far away, or going back to the older technology that allows us to reconnect, these crazy times have given us a lot to be grateful for. I would love to hear some of the things you remain grateful for or even new things you have discovered you are grateful for here in 2020. I believe if we all share what we are grateful for we can help spread the feeling of gratitude in the world as we head into the new year. Please share what you are grateful for in the comments below. Is it a tradition you are still able to do during the pandemic? Is it the memories of holidays past and gathering together with family? Are you grateful for a special someone in your life that is making your world a better place? We all have something to be grateful for even in the craziest of times. Share yours with us and let us spread love and light the rest of the year.

I’VE BEEN DOING IT WRONG ALL ALONG! (YOU MIGHT BE TOO)

Prayer. No matter what your spiritual beliefs, prayer is usually a very important part of it. I recall as a little fellow I was taught to pray to God for what you wanted and needed. Almost as if the almighty were some kind of Santa Claus in the sky. As I grew a little older and found myself in high school, prayer showed up a little less regularly. It was usually the day before a big exam. One of those, “Please God let me pass English class so I can graduate.” sort of things.

It always seemed a little odd to me to approach the supreme being in such a begging type fashion. It wasn’t until I pursued my quest of spirituality outside the walls of the building of organized religion that I really came to understand prayer. One book I recall reading at a young age was The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy. I was always a student of science and often struggled with melding both science and religion. This book went a long way to helping that process. Inner dialogue, of which prayer is even though it is directed at a supreme power, utilizes the subconscious mind. If you are a spiritual sort, you must ask yourself why did the power that be give us such a mind?

Another thing that I have learned by being exposed to many different spiritual beliefs is that you should not pray to change others or the outside world. One, this is trying to project your will and beliefs on others, and that is just not nice. Instead, I focus on the one person I can change – me. Instead of praying others were more polite and considerate, I focus on becoming more compassionate and understanding myself. Instead of asking the Great Spirit to give me an easier life, I pray that I may have a stronger soul. When life becomes overwhelming I focus on finding the beauty and learning the lessons. A little divine intervention is often needed, and I feel is a fair thing to request in suplication.

This may sound odd to many of you, but one of the areas in which this pays the biggest dividends is in my romantic relationship. First of all, it is my opinion that the divine placed in my life a woman who is beautiful, creative and easy to love. In order to never lose that ‘honeymoon phase’ and let little annoyances grow over time, I pray to see the beauty in those too. If there is any area of our live that serves as a merciless mirror to see the parts of ourselves we may not be the most proud of, it is our intimate relationships. The person closest to us sees all sides of us at all different times. That is why I pray daily to be the best man I can be for the woman I love. There are also thoughts and prayers that I may never miss the beauty in all that she does. Whether that is her love of family and friends, her silly sense of humor or her spontaneity, I never want to miss the beauty she shows.

There are so many things partners can do that may be cute at first, but grow to really grind on us and begin to tear away at our love and passion. You may get annoyed at the many loud sounds arising from the person slumbering next to you, but that means you have them in your life. You may become frustrated when they fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow and you lay awake counting more sheep than exist in all of Ireland. That means they feel safe and comfortable enough around you. Your partner asks you to run to the store after a grueling day at work? They rely on you and you have a chance to do something to make their life easier.

Now we come to the most powerful prayer of all, that of thanksgiving. In this blog I have had countless posts on the power of gratitude. It can change your entire life quicker that anything else I know. There are many ways to develop an attitude of gratitude. You could start a gratitude journal, you can write what you are grateful for each day and why. You could create a vision board with pictures of everything you are grateful for. I like and personally recommend all of these items. That being said, one of the most powerful daily practices is to spend time each day offering up a prayer of thanksgiving for all that you have. This does not have to be anything overly religious or formal. Just make sure it is heartfelt. When you thank the divine power you believe in for what you have in life, magic happens. When you can become grateful and thankful for everything in life, or better yet for life itself, you will know peace.

This is a more spiritual post than I normally have, but I think realizing the power of prayer is important aspect of self-improvement. Do not treat the Divine as a Santa Claus in the sky. Instead use prayer to become the best version of yourself. Pray to develop an attitude of gratitude and be thankful for all that you have. Doing this will not only add to whatever faith you follow, but will bring you a great deal of inner peace.

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #23)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

As we continue our journey of gratitude into the new year, we take a look at traditions. This is something I think changes a little as we age. When I was younger I used to find certain traditions archaic at best and ridiculous most of the time. Fast forward many years to my current state looking over this keyboard as I watch the sun set as I write. Now, I find myself looking forward to taking part in certain traditions and even creating others.

To me, traditions offer us a chance to mark time when it comes to certain aspects of our lives. When you are younger, you have little or no choice in what traditions you take part in. I think parents could benefit greatly by allowing their children to have more of a say in the creation of traditions the family observes. As we grow older, however, we more or less choose what traditions we wish to observe and which ones no longer serve us.

When it comes to creating traditions these days, I focus on those that bring joy and togetherness. One of my favorite yearly traditions is the Wisconsin State Fair. Not only to I literally jump out of my skin when the first day arrives and it is time to go with the love of my life, we found ways to create traditions throughout the year. I enjoy taking a day off of work and going with Margie to purchase our tickets in advance and then go out to breakfast. We make rough plans for the things we look forward to seeing and doing together once the time arrives. In the summer there is a 5k run that Margie, her daughter Siraya and I have done the last few years. It is great fun and gives us chance to see where we are at physically. It also gives us something to work toward in these cold winter months.

Another tradition I love is the yearly bike expo here in April. By this time my Seasonal Affective Disorder has usually gotten the best of me and quite often there is still snow on the ground. When I walk into the expo hall to attend this great event held by local bicycle company Wheel & Sprocket, it is as if the warm weather has arrived. There are many bikes to choose from all at good values. There are clothes, helmets, and accessories to purchase. There are also bicycle clubs to join and rides to sign up for. It gives you hope and something to look forward to in the warmer weather. Walking hand in hand through this event with Margie gives me the resolve to make it through the remainder of the cold weather.

What traditions are you grateful for? Being that we are reading this in the beginning of the new year, what traditions would you like to start this year? How do you think traditions can be used to positively affect our lives and bring more joy to them?

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #21)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

For anyone who has read my books or followed this blog for any length of time, you know music is a very powerful tool for self-transformation. It is also a medium that conjures up a lot of emotion. When you are feeling down, listening to the right song can give you just the strength you need to carry on.

I have several playlists on my phone for different occasions. I have a list of songs that bring a little cheer to me. That was how I started. I also have a list of songs for working out to give me energy. These, along with a few other playlists are available to change my state at a touch of a button. There are many different artists and genres that I enjoy.

To the specific question as to what song I am grateful for, that could change daily. We will look at the ones I am grateful for as I write this. The song Lush Life performed by Nat King Cole is one of my favorites. Lately, I have been enjoying a lot of songs by Chris Janson including the appropriately titled Good Vibes. The song Born for Greatness by Papa Roach can always motivate me as well. If you ask me tomorrow, or maybe even later today, what songs I am grateful for, the list will probably be a little different.

All of that being said, I am grateful for songs that artists have taken the time to write and perform. Songs that I can relate to. Songs that make us happy, songs that make us think. Songs that make us fall in love. Songs that pick us up or motivate us. If you haven’t already, I suggest you take ful advantage of the benefits of great songs. Find a few that you are really grateful for and make a playlist.

I would love to hear some of yours as I am always looking for new songs to add to my own playlists.

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

THANKSGIVING TO GRATITUDE TO GRATEFUL

Six years ago on this very day I began this blog. It was Thanksgiving of 2012. A lot has changed since then as you might imagine. My post that day in 2012 was about gratitude. In the six years since that post was written I have learned, and experienced, a lot more about gratitude. It’s power to transform how you feel and perceive life. That, in turn, ultimately transforms the quality of your life. I have included a special section on gratitude in my upcoming book Living the Dream.

Recently, I read an article that gave me a whole new outlook on gratitude. It including something even more powerful and life altering – being grateful. Today, as we all hopefully are spending at least part of our day focused on what we have to be thankful for, allow me to introduce you to what I learned in this article. It will allow you to take what we observe on this most wonderful of holidays and use it to create a life that is far more rich and rewarding.

Thanksgiving. It is more than just a holiday it is an observance. Many spiritual practices have rituals of thanksgiving. Taking time out to observe and make special mention of all that we have in our lives that is going well and that we can be thankful for. This can happen once a year such as we are doing today. It can happen during religious or spiritual ceremonies or on special moments when we get together with friends. It may change our way of thinking and feeling for that day, or even for a couple of days. Soon, the thought of what is missing in our lives creeps back in and we live in a state of lack until that time again next year. That is true unless…

We tap into the power of gratitude. Gratitude to me should be something that we practice daily. Several times a day as often as we can. Why? Because the more we practice gratitude the better our life becomes. The definition for gratitude is to be appreciative for all the good you have in your life. You have hot water? You have electricity in your home? You have a job to earn a living? You can express gratitude for all of those things. Trust me when I tell you there is always something in your life to have gratitude for. You may be so out of practice in looking for the good it may take you a while to find it, but it is there. When you start looking for good things in your life they start to become easier to find. This, in turn, causes an increase in good feelings. What does an increase in frequency and intensity in good feelings get you? A more enjoyable life. That is where a lot of people stop, and that certainly is a great state to be in, but there is something better.

Grateful. How is being grateful different from expressing gratitude? Being grateful does not depend on good things happening to you. Remember our examples above? Let us take a another look at them? What happens if your hot water goes out? Being grateful means you understand what a blessing it is to have hot water as a normal circumstance and being without is a great reminder. Being grateful means you are still thankful that the water is clean and you have means in which you can heat it. Electricity go out? Being grateful means being thankful not only that it is usually available, but there are hard-working people on the job 24/7 to help get it back on track. Your job not what you like? Perhaps you even lost your job? Grateful is a chance to improve your budgeting skills and yourself while you pursue something that will bring you spiritual as well as monetary fulfillment.

If that last state sounds a bit like looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, it kind of is. Do yourself a favor and imagine what your life would be like if you were able to find joy and the good in life no matter what the outside circumstances were? You would be in a state of bliss most of the time! What would that give you? One hell of a great life. Trust me when I tell you I know this isn’t easy. I am working to develop a feeling of being grateful in my life. What a goal to pursue. Everyday I become closer to being able to appreciate the joy in life even in the toughest circumstances. That does not mean there are not days in which I falter. We will all have them. The sooner you get them out of the way, and the more you learn from them, the closer you will be to living a life feeling grateful.

As you observe this wonderful day of thanksgiving, begin to ponder how you can foster that feeling more often. I suggest starting with having gratitude for all the good that comes in your life. Taking a moment and appreciating those things. Then strive to feel grateful even in the face of challenges. Celebrate the fact you are alive every day to experience all the world has to offer. There is even beauty in pain. When we arrive at the state in which we can experience that, life becomes a state of magic.

THE HIGHEST FORM OF APPRECIATION

Are you one who ‘talks the talk’ or do you ‘walk the walk’? As we approach my favorite holiday and begin to focus on what we are grateful for, let us think of this quote. Let us show our appreciation not just in words (although I encourage everyone to do that as well) but in actions. Let us not just speak our gratitude, but show our appreciation through our actions too.

Grateful for first responders? Make sure we are pulling over to let them pass and driving slow when we drive past them. Grateful for someone in your life? After you tell them, make sure to do something to show them as well. This is not just for Thanksgiving, but all year.

THE POWER OF CHOICE

If you were to print this list out and hang it on the bathroom mirror it would be a great way to start the day. In every day if we look hard enough we can find something to feel blessed, grateful, excited, thankful and happy for. Even if the world seems to be crashing down around you, which I know can happen, it is good to get into the practice of doing this.

Here is what I suggest. Print this out, or write it down. Place this somewhere you go every morning. The bathroom mirror is an easy idea because most people visit that room before they begin their day. Then ask yourself the questions, “What do I feel blessed about today?” “What am I grateful for today?” “What am I excited about today?” “What am I thankful for today?” and finally, “What am I happy about today?” Do your best to come up with answers for as many of the questions as possible. Do this every day. Make it a habit. Try this for 30 days and see how much better you feel.