SO GRATEFUL…

This picture all but brings tears of joy and excitement to my eyes. Why? Am I a freak about cartography? Not exactly. This picture, not exactly clear, is a map of all the countries of the world. The exciting part is that all of the red,orange and yellow countries are ones where someone has read my writing. It amounts to well over 100 countries. If, five years ago when I started this website you had told me I would affect the lives of people in over 100 countries I would have been hard-pressed to believe you. with followers numbering in the tens of thousands, daily my words have the potential to bring joy to a lot of hearts and minds. I view that as not only a great reward, but a great responsibility.

The countries that are not colored in excite me as well. They simply mean there are even more people that I can positively impact. Although I am not exactly sure what has prevented my words from reaching them so far, (Greenland and Iceland what does a fellow have to do?) but it keeps me working hard each and every day. The joy I have in reading comments from people across the globe from Armenia to Zimbabwe fills my heart with more joy than I can convey.

I just wanted to take a moment and keep all of you up to date as to how many lives we can all touch through this website. Whether it is a comment, like, share or sending me an idea of something you would like me to write about, our words reach readers in ever corner of the world. I look forward to reaching and connecting with more of you in the future.

If you would like to leave a suggestion for a topic to be covered on this website, tell the story of how it has affected your life, or simply say what corner of the world you read it in and hello to myself and our other readers that would be amazing!

FRIENDS WITHOUT BORDERS

This here a picture of myself and my good friend Johnny on St. Patrick’s day. I was working as a DJ at a local club that night. The story I am about to tell you serves as an example of several things. First, how small indeed the world is today. Second, how foolish things like racism and prejudice are. Third and finally, the benefits of being nice and sociable.

The back story is as follows. Johnny is a good friend of my lady, Margie. He has been a regular performer at her shows for quite some time. Before I met Johnny, Margie told me, “I think you are really going to like this guy.” She was indeed correct. Before I had the chance to discover that, however, there was some waiting involved. The reason for this waiting was due to the fact that Johnny lives in Mexico and only comes to visit at most a few times a year.

Through the last couple of visits he has read a lot of my writing and has found some things he can relate to. In fact, recently he has shared my book with people in the great state of Texas as well as other places. He has offered some very insightful feedback that has caused my writing to develop in ways it may not have otherwise. We have had some great discussions including sitting down for breakfast recently. These conversations has given birth to some great ideas that have been on this blog site and in my next book.

Speaking of books, recently Johnny has informed me that he is working on a book himself. He shared the plot with me and I must confess it sounds like a great story. I’ll update details as the situation develops. We discussed writing styles, publishing ins and outs as well as other ideas. There is no doubt his book will be a success. It is in a totally different genre than I write, but we certainly had a lot to discuss as the process and struggles of writing are the same regardless of content.

Johnny’s creativity is not limited to being a potential best-selling author. He also has several CDs available on cdbaby.com just search ‘Johnny L’. The style of his music is also something I am a fan of, classic standards from Elvis to Frank Sinatra. If you are a fan of this music or just great talent in general, I highly recommend giving him a listen.

The point of this post is several fold. If I were to make a sweeping judgment about people from the great country of Mexico I might not have the great benefits that my friendship with Johnny provides. If both Margie and I were not outgoing and genuinely friendly to the people at our shows Johnny would not have spent the time to become friends with us either. If it wasn’t for technology communication between all of us would be limited to just those few times a year. Whether you are from Mexico, Jamaica or Fiji shouldn’t matter. It is how you treat people and what you can bring to their lives. Technology is not limited by borders or culture, neither should your friendship be.

WHY NOT?

This picture really says it all. If you are alive right now, you should be enjoying your life to the fullest. Sure, you might not have the perfect body, you might not have the perfect job and unless you are as lucky and blessed as I am you might not have the perfect mate. So what!

You are alive and the possibility to improve exists. You can become healthier, wealthier and whatever else you are chasing. While working towards whatever goal you have there is one thing you should had to the top of any goal, no matter what that goal is. What should be included in any list you have whether it is goals, to do, or even shopping lists, somewhere on that list you should have some version of these words – enjoy and have fun during the process.

Why? A better question is, “Why Not?” We only go once around the ride and if you are not finding ways to enjoy your life, you are wasting it. Want to get in shape? Maybe start walking with a friend? Sharing your progress online with a supportive group of people. Looking for that perfect person to share your life with? Maybe find entertainment in the ‘unique’ people you will no doubt have to go through. Stuck in a job you dislike? Be grateful for as many things as you can in that job even if it is just the motivation to look for something better for yourself.

I know people who actually do the very opposite of this. See if this sounds familiar. You are at a fabulous all-inclusive resort in the tropics. The sun is shining, the love of your life is across from you with a big smile on their face. Suddenly, from the table next to you a voice can be heard. It is a man complaining his burger is too well done. Not only is he complaining about it, but he seems to be almost obsessing about it. Then he adds how dry the bun is. Forget that the weather is perfect, you can smell the ocean and flowers and birds are everywhere, his hamburger is dry. Sound ridiculous? Some people really live this way. Don’t be one of them. If your burger is dry, take a nice slow slip of rum and say to yourself with a chuckle, “Next time I will get the jerk chicken.”

How can we enjoy the process? There are several ways. Ask yourself questions like these, “What can I be grateful for in this situation?” “What can I find that I love?” Also look for the humor is challenging situations. If all else fails, shake your head and say, “At least I am going to have a good story.” Remember every bad day only serves to make us more grateful for the good ones. Let us all remember to enjoy our life to the fullest.

THE ONE THING YOU SHOULD DO FIRST TO CREATE AN AMAZING LIFE

Through the course of my writing here and in my books you will find a wealth of tools to help improve the quality of life. Use any of them and they will increase the level of joy, satisfaction and success you have in your life. There is one thing that will make all of them work even better. It is the most important thing you can do to begin to live a life you not only can be proud of, but enjoy living. It is so important that you should add it to every goal you write down, every New Year’s resolution you have and make it a part of your daily routine.

What could be so important? Before you start wondering if this is something you have ‘time’ to do, let me reassure you that it will take no extra time at all. It will take some extra effort in terms of remembering, but even putting forth this effort will bring a smile to your face. It would not be too over the top to say this would be a matter of life and death. Reason being, when you do this, life comes alive. You have excitement. The little things not only cease to get you down, you can view them in a more positive light.

Here is, in my opinion, the most important thing you can do to transform your life positively. Enjoy the journey. That may sound very simple and basic, but it is life altering. How many times have you heard, or even said, “I’ll be happy when…” Roughly 90% of our life is spent on our way from here to there. Even when you achieve the goal you are working towards, you can end up with a feeling of let down if you are not prepared with another.

If we spend 90% of our lives on a journey, we should do our best to find ways to enjoy that journey. A great example is when I began focusing on gratitude. If I chose to wait until I developed a grateful attitude to be happy, I would miss all of the great things I discovered on my journey there. Even when I messed up and began to focus on what I perceived as being ‘wrong’ with my life, I was excited because I knew that is what would eventually fade away.

As well as any tool of self-improvement has worked for me, enjoying the process of using it has been the greatest thing I have learned to do. When you are enjoying the journey of life, challenges become redefined as stepping stones. This may seem like putting on rose-colored glasses, but that is not true. We can seldom control, and then only to a limited degree, what happens in our life. What we have complete control over is what it means to us and how we can use it.

One of the journeys most of us seem to be on is one of becoming more financially comfortable. Instead of saying “I’ll be happy when I can afford a new car.” Which I did utter with the PT cruiser quite a bit, soak in that feeling. Not that you should relish in a bad feeling, but realize that is what it is showing you. Then focus on how great you will feel when your goal is accomplished. About the 832nd time my PT cruiser was at the repair shop (Only a slight exaggeration) I remember thinking how terrible it was to have to take time off of work to spend money so I could get to work. Then I remembered, I was one step closer to getting there. Of course I would loved to not have been there, but it was teaching me patience, allowing me to practice a lot of the tools I write about, preparing me to be grateful for the car I would have, among a million other things.

You may be thinking that is easy for you to do, but not me. It wasn’t in the beginning. Sitting in an auto repair shop watching your Jamaican vacation take the shape of a new muffler, it is hard to discover the joy in that. I managed to, and if a man with seasonal affective disorder can do that in the middle of the Wisconsin winter, so can you. It takes asking yourself new questions. “How can I use this?” “What else could this mean?” Not only asking yourself these questions, but coming up with positive answers. Trust me when I tell you this doesn’t happen overnight so do not get discouraged when the first answer you brain spits back at you is “Nothing! This situation sucks!” Certainly, it may not be your first choice, but what you do with that situation is 100% up to you. If you just sulk and dwell in the negative emotion it first gave you there is nobody to blame but you. This is not an easy change and will take a lot of practice, but enjoying the journey of life will transform your life and make everything else more enjoyable.

If I had one gift to leave this world when I am gone, it would be to help everyone enjoy the journey more. To that end, please not only share your suggestions for doing so in the comments below, but your challenges as well. Let us start a healthy conversation and help each other enjoy the journey we are all a part of, the journey of life.

TIME TO ADD!

One of the tenets of my philosophy has been adding positive to limit or eliminate negative. In my life this would translate to eating a salad to have a little less room for another slice of pizza. The premise here is that it is easier for the brain to add things verses subtracting them. It eliminates the feeling of depriving yourself and makes change easier and less painful. By doing so, your chances of success are greatly increased.

This does not always have to revolve around achieving a goal, or making a change in your life. Taking a few moments to stop and think of what you would like more of in your life can go a long way to giving you a life you really enjoy. That is the first thing I suggest we do today. Pick a time when you have a few minutes to yourself, it can even be fun to do this with your spouse or friend, as long as you both have your own list. Write down a handful of things you would like more of in your life. They can be things from the picture above, or things you just wish to do.

Here comes the part that a lot of you may find strange. Pull out your calendar, or put a reminder in your phone of days you would like to do these very events. Again, set yourself up to win by picking a day on which you can fairly depend. For example, Saturdays I work 2 jobs so there likely will not be much time to include new activities. Also, try to plan on the minimal side. What do I mean by this? Perhaps you would like to meditate 20 minutes every day? Start out by picking at least one or two days a week to do so. That way you can gain a feeling of momentum and success. Before long that momentum may carry you to every day. By contrast, if you pick every day and do not make it, it will give you a feeling of failure and that will go against having a more joyous life.

Why is this exercise so important? We schedule jobs, meetings and all sorts of obligations into our lives, it is vitally important we schedule some joy as well. If this seems like a foreign or crazy idea to you, consider how you feel as you are getting close to a planned vacation? Imagine that feeling, although perhaps to a slightly lesser degree, once a week? It will help return the passion and zest to life. Our lives, in addition to being of service to others, were meant to be enjoyed. If you are not loving your life a fair amount of time you are doing it all wrong. Sure, we all go through tough times, but having something to look forward to can even help with those.

Feel free to share with other readers some of the fun things you plan to add in 2018 in the comments below!

A HORSE THAT SWIMS!

Here are two things this author enjoys very much, swimming in tropical waters and learning new things. It is with this two things in mind I write this post. When you can combine things that you enjoy it gives you a whole new sense of enjoyment.

One of the things I look forward to seeing while I am either snorkeling or diving is the sea horse. The sea horse’s scientific name, hippocampus, comes from the Greek words meaning horse and sea monster. Anyone who has encountered these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat know that they are the furthest thing from sea monsters. To that end, I would like to include a few interesting facts about the sea horse.

They are technically fish, but have no scales. Instead they have skin stretched over boney plates. They swim upright and are not very good swimmers. The slowest swimming fish is the dwarf sea horse that swims at a speed of 5 feet an hour, or about the speed in which I move in the morning. They prefer to use they tails to hang out at spots of their choosing. The most amazing fact about sea horses for many is that the female deposits the eggs in the male who carries them around from 9 to 45 days until they emerge fully developed.

One of the things the sea horse does for me personally is shatter a lot of stereotypes. It is a fish, but has no scales. It swims, but does so upright. To, of course, the fact that the male carries the young.  Although the ladies out there reading this may feel it is unfair that finally a male has to carry the baby and it only has 45 days at the most instead of 9 months. Still, the sea horse can show us that we can never be too set in our opinions.

Reading this post again, it is worth note that is sounds better than most school papers I have ever written. If you want an example of how bad some were feel free to read the post we did two days ago on four letter words. This brings us to our next important point. Learning should not stop after school. When you find things that interest you as an adult it can be fun to learn more about them. With the internet, that research should take but a few minutes to accomplish. When you combine what you have learned with what you already know, say for example the life of a sea horse with self-improvement techniques, you can come up with a few new distinctions. As a added bonus, life-long learning keeps our minds sharp and helps us stave off age related mental illness.

I would invite you to share what you have recently learned and how you used that to come up with new distinctions in your own life. Feel free to share with us in the comments below.

THE 4 LETTER WORD THAT NO LONGER OFFENDS ME

For those of you afraid to open this post at work, or to show the children have no fear. As a bartender and DJ I must confess to having uttered my fair share of four-letter words in my day. As an author and motivational speaker I try to find more intelligent and creative ways to express myself today. This post is not, however, about those kinds of four letter words. This post is about a four-letter word that used to frighten me far more growing up.

What is this scary and offensive word? GOAL. When I was growing up and I am sad to admit through a good portion of my early adulthood this word is something I not only shied away from, I ran in the opposite direction! Why? In school goals are things we were graded on. Your goal was to get an A on the test. If you scored a B- you did not meet the goal. Your goal might have been to complete your paper or project in three weeks. If you were a student like myself, the day before at three o’clock in the morning you were up driving your mother crazy as she drove you crazy with such inspiring phrases such as, “You had three weeks to complete this paper. Why didn’t you start earlier!” I actually recall trying to write a paper on ‘Bucky-balls’ or spherical fullerene molecules named after Buckminster Fuller. Working with my good friend Russ, and only after completing his paper and being wired on espresso in the wee hours of the morning I turned in a paper that opened with the question, “Bucky-balls chemistry’s next big thing or kinky sex toy?” This sounded great between Russ and I the night before. The chemistry teacher, however, did not enjoy our humor. I did not do well on that goal.

As you can see my history with the word ‘goal’ has not been the best. Introduce Earl Nightingale. Even a passing reader of this site has heard me mention his name countless times. Earl was a motivational speaker and author among countless other occupations. I encourage you to listen to his great work The Strangest Secret In it, Earl informs us the difference between successful and not successful people is that those who succeed have goals. Naturally, this made me want to assume the fetal position in the corner, but I listened on. He explained goals in a way that helped me not only not be afraid of them, but understand how they can serve us.

Here is what he said, and please understand I am paraphrasing. Imagine a ship about to start a voyage. There is a captain at the helm. He has a destination all mapped out and knows exactly where he is going. In the event he gets off course, he can make corrections and get back on course. The odds are 9999 times out of 10,000 he will get there. Now imagine a ship without a captain at the helm. It has no crew or destination. We just start the engines and let it go. If it makes it out of the harbor at all it will crash or end up on some deserted shore a derelict.

The ironic thing is most of us begin our day like the second ship. We just start our engines and away we go. Imagine if we began our day more like the second ship. With our end goal for the day, week or year mapped out in front of us. If things happened to get off course we can make adjustments and get back on course. With this analogy I could see the power and benefit of goals. I now look forward to coming up with goals and working to achieve them.

I encourage you to do the same. Write down a goal and look at it as you start your day. Notice how you are doing. If you find you have gotten off course, that is ok, just make the necessary corrections and you will be on your way again in no time. If you get completely lost, feel free to utter another four-letter word of your choosing, and start out again.