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

LIFE LONG LEARNER

I am a big advocate of life-long learning. What I like about this quote is that it reminds us of something very important. When someone tells you that you can’t do something it is time to be grateful. Doesn’t that sound very confusing? Why would you be grateful somebody is basically telling you that you are not enough?

This day and age if there is anything we have an abundance of it is information. It used to be that if you wanted to learn anything you could go to the library and with a little effort and some research you could find an answer, free of charge! Today it is even better. When you have a question you can just ask google, Suri or whatever online search tool you use and there is the answer! If words are not your thing you can even pop over to YouTube and watch a video of someone doing the very thing you are trying to learn.

What this means is that we can choose to be an expert in just about anything. One important thing to remember is this – you can’t pay anyone to do your push-ups for you. That is a quote I took from Zig Ziglar. It means there is a certain amount of effort to be put into anything, but with today’s technology you have the best chance of succeeding and showing anyone that you can do anything!

ARE YOU IN CONTROL??

In every situation in life that we approach the one and only thing we can have control of is ourselves. The reason I said can have control of is because quite often we relinquish that control. We allow others to determine how we are feeling and acting.

Instead of taking actions that we choose for ourselves and the course we would like to take our life on, we live our life in reaction based on the actions chosen by others. If someone were to ask you directly if you would let someone run your life for you the answer usually is a resounding “No!”. That is exactly what you are doing when you live in reaction to others and your environment.

Taking charge of your emotions is not the easiest thing to do, but the rewards far outweigh the risk of giving control of your life to anyone but yourself. One simple way to begin to take back control of your emotions and as such your life is to ask yourself this question several times a day, “How would the best version of myself deal with this situation?” This especially proves helpful in times of challenge and conflict. Even if you discover you do react instead of acting, take some time after the event is over to replay it in your head and think of how the best version of yourself would have handled things. By doing this, even in your head, next time you find yourself in that situation you are more likely to choose your actions instead of having others decide how you will act.

feel free to share your tips for controlling your emotions in the comments below!

REVISITING A MAGIC FORMULA 

 

Until you change yourself, nothing else will change. Once you change yourself, everything else will change” – Neil Panosian

Last week we examined the fact that change comes from within. Changing yourself can be quite a struggle though. It is not easy admitting something about us could use a little improvement. Self-improvement always involves a little humility. We have to confess to ourselves we are not perfect. What we are doing, however, is creating a better person for tomorrow. That is not to say that the person we are today is not amazing, but that we want to bring an even better version of ourselves to those we care about.  I like to picture those road construction signs you see on the side of the road. Perhaps one that reads self-improvement work ahead or maybe even A better me under construction. I think if people were able to see those signs and know that although things in our life may look a bit crazy, they are really just under construction, they might be a bit more patient. Remember though that they can’t so letting them know we are working on things can help.

It amazes me how much the accent is on removing things in our life today. “Lose all that extra weight” or “Get rid of all that negativity”. Sure, both would be beneficial, but there is an easier way. Instead of going on a diet, or pushing people away, try adding. In my seminars one of the principles I teach is this, “The easiest way to eliminate the negative is by adding the positive.” In other words, forget the diet, try adding exercise and a few healthy foods. If you eat a salad, for example, you have that much less room to eat a twinkie. Spend some time with someone who really feeds your soul? That is time that cannot be spend listening to someone gossip.

As you add these positive changes you may find you have the momentum to start to reduce or eliminate some of the negative things. Maybe you will even discover how much you enjoy the positive and then will have even less room in your life for the negative. It is easier for people to add things into there life than to remove them. Removing things can cause a feeling of being deprived, or a feeling of lack and that something is missing. When you add something to your life it is relatively painless. Filling up on the positive will definitely leave you to full to consume the negative.

Feel free to share any suggestions you have to add positivity to your life in the comments below!

SURROUNDED BY GREAT FRIENDS 

People are forever asking me how I am able to keep my positive attitude. The first thing I tell them is that it has taken years of consistent actions to get to this point. The payoffs have been more than amazing. There is the practice of focusing on gratitude, there is meditation and journaling. In short, it is not just one thing, but a million little things. If you wish to change your outside, you must first change yourself. Until you change yourself, nothing will change. Once you change yourself, everything changes. Read those last two lines again slowly. Working on yourself is not only the best and quickest way to change your life, but it is the only way.

There is one thing I want to share with you today that can make the journey to self-transformation not only easier, but a lot more enjoyable. Surround yourself with great friends. When I was at my lowest points I looked around and noticed the people I was surrounding myself with were not people one would aspire to be. Your friends need not be perfect, and expecting that of anyone does not make you a good friend. That being said, there are a few qualities you may wish to look for in the people you choose to invite into your life.

First, they must be people genuinely interested in bettering themselves. Often, people who are not improving themselves may attempt to bring you down or hold you back. This is not done with any malice, and maybe not even consciously. The reason is there is a fear that if you do become better you may move away from them. To be honest this is a rather legitimate fear. When you are trying to lose some weight and be healthier you would not want to go out drinking every night. That is not to say you would be leaving your friends, just that you might start having less in common. I was guilty of thinking “I will help my friends improve too.” Here is the problem with that, change has to come from within. If they do not want to change it will be painful at best, impossible at worst. A side-effect might be that they will resent you for ‘trying to change them’. If you surround yourself with people looking to better themselves they may be able to provide you secrets to help your own journey, or at the very least understand the struggles you are going through.

Second, you would want to avoid people who gossip. Instead focus on those friends who do their best to try and see the good in everyone. Sharing your world with people constantly giving you the latest dirt on everyone not only drags you down emotionally, but sooner or later you end up being the one talked about to others.

Here is a little secret I have employed. I have become friends with some of the most famous people in the world. We talk right before bed, they ride along with me on the way to work. How does all this happen? Through books, and audiobooks. Imagine having the words of your favorite sports coach to pep you up on the way to a job interview? Having a hard time forgiving someone? Read the words of Mother Teresa. I am a big fan of Tony Robbins and have purchased several of his products. Tony speaks directly to the listener and it is almost as if he is sitting in the car next to me as we drive along. By the time we get to work I am inspired and ready to go.

So pick some good people and hang on to them. Think of famous people who inspire you and add some of their material to your motivational library. Feel free to mention some of the people who inspire you in the comments below!

SCHEDULE YOUR DESSERT 

 

This is me enjoying a ‘Mosaic’. It is a splendid combination of a crepe, mint ice cream and chocolate sauce. Once a year I find this delightful culinary treat at a local festival called ‘Bastille Days’. It is a festival celebrating the French culture. (Notice the Eiffel Tower behind me) Recently I have found an adorable blonde lady who is helping me appreciate the French culture a little more.

The funny thing about this dessert is the place that serves this dessert is about an hour away from my house. I suppose given a little bit of free time I could drive out there and get one most any day. Yet, scheduling it makes this a special moment and something to look forward to. Do you have events planned in the near future? If so, try thinking of every little thing you are looking forward to about them. Our Wisconsin State Fair is coming up soon which happens to be my favorite event every year. I am looking forward to going opening day with my lady and looking at our brick. Also, I am going with my mother on the day they give away awards for the best food. Thinking of, and planning all of these helps the excitement build and the moment more special.

Taking one example and putting it to work for us is what we are going to do here. I have many events coming up. A 5k run I am doing, my birthday on the 29th of this month, vacation shortly there after. Thinking about what I will enjoy about each and every activity will only make me more excited. Try to plan a dessert as often as you can. It doesn’t have to be food, just something special you are looking forward to.

Here is the best part, once you get good at doing this for things you enjoy you can try practicing it for things you do not enjoy so much. Hate going to the dentist? Maybe you can look forward to some books in the waiting room? Not looking forward to going to work? Think about a fun conversation with a coworker you can have. This takes practice, but really can improve your quality of life.

As always, I am interested in hearing your feedback on how this works for you and how you plan on using it.

PROTECT YOURSELF!

This is me at work about to do some work in the garage. I am about to kick up a lot of dust so I am wearing a dust mask. Initially, I was told by my boss that wearing a mask when you are around dust makes it worse. How this could possibly be true? I am not entirely sure, but I knew that the mask blocks a lot of the bad things I would be breathing in and with my asthma it was a good idea. A trip to the doctor and a note from him saying that yes, wearing a mask to prevent breathing dust is a good idea.

What point does this make other than that my place of employment often goes in the face of common sense? Here is what this whole event made me think of. In my everyday world I do my best to protect myself against things that are negative and may drain my positive energy. Sadly, you cannot just buy a ‘negative mask’ and it will block all of the bad things in life.

What can you do to protect yourself from these harmful things? Of course you can try limiting your exposure to them, but sometimes that is not entirely possible. Like trying to clean that garage without kicking up any dust. What we need to come up with is a piece of equipment that can protect you. This can be easier than you might think. In my book A Happy Life for Busy People I give you an example of gratitude in your pocket. In a nutshell, it is carrying a talisman of some nature that reminds you of things you have to be thankful for. You can do the same for this. Find something small enough t0 carry in your pocket that reminds you of staying positive. In my book we also mention having a ‘happy playlist’, which is a playlist on your Mp3 player, or I have recently made a list on YouTube so it is always available on my cell phone.

Imagine being able to pull your talisman out of your pocket, or listen to that uplifting music right before a stressful meeting at work? Maybe you will be sitting next to people that just spend the day gossiping? Knowing this ahead of time you can get your vibe on a positive level and have a little escape that can keep you motivated.

So gather your songs, find your talisman. It doesn’t even have to be something tangible. You can imagine putting on your ‘Superhero suit’ before you walk into that meeting. Maybe it is a powerful cape? Magic earmuffs? You can put them on in your mind and change your mindset. It may sound silly, but taking that second to change your mindset can make all the difference.

Feel free to share your ideas for protecting yourself in the comments below.