Monday, April 30, 2012

Have Fun

As I am sure many of us are, I am guilty of taking life way too seriously most of the time. Little problems are compounded within my mind and become big problems. I worry what other people think of how I look or how I act or what I think. I worry about too many things way too much of the time. I treat issues as if they are life and death or worry if things go wrong it will be the end of the world. I lose perspective and because of this, spend more time being worried, unhappy or frustrated when I should be spending the time relaxed, at peace and happy.

Are things really ever as bad as we make them out to be? Are the problems we face at work really life and death situations? I have written before about the importance of asking ourselves "what's the worst that could happen?", but often forget to follow my own advice. I lose sight of the fact that I have a good job and share an amazing life with a wonderful woman. Could things be better? Probably. Could things be worse? Yes, things could be way, way worse.

I imagine most of us could use a big kick to the ass from time to time to remember life is short and we should have fun while we can. Does this mean we can do anything and everything we want? Of course it doesn't. This means we need to stop taking things so damn seriously all the time. This means we have to remember that very few of our problems are actually life and death. This means that the vast majority of the time, whatever happens, it will not be the end of the world. This means we have to let ourselves have fun.

Spend time doing something you love. Spend time with people you love to be around. Take a day off work for no other reason than it is beautiful outside. Turn off your phone. Stop checking e-mail all the time. Read a book. Go for a walk. Watch a movie. Eat an amazing meal. Do something just because you can. When you are looking back on your life, are you going to remember the e-mails you responded to or the numerous hours you put in at the office or are you going to remember the times you spent with the people you love doing the things you love? What's truly important to you? What type of life do you want? Go out and live it!

Friday, April 27, 2012


It's all about perception. If we go through life looking for or expecting the bad, we are going to see the bad more than the good. If instead, we go through life looking for or expecting the good, we are going to be more attuned to the good around us.

Everyone has bad days. Things are not always going to be perfect. Things will go wrong. People will disappoint us. We will make mistakes. From time to time, we will lose. But, things are only as bad as we allow them to be. Though it may be very hard to see and it may not be clear right away, there are positives in every situation. We just have to look for them.

This doesn't mean we can't be sad. We just can't dwell in sorrow. Get it out and then move on. When we strive to look for the positive in life, it is easier to leave the embrace of despair and continue on with our life and see the good in the world around us. Positivity breeds positivity, so start looking for the good in the world today. The more you look now, the easier it will be when times get really tough.

This may be difficult for you at first, but if you keep trying, it becomes easier and easier to see the good. Strive to find something good in every day and see if this changes your outlook. We all deserve to be more positive...for some of us, it just takes a little work.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Remember Why

For those of us constantly searching, how do you slow your mind down and focus on the tasks at hand? How do you find the motivation and the drive to do what you do? Just because the motivation wanes, we don't have to run from one thing to the next. Motivation will get lost from time to time. Every now and again, we will question what it is we do and why we do it. Hell, we might question it every day, but we will still get up each morning to do it again. Why?

For many of us, we have passion for what we do, but it isn't the passion we want to have. We want to jump out of bed every morning excited to attack the work. We want to have an endless supply of motivation and positive feelings about the work we do. Some people may have this, but for most of us, we don't. That's okay. The problems start when we begin to dwell on the fact we aren't feeling what we want to feel. We don't want to admit we may not ever feel what we want to feel because we may not be wired to feel it or we may not let ourselves feel it.

It's okay to do work you aren't over the top passionate about all the time. Everyone has their ups and downs and everyone has doubts. We can question what we do or who we are over and over again, but questioning alone changes nothing. Constantly changing focus when the motivation wanes also changes nothing. There will be times when you have to push through the lack of motivation and keep on doing the work at hand. The motivation may come back or it may not. The majority of the time, it does come back. 

For most of us, there was a reason we started doing the work we are doing. Do you remember why you do what you do? Picture why you started. Picture your goals and dreams as it applies to what you do. Picture a good day. When you are having the down times, is there something you can do to help you remember these things? Write down what you pictured and have it in an accessible place. When you feel the motivation wane or you don't want to do it anymore, pull it out and read what you pictured. This may just give you the boost you need to get through the day. Tomorrow will always be a new day. 

Monday, April 23, 2012


Everything that has happened to this point doesn't really matter. The good and the bad is all in the past and there is nothing we can do to change or relive events. We have today. Today is where your focus should be. Today is when we make the decisions affecting tomorrow. Today is always the most important day.

We aren't tied to any of the decision we have made to this point. We can always change things, do things differently, follow a different path or anything else we want to do. We don't have to continue in the direction we are heading, if we don't want to. This is our only life and we should live it as such. We have a finite amount of time to accomplish everything we want to accomplish. Shouldn't we stop wasting each new today and start living?

Today, you are one step closer to death, but today is also the first day of the rest of your life. What are you going to do with it?

Friday, April 20, 2012

What's Stopping You

Look around and think about the people you would label as successful and happy. Did this success and happiness fall from the sky and land in their laps? Or, did they work their asses off to obtain their goals and make their dreams a reality?

The vast majority of people who are successful and happy worked tirelessly to get there. Yes, they may have been in the right place at the right time on occasion, but they make their own luck by working hard. Thanks to the stories in our society, we often dream of winning the lottery or getting picked out of a crowd to do something amazing, but the chances of these types of things happening are nearly zero. We need to make our own luck and fight to get what we want.

When things get really difficult, many of us quit. We always think there are many more things for us to do and we move on without really giving it a second thought. The people who really succeed continue going long after the normal person quits. The best of the best continue along their path, no matter what roadblocks or problems are thrown down in front of them. They keep plugging along, learning from the challenges and putting in the work needed to actually achieve their goals and dreams.

What dreams do you have? Not the dreams to win the lottery or any other dream of chance, but actually concrete goals and dreams you want to chase. What's stopping you from going after them? Are they too big? Are they impossible to reach? I would guess neither of these are true. Your goals seem out of reach because they are going to take a lot of work and you aren't sure if you can do it. I honestly believe we can do anything, if we focus and put in the work.

Reaching these types of goals takes dedication and sacrifice. You are going to have to give up other things to reach them. Deep down, you'll know if you want something bad enough, but then you have to decide to put in the work. Goals are only valuable if you really want to reach them. The most important dreams are those you have when you are awake. Are you willing to put in the work to reach them? Are you willing to keep going when others would quit? Well, what's stopping you?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Think Outside The Box

Think outside the box. Be creative. Come up with new ideas. Challenge convention. Do something different. Be original. Be unique. Push the envelope. Be cutting edge.

We have all heard the above directions more times than we can count. For many of us, our schooling taught us nothing about challenging convention or being different or doing anything new or creative. We were taught what to think and how to regurgitate facts to answer test questions and then forgot most of what we regurgitated. If we learned how to think, it was usually on our own or in one or two elective classes with teachers who challenged us. 

In our working life, most of us have continued along the path of following the rules, keeping our heads down and getting through the day. We are given sixty page employee handbooks dictating everything from what we can and can't wear to work to what we can and can't say on social media to the many reasons for which we will be terminated. We are expected to work 40 hour weeks, mostly during the hours of 8:00-6:00. We get two or three weeks of "Paid Time Off" to take vacations and use when we are sick. We are expected to be on time every day and make our work the most important part of our life.

After all of this, we are then challenged to think outside of the box or to be creative or to come up with some great idea. The people who are coming up with these great ideas and are being creative, aren't working in organizations with antiquated policies and employee manuals. They are working in organizations who have already been creative on how and when people work. Many of the companies on the cutting edge of their industry are also the companies on the forefront of redefining what work means. 

Just as a factory owner is not going to tell an employee on the line to be creative and come up with new ways to do their job, those of us being challenged to think outside of the box don't want to be treated as if we still work in a factory. 

Monday, April 16, 2012


I like change...when I am controlling the change. I like to shake things up and try new things. This is probably why I was a bit of a nomad when I was younger. New places and new ideas always excite me. I get bored when I have to do the same things over and over and over again, which is why looking at my resume, I have been a bit of a job hopper. I have bounced around trying to find something that sets my soul on fire and I will keep hopping around until I do. Change is interesting. Change keeps things fresh and new and forces you to learn something new.

Even while liking change, I have found I also like routines. These aren't mutually exclusive ideas. We have the ability to make changes in our lives where we want. We also have change forced upon us from outside forces and we can either roll with it or fight against it. For me, I try to embrace this change while keeping a routine for the things I don't want to change. When I fall out of this routine, I have found life to be a little more difficult. I find myself being short with people (including the lovely Leila), becoming frustrated way too easily, having a harder time being positive and just having less fun with life.

These routines are not ways to plan out each and every day, but are the things I do that allow me to remain focused and be me. We all have things we should do for ourselves, exercise, yoga, meditation, write, etc. These are all things that allow us to release energy, both positive and negative, and allow us to be more focused in our daily lives. By building these as part of a routine during the day, we are much more likely to actually do them. This is why I get up earlier than I need to write each day. We often say we don't have enough time to do the things we need to do or want to do, but if we look closely at what we spend time doing, we can find ways to do anything. We just have to build in routines.

From time to time, we are not going to be able to follow our routine. Something is going to happen that isn't going to allow it. This is okay. But, if we start to get lazy and really not follow the routine we have developed, we can start to lose the good that comes from it. This is when I start being short with people and become easily frustrated. I lose focus and I am only able to really get it back when I reestablish my routine and have a release valve for the energy that builds up and causes me to lose my patience. We all need to be able to release this energy in a constructive way and building routines is the best way to do it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mountains out of Molehills

Many times, we allow ourselves to make things bigger than they really are. Yes, we are going to do things that suck. Yes, things are going to happen that make life much more difficult while we fix them. Yes, things are going to go wrong. Yes, things are going to be difficult. Yes, things are not always going to be rainbows and unicorns.

But, if we take a second to pause and breath deeply, can we honestly look at anything happening and say this is really the end of the world? Are things ever as bad as we make them out to be? Instead of complaining or floundering or dreading or fearing or worrying or thinking about how hard something is, what if we just rolled up our sleeves and got to work? What would happen if we just went about fixing things that needed to be fixed, without throwing in all the above fear and loathing?

I'm not saying that we shouldn't feel the emotions we feel when everything explodes in our face, but if we acknowledge them and then get to work, our lives will become a lot easier. Five years from now, these problems, the ones that are so horrible now, are going to be nothing more than a small blip on our timeline. When we let things get to us, we aren't able to do our best work and we spend more time complaining when we should be creating. No one does their best work when they are frustrated or angry or upset or afraid.

Things are really never as bad as we make them out to be. Figure out what needs to be done and do it. Leave the emotions out of it until it is time to celebrate. People love to say "everything happens for a reason." I don't know if this this true, but believing it does make the bad things seem a lot more manageable.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


as-ser-tive: disposed to or characterized by bold or confident statements and behavior

I was recently told I needed to be more assertive. Many of us would do well if we were a little more assertive. Being assertive can help us along our path to becoming more positive and happy. As we work to become more assertive, we also need to work at accepting the assertiveness of others.

Many of us do not do well with criticism of any kind, be it constructive or not. We are a little better at this in our professional lives as we often see it as separate from our "real" lives and are used to some criticism now and again. We take it a little better and we move on (sometimes). Some of us have been lucky enough to have bosses who are good at giving feedback in a way that is less painful, but I am sure we have all had some bosses who have no idea how to give constructive feedback and even the smallest comment makes us feel like shit. Deep down, we know the feedback can usually be used to help make us a better employee (at least within the company we are in). Many times, the delivery makes this feedback a really hard pill to swallow.

When it comes to feedback in our personal lives, it is usually a little different. We all know people who will take one thing said to them and latch on, bringing it up again and again in conversation, sometimes years later. This could be a little comment that was an attempt to help them, but gets blown out of proportion. Some of us reading this have probably done it from time to time. But, if we really have relationships with people, we have to be able to be more assertive with them and we have to be better at taking comments when they are assertive with us.

Basically, we have to stop taking things personally all the time. If someone you respect tells you that you aren't pulling your weight or need to do something different or better, try to refrain from the frustration you automatically want to feel. Instead, breath and think about whether they are right. We will often not see things other people can see and should listen to them instead of taking it as a personal affront. We are going to grow more if we can keep our minds open instead of allowing them to close in frustration.

The more we can tell other people what we want and need, the easier it will be to find happiness and positivity along our path. The more we can listen and respond to others wants, needs and advice without taking them personally, the better off we will be. In the end, we all need to be a bit more assertive with each other, but we also have to become better at accepting assertiveness in return.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Quest for Positivity

We can often lose sight of the beauty around us, if we fail to look beyond ourself.
I have a secret to tell you. I am a cynical person. This used to be something I wore as a badge of honor. I was grumpy and sarcastic. I told people I was a realist and it was better if you didn't get your hopes up. If you expect the worst and it happens, then you are prepared. If you expect the worst and something better happens, then you are all the more happy because you didn't expect it.

Logically, this seems to make sense, but in reality, it doesn't work this way. In reality, I was full of shit. If you go around always expecting the worst, you have a really hard time enjoying anything good that happens. When you expect the worst, you focus on the worst things around you. This keeps you from seeing the beauty surrounding you every day.

One of the drivers of this blog is my quest to become more positive. A lot of my posts are deeply personal, even if they may not seem it. I will often write advice I need to take in my own life and have found it is easier for me to listen to it if I am directing it at other people, even if I never know who you are. We all need to be challenged in life and I only hope you find some inspiration or wisdom from these writings.

As for my quest to become more positive, I have started by recognizing my negative thoughts. I know I don't recognize them all, but I have become better at seeing them. I have also started working on not taking things personally. This is a hard one for me as I am also a bit of a perfectionist and have been search early childhood. I want things to go well and when they do not, I become frustrated. I become frustrated with people who make things more difficult, even though they are only doing what they think is right. By taking their actions personally, I blow things up to much bigger problems than they really need to be.

I know I will continue this quest for many years to come as I think we should all strive to improve every day of our life. Once we become complacent, things start to slide backwards. We have the most power over our own minds and emotions, even if we don't always wield the control well. As I learn things and as I make mistakes, I will continue to share with you thoughts, ideas and any wisdom I come across. With a little help and a lot of work, we may just make this world (and our own world) a little better. If not, at least we can say we gave it our best shot.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

35 at 35

In honor of my 35th birthday, I give you a list of 35 things I have learned during those 35 years:

1) The more you care what other people think, the less you live your life the way you should.
2) Happiness comes from within. You can read all you want about how to be more happy, but ultimately, the ball is in your court.
3) Cynics make great characters (Dr. House), but being one leads to a lot of sadness and loneliness.
4) "Is there a god?" is not an important question.
5) College is overrated.
6) Our education system is broken. There are a lot of people with really great ideas on how to fix it, but very few of these ideas are being put in to practice.
7) Every day, we should strive to learn something new.
8) We all need to read more.
9) Failing is not a bad thing. We will all fail many, many times in our life. Failure is the best teacher.
10) Learn from other people, but don't compare yourself to them. We are all different.
11) Learn to listen to your fear...the more something scares you, the more you should probably do it.
12) As much as they make things more difficult at times, animals have added a lot of good to my life.
13) Admit when you are wrong.
14) Love freely. Do not hold back for fear of getting hurt.
15) Watch less television.
16) Slow down and enjoy the moment right now. Don't spend your whole life looking ahead.
17) Travel---spend time outside of your comfort zone.
18) Do not go into credit card debt. I can tell you from experience, it is not worth it.
19) Live within your means.
20) There are always going to be people who like you and people who don't. Embrace the first and ignore the second.
21) If you can imagine it, you can do it. Do not limit yourself.
22) Do not let other people put limits on you.
23) Don't conform to the masses unless you truly believe what they believe.
24) Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.
25) Don't fill your life with stuff. Fill it with experiences.
26) You are going to do stupid things. Learn from them and move on. Don't let the past haunt you.
27) Speak up in the face of injustice.
28) Stand up for your beliefs.
29) Seek out and listen to differing opinions.
30) Everyone changes over time, including you.
31) We need to evolve with the times.
32) It's okay to not have all the answers. It is not okay to not have the answers and not care.
33) Time really does seem to go by more quickly the older you get.
34) Don't take things so personally. Most of the time people are not out to get you.
35) Cut yourself some slack. There is no reason to get frustrated with who you are. If you don't like something, change it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

ASPCA $100,000 Challenge

I rarely ask you to do anything, but today, I am putting out the ask. Heartland SPCA is trying to become one of the 50 shelters to compete in the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100,000 Challenge. Voting started yesterday and continues through April 16th. Anyone with an e-mail address can vote to help Heartland SPCA become one of the 50 shelters to compete later this year. Please vote today and every day to help Heartland SPCA! Click on the above picture or visit and vote today!

Thank you for your help!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Just Start

As much as I write about being positive and getting things done, I have trouble with doing both as well. It isn't always easy to have a positive outlook on life. It isn't always easy to get started. I have the same fears you do about the same things you do. What if I fail? What if I am not good enough? What if I can't get it done?

All these thoughts float through my mind and I am getting better at not listening to them, but they are still there. I sometimes have trouble finding the motivation to get things done, be it at work or this blog or other writing or any of the multitude of other things I have in my mind or on my task list. For me, the key isn't about finding the motivation, it's about getting off my ass and starting.

Once I start, I begin to feel the energy flow through my body and I become focused on the task at hand. If I can just get myself to sit at the computer and start typing, words begin to flow when I didn't think they were there. If I force myself to get the lawn mower out and plug it in, then I know I will no longer have any excuse to not mow the lawn. When I start answering that first e-mail, it becomes easier to clear out the in-box. When I focus on chopping that first vegetable, I can start working on the latest recipe.

The next time you start to dread a project or don't feel like doing something you need to do, don't listen to the excuses floating around your head. You will always be able to come up with an excuse to not do something, but when you focus enough to start step one, it becomes much easier to continue on until you finish. Stop wasting time, stop listening to the excuses and fear in your mind and get to work. You are going to feel a lot better once you start ticking things off your to-do list. You don't need motivation, you just need to start. Quit wasting time and get something done.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Roll With the Punches

Life is all about rolling with the punches.

We can have the best plans laid out when something unthinkable happens and we have to change them. This happens nearly every day for most of us because there are always going to be things happening that we didn't expect or couldn't even imagine. Some of us become frustrated or angry when things aren't happening the way we plan. Others don't allow these unexpected occurrences to ruin their day and instead, they take them in stride.

The more important something is to us, the more likely we will get frustrated or angry if it doesn't work the way we planned. This is the time we really need to focus on rolling with the punches and figuring out how to do it in spite of the roadblock or changing it to follow the new path laid in front of us. Becoming angry or frustrated may be our first gut reaction, but neither of these brings anything good to the situation. Frustration doesn't help solve problems. Becoming angry won't change the way things are. We are not capable of thinking clearly when we are frustrated or angry. Let go and just keep on moving.

The most positive people around us are the ones who know how to take things in stride and keep on moving. They don't like what happens all the time, but they know they can't change things by being angry or frustrated. They know what they want and keep moving forward no matter what happens. What they want will change over time based on what happens and they don't stick with their old goals when new goals present themselves. Because they are not allowing frustration and anger to take over their lives and minds, they are more likely to see the doors opening when other close.

The next time you start to become angry or frustrated with something that happens, stop and ask yourself if those feelings are helping you in any way. When you realize they are not, slow down and figure out the new direction to go. This won't always be easy and you are never going to be perfect. You will become better at it and it will begin to become instinctual. A happier and more productive life is waiting...