Part I

The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.

Marcus Aurelius (121-180)

 

Regardless of where you find yourself at the present moment, you can change your circumstances at any time simply by following the basic principles of the Universe.

If you take a moment and reread the quote above from philosopher and one time Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, you’ll have the key.

christmas in New York - 04The title of this post and the “keys” below are the exact steps I personally used many years ago to change my own life from one of misery and despair to the amazing life I live today.

They are the basis of my seminar work and are written in more detail in my international bestselling book, What are you waiting for? It’s Your Life, originally titled “This is Your Life, Not a Dress Rehearsal.”

Accept

Whatever you want to be, become, do, own, or have begins by accepting where you are right now. Now is the time to get honest with yourself about whatever it is you want to address.

If you’re 100 pounds overweight stop blaming it on your ’big bones.’ The late motivational legend, Zig Zigler, pointed out that he had gained weight intentionally because he never accidently ate anything.

By accepting your situation 100% you are empowered to do something about it. Until you do so, you’re a victim. Own your “stuff.”

Believe

You’ll want to cultivate and strengthen your belief that you can succeed. This may involve a combination of weakening any old, limiting beliefs that have been blocking you, while developing more and more empowering ones, supported by evidence, that represent your desired life.

Change

My colleague, Vinny Roazzi, author of “Spirituality of Success,” said, “If you want to change your life, you have to change your life.” It’s that simple.

For you to have whatever it is you desire will require you to change something. When my life was at it’s worst I learned I had to be willing to do “whatever it takes.” In my case this was a life and death situation so the stakes were high.

This is your life and, while you may not be facing such a dramatic change, being willing to do what it takes to succeed is no less important.

Dream 

As we grow from small children into adulthood we tend to dream less, if at all, and start pushing our older dreams into the back of our mind. As people age they start giving up on their dreams and say things like, “At my age . . .”

If you do a little research you’ll uncover story after story about people, well into their twilight years, who have achieved their greatest accomplishment.

Harland Sanders, best remembered for starting Kentucky Fried Chicken, now KFC, was 65 years old when he began his business. *

Buckminster Fuller, bankrupt at 32 years old, went on to receive international recognition for his geodesic dome as he approached 60. And in 1970, he received the Gold Medal award from the American Institute of Architects at age 75. *

Author Phyliss Whitney, who passed away in 2008 at the age of 104, said in an Associated Press interview when she was 85 that “I’ve slowed down in that I only write one book a year. A writer is what I am.” Her last novel, Amethyst Dreams, was published in 1997, and at 102, she began working on her autobiography. *

Start here

Now it’s your turn. It’s time for you to start bringing your dreams into reality. Before you can do that however you must know what it is you want. What would make your life magnificent?

punta-cana

Your “Dreams” list

In your journal list whatever it is you want. What do you want to be or become? What do you want to do? What do you want to have? What do you want to share? Really let go and dream. See if you can list 100 items.

 * excerpt with permission from Don’t Let an Old Person Move Into Your Body, Jim Donovan (Austin Bay 2010)

Part II will be continued next time. Be sure to subscribe above to the right to be informed.

The December 2nd edition of the Wall Journal headline read,
“U.S. ECONOMY – Basic Costs Squeeze Families”

wall-street-journal

The article, beautifully written by Ryan Knutson and  Theo Francis goes on to talk about the rising costs of healthcare, technology services, food, and all the other things that are stretching people’s budgets. While it’s an accurate portrayal of the current economic situation and a well researched piece, I prefer to look for the opportunity rather than study the problem, especially when it comes to finances. 

I’ve always like the story that success legend, Jim Rohn, used to tell about how, when he told his mentor that things cost too much, his reply was, “No Jim, you just don’t make enough.”

While the rising costs and the sluggish economy are real and are in fact stressing people out, they are also something we have little control over. While we cannot change the economy single handedly, there are things we can change and the wisdom is in knowing the difference between what we can and can’t control.

stop living paycheck to paycheckAnyone willing to invest a little time can find ways to increase their income regardless of economic conditions. I found the “Journal” story ironic since all weekend my book, “Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck” was available free in the Kindle store. It’s regularly $2.99.

I know, from my own personal experience that anyone with a little ambition can, without investing large sums of money, increase their household income. How much so is up to them.

Online marketplaces like ebay and Etsy provide a steady flow of people in search of products and services. For the techno phobic, Flea Markets and Swap Meets are still alive and well in most parts of the United States. Either of these examples offer simple, inexpensive ways to add to one’s cash flow, almost immediately.

Service business, which can often be started at home for little or no cost, are popping up everywhere and the demand for these services grows daily as an aging population looks more and more to professionals to help with everyday tasks.

Network marketing and direct sales companies offer low cost point of entry and proven systems for building a home based business. While they may or may not make you a millionaire, as they have for some, they can without too much effort provide a family with an additional income of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars a month.

Internet entrepreneurs are investing a couple of hours a day building their eCommerce businesses, running the gamut from Mommy bloggers, to product marketers, life coaches, and an array of other Internet based businesses.

Do you have a particular skill you can teach? Online learning sites such as Udemy.com abound, offering a platform for teachers to deliver their courses to the hundreds of thousands of active learners seeking knowledge and skills. For a small investment, students can learn anything from “How to design an online course” to “How to create a power point presentation,” or “How to play piano,” all taught by private individuals interested in earning more money in their spare time.

I, for one, would like to see the esteemed Wall Street Journal writing more about solutions that can help people increase their income rather than beating the problem to death. We all know things cost more.

What’s more important is what can you do about it?

To that question there are always answers. It’s time to stop talking about problems and start talking about solutions. It’s time to stop being made into victims and, instead, take charge of your own destiny. It’s time we turned this country around and reclaimed our place of leadership in the world.

 

Since my mother’s passing the day before Thanksgiving in November 2000, I cannot help but think about her this time of year. While I miss her of course and it saddens me, I’d rather remember all the good times and the blessings she gave me. One of the greatest gifts she gave me is something I’d like to share with you and encourage you to pass on.

Obviously my mother gave me many gifts, including life itself, but the one that has enabled me to become successful and accomplish what I have in my life was her teaching me how to read and instilling in me a love of books.

If you have children in your life, please teach them to read and encourage reading. If you do not read well, get help. The ability to read is the one thing above everything else that can change a person’s life.

As the late Jim Rohn said, “The good things we want in life are on the top shelves. We reach them by standing on the books we’ve read.”

what are you waiting for? It's your lifeSomething else that can change your life and, as a matter of fact changed mine, is the process I wrote about in my book, “What are you waiting for? It’s Your Life.

This year’s Thanksgiving gift from me includes a free 28 page sample of that book. Originally published as This is Your Life, Not a Dress Rehearsal, it has been an international bestseller and has helped hundreds of thousands of people in several countries.

Download your complimentary preview copy here.

While we’re talking about gifts, my book, Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck, is free from in the Amazon Kindle store Friday, November 28th through Sunday, November 30th.

Also, on December 6th and 7th you can download Don’t Let and Old Person Move Into Your Body free from the Kindle store.

By the way, you don’t need a Kindle reader to read Kindle books. They can be read on a computer or you can download the Kindle app for your phone, iPad or tablet.

What I’m thankful for

This Thanksgiving I have much to be thankful for, especially you and all the people like you who have supported and followed my work. You are all a part of any success I achieve and what keeps me going. Knowing that people are using what I write and speak about to create a better life is important to me.

I’m so fortunate to have so many amazing people helping me and cheering me on that I cannot help but reach greater success. Space prevents me from naming everyone here but, suffice to say, my wife Georgia is on top of the list, along with my friend and coach, Ski Swiatkowski. They keep me grounded and sane.

Thanks to a great team at Sound Wisdom who have published “What are your waiting for? It’s Your Life” and are making that international bestseller available from book sellers the US.

Thanks to a fantastic team at New World Library, “happy@work” is receiving the praise and recognition it deserves. Some of the recent wins the book has enjoyed include:

  • ritz-carlton-leadership-center-happy-at-work-1Being included in the Top 10 Books on Happiness at Work by the esteemed Ritz Carlton Leadership Center.
  • happy@work had the highest readership on a list of selected books by the Transportation Safety Administration, division of Homeland Security and I was interviewed by the agency for their success training.
  • Lisa Evans Fast Company magazine article interviewing me about being happy at work has been shared more than 10,000 times on social media.
  • Dozens of radio hosts have had me on their show and continually praised “happy@work.”
  • japanese-978-4799315439The Japanese rights have been licensed and “happy@work” will be available in Japan soon. This comes right after a new paperback was released in Japan by Discover 21 publishing. It is a combination of two of my bestsellers in Japanese.
  • A chapter from “happy@work” is being included in an app from one of the largest cloud based learning companies in the world. More about that in January.

What about you?

No matter what’s happening in your life, wether you’re enjoying effortless success or experiencing struggle and hardship, the fastest way to have more of what you desire is to be grateful for what you already have, however meager it may seem at the moment.

If all you have is food to eat, be thankful for that. Many do not. The more you learn to appreciate what you have, the more you are moving into higher vibrational energies and attracting more good into your life. That is why I’ve said that,

“Gratitude is the key that unlocks the door to success.”

Your action step

Complete the following: 

  • Who are the people you’re thankful for in your life?
  • What are the top 5 things you are most thankful for this year?
  • What could you do to help someone else feel better today?

Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving. If you do not observe Thanksgiving, have a fantastic Thursday.

I’m honored to have had happy@work selected for their “10 Books on Happiness at Work” list by the esteemed Ritz Carlton Leadership Center” and posted on their blog. I consider it a real honor to be associated with them and want to acknowledge all the people at New World Library for challenging me to deliver my best work. Thank you.

ritz-carlton-leadership-center-happy-at-work-3

“Unhappy employees spend only 40% of their time on task, according to research from iOpener. This means that unhappy employees are only working two days a week. Besides slowing down production and innovation, unhappy employees are sharing their negative perceptions with the rest of your workforce and consequently spreading discontent. No one enjoys working with a “Debbie Downer.” More importantly, no one enjoys being a “Debbie Downer.”

Building good will, showing genuine care and valuing employees should be a priority at every organization. Employees are responsible for their own happiness, but this does not preclude organizations from providing the tools, resources and culture that will inspire more joy at work. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of 10 books that offer advice, strategies and tips to help managers and employees improve workplace happiness. (Books are listed alphabetically)” (READ MORE)

We’ve all heard the idea of living “one day at a time.” Twelve Step groups like Alcoholics, Narcotics, Gamblers, Debtors, Over-eaters, and other “anonymous” groups all stress the principle of taking life one day at a time.

Ram Dass titled his classic book, Remember: Be here now.

And of course, Ekhart Tolle wrote his seminal work, Power of Now (New World Library) about living in “Presence;” being fully in the present moment.

Sunrise photo

Why do this?

To begin with, much of your day-to-day worries and concerns, which exist only in your mind, disappear when you place your full attention in the present moment.

Worries are based on a concern about a future event which may or may not happen. Self help legend, Norman Vincent Peale, said that ninty-five percent of what most people worry about never occurs.

The other thing you get rid of is baggage from your past. It too does not exist in the present. So now you can put away the stick you’ve been using to beat yourself up over past mistakes. It, too, has no place in the present moment.

Whatever you did or did not do prior to now is of little importance. It’s over. You can learn from past errors but that’s about all you can do with the past.

Lamenting over lost opportunities will prevent you from seeing the one’s that are right in front of you, waiting to be acted upon.

That’s why you’re not likely to see a successful person agonizing over a perceived past failure. They’re too busy seizing the next opportunity to come along.

What you’ll get

Aside from the things you’ll eliminate from your mind, like like worry and past regrets, there are numerous advantages to living in the present.

To begin with, as Metaphysical teacher and author, Louise Hay once wrote, “The point of power is in the present moment.” Since it’s the only time that actually exists, it stands to reason that it’s where life is happening.

Since the “present” is the only time that exists, it is where you are able to tap into solutions to the challenges you may be facing. It’s where your true power lies.

If you believe in a Higher Power, God, or whatever name you use, you know there is help available to us from that Power which created all of life.

By being fully present you can access that Power. You literally cannot access help from Higher Forces if your mind is cluttered with worrisome and fearful thoughts. Remember the Bible statement, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Being present relaxes you and, over time, will lead to improved health and well being. People who meditate regularly tend to live longer, have better physical health, improved cognition, and are less stressed.

If you want to delve further into the many benefits of meditation, look into the work done by Dr. Herbert Benson, author of the “Relaxation Response.”

How to be more present

Whenever you sense your mind venturing into the worrisome future or lamenting about a past that is long gone, stop what you’re doing and become still.

Take one or two slow, deep breaths and feel yourself centered in the here and now. Feel the ground beneath your feet, listen to the sounds around you, smell the scent in the air.

Simply sit quietly and observe your breath going in and out.

As you sit, feel the energy coursing through your body. Sense the aliveness as you feel the energy traveling through your hands and arms, throughout your body, down your legs and into your feet.

You may choose to imagine a bright white light coming down from above and circulating through your body and out your feet, continuing down deep into the earth.

Doing this simple practice whenever you’re feeling stressed or worried will, almost immediately, ground you in the present moment. As you continue this, breathing deeply the entire time, you will feel a sense of calm come over you as you enjoy the soothing effects of living in the present moment.

The big payoff is that the more you practice this, the easier it becomes to calm your mind. Your mind becomes used to the relaxed mental state and begins, on it’s own, to generate more of the same brain waves. This explains why meditators, as a rule, say they are more relaxed throughout their day.

Action step:

Spend 10-20 minutes each morning for the next 30 days. You can add evenings if you’d like. Many people meditate twice each day.

  • Journal your feelings.
  • Write 3 things you are grateful for in your life.
  • Ask yourself if you’re feeling happier and calmer overall as a result.
  • If yes, would it be a good practice to continue?

(that’s how I started meditating almost thirty years ago:-)

You’ve probably heard the idea that some people, by their nature, perform whatever task they’re doing to the best of their ability – Eagles, while others just seem to “get by” – the rest of the flock, sometimes referred to as Pigeons.

Bald-Eagle

While I have nothing against pigeons, especially since I’m a native New Yorker, they’re not your ideal role model for success.

The differences, while many times subtle, are no less important to the success of the business as well as that of the individual.

My recent experience, illustrated below, will demonstrate this in more detail.

I was recently attending a business function at a nearby restaurant. The wait staff was excellent, attending to every detail enthusiastically, however, there was one waitress who “went the extra mile.”

I had asked her for a sparkling water, since I do not drink alcohol. Though it was not part of the beverage selection, she managed to locate a bottle of San Pelligrino water and poured me a glass.

At that point, for all practical purposes, her job was done, however, since she’s clearly an “Eagle” she didn’t stop there. Throughout the evening she kept a watch on my glass and managed to be there whenever it looked like it needed filling.

Eagles think beyond the task at hand. They anticipate what else they can do to be helpful to whomever they’re serving.

Eagles pay attention and are always on the lookout for ways in which they can provide more service and, at the same time, increase business for the company.

For example, the electronics salesperson who makes sure you have all the necessary cables and connectors to use your new purchase is anticipating your needs.

You’re happy they did so and it increased the total of the sale, resulting in an increase in revenue for the company. Everyone benefited all because the salesperson was paying attention and thinking about the customer’s needs, not just doing their job.

Four ideas to increase employee engagement

Hire for attitude
I’m not impressed with how great a salesperson you are if your attitude is poor. People can be trained in selling skills, which are more easily learned than behavioral changes like attitude.

Ensure people feel connected
The fastest way to accomplish this is to take time to praise people for a job done well. Further, involving every employee in the company’s vision and ensuring they can see their role in it will go a long way toward increasing employee engagement.

Invest in your people
Companies who stress training and development of their employees enjoy higher revenues and stock prices. Programs, like our happy@work programs teach, among other things, how to manage your emotions and stay in a positive mental state. Salespeople in a positive mental state are 37% better at selling than those who are negative or neutral. People in general are 31% more effective.

Give back
A recent survey of Millennials listed “giving back” as one of their top five criteria for working for a particular company. Good for them. Giving back is the right thing to do. When we all give a little, a lot is accomplished. Companies who have a culture of giving typically enjoy more success than their competitors.

eagle

If you want more Eagles on your teams, contact us now to learn how our happy@work programs can help your organization increase employee engagement and inspire more Eagles.

Email 

Phone (215) 794-3826

 

"October Orchid"

People who have been to our home, or seen photos on social media, continually comment about how great our plants look.
Aside from watering them and adding occasional soil nutrients, the other thing Georgia does is give them attention. She talks to them, names them, and, in general, recognizes their presence.flowers

There was a wonderful book, “The Secret Life of Plants” (Harper & Row 1973) that documents the effects of our thoughts on plants. The authors found, not only did plants respond to our thoughts and feelings toward them but that they were responsive even when the person was miles away at the time.

Plants, along with most other living things, respond to attention, praise and recognition.

Isn’t that what we all need . . . recognition?

If you’re familiar with the work of Masaru Emoto, author of “Hidden Messages in Water,” you may have heard about his experiment with the two bowls or rice and school children.

rice bowlsIn this experiment, Dr Emoto placed portions of cooked rice into two containers. On one container he wrote “thank you” and on the other “you fool.” He then instructed his class to read the labels on the jars aloud everyday as they passed them by.

After 30 days, the rice in the container with positive, appreciative thoughts had barely changed, while the other was moldy and rotten.

What about you and I?

Do you think we’re all that differnt than other living things on earth? Not likely.

People, like plants, animals and all living creatures need recognition and attention in order to flourish.

This is what Maslow referred to as “belongingness” in his “Hierarchy of Needs” theory, published in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation.”

In the workplace, the one thing that keeps coming up when people are asked about their situation at work is, not so much that they’re being asked to “do more with less” but that they’re not being recognized for doing it.

People need to be recognized, especially at work. Regardless of budget cuts and salary freezes taking a moment to recognize and compliment someone on a job well done is something every manager and supervisor can do immediately to help improve employee engagement and happiness in the company.

When a manager or supervisor recognizes our contribution to the company we automatically become more engaged in our work.
How hard is it to take a moment to tell someone you appreciate the job they’re doing?

This practice can be carried over into your home life with a similar result. Taking a moment to acknowledge and appreciate something your spouse or children has done will raise their self-esteem and enable them to feel better about themselves. Again, this costs nothing and need only take a moment.

In my new book, “happy@work – 60 Simple Steps to Stay Engaged and Be Successful” (New World Library), I wrote a chapter titled, “Become a Value Finder” (Page 49). The idea behind this simple suggestion is to start recognizing the greatness in us all and acknowledging that, instead of continuing the fault finding that has become so commonplace.

One of the fastest ways to improve conditions in any organization is to implement the practice of recognizing people’s contribution to the company. Make a point of doing this often and, whenever possible, as publicly as possible.

Let your people know that you appreciate them and the part they play in the company’s success.

It doesn’t take a lot to make someone feel better about themselves and, when you do, you’ve helped to increase their happiness and, as a result, their engagement and productivity.

Yes, businesses need to pay attention to the bottom line, however, generously giving praise and recognition creates no additional expense while having an immediate positive impact.

Action steps

1. Make a list of the people in your organization and, next to each name, write one or two things you appreciate about the person. It may be something simple like the fact they make the coffee when they arrive or it may be a major account they just landed.

2. During the next week make a point of seeking each person out and telling them, in person if possible, how much they are valued and appreciated by the company. Don’t be surprised if they “light up” and their productivity immediately increases.

3. Encourage this practice throughout the organization. Follow the advice of the late self-help guru, Zig Ziglar who suggested that we, “Catch people doing things right”

4. Be sure to include yourself on your list. Acknowledging your own accomplishments will motivate you to further success.

 

A challenge can mean different things to different people. Some people, when they hear the word, will think of someone being challenged to a duel.

Some will see it as something to be overcome, like a health challenge, while others will embrace it and use it as motivation to reach for and accomplish a personal goal.

The motivating types of challenges are the ones we look for. They cause us to move out of our comfort zone and allow us to pursue our dreams and ambitions.

A challenge of this type may include being ranked #1 in 800 meter category in the NCAA Track and Field conference, like a young man I met recently.

Or it may be like the one I took up in 1996 with the publication of my first book, Handbook to a Happier Life.

At the time I had no idea if I could do it or if anyone would actually pay money to read what I wrote. Fortunately for me, people liked the book and my career as an author took off.

Your present challenge may be more personal in nature like someone I met recently, Dave Jeffries.

Dave has taken up the challenge of riding his bicycle from Miami Fl. to Boston Ma, a ride that has him riding some 75 miles a day, every day. He said, and I can imagine, you get to see the country up close and personal. 

Click on the photo to connect with Dave on his Facebook page.

dave-bicycle

Whatever your particular challenge is you owe it to yourself to step up to it. Yes, you’ll be moved out of your present comfort zone.

Everything you want that you do not have is outside your comfort zone. The only way to have it is to move out of your present comfort level and stretch yourself. Otherwise, you’ll never know your potential.

If you need something to motivate you, use this sign I once had on my desk. It’s one of the reasons I published Handbook to a Happier Life, way back in 1996.

if you don't do it