Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

I believe that happiness is contagious and a great way to spread it is through random acts of kindness. Something as simple as smiling at a stranger can really turn a person’s day around and put them in a great mood. In a society where we’ve become so disconnected from each other, living through our cell phones and the internet, it’s amazing how powerfully you can affect someone by reaching out a generous hand.

Just recently I had two close friends randomly send me letters in the mail filled with loving and thoughtful words of praise and admiration. There was no special reason for this, it wasn’t my birthday or Christmas and I hadn’t done anything nice for them. They committed these random acts of kindness out of the sincerity of their hearts and let me just say. . . the positive emotions of joy and happiness that they have aroused in me is truly incredible! With such a simple gesture they have made me feel so loved and honored and now I’ve been inspired to keep the momentum and spread this message of optimism to the rest of you :)

Sending personal, hand written letters to your loved ones is a great way to not only brighten their day but also your own. Doing nice things for other people makes them feel good and makes yourself feel good too, knowing you have positively influence that person’s life. Personally, I’ve been trying to smile and say “good morning” to every person I walk by on my way to work in the morning and while I don’t always get a response I do always feel great about my efforts. Going out of your way to give someone a compliment or helping push a broken-down car out of the road or paying the toll booth for the person behind you. . . all of these little things make the world just that much better of a place and help tip the scale towards a more positive atmosphere.

We have endless opportunities throughout our day to demonstrate kindness to others so take advantage of having the power to do so and make somebody smile!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Interrupt Your Pattern

At one point or another everyone gets stuck in a negative frame of mind. We find ourselves in a funk that’s just seemingly impossible to break out of. My friend at work and I call it wearing your “cranky pants” and it can be really hard to get them off sometimes.

What we need to do is interrupt our pattern. When we’re in these bad moods, it’s easy to focus on the fact that we’re in a bad mood and having trouble breaking out of it, which puts us in a worse mood and the cycle continues. It’s like when you can’t sleep at night and all you can think about is how you can sleep, which keeps you up even longer and on and on. We need to put our foot down eventually and say “Hey! I’m ready to be in a good mood now and I’m going to break this pattern!”

Now, however you interrupt your pattern is up to you, it just needs to be something new and different that you’re not used to doing. If you’ve been going straight home from work, in a bad mood and locking yourself in your room everyday then don’t go home after work, drive the opposite way and find a new restaurant to eat dinner at. If you’re stuck in the middle of work or school in a bad mood, go take a 10 minute break to give a homeless person a dollar. Anything that is a change to your daily routine will shift your state and give you an opportunity to start over in a better mood.

I was in a bit of a funk the past couple days after partying a little too hard in Vegas and spending a little too much money.  I felt like my life fell of course after all the great work I had been doing on my personal growth. So, instead of going straight home for another night of moping around, I stopped by the library on the way home, opened up an account and checked out a book. On the way home someone on the street commented on the book I was holding and I ended up having a great conversation with him and making a new friend. Obviously my previous routine of being in a bad mood the couple days wasn’t working so by simply changing up one course of action I opened the door to new possibilities and put myself in a much better place.

So use your imagination. The next time you find yourself in that repetitive cycle of sulking do something spontaneous and interrupt the pattern. Jog through the park, learn your favorite recipe and make it for your neighbor, jump in the pool of hotel you’re not staying at, howl at the moon, get out your old yearbooks, go on Pandora and listen to genre of music you never listen to. . . or write a blog ;) 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Secret

You have probably heard of “The Secret”, a book and movie that came out in 2006 claiming that you can have anything you want in your life by using the law of attraction. It basically says that if we desire something, all we have to do is focus our thoughts on what we want and we will attract it into our lives. Sounds kinda cheesy huh? Well guess what, it’s true!

I completely believe in the secret because I have experienced its power first hand. When I graduated college I took a job with a financial services company, soon realizing that I had no passion for that industry and that what I really wanted to do was work in the music business. There was a one in a thousand chance that I would actually make it in the super competitive world of Hollywood but I had a concrete vision of myself accomplishing my goal and total faith that things would work out and by the end of that year I had my own office in the famous Capitol Records building. How’s that for cheesy?

Most people tend to be fearful. They sabotage their dreams and goals by thinking about what would happen if they failed and not believing in themselves. The secret is that we will attract into our lives whatever we focus our thoughts on, so if you’re predicting failure and worst case scenarios then that’s exactly what you’re going to get!

If you can clear your mind of any negative thoughts and replace them with visions of success and prosperity, truly believing that the amazing things we dream of are possible, then I guarantee that you will start to attract the things you desire most into your life. So go ahead and start using your imagination to create the most rewarding and fulfilling life possible and have complete faith that this vision will come true. . . because it will!

*if you have 30 mins, listen to this recording, he explains everything much better than I can: The Strangest Secret - Earl Nightingale (1956)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What are your values?

I think it’s important to have a clear set of values, a list of the characteristics that you define yourself by and seek to demonstrate on a daily basis. All of us have values whether we are aware of them or not and they serve as the pillars to our personal identity. I encourage you to take a few minutes and get clear about what yours are. What are the most important principles in life that guide you everyday?

I recently sat down and wrote out my top ten values and composed this list:

1. Happiness/Fun – I think the most important thing in life is to ENJOY it! To smile, to laugh, to play, to sing, to dance, to be happy and have fun!

2. Love – This is strongest emotion we can experience. Both giving and receiving love is a vital part of being human and we must create endless opportunities in our lives for doing so.

3. Passion – I have to be passionate about what I do. For me, passion is like the breath of life itself, fueling every action I take and pushing me to move forward everyday with excitement and energy.

4. Honesty – Being honest with other people and also with myself is something I greatly value and am committed to demonstrating in all situations.

5. Sincerity – I want to be regarded as a sincere person that truly cares about others and am genuine in my interactions with all people. There is no room for being “fake” in my world.

6. Growth – I think that everyday is a chance to grow and that it’s important to put significant work into my personal development, allowing me to become a better person and reach my full potential.

7. Integrity – If you say you’re going to do something, do it! I try my best to be a man of my word and never let people down.

8. Health – I believe in taking care of my body through eating healthy and exercising, which has become a positive and beneficial habit that I greatly enjoy.

9. Intelligence – Leaders are readers. Books, essays, stories, articles, blogs and anything that can inspire an expanded insight and teach new things are vital tools that I use to satisfy my thirst for knowledge.

10. Contribution – The act of giving back to your community, of helping those in need and offering your services to people who need them is an admirable exploit that should be practiced by all.

Hopefully this inspires you to take a look at what your own values are and really consider the hierarchy of principles that guide you through life. Are you holding yourself to a higher level of standards or simply drifting by without a strong definition of your moral code?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Learning your lesson (and other people’s too)

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, to only see what’s right in front of us at that particular time and place and focus solely on the immediate problems we are facing. Sometimes our emotions get the best of us as we react to other people, finding ourselves absorbed in conflict and argumentative behavior and then replaying or recreating situations in our head till we go crazy. Don’t worry, this happens to the best of us and it’s definitely hard to keep your head above water during these times.

But I think there are two powerful questions that you can ask yourself to help break out of this negative thought process and put yourself in a place of emotional authority and growth:

1. What am I learning from this situation/interaction? Hit the pause button for a minute and get out of that particular moment so you can step back, rise above the situation and look at the big picture of things. The world and everyone in it are constantly teaching us lessons and sometimes we just need to open our eyes and ears and learn them! This will immediately change the way you feel, shifting your focus from the negativity of the problem to the positive opportunity for growth you’re embracing. Rather than giving your time and energy into something unconstructive you’re now becoming stronger and believe me, that feels a whole lot better!

2. What did I do to get myself in this situation? Whether you want to admit or not, your choice of actions and words have lead you to where you are. The sooner you take personal responsibility for that the better off you’ll be. By looking at your own behavior, rather than pointing the finger at other people and directing blame, you can retrace your steps to realize where things went wrong and then take a different approach next time around.

Also, make sure to learn other people’s lessons too, not just your own! People around us are always doing great things and not so great things. It’s easy to recognize what behaviors and attitudes lead to success and what do the opposite so model your life accordingly. A friend of mine was recently telling me about a guy at her work who was failing to accomplish his tasks and talking back to his supervisor, therefore developing a bad reputation around the office after not even working there for that long. I know it’s pretty obvious but. . . don’t be that guy! His strategy apparently isn’t working so learn the lessons from his mistakes: get your work done, don’t talk to back and you’ll soon develop a good reputation with your coworkers. Amazing!