3 Things We Can Do to Stay Positive

No one likes a sourpuss. If you do not know what that is, a quick Google search reveals it is a person who is bad-tempered or habitually sullen. For someone like that, it may take some effort to snap out of the blues. It would have been far better not to fall into a mindset of negativity in the first place.

How can we do that? How can we avoid the vortex of a swirling drain when there is just so much more to gain by living a life filled with hope?

1. Keep Moving

As cliché as it sounds, it is hard to hit a moving target. Isaac Newton put it another way, “A body in motion stays in motion. A body at rest stays at rest.”

When we are on the move, we expend energy—energy that we would have otherwise consumed for other things. Sometimes, and this happens more often than we think, those other things are not conducive toward our betterment as human beings.

The solution is to keep moving. Our focus should be on volunteer activities. Community programs are a great way to lift the spirits. The moment we see others suffer is when we become aware of our own blessings.

That is not the end of it, though. The very act of providing for the needs of others changes our attitude and makes us humble. Attitude plays a big part with maintaining a positive outlook. We can own the world, but really, what good would it do if we lose our souls?

2. Enjoy the Music

Music calms the savage beast. Is that not a saying from somewhere?

Have we ever thought how our mood changes when we listen to music? It would be a difficult thing to do to be happy if a sad song is playing in the background of a restaurant. How many times have you heard Mozart’s Requiem while wolfing down a pizza at some bar and grill?

Music plays such a big role when it comes to setting a mood. Music can make us happy. Music can make us sad. That is why it is so important to pay attention to what goes into the ears. All it takes is one song to change our attitude.

Have fun with music. Create mixes that inspire creativity. Listen to music that challenges our very being. If after hearing a song we feel awful, it may be time to forget that song ever existed.

Let us allow music to give life to our bones. The right kind of music will make us grow for the better.

3. Forgive

So much time goes to waste playing the “he said, she said” game. So what if he or she said something bad about us. If we are happy with who we are what difference does it make what others think?

Bringing God into the conversation will help with this point:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mat. 5: 43-48 NIV).

As much as it is opposite to how we, mere humans, think, forgiving an enemy releases us from the perils of hatred. Would it not be more beneficial to live a life without enemies than to spend time thinking about how we can do harm to those who have harmed us?

Even more so, forgiving those who are not worthy is more of a testimony on us. For when we forgive, we release ourselves of negativity from our lives. No longer are we captive to the chains of evil, but we are free to do good works inspired by the gifts of grace.

It may be hard to understand at first, and that is fine, however, the blessings that come with forgiving someone go beyond the forgiver to touch the lives of everyone involved.

With That in Mind

Once these techniques become part of our routine, it will be difficult to fall into a dark or glum state. We will find life more fulfilling, more rewarding and rich in positive experiences. No longer will we have to hide behind a fake smile or a performance laugh. We can be ourselves and live a happy, abundant life bursting with joy.

So keep moving, enjoy the music and let things go. After all, it is far better to be a role model than to become a case study.

7 Keys to Achieve Success

Why do some people succeed with their goals while others fail? Is it because those who succeed have a plan? Or is it that they have the strands of success so ingrained in their DNA that nothing will prevent them from achieving their true potential?

7 Keys to Achieve SuccessI have often wondered this myself. But then again, over the course of three years, I did write a bestselling book trilogy while publishing three articles a week in support of my effort. So, I suppose, I do have some insight in what it takes to be successful.

Below is the template I use whenever I set out to accomplish anything that is beyond what I can accomplish on my own. You can use this template for just about anything. It will encourage you to keep pressing forward, never to surrender.

If one day, because of these seven keys, you become President of the United States, remember me as the guy who put you there. I take cash, bank draft, money order and certified check. However, I think I would be more useful as your Vice President.

1. Create a Mission Statement

Every success story has a beginning, and every beginning sparks from a single thought. You cannot know where you are going if you do not have a destination.

Begin by thinking about what you want to achieve, sit down and write it down. Your goals will not become reality if you do not write them down.

7 Keys to Achieve SuccessWhen you have your goals written down in the form where you can see them, touch them, and read them back to yourself, they become real.

Think of your goals as Mission Statements. Simply writing the words, “Rock Star” on a piece of paper will not make it so. Instead, be specific: “In one year I will lead a rock band, and in five years I will put out my first single.”

The more specific you are with your Mission Statement the more it will become an accomplished goal.

You can do the same thing with life goals: “By this time next year, I will have bought a house, paid my first mortgage installment and looked after my own lawn.”

Seeing your goals detailed on paper will bring your goals to life.

Create your Mission Statement now.

2. Prepare an Action Plan

Writing down your Mission Statement is only the first step to achieve success. You will now need an Action Plan to move you along the journey.

How are you going to get to where you want to go? A good driver will have counted the cost of travel. A good driver will have also planned the route, landmarks to look for and destination. A good driver will know when the journey is complete.

Similarly, if you are thinking about completing your degree in Physics, you will need to create an Action Plan that details the courses you will need, the cost, time and effort you will need to expend to achieve this success.

An Action Plan can be as simple as this:

  • Make $5,000 in tuition working at Mom and Pop’s Grocery for four months
  • Take 2 electives
  • Write my thesis
  • Graduate top of my class within a year of registering

Notice that the Action Plan contains a detailed timeline, cost estimate of the goal and a success benchmark. In this case, the success benchmark is graduating top of the class.

3. Stay Healthy

Once you begin your journey toward success, you will need one vital component to maintain your stamina. That very important component is your health.

Without good health, no matter how strong or positive you think you are, either it will take you longer to achieve success, or you will not achieve it at all.

7 Keys to Achieve SuccessGood health, however, comes with a price tag.

It means sleeping as much as you can so that the body can repair itself. It means eating right—fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and fish. If you can afford organic, buy organic. Organic food contains all the vitamins and minerals intact. A good multi-vitamin supplement will also go a long way toward improving your health.

Get rid of the junk food. Most junk food contains vast amounts of sugar, salt and fat that cause all sorts of ugly things to happen in the body. That goes for processed foods as well. If you grow a third arm, do not say I did not say so.

Most of all, exercise. Keep your blood flowing throughout all parts of your body. The more you exercise, the more you will feel energetic to tackle bigger and better tasks.

4. Schedule Downtime

Every week I take one day to unplug from social media. That is, I take one day to avoid logging into my site, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and all other forms of online activity.

You might think that is crazy. In a sense, it is crazy.

Doing so, though, allows me to take stock of my life without the distraction of pings, whistles, bings, dings and dongs. Rather, I will sit quietly reading and meditating on my achievements from the past week.

Scheduling downtime is an art. I nearly fell off my chair recently when I had read that some European companies offer their employees unlimited vacation time. Can you imagine having two months off from work lying on a beach in Italy eating healthy meals while North Americans slave away late into the evening just to make a buck?

As humans, we need time away in order to recharge and stay sane.

7 Keys to Achieve SuccessTime away or downtime does not mean unproductive time, though.

I get my best ideas when I am waking up or doing absolutely nothing. I cannot say how many times a good idea has raced through my mind while shaving.

Downtime presents you with a great opportunity to look at your Action Plan to ensure you are meeting your milestones based on your Mission Statement.

5. Leave Room for Incidentals

Things happen in life. Sometimes life throws you circumstances that will make it seem as if there is no way you will achieve what you have set out to do.

And that is okay. That is life. You will need to leave room for incidentals.

If you have given yourself a timeline, it may be that you will need to extend the timeline as a means to accommodate surprises.

Again, life events play into this, too. The only thing you can do is ride it out and once it is all over, do your best to get back on track.

In other words, accept it and move on.

6. Never Give Up

If I could stress anything more than anything, it would be for you never to give up.

Always look to the goal. Always keep your Mission Statement at the tip of your tongue. Repeat it several times as a reminder of what you committed to when you wrote it. Review your Action Plan to see where you are. Every time you feel the urge to give up, shake it off. Go for a walk. Go for a run.

7 Keys to Achieve SuccessPush those insecurities from your mind. You have counted the cost. You knew it was not going to be easy. Yet, you went ahead with your Action Plan anyway. You did it because you knew it was what you wanted to do.

Forget about what people may think of you. Let them think what they will. Your job is to continue on that journey to success. Nothing will stop you from that.

Nothing will prevent you from achieving your dreams.

7. Keep God in the Picture

This last point may be different for everyone. For me it means all the difference between success and failure.

God is my center, as I know Jesus is his son. I involve God in everything I do. Whenever I create a Mission Statement and write an Action Plan, God is there with me to put it all together.

God’s words in Jeremiah 29:11 are always on my mind, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (NIV).

7 Keys to Achieve SuccessEveryone needs someone great to believe in. For me it is God.

He has my back.

One More Thing

After achieving success several times with this plan, you will ask yourself this question: What more is there?

The best answer I have is this: Share this knowledge with everyone you know so that others may have the opportunity to make their dreams come true.

Knowledge shared is knowledge earned.

7 Tips for Good Health

With my wife, Luana, in her final year’s certification toward graduating as a Holistic Nutritionist at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, I can also say I have learned a few things along the way.

Many of these tips I have discovered on my own. I knew they were good for me, so I did them. I found them during a period of trial-and-error. But what she taught me was why they were good for me—the effects on the body, the longevity gained, and the big rewards earned, in terms of positive mindset.

I can sit here all day giving her credit for many other things, but then where will that leave me? I will have not made any headway toward what I wanted to talk about today. And that would be a bad thing.

So, here we go. These are my tips for enjoying a life brimful and running over with good health.

1. Sleep as Much as You Can

I have written about this so many times that I think some of you may actually find it boring. That may prove beneficial, because then it would mean you would be ready to apply this energy-boosting tip.

Sleep as much as you can. There is no short-changing sleep.

For me, sleep boosts my energy levels, enhances my focus, and increases my creativity.

7 Tips for Good HealthI know that if I cheat on my sleep, my body will wreak havoc on my mind. My lack of sleep causes me to be forgetful, induces irritation, and swells my likelihood for bemoaning my life.

Nobody likes me when I complain.

Therefore, I sleep as much as I can. I make it a routine, and I am better for it.

2. Drink Loads of Water

What can be more important than to stay hydrated? I drink half my weight in ounces every day. My skin thanks me for it, my digestive system celebrates, and everything in my body works as it should. I do not think I need to be specific with that last point.

Drinking the wet stuff is a great choice for watering the tubes, but remember that fruits and vegetables are high in water content, too. Fresh cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries and celery make for great choices when you are in the mood for something else to quench your thirst.

The other big benefit to keeping hydrated is it may help prevent long-term muscle and joint damage. Add to that list dry skin, headaches, constipation, minimal urination, sunken eyes, and muscle cramps.

In other words, drink loads of water throughout the day, and stay healthy.

3. Eat Good Foods

Good food starts with a deep fryer, thick sauces, and sugars. Wait a minute, that is not right.

Let me try this again.

Good food starts with fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and fish. If you are familiar with the Mediterranean diet, then you will know olive oil is your friend. Foods rich in good fat may aid in maintaining cholesterol levels to where they should be.

7 Tips for Good HealthI noticed that when I eat a meal heavy on the carbs and low on the veggies, I feel bloated, not able to move, and extremely tired. But when I eat a meal made up of whole grain rice, salmon and steamed broccoli, I feel great.

It may have to do with the enzymes secreted in the gut. I have only so much processing power before my stomach says, “Hold on a second, you want me to work twice as hard to get you on your feet? Well, that is not happening, buddy.”

Lesson learned.

What my family and I also try doing is to always shop local. All our fruits and vegetables are from nearby farms, organic, and ready to serve. Then again, we live in farm country, so it is easier for us to buy quality produce than for those living in the big city.

Nonetheless, the point being, a vibrant life is a life given to food filled with ample vitamins and nutrients.

4. Get That Heart Pumping

I walk everywhere I go. I do take the car, yet it is not my main method of transportation. My feet keep me strong. I have had people comment that my calves are Olympic standard, whatever that means. I suppose the muscles I have there bulge a bit.

Every day I try to do something different to boost my heart rate. And really, it can be anything from walking to running on a treadmill. I even have a heart rate measuring app on my phone that shows me how I am doing in comparison to folks living in the mountains in Italy where my parents were born.

When I am fit, I can accomplish anything. Work is easier, talking with people is not a weight, and completing daily chores is manageable.

And let me not forget about the regular trips to the dentist. Keeping your teeth in tip-top shape is good for your heart and your health. Having no cavities means eating well without the burden of worrying about infections that may spread throughout the body affecting other organs. You do not want to have your heart failing because you did not take care of your teeth. That is a big no-no.

Do you want to live a life bursting with health? Begin a program that will exercise that beating organ in the center of your being. Your body will thank you for it.

5. Practice Proper Hygiene

I cannot tell you how it feels to meet someone decked out in formal attire only to sense a brutal odor contaminating my immediate vicinity. Now, I understand skipping a shower or two, but to look good and smell bad is another story.

We live in an age that no one dressed in a tux should stink. I am being truthful when I say this.

Garlic and onions is good. A toothbrush and mouthwash is better.

7 Tips for Good HealthI am paranoid with my hygiene. I wash and shave every single morning. I may miss a shower on the weekend, but when I am with family, it is not a big deal. A bar of soap should be everyone’s friend for life.

Not only that, but a shower is an amazing thing. I can be so tired, yet, once I take a shower, I am ready to conquer anything that comes my way.

Besides, looking after yourself prompts others to look after themselves.

It is a rule. I made it up just now. It works.

In all seriousness, when you feel good about yourself, you tend to feel good about life.

6. Take a Vacation

Every year, Luana and I sit down to decide where we would like to go for our annual family vacation. Sometimes, our vacation consists of a road trip with the kids, and other times we choose to spend several weekends away from it all.

A vacation is a great way to reset. It allows for whatever problems that exist to take a backseat in order for us to reconnect with our lives.

One of my favorite vacations is when I float in a pool and watch the clouds overhead form shapes of animals. I will drift back and forth from one end to the other, day dreaming those animals to life.

A change of scenery also provides for wonderful experiences that under normal circumstances I would have otherwise missed.

But taking a vacation does not have to be an annual event. Every week I take a day to step away from the regular chores of life to read God’s word and relax with the family. It is on this day that I can certainly say that my appreciation for music far exceeds that of all other days during the week.

A happy mind is a healthy body.

7. Meditate on Life’s Journey

Thinking deeply about something requires practice. What better way to practice than to apply this technique as part of a daily routine.

Meditation, when done correctly, will help maintain a positive frame of mind.

It does take a bit of effort, though. You will need a quiet time so that you can think without distractions.

How it applies to me is I take a moment to think about my life from all angles. If I find something in particular I need to resolve, I will sit in a comfortable chair and think through the situation to see if I can come up with an answer.

Another use of meditation for me is to ponder on life’s little mysteries. I like thinking about God and about how I can apply his perspective in my life.

For some, it may not be that easy to find a place where there are no interruptions.

In that case, take a walk.

A simple brisk lap around the block clears the mind of the clutter that has accumulated throughout the day, leaving you refreshed and invigorated to meditate on the important issues in your life.

With these thoughts in mind, use meditation as a key weapon in your arsenal toward better health.

This article is for information purposes only and not for medical advice.  Please see your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

5 Ways to Live a Fulfilling Life

There is no trick to being happy.

Well, there is, but it has more to do with attitude. One can be a millionaire and be miserable. Money has nothing to do with it. Although, having money sure makes things easier. Still, as the old cliché goes, money does not buy happiness.

What about having the power to do just about anything? Will that bring happiness? Will that make for a fulfilling life—telling people what to do? I always thought those with the greatest power were those who served every day, unappreciated, ready and willing to surrender their lives for the downtrodden in society. At least, that is what I always thought.

I suppose there is more to leading a fulfilling life than having money and power.

There is, and it is much easier than you think.

Below is what has brought me to lead a fulfilling life filled with hope, joy and happiness. This five-point roadmap is not hard to apply on a daily basis, and its rewards are immeasurable.

1. Enjoy a Healthy Lifestyle

I get seven hours of sleep every night. I am talking about seven full hours of solid sleep without waking up. I never used to be that way. There was a time I only slept two hours a night. It was awful. Every morning I felt as if someone had run over me with a dump truck.

Paranoia also has a nice effect on someone who is an avid insomniac. I looked like a character out of a Tim Burton movie. Spiked hair, shadows under the eyes and pale skin that would make a corpse look good.

5 Ways to Live a Fulfilling LifeAfter several attempts at self-medication—not really—I took to changing my diet.

I went on a regiment of fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of fish, nuts, whole grains, and vitamin supplements. Slowly, the hours to my sleep pattern crept up to three, four and five hours nightly. I could not go beyond five hours until I introduced wine to my evening meals. Suddenly, I broke the five-hour barrier and blew past six to arrive at seven hours sleep per night.

With the added sleep, I found I could focus more, reason better, and do all the things I could not do, like, carry on an adult conversation; something my wife, Luana, now appreciates.

Oh, and before I forget, I drink lots of water every day—half my weight in ounces. Nothing oils the joints better than the wet stuff.

Once I stabilized my health, good things followed. The days were brighter and my attitude was warmer. I said goodbye to zombies and said hello to superheroes.

2. Do What You Like to Do Best

What other activity could bring fulfillment than to enjoy doing what you like doing best? Everyone is good at something.

It can be walking, running, crafting needlepoint art, singing, fishing, playing guitar, playing video games, watching the stars, listening to music, painting, playing soccer, or football for that matter, building things, traveling, relaxing on a beach; it could be anything.

For some, their job is what brings fulfillment. That is quite all right. Imagine having a job as a skydiving instructor. Would that not be the best job ever? I could never do it, but there are those who made their hobby a job.

If you could make your hobby your job, how cool would that be?

The point is, find what you like to do and do it. The joy of doing it is the reward.

3. Spend Time with Others

One of the biggest pleasures I have in life is to sit down with someone to share a meal.

The conversation can go back and forth between past and present, on common activities, or simply on family. The exchange of ideas is a thrilling thing to experience. A good conversation can bond people, create future dates for more conversations, and provide an opportunity to discover something new.

Sometimes, the biggest surprise comes when it seems you have exhausted all dialog.

In those quiet moments together is when you realize what the relationship really means to you.

5 Ways to Live a Fulfilling LifeThe simple act of playing ball with them, or singing, or doing something crazy, like, setting up soda bottles in the backyard with baking soda at the ready to produce the most awesome rocket ship ever, can make it one of your happiest memories yet.

Besides, embarrassing moments are best shared among friends.

Then, should a lull hit your life, you will have those memories to draw on, to carry you forward, and lift you to your feet.

A happy and fulfilling life is more than the dinner entrée we serve our guests.

It includes our guests.

4. Do Good

Has anyone ever held the door for you? Do you remember how it felt?

Has anyone ever given up a parking space at the mall for you, just because?

How about at the grocery store checkout, has anyone ever beaten you to the front of the line but let you go first?

Imagine doing little things like that for others all the time. What would your life be like?

The old widow across the street would have someone to mow her lawn in the summer and shovel her driveway in the winter. Your neighbor could borrow your hedge trimmer without thinking that he owed you something in return. One of your friends could ask you for a ride to the airport without worrying about imposing on you.

Communities would flourish. Cities would not need the vast policing that it does now. And everyone would be nice to one another because it would be the right thing to do.

Of course, a change like that would be unheard of, unless…

…well, unless it began with ordinary people wanting to make a difference.

Part of that willingness to make a difference can involve volunteer work. Many organizations out there need help with initiatives tailored for the community, such as spending time reading to the elderly, feeding the homeless, or planting a tree for the future. Getting involved can be as easy as making a phone call or dropping an email.

Whatever you choose to participate in, recognize that your involvement will not only benefit those in need, but also provide you with the satisfaction of knowing you have done good.

5. Believe in Something Greater Than Yourself

A life with a purpose is a powerful thing.

People who do not believe in something will fall for anything.

I think that is a quote from somewhere.

Many of the greatest heroes of our time were the ones who believed in a cause. They saw something was missing and went ahead and filled the void. Sometimes, as is the case with Leonardo Da Vinci, who conceptualized flying machines, or Isaac Newton, who formulated the Laws of Motion, they end up changing the world.

That single belief in something greater than oneself made these people rich in knowledge and productive in life.

For some, it is the belief in a higher power.

What keeps me balanced is my belief in God and in his son, Jesus, who came to take away the sin of the world.

For others, it may be the belief in making this world a better place.

Having an anchor will keep you stable from the blowing wind that may want to take you away. That very same anchor may act as the cornerstone that will keep you grounded to your goal of pursuing your life’s calling.

Again, a life filled with purpose is a life fulfilled.

Believing in something greater than yourself will keep you fulfilled and grounded in a life bursting with purpose.

Keeping on Track

During this time of year, I take some time out of my busy schedule to assess where I am and where I want to go. This assessment encompasses not only my personal life but also my writing life. Part of this exercise includes me looking at my life as a five-year plan, and in some cases, a ten-year plan. I began doing this a few years ago when I needed structure to my life—something I severely lacked before I started writing.

Create and keep a schedule

Create and keep a schedule

I can’t say what I do is easy, but it does yield fruit. I’m disciplined now and more attuned to what I believe my life mission is in the grand scheme of things. I’m not saying this to make it seem as if I have everything figured out. On the contrary, if I have anything figured out, it’s my name and where I was born—and maybe where I go when I die. Other than those little things, I’m at the mercy of the wind.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing all this is that I’d like to share with you three key things I do to keep on track for the year. Don’t expect miracles if you’re going to implement any of this stuff in your life. I can tell you it is not as easy as I make it out to be. But, it is worth the try, if you’re in the mood to make a change for a more goal-centered life.

Schedule downtime—That’s an odd way to think about getting things done. Isn’t scheduling downtime the exact opposite of getting things done? Well, not really. What you want to do is prevent burnout. I’ve been there when all I could think about was what I wanted to do, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I read somewhere that the body functions on a time cycle, and if the body doesn’t get the rest it needs, it will rebel by throwing itself in bed. That happened to me. There was a time I became ill with a flu or fever every single year since I was a kid. Nowadays, that doesn’t happen. I take one full day off from being online, writing and chores to be with the family. It’s a full day of familial bonding that has since kept me healthy. The downtime also stimulates my creative juices, clearing my mind and readying the week for my reappearance. By the time my day off is over, I’m set to tackle anything thrown at me.

Work hard—Given I’m a proponent for taking a day off every week, the other side of the coin is making up the time by working hard during the other six days of the week. Working hard doesn’t mean sweating hard, though. It means doing more with the finite time you have available. If that means finding alternate ways to produce more than you are capable of, then it means you’re working not just harder, but smarter. The ultimate goal is to get the things you would have had done in seven days with six days instead. Tricky, but doable. In the context of writing, I schedule everything. My novel writing is part of my schedule as is my site writing. Responding to comments on my site, Twitter and Facebook is in there, too. At the end of the week, all that hard work will have paid off once I look at my accomplishments and realize just how much I produced.

Put it all down on paper—An interesting thing happens when you write things down. You remember them. I think there must be some sort of relational action thing going on in the brain when I write things down. I seem to remember those things and I can remember what they look like written on paper. The idea is a strange one, but I will have to say this really works. Do you really want to accomplish your goals? Write them all down on paper. Years ago, I had the idea in my mind of what I wanted to do—write a trilogy—then went ahead and wrote the titles down on paper. Suddenly, seeing the titles there made them more real. I hadn’t written any of them, but they were real to me. I did the same thing with my other parts of my life. If I wanted a new car, I’d write it on paper then I knew there was no turning back from achieving my goal. Again, write everything you want down on paper. It does make a difference.

Last thing on my mind is this: When a trial hits, you hit right back. Don’t surrender. Stay true to the course. There is nothing in this world that ought to prevent you from achieving your goals. To use the cliché: Live the dream. No one else can do it for you.

Get the Ranger Martin trilogy now!

What goals do you want to write down that would make it more real for you to achieve success?

What Is Success?

Think of something you really, really want. Now, close your eyes and imagine having it. Wait, did you just close your eyes? I meant for you to close them for a second or two, not indefinitely. Go ahead and close them for a few seconds. I’m hoping you opened them again. Okay, forget about closing your eyes. Gosh. This is getting complicated. Let’s start over.

Success Quote by Marva Collins

Success Quote by Marva Collins

Think of something you really, really want. Now, imagine having it. Can you see it? If it’s an object, can you feel it? What’s the texture like under the pads of your fingers? Try to imagine the sensation. If it’s something you’ve wanted to do like, take that vacation you’ve been thinking about, imagine the spot. Are you feeling the water splashing over your skin while you’re lying on the beach? Can you feel the sun beat down on your head? Okay, so maybe a sunny spot is not for everyone. How about a refreshing Alaskan Vacation? You can’t beat six months of sunshine or six months of darkness.

The thing about the imagination is the brain can’t tell what is real and what is make-believe. To the mind, it’s all the same. Have you ever seen a movie where you’re on the edge of your chair wondering what will happen next? The brain is telling you that it’s firing its synapses in order for you to feel the thrill the movie is providing. The brain thinks it’s real.

Studies have proven the brain is a resilient organ. It remembers things beyond what we think it remembers. When we think about the past, it’s as if we’re reliving the experiences all over again.

Let’s go back to thinking about stuff. Are you ready? Imagine the first time you fell in love. Do you have the thought yet? If you’ve never fallen in love, then imagine your first crush. Better still, do you remember your first kiss? Really, take a moment and think about it. Remember how your heart flipped inside of you, how the center of your being burned with the pangs of wanting this person in your life. Do you feel your palms sweaty, your lips tingly and your breath speeding up? Remember how you couldn’t sleep without thinking about them? How you couldn’t eat because your stomach had a knot the size of a baseball twirling about, never leaving you alone?

If you’ve really stopped to think about it, and felt all those emotions all over again, then that’s your mind at work. It can’t tell the difference if those thoughts you’re having are real.

That’s why it’s important to think of your goals as if you have already achieved them. I’m not talking about that self-hypnosis/self-enlightenment movement going around in the entertainment industry these days. We have enough of that in the gossip columns when we read about stars who have lost touch with reality because they think they are better than everyone else.

What I’m referring to is about work and reward. Training the mind with the feeling of having attained a reward. The best way to do this is to write things down in a list and crossing the items off as you complete them. Instant reward. The other way is thinking about having already won the fight. The mind doesn’t know better, so the mind will release the same chemicals into the brain to provide that satisfaction a person would receive when achieving a goal.

When this happens, the mind will press you to want to achieve that goal.

Simple, right?

Only, you’ll have to follow through. It’s not enough to think about what you want. The mind will reward you, but that feeling in the pit of your stomach, when you see things haven’t really changed, will want you to change.

You can only go so far with the mind. Eventually, you’ll have to take steps to achieve the goal in reality in order to receive the reward in reality.

Make a list. Follow through. Win.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

What’s on your list? Does anyone know the goals you want to achieve?

Motivation

What motivates you? Do you wake up, hop out of bed, breathe deeply and say to yourself, “Today’s going to be the best day of my life.” Do you? I do. Every morning I say that, even when sleeping an inordinate amount of hours on the weekend. And why not? Today ought to be the best day of our life because today is the only day that matters. That’s why for Freedom Friday I thought I’d show you what I’ve learned in the past couple of years in hopes it may move you to freedom—freedom to accomplish your dreams and freedom to become who you are meant to be.

Motivation

Motivation

I started watching motivational videos in the winter of 2012 after a long, dark period in my life. I had lost something incredibly important to me that year and it hurt bad. Those who know me know this dark season had lasted for months. Behind the smiles, the laughter and the song stood a man on the threshold of perpetual sadness.

Then, one morning I woke up thinking I didn’t want to feel that way anymore. I changed, just like that. I realized everything I thought could happen, never did. The still small voice in my head returned and I knew my life was about to get a whole lot better.

This blog began on the day I regained my life back. I knew exactly what I needed to do next.

I’ve had people ask me, “What motivates you? How do you keep the creativity going?” I simply answer, “I have a lot of catching up to do.”

When you wasted half of your life in fear of failure, there really isn’t much else to say. It’s all a matter of getting it done.

In the throes of this newfound energy propelling me forward, I dusted off an old manuscript I had written some time ago about a killer who hates zombies and would do anything to put them out of their misery. That killer’s name was Ranger Martin, and he called my name to finish his story.

Fear

Fear

If you learn anything from this post, take away this: Fear does not exist.

I’ll say it one more time: Fear does not exist.

We build this image of the future of what we’d like to become, where we’d like to see ourselves and within seconds of those thoughts, we kill the dream.

“I’m not good enough. I don’t think I can do it. I’ll fail. It’s too difficult. It’s too much work. I can’t. I’m afraid. People will laugh at me. People won’t take me seriously.”

Let me tell you, just because you hear someone say those things don’t mean you have to believe them. The only defeat we’ll feel is from ourselves. We are our own worst enemy. Once we understand that, once we see that, everything else will fall into place. I’m of the belief everyone, no matter how small or how weak, is capable of great things—incredible things that will astound those around them making others take note and say, “I want to be like that guy. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what he’s got, but I want to be like that guy.”

I challenge my readership today to take that one step that will make the difference. Take that shot to a life filled with challenges, opportunity and hope. Tear apart the bondage that renders you desperate. Throw away the shackles that bind you. Nothing in this world can say you can’t. You can say you can’t. Don’t. I know what it feels like to hear the words “I’m a failure.” I know what it feels like to think I’m no good. I’ve been there. It’s not pretty.

But I say, picture your dream and go after it. If someone tells you you can’t. Tell them, watch me. If you hear that voice in the back of your head telling you you can’t. Tell it, watch me. Then, do it. Every minute lost on a worry is a minute given to failure. You don’t want to fail, do you?

Now go out there and win. Always believe, “Today’s going to be the best day of my life.”

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What motivates you?

Claire Colburn

“There’s a difference between a failure and a fiasco. A failure is merely the absence of success. Any fool can achieve failure. But a fiasco. A fiasco is a disaster of epic proportions. A fiasco is a folk tale told to others to make other people feel more alive because it didn’t happen to them.”

Kirsten Dunst is Claire Colburn

Kirsten Dunst is Claire Colburn

I wish I could take credit for that quote for Women Who Wow Wednesday, but it belongs to the main protagonist in the movie Elizabethtown, Drew Baylor played by Orlando Bloom, who recently bungled a design for a major shoe manufacturer. His fiasco obliterated the corporation’s bottom line to the tune of $970 Million. We might as well round it up to $1 Billion. Them there’s a lot of shoes. Even the company’s CEO couldn’t keep a straight face when he uttered the $1 Billion figure.

We next find Drew in his apartment on a stabbing contraption he built out of a stationary bicycle and a knife. Just as he was about to press the button to end his miserable life, the duct tape holding the weapon loses its stick. Drew is a failure even attempting to kill himself. That’s when his sister calls. His father died. He’s needed home in Kentucky.

On the plane, he meets flight attendant, the ever-serendipitous Claire Colburn played by Kirsten Dunst. Whatever depression Drew may have felt prior to meeting Claire disappears. Well, not so much because of her infectious positive outlook. On the contrary, his dark mood fades only replaced by his annoyance at her cheery disposition. Not one to fuss, she learns of Drew’s father’s name, “Ah, so you’re a son of a Mitch. Never met a Mitch I didn’t like. Fun, full of life. Like, everyone wants to be a part of Mitch’s club.”

After they leave the plane, she reminds Drew not to miss the 60B turnoff. Of course, he misses it. But once in Kentucky, he settles into his new digs at a hotel featuring a wedding party for the weekend. Alone in his room, he calls his sister and a handful of other people, including Claire. No one returns his calls. His anxiety returns, and some time later his cell phone rings. It’s Claire.

Kirsten Dunst as Claire Colburn

Kirsten Dunst as Claire Colburn

They make small talk for a while. As night approaches, Drew realizes there’s more to Claire than what he had first thought of her on the plane. Seems she says all the things he’s had on his mind his entire life. Their cell phone chat continues throughout the night into the next morning when they meet by the side of the road. She immediately has an idea, and leads him to sit on a stone wall overlooking a beautiful countryside to watch the sunrise.

What is it about Claire that Drew sees? Huh, it’s not that hard to figure out. Claire doesn’t allow life to beat her. Hope is in her soul and in her mind. A joy surrounds her few people possess. Whatever life throws her way, she keeps moving forward. This is what she says to Drew when he lingers on thoughts of his failure:

“So you failed. All right, you really failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You think I care about that? I do understand. You wanna be really great? Then have the courage to fail big and stick around. Make them wonder why you’re still smiling.

Her brand of optimism spills into every fiber of her being.

This is what she says about problems:

“I’ve spent so much time thinking about all the answers to the problem that I forget what the problem actually was.”

This is her take on sadness:

“Sadness is easier because it’s surrender. I say make time to dance alone with one hand waving free.”

Finally, about her mindset:

“And so we all became helpers, which I so can’t help. I can’t help helping.”

Beautiful Claire. Pure of heart. Filled with life. She doesn’t sport a gun. She doesn’t kill zombies. But who wouldn’t want a friend like Claire? Always anticipating. Always wishing. Her heart’s in the right place, and that’s all that matters.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Have you seen Elizabethtown? What did you think of Claire?

Stream of Consciousness II

I wrote my first stream of consciousness post with no planning other than randomly choosing the Rocky quote I had used as a springboard for ideas. Today, for my Freedom Friday series, I’d like to try my hand on an additional post armed with nothing but a quote and no idea what will come out.

Again, to reiterate a couple of things from my first post, I write about zombies. It doesn’t mean I am a zombie nor does it mean I’m obsessed with death, although in the movie I’d taken the quote from, the main protagonist is. I enjoy life and living as abundant as I can without interfering with other people’s happiness. It sounds insane but it’s true. Also, the way stream of consciousness works is whatever comes to mind is what stays on the page. No editing. It’s a snapshot of my brain.

Now, I’ve been meaning to use this quote for a while. The opportunity, though, has never presented itself. It’s from the 1971 movie Harold and Maude about the relationship between a teenage boy obsessed with death and a septuagenarian woman living life to the fullest.

Anyway, I don’t want to say anymore. Here is the quote:

Harold and Maude

Harold and Maude

“A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really. They’re just backing away from life. Reach out. Take a chance. Get hurt, even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E. L-I-V-E. LIVE! Otherwise, you got nothing to talk about in the locker room.”

—Ruth Gordon as Maude in Harold and Maude

Big breath. Here we go:

Lions roar not to defend their territory or because they’re hungry, but to say, “I’m alive!” Their heart beats. Their hide is warm. Every single cell at their disposal goes into that roar. “I’m alive!”

We live each day thinking we have all the time in the world, not realizing that one day we’ll be gone. Our grievances hold us back. Our doubts shroud us in darkness. Yet, it’s never too late to press onward and upward.

I’ve failed. So what, everyone’s failed. I’m afraid. So what, everyone’s afraid. I can’t. Everyone can.

Whatever is holding us back, we have to let it go. If we don’t, we’ll die—eaten away by our own miserable wants.

No one ever said life was easy. It’s not. Life is hard. Life is disappointing. We could have all the money and success in the world, yet without happiness it’s all for naught. If someone says to us they’re happy because of such-and-such or so-and-so, don’t believe them. They are lying. Happiness does not come from without, but from within. Success is a byproduct of happiness.

Glory comes to those who don’t look for it. Beauty surrounds those who are the outcasts. Joy lives in those who have dedicated their lives to the weak.

Allow your words to travel as a whirlwind into the ears of the deaf. As lightening cracks, so let your life shine to those in darkness. As thunder rumbles, move others to action. Live each day with conviction, giving life to those who are dead in spirit. Let the earth shake beneath your feet causing others to stir from their seats.

Roar like a lion. “I’m alive!”

Did my stream of consciousness session make any sense? Should I think about preparing a number III?

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