Over the next couple of weeks, I will be identifying the top 5 investments you should be making in yourself to achieve a more solid foundation of love and confidence.
The other day, I was getting ready for work and wasn't exactly thrilled with the way my body looked. Then it dawned on me....I was slumped over.
Not from fatigue necessarily, but from stress, day to day dealings, worrying about the future, and ok yes, some fatigue.
In simply pulling my shoulders back and lifting my head, I looked different, more confident. I felt better about myself and how the world would be viewing me, but more importantly, how I'd be viewing myself.
I truly didn't realize how much I had let my mind and my emotions drop weight on my shoulders. It's as if I had just sat in a chair and let someone continually put weights on either side until I ultimately had to lean forward to bear the stress of it all.
The re-establishment of posture, the focusing on the inner strength of your gut/core to support your body and your soul, the open chested stance that projects strength and confidence; this is how we should all start the day.
Check yourself in the mirror. First thing in the morning, throughout the day and last thing at night. If you're slouched, remind yourself that you're strong enough to carry anything. You were built that way.
Now, get out there and take on the world.
Those that know me know that Fall is absolutely my favorite season. The brisk air, football, the smell of fireplaces and the pending holidays that are so family focused.
The other thing I love about Fall is the change that you see all around you.
Not in a morbid way because I'm celebrating the fact that plants are wilting away and leaves are falling all around, but more so in the visual metaphor for change; just as Spring shows the rebirth and growth.
It's in this metaphor that I connect it to the inventory of life I usually take around this time of my life: What's good? What's working? What does my snapshot of happiness look like?
Most importantly: What's holding me back from bliss?
Be it people, work, day to day routine, self doubts or whatever the factor may be, it's time to take note of those things that are holding you back.
Take the time to sit quietly and take inventory. You MUST be honest with yourself. Take me for example: my self doubt in the creative space has literally caused me to delay a couple of projects this year to the point where they haven't come to fruition....simply because I've talked myself out of them.
That's an inventory item that's got to go.
We all deserve to be happy and live a life that is fulfilling and joyous, but we're the only ones that can determine that. Your choices, good or bad, influence the end game and you owe it to yourself to be in the best position possible for happiness.
Time to get out the rake and lawn bag and get rid of those things that need to go and plant the seeds that need to live on.
“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it." - Simon Sinek
A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to meet the author of a transformational book called Start With Why. Simon Sinek was a very unassuming, down to earth nice guy who was on fire. He took the one thing that we should all be doing but most times forget to do: have a "Why" and act on it.
It comes back to the core of why you do what you do. It got me thinking about the path I had started to take at the time to create positive messages and posts. To hopefully inspire, lift and celebrate those who were fighting, struggling and praying for something good to grasp onto.
As this journey has taken shape (and who knows where it'll go) it's always came back to wanting to be that spark in someone's day to help push them over that hump and get back on the right track. I was getting amazing feedback, I built my pages and started to really feel engaged in this approach.
Then I got an email from a very VERY honest friend.
"Cut the crap. You can't be positive like that ALL the time. Quit blowing sunshine."
I smiled when I read it (mostly for who it came from; I adore her, but she frightens me sometimes) but it also made me think: is that how I come off? Mr. All-Day Sunshine?
So I decided to pull back the curtain for you all. To shed a little light on the core of "My Why."
99% of the time, I need to hear the message I'm putting out there. Publicizing it holds me accountable. I can't post something positive and then spend my day acting like a sulky jackass.
I encourage because I wasn't always encouraged. I was talked down to, bullied at times. I've also seen and heard hundreds of stories of negativity and abuse. You can either use your words as support or acid.
My messages contain strong elements of confidence, never cockiness. I wasn't always confident and still struggle with it like anyone else does.
I post pictures of my running and workouts a lot. Not for vanity's sake, but more to show that anyone can do it. Anyone who knows me knows I lost over 100 lbs and have kept it off for over 15 years now. Most of the time you see a picture of me doing it, you didn't see me groaning about getting started. I just put one foot in front of the other and kept myself accountable. I do this in the hopes that I'm encouraging someone else to take that journey that I did. It's the most rewarding thing I've ever done for myself.
I've learned through my life that surrounding yourself with positivity always brings a great energy to your day. It's the energy suckers, the ones that will always take more than they give, that leave you drained. I've dealt with my fair share of them.
I've seen the dark of the dark, it's awful. I choose not to look in that direction anymore and by posting/owning positivity, I ensure myself of a one way ticket in the other direction.
I could go on and on, but this will give you a bit of insight into the fact that I'm not always Mr. Sunshine and things aren't always perfect.
That's why I do what I do.
I was blessed with an abundance of love, positive energy, insight, and empathy. I can't explain it, but it's been with me since I was a kid.
I would be cheating myself and would be selfish to others if I didn't share and do all I could to EnRich the days of others.
Cheers to not blowing sunshine!
So, as we are constantly surrounded by a swirl of negative news, doom and dread, it’s no wonder that people are caught up in some sort of a funk. Between that and the fact that technology has us more engaged in our devices than each other, it’s time to bring back an old school behavior.
Engage and be nice.
Now, this may seem a bit hypocritical seeing as how you’re probably reading this on a phone or your computer. I’m talking more about the day to day use of our devices which may seem like it’s connecting us more, but really is eroding our attention and takes away from what really matters: the people around us.
I found myself guilty of this. Constantly updating social statuses, checking emails, texts, etc. Technology is a very important part of my life for work, this blog and my music (shameless plug for djrichb.com) but it doesn’t need to be a constant distractor. The beauty of life is what’s in front of you. Think about someone who doesn’t have the ability to see and convince them why it’s more important to stare at a screen of words in your hand vs. the amazing scenery and people around you. Deliberately remind yourself to put your phone down and your head up. Take in the beauty around you.
Second: Be nice
It’s a simple practice that yields tremendous rewards. Think of a time that someone did something unexpected for you: held a door, paid a compliment, or simply just smiled and wished you a wonderful day. Unless you’re pulsing coal and venom through your veins, it probably made you feel special. The flipside is the feeling that the giver is getting out of it. There’s a certain delight in being able to bring a smile to someone’s face through a genuine act of kindness without desire for retribution.
The key there: without desire for retribution.
So many times, people will do nice or thoughtful things with expectation of reciprocation. Do something nice just for the simple fact that you want to do something nice. Don’t expect anything, don’t wait for a thank you. Just smile, act, and carry on. Those moments that you have someone make eye contact and smile, showing genuine appreciation, are well worth it.
Challenges issued my friends. Take the time to disconnect from the device and make it a practice, every single day, to bring positivity into as many lives around you as possible.
There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not fascinated by the power of the mind. You hear stories of personal triumph, overcoming the odds, and achieving goals. The power of the mind to pull someone through adversity is astounding and there are countless stories that you can draw from to prove that.
It’s all in what we tell ourselves everyday and how we choose to go through the day believing in ourselves.
What would you say you’re truly afraid of?
The dark? Being alone? Public speaking?
We all experience fear in our lives in some form or fashion. Whether first hand or vicariously through any kind of medium, we’ve felt our heart in our throats or the feverish heart pound that make you feel like you look like a cartoon character.
Throughout my life in talking with people trying to overcome one issue or the next, failure is always a common fear. What if I try _____ and it doesn’t work? What if it happens in my next relationship? Oh, I couldn’t possibly try to learn that.
Think about it: fear in this case guarantees failure as it derails the concept of attempt. I should know, I’ve lived it.
I learned and started adapting these steps when setting up my goals:
- What’s the ideal end game
- What’re the steps I need to take to get there (write these down!)
- What type of support or resource would help me along the way?
By identifying these in any situation (work, weight, hobby, relationships) you can develop a clearer path to where you want to be. Isn’t it more empowering to visualize looking down a clear path (with a few twists and turns no doubt) but knowing where you’re going rather than having an idea but it’s so lofty and distant that you feel like there’s a dense forest in between you?
It’s also critical to understand where you stand right here, right now. I always say it’s a lot easier to plan a trip on a map if you know exactly where you’re starting from and know exactly where you want to go.
Be honest with yourself, write down your areas of improvement, your self-created roadblocks, your weaknesses and distractions. Make a plan to rid yourself of them or come up with a plan to deal with them when they arise.
For years, I’ve been terrified of branching out and going bigger with ideas. New business concepts, writing music, even starting EnRich Your Soul. What if no one liked it? What if no one even listened or read it to like it? I couldn’t possibly imagine doing this, it’s unrealistic. There are people who are better than me at it.
All of those thoughts have gone through my head a number of times. All of them crippling any potential for effort at all. Rather than pursue what started in my mind as a great idea, I’d stop dead in my tracks and concede the dream to fear. You win fear, I won’t even try.
That was a consistent and predictable behavior of mine. Come up with a stellar idea, only to not do anything about it…..until I started seeing smaller successes.
I have historically swung for the fence with my ideas. They’d start big and through brainstorming and daydreaming, they grew into nationwide, critically acclaimed success! That heightened expectation of myself, even before the first pen was picked up, scared the hell out of me.
I’m not saying all of my ideas would’ve even worked had I tried them (although the idea of opening a restaurant on a college campus that served cereal seemed pretty destined for amazing profits) but I never DID try any of them.
We do this to ourselves with lots of things: heartbreak, new ideas at your job, bringing up a touchy topic with friends, etc. Fear is the selfish bastard at a fork in the road that shows up when you’re trying to chase your dreams telling you to just stay put before something bad happens; that neither route is the right one.
I’m here today to tell you, choosing a path, ignoring that fear, and chasing a dream is one of the most liberating and intoxicating feelings you can have. Even if it ends up failing or falling short of your expectations, wouldn't you rather say you gave it your all than not have tried at all? Do you think anyone who comes in 2nd place in any event thinks "Yeah, I shouldn't have shown up at all today." I know you can do it because I’ve been where you are right now. If I can push past my army of doubt and reasons to not, so can you.
Our next steps are this:
- Write down where you are (as a person, not your address) and where you want to go
- Identify your potential roadblocks (self-imposed or otherwise)
- Remind yourself that nothing worth attaining comes easy
- Reassure your heart every day that the path you’re on is where you truly want to be
- Start today
"You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take."
- Michael Jordan
This quote is where I start this new journey for EnRich Your Soul.
You see, all my life I’ve been a predominantly positive person. The one people go to with problems, concerns, or when they need an ear or a shoulder. I was a peer counselor in high school for 4 years; literally my only formal training to this point. I’ve just always had the desire and God given ability to help people. Whether it’s been something conversational like advice, how to get out of a rut, or just getting over the hump of negativity.
As I mentioned, a lot of the source of how I help people comes from a 2nd nature ability to have people to open up to me. I’ve been told countless times how anyone from a stranger to my best friends feel completely at ease talking with me about the most personal of details in their lives. A lot of who I am is molded from my own personal struggles: weight, depression, insecurity, and low self-esteem. I’ve seen the darkest of times in myself, only to find the strength and faith to climb out of it.
Through thousands of conversations and thousands of hours of building my own character from times of shambles, I’ve come out on the other side a strong person than I’ve ever been. I understand and respect my past, but only as teaching tools on how to approach my present and future
I’ve been asked over and over again, “Why didn’t you go into psychology/counseling? You’re so good at listening and helping people!” Truth is, at the time of deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up at 18, psychology seemed like too long of a schooling path and I didn’t have the patience at the time to go that route; something I’ve always regretted in the back of my mind. So now, I simply consider myself the best counselor that doesn’t have a wall o’ certificates. By no stretch of the imagination do I consider myself a trained professional nor would I ever consider my goal to assist people who truly need professional help. Who am I then? Well, I’m simply the most positive person you know and someone who will shoot you straight, who will be a massive cheerleader for you and a source of turning your mind around and going in the right direction.
Over the past 2 years I’ve had this page on Facebook for EnRich Your Soul. It just started as a place to post some positive words, thoughts, or memes to encourage people. I started this page after seeing various social media outlets doing similar things and at the encouragement of friends and family who wanted me to continue exercising my natural gifts of communication and help.
It’s simply remained as a basic, no frills Facebook page….until this year.
Candidly, I’ve been terrified of this day for the last year. When I heard the words, “You really should make this ‘EnRich Your Soul’ thing bigger,” from a friend, I knew they were right. It made my heart happy thinking of reaching out to as many people as possible, speaking to large groups, motivating the masses to a more positive life. Seizing the uplifting energy around me while ridding myself of the negative past that held me down so many times. Parallel to that excitement was fear. The fear that comes with truly putting yourself out there, shining the spotlight on what you believe, chasing your dream with the fervor and passion that most could only want in their daily lives.
What if I sucked? What if people didn’t buy into it? What if I never made it past a few blog posts and a video or two?
I go back to the quote and to all of the conversations I’ve ever had. It’s all about trying it. If I would have been scared of investing my time and emotion in people, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today. I’ve brought people out of depression, helped them chase their dreams, find love in themselves and have even talked a few out of ending their lives.
I have to try and make this bigger and reach more people. I was given this ability to communicate and I would be selfish in not sharing it with as many people as I can. I encourage you to do the same this year. What have you been putting off? What have you talked yourself out of? No matter if it’s singing in a karaoke bar, reconciling with a relative or starting your own business, make it happen and #starttoday!
Just know that I believe in you and I want you to believe in yourself.
So, off we go into 2015, taking shots, succeeding, failing and learning…..together.
Throughout life, we all have those moments in time where we are presented with a decision or a crossroads that we must choose a direction. What most of us lose focus on is that it's literally happening every single day. We tend to think back on the massive, life altering decisions like changing jobs or relationships and we don't think about the small decisions that we face. What words are you choosing? Do you constantly complain? Could you have let that person into traffic ahead of you?
Now, I'm not saying that we should all be sunshiny every single moment of every single day; we're not wired to behave like that. But if you look at your life and think of it in percentage buckets of chosen behavior, what would be your biggest? You're going to have moments where elements outside of your control are going to affect your mood and behavior, so why wouldn't you maximize the time that you have complete control over and use them for positive thoughts?
There are always opportunities to decide to do the right thing, to take the high road, to do what's best for you and those around you.
I hope that this blog and my overall theory on choosing your path helps you in some way. Whether it's realizing a continued pattern of behavior that isn't bringing you the best result or a one time instance where you aren't sure what to do; I'm going to do my best to give you some friendly guidance to improve your days and EnRich Your Soul.