Are Your People Healthy?

One of the biggest keys to health are the people in your life.  Those people will make or break the healthy habits you’re trying to create.  And even if they don’t purposely try to hinder you in creating those habits, they can inadvertently do things that will make it harder for you.  Let’s say you’re all going out to eat.  No, they don’t have to pick a restaurant everyone can eat at when you all go out, although it’s the polite thing to do, but with the way that we typically rotate who has the final say or who comes up with ideas so that we’re not completely bored and going to the same places all the time, it’s likely that someone will be unhappy or not thrilled with the selection each time.  If we’re truly considerate people, if we truly care about the people that we’re with, we will make a real effort to compromise.

The person you choose to be your romantic partner is usually more influential than your friends, coworkers and other acquaintances. So getting into a committed relationship with someone that you don’t think has good habits, isn’t considerate of your needs, doesn’t prioritize alone time for you two, doesn’t make you happy, and you don’t enjoy making them happy, is probably not a good idea. I’m not necessarily talking about finding THE right person, as in there’s only one right person for each of us, but I am talking about finding someone that respects and supports you, your needs and desires and you can respect and support them and theirs.

A toxic relationship of any kind can have long lasting damage on you, your health and your life.  It can take years to get over the physical or psychological damage that has been done to you or happened as a result of the relationship, and not all of it is their fault.  My intention with writing this post isn’t to scare you that all your relationships are bad and you should only be friends with certain kinds of people (after all we all have a couple of bad days).  Instead I encourage you to be and work on becoming the person that it’s worth being in a relationship with.  Don’t be the person that others regret hanging out with or avoid.  It’s not about being the center of attention or the person that everyone wants to be.  It’s about knowing that you did the best you could with your life, you treated others right and because you made choices that you felt supported you, you can someday die happy.

Are you Faithful?

This month one of the topics we’ve talked about is faith, and as we wrap up this month today I wanted to talk about being faithful.  Are you a faithful person?  Are you faithful to the decisions you’ve made and people who you’ve chosen to let into your life? Do you have faith in other people?  Are you faithful to yourself and your needs, dreams and desires? Do you follow through on the commitments you’ve made?  Can people trust you? Do you trust yourself?

I know these are some challenging questions, and those we may not like to ask very often.  We don’t like to believe or discover that we’re not the person we should be, the person we think we are or the person others think we are.  It’s not exciting to most of us to discover that we’ve got work to do on ourselves and the areas we’re lacking in.  But faith and faithfulness are qualities that people look for in each other, and the reward of taking the time to do the work is usually better than we could imagine.

With summer comes lots of opportunities to be with family and friends.   Family and friends are the people typically who know us the best and who we put the most faith in, and the people who have the most faith in us.  Yes, sometimes your faith will be misplaced and you’ll need to reevaluate, but most of us don’t get into relationships or have kids (or make career choices) without having faith, or at the very least hope, in how things will turn out.

So as you spend time with others this summer I encourage you to step up and be the person that your friends and family have placed their faith in.  Be the supportive friend they need, be the guide they need, be the leader they need, be the disciplinarian they need, and/or be the comforting shoulder they need.  But don’t forget about being faithful to yourself and your needs and desires too.  Carve out some time each week, or even each day if possible to be faithful to who you are and want to be.

Together for Christmas

I hope you’re as excited about the upcoming holidays as I am!  As we consider Christmas in a few weeks, this celebration of life, love, family, and so much more, you’ll be hearing a lot about the stories of Christmas, the messages of Christmas, why you should give, and why it’s a special time of year.  There are many good answers to those topics, but one of my favorites is said well by Taylor Caldwell:

“This is the message of Christmas:  We are never alone.” 

Yes, it’s simple, but it’s the truth.  No matter what story you’re looking at, it all comes down to the fact that we’re all here together.  There was Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, Wisemen and more.  There was Santa or St. Nick delivering gifts to many.  There’s Charlie Brown putting on a play with his friends and decorating the tree.  There’s a Christmas Carol where Scrooge learns that merry and kindness are the right things to do.  Those are just a few of the stories that are watched, told and remembered at this time, and all have to do with the fact that no one is alone and no one can live their life without impacting someone else.

This weekend and in the weeks upcoming as you go about your life it will be easy to remember that you’re not alone: there will be all the mall traffic, emails from stores, holiday cards coming in the mail and family and friends calling up to say hi and meeting to share gifts.  Know that in these moments it’s not an exercise in frustration or annoying holiday sweaters, but an opportunity to be reminded that you’re here to help others and they’re here to help you.  You don’t have to go through anything alone in life, nor can you abdicate the responsibilities you have towards your fellow man.  Let’s celebrate together.

Social Health

Social is a word that’s used regularly in our culture thanks to the daily use of social media for most of us. Social media, starting way back when with MySpace and now with dozens of sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube, has made our world seem a whole lot smaller than it used to be. It’s made it possible for us to have much healthier long distance relationships, stay connected with family members no matter where they are in the world, and network around the world rather than just as far as we are willing to drive to.

Personally I’m both for and against the concept of social media. I love how it has connected us, I love how we’re able to share easily with friends, family and fans, I love that it encourages us to be social, I love how it encourages us to be open and honest about our lives and our businesses, and I love the power it’s given us to sharing about important causes and needs. However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. We can go overboard with sharing, including details that people don’t really need to know because they’re too personal or they’re not really important. Many of us have yet to find the balance between the gift of social media and the curse or addiction.

What is social media really about though? It’s a reminder that we’re not alone in the world, we don’t have to bear our burdens alone and that life is better when we’re together. Generally social people are healthier and happier, it’s when it becomes a competition or insatiable impulse that things begin to spiral down.

So what’s the verdict on social media and living in a social culture? It’s an essential part of our lives if we want to be healthy and thrive, but even the most social of us need to make time to be alone too. I encourage you to make time for both this week!

A Strong and Supportive Relationship

It’s not easy to make a relationship work.  Any time you have more than one person involved there’s bound to be some disagreement, fighting, miscommunication and disappointment.  One thing I think makes a big difference is having multiple points of connection.  In other words, if all you have keeping you and your partner together is the fact that you made a kid together, you’ll have a lot more challenges than those who have similar interests, enjoy spending time together, like similar foods, enjoy similar movies, have kids and both like to travel.  There will always be differences because you’re two different people, but if you have a strong and large foundation to work with you’ll have a better shot at success.

I’m always amazed by the stories of people who say they met and knew the other person was ‘the one’ instantly.  I mean if this was a perfect world where no one had ex’s, trouble at work, health issues or financial worries it would be more believable, but in this day and age it seems almost like a fairy tale rather than reality. But with as many people are as in the world it seems more likely than ever that we would be able to find our ‘one,’ which is good news. However, sometimes we’re not ready for something that permanent.  And sometimes we discover that the person we thought we were with isn’t who they really are, even after knowing them for years.

So what’s a person to do?  I say start with friendships.  Have friends, meet new people, get out and live life, don’t jump in too quickly but don’t be afraid to make a decision, try to work things out when they get difficult but don’t stay with someone who is abusive, don’t assume that there’s someone better out there just because you’re afraid of doing the work it takes to make a relationship work, and don’t avoid relationships because you’re worried it won’t work out.

“Experts on romance say for a happy marriage there has to be more than a passionate love. For a lasting union, they insist, there must be a genuine liking for each other. Which, in my book, is a good definition for friendship.”
Marilyn Monroe

Memories of Summer

Over the past week and a half we’ve talked a lot about memories, and this month we’ve talked about family a lot too. When I think about family there are two things that most often come to mind: holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Halloween, and summer, because that’s when we spend the most time with our families. As we’re approaching another summer and wrapping up this month’s discussion on family I thought we should talk about the value of those memories.

First though let’s address the obvious: not all memories are good. I’ve got some memories of some Christmases with illnesses (it’s no fun spending holidays alone with a bucket), and not all family is awesome. Every family has issues, some more than others, since no one is perfect and everyone has their moments of failure and issues. So if that’s the norm rather than the occasional, you’ve got lots of catching up to do to the rest of us who do have good memories. As we’ve said before, if that’s you make your own family; a family of the heart not the blood.

Memories really are gifts though, with my grandmother sinking into worse Alzheimers and not able to be part of our lives in the way we would like, all that is left are the memories. It helps to remember the special times we had as a family years ago and the special place she had in my life when the days are not so good with her health.

But as much as memories are of the past, they’re also a big part of the future. Those memories have encouraged me to spend more time with family and friends, to talk about the past and to add traditions like baking cookies, hanging stockings, visiting the beach and being there for grandchildren if I ever have any. Memories are what you make of them, what do you make of your memories?

“My first outdoor cooking memories are full of erratic British summers, Dad swearing at a barbecue that he couldn’t put together, and eventually eating charred sausages, feeling brilliant.” Jamie Oliver

There’s Life After Graduation

Another year of college has wrapped up for many students, and another year of graduates joins the workforce full time. I’ve read lots of great advice for these new graduates already this year and I’m thankful that so many people are embracing and encouraging them rather than ignoring them and discrediting their ability to make a great contribution to the world. So if you’re a new graduate or you feel like you’re graduating the place you’ve reached in life, my advice for you is simple: don’t forget to enjoy life.

First and most obvious what comes to mind for people is partying and being with friends when you hear that advice, and that’s definitely part of it. It’s important to give yourself a break from the stress and responsibility of work and life and just have fun and hang out. These relationships that you develop and nurture every time you hang out are important for creating a support system you can depend on when life presents you with changes and challenges, which it will.

The second thing to remember is that you don’t know when your life will end, so enjoying life is about making the most of your life too. Whether you get a disease or get killed in a freak car accident death could come at any time. That’s not a reason to live irresponsibly and only party, but to make sure that you’re in a job and hanging out with people you care about and would put your life on the line for more often than not.

Finally, yes, enjoy achieving success. Maybe success for you is being a stay-at-home-dad, maybe it’s running an internet company, maybe it’s running a restaurant, and maybe that’s just what makes you happy right now. The economy has changed so that most of us will not stay with the same career for our entire lives, unlike just a few decades ago. Now, most of us will change jobs several times. Take advantage of that and move when you’re miserable and the passion disappears after being with a company for a few years, or if you like your company approach them with ways that will make you enjoy your job again (and I’m not just talking money).

Life is too short to be spent being miserable, choose to be happy.

“If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time.” Billy Joel

Family Choices

Life is all about choices. This month we’ll be talking about one of the biggest choices we make on a daily basis: our families. We’ll talk about some of the typical family topics like fun and kids, but we’ll also be taking time this month to talk about the deeper family challenges and choices too. I do believe that we each have 2 families we can be part of, we can be part of just one or both. Yes, I’m talking about biological families and families by choice. When we get married or become family close with people those are families by choice. Biological families are the ones that can be the most challenging, and those that we often choose to separate from.

But the choice isn’t just which type of family we’re part of, it’s also how much of a priority family is to us. We each have choices in how we spend our time and resources each day, and we typically think about family and money/career/success most. But a priority is actually what we spend most of our time, resources and effort on each day, not just what we think it should be or say it is. For most of us, family isn’t the priority we say it is. I’ve made a point throughout my relationship with my partner to really prioritize us time, because we do truly matter to me.

It’s not always easy to make family the priority we want it to be, it takes a lot of hard choices and sacrifices. But I believe it’s worth it, especially when your family members are giving as much as you are to the family. I encourage you this week to take time to figure out what your true priorities are.

“I don’t want to make that sound like I’m preaching from a mountain top when I say you have to give your family everything, because I know it’s hard for people. I’m lucky to be in a position where you can establish those ground rules and make it that way.” Tim McGraw

Why You Might Really Hate Change

I talk about change a lot because it’s absolutely essential to our continued success.  Not everything changes all of the time, but there comes a time that something will change that will impact your business if you don’t prepare for it with changes or change in response to it.  But many of us struggle with change, simply because we like things how they are or aren’t interested in doing the work that’s necessary if we do decide to change.  Because it’s something that so many of us struggle with I spend a lot of time each week reading and thinking about how to better help us deal with it when it happens.  So this week in my readings I found a statement that totally blew me away because it’s so true and yet says something really ridiculous about us.

“People aren’t opposed to change nearly as much as they are opposed to change they didn’t think of.” Carey Nieuwhof

Yep, that makes us sound really bad.  How immature are we if we only like change because we thought of it? How huge is your ego to think that you’re the only one with any good ideas?  But ultimately it comes back to us being unwilling to recognize how essential to our lives, health, success and finances it is to be willing to trust others and work with them rather than against them.

What if I told you that there was one thing that you needed to do and if you did it it would bring you all the success you wanted?  You probably know where I’m going with this, it’s simply to learn to be a better partner in this great world we live in.  If we learned how to work together we would all end up with more of what we want and need, and less of what we don’t want.

When we all bring our personal strengths to the table, when we all contribute and discuss ideas, when we all take part in making things happen, we have the potential to change the world in amazing ways that have not yet been conceived of because we have not yet been willing to accept the brilliance of others.

This week I encourage you to do some evaluating.  We’re getting into the busiest time of the year for many businesses so now is the last chance you have to set yourself up for success and making a lasting impression on the customers that visit you in the next 3 months.  Don’t dismiss an idea just because it came from a stockist, secretary, intern or customer, instead consider what they’re actually trying to tell you, and the ways they’re trying to help you be more successful.

Putting the Puzzle Together

We’ve reached another school season, another year of making new friends, playing with old ones and growing older and hopefully smarter.  There are lots of challenges kids face as they go back to school and work through another year, one of the biggest is the other students they meet.  Most parents like to believe that their kid is perfect and amazing and has very few faults.  But just as we know how unique the other adults in our lives are, the same is true for kids: they know they’re each different and those differences can be seen as threats or weaknesses depending on the child and the group they’re with.  What would be seen as a weakness by one group is seen as a strength by another group.  The teachers they interact with also play a role: the differences that make them unique and could give them a solid future will be supported, discouraged or ignored depending on the teacher.  Just because a kid is different doesn’t mean they’re any less valuable or special.  But it can be hard to teach that to kids, especially if we’re not living that way.

I’m not a big competition person.  I don’t like to sit and talk about how much more I made this year than you or how many clients I have or how much more awesome I am at this or that.  I don’t like to compare myself to others because I know I’m unique and special and there is no one else I can really compare to other than myself.  I know this isn’t true for everyone, lots of people thrive on competition, hence all the sports and reality shows on TV and around the world. I can appreciate that.  What I can’t appreciate is a lack of respect for other people or those that don’t engage in competition and hardballing.  The only thing that I believe should bring about a lack of respect is abuse or violence.

I’d much rather work together in our different ways to make the world a better place.  I love the world that we have but know that there is a lot that we could be doing to treat ourselves and our world better like recycling, not being wasteful, exercising and loving more.   My encouragement to you this week would be to see how you can fit your piece of the puzzle with someone else’s and make it work even though you’re different.

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
Albert Camus