How to Connect With Your Passion So You Can Be At You Best

By Joe Wilner

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“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” – Maya Angelou

An uninspired and passionless life can start to feel exhausting.

Without pursuing our passions, existence becomes lifeless and dull and we get stuck in a tedious rut of predictability.

That is why we all need to have inspiration and passion in our day to day life.

Think about the experience of doing what you love. How does this influence your mood, energy, and attitude?

When we engage in creative and challenging activities we feel great about ourselves and appreciate life more fully.

There is a concept called Flow, proposed by Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, which refers to a state of mind a person gets when they are fully engaged in a passionate pursuit.

When someone experiences flow there is a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.

Finding an outlet where we can experience this state of mind not only improves our well-being but also improves our performance.

This can be music, or art, or athletics or writing, or technology development, or just about anything where we are challenged and using our creative expression.

The list goes on and on but the important thing to understand is what this passionate pursuit is for you.

So, if life seems a little dull and boring, you’re probably not using your creativity and engaging in your passions.

First and foremost, you must know what you’re passionate about.

Here are some questions from the book Dream Year by Ben Arment that may be helpful to begin uncovering your deep interests and passions.

  • What were the defining moments in my life?
  • What passions or interests can I not shake?
  • What hard work would I gladly do for free?
  • What kinds of people are drawn to me?
  • What comes easily and naturally for me?
  • What were my interests and tendencies as a child?
  • What can I do for hours without getting bored or distracted?

There is certainly something inspiring that you are drawn to, and the minute to allow yourself to engage in this the more happy and fulfilled you will be.

Take a few minutes to answer the above questions. Familiarize yourself with that common thread of passion that has always been in your life.

No more living a life of boredom and monotony. Get out there and do something that excites you and elevates you emotionally and spiritually.

You will feel better and be at your best because of it!



Two Invaluable Concepts to Help You Be More Empowered

By Joe Wilner

empowered

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”― Henry Ford

There are two perspective people have on life. They either take the perspective of an “owner” or a “victim.”

The owner is accountable, confident, and resilient. The victim is helpless, powerless, and cynical.

There are probably people you know who come to mind that fit both descriptions.

Sadly, much our world is geared toward victims. Many people live as if they are at the mercy of the events and circumstances they encounter in day to day life. From the nightly news, to political propaganda, to co-workers and neighbors, we hear messages that life is a struggle and to prepare for the next problem in a “dog eat dog” world.

But when we learn how to break out of this victim mentality a world of possibility opens up.

You can create the life you desire and deserve, but it requires taking full responsibility for our reactions, behaviors, and attitude.

Here are a few ideas to help you understand how to be more empowered.

Locus of Control

What do you believe controls what happens to you?  Is it you or external circumstances? There is something called Locus of Control, and this has a big impact on our attitude and overall decision making.

“A locus of control orientation is a belief about whether the outcomes of our actions are contingent on what we do (internal control orientation) or on events outside our personal control (external control orientation).” (Zimbardo, 1985)

Internal Locus of Control 

  • Greater self-confidence
  • Will work harder to get what they want
  • Deal with challenges more effectively
  • Take responsibility for their actions

OR

External Locus of Control

  • Blame others and outside influences
  • More likely to experience learned helplessness
  • More prone to give up in the face of challenges

A feeling of control is so important to the attitude you hold. If you feel in control you will feel a sense of mastery and competence. You feel better about yourself and your circumstances.

Self-Efficacy

A second concept that is related to our level of empowerment is self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the idea of what you believe you can do with your skills under certain conditions, and your ability to coordinate skills in challenging or changing situations.

In other words, do you believe you will be successful in a particular situation or not?

Believing you can achieve something is perhaps the most important ingredient in the recipe for success.

When it comes to goal setting it’s important to approach and set goals that will build self-efficacy. Building on success prevents discouragement and improves confidence.

We need to see success occurring in our life, which means accomplishing goals and ultimately setting larger and greater goals.

There will always be things out of our control, but when it comes to day to day choices we can learn to have a more empowered attitude.

Start to recognize that you often have a choice in the way to react to what happens to you. You don’t have to feel stuck because of you circumstances. You can always take steps to create the circumstances you want.

Reference

Zimbardo, P. G. (1985). Psychology and life. Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman.



How to Connect More Deeply With Others

By Joe Wilner

love on a bench

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” ― Herman Melville

The relationships in our life make us who we are.

We are social creatures meant to intimately connect with others. We are meant to love, care for, and support others and ultimately receive this intimacy in return.

The connections we make with other may be only for a short time or for a lifetime.

Either way, it’s important to recognize that these connections can elevate our experience of life and make us a better person, and in doing so we can help others be at their best as well.

So when it comes to being at our best learning how to build these deep and meaningful relationships is of the utmost importance.

Here are a few tips to help you connect more deeply in your relationships.

1. Be vulnerable

It can be freighting to show our vulnerabilities. We don’t want people to know we are insecure or uncertain, or that we don’t have it all figured out.

Veiling our vulnerabilities is actually a barrier to having a deep and meaningful relationship. When put on our hypothetical armor or mask to hide our insecurities and fears we aren’t authentically connecting with others.

Come to terms with what you don’t what people to know. Be willing to share when you’re afraid or hurt. This doesn’t make you weak. Doing so is actually an act of courage. Hiding behind a false self is what is weak.

2. Share your deep desires

I love talking with people about their dreams and desires. It moves conversations away from the superficial and takes them to the supernatural! We all have dreams and wishes and when we share these with others it opens up a door to greater possibilities.

When I talk to people about what really matters it is exciting and inspiring! Talk about what really matters to you. Be willing to share what inspires you, instead of what you think other people want to hear.

3. Learn to serve

When it comes to building relationships it’s easy to focus on what we have to gain. If you want to connect more deeply focus first on how you can help or serve the other person. Be willing to really listen to them and uncover what they want from life.

When we focus on serving others it is a win/win. Just as Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Next time you want to connect deeper ask, “How can I help you? How can I support you?”

4. Be accountable

The last tip for connecting more deeply is about take 100% responsibility for your role in a relationship. We all have certain responsibilities in a relationship and making these clear and owning them sends a powerful message.

Do your part to make the relationship flourish and if you make a mistake own up to it. With some relationships we have more responsibility than others, but either way we must be accountable for what our role and responsibility is.

Connect more deeply with others today. Practice being at your best and help others do the same.



6 Bad Habits that Will Drain Your Energy

By Joe Wilner

feeling tired

“The higher your energy level, the more efficient your body. The more efficient your body, the better you feel and the more you will use your talent to produce outstanding results.” - Anthony Robbins

I am a little under the weather right now.

It’s not hugging the porcelain God or anything. I just have congestion and a head cold.

The point of me telling you this isn’t to whine and complain.

Being sick just makes me realize how important our health and habits are when it comes to being at our best.

Since I’m sick I am more drained of energy and lack the focus I usually have.

It’s hard to be at our best when we don’t feel healthy and are drained of energy.

So I thought it would be helpful to explore 6 habits to avoid, (such as being sick), to help you stay energized and at your best.

You don’t drink enough water

Dehydration takes a toll on energy levels. Many people don’t drink enough water (myself included). I know it’s easy to choose a cup of coffee when I feel tired instead of drinking more water.

When I already don’t drink enough water, all coffee does is dehydrate me even more. I make sure to drink a glass of water when I wake up in the morning and choose water instead of soda for my meals. Make it a goal to drink more water.

You have too much on your plate

How often do you connect being tired with having too much to do? One of most common reasons that people feel drained and exhausted is that they have too much to do and too little time. Many people take on more than they can handle.

Learn to say no and create a little gap in your day. If you want more energy you need time for stillness and solitude.

“Don’t mistake activity with achievement.” ― John Wooden

You’re a clutter bug

Another side effect of having too much to do, and feeling tired because of it, is not keeping our surroundings organized and clean. It’s natural that when we get busy life will get a little cluttered, but ultimately this only makes life more stressful.

We all need to make time here and there to “clear some disk space.” This means get rid of things we don’t need and trying to simplify our life.

You never take a break

Mr. Workaholic I know it’s tough to take a break, I have been there before, but it’s for your own good. I used to think that if I took a break from working on my business that I would get behind and miss important opportunities.

I didn’t realize that never taking or break was actually inhibiting my creativity and efficiency. I never gave myself a chance to unwind and gain clarity. Make time to take a few small breaks throughout your day. Or even better plan a vacation and take a big break!

You have toxic relationships

Avoid all energy vampires! When it comes to managing energy be aware of the people you surround yourself with. People can either help us stay upbeat and focused or they can add negativity and damper the mood.

Negativity can be very draining and emotionally taxing. Avoid people who are always needing something from you or demanding your time. Make it a point to spend time with people that “fill you up” emotionally, instead of people who sap your energy.

You don’t get enough sleep

If there is one habit I religiously follow it is getting enough sleep. For me this is about 8 hours per night. I know some people believe that less sleep gives them more time in the day, but if you’re like me you won’t function as well when sleep deprived.

The MLB playoffs have been getting in the way of my sleep over the past month. I enjoy watching them and am making the choice to do so, but it is a guilty pleasure I don’t always have to battle with. What prevents you from getting enough sleep?

Choose to be more disciplined in your life. It may just be a small shift, like drinking one more glass of water, or watching one less TV show before going to bed.

“Life begets life. Energy creates energy.It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” - Sarah Bernhardt



Why Meditation is an Essential Habit to Be at Your Best

By Joe Wilner

meditator

“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.” – Deepak Chopra

It is becoming more and more clear that meditation is a healthy and valuable habit to cultivate.

There is an immense amount of research supporting the positive impact meditation has on mental and physical health.

Just Google search “health benefits of meditation” and you’ll get over 87,000 scholarly articles that you can peruse to learn more.

Unfortunately many people still find meditation off-putting and don’t fully understand what it is. There are many myths about meditation that inhibit people from taking the steps to start practicing it.

Check out “this article” from my blog Shake off the Grind for a list of these myths.

Once you get over the myths about why you can’t or shouldn’t meditate however, you might be interested in how meditation can enhance your life.

So, here are a few reasons why you should start meditating.

Meditation reduces stress

The National Institute of Health has written, “It is thought that some types of meditation might work by reducing activity in the sympathetic nervous system and increasing activity in the parasympathetic nervous system.” Essentially meditation calms our body and reduces the stress response.

This has many benefits including: reduction of high blood pressure, –reduction of high cholesterol levels, slowing down of the aging process, and improved immune functioning. Less stress equals better mental and physical health.

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” – Buddha

Meditation can make you happier

Meditation not only decreases anxiety, stress, and depression but also enhances our emotional well-being. In researcher Richard Davidson’s lab at the University of Wisconsin Madison, students who contemplated on “compassion” significantly raised the energy level in the left frontal lobe, which is associated with positive emotions.

Through meditating they began rewiring their brain for greater well-being. When you meditate you can cultivate positive emotions like compassion and gratitude and ultimately strengthen the neural connections in your brain that are associated with these emotions.

Meditation can enhance your spirituality

“I deepen my experience of God through prayer, meditation, and forgiveness.” - Marianne Williamson 

Meditation doesn’t have to be associated with any religion or spiritual framework, but if you want to deepen your spirituality meditation can be a wonderful practice. –

Meditation enables us to investigate the nature of reality non-conceptually through direct experience. We experience what it’s like to be present and shift our focus from external to internal. It allows us to know ourselves outside of any external identification, and helps us learn to surrender instead of clinging to impermanent world around us.

Thus meditating you will no longer strive to build yourself up in your prejudices, but, forgetting self, you will remember only that you are seeking the Truth.” – James Allen

These are just three ways meditation can improve your life.

As you practice meditating you will begin to transfer the benefits from the “cushion” to your day to day life, and this is of course where the benefits really matter.

 



How to Celebrate More of Life’s Victories, Big and Small

By Joe Wilner

 

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“If I stay healthy, I have a chance to collect three thousand hits and one thousand errors.” – George Brett, Kansas City Royals

I’m not sure if you’re a baseball fan, but in case you didn’t know, the MLB playoffs are taking place right now.

Even more important is that it has been a very historic year for my home town Kansas City Royals!

This is their first appearance in the playoffs in 29 years! (I was literally 1 year old the last time they advanced so wasn’t able to bask in the glory back in 1985.)

The Royals haven’t given people much to celebrate in the past few decades, but this year the team and fans are making the most of it!

The point of this post isn’t really about the Royals though, but is instead about how important it is to celebrate victories and not take them for granted.

This doesn’t have to be the up all night, champagne popping type of celebration the Royals and KC fans have been partaking in.

We can also learn to celebrate are daily victories. All of the little experiences we have or thing we do that we usually take for granted.

When it comes to being at your best it is crucial to give yourself praise and reward for the success you have, big and small.

So here are a few ways to celebrate in your life more often. Hey why not, it’s fun!

Remember past victories and success

We all have ups and downs through life, but no matter how many down moments you’ve experienced there have still been many successes along the way. Look back over all the triumphs and victories you have experienced. Have you really celebrated and given yourself due credit?

Take a moment to list your greatest achievements and happy memories. Now go out there and have a celebration to remind yourself of where you have been and where you’re headed!

Make a list of what you appreciate about your day

Every day will provide us with many opportunities to be grateful. As you go through your day, take note of the things you enjoy and appreciate.

As you come to the end of your day, sit down and make a list of what you are grateful for. This may be a great conversation you had, an experience you enjoyed, an opportunity you encountered, or simply some delicious food you ate.

Give yourself a chance to cultivate gratitude and celebrate the little things you usually take for granted.

Focus on what went right, not just what went wrong

I know that some days will be easier to celebrate than others, but that doesn’t mean you are off the hook with celebrating! As long as you did your best you can celebrate a day well lived.

Even with the mistakes you made and misfortune you received you can be proud that you didn’t give up. Focus on what you can learn and how you can get better. Never give up and always do your best! What seems like a loss may end up as a victory!

The Royal’s season hasn’t been without mistakes, mishaps, and disappointment. But in the end there has been a lot more to celebrate than criticize!

Good luck Royals! Let’s keep celebrating!



How to Start Bridging the Gap Between Where You Are and Where You Want to Be

By Joe Wilner

bridge

“The biggest emotion in creation is the bridge to optimism.” - Brian May

Sometimes we get so caught up in problems that we lose of a better future.

Instead of envisioning a future with happiness, health, and success, we become pessimistic and lose hope.

We stop striving to improve ourselves and our situation because we don’t notice a clear solution.

When clients I work with are in this predicament, I often use what is know as the “miracle question” to help them look for new possibilities and start taking action.

Many times people don’t realize what they want. They don’t have a clear vision for how they want their life to be, or they just know they don’t like the direction it’s currently headed.

We need to have some direction in order to create what we want.

We don’t need a 100% strategic plan, but we at least need the big picture.

Unfortunately there is no magic pill that can fix all of our problems, but we can start to build our optimism and create a more inspiring present and future.

So, here is the miracle question.

“Suppose tonight, while you slept, a miracle occurred. When you awake tomorrow, what would be some of the things you would notice that would tell you life had suddenly gotten better?”

In other words, if all of sudden your life was working really well for you, how would you know?

How would you be acting, feeling, thinking, and communicating?

When we really pinpoint what we want it helps us shift our focus from problems to possibilities.

The possibility that things can get better!

Instead of feeling stuck and hindered by the obstacles and challenges we are facing, we can instead start to notice how we can actually elicit change.

We can certainly create a better life for ourselves but it takes a belief that things can get better.

It takes actually envisioning a brighter and more fulfilling future.

What is one small step to help you create the life you desire?

What are you already doing that is working for you?

Bridging the gap between your current reality and your ideal life starts with taking action. We must be willing to practice and take steps toward what we want.

“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done before.” ― Thomas Jefferson



How to Respond to Failure When Giving Up Is a Bad Idea

By Joe Wilner

never give up

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston Churchill

Failure is inevitable, we all know that.

Mistakes are a completely normal and natural part of learning and getting better.

However, even though we know failure is a part of life, we don’t want to fail. We don’t like it and we give it a negative connotation.

How do you respond to failure? What feelings and actions comes to mind for you?

Anger, disappointment, depression?

For many people failure equals giving up and reaching the end of the road.

They make the assumption that failure means they “can’t” do it.

But think about it, why do people fail?

Do they really fail because they aren’t capable of succeeding?

No! Most failure is a normal part of working toward success.

But since people perceive failure so negatively, they give up before they have a chance to succeed.

They have a fixed mindset that they are supposed to be an great immediately!

But we can all get better and learn from mistakes. Giving up is only one option!

To shift your view of why people fail here are three main reasons why failure happens:

  • Lack of skill
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of resources

Fortunately there are solutions for each of these.

Once you identify the reason that you failed consider these solutions before giving up.

Lack of skill

Okay so you’re not great at something, or you don’t totally know what you’re doing. This isn’t the end of the world. We all can learn and improve our skills.

Solution = Practice, practice, practice. Build your skill set. No professional athlete or musician or entrepreneur got to the level they’re at without tons of practice. Skills can be built and need to be refined. If you don’t have the skills you need, start learning them!

Lack of motivation

Are you putting in 100% effort? No! Well this just might be the reason you aren’t getting the outcome you desire?

Solution = Work harder and put in more effort. Many people don’t realize that their failure is due to minimal effort.

If I asked you to rate how much effort you put into to a recent failure on a scale from 1 – 10, with 10 being the most, where would you rate yourself? No great accomplish or results will come without motivation and desire.

Lack of resources

Not everyone has the same opportunities offered to them, but this doesn’t mean we can’t create opportunities for ourselves. Just because you don’t have the resources you need right now, doesn’t mean you can’t obtain them.

Solution = Don’t let your circumstances hold you back. You can obtain whatever you need. Set clear goals related to the outcome you want. Find people who can help you. Think creatively about how to get what you need.

All three of these ideas go hand in hand. It comes to down to having the proper mindset and skillset, and using these both in tandem.

Build a positive attitude and stay focused on the results you want. Keep honing and developing your skills and realize that just because you may have failed doesn’t mean you have to give-up!

Next time you fail be willing to ask yourself why you failed and what you can do to avoid it in the future.

You don’t have to keep trying, but if you do, you might find that you’re much more capable that you realize.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas A. Edison



Why Being Average is the First Step Toward Greatness

By Joe Wilner

wings to fly

“I am only an average man but, by George, I work harder at it than the average man.” - Theodore Roosevelt 

I used to hate the term “Average Joe.”

I hated the term because I had an uncanny connection to it.

I was an average student in high school, an average athlete, and basically felt like a middle of the road type of guy.

Oh yeah, and my name is Joe. (No one was into unorthodox names like “Apple” and “Sage Moonblood” when I was born.)

To give myself credit I have always been good at the drums, did well in college, and was/still am a kind and caring person, but that “average” mentality has stuck with me.

The problem with this idea is that if I’m “average” than other people are “superior.”

It is hard to be confident when others are more superior.

It’s hard to be motivated to improve when we’re just “average.”

But what if average is where we all start?

What if average meant you had everything you needed, you just had to keep working at it?

Of course this is why I started my journey and pursuit toward greater knowledge and truth about my existence. (a.k.a self-actualization, enlightenment, potential, etc.)

I had to learn, like everyone has to learn, that who we are today if far from the person we can become.

What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are on a journey from average to getting better and better.

And like all journey’s it starts with one step.

One step toward being a better person. One step toward a small improvement or a new idea.

One small step and one huge realization that our potential is far greater than we give ourselves credit for. 

Our potential is far beyond our current reality.

Average has nothing to do with potential.

We all have to crawl before we walk, and we have to walk before we run.

Everyone starts as average before they become great!

Stop telling yourself, “I’m not as successful as others.”

Or how, “I’m not going to be happy until I have this and accomplish that.”

Appreciate who you are today, and know that many great opportunities are ahead.

Despite what we would like to believe, we won’t always be at our best or have a great day.

It won’t be every day that we discover the wheel or bowl a perfect game!

Give yourself a break. Stop comparing yourself to other and just do your best.

Don’t think because you have an average day there is a problem.

Allow yourself a chance to make mistakes, grow, and learn.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Work on your weaknesses and use your strengths to do your best!

Do the best you can today and realize you can keep getting better.

Take some time to appreciate the miracle you are and all that you have already done in this life.



Two Reminders to Help You Keep Stretching and Growing Into Your Potential

By Joe Wilner

stretching

“You have enormous untapped power you’ll probably never tap, because most people never run far enough on their first wind to ever find they have a second.” – William James

Whether you want to get in better shape, learn a new skill, or make an important life change, it requires moving out of your comfort zone and trying something new.

It is just one of those cosmic jokes the universe plays on us. We have to go through strain and discomfort to come away stronger, wiser, and more aware.

Many people want something different for their life, but they aren’t willing to face the discomfort, fear, and potential failure required to make it happen.

This is one major aspect of helping people deal with their “inner game” in the coaching process.

We naturally want to take the path of least resistance. We want to have better health, more money, and improved relationships without going through a learning curve and putting in the hard work.

So helping people shift their perspective about stretching themselves and getting uncomfortable is an important first step to creating new opportunities and possibilities.

If you’re feeling stuck, here are two important reminders to help you create more of what you want.

The first thing to remember is that:

1. Fear and discomfort are a part of life

This is a day to day reminder I have to make for myself, but I try to accept that if I want something more from life it will involve some resistance, doubt, and push back.

When we can remind ourselves that fear and resistance is a normal part of the growth process we are more likely to take the next step despite these feelings.

“If we are growing we are always going to be outside our comfort zone.” - John Maxwell

There isn’t a final destination where resistance disappears, but we can learn to channel our doubts and fears in a different way. We can learn to acknowledge our resistance and take action anyway.

The second thing to remember is:

2. You want to “stretch” not “snap”

Many people assume getting out of their comfort zone means going bungee jumping or sticking their head in a tank of spiders. (Good ole’ Fear Factor!)

But we don’t need to shock ourselves to get uncomfortable. Frankly if we take outrageous measures like these we won’t just stretch, we will snap!

We don’t want to overload ourselves or push too far past our comfort zone.

Think of this in terms of lifting weights. You don’t want to start out bench pressing 200 lbs. if you haven’t worked out in years.

Not only will you probably not be strong enough to life this weight, but if you do you could injure yourself.

We just have to take small incremental steps.

Little by little as we stretch ourselves to a point where we’re uncomfortable we will start to see results.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” - Neale Donald Walsch

We can start to run that extra mile, face that fear, or sing that new note.

We can start to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and before we know it we have reach a new level of growth and awareness we didn’t even realize was possible.

Where in your life do you need to accept that resistance is normal and natural? What small steps can you start taking to step into this resistance without feeling overwhelmed?



 
 

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