May is here and the new season is well on it's way. April was really great for me, speaking at the Global Speakers Summit in Holland and the Professional Speakers Association convention in Cape Town. I mention this because it's so great meeting new and old friends in the industry who have a positive outlook on life and share their experiences openly with each other. Often people ask me as a speaker how I stay motivated? Well, this is one way, sharing ideas and getting together with peers who may have a different take on life and see things in a new light. So I am very thankful for this experience. It's kinda like a vitamin injection boost full of positivity! I had the opportunity to really connect with life long friends and it's been a really busy time.
I also met some great new people and will be part of a world-wide whole day internet motivational day on 23rd September where we will try and get more than 10 000 people logging in - more details about this to follow. Definitely a day you should diarise.
Many people have asked me to write more on last month's topic on fulfilment and talk more about it. This has become more of an issue of late for many, especially with the global events of the last six weeks and the escalating natural disasters, wars and violence. So... this month, let's talk about inner satisfaction and being content with life, and where you live.
I am finding more and more that people I meet, keep on asking me where the best place on earth is to live? Especially when they know I have travelled the entire world and been to nearly every major city on this earth. They tend to feel that the grass is greener on the other side and that they will find happiness somewhere else. I understand why people ask this question, especially now with the financial crises in the States and Europe, plus the disaster in Japan - people are looking for safer places to live. Politicians are no longer trusted to look after the interests of the people, the media is controlled and only prints sensationalist news to sell their papers, wars are looming and hatred is increasing everywhere. Everyone is trying their best to plan for their old age, and not sure whether their savings will still be there in years to come - especially with the current economic climate - hence there is much desperation and questioning as to the point of it all.
Firstly, it doesn't matter where on earth you live! Yes I have a home in Cape Town and in Frankfurt, but these two cities differ vastly and my reason for being in each are completely different. Singapore is another favorite city of mine. Istanbul is fascinating with it's incredible history. Geiranger at the end of the Geiranger fjord in Norway is breathtaking. Inverness in Scotland is magical. I can say great things about every city I have been in. But, will the scenic beauty, architecture, people, or history bring me the inner fulfilment I am looking for? The simply answer... NO!
Take a quick example, many people recently immigrated to Australia and New Zealand in search of sunshine and a better life - just look at the disasters this year in these countries. No one knew that this was going to happen. I am sure some of these people are regretting their choices of moving, and may even have lost everything in these recent events, plus are maybe even considering moving back to their original countries.
The bottom line is that we need to stop judging our happiness in terms of external factors. Here a reality check for you. In my opinion, politicians are corrupt everywhere. They are all sycophants with only their own interests at heart. You may not be happy with the current state of your country, but is another country really going to have more honest politicians and a safer economy? Just look at the big USA who last month nearly 'closed down' due to no money. Who would ever have thought that? Europe is facing a major Euro crises with the Greece and Portugal financial chaos. Beurocracy is messing up so many countries. The UK - well, no comment! It seems that today the future countries are China and India, hence the new term, 'Chindia'.
So, running away isn't going to change things. Yes the grass may be greener on the other side - but, this could be due to more manure in the grass! This also means that you will have to mow it more often!
To come back to the question of where to live to find happiness and fulfilment... Wherever you are healthy, can make ends meet and have those that you love around you, i.e. family and friends - that's the place to live. And that can be anywhere on this globe, whether in the desert, on an island or in a city.
Natural disasters are part of the course - this can never be your reason for choosing one place over the other. Just look at the floods in Australia - no one would ever have thought this possible. Here we come back to that philosophy of living in the moment and every day to the fullest, as if it is your last.
Here's a great quote by Paulo Coelho: "Too often we decide to follow a path that is not really our own, one that others have set for us. We forget that whichever way we go, the price is the same: in both cases, we will pass through both difficult and happy moments. But when we are living our dream, the difficulties we encounter make sense."
Now let us look at more spiritual side of fulfilment. In the dictionary fulfiment is defined as "developing your full potentiality." However, for each of us this means different things, as we all experience different emotions, growth, connections and feelings. We all have different value systems which have been conditioned by the society and culture we have been brought up in. When in reality, we should ALL have the same universal values. Once you know and understand these, then life starts having meaning.
We all need to learn to live in the now!
I cannot stress this enough. Most people are living in the past and brooding on all the bad things that happened. Wake up - there is nothing you can do to change this! Let go of the past. You don't have to forget the past, but you DO have to let it go, otherwise you will never find fulfilment. Imagine if everyone in the world could just let go of all the hatred and issues from the past - the world would change overnight. In the same vein stop living for the future and with the philosophy of 'one day when...' That day may never come! Anything can happen to change this. So what's the answer? Live in the moment. Of course it is important to plan for the future, but make the journey towards that end goal fun as well. 99% of the work in reaching a goal is the journey towards it. It's usually only the final 1% that makes the goal reality. Take the example of wanting a new car. Buying the car and signing the papers takes 10 minutes. It's the months of planning and saving up for the car that's 99% of the work. So why make this journey unpleasant - it should be fun too.
And this brings me to the second point that you have to be honest with yourself and live in tune with who YOU really are. Stop living the life that the media, politicians, family and friends (the Jones's) tell you to live. It's your life, you have to live with yourself. If your life is all about 'keeping up appearances' and 'fitting in with everyone else', I have some bad news for you - you will NEVER find fulfilment. I make this comment with a strong internal belief that it is true because of personal experience. I do not see myself as any different from anybody else. When I left school I had to study and get a decent job. To the shock of my family and friends I decided to become an entertainer and see the world. Today all those people from the past look at me with shock. Most have the secure job, have done well in life, but are still searching for that inner truth. I in turn, have had fun, followed my heart, given back to the world and enjoyed every single moment. When it comes to a fulfilling life - I have practiced what I preach. Make no mistake about it, oh yes I have also had my ups and downs, positives and negatives. I have also had my good times and financially tough times. Yes, I know you may be thinking I have been lucky, or born with a gift and hence things have gone my way. Definitely not! I have had to sacrifice many things in my life and gone through many tough times, and may still do so in the future. But, and this is the huge but - I have been honest with myself and followed my heart. This means that when times are touch, at least I am still being true to myself in these times. This makes them a lot more bearable than if I was living a lie. It's all about the journey. Life will throw you curveballs, that's a given, but during this journey of ups and downs - it's the being 'true to yourself' that will make you overcome tough times much easier.
This brings me to my third point on finding fulfilment. Know the difference between pleasure and joy. Things that bring you pleasure in life are temporary. Even your spouse and children are 'pleasure principles'. That is why you need to be there for your children and savor their youth. Never have regrets that you didn't spend enough time with them. Same applies to your spouse. One day your children will leave home and your spouse will die - so yes, they are only in your life temporarily. The 'joy' can only be created by making memories that will last a lifetime. That is why most people are unhappy, because most things in life, especially those advertised in the media and which have 'monetary value' are temporary.
Joy is an inner feeling, it is a way of life and a contentment. It is finding inner peace with who you are and it has to do with your values and purpose in life. During April while attending all these speaker conferences, I met a Scottish speaker, Neil Dorwood who was a funeral director for 30 years. Today he speaks on what legacy you leave. He poses the question, "If all your friends are at your funeral and speaking about you - what will they say about your life?" Exactly that- to find joy you need to find your purpose and ask yourself, If I look back on my life, what difference did I make in this world?' If you can find the answer to this, then you start finding joy. And please, don't equate this to anything materialistic!
You may be a housewife who sees no point in running the household and bringing up the kids, playing moms taxi and doing homework with them. Never forget that it's your value system you are sharing with those children, you are moulding them for the future. One day they could be the first 'honest' president of your country. Maybe that's your purpose.
Among speakers world-wide there is the famous 'Starfish' story. A chap walks along the beach and sees thousands of starfish washed ashore. He begins throwing them back one at a time. Another person walks past and asks him why he is doing this. There are thousands of starfish on the beach, what difference is throwing one starfish back going to make. And the man answers, "It's going to make a difference to this one!"
Just smiling at someone, or saying something supportive to someone you don't know - could change the future of the world. Never see your purpose as too big or too small - just have one! Remember, it's not always the big things in life that give it meaning, it's also the many small things!
In summary, you too can find fulfilment by being honest with yourself and finding your purpose in life. Follow through with it to create joy in everything you do. This will then teach you to live in the moment and practice unconditional love towards all around you. Suddenly life will start having meaning again.
Have a fantastic May and learn to live in the moment.
Welcome to April 2011! What a month behind us. I have had so many people email me seeking advice on how to digest recent world events. The tragedy of Japan with the global catastrophe of the nuclear fallout, and the war in Iran - what is happening in the world? It's during times like this that many people start questioning the meaning of life and the purpose behind our existence.
What saddens me the most is that the current nuclear fallout was apparently the result of greed and profits, as officials wanted to save the costs of keeping normal safety regulations in place. Then we go to Libya and look at the blatant suppression of the people, yet those waging the war are apparently more interested in the oil. On top of it the media is focusing on Libya, rather the the long term effects of Japans nuclear fallout which is poisoning all the oceans world wide. C131 and radioactive iodine (most probably with plutonium) will be carried by currents and tides to all oceans of the world. This means that all living things in the sea will be affected. On top of this, the recent earthquake moved Japan's coast by 8 feet and moved the planet on it's axis by nearly 4 inches.
It is completely understandable that many people are becoming despondent and even predicting the end of the world. However, we do need to look at the bigger picture and realise that the world has gone through many natural disasters in it's history. However, it's the more recent and frequent man- made damage that is becoming alarming.
This brings me to this months topic. What does success and fulfilment really mean?
It definitely doesn't mean risking the safety of our planet for profits!
On a smaller scale, we can relate this global event to our lives. How often do we risk our health and happiness of our families for greed? Most people I know spend their lives trying to keep up with the Jones's, buy what the media sells them, and never have time for family and friends. Look at certain luxury car brands who are now advertising there vehicles under the banner of: this car will bring you happiness, inspire you and make your life complete! What a load of hogwash! Yet so many people believe this and fall into the rat race of believing that success and happiness is connected to materialism.
You see, part of the reason so many people are questioning the meaning of life right now is that they have seen the huge tragic losses suffered by the Japanese. Sadly they don't focus on the 'life' losses, but the materialistic losses. I have heard so many people this month talk about how devastated they would be if they lost their house, car and all possessions in a natural disaster. In fact, many have phoned their insurance companies to tried and add 'natural disaster' cover. How screwed up is that?
Not one person I have spoken to has stopped what they were doing and gone to their spouse and children and spent some quality time with them. Neither did they ever talk about what would happen if they lost a loved one. That's the thinking in the world today! How sad is that? Then they complain that they are questing the meaning of life and the point of it all. Maybe, just maybe, these same people should question their own attitude and re-analyse their priorities in life.
Yes, we do live in a global village and money has sadly become the driving force. But, and it's a huge but... money and materialism should never become your main focus. If anything, the lessons we should all learn from these global tragedies is that we need to spend more time with each other. Love and respect each other more, and create special moments.
Realistically, just think about it is honestly,if you were suddenly in a natural disaster, or a war stricken country, what would your priorities be? Packing your new laptop, or making sure that your child was safe? I think it's naive to just look at world events and think that it will never happen to you. Three months ago, who would ever have thought that the such a terrible disaster could happen in Japan?
I am definitely not being a doomsayer here, I am trying to make you think! If an earthquake did take out your home and you did mange to survive, what would your definition of success and happiness be then? Dare a suggest, your survival and the survival of your family. Having food to live and water to drink, plus shelter to stay warm.
That's about it really. But in today's world that is no longer good enough. We strive for every conceivable new materialistic gadget we can, and cannot, afford. Then we believe this will bring us happiness and success.
I need you to re-focus your priorities. Yes, it's 'nice to have' pretty things and the products of the modern world we live in. But they do not and never will define who you are as a person. Neither will they complete you as an individual and help you find inner meaning.
Here's something my wife and I did with our daughters after we saw the disaster in Japan. We all sat down together and firstly spoke about a 'disaster plan.' If an earthquake struck - how would we get out of the house? Where would we run to? How would we make sure that we would all meet up again if we were in different places in the city? As we spoke about this as a family, we all started realising that the worst thing that could happen is if we were separated and didn't know if the other person was alive. Do you have an action plan? This is not being negative, it's plain practical reality and being prepared.
Suddenly, we also all re-affirmed to each other how much we love each other and that nothing in the world is more important that being together. Then came the part in the discussion as to what would we take with us! We all decided we would each pack a small bag which contains a basic pocket knife, some water, some dried food, a medical kit and warm clothes, plus an old mobile phone (in case one could still get reception). I added one extra item to my bag... a folder with important documents, i.e. passport, birth certificates, health insurance, etc. Documents which say who we are. If you lose these and have no back-ups - you have lost your identity.
Interestingly enough none of us added our iPod, laptop, jewelry and other materialistic items. The focus was on basic survival and the importance of being together. A few days later we sat down again (remember my daughters are 12 & 14) and we spoke about what was important in life to each of us. The result... more time with each other and doing fun activities as a family. Going on walks, playing games, talking to each other and creating memories.
So, back to the definition of success and leading a fulfilling life. Yes, there are many 'nice to have' items in life, but could you be happy without them? If not, I suggest you do some serious internal soul searching and think about the importance of those you love in your life. I often tell my delegates that the society we live in today is a game. You need to play this game in an objective manner. Whether you win or lose, you play the game to the best of your abilities, but at the end of the day it is still a game. The more you play it, the better you get and the better the odds that you make enough money to be comfortable and enjoy the pleasure that the modern world brings. However, if you lose, can you pull yourself away from the game and still be happy? Happiness at home and within yourself is the only true definition of success. Because if you are happy there, then your attitude is right. When your attitude is right you extrude a different kind of energy around you. A positive energy. It is this positive energy that then attracts positivity towards you and enables you to play the 'game of life' successfully.
And finally, start becoming aware of our environment and look after nature. Don't leave a carbon footprint - leave a future world for our children.
We need to love more and we will find fulfilment. See what some youngsters between the age of 4 and 8 have to say about love.
'Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.' Emily - age 8
'If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.' Nikka - age 6 (We need a few million more Nikka's on this planet.)
'Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.' Tommy - age 6
'During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my Daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.' Cindy - age 8
'My Mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.' Clare - age 6
'Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.' Mary Ann - age 4
'I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.' Lauren - age 4
'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it,you should say it a lot. People forget.' Jessica - age 8
The cherry on top was a four year old child whose next door neighbour was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbour, the little boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry."
Make it your goal this April - learn to love more and savour the simple pleasures of life.