A short while back I made a decision to make some extreme positive changes in my life. At the time and for as long as I can remember I was not happy. I had difficulties in my relationships with family and friends. I brought work stress home and was aimless in my career path. My health was hit or miss. I looked around my home and saw chaos. The list could go on, but I am working to put that all in my past.
In recent years I had begun to make some changes that put me on a trajectory toward becoming the person I want to be. After an injury and subsequent surgery I adjusted my diet and implemented a regular exercise routine. Through these I lost forty pounds and now like how I look and feel much better than I had since I was 15. I had even been buying size 30 waists when I can remember fitting into size 38. Additionally I stopped being overwhelmed by debt and my inability to save when I sat down with a financial advisor who gave me insights to correct my actions and eliminate debt and start regularly saving. I am happy to say that just today I paid a car off and am virtually debt free. Throughout these positive changes I began to have a clarity of vision that I needed to continue this journey that I had started, but had only been half-stepping.
Fast forward to the end of March this year, 2018. I took a moral inventory. What habits did I have that were not constructive that I could eliminate? What habits could I implement in place of those bad habits that would further my drive towards self-improvement? A good example of a negative habit was that I was guilty of was playing game apps on my iphone for an hour or more a day. When I did this I was ignoring my other responsibilities as well as my human connections. I decided to delete the apps I was hooked on immediately and instead commit to writing every day. I had always seen myself as a writer, but had produced very little. I am happy to say I have only missed two days since and have produced many varying works including the commitments I previously shared here on the blog and an as yet seventeen page story that may become a novel at some point. Additionally I drastically reduced my television viewing time and I reinforced my time learning Spanish by committing to it everyday as well.
The first wave was easy, but amazingly I was ignoring a few bad habits as if they were in a blind spot in my field of vision. For example I am hooked on podcasts. I love them and listen to them for hours everyday. I had been listening to podcasts about celebrity culture or sports talk and realized I was wasting time and memory on content that I gained nothing of value from. I unsubscribed and deleted most of those and downloaded podcasts that I connected with that would aid me on my self-improvement journey. The new shows I listen to help me continue to improve my communication skills and my ability to connect with diverse types of people. All the while I am gaining these skills through constant inflection. Most of what I am learning is teaching me that the change I want to see in others and the world will only come if I change and improve myself. Just this change preempted a fierce conversation with my work about my future as well as a new found patience in how I deal and respond with my beautiful wife and daughter.
Now I literally practice my smile. I have learned that most people walk around at a neutral emotional baseline. If I am neutral, or worst yet negative, than the people I interact with will echo that and I will have negative and neutral interactions most of the time. If I walk around with a genuine smile and am upbeat and positive even some of the most negative and neutral people I come into contact with respond above that neutral baseline. This skill alone has shown its payoff through higher sales conversion rates and customer happiness at my job and I find myself truly feeling happier. I even had a moment when I smiled at a beautiful woman while I was getting takeout and she smiled back at me. I had to quickly avert my eyes because I am married and love my wife, but before I started actively smiling I truly believe I would not even have been on this beautiful girl’s radar.
A few weeks back as my wife and I waited to meet up with some family we chatted while looking on at the beautiful Rocky Mountain Foothills between Golden and Boulder Colorado. We spit-balled concepts of what I could do in the second third of my life to not just be an employee anymore, but to transition into a business leader or owner. Maybe we would invest in a new start-up or maybe we would create one. After coming up with and subsequently shooting down several ideas our people arrived and we had to cut the conversation short. I am happy to say my ability to effectively communicate with wife is better than ever, although I still hold that there will always be room for improvement. For now I will look for the blind spots and continue to replace them with better habits that propel me upwards to my goals in both legacy and happiness. If you catch me slipping please let me know because I want to be better. Just today I caught myself spending some time below that neutral emotional baseline. Perfection is impossible, but there’s nothing wrong with being a nine that’s striving to become a ten.