Author Archives: Michael

My Excellent Guitar Teacher

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. – William Arthur Ward

I have an excellent guitar teacher. I’ve been working with him for 3 or 4 months now. My goal was to learn some music theory and some techniques for playing lead guitar. I had learned a lot but I wasn’t satisfied with my progress on playing lead. It was coming slow and I didn’t seem to be making much progress.

So, two lessons ago, I brought up my frustrations to my guitar teacher. I looked him right in the eye and asked if I was really cut out to play lead since it seemed to be coming very slowly for me. I asked him if I should just focus on being an excellent rhythm guitarist. He looked right back at me, paused for a moment and said “No.”

He said what I needed was to learn a lead from some songs that I enjoy. We would then attack the lead playing combined with music theory from that perspective. I said okay. Let’s give it a try. I had to pick a song I wanted to learn the lead on. So, I choose one (Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd) and in the next 25 minutes, he taught me the lead for that song. I was astounded at how fast I picked it up. We also analyzed the song to look at the theory underlying the melody.

Within one session, my guitar teacher was able to completely turn my attitude around. It was brilliant. With the next lesson I learned another song I’ve always wanted to learn (From the Beginning – Emerson, Lake and Palmer). I am now feeling much better about my progress. That changed perspective is propelling me forward faster now.

I’m glad I’ve found this teacher. He is a rare breed.


We Are Responsible

Through the balance and the chaos, we alone are responsible for our own happiness and success—or lack of it. It’s up to us to design a life that works. – Cynthia Good

The simple thought that we alone are responsible for own happiness and success is a powerful statement. It’s one that many people ignore or believe to be untrue. I, on the other hand, have found this thought to be one of the most freedom inducing beliefs of my life.

It’s so easy to blame others or to give away our power of choice. When things are not going good in our lives, it can be difficult to take responsibility. It can be depressing to think we might be at fault for our own problems.

For me, it feels better to know I’m in control. I like the idea that I can make my life what I want; happy or not happy. I relish in the belief that I can change at any moment the direction my life is going. I don’t have to settle for something I don’t want or desire. It’s the ultimate freedom.

Only we know what’s best for our lives. Only we know what we truly like and dislike. Only we know what will make us feel fulfilled. Only we can control our attitude and reactions to events around us.

Only we can choose to be happy.


Fall Has Arrived

Fall has definitely arrived in the Northeast. I swear it was summer one day and then it was in the low 40s. There didn’t seem to be much of a transition. I don’t have a problem with that at all.

As fall is a favorite time of year for me, by the end of the summer, I’m anxiously awaiting it anyway. The color transition up here in the northeast is spectacular even in the years where the colors seem muted. But, the years when the colors are intense are quite special. I’ve had the fortune to see several of those.

If a season can bring me happiness, then fall would be the one. It’s one of the reasons why I like living up here. When I was growing up in the South, we didn’t really have four seasons. Two maybe and sometimes we had three. So, I always make sure I get the full fall enjoyment factor every year. I either take a special trip to New Hampshire or enjoy the color surrounding the inland areas of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Ah, time to go and see some more.


The Best Years are Now

The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny. – Albert Ellis

I didn’t learn this lesson until I was in my middle years. Before that, I blamed just about anything I could that was not me; the government, the economy, my boss, my childhood and etc. The idea that my problems were my own was a foreign idea and one that did not sit well with my belief system at the time. Those thoughts left me with a sense of powerlessness about the course of my life. Even though I had many good times throughout my life then, there was always an undercurrent of “I’m not in control.”

Towards the late 1990’s, I begin to suspect that the world worked much differently than I had previously believed. I met people that seemed to be in complete control of their lives and didn’t care what was going on anywhere else in the world. They blamed no one else for their misfortunes or their successes. I started reading books that delved into these topics.

Little by little, my approach to my own life changed. I saw a dramatic difference in my thoughts, perspectives, attitude and beliefs. I did have to take a deep dive down into a quagmire for a complete transformation from the old me, but that is for a different story.

I felt like I was growing by leaps and bounds in a short period of time. When I looked back on my life, it appeared somewhat stagnant while my current life was like a kayak on a fast moving river. I liked the new sense of freedom that came about from believing that I was in control of my own destiny.

The point of my story is to convey the message that your thoughts are your own. Your attitudes can be changed and controlled. Your belief system can be adjusted. You hold the reigns for your own life. Not one thing or person one can take that from you unless you believe otherwise. As our thoughts, attitudes and perspectives change we see the world differently. We understand the power of every individual including ourselves. We now know that we can be and do anything. As some have said, the world is our oyster. Life can be fun and fulfilling. We just have to make the decision to go there.


Follow Your Passion

Many of us are afraid to follow our passions, to pursue what we want most because it means taking risks and even facing failure. But to pursue your passion with all your heart and soul is success in itself. The greatest failure is to have never really tried. – Robyn Allan

Do you follow your passions? If not, why? Are you fearful of the opinions of others? Do you feel like you can’t do whatever it is that you feel passionate about? Do you feel guilty? Do you place unreasonable expectations on yourself?

I think this is one of the great secrets of life. When we follow our passions, we feel alive. We feel fulfilled. We feel that life has meaning. We feel like we are getting things accomplished. We are happier.

I have many passions. Sometimes I wonder if I have too many. 🙂  Frankly, I don’t think you can have too many. If you love to do something and it gives you great pleasure, then you should do it every chance you get. We all deserve to lead a happy life and do things that are both fun and meaningful in our lives. It’s a basic human right.

So, if you have been holding back from doing something that you feel passionate about, then get out there and do it. This isn’t about anyone but your. Don’t hold back. There are no good reasons to prevent yourself from enjoying life.

Be an example for others and follow your passions; follow your dreams. You don’t have to do them well or be the best. You just have to do them.


Are You Laughing

The amount you laugh in your relationships with others is the true measure of the health of your personality.- Brian Tracy

Are you laughing enough? Do you spend time with friends or significant others smiling, joking and laughing?

Regularly having fun and laughing consistently are important for continued emotional and mentally health. In fact, laughter has a positive effect on your immune system and heart health. It is great at reducing stress and relaxing the whole body.

Laughter can be the perfect attitude adjustment and helps the mind to think more clearly. Your perspective can broaden with regular laughter. In the book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell discusses experiments showing that the simple act of making a face can quickly change your emotional state. We all know that our emotions translate to facial expressions, but these experiments showed that producing a smile or frown actually caused the corresponding emotions to express themselves. I found that fascinating.

So, a simple technique to help you lift out of a bad mood would be to smile even if you initially don’t mean it. The act of smiling will cause a positive shift in your emotional state. The more you do this, the better you can feel.

Smile a lot. Laugh as much as you can every day. Find humor in every situation.


What You Know

If you do not ask yourself what it is you know, you will go on listening to others and change will not come because you will not hear your own truth. – Saint Bartholomew

We know more than we think. We understand more about ourselves than we may believe. The issue is that we don’t believe those facts or we haven’t taken the time for introspection that is needed. Knowing yourself is a critical key to change. Of course, if you don’t want to change or grow, then not knowing yourself would be more beneficial 🙂

I think that most of the times, fear is the barrier to truly know ourselves. We are afraid of what we really think or know. That’s for the simple reason that it may very conflict with how we are currently acting, behaving or dealing with situations in our lives. It could affect how and where we work. It could affect the nature of our relationships. If you have been unconsciously hiding behind a facade you could very well not even realize why you don’t feel as good as you could about your life.

The more you understand your motivations, desires, internal beliefs, emotional state in various life situations and thought processes, the better you will be able to stay in a state of relative happiness. If you repress your own truth, push away negative thoughts without facing them and don’t listen to your own intuition, the less likely you will lead a fulfilling life.

This can be scary for a variety of reasons; fear of rejection, fear of being judged, fear of the unknown and etc. But, the benefits of getting in touch with your true self are astronomical. It may be hard to fathom this if you have been living a lie or have not really looked deep inside.

Say what you mean. Follow your dreams. Don’t feel guilty about your desires. Believe in your ability to adjust to life’s problems. Know and understand yourself in a variety of situations. Give yourself a break. Basically, chill out a bit.


Meeting the Events of Life

I am more and more convinced that our happiness or our unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the events of life than on the nature of those events themselves. – Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt

Life is full of events, circumstances that change and new directions that force us to grow. Life is about change. How we meet those changing aspects of our lives is one of the key ingredients that determine our level of happiness.

Everyone, from birth, is trained to react to situations that arise. Sometimes we view these life events as battlegrounds where we must fight to stay the same or fight to keep from losing what we are comfortable with. Fighting though prevents us from growing, from expanding and from changing our perspective. Happiness is elusive when we are fighting for our “lives.”

The way we react and respond is always under our control. Life is a ride. We can decide whether we are in the driver’s seat or just going along for the ride. Our daily attitude and the way we react to live events determine whether we are driving or not. I don’t know about you, but driving is much more enjoyable because it means I have the choice of where to go, what to do and how to react.

Life isn’t creating us. We are creating our lives.

Have a great day!


Time is Wonderful

Time has a wonderful way of weeding out the trivial. – Richard Ben Sapir0

Time. We love it. We hate it. It goes fast. It goes slow. But, one thing for sure is that it doesn’t stop marching forward.

Time can be our friend, though. It heals wounds. It helps us forget the pain of a difficult moments in our lives. It brings wisdom if we let it and as Mr. Sapiro states, time weeds out the trivial. I agree. We remember the most important moments in our lives. The rest seems to fade into the noise of the past.

My favorite thing is to have the experience when time seems to stand still. Have you experienced that? You typically don’t notice until the moment is over. I’ve found it to happen in pivotal life moments, periods of extreme joy and delight and those times when we seem to be closing chapters in our lives. In these moments, I find that my senses are on overload. Everything seems more distinct, more vital. Afterwards, I remember almost everything; exquisite detail, emotions, expressions and thoughts.

I treasure those moments “out of time.” They make my life richer.