5 Ways to Elevate Your Mood


As a motivational speaker it’s my job to practice optimism. Thankfully by nature, I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky guy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t suffer from down days fueled by fatigue, frustration, and insecurity. These moments humble me and remind me I’m human. Therefore, in this short YouTube video I have identified 5 ways I keep my spirits up and elevate my mood. 5 ways that will change your mood around too. 

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and share this blog & video with others. I appreciate your support! If you have questions that you would like to get my thoughts on please email them to me.

Take care,

Chris 

P.S. We have coffee! 30% goes to the Chris Norton Foundation. Email debnorton2255@gmail.com to place your orders. 

Just Keep Going. A Thanksgiving Day Miracle

Hi Friend,

Ahh waiting is the worst. Waiting in line, waiting for the right partner, waiting for the pandemic to be over, and the list goes on.

10 years ago today I was anxiously waiting for a breakthrough in my recovery. It had been 5 weeks since I lost all movement below my neck. In those weeks I tirelessly worked in physical & occupational therapy and prayed. My goal was to move something in my legs and then someday walk.

I passed out in a few workouts. I vomited from exhaustion. I went to bed scared and worried about my future. I was told by a well respected neurologist that I would never move anything in my legs. Essentially trying to tell me to give it up, move on.

There was something in me that told me not to give up. Keep going. I had people in my corner telling me the same thing- “Keep going.” I did just that. I didn’t hold back. Despite all of the other reasons and logic telling me to stop.

It was Thanksgiving morning. My PT Megan came into my room for a short therapy session. It was way too early in the morning. I was groggy 🥴. But then I felt this odd sensation in my left big toe that brought me to life. Up to this point I never felt as strong of a connection with any part of my body. Then…

I wiggled it. I was elated!!! The wait was over. I was so thankful I kept going. A Thanksgiving Day miracle.

I don’t know what you are going through. What you are waiting for. I know you are frustrated, exhausted, at the end of your rope, and ready to throw in the towel, but don’t. I am here to tell you to Keep Going.

Keep working hard. Keeping putting in the time, the effort, and prayers.

Keep going. Your day will come.

Happy Thanksgiving 🍁🦃🍽 ,

Chris

Zoom Out for a Better Perspective

Hi Friend,

I’ll never forget the day my dad bought his first legit camera. It was 2001. He wasn’t a professional. He wanted to take good photos of the majestic wildlife we saw on our family trips to Yellowstone National Park. The disposable cameras he’d been using didn’t cut it. It was nearly impossible to get great shots of our family’s favorite animals—bears and wolves.

Purchasing a camera with a telephoto lens was a game changer because it allowed my Dad to take photos from a distance and increase photo quality. But there was one small issue—the camera was a manual, it didn’t have automatic focus or light adjustment. Operating it wasn’t half as easy as you might think. If you were even a hair off, the image quality suffered and you didn’t know if you messed it up until the film was developed. Plus, we never took time to learn the ins and outs of using it to its full potential.

On one particular trip as the sun was just starting to pop up from the horizon we spotted a black bear and her cubs walking across a fallen dead tree. It was an incredible site. They were only 30 yards away from the road! We pulled our vehicle over to watch. My dad grabbed out his camera and captured the incredible moment. That was the “money shot.” The rest of the trip he jokingly said, “That picture is going to be on the cover of National Geographic!”

When we returned home from vacation, we could hardly wait the three days it took for the prints to be developed. When we gathered around and opened the envelope. We were disappointed to find that more than half of the shots were blurry! Including what we thought was the “money shot” with the mama bear and her cubs. (That didn’t stop my dad from framing some of the fuzzy ones.😂).

I’ve come to realize, our happiness is a lot like my dad’s camera. Only we have the ability to sharpen and adjust what we see, but to master the craft takes practice. In order to become skilled, we must pay attention to what we’re focusing on in the first place. It’s easy to zoom in on what’s wrong, what’s missing, or what we don’t have. This will cause anxiety, stress, headache, and heartache. Zoom out, expand your perspective. Know it could always be worse. Take time to recognize what & who you have and what’s going right. We need to do this everyday in order to get through life with peace and happiness.

I have to expand my perspective a lot during the pandemic. I start focusing on the canceled speaking engagements, vacations, the soccer league our kids were signed up for, trick or treating, but even missing the little things like going to restaurants or the kids being at school. I pull myself out of that headspace by recognizing that we are all healthy, safe, together, and happy. I understand it could be worse and others do have it worse. It takes adjusting my focus and zooming out.

Is there something going in your life or in the world that you are too zoomed in on and is causing you a headache? Try zooming out and focus on what & who you do have in your life.

The Most Important Decision of 2020

The most important decision you will make this year has nothing to do with who you are voting for in the election 😲. Let me be clear voting is very important. It’s a freedom that should be exercised as an American citizen. However, the more important decision you need to make in 2020 is what kind of person are you going to be?

It’s up to you to decide your character, not a president. Let’s make the decision to be someone who spreads love, kindness, and peace. Let’s be a positive role model for our kids, friends, family, and coworkers. Just because we don’t see eye to eye doesn’t mean we can’t respect each other. It’s up to you and I to set the example. No matter who wins the election I promise the sun will still rise the next day.

Don’t lose hope just because your candidate loses. You can still be happy, work hard, love others, volunteer, start a business, and make a difference. Don’t let what you can’t control stop you from what you can control.

The strength of our nation is the people, not the president.

Decide carefully who you want to be this year.

While the president might run the country it is up to you to decide how you will run your life. That’s the most important decision you will ever make.

God bless,

Chris

One Easy Way to Boost Happiness

Hi Friend,

I am a fast eater. I don’t waste a second when I have a good meal or treat in front of me. However, due to a new discovery I tried something I have never done before… The other day I closed my eyes when I took a small bite out of my cookie dough cake pop from Starbucks. I never ate a more delicious treat so slowly in my life!

Sounds super dramatic and cheesy right? Yes lol but the reason I did that was to savor the moment. To completely immerse myself into the experience. Before I went to bed that night I thought about that amazing cake pop 🤤.

Through my own online research I have discovered savoring has been scientifically proven to increase happiness!

Savoring is the act of stepping outside of an experience to review it and appreciate it. Helps you to stay in the moment and intensifies and lengthens the positive emotions. It also helps reminiscing by recalling memories in order to re-experience them. Research shows that savoring increases well-being by boosting positive affect and life satisfaction. (Quoidbach, Berry, Hansenne & Mikolajczak, 2010)

Try this: Pick one positive experience to savor each day over the next week. Mix it up each day. Just simple things you enjoy like a hot shower, meal, treat, or walk, etc.

Enhance savoring by:

-Staying in the moment. Be intentional and focus on the positive experience.

-Think about how lucky and blessed you are in the moment.

-Share the experience with someone else.

-Before you go to bed think or make a note about how great that moment was.

Make sure not to dampen the experience. So Don’t:

-Focus on the future.

-Tell yourself it won’t last long and will be over soon.

-How it will never be this good again.

-Think it could be better, or I didn’t deserve it.

-Check your phone.

Properly savoring moments helps you to notice and focus on good things. It diminishes the space for negative thoughts. When you are mindfully engaged and aware of your feelings during positive events happiness increases.

We too often brush over and move on quickly from everyday positive experiences. Let’s all try to do better by appreciating everyday blessings and positive moments by staying present. Even if that means closing your eyes 😊

– Chris

Facing Grief, Again

Have you ever sat on the beach in the sand to let the waves wash over you? It’s peaceful (minus the sand that gets in your swimsuit) until a huge wave comes out of nowhere, crashes into you, and knocks you over. Causing you to roll around and it pulls you into the ocean. I discovered this is sort of like grief. You think you are way past grieving but then every once in a while, like a big wave, grief crashes over you.

It happened to me the other day.

Our 2 year old boy we are fostering, KD, has so much spirit, joy, energy, and is always laughing. We love him so much. Well he kept climbing on top of a cardboard box to jump off into Emily’s arms. Right before he jumps he does this cute little thing where he holds his arms out with his palms up to signal to the person to do the same. He won’t jump until he knows the person catching him is ready. I’m on one side of the box watching the action.

This time when he gets to the top he turns my way and signals to me to hold out my arms. He wants me to catch him. My heart melts with joy then quickly sinks. I so badly want to catch him but I can’t… I want to explain to him that if I was able to I would catch him over and over again whenever he wanted me to. I just don’t have the strength. Emily grabs him to help guide his jump into my lap, which is a nice alternative but it is not the same. After a few jumps he is over it and goes back to jumping to Emily. Sadness washes over me and I feel my eyes water.

I was confused by this rush of sadness and grief. I have completely accepted and even appreciate my life as a quadriplegic. I have a great life and wouldn’t go back in time to change it. I thought I had moved past grieving… Perhaps you have felt something similar to a loss in your life. I did some research and this is what I have found.

Introduced by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, there are 5 stages of grieving. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and lastly acceptance. These stages typically occur after devastating news.

To put it into context, imagine you’re on an important work Zoom call then all of a sudden you spill coffee on your computer. It starts glitching, turns off and won’t turn back on. You might quickly go through denial “No, this can’t be happening.” Then you get angry and start hitting a bunch of buttons. Then you start pleading and bargaining “Please, please work!” After all of this sadness and hopelessness comes rushing in and you start feeling depressed about the situation. Finally, you go into acceptance and start figuring out a way to inform your client about what happened and use your phone to call back into the meeting.

This example has a resolution at the end, but unfortunately most grief is due to a permanent loss. A resolution does not exist. Therefore, just because you arrive at acceptance doesn’t mean that’s the end of the road, the solution, or the place where pain doesn’t exist. Grief is unpredictable, complex (like us), and not linear. You will have times, like I did, when grief sneaks in unexpectedly even after you have accepted it.

So the next time a grief wave hits you from out of nowhere don’t be alarmed. It happens and nothing is wrong with you. You can’t rush grief and if you short change the process can actually lead to long term painful consequences.

When I welcome grief instead of trying to quickly push it aside is when I feel a great surge of motivation to make some real changes in my life. Grief has led me to discover new ways of being active and present with my wife and kids, encouraged me to go adaptive snow skiing, changed how I handle stressful situations or arguments, and motivated me to reach out to friends and family I haven’t spoken to in some time.

So next time try to welcome grief. Don’t fight it and see what gifts it has to offer you.

-Chris

Do you hate waiting for this as much as I do?

Do you ever feel like you aren’t progressing? You are putting in the work but don’t have much to show for it. That’s how I feel at times and it’s a deflating experience. I have to remind myself that just because you are unable to see the progress doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

During the hot humid summers of Florida I feel that we are always having to refill our pool. I look outside and see the water line is too low so we stick the hose in to fill it back up. What I find interesting is that when the hose is running and spraying outside the pool it feels like water is going everywhere, and it needs to be shut off quickly to not make a wet mess.

Once it’s in the pool then it appears nothing is happening. Even after 20min the water line doesn’t seem like it’s gone up at all! I start to wonder if the hose is even on and have taken it out of the pool to be sure. However, after an hour or so then you can easily see the progress of the water rising to the top.

I see the pool as our life and the hose as the work we are putting in. We start to work on ourselves then immediately look to see if progress is being made. We expect to see immediate results. When you can’t see progress you start to question if it’s even working or may just give up on it all together. Unfortunately, progress isn’t always instant like we wish it would be. Often times it takes waiting before we can verify the growth or changes we have made.

So don’t give up on the efforts you are putting into your life too quickly. Give it time. It could very well be working; it’s just not easily identifiable.

  • Don’t stop dieting or exercising because you can’t see weight loss or health improvements.
  • Don’t stop grinding and working hard because you don’t see your career or businesses grow.
  • Don’t stop taking time and care of your relationships because it’s too late or doesn’t appear to be getting better.
  • Don’t stop praying because you don’t see an immediate breakthrough.

Give it a little more time. Be patient.

Surprising New Way to Boost Morale

Over the years I have done over 100 live presentations for conferences, organizations, churches, and schools. Not surprisingly, these past few months I have made the transition to virtual presentations and have been surprised by the results.

I was under the assumption that if I couldn’t be in person that I would make less impact. Although the medium has changed, the impact has not. With virtual it’s right up close and maybe even more personal than being 10-100ft away from a stage. I have had people disable their cameras because they didn’t want people to see them crying!

I wanted to let you know that a virtual presentation might be the perfect fit to boost morale for your employees, team, members, customers, or students. I want to help you thrive during this time and to take on your obstacles with more hope & inspiration than ever before.

If you would like to schedule a virtual keynote or get more info email, Chris@nortonmotivation.com (include VIRTUAL in the subject line) or call my booking agent Jeannie at 773-680-9800.

It’s Ok to Fold

I love playing poker, specifically Texas Hold-Em. Like life, with poker it’s not just about the hand you are dealt but how you play the hand. One of the hardest things is knowing when to fold. A frequent error people make when playing, which I have been guilty of too, is justifying reckless betting because you were “pot committed.” Meaning you have committed/bet so many of your chips early on into the pot that folding wouldn’t make sense due to your chip stack.

However, I see players falsely use this term because they didn’t want to fold and lose the chips they have already bet, but ended up losing more by sticking around. It’s not easy giving up on something you have given so much into because it feels like a waste or failure.

This happens a lot. Not just in poker but in life. People get “pot committed” to businesses, careers, relationships, goals, beliefs, identities, or expectations. You hold onto something so closely and for so long it’s hard to let go. You make a commitment and when you see it’s not going in the right direction you feel obligated to not give up on it and see it through to the end.

A few painful things I have had to give up on was being a football player and being this physically strong macho man, husband, and father. What I have come to discover is true strength lies within us, which was not easy to grasp when I spent so much of my life early on trying to acquire physical strength. By giving up on the idea that physical strength is the most important thing has helped me immensely live a more happy and fulfilling life.

There are tons of examples of people changing course and giving up on a dream that led to accomplishing something new. Like Ray Kroc spent most of his career selling milkshake devices but gave up on that career to buy McDonald’s at age 52 and it’s now the world’s biggest fast-food franchise.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has transitioned careers multiple times. He dreamed of playing in the NFL but when that didn’t work out he became a professional wrestler with only $7 bucks in his pocket. After rising to the top of wrestling he transitioned to acting and is now the highest paid actor.

Now there are some things you or I shouldn’t ever give up on. For me, it’s my faith, family, or living. My point is that it’s ok to fold, give up, pivot, readjust, stop, or change course. Live life with an open mind, flexibility, and being ready to adapt. In fact, by doing so can save you so much heartache, energy, stress, headache, or will help you discover new passions.

What’s something in your life that is time to fold?

Why I Screamed Freedom

Waking up after my spinal cord surgery was a surreal feeling. It felt like I woke up in the Twilight Zone or in a never ending nightmare.

At 18 years old I thought I was invincible and nothing like this could happen. So hearing I had a 3% chance to move or feel anything below the neck was difficult to process.

I am wondering if you feel or have felt like this over the past month? I have. How things have altered and changed so unexpectedly from COVID-19 feels like a bad dream. It has been difficult to process. Some are experiencing a tougher blow from the changes than others but nonetheless we are all feeling it.

If you are like me, your mind can’t help but race to how great things were before all the flurry of changes occurred.

When I was lying there in the hospital I thought-

Yesterday at this time… I was walking.

I was suiting up for my college football game.

Now I’m lying here in the hospital paralyzed, with only a 3% chance of ever moving from the neck down. How can this be?

I took for granted the things I was able to do before my accident. Like being independent and doing simple everyday tasks.

I longed for a sliver of freedom but at the moment I couldn’t even support the weight of my head on my neck. I couldn’t get out of bed. The only way to move me was to get lifted by a hoyer lift onto a large power chair. Once seated I still didn’t have enough strength to even use the joystick to drive. So I just sat there… or had to let my dad drive me which usually ended up with him crashing me into walls. LOL

Then a few days later came the day I mustered up enough strength to gently push on the joystick and drive. It was an incredible feeling as if I just got my driver’s license and handed the keys to a new car. I wanted to scream “FREEDOM” like Mel Gibson from Braveheart as I inched through the halls of the hospital.

There is only one thing that could make driving a powered wheelchair so special, perspective. I vividly remember the feeling of not moving anything at all and having no freedom. To this day I try to recall those early days in the hospitals. It reminds me that life can change on a whim for the worse, and that perspective feeds my gratitude. I now understand that our most important strength isn’t always physical but instead mental. That moving independently even in a wheelchair is an incredible blessing for example. The list goes on of the things I’m so appreciative of.

Ironically, I’m currently realizing all that I have taken for granted pre COVID-19. Like my kids being at school, shuttling our girls to softball or dance practices and games, going to our favorite sushi restaurant, being around friends, family, or strangers, and even all of the travel for my speaking events.

I’m sure you could make your own list of things you have taken for granted … Here is what can be so special and powerful about the moment we are going through, it now gives us perspective.

When the world and life finally get back to normal and in a good routine do yourself a favor and don’t forget what this moment feels like. Let it serve as a reminder of how quickly life can change. Grow stronger from this time and award yourself with more gratitude by having the perspective that things could be worse. Use that perspective to appreciate the little things you took for granted.

Stay grateful.