It’s amazing how easy it is to NOT stop and realize how amazing life is and how the quality of our lives is a direct reflection of the people we choose to share our journey with. I just came across this video that provides a brief look at what was one of the most difficult years of my life, 2013.

(Here’s the direct link:

On the surface, 2013 may have looked like a phenomenal year to the outside world. The pictures show my blessings – my amazing wife and children, my caring friends, spending time with people I admire such as Brendon Burchard, Vishen Lakhiani, Jason Van Orden, Mike Koenigs, Joel Comm, Ryan Deiss, Jeff Walker and many others.

Yet, at the end of November 2013, AFTER all of these wonderful moments had transpired, I found myself at an all-time low… standing on the brink of throwing in the towel. I was depressed, seriously depressed, and sat square in the middle of a perfect storm.

1) My youngest son had just turned 7 – the age when my parents divorced – and I found myself internalizing what had transpired through the eyes of my son. I saw how young, how vulnerable, and how innocent he was and absorbed the pain of my younger self. I also feared that I was doomed to repeat what I had experienced.

2) I had just returned from speaking in the Dominican Republic at Awesomeness Fest and I was very critical of my presentation. This internal criticism manifested itself as withdrawing from the conference and feeling as though I was the only one NOT having an awesome time at Awesomeness Fest. I balled when I called my wife to share how I was feeling and selfishly scared her with my tone of uncertainty.

3) The weather has always played a big part in my emotions and, in the DR, it was 90 degrees and sunny everyday. My body thrives in the warm sun and knowing that I would be returning home to Chicago to face another dark, cold, dreary winter only added to the downward spiral.

4) Business was good, but not great. The internal dialogue of the ever-concerned entrepreneur wondering if I was truly able to fend for myself and take care of those who depended on me reared its ugly head. Self doubt prevailed. My results reflected the disconnect.

Behind the smile in the pictures was pain. Deep seated pain that precluded me from appreciating the brilliance of the world around me. I was self absorbed and nothing anyone could do or say could change the sense of despair.

In those dark moments, I questioned my existence, cursed my creator and welcomed a swift, but painless end. However, I was a coward. Strong enough to carry the burden of the emotions that weighed me down, but so weak that I couldn’t bring myself to take detrimental action.

Fortunately, I was surrounded by love. The love of my wife who was fully committed to seeing me (and us) through. The love of my kids, though oblivious to the magnitude of the moment, who instinctually knew that their father needed their unconditional acceptance. The love of my mom who connected me with someone who could talk me down off the ledge. And, the love of my dad, who stayed with me day in and day out until the coast was clear.

During my ‘treatment’, tests were run to see if there was something at hand that had led to my difficulties. Sure enough, answers were found. Turns out that my neurotransmitter levels (there’s a bunch of them — Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, etc.) were dangerously low (most people have levels in the 50 – 80 range — mine were all in the single digits). I was literally running on empty… oh, and my thyroid wasn’t acting right either.

If you know me, you know that I’m not shy about sharing my self-medicating habits (take a listen to an episode or two of my show, Reinvention Radio and you’ll quickly understand what I’m referring to), nor am I shy about telling you that helpful prescriptions were written and plenty ‘o pills have been popped.

At the end of the day, they help. They help me to thrive. They help me to smile. They help me to enjoy another day with those I love and, hopefully, provide inspiration or the teachings needed for those who are praying for me to show up in their life (others are praying for YOU to show up in their life right now, too).

(And, while we can debate as to whether or not legal or illegal drugs are good or bad, this post of vulnerability is not meant to incite a discussion of semantics. Your vitamin might be my Wellbutrin. We’re both popping pills. Social stigma drives one’s opinion of either.)

I can now look back and give thanks for surviving this challenge and more readily appreciate the amazing people in my life and the gifts I have been given. I am even able to now declare that 2013 was an INCREDIBLE year, for so many reasons.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. You’re clearly one of my peeps and, since we’re much closer now, I feel comfortable asking you to do something…

Please try to remember that everyone you encounter has a story. Some may even be willing to share their trials, tribulations and triumphs if you simply ask.

Ultimately, my hope is that the next time you find yourself surrounded by light, by love and by those who have come into your life for a reason we can not begin to comprehend, acknowledge them, smile at them, and count your blessings… one glorious breath at a time.