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Story 1


If You’re Not Worried, You’re Dead

To be alive is to solve problems — both real and imagined

Timothy Kreider


Lately one of my favorite leisure activities is to lie awake for several hours worrying about everything that is wrong with my life, which, currently, is almost everything. I like to set aside some time each day for this pastime — from, say, midnight ’til two or three in the morning. I reminisce about things I did in the past that I wish I had not done, and things I did not do that I wish I had. I like to visualize unpleasant things that are going to happen to me in the near and distant future, from having to move at the end of the month to my own death.


I happen to be going through an unusually stressful time in my life right now, but I understand that my late-night worrying is a common, even popular hobby. My mother does the same thing. One difference between my mother and me is that she is currently 83, her personal finances have been taken out of her hands, and she lives in an assisted-living facility with a personal aide 12 hours a day, and so has no actual practical problems at all, except for Parkinson’s Disease and old age. Among Parkinson’s symptoms are dementia, delirium, and paranoia, so in lieu of real problems my mom has a lot of imaginary ones, which she worries about incessantly. Lately her idée fixe is that she has made a killing in imaginary investments and is very concerned that unspecified persons are trying to get their hands on this money by dividing our family against one another. I have learned that the one thing you do not do is tell her not to worry about it: this only proves that you are a naïve, gullible pushover and that Mom now has to worry twice as much because you refuse to take this problem seriously.


Our big clever brains evolved to preemptively imagine problems that might arise and try to solve them as a survival strategy, so that is what we do, restlessly, vigilantly, even in the absence of any immediate threats. If you’re like me, you have a mental checklist — maybe even, if you’re more organized than me, a written one — of all your problems, ranked by severity/urgency, from getting a new glasses case to how to dispose of your own corpse. (In a Do-It-Yourself Guide to Antidepression in her ‘zine Doris, Cindy Crabbe advised making a physical list of your worries so that, as soon as the cycle of worry begins, you can refer to the list to remind yourself that you’ve already worried about those things — you’ve got it covered, so go to sleep.) And somewhere in the back of your mind is the unexamined assumption that eventually you will, one by one, solve all of the problems on this list and then, at last, once your shit has been gotten together and things successfully gotten atop of, you will have no more problems, your life will finally be in order, and you will at last be able to stop worrying and be happy.


In reality my actual strategy is to address these problems from the bottom of the list up, so that I am, e.g., very preoccupied with trying to eliminate the cryptic extra $9.00 monthly charge on my phone bill while not dealing with the fact that my septic system needs to be replaced at a cost of $10,000. Lately, as my problems have become more serious and pressing, my approach is even less constructive: I prevent myself from thinking about any aspect of my life at all by distracting or anesthetizing myself every second of the day until the moment I go to bed, when my earnest, helpful brain, with the alacrity of a student reminding the teacher she forgot to assign homework, presents me with the complete list for my consideration.

There is currently much to worry about. I suppose if we had a national to-do list magneted to the fridge of state, it would read something like:

  • elect grownup
  • campaign finance reform ( + end gerrymandering, electoral college[?])
  • health care (???)
  • guns
  • mass incarceration/educational apartheid

As with personal to-do lists, I’m probably forgetting something important. (Plus the spouses in our unhappy national marriage have different lists whose chores and errands cancel ours out.) These larger worries also carry the corollary delusion that, once we fix this quick checklist of issues, we’ll be able to relax a little, have a well-deserved beer, and go back to doing whatever it was we used to do before it felt necessary to monitor the news every hour to make sure America still existed.


Hope — like faith, like love — is an emotion felt most keenly in its absence.

I lived through the administration of Dick Cheney, when we hastily repealed a lot of the Bill of Rights and first invaded Afghanistan (a losing proposition since Alexander), and then Iraq (for reasons that were, as was obvious to everyone except Hilary Clinton and the national press, totally made up).


I spent most of that decade as a political cartoonist, drawing caricatures of that comic duo George and Mr. Cheney and going to rallies and marches to protest those wars, all of which accomplished nothing. It was a horrible time — talking sense was treason, truth passé, compassion faggy. And yet it was also, in a way, exhilarating: there was a desperate giddiness to it, like uncontrollable laughter at a funeral. I remember one of the songs I listened to on repeat to keep my spirits from withering in that time was “Land of Hope and Dreams” by Bruce Springsteen: Tomorrow there’ll be sunshine / And all this darkness past. That promised light was never brighter than when it still lay in the distant future, when it had to be imagined. Hope — like faith, like love — is an emotion felt most keenly in its absence.


Our current era of darkness really isn’t as bad as that one, in some ways — Donald Trump is admirably squeamish about armed conflict, and so far his body count is relatively low — but in other ways it’s worse, because it feels as if the entire government is in collusion, as if the institutions of democracy have failed.

I’m not pretending that any of us are enjoying these years — I cannot wait for the first full day that passes without mention of our mercurial toddler-king, when we are spared the sight and sound of his bawling maw — but I do think we’ll probably bore our children and grandchildren telling stories about them: how bad it was, the smirking bigotry, the strutting stupidity, the lies, the nonstop open shameless lies, oh you kids don’t even know.


Robert Stone writes about the “dreadful nostalgia” that inevitably crept into conversations about Vietnam among people who’d been there; Michael Herr ends his nightmarish memoir of that war, Dispatches, with the benediction, “yes, never mind, there were some nice [days], too.” Lots of soldiers have trouble readjusting from the sharp-edged hyperreality of war to the duller, fuzzier existence of civilian life. I secretly prefer crises to the tedious slog and ubiquitous bullshit of everyday life, because at such times things at least feel briefly real; life shows its true face. Nobody talks about this now, but the weeks after 9/11 were, in a way, a beautiful time to be in New York: people’s subway faces were torn off, their bare emotions flinching at the air; they were reminded that they were alive.


I’m not saying that none of our current worries matter, or that we shouldn’t try to solve our problems. Even my own problems, which are 100% luxury problems, are real and pressing. And most people’s problems are a lot more urgent than mine, lower on the Maslovian pyramid: they’re worried about their health, their kids, how to pay the bills.


I can hardly bear to think about how infuriatingly unnecessary most of our present problems are, how obviously soluble, how maddeningly possible utopia is. I long to live in a functional country like New Zealand or Norway, where you don’t need to worry about going broke if you get sick or your kid getting shot during Phonics. This seems hopelessly utopian, even though it matter-of-factly exists right this minute about a four-hour drive from where I’m writing this. I just want better problems.


But problem-solving isn’t the same as worry; in fact, it’s pretty much the opposite. But let’s not imagine that what we want is to have no more problems. This notion that we’ll ever be able to cross everything off the checklist and crumple it up is a delusion. Not only will it never happen; we wouldn’t be able to stand it for long if it did. Being freed — or deprived — of all worries is not some idyllic, porch-swing retirement, and we all know it, whatever we may try to tell our elderly parents: it’s an insult and a prison sentence, a vacuous, cushy hell. These years of late-night worry, mind-killing stress, excruciating decision-making and multiple-front crises: these are the good years, the ones we’ll remember, because there are still problems to solve, choices to make, a future to dread.


In the absence of any reasonable object of worry, our brains invent hypothetical or wholly imaginary ones.


My girlfriend, who is presently obsessed with a video game, just this moment said, in a voice of steely resolve: “I’m going to beat this game so that I will never have to play it again.” This is the essential fallacy of worry: that it is goal-oriented, and that the goal is to eliminate the causes of worry so that we never need worry again. But worry — like any institution — does not want to obviate itself. My girlfriend is not playing this game so that she never need play the game again; she is playing the game because she enjoys the game, even if that enjoyment takes the form of endless frustration. Everyone thinks that what they want is to win, but no one wants the game to be over.


We don’t love to worry, but solving problems is what our brains are designed to do, and we love to do what we’re made for, the way our bodies love to run, or sleep, or fuck. In the absence of any reasonable object of worry, our brains invent hypothetical or wholly imaginary ones. Which is why my mom’s brain is now frantically counterplotting against nonexistent plotters. I have a friend who used to suffer from insomnia during particularly stressful periods of her job. It took some time and experience to accept that this stress did not mean that things were going catastrophically wrong at work, or that she was incompetent or about to get fired: her job was just inherently stressful. She doesn’t love the stress, but she does love the job, of which the stress is an inextricable part. We don’t love our worries, but worry is a part of our lives; to paraphrase Santayana, only the dead have seen the end of worry. I once read a book by a mortician, whose advice to people who wanted to micromanage their own funerary arrangements was: Kick back. It’s not your problem anymore. Let someone else worry about it for once. You’re done.



Story 1.1


12 Stories of Kindness and Generosity that Will Change the Way You Live

Written by


Stories of Kindness and Generosity to Change Your Thoughts

There is no exercise better for the heart and soul than reaching

out and lifting others up.


When life is pressing on you and stressing you out, pause, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you are not at the center of the universe.


When you’re overwhelmed by life’s daily struggles, it’s so easy to feel like you’re at the center.

But you aren’t.

None of us are.


Truth be told, we all have the occasional tendency to put ourselves at the center, and see everything in life from the viewpoint of how it affects us.

This can have all kinds of unfavorable effects, from feeling sorry for ourselves when things don’t go exactly as planned, to doubting ourselves when we fail to be perfect.


Let me give you a recent example from my life…

This morning I was faced with a painful rejection – an opportunity I applied for was not decided in my favor. At first I felt awful – I felt a familiar feeling of inadequacy.

But I caught myself and quickly shifted my focus.


Instead of ruminating over my disappointment, I thought about other people I might help – I thought about writing a new article on

Finding little ways to help others snaps me out of my self-centered thinking, and then I’m not wallowing in self-pity anymore – I’m starting to think about what others need.


I’m not second-guessing myself, because the question of whether I’m inadequate or not is no longer the central question.

The central question now is about how I can give back.

And writing on is my go-to way of giving back.


The bottom line is that finding a way to give back – to practice a little kindness and generosity – made a big difference in my life this morning.

And it can make a big difference in your life too.


Stories to Shift Your Focus, and Inspire Kindness & Generosity


Over the past decade, via our blog, Getting Back to Happy course, live events, and side projects, Angel and I have been blessed by the beautiful stories that people around the world have shared with us.

Angel shared some of these stories with you in her most recent blog post.

And right now (with full permission from the original sources), I want to follow Angel’s lead and share twelve more of these stories with you.

The stories (or inspiring story snippets) I’ve selected here are super short but incredibly powerful accounts of generosity. I hope they inspire you to shift your focus and give back in your own unique way today…


  1. “It’s been six months since I totaled my car. I’ve been in and out of the hospital a lot ever since with severe back pain. Although the pain has begun to subside, my recovery forced me to use all my sick time and vacation time for the year. But this morning my boss, who is usually ‘all business’ and pretty hard on everyone, called me into her office and told me she talked with HR and donated five days of her own unused vacation time to me so I would still get paid when I go out of town to visit my family for Christmas.”
  2. “Times haven’t been easy lately, but people have been kind. We live in a lower-middle-class neighborhood. My wife was just diagnosed with breast cancer last week, so my 14-year-old son decided that he wanted to raise money to help pay for some of her medical expenses. His idea was to go door to door around the neighborhood with hair clippers and let people shave a part of his head for a small donation of their choosing. He asked me whether a $100 goal would be too much. I told him not to get his hopes up. He came back home ten minutes ago with a bald head and $1,225. Three people gave him $100 bills.”
  3. “This afternoon my two daughters, 4 and 6, wanted ice cream from the ice cream parlor that’s next to the grocery store where we had just finished shopping. But ever since my husband and I were forced to foreclose on our house we’ve been budgeting our money down to the penny, and only using cash for our necessary purchases. I explained to my daughters that I had only brought enough money for the groceries. They were upset, but OK with it. Then, as we were packing our groceries in our car, the owner of the ice cream parlor walked up with two double scoop ice cream cones. He said, ‘I was out front a minute ago and overheard your conversation. Today the ice cream is on me.’”
  4. “On my way home from work today I stopped on the side of the road to help an elderly man who was struggling to change a flat tire on his car. He turned out to be the firefighter who pulled my whole family out of our burning four-story apartment unit when I was a kid. Even though I hadn’t seen him in nearly 30 years, it only took me a few seconds to recognize him. We chatted about it for awhile, and then as soon and I had the spare tire secured on his car, we looked at each other, shook hands for a prolonged moment and said, ‘Thank you,’ simultaneously.”
  5. “This evening my dad brought me into the city to one of his favorite restaurants. He ordered a substantial amount of food and only ate half of it. On the way home, he drove a route I was unfamiliar with. He pulled over near an alley and said, ‘I’ll be right back.’ Then he grabbed the leftovers, ran into the alley, and returned empty-handed. When I asked him what he did, he replied, ‘There’s a homeless veteran back there who I’ve been giving leftovers to for the last year or so.’”
  6. “It’s been ten years since my best friend became ill and needed a kidney transplant. As I was a fitting donor, I chose to donate one of my healthy kidneys to her even after doctors said her chance of survival was only 25%, and that there would be inherent risks to my health as well. But here I am on a Saturday afternoon, getting ready to drive to her wedding venue where, in just a few short hours, I will be her maid of honor as she marries the love of her life – a man whom she happened to meet at the hospital ten years ago.”
  7. “This morning in my checkout line at the grocery store where I work, a flustered elderly woman realized she was six dollars short on cash for her groceries, and she didn’t have any other form of payment with her. The three people in line immediately behind her each chipped in two dollars so she didn’t have to put anything back. Their spontaneous generosity made me smile.”
  8. “Today, at the animal shelter where I volunteer, a little boy and his mom, who had adopted a kitten last week, came into our lobby carrying big bags full of food, toys, blankets, and other supplies we desperately need. The boy’s mom said, ‘Today is his birthday. Instead of birthday presents, he asked his dad and me to help donate to the shelter.’”
  9. “One of my ex-students from nearly a decade ago, who claims that I was his favorite teacher and his inspiration, mailed me $1,000 to help pay my mortgage payment this month after he found out from a mutual acquaintance that the school board had laid me off, and that I was struggling to find work.”
  10. “This afternoon my 67-year-old dad handed me a bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towel as we got into his car. He turned to me and said, ‘I just spoke with your mom while she was on her lunch break. She mentioned her windshield got covered with bugs on the drive to work. Since we’re going to drive right by her work anyway, I figured we’d clean them off for her. It’s the little things, kiddo, that keeps love going.’ By chance, while my dad was cleaning the windshield, my mom came out with her kids for day-care recess. Her smile, and seeing how in love my parents are 40+ years into their marriage, is heartwarming to say the least.”
  11. “On the way to work today, I watched a teenage boy help an elderly woman with a cane onto the city bus I was riding. He was so careful with her, assisting her every step of the way. The woman had the biggest smile on her face. They both sat directly across from me, and just as I was about to compliment her with having a wonderful grandson, the boy looked at her and said, ‘My name is Chris. What’s your name, ma’am?’”
  12. “Tonight, at the local convenience store where I work, an elderly man with a guide dog came in, went to the aisle with the greetings cards, picked up a card, held it up really close to his face, and struggled to read it. Just as I was about to walk over to help him, a big truck driver asked him if he needed assistance reading, and then proceeded to read him almost every single greeting card out loud until the elderly man smiled and said, ‘That’s perfect! My wife will love that one!’”

Let Your Appreciation Fuel Your Kindness & Generosity

This morning, after receiving the rejection I mentioned, and after writing my heart out for an hour, I went for a long jog at the beach… sea foam kissing my feet with each step, white sand footprints behind me, and the morning sky bursting with bright colors overhead.


At the end of my jog I turned toward the ocean and took several deep breaths, mostly because the sky, and the Atlantic, had momentarily taken my breath away.


I stood there on the sand and applauded.

Yes, I literally clapped my hands in recognition.

Because this is the only response life truly deserves: an appreciative applause.


Today, wherever you are, whatever circumstances you’re dealing with, take a moment to really appreciate this gift we call life, and applaud.


Then do your best to give back to life. Do something – anything – to show your gratitude for this imperfect miracle you’ve been given.

Be kind to a stranger, create something others can use, be loving to your family… make a difference in your own unique way.

Let your appreciation fuel your kindness and generosity.

And let doing so change your life.


Your turn…

If you’re feeling up to it,in a few short sentences, please jot down some notes to self, how kindness and generosity have affected your life.


What is your story?




Story 2


I’m a Little Too Fat, a Little Too Giving. I Think I Know Why.

Using the hunger I experienced as a kid to teach mine the power of generosity


Kristine Levine
I was five years old when my mom took off with me to the coast. She said she needed a do-over. We were starting fresh, with no belongings, no toys, no furniture. She said we had empty hands so that we could catch new blessings.
We also had empty pockets, and she had no job. She’d drank our whole life away, and the booze had left us washed up in a tiny beach town called Rockaway, Oregon. She was hoping the ocean would catch her tears and loosen her chains.


My mother loves the ocean. She is more herself when it is nearby. She believes that it sees and knows, that it moves and feels. It inspires her wonder and fear. She revels in the uncertainty that it could become angry at any moment and take lives at its will. To my mother, the ocean is God.

“Don’t you ever take it for granted, Krissy,” she would say to me. “When you look at that ocean, remember there’s always something bigger than you. Respect her.”


Summer had just ended, and the quaint coastal town had begun to fold up. We found a small cottage—really a motel room with a kitchenette. We never said it was our home; to us, it was just “Number Six.” My mother paid the first month’s rent, enrolled me in kindergarten a block away, and bought us a sack of potatoes and some ketchup. And we began our new life.


“If I were a thief, I would go over there and steal those rotten cabbages for you. But I am not a thief.”


I don’t remember being excited about school. It seemed so frivolous, and I thought I should be getting a job. “I could get a paper route,” I told my mother one night as we walked back to Number Six from the pay phone, where she’d called my dad, begging him to send the $75 child support check. He promised he’d send it as soon as possible, but I knew the potatoes were running low.


My mother looked for work, but the car we’d used to get to the town had broken down, and there were only two or three restaurants within walking distance of Number Six. She didn’t want to get a job in a bar because she was trying earnestly to stop drinking.


Maybe two weeks passed and still no child support check—no money at all. I sat at the kitchen table one night, watching Walter Cronkite deliver the evening news with his objectivity and journalistic integrity. He said something like, “Here is the news at this suppertime.” I remember this because I was so surprised by it. His words were otherwise so dry, so metered, but his mention of it being dinnertime was almost friendly. I wondered if he could see us; how did he know it was time to eat?

My mother was staring out the window with her back to me. I said to her, “Well? He’s right. It is dinnertime. Right, Mom?” I thought I was being clever in catching Cronkite’s sincerity.


She let out a sigh. Without turning around she said, “Do you see that out there? Those people have let their garden grow over. The cabbages have gone to seed now. They’d never know or care if I just snuck over and took one for you.”


The quivering in her voice scared me. She turned to me and wiped her eyes. With a look so cool I thought she might have been mad at me, she said, “If I were a thief, I would go over there and steal those rotten cabbages for you. But I am not a thief.”


Without another word, she passed me and walked out the front door of Number Six. She left it open, and I followed her. She walked down five cottages and knocked on the door to Number One—a larger cottage, where an old man and woman lived. Even though they were our neighbors, we had no idea who they were. The old lady opened the door, and I wove around my mother so I could see inside.

“This is my daughter, Kristine,” my mother stated. “We have no food. She’s had nothing to eat but potatoes for a month, and now we don’t even have any of those left. I don’t care about myself, but could you please give her something to eat?”


The old woman was short and fat with dark skin and black hair twisting around her head. Her name was Anita Vanover. Her husband was a tall white man who was just called Van. I could see into their cottage; the table was set, and Anita and Van were obviously just sitting down to eat. The smells coming from inside made me drool.


I don’t remember Anita saying anything to my mother or even asking her husband first if she could give us something, but I remember her packing up her table: the pot roast, the carrots, the gravy, the potatoes. She handed it all to my mother.


It turned out that the couple had friends who owned one of the restaurants where my mom had tried to get a job. Anita talked to them, and they hired her. Anita and Van became my caretakers in the evening.


They saved my mother and me.


At that moment, though, I don’t think Anita and Van thought they were saving lives or forever changing the path of a child. I think they thought they were doing what they were supposed to do when a woman with a little girl comes to the door and says she needs to eat. What more needs to be said or done? They probably figured that it’s just food.


When you give the best you have to someone in need, it translates into something much deeper to the receiver. It means that they are worthy.


Anita gave so effortlessly and so quickly that I doubt she ever thought about it again. But that one moment taught me a lesson about giving that I have never forgotten. There came a day 30 years later, when I passed that lesson on to my own children.


My daughter’s school had a food drive, and she was excited to collect food for it. Even at 10 years old, she had a strong sense of community. She wanted to be either a police officer so she could help people or an astronaut so she could protect the planet from wayward asteroids. We had to keep her from watching the news because it moved her to the point of tears. Her heart would break for the human condition.


She went to our pantry and started bagging up the canned and dry goods. All the while, she talked. “Oh, I’ll put in the green beans, I don’t like those… I’ll save the Kraft macaroni and cheese. We can give them some no-name brand.” And I realized that my daughter—as generous and good as she already was—knew nothing about giving. I felt like I had taught her nothing.


She didn’t know about Anita and Van. She didn’t know about Number Six. She didn’t know that she could see the face of a hungry child if she looked long enough at her own mother.


So I told her. I told her that my kindergarten teacher thought I was “retarded” because I was so hungry that I didn’t perform well in school and was always slower than the rest of the class. I told her that Anita could have just gone to her cupboard and made me a peanut butter sandwich, and my mother and I would have been so grateful. But she didn’t. She gave the best she had.

The biggest problem with poverty is the shame that comes with it. When you give the best you have to someone in need, it translates into something much deeper to the receiver. It means they are worthy.


If it’s not good enough for you, it’s not good enough for those in need either. Giving the best you have does more than feed an empty belly—it feeds the soul.

Donate to your local food bank today, and give them the best you can.





Story 3


10 Simple Rules for the Best Life Ever

     Your roadmap to a more meaningful life

John P. Weiss

When he first visited the asylum for the mentally disabled, Jean Vanier was overwhelmed by the filth and overcrowding. It was inhuman.


The year was 1964 and Vanier, a French-Canadian philosopher/theologian who had served in the Navy, was still figuring out his path in life.


One of the residents in the asylum asked Vanier if he would be his friend. What happened next defined Vanier’s life work, and set an example for the rest of us who want more meaning in our lives.


Vanier invited the resident and another disabled man to live with him in a modest house in Trosly-Breuil, France. It was here that Vanier fed and washed the disabled men. Others would come, and Vanier named his care home “L’Arche” after Noah’s Ark.


“We are not called by God to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.” -Jean Vanier


Vanier’s model of care grew into L’Arche International, serving in thirty-eight countries and five continents, with over 10,000 members (with and without disabilities).


The light that is shining in them


When I was a police chief in California, our agency used to participate in the annual Special Olympics summer games. My lieutenant and I, in our formal uniforms, would drive an hour to the host city.

We attended planning meetings and a luncheon, but the best part was interacting with the athletes before the games. We’d play catch or kick a soccer ball around. It was a lot of fun. The enthusiasm, affection, and charm of the athletes were infectious.


There were no pretensions, mind games or duplicity. The athletes were the embodiment of love and authenticity. All they wanted was for us to treat them like everybody else.


“We all know well that we can do things for others and in the process crush them, making them feel that they are incapable of doing things by themselves. To love someone is to reveal to them their capacities for life, the light that is shining in them.” -Jean Vanier, From Brokenness To Community


The athletes didn’t want any special accommodations. They simply wanted to compete, have fun, laugh, and share their joy for life with us. I learned a lot from them about being in the moment, and that happiness can be found in everyday living.


As Jean Vanier once told a Wall Street Journal writer:


“The great thing about people with intellectual disabilities is that they’re not people who discuss philosophy. What they want is fun and laughter, to do things together and fool around, and laughter is the heart of community.”

Vanier went on to state:

“What I’m trying to live and trying to say is that people with disabilities are important — in themselves but also they have a message to give to humanity.”

The late Jean Vanier and friends, from his website.

My sister, who is a kind-hearted soul, used to work with intellectually and developmentally disabled children. I remember visiting her once at work and seeing the affectionate way the children interacted with her.


It was moving. Even now, it makes me wish that everyone could possess the same authenticity, affection, and joy for everyday life that these young, intellectually disabled children display.


Presence to others


As we age, we lose a great deal of our childhood innocence. Our curiosity and imaginations succumb to adolescence, hormones and the complexities of adulthood.


We become concerned about our appearance, popularity, and success. We compete in the workplace and learn that communication involves what we say versus what we really mean. We worry about things like status and social rank.


We try to create a safe little world for ourselves, devoid of risk and averse to vulnerability. Only, over time, we’re still not happy.


“He who clutches desperately to security, to everyday habits, work, organization, friends, family, no longer lives. More than security, life needs adventure, risk, dynamic activity, self-giving, presence to others.” — Jean Vanier, Tears of Silence


In order to achieve the best life ever, we need to get out of our own way. Let go of our petty insecurities, accept our strengths and weaknesses, and rediscover the joy found in being present and helping others.


10 simple rules for the best life ever


Thankfully, Jean Vanier left us a roadmap for how to live a better life. How to capture some of the joy that he experienced every day caring for his friends at L’Arche. They are ten simple rules. Follow them to help you live the best life ever.

  1. Accept the reality of your body. As Vanier noted, we are born in weakness and die in weakness. There’s nothing wrong with trying to improve your body and health, but learn to accept yourself as you are. There are so many more important things to focus on, like being present and helping others, which enrich us far beyond our physical appearance.
  2. Talk about your emotions and difficulties. We tend to have difficulty expressing our emotions, yet they drive so much of what we do. Worse, we compensate with drugs and alcohol to mask our feelings of not being successful. Talking about how we feel, honestly, can free us.
  3. Don’t be afraid of not being successful. We erroneously equate being loved with being successful, but as Vanier said, “You are beautiful as you are.” The true measure of a person is not defined by the size of his/her bank account. It’s defined by their emotional bank account. How kind they are. How they treat others. We might envy Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth, but admire people like Mother Teresa more.

4. In a relationship, take the time to ask: “How are you?” You’re married to your spouse, not success. Yes, work is important to provide for our families. But being there for our families is even more important. Take the time to check in. Ask how your spouse and kids are doing. They’ll remember your thoughtfulness and love much more than your career success.


5. Stop looking at your phone. Be present! The digital age has brought us instant communication, but are we really talking to one another?


6. Ask people: “What is your story?” Everyone has a story if you’re willing to listen. Stop trying to change other people and truly meet them. Just because they don’t share your views doesn’t mean they don’t have their own stories, experiences, and wisdom. Learn their story, and stop judging.


7. Be aware of your own story. You are just as precious as every other human being. Appreciate your own uniqueness and talents.


8. Stop prejudice: meet people.  Jean Vanier spoke of the “tyranny of culture.” My group. My party. My culture. Yes, be proud of who you are and your culture, but not at the expense of others. Become a member of humanity. It just might transform you.


9. Listen to your deepest desire and follow it. Unlike animals, humans beings have moral and spiritual needs. Beyond eating, procreating and existing, we search for the infinite. The reason why we are here. All of us have an inner voice that guides us. Our hearts often tell us when we are off course. Learn to trust your heart.


10. Remember that you will die one day. Jean Vanier noted that “We’re all here, but we are just local people. Passengers on a journey. We get on and off the train and the world will continue.” Facing our mortality can help guide our actions today. It can reshape the kind of person we want to be.


Your moral purpose


The wisdom of aging is that many of the things we thought were so important, like our looks, wealth or status, really aren’t important. What matters more is our character. How we treat others.


There is much more to the world than money, competition, and material pleasures. While there’s nothing wrong with having ambition and becoming successful, the trick is to never lose sight of your moral purpose.


The minute you trade your kindness and humanity to make a buck or get ahead in life, you really end up shortchanging yourself. In the twilight of your life, the sweetness of ill-begotten success succumbs to a kind of bitterness.


Jean Vanier passed away recently in his 90th year. He was truly a saint on earth. Thankfully, he left much wisdom for us to learn from. In a 2015 interview he shared the following:


“Try and find somebody who is lonely. And when you go to see them, they will see you as the messiah. Go and visit a little old lady who has no friends or family. Bring her flowers. People say, ‘But that’s nothing.’ It is nothing — but it’s also everything.”

(Originally published at


Before you go

I’m John P. Weiss. I draw cartoons, paint landscapes, and write about life. Thanks for reading!





Story 4


If You Don’t Know What You Want, This Is For You

Sah Kilic

“A hiker wearing a backpack, standing on a hill looking out at the mountains and clouds during sunrise”


You’re in the middle of your journey.

Whatever that may be; a career, school, parenthood, travel, business, a new goal, a new relationship. You’re in the midst of dozens of journeys it seems, yet you’re unsure about something.

You’ve hit a dead end, you’re in a pit of uncertainty, hell you don’t even think that this is the thing. The big thing.

The thing you want.


A lot of the time you feel like you’re just floating, trying to make sense of it all.

It seems that you haven’t even begun your journey.


“I don’t know what I want to do.”

“I don’t know what I want for a career.”

“I don’t know if I want this person.”

“I don’t know what I want.” Period.


When you have an endless sea of decisions, a few things happen.

You feel anxious, directionless, and feel an overwhelming sense of agitation and restlessness.


Because you know there is so much to do, so many possibilities yet you do nothing or very little.


But why?


Let’s be clear on this logic.

You try to optimize a decision so deeply,
You try to think about every possible outcome,
You spend weeks, months, years thinking about the right choice,
Only to not make a decision and postpone your journey that little bit longer,
Because heavens forbid it turns out to be the wrong decision.


You’ve heard it time and time again that it’s ok to fail yet you don’t seem to put it in action.

It’s because you don’t know what you want right?


Wrong, it’s because you want a lot of things, and you don’t like choosing.


Time spent doing one thing is taking away from potential time doing another thing that you might like better, right?

You just want the best for yourself.

I get it. We only have one life, we want to optimize this life, but let me rip off that band-aid.

This is flawed logic and will only make you miserable after 5, 10, 20 years of waiting or deciding.


If you’re not busy doing, you’ll never figure it out.


Don’t treat your life like a formula you have to spend 10 years writing, only to maybe have the next finite amount of time slightly better off.


This is misguided.

Life is meant to be an experience.

Not something to be optimized by thinking 24/7 while on autopilot for the next 10 years.

You’ll figure out what you want by trying different things, by simple problem solving, by the process of elimination — not a formula.


The best thing about this is that you’ll look back on that decision you actually made, and realize that they were what made the adventure possible. 

They made you feel fulfilled, overjoyed, maybe uncomfortable, or even sad at times… but that’s what a journey is meant to be.


But I realize it’s hard to start. It’s hard to change the routine and it’s hard to break free.

No amount of motivation will help unless there’s something practical to do. So here is a place to start.

If you were paying attention, you may have realized that all the self-doubt and uncertainty I speak of can be traced back to some subtle ways of thinking about things.

One of which consists of self-talk that starts something like “I don’t know..”

This, I’ve found is a horrible focal point, one that I like to overwrite when I can.


Here’s how.

Get out a pen and paper, start a new document, begin writing.


What I know for certain.


Don’t focus on what you don’t know.

Focus on what you do know.


This doesn’t mean to go learn new things, this doesn’t mean to stick to the known not taking any risk.

This means focus on what you know for certain about your goals, aspirations, and interests.


What I know for certain.

  1. I know for certain that I want to travel to many different countries
  2. I know for certain that I want to start a business
  3. I know for certain that I don’t see a future with my partner
  4. I know for certain x, y or z

It could be anything.

And it more often than not will be broad.


This may seem simple, but you’ve in effect cut out all the self-made barriers to your decision and simplified it.


You’ve turned questions like, “I don’t know which country to go to”, “I don’t know how long I should stay there”, “I don’t know when to go or who to go with” etc. to a certainty.

You’ve taken them and made them known.

Not by answering the question, but by changing the context.


I know for certain that I want to travel.


That’s it.


Everything else is almost negligible now.

It doesn’t matter if you go to Germany or Spain.

You will be following that direction that you’ve outlined for yourself.

And like we mentioned before, this is all about trying things and not analyzing yourself into inaction.


The key is to ask yourself if the action you’re taking is aligned with what you know for certain.

This works for everything.


Going ahead and starting a business regardless of whether you fail or not, will still put you on the right path as long as starting a business is something you know you want to do.

You’ll realize really quickly if it’s the right type of business, leave that realization for later.

Because by then you will know for certain whether or not it’s right for you.

If you don’t start, you never will.


Focus on what you know for certain, and you’ll be inadvertently writing a story on how you eventually figured out what you wanted.

An amazing story to tell at that, twists and turns, great times and times of trial.

One dragon is short of a real-world fantasy.

Thanks for making it to the end :)

If you liked this article, I’ve got a few very practical reads for you. One about putting yourself in a box and one about productivity.

I’ve also gone to this newsletter that you might be into.

I send a tiny email every few weekends (if that) with some useful or cool stuff I’ve found/made. Don’t worry, I hate spam as much as you.

Feel free to subscribe.

Sah out.




Story 5


5 Signs You Are Wasting Your Life

Megan Holstein

Life is precious and we only get one shot at it.

Nevertheless, a lot of people spend their life merely passing the time rather than making the most of the short time they have left.


Young people are especially guilty of this — we are in the springtime of our lives.

If ever there was a time to plant a tree, it’s now.

Yet most of us don’t do that.

Young people spend their time partying, eating junk food, and taking vacations rather than reading, building new skill sets, building healthy habits, and investing in themselves.


Are you merely passing the time instead of making the most of your one life?

Here are some ways to tell.


1. You don’t get out of bed quickly upon waking.

If you spend a half hour to an hour poking around on your phone before getting out of bed, you are not making the most of your life.

People who have a driving purpose in their life don’t spend time lounging around on their phone in bed.

Waking up is no big deal, just the start of another random day.

To someone with a purpose, waking up every morning is a refreshing welcome to another day of hard yet meaningful work.


2. You spend more than an hour or two a day on aimless activities.

Some activities are inherently aimless, done only because they are pleasing in the moment. Some activities like this are:

  • spending time on social media
  • watching TV or movies
  • playing video games

In small doses, no more than an hour or two a day, these kinds of activities can be an important part of decompressing.

Any more than that, though, and you’re going beyond ‘decompressing’ into ‘wasting your life.’

People with a purpose don’t spend too long doing these sorts of things because they are aware that every hour sucked away by aimless activities is another hour they will never get back.

It’s not that they try not to spend so much time doing these things — the thought of wasting that much time makes them sick.

People with a purpose wouldn’t waste their time this way even if they could.


3. You don’t feel ready for bed at the end of each day

People whose days are filled with purposeful activities feel tired at the end of the day. Whether it’s mental work or physical work, purposeful activity uses up all your energy and leaves you ready to go to bed each day.

When you aren’t making the most of your life, on the other hand, you aren’t tired at the end of the day. You are, quite literally, not making the most of your energy.


4. You spend more of your time planning than doing

If you spend more of your time daydreaming, planning, or thinking about the future than you do working to bring about that future, you are are not making the most of your life.

People who make something of themselves don’t sit around daydreaming about what the future may be like. People who make something of themselves pick a goal for the future and then work hard to make that goal happen. Someone who spends all their time daydreaming is not someone who spends all their time doing.

Think about professional weightlifters. They spend a little bit of their time researching how to lift weights more effectively, and a lot of their time lifting weights.


5. You worry what others think of you

High achievers are too busy getting things done to worry what others think of them. High achievers may worry about what people who matter think of them, but they don’t worry about what their friends, family, or pop culture thinks. They are too busy getting things done.

If you routinely worry about what your friends, family, peers, or pop culture thinks of you, you may be letting your life slip by. Instead of doing what others approve of, find a guiding purpose that you can be true to even when the world turns against you.


Like What You Read?

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Story 6



Do You Make This Mistake In Conversations?

           How to Improve Your Discourse

Years ago I suffered an exercise-related injury. My doctor referred me to a physical therapist. On my first appointment, the physical therapist welcomed me and introduced himself as Michael. He patiently asked questions about my injury, listened intently, and explained what we would work on.

For several weeks, Michael helped me recover from my injury. As much as I appreciated his professional help, what I enjoyed more was his conversational style. He was easy to talk to and a superb listener. He asked a lot of questions and was interested in my answers. There was no competition. I felt like it was important for him to learn more about me. When my physical rehabilitation ended, I missed the weekly conversations with Michael.


My doctor (when I lived in California) was another person whose conversations I always enjoyed. We occasionally met for lunch and he always asked questions and showed interest in what I had to say. He listened well and was able to share his own stories and insights in a noncompetitive, flowing manner. We tended to talk about ideas more than everyday stuff, and I came away enriched by our conversations.


The poor quality of conversations today

What I seem to notice, increasingly, is the poor quality of conversations today. Perhaps the ubiquity of social media, texting and digital communication has made us all impatient, distracted, rude conversationalists. We tend to talk at one another rather than with one another.

Just the other day, I was enjoying a latte in Starbucks, sketching in my journal.


I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation next to me between two women. I don’t know their names, so we’ll call them Carole and Linda. It went something like this:


Carole: “So, how’s your daughter Jennifer doing?”

Linda: “Oh, she’s doing fine. We got her a tutor for math, ’cause she’s been struggling a little bit. Oh, and she’s trying out for the girl’s basketball team, so we’ll see.”

Carole: “Our Joseph is still on the varsity football team. We went to his game last Friday night. It was terrific. Look, let me show you (pulling out her phone and scrolling through pictures of the game). See, here he is making a touchdown. Oh, and he’s still eyeing Stanford University. It’s more expensive than the state university, but George and I know it will open doors for him. Joseph might even get a football scholarship. We’re working on that.”

Linda: “Well that’s great. Oh hey, did I mention that Bob and I are thinking about going to Hawaii this summer? We haven’t had a vacation in a while, so we’re pretty…”

Carole (interrupting): “Oh, George and I went to Hawaii last year! Remember, I showed you pictures. We rented this amazing guest house right on the beach. Now that George got a promotion at work, we’re talking about going to Italy this summer. Don’t get me wrong, Hawaii was fun, but there’s just something about Europe that’s exciting. We were going to do one of those tour groups but decided to explore on our own. Like we did when we went to Scotland last year. Did I ever tell you what happened when we visited Edinburgh?”


It went on like that. Carole monopolized the conversation, often interrupting Linda to talk about herself and her family. Worse, Carole kept “one-upping” Linda. Whatever Linda had to say, Carole would counter with something better. The more I eavesdropped (I shouldn’t have but they were loud) the more annoyed I became with Carole.


“There cannot be greater rudeness than to interrupt another in the current of his discourse.”-John Locke


Competition disguised as conversation

How people converse tells you a lot about them. Egocentric people like everything to be about them, so they steer conversations back to their favorite topic: themselves. Shy, reserved people tend to listen more, but also fail to jump in and share. As a result, they get steamrolled in conversations.

Boisterous, overconfident people think they know everything and interrupt frequently to share their “brilliance.” Insecure people sometimes play the “one-upmanship” game, needing to go one better than whatever your accomplishment or success might have been.


Then there is the substance of conversations. It’s natural to begin conversations with standard pleasantries and superficial chit chat. The best conversations move past this, delving into a deeper back and forth. Perhaps sharing with one another about recent struggles or successes. Concerns and dreams. Each listening intently, not monopolizing the discussion, and contributing equally.

Or, the discussion forays into the realm of ideas. Things learned from books or lessons derived from a meaningful movie. These types of conversations are far more enriching than superficial gossip.


“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” -Eleanor Roosevelt


A lot of conversations become competitions disguised as conversations. Each person is not really listening. They’re formulating and preparing their next thought and readying to interrupt. Neither is really learning anything from the other. It’s an awkward dance of egos.


“There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak.” -Simon Sinek


Even worse are the conversation hogs who hold you hostage with their long stories, recounting every mundane detail. Their stories frame themselves as heroes, brilliantly outsmarting everyone else and winning the day.


Or they devolve into a long rant, bitching and complaining about real or imagined slights. People who hold court over others might think they have a rapt audience, but they don’t. Their audience can’t wait for the pain to end.


I’m currently reading Tara Westover’s amazing memoir, “Educated.” Microsoft founder Bill Gates interviewed Tara Westover. On his website,, Gates describes the book as follows:

“Tara was raised in a Mormon survivalist home in rural Idaho. Her dad had very non-mainstream views about the government. He believed doomsday was coming, and that the family should interact with the health and education systems as little as possible. As a result, she didn’t step foot in a classroom until she was 17, and major medical crises went untreated (her mother suffered a brain injury in a car accident and never fully recovered).”

Watch the way Bill Gates talks with Tara Westover in the below discussion about her book. While this is more of an interview than a strict conversation, Gates displays all the earmarks of a wonderful conversationalist. He asks brief questions. He nods affirmatively and listens intently. Gates is a brilliant man, but he has no need to pontificate, lecture or tell long-winded stories. He is truly interested in what Tara Westover has to say.


Do more listening than talking


My wife took me to a beautiful winery once along the northern coast of California. We attended a special dinner and were seated with several other couples. The conversation was polite, as we all remarked on the beauty of our surroundings. But then a woman in the group made an overtly political comment, and in my youthful impetuousness, I couldn’t let it go.


Soon the woman and I were engaged in a heated political discussion. The woman’s date was older than her. A distinguished gentleman with white hair and an impeccable suit, he seemed bemused by our debate. He had listened quietly for quite some time. At some point, someone asked his opinion.

He leaned forward, and with a smile and twinkle in his eye, started to share an interesting story from history. It related to our political debate indirectly but took on its own form. The gentleman weaved a short story around it. About hope, loss, and how fruitless some of our battles are. It was brilliant. Elegant. Above the fray.


My wife missed it, having abandoned the table with another woman. My debate partner and I had been disarmed and shut down by this wise, articulate gentleman. I learned a lesson that night about humility.


“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.”-Bernard Baruch


Here’s the bottom line. We all do it. We all get caught up in ourselves from time to time. We want to be the center of attention. Our egos get the best of us. But the problem is, doing so often makes us utter bores.

The mistake we make in conversations is making it all about us.


People love a great listener. There’s a sense of validation when someone listens closely to what you have to say, nods affirmatively, and paraphrases back to you parts of what you said. When we discipline ourselves to stop steering the conversation back to ourselves, something amazing happens. People start to open up to us. They begin to trust us more. They go home after the conversation and tell others what a brilliant conversationalist you are.


Tips for better conversations

What follows are some helpful guidelines to improve your conversations. Learn and employ these tips, and watch what happens. You may find people seeking you out more for coffee, lunch or just to talk. People will start speaking highly of you, as someone who really listens and converses well.

Stop trying to be right

What is it with our need to be right all the time? It gets in the way of understanding others. Instead of trying to win a debate, how about trying to better understand where the other person is coming from?

Ask deeper questions, like, “Tell me why you believe that. I’d like to understand better.” Even if you disagree, you might gain valuable insights. Everyone has their beliefs and stories. If you’re always trying to slam them with your rehearsed talking points, then you’re not really conversing. You’re just feeding your ego.


There’s an old saying that sums up the importance of listening:

“God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. So you listen twice as much as you talk.”


If you’re talking, then you’re missing an opportunity to learn from others. Even people we dislike or disagree with may have wisdom to share. What kind of arrogance assures us that we have all the answers and everyone else is wrong? Learn to listen more.


Stop hogging the conversation

Perhaps you are a clever person and have tons of wisdom to impart. Maybe you possess a slew of personal stories about your successes and brilliant escapades. Guess what, most people aren’t all that interested. They may feign interest, but chances are they aren’t.


Yes, there are exceptions to this. If you are a paid speaker, people are probably there to learn from you. Or maybe you’re a soldier home from deployment, and your family can’t wait to hear about your tour of service. But for the rest of the time, at coffee or dinner with friends, don’t inflict long, uninvited stories about yourself on others.


My Dad was a Type A personality, which means he was impatient and authoritative. It caused him to have a heart attack, and he received counseling on how to better manage his Type A impatience. He once told me the following advice:


In the middle of a story you’re telling friends at dinner, excuse yourself to use the restroom. When you come back and sit down, wait and see if anyone asks you to resume your story. Don’t be upset if they don’t. Our every day, personal stories are not always fascinating to others.”


Stop the one-upmanship

Some people just have to do you one better. Mention your promotion at work, and they’ll have to tell you about theirs, and why it’s more remarkable. Talk about how proud you are of your kid, and they’ll mention something better about their kid. It’s a twisted kind of insecurity. Like they have to compete with you.


We see this too with intellectual snobbery. The academic who has to correct others, and proceed with a mini-lecture on a particular topic. To most people, this kind of behavior looks like you’re wearing a signboard that says, “I’m totally insecure.”


Ask questions

The famous attorney Gerry Spence once wrote a book about winning arguments. It was an unconventional book, and different from the usual texts on logic and debate. In one part of the book, he talked about the uncommon knowledge found in others. The wisdom of truck drivers and janitors that cannot be found in books.

If we are to learn more about people and life, we should view each person as an exquisite interview opportunity. Like you, they have their own experiences and stories to tell. Why rehash your life story when you can learn from others? Learn to ask more questions.


“The size of our universe shrinks considerably when we place ourselves at the center. And the people who are most focused on themselves are the least satisfied in life.” -Joshua Becker


Embrace active listening

If you really want to blow people away as a conversationalist, don’t just listen attentively. Learn to paraphrase back what they said. Here’s an example:


“So that’s how come I’m so excited, Steve. I studied for months, took the sign language exam, and passed the first time with 100%! Now I can apply for that new job and if I get it, I’ll get a raise!”

“Wow, congrats Beth. It’s not easy to study sign language for months and ace the exam! When will you apply for that better paying job?”


In the above example, Steve clearly paid attention to Beth, and then paraphrased back the main parts of her story. This validates what she’s saying and feeling. She will remember and appreciate Steve’s interest a lot more than if he had turned the conversation into a story about his own work or job successes.


Give reciprocity

We all have times when we just have to tell our story. Maybe something exciting happened at work, or we’re still raving about a great movie we saw. Everyone has the need to share their experiences and stories. The trick is to learn to give and take. Learn the art of reciprocity. Don’t make it all about you. When you finish your story, say, “Enough about me, what’s new with you?”


Conversations are not competitions. They’re a chance to connect, laugh, cry and learn from others. Steer clear of mundane stories. Follow the tips outlined above, don’t make it all about you, and soon everyone will be saying what a remarkable conversationalist you are. But the best part is that you’ll start connecting on a deeper level, learn new things, and find greater joy in the conversations you have.


Originally published at

Before you go

I’m John P. Weiss. I draw cartoons, paint, and write about life. Get my free, weekly newsletter here.





Story 7


My Message To Those Who Are Struggling

Struggle Gym Motivation - Unbroken

Up until four years ago, I lived my life in a constant struggle. I still do, except now I see the beauty and gift that comes from the art of the struggle. We’re all struggling in some way because we’re all part of the same flawed human species.


The most common email I get from fans is “How do I overcome X struggle?” In one short blog post, I’m going to talk in detail about the subject. I’m going to give you the advice I would give my own children if I had any.


In a way, this blog post is not just a message to those of you who are struggling, but it’s also a message to my former self.


It’s the advice I wish I had when I went through so many dark times. It’s the advice I wish I had when my whole world collapsed, and the point of life seemed meaningless.

We all feel like this at one point in our life. Going through struggle is not about suffering, it’s about overcoming adversity. The aim is not to avoid but embrace. Come on a journey with me to your deepest, darkest place and let’s see if we can find the light again in your life.


Here are my top 5 tips to those who are struggling:


1. Become more

When my life took a nasty turn for the worse, one thing saved me: the realization that I had to become more. Once you acknowledge where you are at, and decide to become more, little changes start to occur inside of you.

For me, I was struggling because I hadn’t become a person worth knowing. I let every vice, bad habit and temptation take over my life.

“The devil was knocking at my door, and I kept letting him in rather than tell him to F%$# off” – Tim Denning

Late nights were common at this stage of my life, and I made fun of everyone I came into contact with to cover up my own insecurities. Most of all, I made fun of people in love. This was the very thing at the time that I was incapable of getting anywhere near.

Becoming Free From StruggleWhat I lacked, I chose to highlight and shame in others. My potty mouth was out of control, I honked my horn at anyone not doing 100 miles an hour, and I was rude to anyone who made less money than my overpaid salary. These are things I’m not proud of, but today I stand here ready to say I was wrong.

For those of you struggling, what you need to do is become more. You need to be able to pick up on your flaws like I just did and then work on them. You need to be committed to become more in society and hold yourself to a higher standard.

You are capable of so much, and you can bring about phenomenal change in this world if you just let go. Let go of your fear, how you’re perceived by others, your fake ass social media lifestyle, your too cool for school image, and anything else that is not serving you.

Let go of the past and choose to become more.


2. Do more

We’re all pretty lazy when it comes down to it. If you’re struggling, it’s because you need to do more than you’re currently doing. But doing more of the wrong kind of activity will only see you suffer more. You need to do more of the good stuff like:

– Making people smile for no good reason

– Helping people who are in need or stuck in life

– Giving that extra 10% that nobody is willing to give

– Starting that business that you’ve been putting off

– Doing more of what you love so you can live life at its best

– Loving someone other than yourself

– Allowing yourself to fall in love if you haven’t already


3. Travel more

Last year was a bloody tough year for me. Everything that could go wrong in my personal life did. How did I overcome this major struggle? I got on as many planes as I could. For a guy that used to be scared of flying, this was an achievement I was proud of.


When I arrived in places like the USA, I saw people who were struggling even more than I was. I saw people In San Francisco who were not only poor, but who had also lost their minds and just wanted to die. I saw the other side of humanity that Instagram selfies almost always miss.


Walking through the jungle travel

Travelling made me more compassionate, and opened my eyes to the world beyond my perfect home country Australia. Initially, I had a ridiculous, unlikely plan to possibly escape Australia and move to San Francisco. I thought I could be Mark Zuckerberg and become one of those cool tech entrepreneurs that drove a Toyota Prius.


By the time I got home, I was even more in love with Australia than I had ever been before. I stopped taking for granted all those beautiful rivers, mountains, rainforests and parks that I’d become accustomed to. My mind expanded, and I was never going to be the same again.


Do you care about my stupid travel adventures? Definitely not. I told you all of this because if you’re struggling, you need to travel more.


Get out of the mother’s womb that is your hometown, pack your suitcase, and escape.


Don’t escape life, escape temporarily while you find yourself again.

You’re not lost forever because of your struggles: you’re lost during a brief moment in time. You need to find yourself again, and travel is part of that process.


4. Be happy with now

There’s a lot of pressure on us from society to live according to some prehistoric timeline. You’re born, then you finish school, then you get a college degree, then you get married, then you have kids, then you retire, and then you die.


“The trouble with living to society’s plan is that you keep fast-tracking to the future”


The problem is that your future is not guaranteed. All that you’re guaranteed of is this current breath. Accumulating milestones is a pointless quest if you don’t love right now.


As bad as things may be, you could be dead or in hospital. You could have sight but no vision. You could be living in a third world country and getting tortured or raped every day. Life’s not that bad, and you can be happy again, no matter what your circumstances are.


I’m not saying to forget about the milestones like marriage and kids, but what I am asking you to do is have faith that they will happen when the time’s right.


I’m asking you to be mindful and appreciate the things you already have.


Stacking possessions will not make you happy. Stacking experiences, combined with finding who you are, will. Changing the world, giving to others and loving everybody will make you fulfilled (the ultimate form of happiness).


These things will allow you to win the quest you’ve been sent to Planet Earth to win. We can all conquer and triumph at this quest, as long as we believe we have the capacity to do so.


5. Struggle together

Alone we are small. Together we are united and capable of doing anything. Who are you surrounded by? Who’s has your back? If you’re struggling, then the answer is probably no one or very few people. To come back from adversity, you have to bring others in to assist you.

No one’s going to do this for free, though. You have to give before you can attract the right people. If we look at a company like Amazon, there’s no way it could have ever existed without lots of people working together for a common cause. There’s no billion-dollar company with one employee.

You’re struggling, in part, because you haven’t got a foundation of people underneath you to hold up the structure that is you.

“With all the I’s and selfies in the world, we’ve forgotten about the us’s and we’s. We have forgotten about why we need a tribe around us”

To rise up from your struggles you require a magnet-like attraction to phenomenal human beings who can change the way you think. You need people in your life who are going to hold you accountable and be there when the inevitable fires of your life begin to rage.

No fire lasts forever, and that’s the same with your struggle. The goal is not to avoid struggle, but to bring others into the fight and win a united battle. You’re capable of so much more than the current standards you are living too. If all I manage to do is get you to acknowledge the struggle, and agree not to dismiss it, then I’ve won.

Repeat after me:

“I can change the world”

“Struggle equals growth”

“Pain is temporary”

“We’re in this together”

“I must form the habit of giving”

“I’ll have faith from now on”



Where to from here?


Throw away your pity pants and decide that tomorrow’s going to be different because you’re in control. Accept the struggle and reframe it in your mind as the best thing that could have ever happened to you.


The Struggle Continues

When I went through this process four years ago, I committed to changing my entire environment. I read books I had never read (I’d never really read a book since primary school), I sought out the top performers in their field, I went to seminars, I changed my diet, and most of all I decided not to be mediocre. I told myself that




The process was hard, and I did seek professional help initially. Struggle is hard, but so is life. What’s freaking awesome, though, is when you overcome it. When you get to the top of the mountain and realize there’s another one that’s just as hard to climb and it’s even higher.

It’s that never-ending pursuit of success that keeps us alive and makes us human. That’s enough for today my young student. Now it’s time to take action, go out into the world and try this stuff out. Believe in yourself!





Story 8


Do These Things Before Going to Bed and You’ll Wake up Energized for Tomorrow

Your day really starts the night before.

Tim Denning

The time before bed is sacred. What you do before bed determines how well you sleep and whether you will wake up the next day energized.


I often thought that morning routines were key until I realized that a morning routine is useless if you wake up tired and lifeless.


It’s hard to get out of bed and start your day with a bang if you haven’t slept well and set your day up the night before.


Your day starts the night before.


Experiment with doing these things before going to bed:

Empty your cup


The day causes our cup (mind) to overflow with thoughts, ideas, concerns and stories that repeat themselves over and over.


Empty your cup before you go to bed. Let it all spill out so that your cup won’t continue overflowing all through the night and stop you sleeping.

Try these:

  • Write down your thoughts before bed
  • Talk about your day with your partner
  • Watch a mind-numbing show

That last one is my favorite. I often watch a TV show called “Grand Designs” before bed because its simplicity allows me to escape my thoughts and concentrate on the physical structure of a house. I will never be a builder and have no intention of building a house or renovating.


The TV show has no meaning to me, there is nothing for me to learn, and I have no interest in the subject whatsoever. This complete disconnect helps to empty my cup.


Many of my friends cite mind-numbing TV shows as being helpful for them emptying their owns cups before bed. Try it for yourself.



To prepare for bed, you’ve got to chill out a little. Take a load off, relax, sit on the couch, lie on the floor, sit up in bed, or find your own way to relax.


Part of calming down before bed is getting yourself in a relaxing state of mind. We all have an activity that we find relaxing. Insert that activity right before bed.


Have a warm shower


A shower before bed is an excellent way to relax. There is a lot of mumbo jumbo about your body temperature before bed and while there’s probably some truth to it, the relaxing benefits of a shower can be underestimated.


If you really are worried about the body temperature before bed debate, you can make the shower a warm one rather than a cold one. What matters is that time alone with water pouring down all over your body. The sound and motion of the water has a meditative effect that is hard to explain.


Stop eating at 8 PM


Eating right before bed is a bad idea. Your body needs time to rest and that includes your stomach.

One way I have found to increase my energy levels has been to insert a period of fasting into my day. I stop eating at 8 PM each night and don’t start eating until around 7 AM the next day. This gives my body plenty of time to do its thing and not be bombarded by never-ending calories that it has to work overtime to process.


Try giving your body a rest and not having a late-night snack.


Spend time with your partner


Time with your partner (or your housemates/family if you don’t have a partner) is a way to experience human connection before bed.


We spend so much of our day in front of a phone or computer that we can easily forget that there are these things called human beings that exist too. Asking about someone’s day helps take the focus off your own and that is another way to empty all the thoughts out of your mind.


Try reconnecting with a human before bed.


Let your worries rest


Going to bed with a head full of worries will not help you sleep.


Worry keeps us awake and lets our minds keep ticking. You can’t fix your worries in your sleep. Accepting your worries and letting them rest until tomorrow without the need to come up with action plans is a helpful thought to ponder.


Before bed, the aim is to get out of problem-solving mode and into resting mode.


Contemplate what you have achieved


I find contemplating what I have achieved helps me to switch off.


When you think about what you have achieved, you feel a sense of pride and it puts your day in context. It makes the struggles you endure worth it and that thought is a calming one before bed.

We achieve so much each day and that might help you get ready for tomorrow.


Avoid social media right before bed


Now I am guilty of this one. Being on LinkedIn late at night is tempting for me. But it doesn’t help me sleep.


All it takes is a stray comment or the need to compare my results to someone else’s, and my sleep is disturbed. There’s always one more thing to do when it comes to social media — another post, another comment to leave, another writer to study, another fun fact, another opportunity.


Social media before bed makes your mind go a million miles per hour and that is the enemy of rest.


Social media triggers thoughts and plants a huge volume of information in our brain at a rapid pace. This is not good for rest.


Finish up social media early if you can, so that you can focus on relaxing and getting ready for tomorrow.


There is always time for social media tomorrow. It’s not going anywhere.


Be appreciative for one thing


You don’t have to get all spiritual and shit and be all #humble.


Appreciating one thing helps you to realize how much you already have. Every day, you get one gift of something going right amongst all the stuff that goes wrong. This gift is a good focus point to reflect on and be at peace with.



Did the car start? Did someone hold the door open? Did the customer do what you wanted them to do? Did you get to read that book?


There are plenty of things that went right today and remembering one of them will help you prepare for tomorrow and wake up energized.




Story 9



How to Activate Extreme Self-Confidence and Destroy Chronic Anxiety and Fear

Anthony Moore

When I was growing up, I had virtually no self-confidence.


A chronic stutter had convinced me to keep my mouth shut; better not speak at all than speak and get laughed at.


Heavy pornography usage had eroded my ability to connect with people; I would frequently make huge conversational gaffs when I’d try to hold a conversation. “Look out, huge butt coming through!” I cackled stupidly as a girl I liked walked past me to her seat during a football game.


Do you ever just want to go back in time and…repeatedly smack your face with your shoe?


Most people don’t have high self-confidence. A life lived for others and no real effort to improve has left them wildly insecure, full of self-doubt and confusion.


The solution is confidence and self-belief. But these aren’t innate gifts, as most people might think. Motivational speaker David Schwartz once wrote:


“All confidence is acquired, developed. No one is born with confidence. Those people you know who radiate confidence, who have conquered worry, have acquired their confidence, every bit of it.”


If you want to activate extreme self-confidence and finally eliminate chronic worry and anxiety, you need to build it yourself.


Here’s how.


Trade Your Mediocre Behaviors For Those of Successful People


“The key to becoming world-class in your endeavors is to build your performance around world-class routines.” -Darren Hardy


Most people constantly practice mediocre, substandard routines and behaviors.


There is a distinct difference between how successful and unsuccessful people operate. They think, speak, and carry themselves very differently.


Successful people with high self-confidence weren’t just born that way — they became that way. NYT Best-Selling author Grant Cardone once said,


Success is not something that happens to you, it’s something that happens because of you and the actions you take.


Success and self-confidence must be grown, nurtured, and trained. Anyone from any background, regardless of upbringing/social class/ability can cultivate this skill.


It requires deliberate and intentional training, though. Like any skill, it’s grown over time. Those who put in the work, get the results.


To produce extraordinary results, you don’t need an unlimited budget; you just need a better tool kit.” -Tim Ferriss


If you want to have the type of confidence, focus, and charisma that enables you to achieve your ideal lifestyle, you need to model your behavior on others who’ve already succeeded.


Want 100% financial independence? Find a mentor who’s already done it.


Want to own your business? There are dozens of incredible people who teach how to do it online, for free.


Want a strong, healthy body? I think you see where I’m going with this.


Trade in your outdated and unhelpful actions with the actions a successful person would do.

There are people, right now, living the life you want. Read their stuff. Buy their courses. Follow their instructions.


If you want a different life, you need to do things differently.

“One of the greatest turning points in my life occurred when I stopped casually waiting for success and started to approach it as a duty, obligation, and responsibility.” -Grant Cardone



Act While You Feel Fear

“Act while you feel fear rather than waiting until you feel unafraid.” -David Richo, How to Be An Adult

The world’s top salespeople still dread picking up their phone sometimes.


The world’s most accomplished athletes still get nerves before big games. Bill Russell, one of the greatest players in NBA history (winner of 11 championships in 13 years) often vomited before big games due to nerves and anxiety.


When asked about how he felt when he released a movie, legendary film director Martin Scorcese made this remark:


“If you don’t get physically ill seeing your first rough cut, something is wrong.”

The world’s top performers act while they are afraid.


Don’t wait until the fear is gone. Act while you feel fear.


I remember being in love with this cute girl in middle school. I barely spoke a word to her in class. I was terrified of rejection, of stuttering over my words if I revealed my feelings.


On the last day of school, I was determined to tell her. I can still remember how profoundly terrified I was as I walked up to her group of friends (why are girls always surrounded by an army of friends!) and I nervously asked if I could speak with her alone.


I told her I liked her, and asked if she’d be my girlfriend.


She said yes. I think we awkwardly hugged, and that was it.


The ending isn’t important (we didn’t speak to each other all vacation, and then she broke up with me through her friends when school started, OK?).


But if I had waited until I didn’t feel afraid? I would have never talked to her. I would have regretted it for years.


Author Mark Manson once joked, “How do you get rid of ‘runner’s block?’ You go for a f*cking run.

If you’re scared of something, the easiest way to gain confidence is, well…just do it.

There are some phenomenal writers and authors out there that we’ve never heard of — they’re too scared to publish. As writer Jon Westenberg once wrote: “You just have to outrun everyone who doesn’t have the guts to publish their work.”


Act while you feel fear. Even if you get unceremoniously dumped, you’ll feel better and better.


Seek Problems, Don’t Avoid Them


“One of the major differences between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people look for problems to resolve, whereas the latter make every attempt to avoid them.” -Grant Cardone


What happens when you avoid problems?


You develop a bad reputation for dumping your work onto somebody else. Your personal integrity is chipped away. Fear and anxiety begin brewing; “Will this come back to haunt me later?” you wonder. Your peace of mind is lost.


But what happens when you decide to seek problems?


You become someone with the sterling reputation of a “problem-solver.” You attract respect and admiration. “The world gives to the givers and takes from the takers,” Adam Grant wrote in his book, Give and Take. You become someone people trust. Help naturally flows to problem-solvers — even if you don’t succeed!


The reason most people struggle with self-confidence is because they’ve proven to themselves over and over that they “can’t do it.” They’ve tried eating healthier, exercising, being more productive, drinking less, but nothing seems to work.


If you were a business, would a customer trust you’d follow through on your word?


The answer is no for more people. To remedy this, you need to start building trust in yourself again. Your word must be your bond. If you say you’ll do something, that means something.


So seek problems out. Give yourself some reps. Failure doesn’t matter; Seth Godin once said, “If I fail more times than you, I win.”


What matters is the practice. This builds up your self-confidence and self-trust.

Most People Aren’t Self-Confident — So Don’t Do What Most People Do!

“When they zig, you should zag, and you’ll win every time.” -Ramit Sethi, NYT Best-Selling author and entrepreneur


Most people aren’t full of confidence or self-belief.


Quite the opposite, in fact. Most people are insanely insecure. They are heavily preoccupied in what others think of them. They act to please others, and their primary motivations are “keeping up” and “looking cool.”


Whenever I fall into the rhythms that are common or “popular,” I start to feel that fear and anxiety again. Things like:

  • I need to keep up an image on social media
  • I need to make sure I have a cool-enough answer at my high school reunion for, “So what have you been up to?”
  • I need a better haircut so people will admire me fondly

It’s all a game. None of it matters. It only leaves you feeling more insecure.

So if most people are insecure, scared, anxious, and fragile…


Don’t do what other people do!


If you keep living like the way you are now, you will continue to produce the same life you already have,” wrote prolific motivational speaker Jim Rohn. If you want a different life, you need to do things differently.


If you want to eliminate your anxiety and fear, then don’t look for answers from what author Hal Elrod calls the “Mediocre Majority.” They’re just as lost as you are, even if they’re great at pretending they aren’t.


When most people zig one way, you should zag the other way.


Choose your role models carefully. Those with the loudest voices rarely offer the wisest insights. In my years in 12-step programs for recovery, getting a “sponsor” (a guide for the difficult path ahead) is crucial. The best advice given to me about choosing a sponsor was to just find someone who has what you want.


Do you want the same insecure, boisterous, superficial life most people have? Or do you want the real thing, full of quiet self-confidence and an inner pride?


Then find someone who has what you want, and ignore the rest.


What Doesn’t Add to Your Healing Subtracts From It


“If your lifestyle does not add to your healing, it will subtract from it.” -Benjamin Foley

Is your lifestyle full of positive, supportive, healing influences?


Or is it full of garbage that drags you down and prevents you from growing?

Most people have several negative influences in their life that are dragging them down. “All around you is an environment that is trying to pull you down to Second-Class Street,” author David Schwartz once said.


These influences — environment, people, media, behaviors — prevent you from evolving into better versions of yourself. It’s your responsibility to cut them from your life.


If it’s not helping you, it’s likely hurting you.


“You cannot hang around negative people and expect a positive result.” -Darren Hardy


Strangely, most people try to fill their life with all sorts of “things” to remove the fear. But for the most part, more things means more anxiety. It’s more upkeep, more debt, and more things draining your attention.


As my friend Niklas Goeke once wrote, “minimalism will not make you happier.” But less stuff is almost always better.


I gave away most of my clothes. I don’t buy “trinkets” or “doo-dads,” things that have no real value.


Prolific blogger James Altucher claims he only owns “15 things,” ensuring his mind is focuses and unencumbered.


“I wonder what it is that the more we have, the more we become prisoners at the thought of losing it, rather than setting us free.” -Nirmalya Kumar


In Conclusion

Most people struggle with big levels of anxiety and fear. It’s uncommon to see high levels of self-confidence; people notice the person who is secure and comfortable in their own skin.


You can be that person. Even if you’re not there yet, start by modeling your behaviors around people who already have what you want.


Act while you still feel the fear; it’s not going away, so act anyway. Trust me — you’ll feel better after.


Seek problems out. Start proving to yourself you can handle problems and you won’t back down.

Remember — most people are full of tremendous anxiety and self-doubt; don’t do what most people do!

If you want to activate extreme self-confidence and eliminate anxiety and fear, then start living a new life with new behaviors that will make that possible.


Ready to Level-Up?

If you want to become extraordinary and become 10x more effective than you were before, check out my checklist.

Click here to get the checklist now!






Story 10


I Stopped Drinking, Then Realized My Whole Life Was A Lie

Untangled Blonde

Pretending to have your shit together is a lot like baking your own birthday cake and eating it alone. A lot of effort that ultimately ends up leaving you feeling worse about yourself than when you started.


When my life was a train-wreck all my energy went into my appearances. Well, all the energy that wasn’t spent procuring drugs and getting shitfaced, that is. My idea of “self-care” consisted of never running out of lipgloss and keeping my manicure and lashes on point 24/7. Cute dresses and shoes were a must, and I never left the house without my handy makeup bag or hair straightener in tow.


I was a complete mess, but as long as I didn’t look like one it didn’t matter.


But like that nail polish you keep painting over in a lazy attempt to avoid a fresh pedicure, you can only hide the real issues for so long. And just like the 4th coat of polish, by the time I realized I could no longer cover my problems the damage had long been done.


The crazy thing is, faking “normal” actually worked wonders for a while. On the surface I was #lvingmybestlife, but just beneath was a world of trouble just waiting to explode.+


Tapped Out


Have you ever noticed how the last ¼ of anything runs out the fastest? A tank of gas, an eight ball of cocaine, a cell phone battery — you name it. It’s a fact of life: once you have less than a quarter left of any of these things, you may as well be out.


As my addictions progressed, my capacity to handle the problems that came along with them began plummeting at a rapid rate. My life was spiraling out of control and before I knew it I was completely depleted. I barely had the energy to brush my hair, let alone even THINK about handing the real issues.

I had been neglecting myself for so long that I didn’t see the warning signs until they hit me square in the face. Here I was, thinking I was this cool shiny Porsche cruising down the freeway with enough gas to get by, when in reality I was a beat up lemon who was lucky to have even made it this far unscathed.

I had long been tapped out emotionally and mentally, but now my outsides reflected what I had so carefully kept hidden all these years.


I was naked and exposed for the world to see, and I was left with no other choice but to confront the mess I had made head-on.


I had years of repressed emotions, trauma wounds, and unresolved mental health issues staring me right in the face, and for the first time in my life I was too exhausted to do anything but surrender.


I had been so focused on tricking the world that I didn’t realize the only fool I was tricking was myself.


Facing the Mess of My Life


In a strange way, “rock bottom” brought with it a sense of relief. The charade was up and it was time to face my demons. And as with a lot of daunting tasks, dreading it turned out to be exponentially worse than actually getting started.


Something funny happens when you surrender to your truth.


When you no longer have a secret to keep or an addiction to hide, weight lifts off your shoulders and pieces of your life begin effortlessly falling into place.


I had no idea how difficult I had been making life for myself until I stopped drinking. This misguided attempt to sneak past the tough stuff had unknowingly left me trudging through mud, and it wasn’t until I became honest with myself about all the inner work I had ahead of me that I finally gained the strength to persevere.


I was starting to realize that neglecting myself all these years was having a much bigger impact on my life than I ever could have imagined. I was fine with ruining my own life, but once I took a step back, I could clearly see that my lack of self care had been hurting others too.


At work, I had turned into a complete mess. I was perpetually late, in a perpetually bad mood, and frankly; perpetually inappropriate. I was the queen of squeaking by with the bare minimum. No one could rely on me anymore to do important tasks, and e-mails would go unanswered more often than not because I was too “busy” to care.


Looking back now, it is obvious that my drinking was hurting more than just me, but because no one actually said something, I thought they were none the wiser.


I was a crappy girlfriend too. I was convinced that my only job was to show up and look pretty for the nice dinners and trips my boyfriend constantly planned for us. All I cared about was how things looked from the outside. My self-worth was measured solely on my appearance, and as long as I looked “fine” and my boyfriend and I “looked” like a perfect couple, that was all that mattered in my life.


My 1st Crack at Self-Love


Not drinking gave me the clarity to make shifts in my mindset that would have taken me years to figure out. It illuminated the fact that not only did I not give a shit about myself, but I clearly didn’t give a shit about how others treated me either.


I began focusing on what I had only paid lip service to in the past — my mental health, creativity, body, self-love.


I was becoming a person I didn’t even recognize, and I was really growing to like her.


Where before, sipping a mug of tea while writing in a gratitude journal sounded like bullshit psychobabble I couldn’t get behind, it suddenly became the thing I craved the most to get me through the day.

I was starting to realize that enjoying the “little things” in life is really just code for “enjoying quiet moments with yourself.” No wonder this advice was terrifying when I was an addict — I hated everything about myself. Why the hell would I want a cup of tea with that bitch?


But I was learning to love myself and things were changing fast.


Sobering Truth


The moment I quit drinking was also the moment I woke up to reality in my relationship. I was living in a bubble of lies and denial, and as much as I conveniently ignored my own shitty behavior, I was also unable to register the shitty behavior I was allowing from others as well.


Without drugs and alcohol to hide behind, nothing made sense anymore.


I knew that I had been disrespecting myself with substance abuse, but now I could see that I had unknowingly given my boyfriend a free pass to disrespect me too.


My self love and self worth had been non-existent up until this point, and so were my boundaries with others. Now that things were starting to shift within me, it was affecting my outside world in ways I never could have imagined.


I was no longer tolerating abuse from myself, so why the fuck would I tolerate it from others? I was scared to set boundaries before because I didn’t feel like I deserved them, but now the rules had changed.


I was not going to accept anything less than what I was now able to give myself.


New Love, New Chapter


I am learning skills at 31 that are forcing me to reevaluate everything in my life, from my own mistakes to the way I interact with the world. It’s uncomfortable at times to be so vulnerable with myself and others, but for the first time in my life I feel worthy enough to have these emotions.


While on the surface this story is about drugs and alcohol, the lesson is much bigger. I’m realizing that the way I treat myself is the way the world will treat me. And that is exactly what this journey is really all about.


I’m done putting limitations on myself. I am ready to hold myself to higher standards and eager to give this life the respect it deserves. I am embarking on a new chapter in my life.


I am done standing in my own way.





Story 11


How To Avoid The Renaissance Man Trap

This Is the Problem With Being a Jack of All Trades

John P. Weiss

When I was a boy my mother enrolled me in classical piano lessons. Every Friday after school Mom dropped me off at the home of my piano teacher, Irma Hincenbergs.

Mrs. Hincenbergs was a Latvian refugee who lived in a beautiful Victorian house in downtown Los Gatos, California.


On the wall beside Mrs. Hincenbergs’ grand piano were several pencil drawings of famous composers, including Chopin and Beethoven. I often admired the drawings as I butchered my way through Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.”


Mrs. Hincenbergs knew that I loved to draw cartoons. Every Friday after my lesson she presented me with a stack of editorial cartoons cut out of her daily newspapers. She was a kind and thoughtful woman.


Despite my grumbling about lost Friday afternoons, I grew to appreciate classical piano. It created the foundation for my later experiences playing keyboards and singing in both high school and college rock bands.

I didn’t realize at the time how much my interactions with Mrs. Hincenbergs were shaping my creative predilections for music, drawing and cartooning. Further, I had no inkling of how much these diverse interests would complicate my life.


The Leonardo da Vinci curse


Leonardo da Vinci was a remarkable polymath. Painter, sculptor, anatomist, architect. Talk about a multi-talented individual! He was born in the right era, as the Renaissance rewarded such men of varied talents and dimensions. But would Leonardo have fared well today?


According to author Leonardo Lospennato, who wrote “The Da Vinci Curse- Life Design for People With Too Many Interests and Talents,” Leonardo da Vinci might have struggled in our modern age. Why? Because our knowledge base has increased exponentially from the days of the Renaissance.


In this age of vast information, a multi-faceted guy like Leonardo da Vinci would have a field day indulging his many interests. However, he may have struggled to make a good living due to all his intellectual curiosities.


“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.” — Leonardo da Vinci


Increasingly, we rely on specialists rather than generalists. For example, you wouldn’t use a general practitioner for open-heart surgery. You’d seek out a cardiac surgeon. Similarly, most college students today declare a major to ensure a solid career path.


Depth versus knowledge


As a teenager, I juggled many creative pursuits. I played the piano and sang. I liked to paint and draw. I became a cartoonist for my high school newspaper. I enjoyed writing short stories. Beyond these creative hobbies, I also played chess, competitive tennis and studied martial arts.

I became what the author Leonardo Lospennato calls a “Da Vinci person.” Da Vinci people dabble in many areas. They tend to jump around from field to field, acquiring a lot of knowledge but not necessarily a lot of depth. Jack of all trades, but master of none.


“The jack-of-all-trades is seldom good at any. Concentrate all of your efforts on one definite chief aim.” — Napoleon Hill


Friends often referred to me as the “Renaissance man” because of all my creative pursuits. The problem was, I wasn’t progressing very fast in any of my interests. I was spread too thin and had fallen into the Renaissance man trap.


The book “The Da Vinci Curse,” recommends finding a single pursuit that is “complex” enough to integrate many of your talents. One way to figure this out is by using a pre-selection strategy. Examine your creative interests and look for three criteria:


1. Is it fun?

2. Do you have a talent for it?

3. Can you earn money doing it?


A lot of artists and creative people dabble in many areas but never achieve mastery in any one of them. They become frustrated because they aren’t getting anywhere.

This was my story for a long time. Only when I gave up all the hobbies and focused exclusively on my artwork and writing did I see progress.


The power of simplifying


Simplicity played a big part in helping me avoid the Renaissance man trap. Early in my law enforcement career, I was dabbling in several hobbies, from music and martial arts to writing and cartooning. With a family and full-time job, I often grew frustrated trying to squeeze my hobbies into very little free time.


I asked myself which hobbies I enjoyed the most and had a talent for. The answer was my cartooning. I was a decent martial artist and musician, but my cartooning was already at a professional level.


“Our life is frittered away by detail…simplify, simplify.” — Henry David Thoreau


So, I quit training in jujitsu (despite being a brown belt on the cusp of my black belt). I also gave up my dream of forming another rock band. I was content to play the piano and sing at home. I put these pursuits on the back-burner and focused intently on my cartooning.


Guess what happened? My cartooning blossomed. I ended up moonlighting as a staff editorial cartoonist for both my city and county newspapers. I began selling my work and found deeper creative satisfaction. All because I simplified and set aside the other hobbies.


In recent years, I stepped away from editorial cartooning to focus on my writing. I studied with a top blogger, hired a copywriter to coach me, and set a regular writing schedule.


As a result, I now have thousands of newsletter subscribers and over 37K followers. I draw cartoons for my articles, but it was the intense focus on improving my writing that made the difference.


Jack of all trades, master of none


There are exceptions and anomalies to every rule. For example, consider the case of Jacob M. Appel. Here’s how Wikipedia describes him:


“Jacob M. Appel (born February 21, 1973) is an American author, poet, bioethicist, physician, lawyer and social critic. He is best known for his short stories, his work as a playwright, and his writing in the fields of reproductive ethics, organ donation, neuroethics and euthanasia. Appel’s novel The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up won the Dundee International Book Prize in 2012. He is Director of Ethics Education in Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Appel is the subject of the 2019 documentary film Jacob by director Jon Stahl.”


Talk about a renaissance man! I watched the documentary film about Jacob and was fascinated by the scope of this man’s interests and accomplishments. And yet, before the documentary, I had never heard of him.


Despite his many degrees and accomplishments, I ended the documentary wondering if perhaps Jacob Appel spread himself too thin? What if he had narrowed his focus, putting more energy into the passion he most enjoyed?


One person in the documentary said that Jacob most wanted to be a playwright. Interestingly, Jacob gives his plays away for free on his website. Had Jacob devoted more focus to his plays, maybe his work would have been on Broadway?


The website ran an article titled “Knowing a Little of Everything is Often Better Than Having One Expert Skill.” The article notes:


“Creativity often requires drawing analogies between one body of knowledge and another. Pablo Picasso merged Western art techniques with elements of African art. He was struck by the way African artists combined multiple perspectives into a single work, and that helped lead to the development of cubism. Similarly, great scientists often draw parallels between different areas to create new ideas. In the history of science, Johannes Kepler struggled to understand how the planets could move around the sun, and drew on his knowledge of light and magnetism to try to understand the force that moved the planets.”


No doubt reading widely and acquiring diverse knowledge can broaden your perspectives, enrich your life and quite possibly improve your work and creativity.


But if every pursuit of yours is given equal time, then you run the risk of falling into the Renaissance man trap. You risk becoming a jack of all trades, master of none.


Focusing primarily on one area of expertise will enable you to acquire greater depth and ability. It will keep you out of the Renaissance man trap. However, this doesn’t mean you should abandon your intellectual curiosity.


Read broadly and feed your mind. Synthesize ideas, borrow what works, and funnel the best of what you learn into your one, primary pursuit. Yes, you can try and fuel all your passions and creative projects, but doing so will slow the development of your primary pursuit.


Routines trump goals


The late author David Wallace Foster wrote:


“Everything I ever let go of has claw marks on it.”


Our interest in many passions often sabotages our achievement in any one of them. It’s not easy to give things up that we enjoy. It was difficult for me to walk away from the martial arts and performing in rock bands. But as a result, my artwork and writing took off.


Another reason my writing and artwork succeeded is because I set up regular habits and routines.


Blogger James Clear has written that routines trump goals. You may have the goal of becoming a top artist, but it’s the routines and habits you adopt that will ultimately matter most.

Let go or scale back the hobbies and passions you’re less talented with. Set up a regular schedule and focus on deep work in the passion you love most.


Put as much time into that passion as you can and you’ll avoid the Renaissance man trap, quickly hone your skills, and achieve greater joy and success.

(Adapted from and originally published at


Before you go

I’m John P. Weiss. I draw cartoons, paint, and write about life. Get on my free email list here for the latest cartoons and writing.





Story 12


Want to Be More Productive? Try Doing Less.


We’ve been taught that if we want more — money, achievement, vitality, joy, peace of mind — we need to do more, to add more to our ever-growing to-do list.


But what if we’ve been taught wrong?


What if the answer to getting more of what we want isn’t addition at all, but subtraction?


As it turns out, evidence supports that if we want to ramp up our productivity and happiness, we should actually be doing less.


David Rock, the author of Your Brain at Work, found that we’re truly focused on our work a mere six hours per week, which starkly contrasts our collective buy-in to the 40-hour workweek.

When you stop doing the things that make you feel busy but aren’t getting you results (and are draining you of energy), then you end up with more than enough time for what matters and a sense of peace and spaciousness that constant activity has kept outside your reach.


As people with full lives — kids, careers, friends, passions, logistics, and more — how can we apply the wisdom of doing less to give ourselves more time and alleviate stress without jeopardizing our results?


We need to identify what not to do.


But this determination can’t be random. It must be methodical and evidence-based. Through my work with women navigating the dual vocations of entrepreneurship and motherhood, I’ve created a surprisingly simple exercise to help individuals decide what activities on their to-do list bring them the most value, and which they can stop doing.


Here’s how it works:


Step 1: Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper, lengthwise.


Step 2: Decide on an area of your life or work where you’d like to have better results and less stress. For example, perhaps you want to expand your thought leadership.


Step 3: On the left-hand side, list the tasks or activities you do in that area of your work or life. As an aspiring thought leader, you might list attending conferences, pitching organizations for speaking opportunities, writing new articles, reading and researching, and so on.


Step 4: On the right-hand side, make a list of your biggest “wins” in that area, like a speaking gig, a presentation you really nailed at work, or a pitch that was accepted at a major publication. This can often be a difficult step for some people.

We have not been culturally conditioned to celebrate ourselves, so often, folks will draw a blank when listing their “wins.” Any result you’ve gotten (either one time or repeatedly) that was positive can go on this list. Don’t get caught up in listing the “right” things. Just list what comes to you.


Step 5: Draw a line connecting each of your biggest wins to the activity or task that was most responsible for that result. Reading and researching, for instance, were essential to getting your pitch accepted for publication, so connect these two together.


Step 6: Circle all the activities and tasks on the left side of your paper that have been responsible for your big wins. Look at what’s left. Whatever isn’t circled is something that you need to either stop doing completely, significantly minimize or delegate if it absolutely must be done. For instance, if you discover that traveling for conferences once a month isn’t directly contributing to any wins, it’s time to set that aside or at least cutback.


This same approach can be used to determine where to do less in other areas of your life. For instance, if you’re looking to connect more with your children, you might list a few specific memories or “wins” when you really felt like you were being the best parent you could, such as singing silly songs with your preschooler while folding the laundry on a Sunday morning or when your preteen bared their soul to you and you felt so honored by how safe they felt to tell you the hard stuff.


Now think about the tasks you do on a regular basis: laundry, making lunch, reminding your kids to do their schoolwork, checking off committee items for the PTA, making sure everyone has clothes that fit, and scheduling pediatrician appointments.


While these tasks may need to be done, this exercise can give us permission to spend less time on these activities. Often the things we think we “must” do are simply because we always have done them or others around us do them and we think we should, too.


Such a perspective creates unnecessary stress when we do these tasks late, make errors, or ask for help. Maybe instead of serving on the PTA, you can just attend the occasional meeting — or follow up with another parent who regularly attends.


Perhaps you can set up a system where your children are in charge of making sure their schoolwork is done by a particular time each day, rather than reminding them yourself. On the other hand, if you discover that making lunch with your preteen provided that opportunity for them to initiate a heart-to-heart, maybe that’s something you’d like to keep on your list.


Repeat this exercise for as many areas of your life that you’d like to enhance through subtraction. Be ruthless. And don’t forget to consider what brings you joy. Not only does happiness make you at least 12% more productive, but it’s also what makes life worth living in the first place.


Life is not about racking up a list of accomplishments. What can you stop doing to make more time for yourself, make more time for joy, and use your time more meaningfully?


The next time you set a goal or decide you want to improve upon an area of your life — or simply alleviate some of the pain that area is causing you — remember to go for subtraction instead of addition.


Revel in the joy of doing less.

Kate Northrup is the best-selling author of Do Less and Money: A Love Story. Her digital company helps ambitious women light up the world without burning themselves out. Learn more at





Story 13


What Is the Alternative to Your Current Life?Jeff BartonJeff Barton


“You have the life you’re willing to put up with.”

— Gary John Bishop


Right now, I’m happy — but I know that could change at a moment’s notice. That’s life. And I’m prepared for that change if it happens.


But a couple of years ago, I couldn’t say I was close to anything that looked like happiness — even contentment was worlds away.


In fact, I would consider myself to have been on the opposite end. I was depressed, anxiety-ridden, drinking too much, full of anger, and an overall complete mess.


I was having chest pains due to stress, insomnia due to all the anxiety, and extreme loneliness due to isolating myself. I was as low as low could be.


So I could at least be present when I had my kids, I would schedule my binge-drinking when they weren’t with me.


The weekends were perfect for a 12-pack and even during the week wasn’t safe from a few beers. If I missed work, then so be it.


I hated my job anyway, and after years of working at the same place, I was fortunate enough to have the sick leave to burn.


I felt I had earned the right to drink when I wanted and missing work was just a casualty of that right.


But the hangovers — both from the drinking and life itself — become too much after a while. I was either going to completely destroy myself or I would change.


And I did one hell of a job trying to destroy myself.


The alcohol, the depression, the anxiety.


I didn’t take care of my health, my body, or my mind.


I chewed tobacco for 25+ years because I was indestructible — even though I saw signs of the damage it was doing.


I continued to drink even when blood tests revealed my liver wasn’t in the best shape. I didn’t get help when I knew I needed it and stayed in my own toxic environment doing nothing to get out.


I let the past creep up on me and allowed the future to keep me afraid. And I became comfortable with my miserable life.


Until I thought about what the alternative to that life would look like.

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

— Lao Tzu

The alternative to the miserable life I was living is where I’m at now.

It’s taking care of my body, my health, and my mind.


It’s the nurturing relationships that I cherish.


It’s not being alright with a miserable life.


My current life reminds me I don’t want to go back to the life I had — and I’m doing everything in my power to keep it that way.


Now, the alternative to waking up hung-over with a splitting headache and puke in the toilet is getting up early and running. Because I became tired of always feeling like shit.


The alternative to spending my nights drinking and wasting hours on mindless tasks is reading and learning about subjects


I want to know more about — including learning about myself.


The alternative to having daily anxiety and being mired in depression is figuring out what I needed to do to manage both. I did that through running, writing, and understanding everything I thought mattered really doesn’t.


The alternative to hating everything and everyone was to embrace empathy and love — and show it to those around me as much as possible.


I also realized I’m worthy of that love, too.


The alternative to hating myself was to have self-compassion and realize we are all imperfect. I learned to go easy on myself — even if I thought it wasn’t deserved.


The alternative to remaining in a job I hated was to find something which brings me joy — and work hard at it so I don’t have to go back to a place which is toxic for me and my health.


The alternative to my current life is going back to being miserable — and that is not acceptable to me anymore.


I don’t want that life again because I now know what other side looks and feels like. And it’s a completely different feeling.

Now, I build myself up instead of trying to destroy myself. I always keep the alternative of being miserable in the back of my mind when I want to give up or do something which does not benefit me.

I decided I want my current life more than the life I was living. And I make the choices every day to keep me here — because I know I will regret it if I don’t work to stay where I’m at.


You have to decide to either continue living the life you are now or decide whether you want the alternative.


For me, the alternative to my current life is not something I will entertain. I’m not going back to that life, and I will do whatever it takes to remain where I’m at. Because right now, I love the life I’m living. I’m happy with my life, and most importantly, myself.


So I want you to ask yourself this:


If you’re currently happy in life — what does the alternative to that look like? And how can you avoid that alternative?


If you’re currently unhappy in life — what does the alternative to that look like? And how can you get there?


Decide which life you want. I have. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.




Story 14


How To Not Waste Your Life

“We drown not by falling into the river, but by staying submerged in it.”


Niklas GökeNiklas Göke


waterfalls beside trees

If you’ve wasted your whole life, can you make up for it in a single moment?


This is the question at the heart of Extraction, Netflix’s latest blockbuster and, at 90 million viewers in the first month, biggest film premiere ever.


Following Chris Hemsworth as a black market mercenary trying to rescue the kidnapped son of India’s biggest drug lord, the movie is full of car chases, gun fights, and a whopping 183 bodies dropping at the hands of Thor himself.


At the end of the day, however, it is about none of those things. It’s a movie about redemption.

After freeing his target, 15-year-old Ovi, from the hands of a rival Bangladeshi drug lord, Hemsworth’ character Tyler shows true vulnerability in a brief moment of shelter.


When Ovi asks him if he’s always been brave, Tyler claims he’s “just the opposite,” having left his wife and six-year-old son, right before the latter died of lymphoma.


Sharing the kind of wisdom only children tend to possess, Ovi replies with a Paulo Coelho quote he’s read in school:


“You drown not by falling into the river, but by staying submerged in it.”



You’re not an ex-special forces agent.

Your life is not a movie.

There will be no obvious signs. No excessive violence.

No rampant drug abuse.


Just a slow, steady trickle of days, each a little more like the last, each another step away from your dreams — another day submerged in the river.


The river is pressing “Ignore” on the reminder to decline a good-but-not-great project request. The river is saying, “When I’ve done X, I’ll start writing.”


The river is postponing asking your daughter about her dance hobby because today, you’re just too tired.


The river is everything that sounds like a temporary excuse today but won’t go away tomorrow.

Trust me. I’ve been there. It really, really won’t. No matter how much you’d like it to.


At first, it doesn’t feel like you’re drifting. You’re just letting go for a bit. You’re floating.


The river carries you. It’s nice. Comfortable.

Things happen. Time passes.

It’ll keep passing.

Eventually, the river leads into a bigger river. You’re in new terrain. You’ve never seen this place before. Where can you get ashore? Where will this river lead?


Soon, you don’t know what’s ahead anymore. You can’t see what’s next. The river could become a waterfall. It might send you right off a cliff. You’ll stay submerged forever.


There won’t be a big shootout at the end. Just a regretful look out the window. A relative visiting. “Oh yeah, that. I never did it. I can’t tell you why.”


All rivers flow into the sea. If you don’t push to the surface, if you don’t start swimming, that’s where you’re going.


No one is coming to save you.

You won’t get an extraction.

No one will beat you into writing your book or asking her to marry you or being a good mother. No 15-year-old boy will serve you the answer in a quote from a book.


The only way to not waste your life is to do your best to not waste today.


Write a sentence. Make a hard choice. Pick up the phone.


We all fall into the river from time to time.

But we can’t stay submerged in it.

Don’t let small regrets pile up in silence.

Take one step each day. One stroke towards the surface.

You’re not a soldier, and no single brief can save you. No standalone mission will define your legacy.


Don’t hope for a shot at redemption.

Redeem yourself with your actions.


Redeem yourself every day.





Story 15



A Warning from the Chickens of the World

How our reliance on mass-produced food increases the risk of pandemics

A man in a checkered shirt stands inside a large, barn-shaped building surrounded by chickens. He is holding a chicken in his hands and leaning towards it. ArtistGNDphotography/iStock


In 1997, Lam Hoi-Ka, a previously healthy three-year-old boy, died of multiple organ failure in Hong Kong. When a team of virologists from the Netherlands declared that the death-dealing agent had been H5N1, a virus that was previously known to infect only birds, scientists were shocked.


The theoretical possibility of a deadly global pandemic, similar to the 1918 flu that killed millions of people, was suddenly made real.


While scientists from around the world urgently tracked down the origins and initial spread of the new virus, the rest of us watched the television images of people in hazmat suits.


What made these images confusing and alarming were the stories that accompanied them. In Hong Kong, a chicken-adapted virus had jumped directly to a person.


For most people, chickens were “healthy, low-fat” meat you bought in plastic packages at the grocery store, not agents of mass death.


As a veterinarian and epidemiologist, I knew better. A decade before the H5N1 virus struck, I stood in a southern Ontario broiler barn—that is, a barn where chickens are grown for meat.


In my plastic boots, white throwaway safety suit, and face mask, I gazed out over 10,000 identical birds.

The room was spacious and the litter was clean. Delivery of food, water, and air was computer controlled.

The birds were white feathered, plump, and only mildly curious about life.

These were urban, office-dwelling birds. In five weeks, they could grow to the exact size required by KFC.

By the wonders of genetics and intensive breeding for specific traits, the fiercely wild stock of jungle fowl had been transformed into something that could grow faster, more uniformly, and by some standards, more efficiently.


Between 1961 and 2017, world poultry meat production increased from 9 million to 122 million tons and egg production shot up from 15 million to 87 million tons.


Since most of us experience a sort of cognitive dissonance when we see chickens and tons in the same sentence, let me rephrase this.


In 1961, there were just over 3 billion people and just under 4 billion chickens in the world.


In 2020, as I write this, about 7.7 billion people are jostling and shouting for space here, along with more than 20 billion chickens—and perhaps as many as 50 billion if one considers the short slaughter-and-restock turnover of those populations.


The fastest growth in commercial poultry production has been in the developing world. By the late 1990s, countries such as Indonesia and Brazil were increasing their commercial production by about 10 percent a year.


When I was visiting South Sudan in 2012, just a few months after it gained independence following thirty years of civil war, I found “fresh” Brazilian chicken for sale in the market in Juba, the capital.


China, already one of the world’s biggest producers, was increasing at about 4 percent annually in the 1990s.


Chickens were being grown, trucked, shipped, and fried as fast as the technology allowed. Who would have thought that so many people on this planet could be fed with such apparent ease?


The geneticists helped.

These birds feeding the world weren’t just any old chickens.


In 2018, the authors of a peer-reviewed research paper declared that the “skeletal morphology, pathology, bone geochemistry and genetics” of modern commercial chickens—whose global body mass now exceeds that of all other birds combined—are so different from their ancestors that they may be considered a “novel morphotype.”


But, in ecology—which is to say, in a world where everything is, sooner or later, connected to everything else—there are costs and trade-offs.

According to that same paper, these new chickens symbolized “the unprecedented human reconfiguration of the Earth’s biosphere”—a feat that would create the perfect conditions for barn-size outbreaks and then fit so neatly into a globally integrated system that would create the perfect conditions for pandemics.


By the end of the twentieth century, epidemiologists who specialized in food-borne diseases were already well aware that a pandemic of salmonellosis, a disease with both immediate effects on the gastrointestinal system and long-term effects on arthritis and cardiovascular disease, was one of the hidden costs of mass producing chicken.


Salmonellosis could have been taken as a warning from the chickens of the world, a shot across the bow, as it were.

The omen was not cryptic.

It might have been something like: chickens carry their own bacterial and viral microbiomes; the economies of scale for chicken production are the same as the economies of scale for disease; small farms have outbreaks; big farms breed epidemics; globalization of big farms creates pandemics.

Southeast Asian farmers didn’t scale up their production and increase the volume and speed of their trade in poultry products just “because”; they were responding to market demands for low-cost animal food. According to the United Nations, one in three people lived in a city in 1960.

By the end of the twentieth century, almost half of all people did; by 2030, more than 60 percent of the population is expected to live in cities.

Urban people want to eat, and most often, they want animal protein.

Yet, without that rapid economic growth and urbanization, avian influenza would likely have remained a minor problem.


Brazil, the United States, China, and the European Union are the world’s biggest poultry producers. China leads the world in ducks and geese.

Other countries in Southeast Asia—Thailand in particular—wanted to take advantage of these expanding urban markets and jumped into the hot economic fray.

In places such as Thailand and Indonesia, increased production has sometimes been achieved by taking traditional, laid-back, no-input chicken rearing and scaling it up.

However, when waterfowl are mixed with chickens and pigs and people in close quarters—as can often happen in Southeast Asia—novel opportunities for the viruses are created, they become genetically more unstable, and evolution is accelerated.


In 1996, a precursor of the H5N1 virus killed some geese in southern China.

No one paid much attention.

Then the virus picked up some gene fragments from quail and ducks, spread to the poultry markets in Hong Kong, and made the leap to humans; it killed six of eighteen people who were infected.

Mass killing of all the domestic poultry in Hong Kong temporarily stopped the problem, but the virus continued to infect ducks and geese and to happily, sloppily evolve.

In late 2002, a new variation of the virus killed off most of the waterfowl in Hong Kong nature parks. In the next few years, the new, more lethal variant spread through Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, China, Malaysia—the whole regional market.

Not only was it making birds sick and killing them but it was also infecting cats and ferrets and, finally, people.

In May and June of 2005, one of the new variants of H5N1 killed more than 5,000 wild bar-headed geese, gulls, and ducks in Qinghai Lake, China.

Many researchers were worried that migratory birds would carry the virus down flyways into India.


It looks as if they may have indeed carried the virus to Europe and Africa, but the evidence will always be ambiguous.

However, it would be disingenuous to suggest that intensification and global genetic “homogenization” of poultry production have not been driving forces in a variety of epidemics, including H5N1.


Knowledge of the social and ecological dimensions of food should be part of every food consumer’s education.

An inability to talk intelligently about where that food comes from should be grounds for dismissal of politicians and corporate heads.


Some pontificators, for example, have suggested that farmers in south and east Asia should raise chickens the way we do in North America and Europe—inside tightly controlled buildings.


These people have never lived in poor countries in the humid tropics, nor do they understand the systemic ramifications of creating a few large farms where once there were many small ones.

If they want biosecurity such as we have in Europe and North America, tropical farmers would need to close off the barns.

But, in the tropics, without air conditioning, the birds would start to die within minutes.

With what power source would they air-condition?

And what would happen to all those poor farmers in the countryside who depend on small flocks of poultry for food and to pay their school and medical bills?

Even if we kill all the sick chickens and put the rest into air-conditioned hotels, there will still be ducks flying overhead or cats or ferrets slinking in and out of the shrubbery.

Some of the largest outbreaks of avian influenza have been in some of the best-managed poultry operations in the world, in some of the wealthiest countries.

The viruses, like all microbes, adapt quickly to new situations.


In the years following the initial outbreaks of avian influenza, I spent a lot of time and energy working with policy makers in Canada, looking at how to prevent the disease from entering North America, and with farmers in Southeast Asia, looking for ways to stop the epidemic at the source.


Many officials and corporate leaders were encouraging countries to follow a program of test-and-slaughter and of discouraging villagers from raising free-run village chickens. In March 2008, at a market in eastern Thailand, I discovered that, if sellers were responding to economic incentives, the programs designed to stop people from raising backyard chickens were unlikely to succeed.


According to a woman with a dozen gutted and cleaned birds in front of her, village chicken was going for about twice as much on a per-weight basis as the commercially reared broilers.

The next month, at the invitation of my Indonesian coworkers, my wife and I visited a Javanese village in an area reported to be highly endemic for avian influenza. Of course, villagers who attended our workshop claimed to have had no confirmed cases of bird flu.

Of course, any birds that died had succumbed to some other disease.


After the meeting, the villagers took us to see their chickens.

Their greatest source of pride were their Ayam Pelung—competitive singing roosters.

They were tall—about a metre high—and their calls were long, drawn out, low voiced, reminding me of Cesária Évora, the “barefoot diva” of Cape Verde.

These singing roosters were each worth $2,000 to $3,000 (US), which was more than the annual income of most of these farmers.

One of the farmers was a breeder who had sold roosters to buyers from as far away as Japan.

A program that relied on slaughtering chickens that tested positive and paying compensation at market rates for commercial broilers was a nonstarter for these villagers.


I remembered, then, seeing a competition of Javanese singing roosters back in 1986. The birds were in cages, high up on swaying poles, judges moving from bird to bird, listening.

Were they listening for omens?

Warnings of a pandemic night just over the horizon?


I do not know what criteria the judges used, but standing there in the cool of a shady tropical morning, hearing those fado-like songs of love and loss, I yearned to believe, as the Zoroastrians did, that the calls of those jungle fowl might drive away the devils of the night.


From the book On Pandemics: Deadly Diseases from the Bubonic Plague to Coronavirus, by David Waltner-Toews, available now from Greystone Books. Excerpted and adapted with permission of the publisher.

A veterinary epidemiologist, David Waltner-Toews is the author of more than twenty books. He lives in Kitchener, Ontario.


Story 16


536 AD — the worst year in history

Scholars and researchers agree on the year that was worse than any otherSaamir AnsariSaamir Ansari


2020 has already been immortalised. It is a year that nobody will forget.


However, when speaking of the worst year recorded in human history there are many to choose from:

The year 1349 saw the Black Death kill half the population of Europe.


In 1520 smallpox ravaged the Americas and killed between 60 and 90 per cent of the continents’ original inhabitants.


In 1918 the Spanish Flu led to the deaths of over 50 million people.

The rise of Hitler in 1933 is often claimed to be the turning point in modern history.

However, many scholars, are unanimous in their choice.


The title of the worst year in history is easily held by the year 536 AD.


Medieval historian, Michael McCormick has stated that “it was the beginning of one of the worst periods to be alive, if not the worst year.” (Interview with Science Magazine).


The year began with an inexplicable, dense fog that stretched across the world which plunged Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia into darkness 24 hours a day, for nearly 2 years.


Consequently, global temperatures plummeted which resulted in the coldest decade in over 2,000 years.

Famine was rampant and crops failed all across Europe, Africa and Asia. Unfortunately, 536 AD seemed to only be a prelude to further misery.

This period of cold and starvation caused economic stagnation in Europe and in 541 A.D. an outbreak of bubonic plague led to the death of nearly 100 million people and almost half of the Byzantine Empire.


Historians have often referred this part of the sixth century as the Dark Ages, but the true source of this darkness had previously been unknown.


Recently, researchers led by McCormick and glaciologist Paul Mayewski, have discovered that a volcanic eruption in Iceland in early 536 led to the to huge amounts of ash being spread across the Northern Hemisphere, creating the fog that cast the world into darkness.


This eruption was so immense that it altered global climate patterns and adversely effected weather patterns and crop cultivation for years to come (Antiquity).



Labeling each new year as "the wordt year in history" has beome something of a fad these days. 


We should look back to the year 539 A.D. and cherish how fortunate we are not to have lived in a time when the world was truly in darkness.




Story 16


Don’t Take Life So Seriously— Stop Overthinking Everything

How to overcome your own negativity and deal with whatever life throws at you

Elle Fredine

First, don’t take life so seriously.

After all, no-one ever gets out alive.


One of my life’s absolute joys, (Not!) being an introvert of the first order, and living with shyness, social anxiety and prosopagnosia, which, I’m learning, may have contributed significantly to my shyness and social anxiety,¹ is dealing with a raging *B* of an inner-critic.


Add chronic overthinker to the mix and you have some idea of the fun folks who make up “the committee” which can run amok in my head any given day.


The days when iCritic and iOverthinker go head to head?


It’s not pretty.


And today is one of those days.


April has not been stellar.


Especially in the last two weeks.


After months of steady, concerted effort, I appeared to be on my way.


But with no big wins recently, I’ve slid back to an earlier level — one I hoped I’d surpassed.

Oh, well, it’s just a setback. I can’t complain.


Well, I could but even I wouldn’t listen. I’m doing alright.


I’ve found a home for some of my writing. I’ve become part of a wonderful, supportive community of writers.


Made a few friends.


And Medium has been far more generous than other platforms on which I’ve written.

But this setback has been enough to get iCritic and iOverthinker fired up and truckin’ in high gear.


And I’m caught somewhere between “See, I told you this whole writing online thing was a load of crap for you.


You’re the shits at it.


You’re an okay writer but nobody wants to hear what you have to say…” andMaybe if I try this? Or that? What about this writer? She has some great ideas. Oh, wait — this article looks like it might help. Oh, God, have I run out of ideas? What can I find to write about that people will be interested in?


“…everything in life is writable about if you have the guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” — Sylvia Plath


So… how to take Sylvia Plath’s wisdom to heart and harness this excess of energy. Turn it into something a little more productive than iOverthinker and iCritic running around in my head like Chicken Little, clucking, “My stats are falling, my stats are falling…”



I’ve tried ignoring iCritic and iOverthinker.


It doesn’t work.


I read some research which suggests counting backward from 5 down to 1 to engage the prefrontal cortex.


This “Five-Second Rule” kicks you off auto-pilot, allowing you to pull an end-run and bring focus to your internal chaos.


… - you cultivate what researchers call an “internal locus of control,” which means that you believe you have control over your outcomes and future success.


Research shows us that those with an internal locus of control are happier, in better health, more likely to achieve at work, and have lower levels of anxiety and depression.²


Seems pretty simple: count backward from five to one…


It certainly helps to dial down the committee.


But it’s helpful to have something lined up — something to do once you get their attention; journaling, writing a poem, standing on the back porch enjoying the sunshine.


I’ve watched my son’s cat stretched out on the back of the couch, basking in the sun.


I didn’t try lying on the back of my couch.


For one thing, the sun doesn’t shine directly on it.


Also, I’d feel pretty silly if I fell off.


But I did go stand on my back porch while I counted down: 5,4,3,2,1…


The sun felt incredible, especially after our overlong winter, so I counted backwards a couple of times. And then I reassured both iCritic and iOverthinker that we were gonna be okay.


“When self-doubt creeps in, don’t ignore it — address it. Respond to harsh self-criticism with something more compassionate. Talk to yourself like a trusted friend and refuse to believe your unrealistic, negative inner monologue.” — Amy Morin


Nothing earth-shattering happened. But I felt calm again. Focused. I was able to sit down and write three articles in a row.


“You are bigger than your self-doubt. Remind yourself of that each and every day.” — Caroline Ghosn


And for the first time in days, I felt as though I had something worth-while to add to the sea of internet noise — and possibly helpful to someone besides me.


Overthinking can ruin you.


¹ Ana Gotter. HealthLine. (2017) “Face Blindness (Prosopagnosia)

² Mel Robbins. (2018) “Why The Five-Second Rule Works: The Science Explained





Story 17


Pocket worthyStories to fuel your mind.

A Lazy Person’s Guide to Happiness

Find the right environment, and very little effort is necessary.

The Atlantic
Photo by Mark J. Terrill / AP.

Happiness is an active process, not something you get by sitting back and waiting.


It’s something to be grabbed by the horns or more vulnerable areas and then conquered. At least, this is the gist of the message from Tony Robbins and gurus of his ilk.


Many also say happiness is not something we can buy, or steal, or work too hard to acquire.

If you work too hard at it, you end up obsessing over your own state of mind—Am I happy? ... Really though?

And like love, if you have to ask, the answer is no.


So what’s the right way to think about effort and happiness?

Should I be trying for “happiness” per se—or something more magnanimous, like purpose or meaning?

Or money? Is happiness actually all about money? That would be a real twist.


Few people bring the unique perspective to this mess of questions like Dan Buettner.

Over the past 15 years, he has carved out a niche at National Geographic, where he travels the world in search of the healthiest people and “distills their lessons,” as he puts it, translating existential philosophy into practical information for limited-attention-span U.S. readers.


The result has been a mix of journalism, academic epidemiology, advocacy, and entrepreneurship delivered in easy-to-implement bullet points.


The mix allows Buettner a certain vantage to synthesize information and see it through to the real world.

After publication of his 2008 book Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, he launched a company of the same name that works with local communities to integrate health-based changes.

I first talked to Buettner at the Aspen Ideas Festival a couple years ago, where he was one of the few people in jeans and a T-shirt. While most people there were sitting listening to interviews and panel discussions, he texted to see if I wanted to cut out and go mountain biking.


I couldn’t, because I have a job.

Buettner’s job is to find and hang out with the healthiest people in the world. When we did sit down, he told me about how he was working with Gallup on finding a way to identify the statistically “happiest” people in the world. Work which was published as the third book in the series, The Blue Zones of Happiness.


With it, the graying, ever-tanned Buettner is at something of an inflection point in his career.

Notable in the new pages are a shift from what started out as more traditional guru-type personal advice for longevity—drink a glass or two of wine after 5 o’clock with friends or food, eat a plant-based diet, maintain a bicycle, join a faith-based community, etc.

Buettner hasn’t entirely given up on self-improvement, but he has come to believe it gets way too much emphasis.

His focus now is improving our surroundings, for the same reason that “dieting” tends to fail but changing a food environment works.

I spoke with Buettner about his experiences and how his understanding of health and happiness has shifted over the years.

He was about to go rollerblading. Our conversation is lightly edited and condensed.


James Hamblin: Define happiness.

Dan Buettner: Right away there’s a problem because, academically speaking, happiness is a meaningless term. You can’t measure happiness. It’s really a composite of things: health, emotions, the way you evaluate your life, and the extent to which you’re living out your values.

Hamblin: It sounds like you’re arguing for a reframing of the idea of “happiness” toward something bigger—an aggregate of purpose and joy and satisfaction and meaning. We’ve run pieces in the past that touch on, for example, Viktor Frankl and others who have said that life is really about pursuing meaning, and if you pursue happiness as we Americans tend to think about it, you end up going to amusement parks and shopping malls and trying to do things that are supposed to be making you happy but are sucking life out of you.

Buettner: Yes, exactly. So this was our challenge. Even though you can’t measure happiness, you can measure life satisfaction, partly by asking people, and partly by discrete questions about how much you smile or laugh or feel joy. You can also measure people’s sense of purpose, with questions like, “Do you learn new and interesting things every day? Have you used your strength to do what you do best this past week?” So for this book I worked with statisticians to run the numbers on data like this around the world. That pointed us to Singapore, Costa Rica, and Denmark as globally illustrative of facets of happiness. And so I spent a lot of time in those places, as well as a few U.S. cities, and tried to piece together explanations.

Hamblin: Did that change the way you think about happiness?

Buettner: There are two points that I make that you might not have heard elsewhere. Number one, I like the idea of thinking about happiness in the same way you think of your retirement portfolio. You want it balanced—the short term and long term, stocks and bonds. The hell-bent pursuit of purpose kind of loses the point a little bit, because there is value in the sum of positive emotions we experience every day. So if all you’re doing is pursuing your purpose, or if all you’re doing is very goal-oriented, you forgo joy today for a perceived better future. We now know that humans reliably mis-predict what will make them happy in the future. You could work your butt off, pursue your purpose, become financially independent, and get there and realize “Oh, my life sucks.”

Hamblin: I don’t want that.

Buettner: Who does? So I argue that there are a number of things you can do to enjoy your life day to day, and you ought to be putting some of your effort there.

I’m not a big believer in these positive psychology techniques of savoring or appreciation or gratitude, and not because they don’t work. I think they probably do, but for a lot of people they only work in the short run. It’s a little bit like diet. If your approach is just to cut your calories in half, you’ll lose weight. But you know within a matter of months you’ll lose focus or just quit doing it. It’s the same with trying to remember to practice gratitude. So what I argue for are statistically driven things you can do to optimize your environment so you’re more likely to be happy for the long term.

Hamblin: Kind of like the lazy person’s approach to happiness? Or maybe just the thinking person’s approach?

Buettner: I wish I would’ve called this book The Lazy Person’s Approach to Happiness.

Hamblin: So tell me about the ideal environment—the one where, if you set your life up right, you never have to try to be healthy or happy.

Buettner: Well, I know you’re kidding, but there are a lot of decisions you can make that will have long-term payoffs.

In terms of choosing a place to live, people who live near water—whether it’s a lake or river or an ocean—are about 10 percent more likely to be happy than people who don’t. And people who live in medium-sized cities are more likely to be happy than the anonymity of a big city or perhaps the too in-your-face, limited-possibility environment of a tiny town. You’re more likely to be happy if your house has a sidewalk, and if you live in a bikeable place.

Financial security is also, obviously, huge. It really does deliver more happiness over time than most anything that money can be spent on—after your needs are taken care of and you maybe treat yourself occasionally. If you have money left over, you’re much better paying down your mortgage or buying insurance or signing up for an automatic savings plan than you are buying a new gadget or new pair of shoes.

Hamblin: I wrote a while ago about how behavioral economists say we should buy experiences, not things.

Buettner: Exactly. In the long-term view, you’re better off buying experiences than some new gadget. Buying things does produce some spike in joy or appreciation, but that wears off over time. A good experience actually gains luster.

Hamblin: Despite knowing that, when I actually go to spend money on traveling or even just tickets to something, I think about how soon that will be over and gone. And if I buy a couch, I have it for years.

Buettner: But the joy from the couch wears out. You’ll still flop down on it, but it won’t provide that bump of joy.

Hamblin: So then, of course, valuing experience requires spending time reflecting and thinking back, which I’m also terrible at because I’m always looking at my phone or worrying about all the things I have to do in the future.

Buettner: In Boulder, which I profile as the “happiest place in America,” there are severe limits on advertising. Boulder has no billboards at all.

Hamblin: So people stop wanting things?

Buettner: The extent to which we spend money is very much a product of our environment. If you’re constantly prompted to buy stuff, if constant marketing messages are rinsing over your psyche, you’re more likely to buy things than to spend that money more wisely on experiences or financial security. So that’s yet another way we can think about our environment shaping our happiness. Or lack thereof.

Hamblin: You spend most of your time in Minneapolis. Has all of this travel and research made you want to move?

Buettner: Minneapolis is a relatively happy place. And I split my time between Minneapolis and Santa Barbara, which is one of the happiest places. I’d live in Costa Rica in a minute. I’d live in Copenhagen. Singapore, not so much.

In the United States, the happiest places tend to be places where enlightened leaders over the past century decided to shift their focus away from just economic development and growth to quality of life. They made policies and emphasized a better life over a better business environment.

A great example of that is San Luis Obispo. In the 1970s, a mayor came in who was an architecture professor from [California Polytechnic State University]. He noticed a forest of signs downtown, and drive-through fast-food restaurants, and the highway coming through. He drove a push for aesthetics, social gathering places, and streets built for humans, not just cars. Today, San Luis Obispo routinely ranks in the top 10 happiest places in the country. It’s not a coincidence. You see the same features in Portland, Santa Cruz, Boulder—happiness is not a coincidence. There’s always an orchestration of common factors that come together to produce it.

Hamblin: Okay, but most people can’t move to San Luis Obispo because of jobs and the aforementioned importance of financial security. Even if they could, they’d have to start a social network all over again, so what can people do in their immediate environments?

Buettner: There are small things. One facet of happiness is sum of positive emotions. So I like the idea of a “pride shrine”—a place in your house that you pass a lot where you put pictures that trigger pleasant memories. Or diplomas or awards that remind you of accomplishments.

Hamblin: So you don’t have to remember to remember.

Buettner: There’s also of course research that shows that having green plants around is good. And getting your house down to one TV seems to be good, and keeping it behind doors so the act of watching is intentional instead of mindless. And a front porch is better than a back deck because the happiest people are socializing six to seven hours a day.

Hamblin: What? No. In person?

Buettner: Social media doesn’t count. I know. For every new friend you add to your social network, you’re 15 percent more likely to be happy. So surround yourself with the right kind of people. And if you think of friends sort of like long-term adventures, it kind of meets the experience-focused criterion.

And who you hang out with has a huge impact on your happiness. A lot of us accumulate friends along the way because we went to school together, or we work with them. And I never say to dump them, but proactively find happy friends who like to laugh. Humor has a measurable impact on daily happiness. So find funny friends. Or at least friends who think you’re funny, that’s big.

James Hamblin, MD, is a staff writer at The Atlantic. He hosts the video series If Our Bodies Could Talk and is the author of a book by the same title.



Story 18


13 Ways I Completely Changed My Life in a Year and So Can YouTim DenningTim Denning


Change Your Life With My Life Story Essay |


My life fell into a million tiny pieces. There were cries for help that nobody answered. It was a dark time.


I had left a business behind that I loved like a child.

My family relationships were a mess.

My financial situation was a disaster.

I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror I was so ashamed.

Anybody who was good in my life had departed.

The loneliness was crippling.

Worst of all, I had found out earlier that there was a mental illness invading my brain; it was warping my thoughts and making the world look like a horror movie with real-life zombies in the streets.

Then everything changed.

What caused it?

I finally had enough.

“No more. That’s it. I’m done.”


The pain was simply too great.

Ignoring the problems and living in ignorant bliss was something I wasn’t prepared to do anymore.

I began searching for answers that led me down a strange path to something far more beautiful than I could imagine.


Below are the thirteen ways you can turn your life around.

1.  Let it all fall apart.


Denial is the enemy of reinvention.

My whole life was a lie.

The solution was to stop pretending and start admitting. And then to ask myself one question: “What are you going to do about it?”

Playing spot the negative is easy.

Critics do that all day for free.


So I admitted to myself what was going on and how I felt.

It wasn’t in one triumphant moment like a Disney movie would portray. It happened over several months.

When the truth was obvious, I let everything fall apart.

My romantic relationships, business ventures, lifelong friends, hobbies — all fell apart over a short period of time.


When things fell apart, only then did it become possible to rebuild my life from scratch again using a blank canvas.


2.  Take a shit job.

I took a shit job in a call center.

It was the worst job you could find.

But it got me out of the house.

I stopped looking at my dwindling bank balance and all the stuff I had to sell to stay afloat, and started thinking about my colleagues and the needs of customers.

It sounds cheesy, I know — but that tiny shift in focus got me out of my head.


Showing up at 11 AM on the dot each day to work the night shift was difficult.

I’d walk 45 minutes from one side of the city to the other so that I didn’t have to pay for parking.

The walk was brutal.

The only footpath that took me to work was right next to the Yarra River.

The winds were strong and the temperature was freezing.

The first week I broke my umbrella.

So I went and bought another umbrella that was wind-tested for cyclones.

Shortly after, that umbrella snapped in the strong wind and the manufacturer couldn’t believe it.

It was as if the weather was trying to demonstrate to me how much of a storm I’d have to overcome if I really wanted to turn my life around.

Every walk to work was like walking through a blizzard. Arriving at work was a small win.


Work was tough.


I knew nobody and my extrovert self was hiding and afraid to come out and play.

It was me and one other who worked the night shift from 11 AM to 9 PM.

Everybody else worked normal business hours because they were lucky enough to be normal, not broken like us night owls.


At lunchtime, I’d sit in the kitchen by myself and stare at the brick wall that was the view out the window.

My lunch each day was minestrone soup that I bought from the supermarket when it was on sale once a month.

People looked at me like I was homeless.

The cheap suit I wore didn’t fit, and I looked like it had been several years since I’d had a good nights’ sleep.


Taking an entry-level job is not all bad though.

One day a new boss rolled up to manage our team.

He saw something in me and told me that every 1–1 we were going to watch a TED Talk.

I had no idea what a TED talk was.


Each week he’d bring his iPad in and we’d watch a TED Talk.

He was my first real friend at work and he pushed me.

He expected me to take what I learned in the TED Talks and challenge my work colleagues.

When they said we couldn’t sell more he would say “Tim, what do you think about that?”


On the spot I’d have to come up with an inspiring reason why they were wrong.

The hard part came straight after, when I was forced to implement what I said, and show the team what could be done.


By bucking the trend, people in other departments started to notice.

I became the example of what doing things differently meant.

That idea allowed me to get promotions and leadership roles that I wasn’t qualified for.


What they didn’t know was that thinking was learned from my startup days where being different was how you survived and paid the rent on the office.

If you were undifferentiated in our business of selling physical products online, you were dead.


Only you can change your life quote | Change quotes, Change your ...

3.  Scare yourself with social media.


People think social media is a dream.

When I joined for the first time I was scared out of my mind.

Posting my thoughts online seemed like career suicide, and the fear of being judged was enormous.


Setting up a LinkedIn account was crucial for me to change my life.

It taught me, again, to go outside of myself. The thoughts I shared had to have value beyond my own life.

I had to get good at finding a few things each day to write about. This meant taking the negative and turning it into the positive.

The job interview I did, where I almost vomited over the hiring manager out of fear, had to become a story that had a lesson for other people.

Turning my back on the startup world had to become the seed for a career in corporate rather than a giant failure.


Learning to hit publish and walk away from the computer straight after became a powerful little habit.


As I found my voice on social media, it started to show up at work.

I gave presentations to my colleagues about business.

I did LinkedIn training sessions for other departments.

Voicing your opinion is a step towards freedom.


The harshest part was when I shared my battle with mental illness.

It was an embarrassing moment.

I thought everybody would run in the other direction, but they didn’t.

People started moving closer towards my vulnerability.


The marketing team at work heard about my story and asked me if I would share it.

So against all of my good mentor’s advice, I did.

I answered a few interview questions via email, hit the send button, and thought nothing of it.


Weeks later that interview appeared on the front of our company’s internal homepage.

35,000 employees saw my story and left hundreds of comments underneath it.

Then the marketing team made the story into a desktop background and put it on to everybody’s computer screens.


There was nowhere to hide.


Random strangers would come up to me at work and want to talk.

Senior leaders would ask me to come to their team meetings and talk about what it was like to endure entrepreneurship driven by mental illness.

The desktop background also appeared in all of my former employer’s retail stores.


The madness was supposed to last a week. Due to a glitch in desktop background software, my face and story was on people’s computers for several months. It was a risky move to share a story so personal on social media, and then allow my employer to do the same.


It taught me that when you step out from the dark and into the light, everything changes.


Humans can relate to other humans through stories. And those relationships change the direction of your life.


4. Say yes when you’re not ready.


Work became complicated when a colleague asked me to look after a client.

They were a billion-dollar tech company and I was a call center worker that dealt with small business clients who were likely to be out of business in the first few years.


Even though I wasn’t ready, I said yes.


It was a critical turning point.


I invested every waking moment in trying to help this customer with whatever they needed.

Stupidly, during winter, I got a really bad dose of the flu which left me bed-ridden.

My passion for the customer was so ridiculous that I left home at 4 AM in the morning and arrived at work just before 5 AM.


I sat at my desk until 7:30 AM and completed all the manual application work the customer required. As I walked to the lift to leave before anybody saw me, I bumped into a group of my colleagues.

They saw that I was deathly sick and asked me where I was going.

“On my way home. I’m not feeling well.”


The customer ended up seeing what time I had actioned their requests, knowing I was away sick.

The story became famous amongst my co-workers and led me down a career path towards technology.


While working yourself into the ground is a stupid idea, showing that you care is definitely not.


5 Books That Can Change Your Life


5.  Take hurt and turn it into unconventional motivation.


I was hurting from so many self-inflicted wounds caused by selfishness.

My drive to make millions of dollars and buy flashy junk caused everybody to run in the opposite direction.

That rejection hurt immensely.


I ended up listening to an audiotape called “Get The Edge” and reading “Think And Grow Rich.”

These resources taught me to take all the pain and turn it into unconventional motivation that might reshape my life.


The goal was to create an empowering meaning from the devastation of the past.

“If I had to find one good thing about this, what would it be?” became the question that drove me. Those highlights became the motivation.


The motivation caused me to do the following:

  • Rejoin the gym and get in shape.
  • Ask a woman out on a date.
  • Attend job interviews to further my career.
  • Start writing on a random blog.

6.  Do the unthinkable.


What is the unthinkable?


Give when you have nothing, so that you will give when you have something.

My mindset changed slightly.

Instead of hoarding my ideas and contacts, I started sharing them.

I stopped trying to guard what I had and instead opened the door for people to come in and help themselves, thus helping me.


People would email me and ask for a phone number or a contact that I had.

I would give it to them and not think twice.

My aim, although I didn’t realize it, was to be helpful.

Helpfulness disguised my former selfishness that was holding me back.


7.  Give it all away for free.


I’d spent most of my life wanting to be paid for every little thing I did.

What changed was that I started giving everything away for free.

I gave away my advice in the form of blog posts.

I answered questions about topics I knew about without asking for any money.


The barrier that holds us back is trying to attach money to everything.


When you attach money, you turn away most people because they don’t know or trust you enough to pay.

If you’re a content creator like me, try free. Hoarding your ideas and expecting huge amounts of money for them is actually limiting.


There are endless ways to make money online when you’re prepared to give yourself away for free.

Additional tiny changes you can make to transform your life.

  • 8. Eat for energy and vitality, not for taste. Healthy food is fuel; junk food destroys your energy.
  • 9. Write your thoughts down. That’s how you know what you’re telling yourself.
  • 10. Get a small trampoline. It’s fun to bounce while on the phone or watching TV and simultaneously activating your lymphatic system to rid your body of toxins.
  • 11. Treat work contacts like friends.
  • 12. Watch videos of kindness. If you treat people well, you’re going to move so fast towards success that nobody can stop you.

The Result


My entire life changed because of these crucial moments.


I have since been able to defeat mental illness, reach millions of people online, become a writer, publish several eBooks, compete in the state championships of public speaking, meet a woman who I fell in love with, make enough passive income to live with less stress and not be ruined by a recession, and to become a glimmer of hope for people who have none.


Changing your life is not an exclusive club made for special people who have a VIP Pass.


You can change your life too.

Final Thought —

Chase moments that send chills down your spine.


To end, I want to share with you one final thought.


Moments that send chills down your spine are glimpses into where you can take your life.


Those moments are usually when you witness passion or love.

These moments are what remind you of your human roots.

Moments of passion show you what you have the capacity to do.

Moments of love show you what matters and what doesn’t.


Use Youtube to find these moments and be inspired. Take these moments and replicate them in your habits and daily work.


Getting chills down your spine is a compass for life. Follow it.


Join my email list with 40K+ people for more helpful insights.




Story 19


Read This When Life Feels Hard

These ideas help me. Maybe they’ll help you, too.Linda SmithLinda Smith


Some days, life just feels hard.


We all know the feeling.

World events feel overwhelming, we have a fallout with a friend, we get some unexpected bad news that stops us in our tracks.

Something triggers us, and it’s difficult to regain our footing.

Or maybe life feels hard and it’s difficult to pinpoint a reason.

You wake up one morning and things just feel heavier than they did the day before.


Inevitably, life is a mixture of ups and downs.

It’s part of the human condition.


Our emotions are a spectrum.

Some days are good, some days are not.

If we’re lucky, most of our days fall somewhere in between, hopefully even leaning towards the good. Most days we feel a mix of emotions, delight and sadness, wonder and worry, and the average of these feelings puts us somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.


Sometimes, even inevitably, though, life simply feels hard.

It may last only a few hours, it may last much longer.

Your world seems to shrink to yourself and these suffocating emotions that seem to have no end in sight.

You wonder how you ever felt otherwise.

You wonder if you’ll ever feel happiness again.

Leaning In


Whatever the cause, non-cause, or trigger for your hard day, know that it’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling.




Blame and guilt are never productive ways forward.

Instead, here are a few things that give me comfort when I’m having a day that simply feels heavy.


In good company


Whether you’re currently in this space or not, it may be comforting to know you’re not alone.


No matter what you see on your friends’ shiny and flawless social media feeds, every single one of us feels low at times.


It’s part and parcel of being human.


We rarely share (or see others share) this part of the human experience because it can feel vulnerable.

It’s much easier to share pictures of our new highlights or artsy cappuccino than to openly discuss our hurts and our low points.

Never forget this, though: everyone, no matter how rich, happy or successful they appear, has bad days.

Everyone has days where life seems hard and overwhelming. You can’t be human and escape it.

It’s inevitable.


Worth hurting for


“Hey listen, it’s alright, feeling a little heartbroken now and then is a good thing. It’s how you know you still care. It’s how you know there are things for you in this world that still matter, that are worth hurting for.” -Beau Taplin, Reminder


I love these lines from Beau Taplin.

When your day is hard and your heart feels heavy, what a gift this quote is.


Feeling grateful for that heavy heart, because it’s proof you still care, proof there are things in your life worth hurting for is so valuable.

It may not be easy, necessarily, but it’s so much better than the alternative.


Because when we get to the point where are hearts are calloused, where we’re numb to the pain in our lives and in the world in general, we’re severely cutting ourselves off from our essential humanness.


Shards of beauty


“Maybe it’s not about having a beautiful day, but about finding beautiful moments. Maybe a whole day is just too much to ask. I could choose to believe that in every day, in all things, no matter how dark and ugly, there are shards of beauty if I look for them.” ― Anna White, Mended: Thoughts on Life, Love, and Leaps of Faith


Amidst the pain and sadness of life, it can help to find a ray of sunshine among the clouds.

This isn’t about jollying away the bad mood.

It’s about accepting and sitting with your feelings, and at the same time, finding something beautiful, something to lift your spirits among the ruins.


A smile from a stranger.

A hug from a child.

An unexpected call or text from a friend.


Sometimes, a beautiful moment or kind gesture is enough.

It may not turn your mood around, but may simply give you a sliver of hope.

And sometimes that’s enough.




Story 20


The 4 Kinds of People Who Redefine a Life of Meaning

A homeless man, a billionaire, a rising track star, and a disabled child showed me different ways to live.

Jordan Gross


I used to believe that there were two kinds of people. There were happy people and there were unhappy people.


When I was younger, my cousin and I played a game called sweet and sour.

We’d sit in the back of my dad’s car, and we’d wave at people through the window when we stopped at red lights.

If people waved back, then they were sweet. These were the happy people. If they didn’t wave back, then they were sour. These were unhappy people.


As I grew older, I stopped playing sweet and sour, but this game of deciphering happy from unhappy people continued.

Classmates who were excited to be in school were the happy people, while the ones who dreaded going were the unhappy people.

Colleagues who had a smile on first thing in the morning were happy people, while those who you couldn’t speak to until after lunch were unhappy people.

There were two outcomes to this game for so long.


That was until I learned about the homeless man, the billionaire, the rising track star, and the disabled child.


When I interacted with or learned about these four unique individuals, my perception of the world changed.

My view of the different types of people who existed on this earth expanded.

Two different kinds of people became four, and each of these individuals represented the four people I now believe inhabit this planet.


When considering these four people and the way they lived their lives, think about which one you would like to be. It will help redefine your thoughts regarding meaning and fulfillment.

People Who Have Nothing and Feel Nothing — The Homeless Man


The bench behind the basketball court was covered in blankets and clothing. To be quite honest, I thought it could be a clothing donation pile.

I was playing around one morning when a shot went errant, bounced off a rock and slammed into the soft bench coverings.

I gingerly walked over to grab the ball but stopped immediately when the blankets and t-shirts flew all over the place.

A voice emerged from the bench and a man stood up and let out a loud stretch.


“You woke me up!” He cried.


In front of me was a man with long dreadlocks, no shirt, baggy sweatpants, and an array of tattoos that fully covered his body.

“Good thing I like ball, or I would have whooped your ass.”

He said to me.

He grabbed the basketball and dribbled over to the hoop.

For the next half hour, we shot around and talked about life.

He told me his name was Kevin, and he’d lived on the streets of New York City for the last fifteen years.

I learned about Kevin’s entire life in thirty minutes.

I learned about his drug problems, his broken family, his criminal involvement, and his belief that the world had given up on him, driving him to give up on himself.


The clothing on the bench was all Kevin owned. Other than that, he had nothing.

He spent his days trying to convince anybody who would listen to get him a drink, a snack, or truthfully, he told me, a little money to spend on alcohol or drugs.


Kevin revealed to me that he had been knocked down so many times, he just wasn’t willing to get back up anymore.

He’d continue the rest of his days just like this no matter who or what tried to motivate him. He knew that he had nothing, and he was okay feeling nothing.

He didn’t want anything else.

Kevin represents the first kind of person I believe lives in this world. It’s a person who has nothing and feels nothing.

It’s difficult to think that these kinds of people exist, but they do. There are millions of Kevin’s out there roaming around aimlessly, purposelessly, meaninglessly.

These are the people who allow life to get the best of them. They are fed up by the adversity they’ve faced, and they have essentially given up.


This kind of person has the ability to change.

Kevin could change the way he lives his life with proper guidance.

But he chooses not to.

He makes a conscious choice not to try again.

But even if there is some Kevin in you or somebody you love, understand that being this kind of person is a choice.

And you can choose another path if you really want to live a more meaningful life.

People Who Have Everything but Feel Nothing — The Rising Track Star


A timid woman with dark hair and round glasses walked onto the stage.

Her hands were slightly trembling.

Her speech was soft and shaky.

She began talking about her little sister — her perfect little sister — is how she referred to her when the speech started.

But bit by bit, her story revealed that her sister was not so perfect. In fact, her sister was gone.


The speaker’s sister was an up and coming track star.

She excelled in athletics, earning a scholarship to an Ivy League school. She thrived in the classroom, finishing at the top of her class.

She was absolutely beautiful the speaker described a perfect representation of what little girls strive to look like.

She had friends and a great family. Her teachers and coaches adored her. From a third-party perspective, she had everything. But something was missing.

She felt nothing.


When this speaker dramatically paused in the middle of her speech and revealed that despite all of these things her sister had, she still decided to take her own life one summer afternoon, the only question to be asked was why?

Why would she do this?


The timid woman with the dark hair and round glasses spoke about how her sister was numb to her surroundings.

She was numb to her accomplishments, her support.

She was unable to feel any joy no matter what she did because she was always striving for more. She never believed that she was enough.

She struggled to understand that she had meaning.

She struggled for so long that one day she decided it was too much.


This young lady demonstrates the characteristics of the second kind of person in this world.

It’s a person who seemingly has everything but feels nothing.

But the feeling is the best part of the having, and it is so devastatingly sad this girl did not get the chance to experience that.

Being aware of what we have is immensely important.

Being grateful for what we’ve achieved, who we have surrounding us, and realizing we don’t always need to strive for everything, and then some is a superpower that must be practiced every day.

We must appreciate the smallest of things in this world, because only then will we realize that we have enough.

We are enough.

We matter.

We belong.

People Who Have Nothing but Feel Everything — The Disabled Child


My friend Carly recently studied abroad in South Africa. S

he’s practicing to become a nurse, so part of her program included care and quality time with a group of disabled young girls at a hospital near where she was living.

One of these girls changed the way Carly sees the world and people around her, and it has shifted the way I define living a meaningful life as well.


As an aspiring nurse, Carly has seen all different types of people from a physical standpoint.

But she’d never seen anyone like Miracle.

Walking into the playroom one day, Carly was stunned to see a girl, about eight years old, on the floor smiling from ear to ear.

At first glance, she’s just like every other bright-eyed eight-year-old around the world.

But then, it’s difficult not to notice all that she is missing.


Miracle has no limbs.

No arms, no legs.

Miracle is also an orphan.

She has no family.

She has no money.

From the outside, it seems like she has nothing.

But to Miracle, she has everything.


Carly was amazed by Miracle’s mindset.

She has no arms or legs, but Miracle will be the first to tell you she has eyes, ears, a nose, and a mouth.

She has no family, but she will be quick to remind you that she has nurses and doctors, and people like Carly who make her feel how a family is supposed to make somebody feel.


Miracle’s incessant smile, her playfulness, her lovingness, her sincere appreciation for the world and those around her allow her to feel like she has everything.

Because in her mind, she does.

She has everything she needs.

There is no gap between what she desires and what she currently has.

This is what allows for fulfillment.


Miracle is the third kind of person in this world.

These are people who seemingly have nothing.

From a materialistic point of view, they may actually not have much, but from an emotional sense, they have everything.


People like Miracle find it easy to be unabashedly content no matter what situation they find themselves in.

They see the world as a gift. Every day is an opportunity they get to embrace, as opposed to a chore they are forced to endure. To me, these people understand that meaning is derived from within.

Life is meaningful when it is well-loved, not just well-lived.

People Who Have Everything and Feel Everything — The Billionaire


Two cars pulled into the parking lot of a convention center where hundreds of entrepreneurs flocked to hear different speakers share their success stories.

One car was a brand-new Ferrari.

The other was an old Chevy.

One driver was a billionaire.

The other was not.

One driver was smiling.

One was not.

One was on his cell phone.

The other was not.

Guess who was the billionaire?


The man in the old Chevy smiling and not on his cell phone.

The billionaire went on stage and shared his rags to riches story.

He was a poor kid raised by a single mother, and they struggled to eat a warm meal during some intense winter months.

He worked hard and kept his head down. He stayed quiet, humble, but hungry.


He was always hungry to make an impact.

After learning as much as he could about computer software engineering, he worked for a company that gave him a steady salary, and he started a small business with a friend on the side.


That side business turned into his first multi-million-dollar company. He made a few more after that. He invested wisely. He didn’t spend much on material objects. He still drives an old Chevy. These are just a few of the reasons why he’s a billionaire.


The billionaire, just like Miracle, is incredibly grateful for all that he has and all that he has done.


He understands that he has the capacity to have every physical object in the world, but this is not what’s most important to him.

What’s most important is the impact he has on other people, the positive influence he makes on those around him, and the dedication to working on a cause much greater than himself.

He understands that he is not the center of the universe.


He is just a small part of it trying to do his best to make a difference.


This is the final type of person in this world.

And it’s not just billionaires.


People who seemingly have everything on the outside and also feel like they have everything on the inside.


These kinds of people also bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be. They know that despite their ambitions, wherever they currently are is part of the journey, and they are content knowing that.

What Type of Person Are You?

I used to believe that there were two kinds of people.

Now I believe there are four.

It’s now up to you to decide which type of person you are.


Are you the homeless man?

The rising track star?

The disabled child?

The billionaire?


Which type of person do you wish to become?


It’s up to you to decide which one of these lives will bring you the most happiness, meaning, purpose, and fulfillment.


When you consider your perspective on how to live a meaningful life, remember these four unique individuals. Remember who they are and who they wished to be. And finally, decide whether or not the life you’re living is truly meaningful.

Thanks to Todd Brison.



Story 21


9 Small Signs Someone Truly Loves You


I once spent an entire evening on the phone with one of my best friends, Nadia. She needed to talk as she was struggling in her relationship. She had doubts about her girlfriend’s feelings, and our conversation ended up being an analysis of her behaviors.

A few days later, they broke up.


We’ve all gone through this at least once.

Scratching our head, asking ourselves if our partner is really into us as they say or not — only to realize later that our intuition was somehow right.


Let’s be honest, when someone truly loves you, they don’t let you wonder.

They don’t send mixed signals.

In fact, the opposite is true.

Their actions speak louder than their words, and they show their love through their actions rather than just telling you they love you.


They consistently do small things they usually wouldn’t do for other people, which, when combined, are a good indicator someone genuinely cares.



1. If You Need to Vent, They Are Always There for You

Nadia is now in a healthy, fulfilling relationship with her new girlfriend, Sandra.

And she says she feels a huge difference with her previous relationship.


Anytime she needs to talk, Sandra is there to listen.

She knows she has her emotional support and that she’s not a burden for her.

If Sandra sees Nadia isn’t in her best mood, she asks her if she needs to go for a walk and vent. Her ex, instead, seemed to never have time for that.


Someone who doesn’t love you won’t be interested in spending time listening to your problems; they will have other priorities.


Those who love you instead want to do something if they see you are struggling.


2. They Can't-Wait to See You

I can’t stress this enough,

Be with someone who can’t wait to spend time with you.


If someone loves you, they will feel the need to see you, and you will notice it.

You won’t have to wait one month before seeing them — unless you are in a long-distance relationship, that’s an entirely different story.


When Nadia and Sandra started dating, they met once or twice a week, and they couldn’t wait to see each other again.

Nadia never felt insecure about Sandra’s interest because she could feel she was genuinely into her.


Then, after a few months, when the relationship started to become more serious, and they became exclusive, they slowly began to see each other three or four days per week.

Now, after two years, they live together.

Things slowly and naturally progressed in a loving, healthy relationship.


Of course, as I explained a few weeks ago, time apart is essential to relationship health as well.

You don’t want to spend your whole time with someone, no matter how much you love each other.


You must make enough time to pursue your dreams and focus on your hobbies or career. In fact, time apart is exactly what makes you long for the other person, and makes your moments together memorable.


3. They Want the Relationship to Work

If someone loves you, they want you to be happy with them.

Whenever you two have a disagreement, they will focus on handling the conflict and sorting things out.


This is what Nadia noticed from the beginning of the relationship.

When she had her first disagreement with Sandra, they treated it as an opportunity to get to understand each other and grow as a couple.

And Sandra asked Nadia how she could be a better partner.


If someone doesn’t truly care, they will perceive relationship talks as a waste of time. Instead, someone who loves you will make communication a top priority because they want things to work.



4. They Want You to Meet Their Loved Ones

Let’s be honest, when you are in love with someone, you want the world to know you two are together.

In particular, you want your loved ones to know it, and you can’t wait to introduce them to your significant other.


An example of this is when Sandra introduced Nadia to her family. She organized a dinner at her place after two months they were dating, and she couldn’t wait to do so.

The same happened with her closest friends.


Someone who doesn’t care won’t feel the need to introduce you to their family or best friends. They won’t feel the need to talk to them about you. In fact, they might even avoid it.


5. They Want to Meet Your Loved Ones

Another sign someone is in love with you is they not only introduce you to their family and friends, but they are also curious to meet your loved ones.

They probably won’t pressure you into it, but they will communicate their interest in knowing them.

And they will make an effort to get along with them.


For example, the first time Sandra met Nadia’s parents, she cooked a meal for them.

Then, she spent the entire afternoon talking with them.

They had a long, pleasant conversation.

The same thing happened when Nadia met Sandra’s family, she invited them to her small lake cottage, and they had a nice barbecue.


They had a lovely day together.


6. They Remember Everything About You, Even the Small Details

After a few dates, Sandra remembered the earrings Nadia was wearing the first time they met.

And Nadia remembered when Sandra shared her fear of bees during their first date.


Someone who is not into you won’t even notice the small details.

If someone loves you instead, they will impress you with their memory.

They will remember almost every tiny detail of your first dates and how you two met.


Those who care about us tend to remember a lot of what we say and what we do.


7. They Offer to Help You

If someone doesn’t love you, they won’t feel the need to help you.


Someone who loves you instead will want to alleviate at least a bit of your stress if they can.

They will show their love through their actions — especially if their primary love language is “acts of service.”


For example, when Nadia had to move to her new apartment, Sandra helped her with the move. When she had to buy a new sofa, she offered to accompany her to Ikea to choose one and then helped her organize the transportation.


8. They Talk About the Past

Another small sign someone is in love with you is they talk about the past — your past as a couple.

Most likely, they will do it a lot, and with a smile on their face.

Because they not only love you, but they also love the memories you have together.


Last year, for Nadia’s birthday, instead of a birthday card, Sandra created a video with at least one hundred pictures of them.

I found it an original and romantic way to remember their past as a couple and collect their memories together.


Someone who doesn’t genuinely care won’t think much about the beautiful moments you spent together, because they don’t place the same value as you do on them.



9. They Talk About the Future (A Lot)

As someone who loves you talks about the past, they will also mention the future a lot — your future together.

When they make plans, they always include you, because it feels natural to them to see you in their future. Not only that, but they also have thousands of ideas of things you can do together.


They will mention a movie they want to watch with you, a concert they want to go to with you, a country they want to visit with you, or even the house they want to live in with you.


For example, Sandra talks a lot about long-term plans with Nadia. She often mentions her dream house she wants to buy one day — to live there with Nadia — and the caravan she wants to buy — to travel with her.


True love looks and feels like this.

You know and feel the other person is there for you and sees you as part of their life — today and tomorrow.

You won’t find yourself wondering if they are into you or not.

You won’t spend hours analyzing their behavior with your friends.

You will know they genuinely care.

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Story 22


How A Narcissist Will Manipulate Their Relationships

Carrie Wynn

Carrie Wynn



It was the morning after an episode of narcissistic rage from my younger brother.


He had spent the night at the apartment I lived in with my best friend at the time.

The evening had started out perfectly fine but had turned into his ramblings and conversations that made no sense.

At one point in the conversation, he had held his finger over my mouth to keep me from speaking.

He had been condescending and rude even though we had welcomed him into our house.


Over the years there were moments where my little brother would lay into me for seemingly no reason saying the cruelest things, and then saying I was an inspiration to him the next day.


It wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned that he had a narcissistic personality disorder and everything clicked about how he had been manipulating our relationship for decades.


This is how a narcissistic will manipulate the relationships they have with the people in their life.

#1. They will position themselves as the expert


For as long as I can remember my brother knew more than anyone else.

It didn’t matter if someone was educated, an expert in their field, or extremely successful, he would find a way to disagree with them.


There were moments when I would try to state my feelings/thoughts/beliefs and there would be a brief moment when my brother would listen, and then say all the reasons why I was wrong.

Eventually, I learned to remain silent and to just not engage.

It didn’t matter if I came prepared on a subject, if someone ignores logic it’s impossible to argue with them.

#2. They will position themselves as a savior


Years ago I ended up in a serious relationship with a narcissist.

In the beginning, he was sweet and charming but slowly t

he facade fell away and I was left with someone who believed that I was nothing without him.


“You are nothing without me… you’re lucky that you even get a chance to be in my life.”


He said those words to me the morning after being with a group of his friends.

When he said those hurtful words I could feel the contempt and hate dripping from them.

I truly believed that I didn’t belong there and that I wasn’t “worthy” of being his girlfriend.


He viewed himself as my savior when I didn’t need saving and later wished he had never been in my life at all.



#3. They seek power as a means of control


Whether it’s in their work or personal life a narcissist wants to gain power so that they are able to have full control over the people in every area of their lives.


“Some narcissists purposely select professional endeavors where they can be regularly admired and/or feared. In this case, a major reason for the narcissist’s choice is simply to be “superior,” “important,” and “special,” rather than sincerely desiring to make a contribution for the greater good.” -Psychology Today


A few years ago I had a narcissistic boss that did everything he could to make me fear him.

From the first day I started, he told me that he “fired whenever he felt like it” and he saw himself as superior to all of his subordinates.


Meetings weren’t about what was good for the company, they were about what we could do to make our boss look good to his leadership.

#4. They will attempt to break down your boundaries


If you have a set boundary and a narcissist is aware of it and can influence you to break them, it gives them a feeling of “winning.”


For example, I set a boundary with my ex that I wouldn’t drink on weeknights because I had a yoga class every morning at 6:00 AM and didn’t want to feel bad.

He would constantly ignore the fact that I didn’t want to drink and would pour me a glass of wine and get frustrated when I didn’t drink it.


Ignoring someone's boundaries even if they seem small is ultimately not respecting them.


It has actually been several years since I spoke with my little brother.

We didn’t have an official “falling out” but I made it clear that I was aware of his manipulative tactics.


Even if someone is our family member it doesn’t mean that they have a right to play with our emotions, ignore our boundaries, or manipulate us for our gain.


At the end of the day, you have to put your mental health and emotions first, even if it means cutting out narcissistic friends/family who don’t respect you.




Story 23



The Agony of Hope

All my life I’ve wanted someone to notice me

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At the landscaping company where I worked for two summers, they called me “Danimal.” They gave me this name because I didn’t landscape.

I attacked.


I filled my wheelbarrows so full of earth, sand, and rock that the handles creaked and groaned.

It took all my might to wheel the barrow without tipping it over. A coworker once asked, “Why do you do that?”

And I, like a wild Danimal, said, “I don’t know.” But what I meant was, Why does the bear roar?

Why does the tiger also roar?

Why does the lion’s hair look effortlessly amazing?

What choice do we have?


Another time, my boss needed someone to dig under his house to make room for a new foundation. That’s a good reason to dig, but I didn’t care about the reason.

All I knew was my boss had selected me, and digging is one of my favorite things.

The darkness and quiet of the underground calm me down like my dentist’s weighted blanket, and in the freedom of that soothing calm, I go insane.


Beneath that house, I battled the Earth with pickaxe and spade, working by the light of bare bulbs, little golden moons.

I howled at them. I became Stephen King’s gunslinger, sort of.

I was the dirt-slinger: “I do not dig with my shovel; he who digs with his shovel has forgotten the face of his father. I dig with my heart.”


At one point, I was on my belly in a tight spot, snarling at the ground, stabbing at it with a hand spade, imagining myself a captive digging out of a French prison with a spoon.

My boss’s voice suddenly filled the air behind me. Surprised, I savagely twisted my head around. I must have looked crazy.

A demonic dirt puppy.

My boss stared for a moment then said, “Dan… are you okay?”

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Is the python okay while he embraces the warthog?

Is the cheetah okay when he T-bones gazelles at eighty miles an hour?

Is the tick okay when he injects Lyme into a-hole uncles?


“Yes,” I said.


Another time, the Danimal was given the task of stacking wood.

Instead of stacking in chest-high piles, I decided to stack as high as possible.

One pile.

If three to five piles are good, then one pile, 11 feet tall, is great!


The next morning, my Babel tower of winter wood was leaning dangerously, a tsunami of split timber waiting for one of my boss’s children to run beneath it and die.


“Danimal,” said my boss before making me tear down my achievement, “why?


I thought of beavers building dams, beetles rolling dung, dogs smelling crotches.

How would they answer?


The beaver looks up from his wood, the beetle from his perfectly spherical turd; the dog reverses out of a stranger’s crotch, and they all answer the same:


“Before the foundation of the world was imagined, I was imagined, and even back then, I was doing this, for I am mighty.”

But of course, there’s something else behind it all, as usual:


For me, anyway. For the animals, it’s the mightiness.

What is my hope?


You guessed it: that someone will recognize the fires inside me by my odd feats of power and will hire me.


To do what?

To train as an elite operative rescuing kidnapped people.

To star in a blockbuster action movie about a landscaper who’s pushed too far and brings down the city’s crime families using only a spade.


All my life I’ve been infected with this bad hope that someone will notice.


Someone will see the passion.

They will give me five million dollars for it, as a signing bonus.

The billionaire will then say, Now just be yourself. We need someone with fire in their blood on this dull Caribbean island. Do you know your way around a spade? Dig me a lair.


Though it’s nuts, I can’t stop this hope.


Everything I want in life is poisoned by hope.


The other day, my phone rang and the caller was “California.”

That’s the name my phone gave me.

The state of California is calling you.

I didn’t answer, because I’m afraid of talking to states I don’t know.

But I waited to see what kind of message California would leave in my mailbox. What message did I hope for?

“Hey, Dan, this is Hollywood. It’s time.”

Yes, I really thought Fame itself was calling this prodigal son.

“I’ve been watching,” says Fame. “You don’t merely live your life, Dan.

You attack it.

Don’t you think it’s about time you were properly compensated for this with the leading role in an action film?”

I am weeping.

“I do. I really do think that!”


Everything I want in life is poisoned by hope.

More like intoxicated.

I can’t see straight enough to walk the line of realism.

When I was a child, I wanted a four-wheeler.

Hope led me to dream of people giving me four-wheelers.

I truly thought they would.

They’d see the four-wheeler fire in my eyes and say, “Kid, you need this more than I do.”


Once I started writing, hope made me dream of Stephen King saying, “I’m a Mainer and a writer. You’re a Mainer and a writer.

Would you like me to be your mentor and best friend?”


“Well good, because it’s already done.”


It was the same with love.

I met my wife at 32, but I had been looking for her since the first grade, hoping to meet my dream weaver every day.

I sought her everywhere.

In churches. In Subway sandwich shops.

At family reunions (yes, I did, but in my defense, I hadn’t seen that side of the family in a very long time).

It was this hope of mine, an overabundance of it, that caused me to accidentally go on a date with two women at the same time.


As Red says in Shawshank, “Hope is a dangerous thing.”


The Danimal Wounds Himself

One day, my landscaper boss needed me to destroy a part of his house.

I did so blissfully, with gusto.

I love love love demolition.

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My dream: a field full of irreparable upright pianos.

A banquet table is covered with implements of destruction.

Sledgehammers, hatches, bats, crowbars, mauls, battle axes, and boxing gloves.


The billionaire who hired me to do this says, “And don’t return to the hobbit hole I bought for you until every last piano is leveled to the ground.”


Writing this, my eyes just filled with tears.

I’m serious.


So, with a mini-crowbar in hand, I went to work beating up my boss’s house.

I was so high on happiness, however, that I didn’t get my hand out of the way of my other hand, which was swinging the crowbar. One of the metal teeth mercilessly punctured my finger.


The wound was bad enough that I had to go to the hospital, but not so bad that I couldn’t drive. So, to the hospital I went, eager to be patched up, sewed up, amputated, whatever, so I could hurry back to my labor of love.


Speaking of love, it occurred to me, “Today is the day I will meet my soulmate.”

I was a single landscaper manfully bleeding out.

She would be a single nurse, or lightly attached, dying inside for a taste of fire.

“How did you do this to your finger?” she would ask, breathlessly.

“How does the eagle endanger himself? Passion.”

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I sat in the hospital’s waiting room, noticing that the finger I’d wounded had lost its feeling.

Ghost finger.

I imagined myself sitting in a dark corner of a fisherman’s bar.

The barkeep nods warily in my direction and tells a few green sailors, “That one over there.

We call him Old Dead Finger.

Don’t let him catch you staring or he might just tell you the tale of how he lost the finger’s feeling.

It was the loss of that feeling that led him to his true love, the love he tragically lost while secretly serving the government.

And you know what the poor soul can’t feel now? His heart. Sad story. Beware. Now buy him a drink if you don’t want Old Dead Finger’s curse.”


My dreaming was interrupted by another person seeking medical attention.


This guy entered the waiting room joined by two other people: police officers. He was wearing all orange, one of my favorite colors.

If it wasn’t for the cops on either side of him and the chain between his ankles, I would have thought this man was an adventurer.

You see, the color orange is the color of adventure for me.

I don’t know why, but it is.

When I was a kid, I had a beloved orange shirt I wore once a week, only on Saturdays.


Because Saturday is the holy day of adventure.


Of course, this hospital guest was a prisoner, either visiting the hospital as a reward for good behavior or because of a wound.

I couldn’t tell.

The beefy cops gave nothing away.

They chatted with one another as if there wasn’t an entire prisoner sitting between them.


As I skillfully stared at the orange guy with every inch of my peripheral vision, I wondered what he was in for.

It could be anything.

Probably murder.

Once I realized this, I tried to look tough, like someone who would be hard to murder.


The murderer would take one look at me and think, “Dang, I might have murdered him when I was younger, on my best day. Today though?

Not going to risk it.”


Suddenly, I heard groaning behind me.

I looked, and there was a man in a wheelchair at the nurses’ station.

A woman stood behind his chair and a little girl stood beside it.

I think they were a woman and a girl, though they could have been human-shaped clusters of bees; I wouldn’t have noticed. I couldn’t take my eyes off the man.


He was doubled over, his chest resting on his legs, and he was groaning, moaning.

Whimpering. It sounded like he was trying to cry but had forgotten how.

He sounded exactly like a bunny full of knives, begging God for death.


In all my life, I had never seen or heard someone in that much pain.

I’d heard about that much pain from my father who tore a ligament playing basketball.

He said the pain was “Unbelievable.”

He said the same thing about his kidney stone.


To prevent this kind of a pain in my life, I loudly refuse every time someone suggests basketball. I don’t care how many recruiters want me, I will not play. And to prevent kidney stones, I drink so much water my urine sparkles.


I turned back around and the prisoner was looking at me.

The wheelchair guy groaned again and the prisoner and I shared a moment.

Together, we made this face: “Glad I’m not that guy.”

As soon as my face aligned with the murderer’s, I knew I had leveled up in his eyes.

This guy, he thought, he’d be really good at murder.

Maybe the best.


I imagined myself with the murderer in a field of pianos having so much fun we can’t stop falling over with laughter.

We’re not that different, I thought. Both tough.

Both clear adventurers.

Both unlucky, and I wondered if maybe we had the same disease called hope.

Of course, we did.

He hoped wonderful things would happen in his life, and look where that got him.

I sighed.

Did you fly too close to the sun, my friend?


I know all about it.

The same went for the man in the wheelchair.

I knew his story too.

A coffee guy.

He drank with abandon.

Would you like some water instead?

Like me, he saw only a marvelous future for himself. “Me?” he said. “Water?

What do I look like, a fish?”

This man, drunk on hope, expected every urination to give him that fine fluttery shiver that says, “Even this goes your way.

And that promotion you’re waiting for? It’s yours. That lottery ticket? A guarantee.”

But then… the stone.


And another flying dreamer, stoned on hope, perishes in the sea.

I sat in the waiting room for too long because I never checked in at the desk.

Why not?

Because I don’t know how things work.

Why else?



It made me believe that all I had to do was sit in the waiting room and I would be found.




By the time I realized you have to check-in, the prisoner had been seen by the doctor and was gone, and the groaning guy was nowhere to be heard.

I checked in then waited again.


Finally, a voice said, “Daniel?”

It was a male voice.

Obviously, it was a male voice belonging to the male nurse who was here to bring me to the female nurse who would cut the small talk and dive right into the passion.


I followed the blue-clad man into a room where he laughed at me for what I’d done to my finger.

While he cleaned the wound and dressed it in a little bandage instead of stitches or a hook (because, unfortunately, it wasn’t that bad), I kept hoping there would be a knock on the door and then a woman named Natasha, a woman dressed as the sea, in teal, would say, “I’ll take it from here.”


Take what from here?

My heart.


But Natasha never arrived, and by the time I made it back to my boss’s house, I couldn’t even demo anymore, because the workday was done.


I headed home, pinching my finger, enjoying its deadness while it lasted.

It didn’t last long.

Depressed, I stopped at a gas station to treat my wounded self to a restorative Mountain Dew.

I saw the pretty cashier and wondered if she’d want to know what had happened to my finger.


“You know,” I would say, “I can’t feel a thing?”

Then I would lean in handsomely, adding, “Unless there’s a deadly storm.”

“Really?” she’d say. “How’d you do that to yourself?”


“How does a bat hunt in the dark?”


“Wrong,” I would say.


“No, it’s echolocation,” she would say again, sexily.


The Danimal Finds Love

It was Halloween night, my first-semester teaching at a small college in Western Pennsylvania.

I was going to a play put on by the school’s theater program, and though this doesn’t sound like me at all, for the first time in my life, I wasn’t expecting to discover love.

I was going because someone told me the play was about ghosts and was happening in a graveyard. My wheelhouse.


I put on my best skull t-shirt and followed the map I’d drawn on my hand, which did not lead to a graveyard, but to a little theater living inside an old bank like a hermit crab in a stolen shell.


In I went, and there, selling tickets, was this woman.

Red hair. Huge eyes.

She was the director of the play, and after the play was over, she was the woman who asked me if I wanted to get coffee.


I was shocked.

Why didn’t I see this coming?

Shouldn’t I have felt it?

Why had I felt it all those other times, at churches, hospitals, gas stations, and reunions, when the answer to my hope was decades away, waiting for me on Halloween night in a graveyard built on stage by the woman of my dreams?


Did I feel any kind of hope leading up to this night of drama?

Yes, but it was merely the hope that I would see a ghost.

My other hope, the one that had made a ruin of my life every day for 30 years, was somehow not paying attention.

Now that I think about it, maybe that’s the reason things went so well.


“Hello,” she said.


“One ticket?”


“That’ll be five dollars.”


I handed her my card, wondering if she would see the scar on my finger and want to know more.

Did you get that scar from some passionate accident?


“Actually,” she said, “We only take cash.”

“Oh,” I said. “Shoot.”


Then she told me how to find the gas station next door and its handy ATM.

When I saw her a second time, ready with cash now, my foolish hope was back, paying careful attention. Hope whispered This is it.

She’s the one I’ve been telling you about all this time. I always knew it would happen tonight! I wanted to tell my hope to shut up.

I wanted to say, “You had no idea.

And you can’t swoop in like this and take all the credit,” but I didn’t have time.

I had to follow the beautiful stranger leading me to my seat in the graveyard.

I waited for the show to begin, for the dead to arrive and tell their stories, and after the show, when she asked me to coffee, I thought,

This is how it’s done.

All you have to do is stop hoping for good things to happen, and they will.

They have no choice.


If only I’d known this 20 years ago.

If I had known it, I would have given up hope faster than anyone in history.

Then I would have immediately met and married my wife on that wonderfully hopeless day.


So, for all of you young pups out there longing for glory and for love, give up hope.

Drop it like it’s hot.

Then all you have to do is close your eyes and hold out your hands.





Why I Walk With My Grandparents Every Morning

And the 4 most important lessons I learned from them

I’m at an interesting point in my life.

COVID-19 hit right as I was about to graduate from college, so I’ve been back home for the past year. On top of that, I’m starting medical school in the Fall, so I’ve really had nothing but time on my hands while I wait to begin my new journey.


With this time, I decided to invest in something truly meaningful to me.

Every morning,


I wake up, have a cup of coffee with my maternal grandparents, and go for an hour-long walk with them outside to catch the sunrise.


Coming back home after four years has really given me the time to think about my life, the choices I’ve made, and especially the people who have impacted me.


But to understand why I decided to write this article, you first have to understand a little more about me.


I was the first generation of my family to be born in the United States, but my heritage is entirely Indian. Growing up in an Indian household, my culture taught me a lot about the importance of family.

We’re a very tight-knit type of people.

On occasion, I’ve had more than ten people in my family living in the same household.


Keep in mind that I only have one sibling, so most of my family is on the older side.

I’m very blessed to say that I’ve been able to live with all four of my grandparents for a big portion of my life.

The experiences I’ve had with them and the lessons I’ve learned are truly unforgettable.

My maternal grandparents, in particular, are my biggest source of inspiration in life.

As a child, my mom was hospitalized very frequently, so I was raised in large part by my grandparents.


On the day I was born, my grandmother even quit her job in order to take care of me. Pretty much all of my earliest memories revolve around them.


My situation is definitely rare.

Not many people have their grandparents in their lives, let alone to the extent that I do.

With these memories and my upbringing, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the 4 most important lessons I’ve learned from my grandparents.


Lessons #1: Giving to Others

My grandpa and I often have long conversations about life, much of which involves stories from his past. And the one who taught him the most was his own father.

My grandpa grew up with 12 other siblings, and he was the eldest son of the family.

His mother died when he was a young child, so he had to shoulder a lot of familial responsibility from a young age.

They didn’t have much; my great-grandpa had hardly gone to school, lived in a small village in India, and relied on simple industrial work to make a living and feed his family.


One day, when my grandpa was a young man, a friend of his father came knocking on the door of their small house.

He came to ask for some money since he was experiencing financial difficulty.


When telling me this story, my grandpa said to me,

“I saw my dad reach into his pocket.

He pulled out whatever change and spare bills he had, which is all we had, and handed it to his friend.


I was so angry, demanding to know why my father was crazy enough to give away all his money when he had a family to take care of.

But my dad didn’t respond with much. He looked at me and said, ‘Babu (my grandpa’s nickname), always hold out your hand like this and never like this.’”


The gesture he made was one of holding your hand out to give to others instead of taking.


As my grandpa told this story, he would always look away, as if remembering his father and the lessons he taught him.


Now the great thing about my grandpa was that he spoke in a way that never meant he was specifically giving me advice or telling me to act a certain way.

He just talked about his life, and the interpretation and decision-making were left up to me.

That’s what I love about my grandpa: He always trusts me.

This life lesson of giving to others really stuck with me.

In fact, it’s one of the biggest reasons I decided to pursue medicine.

It’s my own way of helping others and giving back to the people around me.


Lesson #2: Show Respect Through Communication

Interestingly enough, I learned how to communicate with my grandparents.

Now I don’t mean learning how to talk as an infant, but rather the ability to communicate appropriately.

This was much more of a subtle lesson, one that I picked up primarily through experience and exposure, so it’s a little difficult to explain.

But let me do my best to describe what I mean.


Being surrounded by so many family members that are older than me expanded my communication horizon.

In school, we talk to our friends and our teachers.

At home, we talk to our siblings and parents.

And that’s about it.

I had an additional layer added to my conversations on a daily basis: all four of my grandparents.


This type of environment really taught me the value of respect, and how you convey respect through conversation.

This wasn’t confined to respect towards my elders, but rather respect towards everyone.

The biggest lesson I learned about respect was listening carefully.

When my grandparents talk, I listen.

When my parents talk, I listen.

When my friends talk, I listen.

When my younger brother talks, I listen.


Listening is crucial.

Listening to others is what develops respect.

If I’m not listening to what you’re saying, then why should I expect you to listen to me?

On the same note, if I’m listening carefully to you, then I do expect you to listen just as carefully to me. This is the value of mutual respect for one another.


Anytime I have conversations with my grandparents, the best way I can respect them and learn from them is simply by listening.

My words aren’t enough to do this topic justice, but my hope is you take the time to listen to everyone around you before inputting your own two cents.


Let’s take this lesson back to my pursuit of medicine.

Medicine is about listening.

Patients don’t just come in to get problems fixed; they want someone to listen to them.

Especially with the rural communities I’ve worked with, they really want someone to lend them an ear.


As physicians, we can’t always “cure” everything.

Many problems and conditions often go untreated. But what we can do is listen. Listen to our patients, listen to our colleagues, and listen to our teams.


Lesson #3: Not Wasting Food and Resources


I think it rarely crosses many of our minds exactly how much food, water, and general resources we tend to waste on a daily basis.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that an estimated 30–40% of our food supply is wasted!

The reason I mention this as a very important life lesson is because of the time I spent with my grandmother in particular.


Woman, Elderly, Old, Grandparents


One of the earliest sets of memories I have is eating with my grandmother.

When I was a child, my grandma loved cutting slices of watermelon for me.

She would lay them out nicely on a plate for me to enjoy.


As a typical kid, I would eat all the delicious watermelon slices and then run away from the dining table to go play.

My grandma would then furiously bring me back to the table, and I would be pretty confused most of the time.

She used to look at me and say, “What do you see?” as she pointed to the empty watermelon slices. Practically squinting my eyes, I would notice specks of the color red remaining on the slices.

Essentially, I had to sit there and eat every bit of red that was noticeable.


I always love telling this story because I think it speaks levels to the type of person my grandmother is. Waste of any kind was unacceptable to her.


The other story I like to tell is what I call “The Napkin Story.”

As I spent all this time living and eating with my grandparents, they also taught me to wash my hands thoroughly as a kid.

After I would wash my hands, I would grab either a napkin or paper towel to wipe my hands.

Normally, people throw away any paper towels they used to wipe their hands.

But not my grandma!

She would have me uncrumple the napkin, fold it, and lay it out on the counter to use again later.

Setting aside cross-contamination, this story always makes me laugh.


Remembering these events from my life with my grandma always puts a smile on my face.

It was just such a bizarre experience to be resuing napkins, but again, it really highlights the type of person my grandma is.

Did you know that more than 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used each year in just the U.S.?


My grandma definitely doesn’t know that, and yet she’s so conscious about waste and never unnecessarily using resources.

Coming from a small village in India, she instilled this subconscious lesson into me.


Old, Couple, Elderly, People, Retirement


Lesson #4: The Value of Money, Education, and Family


This last lesson is by far the most important one to me.

When I was about to start college, I intended to loan out my four years as many students do.


This was pretty stressful for me since I already knew the huge debt I was going to accrue from medical school tuition itself (~300k+).

But the day I prepared myself to accept the loan offers, my grandpa pulled my family over to the side.

Calmly, he told us first how proud he was of his first grandson, me, going to college.

And then he said to me, “Over the past 20 years, I’ve been saving up some of my money, little by little, for you to use to pay for college.”


I couldn’t believe it.

Tears were pouring down my face.

The reality had sunk in just how much my grandpa cared about me, my education, and my dreams.


We often reflect on this time together, and it makes my grandpa so happy to see how much I’ve been able to accomplish in the past 4 years.

He always tells me, “What’s the point of making money if you’re not going to use it for the right reasons?

If I can give my hard work to my kids and grandkids, then I’m very happy with the life I’ve lived.”


I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today without my grandparents.

Family, money, education, helping others — everything I’ve learned about living a successful life has come from them.

And so now I walk, each morning, side by side with the ones who raised me.

And I continue to reflect, each and every day, about the lessons I’ve learned from them and the man I hope to be.





20 True Stories of Heartbreak and Resilience that Will Make You Think, Smile and Cry

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20 True Stories of Heartbreak and Resilience that Will Make You Think, Smile and Cry

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche


The wisest, most loving, and well-rounded people you have ever met are likely those who have been shattered by heartbreak.

Yes, life creates the greatest humans by breaking them first.

Their destruction into pieces allows them to be fine-tuned and reconstructed into a masterpiece.


Truly, it’s the painstaking journey of falling apart and coming back together that fills their hearts and minds with a level of compassion, understanding, and deep loving wisdom that can’t possibly be acquired any other way.


Angel and I have worked with hundreds of these incredible people over the past decade, both online and offline, through various forms of coaching, courses, and our live annual conferences.

In many cases they came to us feeling stuck and lost, unaware of their own brilliance, blind to the fact that their struggles have strengthened them and given them a resilient upper hand in this crazy world.

Honestly, many of these people are now our biggest heroes.

Over the years they have given us as much, if not more, than we have given them.

And they continue to be our greatest source of inspiration on a daily basis.


So today, to honor these unlikely heroes of ours, we want to share some of their stories with you (with full permission, of course).

Following a similar format to stories shared in the past, these are super short but incredibly focused accounts of real life, real heartbreak, and the human resilience required to take the next step.


There’s definitely something here for all of us to think, smile, and cry about:

  1. “It’s December 25th, but today isn’t Christmas, at least not for me. Christmas doesn’t come when you’re sitting in a hospital room hoping your wife of 25 years wakes up from a coma. And although the doctors are optimistic, I’m still here praying, and waiting, patiently.”
  2. “Today, after my daughter’s funeral, and several hours of tearful soul-searching, I started going through my phone and deleting two weeks’ worth of condolence messages. There were so many of them that I eventually selected ‘delete all,’ but one message didn’t delete. It was one of the last messages my daughter left me before she died, and it was still marked as ‘new.’ Sometimes my voicemail forces me to listen to old messages before I can delete them, so played it, even though I really didn’t want to at that moment. My daughter said, “Hey dad, I just wanted to let you know I’m okay and I’m home now.”
  3. “It’s been exactly ten years since my controlling, abusive ex-fiancé sold my favorite guitar which cost almost $1,000 and took me ages to save for. He sold it on the day I broke up with him. When I went to pick up my belongings, he was proud that he had sold it to a local pawnshop. Luckily, I managed to track down the guy who bought it from the pawnshop. The guy was really sweet and gave it back to me for free, on the condition that I join him on his front porch for an hour and play guitar with him. He grabbed a second guitar and we ended up sitting there on his porch for the rest of the afternoon playing music, talking, and laughing. He’s been my husband for almost nine years now, and we are happier now than ever.”
  4. “Last night just before bed, my son, whom I adopted three years ago at the age of six, called me ‘mom’ for the very first time.”
  5. “Earlier this week I went to the doctor’s office because I was experiencing awful stomach pains. They ran some tests, took blood, and told me they’d contact me in a few days. I assumed the pain was at least partially due to stress and depression. Three weeks ago, at the age of 35, my husband, the love of my life, died from a heart attack. And this afternoon I almost gave up. I took out my husband’s handgun, put it on the kitchen table and stared at it, contemplating. As I sat there, the phone rang, it was the doctor. He said, “You’re perfectly healthy. You’re pregnant.”
  6. “It took years, but when I finally found the courage to divorce him after decades of abuse, I found myself feeling alone because most of our mutual friends continued to believe his lies instead of my bruises and my depression.”
  7. “I recently lost the respect of a few people I love, and the desire to kill myself, when I finally told everyone the truth about who I really am and what I’ve decided to do with my life. In a nutshell, I’ve chosen to love and honor myself, instead of convincing others to do it for me every day.”
  8. “Today, on my 47th birthday, I re-read the suicide letter I wrote on my 27th birthday about two minutes before my girlfriend showed up at my apartment and told me, ‘I’m pregnant.’ She was honestly the only reason I didn’t follow through with it. Suddenly I felt I had something to live for. Today she’s my wife, and we’ve been happily married for 19 years. And my daughter, who is now a 21-year-old college student, has two younger brothers. I re-read my suicide letter every year on my birthday as a reminder to be thankful—I am thankful I got a second chance at life.”
  9. “It’s been five years since my mom—my best friend in the world—was in a car accident that resulted in her losing all of her long-term memory from before the crash. When I was little, my mom and I used to quote a Winnie The Pooh book as an inside joke. One of us would ask, “Have you ever seen a dragon fly?” And the other would reply, ‘I have, I have seen a dragon fly!’ This evening I was sitting with her while we were watching TV and I randomly asked, ‘Have you ever seen a dragon fly?’ And she responded with, ‘I have, I have seen a dragon fly!’ We stared at each other for a prolonged moment, and then she jumped out of her seat and exclaimed, ‘Oh my gosh, I remember!’”
  10. “I’m sitting in my hospital bed waiting to have both my breasts removed. But in a strange way I feel like the lucky one. Up until now I have had no health problems. I’m a 69-year-old woman in the last room at the end of the hall before the pediatric division of the hospital begins. Over the past few hours I have watched dozens of cancer patients being wheeled by in wheelchairs and rolling beds. None of these patients could be a day older than 17.”
  11. “My dad is a blind cancer survivor. He lost both his eyes when he was in his early 30’s to a rare form of cancer. Despite this, he raised my sister and I, and took care of my mom who was in and out of rehab for alcoholism and depression. My mom is a fully recovered alcoholic now, my sister and I have graduated college, and my parents are still together and back to being happy. I’m certain none of this would have been possible if my dad hadn’t been such a resilient, positive force in our lives. My dad’s mental strength literally saved our family. And he’s the one who pointed me towards your blog.”
  12. “I’m an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran. Upon arriving home six years ago from my final tour in Afghanistan I found out that my wife had been cheating on me and had spent almost all of our savings. I had nowhere to stay and no phone and was suffering from severe anxiety problems. One of my close friends from high school, Shawn, and his wife, seeing that I was in need of help, took me in and let me live with their family of five. They helped me deal with my divorce and get my life together. Since then, I’ve moved into my own place, completed the Getting Back to Happy course, opened a fairly successful local diner, and my friend’s kids call me Uncle Jay when they see me. The way they supported me and adopted me into their family in my desperate time of need is now the guidepost for how I try to live my life.”
  13. “The happiest moment of my life is still that split-second a year ago when, as I laid crushed under a 2000-pound car, I realized my husband and nine-year-old boy were out of the vehicle and absolutely okay.”
  14. “I’ve been dying of Leukemia since my 17th birthday. I was sent home from the hospital for my final few weeks 156 days ago. But now I’m back at the hospital being treated again, because my doctors now believe there is hope.”
  15. “After three years of separation, and lots of regretful drama, my ex-wife and I finally resolved our differences and we met for dinner last night. We laughed and chatted for almost five hours. Then just before we parted ways, she handed me a large envelope. In it were 20 love letters she wrote me over the last three years. There was a post-it note on the envelope that read, ‘Letters I was too stubborn to send.’ And even crazier is that I wrote her a few letters too, and I still have them … and we just got two tickets to Think Better, Live Better, together.”
  16. “Yesterday, after completing eight straight months of depression rehab at a live-in treatment center, I spent my first day out with my five-year-old daughter. We sat on my parent’s front porch all day making construction paper collages. The sight and sound of my daughter’s laughter and the simple pleasures of cutting construction paper and peeling Elmer’s glue off our hands are the best reminders I’ve had in eight months of why I’m choosing life.”
  17. “I realized that although it was the darkest period of my life, if I had not struggled through, and beaten, seven years of an eating disorder and severe depression, I would not be here now smiling so appreciatively at the sunset through my living room window.”
  18. “At 8 A.M. this morning, after nearly four months of lifelessness in her hospital bed, we took my mom off life support. And her heart continued beating on its own. And she continued breathing on her own. Then this evening, when I squeezed her hand three times, she squeezed back three times.”
  19. “This afternoon, at the age of 70, I graduated from The University of North Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in business. I’ve been a successful business owner most of my life, but I decided to earn my degree to fulfill a promise I made to my mom before she lost her battle with cancer on my 20th birthday, 50 years ago.”
  20. “Last night, on Christmas Eve, there was a family of six staying at our hotel. They were hanging out in the lobby by the fireplace sharing stories, laughing, and taking turns reading excerpts from your “1,000 Little Things” book. I asked them where they were from. ‘Oh, we’re from here,’ the father said. ‘Our house burned down yesterday, but miraculously, all of us got out safely. And that makes this a very merry Christmas.’”

A Reason for Hard Times

The stories above obviously hold many lessons, but one lesson they collectively share is the fact that hard times don’t just break a person, they can also make a person.


Hard times are like strong storms that blow against your body and mind.

And it’s not just that these storms hold you back from places you might otherwise go.

They also tear away from you all but the essential parts of you that cannot be torn, so that afterward you see yourself as you really are in the present, without the needless attachments and crutches you’ve been clinging to.


In a very real sense, you are here to endure these storms, to risk your heart . . . to be bruised by life.


And when it happens that you are hurt, or betrayed, or rejected, let yourself sit quietly with your eyes closed and remember all the good times you had, and all the sweetness you tasted, and everything you learned.

Tell yourself how amazing the journey has been, and then remind yourself that pain is a necessary part of it all.


In all seasons of life, your goal shouldn’t be to seek a perfect and pain-free existence, but to live an imperfect and sometimes painful one in radical amazement.

To get up every morning and take a good look around in a way that takes nothing for granted.


Everything is extraordinary in its own right.

Every day is a gift.

Never treat life casually.

To be spiritual in any way is to be amazed in every way, even when things don’t go YOUR way.


And it’s important to note, too, that Angel and I don’t just preach.

We’ve endured our own pain, survived our own strong storms, and learned from firsthand experience many times over.

In the past decade alone we have dealt with several severe hardships, including the sudden death of a sibling, the loss of a best friend to illness, significant betrayal from a business partner, an unexpected breadwinning employment layoff that forced us out of our house, and more.

These experiences were brutal.

Each of them knocked us down hard and kept us down for a while. But when our time of mourning was over after each misfortune, we pressed forward, stronger, and with a greater understanding and respect for life.


Your turn…

If you’re feeling up to it, we would love to hear from you.

In a few short sentences, please leave a web comment and tell us something true about YOU.

What is your story?






What’s The Point? — A Take On Life

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Life is complicated.


Being the only living beings to be self-aware we ask a lot more questions that any other living being about life, the universe, and humanity.


We wonder what the point to our lives is, what brought life into being in the first place, what happens after death and what the point of life, in general, may be.


Throughout time, humanity came up with a lot of possible answers to all of these questions, and very few are set in stone.

Everyone believes in something, but we cannot know what is going on without a shadow of a doubt.


In my personal opinion, there is no point to any of it.

There is no destiny, nothing we need to achieve, and no point to humans overall.

Life moves on, with or without us, and time will eventually end everything.

No matter what you may believe in, if you keep expanding your point of view, everything will become meaningless in the end.

Given enough time everything will cease to exist.


That’s pretty grim isn’t it?


Well, I do not necessarily mean that in a negative or pessimistic sense, because if there is no point to anything that includes the negatives.


If truly nothing matters in the end then we can do what we want, when we want, for whatever reason we want because it will not make a difference.


Following this thought further I believe the goal of our lives, the goal of all life and humanity as a whole is to lead a good life.

Cliché, perhaps, but also the only thing I perceive as viable.

Maybe there is a plan to all of this I do not understand, that may be, but would that not be a self-fulfilling prophecy?


For if there is a bigger plan that I am a part of, are my actions not automatically part of that plan?

Or is it something that I can mess up, in which case it would seem to me like it is a pretty faulty plan.

And, that again being said, how do I know I messed it up?

Could my mistakes not be the right thing to do for that plan?


As I mentioned earlier: It is complicated.

I do not intend to make anyone change their beliefs with this post, nor to attack any beliefs or claim my thoughts are right.

Honestly, I have no clue what is right. I only know what I chose to be right for me, even if that is not ultimately right for me in the end.


Personally, I choose to believe that the only goal of life is to experience it.

Be that in happiness, sadness, fear, or a mix thereof is up to each individual.

What purpose to give life, what meaning to create, or what path to follow is also up to each and every one of us.

I do not believe this because I believe that this is the greatest cause, nor because I believe that this is the truth, but rather because every other option seems superficial given enough time.


Saying that the point of humanity is to progress gives rise to the question to what end?

Saying that the point is to reach enlightenment also makes me ask: What comes after that?

Following anything seems nice, but at the same time pointless as everything we ever do will eventually become obsolete given enough time.


So the only thing that matters is the moment, not the future.

Meaning that the only thing worth doing is to live, to be present, to experience the now and make the most out of every single moment.

Not for any particular goal, but just to be alive.


Because the now is real and the only thing worth anything.






Get rid of the two morbid thinking, you will become stronger


To be stronger!

Photo by Ameer Basheer on Unsplash

If you want to be stronger in life, the most important thing is to get rid of the two kinds of inner thinking.


When you have two kinds of thinking, your life will be suppressed, and naturally, it will not make you strong.

Through the analysis of people, I found that if a person has these two kinds of thoughts, whether it is his personal life or his motivation to struggle, it will be greatly weakened.

Therefore, removing these two kinds of morbid thinking is the foundation of health.


Eliminate weak minds

If a person sees himself as a weak person, he has forgotten his inner strength and even thinks that he has no strength and no value.

However, does a person have no power and no value? Never. Whenever we feel powerless, we often fall into a trap of learned helplessness.


Once we fall into this trap, we automatically recognize ourselves as weak.

People who think of the weak are often bullied countless times in their childhood, and they have not yet made the proper posture.

As a result, their hearts have been blocked, and their inner strength cannot resist.


The growth of life is a process of awakening gradually.

The way to learn to say goodbye to the weak is actually to learn how to change the mentality.

Think about how you will respond if you are strong.


Once I helped a student solve problems and found that she was easily trapped in the thinking of the weak.

At this time, in this state, she was indignant and depressed.

She didn’t dare to express herself, and her potential would be suppressed.


After that, I told her to use the thinking of a strong man to deal with it, and she suddenly discovered the power that had been deep in her heart for a long time.

This kind of strength enabled her to get rid of the suppression of herself by the outside world and achieved her promotion through her efforts and struggle.


You are stronger than you think.


Don’t look down on yourself.

The best way to learn to dissolve the weak is to know how to become stronger.

If you are accustomed to using the attitude and methods of the strong to face those unfair moments, your inner strength will be More prominent.


You are not as weak as you think, and the other party is not as strong as you think.


Return to the objective facts.

Once dominated by the thinking of one’s own weak, whether it is one’s body, mind, or body will be in a state of depression, naturally unable to grow oneself.


Higher life is to return to a natural state, telling yourself not to live in the thoughts of the weak, but to realize that you are powerful, selective, and dominant.

At this time, you can often learn from the thoughts of the weak. Gradually withdraw.

Many times, the thinking of the weak is the gene left to us by our ancestors. If you know how to break this gene, your life will usher in your bright moment.


Get rid of the victim’s mind

The second pathological thinking that affects our lives is victim thinking.


Victim thinking is a kind of thinking that many people may subconsciously exist.

This is because we think we are victims, and we think that others are hurting us on purpose.

If someone is dominated by the victim’s thoughts, he will habitually attribute his life to others, and then choose to abandon himself.



Victim thinking is also a kind of pathological thinking that inhibits our potential and self-strength. When a person is in the victim’s thinking, he automatically thinks that others are sorry for them.

They attribution more arbitrarily, so that their lives will fall into the abyss.


For example, some people think that it is all the fault of their parents when they face the harm caused by their native family.

However, even if your parents make mistakes, it is determined by their perceptions.

It is even possible that they will treat you like this in the family model tradition that they have continued for decades.


To get out of the victim’s mind, you must also accept what others have done, and at the same time, you must understand that the previous harm does not equal your future.

You must always believe in the future and think about the meaning of your life from the bottom of your heart.

Do not stay in the pain, but actively heal, let yourself quickly out of the shadow of the past.


There have been winds and rains in life, but the desire for light cannot stay in the shadow of pain, forgetting the goal and meaning of life.

The key to getting rid of the victim’s thinking is to know how to jump out of the victim’s role, then look at the world objectively, and learn to accept everything that exists.

Then we still don’t forget the initiative in life.

This initiative and initiative in life is the key to our life.


“Gone with the Wind” Scarlett is my favorite.

Her life is full of disasters, but Scarlett, always believes that tomorrow is a new day, no matter how great the day’s troubles are, she will not give up her future.


This is also true for us personally.

To have expectations for life is a discovery and shaping of life.

Knowing that to make yourself more valuable, you must learn to expand the model to make your life stronger.






Stop Working So Hard and Do This Instead

How a series of painful injuries taught me how to improve my skills without breaking down.

Chris Wojcik
Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash

I’ve been writing about how “hard work isn’t everything” for a long time, but it took me nearly a year to actually figure out an intelligent and sustainable way to implement my own advice into my life.


This fall, when I was training for the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world championships, I herniated a disc in my neck, aggravated another disc in my low back, and popped a rib all in the same week.


It broke me physically, but the consequences of that week also just about broke me mentally.

At the time, I was working harder than I’d ever worked.

I was writing multiple articles every day. I was training 2–3 times per day.

I was teaching Jiu-Jitsu classes and private lessons.

I was working on my first ebook and writing copy for 11 different freelance clients.


Every day was a 16 hour day, and as a result, my body broke down on me like a roller coaster off the rails. Suddenly, I went from training like a professional athlete to sitting at home and eating Doritos for 3 weeks straight and thinking about how I’d fucked everything up — again.


I had to sit and learn from my mistakes. I could do nothing else.

In the time since my entire body fell apart in just one week, I’ve completely re-analyzed the way that I look at my training, my work, and my daily life.


This is how I changed my entire approach to work, life, and “the grind”.


My injury forced me to begin an experiment.

When I came back from my injury, I was still writing a lot every day.

Turns out, you can still write with a broken body.


I was also gearing up for some of the biggest grappling tournaments of the year, including the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) North American Trials and the final tournament of the year, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation World Championships.


I was preparing for these tournaments, but because of my physical limitations, I had to completely change the way I trained.

I had to find a way to make improvements in specific, isolated parts of my training in order to maintain motivation and discipline while also not getting hurt.

I had to figure out how to get my dopamine hits in a way that would also facilitate growth and skill development.

Over a few months, I learned to work toward highly specific goals.

I created games within the game that I was playing (Jiu-Jitsu), and I became obsessed with becoming the best that I could be at these “micro-games”.


I won small games with the hopes that my wins would add up to big prizes.

My competitions were a test of my new hypothesis on training, and after my first tournament back, I realized that my hypothesis was partially right.


Feeling prepared doesn’t mean you are prepared.

Going into the ADCC Trials this fall, I only actually sparred hard once or twice, but I still felt confident in my skills.

Due to my specific training and my mental training, I felt a lot more prepared than I actually was.

There was just one problem — feeling prepared is only half the battle.

Anyone can train their mind to be prepared, but not everyone can be physically prepared.

The inverse is also true. Because of my injuries, I was mentally prepared but not physically prepared for the tournament.


I gave it my all, but I was still underprepared.

The result of this lackluster preparation was a lackluster performance.

I lost in the second round of the 128 man bracket in a close match to a competitor who did really well in the event.

This loss was a lesson that meant that going into my next competition, I had to change the way that I prepared — again.

I had to find a way to balance hard training with smart training. I had to find a way to do both.


In the fall, I took the leap and started working less hard, and since then, I’ve started to implement hard work into my training as well. It’s working.

I’ve never been more confident in my skills in all areas of my life.

Smart work will improve your skills, but hard work will give you the grit to succeed in adverse environments.

You need both to do things exceptionally.


Push yourself to your absolute limit — sometimes.

One day per week, I train as hard as I possibly can.

Usually, this comprises of just one training session in a day, where I go “balls to the wall”. I leave it all out in the gym. I seek my physical and mental limits.

I take no rest rounds. I do every round at the hardest pace I can.

I didn’t invent this strategy. I stole it from Olympic rower Adam Kreek’s Ted Talk titled “I Seek Failure”.


Once per week on the mat, I seek failure.

I also occasionally seek failure with everything else in my life that I’m trying to improve at, usually less frequently than once per week.


I want to be able to do more pull-ups, so every once in a while (every month or so), I try to do as many pull-ups as I can.

I do this with bench press, back squats, deadlifts, and every other aspect of my fitness routine.

I also do it with writing.

That’s an entirely different battle, but I’ll run through it with you here.


Once per week, I go on a writing bender.

Normally, I publish 1 Quora answer every day without fail.

I write a Medium article just about every day.

Some days, I double up and write 2 for each, or I write something for my premium newsletter.


But one day per week (usually Friday, Saturday, or Sunday afternoon), I try to hammer out as many words as possible.

I work on my upcoming ebook or the book I'd like to publish this year.


Sometimes during these writing sessions, if I get a super good flow, I’ll hammer out 5000 words. Today is actually one of those days.

No, the work I do these days is not finished and ready for publication, but the work is something that I can work with and edit later.

Crappy drafts mixed with disciplined revision are what create masterpieces.

Some of these articles and answers and book chapters (as many as half!) are absolutely terrible might never get published, but it’s not about perfection for me. It’s about reps. It’s about practice.

It’s about the big picture.


Sometimes in Jiu-Jitsu, I’ll get in the gym and bang out 100 takedowns or leg lock entries or guard passes.

I’ll do the same move close to 100 times in a row.

Writing 4 articles in a day is the writing equivalent of this obsessive drilling, and many other writers use similar strategies.


Closing Thoughts

I write a little bit every day because I like writing and it doesn’t feel like work for me, but I don’t “write hard” every day.


I write hard once per week.

I push my limits as a writer once per week.

I push my limits as an athlete once per week.

I push my limits, but I don’t do it all the time anymore.

I’m only 24, but I’m already too old to push myself all the time.

The brink of your breaking point is no way to live.

In high school, I used to cut 10 pounds of weight off my body every single week.

In college, I used to train martial arts for 4–6 hours per day while also attending classes.

In my first year as a solopreneur, I almost ruined my career before it began by driving myself into the ground in the name of “quick success”.


I’m done.

I want a new beginning. A sustainable beginning.

Stop working so hard and learn how to work within your physical and mental limitations.

Learn to bend, but not break.







Why You’re Never Going to Be Satisfied With Life

The surprising psychology of why dissatisfaction is hardwired … a good thing!

Photo by Austin Pacheco on Unsplash

Why are we perpetually restless and unsatisfied?

We live in the safest, healthiest, most well-educated, most democratic time in history — and yet, some part of the human psyche causes us to constantly look for an escape from things stirring inside us.

As the eighteenth-century poet Samuel Johnson said, “My life is one long escape from myself.” Me too, brother.

Me too.


The truth is, we’re not wired to feel content or satisfied. Ever.


There’s a simple reason for that: as expressed by researchers for the Review of General Psychology, “If satisfaction and pleasure were permanent, there might be little incentive to continue seeking further benefits or advances.”

In other words, feeling contented wasn’t good for the species.


Our ancestors worked harder and strove further because they evolved to be perpetually perturbed, and so we remain today.


The Four Components of Dissatisfaction

Four psychological factors make satisfaction temporary.

The first is boredom.

The lengths people will go to avoid boredom are shocking.


A 2014 study published in Science observed participants who were asked to sit in a room and think for fifteen minutes.

The room was empty except for a device that allowed participants to mildly but painfully electrocute themselves.

“Why would anyone want to do that?” you might ask.


When asked beforehand, every participant in the study said they would pay money to avoid being shocked.

However, when left alone in the room with the machine and nothing else to do, 67 percent of men and 25 percent of women shocked themselves.

Many did so multiple times.


The study demonstrated that people dislike being alone with their thoughts so much, they’ll prefer to do anything else, even if that activity is negative.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that most of the top twenty-five websites in America sell escape from our daily drudgery, whether through shopping, celebrity gossip, or bite-sized doses of social interaction.


The second psychological factor driving us is negativity bias.

It’s been defined as “a phenomenon in which negative events are more salient and demand attention more powerfully than neutral or positive events.”

As the author of one study concluded, “It appears to be a basic, pervasive fact of psychology that bad is stronger than good.”

Such pessimism begins very early in life. Babies begin to show signs of negativity bias starting at just seven months of age, suggesting this tendency is inborn.


Researchers also believe that we tend to have an easier time recalling bad memories than good ones.

Studies have found people are more likely to recall unhappy moments in their childhood, even if they would describe their upbringing as generally happy.


Negativity bias almost certainly gave us an evolutionary edge.

Good things are nice, but bad things can kill you.

That’s why we pay attention to the bad stuff first and remember it better.


Useful for the species — but what a bummer!

The third factor is rumination, our tendency to keep thinking about bad experiences.

If you’ve ever chewed on something that you did, or that someone did to you, over and over again, then you’ve experienced rumination.


This “passive comparison of one’s current situation with some unachieved standard,” can manifest in self-critical thoughts such as, “Why can’t I handle things better?”


As one study notes, “By reflecting on what went wrong and how to rectify it, people may be able to discover sources of error or alternative strategies, ultimately leading to not repeating mistakes and possibly doing better in the future.”

That’s another potentially useful process — but boy, can it make us miserable.


A fourth factor may be the cruelest of all. It’s a hedonic adaptation, the tendency to quickly return to a baseline level of satisfaction no matter what happens to us in life.

Hedonic adaptation is Mother Nature’s bait-and-switch.

All sorts of life events we think would make us happier actually don’t — or at least, not for long.


As David Myers writes in The Pursuit of Happiness, “Every desirable experience — passionate love, a spiritual high, the pleasure of a new possession, the exhilaration of success — is transitory.”

Of course, as with boredom, negativity bias, and rumination, there are evolutionary benefits to hedonic adaptation.

As the author of one study explains, as “new goals continually capture one’s attention, one constantly strives to be happy without realizing that in the long run such efforts are futile.”

Taken together, these four components add up to a lot of dissatisfaction in life, even if your circumstances are truly great.


Humans may be wired to pursue happiness, but we’re not too well equipped to experience it.


Can we cue the sad trombone music now?

Is futility our fate?



Dissatisfaction is Not Defeat

If you find yourself feeling unhappy with life, that doesn’t mean you’ve been defeated.


The takeaway here is that if you’re unhappy, you’re normal.


Dissatisfaction is responsible for our species’ advancements, and if you never felt it, you’d be at a serious disadvantage.

Discontent is not a reason to give up on the success.

Rather, it’s a reason to introduce the opportunity for frequent and meaningful victories into your life.

It’s important to understand that struggle and hard times are just part of being human.


High achievers push themselves through the discomfort and discontent, rather than trying to escape it with distraction.


Every day is a chance to live according to your values, which I define as attributes of the person you want to be.

Living out your values means spending your time purposefully on the things that you decide are important.

You can do this — very concretely — if you build your values into your calendar.

That means scheduling time for what matters most.


At the end of the day, you can look at what you intended to do, compare it to what you ended up doing, and celebrate your victory when you stayed on track.


When you live up to your values, instead of distracting yourself from feeling discomfort and discontent, you become indistractable.








Want to Fall Asleep in 2 Minutes (or Less)? Steal This Proven Military Sleep Secret

This sleeping method has a 96% success rate after six weeks of practice.

Darshak Rana

A man having sleep issues and wanting to use the military sleeping technique to sleep in less than 2 minutes
Image via Freepik

“The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald


I was in my first year of college.

The new dorm environment, staying away from home for the first time, college culture, (disgusting) hostel food, the burden of performing well in studies — all had gripped me in anxiety causing sleep disorders.

“Me: Please let me sleep!

Brain: Nope, we have to stay up together and go over every bad life decision we have made so far.”



My mind raced in all directions, making me toss and turn sides the entire night to find one comfortable position.


The late teens and early twenties are some of the worst phases of life when it comes to sleep.

You have to go through the process of getting ready for bed (on your own) by turning off electronics, calming the mind, not thinking about your crush, brushing your teeth, etc.

But what makes it worse is that you are also dealing with all the hormones that come with puberty!


I tried everything — Peppermint tea, warm turmeric milk, and removing electrical gadgets from my bedroom (the blue light from your phone or laptop works against your body’s natural capacity to sleep). But none of them worked.


I attempted to go to bed sooner.

I experimented with sleeping late too.

Caffeine and alcohol were no longer part of my routine.

In light of what I’d read about digestion interfering with sleep, I decided to cease eating after 7 o’clock. Nothing helped!

From meditation to medication — everything failed me!

Sleepless nights made me perform terribly in my class tests.

Competitive culture and peer pressure forced me to stop socializing. I didn’t want to give a panic attack to my parents as they were already facing financial issues.


Then, a friend suggested I read “Relax and Win: Championship Performance” by Sharon Ackermana book about reducing mental injuries by releasing tensions of competition and performance.


It’s when I came across this military sleep technique that teaches you to fall asleep in less than 2 minutes.

I didn’t believe anything could put you to sleep so quickly until I read statistics — 96 percent success rate with only six weeks of training!


According to the book, this method is a guaranteed sleep formula despite drinking coffee or having loud noises in the background.


Since, American Sleep Association estimates that 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder due to any cause like — obesity, sedentary lifestyle, heart problems, diabetes., I was compelled to write about this military sleep technique.


Even if you don’t have a sleeping disorder or insomnia, it will enable you to sleep faster without having to stare at the ceiling or feeling the urge to surf the internet.


In this story, I have explained:

  • What is the military sleep technique?
  • My experiences
  • An honest review

So, let’s begin!


What Is the Military Sleep Technique

The quick sleep formula has 3 important parts:

  1. Muscle Relaxation
  2. Focussed Breathing
  3. Visualization (Optional But Highly Recommended)

Here Are the Steps Involved:

  • Free yourself from all the chores and sit on your bed’s edge. Ensure that your bedside light is off and your phone is on DND mode.
  • Now relax your face. If you haven’t done it before, here’s an easy way — first, tighten your face through a wince, and then let your facial muscles relax naturally. Also, let your tongue drop down in any manner in your mouth.
  • After relaxing your facial muscles, let gravity pull down your shoulders as if it has no energy of its own. Let your arms hang sideways.
  • Now, inhale and exhale slowly, focusing on the “swishing” sound of your breath.
  • You can follow the 4–7–8 breathing method: Count to 4 while taking a deep leisurely inhalation, 7 counts of holding your breath, and exhale through 8 counts.
  • Allow gravity to soften your thighs and lower legs with each breath.
  • As your entire body feels energy-less, repeat the phrase “Don’t think, don’t think” as a chant. You can also substitute this chant with any positive affirmation.

Optional but highly recommended: If you’re not good at silencing your mind(like me), visualize yourself sitting at a tranquil place like mountains, beaches, boats, a rocking chair, etc.

Within a few seconds, you’ll drift off to sleep.

Caveat: The effectiveness of this method depends on practice and how well you can silence your mind from the “restless” thoughts of daily activities.


My Experiences About the Military Sleep Technique

I was pretty skeptical when I first heard about the military sleep technique, but I was also desperate to relieve my stress and find a way to fall asleep faster.

I struggled to get a good night’s sleep for months and was starting to feel really run down. So I decided to give the military sleep technique a try.


On the first day, the sleeping method didn’t work for me.

I was still struggling to fall asleep after 30 minutes.

However, I decided to keep trying because I had nothing to lose.

The next day, I tried again, and it worked slightly — I slept within 25 minutes.

I was getting closer, but I still wasn’t where I wanted to be.


Since the “silencing the mind” part made me more anxious, I replaced it with visualization, as explained above.


After two weeks or so, I could finally sleep without forcing myself or fighting my mind. Since then, I’ve been using this method every time I have trouble sleeping.

However, the military sleep method didn’t work every night.

There were times when I couldn’t fall asleep and other nights when I woke up in the middle of the night.

When I started writing down my daily experiences, I noted that this technique failed me when I couldn’t silence my mind.

But overall, this sleep technique has helped me get a better night’s sleep more often than not.


Should You Try Out the Military Sleep Method?

The answer is yes!

If you’re struggling to fall asleep or wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, this method might be for you.

It’s worked for me, and it has a 96% success ratio after six weeks of practice.


There are many reasons why you should try out the military sleep method. Here’s why:

I. You’ll Fall Asleep Faster

One of the biggest benefits of the military sleep method is that you’ll fall asleep faster.

This is because you’ll be learning how to relax and clear your mind before bed.

II. You’ll Wake Up Feeling More Refreshed

The reason you wake up without zeal and energy is not having a sound sleep.

Since the military sleep method focuses on silencing the mind and relaxing the body, you’ll wake up refreshed in addition to sleeping faster and better.

III. You’ll Be Less Tired During the Day

Tiredness is one of the main reasons why people don’t get enough sleep.

When you use the military sleep method, you’ll be less tired because you will sleep whenever you want during the day.

It also means you’ll be more productive and have more energy to do things you enjoy.

IV. You’ll Have Fewer Nightmares

According to WebMD, nightmares are a common problem for people who don’t get enough sleep. When you use the military sleep method, you’ll have a more restful night’s sleep causing fewer nightmares.

V. You’ll Be Less Stressed

Stress is cyclic.

Stress = Sleep Problems = Poor Productivity = Stress


When you use the military sleep method, you’ll be less stressed because it teaches you to relax and fall asleep faster.

No matter what your reason is, learning how to sleep faster can be a huge help when you have less sleep time during exams, project deadlines, business audits, layover flights, social functions, etc.

So, if you’re looking for a way to get more restful sleep, wake up feeling more refreshed, and be less tired during the day, then you should definitely try out the military sleep method.

It’s an easy way to get the sleep you need so that you can feel your best!


The best way to determine if this military sleep technique is worth it is to give it a go and experience.

And who knows — maybe you’ll be able to fall asleep in two minutes or less!

“Happiness consists of getting enough sleep. Just that, nothing more.”

Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers