Motivating yourself to be your best.
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When dealing with people who seem very unaware, remember that everyone must find their own way to awakening.
You may be someone who understands the true nature of reality, perceiving deeply that we all emanate from the same source, that we are all essentially one, and that we are here on earth to love one another.
To understand this is to be awakened to the true nature of the self, and it is a blessing.
Nevertheless, people who just don't get it are seemingly everywhere and, often, in positions of power.
It can be frustrating and painful to watch them behave unconsciously.
We all encounter individuals of this bent in our families, at work, and in all areas of public life.
It is easy to find ourselves feeling intolerant of these people, wishing we could be free of them even though we know that separation from them is an illusion.
Just as within our own hearts and minds we have dark places that need healing, the heart and mind of the world have their dark places.
The health of the whole organism depends upon the relative health of the individuals within it.
We increase harmony when we hold onto the light, not allowing it to be darkened by judgment, anger, and fear about those who behave unconsciously.
It's easier to accomplish this if we don't focus on the negative qualities of individuals and instead focus on how increasing our own light will increase the light of
the overall picture.
Holding them in the light of our own energy may be the best way to awaken theirs.
At the same time, we are inspired by their example to look within and shed light on our own unconscious places, sacrificing the urge to judge and surrendering instead to humble self-inquiry.
One of the most famous quotes going around on the Internet is Albert Einstein's alleged definition of insanity:
"Doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results."
And there's truth to that.
But it's also incorrect.
It can be equally insane NOT to do the same thing repeatedly and expect different results.
Because there's tremendous power in staying consistent with something.
As William James said:
"All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits - practical, emotional, and intellectual - systematically organized for our weal or woe and bearing us irresis-tibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be."
In other words, it's what you do habitually that determines your destiny.
And it can work to your detriment, or to your benefit.
Just to paint a bigger picture, here's how the math works out:
[+] Let's say you can be just 1% better at something every day, and you keep that up for an entire year.
[+] Then by the end of that year, you end up being 37 times better at that thing!
That's huge... while the actual shift you made was only tiny.
It's the consistency that made the difference.
Its effect of it is exponential.
This is how good habits make time your ally, and bad habits make it your enemy.
We all want rapid success and put pressure on ourselves to make earth-shattering improve-ments.
But we often fail to realize that little choices, small improvements, and tiny habits can be the key to unlock major positive change.
So ask yourself:
What can you do 1% better tomorrow to become more successful, grateful, peaceful, intelligent, or healthy?
Here are three angles you might consider:
[+] Angle #1 - Improve your performance:
We often forget about things we already do and resources we already have because they don't seem new and exciting.
But there are many things you might already be doing that you can do a tiny bit more or a tiny bit better. For example:
* Exercise: Instead of walking 5,000 steps like yesterday, walk 5,100 today. Or put in an extra rep with your strength training. Keep up your exercise for 10 seconds longer and 10 more seconds next time.
* Nutrition: Replace one type of processed food with a more whole variant. Consume just 50 calories less today... or more, depending on your goals.
* Reading: Read one extra page of uplifting material today.
* Writing: Write 100 extra words today.
* Gratitude: Give out one extra compliment today, or write one extra thank you note this week.
* Relaxation: Take 2 minutes extra to sit quietly, and add another minute next week.
[+] Angle #2 - Reduce your loss:
Instead of doing more of what works, you can also do less of what doesn't work - like eliminating mistakes, reducing complexity, or stripping away the inessential.
This is called "improvement by subtraction," and it's often more practical to do less of something than to try and add more. For example:
* Exercise: Miss fewer workouts.
* Nutrition: Eat fewer unhealthy foods.
* Performance: Make fewer (stupid) mistakes and errors.
* Investing: Hedge your risk.
[+] Angle #3 - Enhance your environment:
We often do things we shouldn't simply because they're an easy option. For example:
* We get distracted by the push notifications on our phones because we can see or hear them.
* We eat cookies because they're right there on the counter, ready to grab.
* We don't read a few pages in an inspiring book at night because when we lie down, it's not there for grabs.
So set up your environment and spaces so that they most readily make it easy to do what you want and difficult to do what you don't want.
(Put your phone in airplane mode, or place it in the other room while you work... put the cookies in the pantry, or don't buy them at all... place the inspiring book on your pillow... etc.)
Things like these can be applied to almost any area of your life.
The point is:
There's power in repetition and doing the same tiny things repeatedly.
As author Charles Duhigg writes:
"There's nothing you can't do if you get the habits right."
So take a few moments today to think of one tiny shift you can start making tomorrow.
A tiny bit more or a tiny bit better could be all it takes for a massive breakthrough.
P.S. Remember how improving just 1% daily for a year amounts to be 37 times better after just one year?
Then what if instead of being 1% better every day, you shoot for even just 2%?
Believe it or not, that amounts to 1,377 times more or better.
How about 5%? Over 54 million times... after just one year!
So do you think with a little personal guidance, you could shoot for a 1%...
or even 2% improvement?
If so, I'd be happy to help if you want:
Earlier this week, three private coaching spots opened up.
So if you're interested, we can work together one-on-one through email for the rest of this year...
... to strategize the right direction for you... translate it into the right tiny habit shifts for you... make sure you stick to them when challenges arise... and overcome procrastination, distraction, or even more potent forms of self-sabotage when they show up.
Do You Feel “Behind” In Life? Here’s How to Rapidly Get on Track
It works even in the worst of times.
Not too long ago, I felt “behind” in my life.
When I looked at other people my age (or younger), they were crushing it: They had great jobs, great partners, cool possessions, and more.
As for me, I was living in my Mom’s house at that time, working a job I hated, making a crappy paycheck, and fed up with everything.
A few years later, however, my life transformed—I figured out how to create a great life, which included a great business, tons of freedom, a great condo, and work I enjoyed.
In this article, I’ll share the seven most powerful lessons and strategies that helped me improve my life, even when things seemed bleak.
Each one compounded on each other and paid off handsomely, and I’m confident they can help you to no matter your situation.
1. Fix Your Priorities
I used to know many people who were behind in their lives.
Yet they lacked ambition, drive, and goals, and when you looked at how they spent their free time, they wasted it on mindless entertainment and things that had no impact on their lives.
I’d see them scrounge up hundreds of dollars to go on a road trip and see a concert—yet they were living at their parents’ house and working a dead-end job they hated.
In the grand scheme of things, the concert wasn’t important, and it simply revealed their poor priorities.
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on.
But that’s not what it means at all.
It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.
You have to pick carefully.”
— Steve Jobs
When I felt behind in life, there were many lesser things I wanted to do and enjoy, but I forced myself to wait.
I knew it was far more important to focus on the main pillars of life (like health, career, love, finances, etc.), improve those first, and then have fun (and enjoy more peace of mind and less guilt).
It might be hard to say no in the short term, but you’ll focus your energy on better priorities and start making progress in the long term.
2. Know That Being “Behind” Helps You Succeed
Being behind in life can actually set you up for greater success in the future.
After all, many people who reach amazing heights started their journey making mistakes and struggling.
Yet that very process of experiencing and overcoming early setbacks forces you to grow—you have to learn new things, become more resilient, and keep striving to beat challenges.
Like a butterfly breaking out of its cocoon, the struggle is what builds your strength so you can fly.
Ironically, succeeding on your first try could actually be a disadvantage—you won’t have the strength or experience to persevere when times get tough.
“Early success is a terrible teacher.
You’re essentially being rewarded for a lack of preparation, so when you find yourself in a situation where you must prepare, you can’t do it. You don’t know how.”
— Col. Chris Hadfield
You might feel behind because you see other people buy a home, get married, or start a family before you.
But if you’re actively trying new things, taking risks, and pushing yourself, it’s not like you’re idle—you’re adding skills, knowledge, and abilities for your future.
And while you might be a “late-bloomer,” once you get going, your trajectory will be higher because your early challenges taught you lessons that “early-bloomers” might never learn.
When I thought I was “behind,” it may have appeared that way at first glance, but looking closer, I still did a lot.
And because I was constantly taking shots, that period I felt “behind” is actually what helped me succeed the most.
3. Get Real-World Knowledge
Spending the beginning of your career to gain experience, wisdom, and knowledge is a worthy investment that will pay amazing dividends and drastically transform your trajectory.
“Learn in your 20s, earn in your 30s.”
— Keith Ferrazzi
Many people, however, just want to earn money as fast as they can so they grab the first job they can find.
And while it might look like they’re ahead of you because they have a higher salary or position, they missed the knowledge you gained and won’t have the same growth potential.
That’s why, if you feel “behind,” double down on real-world education.
Find people who achieved massive success, study their work, or find ways to work with them.
In fact, three months in a good internship with an expert can be worth as much as three years of experience at an entry-level job.
If you can’t get an internship, read their books, watch their videos, or even email them and ask for advice.
They’ll teach you insights you can’t find in a regular job and shortcut your growth.
4. Stop Watching Others
The reason why we think we’re “behind” in the first place is often that we spend so much time watching others consciously or unconsciously.
Maybe you see people on social media, Medium, etc., and feel envious of their lives.
But many people grossly exaggerate their success, especially online.
The truth is you have no idea what their lives are really like. (Some of them probably want you to feel jealous of them.)
“We exaggerate misfortune and happiness alike. We are never as bad off or as happy as we say we are.”
— Honore de Balzac
Don’t fall into the trap of spending more time telling others how great you are than actually being great.
After all, successful people aren’t wasting time telling everyone what they’re doing; they’re actually doing it.
Stop watching others and wondering why your life can’t be more like them.
If necessary, take a break from social media so you can focus on your priorities.
In the meantime, make fewer “announcements” and trying to stop “keeping up with the Jones’s.”
5. Surround Yourself With The Right People
Few things will impact your life more than the people you surround yourself with.
If you want to grow, you have to change your environment first.
And if your social circle is full of unambitious people with poor habits, they will drag you down no matter how hard you try in ways you might not even realize.
“If you live with a lame man, you will learn to limp.”
I used to hang out with several people who were a few years older than me, but even though I was struggling, I would think to myself, “When I reach their age, I don’t want to be like them.”
But I knew if I kept hanging out with them, my fate would be sealed—so I gradually found new friends.
Be selective of your social circle.
Find a tribe of people who want more out of themselves and who push you forward.
Distance yourself from people who are negative influences or stagnating.
In a weird way, you almost want friends who make you feel behind—because that’s how you grow.
“Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.”
— Jim Rohn
6. Take Action
Many people are terrified of looking stupid, embarrassing themselves, or making mistakes.
And because they can’t handle rejection or failure, they avoid taking action and limit their own potential.
If you want to fast-track your success, you must get over your fears of “what people might think.”
You have to learn to accept whatever results might come your way, good or bad.
The worst-case scenario?
You get a “no.”
The best-case scenario?
You find an opportunity that changes your life.
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.”
— Zig Ziglar
When I felt “behind” in life, I had nothing to lose.
No one knew who I was; if they rejected me, it didn’t matter.
So I used that to my advantage.
I didn’t care how stupid I looked or how pathetic I seemed.
I emailed everyone, asked for phone calls, and took pages of notes.
Eventually, I got more advice and learned more than I could’ve from a job or a degree — all because I had no shame in my game.
7. Take Ownership Of Your Life
It’s no coincidence that, when I fell behind in life, I made a lot of excuses: I blamed my company, my boss, my race, and a whole lot more for my predicament.
But it didn't matter if those things were actually contributing to my issues; what mattered was that I believed they were—and that was what held me back.
By making excuses, I empowered outside factors, wasted mental energy, and created resentment and bitterness.
Because with all the things outside of my control, there was still so much inside of my control.
After all, no one was stopping me from working harder, taking risks, or learning.
To accelerate your life, you must take full ownership of your life and situation.
Once you do, everything changes.
You can focus your energy to move toward your goals.
You stop letting life push you around and stop wasting energy on things you can’t change.
You must control your life otherwise life will control you.
Because it’s never too late to start writing a new story.
And that, my friends, is how you hit the launch button in life—even if you feel behind.
Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in your journey.
It’s always necessary to accept when some part of your life has reached its inevitable end.
Closing the door, completing the chapter, turning the page, etc. – it doesn’t matter what you title it; what matters is that you find the strength to leave in the past those parts of your life that are over.
It’s all about embracing the truth: What has happened is uncontrollable; what you do now changes everything!
Of course, knowing this and actually living a lifestyle that reinforces this truth are two very different things.
Letting go is NOT easy – it’s a journey that is traveled one day at a time.
If you stick with it, here’s what your journey will ultimately teach you:
- The most powerful changes happen in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over everything you don’t.
- Most people make themselves unhappy simply by finding it impossible to accept life just as it is presenting itself right now.
- If you worry too much about what might be, and wonder too long about what might have been, you will ignore and completely miss what is.
- When you are lost in worry, it is easy to mistake your worries for reality, instead of recognizing that they are just thoughts. Mindfulness is the remedy.
- The biggest obstacle to growth you’ll ever have to overcome is your mind. Once you can overcome that, you can overcome anything.
- Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a little while, and that includes YOU. (Read Wherever You Go, There You Are.)
- You won’t always have it easy, but there is always a reason to be grateful. And the greatest gift of your gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become.
- The secret to getting ahead is to focus all of your energy not on fixing and fighting the old, but on building and growing something new.
- Letting go doesn’t mean you don’t care about something or someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only thing you really have control over is yourself in this moment.
- In most cases, you can’t calm the storm – it’s not worth trying. What you can do is calm yourself, and the storm will pass.
- You can always control the way you respond to what happens, and in your response is your power.
- Oftentimes letting go is simply changing the labels you place on a situation – it’s looking at the same situation with fresh eyes and an open mind.
- There is absolutely nothing about your present circumstances that prevents you from making progress, one tiny step at a time.
- The day you “understood” everything, was the day you stopped trying to figure everything out. The day you find peace and freedom again will be the day you let everything go.
- You must let go of certainty. And you must remember that the opposite of certainty is not uncertainty, it’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace life as it is, rather than resisting it. The ultimate challenge is to accept yourself exactly as you are, and accept life just as it is, but never stop trying to learn and grow to the best of your abilities.
- Underneath it all, the hardest part is not really letting go, but rather learning to start over.
- Stepping onto a brand new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation that no longer fits, or no longer exists.
- Sometimes it takes a little heartbreak to shake you awake, help you let go, and show you that you are worth so much more than you were settling for.
- When it comes to social drama, letting go of other people’s rude remarks is the best step forward. Most haters don’t really hate you; they just hate where they are in life, and you’re a reflection of what they wish to become. (Marc and I discuss this in detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Your heart might be bruised, but it will gradually heal and become capable of feeling the beauty of life once again. It’s happened to you before, and it will happen again – life is always changing. When something ends or someone leaves, it’s because something else or someone else is about to arrive – you will feel alive and whole again soon.
It can be difficult to leave a long-term life situation behind, even when your inner-wisdom tells you that things aren’t right and it’s time to let go.
At this point, you can choose to let go and endure the sudden pain of leaving behind the familiar to make way for a new chapter in your life, or you can stay and suffer a constant, aching pain that gradually eats away at your heart and mind, like a cancer… until you wake up one day and find yourself buried so deep in the dysfunction of the situation that you barely remember who you are and what you desire.
Don’t do this you yourself!
Things will happen that are unexpected, undesirable, and uncontrollable.
But you can always choose to take the next tiniest step. Be brave and take it…
Be willing to make mistakes, learn from them, let go of them, and move along.
Use These 4 Rules Of The Mind To Overcome Social Anxiety
Learn to control your mind to overcome social anxiety
The mind works in mysterious ways.
Sometimes we’re conflicted about something, angry at someone, or anxious about a decision.
How can this be?
It turns out that the mind has its own set of rules.
Many people are unaware of these rules because they don’t know how to observe their thoughts and emotions in the moment.
Here is how I used the rules to overcome social anxiety.
1. What’s expected tends to be realized.
When you have social anxiety, you tend to imagine the worst that could happen in any social situation.
These thoughts cause a great deal of anxiety.
You imagine falling down in front of everyone and making a fool of yourself.
On the surface, it seems rational that these things could happen to you.
But, if you look at your thinking pattern more carefully, you’ll notice that this is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You expect to make a fool of yourself and because you expect the worst to happen, it has great potential to do so.
The obvious solution is to change your expectations but it’s easier said than done.
When I first started in Toastmasters, right before I would give a speech I would be paralyzed by the fear of forgetting what I had to say and looking stupid.
Guess what happen every time I would do a speech?
I would always forget what I was going to say.
To be able to change my thoughts I used another rule of the mind.
2. Once an idea has been accepted by the subconscious mind, it remains until it is replaced by another idea.
A single negative idea can remain in the mind for years.
It’s hard to overcome a single negative thought because it’s been given a lot of attention and is strongly implanted in the subconscious mind.
A single thought takes up residence in your mind and tends to repeat itself over and over again.
How do you change a single negative thought?
Create a new thought that’s stronger than the original, more believable and has more emotional appeal.
I used this rule when I gave speeches at Toastmasters; I imagined myself going up in front of the group and being relaxed, confident, remembering my speech word for word without any anxiety.
Using visualization before each speech help me develop a new script in my mind.
I was able to do speeches without getting memory blanks and that really increased my confidence as a speaker.
3. Imagination is stronger than Reason or Knowledge.
This rule could be the most important in helping you overcome social anxiety.
Your imagination is very, very powerful.
It’s capable of generating images that are more powerful than facts, reason or knowledge.
If you imagine yourself falling down when introducing yourself to others, your subconscious mind will accept and act on that belief even after it’s proven wrong through experience and logic.
Our imaginary self is who we are in our minds.
Overcoming social anxiety starts with the imagination because your imaginary self has to change before your social anxiety can improve.
That’s why even if you know how to fix a problem and take action it may not work until you change the way you imagine yourself overcoming the problem.
When I stopped imagining the worst possible scenario before every social situation I was in I was amazed at how much better I felt.
Social anxiety starts in your mind. If you can change your thinking, it’s easy to feel more confident doing everyday things and making better decisions to improve your life.
4. Each suggestion acted upon creates less opposition to successive similar suggestions.
To overcome social anxiety you need to want to be cured.
Your biggest obstacle to change is your resistance to change.
Resistance is the mental pattern that tells you that you are going in the wrong direction and must go back.
That resistance is based on a previous belief or experience that was not supported by facts or reason.
You’ll have to overcome your resistance before you move forward and get results.
If your mind says “no” then it will also say “no” each time you try something new, even if it’s based on facts, knowledge and rational thinking and previous success.
There are two ways to overcome resistance.
The first is to consciously tell your mind that you’re going in the right direction instead of back. That’s what I did, and I told my mind that I was curing my social anxiety using the rules of the mind. I used daily affirmations to tell my mind I was making progress.
I repeated statements that were supportive of the idea of social anxiety being cured. For example, “I am comfortable around others.’’
‘’I like meeting new people.’’
‘’I am relaxed when meeting new people.’’
The second way to overcome resistance is to look for something positive about a previous experience in which you were successful.
When you do this, you will find evidence that supports your new belief system.
You will be able to see that you’re going in the right direction.
Even if you’re not successful, look for a positive side of your experience.
For example, “I didn’t feel very comfortable when I started out speaking with my group but it get better each time I did it.’’
‘’When I first started doing speeches in Toastmasters I had trouble remembering what I was going to say but now I can do them without any problems.’’
This is something I incorporated after each speech.
I find a positive thing that I did during the speech and stop thinking about it.
Before doing that, I used to think about every little thing that I did wrong during the speech and would dread doing another one.
Now I am able to move on quickly from speech to speech without negative thinking.
These 4 rules of the mind are simple yet powerful.
Rely on these rules and you will make progress in overcoming social anxiety no matter how great the problem may seem.
Social anxiety is a way of thinking.
It’s based on past experience and fear that you’re not good enough or not good enough to do what you want to do in life.
If you didn’t have any experience or confidence then your imagination would be blank and that would defeat the purpose of trying anything new.
When I used these four rules of the mind, I was able to overcome my fear of public speaking and have confidence in myself.
When I learned how successful I was at overcoming my fears, I felt happier about myself and others saw a change in how I presented myself.
That made me feel even better about myself.
Once I started believing in myself, these fears were minimized until they became a memory of my past.
When you do feel like you’ll never be able to overcome social anxiety, remember that it’s all up to your imagination.
It’s the one thing you have total control over without any outside help or influence.
That’s all you need to overcome any problem — your imagination.
The 4 rules of the mind will help you see how your imagination is affecting your life and how to change it.
Six Things to Remember When You’re Trying to Level Up Your Life
It’s difficult, but not impossible
All of your fears are true.
You’re never going to live up to your potential.
You’re probably going to work at that shitty job, or some shitty job equivalent until you’re dead.
Your life will be a perpetual loop of subtly painful banality.
You know what I’m talking about.
You’re okay, but not really.
Everything’s fine, but it isn’t.
Most days you navigate everything just fine but every once in a while that voice that whispers in the back of your mind decides to scream.
You feel the terror of wasted potential washing over you.
Then it goes away and you get to plod along again, but you still know.
Amendment: your life will probably pan out this way, but it doesn’t have to.
I’m giving it to you straight.
The odds are slim, but you have a chance.
Now, let me provide you with some reassurance and tell you what you need to know just in case you’re crazy enough to give this changing your life thing a try anyway.
It’s Not Always Going to Be Like This
You think it will be, but it won’t.
You’re not going to massively struggle the entire time like you do in the beginning.
Eventually, you’ll stop getting sore if you keep going to the gym.
If you keep making content, eventually you’ll have fans instead of everything you post receiving crickets.
You won’t need to conjure up massive levels of motivation constantly because you’ll have better assets like habits, discipline, and most importantly momentum.
Momentum is your best friend.
Once you get it the process becomes dramatically easier.
I see the question coming already. “But how do I make it through the beginning stages?”
Truth be told, most of you aren’t going to be able to create that motivation.
Instead, it’ll come to you randomly in a wave.
You’ll just wake up one day and feel an unusual amount of optimism and motivation.
That’s the day to take the reigns and go all-in.
No One’s A Prophet At Home
I’m a three-time best-selling author.
I’ve made more money in a year than both my parents ever have.
And my mom still treats me like the absent-minded kid who never finishes any of his projects.
It used to bother me.
She’s kind of like that mother on Everybody Loves Raymond who always gives backhanded compliments and subtle jabs.
I’ve forgiven her and let it go.
I don’t care if she sees the new me.
I don’t care if anyone sees him because I know I’m new.
There’s a saying “No one’s a prophet at home.”
It’s going to be difficult to change the perception of people around you who’ve known you for a long time.
Part of you will want their approval.
You’ll want to show them.
Change for yourself.
Even if no one around you acknowledges it, you’ll know.
Not only that, but you’ll encounter a bunch of people in life who know the upgraded version of you.
If you can’t avoid the need for validation, you’ll get it from the ones who see you at the finish line.
This is Why Change is So Hard
If you’re trying to change your life, you have to understand that you don’t want to change your life.
You think you do.
But if you did, you’d have already done it.
You flip the script by understanding that change is the last thing you want to do.
You have to develop a level of self-awareness where you understand your true motivations beneath the surface.
You want to stay the same because familiarity matters to you more than a better life.
It’s easy to resign yourself to living a life below your potential.
You get off on self-pity.
Until you understand that you love the identity that isn’t serving you, you won’t change.
Think about the story you’re telling yourself underneath it all.
My subconscious story told me that I was smart and gifted, so trying and failing wasn’t an option.
I had to change that story and realize my potential wasn’t worth anything if I didn’t do anything with it.
The Truth About Your Friends and Family
I used to peddle this trope but I realize it’s a lie.
A lot of self-help gurus tell you that your friends and family are trying to hold you down and don’t want to see you win. It’s true to a degree, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
People aren’t trying to tear you down because they don’t want to see you win.
They’re doing it because very few people ever win.
As much as I love self-improvement, the vast majority of people do absolutely nothing with it.
Changing your life is hard and most people never do it, so why would they think you will?
Truth be told the odds are on their side.
In a world where most people work jobs they hate, struggle to break out of their situation, and run the rat race, it makes sense to be skeptical of the idea of self-improvement altogether.
I get it.
You’re not some misunderstood person on this hero’s journey.
You’re normal just like the rest of us and it’s going to be an uphill battle.
Admit that upfront and stop wanting people to believe in you because, based on all available evidence, they probably shouldn’t.
Don’t Get on Your High Horse
Self-help is a pyramid scheme.
You start out like a normal person just like the rest of us.
You read some self-help content and you use it to make some changes in your life.
You turn around and preach it to other people.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
I actually used to struggle with this quite a bit.
Why the hell should I be giving anyone advice?
Didn’t I just take some shit someone else has already said and re-package it?
I came to the realization that I’m quite good at it — I feel like it’s okay for me because I seem to have been given the gift to do it.
Not only that, but I realized that my writing was primarily for me.
I was giving myself advice and sharing it with others at the same time.
This is why I’ve evolved to a point of trying to write with empathy and not judging people who are early on the path.
You’re going to be very tempted to get preachy and get on your high horse just because you’re leveling up yourself.
It’s self-aggrandizing and cringy.
You were just like the people you’ll be tempted to preach to.
Have some humility.
At The End of the Day…
None of this matters.
The amount of money you make doesn’t matter, neither does your status, neither do your accomplishments.
It all fades to dust in the end.
Buddha is right.
Zen is correct.
Technically, you shouldn’t have any desires and just live in the moment.
But that shit just doesn’t work in practice.
You have an urge to play worldly games.
It isn’t going away.
The trick is to play the games while simultaneously realizing they don’t matter.
You do get some sort of spiritual benefit from playing the game too.
You get to see what you’re made of.
Anyone can become a minimalist.
All you have to do is throw out your stuff.
Anyone can claim contentment and meditate all day.
But few people can do what they actually want to do with their lives.
Most people who lean heavily into Buddhism, Stoicism, Zen, etc are just doing it to hide from the world.
You’re part of the matrix whether you like it or not.
There’s programming inside of you that wants you to achieve and fulfill your desire.
Ultimately, slaying the dragon only to find it wasn’t real in the first place is the least bad option you have.
So pick up the damn sword.
How to Get More Done by Simplifying Your Life
There’s never been a time in which an individual could accomplish as much as today.
Technological developments allow us to work better, be quicker, and learn smarter.
We’re living in a world where 4-year-olds can be fashion bloggers, and media is rewarding successes stories such as Ajev Nagar, who attracted more than 10 million subscribers to his YouTube channel at the age of 20.
The 21st century probably is the best time to be and do anything you want.
Yet, most people face the same problem holding them back from actually accomplishing their big, ambitious goals: They’re distracted.
In a world where you can be anything, it’s sometimes hard to decide what exactly you want to be.
Those massive success stories often lead to crazy expectations about what we want to achieve and create. And while trying to become the next success story, we often end up closer to a mental collapse than an actual award.
Just because you could achieve more doesn’t mean that should be your ultimate goal.
Sure, you could probably run a company, travel to new places, manage the household, have two kids, and be a caring parent and partner, but can you do all of that with a peaceful mind?
I doubt it.
And that’s not even a shame.
You’re a human being, not a human doing.
You weren’t made to perform and get things done all the time.
In the end, what’s the point of constantly chasing the next goal without ever sitting still and enjoying a cup of coffee without thinking about your to-do list?
More than a century ago, Friedrich Nietzsche stated the following:
“Today as always, men fall into two groups: slaves and free men. Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar.”
…and I believe he’s still right.
In the past years, I realized that a simple life is a good life.
The following rules helped me escape my own rat race and create an environment and daily schedule that allows me to accomplish my goals with ease and clarity.
Discipline is your best friend
Most people believe discipline is boring and restrictive.
The truth, however, is that discipline often equals freedom.
Living without limitations might first sound fun, but what it really does is leave you confused.
If you’re spread too thin, you’ll end up wasting enormous amounts of time and energy. Sticking to meaningful rules, however, can be your holy grail to a simpler and more fulfilling life.
Rules and boundaries help you make quick and good decisions, so you can focus on the few essentials and eliminate the things that harm you.
Now, you might ask yourself, “Okay, but what rules shall I set up?!”
The answer is all sorts of rules that’ll help you make your life easier.
You can set rules for answering emails, your social media consumption, working out, your eating habits, and anything else that’s important to you.
You can set boundaries and limitations when talking to certain people or for your work-life.
Simplifying your life isn’t about sticking to someone else’s rules.
It’s about being honest about your desires and creating an environment that allows you to live up to those desires.
I know this sounds like a big job, but the good news is you don’t need to do all of this at once.
Start by asking yourself which areas of your life you’d really like to improve now, and come up with a few simple rules.
What are some things that make you feel stressed?
How could you possibly eliminate them?
Which people make you feel bad about yourself?
How could you spend less time with them or clarify your boundaries?
Having the courage to set these limitations isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
Be more ignorant
For the majority of my entrepreneurial career, I felt overwhelmed.
My to-do list was constantly growing, and I always thought about work, no matter if I was traveling, working out, spending time with my family, or taking a shower.
I never felt like I was “done” because there was always more work to do.
Today, I make 6-figure profits per year while working 25–30 hours per week.
The main difference is that I don’t do 80% of the things I used to do.
I don’t need dozens of employees or virtual assistants to do the unnecessary work for me.
Instead, I don’t do it at all and focus on the few activities that actually deliver results for my clients and grow my business.
Outsourcing stupid tasks doesn’t necessarily make your business or life better.
Just because someone else could do the work for you doesn’t mean it’s work worth doing.
If you truly want to make a change and simplify your life, you have to radically cut off tasks that don’t move the boat forward.
Doing lots of things doesn’t mean you’re productive or hardworking.
Most of the time, it means you suck at setting priorities and creating boundaries.
If you do tons of different things, you’re inevitably also doing unnecessary things.
Here’s a tough exercise: If you had to cut your working time to half, how would you do it?
Which tasks would you skip?
What would you focus on?
And why aren’t you already doing it?
A simple question to ask yourself to determine whether a task is worth completing is: “Will this have an impact beyond this week/month?”
If the answer is no, you might as well cross it off your to-do list and take a walk or meet a friend.
Being ambitious is hard because there’s always work to do and new goals to accomplish.
But the magic happens when you can ignore most of those tasks and focus on the few activities that’ll help you create the life you desire.
Being informed isn’t as valuable as you might think
Mental overstimulation is one of the biggest causes of overwhelm and anxiety.
And it’s mostly caused by media and news.
For most of history, it was unimaginable that there could ever be “too much information” available. News and information were rare, expensive, and valuable, which meant that it didn’t take much time to stay up-to-date on current happenings.
Today, we’re facing the contrary: We’re being bombarded with information.
You could literally spend your entire day reading about all the horrible things happening all over the globe.
But you could also decide not to do that.
Sure, you want to be up-to-date, but this doesn’t mean you need to consume news and information all the time.
Instead of constantly being exposed to bad news, pick a few credible resources and dedicate a specific time of your day to your news consumption.
As an alternative to traditional news, you could also check news sites that are purely focused on good news.
You may just need a little rest
While the world around you is constantly pushing you to do and be more, all you really need might be a little rest.
Studies show that one-third of Americans are sleep-deprived, and it’s no wonder we’re feeling stressed and anxious when we’re walking around feeling like zombies.
Yes, you’re ambitious.
Yes, you want to get more done.
But you’re not a robot.
As a human, you can’t be energized, alert, and productive all the time.
You have other needs too.
You can’t expect your body and mind to operate at their best if you’re constantly tired and overworked.
Make sure you get 7–8 hours of high-quality sleep on most nights, take weekends off, go on vacations to nourish your soul, and take short breaks to stretch and breathe during busy days.
At the end of your life, you won’t regret that you didn’t work more.
Grab pen and paper
Most of the time, we fail to perform at our best because we’re confused and anxious.
We have thousands of thoughts crossing our minds and don’t know where to start.
And as soon as we start doing A, our brain reminds us of B, C, and D.
As a result, we end up being ineffective and worried. We can’t get much done, yet we constantly think about our long to-do lists — a horrible combination.
One way to solve this problem is by allowing yourself to think and write.
Most of the time, we try to suppress our thoughts and fears because we don’t want to deal with them. But what really happens is that they stay present in our subconscious and keep bothering us.
By allowing yourself to process these thoughts and emotions, you’re making space for them, and letting go becomes much easier.
Whenever your mind feels scattered and full, sit down for a few minutes, grab a journal and ask yourself the following questions:
What am I currently worried about?
What’s hurting me?
What am I excited about?
What would I like to change?
What’s one small change I can immediately apply?
Each year, our lives are becoming a little more complex.
New products, problems, and thoughts are entering our lives almost daily.
And it’s easy to believe we need to change and improve to keep up with all those challenges.
Yet, the truth is, you don’t need to do any of that.
You can choose simplicity and a peaceful mind.
Living a simple life will help you have space for the activities and people you truly appreciate in life. But it’ll also allow you to get way more done because you’ll have the mental capacity to solve complex problems with ease.
Giving your best to achieve your goals is cool.
Working yourself to death isn’t.
You can achieve great things and have a peaceful mind.
In fact, you deserve to have both, and there’s no need to feel stressed all the time.
I Didn’t Pause and My Health Started to Suffer
The importance of giving yourself a break
I didn’t pause, and my health started giving me a tough time.
I was busy 24x7, running around in circles to ensure everything was perfect for the clients.
There were times when I felt like crashing on the couch and binge-watch Netflix after a long day at work, but then I would promise myself that tomorrow was another day and get back to business.
But, I was not taking care of myself.
My mind and body were exhausted, but I kept going because that’s what I thought I had to do.
The next thing I knew, I was lethargic and got a mild chest infection.
Sometimes, we do not realize how tired our mind & body are until something goes wrong with them.
If only I had paused for some time every day to take care of myself instead of pushing harder, life would have been easier on me right now!
If you are a part of the same life marathon and work tirelessly, STOP RIGHT THERE!
I don’t want you to compromise your health. You are not a machine; your body needs rest.
1) Understand the word self-care and pause for some time today
Your mental and physical health is more important than anything else.
Forget about the world and take care of your body first.
It’s not selfish; it’s self-love!
So what are you waiting for?
Let go of all those unwanted things from your mind & body RIGHT NOW.
Make sure you practice self-care daily; it will help your mind & body stay healthy!
I made this mistake of not pausing once, don’t make the same one again! :)
2) Become a better you!
Overworking is glamorized in today’s world.
People are portraying it as a sign of a hard-working attitude.
Little do you know, overworking is your enemy.
It will harm your health and slow you down.
You need to understand that nothing can be more important than stopping overwork for a while when it comes to taking care of yourself!
Think about how much work is piling up on your desk?
Are you really going to do all of them today?
You are not a machine.
It’s time to take a break and work on your health!
3) Sign up for NO-EMAIL DAY!
Emails can wait, but your health can’t
This is where you do not work for one day, and I am sure you can use that day to take care of yourself.
Use the Power of Pause.
Remember the saying, “Slow and steady wins the race?”
It applies here too!
Every day can’t be a busy one; take some time out of it for yourself.
Learn to say NO!
If you are someone who is always taking on more projects at work, make sure that your plates do not overflow.
4) You have a human battery that needs to be recharged
Recharge yourself by doing something you love or something that relaxes you.
Let your phone remain in the other room while you read a book, watch movies or take a walk in nature.
Give yourself some time to breathe!
It’s okay if there are things that need to wait for tomorrow at work because it is more important today that you recharge yourself by doing something pleasant and relaxing.
Why wait for your health to go out of order first?
We all need to slow down and take a break once in a while.
I know we all try to act like superman and superwoman.
But, you are not! You don’t need to be like them.
5) Build a healthy relationship with yourself
Treat your body like the temple it is.
Take out some time to do exercise.
Do yoga, or just go for a walk.
Spend some time with your loved ones; it will help you to relax and de-stress!
Don’t push yourself too hard to do things you are not comfortable with.
6) Learn to say NO!
Don’t let others pressure you into doing things that are not good for your health.
It’s okay to say NO! If someone is putting too much stress on you by asking you to do something, and you feel you can’t do it, say, No.
I know it is hard to say No, but you need to do this for yourself!
Remember that no one will ever feel good if they are not healthy.
So what are you waiting for?
5 ways to get started when you’re emotionally burned out
You probably know what burnout is.
And you can even list all the symptoms and prevention methods.
But you still feel that the phrase “burned out at work” is written precisely about you.
I have collected techniques that will help you get rid of emotional exhaustion and “ignite” again.
We make a diagnosis.
A dose of adrenaline and a drop of stress are good motivators to do your job bigger and better.
But if you constantly feel stressed, and the anxiety about the project does not go away, even when it is successfully completed, you should pay attention to yourself.
Once my friends and I noticed that our friend Max became cynical and boring.
He refused our ideas and proposals, citing fatigue.
He came home after work, fell on the bed and fell asleep from fatigue right in his clothes.
After some time, he was hospitalized due to pneumonia.
Two weeks in the hospital gave him a new regimen and began to return him to normal life.
“If it hadn’t happened and I hadn’t got sick, probably one day I would have just dropped dead right by the copy machine,” Max said.
After two weeks in hospital, he took his first vacation in three years of work and left to gain strength. When he returned, we did not recognize him.
A completely different person.
Happy and with a completely new approach to work and my life.
You should pay attention to yourself if you experience:
- psychological rejection from work. Not when you hate your job. Rather, when you love, but compulsively count the days until the weekend and the hours until the end of the working day.
- decline in efficiency and exhaustion. For example, in the morning we woke up with the thought: “How well I slept today,” and after two hours of work, an unrestrained desire to sleep appears.
- the emergence of bad habits. This includes liters of coffee, desire for sweets, or lack of appetite.
Hour of Silence.
You can call this time “an hour for yourself”, “an hour of contemplation” or an hour — “the last person on Earth.”
Allow yourself to do nothing at this hour.
Put away your phone, laptop, thoughts of unfinished projects and delayed calls.
Try the “free writing” technique — freewriting.
Take a piece of paper and write down everything you think about now (just not about work).
This technique is great at clearing the brain, because thoughts on paper have a completely different look than in the head.
What worried might be insignificant, and a thought that seemed stupid might be the beginning of something cool.
Time for happiness.
Do what makes you happy every day.
Watch funny videos on Youtube, read funny publics on social networks.
Create a music playlist and add a new hot song to it every day.
Get creative with your friends.
Focus on what you love to do the most.
Hobbies are the best cure for exhaustion.
Finally, go to the nursery and come back with a new friend.
Do what you’ve been putting off for a long time.
Each of us has “stuck” and obsessive affairs that do not require urgent execution.
But they take up an enormous amount of energy completely unnoticed.
Forgive the person you have been holding a grudge against for a long time.
Do what you wanted to do for a long time, but were afraid.
If you have accumulated some feelings for a long time, it’s time to get rid of them and experience them.
Have a nagging night or smash old dishes.
Call the person you have wanted to call for a long time.
As soon as the “frozen” task is completed, the mood will immediately skyrocket. Verified personally.
Talk to the coolest person on Earth.
Chat with yourself.
Focus on your desires, dreams, and goals.
Write down 100 things you want to accomplish in life.
Write a letter to yourself in the future, tell us what is bad for you.
Plan a vacation even if it seems like now is not the time.
Write what you like about yourself.
Reread and add a couple more points.
Ask yourself where you are and where you are going, what you want to achieve.
Promise that all difficulties are temporary.
Look at your work from the outside.
Evaluate your work to get the focus right.
This will help you focus your energy on the right things and stop wasting it on useless things.
What do you do?
What do you like about work?
And what is frankly infuriating?
Why don’t you feel like going to the office now?
Why did you come here once?
Burnout is sometimes a sign of frustration at work.
You planned to move up the career ladder during this time, but are still in the same place.
Perhaps disappointment due to colleagues or lack of corporate events.
Look at your work from the outside and analyze it.
No matter what caused the emotional drain, all of these tips don’t work without one main point.
It sounds simple — love yourself.
10 (More) Important Life Skills Nobody Taught Me
They led to more joy, confidence, and happiness.
Recently, I shared several of the most important life skills I had to learn on my own.
No class, parent, or book could show me those lessons—I had to make mistakes and discover them myself, which oftentimes is the best way to learn.
“Formal education will make you a…
In this article, I’ll share ten more extremely powerful life skills I learned over the years that transformed everything from my relationships to my productivity to my happiness.
Once you learn these for yourself, I’m sure they’ll help improve your life too.
How to Love
My parents divorced when I was very young and, frankly, they were two people who should have never gotten married. So as I grew up, I had to learn—in the hardest way possible—what “love” actually is.
For example, I feel like many people, especially my age or younger, think of “love” as a shopping list:
- 6 feet tall (1.83m)
Voilà — you’re in love.
But that is not love. (And it ain’t gonna last if that’s all you care about.)
Love isn’t winning the “Cutest Couple” award.
Love isn’t weddings and flowers. Love is finding someone you can grow together with.
Someone you can navigate difficulties with (raising children, money problems, health issues, etc.) Someone who you deeply respect and appreciate.
I’ve also realized that much of what we think is “love” is really manipulation. How can I make you like me?
How can I keep you for myself?
As Anthony de Mello would say, people think of love as a barter: “You be nice to me and I’ll be nice to you, okay?”
Yet once that person isn’t nice to them, they stop loving them—but is that really love?
“What does it mean to love?
It means to see a person, a situation, a thing as it really is, not as you imagine it to be.
And to give it the response it deserves.
You can hardly be said to love what you do not even see.
And what prevents us from seeing?
— Anthony de Mello
When you truly love someone, you want what’s best for them and you want their freedom.
Don't let the little things get in the way of what really matters.
How To Ignore Useless Information
Your input shapes your worldview.
So if you always consume negative, pessimistic, and stressful information, how do you think you’ll feel?
No one teaches us how to sift through the noise to determine what is actually useful and what isn’t.
The truth is the vast majority of information you consume from news, social media, or elsewhere is, at best, a distraction and, at worst, an anchor.
Consuming it only makes you feel worse, yet so little of it actually impacts you.
Instead, practice selective ignorance. What information, however “juicy” it may seem, can you avoid so it doesn’t cloud your mind? Ruthlessly eliminate it and you’ll regain your freedom.
How to Stand Up For Me
Because of low self-esteem, I long struggled to stand up for myself.
When people were disrespectful to me, I didn’t speak out because I was afraid to upset them or put myself in a vulnerable situation.
But letting people walk over me was self-defeating and only made things worse.
No one can teach you how to stand up for yourself.
Sure, you can study techniques to diffuse situations, but the only way to learn is to take action at the moment to start reshaping your identity.
Remember: It’s not about insulting someone or violence; it’s about speaking out against disrespectful behavior in a firm and respectful way. It’s about not letting yourself get bullied, pushed around, or treated unfairly.
How to Work
For all the homework and tests I did in school, no one really taught me to how to work.
So much of the work we did was just mindless busy work with little critical thinking or creativity.
There was no prioritization and no goals. Rather than focusing on the result, we focused on being (and looking) busy.
Then, they expected us to take those same strategies into the workforce.
Punch the clock.
Have useless meetings.
Work until you’re exhausted.
Yet I’ve learned that productivity is about how much you create and deliver, not just doing busy work. Don’t overfocus on minor details like having the perfect calendar; instead, focus on your results and your work will improve.
How to Ignore Opinions
Why would you do this?
You can’t do that.”
So much of the feedback I got in life was horribly skewed—people simply projected their own insecurities, problems, and prejudices onto me and taught me their distorted reality.
But why should I listen to them?
“Most of us fail in life because we’re afraid of what everyone around us is thinking. We live by the narrative of other people.”
— David Goggins
Learn to ignore the noise. Realize that most of the “rules” in life are created by people who’ve never achieved their dreams, and so they tell you that you can’t achieve yours either. Don’t let people project their own issues onto you and bring you down to their level.
Choose your own life and choose your own path.
Knowing When To Quit
“If you must play, decide on three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.”
— Chinese Proverb
They say that “winners never quit and quitters never win.”
Yet some of the best decisions of my life were to quit jobs, friendships, lifestyles, etc. that were going nowhere.
It eliminated massive barriers to my growth and gave me the freedom to find something better.
The world is too big to settle and cling to something uninspiring or unfulfilling.
Let it go so you can grab onto something greater.
I believe true joy comes from the pursuit of your dreams.
At least, that way, every moment of your life is dedicated to what you believe in.
How to Change My Personality
Reading self-help taught me I could set my own path in life and learn new skills and traits.
As I studied more, I thought I changed as a person, but in reality, I was still the same person with some shiny new tricks.
No one showed me how to actually change my personality.
You don’t just read a book, see a quote, or attend an event and instantly “change your life.”
To change your life, everything has to be different.
You have to overhaul your environments, your inputs, your social circles, your behaviors, your thoughts, your habits, and more.
It takes time, patience, and a lot of difficult moments.
But that is the only way to real change.
How to Deal With Adversity
How do you handle challenging situations?
How do you bounce back from catastrophe?
You can read all the books in the world and think you know what to do, but until you hit real adversity, it's a completely different story.
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
No one can teach you this; it’s something you have to experience for yourself.
All I can say is two things:
First, regularly put yourself in situations where you feel uncomfortable—that way, you expose yourself to stress, learn to adapt, and gradually increase the level of difficulties you can successfully handle.
Second, when shit hits the fan and you feel like giving up, keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Bad times will come to an end.
How to Take Action
When I was painfully shy, I read books on conversations.
They taught me some good advice, but there was one critical thing it — and every other book — couldn’t teach me: How to overcome my fears and actually talk to a real person.
No book could move my feet toward someone and make me speak.
Yet until I did that, I wasn’t really using the information.
It’s like learning how to swim: You can study all you want, but until you get into the water, you haven’t learned shit.
And it wasn’t until I forced myself to talk to people that I finally learned how to do it.
Nothing can teach you to take action:
You have to put yourself in that situation (or have someone else push you into it) again and again. Only then will you truly learn and grow.
How to Be Alone
The world convinces you that being alone is awful.
Seemingly every song is about how terrible it is to be alone, every TV show is about how dreadful being single is (How I Met Your Mother, for example), and everyone feels “sorry” for you when you’re alone (which I’ve experienced many times).
But there are two hard truths I had to learn for myself:
(1) If you need people in your life to be happy, you will never be happy.
(2) If you can’t be happy by yourself, you will never be happy with others.
Once you remove your attachment to others, your life will improve tremendously.
Instead of relying on others for your happiness, you bring your own joy and self-acceptance, which creates happier, healthier relationships.
“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.”
— Wayne Dyer
Don’t let people convince you to feel sad because you’re by yourself, not in a relationship, etc. Instead, learn to enjoy your own company.
Be your own source of happiness and fun.
No one can teach you how to do that: You have to discover (and practice) it yourself by learning to be comfortable alone.
Once you learn how to, you’ll be able to do whatever you want by yourself — and still be happy.
And you’ll finally be free.
Four Things That Restore My Faith in Humanity
These realizations help me when I’m in my darker moods.
The Black Friday chaos recap is the worst.
News stations blast footage of people fighting and “throwing hands” in their local Walmart, breaking through the entrance and trampling each other.
There are hospitalizations and…
Dignity and self-respect sell for cheap these days. It makes me question the necessity of humans on this planet.
I’m also filled with joy and hope in other aspects of life. We should be proud of humanity’s accomplishments. We should remember the following things in our darker moments.
We slay huge problems
Smallpox arrived more than 10,000 years ago.
In the 20th century alone, it killed 300 million people.
A full 30% of those afflicted died.
A majority of those who survived were terribly maimed.
30% of all blind people lost their vision because of smallpox.
Between 1850 and 1910, mandatory vaccines pushed the disease out of North America and Europe.
Then, a global push by the World Health Organization led to the complete eradication of smallpox, with the last case being seen in 1977.
This was a horrible disease that killed billions.
People came together to end it. Smart, healthy workers around the world risked their lives to innoculate strangers solely because they cared about their suffering.
Mankind’s ability to collaborate and solve our biggest problems should give you hope.
Life can seem so bleak these days.
But as we always have, we’ll solve this pandemic and any future global emergencies.
News stations are addicted to ratings-boosting negativity.
You never hear about the good stuff.
The hole in our ozone layer is repairing itself. Cancer survival rates are at an all-time high and trending better. There was a time when we thought HIV/AIDS was world-ending (it’s killed 36M people).
Today, we can treat HIV so well that it’s non-detectable on a test.
I could go on for pages. Things aren’t as terrible as they seem.
Sloths somehow pulled it off
Where nature is cruel in its random disasters and diseases, it can be equally cruel in its allocation of gifts and talents — or so it seems.
If you were reborn as a sloth, you’d curse your fate and wonder, “What did I do in my previous life to deserve this?”
Sloths have no physical armor. They have no deterrent weapons: horns or chemical sprays.
They can’t kick.
Their bite is weak.
They have claws but no speed or power to use them.
They suck at fighting.
When it comes to athleticism, they are nature’s bench warmer.
They’re an anomaly of evolution and the only animal named after one of the seven deadly sins.
Did I mention they are slow?
The fastest man in the world can run the mile in 3 minutes 43 seconds.
A sloth can blaze that race in a mere 6.6 hours.
But really — how in the hell are sloths still alive?
Sloths survived because they bumbled their way to a region with relatively few predators.
Their main predator, jaguars, are on the ground.
Their other predators, large hawks, face an interesting visual dilemma.
They see the world like a high-detail painting.
hey fixate their gaze on the scenery, watching it in all of its stillness, waiting for something to move and catch their eye
But because sloths move so slow, they don’t get noticed by hawks.
And even further, their lack of mobility allows green algae to grow on their back, giving them camouflage.
Sloths somehow turned a flaw into a strength.
Although I still don’t know why they climb down the tree to poop (they really do). Perhaps they just have good manners.
Sloths are bizarrely relatable to everyday life. So many people, who you knew in high school, who were strikingly average, have slid into high-level positions.
Nothing on the paper said they would achieve such great heights.
Their test scores were mediocre.
They weren’t charismatic.
Yet here they are, a boss of people.
Just as the seemingly low-talent sloth has the ability to succeed when so many gifted animals get devoured, we each have our own unique combination of gifts, a DNA of success waiting to be revealed. Sometimes, like a sloth, you just need to be patient and hang on.
Your actions have a splash effect
Researchers asked a handful of people to go out into the world and do something nice for strangers.
At the end of the study, those givers reported feeling happier and more content.
Even further, the people they did favors for, reported being happier and also did nice things for strangers.
In essence, the energy you put into the world is proven to ripple outwards and affect more people.
I try to be extra nice to service workers and people who are often treated poorly.
A mentor taught me a great, simple trick: tell someone they did a good job.
Be specific about why and say you appreciate them being diligent with their work and caring enough to get it right. It will often make their day and spread more kindness. It takes character to give your all to a thankless job.
The secret sauce of compliments
As a normie straight dude, this next thing doesn’t happen very often.
to be honest, I can only remember it happening twice in my 38 years.
I was out and about, walking through the world.
Then, from the corner of my eye, I saw a woman.
She was paused, looking me over from head to toe.
It was a full-body laser scan.
I thought, “Wow. She was definitely checking me out.
For a very brief moment, I felt like a rockstar.
Of course, I had a wife at the time and, even if I didn’t, I’m not sure I had the courage to approach this woman.
Think about those times you’ve seen someone and thought about how smart, beautiful or charismatic they were.
Think about how many times you never mentioned it to them.
People do this every day — about you.
They see your amazing qualities, but they don’t say anything. I promise.
Each and every day, you are swimming through invisible compliments.
Recap for memory: 4 things that restore my faith in humanity
- We are conquering most major problems in our world. And when we really need to, we come together to overcome the biggest threats.
- Kindness is proven to be contagious. It ripples into the world. The opposite is also true. Don’t be a problem child. Pay it forward.
- You don’t need to be remarkably talented to succeed. Like a sloth, it’s just a matter of figuring out where your skillset perfectly aligns. Our flaws often morph into advantages without us knowing.
- Every day, people think good things about you without you ever knowing.
7 Habits You Can Start Today To Feel Better Immediately
You don’t need to buy any books.
You don’t need any gurus.
You can do this.
Toward the end of one of my all-time favorite films, My Dinner With Andre, the character Wally (played by the inconceivably talented Wallace Shawn) says to Andre:
“I’m looking for more comfort because the world is very abrasive. I mean, I’m trying to protect myself because, really, there’s these abrasive beatings to be avoided everywhere you look!”
Ain’t that the truth, Wally.
We are too busy.
We are too caught up in the world and not enough in taking care of ourselves.
If we keep up this pace much longer, we’re going to burst into flame.
The good news is that it can all be avoided, and you can start to feel better almost immediately by adopting a few simple habits.
Leave the abrasive beatings behind.
Take a moment to appreciate the beauty
In case you ever wondered, the advice that goes “stop and smell the roses” comes from an autobiography by golfer Walter Hagen and originally read as, “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry.
And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”
I don’t know much about golf, but I imagine it’s an unhurried game that requires some patience.
Such is life.
It doesn’t need to seem so rushed all the time.
We’re all so busy.
We’re all hustling.
We’re all getting stressed.
There is a lot to be said for appreciating the fleeting wonder of a rainstorm, a sunset, or a squirrel running along a fence.
The world is amazing, and there is beauty everywhere.
It’s big and small.
Don’t miss out on it.
Take a moment.
Life gurus spill a lot of (virtual) ink writing about mindfulness and meditation.
Apparently, it’s for a good reason. It works.
It doesn’t matter what time of day you choose to sit for ten or twenty minutes in thoughtful contemplation — or no contemplation.
It doesn’t even have to be the same time every day.
After a little bit of practice, I’ve found that I can snatch a fruitful dose of meditation at almost any time of the day when I know I’ll have ten or twenty minutes to myself. It doesn’t even have to be quiet, but it helps — particularly when first starting the practice.
Give me some time to conduct an internal visualizing exercise, or to think of nothing (or no-thing as the Buddhists might say), or to even contemplate an object (for me, it’s often a wooden apple on the kitchen table) all while being aware of my breathing… in… out… in…
Anyway, you get the idea.
The point is that afterward, I feel both mentally and physically refreshed.
Over time, the practice contributes to an overall sense of well-being.
You can start today.
Find a place to be by yourself for a short bit. No one needs to know.
Free yourself of grudges
How long can you stay angry?
Probably quite a while.
It’s an easy emotion.
And it feeds upon itself — consuming you with it.
Instead, let it go.
Take some perspective and ask yourself if, in the grand scheme of things, does a grudge or other bad feeling toward someone really matters?
What matters is you.
Don’t let negative feelings take away your peace and energy.
Let it go.
It might be hard at first, but if you start today, you’ll be on the road to feeling better today.
Let it go.
Celebrate other people’s success
I know a lot of successful people.
They have successful careers.
Some have boatloads of money.
Some are almost universally admired for one thing or another.
And you know what?
Good for them!
Am I rich?
Do I have a successful career?
Well, I’m not at its pinnacle yet, but I’ve got forward momentum.
My dog likes me.
But gnawing enviously at other people’s success doesn’t really do much to help me move forward, does it?
What does move me forward is turning negative feelings into positive ones.
I know a lot of very happy people, and I am very happy for them.
And I feel a lot better about myself because of that.
Spend time outside
If you don’t spend much time outdoors, try to change that right away.
Get away from your desk.
Get off the couch.
Go for a ten-minute walk.
Go for a twenty-minute walk.
Just get outside for a little bit.
I like to walk because I’m inherently lazy.
You might be more of a runner or biker.
Go for it. Whatever you do, getting outside is the important thing.
Buildings — whether they be homes or places of business — can be confining and, after a while, it gets too much to be healthy.
Getting to where there are fewer walls will make you feel a bit freer and maybe a bit less trapped.
Find a park.
Find some woods behind the company building.
Stroll along a city sidewalk or median if you have nothing else.
Even downtown Chicago has grassy areas and the occasional tree.
The fresh air and exercise will do you good.
Get enough sleep.
Ideally, all at once.
If your schedule permits, get your sleep at night.
Be awake during the day.
Take advantage of natural light cycles.
Avoid caffeine or alcohol before going to bed.
Drink some water and do some stretches when you first get up.
But get enough sleep.
You’ll thank me in the morning.
Have a morning ritual
Are they good or bad?
I have opinions — mostly in favor of routines, but routines are not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about having a morning ritual.
This is your one act in the morning that you tie into greeting the day and contemplating the day ahead.
For me, it’s my morning tea.
After I stumble out of bed, stretch, drink a glass of water, and let the dog out, I then prep the kettle and get the water boiling.
I’ve got an interesting green tea with toasted rice I’ve been digging lately, but my standby is an English breakfast.
All the while, the water is heating, then the tea is steeping.
This is my quiet time to think about the day ahead.
Sometimes I’ll think about the previous day.
But in general, it’s a morning ritual I’ve tied to a personal reflection of some kind.
And I get a cup of tea in the process.
And when that’s done, my day officially begins.
For you, it might be brewing some coffee.
Or frying some eggs.
Or writing in a journal.
The idea is to identify it as your ritual and letting that magic happen.
Sure… the morning ritual gets disrupted sometimes.
If I miss the ritual every now and then, that’s okay. I can pick it up again and reap the benefit.
On taking care of oneself
If you don’t take care of yourself physically, you’ll hurt yourself mentally.
And vice versa.
All of the tips above for feeling better immediately are tied to the idea of self-care.
Some may be easier than others.
Your life right now might make some of these suggestions difficult.
Pick and choose what works best for you.
Every little bit helps.
9 Simple Things I Avoid For a Greater Life
Cutting these gave me more freedom, joy, and success.
If you want to reach greater heights in your life, you must let go of what’s holding you back.
Otherwise, your progress will be like trying to drive a car while pressing the brakes — slow, ineffective, and unnecessarily difficult.
Here are the 10 simple things I avoid for a better, more fulfilling, and more successful life.
It helps me attain the lifestyle I enjoy and the motivation to make the most of my life without being swayed by outside pressures.
If you eliminate these, I’m confident it’ll help you reach greater levels in your life too.
1. The Hedonic Treadmill
Many people chase achievements to feel happy.
They live a “life-deferment plan” and can’t be happy until they finally get certain things (ex. a house, promotion, car, life partner, etc).
Once they get it, however, they’ll quickly adapt and lose their happiness; then, they’ll chase another goal for happiness and repeat the cycle, which is called the “hedonic treadmill.”
But if you endlessly chase goals to try to achieve happiness, you’ll never enjoy what you already have, you’ll become attached to those things, and you’ll live in the constant fear that you’ll lose what you have.
“There are two things to aim for in life: First to get what you want, and, after that, to enjoy it.”
— Logan Pearsall Smith
Instead, learn to reach your goals without making your happiness depend on them.
Learn to be happy, win or lose, and in the present moment.
Realize that no achievement — no matter how shiny, cool, or sexy — will bring the fulfillment that motivated you to pursue it in the first place.
If you can learn to savor everything you have right now, it gives you more freedom, ease, and peace — and it’ll help you live a great life.
2. Too Many Priorities
The key to a great life is discovering what’s most important to you, focusing your energy there, and moving forward on those priorities.
Yet you only have a finite amount of energy. What are you going to focus it on? You can’t do everything at once; you have to say “no” to something.
To make real progress in life, prioritize your goals based on importance. Identify what would bring the biggest impact and hold off on the lesser things until you finish.
“Success isn’t that difficult; it merely involves taking twenty steps in a singular direction.
Most people take one step in twenty directions.”
— Dr. Benjamin Hardy
By removing options, it makes the path to success so much easier.
Rather than spreading yourself across many tasks you’re weakly committed to, you can zoom in on the things that you’re truly committed to.
3. Proving Myself
Many people constantly try to prove something to others (and to themselves), but it’s utterly self-defeating.
They’ll always seek approval to compensate for the lack they feel inside, they’ll always be controlled by other people’s opinions, and they’ll never be free.
No achievement will make you more worthy as a person.
You are “good enough” regardless of what you accomplish in life—and the more you forget this, the more likely you are to do things to sabotage yourself.
Stop trying to prove yourself.
Keep more plans, announcements, and victories to yourself.
Once you stop seeking validation or praise, you’ll become liberated.
You’ll enjoy the freedom to do as you please, and you won’t be controlled by others because you won’t need them to applaud you to feel worthy.
Then, find goals that you would still want to accomplish even if no one knew you accomplished them.
A simple test is to ask yourself:
“If I could never tell a single person about my achievements, would I still pursue them?”
That way, you’re not influenced by proving yourself or what people might think of you—instead, you’ll do things purely for enjoyment and love.
4. Too Much Screen Time
Every day, the average American adult spends 4.5 hours on their smartphones, 4.5 hours watching TV, and 5 hours on their computers.
And whenever there’s a pause in our days — waiting at a red light, waiting in line, eating a meal, etc. — we grab our phones and plug right in.
But life happens outside of a screen.
Worse, excessive screen time causes anxiety and depression and worsens your addiction.
In fact, just seeing your phone reduces your brainpower.
(And no one lies on their deathbed wishing they watched more Netflix.)
Cut back on your screen time.
Use Airplane Mode or hide your phone so you don’t feel compelled to check it constantly.
If necessary, cancel your subscriptions and buy things à la carte.
Then, apply all that extra free time toward more rewarding activities.
Spend more time with your kids.
Do more exercise.
Learn a new skill.
Your quality of life will grow in proportion to the amount of time you spend in reality.
5. Accepting My Situation
We all have so much potential in our lives.
No matter our obstacles, we can still maximize our body, intelligence, personality, and so much more.
Yet how many people actually attempt to reach their full potential?
How many are making the most of their gifts rather than making excuses and rationalizing their situations?
Ultimately, it’s the path toward your full potential that leads to self-acceptance.
It creates joy, pride, and confidence to know that you’re giving your best effort to make the most of your life.
You might never reach your full potential, but at least you’ll experience the peace of mind of moving toward greater heights.
“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
— John Wooden
Success always comes from within first.
Be the person you want to be, and you’ll have the things you want to have.
6. Staying Up Late
If you’re a night owl, that’s fine.
But don’t call yourself a night owl to justify watching Netflix or playing video games until 3 AM.
(If that’s the case, being a “night owl” might be holding you back.)
This isn’t about becoming a morning person; this is about becoming wiser with your time.
Once I went to bed earlier, I was quickly able to eliminate a lot of time-wasting distractions from my life.
“A powerful antidote to wasteful distractions and poor behaviors at night is to go to bed sooner. Rarely are the evening hours spent powerfully.
Usually, there is a point of diminishing returns — usually after eight or nine p.m., give or take an hour…
Going to bed one hour earlier than your norm is one of the fastest ways to becoming your future self.
You avoid wasteful consumption.
You get more rest.
You enable yourself to wake up earlier and get to work on your goals before the busyness of the day.”
— Benjamin Hardy, Ph.D.
To help, set a nighttime alarm to let you know when to turn everything off and get ready for bed. That way, you can sleep at a consistent time and improve your sleep hygiene.
7. Bad Relationships
Your relationships are the strongest factor in a life of happiness and health.
Avoid people that create anger, unhappiness, or self-doubt, and avoid negative, unpleasant, or unstable people because they will affect you tremendously.
Also, avoid weak friendships — the friends you don’t really care for, but keep around so you’re don’t feel alone.
That is not going to lead to a great life or a fulfilling, enriching relationship.
(Hell, I’d rather be by myself than spend time with someone who’s only with me because they’re lonely.)
Finally, learn to be happy by yourself so you don’t become attached to other people or rely on them for your joy.
Life is a series of big decisions — each one can lead you down tremendously different paths and alter your life.
Yet many people hesitate in their decisions because they’re afraid of closing options and committing. Instead, they deliberate, delay, and get stuck in paralysis by analysis, waiting for the “right moment” that will never come.
“The best thing is to do the right thing; the next best is to do the wrong thing; the worst thing of all things is to stand perfectly still.”
— Alfred Henry Lewis
If I waited for the “right moment” or until I “felt ready,” I would’ve never made any of the greatest decisions in my life.
That’s why I forced myself to take action and learn through experience — even if I failed, at least I found out instead of not trying and failing by default.
The longer you wait, the longer it’ll take to get to where you want to go.
Practice being decisive.
Learn to choose quickly and stick to your guns.
You might worry you’re “missing out” or making the wrong choice, but the more you take action, the more you realize that those fears are unfounded.
9. Being Too Serious
When I’m too serious in life, I feel robotic and unnatural.
But when I let go and live as if I was playing a game, I feel free to take risks and make the most of my life—I can do what I enjoy and I don’t stress about what others think.
When was the last time you were singing to yourself in public?
When was the last time you did a little dance move in front of a mirror?
When was the last time, instead of throwing something into it a trash can, you crumpled it up into a ball and shot like a basketball?
When we were kids, we didn’t think twice about running around and playing.
We’re so worried about what other people might think of us that we wouldn’t dare let loose.
Who gives a shit how you’ll look?
Life is a game.
Start making more jokes, not to please others, but to please yourself.
Once you get over your fear of “looking stupid,” you'll unlock a lot more freedom, fun, and spontaneity.
And it’ll enhance your life more than you could imagine.
How to Use Annoying Comments to Your Advantage
Criticism is an opportunity to grow and doesn’t always mean someone is a troll.
I’ve been harassed to the moon and back in my five years of online writing.
Heck, on Quora, I can’t even load my blocklist because it’s so large.
My browser crashes.
Harassment doesn’t bother me anymore.
If anything, it’s a sad indictment on humanity. I don’t write about politics or controversial issues.
Yet here I am, working a second job as a digital bouncer, throwing people “out of the club” for getting too belligerent.
As someone who makes his living with content that is open to comments, I’ve learned to harness that feedback.
You can too.
Not all negative comments are trolls
I learned a deceptively simple, all-powerful insight from my years in business: the opinion of one customer often represents the opinion of many.
Years ago, when I was new at writing, I wrote a humor piece, “The Signs of a High Maintenance Woman.”
Even writing that title now, I wince a bit.
It was a bit basic and ill-advised.
But I was naive.
I figured it was all in good fun, “Hey, it’s a joke right?”
Really, it was just lazy writing and preying on cheap jokes.
Very soon after hitting publish, someone commented saying I was being insensitive.
Ironically, in my own hyper-sensitivity, I got combative and argued with them about it.
Soon, I realized they were right and deleted my post before it got worse.
It was an early and important lesson in consideration for my audience.
The customer isn’t always right (and if they use that phrase, they definitely aren’t). But often — they are on to something.
Leveraging pedantic jerks to your advantage
Cunningham’s Law states that “The best way to get the right answer on the internet isn’t to ask a question; it’s to post the wrong answer.”
People dive like a hawk at the opportunity to sound smart.
You could make the most obvious observation, stating that the sky is blue, and if the article gets enough eyes, you’ll invariably get a slew of irritating, poorly formatted comments.
- “OH so because YOU think the sky is blue WE should think it’s BLUE.”
- “Based on what empirical evidence can you state this? Citations needed. Reported.”
- “Well actually the sky isn’t blue, it’s that blue light gets reflected most out of the seven colors. If you had taken science, you would already know this.”
These people walk around you in everyday life.
You bump into them at grocery stores and gas stations.
They smile at you and wave.
Then they go home and raise all hell on their keyboard.
You can’t win with some people.
But the mere presence of nitpicky audience members should get you thinking more.
I try to anticipate the counterarguments they’ll make and write to them.
It strengthens your message with the entire audience.
You can do this with pending conversations too.
Scenario planning helps you excel with negotiations, relationship “talks”, and asking for a raise.
Map out possible reactions and how you’ll accommodate them.
A quick tip: how to effectively reply to a bad comment
It’s usually a waste of time to engage with hostile users, but if you must, validate them in some way. Do this by acknowledging their feelings or some truth behind what they say.
Then, offer your rebuttal.
If you don’t do that, they’ll only see you through a combative lens, forming their counterargument as they read.
Use the “sandwich” strategy
A surgeon-friend told me a joke about a patient who just woke up from surgery.
The doctor tells the patient there’s good news and bad news.
The patient says, “Well, give me the bad news first so the good news lifts me up.”
The surgeon says, “The bad news is that we had to amputate both legs.
The good news is that the guy down the hall wants to buy your shoes.”
Thankfully, the story is fiction, but it illustrates a feedback mechanism called a “sh#t sandwich”.
It’s when you give bad news with a positive spin that does little to make things better.
It’s common, ineffective, and often makes the recipient hate you.
The more effective version of this is a “praise sandwich”.
You say positive things, give critical feedback in the middle.
Then you end with a compliment.
This management tactic is proven to affect change and influence people.
Humans are sensitive creatures.
If you aren’t good at taking criticism, you can deploy The Batman Effect.
Look at yourself as a third-person entity, an alter ego.
It distances you from your immediate feelings.
You’ll see the situation more objectively and actually utilize what is said.
The truth of Grammar nazis
I saw a guy comment on someone’s Quora answer, pointing out that it is “your instead of you’re” and this led to a full-blown, 18-reply argument that ended in name-calling.
Studies show that grammar nazis, as the name implies, have highly disagreeable personalities.
However, their critiques are often accurate.
We should know the difference between you and you’re.
Yes, sometimes that mistake is just a slip of the hand.
And yes, it’s annoying when someone comments only to point out a mistake rather than message us directly.
Nothing is more annoying than people who only comment when they disagree.
Grammar nazis have a purpose.
As a writer, I’ve grown to appreciate nitpicky readers who see small problems in writing.
It’s a talent.
My girlfriend is an academic editor and picks off my mistakes with ease.
If you are highly self-critical, channel that into your communication and writing.
Plan ahead and think through what you’ll say.
The internet is full of trolls and the real world is infested with closet trolls.
But don’t dismiss every criticism.
Information is inherently neutral.
It’s how you use it that determines its value and alignment.
Accepting mistakes is a way of exorcising your ego and growing in a way that most fail to.
Earlier today, I was sitting on a park bench eating a sandwich for lunch when an elderly couple pulled their car up under a nearby oak tree.
They rolled down the windows and turned up some jazz music on the radio.
Then the man got out of the car, walked around to the passenger side, and opened the door for the woman.
He took her hand and helped her out of her seat, guided her about ten feet away from the car, and they slow danced for the next half hour under the oak tree.
It was a beautiful sight to see.
I could have watched them forever.
And as they wrapped things up and started making their way back to the car, I clapped my hands in admiration.
Perhaps doing so was obnoxious.
Perhaps I should have just appreciated being a silent witness.
But I was so caught up in the moment—so incredibly moved—that my hands came together before my conscious mind caught on.
And I’m sincerely grateful they did because what happened next inspired the words you’re reading now.
The elderly couple slowly walked over to me with smiles on their faces.
“Thank you for the applause,” the woman chuckled.
“Thank YOU,” I immediately replied.
“You two dancing gives me hope.”
They both smiled even wider as they looked at me.
“Us dancing gives me hope too,” the woman said as she grabbed the man’s hand.
“But what you probably don’t realize is that you just witnessed the power and beauty of second and third chances.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“My college sweetheart—my husband of 20 years—lost his life to cancer on my 40th birthday,” she explained.
“And then my husband of 6 years died in a car accident when I was 52.”
As my mouth hung open, we all shared a quick moment of silence.
Then the man put his arm around her and said, “And I lost my wife of 33 years when I was 54.
So what you see here before you—these dancing partners—this incredible love—this marriage of only 3 years between two kindred souls in their late 60’s . . . all of this is what happens when you give yourself a second and third chance.”
Finding Peace Through Painful Experiences
I’ve spent the rest of the day thinking about that beautiful couple, about second and third chances, and about how human beings find the motivation to keep going . . . to keep loving . . . to keep living, despite the pain and grief and hopelessness we all inevitably experience along the way.
And this topic hits close to home too.
About a decade ago, in a relatively short time frame, Angel and I dealt with several significant, unexpected losses and life changes, back-to-back:
- Losing a sibling to suicide
- Losing a mutual best friend to cardiac arrest
- Financial unrest and loss of livelihood following a breadwinning job loss
- Breaking ties with a loved one who repeatedly betrayed us
- Family business failure (and reinvention)
Those experiences were brutal.
And enduring them in quick succession knocked us down and off course for a period of time.
For example, when Angel’s brother passed, facing this reality while supporting her grieving family was incredibly painful at times.
There were moments when we shut the world out and avoided our loved ones who were grieving alongside us.
We didn’t want to deal with the pain, so we coped by running away, by finding ways to numb ourselves with alcohol and unhealthy distractions. And consequently, we grew physically ill while the pain continued to fester inside us.
We felt terrible, for far too long.
And getting to the right state of mind—one that actually allowed us to physically and emotionally move forward again—required diligent practice.
Because you better believe our minds were buried deep in the gutter.
We had to learn to consciously free our minds, so we could think straight and open ourselves to the next step.
We learned that when you face struggles with an attitude of openness—open to the painful feelings and emotions you have—it’s not comfortable, but you can still be fine and you can still step forward.
Openness means you don’t instantly decide that you know this is only going to be a horrible experience—it means you admit that you don’t really know what the next step will be like, and you’d like to understand the whole truth of the matter.
It’s a learning stance, instead of one that assumes the worst.
The simplest way to initiate this mindset shift?
Proactive daily reminders…
Mantras for Finding Motivation in Hard Times
It’s all about keeping the right thoughts at the top of your mind, so they’re readily available when you need them most.
For us, that meant sitting down quietly with ourselves every morning (and on evenings sometimes too) and reflecting on precisely what we needed to remember.
We used short written reminders (now excerpts from our books) like the ones below to do just that. Sometimes we’d call them mantras, or affirmations, or prayers, or convictions, but in any case, these daily reflections kept us motivated and on track by keeping grounded, peaceful, productive thoughts at the top of our minds, even when life got utterly chaotic.
We ultimately discovered that peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard realities to deal with—peace means to be in the midst of all those things while remaining calm in your head and strong in your heart.
Challenge yourself to choose one of the bolded reminders below every morning (or evening), and then sit quietly for two minutes while repeating it silently in your mind like a mantra.
See how doing so gradually changes the way you navigate life’s twists and turns and hard times.
- Never assume that you are stuck with the way things are right now. Life changes every single second, and so can you. – When hard times hit there’s a tendency to extrapolate and assume the future holds more of the same. For some strange reason, this doesn’t happen as much when things are going well. A laugh, a smile, and a warm fuzzy feeling are fleeting and we know it. We take the good times at face value in the moment for all they’re worth and then we let them go. But when we’re depressed, struggling, or fearful, it’s easy to heap on more pain by assuming tomorrow will be exactly like today. This is a cyclical, self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don’t allow yourself to move past what happened, what was said, what was felt, you will look at your future through that same dirty lens, and nothing will be able to focus your foggy judgment. You will keep on justifying, reliving, and fueling a perception that is worn out and false.
- It is what it is. Accept it, learn from it, and grow from it. It doesn’t matter what’s been done; what truly matters is what you do from here. – Realize that most people make themselves miserable simply by finding it impossible to accept life just as it is presenting itself right now. Don’t be one of them. Let go of your fantasies. This letting go doesn’t mean you don’t care about something or someone anymore. Love who you want, be proud. It’s just realizing that the only thing you really have control over is yourself in this moment. Oftentimes letting go is simply changing the labels you place on a situation—it’s looking at the same situation with fresh eyes and an open mind, and then taking the next step.
- Use pain, frustration and inconvenience to motivate you rather than annoy you. You are in control of the way you look at life. – Instead of getting angry, find the lesson. In place of envy, feel admiration. In place of worry, take action. In place of doubt, have faith. Again, your response is always more powerful than your circumstance. A tiny part of your life is decided by completely uncontrollable circumstances, while the vast majority of your life is decided by your responses. Where you ultimately end up is heavily dependent on how you play the hands you’ve been dealt.
- The most effective way to move away from something you don’t want is to move toward something you do want, gradually and consistently. – The key is in building small daily rituals, and understanding that what you do in small steps on a daily basis changes everything over time. This concept might seem obvious, but when hard times hit we tend to yearn for instant gratification. We want things to get better, and we want it better now! And this yearning often tricks us into biting off more than we can chew. Angel and I have seen this transpire hundreds of times over the years—a course student wants to achieve a new milestone as fast as possible, and can’t choose just one or two small daily habits to focus on, so nothing worthwhile ever gets done. Let this be your reminder. Remind yourself that you can’t lift a thousand pounds all at once, yet you can easily lift one pound a thousand times. Small, repeated, incremental efforts will get you there. (Angel and I build small, life-changing rituals with our students in the “Goals & Growth” module of the Getting Back to Happy Course.)
- The effort is never wasted, even when it leads to disappointing results. For it always makes you stronger, more educated, and more experienced. – So when the going gets tough, be patient and keep going. Just because you are struggling does not mean you are failing. Every great success requires some kind of struggle to get there. Again, it happens one day at a time, one step at a time. And the next step is always worth taking. Seriously, no matter what happens, no matter how far you seem to be away from where you want to be, never stop believing that you will make it. Have an unrelenting belief that things will work out, that the long road has a purpose, that the things you desire may not happen today, but they will happen. Practice patience. And remember that patience is not about waiting—it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working diligently to make daily progress.
- Don’t lower your standards, but do remember that removing your expectations of others is the best way to avoid being derailed by them. – As you strive to make progress, you will inevitably encounter roadblocks in the form of difficult people. But realize that the greatest stress you go through when dealing with a difficult person is not fueled by the words or actions of this person—it is fueled by your mind that gives their words and actions importance. Inner peace and harmony begins the moment you take a deep breath and choose not to allow outside influences to dominate your thoughts, emotions, and actions. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of our “1,000 Little Things” book.)
- As you age, you’ll learn to value your time, genuine relationships, meaningful work, and peace of mind, much more. Little else will matter. – Remember this, especially when the going gets chaotic and tough. Focus on what matters in each moment and let go of what does not. Eliminate needless distractions. Realize that too often we focus our worried minds on how to do things quickly, when the vast majority of things we do quickly should not be done at all. We end up rushing out on another shopping trip, or hastily dressing ourselves up to impress, just to feel better. But these quick fixes don’t work. Stop investing so much of your energy into refining the wrong areas of your life. Ten years from now it won’t really matter what shoes you wore today, how your hair looked, or what brand of clothes you wore. What will matter is how you lived, how you loved, and what you learned along the way.
Afterthoughts… On Deep Loss & Renewal
Before we go I want to briefly address the biggest elephant in the room.
That elephant is losing someone you love.
The elderly couple in the opening story lived through this kind of loss.
Angel and I have lived through this kind of loss. We have many men we know who died to young, in war, in health, even in suicide rom lack of love and belonging.
And although there are no words to make it easier, I want those who are presently coping with this kind of loss to know that the journey forward is worth it.
The end is always the beginning.
There’s more beauty—a different kind of beauty—ahead.
You see, death is an ending, which is a necessary part of living.
And even though endings like these often seem ugly, they are necessary for beauty too—otherwise, it’s impossible to appreciate someone or something, because they are unlimited.
Limits illuminate beauty, and death is the definitive limit—a reminder that we need to be aware of this beautiful person, and appreciate this beautiful thing called life.
Death is also a beginning, because while we have lost someone special, this ending, like the loss of any wonderful life situation, is a moment of reinvention.
Although deeply sad, their passing forces us to reinvent our lives, and in this reinvention is an opportunity to experience beauty in new, unseen ways and places.
And finally, of course, death is an opportunity to celebrate a person’s life, and to be grateful for the beauty they showed us.
That’s just a small slice of what living through deep loss has taught us.
Just a short piece of a longer story that’s still being written . . .
A story of second and third chances, renewed hope, and heartfelt dances.
And the reminders above will get you there, one day at a time.
Before you go, let me ask you a quick question:
- Which point above resonates the most with you right now?
And how might reminding yourself of it, daily, change your life?
I’m sitting here on the tenth anniversary of a dear friend’s passing, thinking about the last conversation I had with her.
With a soft, weak voice she told me her only regret was that she didn’t live every year with the same level of love, passion, and purpose she had in the final two years of her life after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
“I’ve accomplished so much recently.
And I’ve touched so many people,” she told me.
“If only I had listened to the good advice of my elders—if only I had known—I would have started sooner.
I wouldn’t have wasted so much time on drama and distractions that don’t matter.”
My friend’s words were hard to hear in that moment, for many reasons.
And although her sentiments—her lessons—were concepts I had listened to others say a hundred times before, I had never truly heard them until that moment.
My heart broke wide open for her, and for me.
It was downright painful to see the glimmers of regret in her eyes, and then to realize that I too had wasted time … that I too had let so much good, common-sense advice go in one ear and out the next.
For a decade now, I’ve lived with my late friend’s words echoing in the back of my mind.
I’ve let them guide me through thick and thin.
And I’ve also committed myself to hear more good, hard advice, and living by it.
The list below is a highlight of that advice—some hard things I remind myself of often … some hard things we all need to hear sometimes.
- When you hear only what you want to hear, you’re not really listening. Listen to what you don’t want to hear too. That’s how you grow.
- Fantasizing about other times and places can be dangerous. Don’t cling so tightly to the past, or dream so fervently about the future, that you miss out on the real value and beauty that is here and now. Don’t live entirely in your head. Don’t miss your life!
- You often waste your time waiting for the ideal path to appear. But it never does. Because you forget that paths are made by walking, not waiting.
- You will never feel as confident as you want to feel. Stop believing that you should feel more confident before you take the next step. Taking the next step is what builds your confidence.
- Distractions will get the best of you if you let them. Study your routines, figure out where your time goes, and remove distractions. You become a true master of your life when you learn how to master your focus—where your attention goes.
- There’s a big difference between empty fatigue and gratifying exhaustion. Know the difference. Life is too short. Invest in the activities (and relationships) you deeply care about. Value what you give your energy to. Focus on what matters and let go of what does not.
- Self-neglect is super common. Realize this! Your needs matter. Do NOT ignore them. At times you have to do what’s best for you and your life, not just what’s best for everyone else. There’s absolutely nothing selfish about self-care and self-love. We can’t give what we don’t have. Enrich your life and you’ll be life-giving to others, too.
- You don’t give yourself enough credit sometimes. Remember that time you thought you couldn’t make it through? You did, and you’ll do it again. Don’t let your challenges get the best of you. Appreciate how far you’ve come. You’ve been through a lot, but you’ve grown a lot too. Give yourself credit for your resilience.
- Your response is always more powerful than your circumstance. A tiny part of your life is decided by completely uncontrollable circumstances, while the vast majority of your life is decided by your responses. Where you ultimately end up is heavily dependent on how you play the hands you’ve been dealt.
- Everything gets a bit uncomfortable when it’s time to change. That’s just a part of the growth process. Things will get better. Be patient.
- Patience is not about waiting. Patience is the ability to keep a positive, focused attitude while working hard to move your life forward.
- New, good habits don’t form overnight. It takes roughly 66 days to form a habit. So for the next nine weeks, look at the bright side of your life, and you will rewire your brain. Then apply this same principle to other areas of your life. (Marc and I build small, life-changing habits with our students in the “Goals & Growth” module of the Getting Back to Happy Course.)
- Mental strength is incredibly important and easily overlooked. Go to environments that expand your mind. Spend time with people who truly inspire you. Read books. Learn. Grow. Get better. Your life is your choice.
- Old patterns are hard to break. Be aware. Act consciously and consistently. Don’t fall back into your old patterns. Toxic habits and behaviors always try to sneak back in when you’re doing better. Stay focused.
- Sometimes it’s better to let go without closure. Actions and behavior speak volumes. Trust the signs you were given and gracefully press on.
- If you always play the victim, you will always be treated like one. Life isn’t fair. But you don’t have to let the past define your future. Try to take life day by day and be grateful for the little things. Don’t get caught up in what you can’t control.
- Life doesn’t always give you the circumstances you want. Life gives you the circumstances you need … to learn, to grow, and to fall in love.
- When you really pay attention, everyone and everything is your teacher. Take time to observe and listen. Take time to learn something new.
- No one wins at chess by only moving forward. Sometimes you have to move backward to put yourself in a position to win. This is a perfect metaphor for life.
- Your hardest challenges will teach you your best lessons. There is an opportunity in every difficult situation to understand yourself more deeply, and also to improve your life. Take one small step at a time.
- The vast majority of your stress is self-inflicted. And the most powerful weapon you have against stress is your ability to choose one thought over another. Learn to manage your thoughts, before your thoughts manage you.
- Your mind will forever produce negative thoughts. So the goal isn’t to get rid of all your negative thoughts. That’s impossible. The goal is to change your response to them. In fact, the strongest sign of your inner growth is realizing you’re no longer worried, stressed or pained by the things that once used to drain you.
- Calmness is a superpower. The ability to not overreact or take things personally keeps your mind clear and your heart at peace. Once you begin to value your inner peace over your need to react and be right, you will in fact experience more inner peace, and happiness.
- You are holding on to things that hold you back. When things aren’t adding up in your life, begin subtracting. Life gets a lot simpler when you clear the clutter that makes it complicated. Not everything and everyone you lose is a loss.
- “Busy” is mostly just an excuse. In a world with so much noise and clutter, you must make room to hear yourself and others. Embrace silence and space. Breathe and listen. Be where you are. You’re where you’re supposed to be at this very moment. Every step and experience is necessary and can be enhanced with your presence.
- You ignore your inner voice too often. Give yourself the space to listen to your own voice—your own soul. Too many of us listen to the noise of the world and get lost in the crowd.
- You often seek validation from the wrong sources. You will never find your worth in another human being—you will find it in yourself, and then you will attract those who are worthy of your energy. So stop waiting for others to tell you how impressive you are. Impress yourself. Show yourself that you can grow and get better. It’s never about competing with others. In the end, it’s just you vs. you.
- Popularity is irrelevant. Forget popularity. Just do your thing with passion, humility, and honesty. Do what you do, not for applause, but because it’s what’s right. Many of the kindest gestures you’ll ever make, and the most important things you’ll ever do will never be seen publicly. Do them anyway.
- You have been impressed with some people for the wrong reasons. Be less impressed by money, titles, degrees, and looks. Be more impressed by generosity, integrity, humility, and kindness.
- People will not always tell you how they feel about you. But they will always show you. Pay close attention.
- Your expectations of others cause you unnecessary pain. Don’t lower your standards, but do remember that removing your expectations of others is the best way to avoid being disappointed by them.
- You will end up heartbroken if you expect people will always do for you as you do for them. Not everyone has the same heart as you.
- Life is too short to argue and fight. Remember to be selective in your battles. Peace can feel better than being right. You don’t need to attend every argument you’re invited to. Count your blessings, value the people who matter, and move on from the drama with your head held high.
- You will gradually attract people that think and behave like you. If you want to be surrounded by positive people, you need to be positive too. And the opposite is also true. So do your best to surround yourself with people who push you to be your best. Less drama—less mess. Just higher vibrations and intentions.
- You need to learn to be more human again (we all do). Don’t avoid eye contact. Don’t hide behind gadgets. Smile today. Ask about people’s stories. Listen. (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of our “1,000 Little Things” book.)
- Sometimes you subconsciously dehumanize people you disagree with. Be careful. In our self-righteousness, we can easily become the very things we dislike in others. Ultimately, the way we treat people we disagree with is a report card on what we’ve learned about love and compassion. Every single person you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something. Know this. Respect this. And be extra kind.
- “Bad” people can change for the better. If somebody is working on themselves and changing for the better, it’s unnecessary to keep bringing up their past. People can change and grow.
- Forgiveness is necessary for personal peace. Forgive others, not because they absolutely deserve forgiveness, but because you absolutely deserve peace. Free yourself of the burden of being an eternal victim.
- Life will take things from you, and give things to you, gradually and continuously. It’s funny how we outgrow what we once thought we couldn’t live without, and then we fall in love with what we didn’t even know we wanted. Do your best to embrace life’s uncertainties. Some of the best chapters in your life won’t have a title you feel fully comfortable with until later.
- Everything you have right now is in the process of changing again. Look around, and be thankful for your life right now. For your health, your family, your friends, and your home. Nothing lasts forever.
Before you go, let me ask you a quick question:
- Which point above resonates the most with you right now?
And how might reminding yourself of it, daily, change your life?
self-indulgently sorry for yourself
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