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In a culture that seeks quick results, we must learn the beauty of effort, patience, and perseverance.
Have you ever told yourself that you’re going to make something happen and then nothing happened? All details aside, it’s because you didn’t have the right habits in place—the little things you do every day that build up to something bigger.
Habits define you. All the results in your life come from your daily habits.
If you’re out of shape and overweight, you have different habits than someone who’s physically fit. If you’re fit, you jump out of bed early every morning and sweat before preparing a healthy breakfast. If you’re out of shape, you sleep in and eat whatever is fastest and easiest.
This may be a bit of a generalization, but it’s not far from the truth for the average able-bodied person.
In all walks of life, you don’t become an overnight success. You become successful over time from all the little things you do one day at a time.
Failure occurs in the same way. All your little daily failures (that you don’t learn and grow from) come together and cause you to fail…
- You fail to check the books.
- You fail to make the calls.
- You fail to listen to your customers.
- You fail to innovate.
- You fail to do what must be done.
And then one day you wake up and your business has failed. It was all the little things you did or didn’t do along the way—your daily habits—not just one catastrophic event.
Let this be your wake-up call.
YOUR LIFE IS YOUR BUSINESS!
YOUR HABITS ARE YOUR BUSINESS!
So today, let’s discuss some super-common habits Marc and I have seen plaguing thousands of our course students and Think Better, Live Better live event attendees over the past decade—little things too many people do every day to gradually wreck their own lives:
1. Change nothing and expect different results.
There’s a saying that the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Take this to heart. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. Period.
Oftentimes the only difference between a successful person and a person who makes little progress is not one’s superior abilities, but the courage that one has to bet on one’s ideas, to take calculated risks, and to take steady steps forward. In other words, some people sit and wait for the magic beans to arrive while the rest of us just get up and get to work.
2. Keep waiting and waiting and waiting for the right time.
Remind yourself of how often we waste our time waiting for the ideal path to appear. Then remind yourself of how often it never appears. Seriously, we forget that paths are made by walking, not waiting.
So think of today as the beginning—the conception of a new life. The next nine months are all yours. You can do with them as you please. Make them count. Because a new person is born in nine months. The only question is: Who do you want that person to be? Now is the right time to decide.
And no, you shouldn’t feel more confident before you take the next step. Taking the next step is what builds your confidence and fuels your inner and outer growth.
3. Expect good things to come easy.
A goal is a point of achievement that requires effort and sacrifice. There are no esteemed ventures worth participating in that don’t require some level of effort and sacrifice. Trust me, decades from now when you’re resting on your deathbed, you will not remember the days that were easy, you will cherish the moments when you rose above your difficulties and conquered challenges of magnitude. You will dream of the strength you found within yourself that allowed you to achieve what once seemed impossible.
So don’t do what’s easy, do what you’re capable of. Astound yourself with your own abilities. And as you struggle forward, remember, it is far better to be exhausted from lots of effort and learning than to be tired of doing nothing. Effort is never wasted, even when it leads to disappointing results. For it always makes you stronger and more experienced in the long run.
4. Refuse to accept necessary risks.
Living is about learning as you go. Living is risky business. Every decision, every interaction, every step, every time you get out of bed in the morning, you take a small risk. To truly live is to know you’re getting up and taking that risk, and to trust yourself to take it. To not get out of bed, clutching to illusions of safety, is to die slowly without ever having truly lived. This isn’t drama—it’s real life.
Think about it. If you ignore your instincts and let shallow feelings of uncertainty stop you, you will never know anything for sure, and in many ways this un-knowing will be worse than finding out your instincts were wrong. Because if you were wrong, you could make adjustments and carry on with your life, without looking back and wondering what might have been.
5. Make the rejections of yesterday the focal point of today.
Be okay with walking away when the time comes. Rejection teaches us how to reject what’s not right for our well-being. It won’t be easy, but some chapters in our lives have to close without closure. There’s no point in losing yourself by trying to fix what’s meant to stay broken.
All too often we let the rejections of our past dictate every move we make thereafter. We literally do not know ourselves to be any better than what some opinionated person or narrow circumstance once told us was true.
Of course, this old rejection doesn’t mean we aren’t good enough; it means the other person or circumstance failed to align with what we have to offer. It means we have more time to improve our thing—to build upon our ideas, to perfect our craft, and indulge deeper in to the work that moves us. And that’s exactly what you need to do, starting now.
6. Refuse to take responsibility.
You aren’t responsible for everything that happened to you, but you need to be responsible for undoing the thinking and behavioral patterns these outcomes created. Blaming the past for a limiting mindset today doesn’t fix it. Change your response to what you remember, and step forward again with grace.
A combination of your decisions and external factors for which you had no control brought you to where you are in the world today. Negatively blaming someone else, or some other past circumstance, will change nothing. Positively taking full responsibility for your situation and your path forward can change everything. Leave the unchangeable past behind you as you diligently give yourself to the present moment. In this moment is every possibility you seek. Take responsibility for it, and bring these possibilities to life.
7. Close your mind to new ideas and perspectives.
Even as you grow wiser and wiser with age you must remind yourself that an understanding is never absolutely final. What’s currently right could easily be wrong later. Thus, the most destructive illusion is a settled point of view. So, remember that success in life does not depend on always being right. To make real progress you must let go of the assumption that you already have all the answers.
Bottom line: Don’t stop learning. Don’t stop investing in yourself. Study. Read. Devour books. Engage with people, including those who think differently. Ask questions. Listen closely. And don’t just grow in knowledge. Be a person who gives back. Use what you’re learning to make a difference.
8. Let a few negative people fill your mind with garbage.
Your mind is your private sanctuary; do not allow the negative beliefs of others to occupy it. Your skin is your barrier; do not allow others to get under it. Take good care of your personal boundaries and what you allow yourself to absorb from others.
Of course, there will inevitably be a few people in your life who will be critical of you regardless of what you do or how well you do it. If you say you want to be a dancer, they will discredit your rhythm. If you say you want to build a new business, they will give you a dozen reasons why it might not work. They somehow assume you don’t have what it takes, but they are dead wrong. Let that sink in.
It’s a lot easier to be negative than positive—a lot easier to be critical than correct. When you’re embarking on a new venture, instead of listening to the few critics that will try to discredit you, spend time talking to one of the thousands of people in this world who are willing to support your efforts and acknowledge your potential, respectfully. And go ahead and leave us a comment on this post if you think you can’t find one.
9. Hold tight to something that’s not real.
One of the most important moments in life is the moment you finally find the courage to let go of what can’t be changed. Because, when you are no longer able to change a situation, you are challenged to change yourself—to grow beyond the unchangable. And that changes everything.
Seriously, remind yourself right now that not everything is meant to be. You have to seriously sit down with yourself and come to grips with the fact that you were wrong about it all along. It was just an illusion that never really was what you thought it was. It’s one of the most difficult realizations to accept, to realize that you feel a sense of loss, even though you never really had what you thought you had in the first place. The key is knowing this, learning from it, letting go, and taking the next step. (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Adversity” chapter of the NEW edition of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
10. Maintain rigid expectations every step of the way.
Simple things become complicated when you expect too much. Expectation truly is the root of all heartache. Don’t let it get the best of you. Every difficult life situation can be an excuse for hopelessness or an opportunity for personal growth, depending on what you choose to do with it. So start by choosing to let go of the ideas and expectations that aren’t serving you.
Remember that there’s no such thing as a perfect life. There’s just this moment you’re living through and what you choose to do with it. You can be disappointed in this moment and do nothing, or you can practice being satisfied with the opportunity to make the very best of it.
Closing Exercise: Build Better Habits
Choose any area in your life that you want to improve, and then:
- Write down the specific details about your current circumstances. (What’s bothering you? What’s wrong? What do you want to change?)
- Write down your answer to this question: What are the daily habits that have contributed to your current circumstances? (Be honest with yourself. What are you doing that contributes to the situation you’re in?)
- Write down the specific details about your ideal circumstances. (What would make you happy? What does your ideal situation look like?)
- Write down your answer to this question: What are the daily habits that will get you from where you are to where you want to be? (Think about it. What small, daily steps will help you move forward?)
Glad To Be Alive The Path To Adulthood – Healing The Pain Becoming The Adult Overcoming Loneliness – Part Two How To Overcome Loneliness How We End Up In Misery How To Deal With Loneliness Emotional Abuse Test Emotional Health – What Millions Still Don’t Know Emotional Insecurity Help You Have Emotion You Have Beliefs You Have Choice You Are Enough You Are Loved You Have A Heart
EMOTIONAL HEALTH –
EMOTIONAL HEALING –
A fusion of thought and feeling that expands your consciousness.
“May you actually live every day of your life.”
— Jonathan Swift
I recently received an email from a young “Think Better, Live Better 2020” digital ticket attendee named Kaarina that nearly brought me to tears. And after exchanging a few heartfelt replies back and forth with her, she graciously gave me permission to share the opening lines of her initial email:
“I’m dying of cancer (Lymphoma) at age 21. I was sent home from the hospital for my final weeks over 32 weeks ago. But now I’m back at the hospital being treated again, because my doctors believe there is renewed hope.”
Right now it seems a miracle is taking place in Kaarina’s life. I pray this miracle continues to transpire. And I’m also grateful for the reminder Kaarina has given me. Our lives are fleeting, and the best day to fight for the right to live is today — by taking small, positive steps forward on a purposeful path.
Truth be told, everything you want to do takes daily practice. Whether it means learning to dance by practicing dancing or learning to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each case, it’s about dedicating yourself to a precise set of daily acts, both mental and physical, that drive a sense of achievement, meaning, and satisfaction of the inner spirit. You become, in some way, an athlete of Life itself. Because you practice, over and over again, in the face of all obstacles, and you grow stronger and more capable with each action you take.
“Notes to Self” for Making Today Count
As Mae West so profoundly said, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” Remind yourself to not take today for granted. Remind yourself to live well — to make this day count! How? There are so many little things you can do that are unique to your specific life situation, but here are some general guiding principles — or “Notes to Self” — that I discussed with Kaarina in our recent email exchange. I’m hoping this short list gives you something positive to work on…
1. Keep your mind open to new possibilities and experiences.
As they say, a ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for. Accepting some level of risk in life is important. You cannot be both close-minded and moving forward. You have to open up to the unknown. You have to keep an open mind.
Close-minded people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it’s the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Cynicism is a self-imposed blindness — a rejection of the world that occurs when we are afraid it will hurt us or let us down. Cynics always resist life’s possibilities. Do the opposite today.
Remind yourself that life leads us on many journeys we would never go on if it were up to us. And oftentimes what we never wanted or expected turns out to be what we need. So, don’t be afraid. Have faith. Find the lessons today. Trust the journey, even when you do not understand it, yet.
2. Put your whole heart and soul into this day.
Learn to believe in your heart that you’re meant to live each moment full of passion and purpose — that each and every moment is worthy in its own way. Consider this excerpt from our New York Times bestselling book, Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs:
Passion is not something you find in life; it’s something you do.
When you want to find the passion and inner strength needed to change your situation, you have to force yourself to step forward.
Many of us are still hopelessly trying to “find our passion” — something we believe will ultimately lead us closer to happiness, success, or the life situation we ultimately want. And we say “hopelessly” primarily because passion can’t really be found. When we say we’re trying to find our passion, it implies that our passion is somehow hiding behind a tree or under a rock somewhere. But that’s far from the truth. The truth is, our passion comes from doing things right. If you’re waiting to somehow “find your passion” somewhere outside yourself, so you finally have a reason to put your whole heart and soul into your life and the changes you need to make, you’ll likely be waiting around for an eternity.
On the other hand, if you’re tired of waiting, and you’d rather live more passionately starting today and experience small positive changes, it’s time to proactively inject passion into the very next thing you do. Think about it:
- When was the last time you sat down and had a conversation with someone nearby, with zero distractions and 100 percent focus?
- When was the last time you exercised and put every bit of effort you could muster into it?
- When was the last time you truly tried — truly tried — to do your very best?
Like most of us, you’re likely putting a halfhearted effort into most of the things you do on a daily basis. Because you’re still waiting. You’re still waiting to “find” something to be passionate about — some magical reason to step into the life you want to create for yourself. But you need to do the exact opposite!
3. Love, respect, and care for yourself.
Remind yourself that you don’t need anyone else to complete you. There’s far more to life than finding someone who will want you, or getting upset over someone who won’t. There’s a lot of important time to be spent discovering yourself without begging someone to fall in love with you along the way, and this journey doesn’t need to be empty or painful.
YOU need to fill yourself up with love, respect, and care — self-love, self-respect, and self-care — every single day.
Self-respect will help you prioritize yourself. Self-care will help you take care of your entire life. And self–love will help you attract more things worth loving and investing in. Everything you want out starts inside. Every trying situation contains an opportunity for deeper self-reflection and learning.
Every irritant, heartbreak, frustration, disappointment, fearful moment and sadness is a teacher.
Remember, nothing is as bad as it seems. And you are strong!
So, go on a small adventure today, explore your curiosities, wander around the city and see new sights, sit in coffee shops and read, write on bathroom stalls, leave notes in library books, dress up for yourself, give to others who can’t pay you back, smile and have fun. Do all things with love, but don’t romanticize life like you can’t survive without someone giving it to you every second. You can. And once you give it to yourself, you will feel healed, and you will ultimately open yourself up to the possibility of truly healthy relationships with others, too. (Marc and I discuss this in detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
4. Give yourself another chance today, and another.
Sometimes you have to die a little on the inside in order to rise from your own ashes and believe in yourself again. Call it growth. Call it finding yourself. Call it whatever you want. The key is to live moment to moment when times are tough, and push forward, until moments become minutes… minutes become hours… hours become days… days become weeks… weeks turn to months… time again has meaning, and life itself becomes a reason to smile.
The process is almost like learning to walk or speak for the very first time. It isn’t easy, but in the process we grow and we find ourselves, stronger, wiser, and possessing talents we didn’t know we had. When we refuse to give up on ourselves, the toughest of times can lead us to the best.
Remember that when everything is broken, it’s easy to find plenty of little things you can fix.
When nothing seems to be going right, even the most fundamental positive effort can make a significant difference.
Times of great adversity are also times of great opportunity.
When there are problems in every direction, there is also great value waiting to be created.
When everything is going well, it’s easy to get lulled into a routine of complacency.
It’s easy to forget how incredibly capable and resourceful you can be.
Resolve to persevere by making tiny fixes today. It’s these little tweaks that take you from where you are to where you want to be in the long run, one day at a time.
Think a little less about managing your problems and a little more about managing your mindset.
Mental strength is built through small, daily victories. It’s the individual choices we make daily that build our “mental strength” muscles. We all want this kind of strength, but we can’t wish our way to it. If you want it, you have to do something about it.
It’s time to embrace the fact that the happiness of your life depends on the quality of your daily decisions.
It’s time to challenge yourself to change the way you respond to life…
- When a new day begins, challenge yourself to smile genuinely and gratefully.
- When you don’t get what you want, challenge yourself to appreciate that there are lots of people in this world who will never have what you have right now.
- When holding on no longer seems reasonable, challenge yourself to appreciate the fact that nothing in life is permanent, and to realize that once you embrace this you can do almost anything you wish because you’re not trying to hold onto anything anymore.
- When you catch yourself thinking the grass is greener elsewhere, challenge yourself to water the grass you’re standing on.
- When you absolutely can’t control what’s happening to you, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening—in your response is your power.
- When it seems like problems are stacking up, challenge yourself to face these problems positively.
- When there seems to be little hope, challenge yourself to find some.
- When the road ahead seems too rough, challenge yourself to acknowledge that there’s absolutely nothing about your present circumstances that prevents you from making progress, one small step at a time.
- When you catch yourself overthinking things, challenge yourself to take a step forward instead.
- When you are completely uncertain about what the future will bring, challenge yourself to make the best and most positive use of the present.
- When you have two good choices, challenge yourself to go with the one that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.
- When you are going to do something—anything at all—challenge yourself to do it with enthusiasm and devotion.
- When others say your ideas are crazy, challenge yourself to do what feels right anyway, to not care if your goals seem crazy to others, and to remember that the crazy ideas are the ones that often have the greatest impact.
- When there are lots of excuses for why you can’t get it done, challenge yourself to focus on all the reasons why you must make it happen.
- When you find yourself wishing for instant gratification, challenge yourself to admit that if you could have it all instantly, it would not be worth having – for the real value of accomplishment is in the accomplishing.
- When mistakes are made, challenge yourself to learn from them, laugh about them, and waste not a minute on past outcomes you can’t control.
- When you find yourself trying to control too much, and thus enjoying too little, challenge yourself to let go, relax, take a deep breath and appreciate “what is” for a while. (Read Loving What Is.)
- When there is needless drama and negativity surrounding you, challenge yourself to look the other way.
- When your own negativity tries to break through, challenge yourself to recall that you are in control of the way you look at life, and then use your struggles and frustrations to motivate yourself rather than annoy yourself.
- When you find yourself running in place attempting to fix and fight the old, challenge yourself to build and grow something new instead.
- When doing the wrong things is easier, challenge yourself to do the right thing, even if no one else will ever know—because YOU will know.
- When you catch yourself praying for an easy life, challenge yourself to pray for the strength to endure a difficult one that’s worth living.
- When everything seems jumbled and rushed, challenge yourself to take a step back so you can see things clearly again.
- When you meet someone new, challenge yourself to be patient with them, to pay attention to them, and to remember that everyone you meet has something important to teach you.
- When you don’t like someone, challenge yourself to identify an insecurity within yourself that they are triggering.
- When someone treats you poorly, challenge yourself to treat them with kindness and respect anyway – not because they are nice, but because you are (and then walk the other way if you must).
- When a negative situation gets emotional, take a deep breath, and challenge yourself to remember that inner peace begins the moment you decide not to let another person or event control your emotions.
- When someone you meet is lost, challenge yourself to help them find their way.
- When a friend falls down, challenge yourself to be the first to extend a hand.
- When each day has ended, challenge yourself to appreciate that you have done your very best. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of the NEW edition of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
Will you embrace these challenges in the days ahead?
Which one resonates the most right now?
If you don’t allow yourself to move past what happened, what was said, what was felt, you will look at your present and future through that same dirty lens.
You can never change things by holding on to the existing reality. To get ahead in life, you have to leave some things behind and build a new model for living that makes the existing model obsolete.
You must make a firm decision that you’re going to make a change too. It won’t always happen naturally or automatically. Sometimes you will have to rise up against the wind and say, “I don’t care how hard this is! I don’t care how disappointed I am! I’m not going to let this get the best of me! I’m leaving this behind and moving forward with my life!”
Starting today, it’s time to leave behind…
1. The idea of what could have been (or what should have happened, but didn’t).
Before you can truly live today a part of you has to die first. You must completely let go of what could have been, how you should have behaved and what you wish you would have done differently. You must accept the fact that you can’t change your past experiences, the opinions others once had of you, or the immediate outcomes from their choices or yours.
When you embrace the present truth then you will begin to understand and feel the true power of forgiveness as it relates to others and yourself. From this new awareness you will be free to take the next best step forward.
2. The idea that making another excuse makes sense.
There is always a lie embedded between a promise you made to yourself and the excuses for why you haven’t followed through. To rush into explanations of any kind is always a sign of weakness.
Stand strong! Life is a continuous exercise in creative problem solving. A mistake or a delay doesn’t become a failure until you refuse to correct it. Thus, most long-term failures are simply the outcomes from people who make continuous excuses instead of decisions, even though they know better. Don’t be one of them.
Decide to do what you have to do, for yourself. Trust me, in a year from now, you will wish you had started today. (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Goals and Success” chapter of the NEW edition of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
3. The idea that you must shrink to be in some relationships.
You have to admit, to a certain extent, you have spent too much of your life trying to shrink yourself. Trying to bend in half. Trying to become smaller. Quieter. Less sensitive. Less opinionated. Less YOU. Because you didn’t want to be too much or push people away. You wanted to fit in. You wanted people to like you. You wanted to make a good impression. You wanted to be wanted.
So for years, you sacrificed yourself for the sake of making other people happy. And for years, you suffered. Let this be your wake-up call…
The primary reason that a toxic relationship situation holds you back has little to do with what the other person does directly to you; instead, it’s about how you have to constantly shrink yourself to conform to the situation. The pain and toxicity festers when you choose to shrink.
When you choose to pull back, say less, or restrain your magnificence in any way out of fear, out of logic, or out of the cleverness to survive in a relationship, this spells trouble.
So it’s not about them, really, it’s about your response to them.
The next opportunity you have to spend time with this person (no matter how necessary, obligatory or comfortable it may seem), ask yourself:
Will I have to shrink to make this work, or is this a situation where I can grow?
Call on your courage and logic when you answer this question. And give yourself some space if that’s what you need to grow.
4. The idea that it’s too late to come clean and be completely honest.
There are absolutely no guarantees when you finally come clean and practice honesty with people. Sometimes you lose what you once had. Sometimes you don’t win love and trust back. Sometimes your mistakes cut ties. Sometimes you break your own heart in the process.
Sometimes you lose your footing and your way. Sometimes you end up feeling worse off than you did before. But even a step or two backward, after making a wrong turn, is a step in the right direction. You walk away from every act of honesty with a heart free from lies and regret. You have closure, one way or the other, and this helps you in the long run.
Over time, you heal and find yourself living a life that’s far from the mental torture chamber you once lived in. This path to freedom and happiness is the scariest one you will ever navigate. However, it is the path that ultimately saves your life. (Read Loving What Is.)
5. The idea that you have to be perfectly OK all the time.
Even if it’s true that you’re growing and healing, and that it will be OK… it’s not always OK right now, and sometimes that’s all we can see and feel when we’re in the midst of a difficult life event. Sometimes NOT being OK is all we can register inside our tired minds and aching hearts. This feeling is normal. This emotion is human.
The truth is, it’s not OK when someone you love is no longer living and breathing and giving their gifts to the world. It’s not OK when everything falls apart and you’re buried deep in the debris of a life you had planned for. It’s not OK when the bank accounts are nearly at zero, with no sign of a promising income opportunity. It’s not OK when someone you trust betrays you and breaks your heart. It’s not OK when you’re exhausted to the point you can’t get yourself out of bed in the morning. It’s not okay when you’re swimming in failure or shame or a grief like you’ve never known.
Whatever your challenges are, sometimes it’s simply NOT OK right now. And that, above all, is more than OK.
Yes, be OK with not being OK all the time. Those with the strength to succeed in the long run are the ones who lay a firm foundation of growth with the bricks that life has thrown at them. Don’t be afraid to fall apart for a little while, because when it happens, the situation will open an opportunity for you to grow and rebuild yourself into the brilliant human being you are capable of being.
What would you add to the list?
What, specifically, do you know YOU need to leave behind to get ahead in life?