It’s a dull, subdued sensation when your heart is breaking,
like the muffled sound of a distant gunshot. It doesn’t physically pierce your
skin or tear you to pieces, but the sensation is physically present – the
paralyzing discomfort of realizing that something you took for granted is
leaving for good.
Although it’s hard to accept at first, this is actually a
good sign, having a broken heart. It means you have loved something, you have
tried for something, and you have let life teach you.
Life will attempt to break you down sometimes; nothing and no
one can completely protect you from this reality. Remaining alone and hiding
from the world won’t either, for endless, stagnant solitude will also break you
with unhealthy nostalgia and yearning.
You have to stand back up and put yourself out there again.
Your heart is stronger than you realize. I’ve been there and I’ve seen
heartbreak through to the other side. It takes time, effort and patience.
Deep heartbreak is kind of like being lost in the woods –
every direction leads to nowhere at first. When you are standing in a forest of
darkness, you cannot see any light that could ever lead you home. But if you
wait for the sun to rise again, and listen when someone assures you that they
themselves have stood in that same dark place, and have since moved forward
with their life, oftentimes this will bring the hope that’s needed.
It’s so hard to give you advice when you’ve got a broken
heart, but some words can heal, and this is my attempt to give you hope. You
are stronger than you know!
1. The person you liked or loved in the past, who treated you
like dirt repeatedly, has nothing intellectually or spiritually to offer you in
the present moment, but more headaches and heartache.
2. When you don’t get what you want, sometimes it’s necessary
preparation, and other times it’s necessary protection. But the time is never
wasted. It’s a step on your journey. Someday you’re going look back on this
time in your life as such an important time of grieving and growing. You will
see that you were in mourning and your heart was breaking, but your life was
3. Some chapters in our lives have to close without closure.
There’s no point in losing yourself by trying to hold on to what’s not meant to
stay. Remember this, and always keep two simple questions in mind: What
opportunities do I have right now? What’s one small, positive step forward I
can take today?
4. One of the hardest lessons to learn: You cannot change
other people. Every interaction, rejection and heartbreaking lesson is an
opportunity to change yourself only. And there is great freedom and piece of
mind to be found in this awareness.
5. It’s always better to be alone than to be in bad company.
And when you do decide to give someone a chance, do so because you’re truly
better off with this person. Don’t do it just for the sake of not being alone.
6. Be determined to be positive. Understand that the greater
part of your misery or unhappiness from this point forward is determined not by
your circumstances, but by your attitude.
And of course, if you’re struggling with any of this, know
that you are not alone. Many of us
are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and
get our lives back on track.
When things aren’t adding up in your life, begin subtracting.
Busyness is an illness.
Think about your own life and the lives of those close to you. Most of us have a tendency to do as much as we possibly can—cramming every waking minute with events, extravagances, tasks and obligations.
We think doing more will get us more satisfaction, success, etc. When oftentimes the exact opposite is true.
Less can be far more rewarding in the long run. But we’re so set in our ways that we can’t see this.
When we work, we shift from one task to the next quickly and continuously, or we multi-task—juggling five things at once until the end of the day… and yet we still feel like we haven’t done enough of the right stuff.
When we finally break away for some healthy exercise, we tend to push ourselves as hard as we possibly can… until we’re exhausted and sore, and less likely to want to exercise tomorrow.
When we go to a nice restaurant, we want to try all the appetizers, drinks and entrees, indulging in as much deliciousness as we possibly can… and we leave feeling bloated, sometimes uncomfortably so, and then our waistlines stretch.
When we travel to a new city, we want to see it all—every landmark and every photo op—so we do as much as physically possible… and we return home from our trip utterly exhausted.
How can we tame our urge to do too much?
Simply focus more on doing less every step of the way.
Be mindful of the urge to over-do it.
It’s taken me awhile to get the hang of it, but I’m getting there…
When I’m working, I do just one thing at a time with full focus. And when I catch myself multi-tasking or feeling overwhelmed, I’ll clear everything off my plate and make a list of just one to three key tasks I absolutely need to complete by the end of the day. And yes, sometimes this list is just one thing long, because it helps me focus on what’s truly important and not feel overwhelmed.
When I went to the gym two days ago, I had the urge to push myself to my max. I noticed this and instead decided to let that urge go. I did a solid 45-minute workout, but left some fuel in my tank. Yesterday, I went back to the gym and I put in another 45 minutes at a similar pace. This morning, I would have been happy to do the same, but I decided to take a light jog instead. My exercise regimen is sustainable, and that’s why I rarely injure myself or miss a day.
When I sit down at a nice restaurant, I don’t try to taste and eat as much as possible. Instead, I leave the table satisfied, but not bloated. I eat less than I used to. This is something I still struggle with at times, because it isn’t easy. It takes practice. The result, however, is that I feel significantly better after each meal and my waistline thanks me.
When I travel to a new city, I don’t try to do it all. I choose a few things to do, and I take my time. I then leave the city knowing that there’s plenty to see on my next visit—I leave myself wanting more of a wonderful thing.
Anyway, I hope you will join me on this journey.
Let’s do a little less… and make the less we do count for even more.
Here are five signs now is the right time to do just that:
You feel overwhelmed by all there is to do. – Remember, overcommitting is the single biggest mistake most people make that makes life stressful and overwhelming. It’s tempting to fill in every waking moment of the day with to-do list tasks, events, obligations and distractions. Don’t do this to yourself. You CANNOT do it all. You have to let some things GO!
You’re actually trying (consciously or subconsciously) to do it all. – Another major issue that keeps so many of us stuck in a debilitating cycle of busyness is the fantasy in our minds that we can be everything to everyone, everywhere at once, and a hero on all fronts. But, of course, that’s not reality. The reality is we’re not Superman or Wonder Woman—we’re human, and we have limits. We have to let go of this idea of doing everything and pleasing everyone and being everywhere at once. You’re either going to do a few things well, or do everything poorly. That’s the truth.
You have no time to appreciate the space in your day. – Your life isn’t just about the things you do—it’s also about the open space between the things. That means the space itself is something to be appreciated as well. So, for example, if you spend your morning meditating and reading, the morning isn’t just valuable because of the meditation and reading—the space around those two activities is also incredible. The time spent walking over to your meditation mat, or finding your book, or turning the pages, or pouring a cup of tea, or sitting and watching the sunrise… these little open spaces are just as important as anything else. Pace yourself so you’re not hurrying from one thing to the next, but instead noticing and appreciating the spaces in between, too.
You have lost track of your priorities. – Priorities don’t get done automatically. You have to make time for what’s important to you—time with your significant other, time with your kids, time for creating, time for learning, time for exercise, etc. Push everything else aside to make time. By saying no to more things that sound really exciting, you get to say yes to more of what’s truly important.
Your physical space is a cluttered mess. – If you don’t have enough time to keep your physical space organized, you’re doing too many of the wrong things. Period. And there’s a good chance you’re buying too many of the wrong things too. Decluttering your physical space can lead to a less cluttered mental space—needless clutter pulls on us and distracts us in more ways than we often realize. So remember, the question of what you want present in your physical space with you is essentially the question of how you want to live your life.
I want to leave you with two quotes from our friend Joshua Becker’s book, The More of Less, because I just re-read it and absolutely love how his sentiment coincidentally compliments this blog post:
“Our excessive possessions (and obligations) are not making us happy. Even worse, they are taking us away from the things that do. Once we let go of the things that don’t matter, we are free to pursue all the things that really do matter.”
“Sometimes, minimizing possessions (and obligations) means a dream must die. But this is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, it takes giving up the person we wanted to be in order to fully appreciate the person we can actually become.”
Cheers to making life simple again! 🙂
In what way do you need to start doing less? Leave a comment and share your thoughts and stories with us.
Because thinking negatively, expecting “the worst,” seeing the downside of
positive situations, and even downright expecting failure, all convey a kind of
backwards-thinking, emotional insurance policy. It goes something like, “If I
expect a tragedy, then I won’t be disappointed when it takes place.”
Of course, this is NOT what we truly want or need in our lives. So how can we
stop talking ourselves into these thinking traps? Let’s take a look at two
powerful ways to quiet the negative inner voice that leads us astray:
1. Start focusing on the grey area between the extremes.
Life simply isn’t black or white – 100% of this or 100% of that – all or
nothing. Thinking in extremes like this is a fast way to misery, because
negative thinking tends to view any situation that’s less than perfect as being
extremely bad. For example:
Rather than the rainstorm slowing down my
commute home from work, instead “it wasted my whole evening and ruined my
Rather than just accepting the nervousness of
meeting a new group of people, “I know these people are not going to like me.”
99.9% of all situations in life are less than perfect, black and white thinking
tends to make us focus on the negative – the drama, the failures, and the worst
case scenarios. Sure catastrophes occur on occasion, but contrary to what you
may see on the evening news, most of life occurs in a grey area between the
extremes of bliss and devastation.
2. Stop looking for negative signs from others.
Too often we jump to conclusions, only to cause ourselves and others
unnecessary worry, hurt, and anger. If someone says one thing, don’t assume
they mean something else. If they say nothing at all, don’t assume their
silence has some hidden, negative connotation.
Thinking negatively will inevitably lead you to interpret everything another
person does as being negative, especially when you are uncertain about what the
other person is thinking. For instance, “He hasn’t called, so he must not want
to talk to me,” or, “She only said that to be nice, but she doesn’t really mean
Assigning meaning to a situation before you have the whole story makes you more
likely to believe that the uncertainty you feel (based on lack of knowing) is a
negative sign. On the flip-side, holding off on assigning meaning to an
incomplete story is a primary key to overcoming negative thinking. When you
think more positively, or simply more clearly about the facts, you’ll be able
to evaluate all possible reasons you can think of, not just the negative ones.
In other words, you’ll be doing more of: “I don’t know why he hasn’t called
yet, but maybe… he’s actually extremely busy at work today.”
able to distinguish between what you imagine and what is actually happening in
your life is an important step towards living a happier life.
And of course, if you’re struggling with any of this, know that you are
not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel
better, think more clearly, and get our lives back on track.
While on a business trip in
Chicago last month, I accidentally slept for 12 hours. I fell asleep at 9:30
p.m. local time and didn’t set an alarm, because I figured there was no way I
would sleep past 7:30 a.m. Cue me waking with a jolt at 9:30 a.m., and only
because housekeeping knocked on the door. I probably could have gone a solid 14
if left uninterrupted.
This sleep binge was unexpected,
because I thought I had been getting good rest lately. My kids haven’t been
sauntering into our bedroom at 3 a.m. for nonsense reasons, and though I don’t
track it, I probably get between seven and eight hours of sleep most nights.
And yet, when given the chance, my body told me I needed to sleep indefinitely.
The last time I covered why parents are so freaking tired, I talked about fragmented sleep being a big culprit of parental
exhaustion — interrupted sleep can make you feel as tired as not getting enough
sleep. But what if, like me, you’re getting uninterrupted sleep and your kids
are not babies and you still feel like a fistful of crushed-up
car seat Cheerios?
Anecdotally, I’m not the only one
who feels this way. Being tired when you have kids is so expected it’s a
cliché, and the subject of an estimated 40 percent of dad jokes. That’s why I
was surprised to look at numbers culled from the American Time Use Survey — a Bureau of Labor Statistics
data set that measures the way we spend our days — and see that moms and dads
with young children are sleeping, on average, more than eight hours (480 minutes) a night, whether they are
single or coupled. (Mothers tend to sleep longer, but their sleep is also
If interrupted sleep is not the
only reason for exhaustion, what else is going on for parents? Leah Ruppanner,
an associate professor of sociology at the University of Melbourne, said part
of the issue might be that during the day, parents feel more “time pressure” — which she describes as “not enough time, too
much going on.”
Time pressure means that even
though some parents are technically getting adequate sleep at night, they still
feel exhausted. “Kids bring an intensity of demands that makes people feel time
poor,” she said, and she has described the time pressure that mothers, in
particular, feel as “a chronic stress that slowly deteriorates their health.”
Another reason parents might be
feeling tired after eight hours of sleep is if they have wildly different
wake-up times on different days. “If your schedule is shifting back and forth,
you’re unlikely to feel refreshed or have good quality sleep,” said Dr.
Christine Won, medical director of the Yale Centers for Sleep Medicine.
Here’s the bad news for those of
us who like to sleep in on the weekends and let our children zombie out in
front of the television: If you’re waking up early during the week because of
your kids, you “have to settle for that as a permanent wake-up time,” Dr. Won
said. If a never-ending 6 a.m. wake-up call makes you want to die, Dr. Won
recommended 30-60 minutes of bright light therapy right after you wake up,
either from a light box (Wirecutter has recommendations for good ones) or from
Dr. Won said strategic caffeine
use is fine if you have trouble waking up, but keep it to the mornings, and no
more than two cups a day — otherwise you’ll have difficulty falling asleep, or
suffer from sleep fragmentation.
For parents whose children are
still having frequent night wakings that cause sleep fragmentation, Dr. Won
said a power nap can do wonders. Limit your cap nap to 20-40 minutes, and you
should not nap less than six hours before going to sleep — so if bedtime is at
10 p.m., the power nap should happen before 4 p.m. This seems more realistic
for me than waking up every day at 6. If you are getting solid, regular sleep
at consistent hours and you still feel worn out, it’s worth
getting a checkup, Dr. Won said, to rule out other health problems.
Finally, Ruppanner has a theory
she has not yet studied, but that makes a lot of intuitive sense to me: Parents
may feel exhausted because the quality, not just the quantity, of their leisure
time has diminished. There is research showing that parents take less leisure time than non-parents, and that mothers
take less leisure time and have more fragmented leisure time than fathers do. But
Ruppanner theorized that even time parents are reporting as leisure is actually
used productively. For example, parents aren’t just watching TV, they’re also
folding laundry and filling out school forms and thinking about the grocery
list (that good ol’ mental load).
Though weekday power naps may be
in my future, I have no regrets about the half-day sleep marathon I took in
that hotel room. I felt like a superhero afterward.
You might want to nag or scold, but positive
reinforcement is more effective.
As a child psychiatrist, I have spent eons in school studying
developmental psychology and human behavior. Learning this, you might assume
that I would know all the research on effective parenting techniques and be a
perfect parent myself. You would be wrong on both counts.
There was a
question that I wanted to answer, for me as a father as well as for the parents
whom I counsel in my private practice: “If your child is doing something that
is not harmful, but is also not especially adaptive or appropriate, when and
how often should you correct her behavior?”
your 5-year-old is eating peas with her fingers; she’s not hurting anyone, but
the grandparents are coming over in two weeks and you’d like to show them that
you’ve instilled some basic table manners. Or, when my 9-year-old greets an
adult while staring at his shoes, when and how often should I remind him about
the importance of eye contact to increase the chances that he’ll actually start
attempting it? In my field, the consensus on certain parenting techniques is
clear: Repeated studies have shown that spanking is damaging and ineffective, for
example. The harmful effects of yelling and shaming, too, have been widely
publicized. But what does the research have to say about the mild, low-level
scolding and nagging that so many parents engage in?
After many hours
spent reading studies on this topic and interviewing experts, I concluded that
I was asking the wrong question. When I asked Alan Kazdin, the director of the
Yale Parenting Center and the author of over 700 articles and books on child-rearing,
when you should correct behavior you’d like your child to change, his answer
was straightforward: “Never!” According to Dr. Kazdin, it is never helpful or
effective to scold or nag a child about behavior that’s not harming anyone.
“Don’t attend to the eating of peas with fingers,” Dr. Kazdin said. “If you
give attention to something, the behavior you don’t want could actually
Hearing this, I
was surprised and a little embarrassed. I can think of dozens of times that I
have reprimanded my son (usually gently) for behaviors that were socially
inappropriate or merely annoying. When I dug into the research on this topic,
though, I learned that Dr. Kazdin was right: Not only is scolding ineffective
for long-term behavior change, it can actually make certain behaviors worse.
studies suggest that certain approaches — standing close to the child,
maintaining eye contact and speaking softly — may increase the effectiveness of a scolding.
But if you want permanent change in the behavior, the evidence is lacking for
scolding as an effective technique.
So, if we are
looking to decrease behaviors that are socially inappropriate, instead of
asking when you should correct your child’s behavior, the better question is
probably “How should
you modify a child’s behavior to be more appropriate?” Daniel Bagner, a
professor of psychology and the director of the Early Childhood Behavior Lab at
Florida International University’s Center for Children and Families, told me
that after identifying the behavior they want to change (a child looking down
at her shoes when greeting an adult, for example), parents should “identify the
positive opposite of the behavior, such as making eye contact, and consistently
provide positive consequences, such as praise, when the child displays the
it is important for parents to implement the positive consequence immediately after
the child’s behavior.”
This idea is
also sometimes referred to as “catch them being good.” There is ample evidence
that positive reinforcement — providing something positive right after a
behavior — is very effective in increasing how often that behavior occurs. What
Dr. Bagner is saying is that instead of focusing on the behavior you don’t want,
find times when your child is exhibiting the behavior you do want
and give that behavior lots of attention.
Dr. Kazdin gave
me a very similar message, but I asked him, “What if your child never does the
positive opposite behavior, such as making eye contact when greeting people?”
Dr. Kazdin said that the secret in that case was to use something called “differential reinforcement.” This is where you
find a behavior that is close to the behavior you are trying to get and
positively reinforce that behavior. For example, Dr. Kazdin said, “In the
example of your child avoiding eye contact, when you go in a room together, ask
them to look up. Or say ‘I bet you can’t look up.’ Then, when they do look up,
say something like ‘Nice job looking up, that was great’ and smile and give
them a pat on the shoulder.” If you keep doing this every time your child looks
up, Dr. Kazdin said, he will start to do so more often. And any time you
“catch” him making eye contact, positively reinforce that, too. Eventually, you
will have more eye contact and less looking at shoes.
technique that experts agree on is that, since children tend to enjoy games, it
is possible to use games to improve behavior in a fun way that still gets
results. In the example of a child eating peas with her fingers, Dr. Kazdin
proposed turning it into a contest. “Tell them ‘we’re going to have a game. The
winner is the person who can put one pea on their fork and put it up to their
lips the slowest. I’ll show you.’
model slowly lifting a pea to your lips on the fork. As soon as your child does
it, praise them to reinforce the behavior. Then after the game is over, don’t
mention it the rest of dinner.”
I reached out to
Jane McGonigal, a best-selling author, game designer, and the director of games
research and development at the Institute for the Future. “As a parent, when
I’m trying to influence my child’s behavior, I would leverage one of the
phenomena we see in gaming, which is that kids love being better at their
favorite video games than their parents,” she said.
“So, I would
create a game where I would ask my kid to help me do the thing I want them to
do. I would ask them to try to spot me not using my fork and eating with my
fingers, or to notice if I’m not looking someone in the eye,” she added, “and I
would enlist their cooperation in this way and turn it into a multiplayer game
where they know more than me and they are helping me. This would give me the
chance to model for them why the behavior matters, by thanking them and
explaining why I want help remembering.
instead of trying to directly change the behavior and telling them what to do,
let them experience the fun of ‘owning’ the behavior and being in charge of
telling me what to do.”
more about the science of behavior change, I have been hesitant to give up
scolding because it’s easy for me and automatic. But I have been trying
positive reinforcement more with my own children and have been thrilled with
Kazdin’s advice, I made a game out of eye contact for my 9-year-old son. I said
“I bet you can’t look me in the eye for 10 seconds straight.” He proudly proved
me wrong. Now, each time he makes even two seconds of eye contact with me, I
smile and touch his shoulder and say something like “Great job making eye
takes a little more attention and self-discipline on my part, but my son’s
ability to make eye contact has been steadily improving, with no more scolding
or nagging from me.
THE 3 KEY NON-CONFLICT INGREDIENTS FOR CONSTRUCTIVE CONFLICT
My partner took me out to celebrate my birthday over dinner and surprised me with axe throwing.
As my partner hit the bulls-eye and smiled at me, I thought to myself how she was, without a doubt, my best friend.
I’m sure you’re aware of the cliche, “Marry your best friend.”
Just like other cliches, there’s a reason it’s around.
Hint: because it’s TRUE.
There are three parts of a strong friendship based on longitudinal research of emotionally connected couples:1
One: Up To Date Love Maps
A love map is when a partner asks open-ended questions to get to know their partner better, creating a map of their partner’s inner world.
During dating, partners do this frequently. They ask questions about work, family, and each other’s likes and dislikes. Successful couples continue to ask these seemingly “basic” questions throughout life, especially around life transitions such as a new job, moving, having a kid, etc.
For example, before surprising me with axe throwing, my partner began teasing me that she bought us tickets to a concert knowing fully well that I do not find concerts pleasurable.
I felt very unseen in that moment . I started thinking, If she actually bought us concert tickets, then she doesn’t really know me. I feared that she had a bad love map of my inner world.
But when she surprised me with axe throwing, something I do enjoy, I felt known. I remember thinking, What a great surprise and a fun way for us to spend time together.
When couples do not continue to update their intimate knowledge throughout time, it’s easy to feel emotionally distant and for each partner’s satisfaction to decline over time.
So go update your love map of your partner by asking an open-ended question. For ideas, click here.
Two: Frequent Expressions of Affection, Appreciation, and Admiration
When observing 3,000 couples interact during an “events of the day” conversation and a conflict conversation, Dr. Gottman and his colleagues noticed that emotionally connected couples had a habit of looking for what their partner does right and pointing it out.
Even as simple as, “I really appreciate you cooking dinner tonight. It was delicious!”
Couples with high levels of admiration speak positively about their partners to others. These emotionally connected couples are also verbally and physically affectionate with each other.
Couples who struggle with this area of the relationship tend to have a habit of noticing and pointing out the negatives in their partner’s behavior or character. Oftentimes, this leads to escalating conflict or avoidance of one another.
Have you developed the habit of being affectionate, appreciative, and admiring in your relationship? This is often one area that all the couples I work with benefit from by adding it back into their relationship.
Three: Respond to Bids For Connection by Turning Towards Your Partner
Every day, partners make hundreds of bids for connection. Even unhappy couples. These bids can be as indirect and as small as a sigh or as big and direct as “I need a hug right now.”
Whenever a bid is expressed, partners have the choice to connect with their partner’s bid.
Attachment theory indicates that how available, responsive, and engaged partners are, influence how secure the attachment bond between partners is.
At its basic level, when we make bids for connection we are asking the question “A.R.E. you there for me?”
When that answer is yes, we relax and focus on other things or being playful.
When that answer is no, we struggle. We wonder if we can trust our partner. Insecurity seeps in.
Ironically, after watching 900 clips of couples having conflict conversations, Drs. John and Julie Gottman came to the conclusion that most often couples fight about “nothing.”
Often it is less about the topic and more about “Can I trust you to be there for me?” “Will you seek to understand me?” “Can I count on you?” “Will you work with me to build a better relationship?”
Trust is built moment to moment when we connect with our partners. We know they can count on us and we can count on them.
These three ingredients mix together like concrete and are the foundation by which a relationship succeeds or breaks apart.
Couples who continue to build these three aspects of friendship within their relationship have been proven in observational studies to have a better time navigating conflict. After all, if you are close friends, it’s easier to feel like intimate allies in life and come together when things are difficult.
These traits of friendship provide partners with the ability to see their relationship for all of the great things it is – their shared humor, their affection, and the presence of positive aspects necessary to have healthy and constructive conflict.
This in turn enables them to transform their problems into material for constructing a stronger relationship, brick by brick.
Not only do these aspects assist with conflict, but they’re also shown to be the basis on which romance, passion, and good sex happen.
Getting to continuously know your partner, expressing all of the things you admire and appreciate, and consistently responding to their bids for attention strengthen the foundation of your romantic relationship.
A FRESH 60-SECOND REMINDER THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR MINDSET (AND SPARE SOME PAIN)
As you read these words, you are breathing. Stop for a moment
and notice this breath. You can control this breath, and make it faster or
slower, or make it behave as you like. Or you can simply let yourself inhale
and exhale naturally. There is peace in just letting your lungs breathe,
without having to control the situation or do anything about it. Now imagine
letting other parts of your body breathe, like your tense shoulders. Just let
them be, without having to tense them or control them.
Now look around the room you’re in and notice the objects
around you. Pick one, and let it breathe. There are likely people in the room
with you too, or in the same house or building, or in nearby houses or
buildings. Visualize them in your mind, and let them breathe.
When you let everything and everyone breathe, you just let
them be, exactly as they are. You don’t need to control them, worry about them,
or change them. You just let them breathe, in peace, and you accept them as
they are. This is what letting go is all about. It can be a life-changing
At our annual conference, Think Better, Live Better, Marc and I guide
attendees through this process of letting go—and breathing steadily
through life’s twists and turns (you should get an HD recording of the event).
Truth be told, inner peace begins the moment you take a new
breath and choose not to allow an uncontrollable event to dominate you in the
long-term. You are not what happened to you. You are what you choose to become
in this moment. Let go, breathe, and begin again…
1 INSANELY POPULAR WAY TO WRECK THE NEXT YEAR OF YOUR LIFE
yourself: It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our
And yet so often, against our better judgment, we make the wrong choices.
Our pride has us holding on when we need to let go.
Pressure from peers sways us left when we mean to go right.
Negative thoughts provoke frowning on otherwise beautiful days.
And so it goes…
One choice at a time, one moment at a time, we ruin the most promising days of
If you can relate at all, it’s time to answer your wake-up call!
How many times have you thought “this isn’t working” or “something is not
right” or “things have to change”? – those thoughts and words are from your
inner voice. It’s your wake-up call calling.
You really don’t need some scary, life-threatening diagnosis or major crisis to
wake you up. And no one needs to tell you because you already know. Your inner
voice has been trying to tell you for a while now, but in case it’s been a
challenge to find time and space to listen through the chaos, maybe you’ll
resonate with one of these situations:
If your life is on auto-pilot and you’re
always feeling worn down and stressed out, this is your wake-up call.
If you never put yourself first, this is your
If you are constantly numbing out with food,
shopping, booze, TV, or other distractions, this is your wake-up call.
your wake-up call is not the hard part. Answering the call is. Choosing to
answer the call instead of ignoring it is HARD! Right now, it may feel much
easier to keep going, and going, and going. But you know if you don’t find a
way out of the endless cycle you’re in, it’s going to get worse…
Remind yourself that a big part of your life is a result of the choices you
make. And if you don’t like your life it’s time to start making changes and
Based on over a decade of one-on-one coaching sessions with hundreds of
students from around the world, and hearing dozens of personal stories every
year from attendees at our live annual events, here is the #1 way we as human
beings gradually wreck our own lives, and some clear ideas on how to make
better choices going forward:
Decide YOU ARE STUCK!
that’s the most popular way we as human beings hurt ourselves! Take a moment to
reflect on evidence of this in your own life…
Think about ONE self-limiting belief you
have—one area of your life where you believe you absolutely CANNOT make
progress. It can be about any
part of your life you hope to change—your health, your weight, your career,
your relationships – anything at all. What’s one thing you’ve essentially
decided is a fact about your place on Earth?
And then I want you to shift gears and think
about ONE time, one fleeting moment, in which the opposite of that ‘fact’ was
true for you. I don’t care how tiny of a victory it was, or even if it was a
partial victory. What’s one moment in time you can look back on and say, “Hey,
that was totally unlike ‘me’—but I did it!”? Because once you identify the
cracks in the wall of a self-limiting belief, you can start attacking it. You
can start taking steps forward every day that go against it—positive daily
rituals that create tiny victories, more confidence, gradual momentum, bigger
victories, even more confidence, and so on.
yes, I also understand that we all face our share of incredibly difficult
circumstances, many of which are not the results of anything we’ve done. But we
still have choices when it comes to how we’ll respond to these seemingly-random
tragedies that afflict us.
The choice is as simple as it is universal:
Grit our teeth and try to move the immovable
object, and become frustrated and bitter when we realize we can’t.
Answer our wake-up call. Let it be. Let go.
the first choice is easier because it’s our default action. We want full
control because feeling out of control is utterly terrifying.
It’s essential to know how to let go—how to understand the difference between
what you can control and what you can’t.
Empowering yourself to relinquish control of the wrong attachments is one of
the greatest gifts you can give yourself—the ability to exist peacefully and
productively amidst the chaos of life.
If you feel yourself slowly collapsing under the weight of life and circumstances,
we have a proven path to a more peaceful and productive life. We’d love to
share it with you.
French philosopher François-Marie Arouet once said:
And of course, if you’re struggling with any of this, know that you are
not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to think
more clearly, respond to life more effectively, and get ourselves back on
temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he
will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,
he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”1
Nelson Searcy tells of a study that was conducted about the best tasting ice
cream. Members of the control group were blindfolded and given all kinds of
vanilla ice cream to taste—quality brand ice cream, gourmet ice cream, homemade
ice cream, cheap ice cream and everything in between.
It didn’t matter if it was gourmet, brand name, or homemade ice cream,
“The number one determining factor was the percentage of fat in the ice
cream. In other words, the more fat that was in the ice cream, the more
people liked it.”
As Searcy stated, “Now, isn’t that one of the ironies of life? Why can’t
fried chicken, which happens to be my favorite food, be as good for you as an
apple? I have never heard a doctor say—’A fried chicken leg a day will
keep the doctor away.’ The reason they say that is because if you had
fried chicken every morning for breakfast, it would probably keep the doctor
nearby because your cholesterol would shoot up. I guess I’ll have to
settle for apples.”2
And who doesn’t like a good fatty ice cream? As a kid we even used to pour pure
cream over our ice cream. Yum! Yum! We had no idea how unhealthy that was.
Temptation, too, can have an overpowering attraction and appeal. It can look
fabulous and at first taste very inviting—but in the long run its effects are
deadly. It reminds me of an extremely beautiful fish that is found on the Great
Barrier Reef in Australia. It’s only very small but its sting is incredibly
painful. It needs to be avoided at all cost. Same with sin. Regardless how
attractive it appears, its end result is deadly so it needs to be avoided at
all costs. As Searcy said, “When we give in to temptation, we always
regret it because in the long run we always give up something greater for
instant gratification right now.”3
Suggested Prayer: “Dear God, please help me to remember that while sin’s
temptation can be very appealing, it always pays self-destructive dividends.
Through Your Spirit please give me the strength to resist the lures of the evil
one—and the good sense to always depend on You and not try to fight it in my
own strength. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in
Jesus’s name, amen.”
Don’t just rant online for a better world. Love your family. Be a good neighbor. Practice kindness. Build bridges. Embody what you preach. Today. And always.
About a decade ago, at one o’clock in the morning, my grandpa who was suffering from Alzheimer’s got up, got into my car and drove off. Angel and I contacted the police, but before they could find him, two college kids pulled into our driveway with my grandpa. One was driving him in my car and the other was following in their car. They said they overheard him crying about being lost at an empty gas station 10 miles away. My grandpa couldn’t remember our address, but gave the kids his first and last name. They looked him up online, found our address, and drove him home.
I was randomly
reflecting on that incident today while sitting near the edge of a beautiful
ocean-side cliff in San Diego. As I stared off into the distance, the sudden
awareness of footsteps behind me startled me. I turned around to see a young
lady who was almost in tears slowly walking to where I was sitting. I jumped
up, walked up to her and asked, “What’s wrong?” She told me she was
deathly afraid of heights, but was worried about my safety and wanted to
get over her fear because she needed to make sure I was okay.
“You were sitting so
close to the edge, and with a such despondent expression,” she said. “My heart
told me I needed to check on you—to make sure you were in a healthy state of
mind.” Her name is Kate, and her braveness and kindness truly warmed my heart.
I’ve spent the rest of
the day thinking about what an extraordinary person Kate is, and about those
amazing college kids who helped my grandpa, and about what it means to be a
kind and giving person. As Kate and those kids found out, being kind isn’t always
easy. Sometimes you have to go the extra mile, or face your biggest fears, or
stand up against your own negative tendencies to make a positive difference in
someone else’s life. Let this be your wake-up call today. It’s time to start
doing the hard things—the right things—for others…
1. Start being a source
of sincere support.
The closest thing to
being cared for is to care for others. We are all in this together and we
should treat each other as such. The very demons that torment each of us,
torment others all over the world. It is our challenges and troubles that
connect us at the deepest level.
If you think about the
people who have had the greatest positive effect on your life—the ones who
truly made a difference—you will likely realize that they aren’t the ones that
tried to give you all the answers or solve all your problems. They’re the ones
who sat silently with you when you needed a moment to think, who lent you a
shoulder when you needed to cry, and who tolerated not having all the answers,
but stood beside you anyway. Be this person for those around you every chance
2. Start giving people
your undivided attention.
There is greatness and
beauty in making time, especially when it’s inconvenient, for the sake of
You don’t have to tell
people that you care, just show them. In your relationships and interactions
with others, nothing you can give is more appreciated than your sincere,
focused attention. Being with someone, listening without a clock and without
anticipation of results is the ultimate compliment. It is indeed the most
valued gesture you can make to another human being.
When we pay attention
to each other we breathe new life into each other. With frequent attention and
affection our relationships flourish, and we as individuals grow wiser and
stronger. We help heal each other’s wounds and support each other’s growth. So
give someone the gift of YOU—your time, undivided attention and kindness.
That’s better than any other gift, it won’t break or get lost, and will always
3. Start respecting and
supporting people who are different than you.
privilege is to become who you truly are. You have to dare to be yourself, one
hundred percent, however anxious or odd that self may prove to be. The people
who support you in doing so are extraordinary. Appreciate these people and
their kindness, and pay it forward when you’re able.
Never bully someone
into silence. Never victimize others for being different. Accept no one’s
close-minded definition of another person. Let people define themselves. You
have the ability to show
people how awesome they are, just the way they are. So act on this
ability without hesitation; and don’t forget to show yourself the same
4. Start being willing
to be wrong.
The mind is like a
parachute; it doesn’t work when it’s closed.
It’s okay to disagree
with the thoughts or opinions expressed by others. But that doesn’t give you
the right to immediately reject any sense they might make. Nor does it give you
a right to accuse someone of poorly expressing their beliefs just because you
don’t like what they are thinking and saying. Learn to recognize the beauty of
different ideas and perspectives, even if it means overcoming your pride and
opening your mind beyond what is comfortable.
and human interactions are not a power struggle. Be willing to be wrong, while
simultaneously exploring your truth.
5. Start giving
recognition and praise for the little things.
A brave, extraordinary
soul recognizes the strength of others. Give genuine praise whenever possible.
Doing so is a mighty act of service. Start noticing what you like about others
and speak up. Having an appreciation for how amazing the people around you are
is extremely rewarding. It’s an investment in them that doesn’t cost you a
thing, and the returns can be astounding. Not only will they feel empowered,
but also what
goes around comes around, and sooner or later the people you’re
cheering for will start cheering for you too.
Also, be sure to
follow this rule: “Praise in public, penalize in private.” Never publicly
ridicule someone when you have the option not to. If you don’t understand
someone, ask questions. If you don’t agree with them, tell them. But don’t
judge them behind their back to everyone else.
6. Start giving people
the space to save face.
What others say and do
is often based entirely on their own self-reflection. When someone who is angry
and upset speaks to you, and you nevertheless remain very present and continue
to treat them with kindness and respect, you place yourself in a position of
great power. You become a means for the situation to be graciously diffused and
A spiritual teacher
once told me, “When somebody backs themselves into a corner, look the other way
until they get themselves out; and then act as though it never happened.”
Allowing people to save face in this way, and not reminding them of what they
already know is not their most intelligent behavior, is an act of great kindness.
This is possible when we realize that people behave in such ways because they
are in a place of great suffering. People react to their own thoughts and
feelings and their behavior often has nothing directly to do with you.
7. Start being a bit
Be gentle and
compassionate with those around you. Mother Nature opens millions of flowers
every day without forcing the buds. Let this be a reminder not to be forceful
with those around you, but to simply give them enough light and love, and an
opportunity to grow naturally.
Ultimately, how far
you go in life depends on your willingness to be helpful to the young,
respectful to the aged, tender with the hurt, supportive of the striving, and
tolerant of those who are weaker or stronger than the majority. Because we wear
many hats throughout the course of our lives, and at some point in your life
you will realize you have been all of these people.
Now, it’s your turn…
The bottom line is
that it’s time to be less impressed by your own money, titles, degrees, and
looks. And it’s time to be more impressed by your own generosity, integrity,
humility, and kindness towards others.
Don’t you agree?
Please leave us a comment and share your thoughts.
What part of this post
resonated with you the most?