Discover more from Happiness PhD with Jackson K.
26 Lessons from 26 Years
A birthday special edition...
Let’s get right to it (read until the end because I’ve written a book and need some help)…
When you don’t know, give people the most generous explanation possible for their behavior.
Someone cuts you off - they must have to go pee. They don’t reply to your email - it’s probably buried in their inbox.
Exercise isn’t about feeling better, it's about bringing you to baseline.
I listened to an interview with Happiness Studies pioneer Tal Ben-Shahar.
He said if he were a therapist the first thing he’d ask every client is - are you exercising? He explained it’s not about exercise making you feel better. As humans we are meant to move - exercise is about bringing you up to baseline.
If you’re not exercising regularly you’re not even at baseline level for mood and energy.
“The mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” – David Allen
Most stress, frustration, and scatteredness don’t necessarily come from having so much to do, but from trying to store all of it inside the mind.
Psychologists estimate that the mind is meant to focus on a maximum of two things at once. If you want to be more effective and enjoy yourself don’t let your commitments live in your head. Get them out of there and store them in lists and calendars.
“Paper is to write things down that we need to remember. Our brains are used to think.”
― Albert Einstein
3 words, 2 meanings: Avoid boring people. (James Watson)
Creative or business projects are like a kitchen remodel. They always take twice as long and twice as much money as expected. (Steven Pressfield)
Knowing isn’t doing. To consistently turn knowledge into action is worth a 50% increase in IQ.
Stop engaging with any media that makes you feel outraged.
Outrage is addictive and not a constructive emotion. On the other side of the content there are 1,000s of engineers and producers with billion dollar budgets who profit from stealing your attention. Don’t let people profit from you getting upset.
Sometimes you’re already successful, time just hasn’t caught up yet.
Best-selling author James Clear tells his story of “success”:
Whether or not something is deemed a “failure” depends on when performance is measured. I signed the book deal for Atomic Habits in November 2015 and it was published in October 2018.
If you were to measure the performance of the book at any point during those three years, the project would have been deemed a failure. In January 2016? It was incomplete. A failure. In August 2017? Still unfinished. A failure. In February 2018? Again, a failure. But after October 2018, it looked like a success. Same project. Different time when the outcome was measured.
This idea applies to many areas of life. You’re not failing. You’re just in the middle of succeeding: your work might already be a success, time just hasn’t caught up yet.
Love the person who needs it most.
My dad once told me that he asked his mom which of her 6 kids she loved most.
She said, “whoever needs it most right now.”
That’s a good lesson for parents and friends.
Get in front of people and make them an offer.
I was interviewed on a podcast and the host asked if I had business advice for dreamers (artists, thinkers, entrepreneurs, etc.).
I said, “yes - three things”... 1. Get in front of people and make them an offer. 2. Get in front of people and make them an offer. 3. Get in front of people and make them an offer.
How did I get my first speaking event? I messaged a bunch of businesses and offered them a talk. How did I get my first coaching client? I was in front of people for a talk and I offered coaching. How did I get my mentor and business partner? I emailed a bunch of successful speakers and offered to work for free.
Running down a dream can be complex or simple. Keep it simple. Get in front of people and make them an offer. They’re waiting for you.
Get up earlier for no reason.
I don’t know why getting up earlier makes me feel better. But it does.
Nearly every spiritual and religious tradition emphasizes the early morning. Buddhist monks meditate some time between 4:30am and 7:00am. The Vedic traditions have a sacred period beginning 96 minutes before and ending 48 minutes before sunrise. The first Muslim prayer is at dawn.
There are modern scientific affirmations: a study of 840,000 people, by researchers at University of Colorado Boulder and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, found that sleep schedule significantly influences risk of depression. Waking up just one hour earlier (regardless of usual sleep schedule) reduced risk of depression by about 23%.
Just do it.
We think: when everything is right with the world, then I’ll feel good. But it's the opposite: when I feel good, everything is right with the world.
Be prepared to leave your employer. They are prepared to leave you.
The world is an energy mirror.
From “Multidisciplinary Thinking” by Peter Kaufman:
You’re standing in front of an elevator. The doors open. You have three choices: smile and say hello, frown and hiss, or do nothing.
Option 1 - 98% of the time they smile and say hello back.
Option 2 - 98% of the time they scowl back.
Option 3 - 98% of the time they do nothing back.
It's an energy mirror. But you have to go first. And you’re going to get back whatever you put out there.
“The highest spiritual practice is self-observation without judgment.” - Swami Kripalu
Just because you felt a certain way in the past doesn’t mean you can’t feel differently now.
Growth comes from improving your perspective, it doesn't make you a hypocrite.
Don’t start from scratch: find an “accelerator” to skip steps.
Tony Robbins got his start working with Jim Rohn (a famous motivational speaker). Warren Buffet studied under Ben Graham (one of the top value investors). The Beatles got their big break opening for Little Richard (a huge celeb).
The common pattern is that nearly every prolific person had someone to accelerate their journey. They found someone with momentum and used it to skip steps. In my case I found my business partner and went from college student to full-time speaker and consultant in 1.5 years.
Success leaves hints. The hardest part of building a success is going from 0 to 1. Find someone who is already at 1 or 2 and it will accelerate you to 10 and beyond.
When wrong, acknowledge it immediately and emphatically.
“To make mistakes is human. To own your mistakes is divine. Nothing elevates a person higher than quickly admitting and taking personal responsibility for the mistakes you make and then fixing them fairly. If you mess up, fess up. It’s astounding how powerful this ownership is.” – Kevin Kelly
“Beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living within that way of life." - Hunter S. Thompson
Make your exhale twice as long as your inhale to calm your nervous system.
Inhaling longer than exhaling produces an “upregulating effect”. Exhaling longer than inhaling produces a “downregulating effect.”
Aim for about 2-4 seconds in and 4-8 seconds out. Do this for a minute or two and you’ll notice an immediate shift in your mind and body.
The answer’s money, what’s the question?
Happiness is a practice.
Thich Nhat Hanh said – “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.”
Henry David Thoreau explained it as “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor… To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”
A change in worldview will change the world viewed (as Thomas Berry said). We don’t see the world as it is, but as we are.
Think of anything you’re good at: a hobby, a skill, a sport. How did you get good? You learned how - from a coach, a teacher, a book, a class. Then you applied it again and again.
How could happiness be any different?
Study the art of living. Then make it a way of life. Happiness is a practice.
“The only way to win an argument is to avoid it.” – Dale Carnegie
You have a problem. Is there a solution?
Yes - then you’re good so why worry?
No - then there’s nothing you can do so why worry?
“Every man has two lives, and the second starts when he realizes he has just one.” - Confucius
Start before you’re ready
Don't trick yourself into waiting to "feel ready". This is the story for so many people…
"I wanted to travel the world, but I wasn't ready. I had to start making a living first."
"I wanted to say I love you but I didn't know if I was ready."
"I wanted to quit my job and follow my dream, but it didn't feel like the right time."
Then years go by and they never even started!
If you limit yourself to things you feel ready to do then you're sticking to things you've done before or things that are so easy, obvious, and simple that you know exactly what to expect. You have to start before you're ready if you want to expand your comfort zone.
You're never going to feel ready to do something radically new, different, or challenging. How could you?
So don't wait. Start before you're ready!
Your ever older, and ever nerdier happiness nerd,
PS - The above is from the draft of my book that I’ve just written. Would you be willing to pre-order a copy AND/OR help me with feedback or introductions to a publisher/author? If so please hit reply or respond HERE…
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