Overcoming Self (Not Your Self Their Self)

catpadI’ve been addressing various factors over the last couple weeks that prevent people from performing acts of service, things that keep us from having a giving attitude.

One obvious one that I never mentioned is selfishness.

Sure there are some people that are genuinely selfish who wouldn’t lift a finger to help someone in need because they just don’t care about their fellow man. I believe those people are rare; and sociopaths. But there are some lesser degrees of selfish with a lower case “s” that may apply to quite a few folks.

For example, what about people suffering from extreme shyness? We tend to sympathize with those people. At least I do because I was painfully shy growing up. But if it becomes paralyzing to the point that you are too shy to ask the person next to you if they would like to share your umbrella, then you no longer have any sympathy from me. Your shyness is now causing hardship on people around you. If you are too soft-spoken and self-conscious that you can’t get someone’s attention and tell them they are standing in the wrong line, are waiting at the wrong bus stop, or are about to inject themselves with something that is not their insulin, that’s a problem.

The problem with self-consciousness is you are focusing all your attention on your self. So yes, being shy is a form of selfishness.

Another common form of selfishness is just utter obliviousness. A few months ago I was filming an episode of Hawaii 5-0 (it was Billy’s funeral, look for me at the wake during the reruns). When working as a background actor, you spend about 90% of your time waiting. So with about fifty of us all crammed into a holding area a friendly red-headed actress sat down next to me and said, “So, you’re not on your phone, what would you like to talk about?” I laughed because… well, everyone was staring at their phones.

Society has been focusing more and more inwards. Last week I made a brief list of things that fill up our lives. It’s a vaguely generational list where the baby boomers had their clubs and sports leagues, generation x had their TV, and generation Y has their internet games and smartphones. Notice how each generation has gotten less and less social? Your parents probably ate meals together and had conversations. My generation sat in front of the television during meals and talked during commercials. Today kids have their own individual screens and communicate primarily in chat windows.

It’s not that younger generations are less kindhearted, they are just less trained to look up and out. Most young people would gladly help someone out if they could do it by tweet.

I believe that people are good and kind. I believe that people will perform acts of kindness and service more often if we can shake them out of their iSelf.

So that is the goal of our non-profit organization when we launch. Create a culture of giving and serving by helping people to overcome their fear of lack of reciprocity, their reluctance to receive a blessing because they can’t reciprocate back, their laziness, and their self-centeredness. That seems like a pretty full plate.

How would you tackle some of these issues?

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Able is Useless Without Available

outLast week I put forward the idea of creating a culture of serving and giving. I then proposed some obstacles that might preventĀ  the acts of giving and serving.

The fear of your act of goodwill not being reciprocated. Also, the fear of not being able to reciprocate the deed yourself.

This started a discussion with a few comments over on my LinkedIn page, and I had another idea of what prevents people from giving.

Busy.

If you’re not busy, you’re not American. As of 2009, the average American works more hours per week than the average worker in Japan. We are obsessed with the business of busy-ness.

And it’s not just our jobs consuming so much of our lives these days. Generation X parents have their kids overloaded with activities from sports to gymnastics to violin lessons to karate. Generation Y is being smothered with their parents ambitious social schedules for them. It seems that kids rarely have time to be kids anymore as they are rushed from planned activity to planned activity.

Non-kids also tend to load their lives with activities. It used to be sports leagues and clubs. Then hobbies and television. Today it’s Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.

How does constantly being busy affect our generous and giving spirits?

  • Would you stop to help a motorist with a flat tire if you have just enough time to get to work without being late?
  • Would you stop to give directions to a pedestrian when you are already late for class?
  • Would you stop to give advice to an emotionally wounded adolescent crushed by their first heartbreak when your WOW raid starts in fifteen minutes?

If you answered “no” to any of these, then here’s a question for you: Is being busy a legitimate reason to avoid doing good?

“The enemy of all sorts of goodness and generosity and giving, is not greed. It is busy.” (Tweet this, it’s profound)

This is another enemy that my friends and I are looking to defeat when we launch our non-profit soon. To create a culture of giving and serving, one of the beasts that we are looking to defeat is busy.

I’ve heard many pastors and speakers say “God doesn’t always use the most able, but the most available.” What are your thoughts?

helpHow do we snap people out of their busy? How do we get people to disrupt their routines and habits and daily running on the hamster wheel, in order to be just a bit more mindful of others? To take time to notice when someone is in need? To take time to help, to give, to serve?

Please take a moment to share your ideas. If you have no ideas please share this blog post with others for their ideas.

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To Serve Man (Not a Cookbook)

ImageHow can we cultivate a culture of giving? A culture of serving? I’ll let you know up front that I don’t have any definitive answers, so hopefully this will spark a two-way conversation. Think of this post as a public brainstorming session.

The secret of successful leadership is a willingness to serve.
The secret of a successful marriage is to try to out-serve your spouse.
The secret of a successful company is exceptional service.
The secret of a successful tennis player is a great serve.

Actually, I guess none of those things are really secrets. They are commonly taught at marriage seminars, leaderships seminars, sales seminars and tennis camp. I would also contend that any society or group or nation would be improved if everyone was taught to give and serve more often.

So how does one create a culture of serving? Giving and serving not just our spouses and customers, but to everyone that we see on a daily basis?

Let me formulate one obstruction and consider if you agree. Our society is based on the idea of reciprocity, fairness, equivocation. It’s how our commerce works and somehow that idea has bled into our notion of how interpersonal relationships are also supposed to work. Which is why we will easily perform a kindness or favor for a friend, relative our co-worker, but might be hesitant to do the same for a stranger. After all, if you never see that person again, when will they ever be able to do you a favor back?

Do you agree with that summation? (Take a moment)

I think there are some people that think that way, but I think it is actually a minority. I think most of us don’t mind doing a small favor for a stranger. After all we’re good people. I think the real hindrance in these random acts of kindness is on the part of the receiver. After all, if someone we don’t know and don’t plan to ever see again does us a favor, how will we be able to repay them? We find ourselves at a deficit, we’ve been out-served, we have red in our ledger. So because of this, when that strange offers us a helping hand, we too often say, “no, thank you.”

I think the greater hindrance to creating a society of givers lies more in our reluctance to take than to give.

Do you agree with THAT summation?

Like I said, I don’t have any definitive answers in this post.

ImageSome friends of mine are in the process of launching a non-profit organization. Our mission is to spread the spirit of Aloha, which I define as the spirit of giving, sharing, and serving. (Sidebar: It’s vital to define Aloha whenever you use it in a sentence since Aloha has about seventy definitions including “hello” and “goodbye.” The spirit of Aloha could easily mean slamming a door in someone’s face. End sidebar).

It’ll probably be a few months before we’re ready to launch the website and start with the promotions and such; and I will no doubt inundate you with more information than you could possibly want at that time.

In the meantime, if anyone has any definitive answers, brilliant ideas or amazing epiphanies about the question “how do you create a culture of giving and serving?” I would love to hear them. Heck, I’ll even take a subdued notion.

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Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is

ImageGenerosity is viewed as altruistic. It is one of those qualities in a person that is almost always universally admired. Even those corporate bigwigs that the masses love pointing fingers at for causing all the problems in the world; it’s hard to stay angry at them when they build a hospital from scratch or give their cab driver a fifty. Generosity creates goodwill.

Generosity is also healthy for the soul. English statesman Winston Churchill said “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” Countryless everyman Anonymous said “Remember when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received, only what you have given.”

Generosity is just as rewarding for the giver as it is for the receiver.

Now consider a universal law called the Law of Reciprocity. This law states that whatever you give out you get back. If you’re a jerk, no matter how well you think you hide it, people treat you like you’re a jerk. Which in turn causes you to say, “That person is a jerk!” which perpetuates a jerk vortex that is centered around you. Jerk.

If you smile a great deal, more people smile back at you. If you spend time with your children they will want to spend time with you.

Simple, right?

Now pretend I used some kind of smooth transition to bind these two ideas together.

  • If what you give out is what you get back, and
  • If generosity is equally rewarding to the giver and to the receiver, then
  • If you are struggling financially give more money away. (This is not an April Fool’s joke)

I advise everyone to give away 10% of their income to charity.

“But I earn so little!” Great, you’ll have to give less.

“But I don’t have an extra 10% to give away!” Give it away first, then figure out how to live off the rest.

“But I’m in debt!” That was dumb. I might let you off the hook and allow you to give 10% of your net, but then you are saying that the bank is a more important priority to you than that charity. Which makes you kind of evil, right?

Giving away money is good for society. No matter how poor you think you are, there is always somebody that is poorer. Even people living in poverty in this country have paved driveways, a car, iPhones, cable television and internet. The “poor” in the U.S. are richer than 50% of the people in the world.

Giving money away is good for you as an individual. It’s therapeutic. Give to a cause or a group that you believe in and feel good about giving.

Giving away money will assist you financially. It’s the law of reciprocity in effect. The sooner you give, the sooner the universe will reward you back.

If you don’t buy into that new-age-karma-speak, then try this reason:

Psychologically, giving money away helps you to get out of a scarcity mentality. If you constantly feel like you need every single penny that your boss reluctantly hands over to you, you become enslaved to that pattern of thinking. You need this job, this job is all-important, you must do whatever you can to hold on to this job. Sadly, those people will take a 10% cut in salary during the next economic downturn and say how lucky they are that they even kept their job.

Giving money away helps you to have an abundance mentality.

If you are struggling financially, try giving some money to charity. Hey, since you’re already struggling, you’re obviously not doing anything great with it, so you may as well let someone else have a shot with it.

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Top Lame Excuses For Not Being An Entrepreneur

Image

As promised last week, I’d like to address the main objections that people hide behind for not going into business for themselves.

It’s Too Risky
Perhaps you weren’t paying attention to my previous post (found here), but employment is far more risky. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, of all adults reaching the age of 65:

  • 45% are dependent on relatives
  • 30% are dependent on charity
  • 23% are still working

98% of Americans reaching retirement age are unable to retire with any sort of financial independence. (Coincidentally, 100% of those people did not think that this would happen to them).

When harping about the risk of starting a small business, many people like to cite the statistic that 80% of small businesses fail within five years (and 50% of those fail in the first year). Frankly, I’d rather take the “risk” of business ownership. Worst case scenario is you lose all your starting capital and declare bankruptcy in one year. You have plenty of time to start over, rebuild, armed with some wisdom and experience this time. My other option is to work for 40 or 50 years and then go bankrupt as a tired old man.

I Don’t Know How

You know, most doctors didn’t know how to practice medicine when they were toddlers. If you lack knowledge: Learn. I spend a lot of time ragging on the public school system in this country. As far as I’m concerned, public school should last two years and have only one purpose: to teach our citizenry how to read. And statistically, they are abysmal failures at even this in the inner cities.

Once a person has the ability to read, they have the ability to learn anything they want to learn. Period. If kids are forced by law to sit in desks for thirteen years and learn something they have no interest in, then it is no longer “school.” It is daycare for good kids and kiddie jail for bad kids.

If you are interested in becoming an entrepreneur, perhaps in some field that I asked you to brainstorm about last week, begin researching. The internet has googles of free information. Books and magazines are easy to find and cheap. When you have begun arming yourself with some knowledge, enough to discern valid information from snake oil hucksters, you can actually enroll in classes, hire specialists, get yourself some quality specialized knowledge.

Anything that you want to learn, you can learn in this day and age.

I Don’t Have The Money

It takes less money to launch and operate a business today than at any other time in history. With the internet you have greater access to research and more marketing power than IBM ever had when they hit their first billion dollars in sales. A viral Tweet or Facebook post is worth more in advertising dollars than virtually any amount of print ads. With parcel delivery services you can distribute products to a near-global market without having to buy a fleet of planes, trains and automobiles.

Remember John Sestina’s advice from my column last week?

  • If you make less than $75,000 a year you should start a business because you need the income. If you make more than $75,000 a year you should start a business because you could use the tax benefits.

If you start a business out of your home, then a portion of your rent or mortgage becomes tax-deductible. The cost of travel and entertainment while traveling can be deducted from your taxes if you travel for business (and let’s face it, if you’re traveling somewhere, you can figure out some business to do while you’re there). So does your car, your cell phone, your internet service. The income tax laws are designed to provide incentives for people to start businesses. Your best way to pay less in taxes with a job is to earn less money.

I Don’t Have The Time

We will make the time for what is important to us. Most people could have had their business plan completely developed and ready to launch if they had spent one less hour watching television every night of the past year and invested that time into their future. I don’t want to spend a lot of time expounding on this point, because I may have written a book on this subject already called It Takes 15 Minutes to Change Your Life.

In Summary

Employment is a far more risky scheme than entrepreneurship. (Click to tweet)

You may have never thought about going into business for yourself; being an entrepreneur. You may have thought of all sorts of good reasons why you can’t do it. That’s why I wanted to dissect and decimate all these reasons and expose them as excuses.

The best definition I’ve heard of for an excuse is: an excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.

Ultimately even if I can prove to you logically that it is better for you, your family, and your future family to be an entrepreneur rather than an employee, it doesn’t matter what your excuse is. “Any excuse will work. An excuse can be illogical, irrational, inane, insane, insipid, indistinct or even indigo; but it will still work if you let it.”

Stop looking for reasons why it can’t be done, start looking for reasons why it can.
Stop listening to the 98% that say it can’t be done, start listening to the 2% that have done it.
Stop coming up with excuses, start analyzing the lie that is stuffed into it.

 

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If You Want Some Respect, Read Paragraph 9

ImageYou can tell a lot about a person by where they choose to spend their time and treasure. That’s why it’s hard for me to get a handle on people with jobs. The majority of their time is spent in a place not of their choosing: at work. And most people in this country are living paycheck to paycheck so they don’t have enough spare cash to put their money where their heart is.

My last few posts I’ve been railing against jobs. It’s not that I think jobs are completely bad (full disclosure: I still have a job), but a job is an antequated system of earning that is not good for employers, employees or the economy in general. (see my last post).

The reason this is fresh on my mind and the subject of so many posts is because I’m refocusing my efforts on my entrepreneurial roots: teaching and training small business owners.

A gentleman by the name of John Sestina, who years ago was voted the #1 Financial Planner in America made this statement back in the 1980′s:

  • If you earn less than $75,000 a year at your job, you should own a second business because you need the extra income. (adjusted for inflation, that would probably be closer to $150,000). And, if you earn more than $75,000 a year at your job, you should own a second business because you could use the tax breaks.

So, by my reasoning, you are only exempt from starting a business of your own if you make exactly $150,000 a year at your job.

If you’ve never thought about owning your own business, then for crying out loud: Think. Think now. Think hard. Think about the possibilities. First of all, you could have a cool boss for the first time in your life. You can be a producer for the economy rather than a cog in someone else’s well-oiled machine. You can be paid for your productivity rather than your presence. You can spend your hours generating an income-producing asset rather than just trading hours of your life for dollars. You can earn income based on how much service you provide to the world rather than how long you ride a desk. And if you decide you’ve had enough and no longer want to run a business you can either hire someone to manage it or just sell it.

The income tax system in our country is designed to help and promote business owners not employees. Our country’s economic system is based on the idea of business ownership not benefits. Yet, most of our children are never taught anything about entrepreneurship and most teachers only talk about the free-enterprise system as something that is evil.

According to a focus group by Frank Luntz, a “small business owner” is the second-highest-respected vocation in this country, after a “member of the armed forces.”

Rather than getting another job, why don’t you start giving some people jobs?

Prior to the industrial revolution circa 1900, 90% of Americans were either self-employed or in an apprentice position being trained to become self-employed. Today that number has been flipped upside down with less than 10% of Americans owning a business.

I expect that pendulum to swing back in the other direction drastically over the next few decades. We are entering a new age of entrepreneurship. Generation Y is looking for options. They see that the existing job system may have worked for their great-grandparents that they never met, but none of their living ancestors seem able to make it the same way. Want to have fun? Ask any generation X person (of which I am a member) whether they think that life will be better for their children than it was for them. Almost universally, their answer is “NO.” And we were the first generation in this country where the majority of us felt that way.

So rather than just plodding along doing the same thing day after day, do what I implored you to do back in paragraph 7. THINK! Every day for the next week, spend 15 minutes with a paper and pencil, and brainstorm what sort of business you would like to own. Don’t filter your ideas with such nonsense as whether or not you are qualified or capitalized. Just brainstorm. Every day. 15 minutes. Go!

Why should you invest the time into this tiny thought exercise? I’ll ask you directly: Do you think that life will be better for your children than it was for you if they follow in your footsteps?

Next week I’ll address the main reasons why people do not go into business for themselves.

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Your Problem Is You Have a Job

ImageI cringe whenever I hear someone say “You’re lucky you have a job.”

I am not against jobs. I think they are a temporary, necessary evil that you should be involved in for a limited amount of time for you to finance your own business. With very few exceptions, your job is probably responsible for 95% of your problems in life.

Not enough money? Job.
Not enough time? Job.

What other problems do you have?

If you take an inventory of every problem in your life, I would wager that nearly all of them are due to a lack of money or lack of time. If your problem is that you have a shaky relationship with your spouse or kids, I’m guessing you spend more time with your boss than with your family. In other words, your problem is you have a job.

Most jobs work on the basis of exchanging your hours for dollars in reimbursement. This entire model of employment is a losing proposition for everyone involved.

Paying for hours is a bad deal for the boss, because it wastes dollars by paying for non-productive time. If you have been at your job for any length of time, you could probably finish all of your work in two hours. But, since you are required to stay there for eight hours, you slow your pace to fill up your shift or you waste time sending tweets from your office computer. The traditional job model encourages waste

Exchanging hours for dollars is a bad deal for employees, because it consumes your life. Time is an irreplaceable commodity, yet we trade it for money which is always temporary. In fact, most people have already spent their next paycheck and the bank is just waiting for you to pay off your indentured servitude. The traditional job model costs you your life. If someone complains that their job is sucking the life out of them, tell them “Well, yeah, that’s what you signed up for.”

Management and labor have diametrically opposed goals. The goal of employees is to earn the most dollars for the least amount of time. The goal of management, or more accurately, the owner, is to get the most work out of the employees for the least amount of money. The traditional job model has strife built right into the system.

So, if I’ve summarized this accurately, by it’s very nature the standard model of employment is a lose-lose situation that promotes an antagonistic relationship between management and labor.

And yet, that’s the primary method of earning for the masses in this country.

Let’s look at a different model for generating revenue.

Imagine that you hire a contractor to renovate your kitchen. You offer him 50k to complete a home remodel in seven days. If he finishes it in three days, who wins? The customer is happy, because the job is finished sooner than expected. The contractor is happy because he lost less of his life. It is a win-win situation.

Employer-Employee relationship. Lose-Lose.
Owner-Customer. Win-win.

If you want to at least have a chance at being in a win-win situation; if you want to have an opportunity to be paid based on your value not on your seniority; if your job is causing a multitude of your life’s problems; you should go into business for yourself.

The only reason most young people started working at a job in the first place is because no one ever presented them with an option. Entrepreneurship, business ownership, is the foundation of the U.S. economy. I posted last week that 98% of people that reach the age of 65 are unable to support themselves financially. What all those people had in common is that they had a good job that their friends and family members told them they were lucky to have.

It’s way past time that you start looking at a “Plan B.”

There is only room in any one business for one dream. If you are not the owner of that business, then you are working to fulfill someone else’s dream. And you are probably a headache for your boss.

What is holding you back from going into business for yourself?

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Statistically Speaking, Your Life Probably Sucks

ImageLooking at some of the numbers that I’ve collected in my years of research (ahem), it’s easy to state authoritatively that according to our best testing, your life will suck.

If I were to ask you what the greatest day of your life was, many people would point at their wedding day. But according to US statistics, you have anywhere from a 50% to 76% chance of getting a divorce depending on whose study you read.

Perhaps having a child is your greatest day. And having that little person look up to you as the greatest person in the world certainly can brighten your life. But a look at the statistics show that while 95% of children at age 5 say their parents are their heroes, by age 15 that statistic drops to 5%. There is also a 75% chance that their new replacement hero is a drug addict.

Most people lead those lives of quiet desperation that Thoreau talked about. They spend the majority of their waking hours working at a job. Some people call it a career to feel better about it. Here’s some statistics to put that into perspective. The number one killer in this country is heart disease. The most likely time and place you will have a heart attack, is Monday morning at your place of employment. Which makes jobs the number one killer in America.

So we spend the best years of the best hours of our life at a job that is likely to kill us, but it will all be worth it in the end, right? Well according to the Social Security Administration, all Americans that reach the age of 65 have only a 2% chance of being able to support themselves financially.

Depressed yet?

Here’s the good news.

Your success or failure in life is not based on chance. It is based on will. You can determine for yourself whether you will be a statistic or an anomaly. And frankly, all it takes to be an anomaly, a freak, a rebel… is to not follow the masses.

If you don’t want to be a divorcee, then don’t treat your spouse like most people treat their spouse. Don’t treat your wife like your softball buddies treat their “old ladies.” I like to tell people all the time, “You have the spouse that you deserve.” Whether you think that is a compliment or an insult is a pretty good gauge of the health of your marriage.

If you don’t want to die of a heart attack while working at a job you hate, then don’t do what the rest of your beer drinking buddies are doing. Stay out of debt, live below your means, start a business of your own and take advantage of the free enterprise system in this country. “Isn’t starting a business risky?” I hear you cry…

98% chance of being broke at age 65. What exactly are you risking?

Take responsibility for your life. Exercise your own will to direct your life. Do not be a slave to statistics, a product of probability. The only way you will fall onto that wrong side of a percentage range is if you drift with the current and let life push you around. Once you will yourself to stop following the ruts in the road that everyone else is in, to stop agreeing with the masses, to stop blindly following the flocks of sheeple… then the statistics no longer apply to you.

Or you can just go with the flow. And be a divorced, penniless, dead man at the office who never hears from his kids.

What is one thing that you are doing right now, either with your family, your finances or your life, that is different from the average person?

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Let’s Start With Something Easy

purposeIn Napolean Hill’s classic tome, Think and Grow Rich, he lists the thirty major causes of failure. I want to spend a little bit of blog to address just one of those thirty, because I feel it is the one that holds most people back in life (even though it is only listed as #2 on the list).

2. Lack of a well-defined purpose in life. There is no hope of success for the person who does not have a central purpose, or definite goal at which to aim. Ninety-eight out of every hundred of those whom I analyzed, had no such aim.”

I like the word purpose. You can have a purpose-driven life and know that you are achieving a great work. Someone can walk with purpose into a room and you know that they are about to do something important, or possibly violent. It’s also a word that if you read it about a dozen times it starts to sound really funny. Try it.

If you are not living your life with purpose, by default you are living by accident.

And few people become a success accidentally.

Like, about 2%.

If you want to separate yourself from that group labeled as failures, then the first and best thing you can do is determine a purpose for your life. That single change will increase your probability of being a success by 50 times.

And we haven’t talked one bit about work, or talent, or discipline, or character. Someone could have an abundance of each of those, and yet never rise up to any level of success simply because they have no direction, or vision, or purpose.

You may have a great work ethic inherited from your parents, but never have more than a mediocre income because you are content to let someone else call your shots. You may have great talent in art or music and never produce a thing because it was never a dream of yours to have the spotlight. You may have incredible discipline and never use it to achieve something that a lesser man would never be able to accomplish. You could have exemplary character and never leave a lasting impression on a single other soul.

Without having a definite major purpose in your life, you may be wasting not just your own potential but the potential of dozens, hundreds or thousands of others that you could have influenced.

So before you pass through another day, before you spend another twenty four hours investing your life into fulfilling someone else’s purpose (possibly your boss), ask yourself “What is the central purpose of my life?”

If you don’t have an immediate answer, then you have a 98% chance of failing.

The good news is, you can decide in an instant that your life has a purpose. You can determine what your purpose is in the next few minutes, and that will drive you closer to success than any amount of hard work, talent, discipline or character will. I’m not saying you don’t need those things, just that without purpose, they’ll end up being applied towards some other purpose besides yours.

There are people born with incredible gifts that will never achieve anything worthwhile because they never had purpose in their lives.

Question: What’s the central purpose of your life?

Question 2 (if you answered: “I don’t know?): Would you like to have a purpose in your life? (Y/N)

If you answered Y, then leave a comment below and let’s start a conversation on your life’s purpose.

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Get Serious About Happiness

If your house catches fire, your wife leaves you, your business goes bankrupt and you are falsely condemned by the media as an unholy monster… there’s no point in compounding your problems by also being unhappy.

ImageOne of my favorite books of all time is Being Happy by Andrew Matthews. Why? Because every single person on Earth wants to be happy. When someone writes a book about being happy, it should be required reading for every human of every age.

The problem of happiness is that darn individuality. Every one of us has our own notions and conditions for what it takes to make us happy. Let’s address that issue right now.

Since we as individuals determine our own parameters of what exactly constitutes happiness, then happiness is just a construct of our own thoughts. Happiness exists in your mind. Ultimately, you choose whether or not you are happy. You. Right now. You choose.

No other person, no other circumstance, none of those notions and conditions that you think will bring you joy and happiness are truly requirements for joy and happiness. They are phantom requirements concocted from your imagination. In point of fact, they are what is keeping you unhappy.

If you say that some person, or some condition, or some law, or some disorder is why you are unhappy… that is wrong. It’s a lie.

Any prerequisite in your mind for your own happiness is what makes you unhappy.

Like Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Decide to be happy.

It’s okay to be ambitious, to strive, to want more. It’s okay to be discontent. But be happily discontent.

Be happily discontent with your current circumstances and you will have an easier time changing them for the better (you should totally tweet that, I know I will).

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