Jul 182013
 

We complicate our lives with stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. But does more stuff — and specifically most of your stuff — really add much to your happiness? Or does a lot of the stuff lead to stress and expense?

Watch this short video… it is food for thought:

Less is more. Shop less. Wait 2 weeks before you buy anything except groceries and basic supplies. Be happier.

I.M. Optimism Man

Mar 212013
 

The rut. We all fall into it. It seems inevitable. We go to meeting after meeting, drive back and forth to school, and work, and practice. We fill out the required forms and pay the required bills. Off to bed, up at the crack of dawn, our incessant alarm clock beckoning  Lift those weights, then put them back where we found them. Our life seems to become one big rut. Novocain for our minds.

The truth is that life is not designed to stay the same. Life makes no decisions; rather, life accommodates whatever you decide for yourself. Life is like a fresh white canvas, waiting to be painted by your daily decisions and daily experiences. We make the daily decisions to create our own ruts. All too often, we go out of our way to make things highly repetitive.

Don’t live this way. Don’t let others drive your life.

It is much more interesting and fulfilling to steer.

What if you decided to take one new class at the local community college each semester? What if you decided to go to lunch with one new person at work each fortnight? What if you decided to write one page of your great novel every Wednesday? What if you decided to read a classic book, or watch a classic movie monthly, instead of Sportscenter, or the news, or the View? What if you decided to create a perfect little garden in the ugly corner of your backyard that you have never liked?

Variety is a choice, just as the rut is too.

I.M. Optimism Man

Nov 252012
 

You are either growing or you are dying. Never maintain anything. Never maintain a career, a marriage, a small business, a life.

I love Coach Holtz. This speech, which is broken into four parts due to youtube restrictions a few years ago, is well worth watching. You could live a great life with just the simple lessons from this 30 minute talk:

Living well comes down to making lots of good little decisions each and every day.

I.M. Optimism Man

P.S. A great goal is to learn one fun magic trick.

Sep 042012
 

Many people spend their lives wishing that they were dealt a different hand of cards to play. In doing so, they waste valuable time or even waste their entire life. You must play your hand in life’s game of poker, no matter if you hold a lowly pair of deuces, three kings, a full house, or nothing more than one ace.

This video is well worth watching. It runs a little over an hour. I promise you that it is an 76 minutes well spent. Randy Pausch might just change your life for the better.

After you have watched Randy’s lecture, I have a small challenge for you to think about.

Have you written a letter to your spouse and kids in case you get run over by an 18-wheeler on the way to the work today? Or recorded an audio file? Or taped a video? It is worth doing. Randy has left something truly great for his kids. And it has a side benefit — it might help you play the cards you have been dealt better too. Remember that pale ink helps you think clearly.

Rest in peace Randy.

I.M. Optimism Man 

May 132012
 

Websters defines Toxic…

1tox·ic adj \ˈtäk-sik\

Definition of TOXIC

1
: containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation <toxic waste> <a toxic radioactive gas> <an insecticide highly toxic to birds>
2
: exhibiting symptoms of infection or toxicosis <the patient became toxic two days later>
3
: extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful <toxic sarcasm>

A lot of people worry about toxins in their life and start imagining toxin buildup in their bodies. The snake oil / vitamin shop salespeople have stepped up to the plate and push lots of remedies to detox oneself, making millions. While I have doubts about toxin buildup, I have genuine disbelief that a magic potion of seaweed and beetlejuice will remove it, if it were to exist.

There is one toxin that we can do something about, however. Answer this question for yourself, before reading the next paragraph: Who is the most toxic person in my life?

What was your first reaction? Who came to mind? Was it someone that tries to tear you down? Was it someone that fouls your mood? Was it someone that tells you that you can’t or that you will not succeed in your newest endeavor? Is it some frenemy (friend-enemy if you are too old to know this recently added to the urban dictionary word), jealous and loaded with backhanded compliments?

Why do you keep a toxic person in your life?

Make your life easier. Optimism flourishes when one associates with other optimists and optimism is essential to success, peace, and happiness. Detoxify your life, not with some snake oil potion that promises to remove toxins from your body. Detoxify your mind and your perspectives by getting rid of / or at least greatly limiting that toxic acquaintance that is tearing you down and ruining your positive outlook.

I.M. Optimism Man

Apr 272012
 

It is easy to fall into a rut of not helping others. “I’ve got too much on my plate already!”

Help one person this week, someone that doesn’t expect it, someone who will never know that you did. How does it make you feel to have made a little difference?

If you have never read about Mother Teresa, it is well worth the five minutes. Click here for the Wikipedia entry on this extraordinary woman.

Little things add up. Few people on earth make as big an impact as Mother Teresa. But what if you made one good little thing happen every week for the rest of your life? Would it touch some people’s lives? Would it make a difference for some number of people? I think it would.

Helping others is a key step on the road to your own fulfillment and happiness.

I.M. Optimism Man

Apr 182012
 

Generosity is a forgotten key to your own happiness.

A lot of my articles focus on happiness because I see that happiness, though sincerely sought, is often elusive to many. Too many people pursue happiness by seeking in the wrong places — most people do not find genuine happiness in money or the things money buys — but it is hard to see that fallacy when corporations spend billions to convince you that the newest BMW or a blue box from Tiffany’s is the ticket to happiness. Others seek happiness in the pursuit of power and influence, but it is exceedingly difficult to shoulder the responsibility that comes intertwined with growing power. As the truism goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely. There are many other misguided pursuits and addictions but none reliably lead to true happiness.

An inconvenient truth is that you handicap your own pursuit of happiness if you focus on yourself. Focusing on oneself directly embraces the dark side of the force. Focus-on-self drives envy, suspicion, gossip designed to tear down perceived competitors, and greed. The bottom line is that focus-on-self invariably tears down the fabric of your own character. Over time, a person comes to realize that his or her character is no longer pure. When that happens, underlying unhappiness grows and festers even if a new Porsche sits in the driveway of your sparkling suburban palace.

We live complex lives in a complex society, but there is an antidote, a simple solution to become happier over time. It is to focus on helping others. The secret key to happiness is generosity. Genuine generosity, not convenient show-off-for-other-people — what’s in it for me — generosity, will make you happy, guaranteed.

Be generous with your time and attention. As I often observe, time is out most precious and scarce resource. In truth, money is much easier to give. When you give undivided attention and time to someone else, you have become genuinely generous. If you manage to inspire that person, to help that person in a meaningful way, without expectation of a favor returned, your generosity creates unexpected long-term results. You will find that if you do at least one selfless, generous act each week, your happiness will grow and gain momentum.

Consider these wise observations:

Many men have been capable of doing a wise thing, more a cunning thing, but very few a generous thing.
— Alexander Pope

Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out.
— Frank A. Clark

The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.
— Albert Einstein

When a man is wrapped up in himself he makes a pretty small package.
— John Ruskin

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle,
and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
— Buddha

You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.
— Winston Churchill

Happiness exists on earth, and it is won through prudent exercise of reason, knowledge of the harmony of the universe, and constant practice of generosity.
— Jose Marti

Generosity leads to happiness and happiness leads to optimism. Optimism leads to success. Success allows you to be more generous, completing the perfect circle. Set a goal, look for your first opportunity to be generous, and jump at the chance.

Inspiring others is one of the easiest and best things to do. Lots of people doubt that they can accomplish something. Pessimists surround them, telling them they can’t or won’t succeed. Go out of your way to tell them that they can. Notice when a young person does something special. It takes a little time, a little attention, and can make a great difference in someone’s life. Do whatever is within your means to help, and be amazed at how the circle of success grows from your little seeds.

I.M. Optimism Man

Mar 272012
 

The world is full of wishful dreamers. They dream of their first book, their first product, their first business, their first million, their tenth million.

Within this vast multitude of dreamers are a minority of people who are both optimistic and action-oriented. These two qualities, more than any others, ignite the engine of achievement. Starting something is far easier to do than finishing a project with gusto. I’ve personally have plenty of experience at starting without finishing. I have outlined nearly a dozen great book ideas but only finished two. I’ve wasted dozens of business ideas without getting nearly all of them to first base, watching others create successful enterprises that I had imagined years earlier. We tend to regret what we did not do, what we did not finish. Finishing is priceless.

Our society rewards those select few who create something real, not just dream about it on a bar napkin. This one of the most  famous bar napkins of all time because it became real.

If you want to succeed more, start less projects — a lot less — but finish everything that you start. Nike made “Just Do It” famous, but I personally like “Just Finish It” better.

“We rate ability in men by what they finish, not by what they attempt”

Before you turn over a new leaf, forgive yourself and forget the past. All of us have started a lot of things that we did not finish in our past. Don’t regret. Learn and move on. Yesterday doesn’t matter. You must believe that you can and will become a finisher. Decide that you are a finisher. When you look in the mirror, you must see a finisher. If you can forgive yourself, you have seen the light.

You must become highly selective. Evaluate every idea and decide against nearly all of them. There are always many more worthy projects than a person can tackle. Opportunities are everywhere.

Less is truly more. The trick is not to start more projects. Don’t multi-task when you are chasing your dream — multi-tasking is over-rated while focusing is under-appreciated.  Refuse to procrastinate — procrastination makes simple tasks much more difficult.  Choose where you will invest your best time carefully — there are only a few hours of high-quality, sharp-mental-state time in each of our days. Get obsessed about finishing whatever you started like your life depends on it.

Plan to overcome. Count on every project requiring more time and effort than you imagined. Then there is pesky Murphy and his unescapable law: whatever can go wrong usually does, in fact, go wrong. You have to plan for things to be difficult. You have to decide to adapt, persist, and overcome. You have to anticipate that you will lose momentum but you must not stop until you finish. Become relentless.

If you have not been finishing in recent years, the trick is to start small. Pick small baby step milestones. Write them down and review them daily. Keep your promises to yourself. Be flexible. Setbacks are not failures but lessons along the road to final success. Your momentum will grow. Pretty soon, your bar napkin might turn one of the most profitable airlines in the world.

Don’t be one of the dreamers… the many who spend their life starting without finishing. Successful people get the job done after the excitement and the novelty have worn off. They get the job done when it is no longer fun. They get the job done when they run into roadblocks. They don’t use excuses. They don’t give up.

A few posts back, I mentioned that the gates of opportunity are often overlooked because three fierce guard dogs scare people away. Those guard dogs are risk, sacrifice, and faith. Perseverance is not easy. You will have to sacrifice to finish projects. You will have to put off things that you want. You will miss events that you will wish to attend. You will have to choose to work long hours and burn the midnight oil to finish what you start. Success only comes before work in the dictionary.

Optimism is the secret ingredient. It is optimism that sparks the successful, the extra energy that helps people get over the hump, even when it looks too difficult to see it through.

Believe in yourself, believe in your ideas, start less, always err to the side of action, always finish what you start, follow the commandments of financial success, and you will be rewarded with an awesome life.

I.M. Optimism Man

PS> Here is a great quote from one of the authors of the bar napkin above. Herb is one of the most optimistic, action-first, business leaders that I have ever met:

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Mar 062012
 

The pursuit of Happiness sounds simple, but I think most people don’t have it framed correctly in their heads. The mistake was seeded at the time of America’s founding, when “pursuit of Happiness” appeared as a God-given unalienable right in the Declaration of Independence. I don’t think that it is a pursuit.

The basic flowchart many people believe looks like this:

This flowchart is wrong.

I believe happiness is a state-of-mind that comes from forward-looking optimism and being thankful for everything that you already have and enjoy. Both happiness and optimism are available to you today and during every step of your life’s journey.

Happiness is not a destination.

Happiness is an enabler during each step of the flowchart scribbled above. Happiness helps a person:
(1) do the hard work,
(2) overcome the tough challenges,
(3) succeed at the endeavors,
(4) ultimately enjoy financial windfalls,
(5) among other, often more important, things.
Happiness does not come sequentially from success or money.

Shawn Achor agrees with me. His truly excellent presentation is my nominee for Best Video that Can Change Your Perspective for 2012. Please watch it now — its just twelve minutes long — and let’s see if he can convince you that happiness is a choice and happiness leads to greater success. Shawn is the winner of numerous distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University, where he delivered lectures on positive psychology in one of the most popular classes offered at Harvard.

I’m not alone 🙂

Do you want to be above average? Start by being above average happy. Below was Shawn’s action steps for how to start today.

I.M. Optimism Man

 

Feb 252012
 

Lots of people feel that they are stuck in a rut and are powerless to escape said rut. Don’t be a prisoner of your own mind, shackled by your own neurons.

You are absolutely just one decision away from not being in a rut.  In the words and music of the Soup Dragons:

Don’t be afraid of your freedom
Freedom

I’m free
To do what I want
Any old time
I said I’m free
To do what I want
Any old time

Don’t believe it? We live in a free country that offers everyone the ability to make their own decisions. The world can be whatever you want it to be for you. Click on the picture below for a perfect video to tickle your imagination as to how much freedom this life gives anyone who wants to get a little crazy:

Still stuck in a rut? Or perhaps in a rut by your own choice?

I.M. Optimism Man