Jun 282011

Here’s is an interesting quote to think about as many of us pursue happiness —

It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.

Dale Carnegie

In our great America and in all capitalistic societies, “stuff” dominates the landscape of people’s consciousness. People are bombarded with advertising that brainwashes them with a constant message of “buy more and you will be happy” — no amount of purchasing is ever enough. We are on a hamster wheel of consumerism 24 x 7.

I suggest something simple: take a complete hiatus from purchasing anything in the not-essential category for three months — no shoes, no shirts, no electronics, no decorating items, no songs for your iPod — just food and basic household supplies.

Decide to enjoy the things you already have. Most of us have more than enough but don’t realize it. Decide to stop thinking about buying anything, looking at stuff-to-buy on the web, reading ads about more stuff.  Not forever, just for three months — three months is not so long a vacation from consumerism.

I think you will learn something, or perhaps be reminded of something you already know but filed away in the backwater of your consciousness: You will have a lot more time. You will savor the things you already have. You will experience greater peace and tranquility. You will remember that stuff has next to nothing to do with happiness.

Please re-read the Dale Carnegie quote above once again. There is much wisdom there. To be truly happy, stop wishing for more, and savor what you already have. Being happy is a core catalyst to greater optimism.

I.M. Optimism Man

Jun 232011

Lots of people feel stuck in a rut — some in a big rut, others in a small rut. No matter the size of the rut, the rut is the same — getting up every morning, slugging a coffee or Diet Coke, sitting in traffic, fighting through the all too familiar yet unfailingly urgent issues, hustling home, rushing around for the final hours, vegging in front of the TV, and falling into bed dead tired — repeat. Genuine first downs, and the satisfaction of accomplishment, don’t happen often enough.

Are you being wise about getting what you want? Here’s a news flash — step one is knowing exactly what you want next.

What are your top ten goals for this year?  What is your top goal for this month?  Most people can’t answer these two questions without a lot of thought.  If you can’t, don’t be surprised that you feel stuck in a rut and making little progress.  The best rifleman in the world can’t hit a target he can’t see.

Make a top 10 list.  Rewrite it on an index card.  Keep it in your wallet.  Read it three times per day, right after breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Work on #1 on your list whenever possible, at least a little bit every single day.

Motivation follows getting started, not the other way around.  Follow this ever so simple system and be amazed how you will suddenly leave the rut in your past.

I.M. Optimism Man

Jun 172011

The Anthony Weiner saga, if you can call it a saga, proves that there is hope in 2011 politics.

Anthony has thrown his hat in to win the Bonehead Self-destruct trophy in 2011, after Tiger Woods was the runaway winner last year. More so than Tiger, Anthony had more to lose, given that he was considered a rising star in the Democratic Party ranks and the odds on favorite for Mayor of New York.  Tiger lost zillions of future bucks and some divorce bucks, painful no doubt, but for better or worse, Tiger already has banked zillions of bucks and is still a pretty fair golfer — I’m pretty sure he will be financial solvent in the end. Anthony is working on his Plan B.

That guys get intoxicated by success and do bonehead moves because they think they have the Midas touch is not new or optimistic. What is quite optimistic is that the Democratic Party, after a bit of deliberation, didn’t stonewall behind the oh so popular “I have a disease and need treatment” lame excuse and instead pushed Weiner out the door. Bravo!

We need good serious leaders. The country needs leaders that people can look up to, that kids can look up to. We need men and women of character and integrity and optimism and action — these are not outdated traits, but many seem to no longer expect them in our elected representatives. We should. We have way too many people with disease as my excuse for what is really stupidity, bad judgement, bad morals, and bad behavior. We have been letting way too many remain in the spotlight, even after prison sentences or bonehead-of-the-year moves. The media often helps, since nothing sells to the weak-minded like a good scandal.

This week, there is hope. Lets expect more. Lets expect better. And seriously, lets get rid of the treatment-for-my-disease excuse and call Bonehead Syndrome for what it really is.

Jun 132011

In one of the most visible commitments to win, uber-optimism man Jason “Jet” Terry of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks put an image of the NBA Finals Larry O’Brien Trophy on his bicep during the pre-season, with the public declaration that he will win it this year or get it (painfully) removed if the Mavs fail.

That, ladies and gentleman, is serious commitment to success and a serious belief in your team. In all my years of watching sports, I’m not sure I have ever seen so vivid and bold a move by a veteran that knows how hard the mountain will be to climb. Jet is no rookie with rose-colored glasses on.

Congratulations Jet!  You are a true man of optimism, commitment, and follow through. Jason struggled in a few games early in the finals against Lebron and the Heat, but he adapted and overcame, delivering stellar performances in the final games of the series.

All the Dallas Mavs in 2011 are an extraordinary example of optimism, but in my book, the Jet exemplifies the power of positive thinking.

Can you commit without hedging?

Jun 042011

Many people pursue popularity and friendship, but few seem to understand the magical key to achieve their desires.

Some (OK, perhaps more than just “some”) think the key is financial success.  They spend their funds on the baubles our retailers parade, then proudly display them for all to see.  This doesn’t accomplish the goal, because real friends and real popularity is fleeting when those people you attract are mesmerized by expensive trinkets.

A reliable formula for friendship and popularity is simpler than many people realize.  All you have to do is

  1. be sincere
  2. ask good questions
  3. listen actively and intently
  4. remember what was said, and
  5. help others get what they want.

You will find that if you follow this formula, success will smile upon you all the days of your life.  For one thing, asking good questions not only improves your relationships, it will also greatly enhance your wisdom and understanding.

The problem is that many grew up with role models (parents or people they thought were popular) that viewed the world from a different, pessimistic perspective: They were taught that the world is one of scarcity with only so much popularity to go around, so one must compete for every scrap of success that they can get, which in turn creates a focus of me-me-me.  Such people think about themselves most of the time, and when they meet people, they spend all their time talking about me-me-me or thinking about what they will say next about me-me-me, as soon as their friend stops talking.

The wise optimist approaches life completely differently.  He realizes that there is an unlimited amount of popularity and success to go around.  When they meet someone, they carefully ask thoughtful questions and give the other plenty of time to answer.  They manage to convince the other person he or she is the most important person in the room at that moment in time.  They do not let emails, cell phone calls, and text messages pull them out of the conversation.  The wise optimist is a sincere listener, asking follow on questions and remembering what is said.  Before long, they discover little ways that he can help the other person.  After such a conversation, the wise make some notes in their journal or smart phone, knowing that the little details may fade if he skips this important step.  If possible, he will schedule doing a few actions/favors that will help the other, without being asked.

The results from these few steps, repeated daily, are truly stunning.  The more you follow the system, the more sincere relationships you create, the more influential you become.  Success starts coming you way and the momentum builds.

“Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much.”

— Francis Bacon

Try it.  Try going as many months as you can without talking about me-me-me.  It will change your trajectory.

I.M. Optimism Man