April 16th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

25 Things You Should Never Stop Doing for Yourself

25 Things You Should Never Stop Doing for Yourself

Sometimes you have to do what’s best for you and your life,
not what’s best for everyone else.

When I was 16 years old and too young to fully grasp the sensitivity of the situation, I interviewed my grandmother’s friend, JoAnn, who was terminally ill, for a school project entitled “The Speed of Life.”  About five minutes into the interview I began questioning JoAnn about her illness and her life situation.

“So,” I tried to delicately ask, “What is it like to wake up every morning and know that you are dying?”

“Well,” she replied, “What is it like to wake up every morning and pretend that you are not?”

Whoa!  In an instant, JoAnn’s response opened my young eyes to one of life’s greatest truths:  Today is the oldest each of us has ever been and the youngest we will ever be again.

In other words, life is short and the clock is ticking.  It’s kind of scary, but it’s true.  If there was ever a perfect day to stand strong beside your values, your ambitions, and what’s best for you, that day is today.

So today I challenge you to…

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  1. Never stop stretching and improving yourself. – Always dream and shoot higher than you think is possible.  Do not bother trying to be better than your peers or predecessors.  Try to be better than you ever knew YOU could be.
  2. Never stop listening to your own inner voice. – The unhappiest folks are those who care the most about what everyone else thinks – those who let everyone else drown out their own inner voice.  So stand strong beside yourself.  There’s great freedom in leaving others to their opinions. Keep reading →

April 13th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

20 Things to Stop Letting People Do to You

20 Things to Stop Letting People Do to You

Be with those who bring out the best in you, not the stress in you.

This past Sunday, while we were enjoying an afternoon barbeque at our friend Sara’s house, her 16-year-old foster child, Cody, received a visit from his biological mother – a woman who has been in and out of prison and rehab her whole life. Although Sara was a bit reluctant about it, she let them talk in the family room alone, and we eavesdropped from the kitchen just to make sure everything was okay.

Cody’s mother was extremely rough around the edges and almost immediately started bringing up hurtful memories from the past, and then told him, “I wish I could go back in time and raise you again, to change who you are and give you a better upbringing.”  Just as Sara was about to walk into the room to interject, Cody calmly replied, “I’m perfectly fine, thank you.  I’m proud of who I am.  Maybe you should go farther back in time and change who you are instead.”  And then he walked her to the front door and politely asked her to leave.

Cody’s response impressed me on so many levels.  It takes a lot of courage, especially at 16 years of age, with a rough upbringing, to tactfully stand up for yourself.  And he handled himself with grace.

So whenever you’re dealing with a difficult or hostile person, remember how Cody handled himself.  Take a stand.  This is your life.  You may not be able to control all the things people do to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.  You can decide not to let their actions and opinions invade your heart and mind.  And above all, you can decide whom to walk beside into tomorrow, and whom to leave behind today.

It’s time to…

  1. Stop letting people drag you into needless arguments. – Never waste your time trying to explain yourself to people who have proven that they are committed to misunderstanding you.  And don’t define your intelligence or self-worth by the number of arguments you have won, but by the number of times you have said, “This needless nonsense is not worth my time!” Keep reading →

April 9th, 2014 - by: Angel Chernoff

4 Good Reminders When You’ve Had a Bad Day

4 Good Reminders When You’ve Had a Bad Day

I have learned that life is constantly testing us for our level of commitment, and that life’s greatest rewards are reserved for those who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to push forward even when times are tough.

Sometimes I catch myself staring at the people around me – studying their gestures and expressions.  I wonder, “What’s their story?  What are they searching for?  What makes their heart beat with happiness, with sorrow, with fear, and with longing?”  And then I ask myself, “What thoughts might Marc and I post on this blog to inspire them, and to remind them that, even on the toughest days, our hearts all beat for these same things?”

Today, in our latest video blog, we want to share some of these thoughts with you.  Because when life gets stressful, we often forget the things we should remember, and remember the things we should forget.  So here are some good reminders for those bad days when you need a little extra motivation:

Video Blog Post:

4 Good Reminders (video transcript):

1.  YOU are okay.  You are just a little stronger now.

Having a bad day?  It’s okay.  YOU are okay.  But now you’re a little stronger than you were yesterday.

Put your hand on your heart.  Feel that?  That’s called ‘a purpose.  You’re here today for a reason.  Don’t give up and don’t give in.  And above all, don’t let one or two dark clouds cover the entire sky.  The sun is always shining on some part of your life.  Sometimes you just have to forget how you feel, remember what you deserve, and keep pushing forward. Keep reading →

April 6th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

9 Things to Stop Doing During Hard Times

9 Things to Stop Doing During Hard Times

The most beautiful smiles are often the ones
that once struggled through the tears.

One thing I can say for sure: September 2008 through December 2009 was an extremely hard time for us.  In that seemingly short 15-month timespan, Angel lost her breadwinning job (which drastically affected our livelihood), we lost a mutual close friend to cardiac arrest, and then, just as we were starting to get back on our feet, Angel’s brother passed away unexpectedly as well.

As you can imagine, each of these losses felt horrific.  And when stacked back to back to back, it was sometimes difficult just to get out of bed in the morning – to make even the slightest bit of progress on anything at all.  But as days turned into weeks, months and years, we pressed forward, stronger and with a greater understanding and respect for life.

Now, sitting here several years later, with many other hardships behind us as well, I can honestly say that Angel and I have learned how to cope well with hard times.  It’s never easy, but there are positive and negative ways of dealing with difficult life situations.  And that’s what this post is all about.

Regardless of what you’re struggling with – a major tragedy or a minor personal battle – it’s time to STOP…

1.  Hiding from the truth.

Most people, at the first sign of distress, would rather deny the hard truth than face it.  But the truth does not cease to exist when it is ignored.  When you try to ignore it, you will find yourself living a lie every day as the truth haunts your thoughts every night.  Don’t do this to yourself.  Face the facts.  You simply can’t get away from your truth by moving dishonestly from one place to the next.

The truth will set you free, but first it may tick you off for a while, and that’s OK.  It’s always better to be hurt by the truth than comforted by a lie.  Because the truth hurts only once and then gradually fades, but a lie hurts just as bad every single time you remember you’re living it. Keep reading →

April 2nd, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

18 Chances You Will Not Regret Taking in Life

18 Chances You Will Not Regret Taking in Life

In life you get just about as many chances as you’re willing to take.

Almost two decades ago, when I told my grandmother I was worried about taking a chance and regretting my choice, she hugged me and said, “Trust me, honey, that’s not what you’re going to regret when you’re my age.  If anything, you will likely kick yourself a little for not taking more chances on the infinite number of opportunities you have today.”

And the older I get, the more I realize how right my grandmother was.  Life is about trusting yourself and taking chances, losing and finding happiness, learning from experience, appreciating the memories, and realizing that every step is worth your while…  But you’ve got to be willing to take each step.  You’ve got to give yourself a fair chance.

So here are some chances I would take if I were you – chances I have taken that I know you will not regret:

  1. Trusting your intuition on new opportunities. – Life is too short to wait.  Every new day is another chance to change your life.  Every great accomplishment starts with the decision to try.  Trust that little voice inside your head that says, “What if…” and then GO DO IT.  Give yourself a fair chance.  You would be surprised how often “what if” works.  And no, you’re not obligated to win every time.  You’re obligated to keep trying – to do the best you can do every day – to improve upon what you learned yesterday.
  2. Believing in your own abilities. – You have everything you need within you to become the best possible version of yourself.  Believe that you CAN.  Believe that you’re capable of pushing harder and farther than you have before.  Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, smart enough and strong enough to achieve your goals.  Don’t let false beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.  And certainly don’t get sidetracked by other people who are not on track. Keep reading →

March 30th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

12 Things You Should Start Making Time for Again

12 Things You Should Start Making Time for Again

This is a new day.  A new beginning.  And things will change.

Today, I was jogging on the outskirts of downtown Austin when a woman I had just passed began screaming for help.  I turned around to see that her husband had fallen to the ground and appeared unconscious.  I ran over and checked his pulse.  He had one, but he wasn’t breathing.  The woman called 911 on her mobile phone while I performed CPR on her husband.  Somehow, miraculously, I got him breathing again before the ambulance arrived.  And although I have no idea how this couple’s story will end, I’m hopeful based on positive remarks from one of the paramedics who said the husband seemed to be in stable condition.

Now I’m sitting here reflecting on the incident and, even more so, on the words the woman repeated over and over through her tears as I was attending to her husband:  “It’s not his time.  Oh please, it’s not his time.”

And in a backwards way, her words keep echoing in my mind, reminding me that life is fragile and fleeting, and that I need to start allocating my time properly again.  Life has been busy lately, and certain things have fallen by the wayside, but it’s time to revive and resume the rituals that best serve my well-being and my relationships.

I hope you will join me in…

  1. Taking better care of yourself. – You are like a building with stained-glass windows.  You always shimmer and shine when the sun is out, but when darkness sets in your true magnificence is revealed only if there is light shining from within you.  It’s your duty, and yours alone, to keep your inner light shining bright.  So learn to love yourself first, instead of loving the idea of other people loving you.  Loving yourself does not mean being selfish and narcissistic, or disregarding others.  Rather, it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart and mind – a guest worthy of extra care and respect.  Whatever you are doing, love yourself for doing it.  Whatever you are feeling, love yourself for feeling it.  That’s a great start. Keep reading →

March 26th, 2014 - by: Angel Chernoff

3 Questions that Will Free Your Mind and Turn Your Life Around

3 Questions that Will Free Your Mind and Turn Your Life Around

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”
―Voltaire

It’s not the answers you get from others, but the questions you ask yourself that will help you grow stronger.  In fact, the simple questions you ask yourself on a daily basis will determine the type of person you become in the long run.

And that’s precisely why we recorded today’s video blog post – to help you embark on a positive journey of self-inquiry.

Video Blog Post:

3 Questions (video transcript):

Keep in mind that these questions have no right or wrong answers…

Because sometimes asking the right questions IS the answer.

1.  If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow this person to be your friend?

Remember, the way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.  You must love who you are or no one else will.  So treat yourself the way you want others to treat you.  Stop discrediting yourself for everything you aren’t, and start giving yourself credit for everything you ARE.  We have to learn to be our own best friends, because sometimes we fall too easily into the trap of being our own worst enemies.

Honestly, the amount of abuse you tolerate in your relationships is often equal to Keep reading →

March 23rd, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

40 Amazing Things You Will Never Forget

40 Amazing Things You Will Never Forget

“There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
―Albert Einstein

“Today I am celebrating my 90th birthday.  I’ve seen the world change many times over.  It’s amazing how much progress we’ve made.  When I was a child there was no such thing as a television, and now I’m online typing this on a touchscreen tablet my grandson bought me for my birthday.  This ride we call ‘life’ is amazing!”

Those are the opening lines to an email I received this morning from a reader named Mary Ann.  The rest of her email discusses the ups and downs of her 90-year journey, and how she perceives life as being like an “ongoing jigsaw puzzle” we never quite complete.  “It’s crazy how some pieces randomly go missing, and then other pieces you didn’t even know existed fit so perfectly in the empty spaces,” she says.

Mary Ann’s words of wisdom remind me that there will always be ups and downs in life, but ultimately, at the end of the day, that’s what makes each of us who we are.  Which is why you have to learn to accept both the good and the bad that falls on your plate with grace.  Because everything in life happens for you, not to you.  Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late.  For everything you lose, you gain something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something else.  You don’t have to like it, but it’s just easier if you do.

So pay attention to your outlook on life.  Every day you can either regret or rejoice; it’s your choice.  When you choose the latter, life opens doors to amazing experiences you will likely remember forever.  Here are 40 such experiences…

  1. Flowing and working through life’s great challenges. – No matter what happens, do your best and smile.  You won’t enjoy your life if you don’t enjoy your challenges.  Great challenges make life interesting, and overcoming them makes life meaningful.
  2. The freedom that comes from acceptance. – The secret to happiness and peace is letting every situation be what it is, instead of what you think it should be, and then making the best of it.
  3. Moments of sincere gratitude. – Appreciate life even when it’s not ideal.  Happiness is not the fulfillment of what we wish for, but an appreciation for what we have.  When life gives you every reason to be negative, think of one good reason to be positive.  There’s always something to be grateful for. Keep reading →

March 19th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

10 Things to Remember When You Feel Lost and Alone

10 Things to Remember When You Feel Lost and Alone

“Being alone never felt right.  Sometimes it felt good, but it never felt right.”
―Charles Bukowski

“This morning I felt lost and alone as I was driving home after a brutal breakup with my boyfriend.  I turned on the radio and the Michael Jackson song ‘You Are Not Alone’ was playing.  A few seconds later, at the exact moment the chorus began, I passed a huge billboard sign with big black letters that read, ‘YOU ARE NOT ALONE!’”

That’s the opening paragraph of an email I received today from a reader named Ella.  It made me smile because I love when life delivers seemingly coincidental, positive messages like that, right when we need them most.

However, the rest of Ella’s email further described her ongoing struggle with feeling “lost and alone” in life.  Which got me thinking…

Why do people have to feel this way?  What’s the point of it all?  Millions of people in this world, all of them craving connection, and looking for specific experiences and people to satisfy them, yet inadvertently isolating themselves in the process.  Why?  Was the planet put here just to nourish our loneliness?

The more I’ve experienced and explored my own feelings of uncertainty and loneliness, the more I’ve realized how necessary these feelings are.  It’s good for us to spend time exploring unknowns, alone.  It gives us an opportunity to discover who we really are and what life is all about.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you feel lost and alone:

1.  You are not alone in being alone.

So many of us are fighting the same exact battle alongside you.  We are all in this together.  So no matter how embarrassed or pathetic you feel about your own situation, know that there are others out there experiencing the same emotions.  When you hear yourself say, “I am all alone,” it’s just your worried mind trying to sell you a lie.  There’s always someone who can relate to you.  Perhaps you can’t Keep reading →

March 16th, 2014 - by: Angel Chernoff

20 Self-Confidence Traps Holding Smart People Back

25 Self-Confidence Traps Holding Smart People Back

by Barrie Davenport

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly,
you cease forever to be able to do it.”
―Peter Pan

Do you ever feel like a duck stuck in white water, paddling furiously and never getting any closer to where you want to go?  The goals and dreams you have just aren’t coming together, and you’re not sure where or why you’re missing the mark.

You think you’re doing your best and busting your butt at work, but that promotion never materializes.  You’re so excited about the date you had last week, and you thought it went well, but he never responds to follow-up calls.  You work really hard at a new business idea, put in significant time, effort, and energy, but for some reason it just never catches on.

So you catch yourself thinking, “What’s wrong with me?  Am I not good enough?  Am I not smart enough?”

Then at other times you know you’re not on your ‘A’ game, but you try to cover it up.  You put on a happy face and hope no one notices how fearful and full of doubt you’re feeling.  And while acting confidently like this, despite your doubt, may be a decent strategy for boosting self-confidence over the long-term, you’re still sending out lots of low confidence signals to the decision-makers and important people in your life.

Your behaviors, thoughts, and feelings translate to noticeable expressions that actually spotlight just how unsure you’re feeling.  And unfortunately, low self-confidence is an unattractive and off-putting quality to almost everyone, no matter how smart you are or how ingenious your ideas may be…  Which means it may be the very reason success in various walks of life has been so elusive.

In fact, did you know that 93% of the recognizable messages we send to others are through non-verbal communication?

Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, conducted several studies on nonverbal communication.  He learned that only 7% of any message is conveyed through words, 38% through specific vocal elements, and 55% through nonverbal elements (such as facial expressions, gestures, posture, etc.).  When we remove the 7% for vocal content, that leaves us with the 93% statistic.

If you are going to act confidently (whether you feel it or not), you must first understand what low confidence behavior looks like.  Here are 20 ways you might be trapping yourself by sending out signals of self-doubt:

  1. Using weak body language – Such as crossing your arms, not smiling, looking down, and not making eye contact Keep reading →