March 25th, 2015 - by: Marc Chernoff

10 Things You Do NOT Need to Be Happier in Life

10 Things We All Want that Drain Our Happiness

Saying yes to happiness means learning to say no
to the desires that drain you.

They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.  I don’t think anything could be closer to the truth, and yet all too often we find ways of complicating things for ourselves.  We look for happiness where it does not exist – in shallow goals and desires – in possessions, quick thrills, and impressing the wrong people.

Angel and I were recently reminded of this when we met a family of six staying at a hotel in Miami where we were vacationing.  We saw them hanging out in the lobby, sharing stories and laughing hysterically.  So on our way out, Angel and I said hello to them and asked where they were from.  “Oh, we’re from here,” the mother said.  “Our house burned down to the ground yesterday, but miraculously, all of us made it out safely.  And that makes today a day worth smiling about.”

Talk about a wake-up call.  Some people might say they had lost everything, and yet this family knew better – they knew they had it all.  Because there really is nothing like joyful tears and deep breaths after a long, hard laugh with the people you love – nothing in the whole world like a sore stomach for the right reasons and a grateful heart to back it up.  That’s a situation where true happiness is surely found.

And there are many other sources of true happiness as well.  But as I’ve said, there are also lots of common traps – goals and desires that we think will bring us happiness, but actually do the exact opposite.  Recognizing these traps is the key.  In fact, I believe one of the best feelings comes when you realize that you can be perfectly happy without the things you once thought you needed.

With this in mind, consider the ten goals and desires (traps) below and how they may be holding you back.  Each of them is popular in our culture, and thus common in our lives, but rather than contributing to our happiness, they rob us of it.

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So say it out loud with me:

“To be happier, I do NOT need…”

  1. To please everyone – Be careful not to give so much of yourself to others that you end up completely losing yourself.  When you go around pleasing everyone but yourself, you are the one that gets hurt in the end.  The late and great Herbert Bayard Swope said it like this: “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”  That is spot on advice if you ask me.  Because truthfully, you are never going to please everyone anyway.  At some point you will hold an unpopular opinion – one that gives you meaning and makes you feel alive.  And when you do, you ought to hold on tight, tune out the noise, and make it count. Keep reading →

March 22nd, 2015 - by: Marc Chernoff

5 Reminders for Finding Strength and Peace in Times of Grief

5 Reminders for Finding Strength and Peace in Times of Grief

“There’s a saying in Tibetan philosophy, “Tragedy should be used as a source of strength.”  My grandmother always repeated this line to me when I was growing up.  Every time I dealt with some kind of adversity, she would graciously remind me that my current struggles were helping me grow stronger.

Sometimes, though, in the midst of chaotic stress and hardship, it’s almost impossible to maintain such a positive perspective.  That’s where the five reminders below come into play.  I review them from time to time to remind myself that my struggles are giving me an opportunity to grow, and to use what I’ve learned to make a positive difference.  Today, I pass them on to you in hopes that they help you find some extra inner strength and peace when you need it most.

1.  Your troubles are gradually improving you.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.  In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
―Maya Angelou

Someday when you least expect it life will blindside you with necessary chaos.  And once the chaos has ended, you won’t remember exactly how it all transpired, how you made it through, or where you found the strength you needed to carry on.  You won’t even be sure whether the chaos has completely ended.  But there is one thing you can be sure about:  When it does finally come to an end, you will be a much stronger person than who you were before it happened, which is precisely why it was necessary.

So let your scars remind you that Keep reading →

March 18th, 2015 - by: Marc Chernoff

8 Things Emotionally Stable People Don’t Do

8 Things Emotionally Stable People Don’t Do

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions.  I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”
―Oscar Wilde

Last night I received an email (creatively) titled “Emotionally Stable People Don’t Do This” from a reader named Karl.  In it he describes a rather chaotic emotional roller coaster that he’s been on for the past few years, personally and professionally.  And then he wrapped up his email with this:

“Truly, I love your book and blog.  Both have helped me get through some seriously tough times.  But even though I’ve made progress, I often struggle with my emotions.  I persistently let every little problem get the best of me.  So I was wondering, what do emotionally stable people NOT do?  I’m asking because, even though I’ve made progress, I know I’m still holding on to old habits that are holding me back.  I need some reminders of what NOT to do!”

There are a million ways to answer Karl’s question (especially as it relates to his unique life situation), but since emotional stability is something all of us struggle with at times, I figured I’d take a stab at answering his question in a general sense, for all of us.  Here’s what emotionally stable people don’t do:

  1. They don’t take other people’s behavior personally. – It’s easy to feel unloved and unwanted when people aren’t able to communicate and connect with you in the way you expect.  And it’s so hard not to internalize that disconnection as a reflection on your worth.  But the truth is, the way other people behave and function is not about you.  Most people are so caught up in their own problems, responsibilities and struggles, that the thought of asking you how you’re doing doesn’t even cross their mind.  They aren’t being mean or uncaring – they’re just busy and a bit self-centered at times.  And that’s OK.  It’s not evidence of some fundamental flaw on your part.  It doesn’t make you unlovable or unworthy.  It just means that some people aren’t very good at looking beyond their own egocentric bubble.  But the fact that you are – that despite the darkness you feel, you have the ability to share your love and light with others – is an incredible strength. Keep reading →

March 15th, 2015 - by: Marc Chernoff

7 Things to Remember When You Feel Discouraged and Defeated

7 Things to Remember When You Feel Discouraged and Defeated

The worst enemy to productivity and creativity is self-pity.

This morning I didn’t feel like doing anything.  It’s a combination of exhaustion from a few days of hard work, and a lack of sleep with a baby in the house.

I couldn’t motivate myself to do anything important, which is a rare occurrence for me.  I just felt completely discouraged and defeated.  I started overthinking things and doubting myself, and wondering whether anything I do is worthwhile.

I sat there in this funk for nearly an hour and wondered how to get out of it.  Should I just forget about today?  Should I just give up on this project, because I’m not as good at it as I thought I was?

That’s what I was considering, at least for a little while.  But the better part of me knew this mild state of depression was temporary, and so I dug into my own intellectual toolbox for solutions – little tricks of the mind that can have a real effect on reality.

Here’s what works for me – seven things to keep in mind (and do) when you feel discouraged and defeated:

1.  You are not the center of the universe (stop making it all about YOU).

I think we all have the tendency to put ourselves at the center of the universe, and see everything from the viewpoint of how it affects us.  But this can have all kinds of adverse effects, from feeling sorry for ourselves when things aren’t going exactly as planned, to doubting ourselves when we aren’t perfect.

So this morning, instead of worrying so much about myself, I thought about other people I might help.  Finding little ways to help others gets me out of my self-centered thinking, and then I’m not wallowing in self-pity anymore – I’m starting to think about what others need.  I’m not doubting myself, because the question of whether I’m good enough or not is no longer the central question.  The central question now is about what others need. Keep reading →

March 11th, 2015 - by: Angel Chernoff

10 Courageous Ways to Live Life Without Regrets

10 Courageous Ways to Live Life Without Regrets

by Naïby Jacques

“Life is inherently risky.  There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.”
―Denis Waitley

Have you ever wondered what gives some people the willingness to move without fear or hesitation?

They do things you believe you can’t do because you’re afraid of the outcome, of the unknown, of the pain.

You see people who can let go of things that might matter to them, and move on with their lives without struggling too much.  You see people who can quit or change their jobs, end difficult relationships, and travel around the world, just like that.

Sometimes you regret not trying harder to follow in the footsteps.  And you wonder…

What do these people have that I don’t?  What’s their secret?

Well, I’ve studied the lives of dozens of courageous (and also successful) people over the years, and I’m happy to share these time-tested strategies for courageously living your life without regrets:

  1. Be as weird as you are. – Don’t be afraid to provoke the status quo.  Maybe some of your ideas are crazy.  But crazy ideas are what shake the world.  Crazy ideas make revolutions.  So don’t be afraid to be different, and don’t be afraid to break traditions.  Sure, some people will be frustrated and opposed to your weirdness.  Some people might even criticize you.  But even if it takes time for them to embrace your ideas, you’re showing them a new way of thinking.  You’re planting a seed in their heads and opening their minds – and you’re opening your own mind too.  The minute you understand that you can be weird and mold life your own way, you allow yourself to shake off the erroneous notion that life is just there, and that you’re just going to exist in it, rather than embrace it, change it, improve it, and truly live it. Keep reading →

March 8th, 2015 - by: Marc Chernoff

9 Ways to Feel Less Stress When Life Gets Crazy Busy

9 Ways to Feel Less Stress When Life Gets Crazy Busy

Don’t stress.  Do your very best.  Appreciate each step.  Forget the rest.

Stress is one of the primary causes of major health problems in our lives: it can cause heart disease, anxiety, sleep deprivation, auto-immune disorders, weight problems, unhappiness, and even deep depression.

But we’re busy – we all have places to be, things to do and people to see.  So how do we alleviate stress and still get our work done right (without neglecting our loved ones and ourselves)?

When life gets crazy busy, you might not have time for week-long meditation and yoga retreats, weekend vacations, or even weekly life coaching sessions.  So what can be done?

I’m going to be brief about this, because time is of the essence.  There are nine simple things you can do.  A few mindset shifts and a couple actions that take only a couple minutes.  These can’t solve the most severe stress related problems, but they can help most of us in a major way, every day.

1.  Be in the moment, completely, with just one task.

Instead of being in a stressful task-switching state of mind, take your next task, let everything else go, and just be in the moment with this one task.

Let yourself be immersed in this task by letting go of the feeling that you need to quickly rush through it – that you need to move on to the next task waiting for you.  There will always be a next task, because that’s the nature of TO-DO lists – they’re never-ending.  So let those later tasks come later.  Just be 100% in this one task, like it’s your entire world.

Bottom line: Slow down.  Breathe.  Review your commitments and goals.  Put first things first.  Do one task at a time.  Start now.  Take a 5-minute break in an hour.  Repeat.  (And always remember, results are more important than the time it takes to achieve them.) Keep reading →

March 5th, 2015 - by: Angel Chernoff

4 Toxic Behaviors that Tear Couples Apart

4 Toxic Behaviors All Failed Relationships Have in Common

The best relationships are the best not because they have always been the happiest, but because they have stayed strong through the mightiest of storms.

Over the years, through our coaching practice and premium course, Marc and I have worked with thousands of individuals and couples looking to fix their failing relationships, and we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to make this happen.

Whether you’re working to fix your marriage, a dating relationship, or a friendship, there are lots of little things you can do to keep your relationship on track.  And since we’ve recently covered many of these healthy relationship strategies here and here, today I want to take a quick look at the flipside – the most common toxic behaviors that tear relationships apart.

To start, I can honestly say that Marc and I can listen to a couple talk for 30 minutes and determine, with close to 90% accuracy, whether they’re relationship will last in the long run (without major changes being made).  The reason we can do this is simple: Most failing/failed relationships suffer from the same four basic behavioral issues…

  1. Condemnation of a person’s character – Complaints are fine.  Disagreements are fine too.  These are natural, focused reactions to a person’s decisions or behavior.  But when complaints and disagreements snowball into global attacks on the person, and not on their decisions or behavior, this spells trouble.  For example: “They didn’t call me when they said they would because they forgot, but because they’re a horrible, wretched human being.” Keep reading →

March 2nd, 2015 - by: Marc Chernoff

10 Damaging Lies and Excuses Your Mind Loves to Tell You

10 Damaging Lies and Excuses Your Mind Loves to Tell You

It is ultimately only our own thoughts that hurt us.

The mind is a wonderful thing.  It’s also a total liar and an excuse machine that frequently tries to convince us not to take actions we know are good for us.  In the end, this prevents many positive changes from taking place in our lives.

I’ve had to learn to watch these lies and excuses very carefully in order to make the positive changes I’ve made in my life: a healthier diet, regular exercise, meditation, more sleep, daily writing, better planning, less procrastination, more focus, etc.

If I hadn’t learned about these lies and excuses, and how to suppress them, I would never have succeeded in making these positive changes.  In fact, until I knew better, I had failed countless times when I was young because my mind’s deceptive tendencies used to get the best of me.

So why does the mind lie to us and make irrational excuses?

Because the mind wants comfort – that’s why.  It’s afraid of discomfort, pressure and change.  The mind is absorbed in its comfort zone, and anytime we try to stretch that zone too far, for too long, the mind tries desperately to get back to ground zero at any cost… including sacrificing our long-term health, happiness and success.

So let’s expose 10 of the cowardly mind’s most damaging lies and excuses once and for all:

  1. I can’t do it. – It seems too difficult at first, so you think you can’t stick to the positive change you’re making.  You don’t believe in yourself enough to take another step.  This is a common lie/excuse that can be countered by looking at the fact that other people no more capable than you have done it.  For example, my 60-year-old next-door neighbor ran a marathon a little before I started training for my first marathon, and so I told myself, “If she can do it, so can I!”  And I was right.  Truth be told, the only person who can tell you “I can’t” is you.  If you hear those words echoing in the back of your mind, tune them out.  Realize that your doubts and your faith have something in common – they both ask you to believe in something you can’t see.  You simply have to decide which one you want to believe. Keep reading →

February 25th, 2015 - by: Marc Chernoff

7 Ways to Stay Strong When Everything Goes Wrong

7 Ways to Stay Strong When Everything Goes Wrong

When life is “falling apart,” it could actually be falling together… for the very first time.  Which is why it feels so darn uncomfortable.  Consider that what’s in front of you may be serving you in valuable ways you don’t even understand right now.

“Today, on my 47th birthday, I re-read the suicide letter I wrote on my 27th birthday about two minutes before my girlfriend showed up at my apartment and told me, ‘I’m pregnant.’  She was honestly the only reason I didn’t follow through with it.  Suddenly I felt I had something to live for.  Today she’s my wife, and we’ve been happily married for 19 years.  And my daughter, who is now a 21-year-old college student, has two younger brothers.  I re-read my suicide letter every year on my birthday as a reminder to be thankful – I am thankful I got a second chance at life.”

That’s the opening paragraph of an email I received last night from a reader named Kevin.  His words remind me that sometimes you have to die a little on the inside first in order to be reborn and rise again as a stronger, smarter version of yourself.

People and circumstances will occasionally break you down.  But if you keep your mind focused, your heart open to love, and continue to put one foot in front of the other, you can recover the pieces, rebuild, and come back much stronger and happier than you ever would have been otherwise.

Angel and I have dealt with our fair share of adversity over the years too – losing loved ones to illness, financial and business turmoil, etc. – and we’ve written a lot about it.  But today, in light of Kevin’s email and a dozen other emails I’ve received this past week from readers who are struggling with hard times, I want to revisit and discuss seven key actions Angel and I take to find strength when everything seems to be going wrong.

1.  Fully accept the reality of what is.

You cannot find peace by avoiding life.  Life spins with unexpected changes every hour; so instead of avoiding it, take every change and experience as a challenge for growth.  Either it will give you what you want or it will teach you what the next step is.

Finding peace and happiness in life does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, no challenges, and no hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those Keep reading →

February 22nd, 2015 - by: Marc Chernoff

5 Simple Questions that Will Make You 5 Times More Successful

5 Simple Questions that Will Make You 5 Times More Successful

Doing your best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.

There’s nothing more disheartening than a perfectly healthy, reasonably affluent human being with the whole world in his or her hands who’s chronically unhappy and unproductive.  There’s really no excuse for it either, yet I see this phenomenon unfolding every single day – people who choose to be stuck in misery and refuse to admit it.  This mindset results from an extremely unbalanced life – one with too much expectation and not enough discipline and appreciation.

What’s the point of achievement if your life has no balance?  There is no point.  Without commitment for what you want most, and gratitude for what you already have, you’ll never know the true joy of success, because nothing will ever change, and even when it does, it will never be good enough in your mind.

But how do you cultivate balance in life when everything is already so far out of whack?

For a decade now, Angel and I have had the privilege of coaching thousands of people from every walk of life, with various socioeconomic backgrounds, from dozens of countries around the world, including some extremely powerful and successful businessmen and businesswomen.

Across the board, we’ve found that successful people habitually ask themselves (and work through) five key questions that dictate both the effectiveness of their decisions and the quality of their lives.

If you avoid these questions and make decisions unconsciously, you’ll end up like the majority of people who tend to be out of shape physically, exhausted mentally, and personally and professionally stressed out.  But if you ask yourself these questions on a regular basis, and make your daily decisions consciously, you can literally change the entire course of your life from this moment forward.

1.  Am I focusing on the right things?

At every moment, millions of little things compete for your attention.  All these things fall into one of two categories: things that are important and things that are not. Keep reading →