post written by: Marc Chernoff

9 Things Happy, Successful People Choose to Ignore

9 Things Happy, Successful People Choose to Ignore

“Life is to be enjoyed, not endured.”
―Gordon B. Hinckley

The president and co-founder of a local charity that directly cares for homeless people in our area is a 38-year-old musician and tattoo artist who’s covered from head to toe with tattoos and piercings, and has long brown dreadlocks that dangle below his waistline.  He’s been running the charity since he was 20 and has helped hundreds of people get back on their feet, including a woman I know personally who is now a successful entrepreneur.

I just had a short, inspiring conversation with this unlikely hero a few minutes ago, and now I’m sitting here thinking about the dozens of happy, successful people I know like him who ignore stereotypes, negativity, and naysayers, and go against the grain to make a difference by doing things their own way… the right way.

And following in their footsteps isn’t hard either; you just have to start ignoring…

1.  Other people’s judgments.

It’s OK to listen to others, but not at the full expense of your own intuition.  Throughout your life there will be many times when the world gets real quiet and the only thing left is the beat of your own heart.  So you’d better learn the sound of it, otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s telling you.

When you spend too much time concentrating on everyone else’s perception of you, or who everyone else wants you to be, you eventually forget who you truly are.  So don’t fear the judgments of others; you know in your heart who you are and what’s true to you.  You don’t have to be someone else to impress and inspire people.  Let them be impressed and inspired by the real YOU.  Honestly, what does life matter if you lose yourself along the way?  Even your mentors should teach you HOW to think, not WHAT to think.  So if someone – anyone – is belittling your truth, it might be time to turn the other way.

2.  Old troubles from the past.

You can’t change what has already happened, so choose to look ahead instead of behind you.  Don’t stress.  Do your best.  Forget the rest.  Your past mistakes are meant to guide you, not define you.  Life is a beautiful circle.  You’re strong because you know your weaknesses.  You’re wise because you’ve been foolish.  You can laugh now because you’ve known sadness.

It’s crazy how you always end up where you’re meant to be – how even the most tragic and stressful situations eventually teach you important lessons that you never dreamed you were going to learn.  Remember, oftentimes when things are falling apart, they are actually falling into place.  Just because you’re not where you want to be today doesn’t mean you won’t be there someday.  Everything is going to be come together – maybe not today, but eventually.  (Angel and I cover this in more detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

3.  Each day’s little frustrations.

A bad day is just a bad day.  It comes and it goes.  Choose not to make it anything more.  You will find that it’s necessary to let some things go simply for the reason that they’re heavy on your heart and soul.  Go ahead and let go of them.  Don’t clamp shackles to your own ankles.  It’s incredibly easy to enjoy more of your life right now, no matter what the situation.  It’s just a matter of dropping the layers of nonsense that are weighing you down.

Behind every beautiful day, there has been some kind of struggle.  You fall, you rise, you make mistakes, you live, you learn.  You’re human, not perfect.  You’ve been hurt, but you’re alive.  Think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive today – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, and to chase the things you love.  Sometimes there is sadness in your journey, but there is also lots of beauty.  You must keep putting one foot in front of the other even when it hurts, for you will never know what is waiting for you just around the bend.

Follow this daily to-do list and you’ll be just fine:

  1. Think positively.
  2. Eat healthy.
  3. Exercise today.
  4. Worry less.
  5. Work hard.
  6. Laugh often.
  7. Sleep well.


4.  The necessary pain of hard work and growth.

There are two types of pain in life: pain that hurts you, and pain that changes you.  But when you learn from it, they are one and the same.  If you want something, you must endure the pain of working for it.  It’s that simple.  If you’re not where you want to be right now, take the time to visualize yourself in the place you want to be and take the first step in that direction.  You may not be able to change your destination in a day, but you can change your direction right now.

Remember, strength doesn’t come from what you can do.  It comes from overcoming the things you couldn’t.  Tough situations build strong, successful people.  No matter how much it hurts now, you have to hold your head up, grit your teeth, and keep going.  In the end, consistent action speaks for itself.  So focus diligently, work hard in silence, and let your success be your noise.

5.  Insignificant busywork.

In the beginning, you need to say “yes” to a lot of things to discover and establish your goals.  Later on, you need to say “no” to a lot of things and concentrate on your goals.  Stop over-committing and trying to do too much at once.  Start saying “no” more often.  If you never say “no,” you will take on too much and all you will achieve is stress and frustration.

As Bruce Lee once said, “It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease.  Hack away at the inessentials.”  Many of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.  Don’t be one of them.  It’s not what we claim are our priorities, but how we spend our time each day that reveals the truth.  Let your daily actions reflect your highest priorities.  (Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.)

6.  Impatient thoughts.

Patience is not about waiting; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard for what you believe in.  It’s the willingness to stay focused, confidently staking one small step at a time, knowing that the way you move a mountain is by moving one stone at a time.  Every stone you move, no matter how small, is progress.

Whether you are working on improving your health, learning a new skill, or getting a business venture off the ground, you can’t expect instant gratification.  Instead, you must dedicate yourself to the best of your ability and understand that real change takes time.  Sometimes it may be hard to see your progress.  Sometimes it will be frustrating when the results you seek don’t appear as quickly as you had hoped.  Still, you are advancing.  Hang in there.  You may be moving things along slowly, but you are still moving a mountain.

7.  The things that can’t be controlled.

Never force anything.  Do your best, then let it be.  If it’s meant to be, it will be.  Don’t hold yourself down with things you can’t control.  Stop talking about the problem and start thinking about the solution.  Forget what could go wrong for a sec and think of what is already right.

Remember, change happens for a reason.  Roll with it.  It won’t be ideal or easy at first, but it will be worth it in the end.  When times are good and everything is comfortably in order, it’s easy to become complacent and forget how skillful and resourceful you are capable of being.  Unanticipated troubles are necessary evils that push you forward, because they eventually end, but the lessons and growth you gain from them last a lifetime.

8.  Unfounded fears.

Life is about overcoming fear and taking risks.  If you don’t take risks, you won’t know what you’re capable of.  If you don’t risk anything, you risk everything.  Truth be told, nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.  Now is the time to expand your comfort zone so you can experience things and understand more… so that you may fear less in the long run.

The reality, of course, is we all get afraid sometimes.  It’s not about not being afraid, but what you do when you feel that way.  When you feel doubt, or fear, or anxiety, or frustration, know that you can let it go just as surely as you can pull your hand away from a flame.  Keep your mind focused on the goodness, on the possibilities and on your most treasured goals.  What begins in your mind ends up in your life.  Think continually of the way you would like to be, let these thoughts drive your actions, and your reality will reliably catch up with your thinking.  (Read Daring Greatly.)

9.  The mind’s endless stream of doubts.

Believe in yourself through tough times.  Believe in your capacity to succeed.  Believe that your relationships are worth the effort.  Believe that people make mistakes on their way to greatness.  Believe that people can be foolish and intelligent, selfish and generous, and stressed and happy all at once.  Believe that very few people hurt others on purpose.  Believe that there are many roads to what’s right.  Believe in your intuition, especially when you have to choose between two good paths.  Believe that the answers are out there waiting.  Believe that life will surprise you again and again.  Believe that the journey is the destination.  Believe that it’s all worth your while.

Or as Roald Dahl once said, “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.  Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

The floor is yours…

Which of the points above have you struggled with?  What else do we all need to ignore more often?  Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights with us.

Photo by: Bindaas Madhavi

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  • Number 3 is what I needed to be reminded of right now! I love all your posts; they are so beautiful. And I have gone through such a beautiful change recently, and one of the biggest credits has to go to your blog posts. Thank you so much! Have a lovely day.

  • I’ve got to say, #2 on this list is the one I am working on fixing, or ignoring depending on how you look at it. It was this paragraph from your book that smacked me in the face and someone helped me come to grips with what I needed to let go:

    “There are things you don’t want to happen, but have to accept, things you don’t want to know, but have to learn, and people you can’t live without but have to let go. Some circumstances and people come into your life just to strengthen you, so you can move on without them.”

    Thank you.

  • I just want to say I truly love your blog. I can not thank you guys enough for your wonderful work. It is such an inspiration and helps me stay on track. Keep up the GREAT work! I will check out your book now too. :)

  • Great stuff as always, Marc. I’d add ignoring a lack of inspiration. It’s very easy to not do the work on a particular day because you’re not feeling inspired. Successful people don’t need inspiration to get things done. They don’t make excuses. Instead they just keep on showing up relentlessly, putting in the time every day to get the work done.

  • Excellent article, Marc. :)

  • I find all your posts so helpful, am very glad that I receive them by email :)

  • Thank you for this today. I am going through a very painful period in my life. In a small way this has helped give me something to concentrate on. Thank you.

  • Excellent words to live by. Your inspirational suggestions coupled with prayer make a powerful start to any day for those of us facing a lot of challenges. Thank you.

  • #3 If you work hard, you won’t always sleep well though, I suppose.

  • As I make great and important changes in my life I find that I am on the end of a series of judgments from those that I love very dearly.

    Whilst I have removed a lot of this from my life by just stopping spending time with those who judge, I do have family members that I need to co-exist with.

    I don’t want to keep accepting judgments as some form of joke. I am not a joke, but equally I don’t want an argument each time this happens.

    I am interested in your thoughts on this?

    Lee Davy

  • Inspirational and gives clarity. I feel so peaceful after reading this.

  • #3 and #6 are both incredible points. My little boy can be a tad morose at times, and I am finding your blogs an incredible help for me to help him change his sometimes negative outlook on life - into fighting back and winning. And he’s a star, he’s really beginning to feel better about himself and believe that he can turn things around, one step at a time.

  • Thanks - you are so right that behind every beautiful day efforts were made to overcome frustrations and the past. And yes, hard work is also a necessity.

  • What can i say… for me, #4 and #5 have proven to be a bit of an issue at times, although i’m doing my best to get these right too.

    Still, i must say that this post has been most inspiring, especially because i have a friend who has been having a hard time, especially since he’s kind of looking down on his life and himself - so the points you’ve made here fit with his situation. It’ll surely help him to understand these ideas and start ignoring the negativity around him.

  • Definitely number 7. This is such a great list and worth reviewing on a regular basis. So true that what you think becomes your reality. Thanks so much for this post today.

  • Marc, this article is intuitive and encouraging. Somehow, your articles always arrive in my inbox just when I need them. Thanks for continuing to share your heart wisdom with all of us. :)

  • What happens when you know all this and appreciate the words but as you have become older you no longer see the joy and new experiences in life? When everything around you becomes gray and neutral lacking substance? You no longer have a real connection to it? What do you do then? And mean aside from the usual quips about taking drugs which only mask life not helping an individual? I honestly would like to know know.

  • It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.

  • Great post, Marc. But I think it’s less about what we choose to ignore and more about what we’re going to fill the vacuum of thought with. It’s along the same principle of, “Don’t think about an elephant wearing pink pajamas.” Once it’s present, it’s hard to shake. Same with the nine above. What are you going to replace them with?

  • 1. Other people’s judgement that went against my own intuition. This was a big one in a past business partnership. My reasoning was ignored multiple times and met with anger, and I was accused of being controlling and stubborn, but I knew I had to stand my ground for the sake of the business.

    2. I’m still hoping it all fell apart so something better could fall into place, but right now it just feels like a waste. So the regret still plagues me.

    3. This is probably the easiest for me. I don’t have a lot of patience for everyday petty bullshit and am usually oblivious to it.

    4. Hard work has never bothered me. In fact, it energizes me and makes me more productive. It’s lack of appreciation, progress and reward after that hard work that makes me wonder what the point of it all was or why I even bothered.

    5. Insignificant busywork. This is the biggest thing I dealt with, that bogged me down and dragged me down and made me miserable in my last business partnership. I learned from it and will never get sucked into it again.

    6. It’s definitely important and necessary to be patient and systematic when working towards a goal, but when it’s dragged out for no other reason than other people you count on won’t do the work or don’t make it a priority because they’d rather be doing frivolous things, then impatience is justified. Patience just for the sake of patience is a waste of time, especially when you’re trying to achieve something important.

    9. Aw, I really love this paragraph. This is a beautiful way to end the list. Thank you for another great way to start the day.


  • I’ve struggled with Point #2, Old troubles from the past.

    I’m better at letting go and keeping the lessons from old troubles from the past; however, I stumble once in a while and get into my head, and go over this or that. I’m usually exhausted afterwards. :) What can I say? I’m not perfect. Sometimes, I fall back into the past. But I don’t stay there for too long.

    I believe that most of us need to ignore what others are doing. Don’t get hung up on what this or that person’s doing. Don’t compare yourself to another, e.g., sister or co-worker. Just live your life. And remember… What may be good for another may not be good for you.

  • I simply do not know how to think positively. My minds is wired to focus on my mistakes, my fears and my regrets. I understand all the principles but I have been unable to be strong enough to push through negativity and believe in myself. I have read so many books, talked with numerous therapists, tried meditations, visualizations, affirmations….I always come back to beating myself up and felling empty, frustrated or down. It has sabatoged all aspects of my life and although I understand the problem I feel powerless to change.

  • “It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.” Very important for me right now. However, the entire list is something that has to be continually invoked time and time again. It’s a way of being, not so much something that you just check off of a list and do. Sometimes we’re good at these things, other times, not so good. Thanks for the healthy reminder.

  • Beautiful thoughts & well written. I shared this to over 25 friends of mine & I’ll print a copy to keep with me.

  • Wow. This article is truly remarkable. Amazing work, as usual :)

  • This post is packed with great advice. You identified most of the qualities of people that I admire. I couldn’t put my finger on all the reasons why until I read this. One area you covered that I find particularly difficult is when I have to choose between two good paths. But I will hang a reminder for myself to believe that the answers are out there waiting and to be patient until they are revealed to me.

    Thanks so much for posting your insights.

  • Great stuff as always, Marc. Btw I was interested do you accept guest posts :) Because I’ve read a lot of articles here, but have never seen a guest post, so I was just curious.

  • This entire article is spot on. I think the one sentence missing somewhere in here is this: Be proud of yourself for what you’ve already accomplished. Society puts so much pressure on people to accomplish so much in such a short time. I’m 25 and know too many people who feel as if they’ve already missed their chance to do something great in their life - as if they’re already too old to achieve dreams that they now consider to be frivolous. True, kids who get a head start as a result if their parents’ connections or ability to fund their dreams from a young age have an advantage. Building anything from the ground up completely on your own is no doubt much harder; doing so also usually requires more time and effort as well. Celebrating your accomplishments along the way - even the little ones - can help us all remember that we are valuable and we have already achieved so much already - even if we know we still have a long way to go before we get to our destination. Give yourself some credit. It’s ok to be proud of yourself.

  • The beauty of your blog is in its simplicity! It is a reminder of the things I learned as a child about playing nice in the sandbox. Thank you!

  • Another great post, thank you Marc & Angel. I think I’ve had to deal with (am dealing with) all of your points but #5 really struck a chord - learning to say “yes” and “no” when needed.

    Not with others so much, but developing the discernment to say “no” to those wounded, stuck, younger aspects of myself has been a challenge and a joy. Saying “no” to thoughts and behavior that no longer serve me and “yes” to my own worth continues to be a lesson I’m willing to learn.

  • By far, the best inspirational website. Thanks for everything…

  • I am truly thankful to your blog. Since I have started reading it, my focus and my thinking about the right things has improved in many ways.

  • Number 6 is what I needed :) Sometimes you just work so hard and you’d like to be at the top results in just a matter of days.

    It takes time as long as you take steps that take you forward. It’s a continuous journey. Thank you for your kind words!

  • Two years ago I went through a divorce from a person I’ve loved dearly for 23 years. We have a 6 yr old daughter. That beautiful little girl and the insights of this website are what’s gotten me through. I love it. Thank you so much.

  • Mischa, try helping other people. You have something to offer someone and they need it! But even though your help is needed by others, you will also end up helping yourself even more than you help anyone else.

  • Great article. I have changed myself a lot recently. I must give my thanks to Marc and Angel for all these beautiful posts.

  • bob Jones (Poppy)
    December 1st, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    I have little formal education, and overly cared what people thought of me. Thus I couldn’t succeed thru fear of failure. I had the drive but was held back by fear. I read something that said: DO THE THING YOU FEAR THE MOST. It changed my life. I also found that if you don’t work to get money, it will come to you. I quit my job(a good one) and set up the first of 3 corporations. I tried to instill this into my employees but tho the fear of failure is strong some did succeed. You must believe.

  • I struggle with pieces of each of these but am working on overcoming them (as much as possible anyway). If I had to pinpoint the one thing holding me back it would be fear - fear of failure, fear of dissappointing others, fear of not being good enough. Coincidentally all the things Brene Brown talks about in Daring Greatly, which is an amazing book by the way! So many lessons and tid bits to be gained.

  • Hi Marc & Angel,
    thank you for your daily inspiration!
    Blessings from germany,

  • I love this post, especially point #1. It is so important not to let other people’s doubts dampen your enthusiasm for projects. Trust your intuition and follow your passions.

  • @Lee Davy: When people undermine your dreams, predict your doom, criticize you, and generally resist the truth about who you are, remember, they’re telling you their own sad story, not yours. They’re dumping their own doubts into the air. Ignore them. As you know, it’s even worse when it’s family members. Be honest, communicate your desires and goals, let them know their support would mean the world to you and if they continue to judge, they’re making the decision. You have no other choice but to limited your time spent with them.

    Relationships should help you, not hurt you. Surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be.

    @Mischa: You still have passion within you. Reconnect yourself with things that once moved you, that once inspired you. Connect with what makes you smile and take it day by day.

    @Larry Houchman: Great point! Maybe that will be next week’s post. =)

    @Mike: The mind is a powerful muscle and one that can easily take over your thoughts. Every night before you go to bed, try complementing yourself on a job well done, recognize yourself for all your hard word and dedication. This isn’t going to remove the negativity committee completely but start with baby steps.

    Also, read Danielle’s comment. “It’s ok to be proud of yourself.” Spot on!

    @Hristiqn Nikolov: Thank you for the kind words. Yes, we do occasionally accept guest posts. =)

    @All: As always, we are extremely thankful for the thoughts you have shared here with us. You reminded us, daily, that we are not alone, and that exploring these topics are beneficial and appreciated.

  • This what I needed. I love all your posts. They help me through so much. I remember it was a time I was struggling with my photography, and I didn’t know any place to turn to for guidance and inspiration. Then I remember seeing you post something about meetup groups,changed my life around. I give all thanks to you guys. Thank you Marc and Angel

  • Great morning read!
    Thank you!

  • What I needed tonight. After 28 years in my career- it is coming to an end. I am an over achiever and frightened by the prospects of being unemployed after providing for so many for so long. In a way- I feel free- but my conservative self is terrified that I will not be able to work at something I love and make a living- and I have people counting on me. very good advice- I have printed it and put it in my wallet- ups or downs- it will be my security blanket- very grateful for the post.

  • This is my favorite website. I get lots of inspiration from your postings. Your blogs show lots of wisdom and insight. Excellent work!!!!

  • I love your words of wisdom here!! This site is a haven of warm, positive, and encouraging thoughts. Thanks! You never fail to make my day. :)

  • I have only recently come across your blogs. Your articles give me inspiration and strength. I feel scared from time to time nonetheless. But I have learned gradually to know that it’s part of the process of growing up. I have made so many mistakes, rather whoppers, if you will. Presently I am trying to get back on my feet both emotionally and financially. I can certainly say that I am emotionally in a much better position than I was a year ago. I have read and heard so many times about moving on from the past. I wanted to share a little something on my mind in that context:

    “Move on” doesn’t have to mean that you move on from things that fell apart. It might mean ( in some cases ) that you move on from the habits that caused those things to fall apart and then you try to come out stronger and better to make another attempt to unite with people who may have been apart from you, willingly, but who still matter to you. As long as you are making a genuine attempt on your part to change yourself for the better for someone who is important to you, you are going in the right direction. I only hope that my attempts to do so in my own life and all my prayers will be answered positively. I would like to know your thoughts on this. Maybe that way I’d get to know other insights on this. May god bless you. Someday I hope to help people in pain like you do. Someday…

  • Good one! All your articles are so nice and helpful.

  • I believe I have trouble with #1 and #2. This is a beautiful message to anyone that like me find themselves stuck sometimes in certain situations.

    Thank You.

  • I’m struggling with #9. I’m in college, and it is a constant effort to stay afloat, and when I don’t make that score, or bomb an exam, the stream of doubts come. After reading this wonderful article, it definitely helped lessen the load. Thank you!

  • Thank you for creating this post, I’ve made notes about what I’ve been having trouble handling and managing…

    1. Learning to handle judgmental criticism from Family, Friends, and others has been a work in progress, and I’ve been down on myself for not being the ideal perfection that other people impose on me with their words (eye roll), which has been difficult to manage, but this post has really helped me to absorb and understand what I can do to reflect, regroup, and refocus.

    2. Troubles from the past needs to be managed

    3. Woo-Sah! and focus and change my thinking

    4. Annoyed when I have to do too much trying and aggravating (important) requirements….got to move the emotions away and just know that I will benefit from whatever it is for my growth and progression

    For the rest of the points, it comes back to dealing with what’s not working out for me and exercise discipline, strong focus, and just DO IT!

  • Hi, I just wanna say thank you for creating this blog. I’m just starting to explore this blog and this article is the first one I’ve stumbled upon searching the net. I’m bookmarking your blog as one of my source of daily advices. So, thank you again because some people like me really need to get some guidelines time to time. May you be blessed well always.

  • Thank you for this article. I was reminded about the importance of being positive again..

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