July 30th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

10 Toxic Relationships Mentally Strong People Avoid

10 Types of Toxic Relationships Mentally Strong People Avoid

All failed relationships hurt, but letting go of a toxic relationship is actually a gain, not a loss.

As youngsters we learn about sex education in grade school, the legality of marriage in our late teens, and perhaps some social psychology in college.  But when it comes down to actually handling the intricacies of real-world relationships, we’re given very little formal guidance… or worse, we’re given advice columns in online beauty magazines.

Yes, relationships are trial-and-error from the get-go.  And if you’re like most of us, you’ve experienced plenty of error along the way.

A big part of the problem is that many toxic relationship behaviors are baked right into our culture.  We worship the idea of carefree romantic love – you know, where two people ride off into the sunset happily ever after before they even truly know each other.  And we are raised to objectify our relationships and guard them like personal property.  Thus, our friends and lovers are often treated as assets rather than human beings of free will with whom to share true love and emotional support.

Fortunately, there’s been a lot of scientific research into healthy and happy relationships over the past few decades that have allowed people in the know to build their mental strength against toxic relationships and toxic relationship behaviors.  And that’s exactly what I want to share with you today – ten common types of toxic relationships mentally strong people learn to avoid:

1.  Relationships run by one person.

A relationship is toxic when one person is running it.  Period.

When you feel out of control or a little lost it can be tempting to look for someone willing to take charge of your life for you, just to alleviate the pressure.  But before you do consider this: If you put a collar around your own neck and hand the leash to someone else, you’ll have no say about where they lead you in life.

We should never feel powerless or trapped in a relationship.  In fact, if either person feels powerless or trapped, the relationship doesn’t really exist.  Because that’s what relationships are all about: freedom. Keep reading →

July 27th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

18 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be

18 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be

Life is not complex.  We are complex.  Life is simple,
and the simple thing is the right thing.
―Oscar Wilde

When we were young life was easier, right?  I know sometimes it seems that way.  But the truth is life still is easy.  It always will be.  The only difference is we’re older, and the older we get, the harder we make things for ourselves.

You see, when we were young we saw the world through simple, hopeful eyes.  We knew what we wanted and we had no biases or concealed agendas.  We liked people who smiled.  We avoided people who frowned.  We ate when we were hungry, drank when we were thirsty, and slept when we were tired.

As we grew older our minds became gradually disillusioned by negative external influences.  At some point we began to hesitate and question our instincts.  When a new obstacle or growing pain arose, we stumbled and fell down.  This happened several times.  Eventually we decided we didn’t want to fall again, but rather than solving the problem that caused us to fall, we avoided it all together.

As a result, we ate comfort food and drank alcohol to numb our wounds and fill our voids.  We worked late nights on purpose to avoid unresolved conflicts at home.  We started holding grudges, playing mind games, and subtly deceiving others and ourselves to get ahead.  And when it didn’t work out, we lived above our means, used lies to cover up lies, and ate and drank some more just to make ourselves feel better again.

Over the course of time, we made our lives harder and harder, and we started losing touch with who we really are and what we really need.

If you’re nodding your head, here are some ways you’re likely making your life harder than it has to be, and some ideas on simplifying things:

  1. You look to everyone else for the answers only you can give yourself. – For much of our lives – especially at the beginning – we get told what do, how to think, what looks good, what “success” is, etc.  You don’t have to buy into any of it anymore.  Feel free to peel back the layers.  Think for yourself.  Listen to your Self.  Break the mold.  When you stop doing what everybody else wants you to do and start following your own intuition, you will find exactly what you are looking for. Keep reading →

July 23rd, 2014 - by: Angel Chernoff

12 Things You Need to Remind Yourself of When You Wake Up

12 Things You Need to Remind Yourself of When You Wake Up

Each morning is a brand new opportunity.  What you do today is what matters most.  Today is another chance to get it right.

We may not always love everything about our lives, but deep down we do love and appreciate the magic of life itself.  Some part of us believes that everything and anything is possible.

Sadly, though, we don’t always believe these possibilities are within our reach, even when they are.  The problem is we choose to believe otherwise.  We choose to believe we are incapable of living our lives the way we want to live them, at our full potential.  We choose to accept our reality as others have told us it has to be.

Wake up!

We don’t have to do this to ourselves – none of us do.  We have a choice.  We don’t have to be complacent.  We don’t have to fall into line.  Why not stir things up a bit and live by better rules?

It’s time to remind yourself of a few key truths – right now and every morning hereafter:

  1. Today can be great, but only if you make it so. – Why do we often feel so powerless?  Because we convince ourselves that we are.  We wait for things to be given to us – entitlements.  But in life, there are no true entitlements, and the truth is that if you want something then you need to make it happen for yourself.  You need to work for it.  Whether or not today is a great day doesn’t depend on the weather.  It doesn’t depend on your “mood” (that’s also within your control).  It doesn’t depend on anyone else.  If you want to have a pleasant and productive day then choose to have one.  It’s all about your perception and what you choose to believe and do.
  2. There is a lot you CAN control. – There are plenty of things in life that are out of our control, but don’t let this fool you into believing that your life as a whole is out of your control.  The reality is, the life you are living is almost entirely by your own design.  You have made many little choices along the way that led you down the road you’re currently traveling.  Saying that your life is out of your control is a copout – it’s what other people want you to believe so that they have an easier time getting you to do what they want you to do. Keep reading →

July 20th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

10 Things Happy People Never Do Again

10 Things Happy People Never Do Again

“Happiness is not a goal; it’s the by-product of a life well lived.”
―Eleanor Roosevelt

We all make mistakes in life, but the people who learn and grow from their mistakes are the happiest ones in the end.

And that’s precisely what we discuss in today’s video…

Video Blog Post:

10 Things Happy People Never Do Again (video transcript):

Life is change.  Everyone has gone through something that has changed them in a way that prevents them from being the same person they once were.  But as my grandmother always told me, this is a very good thing.  As long as you keep learning and stretching yourself, change is growth.

Sometimes you have to accept the fact that things will never go back to how they used to be, and that this ending is really a new beginning.

Over the past decade, Angel and I have helped thousands of coaching clients and blog subscribers (subscribe here) get their lives back on track.  In the process of doing so, we have discovered that the people who have the greatest potential for renewed happiness seem to have specific “aha” moments that totally change the trajectory of their thoughts and behaviors.  Once this “aha” light bulb goes off in their minds, they awaken to a new reality that motivates them to never go back to their old way of doing things.

In short, these “aha” moments mean they got it.  Whatever it was they were doing or thinking that was holding them back, is now a lesson learned and a thing of the past.

Although life has many important lessons to teach us, Angel and I have observed and studied ten specific gateways – or “aha’s” – of learning that the happiest people go through, never to return again.

Happy people never again…

  1. Try to be anyone other than who they are. – In everything you do, you must ask, “Why am I doing this?  Is this helping me grow?  Does it represent who I am and who I hope to become?”  Truth be told, trying to be anyone else is a waste of the person you are.  Be yourself.  Embrace that individual inside you that has ideas, strengths and beauty like no one else.  Be the person you know yourself to be – the best version of you – on your terms. Keep reading →

July 16th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

16 Reasons You’re Succeeding in Life (Even If You Don’t Feel You Are)

16 Reasons You're Succeeding in Life (Even If You Don't Feel You Are)

It’s often hard to tell just how close you are to success.

At times we all feel less than successful.  We feel like we’re running in place, struggling to make even the slightest bit of progress.  And while this is a perfectly normal feeling, you have to ultimately break free from it and see yourself and your life in a more positive light.

The key is to pay attention to the small things.  Just because you’re not where you want to be, doesn’t mean you’re a failure.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  To be truly happy and successful today doesn’t mean you don’t desire more in the future, it means you are sincerely thankful for what you have already accomplished and patient for everything yet to come.

Every morning when you wake up, think of three things that are going well in your life at the moment.  As you fall asleep every night, fill your mind with an appreciation for all the small things that went well during the day.  Examine your daily successes.

Give the power of your thinking to the positive influences in your life, and they will grow stronger and more influential every day.  Remind yourself of what works well and why, and you’ll naturally find ways to make lots of other things work well too.  The most efficient way to enjoy more success in life is not to obsess yourself with what hasn’t worked, but instead to extend and expand upon the success you already know.

Here are some much-needed reminders – sixteen good reasons you’re already succeeding in life:

  1. You are walking your own path, not anyone else’s. – One of the most foundational sources of both success and happiness is simply being comfortable with who you really are.  Not trading your reality for a role or your truth for an act.  Not giving up your freedom of thought.  Not putting on a mask.  So never let anyone’s ignorance, hate, drama or negativity stop you.  If you desire to make a difference in the world, you must continue to be different from the world.  Don’t be scared to walk alone on your own path, and don’t be scared to like it. Keep reading →

July 13th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

20 Habits Happy People Have (But Never Talk About)

20 Habits Happy People Have (But Never Talk About)

Happiness is not something ready made.  It comes from your own actions.
―Dalai Lama

Over the past decade, between the two of us, Angel and I have read 1,000+ books on happiness, coached 10,000+ people who were struggling to find happiness, and interacted with 100,000+ subscribers (subscribe here) who continue to ask us questions about happiness every single day.

All of this has given us keen insight into the specific behaviors that make human beings happy.  We’ve literally watched people go from feeling down in the dumps to being on top of the world in a matter of weeks, simply by making subtle, effective changes to their daily habits.

Not surprisingly though, once these people get it figured out, their “happiness habits” become second nature to them, and thus, they never talk about them.  Bystanders may witness their public displays of contentment, but remain clueless as to the source of their happiness.  So that’s precisely what I want to discuss today – the habits happy people have, but never talk about.

  1. They don’t get caught up in other people’s drama. – Never, ever create unnecessary drama, and don’t put up with those who spew drama your way.  The happiest people I’ve ever met care less about what random people say about them, especially if their remarks are rude.  In fact, happy people are often thankful for all the rude, obnoxious, and difficult people they meet in life, because these people serve as important reminders of how NOT to be.  They simply smile and walk the other way.  I challenge you to follow in their footsteps.
  2. They give to others whenever they are able. – While giving is considered an unselfish act (and it is), giving can also be more beneficial for the giver than the receiver.  In many cases, providing social support is actually more beneficial to our happiness than receiving it.  Happy people know this, which is precisely why they are always looking for ways to help others, while unhappy people stand around asking, “What’s in it for me?” Keep reading →

July 9th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

11 Old-Fashioned Relationship Habits We Should Bring Back

11 Old Fashioned Habits that Will Save Your Relationships

Love is great when spoken, but greatest when shown.  Do little things daily to show your loved ones you care.

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting on a park bench eating a sandwich for lunch when an elderly couple pulled their car up under a nearby oak tree.  They rolled down the windows and turned up some funky jazz music on the car stereo.  Then the man got out of the car, walked around to the passenger side, opened the door for the woman, took her hand and helped her out of her seat, guided her about ten feet away from the car, and they slow danced to a song under the oak tree.

It was such a beautiful moment to witness.

This morning when I opened my laptop to write, the elderly couple immediately came to mind, and I spent a few minutes daydreaming about them, wondering how long they had been together and what their best relationship advice would be.  And just as I caught my mind wandering even farther off, a new email from a reader named Cory popped up.  The subject of the email was a question:  “Any good, old-fashioned advice for a struggling relationship?”

The synchronicity of my daydreaming and Cory’s question made me smile.

So in honor of that beautiful elderly couple, and in service of Cory’s present relationship situation, here are eleven old fashioned habits we need to bring back into our relationships:

1.  Spend quality time together with no major agenda and no technology.

Put down the smart phone, close the laptop and enjoy each other’s company, face to face, the old fashioned way.

There are few joys in life that equal a good conversation, a genuine laugh, a long walk, a friendly dance, or a big hug shared by two people who care about each other.  Sometimes the most ordinary things can be made extraordinary just by doing them with the right people.  So choose to be around these people, and choose to make the most of your time together.

Don’t wait to make big plans.  Make your time together the plan.  Communicate openly on a regular basis.  Get together in the flesh as often as possible.  Not because it’s convenient to do so, but because you know each other are worth the extra effort. Keep reading →

July 6th, 2014 - by: Angel Chernoff

12 Quiet Rituals of Enormously Successful Humans

12 Quiet Rituals of Enormously Successful Humans

May your actions speak louder than your words.  May your life preach louder than your lips.  May your success be your noise in the end.

The result of enormous success is often pretty noisy – lots of people talking, writing and sharing stories about it.  The actual process of achieving enormous success, on the other hand, is far more discreet.  But it’s this process that happens quietly, behind-the-scenes, that makes all the difference in the world.

Marc and I are fortunate enough to know a number of enormously successful human beings.  Regardless of lifestyle, industry or profession, they all share many of the same quiet rituals.  And that’s precisely what I want to discuss with you today.

Building upon our recent video blog post on success, here are twelve things the most successful people we know do quietly and diligently:

1.  They have calm, consistent morning routines.

Too many books and courses on personal success act like we’re robots, and completely overlook the enormous power of our emotions.  The less frenzied emotions we have at the start of the day, the less we will have all day.  Because when we start the day in a calm, mindful state, it’s easy to focus and get the right things done.

But when we wake up and stress is already upon us – phones ringing, emails and texts dinging, fire alarms going off – you spend the whole day reacting, instead of being proactive.  This means you’re not in the driver’s seat working on your priorities – the things that drive success – you’re simply responding to what gets thrown at you, whether it’s important or not.

Try to have the first hour of your day vary as little as possible.  A trusted routine can be extremely effective in helping you feel in control and non-reactive, which reduces anxiety and stress, and therefore makes you more mindful and competent.  The bottom line is that how you start the day has an enormous effect on your overall effectiveness. Keep reading →

July 2nd, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

23 Things People Who Love Their Lives Are Doing Differently

23 Things People Who Love Their Lives Are Doing Differently

You know you’re on the right track in life when you become uninterested in looking back, and eager to take the next step.

Angel and I have worked with thousands of coaching clients over the years.  Together, they have given us incredible insight into what the average human being needs to do to go from “loathing” to “loving” their life.  And, of course, we’ve successfully helped the vast majority of them gradually get from point A to point B.

What most of these people never suspected is that they would have to learn how to do lots of little things differently.  Because the truth is, there are specific disciplines and ways of seeing the world that we all have to master before we can awaken to a simpler, happier, more fulfilling life – a life worth loving.  And that’s precisely what this post is all about.

No matter what part of life’s path you’re traveling on, the list below will always be applicable.  These are simple, positive habits that thousands of people who have learned to love their lives, now live by.  Here’s what they do differently…

  1. They flow with life, not against it. – When everything in life seems to be going wrong, mostly it’s meant to go wrong so that you may outgrow the things you need to outgrow.  Keep this in mind.  Life may wreck your plans when your plans are about to wreck you.  For everything you’ve lost, you’ve gained something else.  You don’t have to accept it; it’s just easier if you do.  When you try to control too much, you enjoy too little.  Sometimes you simply need to take a deep breath and appreciate what is.
  2. They let go of self-defeating thoughts. – Breath by breath, let go of fear, expectation, anger, regret and frustration.  Let go of the need for approval too.  You don’t need any of it.  The world is as we are inside.  What we think, we see, and we ultimately become.  So choose your thoughts wisely.  Think how you want to live. Keep reading →

June 29th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

16 Things You Shouldn’t Have to Justify to Anyone Else

16 Things You Shouldn’t Have to Justify to Anyone Else

Don’t change so someone will like you.  Be yourself and the right ones will love the real you.

Will the people in your life always support your decisions?  No, they won’t.  But you need to remember that life is not about justifying yourself; it’s about creating yourself.   Your life is yours alone.  Others can try to persuade you, but they can’t decide for you.  They can walk with you, but not in your shoes.  So make sure the path you decide to walk aligns with your own intuition and desires, and don’t be scared to walk alone and pave your own path when you know it’s the right thing to do.

Make this your lifelong motto: “I respectfully do not care.”  Say it to anyone who passes judgment on something you strongly believe in or something that makes you who you are.  People will inevitable judge you at some point anyway, and that’s OK.  You affected their life; don’t let them affect yours.

And when you need a quick reminder or a dose of encouragement, refer to this list of things you shouldn’t have to justify to anyone else:

  1. Why you’re putting yourself first. – During a 2011 television interview, Michelle Obama was asked if she thought it was at all selfish that she has openly admitted to making herself her first priority, to which the First Lady replied, “No, not at all.  It’s practical…. a lot of times we just slip pretty low on our own priority list because we’re so busy caring for everyone else.  And one of the things that I want to model for my children is investing in themselves as much as they invest in others.”  Spot on advice if you ask me!  There are only a few people in this world who will stay 100% true to you, and YOU should be one of them.  Prioritize your own needs into your daily to-do’s.
  2. The need to express your emotions. – Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional.  There’s no reason to be ashamed for feeling something or acting out on it if it’s real to you.  It’s a sign that you have a big heart, and that you aren’t afraid to let others know it.  Showing your emotions is a sign of human strength.  The people who judge you for being human, and not being modest, emotionless, and “in line,” are the ones who need to apologize. Keep reading →