February 5th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

25 Things You Need to Stop Wasting Time On

25 Things You Need to Stop Wasting Time On

“Dost thou love life?  Then do not squander time,
for that’s the stuff life is made of.”
―Benjamin Franklin

This morning I received a thank you email from a reader named Hope.  She said our blog and book helped motivate her through an arduous recovery process following a serious car accident last year.  Although her entire story was both heartbreaking and inspiring, this one line made me pause and think:

“The happiest moment of my life is still that split-second a year ago when, as I laid crushed under a 2000 pound car, I realized my husband and 9-year-old boy were out of the vehicle and absolutely OK.”

Dire moments like this force us to acknowledge what’s truly important to us.  In Hope’s case, it was her husband and son.  And in the remainder of her email, she talks about how her family spends significantly more time together now, simply sharing stories, telling jokes, and appreciating each other’s company.  “The accident made us realize how much time we had been wasting every day on things that weren’t important, which prevented us from spending quality time with each other,” she said.

It’s hard to think about a story like Hope’s and not ask yourself:  “What do I need to stop wasting time on?”

Here are some things to consider, that I’ve been examining in my own life:

  1. Distractions that keep you from special moments with special people. – Pay attention to the little things, because when you really miss someone you miss the little things the most, like just laughing together.  Go for long walks.  Indulge in great conversations.  Count your mutual blessings.  Let go for a little while and just BE together.
  2. Compulsive busyness. – Schedule time every day to not be busy.  Have dedicated downtime – clear points in the day to reflect, rest, and recharge.  Don’t fool yourself; you’re not so busy that you can’t afford a few minutes of sanity.
  3. Negative thinking about your current situation. – Life is like a mirror; we get the best results when we smile.  So talk about your blessings more than you talk about your problems.  Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing.  Every great success requires some type of worthy struggle to get there. Keep reading →

February 2nd, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

9 Signs You’re Going to Die Happy

9 Signs You're Going to Die Happy

Everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives.

Last week, at my friend Haley’s funeral, her husband stood up to deliver her eulogy and said, “Life is the leading cause of death, and Haley LIVED her life, passionately.  She died doing what she loved to do.  If she didn’t do what she loved, she may not have died yesterday, but she wouldn’t have truly lived either.”

His words immediately reminded me of the opening lines to one of my favorite entries in my grandmother’s journal:

“I have seen and touched and danced and sung and climbed and loved and meditated on a lifetime spent living honestly.  Should it all end tomorrow, I can positively say there would be no regrets.  I feel fortunate to have walked in my shoes.  I am truly lucky.  I really have lived 1,000 times over.”

What does it mean to truly live?  What does it mean to live 1,000 times over?

Perhaps… to someday die happy, with zero regrets of how you have lived.

And that means…

1.  You are 100%, unapologetically yourself, every day.

Where’s your will to be weird?  Where’s your resolution to be real?

Truth be told, it’s not weird to be weird.  Everybody is weird in some way.  You must celebrate your individuality and not be embarrassed of it.  If you’re lucky enough to have something that makes you different from everybody else, don’t be ashamed and don’t change.  Uniqueness is priceless.  In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, find the courage to be your remarkable self.

One of the most influential sources of both peace and happiness is simply being comfortable with who you really are.  Not trading your reality for a role, or your Keep reading →

January 29th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

10 Painfully Obvious Truths Everyone Forgets Too Soon

10 Painfully Obvious Truths Everyone Forgets Too Soon

The truth does not cease to exist when it is ignored.

You know how you can hear something a hundred times in a hundred different ways before it finally gets through to you?  The ten truths listed below fall firmly into that category – life lessons that many of us likely learned years ago, and have been reminded of ever since, but for whatever reason, haven’t fully grasped.

This, my friends, is my attempt at helping all of us, myself included, “get it” and “remember it” once and for all…

1.  The average human life is relatively short.

We know deep down that life is short, and that death will happen to all of us eventually, and yet we are infinitely surprised when it happens to someone we know.  It’s like walking up a flight of stairs with a distracted mind, and misjudging the final step.  You expected there to be one more stair than there is, and so you find yourself off balance for a moment, before your mind shifts back to the present moment and how the world really is.

LIVE your life TODAY!  Don’t ignore death, but don’t be afraid of it either.  Be afraid of a life you never lived because you were too afraid to take action.  Death is not the greatest loss in life.  The greatest loss is what dies inside you while you’re still alive.  Be bold.  Be courageous.  Be scared to death, and then take the next step anyway.

2.  You will only ever live the life you create for 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 Keep reading →

January 26th, 2014 - by: Angel Chernoff

50 Things to Let Go of Before Your Next Birthday

50 Things to Let Go of Before Your Next Birthday

When the pain of holding on is worse than
the pain of letting go, it is time to let go.

In the fall of 2002, after a stressful day at work, I snapped at Marc and locked myself in our home office to work on a web application I had been coding on the side.  Marc’s grandmother, who was living with us at the time, knocked on the office door a few minutes later.  “What?” I screamed.  She didn’t answer.  When I opened the door in frustration, she smiled and said, “Honey, someday you will think it’s funny that you were so darn serious today.”

Boy was she right.  And now, every time I catch myself entering a bout of stress-induced irritability, I take a deep breath and do my best to let it GO.  Today, I encourage you to do the same.

Truth be told, today is the oldest you’ve ever been and the youngest you will ever be again.  It’s kind of scary, but it’s true.  If there was ever a perfect day to start letting go of the needless drama and stress that’s been holding you back, that day is today.  And since we often use our birthdays as mile markers to track our personal growth and accomplishments, I challenge you to this:

Before your next birthday…

  1. Let go of what isn’t helping your soul smile and grow. – Life is to be enjoyed, not endured.  Follow a path that moves you.  You are always free to do something that makes you smile.
  2. Let go of the baggage you know you need to leave behind. – As we grow older and wiser, we begin to realize what we need and what we need to leave behind.  Sometimes walking away is a step forward.
  3. Let go of feeling like you aren’t making progress fast enough. – No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
  4. Let go of the idea that you have too much to lose. – In the end, you won’t regret the things you’ve done nearly as much as the things you didn’t do when you had the chance.  I’d rather have a life of “OH WELLS” than a life of “WHAT IFS.”  Wouldn’t you agree? Keep reading →

January 22nd, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

7 Signs You’re Hanging With the Wrong Crowd

7 Signs You Are Hanging With the Wrong Crowd

You will only ever be as great as the people you surround yourself with; so be brave enough to let go of those who keep bringing you down.

Your happiness and self-worth shouldn’t be entirely dependent on others.  But the truth is, personal relationships do have an influence on how you feel, and that includes how you feel about yourself.

An old college friend, Axel, and I grabbed some coffee this morning to catch up.  About halfway through our conversation he admitted to me that he was really stressed out.  The more I listened to his story, the more I realized that many of his relationships felt like a burden to him.  The people he had surrounded himself with weren’t supportive in the least.  But it was a burden to which he’d become so accustomed, he didn’t even know he’d been carrying it until he spoke to me and was able to lay down the heavy load for a while.  The pain of relationships that aren’t working are like a subtle background ache – we don’t notice how much they hurt because we’ve grown so used to the constant discomfort.

How have you been feeling lately?  How are your relationships going?  The two can be more intertwined than we often realize.  As soon as I suspected Axel’s relationships might be having an impact on his happiness and self-esteem, I asked him a question that made him think:

What should a healthy relationship provide for the people in it?

Truth be told, life is way too wonderful and short to waste time with people who don’t treat you right.  So surround yourself with people who inspire you to smile.  People who help you up when you’re down.  People who would never take advantage of you.  People who are honest and genuinely care.  They are the ones worth keeping in your life.  Everyone else is just passing through.

If you feel like your relationships are bringing you down, here are some signs you may be hanging with the wrong crowd:

1.  They say you don’t have what it takes.

Never let someone’s opinion of you wash away your inner strength and spirit.  Never sacrifice who you are or what you aspire to be because someone else sees Keep reading →

January 19th, 2014 - by: Angel Chernoff

9 Ways to Never Regret Another Day of Your Life

9 Ways to Never Regret Another Day of Your Life

“If only…”  These two little words paired together
create one of the saddest phrases imaginable.

Last week, in the last few hours of my cousin Jamie’s life, she told me her only regret was that she didn’t appreciate every year with the same passion and purpose that she has had in the last two years, after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  “I’ve accomplished so much recently,” she said.  “If I had only known, I would have started sooner.”

I shared this story, along with some advice on avoiding regret, in one of our recent “subscribers only” email newsletters.  Within 24 hours we received nearly 500 replies.  This inspired Marc and I to revisit the content, tailor it to some of the most popular questions and commentary we received, and share an enhanced version of our advice on avoiding regret with you here.

Honestly, my cousin’s words and passing have been a true wake-up call for us.  “Life is short” is only a cliché until you witness it firsthand.

You really have to make your journey count every single day, because the distance we each get to travel is a mystery.  One day, hopefully many moons from now, you will inevitably find yourself close to the end, and thinking about the beginning.  TODAY is that beginning.  TODAY is life.  Right now you have a priceless opportunity!  Forget the past.  Forget your age.  Today is the first day of the rest of your life.  At the end of it, let there be no excuses, no explanations, and no regrets.

Here are nine ideas to get you there…

1.  Be the leader of your own journey.

Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?  Stop living for other people and their opinions.  Be true to YOU.

There are far too many capable people who don’t pursue their dreams and goals because they let their fears and others talk them out of it.  They give up before they even try, and simply let life’s river flow them downstream.  Choose to be stronger than that.  Choose to swim upstream when you have to.  Choose to do the things in life that move you.  Let others lead small lives.  Let others argue over small things.  Let others cry over small wounds.  Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands.  But not YOU.

2.  Take calculated risks.

There is no excuse for being an amateur forever.  Life is short.  The day is rapidly Keep reading →

January 15th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

10 Places Unhappy People Search for Happiness

10 Places Unhappy People Search for Happiness

“I’ve got nothing to do today but smile.”
―Paul Simon

This past holiday season Angel and I stayed at a hotel near her parent’s house in South Florida.  On Christmas Eve we met a family of six who were staying at the same hotel.  We saw them relaxing in the lobby by the Christmas tree, sharing stories and laughing.  So on our way out, Angel and I wished them a happy holiday season and asked them 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 this a very merry Christmas.”

Her words and her family’s optimistic attitude made me smile.  They reminded me that the most fulfilling moments in life come when we finally find the courage to let go of what we can’t change.  And that when life gives us every reason to be negative, we must think of one good reason to be positive, because there’s always something worth smiling about.

Truth be told, when people are perpetually unhappy it’s often because they are searching for happiness in the wrong places.  They look for it…

1.  In the fantasy of an easy life.

Life is tough, but you are tougher.  Pain makes you stronger.  Facing fear makes you braver.  Mistakes and heartbreak make you wiser.   Sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right.  Sometimes you have to go through the worst, to arrive at your best.

Your journey isn’t supposed to be easy, it’s supposed to be worth it.  To never struggle is to never grow.  It doesn’t matter what’s happened or what you’ve done; what matters is what you choose to do from here.  Accept the circumstances, learn from them, and move on.  Letting go is often a step forward.  Sometimes you have to walk away from what you thought you wanted to find what you truly need and deserve.

2.  In a past that no longer exists.

You are changing.  The universe around you is changing.  Just because something was right for you in the past doesn’t mean it still is.  This could be a Keep reading →

January 12th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

10 Things Happy Families Do Differently

10 Things Happy Families Do Differently

“I sustain myself with the love of family.”
―Maya Angelou

Last night, an old friend from high school – a hometown success story and entrepreneur who owns and operates a large publicly traded company – a man whom I have a great deal of respect for – came over to our home for dinner.  After a delicious meal, he and I chatted for a couple hours in the family room and caught up on old times.  And as we wrapped things up, he said, “I admire you.  I admire the love in this home – the obvious love between you and Angel.  I admire the close relationships you’ve built and nurtured.  When I’m here it feels like I’m part of the family.  Nurturing a happy family is one of the things I never got around to.  So it was great to see it, feel it, and be a part of it tonight.  Thank you.”

When I sat down to write this morning, my friend’s remarks immediately came to mind.  Which got me thinking…  What does nurturing a happy family really mean?  What are some things happy families do differently?

Here are some thoughts to consider:

1.  Every day, every member chooses to be part of the family.

First and foremost, family isn’t always blood.  They’re the people in your life who appreciate having you in theirs – the ones who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways, and who not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be.  Family members can be your best friends.  And best friends, whether or not they’re related to you by blood, can be your family.

Family is built with love; it’s not determined by marriage certificates, divorce papers, and formal adoption documents.  Families grow from the heart, through mutual love and respect.  The only time family becomes nullified is when the ties in the heart are cut.  If you cut the ties, these people are not your family.  If you build the ties, these people are your family.  So build and maintain ties with the right people and nurture them with love every day.

2.  Family members go out of their way for each other.

Family bonds are tied with true love, and true love involves attention, awareness, discipline, effort, and being able to care about someone and sacrifice for them, continuously, in countless petty little unsexy ways, every day.  You put your arms Keep reading →

January 8th, 2014 - by: Marc Chernoff

8 Things to Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

8 Things to Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

“The best way out is always through.”
―Robert Frost

“Today, I’m sitting in my hospital bed waiting to have both my breasts removed.  But in a strange way I feel like the lucky one.  Up until now I have had no health problems.  I’m a 69-year-old woman in the last room at the end of the hall before the pediatric division of the hospital begins.  Over the past few hours I have watched dozens of cancer patients being wheeled by in wheelchairs and rolling beds.  None of these patients could be a day older than 17.”

That’s an entry from my grandmother’s journal, dated 9/16/1977.  I photocopied it and pinned it to my bulletin board about a decade ago.  It’s still there today, and it continues to remind me that there is always, always, always something to be thankful for.  And that no matter how good or bad I have it, I must wake up each day thankful for my life, because someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.

Truth be told, happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them.  Imagine all the wondrous things your mind might embrace if it weren’t wrapped so tightly around your struggles.  Always look at what you have, instead of what you have lost.  Because it’s not what the world takes away from you that counts; it’s what you do with what you have left.

Here are a few reminders to help motivate you when you need it most:

1.  Pain is part of growing.

Sometimes life closes doors because it’s time to move forward.  And that’s a good thing because we often won’t move unless circumstances force us to.  When times are tough, remind yourself that no pain comes without a purpose.  Move on from what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you.  Just because you’re Keep reading →

January 5th, 2014 - by: Angel Chernoff

15 Things You Have to Forget to Get Ahead

15 Things You Have to Forget About to Get Ahead

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
―E.E. Cummings

This morning, after back surgery nearly a year ago, one of my close childhood friends finally took his first few unassisted steps.  His doctor says he should be back on his feet full-time in about two months; he just needs to build up the muscle in his legs again.  When I asked my friend what he’s looking forward to most about being back on his feet, he said, “Long walks with my wife.”

His response resonated deeply with me.  It’s such a strong reminder that the simple things are often the most important, and that we sometimes let stifling thoughts and ineffective habits get in our way of being happy and productive.

Which is why it’s time to let go and forget about…

1.  The complicated ways of living.

Focus on the activities and people that make you happy, and filter out the avoidable opposites.  Truth be told, we often make our lives complicated when it’s really quite simple:  Find what it is that makes you happy and spend more time doing it.  Find who it is that makes you smile and spend more time with them.

Living your dream is really just a matter of proper lifestyle alignment.  It’s about being true to yourself, and realizing that where you are at any given moment is exactly where you want to be.  Thus, happiness and success in life is simply the gratifying combination of liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking who you do it with.

2.  Negativity and those who create it.

When other people treat you poorly, keep being you.  Don’t ever let someone else’s bitterness change the person you are.  Don’t let the silly little dramas of Keep reading →