“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
Based on a recommendation from an old friend, who also happens to be a psychologist and a successful entrepreneur, I read John Maxwell’s book Failing Forward this past week. It was an interesting self-improvement book all the way through, but the one section that really caught my attention was about a social experiment based on research by G.R. Stephenson. Here’s an excerpt:
“Four monkeys were placed in a room that had a tall pole in the center. Suspended from the top of that pole was a bunch of bananas. One of the hungry monkeys started climbing the pole to get something to eat, but just as she reached out to grab a banana, she was sprayed with a torrent of cold water from a hose. Squealing, she scampered back down the pole and abandoned her attempt to feed herself. Each of the other three monkeys made similar attempts and each one was drenched with cold water. After making several attempts, they all finally gave up.
The researchers then removed the water hose and one of the monkeys from the room and replaced her with a new monkey. As the newcomer began to climb the pole, the other three grabbed her and pulled her down to the ground. After trying to climb the pole several times and being dragged down by the others, she finally gave up and never attempted to climb the pole again.
The researchers continued to replace the original monkeys, one by one, and each time a new monkey was brought in the others would drag her down before she could reach the bananas. In a short time, the room was filled with four monkeys who had never received a cold hosing. None of them would climb the pole or allow other monkeys to climb the pole, and not one of them knew why.”
Now, if it were possible to ask those monkeys why they wouldn’t climb the pole, or allow any other monkey to climb the pole, I bet they would say something like, “I don’t know. That’s just how things are done around here.”
Does that sound at all familiar to you? Do you ever catch yourself thinking about the difficult endeavors in life that you’re too scared to try, not because each task is impossible, but because you’ve never mindfully evaluated if there was a smarter way of achieving them? How has social conditioning, old rumored problems, or just your own negative thinking about what is and isn’t possible for you held you back?
No doubt, one of the greatest challenges in life is being your best in a world that’s trying to keep you in line with everyone else. And sometimes it really is our own thoughts that hold us back more than anything.
So with this in mind, it’s time to read or re-read our twenty most popular posts (based on the number of reader views, shares and comments) from this past year. If you give them a chance, each one of these posts has the power to help free your mind and get you back on track to living at your maximum potential.
- 20 Things to Remember When You Think You’re Not Good Enough – Sometimes the hardest part of the journey is simply believing you’re worthy of the trip. Sometimes the pressure coming from peers, family, work, and society in general is enough to make us feel completely broken inside. If we don’t have the “right” job, relationship, lifestyle, and so forth, by a certain age or time-frame, we assume we’re just “not good enough.” But that’s simply not true.
- 12 Quiet Rituals of Enormously Successful Humans – Truth be told, 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. So… 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.
- 25 Things You Need to Stop Wasting Time On – A reader named Hope sent me an email that opened with, “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.” 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?”
- 12 Toxic Behaviors that Push People Away From You – Your behavior is a little thing that makes a big difference. Let’s be honest though – we’ve all acted in toxic, damaging ways at one time or another. None of us are immune to occasional toxic mood swings, but many people are more evolved, balanced and aware, and such occurrences happen only rarely in their lives. Whether your toxic behavior is a common occurrence, or just a once in a blue moon phenomena, it’s critical for your long-term happiness and success that you are able to recognize when you’re behaving negatively, and consciously shift your mindset when necessary.
- 10 Painfully Obvious Truths Everyone Forgets Too Soon – 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 in this post 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… because the truth does not cease to exist when it is ignored.
- 20 Hard Things You Need to Do to Be Happy – There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. You have to do hard things to be happy in life. The things no one else is doing. The things that frighten you. The things others can’t do for you. The things that make you question how much longer you can hold on and push forward. Why? Because those are the things that define you. Those are the things that make the difference between existing and living – between knowing the path and walking the path.
- 16 Things Emotionally Strong People Don’t Do – You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and twice as capable as you have ever imagined. It really only takes one idea, one second in time, one relationship, one dream, one leap of faith, to change everything, forever. So hang in there. Keep exercising your emotional strength.
- 8 Things to Remember When Everything Goes Wrong – 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. Yes, sometimes life closes doors because it’s time to move forward. And that’s a great 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.
- 6 Strong Signs it’s Time to Let Go – You will never achieve what you are capable of if you are too attached to the things you’re supposed to let go of. Many people believe holding on and hanging in there, infinitely, are signs of incredible strength. But there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go, and then to actually do it.
- 3 Questions that Will Free Your Mind and Turn Your Life Around – It’s not the answers you get from others, but the questions you ask yourself that will help you grow stronger. In fact, the simple questions you ask yourself on a daily basis will determine the type of person you become in the long run.
- 7 Rituals You Should Steal from Extremely Creative People – It’s often said that creativity can’t be contained. That creative inspiration and ideas arise suddenly out of nowhere and then fail to show up when we need them most. And while that may be true for a specific idea, when you look at the broader picture, you realize that sustained creativity – having lots of creative ideas over time – doesn’t come from a flash of brilliance or a single moment of inspiration. It comes from a consistent set of rituals that serve as the bedrock for getting remarkable things done.
- 7 Things Happy, Healthy People Do Every Morning – The morning is extremely important. It is the foundation from which the day is built. How you choose to spend your morning can be used to predict what kind of day you are going to have, and thus, what kind of life you are going to live.
- 12 Things You Need to Remind Yourself of When You Wake Up – 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. 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. It’s time to remind yourself of a few key truths – right now and every morning hereafter.
- 40 Regrets You Don’t Want to Have in 40 Years – Stop wasting time regretting what you did a year ago. Start doing what you have to do now so that in a year’s time you won’t regret what you did today.
- 12 Promises You Should Make to Yourself and Keep Forever – Life is not all rainbows and butterflies. It can be tough sometimes. And you’ve paid a heavy price to get this far, so the best option is to really make it count by moving forward from where you are. Free yourself from the world’s negativity – from the sources of ignorance telling you what you can and cannot do – by promising to look ahead, to live ahead, and to get ahead. In other words, start making positive promises to yourself! When you become your own best friend, life is easier.
- 8 Things You Should Never Give Up for a Relationship – Being alone doesn’t mean you’re weak, it simply means you’re strong enough to wait for the right relationship. We are reminded that unhealthy relationships restrict and impair, while healthy relationships bring freedom and life to our existence. It’s important to remember the difference. It’s important to remember what you should NEVER have to give up for a relationship.
- 9 Good Signs You’re in the Right Relationship – What do you think a “right relationship” should provide for the people in it? Although the answer here is obviously subjective, in all relationships, romantic and platonic alike, there are some clear signs that things are going well. In this post we take a look at some signs you’re in the “right relationship,” and corresponding tips that could potentially help you make a “wrong relationship” right.
- 7 Important Life Lessons Everyone Learns the Hard Way – In the midst of my sorrow after losing a loved one, I came to realize that the tragic loss taught me three important things. First, the worst things can happen to the best people for no obvious reason at all. Second, most people, even the ones you don’t think care, are genuinely good people who do care. And finally, just as it is difficult to see all the opportunities life gives you until you’re looking back, it is virtually impossible to fully understand certain life circumstances until they actually happen to you. It’s a variation of this final point that I explore in this post.
- 40 Things I Want to Tell My Kids Before They’re Too Cool to Listen – Children must be taught how to think, not what to think. The same is true for adults too. I wrote this list for my son, Mac, but these reminders are equally relevant to everyone, of all ages.
- 29 Signs You’re Doing Just Fine (Even If It Doesn’t Feel Like It) – Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to keep things in perspective and deal with them. Rather than dwelling on what’s missing in your life, start looking at what you have. This isn’t just about material possessions; it’s about all the goodness in your life. When you focus on the abundance you already have, the negative feelings that come from lacking something else gradually fade from your conscious. Living isn’t an easy thing to do, but it can be enjoyable when you start to see the good instead of focusing on the bad.
A special thanks to each of you for making 2014 an incredible year at Marc and Angel Hack Life. This blog continues to grow each year beyond our wildest anticipations. And this organic growth has occurred entirely from the support of readers like you.
So thank you for sharing our work with others. But even more than that, thank you for sharing the belief that living a fulfilling life is worth the extra effort.
Here are just a few happenings, business and personal, that Marc and I are thankful for as we close the door on 2014:
- Monthly unique visitors to Marc and Angel Hack Life grew on average to over 2 million visitors a month this year.
- Our Newsletter (subscribe here) now unites and inspires over 120,000 positive living advocates around the world.
- Our book, 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently, has sold over 20,000 copies.
- Our self-paced immersion course, Getting Back to Happy, has over 300 students actively working together to improve their lives.
- Our son, Mac, was born healthy and strong this past July.
- We successfully relocated from Austin back to South Florida to raise Mac near family and close friends.
Looking forward to the goodness 2015 has in store, for all of us…
How about you? What happened in 2014 that you are thankful for? In what way are you looking forward to improving your life in 2015? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Photo by: Marketa
Kevin Benson says
I am grateful I found your site last January. Love your posts, your book, and everything you share. You’re a big source of my inspiration. Keep up the great work. You’re making a difference.
In the year ahead, I’m looking forward to implementing even more of the sound principles I have learned from you and Marc. And I’m looking forward to what that means for me and my family.
Sandra Pawula says
That’s an amazing story in the intro. One the one hand it speaks to how strong our habits and willingness to follow expectations can be. On the other hand, I’m quite amazed by how compassionate the monkeys were, trying to stop a compassion from being harmed.
Thanks for sharing your top posts. You’re right, each one presents ideas that can positively change our lives!
Susan Rae says
Right now, I’m thankful that my future is unsure. For as confusing and scary as it feels, it’s also sign that I’m free and that I have the privilege of taking responsibility for my life!
Thank you for the recap. I will be re-reading several of these articles (I actually already have). And congrats on the professional and personal success over the past year. It is well deserved.
Rose Costas says
Thanks for taking the time to put together this wonderful list for us to use to better our lives. I found your blog late last year and your writing has truly changed my life.
I am constantly in awe of how great of a writer you are and how personal your stories are to my life and I am sure to others.
Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful boy and all the best to you and Angel for 2015.
I am not a writer but have started learning to. I was going through a very difficult time and I found out accidentally when I wrote how much better I felt. I not only felt better but I became happier. I have been writing daily since then and I am hoping and working hard on being able to write as beautifully as you do.
When I read your post it is as though you are speaking. You have a gift of writing that is different all the others I have read.
You have inspired me and I am sure many others with your writings.
Thanks for taking the time to be there for us all.
leah wanjiku says
Thank you for making my life more enjoyable…
I enjoyed reading all of your articles this past year; it seems as if you really know your readers/followers on a first-hand basis. I can definitely relate to all your points, and I am pretty much looking forward to owning a copy of your book. I just dunno how, I believe it isn’t available here in my country, but I’ll look into ordering online anyway. More power to your “advocacy”, kudos and cheers! Moving forward for a better 2015. Happy New Year to all!
I’m happy that I found your amazing blog which is a blessing. Every lesson in life leaves me grateful to be alive. And I’m pretentious too and want to make it better. I really wish you a incredible 2015, love
Dee Medrano says
I lost my dream job about 5 years ago and I’m still so unhappy, frustrated, angry…all emotions about that. I can’t seem to “let it go” and find my “happy place” in my current job. It’s a constant battle with myself. I see or hear of everyone else getting promoted…but me. Somehow I feel I’ve been forgotten or left behind. I have interviewed a million times, but no luck. Sometimes I feel this is where I’m supposed to be. Not sure. I have given up…..like those monkeys! I love your article. It gives me hope for the new year. I now know what I have to do….for me! Thank you.
Daniel L says
Purchasing your “1,000 Little Things” book was one of my best decisions of 2014. I have the audio book on my iPod and read your posts regularly. Thank you!!
If we don’t have the “right” job, relationship, lifestyle, and so forth, by a certain age or time-frame, we assume we’re just “not good enough.” But that’s simply not true…… This is a really profound statement.
I’m going to share this to my associates.
Can anyone tell me… If I let something go….is it still OK that I avoid it at all costs or is that not truly letting go? If something makes me feel bad about myself – the guy I like likes someone else – can I stay away from him and her as much as possible or should I use it as a test?
Marc and Angel, thank you so much for all that you do. Your website is an incredible inspiration (and sometimes a needed irritant …which makes it incredible!!).
Your articles always give me a new spirit – I will be very happy to linger here this coming year. 🙂 Thanks much for sharing Us 🙂
Geraldine - (Australia) says
Dear Marc & Angel,
I thank you both so very much for your ongoing emotional support! It has the power to assist many of us, one thought at the time…
I wish you both, the very best life can deliver and to little Mac too…
I truly appreciate your work.
Please keep up with it knowing that:
1) There is more happiness in giving than in receiving, and
2) That YOU are making a positive difference!…
– THANK YOU – THANK YOU – THANK YOU!!!
I am so glad I discovered this blog in 2014. Your words have helped me so much. One day at a time. Small baby steps. I am so happy to say that I have come a long way. Yes, there is still a long road before me, but I am still taking one baby step at a time, and, yes, am still moving forward.
Congrats on the birth of your son, and move to FL.
Will be reading you in 2015. Happy New Year. Thank you both, and all the people that share their stories. Peace and love.
Thank you for always seeming to appear at exactly the right time with exactly the right words and insight that are needed. I have been at my lowest many times this year with pain, physically and emotionally. Your words and life lessons feel like they have been personally sent to me from a higher level. I give thanks for finding your web site. I wish much joy to you, Angel and the celebration of your son, Mac’s arrival this year. May 2015 be inspiring, exciting and what each of our lives has been created to unfold for us.
Peace be with you, good wishes from Suzanne, in Australia
A great list of posts, thanks so much for sharing – definitely one to bookmark and come back to throughout the year. I think my favourite is the ’12 promises you should make to yourself and keep forever’ though it’s pretty hard to choose.
Wishing you a wonderful 2015 and I look forward to reading more of your lovely work.
Bruna Taylor says
Thank you for this great post and wishing you a great 2015
Hi Marc and Angel, Powerful Stuff – Thank You! The sincere positive energy you both give is infectious. I really appreciate you guys and I am thankful for you and people like you who have the guts to put themselves in the spotlight for everyones personal growth. Happy New Year!
Angel Chernoff says
@Kay: The key is detaching – no longer worrying one way or the other about what this person is doing. It’s there business, not yours. Whether you choose to be around them or not is your business. (Read this post for more on letting go: 5 Things You Should Know About Letting Go)
@All: Thank you for the kind remarks and inspiring words. Happy New Year! 🙂
Just wanted to say Thank You.
First, Happy New Year…Happy New You 2015.
I came upon your wonderful site over a year ago and I must say it has been a God send. It has been thought provoking, inspirational and life changing for me over the past year plus. I continue to find so many nuggets of insight and perspective on life’s ever evolving journey. I thank you for your dedication and passion for personal development and growth. I will continue to glean the food for thought and implementation from this great site. Thank you and continued success, health, wealth, passion, spirituality and growth to you both and your family. #2015TheNewNormal
I started reading your blog more then a year ago. I can’t believe how much it’s changed my life for the better. Just as you constantly review your own work when needed, I to refer back to your website. You’ve change my life drastically in such a positive way. I wish I found your website sooner .. Cause I was a lost soul for so many years. I’ve found clarity in life, my vision for the future and the person I’ve choose to become now. I just want to thank you for all that you do. I want you to know that what you do has impact on so many people.. And I’m one of them. Great love and respect. Chan
Gai Nguyen says
I’ve read all the comments with patience. They’re all worth reading, like your blog.