Because I generally have a positive outlook, I frequently have people ask me, “Greg, you’re not one of those positive thinkers looking at the world through rose-colored glasses are you?” Well, yes and no.
I am a positive thinker, but I’m not someone who ignores problems and pretends everything is perfect. That’s not being positive and optimistic. That’s being stupid.
The optimist throws the curtains open and says, “Good morning, God!” The pessimist rolls over and says, “Good god, it’s morning.”
If you’re having trouble paying your bills and instead of doing anything to fix the problem you simply think positive and hope your bills get paid, they will eventually come take your car, foreclose on your house, and you’ll be eating government cheese, living in a van, down by the river.
But that doesn’t mean the only thing you can do is focus on your poor financial situation. There is always more than one reality.
Reality 2: You have a good job. You have opportunities for advancement. Maybe you can ask for some overtime work. You have skills to earn extra income. You could start a side business via the Internet. You could cut back on some of your expenses that aren’t necessities, etc.
The reality you focus on will greatly affect your mood, actions, and outcome.
“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.” – Dr. Wayne W Dyer
Remember, you aren’t lying to yourself or ignoring reality. You are choosing to focus on the reality that will help you the most.
Research shows that to get the best results you need to focus on the positives three times as much as the negatives. The next time you think of something negative, immediately think of three positive things in your life. Make that a new habit.
It’s something all of us can start doing today. When I do it, I move forward and feel better. Let me know how it works for you…and get rid of the van down by the river. It’s kinda creepy.
You know I’m big on serving your way to success. No matter what business you’re in – no matter if you’re an employee, the boss, or you’re starting up an online venture from your house – overserving your customers and exceeding their expectations is the best way to win.
If your customers are pleasantly surprised at your great product/service and the way you treated them they will go out and tell their friends about it. More people will buy your stuff. Everybody wins. Pretty simple, right?
You’d be surprised how many people don’t understand that.
My family and I went to a beautiful little beach town last weekend. We were hungry and found a cute, small restaurant for lunch. The food was great. The atmosphere was great. But, I will never tell anyone to go there because the service was lousy.
I worked as a waiter in college. Because I know how hard that job can be, and how bad some customers can be, I go out of my way to tip well and be super nice to the wait staff every time I eat out. I flash a big smile. I ask how they are. I’m friendly. I’m respectful. It usually works out great and about 99% of the time I have great service at restaurants.
But our waitress was surly. First, she didn’t want to take our order. (I understand that when it’s busy, but it wasn’t.) Then, she was rude to my wife while she was ordering, and seemed disturbed that my daughter asked some questions about the menu. She was really slow on our drink order. I was thinking, does she realize she’s working for a tip here?
“Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game.
Finally, when the check came she had overcharged us by $2.00. When I pointed this out to her she said, “Well, it’s only $2.00.”
Wait, that’s your answer to overcharging a customer?
It’s not about the amount, when you’re wrong you should admit it and fix it for the customer. An apology would have been nice as well. But you could tell she was mad at me for pointing out her mistake. Wow.
I have a hard time understanding why people act that way to the customers who make their business succeed or fail. Did she think her attitude and actions made me want to come back again?
You may not be a waitress, but the way you serve people will determine how successful you become. How do you serve your customers? If you don’t have direct contact with the customers how do you treat your coworkers and your boss? They are your customers. If you overserve them and exceed their expectations the sky is the limit.
Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done.
– Louis D Brandeis
You can’t do it. It’s impossible. Can’t be done. There’s just no way. You’re wasting your time.
When you say that – or someone convinces you that’s true – your brain shuts down. It doesn’t even try to come up with options. It just says, “OK, guess I don’t need to think about how to make that happen. I’ll just move on to trying to figure out the next thing they should stuff in our pizza crust.”
(We can buy pizza crusts stuffed with cheese, cream cheese, 3 cheeses, 5 cheeses, bacon – mmm, bacon – cheese and pepperoni, hot dogs…And we can dip it all in Ranch dressing. Gee, I can’t figure out why America has an obesity problem.)
If you believe it can’t be done, you will never do it. You will never even try to do it. Your ideas and dreams will fade and die.
“To believe a thing impossible is to make it so.” – French Proverb
But what if? What if you assume it is possible? What happens then?
Manned flight, space travel, radio, television, cell phones, personal computers, lasers, cancer treatments and whatever else you can think of, were all considered impossible when the first person dreamed them up. Now, we have them all.
So, what if we start saying it’s possible? What if we start to imagine how it could be done?
Then, our brains start a new kind of innovative, inventive, creative, and productive thought process. We’ve asked our brains to find a solution so they’re working on it.
Remember the Apollo 13 space mission? After the fire and oxygen problems, imagine if the astronauts and engineers had said, “There’s just no way we can fix this.”
Instead, they said, “Failure is not an option.”
Is there anything recently that caused you to say it can’t be done?
A potential customer you don’t think you can land?
Discovering your Passionate Purpose to create the extraordinary life of your dreams?
A new business venture you really want to try but you don’t see how you can make it work?
Creating a lasting relationship with someone you might want to spend the rest of your life with?
Buying that new house?
Taking on a new project?
What would happen if you assume it’s possible, say failure is not an option, and start some imaginative thinking on how to do it?
If you start asking the right questions, you might be shocked by the answers your brain comes up with. And then – don’t miss this part – take immediate action on them.
I was listening to Tony Robbins the other day about why we aren’t as happy as we would like to be. What he said really hit home.
Think of a part of your life that you’re unhappy with. It could be your career, your finances, your marriage, your relationships, your children, your health, your spiritual life, whatever.
Now ask yourself, what are your expectations for that part of your life right now? I’m guessing your real life isn’t meeting your expectations. That’s why you’re unhappy.
Greg, you’re crazy. It’s more than that. I’m suffering from some horrible circumstances. You don’t understand the problems I’m facing, the stress I’m under, and the problems with my marriage!
You’re right (except for that crazy part). I don’t know your story. But let me ask you this. If you expected your life to be worse than it is right now, wouldn’t you be happier? If you were exceeding your expectations, wouldn’t you be happier?
If you’re unhappy with your income: Do you think someone from a third world country, surviving on $2 a day would be unhappy with your salary? No! They’ve never even dreamed of making as much money in their lifetime as you make in one year! They would be ecstatic to have your income.
What’s the difference? Expectations. It’s the same in every part of your life.
Our expectations are not facts. They aren’t supposed to happen just because we want them to. Our expectations are really just our wants. We turn our wants into our shoulds. Then, when everything doesn’t meet our expectations we get sad, angry, or both.
Shakespeare put it this way, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”
We all have so much to appreciate in our lives, yet we focus most of our thoughts and efforts on what we don’t have.
But, Greg, I don’t want to lower my standards. I have goals I want to achieve. I want to be motivated and ambitious.
I agree! Me, too! That’s why we need to be grateful for what we have and even more grateful for what we are working on and creating. Here’s what I mean.
First, we need to turn our expectations into appreciations for all we have. Here’s a great exercise to help with that. Every night right before you go to bed, spend five minutes writing down three things that happened that day that you are grateful for. Write down different things each day. It can be something small like, I had a great cup of coffee with a friend, or, my daughter and I went for a walk together. It could be something big as well. Just make sure you write them down. The research shows that if you do that for 30 days, you will be significantly happier. Make it a new habit.
We need to decide that we are going to find the good and beauty wherever we can. That we will learn from whatever comes our way. That we will be grateful for all we have right now – without comparing it to any expectation.
Secondly, we need to get clear on a definition of success that will help us increase our happiness – and reach our goals.
Sometimes we define success in unrealistic ways:
I will achieve all my goals
I will make X amount of money
I will have the perfect family life
I will have a beautiful house on the beach
I will have 8% body fat.
If we don’t reach these goals, we feel like failures. Even if we achieve our goals, our feelings of success are brief. We simply come up with new goals and tell ourselves we still aren’t successful. It becomes a never-ending cycle. (Gee, that sounds like fun!)
But, what if we change the definition of success? I like this one:
“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” –Earl Nightingale
Nightingale went on to say, “A success is anyone who is realizing a worthy predetermined ideal, because that’s what he or she decided to do… deliberately. But only one out of 20 does that!”
We definitely want to be one of the 20. Setting goals and going after them are great things to do. They push us to serve others and to create the extraordinary life of our dreams. But the progress towards the goal is success. The moment we are going after a worthy goal we are successful.
But, if we set up unrealistic expectations we’re setting ourselves up to be unhappy. That won’t help us reach our goals. It will make it harder (and a lot less fun) to get there.
If we change our expectations for the appreciations of what we have, our happiness changes instantly.
So, whenever you are feeling sad, take a look at your expectations. Change your expectations and change how you feel.
Keep moving forward on your goals and keep becoming the person you were created to be. That is a great road of happiness.
You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want. –Zig Ziglar
I am a big believer in serving your way to success for three reasons.
1) It’s the right thing to do.
2) It makes you feel great.
3) It comes back to you tenfold.
I’ve found the key to joyfully serving others is to forget about number 3, to forget about getting everything I want, to simply focus on serving others without expecting anything from them in return. When I do that, I am happier, and as a bonus, I get more of number 3. It’s so cool!
But, sometimes I get busy. I get distracted. I become selfish and totally caught up in my own stuff. I start trying to sell my way to success instead of serving. When I do that, things start to go poorly.
Does that ever happen to you?
There’s an old story that reminds me to serve others unconditionally.
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a diner and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.
The boy looked up at her and asked, “How much is an ice cream sundae?”
“Fifty cents,” the waitress replied, a bit irritably.
The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the few coins he had.
“How much is a dish of plain ice cream?” he inquired. Some people were now waiting for a table and the waitress was beginning to lose her patience.
“Thirty-five cents,” she said brusquely.
The little boy again counted his coins. “I think I’ll just have the plain ice cream,” he said.
The waitress rolled her eyes, brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished his treat, paid the cashier and left.
When the waitress came back, she began wiping down the table and then swallowed hard at what she saw. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, was a dime and a nickel – her tip.
Everyone deserves our best service, regardless of their ability to pay us back. When we remember and act on that belief, we end up making a difference in the world. As a bonus, we end up being more successful, too.
It’s almost like someone created the world to be that way. Hmm…
When you understand you earn more when you serve more, you can feel good about your efforts and your progress. You know you are providing goods and services to people that are enriching their lives. They joyfully line up to give you money for your efforts because you are providing great value. You are one of the good guys!
When you believe there is infinite wealth to be created in this life you don’t need to look at everyone else as competition. You can truly be happy for other people’s achievements because you know it does absolutely nothing to diminish your chance of being successful and might even help you succeed.
There is more than enough for us all.
So, let’s go create some great stuff and serve others with it.
1) Make it a point to help 3 people this weekend by serving them in some way.
2) Don’t expect anything in return.
3) Reflect on how this made a difference, and how it made you feel.
4) Repeat this pattern and don’t be surprised when you start to get bonus returns on your service.
Question for comments:
Can you remember a time where helping someone else really turned your day or your life around?
Shhh! You’re not supposed to tell people it’s hard. It’s supposed to be easy if you just follow my five-step plan and send me $99.99!
But, it’s the truth and we all know it. Changing, learning, and growing is scary and hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it. (Hey you can still send me the $99.99 if you want.)
Why is it so hard and scary to change?
“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.” — James Belasco and Ralph Stayer
Even if what we’re doing isn’t getting us everything we want, it’s getting us something: It’s comfortable. It’s not that bad. We’re getting by. We’re making a living… We’ve created habits.
We start shoulding on ourselves (and that gets messy fast). I shouldn’t be so selfish in wanting more than I have. I should feel lucky I have a job. I should stop dreaming about things that will never happen.
When I was a little boy I wanted to make a big change. I wanted to stop riding with training wheels and ride a big boy bike. I was scared of getting hurt, but I really wanted to learn. My older brother taught me.
We lived on a hilly street. My brother had me get on the bike at the top of the hill. He would run alongside me holding the bike until we stopped in our driveway. Then we’d walk the bike back to the top of the hill and start the whole process again.
I started getting pretty good. The next time down the hill I was feeling great, I was really moving. I turned into my driveway and was hurtling toward the closed garage door. I yelled to my brother, “Dave, stop. Stop! Dave, stop!” Bam! I crashed right into the garage door.
My brother thought I was doing so well he could let go of the bike and quit running beside me. The problem with that was he didn’t tell me and didn’t teach me how to stop.
It hurt. I had a big lump on my head. But I didn’t say, “Well that bike riding stuff hurts. I’m never doing that again.” I wanted to ride a big-boy bike without training wheels. I wanted to keep up with all the other kids. I wanted to be miles from my house with my parents having no idea where I was!
I put my football helmet on and got back on my bike. I learned how to ride my bike and it was glorious. It also taught me how important pushing through the pain to make a change is.
You might not have a brother who rammed you into a closed garage door, (Thanks, Dave!) but I bet you fell a few times learning to ride your bike. I also bet that didn’t stop you from learning to ride. Why would you risk getting hurt again? Why not give up? Because we all know that short term pain is worth the long term gain.
Question for Comment:
What do you want to change, learn or do?
I know it’s scary and hard.
You will fall. You will get hurt (for a short time).
Get ready for an amazing insight coming at you. People with a good, positive, optimistic attitude tend to enjoy their day more and accomplish more than people with a negative, depressing, pessimistic attitude. See, I told you—deep insight. You’re welcome.
We know this from research and from our own experience. But how do we create and maintain the positive mindset we need to live a happier, healthier life and reach all our goals?
I’ve got some great tips for you, but I want to begin with this:
Start every morning by thinking about all the great things in your life. For most of us it’s pretty easy coming up with at least a short list.
I have a routine I go through every day when I wake up that gets me up on the right side of the bed. I’m a Christian, so for me this ties into my religion. But, you can use the same type of technique whether you’re religious or not. Instead of a thankful prayer list, simply make it your gratitude list.
As I slowly wake up, I start to pray. I thank God for for my wife, my children, my extended family, and my friends. I thank Him for the fact that I have more than enough to provide my family with food, clothing, and shelter. I praise Him for the fact that I was born in the United States of America and I have so many opportunities to create a life of abundance for myself and enough to help others as well. I give thanks for the multiple ways I’m able to earn income doing something I love, and I’m grateful for my excellent health.
I give thanks that I’m not stuck in a job I hate with some guy telling me I need to get my TPS forms in and another guy claiming I stole his stapler.
As I’m saying my prayers, I’m creating beautiful images in my head of everything I’m praying about. As I do this, I can feel my body and spirit coming more and more alive. Feelings of peace and happiness and ambition well up within me and I begin to feel excited about getting out of bed and starting the day. I spend about three minutes doing this. (I know this sounds kind of touchy-feely, but if you try it for a few days I think you will be amazed at the results you get.)
After I’m done giving thanks, I spend the next three to five minutes being grateful for my future life with all my major goals achieved. I put everything in the present tense as if I’m already living the life I want. I’m getting my conscious and subconscious minds focused on my goals, and the best way to do that is to put everything we want in the present tense.
I visualize pursuing my Passionate Purpose at the ultimate level. I imagine achieving my goals in every aspect of my life. If you really want to get excited about your future, describe it in great detail and imagine how it will look, feel, sound, smell, and taste. Get your emotions into it. Play the movie of your extraordinary life in your head. It’s better than any blockbuster at the multiplex.
The more real you make this, the more excited you will become to take on the day, and the more your subconscious mind will help you pursue your goals.
My daughter has a great quote on the lock screen of her phone: “I did not wake up today to be mediocre.” I know you didn’t either. So, let’s GO!
On to the tips!
1)Wake up early enough that you don’t have to rush
Most people wake up with just enough time to race through showering, getting dressed, getting the kids off to school, and grabbing a cup of coffee on the way out the door. How’s that working out for you? Is it really a great way to start the day?
Instead, supercharge the morning by getting up 30 minutes before you normally do in order to read, think, pray, meditate, or exercise. It sounds horrible if you’re not a morning person, but if you make it a new habit you will never stop.
Imagine how good it would feel to take your time in getting ready for greatness.
2)Wake up gently
Being jolted awake by a loud, buzzing alarm clock is actually bad for your health. (Plus, it scares the bleep out of you! Or maybe that’s just me.) The research shows it increases your blood pressure, heart rate, adrenaline and stress. Sounds like a super way to wake up to me, right? All we need now is for a small stroke and we’re ready to start the day.
But, Greg, I’ll sleep right through that. You don’t get me.
Hey, I’m feeling you. One time, at summer camp, my brother slept through a cannon and bugle call they blew every morning. But, trust me. The increasing sound and light together will wake you up. And it will be a much more pleasant way to start the day.
3)Stretch in bed before you get up.
Stress and relax each body part. Start with your toes. Flex and hold for about five seconds. Then relax them. Do that with every body part working your way all the way up to your forehead. It’s feels great and gets your physical body ready for action.
4)Have a wonderful breakfast (or at least something)
I know a lot of people say they don’t have time for it (see tip #1) or they don’t like to cook. I understand it’s not for everyone, but try it at least once a week with everyone in your house. I think you’re going to love it. I make eggs, sausage, toast, and some fruit every morning.
If you can’t do that, at least grab some fruit, and some protein (almonds or peanut butter on a spoon works) on your way out the door. It will get your metabolism going and keep you powered up until lunch.
5)Put your phone in your pocket without looking at it.
This is very hard for me to do, but it’s super rewarding. It will quickly become your new habit. It lets you set your priorities for the day instead of giving that power to your emails and social media. Schedule a set time in the morning to check those things – but NOT when you first wake up.
6)Every time you open your email program write a quick thank you to one person.
The thank you can be for something simple or something big. It doesn’t matter, just make sure it’s a real thank you. When you force yourself to think of who you should thank, and why, you will realize how many people help you and are nice to you – and how often we overlook it.
If you’re being efficient, you should only be checking your emails a couple of times a day. So, you need to come up with only a couple of people to thank.
I think this is my favorite tip on my list. When you do this, your relationships will change.
7)Pick someone you can help today.
Have you noticed that when you help someone else your problems seem to get smaller? It never fails. I don’t do this every day. I get busy. I forget. I worry that the person might not want my help. But, I’ve never felt bad after helping someone else.
Let’s call them goals and really do them right this year.
Here’s what works:
1) Believe you can:
This may sound silly, but common sense and research shows if you don’t believe you can be one of the 8% you won’t be. Hey, someone has to be – why not you?
2) Convince yourself you must achieve this goal:
If this is just something that would be nice to do, you may find yourself in the 92% group before you know it. Did you know 80% of people give up on their resolutions by February? So, ask yourself, why must you make this change and achieve this goal? What would be so great about reaching it? What would be so awful if you didn’t?
3) Convince yourself the short term pain is worth the long term gain:
Pick the top 2 or 3 things that are most important to you. Long lists will sabotage your success for any of them. Remember, you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. We can only change so much, so fast. You also may need to choose to let some less important things slide, so you can focus on what’s vital.
5) Start small and then go big:
I know all the gurus tell you to make massive change, to go big or go home. Well, the gurus are wrong. If you make your goal too big and you feel like you’re failing, you may get discouraged and quit. Don’t get me wrong. Setting big goals is an awesome thing to do. Just don’t let the size of them paralyze you from taking action. Don’t become discouraged because you didn’t change the world in a day.
Instead, take your big goal and break it down. Create smaller goals and benchmarks to get there at the week, month, 3 month, 6 month, and year mark. Take those smaller goals and create daily action plans to reach them. Write new daily action plans each week. Take action every day and watch your small steps turn into something BIG.
6) Make it real easy to measure your success:
How can you tell when you reach your goal? Definite and measurable goals are what work. How can you do this with goals that are difficult to measure? Can you break down a goal, project or task into measurable parts?
Find a trustworthy, supportive friend and agree to be each other’s accountability partners. Check in at least once a week with each other to make sure you’re staying on track.
Set up mini-goals and celebrate every time you hit one. Refocus on why you’re doing this and keep going. That’s how you start small and then go big.
Bonus: Make sure you’re going after the right stuff:
Before you start, you need to know exactly what you want. What’s most important to you and why? Here’s one way to start figuring it out.
Your mission tonight… if you choose to accept it.
Spend one half hour of your limited time writing down what your best life would look like. Done correctly, this is an extremely uplifting exercise. Just organizing and prioritizing your best life can increase your happiness, optimism, and belief that you can accomplish your goals.
When you answer these questions, remember, you’re in Fantasyland. No limits. That’s when our best ideas come.
If you had all the money in the world, how would you spend your time?
What would your perfect day look, feel, sound, smell, taste, and be like? Describe it in as vivid detail as you can.
What activities set your soul on fire?
What would you do if it were impossible to fail?
What would your career be?
What would your marriage be like?
What would your income be?
How much free time would you have?
Where would you live?
How many people could you help?
What would you do even if you didn’t get paid to do it?
What type of relationships would you have with your children?
What would your relationship be with God?
Where would you travel for vacations?
How many vacations would you take each year?
What would you have crossed off your bucket list?
How much would you give away to charity each year?
What would your spiritual life be like?
Where would you volunteer?
How much would you weigh?
What would your physical health be?
Would you play an instrument, speak a foreign language, or know how to dance?
What groups would you belong to?
How would you treat people?
How would people treat you?
These are just some questions to get you started. Come up with some of your own and design your best life.
Question for comments: What questions do you need to ask yourself to get to your best life?
If you’ve ever wanted to be your own boss, I have great news for you – you are!
Um, Greg, you don’t know me, or my job. I am not even close to being my own boss. I don’t run my own company. I’m stuck at a job where I have to do exactly what my boss tells me. I have no control over anything at work. I feel like a cog in a machine. I have to do what I’m told or I won’t be able to pay my bills.
I’m feeling you. That can be truly depressing and soul sucking. I get that you can feel like you have to go to work and you have to do what you’re told, But, when you really think about it, it’s always a choice.
When I first started working, I didn’t understand this and looked at my job as just a way to make some money. It didn’t take long for that mindset to make me miserable.
But once I realized I was really working for myself, that I could make my own decisions and decide what type and quality of work I was going to do, everything changed.
My wife teaches first grade. She told me last week how a child was starting to understand how certain letters make special sounds.
That’s just a little thing. So what?
Well, he was able to use that new understanding to start reading words with those letter groupings. Not such a little thing.
He’s going to build on that throughout this school year. He’ll keep learning “little things.” Those little things will start to grow into big things and one day soon he’ll be reading books and his whole world will explode.
Little things matter (so do super first grade teachers like my wife).
Isn’t that how we continue to grow for our entire lives?
Little thing after little thing adds up to some pretty great big things.