Category Archives: Motivation

Where Does Joy Come From?

An Ideal Day

Imagine an ideal day. You wake up early. You work out and take a shower. You have a healthy breakfast.

You work hard toward your goals. You’re focused. You’re in the zone. You do your best throughout the day.

In the evening, you spend quality time with your loved ones. No distractions, no TV, no Internet, no gadgets. Just some relaxing background music. Everybody is entirely present.

How would you feel at the end of such a day?

A Mediocre Day

Imagine a mediocre day. You don’t want to get out of the bed. You hit the snooze button repeatedly. Finally, you wake up and rush out of your home.

You grab a doughnut and coffee on your way to work. You’re only physically present at work. You just want to be there for eight hours to collect your paycheck. You distract yourself with the Internet to get through the day.

You switch on the TV when you get home. You eat some home delivery junk food and drink alcohol. You keep distracting yourself with the Internet.

Then, you realize that it’s past midnight. You go to bed. You have to repeat the same routine tomorrow.

How would you feel at the end of that day?

Those are just two days in your life. Aren’t they?

I disagree.

We repeat the same day over and over. If you had an ideal day yesterday, you tend to have an ideal day today. If you had a mediocre day yesterday, you’d probably have a mediocre day today.

Before you realize, your whole life will be over. It will be either a string of ideal days or a string of mediocre days.

The Feeling You’ll Have at the End of Your Life

Do you know what’s more important? Do you remember the feeling you felt at the end of your day?

You’ll have the same feeling at the end of your life, but this time 1000 times more intense.

Remember how you felt yesterday when the day was over. Do you want to feel the same feeling 1000 times intensified at the end of your life?

16,348

That’s the number of days I’ve got left. Maybe more, maybe less. You can check your number here. It isn’t that much, and that figure can crash to zero at any time.

“Since death is certain and the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?” Pema Chödrön

Let that sink in for a moment. Your life can be over at any moment. Do you get it? Are you aware of it at the gut level? How do you feel about wasting your precious time now?

Pleasure Makes You Miserable

We try to optimize our lives to maximize pleasure. We feel like more pleasure would make us happier.

  • More food.
  • More sex.
  • More entertainment.
  • More distraction.
  • More downtime.
  • More goods.

We all know where all of that ends, and I didn’t even mention alcohol and other drugs.

All of that ends up in apathy, bad health, boredom, emptiness, depression.

Our strategies to make ourselves happy make us miserable at the end.

Discomfort Gives You Joy

Then, there are practices that we avoid.

  • Working hard.
  • Exercising.
  • Living a clean, simple, healthy life.

We think that those would make us feel miserable, and at the beginning, they do. But at the end, they make us happy. They give us satisfaction.

Optimizing your life for pleasure makes you feel miserable. Doing your best working toward a worthy goal gives you joy.

For your own well-being, do yourself a favor and do something useful with your life.

We try to escape discomfort. The more we run away from it, the deeper we sink into it. The more we embrace discomfort, the more comfortable we get.

It takes courage and self-discipline to get out of your comfort zone and to stay out of it. Satisfaction, joy, happiness, even comfort is out of your comfort zone.

Doing Nothing Is Hard Work

Giving yourself the time and space you need and doing nothing once in a while is a critical part of success. Yet, no one does it nowadays. With all the distractions within arm’s reach, even doing nothing is hard work nowadays.

Peace of Mind

Peace of mind doesn’t come from avoiding discomfort. It comes from knowing that you have done what you had to do.

It Doesn’t Matter Why. What Matters Is How!

The quality of your life depends on the quality of the questions you ask. What is your favorite question pronoun? Why or How?

Do you ask a lot of why questions?

  • Why does my partner not understand me?
  • Why do my children not listen to me?
  • Why can’t I get along with my colleagues?
  • Why is the opposite sex not interested in me?
  • Why is there hunger in the world?
  • Why are there wars in the world?
  • Why is there poverty in the world?

You could write a book about each of them and not a single sentence in it would help you, because a why question is the wrong question to begin with. Why questions imply that the source of the problem is outside of you. Someone else is to blame for the situation. They involve a lack of acceptance of what is. They are there to find excuses. They are complaints in disguise. They are a sign of the victim mentality.

The right question to start with is how.

  • How can I explain myself to my partner?
  • How can I speak so that my children would listen to me?
  • How can I get along with my colleagues?
  • How can I attract the interest of the opposite sex?
  • How can I contribute to the world food program?
  • How can I work for more peace in the world?
  • How can I help people to overcome poverty?

How do you feel after reading the how questions? Don’t you feel empowered, inspired, and motivated? How questions are a sign of the creator mentality. Before accomplishing anything significant, you have to start with the question, “How?”

Every time you catch yourself asking why, change your question to a how question and think about it. Soon, you’ll get over the victim mentality and adopt the creator mentality. Keep doing that and you’ll experience quantum leaps in your life.

Remember the Marshmallows

In the famous Stanford experiment, researchers promised a second marshmallow to young children, if they didn’t eat their first one for fifteen minutes. The children who were able to delay gratification had greater success later in their lives. The marshmallow experiment is a challenge for children and a great metaphor for adults.

The ability to delay gratification requires a lot of willpower, especially in this day and age. We live in the age of instant gratification. We don’t need a cinema, TV, or a PC anymore. We have an endless stream of videos, social media updates, and games available on our smartphones. Kudos to you for reading a text-only blog right now.

“Willpower is one of the most important predictors of success in life.” Roy Baumeister

Accomplishing anything significant requires long term thinking. However, we want overnight results. We don’t want to start any endeavor that might take more than a year to complete. We dream about short term rewards.

  • What am I going to eat for dinner?
  • What am I going to do in the weekend?
  • Where am I going to go for the next summer vacation?

However, success and satisfaction comes from tackling long term challenges.

  • I want to build a prosperous business in the next 10 years.
  • I want to end the world hunger in the next 25 years.
  • I want to live a great life in the next 50 years.

Do you have no idea how to set challenging long term goals? Ask yourself the following questions.

  • What do you want to be proud of at the end of your life?
  • What do you want to have achieved?
  • What are all the things that you want to experience in this lifetime?

Now, think about the next ten years. What could you achieve in the next ten years if you gave it your best shot? Ten years is a long time. You can achieve some extraordinary feats. Is ten years too long for you to work on a goal? Remember, those years are going to pass anyway.

The more long term you think, the more you’re going to achieve. You can train your brain to think long term. Willpower is like a muscle that gets stronger as you train. Start by posting your long term goals somewhere you can see every day. That will keep you stay focused and increase your productivity. And if you feel like giving in to instant gratification, remember the marshmallows.

How to Live the Life You Truly Desire

Do you wonder who has determined your

  • Lifestyle,
  • Relationships,
  • Level of happiness,
  • Income,
  • Job,
  • The place you live,
  • And your impact on the world?

Think about it for a second. Was it your conscious choice which lifestyle you wanted to live? Did you consciously choose your job and income? Did you decide carefully on your relationships or where you wanted to live? Or did you just accept what others have already decided for you?

In general, our lives are determined either directly by others or indirectly by their influence over us. We’ve been programmed by our families and by the society in general. We’re still being programmed constantly. Our lives are the results of that social conditioning.

Are you OK with that? Are you OK with the life that others created for you? Are you OK with all the consequences of your social conditioning?

Or

Do you want to be an independent thinker? Do you want to question your programming consciously? Do you want to let go of what you no longer want or need? Do you want to claim your power over your life?

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  Jim Rohn

Are you willing to choose the people in your life consciously? Are you willing to let go of the people that hold you back?

Are you OK with being programmed by TV, newspapers, and magazines, to buy the products and services you don’t actually need, to spend your precious time on watching and reading them, and thinking the way they want you to think?

Are you OK with being distracted by and spending your precious time on social media and mindless web surfing?

Moreover, are you OK with your past programming or do you want to let that programming go?

Decide and Act

The first step to claim your power over your life is to make a clear, firm decision. Make a decision

  • To be an independent, critical thinker,
  • To let go of your past programming,
  • To say no to unwanted influences,
  • To actively look for and create positive influences in your life and in the lives of others.

The second step is to go ahead and act on your decision. It’s not easy to give up on deeply ingrained beliefs, thoughts, and habits, but it is possible. Changing your conditioning requires persistent conscious effort.

You need to keep working on your programming, no matter how many times you fail. Don’t stop working on it until the effects of your past conditioning subside completely from your life.

Letting go of your conditioning requires mindfulness and willpower. It requires substituting unwanted influences with positive influences. It requires you to surround yourself with the people who have already achieved what you want to achieve. It requires you to read, listen to, and watch their ideas. It requires you to be aware of yourself and the influences in your life. It requires you to stay on this path no matter how many times you fail. That is the only way to claim your power over your life and to live the life you truly desire.

The Fundamental Principle of Personal Development

I have a cute niece, a beautiful, seven years old girl. One of her friends wanted to celebrate her birthday in an indoor climbing gym. She told us that she wouldn’t try indoor climbing, because she never did that in her life before. I told her that she was too young to say that and she should try it at least once. When a seven years old child says that, we find that cute and funny. However, we grown ups use the same excuse all the time.

Here are some examples of the things that we would like to do but don’t dare to. Feel free to add your favorite to the list.

  • I can’t start a business.
  • I can’t dance.
  • I can’t speak in front of an audience.
  • I can’t ski.
  • I can’t become a salesperson.
  • I can’t play a musical instrument.
  • I can’t start a blog or a YouTube channel.

And our excuses.

  • I’ve never done that before.
  • I’ve tried it before and failed.
  • I don’t have talent.
  • I’m bad at …
  • I’m too young.
  • I’m too old.
  • I have a family to take care of.

And the list goes on.

Excuses are useless.

Now think about a skill that you want to improve. Find a skill that is important for your life and your career. For example, public speaking. Ask the following questions to yourself or adapt them to your chosen skill.

  • Are you ready to fail a few speeches in front of your friends, colleagues, or total strangers?
  • Are you ready to persist even if you fail your first dozen or more attempts?
  • Are you ready to receive negative feedback and criticism and try to learn something from them?
  • Are you ready to put in countless hours of effort to make marginal improvements?
  • Are you ready to go out of your comfort zone and face your challenges?
  • Are you ready to do step onto the stage in front of an audience no matter how scared you are?
  • How do you feel when you see a successful public speaker? Do they inspire you? Do you feel that you can succeed too?

Congratulations, if you answered yes to most of these questions. You have the growth mindset. According to Dr. Carol Dweck, the author of the book Mindset, the growth mindset is what separates the successful people from the rest. It is the fundamental principle of personal development.

“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” G.K. Chesterton

The opposite of the growth mindset is the fixed mindset.

  • People with the fixed mindset don’t try something new.
  • They ignore the activities which involve a chance of failure.
  • They don’t want to look bad.
  • They give up when they don’t succeed at the first time.
  • They are unwilling to put in the necessary effort to excel in an activity.
  • They are afraid of criticism.
  • They take criticism personal and try to defend themselves instead of learning something from it.
  • They remain in their comfort zone unless they are forced out of it.
  • They ignore the successes of others. They are either jealous or feel threatened.

Can I change my mindset?

Yes, you can change your mindset. All it takes is mindfulness. Spend effort to remain aware of your mindset throughout your day. When you face a challenge, ask yourself if your thoughts are based on the growth mindset or the fixed mindset. Let the thoughts of fixed mindset go and replace them with thoughts of growth mindset. This will be difficult at the beginning and it will require conscious effort by your side. However, you’ll adopt the growth mindset in time and this will be second nature.

It is normal to have different mindsets in different areas of your life. For example, you might have a growth mindset in your career. However, you might have a fixed mindset in your relationships life. This is no problem. All you have to do is to be more mindful in your relationships life, let the fixed mindset go, and adopt the growth mindset.