Thanksgiving is in the air, which means there’s a lot of talk around every mindset guru’s favorite topic: gratitude.
Most of us have heard (and hopefully experienced) the life-changing benefits of gratitude: it reduces stress. It boosts our well-being. It’s even good for our immune system. It’s key to a healthy mindset, a happy mood, and a fulfilling life.
And yet, despite how important it is, sometimes it feels like there’s a limited amount of info out there about how to practice gratitude. Most of the time, people talk about keeping a gratitude journal. And while that’s a fantastic tool and I absolutely recommend it (and I even remember to do it sometimes), it’s not the only way.
Today, I want to introduce you to a twist on gratitude – a not-so-common way to shift your mindset toward positivity and thankfulness. It’s called benefit finding.
Here’s how it works.
Your brain is designed to answer the questions you ask it....
Every single time I walk in my front door, my dog Sadie barks like mad. She celebrates with all she’s got. It takes her a full five minutes to calm down, and even then, she’s still panting.
This happens every. Single. Day. Not once has she ever greeted me like, Oh, it’s you again.
Of course, most people’s dogs are like that. For them, you coming home is cause for maximum joy. Pull out all the stops! Kill the fatted lamb! Break out the fine china—Mom’s home from work!
Dogs are always prepared for happiness. They live in a constant state of waiting for something good to happen. And when it does, they don’t hold back. They celebrate the crap out of it.
There’s a name for that magical quality: positive expectancy.
What if we were like that? What if we were more like our dogs, especially when it came to reaching our goals?
Honestly, a lot of adults these days are the opposite. We fall into patterns of negative expectancy so easily. We get...
“By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”
― Stephen King
Getting rejected can be one of the most painful things we deal with.
Sure, we all know the stories of Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling – how those mythical-level geniuses endured rejection after rejection before they reached their mythical-level success. But even knowing that, it can feel like a huge blow. Rejection can be devastating: the disappointment, the shattered hopes, the feelings of powerlessness and “not good enough.”
Yet those feelings don’t have to keep us down. When we handle rejection from a place of empowerment, positivity, and hope, we can turn it around.
We can not only survive it; we can grow from it. We can get out from under its crushing weight, and start to see it in the rearview mirror as that mountain we overcame on the way to...
If you’re like me, and about a gazillion other people right now, you might be completely dreading winter.
For many, winter is hard enough in “normal” years. It means less outside time, short dreary days, and seasonal affective disorder. This year, though, it’s poised to be especially difficult, with the tumultuous political climate and the threat of another lockdown.
Fortunately, I have good news: no matter what’s going on in the world, you are not powerless.
Your choices, thoughts, and actions impact how you feel, and how those around you feel.
Let me reiterate that: You are never powerless.
Today, I want to introduce you to an idea known in psychology as “small self.” This is an important idea because by tapping into it, we can free ourselves from those feelings of sadness, helplessness, and anger. We can open ourselves up to feelings of wellbeing, possibility, happiness, and joy.
Even in the dead of winter, we can choose to feel alive...
This summer, I had the privilege of working with Shauna, a stay-at-home mom whose dreams of going back to work were completely trampled by Covid.
“I left my career in finance eleven years ago to raise my children. When they were old enough, I started to home-school them,” she told me over the phone. “The plan was always for me to go back to work when they reached high school, but my husband’s job isn’t doing well with the pandemic, and I just don’t know if I’ll ever get to go back to work. Or even work on the things I want to work on.”
“What are some of those things?” I asked.
“I’ve always wanted to start a business,” she said. “I’ve had different ideas over the years. Lately I’ve been thinking that I’d really like to write a home-schooling curriculum and sell it. There’d be support to other parents in the form of an online community, and interactive field trips...
We tend to think we know what we need in life: food, water, and shelter. Or, to take a more enlightened view, we know we need meaning, love, and fulfillment.
On a daily basis, we know we need to get the kids ready for school, send out that email that’s been nagging us, get to the doctor’s on time.
But there are actually six core needs that many of us aren’t even aware of – or rather, we might be aware of them, but we don’t how much they drive our actions and determine our level of happiness.
These six needs operate at the most fundamental level of our being. They drive us toward certain goals and behaviors and away from others, causing us either deep joy or deep frustration and sadness.
What are these six needs, you ask?
Let’s take a look at them now.
1. Certainty. We all need some level of consistency, predictability, knowing what to expect – especially when it comes to money, home life, and core relationships.
2. Significance. We all need...
Carla sat across from me in my office, looking miserable. Her dark hair hung limp over her eyes, which were fixed on the floor between us. She looked nothing like the radiant, confident woman I’d seen on camera a few weeks before. She’d sent me her audition reel, because what she wanted, she said, was an acting coach. Now, meeting her in person, I could tell she needed more than acting tips.
“Tell me about yourself,” I said, and after a minute or so, she began to open up.
Carla told me about how she’d gone into acting because she loved performing in her high school musicals. She just lived for that feeling of getting into character, rehearsing with her fellow actors, and stepping out onto the stage. From the first rehearsal until closing night, she was in “flow.”
That’s what she wanted to feel when she moved to New York to pursue acting. But now, five years in, she was depressed, out of work, and starting to lose hope.
Years ago, I sat in the audience at a Tony Robbins event, avidly taking notes while he spoke about living courageously. One line in particular struck me like a bolt of lightning:
“The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.”
As soon as I heard it, and a hundred times since then, I have circled it, underlined it, starred it, dog-eared the page, written it in my journal, posted in on my bathroom mirror. I try to keep it near me so that I never, ever forget it.
Why? Because it’s 100% true. The more you’re willing to step out into an uncertain world – which requires a great deal of courage – the more big, beautiful, unexpected things will come to you. Because if you don’t step out into that world, if you stay inside your comfort zone where things feel so safe and certain and predictable, you won’t feel fulfilled, challenged, inspired.
The more courageously you live, the more...
A few months ago, I was sitting in my living room trying to get some work done. Instead, I found myself staring at a blinking cursor, then out the window, then back again. Two whole hours passed that way.
Needless to say, I was stuck. Absolutely paralyzed.
If someone had walked into the room, they would have seen it right off the bat. My body language said it all: my shoulders were hunched and tense; I was barely breathing, as frozen as a statue. Big surprise, I wasn't having much "motion" in my thoughts, either.
Honestly, it's a little embarrassing to admit this. I'm a motivational expert! I've been in this business for years! Shouldn't I be past all that?
The truth is, everybody gets stuck sometimes. Neither I nor anybody else will ever be "immune" from it. Just like hardship, disappointment, feeling lousy – it's all a part of life. And just like those things, the trick isn't to deny the feeling, but to learn how navigate it and come out the other side.
So I decided to...
A few years ago, I met Caroline, a women’s clothing designer who was trying to lose weight. She came to see me because she was struggling to stick with the various diets she set for herself. No carbs, no eating after 7pm, a 3-miles run every morning – she had a lot of good ideas, but every time she committed to one, she inevitably fell off the wagon after a week or two.
“It’s just impossible for me to lose weight,” she told me, looking utterly defeated. “I don’t get it. I’m not an unmotivated person. I run my own business, for Pete’s sake! I work hard. I push myself, and I achieve things. Yet I cannot seem to stick to a freaking diet.”
Now, I often meet people who are going through something like this. Diets are notorious for being hard to stick to – but of course, it happens with other goals, too. Saving money. Working on a book. Learning a new skill. Across the board, it’s difficult to stay motivated when...
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