As I delete my emails, this is too good not to post. Thanks Tai!
Book: Instant Happy By Karen Salmahson.
You can read it in like 20 minutes. It’s really more of a coffee table book. It seems like it might be a little cliche at first but then as you ponder the pages you realize it’s pretty profound. Her main point is that happiness is about thoughts. Control your thoughts and you control your happiness. One of the first pages says, “See your tormentors as your mentors.” The idea is to build the skill of manipulating your mind into re-framing life events.
Take some ‘tormenting’ annoying person and use them as a springboard to something bigger and better. I am reminded of the psychological concept of ontology which explains how we all tell ourselves a story.
For example, two people experience the same thing, let’s say getting fired from a job.
One person sees it as a horrible tragedy and focuses on the loss of income. The other person sees it as an excuse to start up the home business they have always dreamed of owning.
Same event, different story, dramatically different outcome in the long run.
So the author says we should see:
· Failure as creation
· Endings as new beginnings
· Mistakes as new discoveries
It reminds me of the story of Thomas Edison who invented the lightbulb and movie camera and who over the course of his life was awarded over 1000 patents. Edison reminded people that most of his ideas had initially failed. But he manipulated how he perceived his failures by saying: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
That was him re-framing failure to give him the energy to keep going.
Michael Jordan was the same way. He said:
· I have lost almost 300 games (that’s more games than many NBA players have played in)
· I’ve missed over 9000 shots (again more shots than an average NBA player has even taken)
· I’ve even missed over 26 game-winning shots.
Michael Jordan was the greatest athlete of all time because he tweaked his mind to see pain and failure as a normal part of success. That’s why I have always loved being an entrepreneur. We invent our own reality. One of my mentors taught me, “The definition of an entrepreneur is someone who makes the world in their own image.” I find changing reality in terms of my business is easier than trying it with my mind and thoughts. Why?
Because our DNA, our evolution, has NOT built us to be happy. Our bodies and minds were built to optimize reproduction and the survival of our genes. Happiness is an after thought of our genetic makeup.
That’s why we stay in bad relationships, or date people we know aren’t good for us, or obsess over little details that we know aren’t even important in the long run. It’s also why we are afraid to speak in front of crowds, or why we get depressed. We were built that way. I know many people want to deny this part of our biology but denial isn’t healthy. It’s better to face the reality and then make adjustments afterwards.
This book is about the adjustments we all have to make so that we can rise above our animal tendencies.
Remember this: YOU WILL HAVE TO CREATE YOUR OWN HAPPINESS.
It starts in the mind and in the control of your thoughts. The author says to see your ex as a teacher and not as a waste of time. See conflicts as growth opportunities that will build ‘mental muscle’ just like lifting weights build physical muscle.
In Warren Buffett’s Snowball, It talks about his unique ability to tune out the mistakes that he’s made. He just compartmentalizes his brain and “walls off’ his mistakes.
The billionaire, Charlie Munger said that when he makes a mistake, he thinks long and hard about about what lessons he should learn from it. He even writes them down to embed them into his mind. Once that’s done he moves on and never thinks about them again. Sam Walton, in his autobiography about starting Wal-Mart, writes about how he didn’t read the lease he signed for his first store (before he had even started Wal-Mart). And that this mistake basically allowed the landlord to ‘steal’ the store away from him. After years of hard work Walton was subsequently forced to start all over again.
“I’ve never been one to dwell on reverses… It’s not just a corny saying that you can make a positive out of a negative if you work hard enough. I’ve always thought of problems as challenges, and this one wasn’t any different. I don’t know if that experience changed me or not. I know I read my leases a lot more carefully now, and maybe I became a little more wary of just how tough the world can be… But I didn’t dwell on disappointment. The challenge at hand was simple enough to figure out: I had to pick myself up and move on with it, do it all over again, only even better this time.”
It’s obvious here that Walton had the ability to manipulate his mind so that he could take a nightmare event and turn it into a springboard to come up with something even better. That failure and the mental ability to cope with it turned him into the richest man in America 30 years later.
I read once that something like 70% of people will quit anything after failing once and 90% will quit after failing 3 times. But the average millionaire has failed at least 3 times before finally getting rich. Put those two statistics together and its obvious why 10% of the world has all the money. Again everything is about the mind. If you can control your perception of events you control everything. Study history. The world is full of pain. During the 1600’s the Bubonic plague killed almost 50% of entire countries. The human experience is basically guaranteed to be filled with horrible things happening.
The odds are that if you live long enough the world is going to throw all kind of hardships at you. So you might as well learn how to deal with them now before they happen. Like this book says, start by re-framing little things. Learn to see a bad ex-boyfriend or girlfriend not as a waste of time but as a lesson to learn from..
The ability to reshape the worst circumstance into a fun game. I want to have that super power.
When I was a teenager I collected quotes and I remember writing one down on a little 3 x 5 note card that said: “Who is mighty? He who has control over his own mind.” That is really what this book is all about. The last pages end by saying, “Spoiler alert, it will all work out in the end.”
When I think back at the things that have stressed me out in life I realize that more often than not, I forget about them later down the road.
This book reminds me to keep perspective in life and to not exaggerate mountains from mole hills.Most things will work out just fine in the end.
Find something that works for you. Take 10 minutes a day and start by simply pushing out negative thoughts that don’t serve their purpose anymore. They pop in naturally, push them out, they will pop back in, so push them out again. Slowly you will get better at it. Practice changing the story of the painful event. Tell yourself how it led you to the next big thing in your life instead of dwelling on the pain of the event.Make the mistake, learn the lesson, move on to bigger and better things. Your mind is like a muscle, train it, exercise it,push it to grow and learn new habits.