when to trust your gut for business decisions

How To Know When To Trust Your Gut Feeling

“Trust your gut.”

You have probably heard this phrase many times. Or you have heard one of its variations, such as:

  • “Trust your heart”
  • “I always follow my gut”
  • “Listen to your heart”
  • “Every time I didn’t trust my gut, I made the wrong decision.”

But is this actually a smart thing to do? Where’s the logic behind it?

I personally heard this phrase a lot when I watch interviews of successful people, so my ears perked up. I took note. But I was skeptical.

Why should you just trust your gut feeling? This can lead to bad decisions. Drug addicts “trusted their gut” and chased the pleasure of drugs, which made them addicted and and broke. What if your friends tell you to drink alcohol, party all night, and not work hard? Your gut is probably telling you to listen because it’s naturally lazy and doesn’t like hard work. And as you know, that probably won’t end up well.

A blanket statement for trusting your gut can’t be right. But I believe there is some truth, and massive value in knowing when to trust your gut. The first problem is that people confuse the short-term pleasures, like gluttony and laziness, with a knowledgeable gut feeling based on weathered experienced.

Get ready for the ultimate guide on trusting your gut…

Why You Should Trust Your Gut

So we learned that we shouldn’t trust our gut in all situations. But is there any pay off for trusting your gut in the right situations? Well, Garry Kasparov believes so. Garry is considered by most of the chess community to be the best chess player of all time. He was ranked #1 for over 20 years.

In a speech he did called “How to Achieve Your Potential”, Garry says that trusting your gut is the most important thing in chess because there are more possible move combinations than seconds since the Big Bang happened. With such an infinite amount of possible moves to calculate, you have to rely on your subconscious to do some of the work.

In a Google talk, Garry went farther and said intuition is the most valuable quality of a human being. In his book How Life Imitates Chess, Garry says that top chess players are so tapped into their intuition in games that they often make more mistakes afterwards when they have all the time and technology they want to analyze their games.

Garry’s not the only one who believes something along these lines. Here’s a quote from the legendary founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, at a Stanford commencement speech:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

And here’s Jennifer Lopez, one of the most successful celebrities in the world on gut:

“I only do what my gut tells me to. I think it’s smart to listen to other people’s advice, but at the end of the day, you’re the only one who can tell you what’s right for you.”

Dr. Dre, rapper, founder of Beats by Dre, and the man who found Eminem said this in a Time interview:

“Everything that I do is for sound goals. It comes from my gut. When I’m sitting in the studio, a mix isn’t done till I feel it in my gut. It’s been the same way from the beginning, even when I was DJ’ing, if I heard a song that I wanted to play that I thought would be great in the club that night, I’d have to feel it in my gut.”

And Taylor Swift, who needs no introduction, said this in Rolling Stone:

“I base a lot of decisions on my gut, and going with an independent label was a good one.”

And here’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who Forbes pegged the highest earning actor of 2016, said in an Esquire interview:

“I’ve never gone wrong trusting my gut. It was really the only thing that I had going into acting.”

When to Actually Trust Your Gut

So when do you know it’s right to trust your gut (and when it isn’t)? After a lot of thinking and researching, I came to this conclusion:

Trust your gut only on skills where you have years of experience. The more years of success you have had, the more you can trust your gut feelings. For example, Warren Buffett has over 60 years of business experience. He made a lot of mistakes, learned a lot of hard lessons, and managed to make billions of dollars.

When he has a gut feeling, it’s not just a feeling. It’s a lightning-fast subconscious response that references decades worth of experience better than his conscious mind can.

In fact, Warren himself has mentioned in many interviews that he stays in his “circle of competence.” Outside of what he is really good at (investing), he doesn’t try his luck or skill at (and definitely not his gut feeling). This makes perfect sense because his gut feeling in chess, which he sucks at, would likely be wrong.

And it turns out that this is exactly what Warren Buffett does. In many interviews, he has admitted that he can decide whether or not to invest in a company in a matter of minutes. He has a dozen filters he consciously runs the company through, and then, he leaves it up to his decades of experience. When people call him to try to sell a company, he makes sure to cut the person off gently within minutes so no time gets wasted.

Garry Kasparov said in his book How Life Imitates Chess that a beginner chess player’s “gut instinct” is just luck. He says your intuition only kicks in when you have years of reference experience.

Jumping back to the quote by Dr. Dre, it seems like he supports this. He also said this in the Time interview:

“It’s a little bit hard to explain … It’s just a way that it makes you feel, and we’ve had that experience because of being in the studio for so long.”

Dr. Dre had many years of experience to work his gut instinct with.

The billionaire Richard Branson has a quote that also supports this idea of experience before intuition:

“Engage your emotions at work. Your instincts and emotions are there to help you. They are there to make things easier. For me, business is a ‘gut feeling,’ and if it ever ceased to be so, I think I would give it up tomorrow. By “gut feeling,” I mean that I believe I’ve developed a natural aptitude, tempered by huge amounts of experience, that tends to point me in the right direction rather than the wrong one. As a result, it also gives me the confidence to make better decisions.” -Richard Branson in Business Stripped Bare

Chip Heath’s book Decisive recommends weighing your gut decision against all the evidence and logic. Don’t just follow your gut. Use it as part of the decision process.

If you’ve extensive research and all or most of the evidence says Yes… AND it’s a skill you have over 10 years of experience in AND your gut says Yes, then that probably means go for it.

It’s easy to say Yes or No when everything aligns. But what about when it doesn’t?

In this case, I suggest the rule of favoring a false positive over a false negative or vice versa. You want to avoid the one that has a much more destructive result.

For example, let’s say you’re a business exec with 25 years of experience. You’re interviewing a seemingly perfect candidate for a very important job. On paper, his resume shows him to be perfect for the job. He has all these references and data to prove it. You make sure there is no bias caused by nepotism or race. There isn’t. He’s white.

But your gut is telling you that there’s something off about him and that you’ve been burned in the past…

This would be a case of passing on him. A false positive would cause a lot of wasted time and money. The wrong candidate could destroy the organization.

There’s this element of trusting your gut that I find very intriguing and useful.

I have come across a few successful individuals who have said that each time they trusted their gut it worked out and each time they didn’t it screwed them over.

One of these videos was an interview from Henry Winkler, a famous actor. Another was from a TV host Pat O’Brien.

That got me thinking. When should you trust your gut and when shouldn’t you?

These are reputable actors but it’s not enough data points to fully trust this advice. What if your gut is telling you to do more hard drugs? That’s probably going kill you, and would be the wrong decision.

I think the answer is that you trust your gut in the things that you are good at. Let’s say you spent 20+ years becoming a chess grandmaster, master businessman like Warren Buffett, or basketball pro. You can probably trust your gut in that skill because you are so experienced in it.

At that level, it’s more than just a gut feeling. It’s an extension of all your business knowledge, experiences, and lessons learned culminating in one instinctual feeling. Chess grandmasters do this naturally. The youngest grandmaster in history Magnus Carlson is the newest prodigy in chess.

The youngest grandmaster in history Magnus Carlson is the newest prodigy in chess. I recently saw an interview from him where he admits that he instinctually knows the right move immediately in his gut.

Our ancestors often had to evaluate situations quickly and didn’t have time to assess things. This is why certain gut feelings and biases were valuable to them.

There are some areas where maybe you shouldn’t go with your gut because you lack experience and skill in that area.

Usually, it’s an area where there is not a lot of objective, measurable progress and success in your skills and achievements.

A Cool Way To Figure Out The Right Choice When You Don’t Have Experience and Can’t Rely on Gut…

When you face a tough decision, get advice from a successful person in the area who has a lot of experience. Also, you can ask yourself, “Is this actually a gut feeling or just lust, pride, racism, sexism, or a motivation for short-term pleasure at the expense of long-term success? If so, don’t give into that feeling.

What If You Are Young and Have No Experience At All? Unique Situations To Trust Your Gut You Should Be Aware Of

So what do you do if you are young and have little experience in a skillset? Does this mean there is no area you should trust your gut? Not exactly. It turns out that for some areas of decision-making, you have millions of years of experience… in the form of evolution and genetics.

According to the book Mate by Tucker Max, women have a lot of pre-programmed, complex behaviors to find the best mate. Without them even thinking, they unconsciously look for subtle behavioral signs of status, intelligence, willpower, and mental health. They also scan for rape and danger. What does this mean for you? It means that the competition for survival of millions of years of your ancestors has granted you some genetic pre-programmed behaviors that you mistake for gut instinct.

When it comes to dating or safety, your gut is usually pretty accurate. It’s very deep, complicated, and unconscious. They’re not oftentimes consciously aware of what they’re doing. They often just naturally feel attracted or put off. Having said that, it’s far from perfect. This is one of the reasons why women still end up in poor relationships that end in divorce, cheating, debt, or toxic fights.

Having said that, this does not mean that all your genetics are suitable for the modern era. Just because they have been shaped for millions of years doesn’t mean they’re caught up with modern times. Fast food is a prime example. Most people eat way too much junk food and get obese because their genes are programmed for an age when salt, sugar, and fat were rare. They haven’t caught up to the recent agricultural developments. Evolution is slow.

You may want to trust your gut to a certain extent, but use your critical thinking as well. That is why it is there.

People bunch a lot of related terms together: “trusting your gut”, “trusting your intuition”, “following your heart”, “following your emotions”, and “going with your heart.” Those are just a few.

Remember that you shouldn’t take it too far! There is a line you cross where it is no longer a street-savvy gut choice. It can become a stupid emotionally or psychologically influenced decision that ends badly.

This happens even without the influence of drugs. You can make a lot of bad decisions because emotions and dozens of psychological biases serve you poorly so that you make a bad decision. Here’s an example: you are incredibly angered and choose to avoid paying taxes out of spite because your spouse should have paid. Guess what? You end up with a much bigger debt to pay off that you regret.

That could be misinterpreted as “trusting your gut” when it was just emotion-driven stupidity.

Another example is a bad decision based on psychological biases. Certain biases have served us well in our primitive past as humans that don’t work as well in modern times. There are many biases. One is contrast bias. Car salesman use this often. They throw out really big numbers and then get you to agree to a smaller purchase because of that. You have now just bought a $500 car accessory you wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the $500,000 car he kept talking about.

Here’s an interesting video on a man who trusted his gut and it lead to his success in many areas. He kind of rambles but there might be some good points you can pick up from it:

See 10:00 time stamp and 18:00 time stamp in the video below:

Your Gut Is Not Just A Gut. It’s Deeply Scientific.

After reading the top books on evolutionary science for dating (The Red Queen, Why Women Have Sex and Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters), I realized we are not just humans. Instead, we are often walking robots with millions of years of programming wired to act in a certain way.

When a girl decides who she wants to date or marry, up to 90% of it is an unconscious, super complex process. Her genetics are assessing his pheromones (smell) for offspring compatibility, body movement for fitness, humor for mental health, and up to hundreds of other things. None of it is conscious on her part.

My theory is that your gut decision-making theory may work in the same way. Trust your gut whenever you are facing a decision that many of your ancestors have made because your genetics are made up of thousands of years of survival. The losers who made the wrong decision did not pass down their genes. Examples of situations this may apply is when you are talking to someone while traveling and you think he may mug you or when a girl meets a stranger for a date and something seems off.

A Hidden Resource of Experience

If you think you have no experience at anything yet, think again. You can sometimes underestimate how much experience you have. One area is social interactions.

Have you been tricked in the same way by someone multiple times? Your intuition often kicks in when it happens again so you are less likely to trust.

Look for other specific social interactions where you are experienced. It could be something like what you say first to a customer that walks in the door. Maybe those years of working at a fast food restaurant gave you experience on which greetings work.

Having said that, beware overreactions. One moderately traumatic event in your past could force you to over-calibrate in the other way. And in these situations, your gut is still wrong. Think of the woman who was cheated on by her first boyfriend and goes on to believe that all men are tricksters.

Trust Your Heart … Rate?

You’ve heard the saying “trust your heart.” Turns out it is partially true:

A study was done published in Psychological Science on people who had never played a card game. The game was designed so that there was no obvious strategy to follow and it forced people to rely on their intuition.

The results were varied. Some people figured out it quickly while others struggled and never figured it out. They all tried to use their intuition and yet some failed completely. Their gut always made the wrong choice.

What they did find was that those who were more attune and aware of their changes in heart rate had a higher chance of getting it right.

What does this mean? There may be some use in being very aware of your heart rate at all times. One great way to get better at this is meditation.

The Best Time To Trust Your Gut

Other than in situations when you have decades of experience, what’s the other absolute best time to trust your gut? Easy. It’s when logically, everything is telling you this is the right decision, but your gut is screaming at you to run the other way. Sometimes, it could be this exact situation, but not a scream — just a strong nudge.

Now, why is this the best time to listen? Because this is a clear red flag that something you did not consciously could screw up the whole decision. And your subconscious is aware of it. You may just not have picked up on what it is yet. Maybe, for instance, you are about to acquire a company that seems to be a great investment at a great price with great sales and economics, but you forgot to factor in the impeding foreign competition that will wipe you out.

Still, I would recommend you use this in situations where you have a lot of experience and skill. In the book Decisive, a case study was shown regarding a hiring decision for a large company. The hiring manager initially disliked an interviewee even though his resume showed he was perfect for the job. His gut told him to pass him up, but he resisted and hired him. He turned out to be the best employee he ever had. The book goes on to show statistics that prove that interviewing is the statistically worst predictor of job performance, behind personality tests and everything else.

When All Else Fails And You’re Unsure, Just Go With Your Gut

Obviously, we also have to acknowledge luck. Sometimes, some people are just gifted with the right genetics. Their sense of intuition for the skill (or even towards navigating life and people) are on point, far better than the average person. That’s another possible reason why some people get ahead with the gut concept.

But you may find yourself in a situation where none of the above advice fits you perfectly. Specifically, I’m talking about a situation where:

  • You feel like you have average genetics and your intuition may be wrong.
  • You don’t have decades of experience, let alone even a couple years of experience, with the skill in question.
  • You know it’s not greed, laziness, pleasure from drugs, sexual pleasure, or gluttony that you’re confusing with your gut feeling.
  • It’s a situation that does not affect reliable skills shaped by tens of thousands of years of survival and reproduction, like rape or dealing with strangers.

What do you do?

I can’t say I have a definitive answer backed with tons of evidence. It could be a toss-up. It could be a 50% vs. 50% shot either way. If that’s the case, I believe the answer is obvious. Go with what your gut says. If it’s 50-50, you actually have a lot more support for going with your gut because of all the successful people I have mentioned who have said how they have never gone wrong going with their gut (and vice versa)

Conclusion

Here’s the Too Long Didn’t Read summary for you all:

  1. Tons of successful people emphasize how they’ve never gone wrong going with their gut and have screwed up by avoiding their gut.
  2. You may be misinterpreting gluttony, pleasure, greed, or laziness for “gut feeling.” They’re different. Avoid going with your “gut” on the former.
  3. There are some deeply programmed behaviors in our genetics from thousands of years of survival and reproduction where you should trust your gut, like when dealing with strangers or potential rapists.
  4. Most importantly, you should be more confident trusting your gut in skills where you have honed years, if not decades, of experience in because it’s more than a gut feeling, it’s a subconscious reference of your years of experience.

If you’re interested in more discussion and thought on the topic, check out my video below:

Views – 94

Secret of Self Discipline

The Secret of Self Discipline

Self-discipline (also known as willpower) seem to be an obvious key to success. Successful people seem to be able to focus and stay on track. They form good habits and are less tempted by unproductive or unhealthy activities. All of that seems to revolve around the idea of self-discipline.

So what’s the secret to self-discipline (also known as willpower)?

Today, I want to share with you what billionaires and other successful people have to say on improving your self discipline.

You will learn:

  • why self discipline is even more important than you think, based on billionaires’ advice.
  • how to improve your self-discipline, based on science and case studies.
  • what some celebrities have to say about improving willpower.
  • even more surprising advice.
  • a special technique I stumbled across that can get you started on good habits immediately.

Click the play button below to listen to the podcast:

Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher so you want listen on your phone wherever and whenever:

Show Notes

    • His second video on Willpower.

If this helped you in a positive way, put your email in below (or on the right) to join my newsletter for more value bombs like this. Also, leave a comment letting me know your thoughts.

Views – 50

How To Make A Company Look Good on Glassdoor

The Definitive Guide To Using Glassdoor To See If A Business Rules or Drools

Glassdoor.com is a website that job candidates can use to evaluate companies to work for.

Believe it or not, it is one of the most well known company review sites. In fact, it’s one of the only ones that people mention when I ask people about this. And I have asked dozens.

People actually use this to check whether or not to work for a company.

Whether you are a potential job applicant, a company executive, or founder, this guide will be very useful to you.

Note: This is NOT a textbook or “Glassdoor for Dummies” guide that goes over every little thing and is 500,000 words long.

This is only to touch on the important stuff that is most useful.

Understand and Beware Of Vote Manipulation

This one is huge. There are cases where:

  • Only the bad employees bother to log on to Glassdoor to negatively review a company. A company’s reviews may be more negative than what the company is actually like.
  • A majority or all of the reviews are from current employee members that were asked (and sometimes pressured) to review their company on Glassdoor.

This is not always the case.

However, for smaller businesses and start-up’s, this can definitely be the case.

Potential job applicants should not always be quick to pass on a company, especially if it is small and has less than 20 reviews.

Sometimes, the people who are most likely to leave reviews are only the ones who are tech-savvy and had a negative experience with the company. Some companies may be great to work for.

A smaller company could also have a much more positive image displayed on Glassdoor because they paid for it or purposefully manipulated how they looked.

Although it is rarer, this could be the case even for large companies.

A warning sign is if most or all of the reviews come from current employees or interns. They could be pressured from leaving any negative reviews.

Talk To Many Past Employees

If you really want a good lay of the land, reach out and talk to past employees of the company in person or on the phone.

In person is the best as you get a more direct relationship. The worst is through email or LinkedIn message, although they are still fairly good.

A past employee is more open to telling you the truth about how a company was like because they do not work there anymore and have experienced it.

It’s important to get multiple perspectives (at least 5 or 10) because a single person’s perspective could be skewed based off a unique experience. Also, you want to avoid people who were fired because they may have a excessively negative bias.

Talking and learning from real employees can give you a deeper understanding of the company rather than a few paragraphs on Glassdoor.

Focus On True Long-term Value

As a top executive of a company, you should focus more on actually creating an awesome company to work for rather than short-term things like a good impression on Glassdoor.

Rather than focus on getting good reviews through voting manipulation, you should look to create a great company to work for and the good reviews will naturally follow over time.

Having said that, there could be employees that could give you good reviews that are just unaware of the website. The website can sometimes be negatively biased because only the negative or tech-savvy individuals bother to search it out.

The question is if you want to spend 15+ minutes of 100 employees work time on doing a review. That’s a lot of man hours you have to pay for.

I would suggest sticking to the ethos of transparency, honesty, no pressure, no bias, and real long term value. Therefore, maybe you can send an optional email to employees requesting them to leave an anonymous review on Glass door on their own time if they choose to do so, emphasizing no pressure or bias to leave a positive or negative review of any kind.

Be open to constructive criticism as an executive or manager. Read the reviews on Glassdoor to see what you can improve upon and work on improving it.

There are common themes among the complaints on Glassdoor that are easy to pick out. You are going above and beyond many businesses who do not even bother to look at what they are doing poorly and improve on it.

Here’s an example of an article written by an employee of Sumome. When you really have a great culture, some things just cannot be lied about. The article gives picture proof of the open bar they have on Friday’s, the freedom to work from where they choose, and examples of their free lifestyle.

Read Many Reviews To Get A Good Sense of The True Dynamic

Guide to Glassdoor.com
Overly biased or common theme? Read more reviews to find out

As I mentioned, you have an edge over other businesses if you spend time looking at reviews as constructive criticism to see how managers and the system can be improved. Most people don’t do that.

As a potential applicant or employee, this can be very important too.

It’s important to look at many or most of the reviews (at least 15) to get a more extensive understanding of the landscape and pick out common themes.

Many people stop reading after 1 to 3 reviews of a specific Glassdoor website. This can a bad thing because a single review could be very biased and not representative of the whole picture of what it’s like to work at a company.

With 15+ reviews, you can pick out common themes in the Pro’s and Con’s of a company. When you see this constantly being mentioned like “gossipy culture and politics”, there’s more of a chance that it is true.

Conclusion

How To Learn If A Company Is A Good Fit
Glassdoor can also be a good thing to look at to learn about the interview process.

This article was not written or influenced by any other party other than my own personal opinions and discoveries.

As you can see, Glassdoor can be a useful tool in understanding what it’s like to work for a company. For smaller companies and start-up’s, it is sometimes the only good tool out there to learn from current and past employees.

Having said that, voting can be manipulated by overly negative employees that were fired or by the company themselves by pressuring current employees to leave a review.

Be cautious of what is said on there. Although it is very helpful, it is not the 100% accurate picture of a company.

Red flags include less than 15 reviews on Glassdoor,  mostly current employees and interns leaving reviews, or mostly negative reviews from people who were let go.

Other than Glassdoor.com, you can use LinkedIn and your personal network to reach out to former employees of a company. By getting a sample size of at least 5 to 10 past employees, you can get a better understanding of the company culture.

As a business owner or executive at a company, you can use Glassdoor as constructive criticism for things you can work on improving. Most people don’t even bother doing this so you rise ahead of the crowd over time.

Look to common themes that keep popping up among many reviews. These things can be used to improve on as they are more likely true.

Rather than focusing on short-term gains like vote manipulation on Glassdoor, look to actually improve the company culture so that great reviews naturally follow in the long term.

Occasionally, you can send out optional requests to leave reviews on Glassdoor to your employees. Make sure you emphasize that there’s no pressure or bias so they leave honest reviews. This is useful because you’re getting a more honest understanding of what’s happening to learn from and you’re letting employees who don’t know about the website to leave reviews, thus balancing out the reviews from the tech-savvy or overly negative.

Have you found anything useful from using Glassdoor with incredible results? I’d love to hear about it.

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Day 3 of the Less Things, More Happiness Challenge

It’s day three of my challenge to be happier and not depend on unnecessary, materialistic items. See day two or any of the previous posts to see what this is about. Just make sure to follow along and practice this with me.

Exercise was the focus

Today, I focused on exercise, which science shown increases your long-term happiness and endorphin levels.

I went through a standard workout (about 10 to 15 minutes of slow to moderate exercise on one of those elliptical machines and some moderate weight lifting).

I am writing this a few hours after I exercised and I believe I felt my happiness and mood lifted slightly when I was on the elliptical. When I went back home, it kind of went back to normal and may have even dropped due to the mind-sucking power of all the YouTube I watched.

I exercise almost every day and on a daily basis, I do notice changes to my happiness. However, in the long-term, I do feel better, especially when I remember that I have sweated and worked hard to make my body healthy and more attractive.

Does it automatically make me go from feeling average to the happiest person on earth like a magic pill? No, but I do think it helps. My highest moments of pleasure from exercise came from the end of really tough 30+ minute runs.

Laughter is a great medicine for happiness

I did another happiness-boosting task by chance. I did not consider doing it as part of this challenge, but it was always something I wanted to add into my routine to boost my happiness.

Today, I listened to maybe 20 minutes of stand-up comedy from top comedians on Pandora’s free music player. I stumbled across it. I didn’t even know they had comedy stations.

For me, it’s hard for me to laugh and I did not laugh once the whole time (even though I skipped the comedians I did not like). Certain types of comedy (people being idiots or screwing up badly) make me laugh if it’s well orchestrated. Think Jackie Chan movies, like Rush Hour, or Bill Cosby.

Unfortunately, a lot of the white comedians that came on, like Daniel Tosh and Louie CK, were just insulting other people. I listened to 20 minutes of people doing stuff like that — like complaining about how terrible the neighbors are.

Some people love this whole “exaggerated complaining” humor. The constant laugh of the audience in the background made this clear. But I just kept thinking, “Just because everyone else is laughing isn’t going to trick me into laughing. This is straight up just insulting people.”

I have watched a lot of “Try Not To Laugh” challenges on YouTube afterwards, but it rarely makes me even smile. I guess I’m just a tough cookie.

It has to be something fresh, so even the old Jackie Chan scenes don’t work.

But if you are not like me, I highly suggest putting on something to make you laugh every day. It really does brighten your mood and happiness.

I read in a self-help book that a man cured his incurable illness by doing nothing but watching comedy videos all day for weeks on end. I can’t remember what book it was. I just remember that they never cited the study, which annoyed me because I couldn’t check if it was true. Nonetheless, there may be some truth here.

I read in the book 50 Secrets of the Longest Living People that a half-century-long study was done on nuns and those who stressed and worried less lived longer.

Laughter is the best medicine and it’s crazy how many people do not even consider doing something like this. And because of that, they go weeks or months without laughing once.

Update: I am reporting back and updating this article to let you know that I have been keeping (fairly) consistent with trying to listen to humor in my free time. Good news. I finally had a few laughs.  It took a long time, but it’s worth it. Even if I don’t get a hearty laugh out, it elevates my mood. What has really helped is a change of attitude. If I just open my standards up to laugh at stuff easier, it actually makes me more likely to actually enjoy it.

We talked about the good. Now, for the bad…

I will keep this section short because one part of happiness is consciously making sure not to dwell on unhappy emotions. Dr. Rick Hanson, psychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness, said:

“The brain is like Velcro for the bad and Teflon for the good.”

This basically means that we can dwell on one negative event for hours, but easily forget about multiple positive event. We are genetically wired to have this bias because it helped our ancestors survive in the dangerous wild. Preparing for one negative event prevented death. In the modern world though, it usually just hurts us. Make sure you celebrate your wins, no matter how small. I write them down in an online document and try to reference them at least once a week.

Now, I did have moments of loneliness and unhappiness today. Looking back, I could have made more of an effort to shift my focus when they occurred. But I have been making a somewhat conscious effort over the last year and I think it’s made a difference.

When I am feeling down, I immediately shift to positive thinking without even thinking about it sometimes. But not always, and I need to work on that.

A source of this unhappiness comes from unconscious comparison of my life to famous people on social media. I have tried using Strict Workflow as a free website blocker but it only acts a timer, which doesn’t work well since I just wait for it to come off the allotted time.

It’s tough because there is a lot of useful content on social media too. It’s tempting. However, I have decided to download a complete website blocker to try it out. This blocker will block social media websites forever no matter what I try and do.

For now, I want to share with you two lessons about happiness I learned from successful people:

  • You can have fun and enjoy life in a lot of different ways right now.
  • Don’t buy into the rigid belief that you cannot have fun or enjoy yourself because a certain person or thing isn’t there.

While I think it’s important to have friends since we are wired to be social creatures, I don’t think you need hundreds of friends. Think of the Dalai Lama. This man spends his entire day meditating. Yet he is always laughing and smiling in his interviews.

I have also been inspired by people who may never get the superficial high-status levels of achievement, but still enjoy life like the best of them and have a great time at it.

The takeaway is: Take enjoyment from simplicity. Start having some more fun. Of course, work towards your long-term goals, even if they are a bit superficial. You might achieve them. But you can have a lot of fun and happiness without them too.

Conclusion and Future Plans

It was a standard day of happiness practices. Today, I tried new practices that I rarely did before.

My takeaways for the day were:

  1. Realize you can have more fun right now. Then do it.
  2. Recognize and celebrate the good events more.
  3. Spend less time dwelling on the bad.
  4. Use a site blocker on social media sites.
  5. Enjoy life more.
  6. Work on social engagements and relationships.
  7. Realize there is nothing wrong with still working towards long-term goals, even if they are superficial. Money is important. If you can’t afford to hang out with friends and go to social events, that’s a problem.

But the biggest takeaway is this:

Talk to more strangers and brighten their day. 

Here is why:

It has been a while since I had a decent conversation with a stranger and pushed my comfort zone. Many weeks or months have passed. I have lost track. I feel like I am slipping back to my old ways of complete shyness. It might be time for me to get back into it.

My goal is to start small: talk to one new person a day. At least attempt to keep a light-hearted conversation going (beyond just “Hi”).

In Day 4, I hope to maybe try another attempt at watching comedy to make me laugh. I will also talk about the “Jar of Awesome”, which is a cool method to boost your self-love, self-esteem, and happiness based on

I have decided to save one of the days of this challenge for a time where I can volunteer and share my experiences.

Now, I have a question for you:

What are your thoughts on these challenges? I think they are fun (if they are not too long, like a 30-day challenge) but I also do not like the fact that it’s a lot of “opinion giving.” I do like the standard list-type posts I do because it’s more based on facts and studies.

With a challenge, I cannot help but go into an “opinion mode” on my thoughts, which may be less useful to you. But it is counterbalanced by the fact that you get to see my struggles and follow along. Which do you like more?

As you can tell, for this day of the challenge, I talked more about other personal development struggles I am working on beyond just happiness, like my shyness. Did you like this or do you want me to focus on happiness for this challenge and save the rest for another challenge?

If you would like to check out details on Hardwiring Happiness, click here. It really explains our whole happiness bias in detail and how to fight it. If you purchase through my link, I will get a commission at no extra cost to you.

Thanks for reading and see you on Day 4.

Views – 56

The Most Powerful Tip I Learned From Self Help Books

Today, I want to share with you the most powerful bit of advice I have gotten from reading hundreds of self-help themed books. If you put this advice into action, it will multiply your income, fulfillment, health, and happiness. That is a bold claim, so I will prove to you that it is true.

Once you discover what it is, I will through how it logically makes perfect sense. In fact, it is common sense. Yet most people don’t exercise it.

Usually, I don’t agree with “magic pill solutions.” In every industry, whether it is fitness or business, you get lazy people who want some “quick trick” to achieve their goals. And that’s exactly not what I am talking about here, so if you are one of those lazy people, you’re in the wrong place.

I don’t believe you need only one technique to solve all your problems, but I have definitely stumbled across some incredible techniques that transform a large portion of your life. You can’t help but not do so when you consume so much content. So along with my #1 tip, I will also share with you a couple bonus tips that have equal or even greater value.

All I ask you to do is hear what I have to say and test it out for yourself. If it doesn’t work, there is no loss. If it does, then you end up extremely ahead.

Without further ado, here is my podcast episode on The Most Powerful Tip I Learned From Self Help Books. Click the play button to listen to it below:

Listen and/or subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher:

Will's Personal Development Podcast

Will's Personal Development Podcast

Thanks for listening. If you’re a helpful person, please leave a rating or review for this podcast on iTunes by clicking here. It will help my podcast rank higher and reach more people.

Views – 104

The “Less Things, More Happiness” Challenge – Day 2

It is Day 2 of the Less Things, More Happiness Challenge. As a reminder, the goal of this challenge is to improve my long-term happiness through science-backed practices and avoid doing it through spending money or materialistic possessions.

Remember that this is a collaborative challenge. Feel free to do the exercises in the challenge with me so you can improve as well.

On Day 1, I spent too long rambling and thinking so I committed to do less for Day 2. I want to focus on the happiness practices that science has proven to work.

Here is my agenda for the day:

  • Set a timer for 10 minutes.
  • Walk outside.
  • Ramble and think less.
  • Focused on two happiness practices: gratitude and savoring the good.

I ended up doing a decent job.

Here is what I did for the Savoring section of my walk

This is what I savored during my walk:

  • The different colored flowers and trees.
  • The beautiful sky with small clouds.
  • The amazing different shapes and sizes of the trees.

During my walk, I remembered I met someone from Hawaii who had lived there his whole life. For someone like me, I had fantasized about living an exotic location like that, but to him he kept saying it was overrated.

He kept focusing on the bad: the traffic, how expensive everything was, how you get over it quickly. It’s interesting to see how someone else’s trash is your treasure and how your treasure might be someone else’s trash. It is also a reminder that luxury and novelty die out fast. You get used to it and take it for granted. 

I am sure there is someone out there in the world who dreams of just having a chill life where you can look at some trees and a perfect blue sky. Yet I walk by these trees often and don’t appreciate it. Heck, I take the legs I walk on for granted. Some people cannot even walk … or speak … or see.

I had some trouble really appreciating it and not taking it for granted (it’s not a beach) but I tried and I did feel better.

Here is what I did for the Gratitude section of my walk

I kept telling myself that I was being grateful but realized half way through that I was just saying it rather than actually being grateful for anything. I started listing things out in my head to be more definitive:

  • My youth.
  • My body.
  • My arms.
  • The fact that I have access to all these free educational resources through my school, library, and the Internet (I was reminded that in this age of Information Overload, it’s more important to decide what not to read and what to read).
  • And I was most grateful for the opportunity to be born in a country with the economy that gave me the chance to achieve my dreams.

I walked past two little girls riding these new type of scooters with two wheels up front. They looked like this:

Less Things More Happiness Modern Scooter

I was brought back to a memory as a kid where I was so happy when I got a normal scooter (one wheel on front and back) because it was this “new invention.” But now, those would look obsolete and lame compared to these more modern scooters.

Less Things More Happiness Old Scooter
A mock picture of the scooters I used to ride.

It is a good reminder that:

  • Material possessions are relative. There is always something newer and shinier coming out that will only bring temporary pleasure, not long-term happiness. People used to jump up and down just for having a TV back in the days when TVs were just invented. We are the spoiled child born into a rich world, we just don’t realize it. 
  • Time flies so appreciate life and enjoy it while you can.
  • Be grateful for what you have.

It wasn’t that long ago when I was that little kid. As I watched them move around and turn corners, it was obvious that this design was better. You can turn much more smoothly.

When we’re young, the smallest of things made us dance with excitement and happiness. But as we got older, something changed. I started depending on material items, other people, and situations that we couldn’t always control for our happiness.

As the ten minutes were about to close, I realized that I had a hard time remembering the other practices that science said make us happier. I realize I need to work on that. You should have them ready to use at any time and turned into a habit.

I finally remembered also to be present. I made an attempt to really be present in the moment rather than constantly be thinking about the future, past, or some random theory or idea.

As I rounded out the 10 minutes, I paid attention to the present movement of my feet and trees. It was all kind of like meditating. Meditation is simply focusing on your breath and pushing out thoughts gently as they arise. Tim Ferriss has written a book called Tools of Titans that goes deeply into the benefits of meditation. He has interviewed hundreds of the world’s top performers and found that most of them meditate too.

I was trying to stop my thoughts so I could focus on the moment but it was hard. If a really strong thought did occur, I did not beat myself up. I let it flow through.

Why is being present important?

  • It makes you happier.
  • It makes you more attractive. Victoria’s Secret supermodel Miranda Kerr is just one example of a girl who said that in a Conan interview.

  • When you are not present with the girl, you are elsewhere and it turns her off to think that you are thinking of the future by trying to predict answers to her questions to keep the conversation going or not connecting with her by thinking of your past or doing something else. You might as well be elsewhere.

Conclusion

I want to save a day of the Challenge for volunteering. Giving your time and/or money to others (strangers or friends) can help your happiness (according to science). Look forward to that in a future day of the Challenge.

I have been putting it off because I have found it to be a waste of my precious time to do that. Plus, I am a bit selfish. I am not really that much of a giving person in that sense. I realize there are a lot of different volunteer groups for different interests (pets, homeless people, etc.) but none of them interest me at all… yet.

Volunteering is a great place to meet incredible (sometimes successful) people as well as potential dates.

Looking at my progress, I still need to work on being present. As you can see, my mind still tends to wander a lot.

Leave your thoughts and follow along with the challenge with me. I can’t wait to see you on Day 3.

Views – 89

Is it too late to be successful after a certain age

Is It Too Late To Be Successful After (Insert Age Here)?

For the longest time, I felt like it was way too late to make an impact on the world and become successful.

I am ambitious and I wanted to be really successful. But the news made it seem like if you did not become a singer, actress, or tech entrepreneur by the time you were 21, it was over. It turns out I’m not the only one. A lot of other people (some into their 40’s) think it’s too late.

But then I got into personal development and did some research. I studied hundreds of the world’s most successful people and I was startled at what I found.

It’s not true at all. When you think it is all over, it’s really just the beginning of an incredible journey.

Age 40 to 60 Are The Best Years of Your Life. Get Excited.

Napoleon Hill spent his whole life studying the hundredds of nation’s richest people in person, thanks to his connection with the richest person in the world, Andrew Carnegie. During that time, he spent 12 years studying a specific phenomenon that intrigued him.

He realized that almost all the world’s richest people only started getting successful after the age of 40. Their peak years of productivity were between 40 and 60. He wanted to learn why. And he did.

After a dozen years of research, Napoleon found that most people were only successful after the age of 40 because:

  • They channeled their sexual energy, the strongest motivator, into physical forms rather than towards productive or creative work. Only after 40 did they realize they could channel it for other means. (This is the main one)
  • Only after 40 did they learn how to use their “creative imagination”, which takes years of self-analysis and meditation to develop.

In fact, Napoleon went as far to say that you shouldn’t be depressed that you’re about to hit 40. You should be excited and eager to step into the most productive period of your life. 

He cites many billionaires as examples in his book, but my favorite is James J. Hill, who was still working as a clerk at the age of 40.

This also means that if you’re still in your 20’s, you can get rich before 40 by channeling your sexual energy into productive means rather than just diffusing it through trying to get laid (or actually getting laid) all the time.

Warren Buffett’s Advice

The author of the book The Snowball Alice Schroeder revealed an interesting story during a Reddit AMA. She went through a mid-life crisis in the same way. Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, sat her down and told her that when he was 50, he thought his life was over. That was it. He would keep running his company and that would be that.

Yet every year after that, his life became even more amazing and fun. Even to this day, I follow his every move because he is doing some incredibly interesting things in business. As a fun fact, Warren Buffett made 99% of his wealth after the age of 50 (thanks to decades of persistence and the power of compound interest).

It Is To Late To Be Successful After the Age of 40?

Here are some graphics that show people who became successful late in life (after their 40,’s 50’s, 60’s, and even 70’s):

Is it too late to be successful after 20?
Credit: Late Bloomers by Anna Vital
Is it too late to be successful after 30?
Credit: Lost in Life by Anna Vital

Finally, for further reading. I suggest you check out the book Getting There, which profiles even more successful people and their detailed stories that took a while and went through a lot of failure before they succeeded. If you go through my link I get a commission at no extra cost for you.

I did an interview with the author of Getting There. You can watch the video here:

Now, I’d love to hear from you.

Have you ever been tempted by doubters or your own negative thoughts because you thought that it was too late to succeed? Where were you and what happened specifically?

Leave a comment below and let me know.

And, share as much detail as possible in your reply. Many ambitious people come here every day for motivation and knowledge. Your story may be exactly what they need to reach the next level.

Important: share your thoughts and ideas directly in the comments below. 

Thanks again for reading, watching, and sharing.

It’s never too late.

-Will

Views – 191