Brady

Author Archives: Brady

Founder and Editor at Elite Happiness! I love my life and want to help you love yours too. If this isn't your favorite website on the entire internet, let me know why in the comments so I can make this your favorite place to be. As always, stay awesome. Have a great day.

What Are The Best Self Love Books Today?

​What Are The Best Self Love Books Today?

​​Self love is, at its essence, about forgiveness.

We never feel we're good enough. We can't get over that mistake we made. We don't like (and definitely don't ​love​) our bodies.

Self love is about seeing all of that... and offering yourself forgiveness.

Because no one is perfect. And in fact, your imperfection may be the most perfect thing about you.

Who Needs ​​Self Love Books?

​​​​Short answer: anyone who isn't a narcissist.

(don't give these books to a narcissist)

Longer answer: Self love books are all about getting your relationships right, starting with your relationship with yourself.

Self love books are written for those who struggle with:

  • ​Guilt
  • ​Depression
  • ​Anxiety
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    ​Stress
  • ​Shame
  • ​Body hatred
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    ​Feelings of not being good enough (insufficiency)
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    ​Feelings of not being as good as someone else (inferiority)

​​If you feel like you struggle with one or several (or, in my case, all) of these, then a self love book may be for you.

What ​Self Love Books Do

Self love books help remind you that you are actually kind of stinkin' awesome.

These books remind you that you are ​not​ your flaws, you are ​not​ your failures.

You are you.

And you are valuable.

Self love books help you see that your faults do not define who you are, whatever those faults may be.

​Once these books have helped you see your own value, they show you how to ​believe ​in your own value using cutting edge techniques straight from the science books.

These books take you full circle from seeing your faults truly and realistically to overcoming your own self doubt.

These books help you become the person you have always known you could be.​​​

​How To Choose The Best ​Self Love Book For You

​We all come to the table with baggage, and all of our baggage is different than all of someone else's baggage.

So you're going to want to pick a book that best solves the problem ​you ​are facing.

Some books specialize in dealing with emotions like self doubt or self hatred, while others are geared toward accepting your body.

Other books have an emphasis on relationships, while others are about achieving freedom through bravery.

The best book for you will be the one that helps you see your own specific issue in a new light and overcome it.

And don't worry, I've ​made it easy to identify which book does what 🙂

​​Our Picks For Best ​Crossfit Shoes

​​I've chosen ​the ​best ​self love books in the world to help you step up your game. These books were graded based on:

​1)​ ​The quality of the information

​2) ​How ​practical the book is

​3)​ ​Whether or not the book covers all that needs to be said about an issue (called "scope")

​For each of these metrics, we've assigned a star rating and then given our own rating, which is an average of all the metrics above.

Best ​For Dealing With Destructive Thoughts

​Information

​Practicality

​Scope

Our Rating

​​​Self compassion is at the heart of what it means to love yourself. 

And if you are dealing with thoughts or emotions that are destructive in nature, that are slowly consuming you, then this is the book for you.

First off, this book is grounded in high quality scientific information. It is ​not ​your​​​​ typical "think happy thoughts, say happy things"​​​ that could be sold in Walmart as Diet Science.

Dr. Gerner, the author, is an acclaimed psychologist to the point where he's often found speaking at Ivy League schools like Harvard.

But this book isn't ​all research. The Mindful Path To Self-Compassion really has a lot of ​​​practical, step by step instructions on how to begin eliminating negative thoughts and emotions from your life.

Finally, this book really covers a lot of ground. There aren't many types of mental or emotional sufferings that won't be addressed, but a few may get less focus than others.

All in all, if you are looking to heal from trauma, stop believing you aren't worthy, or conquer your feelings of self doubt, this book could really go a long way towards helping you out of the pit you've found yourself in.


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    ​Does a great job of giving science without giving ​too​ much and getting bogged down​​​
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    ​Practical tips
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    ​Covers a large portion of types of mental and emotional suffering
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    ​Great for those experiencing destructive thoughts or emotions
  • Does not cover every possible type of emotional and mental burden


Best​ For Those Who ​Have Unrealistic Expectations Of Themselves

​Information

​Practicality

​Scope

Our Rating

​​​​If you consistently find yourself alone, trying to take on the world, you may be setting expectations too high for yourself.

Feelings of loneliness have a ton of horrible effects on us (​we discuss them in this post) and always lead to us feeling burned out and betrayed by those we love.

The Gifts Of Imperfection takes that problem and tackles it head on.

This book is filled with up to date research helping you solve the real problem, not just the symptoms. The author uses a ton of quotes and paraphrases from others to help you get the best information on how to overcome this suffering.

​And then it shows you how to use that information.

This book gets top score on practicality. ​Every single chapter ends in a D.I.G. where the author sums up what you just read and then gives you step by step guides to start doing what you need to do.

That alone is an incredible resource.​​​​​​

And finally, this book does a great job of presenting the entirety of what you need to know to succeed while reading it.

​The only critique is that the author may have leaned a little too heavily on ​her personal life experiences, which some may love and others not so much.


  • ​Great science
  • ​Uses the voices of a ton of experts
  • ​D.I.G. at the end of each chapter will make sure you know how to implement what you just read (that's ​super ​useful)​​​
  • ​Author says all that needs to be said
  • Great for those setting expectations too high for themselves
  • ​Author may lean a little too heavily on personal experience


Best ​For Those Who ​Don't Love Their Bodies

​Information

​Practicality

​Scope

Our Rating

​​​​If you looked in the mirror this morning and said "Eww" then this is the book for you.

We all struggle with self image sometimes and it's easy to get discouraged after trying so hard and not seeing a difference in the mirror or the scales.

This book digs deep to find current information about both physical and mental health, and this book does a good job at showing the link between the two.

​This book isn't just a how-to book, instead it ​helps you address the root of you not loving your body (your own beliefs about how you look and, more importantly, who you are).

From that cornerstone, the book gets practical. It gives effective tips on how to most effectively love your body by being kind to it. Treat your body well, and it will slowly become the body that you love.

And this book really covers a lot of ground. It covers all the bases of body love, addressing what you can do, how you should feel, who you truly are (you are awesome), and helps you see the value in connecting with others who share the same ​goals in life.

The only critique is that some of the tips for health are already included in other books (which, if they work, makes sense).


  • ​Extremely high quality information
  • ​Tons of practical and useful tips
  • ​Talks about the full range of health both mental and physical
  • ​Goes ​beyond other health books by addressing the need for your beliefs to be right and your community to be helpful
  • ​Best for those struggling with body image
  • ​​Some health tips already mentioned in other books (to be honest, I just have to put something here so other people think I'm being fair)


Best ​For Those Who Want To Improve Relationships

​Information

​Practicality

​Scope

Our Rating

​​​​This is the only book on this list that is specifically written with women in mind.

That said, it's probably a book that a ton of people, both men and women, need to read.

If you aren't happy single, you won't be happy in a relationship. And until you get your relationship with yourself right, you will struggle in relationships with other people.

This book ​includes some great information on how to know what you really want from yourself and from your relationships.

Powerful questions frequently asked help you see whether or not you're on the right track.

Once the book has helped you see where you want to go and who you want to be, it gives you practical guidance towards becoming more and more of that person.

And after that, this book offers a step by step approach to finding or fixing the relationships of your dreams.

​Best of all, this book says all that needs to be said about your relationship with yourself and your relationships with others.

Some Amazon reviews mentioned that the author is a little repetitive and that she uses a lot of personal experience.

But even so, this is a great book for finding who you are before you search for who you want to be with.


  • ​Real and encouraging
  • ​Includes great questions for self discovery
  • ​Nicely written and easy to read
  • ​Helps you align with who you want to be and who you want to be with in your life
  • ​Great for those who are in or searching for relationships
  • ​Can be a little repetitive
  • ​Author may use too much personal experience


Best ​For Overcoming Fear And Being Brave

​Information

​Practicality

​Scope

Our Rating

​​​​Daring Greatly confronts the issue of fear with brunt force: 

Until we are vulnerable, we can never be brave.

Daring Greatly expertly combines the research and tips from a ton of different fields all into this one powerful book.

It is filled with well written research, analysis, quotes, and stories of personal triumph (and failure).

And sprinkled throughout the powerful information are pieces of practical advice that are both important and realistic.

The author does not waste time with ineffective or impossible tactics.

This book also does a really great job of talking about everything related to the issues of self-doubt, fear, vulnerability, and courage.

All that said, a few mentioned that the book may have been a bit boring.

All in all, this book checks all the boxes someone who struggles with fear or self-doubt needs. It is a great purchase.


  • ​Does a great job of giving science​​​
  • ​Approaches the concepts of fear and bravery from a new angle
  • ​Easy to read and easy to implement in your life
  • Says all that needs to be said about the topic
  • ​Great for anyone struggling with fear, anxiety, or self-doubt
  • ​Some reviews mentioned it may be a bit boring


Best ​Overall

​Information

​Practicality

​Scope

Our Rating

​​​​If you aren't exactly sure what the problem is, but you know that you need a solution, then this is the book that I recommend for you.

This book serves as a sort of catch-all, and could easily substitute for every category on this list. If you don't know where to start or feel like you have ​lots​ of books you need to read, I suggest beginning with this one.

First, it's loaded ​​​in great, well-researched, practical info. No rah-rah "everything will be fine" stuff here (unless, of course, ​you ​make everything fine with your actions).

Speaking of actions, this book gives you some great ideas on stuff to do. And not only does it give you action tips for a few things, it gives ​universal​advice.

This means that whatever situation you find yourself in, this book gives advice that can help you identify your mental surroundings and take advantage of the situation presented to you.

Whatever that situation may be.

This book is broad, and for that reason, it can lack focus on specific issues. While it may be your best option if you want to tackle several issues or don't know where to begin, you may be better off with another book on this list if you have only one deeply rooted issue.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


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    ​Does a great job of discussing lots of issues
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    ​Well researched and high quality information
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    ​Universal practical tips that can help you in every situation
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    ​Best overall
  • ​May not be as good for dealing with one specific issue as others on this list


C​onclusion

​​Thanks for reading! Since there are so many variables in different workouts, I recommend different ​books for different circumstances. That said, if I only had to recommend one, I would recommend Self Compassion as the best book overall.

​Self Compassion deals with a wide range of various circumstances and is guaranteed to help you in some part of your life.

Let me know in the comments below: ​what is your favorite self love book?

Stay awesome. Have a great day.

​Are We "Best Content On The Internet" Worthy?

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If you don't think we publish the best content on the internet, we don't ​think we deserve to get to know someone as great as you.

If you do, well here ya go.

Copyright Information: Copyright Elite Happiness. This content may be freely reproduced in full or in part in digital form with full attribution to the author and a link to www.elitehappiness.com. Please contact us for permission to reproduce this content in other media formats.

How To Deal With Depression And Conquer Negative Emotion

How To ​Deal With Depression

​And Conquer Negative Emotion

Depression is a destroyer.

​​And even though depression is usually only associated with feelings of sadness and feeling down, the reality is much more complicated. It is one of the most common, yet, sadly, one of the most misunderstood conditions.

​As to just how prevalent the problem is, The WHO (World health Organization) estimates that a staggering 300 million people suffer from depression around the world.

Not only this this a huge number, but this means that around 15% of the adult population has to deal with a major depressive episode at least once in their lifetime. (​source).

Yet to understand what depression ​is​, first we must understand what it ​isn't​.

We need to have a little talk about myths​​​​​​.

The misconception surrounding depression is still quite prevalent and can pose a huge challenge for people going through a depressive phase: their symptoms, more often than not, are disregarded as "feeling blue".

​This lack of understanding has stigmatized this very real mental health issue which has provide quite detrimental to raising awareness and trying to cure the actual condition.

It is absolutely essential to be clear on the nature of depression, if we are to propose ways to cope with it.

​Myths About Depression

​​Misconceptions surrounding depression is still quite prevalent and can pose a huge challenge for people going through a depressive phase as their symptoms, more often than not, are disregarded as ‘feeling blue’.

​This lack of understanding has stigmatized this very real mental health issue which has proven quite detrimental to raising awareness and trying to cure the actual condition.

​It is absolutely essential to be clear on the nature of depression if we are to propose ways to cope with it.

Misconceptions are important for people going through depression, and people who know someone going through depression, to understand.

If you are going through it, we have to ensure that you aren't falling prey to the cultural idea that you're just feeling down, or that something is wrong with you.

So here are some myths... and the truth.

​Myth

  • ​"Depression is not an actual condition, just an excuse by people who are too lazy or can’t deal with their emotions"

Reality

  • ​Depression is very real. Though feelings of sadness may be the most obvious symptom of depression, it is by far the only one. People with depression may suffer from lack of concentration or poor memory. Since these are easy to overlook and attribute to other things ("maybe I just have ADHD"), this can mean a diagnosis may never really happen. This just magnifies the problem since sufferers already feel depressed emotionally and the only way they can explain their failures to pay attention or retain information is by blaming themselves. The self-blame and shame only aggravates the problem. ​​Additionally, it is not the feeling of “sadness” that is most heart wrenching, but the lack of any feeling, the emptiness and void that cannot be filled no matter how much happiness surrounds people with depression.

Myth

  • ​"Depressed people are failures"

Reality

  • ​That is again far from the truth. Several well-known people, who appeared seemingly quite happy and successful have to deal with the demon of depression throughout their life. Winston Churchill is a famous example of a high-functioning individual suffering not just from bouts of depression, but also periods of mania. He personified his depression as the ‘black dog’ that kept coming back to him, which is why the black dog is the international symbol of depression.
  • Other famous individuals include Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, and Kim Jonghyun, all apparently individuals who were at the top of their game when they took their own life after losing a lifelong battle with depression.

Myth

  • ​"Depression can easily be cured by taking anti-depressants"

Reality

  • ​While anti-depressants definitely help individuals suffering from depression by producing "happiness inducing" chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, they are by no means the ultimate answer. Most sufferers need additional tools to help them combat their depression. This only sheds light into the complicated nature of depression and the many layers it has. It also means that a sufferer of depression does not have to be dependent upon anti-depressant drugs throughout the course of their life.

Myth

  • ​​"Depression is triggered by sad and traumatic events"

Reality

  • ​​While this statement is true for certain other conditions, most notable PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome) which is caused by the sufferer going through extreme and repeated traumatic events such as childhood abuse and war, this is not true for depression. Feelings and bouts of sadness are a hallmark feature of depression, yet the cause in most cases is an unaccounted for. Depression patients do not go experience anything exceptionally sad as compared to non-sufferers, yet they react different to the same situation as non-sufferers. A bad grade in a class test can drive people going through depression into a whirlwind of emotions where they beat themselves up for "being an utter and complete failure".

Myth

  • ​"People eventually find a way out of this condition"

Reality

  • ​This is a huge misconception, one that prevents people from seeking help and can sometimes have extremely adverse consequences. Depression is not a switch that a person can just eventually "turn off", it is a debilitating and painful condition which recurs throughout a person’s lifetime if goes untreated. The feelings of absolute helplessness and hopelessness are real and at time interfere with a person’s normal life. The ultimate consequence, if left untreated, can be suicide where the person finds the only way to escape the depressive state is to end one’s life entirely. Intervention and proper treatment as soon as possible is absolutely essential and can lead to suicide prevention.

​The True Nature Of Depression

​Once the myths are busted and one faces the reality of the issue, its breadth and depth, the urgency to cope with the disease comes into perspective.

In the developed world, where science has eliminated most viral diseases, such as polio and measles, or found cures for many others like tuberculosis, depression as a mental health issue still poses a serious challenge.

Depression is not simply an organ malfunctioning or a viral disease that can be combated using anti-biotics. It is more like a cancerous tumour, which is malignant and keeps coming back and which requires multiple techniques to cure or, at minimum, to cope with.

So how do we deal with this malignant black dog that gnaws at us every chance it gets? Since the nature of depression is quite complicated and multifaceted, the treatment must reflect this complexity.

Depression can be recurring. So one day an individual may feel fine, but the very next day the onset of depression may be so bad that they find it impossible to get out of bed. Also there are different kinds of depressions.

Aside from the major depression which is hard to ignore and quite obvious, a lot of people suffer from the persistent depressive disorder which is more hidden.

It can be a silent killer, sucking away the happiness in an individual’s life over extended periods of time. Sufferers can go through life without ever figuring out what is wrong with them. (source).

There are other kinds as well. Bipolar disorder is an affective disorder where the sufferer has episodes of deep depression intervened by episodes of extreme elation or mania.

In their manic state people feel they can conquer the world, but in their depressive state they feel like utterly useless and worthless. Winston Churchill is a famous example of a person with bipolar disorder.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is the kind of depression which is triggered by changes in the weather. Usually as winter approaches and the natural light of the sun is present for shorter periods of time, this can have an adverse effect on the mood and emotions of people.

​Occasionally, there is a view that only women suffer from depression. This is totally wrong. 

Yet there are types of depressions that are only experienced by women: these include peripartum depression, which is depression felt by women during or after pregnancy, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, depression preceding a woman’s period.

Since women’s bodies go through major hormonal changes at certain periods of their life, the hormonal imbalance can result in mood swings and in some cases be magnified into full-blown episodes of depression.

Whatever the cause may be, we want to show you something:

There is hope.

​The Light Before The End Of The Tunnel

​​​​​It can feel like depression is all consuming and impossible to escape, but we have good news:

It isn't.

It can be beaten.

​The good news is that although it is just as serious as one imagines it to be, depression is nonetheless curable. There is light ​before​ you get to​​​ the end of the tunnel, no matter how dark or how long that tunnel might seem.

​The dark clouds of depression can eventually part and shine a ray of sun shine. Make no mistake though;​ it is not an easy road.

Extreme effort will need to be made at times when effort feels nearly impossible. For sufferers of depression, taking action can be especially difficult as they find doing daily task a huge burden.

But depression’s very own nature is a downward spiral and the only way to get out of it is to push oneself up. The road to full recovery consists of a number of different steps, including these:

​Medical Assistance

The use of antidepressants has grown popular in recent years.

Antidepressants are medications used to alter the brain chemistry and alleviate the symptoms of depression and it's not hard to see why they're popular:

Research has shown that ​70-90% of patients report alleviation of their depression with antidepressants. (source).

However, there are many different kinds of medications available and some are better suited than others for each individual. Also, in general, drugs should be used with caution.

​Not only do they have side effects but they can also result dependency and addiction. Antidepressants in particular can have some negative side effects, including withdrawal problems, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and "emotional numbness". (source).

​So while antidepressants may help alleviate symptoms, the intake of antidepressants, especially in children, needs to be closely checked, specifically for suicidal tendencies. (source).

The bottom line is that drugs should be used with caution and their effects need to be monitored. In addition to this, many patients do not respond to medications alone. ​There is often a need for more than simply popping a pill. Other options include...

​Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive therapy is a type of psychotherapy that aims at improving the thinking of people suffering with depression.

​Since negative thought processes and bad thoughts are common in depression, cognitive therapy is targeted towards changing those thoughts.

The patient works along with a therapist in identifying the negative thought processes and realizing how unrealistic they are. (source).

Apart from documenting negative feelings and false perceptions, patients are required to act out difficult situations. While this may sound strange, it is surprisingly useful.

​The idea is to help the patients view difficult and depressive situations by simulating them and analysing them in the absence of the emotional stress involved the first time those emotional events occurred.

For example, a patient might be asked to re-enact an argument with their spouse which may have aggravated their depressive state.

Since the argument is now being acted out in a different setting, with different environmental and emotional cues, the level of stress felt may be lower.

The patient is able to achieve a greater level of clarity and understanding.

This reprocessing and reassessment ability enables a patient to change the way they think. Their fundamental beliefs, self-perceptions and the behaviors that stem from those negative thoughts need to be changed.

Once negative thoughts and self-deprecating beliefs are altered, the patient’s emotional state greatly improves. Self-inflictive behaviors, such as cutting, self-harm, etc, may also change as person realizes their own self-worth.

While CBT can be effective and involves little to no side effects, ​it is not ​always​ effective​​​. CBT relies heavily upon a patient’s own willingness to co-operate and change.

​As a result, motivated individuals do far better than those lacking in motivation, which is common in depression.
 
​CBT is also a long-term process and results are not apparent overnight.

It is a slow (sometimes painful) process as the patient tries to delve through the layers of pessimism and self-hate and attempts to re-evaluate their basic beliefs about the world around them.

Other solutions may be needed.

​Exercise

Being active and getting a move on can do wonders for patients suffering from depression. Regular exercise not only helps maintain physical well-being by increasing stamina, toning the muscles and increasing flexibility, it also has positive effects on the emotions. When a person exercises the brain releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins improves the mood and gives a feeling of happiness. Exercising provides a kind of a high self esteem.

Aside from the neurochemical impact, regular exercise can lead a person to feel motivated about taking care of their body. Patients with depression tend to ignore their well-being and may not practice proper hygiene as they do not feel worthy. A simple thing like daily exercise can help change that self-perception and encourage the individual to focus on improving their health both physically and mentally.

​​​​​​Being Social

People with depression tend to feel cut off and trapped. The poet Sylvia Plath described her episodes of depression as being held under a bell jar, which made her unable to communicate with people outside the bell jar (basically everyone else) and them being unable to understand her.

While it is true that depression is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it and it can result in feelings of being misunderstood, isolation is not the answer.

Socializing and talking to people may seem like the most difficult thing to do. However, the things in life that seem most difficult are often the things that we need to do the most.

​Socializing is so effective at eliminating depression that, while not being the only cure, Johann Hari's research in his book Lost Connections indicates that strengthening our social connections may be the strongest tool we have in the fight against depression.

Strengthening social connections works in several ways. ​Once we get to know more people, we can open up and see that we are not the only ones struggling with life. We can see that our hopelessness and feelings of helplessness are unrealistic. Once that realization is achieved, it is easier to take steps to change harmful attitudes.

​Just talking about feelings and sharing our despair with loved ones can be a very positive thing. People with depression commonly feel embarrassed of their condition, as they believe they are somehow weak or abnormal. They try to hide the fact that they are dealing with crushing depression. Patients try to put on a brave face and act normal. 

While "toughing it out" is a short-term solution, it can be very detrimental. As a person fakes happiness, the feelings of emptiness only grow. The hopelessness and helplessness only build up. That p​erson will feel increasingly isolated and cut off from the world because they are withholding a storm within their mind.

In many ways, it is ​impossible​ for a person who is hiding their true emotions to make authentic friends: how can your friends love you for who you are if they don't know who you are?​​​

​For that reason, being expressive, crying, shouting, and letting it out is much better. Sure, you may lose a few friends. But any friends who leave you because of how you feel aren't truly friends anyways. Keeping emotions bottled up is not a healthy solution. Having just a single confidante that ​you can reach out to is enough. 

The power of social connection is so powerful that ​the simple act of keeping a pet can impact a person’s life positively. Caring for a pet takes mind off harmful thoughts and helps form true loving relationships.​ And since animals are not judgmental, there isn't any reason to fear social isolation from them.

​Connecting To Meaningful Work

Following ones’ passions and taking up a new hobby can have a positive effect on the mood of a depressed individual. Knitting, reading books, cooking, basically anything a person enjoys can give a feeling of happiness and fulfillment that can be extremely rewarding.

The act of doing something that one likes not only makes a person happy but also drives away the laziness commonly felt in a bout of depression. Traveling, picking flowers, watching birds, fishing, etc are all activities that connect us with the world, with nature and give a feeling of calmness.

​The internal turmoil of a depressive mind can be pacified, it only requires a bit of effort and help.​​​​​

​The Bottom Line

​What is extremely revealing about depression is its intensity and prevalence. The stigma attached to depression makes it hard for people to understand it and for the sufferers to accept it.

​But the road to recovery only begins with the recognition of the problem.

Identifying one’s mental state as depressive is key. Once that step is taken, the path, in no time, becomes easier. In fact, it becomes extremely pleasing. Then, with the medication, emotional support, and self-motivation, it can be overcome.

​But there is no silver bullet that can be used to counter depression; it is complex condition requiring a ​mixed set of complementary treatment techniques. Treatment must be consistent and, if the depression is recurring, constant.

​But it is treatable. With the right tools and right tactics, depression can be defeated. The big, bad black dog can be tamed and chained.

​Conclusion

Thanks for reading!

​Depression is not an easy battle, and certainly not a fun one, but it is a struggle that can be conquered; it is a journey where, at the end, you will be much stronger.

If you'd like to read more on the topic, I recommend our post How To Be Happy With Your Life to bring a lot of these tactics to life and make them easy to follow (including tactics to make friends).

I also recommend Lost Connections by Johann Hari. In my opinion, it is the single greatest book for understanding, diagnosing, and overcoming depression.

​Let me know in the comments: ​what have you found that helps your depression?

Stay awesome. Have a great day.

​Are We "Best Content On The Internet" Worthy?

​No annoying popups, no frustrating spam begging for your email address.

If you don't think we publish the best content on the internet, we don't ​think we deserve to get to know someone as great as you.

If you do, well here ya go.

Copyright Information: Copyright Elite Happiness. This content may be freely reproduced in full or in part in digital form with full attribution to the author and a link to www.elitehappiness.com. Please contact us for permission to reproduce this content in other media formats.

How To Be Happy With Your Life

How To ​Be Happy With Your Life

​​From the dawn of time, humanity has been burdened with pain.

From modern philosophers like Thomas Hobbes (​life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,") to evangelists like Billy Graham ("We live, we suffer, and we die,"​​​​​​) to world-renowned ancient thinkers like Aristotle ("The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure, but to avoid pain,"), the pursuit of happiness has always been core to the meaning of what it is to be human.

​To help you be happy, I've organized the best tactics, the most up to date science, and the surprising ancient philosophies that humans have been using for millennia to teach you how ​to be happy in all the circumstances of life.

This is a big post, ​but I recommend reading it in order, as each section builds upon the last. I've organized this post into three sections: 

First, we start with the science of happiness, looking at in depth research that provides a basis for the rest of our topics.

Next, we take a look at philosophies and teachings of the ancients, reminding ourselves of concepts that can be forgotten in the modern hustling world.

Finally, we look at the tactics you can apply to be happy where you are in life. We cover how to conquer overwhelming sadness, pessimism, remind yourself that your life matters, and show the best way to make new friends.

If you would like to skip to a section, click below.

Science

Philosophy

Tactics

The Science Of Happiness

beakers and jars

​On Being Punched By Strangers And The Good News About Instagram

​Johann Hari was, by most accounts, quite depressed.

​Beginning antidepressants as a teenager, at the ripe age of 18. In his book Lost Connections: Uncovering The Real Causes Of Depression, Hari says about his depression:

​"I would often have to absent myself, shut myself away, and cry. They were not a few tears. They were proper sobs. And even when the tears didn't come, I had an almost constant anxious dialogue thrumming through my head. Then I would chide myself: It's all in your head. Get over it. Stop being weak."​​​​

Yet when almost 13% of people are on antidepressants, is being unhappy really just in your head? (source).

Perhaps it isn't.

Perhaps unhappiness is a detectable scientific phenomenon pervasive in Western culture.

And if it isn't just in your head, if it is more than a chemical imbalance as we are so often told, then perhaps another fact is also true: it can be fixed.

Hari says that in large part, sadness we feel in every day life comes not from genetic chemical imbalances in the brain, but from ​created​ chemical imbalances in the brain.

And one of the leading causes of chemical imbalance?

Loneliness. In studies reviewed by Hari, he found that loneliness increases the stress hormone cortisol as much as being physically attacked.

In Lost Connections, he says:

"Feeling lonely, it turned out, caused your cortisol levels to absolutely soar—as much as some of the most disturbing things that can ever happen to you. Becoming acutely lonely, the experiment found, was as stressful as experiencing a physical attack. It’s worth repeating. Being deeply lonely seemed to cause as much stress as being punched by a stranger."

There's some conflicting information about how many people feel lonely. A Gallup survey in 2004​​​ concluded that Americans are, in general, satisfied with their number of relationships. While the average number of close friendships has decreased since 1990, the average correspondent reported having almost 9 close friends. (source).

However, another study suggests that humans can actually max out the number of close friendships: we struggle maintaining more than five intimate relationships at once. (source).

​​And perhaps another study takes us even nearer to what we need to be looking at. When people were asked how many friends they could have important conversations with, the average answer wasn't nine, and it wasn't five.

It was zero. (source).

From a research standpoint, it looks like people ​claim​ to have several close friends, but when asked questions that are more specific (such as how many friends they are comfortable having intimate conversations with), the number drops dramatically.​​​

​We are lonely.

And loneliness is deadly.

Specifically speaking, not being lonely makes us emotionally healthy ​and it even makes us smarter​. (source).​​​

When it comes to loneliness and social interaction, I think we need to have a talk about social media (​and no, I'm not going to tell you to uninstall Instagram).

Depending where you go on the internet, you'll either see sycophants worshipping at the feet of the social media giants or people who are basically the Luddites of the 21st century. (The Luddites went around and destroyed technology in the 19th century - imagine if Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos had an evil twin)

Both of these approaches are a misguided, yet at a surface glance, supported by the research.

For example, one study shows that no ill effects were recorded as a result of social media use. People continued talking with friends and family, having social interactions, and didn't feel increased emotional negativity. (source).

Another study says that when social media is used too frequently, ​people were twice as likely to have feelings of social disconnection. (source).

A third study brings this two conclusions together nicely. This study concludes that when social media is used to establish meaningful connections, it has several positive effects without any negative ones; think of this useful social media as simply a new way to share your life, hear from your friends, and connect with new people.

Yet when social media isn't used to connect, ill effects begin to happen. This was observed happening at about the two hour mark each day; once participants crossed two hours, social isolation began to creep in. (source 1​) (source 2).

So by all means, use social media. Just remember that it's best used for genuine connection, and that too much of a good thing isn't really a good thing.

friends at a picnic with small dog

Hot Spouses And Big Houses (And Why Having One Choice May Be The Best Thing To Ever Happen To You)

​Any self-improvement book, course, or website (that would be us) will tell you to set goals. Know what you want and get it!

But research is increasingly showing that just ​setting​ goals doesn't help. You have to set ​the right​ goals.

​Specifically, the more materialistic your goals are (I want a nice XYZ, a salary of [six+ figures here], and a spouse that is a twelve out of ten), the more likely you are to be depressed.

Quoting from a study done by Tim Kasser in The High Price Of Materialism,​​​​​​​​​ Hari writes:

​"It really did seem that people were having a worse time, day by day, on all fronts. They felt sicker, and were angrier. 'Something about a strong desire for materialistic pursuits,' he was starting to believe, 'actually affected the participants' day-to-day lives, and decreased the quality of their daily experience.' They experienced less joy, and more despair."

So what does work?

Intrinsic goals. Goals that are less about how others see you and more about how you see you; less of an emphasis on appearance or "being better" and more of an emphasis on living a fulfilling life.

In Heidi Grant Halvorson's book Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals, she defines an intrinsic goal as one focusing on your own self-improvement (whether it be mental, spiritual, or physical) or a goal focused on your relationships in life.

​Intrinsic goals are more valuable and lead to more happiness than extrinsic goals because extrinsic goals are based in comparison. In Eric Barker's bestselling book Barking Up The Wrong Tree, Barker analyzes a study for the purpose of happiness:

​In a real life study of when people were presented with multiple options, the study found that the end result was usually better with increased options. When people were given options of multiple careers, for instance, their respective salaries usually ended up higher.

Yet even while options and absolute results increased, happiness and satisfaction decreased when people were presented with multiple options.

The more that people had opportunities to do, the less satisfied they felt with their ​final choice.

​On the flip side, studies show that comparison helps us to achieve extrinsic goals. If you're looking to bump your salary, rise higher in life, or just generally overachieve, then I have some advice for you: compare away.

Comparison acts as sort of a turbo boost when it's used. It causes us to want more and strive to be more even though "being better" doesn't actually make us much happier. (source).​

As with all things, going to either extreme is rarely the correct solution; you don't need to be a miserable world ruler or a happy person that can't afford clothes. Compare your life when you need a boost, stop comparing when you need to be happy.

So while limited comparison can be good for you, don't allow comparison to consume your life. Focus less on being the greatest musician ever and more on being a musician who can bring joy to yourself and others. Strive less to be the greatest salesperson in the world and more ​on being someone who can help others get what they want.

When we take the focus off of beating others and place more value in being happy with who we are (especially if that leads to desires for self-improvement), we may beat others less... but we'll be a lot happier about losing, about loving, and about everything else.

Keep the focus on what matters: yourself and your relationships.

goals sheet

​​Questions With Friends

Man's search for meaning probably began when the first humans started organizing words and yet this drive is so powerful that it continues to haunt us even today.

"Why am I here?"

"What am I doing?"

"What's my purpose?"

Each question only reflects a greater truth: we innately feel like there is more to life than what meets the eye. Even though we work at a job, that job is not our identity; though we have emotions, we can rise above them; though we think, we can think better.

Tom Rath cites a study in his book Are You Fully Charged? about meaning in the workplace. His research led him to see that when people are working on meaningful tasks in their jobs, their average engagement increases by 250%.

But why do we need meaning to make us happy?

Well, to put it simply, searching for happiness isn't enough.

In fact, searching for happiness may be making you unhappy.

In Ph.D. holder Christine Carter's book The Sweet Spot, she looked at a lot of science to determine what really makes us happy. Her findings were stunning:

“Compelling research indicates that the pursuit of happiness — when our definition of happiness is synonymous with pleasure and easy gratification — won’t ultimately bring us deeper feelings of fulfillment; it won’t allow us to live in our sweet spot. Although we claim that the “pursuit of happiness” is our inalienable right and the primary driver of the human race, we humans do better pursuing fulfillment and meaning — creating lives that generate the feeling that we matter.”

This raises a question: how do we actually stop pursuing happiness and start pursuing meaning?

What even is meaning?

Lucky for us both, there are answers to both of those questions. To stave off any incoming existential crises, let's first take a look at what meaning actually is.

In Emily Esfahani Smith's book The Power Of Meaning, she analyses what meaningful lives actually look like: when people say that they feel fulfilled, what are they actually doing differently?

Her conclusions led her to believe that a meaningful life is characterized by three things:

1) Connection and contribution to something beyond yourself (connection and contribution)

2) Doing activities that generate positive emotions (positivity)

3) Deepening social connections (social connection)

Let's take a look at each of these.

Connection And Contribution

Activities that promote connection and contribution to something beyond yourself can be anything that you feel is working for a greater good.

It can be coaching your local little league team, working on a project with your family, or going to the gym with your friend.

Tasks like these help us feel like we are creating a legacy. These tasks help us to see that life is only meaningless if we don't share it with others; that everyone (yep, even you) has talents and abilities that can benefit the world.

And you don't have to build the next Microsoft or Apple to feel like you are contributing; even small tasks like cleaning the house for your family, volunteering a couple of hours a week, or spending time with your child can all activate this feeling of meaning.

So go out and take part in something bigger than you.

Positivity

I don't need science to tell you that humans avoid doing what is good for us. Instead, we do what is easy. (but here's the source if you want it anyways)

Yet the tasks that are easy rarely bring us much happiness at all. Just ask yourself the last time you finished binge watching a show on Netflix and said "Wow, I'm so glad I did that!"

Probably exactly never. If you're like me, you finished binge watching to go into a horrifying panic ​mode because you remembered that you're an adult with responsibilities and that if you don't do something ​with your life you might ​never accomplish anything at all.

A little dramatic, but it's how I feel.

One of the key elements of a meaningful life is a life that consistently does activities bringing positive emotion, not just activities that are easy.

I recommend putting down the remote and start doing a hobby. Not convinced it's worth it, or don't have a hobby? Then it's probably time to look at the research and get one.

Having a hobby can...

  • ​Make you better at work (source)
  • ​Increase job satisfaction and decrease burnout (source)
  • ​Lower blood pressure, cortisol, waistline, BMI, and make you believe you're in better health (you are)​ (source)
  • ​Put you in a better mood, increase interest, lower stress, and decrease your heart rate (source)

​So opt for things that make you happy, not things that numb your mind of offer an escape from reality for a fleeting moment of time.

​Social Connection

As mentioned earlier in this post, humans are social creatures and loneliness is deadly. So deadly, in fact, that loneliness is one of the ​most regrettable things about life.​​​​​​​​​

In Bronnie Ware's book The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying, she recounts the many people she took care of as they passed on. ​And as people lay on their deathbeds, many of them said a sentence that was becoming more and more familiar to Bronnie:

"I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends."

One of the keys to a meaningful life is staying connected with those around you, deepening those connections, and building new ones.

When you feel like you are connected and contributing to a higher cause, are doing things that actually make you happy, and are building deep relationships, you won't have to search for happiness.

You'll already have it.

​Road Rage, Thank You Notes, And Why (Kinda) Being A Control Freak Lowers Stress

​Be honest: are you a control freak? Because if you're not, you should be.

Kinda.

Here's what I mean. ​If you want to be stress free, you need to have control over your environment. When people believe that they have both direct and indirect control over their environment, their stress levels are shown to plummet.

​On the same note, when feelings of control are taken away, stress began to increase. (source).

But here's the kicker: these results held true even when participants only ​thought​ and ​felt like​ they had control over a situation. How much control the participants actually had was unimportant.

The amount of control participants actually had was irrelevant as long as they felt like they were able to influence an outcome. (source).​​​​​​

​And if you're really trying to avoid stress, avoid ​embarrassment in situations where you don't have much control.

In a study of people who were driving to work, drivers who had the more difficult commutes showed higher blood pressure and decreases in behavioral performance (duh). Interestingly enough, the increases in blood pressure and decreases in behavioral performance were especially severe when the driver had other people in the car. (source).

So avoid stress and avoid being embarrassed in front of others. Gotcha. But how do we actually do that? What do we do about situations where we don't have much control?

In situations where there isn't much you can do (such as driving to work or handling your boss), it's best to stop focusing on what you can't control and remember what thing you can take control of:

Yourself.

The positive control freak is not a freak because they worry about everything, but about nearly nothing. It isn't helpful or particularly productive to fear over problems you can't control, so the positive control freak doesn't do it.

​And while you can't make people like you, can't make every client buy from you, and may not even be able to pick what you're going to eat for dinner, you can always control your response to these situations, of which the list is short:

​Gratitude and optimism.

Optimism is its own beast, so we tackle it right here in the Tactics section.

​Gratitude, however, is pretty easy to talk about:

Do it.

In an eight month study looking at the long term effects of optimism and gratitude, researchers found that the effect gratitude places on you is pretty powerful. It makes you happy.

And the researchers were quick to specify that gratitude worked both in the short and long term as a producer of happiness and was not just a placebo.

Gratitude had a real, measurable effect on making the participants happy, not just in the moment, but for a long time after. (source).

Of course, the most simple way to show gratitude is to tell someone thank you.

So who do we thank when life gets rough and gives us situations that are out of our control? First, thank yourself. Appreciate the fact that you are someone who can handle tough situations and a tough life.

Thank yourself for getting you through one more day and then go thank others who helped you become who you are today.

​Taking control of our situations by controlling our response is the only way we can always feel like we're making an impact, so be sure to congratulate yourself and give some gratitude to the people who made you how you are today.

They​ appreciate it and it makes you happy.

To sum up this section on the science of happiness, here's an incredible TEDx talk about one the longest studies ever recorded: the study on happiness.

With that said, let's get out of the studies and move into the minds of the greatest thinkers humanity has ever known.

The ​​Philosophy Of Happiness

Ancient Greece - ​The Art Of Being A Pretty Decent Dude

Perhaps no period in history, with the exception of the Enlightenment, produced as much powerful philosophy as during the time of ancient Greece.

Particularly, Greece had the power trio: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. While tons of philosophers were produced during the lives of these three men, as they were all attentive teachers, these are the three that you'll probably hear about in high school and college history classes.

So let's look at what a few of these master thinkers had to say.

In his book The Republic, Plato uses a conversation with Socrates, his teacher, as a discussion on what justice truly is. Plato believed that if we could adequately define justice, then we could improve economics, government, and human rights.

And, he argued, we could be truly happy.

Most relevant to our discussion is how Plato believed that people could achieve happiness. Plato defends the idea that for a person to be truly happy, that person has to be a moral person, fulfilled all of their social duties.

Social duties and "cardinal virtues" played a big part in Plato's thinking. He thought that to be truly happy, people had to be wise (being able to discern the right course of action), courageous, fair, and have control over themselves.

He paid a particularly large portion of attention to the concept of self-control, saying that until a person could reject power and reject the things that didn't make that person happy (such as money or fame) then a person could never be truly happy.

It's worth remembering in today's world.

Aristotle believed similar things, but himself believed that if you were left with nothing and lived completely in a vacuum, that wisdom, wealth, or fame wouldn't have much value to you.

The only thing that would be left is your character: who you are.

He believed that to be happy, we must become people who are happy with ourselves, pleased with our own character. Of course, he argued, to truly have an excellent character, you must be a just person.

(Some philosophers throughout history have criticized what they consider to be a contradiction here - Aristotle first says that being just isn't ​extremely important, and then he says that if you want to be happy, being just is the most important thing. I've tried to reconcile these beliefs in the paragraph below)

​Aristotle believed that you must be a person of virtue. Even though wisdom, courage, self-control, and restraint are not the most important things in life, he argued, these are the only things that can make you a person who is truly happy with who you are.

So be a person of virtue.

Ancient China - ​Be Happy Because I Said So. ​Now​.​​​

Ancient China's philosophers were so impactful that their teachings still impact the world today. Confucious in particular is still adhered to, encouraging people to maintain the correct level of intimacy and respect with those around them.

Confucious taught respect as a major emphasis in his teachings: the respect between student and teacher, parent and child, older and younger siblings.

Confucious would argue that appropriate respect for your environment and those around you brings you the good life, which sets you on the path to happiness.

In particular, Confucian teachings say that you can create happiness; it does not need to be brought to you. Confucious believed that if you focused on the reasons in your life to be happy, that you would eventually achieve joy.

And once you have joy, a beautiful cycle of renewal begins. For each reason you have to be joyful, Confucious says, you can always find one more.

The happier you are, the happier you will be. It all begins with one step in the right direction: respect and optimism.

Another powerful ancient philosopher is recorded in history as Lao Tzu, literally translated as "old man".

This old guy has a lot to teach about how to eliminate stress, eliminate worry, and produce happiness.

Lao Tzu's big contribution to the philosophy of happiness is the idea that your thoughts should be focused on the present if you want to be happy.

While focusing on the future may make you achieve more, it doesn't bring true happiness.

It only brings worry.

This goes back to what we learned about comparison: comparing does make us accomplish more and compete better, but even winning doesn't ever make us truly happy.

And Lao Tzu believed similarly of the past; he said that staying focused on what has already happened won't just make us anxious, it makes us downright depressed.

So focus on the present, be thankful for the past, and expect the future to work out when the time is right.

​Middle Ages - ​​The Real... Uh... Reality

​In the times of the Middle Ages, theology and philosophy were often considered ​as closely linked, with guys like Thomas Aquinas ​believing that philosophy is the servant of theology.

Much of philosophical debate during the Middle Ages was made about the question of which is more powerful: faith or reason? Which should be adhered to the most?

Essentially, Middle Age philosophy came down to the question of whether the world was essentially spiritual or essentially physical.

Since happiness is a part of reality, how each philosopher viewed happiness depended on how they viewed reality.

The famous philosopher Augustine, who was so influential that he is still hailed today in Christian circles, believed that love was the key to happiness. ​Augustine believed that love (whether it be love of ourselves, of others, of possessions, or of God) was the missing element to ethics; that it was impossible to be truly ethical without being truly loving.

And the most important love of all, he said, was love of God. Without a connection to God, Augustine argued, all was for naught.

Other philosophers also shared the belief that to be truly satisfied in life, we must satisfy our spiritual element.

Al-Ghazali, a Muslim philosopher and theologian, believed that one must have both an intellectual and spiritual understanding of the world and of God and that only by using logic, a God-given ability, can humans attain joy.

Al-Ghazali believed that true happiness came from an understanding of the four essential knowledges that humans needed: Knowledge of self, knowledge of God, true knowledge of this world, and true knowledge of the next world.

And then finally, another, slightly later philosopher, brings us into the contemporary period: the Jewish philosopher Maimonides.

Maimonides shows the moving answer to philosophy's great​ debate of faith vs reason during the Middle Ages.

While earlier philosophers are almost without fail at least partial believers in the power of faith, Maimonides sticks out like a sore thumb.

His argument is that only by deep critical thinking can one attain true happiness. Happiness, he says, is purely and completely intellectual. Knowledge evolves into joy.

So love deeply, believe what you will, and always be willing to learn more.

​This thinking leads us nicely into the Modern Age (which, actually, isn't modern).

​Modern Age - Ingredients: Unlimited Power And A Dash Of Nothing

​The unmodern Modern Age was a time of incredible increases in knowledge of all sorts. Knowledge of ​science grew vast and there was an increase in arts of all sorts. Many famous people, including Christopher Columbus, Leonardo da Vinci, Napoleon, and the founding fathers lived during this time span.

It was an age of heroes.

It was​ an age of tragedies.

The Modern Age was a time period when philosophy grew in exponential levels and became inextricably linked to science. The philosophers ​were​ the scientists.

One of these men, Friedrich Nietzsche​​​, is particularly well known. Nietzsche had a lot to say and much of what he said revolved around, well, the more basic human needs (that means sexy stuff).

Nietzsche was a little bit obsessed with turning the lights down and putting some good Bach on, but that doesn't mean he thought you had to get between the sheets to be happy.

In fact, Nietzsche believed that basic human happiness was solved by a solution we've already discussed: control.

Nietzsche argued that once humans have power over their environment and are not subject to the whims of the unpredictable world around us, we experience true joy.

Another philosopher had quite a different view.

John Stuart Mill was a British philosopher who contributed a lot to the idea of individual liberty and was an early adopter of the belief that women should be able to vote.

His view on happiness is surprisingly ​spartan.

Mill believed that true happiness did not come from being able to do whatever you wanted. Instead, it came from not wanting so many things.

Mill was a minimalist.

In a way that would have satisfied the Buddha himself, Mill believed that more desires only caused suffering and greed, and that the only way to truly thrive was to thrive with only a few things.

​Live with only what you can really afford, only what you c​an really enjoy.

But what both of these men have in common is the same solution, they simply approach it in different ways.

Nietzsche believes that control over the environment is essential to happiness. Mill believes that the only way to truly control the environment is to control yourself.

​However you get there, mastery of self is the true way to unlimited joy.

But how do we actually master ourselves?

Well, I'm glad you asked.

The ​Tactics Of Happiness

​How To Activate Your Real Life Friend Finder

​By far, the best way to happiness is to have quality relationships with people you care about.

​As mentioned in the video of the TED Talk above, the number one indicator of someone's happiness is how they feel about those around them, so the most important step for you is to develop personal relationships.

But making friends is difficult, and takes a long time. In fact, becoming friends can take a ​really​ long time.

In Jeffrey Hall's study of friendship, he found that just to be a casual friend with someone, you're gonna need 40-60 hours with that person, preferably within a few weeks of initially meeting them.

To develop a new best friend? About 200 or more hours. (source).​​​

Making friends is obviously difficult, and takes a lot of time. But with relationships being so essential, this is the first area we should focus on.

​And you c​ould go downtown, hold up a sign that says "Looking For Friends", and see what happens...

(I don't think I would take you up on that)

Or you could do ​follow our little cheat sheet below and be swimming in friends in under a month.

​Go Where The Happies Are

The first order of business is to start going where happy people congregate. And to do this, your best option may be, well, a congregation.

Research shows that just ​being ​physically close to happy or sad people will turn you into the same kind of person that they are. And happy people tend to gather in two places: churches and in gyms.​​​​ (source).​​​

​Working out and participating in religious services give people disproportionate amounts of happiness compared to other activities. One study even says that consistently participating in these two activities can boost your entire well-being from physical to emotional to mental. (source).

​​​We aren't exactly sure why these two things in particular provide big boosts to happiness, but the best guess is that these are simple tasks that can be done consistently.

So you should go where the happy people are (maybe starting in a church or a gym), but you should also...

​Do What The Happies Do

A key element of friendship is a feeling of camaraderie, the feeling of being in something together.

One study where two participants had to ask each other 36 intimate questions showed that just after asking these intimate questions, the participants felt closer to one another. (source).

(here are the questions if you'd like to read them)

And remember earlier where we talked about the importance of hobbies?

Find a hobby, but don't do it alone.

Do it with others.

This can be anything: exercise (I enjoy jogging with someone), knitting, video games, martial arts, golf, fishing, a cooking class, you name it.

And in this hobby, try and surround yourself with people who you want to be like, people who are happy and successful in the same ways you want to be.

So find a hobby you enjoy and find others to do it with.

​Talk How The Happies Talk

So you're surrounded by people, you're doing what they do, and you're beginning to build friendships.

But how do you really take friendships to the next level? How do we really get people to genuinely like us?

Well, we talk.

Talk about them some, talk about you some.

This is an area I struggled with for a long time; I always thought that since people ​love​ talking about themselves, that I should rarely talk about myself.

Research slaps me in the face once again:

One study shows that you ​should ​​​​​​​​​talk about yourself with people. In fact, the research gets pretty specific: about 30-40% of your communications should be talking about yourself, and another 30-40% should be talking about the other person. (source).

​​​Be sure not to go overboard and hit only talk about yourself, but also be sure not to ​never​ talk about yourself.

​For people to be your friend, they have to know who you are.

And people have always been a lot more accepting of that than I thought they would be, once we got to know each other.​​​

Go where happy people congregate, do your hobbies with them, and don't be afraid to open your mouth, just not too much.

​Do these things and in less than a few weeks, you'll be swimming in new budding relationships.

You'll be swimming in friends.

​Learning Luckiness And 3 Important ​Beliefs

​​Being an optimist is strangely reminiscent of having superpowers.

Seriously.

Optimists have a lot of advantages over people who are pessimistic or just blatantly neutral. For one, optimists are happier. An eight month study found that optimism and gratitude literally change people's mindset to feel more joy. (source).

Not only that, but optimists tend to make friends more easily (source) and according to Richard Wiseman's book The Luck Factor, optimists flat out have better luck than the rest of us.

Further, optimism contributes to another happiness producing factor: control.

When you are optimistic, you by definition believe the future will be better than your current situation.

This belief, when stubbornly ingrained, allows us to control our responses to painful events. And the more we feel like we have control, the less stressed we are. (source 1) (source 2).

But how do we become more optimistic? By chanting meaningless platitudes ("each day, in every way, I am getting better and better")?

Well, no.

Not at all.

In fact, Martin Seligman's book Learned Optimism studies enough research to show that most of those platitudes are worth about as much as a cup full of dirt.

That's to say, not very much at all.

​Seligman's research shows that when you're looking at people to determine whether they are optimists or pessimists, what you're really looking for are stories.

When things in life happen, what stories do these people tell themselves?

Pessimists say that bad things are obstacles.

Optimists say that bad things are opportunities.

Pessimists believe that bad things are often unpredictable and, when they happen, are often long-lasting.

Optimists believe that not every bad event can be predicted, but that we have control over a large portion of the results of our lives. When bad things do happen, these bad things can be conquered.

In Seligman's research, he saw that whether you're an optimist or a pessimist isn't determined by some divine balancing scale, but is actually a learned behavior.

You trained yourself to be an optimist or a pessimist.

And since you trained yourself in, you can train yourself out.

One of the ways to start training yourself to be optimistic is to start listening to the stories you tell yourself.

When bad things happen, do you say ​statements like these?

​"This is never going to work out."

"I don't think I'll ever find the right person."

"Maybe I'm just not meant to be happy."

You can't begin to change your self talk until you begin to listen to it. When you can hear it and notice what you're saying to yourself, then you can begin to adapt.

Change "This is never going to work out," to "This isn't working yet, but if I either change my approach or keep trying, I can do this!"

"I don't think I'll ever find the right person," becomes "There are over 7 billion people on the earth, one of them has to be right."

"Maybe I'm just not meant to be happy," suddenly can change to "I deserve to be happy, I'm just not there ​yet​."​​​

Your self talk is the most important aspect of your optimism. Begin to hear it, then begin to change it by believing:

​1) ​My problems are not unsolvable

​2)​ I can be the solution to my problem

​3)​ I am not conquered yet

If you'd like to read more about self talk, we talk a lot about it in this post on motivation.​​​​​​​​​​​​

​Conquer your self talk and you conquer your emotions. You can literally create happiness.​​​

​​Why Lottery Winners Bankrupt Fast

​One of the greatest obstacles that people face when trying to be happy is that we often don't do what makes us happy.

We already discussed that people often do what is easy (watching Netflix) rather than what is best (focusing on your new business).

But to fix this, first we must ask the question of ​why​ people do what is easy instead of what they know is best.

I believe that people do what is easy because we often do not at all know what makes us happy.

And even if we do know, we often do not consciously remember it.​​​

The first step in pursuing your happiness is this: ​know what you want​.

Do you really want Netflix? Or do you want financial freedom?

Do you really want to check your emails and look over that project you can't do anything about for the third time? Or do you want to do meaningful work?

Do you want relaxation for ten minutes now or do you want retirement ten years early later on?

Life comes down to the tiny, minute choices we make. And if I'm allowed to beat us all over the head with reality for a minute, I want to say something you won't hear elsewhere.

You ​can't​ achieve your dreams tomorrow.

Probably not the next day either.

Maybe not even ten years from now.

But you know what you can do?

​You can achieve your dreams​. We simply must switch our mindsets from event to process.

Your dream life won't happen in an event. It won't happen overnight. It will be the cumulation of a thousand tiny decisions day in and day out, but understand this:

Until you go through the process, you probably aren't ready for the event.

​​​​​​​​​Jack Whittaker was, by all accounts, an extremely lucky man.

Already a millionaire at the time he bought a winning lottery ticket, Whittaker supplemented his current wealth with over $100M more.

Now ​that​ is a lot of money.

It's even more money today than it was when Whittaker won in 2002. Today, his winnings would be worth almost $150M.

And yet in 2016, Whittaker, now broke, says "I wish we had tore the ticket up." (source).​​​

Why is it that lottery winners, who can take home up multiple millions of dollars, are twice as likely to file bankruptcy as the average person? ​Lottery winners are so bad with money that 70% of them go bankrupt within 5 years. (source).

Not only that, but lottery winners are neither happier nor healthier after winning. (source 1) (source 2).

The reason why is simple: these "lucky" people experienced an event. They missed out on the process.

​And because they missed the process, these people were not emotionally or mentally strong enough to handle the event.​​​

When you think of your happiness, don't wish for an event. When we aren't strong enough to handle the event, then the event can ruin our lives.

If you want to be happy, be willing to dedicate your life to the process: dedicating moment after moment to becoming the person who ​deserves​ success in whatever metric you define.

Become a person who deserves to be rich.

Become a person who deserves to have a great spouse.

To achieve your dream, you have to be someone who is worthy of achieving your dream.

To be happy, first you must know what you want.

​Then you must chase it wholeheartedly, committing to the process.

And make no mistake, the process can be a ton of fun.

If you have never experienced what it is to wake up one day and know that you are better than yesterday, know that you are one step closer to your dream, I want to tell you that there aren't many greater joys in all the world.

Know what you want and pursue it day in and day out, each day enjoying the victories, each day remembering that the defeats teach you lessons.

That's the only way you'll really be happy.​​​​​​

Because life really ​is​ about the journey, not just the destination.​​​

​Conclusion

Thanks for reading!

​Happiness may seem far away, but it is always worth pursuing.

​You can achieve it​.

Develop your relationships, avoid focusing on the wrong things, and improve yourself every day. You'll get there in no time.​​​

​Let me know in the comments: what are you doing to be happy?

Stay awesome. Have a great day.

​Are We "Best Content On The Internet" Worthy?

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If you don't think we publish the best content on the internet, we don't ​think we deserve to get to know someone as great as you.

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Copyright Information: Copyright Elite Happiness. This content may be freely reproduced in full or in part in digital form with full attribution to the author and a link to www.elitehappiness.com. Please contact us for permission to reproduce this content in other media formats.

How To Get A Job (No College Necessary)

​How To Get A Job

​(No College Necessary)

​​At a stage in everyone’s life, there comes a point when that person realizes that if they don't get out of their room, turn off Netflix, and get a job, they probably aren't going to eat next week.

It's a sad day.

Or, probably as the result of another sad day (or a series of sad days), you might find yourself wanting a change in your career.
But where to begin?

In a world where college graduates are struggling to get jobs, how do you go about not only finding a job, but finding a job that you love and that you feel allows you the opportunity to make an impact?

There are many steps you can take to put the odds in your favor. As many people have often affirmed, getting a job can feel like a job itself. The process can seem long, daunting and stressful.

But with​ some determination and strategic application, you can land that dream job you have always wanted.

Here's how.

​Get Talented

One of the ways to prepare yourself to get a job is by learning new skills. It is not enough to rely on what was taught on the four walls of the classroom to prepare you for the right job. You have got to develop yourself with adequate skills.

Thanks to technology, there are many ways one can learn a new skill. ​Websites like Udemy offer ways where people can learn valuable marketplace skills inexpensively.

​You could attend conferences and seminars. The idea is to learn a skill and be very good at it. With time, the skill might one day be your pass to a good paying job.

Do be careful, however, not to go all in on a skill that won't get you very far. ​Remember that the world is ​selfish​. While you may be passionate about something, the rest of the world may not care.

Choose a skill that solves a need for others and you will never know what it is to go jobless.

man and woman with computer

​Don't Forget To Remind People How Cool You Are

​Of course, I want to believe you already have a good resume that showcases your skill, ability and what you are capable of.

But many people leave stuff off their resume that may be worth a hire later on.

Think about including unique skills or life experiences on your resume that are unique to you.

Have you traveled to other countries? Explain how doing so has taught you independence, how to adapt and think outside the box, and negotiation skills.

Have you learned to play an instrument, or had your writing featured somewhere interesting (like here)? Explain how you had to learn to be determined, willing to get the job done no matter what.

​Alongside your resume, it is a good idea to keep your LinkedIn profile updated as well. Include every detail as some details might be what will get you to the interview table. Some recruiters prefer going on LinkedIn to source for qualifying candidates.

It is a good idea to let your resume reflect what you are able to do and bring to the organization of your choice, so don't be afraid to include the things that make you ​uniquely you​.​​​

 Also, resist the urge to immediately click apply and send over your resume at every job you qualify for. Taking the time to update your resume and customizing it to the specifics of the job could single you out for success.

resume

​Delete Ya Dumb Tweets

​​​​​And while we're talking about social media, be mindful of what you post. There is a huge chance that prospective employers are doing a background check via social media profiles.

​A report from CareerBuilder survey in 2017 revealed that 70 percent of employers are using social media to research prospective candidate. (source).

The implication of this is obvious if you have a bad online presence; it could cost you the job.

Inappropriate or provocative information, contents or photographs is definitely a turn off to potential employers. Other habits on social media that could jeopardize your chance of being hired are:

  • ​Revealing information about doing drugs or drinking
  • ​Giving derogatory remarks about others
  • ​Being an internet bully
  • angle-right
    ​A non-professional screen name (@kittyloverboo)
  • angle-right
    ​Revealing confidential info
  • angle-right
    ​The things you say or said about your previous jobs and bosses (this is a big one)

​So be careful. If you aren't sure whether or not you should put it on social media, you probably shouldn't put it on social media.

social media apps

​​Master The Art Of Timing

​There are some seasons that favor job seekers compared to others. We understand that you might not have the luxury of waiting for a job. However, if your goal is to switch jobs, it is recommended that you commence your job search to when companies recruit.

​According to a recent TopResume survey, the best months to be in the job search are from January to May and during ​the Fall months. (source).

If you are seeking a job in the summer, consider using the period to prepare yourself. Update yourself, gain important skills, update your social media profiles, build networks, learn new skills, and so on.

​This will pay off by the time the hiring kicks off fully.

girl thinking at computer

​Friends And Jobs

​​​One of the most powerful forces on the face of the planet are when people work together.

When you're in the job search, you are right in the middle of the perfect time to reach out to long lost friends and relatives, distant cousins that are in good positions, college advisors, and others who can help you find a job.

With your huge network, there is a big chance someone in your network might be aware of an open or more importantly put in a good word for you. Letting everyone in your network know that you are searching will make them consider you, should there be an opening.

You can also network by seeking events in your chosen industry. There are cites with professional networking associations that have members that meet regularly.

Getting an opening via networking increases your chances of getting the job tremendously. Thus, you have a direct connection to the job rather than being a random applicant.

As the old saying goes, "Your network is your net worth."

​And don't be afraid to reach out for fear of not being able to give anything to the other person; one day, your friends may need something from you that only you can give them.

​That's what friends are for. So don't be afraid to reach out to the people you know.

friend network

​How Free Work Can Make You Rich

​​When you volunteer, you are making yourself more attractive and desirable to Human Resources Managers. Volunteering can help you develop skills, make new friends, and even makes you happier. (source).

Thus, dedicating your time to causes and helping others greatly increases your chances of getting a job. Even if all you can afford in a whole week is an hour, ​that hour will be well spent in the long run.

Volunteering demonstrates to employers that you have the required skills needed on the job, skills that might not be developed while in school. With volunteering, you show ​that you are willing to go above and beyond what is expected.

You show that you are willing to learn, able to serve, and always dedicated to the cause.

​If you have those traits, you're an ideal candidate for top tier jobs.

​​Play A Long Game

​If you are really serious about getting a job, recruiting agencies could also be of tremendous help.

Recruiters are usually informed on several jobs that are suitable for you and your desired skill sets. They could get you straight to the front of hiring managers thus, saving you time for searching for jobs.

You can also consider temporary jobs to get a quick job.

Although it is only temporary, it is a way to make some money. ​These temporary jobs can help you learn new skills and put some more stuff on your resume.

No one ever starts out at the top. Be willing to work a low level position now so that later, your dream job will be right there waiting for you.

Try to do whatever it takes to get your foot in the door with the company you want to work at. Instead of trying for a C-level position your first interview, play long term. Be willing to get down and dirty now so that you can rise high later.

handshake for a job

​Conclusion

Thanks for reading!

​Obviously, getting a job can be a job in itself. Some could see it as a daunting task, but the good news is that all the effort invested will pay off in the future.

And remember: the less people who are willing to do the tasks we've outlined above, the more likely you are to succeed by following them.

You are just a few steps away from your dream job. 

​Let me know in the comments: ​what job are you trying to get?

Stay awesome. Have a great day.

​Are We "Best Content On The Internet" Worthy?

​No annoying popups, no frustrating spam begging for your email address.

If you don't think we publish the best content on the internet, we don't ​think we deserve to get to know someone as great as you.

If you do, well here ya go.

Copyright Information: Copyright Elite Happiness. This content may be freely reproduced in full or in part in digital form with full attribution to the author and a link to www.elitehappiness.com. Please contact us for permission to reproduce this content in other media formats.

How To Start A Business That Will Make You A Millionaire

How To ​Start A Business

That Will Make You A Millionaire

​For someone with nerves of steel and a good head for figuring out problems, it only makes sense to be an entrepreneur.

Despite the increased risk, entrepreneurship ​is pretty logical: research in Thomas Stanley's groundbreaking book The Millionaire Next Door shows that self employed people are over 4x as likely to be millionaires as people who work for others.

But that raises a question: with failure so rampant in the startup space and knowing that a majority of businesses don't last more than 5 years (source), ​how do you start a business that both guarantees a high income (let's put you at millionaire status) and won't fail on you?

​If you're looking for a business idea, I recommend our post What Is The Best Business For Me To Start?

​While this post deals more with the nitty gritty after having a business idea, that post is a lot better for the theoretical side: narrowing down a business idea and some practical tips on how to follow through to ensure you won't flop.

​So here's how to start a business guaranteed to make you a millionaire.

​​​How To Win A Horse Race 

​​The power of past choices is not a mystery; you've undoubtedly heard many a people speak of their regrets and things they wish that they had done differently.

On a similar note, making the right decisions early on can have huge impacts later in life. The earlier you make good decisions, the better things will turn out as you grow older.

Here's where we're going with this.

In Scott A. Shane's book The Illusions of Entrepreneurship​, he records that the vast majority of entrepreneurs do not pick their businesses because the industry has increased profits or revenues. In fact, Shane says that it's not just the minority who pick the most profitable businesses: it's pretty well nobody.

Yet In Thomas J. Stanley's book The Millionaire Next Door, he records a different piece of information: normal entrepreneurs don't pick their industries well, but ​millionaire​ entrepreneurs do.​​​ Stanley says that millionaires spend significant amounts of time learning of different industries so they can build businesses in the most profitable ones.

And normally, these businesses are pretty lame: meat packers, mobile home park owners, and farmers.

So in your search for your business to bring in the big bucks, don't pick any random one and, to be like a millionaire, don't pick a business based on your passion.

Incredibly successful business owners are realists: they see that the world is incredibly selfish and while you may truly love something, that does not mean that the world will pay you for it.

It's sad, but true.

The best way to win a horse race is to pick the right horse. In your journey to start a great business, find an area of need ​before​ starting your business, not after.​​​

​The Two Apps To Save A Dying Business

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace." - Luke 14:28-32

​When starting a business, even Jesus has some advice for you: count the cost.

​There are two ways we need to do this.

​1) ​Start Up Money

​Your start up money is what you're going to need to get the business going. Bootstrap as you have to, but calculate exactly what it is going to cost to get your business going. Do the best you can to foresee initial costs, future tools you will need, and even future problems that may arise and need some money.

Be ​extra harsh​ here. If you think something will cost between $100 and $200, budget for $200.

Once you have your final number, it isn't a bad idea to add 25% to that final number. I've found that adding a percentage (I've used as high as 50%) really helps account for a lot of unexpected things that rise up and need dealing with.

​And a lot of things are going to need to rise up and need dealing with.

​2) Living Money

​When are you going to need this business to be profitable? If you have left your job or cut off other streams of income to pursue this business, calculate ​exactly​ how much the business is going to need to make for you to be able to survive.

Remember that ​revenue, profit, ​and ​paycheck ​are ​not​ the same things. Your business can bring in millions of dollars of revenue but have little or no profit. And if you aren't making much profit, you as the business owner are definitely not getting a paycheck​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​.

As best you can, try to predict what this business will have to bring in for you to take home a living wage. If you accurately account for expenses such as employees, problems, reinvestment, etc., then the number for how much you have to make to live off this business will probably be disgustingly high.

​​​And if you are now unemployed, you have an even bigger expense: time​​.​​​​​​​

​Know how much time you have before the business has to make X amount of dollars. If you don't have much time, I don't recommend starting a business at all. I recommend keeping or finding a job, because your business may fail or take much longer than you want to sustain an income.

The two apps that can save a dying business are easy to find a simple to use: a calculator and a calendar.

​Be careful of falling into the trap of starting a tower or going to war without counting the full cost.

​How To Turn A Penny Into A Million Bucks

MJ DeMarco, the best selling author ​The Millionaire Fastlane and Unscripted, believes that all successful businesses have a few things in common.

​During decades spent living without a mortgage, a car payment, or any financial troubles whatsoever, DeMarco studied the attributes of businesses that failed.

​And it turns out that knowing what ​not​ to do is just as important as knowing what to do. So DeMarco made a list.

This list included attributes that successful businesses have in common.​​​ In fact, these characteristics are so important that DeMarco calls them "The Commandments".

​We're going to take a look at these commandments (text taken from this post on the best business for you to start) and then we're going to look at how to leverage those in your new business.

Every successful business applies at least one of the principles recorded below. The most successful businesses apply them all. And you can remember them just by remembering a penny: think "CENTS".

Commandments and descriptions taken from The Millionaire Fastlane:

​Control​: Franchises and network marketing companies make for weak businesses since they lack the aspect of control. Businesses need to be able to set their own prices and control which products are created, marketed, and sold.​​​​​

The ideal business will be able to control both price and expenses (more on this and how it affects the value of your business here) and will be able to determine its own profit line. Because your skillset and business is unique to you, the best product for you will be different than the best product for other people and their businesses.

​When you lose control of things in your business, you lose competitive advantage.

​Entry​: Ever wanted to pursue a business and been turned away by a price tag that's a fuzz higher than what you were looking for?

That's a good thing.

When your business is easy to get into, you have lots of competition. This is another reason why I'm not a big fan of franchises or network marketing companies (and I have been a part of both).

The higher of a barrier to entry your niche has, the more difficult it will be for others to compete with you. Ask any lawn care business, insurance franchise, accounting firm,​​​​​​ convenience store, or any of the seven coffee shops in your town and you'll hear all about the dangers of too much competition.

Make it difficult for others to compete with you.

​Need​: The sad truth of the world is that people do not pay us for doing what we love. The world is an incredibly, incredibly selfish place and will only pay us for giving it things that it wants.

Make sure your business isn't a passion, a pipe dream, or a hot recommendation from your seemingly-savvy Uber driver. It needs to be something that your target audience needs, whether your target audience is your town, your country, or the world.​​​​​

​Time​: Even though ​people who are self employed are undeniably happier, as demonstrated in the book The Illusions of Entrepreneurship​​​​​​​​​​​​​​, they work.

A lot.

In fact, out of 25 countries surveyed, self employed people worked more than regularly employed people in all countries ​except two​.

​While you should expect (and enjoy) the hard work while the business is getting going, being a slave to your business is not a good situation to be in.

According to MJ DeMarco's CENTS, your business should ultimately be able to separate your time from your income. While early on this means you won't make as much, in the grand scheme you never want your time to be traded for dollars.

The Millionaire Fastlane calls that wage slavery and time prostitution. Both are avoidable.​​​​​​

Your business should be able to be automated or you should be able to hire tasks out to the point where your input is ​completely​ unnecessary. It may take time to get to this stage (it will definitely take time) but there's no need for you to simply create a new job for yourself with your business.

​Scale​: Finally, we reach what may be the biggest and baddest of them all.

​The ideal business is able to reach far more than ​a few hundred people. It is able to reach thousands if not millions.

​Because if you can make a million people feel or have something, you will be a very rich person.

Scale takes different forms: for restaurants, one of the only ways to scale will be to open more restaurants. For internet business, increase your users. Whether your version of scale involves opening different branches or maximizing how many users are in love with your product, scale is where the big money happens.

Make sure your business isn't crippling you before you get it started. Don't allow yourself to open a business with inherent limits. Start a business that can reach the world.

​When you apply CENTS, your business will be infinitely more powerful.

Now let's step out of theory and get practical.

It is one thing to know all that before you start a business, but you need to apply it to your own startup now.

Or, even worse, you already have a business and are trying to correct course.

What's the best way to apply CENTS? Well, you can painstakingly go through the complete ramifications of every one of the principles above, or you can follow this simple Do/Do Not list.

Do

  • ​Learn what you can control and leverage it in your business. Maximize control
  • ​Make it difficult to compete with you. What can you do for a dollar that will cost your competitors two dollars?
  • ​Push competitors out of business
  • check
    ​Create products that others, not you, want in the marketplace
  • check
    ​Plan ahead for new products; how can you leverage existing infrastructure to create new things?
  • check
    ​Prepare to train or hire others to do your job for you
  • check
    ​Prepare yourself to have time separated from income; early on, this means ​you may earn nothing​​​​
  • check
    ​Leverage the power of the internet to scale your business to incredible heights
  • check
    ​Allow yourself to consider businesses that are not internet based (e.g. physical products) and ask how these items can be made better with the internet
  • check
    Begin the process of automation immediately

Do Not

  • ​Start a franchise or join a network marketing company; you will lack control, barriers to entry, and you will debatably lack a viable market need (I speak from experience on both accounts)
  • ​Allow yourself to be outworked or outsmarted by the competition
  • ​Go in without extensive budgeting (time/money) and planning future products
  • Times
    ​Remain set on one business idea if the markets move you in a direction; many famous companies started as ideas for something else
  • Times
    ​Allow the barriers to your business to be lowered; maintain and increase knowledge, money, infrastructure, and time barriers when possible
  • Times
    Consider only internet businesses (the desire for internet businesses now creates a higher demand for physical businesses)
  • Times
    ​Create your own job; leverage manpower and automation to separate time from income

​​A Treatise On Being Executed

​The difference between an entrepreneur and a wantrepreneur is a small, subtle thing. It is so easy to talk about yet so difficult to execute that many live their whole lives not truly being able grasp this concept.

The difference between an entrepreneur and a wantrepreneur is action. And not just a little action, but a lot.

In a study of geniuses recorded in his book Creativity, ​Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi found that once a certain level of intelligence is reached, world-famous achievers aren't actually smarter. 

​They simply put in more hours than other people.

​Other similar findings in the books Daily Rituals: How Artists Work (by Mason Currey) and Managing With Power (by Jeffrey Pfeffer) echo this sentiment: world class achievers aren't massively intelligent, lucky, or better than the rest of us.

​They just work more.

​So if you're looking to be an entrepreneur, science has some advice: get to it. Don't let up.

​In the long run, being a workaholic is bad for us. (source 1​) (source 2) But working hard on a project you feel is meaningful (as any good entrepreneur will know that their business is) only boosts your sense of happiness ​according to Eric Barker's research in his book Barking Up The Wrong Tree​.

So in your meaningful business, don't be afraid to put in too many hours. And if your business is successful (as it most likely will be, you spending lots of your free time on it and everything) then you can eventually sell or automate it and will never need to work again if you don't want to.

Instead of spending 40+ hours a week at your job for 40 years to retire at 65 (55 if you're lucky and never eat out), you may spend 60+ hours for 5 or 10 years to retire immediately after.

This early investment of time in your business pays off big in the long run, so don't be afraid to apply some elbow grease.

But how do we make this time most effective? How can we do in 8, 6, 4, or 2 hours what takes everyone else 10?

​While I wish I could tell you that I've found a way to harness my inner superpowers, that's (sadly) not the case.

​But we don't need superpowers to be more effective than others. We need better orientation.

People are busy. ​And not only are people actually more busy, but people today ​feel ​busier. In a recent poll by Gallup, Americans were shown to be significantly down in overall wellbeing across many indicators (source).​​​ And even though we're working a lot (source) and free time is down (source), we don't seem to be all that productive.

In fact, we seem to be wasting ​a lot ​of time. A recent study shows that during our significant hours spent at work, only about 39% of that work is spent on time that is role specific.

This means that in an average workweek, the Americans ​work on a product that fits their job description 39% of the time.​​​ (source).

Obviously, there is quite a bit of room in the remaining 61% of busy work for quite a bit of a productivity boost.

​We get that extra 61% not by working harder, but by better time management.

​Sadly, people aren't capable of our peak productivity all the time. Cal Newport reports in his powerful book Deep Work that even at the expert level, people are probably only capable of high intensity work for a maximum of four hours per day.

​Newport's research also indicates that while in a state of maximum productivity, or "deep work" that any interruptions cause our brain to literally run off track, changing our entire thought process. Getting back into deep, productive work once again strips our brain of energy and hinders us from being maximally productive.

Since we can only produce maximally for a short period every day, we need to avoid falling into the trap of everyone else and wasting our lives on busy work.

To do that, I propose that you split your tasks into three different categories: Most Helpful, Most Needed, and Can Be Finished Quickly. Let's take a look at these and see how they can benefit your new business.

​Most Helpful​: This category exists for the tasks that provide the maximum amount of value for your new business. This may be time spent ​​​​​​in tasks like product development, article writing, advertising, or structuring your team.

Guard this spot jealously. Only ​the most​ productive, powerful, and helpful tasks can go here. These tasks need not be urgent, but they do need to be done.

​Most Needed​: This is where the urgent tasks go, and this is where we end up spending most of our time in the modern work day.

Everything in modern jobs are "necessary" from answering emails to attending the infamous meetings your boss sets up for seemingly no reason.

Yet in your business, you are the one who determines what is necessary and what isn't.

Use this box for the things that are only really, ​really ​ necessary. Aim for wildfires, not kitchen fires in this one. This can include rampant employees, software bugs, problems with your payment systems, or other things that needed a solution five minutes ago.

This box isn't useful for growing your business, it's useful for saving it. So try your best to keep this box to two or three things maximum.​​​​​​​​​​ Make sure that these things are both big and need to be solved quickly. Take care of these things first, ASAP, and move onto the items in the third box:

​Can Be Finished Quickly​:​​​​​ This box is just like it sounds. It is used for items that are neither helpful for urgent but do need to get done. I usually say that if anything can be done in 10 minutes or less, it goes in this box and gets done right after the most needed urgent tasks.

These tasks have a habit of piling up or growing more severe with time; prevent future conflict (and future wasted time) by dealing with these as quickly as you can.

​The only way we can be maximally productive is to segment our time​.

​I prefer to handle my tasks in this order: Most Needed --> Can Be Finished Quickly --> Most Helpful.

I do it this way so I can put out wild fires, eliminate future distractions, and then spend my time where it really matters: in the most important, yet least urgent box named Most Helpful​​​.

And a special note needs to be made about tasks that are maximally efficient. In Gary Keller's book The ONE Thing​, he makes a surprisingly simple argument about efficiency.

Keller argues that every day should have a "ONE Thing" that is the most important, most urgent, and most efficient tasks on our schedules.

​We find the ONE Thing by asking "What can I do that will make all my other tasks easier or more productive?"

Efficiency and hard work need not be filled with busy work, but with strategy.

Find your ONE Thing that makes the rest of the day easier, then strategically execute the tasks remaining.

Building a business is hard and will definitely be time consuming. But that doesn't mean that you have to flounder around, wasting your time, wasting your money, and wasting your life​.

But the most effective thing you can do today is simply to start. That is your ONE Thing. Whatever your task in front of you is, execute it ruthlessly by starting and not stopping until it's done.

​Slavery Upside Down And My Favorite Noise In The World

​To the great detriment of​ every girl I've dated, my family, and anyone who has ever been in a car with me, I have a bad habit.

Any time my car passes a car quickly, gets passed quickly, goes around a turn quickly, or does anything that can be done with some speed, I make a certain noise...

"Nyyyyooooooom"

It's like this:

​​Nyyyooom is the noise that car engines make when the engines are working hard and the car passes you quickly.

​And just like a fast car getting to the finish line, your business needs some nyyyooom in it.

We already talked about the importance of getting started, but now I want to shift ou​r focus to what needs to happen after you take the first steps: you have to work.

And in your business, you are going to be competing against the greatest in the world; established companies with existing supply chains, leadership, and income will be your competition. The ​only ​way you can compete is to out-think and out-work your competition.

You, as the owner, need to become your business' loyal slave. "Slave" is undoubtedly a harsh word, but I chose it for a reason: as a business owner, you will rise before dawn and go to bed after dusk working. You will bootstrap to achieve whatever needs to be accomplished. You may go hungry, your checking account overdrafted, for days or weeks so your business can survive.

You may work 60 or 80 hour weeks, you may not take vacations ​ever​, and you may be mocked by those who are closest to you.

It will be slavery upside down; where you as the owner bleed, sweat, and cry until your business is built and sustainable, until you can live off your labor.

The importance of hard work cannot be ignored and it should not be forgotten, for by your hard work your business will thrive and survive.​​​​​​

To nyyyooom past others, you have to start early, work hard, think smarter, and move faster.

If you aren't willing to do that, don't become an entrepreneur.

The shortcuts in the world of entrepreneurs may take 5 or 10 years to be fulfilled, but the shortcuts in every other lifestyle may take 40 or 50 years.

Be willing to wait that 5 or 10 years, working hard every step of the way.

​Nyyyooom​​​​

​Conclusion

Thanks for reading!

​While starting a business isn't easy, it is worth it. There isn't a key or a silver bullet to success and there certainly isn't a one-size-fits-all solution for you, but starting a business can be incredibly rewarding.

​Let me know in the comments: ​what are some practical steps you've taken to start a business? What business are you trying to get going?

Stay awesome. Have a great day.

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What Is The Best Business For Me To Start?

​What Is The Best Business For Me To Start?

​​I can't blame you for wanting to be an entrepreneur. In fact, I proudly consider myself one as well.

Despite the increased risk, entrepreneurship makes a lot of sense: research in Thomas Stanley's groundbreaking book The Millionaire Next Door shows that self employed people are over 4x as likely to be millionaires as people who work for others.

But that raises a question: with failure so rampant in the startup space and knowing that a majority of businesses don't last more than 5 years (source), what is the best business to start that both guarantees a high income (let's put you at millionaire status) and won't fail on you?

The purpose of this post is to help you find and refine your ideas of which businesses to start. If you already have an idea you like and are looking for the more practical, nitty gritty of ​​"​​​Well what do I do next?​"​​​ ​then I recommend this post, as it's more practical.​​​

​But if you're still looking for ideas, wondering which one is best... well here's the answer.

​​Passion, Purpose, And The Story Of Survivors

​If all the pieces of business advice in the world were written on pieces of paper, put in a jar, and you had to pull a few of those pieces of paper out, there's a pretty good chance all of the ones you pull out would say "Follow your passion."

Among all the business advice in the world, none is quite so prevalent as the advice that you should do what you love and what you enjoy; the money will come.

​Even in Steve Jobs' famous commencement speech, he tells graduates "I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love."

So what does the science say?

Following your passion makes for great life advice. In fact, passion is basically your superpower and following it in your life and free time will probably make you a whole lot happier.

Research by Morten Hansen in his book Great At Work shows that among people who follow their passion in the office, they were likely to work harder and with more intensity, but contrary research shows that when we are told to "follow our passions", it can make us less effective when obstacles arise. (source).

So what causes the difference between being more or less effective when following our passion? It all comes down to a sense of purpose.

In Angela Duckworth's grand slam book Grit, she says that the most important thing is seeing the master scheme of the work you're doing. Seeing "how it's important to other people, not just interesting to you," forms the basis of how we need to look at following our passion:

When it gives us a deeper purpose, it is helpful. When "following our passion" means pursuing something that only feels good in the moment, we will give up when times get tough.

And finally, in full circle, here's how this matters for the business you're about to start:

"Follow your passion" is great life advice. It may be good career advice. It can't be good business advice unless you pair it with purpose.

In MJ DeMarco's fantastic business book The Millionaire Fastlane, when speaking of a failed business near his home says:

"The obvious problem here is selfishness. The owner is following his passions, and his love for hip-hop music and culture. Maybe a life coach told him 'Do what you love.' Whatever the motive, ​the need is internal and not externally based on the marketplace​. I predicted this business would last 12 months. After 18 months, the business disappeared. The road was paved with sand because no need existed."​​​​

​In fact, to DeMarco, the overwhelming majority of businesses fail not because the owner wasn't tough enough or didn't work hard enough, but because the business didn't solve a marketplace need. (By the way, MJ DeMarco's book is so good it landed on our list of best entrepreneur books and best self help books)

So when figuring out what business you need to start, don't look at what you're passionate about; look for something that solves a real world need and that you see a larger purpose in doing.

Your business should help people and encourage you to help people even more than you are ​already doing. Your business should provide a continual feedback loop of being excited for your contribution to the world and wanting to contribute even more.

On the importance of solving a real world need instead of chasing the biggest and easiest business, Zig Ziglar's famous quote says "You can have everything you want in life, if you will just help others get what they want."

And according to Mark Cuban, businesses shouldn't be founded on passion ​because successful businesses create passion​. He says:

"When you look at where you put in your time, where you put in your effort, that tends to be the things that you are good at. And if you put in enough time, you tend to get really good at it. If you put in enough time, and you get really good, I will give you a little secret: Nobody quits anything they are good at because it is fun to be good. It is fun to be one of the best."​​​ (source).

​So don't follow your passion. Create what the world needs, work hard at it, and the passion will come.

​But that raises a question: when I think the market needs more than one thing, what do I do?

​Valedictorians And The Death Of Business

​Valedictorians are the pinnacle of success in school. Characterized by good grades and a great school waiting on them to graduate, we usually expect these over-achievers to go on, do well in college, graduate, and land a nice corporate job somewhere.

​Karen Arnold's research in the book Lives Of Promise​ shows that our expectations are pretty much on point. She followed valedictorians after high schools and just as we expect, valedictorians usually go on to succeed in college. Not only that, but after 14 years nearly half of the valedictorians who were surveyed had landed in a top-tier corporate job.

Her research shows that valedictorians are often strong, dependable rule followers that hit most metrics of success in our modern world.

​But Eric Barker asks in his book Barking Up The Wrong Tree, "how many of these valedictorians in the study went on to change the world, run the world, or impress the world?

​The answer seems to be clear: zero."

There are probably a couple of reasons for this.

First, valedictorians in school are most likely subscribers to the belief that the best way to succeed is to follow the system, not break free of it. If you are an entrepreneur, you probably do not subscribe to the same values.

Second, and most importantly for our purposes, valedictorians are taught that the best way to success is to be skilled in several different areas instead of being a superstar in one area.

This leads to what the research shows: valedictorians are ​good at several different tasks and jobs. They are rarely superstars in any of them.

As a generalized group of people that is good at a lot, excellent at a little, and never truly stands out, valedictorians are the exact opposite of what entrepreneurs need to be and do when starting a business.

Entrepreneurs need to be the grand hero in their niche, the saving grace that people want to buy from; generalization and diversity is the great enemy of a successful entrepreneur.

So what do you do when you think the market has several needs or you have tons of ideas floating around in your head?

Ignore all of them but one. Take the remaining one idea and give it 100% of your effort. Cal Newport's book Deep Work takes this idea to the extreme: Newport argues that it is only when we eliminate busy work and focus on what matters that we accomplish more and have less free time.

Newport is not the only person making such an argument. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss often cites the Pareto Principle, a theory that 80% of effects often come from 20% of causes.

Newport and Ferriss agree: people are better off maximizing the things that work rather than wasting away time with the things that don't produce as much towards your life and your dreams.

​When presented with this idea, a question should arise. If diversification is so harmful, why in the world do people talk about it so much?

​Baskets And A Good Old Mom Story

​On her first trip outside the US, my mother was a little distraught. Simply put, she had brought a lot of stuff.

The luggage for her ​relatively short trip included three times as many outfits as she needed, medicines for every fathomable scenario, chargers, four different pairs of shoes, different types of makeup ("We're going to be at a lake next to a jungle, Mom"), and all the food seasoning she could stuff into her carry-on.

My poor 5'3" mother ended up needing all sorts of help with her luggage throughout the trip... and you can guess who ended up taking her suitcase (hint: it wasn't my brother) while she carried my measly little backpack.

My mother was ready, packing everything she could ​possibly​ need. Her greatest fear was that we would find ourselves overseas and she wouldn't have something. Telling my mother that we could definitely buy ​that​ in the new country didn't do much good; her greatest fear was not having enough.

This is actually a popular concept in the realm of economics and psychology called loss aversion. It seems that humans are genetically wired to be more afraid of losses than excited by gains. 

​For example, let's say that losing $5 gives you a little anxiety. On a scale of 1-10, we're gonna put this anxiety at a three.

​In contrast, gaining $5 gives you excitement. It makes you happy. But on the same scale of 1-10, gaining $5 only gives you one level of excitement.

​From a survival standpoint, this makes sense: it's better to not have the risk being eaten by a wild animal over a scrap of food. Loss aversion definitely saved some ancient lives. (source 1) (source 2).

​Yet what is so helpful for early humans often proves unhelpful, or downright dangerous, to humans alive today. Loss aversion is where a love of diversification comes from; and just like my mother, when entrepreneurs diversify too early, they end up weighed down and unable to move and act how they really want to.

Diversification is popular because it protects people from losses. It scratches our loss aversion itch. And established businesses ​must ​diversify; often an established business reaches a "soft limit" of what is available to be gained from a certain venture that limits their gains in that arena.

But new businesses must avoid the desire to spread themselves too thin at all costs.

MJ DeMarco, author of The Millionaire Fastlane, says this:

"​A scattered focus leads to scattered results​. Instead of having one business that thrives, the polygamist-opportunity has 20 businesses that suck... ​When you segregate your effort among assets, you build weak assets​."​​​​​​

When it comes to what business ventures you should pursue, don't be a valedictorian, don't be my mother, and don't be a business with 20 weak assets that all independently suck your time dry like your personal vampire.

Don't be a generalist "specializing" in a whole slew of different things. Pick a good arena where there is a need and master that arena. No more.

If you still don't believe me, ask Andrew Carnegie, steel tycoon whose wealth eventually reached about $372 billion. He famously said, "The way to become rich is to put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket."

So here's to all of us with only one basket.

​How Remembering A Penny Can Make You A Billionaire (No, It's Not By Saving It, You Cheapskate)

​We've established that your business should solve a need and that, when starting out, you should put all your effort into one thing. But is that really all it takes to start a business?

Well, not really.

​MJ DeMarco, the best selling author mentioned a few times previously, believes that all successful businesses have a few things in common.

In fact, these characteristics are so important that DeMarco calls them "The Commandments".

Every successful business applies one of them. The most successful businesses apply them all. And you can remember them just by remembering a penny: think "CENTS".

Commandments and descriptions taken from The Millionaire Fastlane:

​Control​: Franchises and network marketing companies make for weak businesses since they lack the aspect of control. Businesses need to be able to set their own prices and control which products are created, marketed, and sold.​​​​​

The ideal business will be able to control both price and expenses (more on this and how it affects the value of your business here) and will be able to determine its own profit line. Because your skillset and business is unique to you, the best product for you will be different than the best product for other people and their businesses.

​When you lose control of things in your business, you lose competitive advantage.

​Entry​: Ever wanted to pursue a business and been turned away by a price tag that's a fuzz higher than what you were looking for?

That's a good thing.

When your business is easy to get into, you have lots of competition. This is another reason why I'm not a big fan of franchises or network marketing companies (and I have been a part of both).

The higher of a barrier to entry your niche has, the more difficult it will be for others to compete with you. Ask any lawn care business, insurance franchise, accounting firm,​​​​​​ convenience store, or any of the seven coffee shops in your town and you'll hear all about the dangers of too much competition.

Make it difficult for others to compete with you.

​Need​: The sad truth of the world is that people do not pay us for doing what we love. The world is an incredibly, incredibly selfish place and will only pay us for giving it things that it wants.

Make sure your business isn't a passion, a pipe dream, or a hot recommendation from your seemingly-savvy Uber driver. It needs to be something that your target audience needs, whether your target audience is your town, your country, or the world.​​​​​

​Time​: Even though ​people who are self employed are undeniably happier, as demonstrated in the book The Illusions of Entrepreneurship​​​​​​​​​​​​​​, they work.

A lot.

In fact, out of 25 countries surveyed, self employed people worked more than regularly employed people in all countries ​except two​.

​While you should expect (and enjoy) the hard work while the business is getting going, being a slave to your business is not a good situation to be in.

According to MJ DeMarco's CENTS, your business should ultimately be able to separate your time from your income. While early on this means you won't make as much, in the grand scheme you never want your time to be traded for dollars.

The Millionaire Fastlane calls that wage slavery and time prostitution. Both are avoidable.​​​​​​

Your business should be able to be automated or you should be able to hire tasks out to the point where your input is ​completely​ unnecessary. It may take time to get to this stage (it will definitely take time) but there's no need for you to simply create a new job for yourself with your business.

​Scale​: Finally, we reach what may be the biggest and baddest of them all.

​The ideal business is able to reach far more than ​a few hundred people. It is able to reach thousands if not millions.

​Because if you can make a million people feel or have something, you will be a very rich person.

Scale takes different forms: for restaurants, one of the only ways to scale will be to open more restaurants. For internet business, increase your users. Whether your version of scale involves opening different branches or maximizing how many users are in love with your product, scale is where the big money happens.

Make sure your business isn't crippling you before you get it started. Don't allow yourself to open a business with inherent limits. Start a business that can reach the world.

All of these are important because these things all impact the most exciting part of any successful business: escaping.

The Escape Plan

If you're trying to nurse your slowly dying dreams of retiring in the Caribbean or buying a private island, I have good news: there's a way.

And it's not even illegal.

It isn't found in the selling off of your 401k or going into ungodly amounts of debt. No no no, this way is much smoother, much more clean.

It makes you a whole lot wealthier too.

You can engage in your escape plan and sell your business.

While get rich easy is a pipe dream best left to the realm of hopeful children, get rich fast is very, very real. And when your business solves the needs of a whole lot of people, it will have a whole lot of value that you can cash in on by selling.

In fact, the value of a business is one of the most desirable traits about a business. Unlike your stock market investments where you have little to no control of the value of your companies, your own business has multiple variables that you can control, each one with the potential to skyrocket the value of your business.

Here are just a few, with brief descriptions.

  • ​Income​: If you can increase your income, your potential value increases​​​​​
  • ​Expenses​: Decreasing your expenses increases profit and gives a potential value increase​​​​​
  • ​Customer Quality​: Not applicable in all industries, but when your customers are more likely to be repeat customers, this can impact the value of your business 
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    Type Of Income​: Not all sources of income are equal. Having income that is more likely to be repeated (subscription models, repeat orders, etc.) can increase business value
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    Owner Income​: How much you as the owner ​receive from the business can impact the value of the business ​​​​​​​​​​​

​​With each of these variables comes a chance to exponentially (yes, ​exponentially​) increase the value of your business.

Yet I haven't talked about the most important variable of all: your industry multiplier.

Just as different customers and income sources affect the value of your business, your industry multiplier determines roughly how much you can sell your business based on your profit.

And when doing the math, industry multipliers make stock market gains seem like a tea party.

Even if your industry multiplier is 2x (very, very low - sources later), this means that for every extra dollar you earn in profit, you can earn ​two extra dollars in selling. That represents a 200% return on your dollar.

Some businesses earn less than a 2x multiplier (many franchisees tell me that their businesses earn closer to 1 or 1.5x and my father verified that number for both of his franchises), while publicly traded companies can trade as high as 50x.

The average multiplier from the statistics I found was somewhere around 4 or 5x for ​most businesses.

One source says that the average for companies under $1M in revenue is 4.5x. (source).

Another source says that the average is 4.51x. (source).

Meaning that selling an average business will net you a 450% return on every dollar you made in profit in that business.

Know your industry, learn your multipliers, and leverage big ones. You won't get rich easy, but you will definitely get rich fast with an excellent escape plan.

​Practical Step-By-Step And Tip Sheet

​​​With all that out of the way, let's get rid of theory and get down to the nuts and bolts of this thing.

​We'll go in logical progression.

What is the best business for me to start?

​Idea

​​​​​​-What is something that is annoying/frustrating/needs to be fixed? Can this be fixed?

-If no ideas, ask a friend or relative: what is something you experienced today that you thought could be improved?

-If no ideas, go on Reddit or other forums and search for words like "Frustating/Horrible/I hate". A careful search should bring you many ideas for opportunities

​Narrowing Down Ideas

-Once you have an idea, ask: can this be fixed, improved, or created? Would I pay to have this problem eliminated?

-Ask friends and relatives: would you pay to have this problem eliminated?

-Ask whether or not people who don't know you would pay you to fix this problem

​Finding The Perfect Business

-Use CENTS evaluation

-​C​: Can this business be controlled? Will I be able to set my price points, control my expenses, and determine what products will be created or not created?

-​E: Does this business have a barrier to entry? Can anyone start this business without a significant financial, knowledge, or time investment? If so, pass and go to another idea. 

-​N​: Is there a genuine marketplace need for this product? Can I create more value than other similar products on the marketplace? How can I be better than the competition?

​-​T​: Will this business eventually separate my time from my income? How passive can this business be? How easy is it to hire or train others to take over my job so I don't have to worry about it? How easy is it to automate this business? Remember that automating a system is almost always better than hiring when you are able.​​​​​​​​​

-​S​: Can this business scale in new customers, new products, or both? If so, how? Will scaling require significant investments of money, time, or knowledge or will it be fairly easy? Remember that businesses should be difficult to start, but simple to scale.

​Exiting The Business

-What is my industry multiplier?

-Am I able to manipulate profits by changing price and expenses?

​-Is there a way for me to have higher quality customers or higher quality products than competition?

-How easy is it to sell companies in this space? This question may take a bit more research to answer - consider research a knowledge barrier to entry. Having to research before starting the business is a good thing.​​​​​​​​

​Decision

​These metrics above will allow you to sort out unfavorable businesses and, if you're left with multiple ideas, will help you decide which one you prefer.

You may find that one business idea will definitely be able to make more money, but another is more passive once you get going. This checklist will help you narrow down which one you want and which one is best for you.​​​​​

​​Failure

Starting a business is a risky proposition. And although your business can bring you a nearly unlimited amount of health, wealth, and wisdom, the failure rate for those who are self employed is staggeringly high.

Statistically, you have a high chance of not making it on your first venture. There's a healthy chance that you will mess something up, but you can learn from it.

Silicon Valley, land of the thousand startups, has an expression:

​Fail fast. Fail cheap.

The masters of world changing businesses want to offer you some advice: take an honest look at your business once you get going. Think with your head, don't feel with your heart, and ask yourself is this is truly a viable venture.

When the excitement dies down and the motivation is starting to slip, ask yourself if this is really the business that the world needs. If not, end it.

Failure is a valuable process in the world of business. When your business fails, it is undoubtedly a tragedy. It is sad, painful, and embarrassing. But failure doesn't mean that you should give up.

It means that you should learn.

So fail fast. Fail cheap. But never quit pursuing your dreams or becoming better at everything you do.

And don't be afraid, if you fail, to give it another shot. The payoff is worth it. Achieving financial and personal dreams has no equal in the world.

So if you do fail at a business, instead of moping, ask yourself: What can I learn from this and apply to my life and my next business?

​Conclusion

Thanks for reading!

​It may be difficult to start a business, but the payoff for your personal and financial life can be almost unlimited.

If you've now got an idea and are looking to really get going with it, check out this post How To Start A Business That Will Make You A Millionaire. It's a lot more practical and really gets down into the nitty gritty of the details with step by step instructions.

​Let me know in the comments: what​ business are you considering?

Stay awesome. Have a great day.

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If you don't think we publish the best content on the internet, we don't ​think we deserve to get to know someone as great as you.

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How To Get Motivated (And Stay That Way)

How To Get Motivated (And Stay That Way)

​It's time again.

Your repeating project, your commute to work, your [insert daily torture here] that never seems to go away. The argument keeps coming up, you keep having the same fight with your kids, your family is on your back ​again​.

When times get tough, how do we stick to the course?​​​

When all we want to do is quit, how do we get the motivation to continue doing what we know is right?

This does not only for situations when problems arise, but for situations where we know that we need to do something but have a difficult time getting started.

Whether it be the book that you know is in you, the business that you've always wanted to build, the perfect family life, better control over your money, or whatever else that you ​​know​ that you need, what is the best way to get started on that?

​You need some motivation. And I'm going to make a wild claim: humans ​always​ do what they are most motivated to.

They have to.​​​

​Babies, Decisions, And Bad Habits

​Imagine a few scenarios with me and pick the one that most closely applies to you.

1. You wake up early in the morning (despite hating mornings) and go to your job (despite also hating your job).

2. You spend time pursuing your dream and passion even though it means long, painful hour of reading, researching, and self-improvement.

3. Your newborn child wakes you up crying in the middle of the night. You would really rather go back to sleep, but know that your child needs to be taken care of, so you do what needs to be done.

Whichever situation applies most closely to you, all of these situations share a few things in common: you are faced with a situation you don't want to confront but you do it anyways.

These mental exercises show an interesting trait present among humans: we are allowed to choose what we do and do not do. We have control over our choices and over the actions we make.

Well, kinda.

​A big debate in the fields of psychology and philosophy deals with whether or not humans have free will, but the debate over whether or not you and I are free ​can be both misguided and destructive. (If you'd like to learn more about the debate on whether or not we are free anyway, I recommend trying here and here).

So instead of debating relentlessly, let's look at the science.

In a study on the effects of emotions and decision making, Antonio Damasio looked at multiple patients who suffered brain damage to the amygdala or the orbitofrontal cortex. This brain damage rendered many of his patients largely unable to feel emotion.

​Never hating your job again sounds like a superpower, right? You're probably thinking "Gee, if I didn't hate half my life, I could accomplish anything!"

But not so fast. Among Damasio's patients that lacked emotion, decision making wasn't actually easier.

It was more difficult. Much more difficult.

In fact, some patients, despite not losing any IQ, were rendered completely unable to make decisions. Even small decisions that had little impact on the day were turned into sources of endless debate. (source).

Damasio expounds on his research in the book Descates' Error. His argument is that without emotion, while we are undoubtedly more logical and no less intelligent, we lack sufficient motivation to accomplish tasks and make decisions.

​Damasio argued that without motivation inherent to emotion, we are rendered incapable of making decisions.

​If you will remember the examples mentioned earlier, each one had a difficult or painful event. Yet in each of those examples, you ended up doing what needed to be done (nice job, you​) in spite of the pain and discomfort.

This is because by nature, humans always follow our greatest desire and our greatest motivation.

You hate going to work, but you know you need money, so you go anyways.

You don't enjoy spending time reading or working on your passion that you feel isn't going anywhere, but you know that you have a chance to make a difference and be happy, so you do it anyways.

You don't want to get out of bed at 3 a.m. for your screaming child, but you love your baby, so you do it anyways.

In each of these situations, the motivation to act is greater than the motivation to not do anything.

And since science shows that good habits are hard to start (source) and bad habits are hard to break (source), it's not a​n extreme conclusion to say that it is difficult to change our decision making process in a long and lasting way.

So don't change your decision making process.

Change your motivations.

Here's how.

Want To Be A World-Class Achiever? ​Try Team Games

Humans are social creatures from just about every angle that you wanna look at it. Whether you're looking at research showing we're happier when surrounded by happy people (source) or that just talking to people on a bus makes you happier (source), it is obvious that we're best when we're with others.

A recent poll by Gallup looked at whether or not having a best friend at work changed your performance at your job. Results were nothing less than astonishing.

People who reported having a best friend at work were:

  • ​43% more likely to report having received praise or recognition for their work in the last seven days
  • ​37% more likely to report that someone at work encourages their development
  • ​​35% more likely to report coworker commitment to quality
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    28% more likely to report ​that in the last six months, someone at work has talked to them about their progress
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    ​27% more likely to report that the mission of their company makes them feel that their job is important
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    27% more likely to report that their opinions seem to count at work
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    21% more likely to report that at work, they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day

​And in addition to all this, people who reported having best friends at work recorded significantly higher levels of healthy stress management compared to people who didn't have best friends at work. (source).

What does all this have to do with motivation?

With all the research in mind, it seems that one of the best ways to increase your motivation is simply to improve your positive friendships.

​The key word in that last sentence is the word "positive". Simply increasing your existing ​number​ of friendships may not be effective; quality is greater than quantity in this regard.

Research gives us reasons why we should hang out with people who are better than we are. A study on obesity found that when you have an obese friend, you are 57% more likely to be obese yourself, but the results of this study showed an even deeper importance in choosing your friends:

When a ​friend of a friend​ is obese, you have a 25% higher chance of being obese. When a ​friend of a friend of a friend​ (yep, 3 levels out) is obese, you are 10% more likely to be obese. These statistics are true ​even if you've never met these friends of friends​.​​​​​​​​​​​​ (source).

While we should never judge someone's success by their weight, this study shows the power of friendships and how likely we are to mimic those who are close to us. This law of averages is important: ​one of Jim Rohn's most powerful quotes says that "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with."

And when asked what advice he would put on a billboard, Tim Ferriss said it would be "You are the average of the five people you most associate with."

So to increase your motivation's starting and staying power, increase the quality of your friendships. This can include developing deeper friendships with people you admire, spending time with people who have accomplished things you want, finding a mentor, escaping negative interactions as much as possible, or simply trying to mimic great qualities in great people.

Whatever action works best for your situation in life, the research is clear: having positive friendships increases performance and motivation while negative friendships decrease it.

Want To Be A World-Class Achiever? Play ​Follow The Leader

​​​Many people are familiar with research popularized in Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers claiming that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice was necessary to make someone an expert at something. When hearing that statistic, a few questions come to mind.

First, what exactly is deliberate practice? People understand that deliberate practice is practicing to the point of failure, but ​what does that actually mean in my life and in my goals?

Second, how do I know what to practice? While I can certainly be an expert at quoting Brian Regan, that won't provide much value in my life for the long term. What do I need to practice to become a true expert at my chosen field, goal, or dream?​​​

And if you don't know who Brian Regan is... (video has mild language).

Finally, what in the world causes someone to practice at something for 10,000 hours anyways? If a person spent 40 hours a week on this project, the length of a typical workweek, solely filled with deliberate practice to failure, then that person is going to need ​five years​ to become an expert.

And while five years may not sound like much, ​remember that it's probably not ​too​​​​ difficult to spend 40 hours a week on a hobby unless you have ​a job, any social life whatsoever, or a need to eat between now and the next half-decade.

All of these questions can be solved by having a mentor: someone who is already an expert in the field that you are pursuing. A mentor can teach you what deliberate practice in your field looks like, can show you how to best apply it, and keeps you staying the course until you yourself are an expert.

The importance of mentors can be seen in leading psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book, Creativity​: Csikszentmihalyi interviewed 91 highly creative people, including 14 Nobel Prize winners.

Csikszentmihalyi found that by the time almost every single one of these high achievers were college-aged, they had a mentor. Csikszentmihalyi's conclusion is that a mentor is not necessary to unlock someone's talent, but the presence of a mentor has the potential to make a lot of difference in someone's life.

So if you want to get and stay motivated, it may just be time to find someone who can show you the ropes and keep you in the ring when the fight gets going.

You need a mentor.

​See It Yet?

Since the dawn of man, the brain has pretty much baffled all of us. Science is largely unsure how a glorified slab of meat can perform such a wide variety of functions like language acquisition, fine motor skills, and reminding the body to keep digesting food while using so little energy.

In recent attempts to mimic the brain's complexity and efficiency, one of the world's supercomputers took 82,944 processors and about one hour of real time to mimic ​one second​ worth of brain activity. (source).​​​

With such a powerful tool inside out heads, it's no surprise that some people want to master it... and others want to monetize it.

Brain games have become popular in recent years as a form of training the mind. Research shows that some are helpful (source), others are not (source), and that video games may hold the key to teaching new skills quickly and enjoyably (source).

​In the context of all this brain training, one brain exercise is heard of more than any other in self-help and self-improvement circles: positive visualization.

​And to be entirely honest, I was a little surprised in my research to find that science has recorded no benefits of positive visualization (much to the horror of every motivational speaker since time began).

In fact, positive visualization was shown to have a negative correlation to achievement. While sad to hear, the most likely cause is that our brain has trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality; visualizing and dreaming of an outcome literally saps us from energy we otherwise spend being productive. (source).

​Yet there is an alternative to positive visualization made popular in Eric Barker's book Barking Up The Wrong Tree​ (this book is so good, it made our list of best self-help books). The alternative, as Barker describes it, has, "the silliest name in all of social science." It's called WOOP.

Yep. You can improve your motivation to accomplish a task using a method that sounds like it came from your five year old.

​WOOP is powerful because it picks up the slack where positive visualization stops: when you WOOP, you have to envision your obstacles and define a clear way that you will overcome them when (not if) they arrive in your dream scenario.

Here's how to WOOP:

​Wish​: What is your dream? What do you want the future to look like?

​For example: "I want a perfect marriage."

​Outcome​: Be specific​. What does wish look like for you?

"I would never have any fights with my spouse."

​Obstacles​: What is in the way that will cause problems for my wish and outcome?

"One day my spouse and I may disagree over money."

​Plan​: Set up If/Then scenarios to handle these problems.

"If we start arguing about money, I will sit down with my spouse, listen to their point of view with the intent to understand, not with the intent to refute their point of view, and then discuss solutions to the problem."​​​​​

​WOOP is quite literally the exact opposite of positive visualization; it is classified as negative visualization. And while the benefits of positive visualization have been ​battered and bruised by science, negative visualization has a lot of research, both science and experience based, backing it.

As recorded in the book A Guide To The Good Life, Stoic philosophers would often ask the question "What is the worst possible thing that could happen to me today?"

While this seems quite depressing, it is actually freeing. Imagining all that could go wrong can make you really appreciate when things ​don't​ go wrong and makes you more thankful for the things you have.

On a similar note, Steve Jobs said in his famous 2005 commencement speech, about minute 9, "Remembering I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in my life."​​​

On the science side, negative visualization is so powerful it even has the ability to make you stronger without ever going to the gym.

The reason for this power is the same reason why positive visualization is so ineffective by itself: seeing an outcome literally causes your body to feel that the outcome is real. It takes your energy and saps your strength. When negative visualization imagines obstacles to overcome, your body trains itself to be prepared for these obstacles.

In one study, participants were split into several groups with the two most notable groups being the physical training and the mental training group. While the physical training group increased their strength by 53% over 12 weeks, the mental training group (with no physical training involved) increased their strength ​by 35%​ over the same time frame. (source).​​​

​When we visualize our problems (and see ourselves overcoming them), science is clear: you'll go much further and accomplish much more than just imagining that your dream life is happening to you.

​Flash, The Brain, And The Little Voice In Your Head

​​On the ground, Wally can't be beaten, not even by Superman.

No one, in entire DC universe, knows exactly how fast the Flash is. He's so fast that he can pass lightspeed. He's so fast that after a nuclear explosion, he carried the entire population of a town in North Korea ​to safety before the explosion had time to reach them.

The Flash is so fast that he literally outran Death by running millions of years into the future on accident. (source)

Your mind is not quite the Flash, but it's still lightning fast. Your brain may think upwards of 3000 words per minute, and many of those are actually directed to you. (source 1) (source 2).

​Yep. Science has proven that the only people who talk to themselves are people who admit it... and people who are liars.

Yet self talk is so powerful that when Navy SEAL candidates were taught to make their self talk positive, their graduation rate increased from 25% to 33%. (source).

​When we experience new tasks, our brains begin to analyze possible scenarios. We've already talked about why you should visualize the negative aspects of a task instead of the positive, but does this hold true for mental talk as well?

Should we tell ourselves and hear the same negative things we see in our minds?

Definitely not.

​Research shows that when we visualize negative things, we become prepared.

When we hear negative things, we become depressed.

So imagine negative things, hear positive things.

Positive self talk is necessary for motivation. Studies show that when we talk to ourselves positively, we perform better on a variety of tasks. This holds especially true if we talk to ourselves ​in the third person​.

Reasons why third person self talk (using your name, saying "he/she is really going to accomplish this") is most effective is unclear. An educated guess is that third person self talk takes your mind out of the equation a bit.

Whatever the reason, when people were engaged in self talk, they performed better on a variety of physically demanding and emotionally frightening tasks. (source).​​​

​So to max out your motivation levels, start telling yourself that you are capable of accomplishing (and enjoying) the task in front of you. Visualize the negative, but listen to the positive.

​That Famous Study Isn't Real, But This One Is

​I​f you are a fan of self-help, you have almost undoubtedly at one point or another heard of a study citing that during a certain time frame, 3% of Harvard or Yale graduates made nearly ten times as much money as the other 97%.

The difference?

The 3% wrote down their goals.

​While whoever you heard this from is well meaning, this study never actually happened.

Yet that doesn't nail the coffin for goal setting; while that study is phony, another study is not:

In this real study, participants were separated into five groups and were each given different levels of activity that they needed to accomplish for their goals.

​Two groups were told to write goals down, ​another group had to write down goals with action commitments, a different group had to do all that and then give these action commitments to a friend, and the last group had to do everything mentioned before as well as give this friend weekly progress reports.

The most successful group ​by a long shot​ was the group who wrote down their goals, made action commitments, gave these commitments to a friend, and then gave their friend weekly progress reports.

In other words, the most successful group was the group that forced themselves to succeed by making written goals, creating action plans, and holding themselves accountable.

​These actions are so powerful that the group with the lowest commitment (only writing goals down) achieved about 43% of their goals. The most successful group with the most commitment achieved ​76%​.​​​ (source).​​​

​So while you may not make 10x more than 97% of Harvard or Yale graduates, you're statistically far more likely to achieve your goals if you write them, make a plan, and then force yourself to act by making a friend keep you accountable (this isn't nearly as embarrassing as I thought it would be - friends tend to be extremely impressed at your motivation and productivity).

And if we take another look back to Navy SEALs...

When SEALs were taught to set goals with their positive self-talk (and negative visualization), their graduation rates improved dramatically. And it seems like their favorite goals to set were goals that could be described as very, very small:

"Make it to lunch."

"Get out of this water."

"​Don't panic." (source).

​So despite the false studies presented as truth, goal setting does have serious benefits. For maximum effect:

1. Write your goals

2. Develop an action plan ("How am I going to accomplish this?"

3. Force yourself to be accountable (give goals to a friend, give friend progress reports - I promise it's not embarrassing. Your friend will be proud to have your trust and glad to encourage you)

4. Keep it small

​World Of Warcraft At School And Work (Plus Why You Should Treat Yourself Today)

Joe was dead.

At least, he was going to be in a moment. Simon had just cut the rope.

It was undoubtedly a difficult decision for Simon, yet he knew that to save his own life, he had to let Joe die. The rope was cut, Joe fell, and if he had landed two feet to the right, he would have kept falling and inevitably been killed.

As it was, Joe had landed on an ice bridge. He was alive, but his broken leg and the sloped ice above him meant that he had no way of returning to Simon. In fact, the only direction Joe could go was down further into the crevasse.

So further down he went, crawling on his shattered bones.

When Joe saw a crack of sun, he knew he could somehow make it. He had no food, no water, but he did have one thing:​ that rock up ahead.

In the midst of his mountain climbing adventure gone horribly wrong, Joe recalls ​making a game out of his torturous crawl away from the mountain: he would try to make it to that rock in under 20 minutes. He would try to pass that patch of gravel in under 15.

Often he would fail, but each failure came not with a quit, but with a restart.

​After three days of grueling torture and while highly delirious, Joe made it back to his base camp.

Joe tells his story in his book Touching The Void​. His story emphasizes something important to the realm of motivation:

Turning tasks into games much us much more motivated to succeed.

In the book Sidetracked, Francesca Gino cites the study of a classroom of children, but this wasn't quite your ordinary classroom.

It was made to resemble World of Warcraft.

Children were given experience points, quests, and monsters. When a child did good on an assignment, they received points instead of a test score. During this period, children worked harder, studied more, cheated less, and were more enthusiastic about their time in class.

Shawn Anchor in The Happiness Advantage echoes this sentiment: he says that the best way to deal with stress is not to view it as a trial, but as a challenge. His book is so good that it made our list of best self help books.

And as with any game, remember to reward yourself after you have completed a challenge. The theory of operant conditioning states that an effective way to modify behavior is to reward good actions and punish negative actions, much as your parents taught you to do as a child. (source).

So next time you're faced with an obstacle, remember: this is a challenge. You can win this game.

And when you do win, treat yourself. Go get a milkshake, have a small vacation, spend some time with your cat.

It's guaranteed to get you motivated and keep you there.

​Conclusion

Thanks for reading!

Motivation is the great driver of human action. A person who commands their motivation also commands their destiny.

By controlling when we are motivated, we are able to construct the life we long to live. I hope today that I have helped you achieve that life.

​Let me know in the comments: what's your most effective way to get motivated?

Stay awesome. Have a great day.

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Success Is Something You Deserve. Here Are Six Reasons Why

​Success Is Something You Deserve. 

Here Are Six Reasons Why

​​As Martin lay in his bed, his mother leaned over him.

"I wish you were dead."

While anyone, most of all Martin, could fault a mother for wishing her son was dead, Martin remembers feeling understanding toward her in that moment.

Understanding and pity.

Martin had been bedridden for a few years at this point. And not only was Martin ​stuck in his bed, he found himself entirely unable to communicate.

In fact, no one even knew Martin was awake.

At the age of 12, Martin developed a disease that baffled all of his doctors. He rapidly lost muscular control, mental acuity, and went into a coma months later.

A few years later, Martin woke up.

But no one knew it.

He couldn't move. He couldn't communicate. Actions that Martin thought were enormous, such as barely moving a finger, were barely perceptible to onlookers.

​For years, Martin was trapped inside his own head: a burden to his parents and caretakers. He described himself simply as being in the way, and when his mother had a death wish, he recalls understanding.

“It broke my heart, in a way,” he said in an interview with Today. “But at the same time, particularly as I worked through all the emotions, I felt only love and compassion for my mother. My mother often felt that she wasn't a good mom and couldn't take care of me. One of the hardest things for me was I couldn't tell her that, ‘No, you are doing great.’” (source).

​In a miracle that sounds like it came out of a movie, Martin emerged from his isolation: once a nurse noticed that he was responsive, he was given the attention and therapy needed for limited movement and communication.

​​Today, Martin has to use a special computer to talk... but he can talk.

And not only can he talk, but Martin became a successful freelance web designer, developer, and a ​​best selling author​.​​​​​​

​Martin was successful because he knew that he deserved success. He overcame horrible scenarios, the worst background imaginable, and still found personal success (oh yeah, did I forget to mention that Martin married ​the spouse of his dreams?).

​And while you probably aren't reading this in a coma, or having ever been in a coma, or having ever been conscious in a coma for nearly a decade, I want you to understand something:

​Just like Martin, ​y​​​ou deserve success​.

​If you just want to get to the meat of this post and only want to hear all about why you deserve success, you can click here.

But if you'll hang with me a minute, I would like to talk about ​the greatest roadblock to your success: negative beliefs.

​​Remember That?

​​As a human, you undoubtedly have a past. I would love to hear that your past is only filled with good things: sunshine, rainbows, and lots of dancing in flower patches on a hillside; but since you're human, that probably didn't happen to you any more than I fought a battle with a Sith Lord while in my penguin PJs.

​Many times, our self beliefs come from things that happened to us in the past; this can even be true if we barely remember the actual event.

Imagine this with me. A child (we're gonna call her Emma) is an an entirely loving, nearly perfect home. Emma's parents play with her, raise her well, and teach her how to be an excellent adult in today's society.

​While Emma's parents are very loving, they are quite poor and never too far from the negative numbers in their bank account. They talk about wealth like they talk about ​being poisoned with ricin: rich people are always greedy, cruel, and worse than most Bond villains.

Would you be surprised to learn that Emma grows up to believe that wealth is evil, to be avoided, and that rich people only make for good movie bad-guys?

While there's nothing particularly wrong with believing that life is superior without much wealth, this example shows how many of our beliefs are formed.

Have you ever had someone say to you:

"You can't..."

"You won't ever..."

"It's not good for you to..."

"You should do it like..."

"Never, ever, ever..."

​Well-meaning parents telling their children that ​they can't​ may have stolen from the world many a star athlete, movie star, astronaut, and genius.​​​

Many beliefs, including the negative ones, may have been instilled at childhood. Others are brought about by experiences.

Let's say that you have been in the dating game for a while. A long while.

In fact, you've been searching for so long that you're right on the brink of giving up.

Last night, as you were waiting on a text back (which may not have come), you began to question: "What if I just can't find anyone for me?"

Not you? Let's try again.

You're at your job, frustrated you aren't moving higher up. You aren't feeling accomplished. ​Despising your morning alarm, you think "Maybe I'm just not meant to be happy."

You and your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse​ keep coming back to one argument. You begin to think "I've done all I can, but maybe ​​I just can't have good relationships with people."

Life hits you with ​another​ curveball you didn't see coming. It's financial stress, emotional weight, family problems, pick your poison.​​​ Sullen and hurting, you begin to say to yourself "I'm just not someone who life works out for."

Whether these beliefs come from what you were taught or what you experienced, we all believe something negative about ourselves.

​You are not alone​.

These limiting beliefs are deadly to our happiness and to our success.​​​

​​How To Find Your Limiting Beliefs

The first step in eliminating a problem is to figure out what the actual problem is and, like I often am, you may find yourself surprised at exactly how nasty your self-talk is.

Try this: say "I don't deserve success because..." and finish the sentence.​

​If you had more than one thing pop into your head, well, you're probably like the rest of us. The goal here is volume. Think of (and preferably write down) as many of these thoughts as possible.

Other prompts are easy to come up with and any of these below will work.

"I don't deserve good relationships because..."

"I shouldn't have happiness because..."

"I'm a financial failure because..."

​"I'll never have the body I want because..."

"My mind/life/personality will never be right because..."

"I'm not worthy of _________ because..."

Feel free to create your own. Your objective here is not to find one or two things that are really working you over, but to think of as many limiting beliefs as possible.

​Again, I encourage you to write these, stick them on a mirror, wall, vision board, or another place you're going to look at often.

​And spend every single day proving these beliefs wrong​.​​​​​​

Why? Because success is something you deserve.

Here's why.

​​​​​Fire Up ​Your Super Powers

​​Rejected. Again.

​While Joanne hadn't quite collected a Tim Ferriss sized rejection list (25 publishers rejected his first novel, The 4-Hour Workweek), she was hurting due to her​ ​only 12 rejection letters.

Not only that, but she was about as close as a person could get without actually being homeless. Her mother was dead, ​her marriage was shattered, and Joanne could barely afford to buy food for her and her daughter.

But Joanne had a passion surpassing almost all her other desires.

​She was a writer. Stories were her love and her joy. Ever since she was a child writing tales of bunnies and their friends, she had wanted to grow up to be a author; a creator of wonderful fantasies, people, and places.

Her manuscript was finally accepted after one publisher's daughter wanted to read more than the first few chapters, but it turns out that even Joanne's name wasn't good enough: the publisher highly recommended a pen name, as boys were ​less likely to buy books written by a woman.

Taking an initial from her grandmother's name, J.K. Rowling was born.

You probably know the rest of this story, but her Harry Potter franchise became such a powerhouse that it turned Rowling into one of only 1500 billionaires worldwide​, and the first billionaire to be a female author.

Her books are so popular that they are some of the most stolen worldwide. (source), often competing with books such as the Bible to grab the number one spot. (source).

How did the poor single mother Joanne go from the verge of suicide to worldwide bestselling author?

She unleashed her super powers.

​Passion is the closest thing to a super power that you and I have​.

While I never recommend people start businesses based on their passions (a tip from MJ DeMarco's book The Millionaire Fastlane)​​​, following your passions for other purposes is extremely sensible.

In fact, you'll probably never be happy if you don't follow your passions.

​Here's the thing, and it's pretty cool: you're good at something.

I don't have the foggiest of what that thing is, but you're pretty good at it. And if you aren't that good at it yet, you definitely want to be.

Maybe it's something you have always dreamed of but don't know how to do or you haven't found a good time to do it yet.

Maybe it's something that keeps you up at night, unable to fall asleep.

Maybe it's something that you want to see changed.

Nothing sounding right?

Let's make it easy. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

While it may not be in your most effective life to be a princess or an astronaut any more, this makes for a good starting place: what about that lifestyle was so appealing to you?

What did you want to wake up every day doing?

Passions make for bad business advice, but good life advice. If you truly want to be content with your life, you need to find and do something you're passionate about.

When you allow this passion to become a part of your life, you are allowing yourself to accomplish something that you feel is meaningful and that you know will leave a legacy.

​Even if you're in a situation as bad as J.K. Rowling where life has no ups, you don't think you can take more punches, and you're even looking at suicide, I want to encourage you: take a few minutes every day to pursue a passion of yours.

​It may be something simple: you want to learn to sew, to speak a new language, or visit a foreign country.

Take one step today, right now, to get you closer to that goal. Even if it's just saving $5 or downloading an app, start pursuing your passion today.

It's your superpower.

And your passion may never grow into a multi billion dollar book series, but you can definitely use it to change the world, no matter on how small of a scale.

Just think: if everyone changed the world just a little bit for the better every day, we would almost be living in paradise right now.

You deserve success because you have the power to make the world a little bit better from right where you are, no matter your situation or circumstances.

Pursue that passion. Unleash your superpower. Make the world a little bit better today.

You deserve the joy that it will bring you.​​​​​​​​​

​Take One More Big Breath

​The Mona Lisa is, quite literally, priceless.

The world's most famous painting hasn't exchanged hands in quite some time. In fact, the last time it was sold was to King Francis I of France... in 1518.

Due to the fact that the painting is never bought and sold, it ​is impossible to assign an exact price to it. The closest estimation was back in 1962 when the Mona Lisa was given a value of $100 million for insurance purposes.

​Today, the estimated value of the Mona Lisa varies from $620 million (source) to $1.5 billion. (source).

​To give you some perspective on the size of that number, if a person with $1.5 billion were to ​invest his or her money and received only 1% return on investment per year, this person would have about $1,250,000 in monthly income.

But if the Mona Lisa is ​that​ valuable, why ​are we able to go on Amazon or in Walmart and buy a copy for $15?

Value, contrary to popular opinion, is not exactly an arbitrary or random number. ​​​​​​​Value can always be determined by two things: scarcity and exclusivity.

In other words, an item​'s value is determined by how many of this item exist and how different it is from everything else.

The copies of Mona Lisa are, in comparison to the real painting, nearly infinitely worthless. They can be mass produced, photo copied, and have no real distinguishing feature from other mass produced, photo copied ​copies​.

The real Mona Lisa is an item that is fundamentally unable to be replicated. Age cannot be magically disposed onto a painting; nor can any other painting claim to be the original Mona Lisa. No copy of the Mona Lisa can claim the benefit of being the most famous painting in the world​​​; no piece of art carries quite the same weight of exclusivity.

Wondering where I'm going with this? Have you ever heard the saying "no two people are alike"?

​Since value is based upon scarcity and exclusivity, I want to tell you some good news my brothers and sisters: You can take a big, deep breath.

You are valuable.

You are valuable for tons of reasons (chief among them that you're just stinking awesome), but let's analyze you the same way we do a painting, a car, or anything else that is assigned value: through the lens of scarcity and exclusivity.

​To start us off, you're pretty rare. In fact, even if you ha​ve an identical twin, you've still got some genetic differences going on inside. (source).

You aren't able to be replicated (not even by cloning, you nerds reading this) because your experiences ​like your unique parents, school, talents, and desires have all shaped you. We'll talk more about this in just a second.

Since you can't be replicated, you're pretty scarce. In fact, even though there is probably someone who looks ​a lot like you in the world, there's no one who ​is you​ in the world except for, well, you.​​​

You're literally one of a kind. Your DNA says so. That makes you unable to be replicated and, as such, inherently valuable.

But being unique is not quite enough to generate loads of value; while there is no road that is exactly like the one that my grandmother lives on, there's nothing particularly valuable about a dirty, winding, unkept road.

To have a particularly high value, an item must also be exclusive: namely, unlike other items in a useful way.

You are certainly unlike other things on earth: as mentioned before, your past experiences, unique personality, and memories that you keep ensure that you are literally one of a kind.

So how do we be useful?

​I point you back to this section on ​unleashing your inner super power: your passion.

When we pursue goals that are helpful to others and bring joy to our lives, we become a stronger force of good. We become exclusively ourselves as we were meant to be and as we want to be.

​You have value for one reason and one reason alone: ​you are human​.

​While this sounds depressing ("I only have value for ​one​ reason?!") it's actually quite liberating. You do not have to be the greatest athlete, singer, friend, parent, or worker in the world.

It's not a bad thing to ​want​ to be the best (here at Elite Happiness we want to publish the best content on the internet), but the liberating truth is simple:

You don't have to be the best to be valuable.

If you want to increase how valuable others perceive you as, then do something that you enjoy and that is helpful to others.​​​​​​​​​​​ Follow a healthy passion.

You deserve success because you're human. Mistakes and all, nothing else is needed to make you valuable and important.

So take a big, deep breath. Life is good. It's okay. You deserve success because you, faults and all, are uniquely you.

And that is a good thing for the world.

​​The Real Reason You Don't Box With Bears

​Unless you are literally a robot, you've probably had at least one night where worry, stress, anxiety, depression, or racing thoughts kept you up. If you're like the rest of the human race, you have these nights nearly weekly... maybe with a big serving of existential crisis.

What-if scenarios are running rampant, emotions are rolling unbridled; all because your mind is stuck believing one single truth: you have no control over the situation.

Or maybe, even worse, you had control over a situation and you blew it.

Out of these worries​ comes a disturbing phenomenon: without any further evidence being necessary, we begin to believe these negative thoughts.

​And slowly, over time, these negative beliefs become part of who we are; these beliefs become our essence.

Earlier, we spoke a little of these negative beliefs, calling them our "limiting beliefs". And while our previous discussion was quite brief, I now want to dive a little bit further into how we can defeat our limiting beliefs to unlock our success.

​And before I say anything else, I want you to understand one essential truth:

​You are not your thoughts.

This is because there is an interesting occurrence that happens when we are afraid, stressed, or anxious. Our thoughts tend shift in the direction of increasingly bad scenarios and, as such, tend to shift further and further away from situations that are the most likely.

​In idiot-speak? Our emotions and thoughts don't always reflect reality.

In the context of survival, this can be a pretty useful trait. If you're debating whether or not to forage from a bush, see it ruffle, and immediately fear that it may be a lion inside, you can probably find other, more safe bushes to eat from.

​And if that rustling bush ​is​ dangerous,​​​ then you live to forage another day.

​In our modern context, this survival instinct is a bit less useful. If you're going to die after not turning in a work project on time, it's probably about time for you to move on.

In the past, our extremist emotions taught us that we weren't quite good enough to initiate hand to hand combat with bears (to date, only one person has killed a bear without weapons - and he did it by sticking his arm down the bear's throat), but today, these extreme feelings and worst-case-scenario thoughts are the cause of a different feeling.

They cause us to feel insufficient. These long, stressful nights breed the belief that we simply aren't good enough to be happy, accomplish our goals, and live the life of our dreams.

These emotions cause us to believe that we ​can't​ succeed and that we aren't ​destined​ to success.​​​

​​​In the context of fighting wild animals, this can be true. In the pursuit of your dreams, these beliefs are ​absolute lies​!

​You are not your thoughts, your thoughts do not define you, and even if you have a bad past, ​you are able to change​.​​​

​​​​​​You deserve success because your negative thoughts and emotions don't reflect reality. Even though you ​feel​ like you don't deserve success, that is simply not true. Consider it a well-intentioned gift from your parents: you probably won't be trying to fight with any bears, but you ​can​​​​ accomplish what you want in life.​​​

It all starts with a little bit of change.

​​​Can Old Dogs Learn New Tricks?

​From ancient times to our modern world, life has always been in flux. New inventions, whether it be Facebook or fire, ​have always been displacing older, more settled ways of life. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus summed it up nicely when he said that "change is the only constant" in the world we live in.

In many reputable self-help sources today, you will hear the phrase "you are not your past." While an interesting and seemingly wonderful statement to make, it is quite untrue.

​In fact, you are literally nothing but your past.

While some of your past may have been out of your control (such as where you were born, how your parents raised you, how much money you had as a child, etc.), many factors ​were ​in your control (how you decided to perform in school, your career choice, whether or not you read books).

Out of these environments and decisions comes you.

So while saying that "you are not your past" may be​ said with the best of intentions, it is ultimately untrue. And while we all wish that we could change the past, it probably won't be happening unless you​ have a DeLorean and a mad scientist on hand.

​That's the bad news. Are you ready for the good stuff now?

Changing the past is impossible. It simply can't be done.

But changing the future is not only possible, ​it's easy​.

How do we change the future?

We change what we do in the present.​​​

It's brutal honesty time. Ask yourself a question: "If I continue pursuing my happiness and pursuing my dreams the way I am right now, how much closer am I going to be six days, six weeks, six months, and six years from today?"

​​Excuse me one minute while I stop Snapchatting and go move my phone to another room.

As a child, I remember asking my father to play video games with me. A kid of the Atari generation and possessing, at most, a Nintendo 64 almost exclusively used for Mario Kart, he insisted that he could never get used to the multiple buttons on my Xbox controller. As I insisted that practice made perfect (and that he should practice with me), he often said a line that haunts me to this day.

With a sad smile, he would say, "Son, an old dog can't learn new tricks."

Even now, typing ​that sentence makes me grimace and cringe; whoever said those words didn't love their dog very much.

If you are stuck in life, feeling trapped, and not even inching towards your dreams (or going backwards?) perhaps it's time to try something new. Give up a little TV time to work on your dream, delete social media from your phone (yes, you can live without it) to spend more time with your family, or cut out some ​sugary delights to drop those few extra pounds you've been making excuses for.

The best change I ever made was that I stopped having "zero days", a term made popular in this post on Reddit (WARNING: lots of swearing). A zero day is a day where you accomplish absolutely nothing. As the author of the extremely influential post says (lightly edited for language):

"Didn't do anything all day and it's 11:58 PM? Write one sentence. One pushup. Read one page of that chapter. One. Because one is non zero."

You deserve success because even though your decisions have brought you to where you are right now, you can always change your future. Start by changing your present.

Perhaps it's less "old dogs can't learn new tricks" and more "it's never too late to mend."

​Dinklebergs And The Pursuit Of Happiness

​In the Nickelodean show ​Fairly Odd Parents​, the main character's father, Mr. Turner, has a problem.

His neighbors are the worst people on the entire planet.

What do they do that's so evil?

Well, they have nice cars, a beautiful home, a well-kept yard, and never experienced the financial burden of having a child.

​The Dinklebergs are, to the dismay of their protagonist neighbors, the best at pretty much everything. They have better fighting robots, financial ease, and an undeniably green thumb.

For the entirety of the show, Mr. Turner is flamingly jealous of his neighbors, having no way to one-up them. This is the case until one tiny episode swept ​through TV sets ​across the nation: while ranting against his possession heavy neighbors, Mr. Turner lovingly tells his son, "You are the one thing the Dinklebergs don't have."

The constant connection of our modern world forces us to be in eternal comparison mode. Every tweet, post, or picture is maximized for likes. Each update is intended to one-up our friends, family, and people who we will never ever meet.

​We dive into the world on our phones and the mental voices in our head are quietly screaming "I ​need​ that like, I ​need​ that follow, I ​need​ that share, I ​need to be valued​."​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

The horrible dichotomy of social media is one where you either create a fake life for yourself online or you share your true feelings ("I've had a horrible day today) and get called attention seeking.

Sound familiar?

We surround ourselves with Dinklebergs. We compete on our salaries, our boyfriends/girlfriends/husbands/wives, our follower counts, and how fantastic we can make our lives look.

We spend our whole lives trying to compete with the Joneses only to find that the Joneses aren't much worth competing with.

It is not until we stop looking at what we don't have (that nice new car, a big salary, a wonderful vacation multiple times a year to exotic locations) and start looking at the things we do have that we can be happy.

If I could offer one piece of advice to someone to maximize their happiness in life, it would be to stop looking at the strengths of others and start looking at their own strengths.

There's no need to be upset over your neighbor's many possessions when you have the thing that they don't: love and legacy.

While this may sound wonderful and rosy (and it really is good news), it can be difficult to implement in practice. After being trained for years to live a life of comparison, it can be a difficult habit to break. 

Here are some practical tips on how to stop comparing yourself and be happier.

​1) ​Set Your Own Goals

​​​You know what would make me really, really hate my life?

​Owning a big home, having a cushy job in an office working 40+ hour weeks, being married to someone slightly above average, and having 2.5 kids.

The "American Dream" is, for me, more of a nightmare.

Understand this: you are the only person who knows what will make you happy. Don't allow others to set the standard for your life. If you don't want the same things other people want, ​that is perfectly fine​.

Good for you.

Set your own goals, set your own dreams, and pursue them wholeheartedly.

And whether you and I meet at a dinner party in your mansion or bump into each other on a bus in Costa Rica, we'll both know that we didn't settle with what others expected for our lives.​​​

​2) ​Stop Filling Your Weaknesses And Start Maximizing Your Strengths

​It's easy to look at our coworkers, friends, family, or people we barely know and think "Wow, I wish I had all that they do! I wish I had their money/talent/fame/etc."

But you have one thing that no one else will never have:

You.

Remember earlier when we talked about value? You are valuable because you are human. And because you're unique, you have talents, gifts, and passions.

There will always be others who have more money, more fame, more X, Y, and Z, but there will never be anyone else who can be in your exact situation and thrive like you can.

Stop looking at what you don't have and start maximizing what you do. Use your unique talents and passions to increase your impact on your situation and live happily knowing that you have lived in a way which others only hope to do:

You have made a visible impact on the world around you.​​​

​3) ​Avoid Your Triggers

​Whatever inspires the feeling of you being insufficient or not good enough needs to be immediately eliminated in your life. Do not allow these feelings to have any purchase on your soul because they are ruining your happiness.

​Learn what causes negative emotions for you and immediately get yourself in a position where you don't have to be around it.

Whether that means kindly changing the subject when your coworker begins talking about his or her dream vacation or getting rid of social media entirely, you will find your life is much improved after you begin avoiding what causes anxiety.

It's no sin to block some people from showing up in your news feed.​​​

​4) ​Remember ​That ​Everything We See Is Exaggerated

​See that person's fancy new boat? Kinda makes you a bit jealous, huh?

Just remember that they now owe $50,000 more dollars than they did before. And, like you, they probably can't really afford that.

We hear of great things without hearing about negative ones because of what is called Survivorship Bias - this rule essentially means that for every person who bought a brand new boat, camper, or other fancy toy, there are thousands like you and me who didn't.

We simply don't hear about them because no one posts to social media or tells their friends that they ​didn't​ buy a boat today.

Remember that all social media (and most of your friends' stories) is an exaggeration of real life. The good stuff is multiplied a hundred times while the bad stuff is swept into a corner.

When seeing stuff that inspires a feeling of jealousy, just remember: you don't know the story behind that item or experience​​​​​​. That camper may be hiding 5 years worth of $1000/month payments or that vacation may only signify another maxed out credit card.

Social media is an exaggeration and the grass is always greener on the other side. Don't fall for that trap.

You deserve success because you success for you is different than what it is for me. That's a good thing.

So stop looking at the Dinklebergs and start pursuing what will really make you happy.

​Deserve​ Is Overrated

​I don't want you to be angry with me.

I have walked you through this entire post without truly telling you the secret to it all:

​Deserve is overrated.

​Don't allow your circumstances, your friends/family/followers, or yourself to tell you what you do or don't deserve.

Just get out there and do it.

You deserve success because you're you. Nothing else is necessary. So stop reading posts on why you deserve success, go out there, and get it done.

Be successful. It doesn't matter what others say or think of your efforts.

Deserve is overrated.

​Conclusion

​​​The fact of the matter is that whoever you are, whatever your circumstances, and no matter what your past looks like, you deserve success.

​So use your superpowers, unleash your value, ignore and crush your negative goals, change into the best version of you, stop comparing yourself to others, and ​just do it​.​​​

​Tell me in the comments below: how have you kept yourself motivated for success?

​Thanks for reading.

Stay awesome. Have a great day.

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If you don't think we publish the best content on the internet, we don't ​think we deserve to get to know someone as great as you.

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Audible Review: Is This Famous Audiobook Seller Really Worth It?

​​Audible Review: Is This Famous

Audiobook Service Really Worth It?

​​​​​​​​My alarm clock (meaning my phone) buzzed beside me, rattling my whole nightstand.

It was time.

​Again​.

I showered, got dressed, ate a measly breakfast, and got in the car for my 45 minute commute to work.

​The radio played the same songs that it had played yesterday and the day before.

​And frankly?

I was sick of it all.

My morning routine, my job,​ my life. But the one thing that truly ​irked​ me was something most people wouldn't even bother to consider.

I hated driving 45 minutes to work and back.​​​

Pretty pathetic, huh?

I was tired of the same roads, tired of the same routine. I felt like if I could drive less, I would have more time to spend on my personal development and my own goals.

And even then, I knew that time spent on personal development was time spent on my dream life.

It was time spent on being happy.

Feeling constricted, needing a change in routine (and life), I bought my first audiobook. It was The 4-Hour Work Week​ by best selling author Tim Ferriss.

​I plugged in my aux cord, started listening, and literally overnight, my entire life dynamic changed.

​This will sound extreme, but immediately I was excited to wake up in the mornings. I showered fast, sucked down some breakfast, and was always early to work because ​I loved being in the car​.

​I changed the worst part of my day and the rest of my day followed suit.

Now not only was I listening Monday through Friday on my drove to work, I found myself listening to books on the weekends. I listened while exercising, working around the house, running errands, ​even as I was falling asleep​!

​People all over the world have fallen in love with audiobooks. And if you love to read but don't have the money or time, want ​to devote more to your own self-improvement, or simply want to change the routine, I've written this post to be an honest review of the audiobook giant Audible.

If you're looking for anything in particular, here's a quick table of contents for you.

This Audible review is written for those who may be on the fence about Audible or audiobooks​​​​​​​​​​​​ in general. This company is a powerhouse and a giant (being owned by Amazon) and has gained a ton of ground since I started using it.

But first thing's first: who needs it?​​​

Who Needs ​Audible?

​​​Audible was created for people who want (or need) to read but are unable (or just won't do it).

It is perfect for people who have a reading disorder and find books challenging yet still want the knowledge within.

It is perfect for people who want to fall in love with incredible characters, a beautiful story, and be hooked into an excellent plot, but just don't have the time.

Audible is a masterpiece for those that realize the importance of self-improvement but simply are unable to spend the proper amount of time constructing their dream lives.

If you want to read but don't have the time, need a change in routine but don't know where to go, or desire the knowledge that books contain without actually wanting to ​read​ (there's no shame in not enjoying reading), then Audible was created with you in mind.​​​

If any of these are you, Audible is perfect for you.

​​​What ​​​Audible Does

​​Audible started from the great idea (seriously, it was brilliant) that the company would make reading easier, faster, and more accessible.

How would they do this?

​They would read the book to you​.

Today, the company continues that time honored convenience.​​​

Audible reads books to you.

​And we'll talk more about this later, but Audible is capable of reading ​a lot​ of books to you. Like, a whole lot of books.

​Everything from New York Times Bestsellers to indie mom-and-pop books can be found on Audible. Audible even have their own exclusive books, meaning that some books can ​only be found​ on Audible.

It's perfect to listen in the car, turn on during a run, or even for some great background noise as you clean the house, watch the kids, or do whatever your tasks for the day are.

And most surprisingly of all, having your personal butler read you books doesn't cost​​​​​​ as much as you would think.

My average cost per audiobook is less than $9.88. At less than $10, I actually listen to books less expensively than I read them.

Audible brings the power and joys of knowledge, stories, and lives to you inexpensively in a way that anyone can use.

​The Competition And Audible's Slim Chance Of ​Success

​​​Audible has to compete with a couple of competitors in the audiobook space and everyone should ask one simply question when looking to get any new service: "Is this one the right one for me?"

And the fact of the matter is this: the audiobook space has a lot of players.

Each one claims to be the best at something and tries to accomplish everything, so the odds of one player being better than all the others (no matter how fragile some of them are) is really slim to none.

​While there are many players in the audiobook space, only a few are truly worth considering. Outside of a few large players, other companies are extremely limited in titles (such as only having audiobooks from your local library), narrated solely by volunteers instead of professionals (and thus lowering overall voice actor quality), or only allow you to "rent" books (preventing you from downloading, listening offline, or keeping the title).

Audible's main competitors are Audiobooks Now, Audiobooks.com, and Playster. Let's take a look at each of these.

I've judged each competitor based on the size of their library, the features used, and the price of the service.

​Library