Writing Out Your Goals: The Actualization and Evolution of What You Want

I was cleaning out the basement this weekend and I came across a list I made about 3 years ago. It is a “to do before I’m 40” list and I wrote it after I got laid off from my IT management job. I remember the list well because it was my first ever goals list and it looks like:

By 40

  • Record an album
  • Complete a triathlon
  • Own a business
  • Own a house
  • Have $50000 in the bank
  • Own a mountain bike trail
  • Complete a 24 hour mountain bike race by myself
  • Have written two books
  • Be working as a motivational speaker
  • Get a nose job
  • Have a suit made for me
  • Sing in front of other people
  • Bench press 200 pounds
  • Have a six-pack (abs)
  • Drive across Canada
  • Go out East
  • Have a recording studio
  • Have an MA
  • Have invented something
  • Meditate 30 minutes per day 3 times a week

It’s a lofty list with a few very challenging items, a few superficial items, a few status items and a number of fitness/sports goals. When I saw the list I remembered it instantly in spite of the fact that it was in a box in my basement and I hadn’t seen it for three years.

Of particular interest to me are the number of these items that I no longer care about (they aren’t my goals anymore), and the number of items that I have been able to cross off the list.

On the face of it, the few items that I have cleared off the list are fairly modest. But when I think about it more, I realize that many of my peers have similar goals but have not achieved them or are not even working towards them. Even if I didn’t achieve anything else in the last 3 years, I think I have achieved more success than most people have as far as setting a goal and moving towards it because I did achieve some of the things I put my mind to.

But that isn’t the case as this was just the FIRST goals list I made. As I worked towards building my own company (making video game cabinets) I realized that it didn’t really make me very happy – I wasn’t that I wanted my own company, it was that I wanted to work for myself and have my success be determined by my own effort. Given at this was the case, I needed to learn how to sell. Learning how to sell became an item on the next goals list. I also knew that I’d have an easier time being taught how to sell working for an established company vs. learning through trial and error with my own company. “Working as a sales person for an established company” was also put to paper as a goal. I ended up getting a job with GoodLife Fitness Clubs as a membership coordinator; it’s a sales role.

With reference to GoodLife and selling, my goals changed very quickly as I attained more and more of what I put my mind to. It went something like this:

  • Learn the theories of selling – 6 weeks
  • Make a sale – 10 days
  • Achieve my monthly goal – 30 days
  • Lead the team in sales – 75 days
  • Lead the division in sales – 120 days
  • Become a General Manager of a GoodLife Club – 160 days
  • Become a successful manager – did not happen

There was some over lap with these goals – I completed my first sale and achieved my monthly goal when I was still learning the basics of how to sell. The other thing that is interesting is the speed at which I changed my goals – what started off as a desire to prove whether or not I could sell became a desire for a career with a company in about 60 days. Recall that working for GoodLife was not one of the before 40 goals and even the goal of learning how to sell was only tangentially related to anything on that list. There is a sort of evolution with this – what we want can be changed by what we do today, one achievement leads to a desire for other related achievements or to a desire for something completely different.

My failure to become a successful manager was a bit of a disappointment but it was also a huge learning experience. I worked hard to be successful at it and had enjoyed some successes but did not achieve what I viewed as success and after a lot of soul searching I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to. Once I saw the futility of what I was trying to do, I conceded and stepped down allowing someone else to try and make good on what I had hoped to achieve.

The next goals list moved away from leading a team in favor of leading individuals:

  • Become a personal trainer – 4 weeks
  • Help someone start working towards his or her fitness goals – 2 weeks
  • Achieve my first month goal – 2 weeks
  • Sell over $3000 in training – 5 weeks
  • Sell the most on the team – did not happen

Again, there was a goal that I gave up on because I realized that I wasn’t going to be happy working towards it. In fact, I found training people to be one of the hardest things I have ever done, seriously. It takes a special type of person to work one on one with someone to help him or her achieve their goals. The problem was fit. I never had the goal of seeing someone achieve their goal, only to sell training, be a trainer and help people get started. Had I had a better idea of what the job was actually about, I wouldn’t have done it because it’s a long haul thing and not the simple once-off that selling memberships is.

So I left the job, particularly drained, and since I had saved some money I took a month to travel the east coast of Canada and do some camping. I went with my childhood friend Deb who loves traveling. It seemed to make sense to go with her because we had spoken about traveling together before and the opportunity just present itself last May. So that cleared off another couple of goals (one from the first list and one from a fifth or sixth list).

Now what does this all mean? Well, I think it means a bunch of things:

  • That by writing your goals out you make them real
  • Real goals will be achieved more often than imaginary ones
  • Goals will be achieved or changed based on new information
  • Every action you take can impact your desire for things that were never considered before
  • By looking at a list of your goals, you can begin to create a sense of entitlement or, at least, a sense of ability that you can do something
  • You’ll have a better chance of finding yourself doing what you want to do if you figure out what you want to do and working towards it
  • That your desires are based on what you are doing at the moment and less on what you think you want

I encourage everyone to write out their goals and I’m not sure how it goes. When I ask them about it, they say things like “I don’t feel like it” or “it feels really stupid” or “I don’t need to”. But I think that most people don’t do it because they don’t think they have the right to anything better than what they have now. Life is something that is done to them and not something they are willing to take an active role in creating. Life isn’t like for everyone, those who have taken the time to write out their goals tend to be working towards achieving them.

If you want to change your life, change your life and the best way to start is to figure-out what you want to get out of it. Go on, make that goals list!

Look At Me If You Want To Keep My Business

If you want to make me feel ugly, don’t look at me. Avoid making eye contact and look away from me when you are talking to me. The best thing about doing this is that you won’t have to deal with me again. And it’s fair that you don’t look at me, you don’t have to. In fact, it really is the best way to get me to go away, I’m a pretty good single trial learner. I usually won’t come back because I’d rather feel happy than that feeling I get when someone won’t look at me.

The first time I ever told someone that I feel ugly when people won’t look at my face when I’m talking to them, it was to my boss. We were at a company retreat and had just wrapped up a long day of meetings and roll playing. Part of the roll play had been for the entire group to form two circles, one inside the other facing each other and rotate, taking the time to look into each persons eye and think something positive about them. It was a tough exercise because I didn’t know most of the people and found it difficult to think something positive about them. During it, I noticed that some people were not looking at me as I looked at them. In fact, about 10% of the people wouldn’t make eye contact with me at all. At first I thought I understood their issue, it is a difficult task, but as more and more people did it I started to feel kind of crappy. By the end of it I was glad it was over and more than happy to calling it a day.

We all gathered with our respective bosses to have a few drinks and review the day’s progress. When I mentioned to my boss that it made me feel ugly when people wouldn’t make eye contact with me. As a group we discussed it, which gave her the opportunity to reinforce the lesson – look people in the eyes when you talk to them otherwise you have no control over how they perceive the situation. She knew that left to their own devices the situation would be viewed the same way I viewed it, as a negative.

Why would this be the case? Why would I take people not looking at me in a conference as an indication that I was ugly? First off, what is important is that I took it as a negative. It makes sense that I would take it as a negative because there people were deliberately trying to hide their intentions from me. All human beings can cold read others to some degree and the most revealing part of a person is their face. There are more muscles in the face than any other part of the body and the combination of possible movements and positions is enormous. Most of these expressions are meaningless – look at some of the expressions of a young child – but some are universally meaningful – a smile, for example, has a mouth component and an eye component. We can identify someone who is really smiling by looking for a tightening of the muscles around the eyes in an almost squinting position. This is a universal facial expression and studies indicate that people from different countries can identify real smiles and happiness on the faces of people from other countries. Most expressions are like this and we are able to pick up on them almost immediately.

We are pattern-matching creatures so we constantly try to read as many faces as we can to try and interpret the intentions of other people. Our end goal is survival so we are looking for people who have negative or bad intentions. Since the consequence of miss reading ones intentions is harm, we are conditioned to become suspicious of those who do not let us read their faces. My interpretation that others were not looking at me because I was ugly wasn’t necessarily accurate. I was correct in getting a bad feeling from them because they were not letting me read them; I matched a pattern that indicates that someone is trying to prevent me from reading their intentions, a behavior that triggers a negative emotional response to warn me that my survival may be on the line and that I need to avoid these individuals. My belief that they were not looking at me because I was ugly is strong enough to repel me from them thus avoiding the potentially dangerous situation; while it doesn’t necessarily reflect reality, it serves the purpose of removing me from their situation.

It is important to keep in mind here that the emotional system of the body has not adapted to the relative safety that exists in modern society. It is based on conditions that would lead to death if important details were missed when it was critical that the individual be driven to action when certain patterns were matched.

During the discussion with my boss and coworkers about the feelings that were created when someone doesn’t look at me, it became evident that I wasn’t the only person who feels ugly when it happens, but there were others did not feel ugly. My boss, who is a particularly pragmatic individual, admitted that it made her feel unsettled and untrusting of the people, but she did not feel that it had anything to do with her. She believes, and I think correctly, that it revealed more about the character of person who won’t look at you than what they think about you. She and others in the group said that they just couldn’t do business with people who won’t look at them and that they try to avoid these people because they never feel connected to them. What was key was that all of us felt something when people won’t look at us. This type of behavior is important enough a piece of information that we are dialed in to identify it.

If you run a business you BETTER look at me when I’m shopping with you. When you are the seller, you not looking at me doesn’t make me feel ugly, it makes me not trust you. It raises doubt in my mind about you and the value of service that you offer. It makes me question the quality of the products you sell. It makes me think you are a con man because you are not giving me the opportunity to read you. You are, in essence, facilitating the same response in me that the social non-looker does. The difference is, when my money is involved I attribute your actions to some quality you possess vs. some quality that I possess. We are, after all, dealing with something tangible like currency and not esteem.

Secondary Attack – Reworking A Trained Muscle Later That Day

It should come as no surprise to learn that I love to workout with weights. There is something special about the feeling you get when your muscles have been fatigued from a lot of heavy lifting. This feeling is wonderful to me because I feel pain in places I don’t normally feel anything. It’s a strange masochistic awareness that lets me know that there is a lot more of me than what I’m used to knowing.

One of the best ways I’ve found to increase this awareness, to create delayed onset muscle soreness through working out, is to partially retrain a morning body part later on in the day. For example, I train chest, shoulders and back in the mornings and will work legs, arms and abs in the evenings. On a day when I’ve trained back in the morning I’ll sometimes follow DB curls with a few sets of narrow grip pull-ups with the goal of more complete fatigue of the biceps and to retrain the back muscles from the morning workout, I’ll finish off triceps training with dips if I’ve trained my chest earlier in the day. The goal is to complete fatigue both sets of muscles and force a second influx of recovery nutrients into muscles I trained in the morning.

I’ll always try to train biceps in the evening on the days that I train back and triceps on the days I train chest because the morning workout does impact the arm muscles to a fairly large degree. I say this because most people can’t get a good biceps workout when they train them with back. While this is a common split, it is not idea from a biceps growth perspective. The same applies to the triceps and chest split.

With a body part like the traps, after I’ve trained them in the morning, I’ll just pick a trapezius isolation exercise and do it in the evening.

Some people don’t like this approach. They say that it is too high volume and that it will lead to over training. I don’t disagree with them, but it you do it right, it represents a fantastic way to maximize training intensity without having to dramatically increase load. You do need to decrease the volume of exercise in the morning workout, eat more and increase the amount of recovery time before you train the body part again to help avoid overtraining. But this is also true for all high intensity shocks that you employ during your training and it is especially true to training to true failure.

I’d encourage you to give this secondary attack approach a try. It’s going to help you completely drain and fatigue your muscles and it will force a second growth-creating release of repair hormones.

Short Term Weight Management – Fat Burning Phases

The fastest way to lose fat is not a long gradual journey, it is a series of steps, alternating between rapid loss and no change. You will learn discipline and healthy eating by following the long gradual approach that can help you maintain the results once you’ve achieved your goal. I recommend the long gradual approach to everyone because of the lifestyle management and educational opportunities it presents. But if the goal is to get the weight off as quickly as possible, a repeating cycle of 4 weeks of intense exercise and then 1 week of recovery will get you there faster that anything else.

The body adapts to change very quickly and will become more efficient at maintaining a state the longer it is held in that state – doing 45 minutes of cardio three days a week while eating 500 calories fewer per day will achieve the most weight loss during the first few weeks. Soon after, the rate of loss will drop off and then stabilize. This makes sense from a survival point of view because you need the body to function on as much energy as is available in the environment and you need it to adjust to conserve energy when there is a shortage and burn more when there is a surplus.

Intense exercise can be regarded as a shortage of food as you are creating a caloric deficit through motion vs. food restriction; intense exercise also increases the BMR with leads to a further deficit. Just like a real food shortage, the body will adapt over time to function more efficiently with the lower number of calories. The goal of cycling the exercise in 4-week blocks separated by 1 week of rest is to minimize this adaptation and then reset the body to function under normal caloric conditions. This is what will generate the fastest weight loss because it eliminates the body’s powerful ability to adapt to changes in the environment to conserve energy.

It’s also important to remember that the rest week will help to keep your immune system functioning at a normal level. Extended periods of a sustained caloric reduction have been shown to dramatically suppress immune functioning.

I am not advocating that people take this approach to weight loss, I’m just saying that this is what works the fastest. Lifestyle and behavioral modification are the safest and more effective ways to long-term weight management but if you aren’t interested in that, here’s the solution you’ve been looking for.

The Zen Lessons Of Road Rage

Back in October of last year, I read a message board thread titled What Causes Road Rage? …things I hate on the road!

DeanCollins’ response really stuck with me (I’ve edited some of the spelling):

October-9th-2006, 02:29 AM

It starts when the aggressive driver fails to leave early enough to arrive at his/her destination on time, compounded by their unrealistic expectations about making it through traffic lights and being able to drive at a certain speed. They become further aggravated with their expectations that other drivers will behave in a certain manner especially when the aggressive driver tries to influence them. When the other drivers don’t respond to the input, they take it as a personal attack and feel the need to retaliate. These hostilities will escalate exponentially when confronted by another aggressive driver. These are control/out of control issues that cause these aggressive drivers to lack the patience to deal with varying traffic conditions and other driver’s behavior.The remedies are simple. Leave plenty of time for your trip. Expect traffic delays and red lights (it happens every day). Don’t have expectations about other drivers. Don’t try and influence the other drivers by making eye contact, hand gestures, talking, tailgating, retaliating etc…. these are offensive acts that can trigger a defensive act, such as someone firing a gun at you (thousands of people carrying these days). The life you save may be your own.

Dean smacked me in the face by pointing out some of the things that I was doing when I drove. I hadn’t been aware that I felt other people where out to make me late or that the municipality had set up their traffic light system to make sure the lights stopped me every now and then.

Very soon after reading his post an answer to the question “why won’t they get out of my way?” came to me for the first time. They weren’t getting out of my way because they didn’t have anywhere to go, there was only one lane and they had cars in front of them. I don’t drive a fire truck so they don’t have to get out of my way.

So I started giving myself more time to get to where I was going so I could stop needing people to get out of my way just so I could be on time. This really changed my driving environment. It stopped being me against all these other cars and it started being me driving my car. You can imagine how that capped the rage and hostility I felt. It turned out that I had been wrong about other drivers all along. Most of them don’t even consider me in their drive, they see my car and want to avoid hitting it, that’s as far as it goes.

Dean also made me aware that I pick up on other drivers’ intentions when I drive. Most people drive with the intention of getting to their destination safely. These people are easy to identify because you don’t even notice them. They are inside the cars that are driving. The drivers’ whose intention is to get to where they are going faster than what is safe are equally easy to identify, they are the people who are driving the cars. We give them qualities and characteristics, personalities and lives and the fact that we are aware of them at all is an indication that we’ve picked up on something abnormal about their driving.

I’ve learned to put this information to good use to improve my happiness by eliminating some of the manufactured stress associated with driving. There are only two things aggressive drivers want from other drivers. First off, they want them to get out of their way. If they can’t have that then they want to get into an aggressive exchange with a non-compliant driver. Only one of these opinions is reasonable enough for me to go along with so if they want around me and I can make it easier for them I’ll do it. I don’t pull over and stop, the way I would for a cop or an ambulance, but I’ll give them room if they want to pass me, change lanes if it will open a gap for them or wave them by if it’s not going to cause anyone else hardship. Once they pass me I don’t have to think about them anymore. I’ve also dramatically reduced the likelihood that they’ll crash into the back of me because of their tailgating or cause an accident that I’ll be involved it.

Some say that I shouldn’t reward their maladaptive behavior. That letting them get their way will only embolden them but I prefer to look at it as rewarding my pragmatic behavior. I don’t need to invest the cognitive energy to think about them and, frankly, I don’t think they are worth spending any energy on. I don’t know them so I don’t care if they have personality issues that manifest themselves in road rage. I’ll let someone else give them the civics lesson in the form of a beating or a gunshot because I’m in my car trying to get somewhere.

Who Are You Not To Be?

Who are you not to be?

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us,
it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

This appeared in Marianne Williamson’s 1992 book “A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles” and is often missourced to Nelson Mandela’s Inauguration Speech in 1994.

I love this quote because I think many of us have been conditioned to believe that greatness is something for someone else to enjoy. The truth is that we all have talents and there are things that each of us do that others cannot. We should not feel shame for this and trivialize our achievements. We should embrace what we have done and allow our actions to empower others.

Lance Armstrong Story

I like the following quote because it helps me stay focused on my training during the off-season. It is a diary entry by Colombian rider Santiago Botero during the Tour de France one year:

There I am all alone with my bike. I know of only two riders ahead of me as I near the end of the second climb on what most riders consider the third worst mountain stage in the Tour. I say ‘most riders’ because I do not fear mountains.

After all, our country is nothing but mountains. I train year-round in the mountains. I am the national champion from a country that is nothing but mountains. I trail only my teammate, Fernando Escartin, and a Swiss rider. Pantani, one of my rival climbers, and the Gringo Armstrong are in the Peleton about five minutes behind me. I am climbing on such a steep portion of the mountain that if I were to stop pedaling, I will fall backward. Even for a world class climber, this is a painful and slow process. I am in my upright position pedaling at a steady pace willing myself to finish this climb so I can conserve my energy for the final climb of the day. The Kelme team leader radios to me that the Gringo has left the Peleton by himself and that they can no longer see him.

I recall thinking ‘the Gringo cannot catch me by himself’. A short while later, I hear the gears on another bicycle. Within seconds, the Gringo is next to me – riding in the seated position, smiling at me. He was only next to me for a few seconds and he said nothing – he only smiled and then proceeded up the mountain as if he were pedaling downhill. For the next several minutes, I could only think of one thing – his smile. His smile told me everything. I kept thinking that surely he is in as much agony as me, perhaps he was standing and struggling up the mountain as I was and he only sat down to pass me and discourage me. He has to be playing games with me. Not possible. The truth is that his smile said everything that his lips did not. His smile said to me, ‘I was training while you were sleeping, Santiago’. It also said, ‘I won this tour four months ago, while you were deciding what bike frame to use in the Tour. I trained harder than you did, Santiago. I don’t know if I am better than you, but I have outworked you and right now, you cannot do anything about it. Enjoy your ride, Santiago. See you in Paris.

I read this when I’m having a tough time convincing myself that today’s workout will make any difference in the grand scheme of things. I don’t want to know what it’s like to be beaten by a lack of training.

You Just Touched Everyone In Town – Germs At The Gym

I live in a town of about 50000 people. It’s not a big deal except that we are considered a commuter town. We have 3 morning and afternoon/evening trains that bring people to and from Toronto. If you’ve never ridden on a commuter train realize that they are PACKED. It turns out that these trains are a great way to spread illness from Toronto to the surrounding areas and the gathering of so many local people is a fantastic way to make sure the illness gets spread throughout the community.

While I don’t take the train to work I do interact with some of these commuters every day. We touch some of the same stuff each day at the gym, we open the same doors, drink from the same water fountains, lift the same weights and hold the same handles on the cardio machines. Everyone who goes to the gym is exposed to this massive collection of communicable diseases and if they are not careful, they’ll end up infecting themselves with whatever virus happened to contaminate their hand. Of particular concern is any piece of equipment that is used during the workout because the moisture from sweat makes for the ideal conditions to cultivating disease. This is something that is made worse when some one does not clean the equipment after they use it.

My approach to avoiding illness at the gym is fairly simple. I assume that no one cleans anything so if I touch something that I did not clean myself I assume that part of me is dirty. I don’t think this borders on hysteria because everyday I see people pass on washing their hands after going to the bathroom, I see them leave their sweat on the cardio gear and benches and I’ve never see anyone clean an exercise or yoga mat after they were done with it. There is good reason to just assume that everything at the gym has germs on it because at least some of the stuff has germs on it.

How I try to avoid colds when I’m going to the gym:

  • I wash hands before changing and make sure to wash my arms up to the elbows.
  • When I need to wipe or touch my face, I try to use my forearm instead of my hand because I know they are clean and because they don’t come in contact with nearly as much as my hands.
  • Before I use a piece of cardio equipment I will clean it because the person before me probably didn’t.
  • I wash my hands well before I actually go to the bathroom because I don’t want to touch myself down there with dirty gym hands.
  • I wash my hands after I go to the bathroom because it is the polite thing to do.
  • At the end of the workout, I wash my hands before I change because they are probably dirty.
  • When I get home I wash the outside of any water bottles I brought with me.
  • I have a gym pen that doesn’t get used anywhere other than the gym and it never goes near my mouth.

While this may appear to be the todo list of an OCD bodybuilder it serves the single purpose of keeping me healthy so I can go to the gym and keep working out. Getting sick isn’t a very good option because I will lose training time or intensity. Plus, it sucks to be sick. I take these measures to eliminate as much of the risk as I can so I can keep doing what I love.

Just Move, Just Do Something

It’s hard to have a great looking body. It takes a lot of time, focus and sacrifice. People who have great bodies are revered for it because they have worked hard to achieve it. If you want six pack abs, it is going to take you a while to drop the body fat and build the size of the muscles; you are looking at anywhere from 6 to 18 months for someone who is in reasonable shape. It is going to be a lot longer if you are out of shape and dislike exercise. The reality is that only about 5-10% of the population will take the time to build their midsection to the point were they have that revered look, and these numbers drop dramatically for people who are older than 35 because it is harder to attain as you get older.

So what are you going to do about this? Well, my advice is to not care about it. If you really wanted to look like that you would already have taken the necessary steps to get yourself moving towards it. If you don’t, you probably don’t place that high an importance on it. From my experience, looking that way doesn’t bring you any extra happiness – the world doesn’t start treating you any differently just because you have a great body. Your problems don’t go away just because you look better than everyone at the gym. In fact, other than achieving a goal, the process of building a great midsection brought me very little fulfillment or happiness. The difference between a flat midsection and a ripped midsection is the last 20% of getting a great body, the first 80% is getting to a point where you look good. I have noticed that happiness does come to those who work to get a good body. So my guess is that most would be happy to just look better.

Looking better is very easy if you don’t already look good. All it requires is that you do something active. It doesn’t really matter so long as it’s something that you don’t normally do that requires that you move around. Some people like parking their car far away from the door, some like reading the newspaper while walking on a treadmill, some like making multiple trips up and down stairs to achieve a task that could have been accomplished with one well thought-out trip, some will join a gym, while others will take up playing a sports or a musical instrument. It doesn’t really matter what you do, so long as it gets you moving. Moving burns energy that you might normally store as fat and it gives the muscles a workout that they need to grow and remain strong.

A different way to look at it would be to say that if you want to look better, stop doing something that requires you to remain relatively still; television is a good example of an effortless movement-less activity, ordering in dinner instead of making it or spending time playing most video games or surfing the Internet are other examples of low movement activities. Ideally you will be able to liberate some time from ceasing a sedentary activity and fill that time with something that requires that you do a little more activity. You’ll benefit from this change in behavior very quickly.

If your goal is to feel and look better, just start doing something today. It doesn’t have to be much, but it has to be something. Regardless of how small it is, a first step is a first step and it is always the beginning of something new. Remember, it is hard to look great, but it’s easy to look better, just do something.

Happiness Is A Choice – Shortcuts To Happiness

When I got a job working at GoodLife Fitness Clubs they asked me to read a couple of books that the owner felt would make us better at our jobs because they would help us find happiness. One of the books was Happiness Is A Choice” by Barry Neil Kaufman. I read some of it, just enough to pass the test they gave me, but not the whole thing.

Barry knows the people won’t read the book and he says as much when he introduces a very useful section in the book “The 6 Shortcuts to Happiness” – he recommends to anyone who skipped directly to that section that they read the book.

The 6 shortcuts are:

  • Make happiness the priority.
  • Be authentic.
  • Don’t judge.
  • Live in the present.
  • Be grateful.
  • Decide to be happy.

The initial thing I took out of what I read was the fact that most people have been conditioned to believe that they need a reason to be happy and as a consequence constantly seek external factors as a source for their happiness.

This fueled the realization that emotions come from inside me and are controlled by me – if I feel something it is because I have chosen to feel it. Sadness, like happiness, is a decision and I am free to feel it whenever I like. I’m free to manufacture whatever emotional state I like.

This was a very liberating realization.