Henry Ford was the worlds first self-made billionaire

How to Think Like the Most Successful People in History

What do you really want out of life? Like what do you really really want?

Take a second to think about that.

Now I have a questions for you.

Why don’t you have it now? And why are you not trying to obtain it now?

Is it because you have self limiting beliefs about yourself?

The first step in getting exactly what you want out of life is knowing exactly what it is that you want. That’s easy.

The second step is knowing that you can have it. Now that can be harder concept for some people.

Have you ever said any of these things to yourself?

I am not…
I cannot…
I can’t learn…
I don’t know…
I live where it isn’t…

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln never went to college. The same goes for Henry Ford.

And no one had flown before the Wright brothers did.

It’s hard for us to imagine this because air travel is so common now, but there was a time a little over 100 years ago where traveling through the air was defined as “impossible.” But the Wright brothers proceeded with their plans anyway.

first-flight2 wright brothers

The Wright Brothers and the first flight

There were plenty of opportunities throughout history for these three people to have limiting thoughts about themselves, thankfully they didn’t.

Just imagine what you could do or give to the world if you stopped limiting how you think of yourself.

Maybe you just want to take a year and travel the world. Maybe you want to start a small business for yourself. Maybe you want to learn a new language. Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds.

I’m sure all of the things you want are a lot easier to obtain than it was to become president, become the worlds first self-made billionaire, or create the first airplane.

So why do you still create barriers for yourself?

The other night Lana and I were at an event for VCs and software developers. Now Lana and I are pretty much virgins in that industry. We didn’t know anyone there, we can’t write code, nor do we know anyone who can. But we do have a desire to learn more about developing software.

When you are in that position, in a room surrounded by people who know more than you in a given field, and who have done more than you in that field, you almost can’t help but feel small.

I spoke to the head of biz dev at a software company at the event. He was open to talk to me at first, up until the point when he asked me “what have you built?” My reply was: nothing, I only have ideas.

After my reply, the look on his face and his attitude became extremely familiar.

I had seen it before many times.

You see, two years ago, I remember Lana and I talking to many people about our plan of buying our first house together. We had no stable employment history, no W-2s, and the market was taking a nose dive.

Most people in the industry didn’t want to talk to rookies like us at this time.

That didn’t stop us though, we approached many of them.

I remember, whether it was a bank that I was asking a loan from, or a real estate agent who I asking for any deals they had, after talking about my goals, everyone always asked me the same question: “what have you done so far?” and my answer was always the same: nothing yet.

It makes you feel small and insecure when you just know the other person is thinking that you are a waste of their time. There is nothing they can get out of you – time to end conversation politely, they are thinking.

However, two years ago we had a dream to flip houses, we stuck to that dream, we persevered, we kept an open mind and followed every lead and made every phone call to anyone who could possibly help us get started.

Then, one day, we were introduced to a man. And he had a house to sell us.

Less than two years later we had successfully and profitably flipped two houses.

Seeing the look and attitude of the director of biz dev at the software company was enough to discourage most. But I’ve seen that face before many times. And it no longer scares me. I know what we’re capable of achieving.

All you need is to fix in your sights on exactly what it is you want, and not let any self limiting thoughts enter your head. This is a recipe for achieving anything you want, even if you have zero experience achieving it before.

It’s all about not being afraid to be unreasonable in asking what you want from life. And not taking no for an answer. As my grandfather once told me: “what other people think of me is none of my business.” All that matters is what you think of yourself.

Though perhaps Napolean Hill said it best:

“Every man is what he is because of the dominating thoughts which he allows to occupy his mind.”

How do you think of yourself?

With Love,

Ethan and Lana

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                       Foter / Public domain

cheat day pizza

Cheaters Do Prosper: How to Stick to Your Diet (No Matter How Difficult It Is) by Following This One (Fun) Trick…

Today we want to share a trick with you.

It’s a trick that has allowed Lana and me to get really great results every time we diet.

It’s how to stick to your diet (no matter how difficult it is).

We always wanted to try the raw food diet long term.

The raw food diet is a diet where every single thing you eat is raw. That means no grain products, no dairy, nothing with vinegar, nothing pasteurized.

What’s the purpose for such torture?

Yes, to be honest, it is one of the most difficult diets for your brain to get used to, but once you’re on it, it’s addicting, and the health benefits are amazing.

On the raw food diet, all the food you eat is alive and full of enzymes. Because of this, you body processes the food you eat much more efficiently and you benefit from clear skin, increased immunity, more energy, weight loss, and you build muscle faster when you exercise. Your body heals whatever ails it, be it an injury or an illness.

That's a wrap!

That’s a (raw) wrap

It’s pretty amazing — but only if you can keep it up for an extended period of time, and therein lies the rub.

In the past when we tried this strict diet, we had only been able to keep it up for one week, maximum.

However last summer, we lasted about 5 months, and we credit our long term success to the implementation of one, simple trick.

Trick… or Treat?

Now this trick will work with any very strict diet.

I say very strict diet because when you diet by eating the same food you normally eat, just less of it, or say you stop eating one thing like dessert every night, that isn’t very strict or very difficult.

Now at first, this technique may sound counterintuitive, it may sound lazy, it may even sound like a cop-out, but it works.

Please, reserve your judgement until you have tried it for yourself.

Cheaters Do Prosper

Here is how it works:

On your strict diet, pick one day each week to eat literally anything you want. Ice cream, pizza, pasta, brownies. Whatever it is you absolutely love and crave that day, allow yourself to have it.

Then when you are full, go ahead and have some more.

Whatever that is... I'll take two

Whatever that is… I’ll take two

“That’s no trick,” I can hear you say. “That’s just cheating” or “that’s a cop-out.”

Let me explain why this is not the case.

The cheat day is all about psychology.

Knowing that you are allowed to cheat on your diet makes a huge difference in your long term staying power.

Caving to Cravings vs Calculated Cheating — What’s the Difference?

On your strict diet, there will be days where you really crave your guilty pleasures (say it’s bread and pasta), and your disdain for carrots will grow with every bite you take. This only gets worse over time if your cravings aren’t met.

After all, not all of us are super human.

Here’s the typical extreme diet usually plays out:

Your diet starts out well, you’re pumped, and you maintain your discipline

A few weeks into your diet (or sooner), your cravings for your guilty pleasures get stronger.

All of a sudden, it will begin to seem like pasta and bread is now everywhere you turn:

  • Your office begins throwing pizza parties all the time
  • You get invited to a ton of birthday parties
  • And it seems that every day your German neighbors down the hall are baking their hearty seed bread

Then one day, when you can’t take one more dry, raw, unsalted almond, you cave. You have a couple slices of pizza at your office party, and you fail your diet :(

So what’s the difference between the above scenario and having a planned cheat day?

Psychology.

When you are allowed to cheat once per week, in your mind you are being disciplined. However when you break down on your diet and eat something you shouldn’t, in your mind you have failed. And once you feel like you have failed, you question your ability to continue the diet and most likely the diet will not last much longer at this point.

However, when you know that come Sunday you’ve got a few slices of pizza with your name on them, or a warm brownie with vanilla ice cream on it, your dieting during the week is not as difficult.

I can get used to this diet...

I can get used to this diet…

And after gorging yourself with pizza, pasta, and brownies all day, you will actually look forward to your breakfast of carrots and almonds the next day.

You will be disgusted with yourself for eating what you ate… and that’s great! You will be that much more motivated to get back on track the next day, to eat better, and to give that extra push on the spin bike, or to crank the treadmill up a couple notches on your last few minutes.

The cheat day ends up motivating you to work harder during the week at your diet.

6 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

Having this one day to cheat each week helps you stay sane on your diet. Your diet becomes more tolerable, and you end up staying on your diet longer than expected.

And because of that, you will probably be seeing and feeling the positive results of the diet even more than if you had just quit in one month.

Here’s where it gets even better

Eventually you end up cheating less and less each week.

Why?

Because since you have been thriving on the diet pretty well (thanks to your cheat day), you will be seeing real results at this point, and seeing results will motivate you even more.

Come your cheat day, you may decide you only want two or even just one cheat meal that day. Sometimes you may cheat less (instead of Pizza and a brownie, maybe just a brownie). And some weeks you may skip cheating altogether.

And that’s the beauty of the psychology of the cheat day: Because you know that you can cheat, in your mind you do not feel as deprived. And knowing that you can’t have something, you want it more. Let yourself have it, and it becomes less desirable.

 A Virtuous Circle

What ends up happening is what’s called in economic terms, a virtuous cycle:

  1. Because you are allowed one cheat day per week, the diet doesn’t feel that bad, and you end up staying on the diet longer.
  2. Since you are on the diet longer, you begin to see more and more results.
  3. Seeing more and more results you then feel like you want to cheat less and less.
  4. Seeing the results even more now you end up staying on the diet even longer!

And it just continues…

Results, not Rigidity.

Dieting is about seeing results, bottom line.

I’m much more impressed by the person who stayed on their diet for 4 months, got in great shape, and did it with a handful of cheat days, than I am by the person who stayed on a strict diet for one month only and never cheated at all.

Criticizing the cheat day is like criticizing someone who uses a spotter on their bench press.

No one will say you can’t bench 250 just because you had a spotter help you on the last 3 reps. Of course you still can bench 250. And in fact, because you had the help from the spotter you will be able to make progress much faster than someone without a spotter because you will be able to work with heavier weights and progress faster.

Need a spot? No problem.

Need a spot? No problem.

The cheat day really does help. We stayed on the raw food diet for 5 months in a row last year and saw really great results, and I know that we lasted that long because we had used the cheat day. Some months we cheated less than others, and overall the diet became easier and easier as time went on.

We only stopped the diet because we took a trip to Europe. And no matter how strong willed you are, I don’t recommend skipping the cheese and crepes in France, or beer in London.

Finally, what’s really great about the cheat day is it has allowed us to assimilate the usually extreme raw food diet into our daily lives very comfortably. We now enjoy raw food and all of its wonderful benefits 5 or 6 days per week, with the occasional “cheating” on the weekend. We don’t feel deprived or anti-social (as some may feel on the raw food diet) living this way.

After all, life is about balance, not deprivation.

Much love,

Ethan and Lana

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sunrise

How to Become a Morning Person, or How to Engineer Kick-Ass Mornings, Every Morning, Regardless of Having a Job or Not, and Run Laps Around Your Coworkers and Friends Before They Even Finish Their First Coffee

How to Become a Morning Person

We all want more energy in the morning. We all want to be like those people we see on TV who walk out their door each morning, briefcase in hand, chin up, smiling, just delighted to start the day. We all want more motivation, to feel happier, and to feel good each morning.

The truth is, however, that for a lot of us, mornings can be the most difficult part of the day. We are groggy, we want to sleep longer, it’s cold outside. Ugh.

Being a morning person is something that we all think we are either born as or not. But the truth is, how to become a morning person is something that can be taught. I wasn’t a morning person years ago. I became one after testing and developing a number of easy to form and enjoyable habits each morning. I have distilled them down to the best working techniques and put them into this short guide.

Here’s your guide on how to (finally) become that morning person you always wanted to be.

Night Time is the Right Time

Laying the Groundwork

Before we get into the specifics of the morning, we need to address the evenings. Because the first step to engineering kick-ass mornings starts not in the morning, but rather the night before.

Sleep Time

Having a great morning means you need some “me time” each morning — a set period of time where you tell the world to wait while you take care of yourself first, before you attend to it. And if you have a job or class to run to first thing in the morning, it means you will need to wake up just a tad bit earlier.

I can hear the excuses now.

“But I need my sleep!”

I have two different responses to that.

1)   Go to sleep earlier

2)   Go to sleep at the same time as now and stop complaining

Seriously, stop it. You don’t need that extra 20 minutes of sleep. Being a bit uncomfortable from change will lead to personal growth.

By waking up 20-30 minutes earlier each day and following a solid morning routine, you will be able to take control of the day before it takes control of you.

Also, we all think that we need about 8 hours of sleep each day. While that is the typical average given by health professionals worldwide, it’s not set in stone for everyone. You may function better daily on 7 or 7.5 hours of sleep. Or even 6.5 hours.

Sleeping a full 8 hours, believe it or not, may actually be making you feel groggier each morning, or more tired during the day. You wont know unless you experiment in earnest with different sleep times. Try getting less sleep on purpose for a week (be sure to track the hours) and log how you feel after a week or so.

Develop good “bediquette”

That’s bed+ettiquete, get it?

Electronic devices make strange bedfellows — so don’t ever take your laptop, phone, or tablet into your bed with you. You need to prepare yourself for sleep when it’s time to sleep. Your bed should be a sacred place, made for two things and two things only, for sleeping and… well, something else more fun than sleeping.

The bed is not for:

  • Working
  • Eating
  • Watching tv or movies
  • Talking on the phone or texting
  • Browsing the internet

 

If you want to do these things before bed, sit at a desk, on a couch, at a table. But not in your bed. Ever.

Not in the morning, not at noon, not at night. Never in the bed.

Got it? Good.

Ok, on to the morning.

Say Cheese!

When you first wake up in the morning, when you are still laying in bed, the first thing you should do is get in the habit of forcing a smile. You can read all about the benefits of forcing smiles, including reducing anxiety, boosting your immune system, and looking younger, here. Smiling is going to make you feel better instantly each morning. Get in the habit of putting one on instantly as soon as your alarm goes off.

How do you remember to smile first thing in the morning? Put a note on your bedside table, or anywhere you look first when you wake up, and write, “Smile! 60 Seconds!” on it.

Then, each morning, put on the biggest smile you can make, reaching your cheeks to the sky, engaging your eyes, and breathing in deeply at the same time. It’s not easy at first! Especially if it’s dark and cold and you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. But keep at it. It gets easier the more you do it.

Bring back and hold the smile as often as you can remember throughout the morning as you walk around and get ready for the day.

Make your bed

Making your bed first thing in the morning (not before you get in it at night!), if you don’t do it already, is a habit you need to start. It will bring cleanliness and order to your bedroom, your head, and to your life.

It’s a small step that, if you are not used to, you may not like at first, or find pointless. But getting into the habit of making your bed very well (I’m talking hotel style, folding over the head of the blanket and sheet, tucking all sides under the mattress, fluffing up your pillow) is something that may seem to take a while at first, but with practice you will get better and faster at doing it.

If you walk into your bedroom and see a beautifully made bed, you may be more likely to respect the rest of your room: picking up that magazine off the floor that’s been there for a few weeks, or throwing that t-shirt in the hamper finally. Developing little positive habits like this lead to big positive change in your life.

And don’t forget to smile while making it!

Me time (well, You time)

Next you need a specific Me morning ritual. That is something specific you do each morning that you previously didn’t do because you felt you didn’t have the time every morning.

This part is fun, thinking about what you want to indulge in each morning. Ideally it should be something healthy.

For example, I make a concoction of warm water, fresh squeezed lemon, and cayenne pepper every morning. It’s an alkalizing and cleansing drink. It’s a great way to start the day.

Though depending on the season, sometimes I will switch to drinking tea and sitting outside watching the day begin if it’s nice outside.

Your morning ritual should be something you love and/or something very healthy. Here are some that I suggest:

  • Make a smoothie
  • Make a fresh pressed juice
  • Make fresh cut ginger tea
  • Make a gourmet cup of coffee in a French press

Bottom line, make it something that before you would’ve thought “I’d love to do this but I don’t have time” (remember, you should have more time now that you are waking up 20-30 minutes earlier). It should be something that you actually look forward to each morning. It makes a big difference when you wake up looking forward to something.

Get into an Attitude of Gratitude

Expressing gratitude is one of the easiest and scientifically proven ways to improve your outlook on life. And one of the easiest and effective ways to express gratitude is through writing.

In fact, in a study done at the University of California, it was revealed that when people wrote daily about things they are grateful for, they became more optimistic in life and and actually felt better about their lives. And compared to subjects who were asked to write down sources of aggravation daily, the people who were writing things they were grateful for actually exercised more and had less trips to physicians.

I learned a technique from Noah Kagan of okdork.com to write down three things each morning that I am grateful for. I have since adopted this wonderful process to my morning routine.

I simply keep a notepad and pen on my desk (or in my bag if I’m traveling), and each day I write the date and 3 things I’m grateful for, starting with “I’m so grateful for/that…”

My gratitude from today

My gratitude from today

Somedays you may just be grateful for a cup of tea, or your socks, and some days you may feel more grandiose. Either way, just write what you feel. The benefit of developing this habit cannot be overstated.

Quiet the mind to prepare for the day

Learning to quiet your mind, learning to focus your mind, learning non-attachment is something that every person can benefit from, and in my mind is one of the most important skills for us to develop as humans.

By infusing your day with just a little (or a lot of) mindfulness, you will experience benefits in all aspects of your life, even if you don’t become an enlightened monk (at least right away :) ).

Your mind is like a puppy that needs training. It starts out untrained and needs to be controlled with a leash and brought back to the center, to the owner, when walking. Imagine a puppy that is never trained to walk properly with the owner, eventually it grows so big it is even harder to control later on.

It’s better to train the puppy early, so that later on it will walk by your side without any problems.

Now you might think that your mind is just fine. That is doesn’t wander ever, that you are in control. Well let me ask you this: Have you ever been upset at the outcome of something? Say, you didn’t get a job you wanted? Or a guy or girl didn’t respond the way you had anticipated? Or you dropped your sandwich right after you purchased it?

If so, you probably were upset, sometimes longer than other times. Quieting and training the mind, among other things, teaches you to remain even-keeled, no matter what life throws at you, which is very helpful, because as soon as you walk out the door in the morning, things don’t always go as planned. You may miss the train, you may spill something on your shirt, someone may honk at you or cut you off.

Practicing presence and mindfulness will prevent negative emotions from arising in you in these (or worse) situations, and you will be able to deal with anything that comes at you in a much calmer, more clear-headed manner. Your friends and colleagues will notice a difference in you, and so will you.

Now you don’t have to retreat to the mountains and live off of brown rice and green tea in order to gain control of your mind. The best way to start is by taking just a few minutes each morning and watching your breath.

So how to start? Very simply:

  1. Sit down on the floor
  2. Sit cross legged in what is called the half lotus or full lotus position, with your back straight, and shoulders back (you could potentially sit in any position, but sitting in the half or full lotus will lead to less shifting and fidgeting in the long run compared to sitting any other way — it is designed for sitting for extended periods of time without needing to shift). At first, you may feel the need to move your legs, but after doing it enough times, you can sit without issue.
  3. Use a timer at first; set a timer on your computer or phone for 5 minutes.
  4. Breath deeply into your diaphragm/stomach area.
  5. Some days you can leave your eyes open, just resting them downcast, other days experiment with your eyes closed. It’s good to get used to both.
  6. Follow the feeling of you breath as it comes in and goes out. Focus only on the breath. If your mind wanders, as it naturally will at first (remember the puppy?), just gently come back to your breath.

 

Eventually you will be able to follow your breath for the full 5 minutes.

Do this for 5 minutes each morning. You can slowly add a minute each week as you feel you are making progress.

So when will you begin to notice a benefit to this?

Meditation is like running

If you start running tomorrow (and haven’t exercised in a long time), it will be tough. You will be out of breath and you wont be able to make it very far.

Though if you run every day, you will soon notice that you will have better endurance, better lung capacity, and running wont feel so difficult, in fact it will begin to feel good.

The same goes for meditation, at first it will be difficult, you will fidget, your mind will wander, and you may get frustrated at not being able to sit still and keep your mind still. But with enough practice, over time, all of these problems will fade.

You also wont see the benefits of running right away either. You wont lose weight right away and you wont see any real change in your body for a while. But, with continued running, your body will soon begin to lose weight and you will see the results.

Again, the same goes for meditation. We all hear about how people who meditate think more clearly, have improved mental focus, are calmer, etc. Well these benefits, just like those of the runner, don’t happen on the first day. You need to continue to practice and the results will show.

Starting each day with 5-10 minutes of following your breath is a way to prepare yourself mentally for the day and sharpen your mind at the same time.

Eventually you can do another session in the evening, but for now, focus on the morning and start small.

Dance Party/Morning Song

Make a list of songs that get you feeling good, then download them.

While you are getting dressed in the morning, brushing your teeth, or preparing breakfast, play one of those songs, loudly.

I say one of those songs because when you play music, it’s not easy to be 100% present and focus on the music. Music can be a distraction. If you end up playing music all morning, your mind will not be clear.

Pick one song for the morning, play it while you make breakfast, or when you get out of the shower, or while you brush your teeth. If you have a roommate who might not appreciate your loud music each morning, then put on headphones.

Have yourself a mini dance party as you make breakfast or get dressed. Then, after the song is over. Don’t listen to more music, just continue getting ready for the day.

My current morning songs that I rotate each morning are:

  • How Do U Want It – 2Pac
  • The Sign – Ace of Base

I know, they are totally different songs (what can I say, I have eclectic, if not weird, taste). But it’s whatever gets you going, makes you move, makes you smile. I’ve got a huge list that I can choose from, and it’s important to have many you can rotate, that way your songs will stay fresh longer and you wont burn out on them as easily.

Time to face the day

The morning can be a tough time for many. It’s a time where we are ripped from our oh so precious slumber and have to get up and face the day.

But it doesn’t have to be the toughest part of the day. It can be transformed in to the most beautiful, inspiring, and motivational part of the day.

Other things you can add to your morning is place images that inspire you around you. I, for example, rotate photos of beaches in Thailand and parts of China on my phone. They inspires me to work towards my goals each time I see these photos.

Yangshuo

One of my current iPhone motivation photos, taken in China

You can also place positive quotes on sticky notes around your room.

You can also send a positive message via text to a friend each morning. That always feels good.

Or how about splurge and buy yourself an expensive face or body moisturizer and apply it each morning while you listen to your morning song. Then, each morning will become like a mini spa morning before you start your day!

Also, keep a big smile on your face as often as you can, especially as you walk out the door. Make it a habit to smile at the first person you see each morning, whoever it may be.

All of these things can be added to your morning as well. But starting with the basics mentioned above is where you need to start in order to transform mornings from something you need to get through, into something that you look forward to.

With much love,

Ethan and Lana

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Proactive vs Reactive Smiling: How to reduce anxiety, look younger, and boost your immune system in 120 seconds or less.

How to reduce anxiety, look younger, and boost your immune system in 120 seconds or less with proactive smiling.

Take inventory of your face right now. What is it doing? How are your lips resting? Your cheeks, your eyes.

Odds are your face is expressionless.

Time for a brief experiment.

Smile! You’re not on candid camera…

Now this will only work if you completely follow my instructions. Do not be a Mr. Know-It-All and read ahead, and say that the theory is all you need, and you don’t need to put it into practice because you “get it” already. You must DO IT to fully UNDERSTAND IT. Believe me.

Now, when I say go, I want you to start smiling a big smile, as big as you can make it (I know this might sound silly, but follow along), and then click the link below. Not yet though! Don’t stop smiling until the timer stops. If you feel your cheeks sagging back down to neutral at any point of the timer, smile harder. Reach your cheek muscles to the sky! And don’t forget to breath deeply into your diaphragm when you’re smiling. When the timer stops, come back to this post. Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you to finish.

Ready… set… SMILE! (Don’t worry if it feels silly! Just smile big!) Now click HERE!

Waiting…

Waiting…

Done?

Awesome!

Now take inventory of your mood. How do you feel? Better than when you started reading this post I bet.

The human body is amazing. We think that our emotions work from the inside-out. That is, they develop on the inside (from a happy feeling) and then show on the outside (in the form of a smile).

But what’s also true is that our body language, posture, facial expressions, etc, also affects how we feel on the inside.

Simply smiling can actually make you feel happier. No matter what you are doing, waking up, commuting, or working, putting on a smile and holding it will uplift your mood, and it can actually reduce anxiety too.

In fact, in a study done at the University of Kansas, it was found that just forcing the muscles involved in smiling to contract actually affects your physiology in a positive way. Subjects were instructed to perform stressful tasks while holding a chopstick in their teeth (thus mimicking a real smile), while other subjects were asked to perform the same stressful tasks with no chopstick in their teeth (just a neutral face). When performing the stressful tasks, the subjects holding a “forced” smile had lower heart rates than those who had neutral faces. Just holding that fake smile with your cheeks raised, without even having something to smile about, actually lowers your body’s reaction to stress, thus lowering anxiety.

Are you smiling yet?

Proactive vs. Reactive Smiling

Our smiles usually come and go without us putting any thought or effort into it. When something amuses us, a smile appears.

But smiling consciously, even when there isn’t necessarily something around to make you smile, is a powerful tool to have in your tool chest.

But before we go any further, it’s important you know how to smile. To really benefit from smiling you need to make what’s called a Duchenne smile, where the muscles around the eyes and cheeks are activated, not just the lips. That is how you really can feel the benefits.

How can you actually remember to smile though? If you were to stop reading this now, you will probably go about your day-to-day routine and forget to smile :(

We don’t want that.

With a little work, you can actually make smiling more frequently into a habit. And when you begin to consciously smile more (instead of only smiling when reacting to a stimulus), you begin to develop a great habit for lasting change in your mental attitude, which in turn affects your productivity, your outlook, and your relationships.

So how do we remember to smile more often? Below are a few tips and tricks that I use to help me smile more frequently.

Caution: Do not dismiss these techniques because of their simplicity. You will be surprised at how little things can affect big changes immediately, and downstream, in your life.

Tip 1:

Start by taking a couple sticky notes and simply writing the word “Smile!” on them.

Now stick them:

  • On your bathroom mirror
  • In your wardrobe closet
  • On your bedroom door (as you exit)
  • On your refrigerator
  • In your car

The exact locations can vary but these are areas we all spend time in daily.

Note: I recommend you change the location of these stickies every couple weeks, otherwise the sticky that you notice in the first couple weeks will becomes unnoticeable background and will blend into the wall later on. Change the location often, keep it fresh.

Tip 2:

Put things in your office or bedroom that will make you smile instantly when you look at them. It could be a photo of a super cute puppy or laughing baby, like this one for example:

Now that’s a real smile

Something so insanely-out-of-this-world-cute usually works well.

Or, you could put this guy in your room:

Solar powered dancing monkey

Solar powered dancing monkey

Meet my solar powered dancing monkey. I got him as a gift during the holidays, and I wont lie, at first I thought it was a complete waste of money with no useful purpose. I mean, all it does is move when the sun hits it… there isn’t even an LCD clock readout or anything.

But I placed him in the window anyway, on a cloudy day.

The next day it was sunny, I happened to glance over at the window, and this little guy was shaking his hips like it was nobody’s business. I smiled — instantly. And no joke, I still smile every single time I turn and catch him dancing (it turns out there is a useful purpose for this little guy).

Now you might not find this little primate as amusing as I did, but what I’m trying to say is adding things to your daily life, like the solar powered dancing monkey, or a great photo, or some stickies with reminders on them, will encourage and remind you to smile more often. They will turn smiling into more of a habit, instead of just a response to amusing stimuli.

The benefits go on and on…

Remember how you felt after just 120 seconds of forced smiling? Feeling better is actually just one of many benefits of smiling.

As you read earlier, smiling reduces your bodies response to stress. But did you know that smiling actually makes you look younger? In a 2011 study by Manuel Voelkle published in Psychology and Aging, subjects were asked to guess the age of people’s faces in photos. Some people in the photos were smiling, and others had neutral faces. It turned out that the test subjects guessed the people with smiling faces to be younger than they actually were, while the age of the people with neutral faces was guessed more accurately.

Smiling is also contagious. Smile, and people around you will smile too. People are more attracted to smiling people!

Smiling also releases endorphins, which means lower stress and a boosted immune system.

Damn… there’s a lot hidden in this little facial expression.

I hope you are smiling by now.

All the Small Things

Proactive or conscious smiling is not necessarily a panacea that will cure all of your problems. It wont erase any childhood trauma you may have from your life, it wont wipe out your debt, and it wont find you an apartment outside of your parent’s house. But it will give you a positive boost each time you do it.

I don’t mean to tell you to walk around with a smile all day (that might be a bit strange, not to mention difficult). But where you could apply this for example, is next time you find yourself filled with anxiety thinking about something stressful coming up that you are not looking forward to, or if you are sitting in traffic late for a meeting, try forcing a smile for 60-120 seconds.

I find that deep breathing into your stomach area, while smiling, supercharges any positive feelings that arise.

My favorite time to force a smile is when you first wake up in the morning. While you are sauntering around the hallways between the bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom. It’s amazing how easily any feelings of unease about the day are melted away by forcing a smile for a minute or two.

With enough practice, you will find yourself remembering to smile more often throughout your day (when you are in a good mood or in a bad mood). You will become a proactive smiler, not just a reactive smiler, and you will also begin to notice more things to smile about.

Developing small, positive habits like this, in my opinion, is the way to making lasting positive change in your life. There is no way to create a permanent positive attitude right away. We all want a magic bullet, something that will make us happy, and keep us happy now. But a long lasting positive attitude is something that needs to be worked at and developed, like any skill. And this is achieved through creating and developing small positive habits in your life, like conscious proactive smiling throughout your day.

Smiling yet? Good :)

Much love,

Ethan and Lana

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Profit more by checking your ego at the door. A valuable lesson from a 12 year old.

I was sick yesterday with a variation of a cold or something. Luckily for me it was super short thanks to Lana making cabbage ginger juice, seaweed mushroom soup, and kale salad.

And while I feel much better today, I’d rather lay low and take it easy for just one more day. However, today it’s snowing — really hard.

And that means I’ve got to shovel it.

#sucks

#sucks

Luckily a neighborhood boy came to ring my doorbell and asked if he could shovel the snow from the house. #awesome

But this wasn’t the first time he came by… let’s rewind about one month…

—————–

It’s snowing. I’m healthy as a horse. The doorbell rings. It’s the neighborhood boy.

He starts his pitch:

“Hi, my name is Keith. I live across the street. I was wondering if you’d like me to shovel your driveway and walkways for you?”

After a little back and forth of polite introductions (it was the first time I met him), he said he would do it for $30. I decided it wasn’t worth it because number one, I could do it myself (and in fact enjoy the exercise), and number two, I thought $30 was too high for the size of the job.

I turned the poor kid down, took his number for future reference and didn’t see him again until about one month later.

—————–

Fast forward back to today.

I’m getting over my cold. Little Keith comes to the door, shovel in hand, and the first thing out of his mouth is:

“Hey did you want me to get started on this now?”

I was a bit shocked at his audacity, but I liked it.

“How much?” I asked.

“20 bucks” he said.

I agreed with him on the spot.

Why did I agree? His pricing was right and his timing was right.

As I sat in the comfort of my warm house, listening to the sweet sound of the kid shoveling the snow off my front stairs, I realized there were a few things I could learn from him.

For one thing, what I most admired about him was the fact that:

He replaced his ego for his desire to succeed.

He was rejected once, and he was not afraid to ask again.

Our little man across the street was, you might say, a bit unreasonable, and because of that he succeeded.

Don’t be afraid to ask people for things, even if it seems unreasonable. The worst thing that can happen is you get a no. The best thing that can happen is you get what you want.

But if you don’t ever ask, the worst and best thing that can happen are one and the same, you get nothing.

He also taught me that:

No doesn’t mean never (and your customers don’t even know that when they’re saying “no”)

To be honest (and at the risk of sounding like a jerk to you) when he first came by and I rejected him, I didn’t plan on ever using his services (unless I was out of town I might call him to shovel the property).

But little ol’ Keith knew me better than I knew myself. He knew that no doesn’t mean never.

He was unaware of this but he caught me when I was recovering from a cold, and since I was sick, jackpot for Keith! You never know when your prospects are going to change their mind or when they are going to need you.

Maybe they just got a raise and they don’t mind spending the extra cash.

Bottom line is, you don’t know unless you ask them again.

“Well they will call me if they want me” you might say.

Not true. Sometimes their ego is the problem. Sometime it is too big to call you back, so it’s your job to go and ask them again.

And sometimes they just lost your number.

Either way, ask again.

Another thing I learned from him is:

It’s better to take a little profit, than no profit

Another thing little ol’ Keith did that impressed me was he lowered his price. He knew I didn’t bite at $30 bucks last time, so he tried $20 this time.

Again, this relates to his lack of ego and his drive to succeed.

Obviously you need to make money to justify your operation. If you’re not making much money on a customer, breaking even, or even taking a slight loss, you should abandon them and move onto more profitable customers, right?

Wrong.

When starting out, its OK to take less sometimes.

Sure little Keith could’ve skipped me and went looking for bigger fish with bigger pockets (and bigger driveways), but he wasn’t exactly rolling in the dough yet, so he took what he could get.

If it got to the point where he had to choose between a bigger account and my house, he could decide what to do at that point, to either stop working for me (in which case I may offer him more money because I’m so accustomed to his services by now), or he can begin to hire help and grow his business.

But if he walked around skipping all the houses except for those with the fattest wallets and longest walkways, then he would soon run out of houses within walking distance.

So don’t let your ego prevent you from asking for and taking a lower price sometimes, at least in the short term.

Try a lower price. Find your customer’s sweet spot.

Little Keith was also:

Pitch perfect

No, he wasn’t a singer — but I was impressed by the first words out of his mouth the second time around: “Did you want me to get started on this now?” He changed his typical pitch into an assumptive one. And he made it much easier for me to say yes this way.

Always make it easy for your customers to agree. Don’t offer them a yes/no scenario, offer them an either/or scenario.

Evaluate how you are pitching or closing. Whether its verbal or in writing, see if you can make more assumptive closes and either/or scenarios for your customers to agree to.

Sometimes you’ve been doing something one way so long, like your pitch for example (or any process), that you can’t imagine doing it differently. Occasionally take inventory and reassess some different aspects of your business. Pick an item or two and A/B test the results over the next few weeks. There is always room for improvement.

So next time you go out, shovel in hand, ready to make some money, take a lesson from little Keith, and be sure to take your ego off, before you put your coat on.