Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jim Valvano Acceptance Speech

On March 4, 1993, Jim Valvano was awarded the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award at the first annual ESPY Awards. Following is his acceptance speech. You can read the full transcript below:

Thank you, Thank you very much. Thank you. That’s the lowest I’ve ever seen Dick Vitale since the owner of the Detroit Pistons called him in and told him he should go into broadcasting.
The I can’t tell you what an honor it is, to even be mentioned in the same breath with Arthur Ashe. This is something I certainly will treasure forever. But, as it was said on the tape, and I also don’t have one of those things going with the cue cards, so I’m going to speak longer than anybody else has spoken tonight. That’s the way it goes. Time is very precious to me. I don’t know how much I have left and I have some things that I would like to say. Hopefully, at the end, I will have said something that will be important to other people too.
But, I can’t help it. Now I’m fighting cancer, everybody knows that. People ask me all the time about how you go through your life and how’s your day, and nothing is changed for me. As Dick said, I’m a very emotional and passionate man. I can’t help it. That’s being the son of Rocco and Angelina Valvano. It comes with the territory. We hug, we kiss, we love. When people say to me how do you get through life or each day, it’s the same thing. To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.
I rode on the plane up today with Mike Krzyzewski, my good friend and wonderful coach. People don’t realize he’s ten times a better person than he is a coach, and we know he’s a great coach. He’s meant a lot to me in these last five or six months with my battle. But when I look at Mike, I think, we competed against each other as players. I coached against him for fifteen years, and I always have to think about what’s important in life to me are these three things. Where you started, where you are and where you’re going to be. Those are the three things that I try to do every day. When I think about getting up and giving a speech, I can’t help it. I have to remember the first speech I ever gave.
I was coaching at Rutgers University, that was my first job, oh that’s wonderful (reaction to applause), and I was the freshman coach. That’s when freshmen played on freshman teams, and I was so fired up about my first job. I see Lou Holtz here. Coach Holtz, who doesn’t like the very first job you had? The very first time you stood in the locker room to give a pep talk. That’s a special place, the locker room, for a coach to give a talk. So my idol as a coach was Vince Lombardi, and I read this book called “Commitment To Excellence” by Vince Lombardi. And in the book, Lombardi talked about the fist time he spoke before his Green Bay Packers team in the locker room, and they were perennial losers. I’m reading this and Lombardi said he was thinking should it be a long talk, or a short talk? But he wanted it to be emotional, so it would be brief. So here’s what I did. Normally you  get in the locker room, I don’t know, twenty-five minutes, a half hour before the team takes the field, you do your little x and o’s, and then you give the great Knute Rockne talk. We all do. Speech number eight-four. You pull them right out, you get ready. You get your squad ready. Well, this is the first one I ever gave and I read this thing. Lombardi, what he said was he didn’t go in, he waited. His team wondering, where is he? Where is this great coach? He’s not there. Ten minutes he’s still not there. Three minutes before they could take the field Lombardi comes in, bangs the door open, and I think you all remember what great presence he had, great presence. He walked in and he walked back and forth, like this, just walked, staring at the players. He said, “All eyes on me.” I’m reading this in this book. I’m getting this picture of Lombardi before his first game and he said “Gentlemen, we will be successful this year, if you can focus on three things, and three things only. Your family, your religion and the Green Bay Packers.” They knocked the walls down and the rest was history. I said, that’s beautiful. I’m going to do that. Your family, your religion and Rutgers basketball. That’s it. I had it. Listen, I’m twenty-one years old. The kids I’m coaching are nineteen, and I’m going to be the greatest coach in the world, the next Lombardi. I’m practicing outside of the locker room and the managers tell me you got to go in. Not yet, not yet, family, religion, Rutgers Basketball. All eyes on me. I got it, I got it. Then finally he said, three minutes, I said fine. True story. I go to knock the doors open just like Lombardi. Boom! They don’t open. I almost broke my arm. Now I was down, the players were looking. Help the coach out, help him out. Now I did like Lombardi, I walked back and forth, and I was going like that with my arm getting the feeling back in it. Finally I said, “Gentlemen, all eyes on me.” These kids wanted to play, they’re nineteen. “Let’s go,” I said. “Gentlemen, we’ll be successful this year if you can focus on three things, and three things only. Your family, your religion and the Green Bay Packers,” I told them. I did that. I remember that. I remember where I came from.
It’s so important to know where you are. I know where I am right now. How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. You have to be willing to work for it.
I talked about my family, my family’s so important. People think I have courage. The courage in my family are my wife Pam, my three daughters, here, Nicole, Jamie, LeeAnn, my mom, who’s right here too. That screen is flashing up there thirty seconds like I care about that screen right now, huh? I got tumors all over my body. I’m worried about some guy in the back going thirty seconds? You got a lot, hey va fa napoli, buddy. You got a lot.
I just got one last thing, I urge all of you, all of you, to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have. To spend each day with some laughter and some thought, to get your emotions going. To be enthusiastic every day and as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great could be accomplished without enthusiasm,” to keep your dreams alive in spite of problems whatever you have. The ability to be able to work hard for your dreams to come true, to become a reality.
Now I look at where I am now and I know what I want to do. What I would like to be able to do is spend whatever time I have left and to give, and maybe, some hope to others. Arthur Ashe Foundation is a wonderful thing, and AIDS, the amount of money pouring in for AIDS is not enough, but is significant. But if I told you it’s ten times the amount that goes in for cancer research. I also told you that five hundred thousand people will die this year of cancer. I also tell you that one in every four will be afflicted with this disease, and yet somehow, we seem to have put it in a little bit of the background. I want to bring it back on the front table. We need your help. I need your help. We need money for research. It may not save my life. It may save my children’s lives. It may save someone you love. And ESPN has been so kind to support me in this endeavor and allow me to announce tonight, that with ESPN’s support, which means what? Their money and their dollars and they’re helping me-we are starting the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. And its motto is “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” That’s what I’m going to try to do every minute that I have left. I will thank God for the day and the moment I have. If you see me, smile and give me a hug. That’s important to me too. But try if you can to support, whether it’s AIDS or the cancer foundation, so that someone else might survive, might prosper and might actually be cured of this dreaded disease. I can’t thank ESPN enough for allowing this to happen. I’m going to work as hard as I can for cancer research and hopefully, maybe, we’ll have some cures and some breakthroughs. I’d like to think, I’m going to fight my brains out to be back here again next year for the Arthur Ashe recipient. I want to give it next year!
I know, I gotta go, I gotta go, and I got one last thing and I said it before, and I want to say it again. Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.
I thank you and God bless you all.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The 'Happiness' Startup: Rules to Live By

Happiness is elusive without balance. I learned that the hard way. As an entrepreneur, I've been fortunate to see financial success but that has little connection to genuine happiness. A famous writer once said, "Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you." In other words, let passion dictate the 86,400 seconds you share with the world each day.
It's a euphoric state of mind. What's a euphoric state of mind? You can't control the outcome, only the process.
Sometimes we wonder through our successes and triumphs -- for whom are we doing this for? And, I have one answer: You're doing it for you.
These are some of the rules I try to live by:
1. UNPLUG: The wired world connected us in wonderful and unimaginable ways, but there's a lot of to be said for the real world. You have to learn to let go. Set aside the phone and the laptop and carve out quality time with the people that really matter to you. At the end of the day, they are the only definition of what's real. Time is actually our greatest virtue. Cherish each of these real moments.
2. KEEP ON LEARNING: At 16, I dropped out of high school -- but I never stopped learning. On the contrary, that's when I learned how to learn. Feeding the brain is a strong component to happiness. Never relax or rest on your laurels; always look for ways to give more than what's expected from you. Challenge yourself. Open your mind and keep it open. And remember: There is nothing you can't do. When others see obstacles, look for opportunities. Dream big. Hustle harder.
3. GIVE BACK: There's a quirky bumper sticker that asks people to "practice random acts of kindness." And there's some truth to this life lesson -- as long as it comes from the heart. It reminds you of the blessings you have and what you should be grateful for, including all the basic things we take for granted. It also allows you to contribute to something greater than yourself. And, whatever you believe in -- a higher power, the law of attraction or just karma, this will further fuel your success.
4. STOP THINKING TOO MUCH: It's alright not to know all the answers. The answers will come to you when you least expect them. Trust your gut. We are complicated creatures. That inexplicable feeling you get sometimes--well, it tends to be right fairly often. Try not to overanalyze it. Some mysterious Inner You is trying to help out by pointing you in the right direction. And, remember, time heals almost everything: give it time. I can summarize this lesson in three simple words, Life Goes On.
5. BE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE: The only person in charge of your happiness is you. You don't own all the problems in the world. Count your blessings, not your problems. Be grateful, because if you're reading this, you're already way ahead of billions others in this world. It doesn't matter if the glass is half empty or half full; the only thing that matters is that you have a glass and your responsible for what you pour into it. On the other hand, don't compare your life to others and don't judge them -- you have no idea what their journey is all about. So when things go wrong, just take a deep breath and then remind yourself of what your greater purpose is. Purpose isn't defined by what you want to achieve but what you want to live for to achieve happiness. It also eliminates all fears. And, if you live a life with purpose, you'll never be bored.
6. RELATIONSHIPS ARE EVERYTHING IN LIFE: You can always improve your connection to your loved ones. They teach us to become better people -- to become the best possible version of ourselves and remind us what's worth fighting for. They are also our biggest fans during our ups and supporters during our down moments. And, if they are family, God had his reasons for picking them -- so don't disappoint him.
7. MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR PAST so it won't disturb your present. Own your mistakes. At the end of the day, every decision you make, even the bad ones, are your responsibility. Nobody wins when you start looking for someone to blame, so stop looking and keep moving. Forward movement is the key. You will have bad days, and more than your fair share of failures. But, it's really about getting back on your feet, dusting yourself off, and getting on with this business of living. That's the Big Secret of Life. You fall down, you get up.
8. WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK OF YOU: is none of your business. Live in such a way, that if someone spoke badly of you, no one would believe it. Don't succumb yourself to a world where you are constantly consumed with always wondering what people think. What matters most -- is what you think of yourself and if your projecting a life that you are proud of. Being invisible and successful is the ultimate power. True recognition is beholden only inside your core, the rest in the end is just temporary noise. Darkness does exist at times, but do not dwell there. Light also exists, from within. Keep it ignited, it wins.
9. BE AUTHENTIC. Too many people try to fake who they really are and that will disappoint you. At the end of the day, it's about who the inner you is and what you contribute to society. Have your filter on. Always surround yourself with people who want you to succeed. That seems simple on the surface, but until you get out there, in the real world, you will discover that most people are rooting for you to fail. Stay away from them. Authenticity is hard to find. But, when you do find it, hold on to it. As someone once said, "Fame is vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wing, but only character endures."
10. FORGIVE. Most people believe in revenge, but I've realized that's just negative energy that precludes happiness. We all run into people in our lives that test us, use us, hurt us or even disappoint us, but revenge doesn't serve a purpose. God's Karma takes care of that, and if your lucky he'll let you watch it whenever that happens. But, focus on letting go and forgiveness. Go as far as, praying for anyone that might have hurt you. At the end of the day, we are all characters of a complicated universe. Why complicate it further by letting vengeance devour your day. If you forgive, you learn and move on. Never regret a single character in your journey. If they weren't part of your destination, they were just preparation.
Ignore the world. Keep doing you. And, eventually it will have no option but to revere what you do best. Life is just a big empty canvas. You create your own art. And, then you decide how to turn into a masterpiece. Close your eyes and think with your soul. Dream Big. Dream of greatness. Dream of what defines happiness. Then figure the path that will lead you there, while knowing the difference you are going to make.

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

50 things I'm going to do today...

I'm making a little list of all the habits I want to build/have built into my life. It's going to evolve into a little book and a PodCast.-Brian Johnson

1. Grow. We’re either growing or dying—either stepping forward into growth or back into safety. My vote: let’s grow. Seize every moment as another opportunity to expand your soul. Grow! Grow! Grow!

2. Dream. In the words of one of my favorite teachers, James Allen:

“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.”
So, what are you dreaming of today?

3. Floss. Not kidding. It’s all about the little things, I’m telling ya! A number of years ago I asked a mentor of mine what one thing he would recommend. His advice: Do the little things to the best of your ability—from putting a sock straight in the hamper to washing your dishes immediately to flossing your teeth. His point: there are no little things and when you get in the habit of living at your highest potential with the mundane things, it becomes second nature for the bigger stuff.

So, floss your teeth. It’ll build strong habits and even make your trip to the dentist a lot more pleasant! (Seriously: it’s fun to have a dentist tell you how good your gums look! :)

4. Breathe. Often. You know—that whole oxygen and carbon dioxide moving through your body thing. It’s a good thing. Seriously.

Stressed? Slow down. Take a deep breath in. Exhale. Ahhhh. Shoulders up! Shoulders down. Breathe in. Breathe out. Now isn’t that nice? I think so, too. So does every cell in your body that you just nourished.

Tip: Ever watch a baby breathe? Notice how their belly just goes up and down? Up and down…now that’s a nice, deep breath—that’s how you want to breathe. It’s called breathing into your diaphragm. Babies get it. Somewhere along the line, stress moved our breath up and up until we were taking shallow breaths and barely getting any air. Eek.

Try this: Put your hand on your belly. Try to keep your chest still while you make your hand on your belly move in and out. Why should you care? Because right there at the bottom of your lungs is where all the real friendly little lung guys hang out waiting to collect the most oxygen for you! (That’s the scientific description.) Seriously, breathe deeply. Increase oxygen. Reduce stress.

5. Smile. Isn’t that nice? It’s amazing what a smile can do. I once read about a study where depressed people were split into two groups—one group looked into a mirror and smiled for 30 minutes a day for 30 days. That’s it. Just looked at themselves and smiled. The other group didn’t. At the end of the study, the smilers were significantly more happy than the other group. Cool, eh? Lesson: smile. Now. Tickle tickle. Gimme a little smile, will ya?!? There ya go! That wasn’t so hard now was it? :)

6. Sweat. You get sweaty today? I hope so. Our bodies were made to move. We, uh, weren’t really designed to be sitting in front of a computer or in a car all day long. Get out and move! When you pump blood through your vessels and air through your lungs, it’s like taking your insides to a car wash. (Even comes with an air freshener…oh, wait…that comes after the shower…)

7. Be Nice. Have you ever heard about the effects of kindness on your brain? Wayne Dyer shares this amazing story in his book “Power of Intention”:

“The positive effect of kindness on the immune system and on the increased production of serotonin in the brain has been proven in research studies. Serotonin is a naturally occurring substance in the body that makes us feel more comfortable, peaceful, and even blissful. In fact, the role of most anti-depressants is to stimulate the production of serotonin chemically, helping to ease depression. Research has shown that a simple act of kindness directed toward another improves the functioning of the immune system and stimulates the production of serotonin in both the recipient of the kindness and the person extending the kindness. Even more amazing is that persons observing the act of kindness have similar beneficial results. Imagine this! Kindness extended, received, or observed beneficially impacts the physical health and feelings of everyone involved!"

That simply blows me away every time I even think about that. God rewards good behavior. So, be nice.

8. Be Grateful. Gratitude. Now that is a powerful emotion. I dare you to be depressed/angry/stressed/whatever while you’re thinking of something for which you’re grateful. It’s impossible. Go ahead. Try it. Ger really upset right now (or just wait till it happens next) then take a moment to step out of that anger/stress/depression to think of three things that make you grateful. Could be the fact that you’re alive, that listening or reading to this now or whatever. Just give yourself the gift of gratitude.

9. Drink Plenty of Water. You drinking water today? Bare minimum is 64 ounces per day—that’s 8 cups. Your body needs water for everything from releasing toxins to maintaining skin health. If you're not drinking enough water, your energy level will drop and you'll be more likely to get headaches.

Your brain and your heart are especially sensitive to even the slightest levels of dehydration. If you don't drink enough water, your blood volume will be affected, requiring your heart to pump harder to circulate blood throughout your body. The chemical and electrical signals in your brain need water. You'll feel tired and lethargic if you're thirsty.

Tip: Drink at least 8 cups of water every day for a week. You'll be surprised with the boost in your energy levels. Trust me.

10. Take Responsibility for Your Life. Are you blaming a bad job, a bad childhood, a bad relationship, or a bad whatever for where you are? Hope not. Cause if you are then you’re not helping your chances of being consistently happy.

11. Meditate. Slow down. Breathe. Quiet your mind and your body for a moment or two or three. Whether it’s for 20 minutes in the morning or night (or both) or 20 seconds at a stop light, take a deep breath in, exhale, clear your mind.

I practice a method of meditation called “Japa” that I highly recommend. One of my favorite teachers, Wayne Dyer, introduced me to the sacred sound of “God” echoed throughout the world’s great traditions. Learn more with his Meditations for Manifesting.

12. Be Here. Now. The present moment. You hear a lot about it. Technically, it’s all we have…one moment…after the next…after the next…You can worry about the future or look back all you want, but at some point we need to consider the fact that life is here, to be lived right now. So, be present.

13. Shower. Hah. My guess is that you’re already doing that one. :) How about this? Next time you jump in, start with freezing cold water (that’ll wake you up!). Then go to warm/hot and alternate it a couple times during your shower. Your blood vessels and capillaries will thank you. The cold—hot—cold combo is like a mini-workout for your circulatory system. (While you’re doing that, you might want to remember the whole idea of gratitude as you appreciate the fact that you’re in the fortunate group of people who actually have the means to even regulate a shower like that!)

14. Turn Off Your TV. (Better yet, never turn it on.) Alright, now guess the average emotion of your average TV viewer. You guess "mild depression"?!? Bingo! And, yikes! Makes sense though, eh? Your soul knows that you’re just avoiding life when you plop down to watch some fictional drama unfold or distract yourself in the myriad of numbing selections. Turn off your TV please and…

15. Open a Book. And read it. Read anything good lately? Hope so. Take some time. It’s fun. Your brain will thank you. Looking for some good picks? Check out thinkarete for some of my favorites.

16. LearnOutLoud. LearnOutLoud? Yep. Audio learning is hot these days. Why waste your time sitting in traffic listening to the same old music or unstimulating talk radio when you could be learning?! It’s amazing how much you can learn in a day when you take advantage of audio learning. One of my best friends turned me on to this and he’ll be turning you and the rest of the world on to it as well. (Thanks, Jon!) Check out LearnOutLoud today and see the crazy cool stuff you can learn. You’ll be glad you did.

17. Pay Your Bills with a Smile. Never let a dollar come in or go out of your hands without gratitude. Thank whoever gave you the money and whoever gave you the services or products you’re paying for. Honor the exchange. Think about how many people you’re supporting as you circulate energy in the form of money. Make it a spiritual practice.

18. Get a Journal. And, use it! Highly recommend you take a moment or two each day to chill with a pen and your paper. It’s an incredible way to think through challenges, express your emotions or plan your life.

19. Ask Yourself: What would I do if I wasn’t afraid? Then, do it.

20. Ask Yourself that Question Again. Then do it again. And again. You do that 10 times and I guarantee you you’ll be a different person. Do it every moment and you’ll be telling your story to the world.

In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Always, always, always, always, always, always, always do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”

 21. Create a New Habit. Right now. What one thing do you know you should be doing that would most dramatically change your life? Think about that: What one thing do you know you should be doing that would most dramatically change your life? OK. Commit to creating that habit. Now.

22. Become Aware. Awareness. It’s really the definition of enlightenment. When you’re aware you’re “awake”—that is, not asleep! You’re not just going through the conditioned moments of your habitual life. You’re consciously creating it. That’s powerful.

23. Step Forward. Abraham Maslow broke it down for us in simple terms. He told us that in any given moment you have two options: you can step forward into growth or you can step back into safety. Pretty simple, really. Become aware of your behavior.

Become aware of the decisions you are making every moment of your life—the decision to speak authentically (step forward into growth) or to say what you think you should say (back into safety). Pay attention to your decision to either go out for the run you promised yourself or to make up an excuse as to why you just can’t do it today.

Become AWARE. Become conscious of who you are, the decisions you’re making, how you’re expressing yourself and what you’re actually doing. Your destiny is shaped by your moment to moment decisions. Choose wisely. Step Forward.

24. Say Yes! Quick exercise: Take a moment and say “No!” out loud right now. Say it. Seriously. “No!” Say it again. “No!” Again. “No. No. No. No. No.”

Thank you. Alright. So, how do you feel?

Now, say “Yes!” “Yes!” “Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!”

Do you notice a slight difference?!? When you say “no” do you feel yourself almost shutting down, collapsing in? How about when you say “Yes!” Do you almost feel your whole body and spirit uplifting?

Amazing, isn’t it? Lesson: Say “Yes!” more today. Go for it. Live a little.

25. Quit Worrying About What Others Think. That’s a big one. Really big. Really really really big. First of all, let’s be clear about one thing: You’re worried about what someone else thinks of you, right? OK. Now, while you’re doing that, what do you think they are worried about? Hah. Exactly. They’re worried about what you think of them. But you’re so busy worrying about what they think of you that you’re not even spending much time thinking about them. (You follow that? ;)

To be honest, whether or not that’s true all the time is irrelevant (although I do think it’s true most of the time). In any case, if you’re going to live your life dependent on the good opinion of others for your happiness then, uh, I’ll put it to you bluntly: You’re screwed.

There’s NO way you can please everyone all the time. Even someone who wins an election by a landslide still had 30 or 40% of the people who disagreed with her.

Further, and I’d say much much much more importantly, by worrying about what other people think of you and working hard to try to please them, you’re losing the essence of who you are—you’re expressing such a small fraction of who you truly are. That’s not cool.

So, quit worrying about what other people think of you. Pretty please.

26. Listen. How many ears do you have? How many mouths? Right. Try that ratio in your listening to speaking would ya? Thanks.

27. Put the Sock Straight in the Hamper. Remember the whole flossing-do-the-little-things-thing? Good. Same thing here. Do the little things the way you know you should. Sock belongs in the hamper.

28. Push Yourself. In the words of William James, the 19th century US philosopher and psychologist, “You have enormous untapped power you'll probably never tap, because most people never run far enough on their first wind to ever find they have a second."

How bout we tap that power? The way to do it? Push yourself a little harder. Let’s take a quick look at the “Training Effect”—a concept used to build your body—and see how it applies to our lives.

The same principle that applies to building muscles in the gym applies to building excellence in our lives: In order to grow, we must consistently push ourselves just a little bit past our current comfort zone. In exercise physiology parlance, this is called the Training Effect. The principles involved?

Overload: You must “overload” your body with more stress than it can currently handle. (Not too much as this may lead to injury, but enough so you're out of your current comfort zone.)

Overcompensation: Your body is smart. It doesn’t like to get its butt kicked. So, what does it do? It overcompensates and repairs itself so that next time it's stronger–and capable of withstanding the level of stress you put on it previously.

The training effect explains how muscles grow, how your heart is trained to beat more efficiently, and how your lungs are trained to distribute oxygen more efficiently. It’s also the same principle that dictates growth in other aspects of our lives: from our ability to give presentations at work to our ability to have challenging conversations with our significant other at home.

Go out and "train." Push yourself a little further today...

29. Move! Take Action! I often imagine a powerful river with a stream of water that is moving. How beautiful is that? How pure and powerful? Contrast that with a little stagnant pool of water just sitting there—not moving. It’s gross. Scum gathering on top, bugs all cruising around. Yuck.

The difference between the two? One’s moving and the other’s not. Lesson: Move!!! Flow!!!

Don’t get stagnant and invite the scum. Especially when you’re stressed and don’t feel like doing anything but laying in bed and moping. That’s EXACTLY when you need to make sure the pond scum doesn’t start to grow! Move move move.

30. Be Authentic. Authenticity. Did you know that the word "authentic" literally means to be your own author. Be you. Don't pretend to be anything else. Pretty please.

31. Stop! Earlier we covered that one habit you should create today that would most beneficially change your life. Now, the question is: What one thing do you know you should stop doing? You might have more than one (I certainly have a few!). But what ONE thing do you know you just simply need to stop doing? It’s not serving you anymore (not that it ever did…). If you want to live with consistent happiness what MUST you stop doing?

You got it? Good. Write it down. Say it outloud. Whatever you gotta do.

Now STOP doing it. Now. Forever. The next time you feel the urge and you feel your habituated self pulling you so strongly toward that behavior. STOP. STOP. STOP. STOP. It might be helpful to replace that old behavior with a new, more positive one.

Say you tend to yell at people you love when you get stressed. Catch yourself doing it (there’s that Awareness again). Pause, then pick something new to do. Maybe smile, take a deep breath or two. Whatever it takes. But the bottom line is simple: pick that one thing you need to stop doing and stop doing it.

Shew. Good work. (This one’s gonna be tough…but do it!!)

32. Act “As If.” I recently read an amazing passage from Wayne Dyer's book, Real Magic. The way he described acting "as if" is genius. My rendition goes something like this: who do you want to be? What's your ideal? Are you enlightened? Are you in perfect physical shape?
Whatever it is, get that image. Then, on a moment-to-moment basis, ACT "AS IF" you already were that person...what would the enlightened being that you are do in this moment of tension? Perhaps breathe in, breathe out, gain perspective and maintain equanimity. Good. Then act like that enlightened person NOW.
How about that perfectly healthy person that you imagine. Good. What would (s)he do right now? What would they eat? How often would they exercise. Perfect. That's what you do now.
Act as if. Moment to moment to moment. And, sooner than you think you won't be acting anymore. How amazingly cool is that?

33. Regain Your Balance. Here’s an exercise I often use to capture the importance of having a clear intention to regain our balance:

Stand up. Put your arms straight out. Make sure you’re in an area that’s big enough so you can spin around. Alright. Now, spin. Give yourself a good 5-10-15 spins. Whatever it takes to get you a little off-balance. Alright. Now once you get there, I want you to stop spinning. Then, I want you to do two different things:

First, I want you to put your hands together like you’re praying and stare at your finger tips—it brings you back to balance AMAZINGLY quickly. Then, I want you to quick staring at your fingertips and instead I want you to look all around you—up, down, far away, to the right, to the left…just look everywhere. Notice how that makes you feel. If you’re like me, it probably makes you wanna barf.

For me, this is a perfect metaphor for having a clear intention in our life. When things get stressful (i.e., we’re “spun around”), we have a couple of options: we can look all around us to get a sense of perspective (which usually leads to more confusion/nausea); or, we can focus on what we know to be true, what our intention in life is, what the purpose of that experience is, etc.—that clarity brings us back to balance as quickly as staring at our fingertips.

So, the next time you’re spinning—have a clear intention: know that your highest intention is to grow as a more enlightened, loving, balanced, growth-oriented human being (or whatever it is for you) and come back to that to re-gain your balance.

Try it out! Methinks you’ll dig it.

34. Go Straight at Your Problems. There’s a great story in Paul Bunyan’s book, Pilgrim’s Progress. It goes something like this: the main character experiences all kinds of challenges and tough situations on his metaphorical spiritual quest in life. The cool part is that he’s blessed with a shield. This shield miraculously protects him against everything in front of him. NOTHING can harm him as long as he approaches it head on. That magic shield works wonders—provided he goes straight at the challenge. If he runs away, he loses its magical powers.

I think that’s amazing. And, so true. Have you ever noticed that those “huge” problems you’ve had seemed to vanish the moment you took em head on? (I mean really head on not vacillating kinda sorta head on!) The things that really kick our ass are the ones we avoid. Lesson: don’t show em our ass! Take em head on. Trust in the powers of your shield.

What problem have you been running away from? Take it head on.

35. Serve. It’s so easy to spend all of our time asking what we can get out of a situation instead of what we can give. I don’t know about you, but I feel stress when I’m just focused on myself. The moment I get out of my own little set of fears/issues and start thinking about how I can serve and give to those around me, my stress seems to evaporate. Amazing.

Try it out. The next time you’re stressed, step back. See how you’re focused on yourself and you may not get what you wanted. Flip the situation around and see how you can give all of yourself to the situation. Irony here, of course, is that when you truly give yourself to the world, you’ll get more than you ever dreamt of in return.

36. Be the Change. What do you want to see in the world? More peace? More love? More kindness? According to Gandhi, the answer is simple: we must be the change we want to see.

You want world peace? Bless the person who cut you off and honked at you on your way to work. Wish them a safe journey instead of getting caught up in their anger and impatience.

You want more kindness? Smile at the person who might be frustrating you. Open the door for someone, pick up a piece of trash. BE kind.

Simple but not easy. Be the Change.

37. Fill Your Water Pot and Hit the Rock. Every great teacher will advise you to build habits and to consistently train yourself to do your best.

The Buddha says it so beautifully when he reminds us that: "Little by little a person becomes evil, as a water pot is filled by drops of water... Little by little a person becomes good, as a water pot is filled by drops of water."
I think the stonecutter is another perfect metaphor for the process of growing into our full potential. You may have heard the story:

A stonecutter hits a rock with his hammer. The stone splits.

The casual observer sees this and thinks, “Wow. That guy is really strong. I can’t believe he broke that huge rock with a single blow!”

The reality (obviously) is that the stonecutter had been hammering away at that rock for a long time. Many, many blows went into the rock before it finally split.

Most people see someone who has achieved some level of success--whether it’s enlightenment or celebrity status--and think, “Wow, they sure must be lucky.”

Obviously, the stonecutter isn’t strong enough to break a rock in one blow and no one is “lucky” enough to reach any level of excellence without an equally diligent and consistent effort.

So, hit the rock. Again. And again. And again. You will break the rock.

38. Be Consistent. One of my favorite lessons from training my body (and helping others train theirs) is the idea that you want to focus on consistency over intensity. It’s not about getting all fired up one day and going off at the gym for an hour and a half…and then waking up the next day unable to move!

It’s much much much much much better to just show up. Put in your 20 minutes, your 30 minutes, your 40 minutes. Whatever. Just do it consistently.
Aristotle made it pretty clear: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence (aka Areté) then, is not an act, but a habit."
This applies to all aspects of our life. Quite simply, we are what we consistently do.
Sure, it's a lot more fun to jump into the latest fad diet or hit the gym for an intense workout once a week or go to a motivational seminar or yoga retreat, but the question is not how intensely we get into any given workout or week of dieting or weekend of's all about whether we have the self-mastery to do the things we know we should be doing consistently--moment to moment and week in and week out.

39. Be Inconsistent. So, now that we’re clear on how important consistency is, BE INCONSISTENT. :)

Well, at least be willing and able to be inconsistent. It’s so easy for us to get locked into a way of thinking or to maintain an opinion simply because we strongly felt a certain way at one point. But, my God! If you can’t break free and give yourself the power to change your mind, your job, your strategy, your relationships, whatever…you, uh, are kinda screwed.

Love Emerson’s comments on the subject: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. - 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' -- Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood."
So, uh, do us all a favor and don’t be a hobgoblin, mmmmk?

40. Embrace Opposites. You know, yin and yang, light and dark, night and day, high tide, low tide, consistency, inconsistency. Stuff like that. Life is full of opposites. Learn to live in a state where you appreciate it and see that you simply can’t have light without dark; you can’t have a day without a night; can’t have a summer without a winter (well, I guess in California you can but you know what I mean!).
The more you appreciate this the less you’re gonna be taken way by your sadness, despair, hopelessness. Transcend it and you’re even more golden…

41. Make Your Room Your Cave. Your bedroom is for two things: sleeping and baby-making. Period. So, get rid of your TV. Remove the clutter. Read somewhere else. (Keep the candles though, that’s a nice touch. :)

42. Support Someone in the Process of Achieving Greatness. Support an artist. An entrepreneur. Anyone and everyone who has enough courage to follow their dreams and try to make them a reality.

Hire a personal trainer. Work with a life coach. Take a yoga class. Go get a massage from a private practitioner. Try acupuncture. Talk to a nutritionist. Support people who have taken the risk to get paid to try to help you improve your life!

Buy a CD from a musician who’s out there living her dream. Go to a show. Care enough to support them!

(And, why not start with a friend of mine? His name’s Rob Costlow. He’s amazing. Since he was a kid, he’s been annoying his piano teachers by adding new endings to Mozart and stuff. (How cool is that?!?) He just released his second incredible album of his solo piano work. It’s amazing stuff. Support him while he works his butt off and takes a huge risk to get paid to do what he loves and share his gifts with the world. Check him out and support him today by going to You’ll be thrilled you did.)

Support an entrepreneur. Whether it’s the local pet store or a guy following his dream to create a company worth creating (like me). I thank God everyday for the amazing group of people who have invested in me. Without their capital, I wouldn’t be typing this and you wouldn’t be reading this. So, support someone today—whether it’s an encouraging email, an introduction to a prospective partner or client or even an investment. Do it. The world needs it!

(Speaking of entrepreneurs worth supporting, check out Jon Bischke, one of my closest friends (and also one of the biggest investors in me and in Zaadz, Inc.) decided to follow his passion to inspire people to reach their potential by encouraging us to seize every opportunity to learn. The guy’s a learning freak. He’s read/listened to nearly everything you can imagine and squeezes unimaginable amounts of time out of his day to feed his brain. He’s on a mission to inspire others to do the same. He’s gotten me hooked and you should be hooked as well. So, check him out, sign up for his newsletter, tell a friend about LearnOutLoud and get to learnin’!)

43. Follow Your Bliss. Those three words capture the message of Joseph Campbell—the amazing mythology guru and mentor to George Lucas who based much of Star Wars on the classic archetypal journeys Campbell discovered.

It’s rather simple. Three words: 1. Follow. 2. Your. 3. Bliss.

Key words: “bliss” and “your.” Not someone else’s idea of your bliss. Not what you think should be your bliss. Not what you think would impress the crowd or appease the family. YOUR bliss. What truly gets you giddy.

Oh yah, “follow” is kinda important as well. Get off your ass and go out there and follow your bliss! (Pretty please. Thank you.)

44. Use a Dictionary. Read a word you don’t know? Stop. Get a dictionary. Open it. (Or use one online…whatever.) Find the word. (Really complicated stuff, so far, eh?) Read the word’s meaning. Make sure you get it. Perhaps even write your new word down. Now, you can either leave the dictionary open or closed. That part’s totally up to you. But, please please please please please expand your mind a bit and use a dictionary! Fancy words appreciate it. So does your intellect.

45. Wear Sunscreen. It’s just a good idea. Plus that commencement address that Baz Lurman adapted into a song was pretty cool. You know—the one that starts with the guy going “Weeeeeaaaaaaaar sunscreen…If I can offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. Whereas the rest of my advice is based on my own meandering experience, sunscreen has been proved by science…”

Love that. (And have always wanted to say that out loud to someone other than myself in my car. :)

46. Quit Comparing Yourself to Others. It’s really a pointless exercise. It automatically creates a strained relationship with whomever you’re comparing yourself—you’ve either gotta be superior or inferior to them, right? Neither is a good basis for a loving relationship.

But, that’s not even the part that bothers me the most. Frankly, I think we’re selling ourselves insanely short when we compare ourselves to others. Even if I'm comparing myself to the greatest people who ever lived that would still be a disservice to my creator. He/She/It created ME—a unique mix of gifts (and wackiness) that is begging for it’s own unique expression.

So, if you need to do any comparison at all—do it with your potential self!

In the words of William Faulkner, “Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
47. Brush Your Teeth. OK. I figure you’ve got that one down already. But how about this: the next time you’re doing it, instead of letting your mind wander for a couple minutes (hasn’t it already done that enough for a day?!?), just stop and look in the mirror. Look in your eyes and simply say “I love me” to yourself.

Kinda freaky? Maybe the first time you do it. But you’ll get over it. Seriously. Do it. “I love me.” Say it again. Mean it. Not a bad way to use your mind for a couple minutes, eh? (I’m telling ya! The little things count!!)

48. Squeeze the Old Keegle. While we’re chillin in the bathroom, we might as well focus on squeezing the keegle. You know, the old “keegle”—that grand muscle of yours that starts and stops the flow of your pee. Squeeze it. Stop your pee. Start it. Stop. Start. Stop. Make a game out of it. See how many times you can do it. Fun stuff. And, you’re getting a great workout that will make your partner happy. Life is good. ;)

49. Stretch. Ahhhhhhhh…Isn’t that nice? Stretch. You know you should. It’s good for you! It doesn’t need to be a full-blown routine (although that’d be great!), just stretch a little every chance you get.

So, stand up. Streeeeeeettttccccchhhhhh. (And breathe and smile while you’re doing it will ya?!)

50. Quit Milking the Cow! She doesn’t like it and neither does your body. Seriously. Dairy simply does NOT belong in your body. Let’s think about this for a moment. Nature makes milk for mommy mammals to give to their offspring. Now, a cow mommy needs the kind of milk that makes its little 50 pound baby a 500 pound grown up in less than year. (Yikes!) That milk has some special needs, wouldn’t you say? It’s just a little bit different than the milk our mommies make for us, eh? So, unless you’re shooting for a crazy growth spurt into a 500 pound cow, why you drinking the stuff?

We won’t even go into all the hormones that are injected into a cow to make her lactate round the clock for months and months…I’ll just say that without a doubt, THE most powerful thing I’ve ever done with my diet is eliminating almost all dairy. My allergies and incessant mucus “miraculously” disappeared. (God I wish we would have known about it when I was a kid so I could have avoided the multiple allergy shots every weak…)

Finally, I really have to ask: Who was the first crazy dood who hopped onto a cow and started sucking? That’s just insane to me. There should be a rule that unless you’re willing to suck straight from a cow’s teet, you don’t get your milk with dinner. (Yah, that was over the line…d’oh.)

btw: Here's a great site on why milk sucks! 

11 Keys To Happiness From Other Cultures

11 Keys To Happiness From Other Cultures

You can hoard all the shot glasses you want on your next trip, but they’re not going to guide you to a higher echelon of personal fulfillment.
Take home a cultural souvenir instead! These 11 habits from other cultures are small changes that could mean big payoffs in your happiness levels. Try one today.

1. Treat yourself
The French are famous for smaller portions, but that doesn’t mean these portions aren’t indulgent. At French breakfast, for example, a single buttery croissant or chocolate brioche replaces our smorgasbord of oatmeal and eggs.
The French have a much lower obesity rate than Americans, partly because they take time to savor small servings of rich, sweet foods. Tomorrow, don’t settle for toast-- grab a few donut holes and let yourself smile on the way to work.

2. Hang out beyond the house
In countries like The Netherlands, friends don’t socialize in the homes of friends. Instead, they meet up to talk in public spaces, like town squares or cafes.


Besides the fact that you won’t have to stress over making your signature crab dip appetizers, hanging out away from home is a happy habit because it makes you available to surprises. When you're chatting in a café, the door is wide open for a new appetizer to jostle your palate or a new friend to join the conversation. Those things are surprises, and surprises are fun.

3. Give a squillo
Nope, it’s not an ancient precursor to the armadillo. An Italian squillo is when, if you’re late to a meeting with someone or you’re just generally thinking about them, you give them a quick phone call and hang up before they answer. It’s like blowing a kiss -- with your iPhone.


We can’t have catch-up talks on the phone during our workday, and carrying a text message conversation gets distracting. Put some European mystery into your keep-in-touch routine by leaving a sweet little missed call to show a friend you’re thinking about her today.

4. Take a gap year (or day)
Deferring college acceptance is much more of a norm in Australia-- a recent survey found that about 15% of Aussie students take a year to travel between high school and university.
Another survey reports that 90% of American students who traveled before starting college said that those adventures influenced their selection of college major. In short, sampling a new way of life changes your priorities and your life path. Don’t have a year to toss to the wind? Spend a weekend volunteering at a soup kitchen for a mini culture shock that will reset your worldview.

5. Eat late
A number of cultures embrace late dinner times. In Argentina, for example, it’s totally normal to eat the evening meal at 11 p.m.
This habit seriously help curb pesky pangs of guilt for night owls like the Argentines. If you fuel up right before hitting the bars or hitting the books, you’ll feel a lot less munchy when your late night comes to an end. And less munchies means less overeating, which means less regret, which means a fresher start in the morning.

6. Inspect with respect
Travelers marvel at one Japanese custom more than others: Apparently, when you hand a Japanese acquaintance a business card, your new friend will “inspect” and fawn over that tiny square of paper as if it’s pure gold. They’re giving you their culture’s sign of respect.

japan business card

In a society where we network at lightening speed, it can be challenging for relationships to feel genuine. Whipping out your magnifying glass isn’t necessary, but try lingering an extra moment to show people you truly appreciate their extensions of friendship, whether that extension was a business card or a verbal compliment. You’ll be impressed how such a small exchange can grow your relationship by leaps and bounds.

7. Live near your family (physically or virtually)
Moving away for college isn’t as much of a “thing” for many cultures, and young European and Asian adults often live with their families long past the age when American kids leave. Many stick around into adulthood, setting up their own households in the same neighborhoods as their parents.
America loves independence, and that’s great. But your family provides support, which gives you confidence, which will more speedily grow you into that independent individual you want to be. There’s something to be said for living nearby to soak up your family’s love and give some in return. But if you must move out (and let’s face it, you do), prioritize Skype sessions-- they’ll pay off more than you know.

8. Take a real vacation
German employees often peace out for an entire month each year-- companies are mandated to give them 34 paid vacation days. While we aren’t necessarily allowed so much time off, muster up the guts to completely leave your work world behind for a week of digital detox.


Hardcore co-workers might criticize your lack of participation in conference calls or projects while you’re gone. But a weeklong spurt of mental blankness will bring you back much more productive, fresher, and happier than if you had stayed semi-connected during a quicker trip.

9. Have an after-dinner sobremesa
There’s not even a word for this in English, but a sobremesa is the cluster of hours (seriously, hours) that Spanish people spend talking ‘round the dinner table after finishing their meal. Nobody’s shoveling food into their mouths, and nobody’s off doing the dishes. It’s just you, the tablecloth and a forced segment of utter downtime.
Try staying seated for just an extra 30 minutes after your next family dinner. You’ll be surprised what old stories come up and old photo albums come out when everyone’s commanded to simply linger instead of commanded to start their homework.

10. Walk
Whether it’s the French or the Swiss, the general consensus is that Europeans walk a lot more than we do and are thus a lot calmer and healthier than we are.


Yes, their cities are typically smaller and easier to maneuver without a car. But the benefits of walking are in the walking, not in getting to your destination. If going to work on foot isn’t feasible for you, reap walking’s benefits by taking a neighborhood stroll with a pal. You’ll get a zing of happy when you discover a new café down that random side street or a new quirk in her personality.

11. Do the siesta
It’s not practiced as much anymore, but many stores in Spain actually close and some people in Spain actually nap during the hours of two and five. The way to beat the three o’clock slump is to escape three o’clock altogether!
You can easily tailor Spain’s siesta to your American work schedule. Take a 15-minute catnap (which is, scientifically, all you need), zen out to a few songs at your desk, or simply close your laptop like a churro man closes his shop. When you snap back from your reverie, the next block of office hours will feel like a whole new day.

Next time you travel, be on the lookout for cultural norms that aren't quite the same as the ones at home. Before brushing these habits off, consider adding them to your collection of cultural souvenirs!

Life's Little Instructions

Sing in the shower.
Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.
Watch a sunrise at least once a year.
Leave the toilet seat in the down position.
Never refuse homemade brownies.
Strive for excellence, not perfection.
Plant a tree on your birthday.
Learn 3 clean jokes.
Return borrowed vehicles with the gas tank full.
Compliment 3 people every day.
Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them.
Leave everything a little better than you found it.
Keep it simple.
Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures.
Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
Floss your teeth.
Ask for a raise when you think you've earned it.
Overtip breakfast waitresses.
Be forgiving of yourself and others.
Say, "Thank you" a lot.
Say, "Please" a lot.
Avoid negative people.
Buy whatever kids are selling on card tables in their front yards.
Wear polished shoes.
Remember other people's birthdays.
Commit yourself to constant improvement.
Carry jumper cables in your truck.
Have a firm handshake.
Send lots of Valentine cards.
Sign them, "Someone who thinks you're terrific."
Look people in the eye.
Be the first to say hello.
Use the good silver.
Return all things you borrow.
Make new friends, but cherish the old ones.
Keep a few secrets.
Sing in a choir.
Plant flowers every spring.
Have a dog. <Or cat :)>
Always accept an outstretched hand.
Stop blaming others.
Take responsibility for every area of your life.
Wave at kids on school busses.
Be there when people need you.
Feed a stranger's expired parking meter.
Don't expect life to be fair.
Never underestimate the power of love.
Drink champagne for no reason at all.
Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation.
Don't be afraid to say, "I made a mistake."
Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know."
Compliment even small improvements.
Keep your promises no matter what.
Marry for love.
Rekindle old friendships.
Count your blessings.
Call your mother.
by H. Jackson Brown Jr.