Over the past year I have gotten into listening to a bunch of different podcasts. Heck, I even started my own. I remember years ago my friend Rick was always listening to a podcast. I just figured he was a nerd or just locked in on getting better at sales. Either way it wasn't anything that interested me because it seemed boring at the time. Maybe I'm just late to the party. The podcast world is a place where you can get more of whatever you're looking for. Whether it be personal development, pure unfiltered entertainment about just about anything, or something very specific. I guess I could credit the podcast arena with connecting me to The Contractor Fight and the many people I've met over the last year from that organization. I think I was out on a walk one day and was scrolling through and probably typed in "contracting" and The Contractor Fight podcast came up and off I went. Next thing I knew I was learning all about how to be a better contractor. Anyway, it's good stuff and whatever it is you're looking for you can probably find in that area. One of the podcasts I really enjoy is called The School of Greatness. Lewis Howes interviews a guest just about every day and he asks them about their life and talks about the good the bad and the ugly. Today I wanted to share some things that I heard back in February when he was interviewing Matthew McConaughey. I actually took notes which means I viewed it as important. If I remember correctly the podcast was framed around happiness and how to improve your life. I got the bullet points from the show but the thoughts that follow are me expanding on each one.
1. Eliminate bad people. Not literally of course, because that will probably get you in a lot of trouble. Don't get me wrong, there are some people on that list for me (if you see me headed for the Allagash pulling a wood chipper ...nevermind) but I digress. If you think about it there are probably some people in your life that are not a net positive. I've come across guys like this on the job site from time to time. Have you ever had someone in your life that when you ask them "good morning, how are you today?" They launch into a long diatribe about how terrible their life is? You come away feeling drained and puked on. I learned from that, now I just simply say "hi". I have found as I've gotten older that I just don't have the bandwidth for it. Because we all know that nine days out ten you're gonna get the same response from this person. I called them Eyore's. It's probably not nice but in the interest of protecting my own happiness I have to keep people like that at arms length. It doesn't mean I don't wanna help someone, it just means that I'm not going to continue to pour into a bottomless cup when it's clear someone's general persona is to be negative. Anyway, do what you can to remove these people from your life. It's hard when they are close to you but you need to do it. At a minimum you can filter the input. In other words, you have more control than you think. You can control how you respond to the negativity, and you can control how long you subject yourself to it. Being aware of this kind of behavior from a person is a blessing and a curse. Once you're aware of it it seems more prevalent. So if you know that going in, just frame your conversation around more positive things. Keep pulling the train back onto the track. Most of the time the negative person will tire and go find someone else to puke on. Fair enough!
2. Eliminate comparison to others. This is huge. In a world where social media reigns supreme, comparison is the thief of joy. You only have to log onto Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, you name it, to see what everyone else is projecting. You can be whoever (Whoever?WHOMever? crap..) you want on these platforms. No one ever puts a video of their crying miserable child on Facebook. No one ever says "yeah I did a really shitty job at work today, totally mailed it in, I just wasn't feeling it" And you certainly don't get this one, "yeah I've thrown on 20 pounds over the winter and I hate myself". Instead we get filtered photos of fake happiness and images that represent a life people want versus one that they have. So, using any of this stuff as comparison to where you are at in life is literally fantasyland. Compare yourself to where you were yesterday. Look back at your notes from January, your New Year's resolutions, and see where you are lining up with those. Be accountable to yourself, no one else. Because in the end the only person you have to impress is you.
3. Eliminate bad places. Control your environment. Stay out of bars and fast food joints if you are looking to improve your health. Limit your time on social media if you are looking to not be frustrated with everyone else's fake happiness. I turned off the news about a year ago because I just couldn't take it anymore. I flipped it back on during the election season and literally nothing has changed. Both sides still hate one another and no matter who is the president half the country is unhappy. So don't go there, control the inputs. If going somewhere puts you in a bad spot don't go there. Going to camp puts me in a great spot. That's why I'm heading there tomorrow.
4. Stop overthinking your failures. I could write a whole blog about all the things that haven't gone well in my life. I'm the common denominator. But lately, I've been trying to examine all the ways that I've been successful versus dissecting all my failures. I love a good cliché so here's one. The windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror because we are supposed to be looking forward, not backward. No charge for that one. Lol. But seriously, ask yourself how you can replicate your success versus how you can stop having more failures. Something is only a failure if you don't learn from it or if you quit. In my book, you haven't failed yet if you keep on going. You have just tried a bunch of times. You're just not done yet. When I look back at my Ironman races some of my favorite memories are the ones where I had the biggest screw ups. Where I missed my nutrition plan or got off course. Heck my favorite race memory is probably the one where I was lined up to finish seventh overall in a large Half Ironman. I went the wrong way toward the end of the race. I could blame it on the volunteer but it was really my fault. At the end of the race I had to let the Race Director know that I had gone off course and effectively disqualified myself. But that is not what I think of when I remember that race. I remember the feeling of coming back into the bike transition area and only seeing three or four other bikes. I thought something bad happened, I didn't realize I had basically out biked the field. Out on the run I saw all these 6 foot tall 140 pound guys flying along looking at me like I was lost and I thought maybe I had missed a lap somewhere or something. I hadn't, I was running with the big dogs and having the race of my life. So the best race? Or the worst race? Only I can decide what shelf to put that book on.
5. Eliminate instant gratification. This is a big one. Today, if you want something you just go get it. If you want to watch a movie you just flip on Netflix, or VooDoo, Roomba or YooHoo or WHATever. When I was a kid we used to have to go to the video store where they rented VHS tapes. Your big concern was whether or not you rewound the tape before returning it. Now you just press a couple buttons on one of your 27 remote controls and BOOM, you are enjoying your favorite show. We don't have to wait a week to watch the next part of a series, we just binge watch it all in one three week hole of time in our life we will never get back. We can fly anywhere in the country almost instantly, we FaceTime and Zoom and text. If someone doesn't get back to us in .08 seconds we figure they died in a fiery crash somewhere. Yesterday I was sitting at my desk trying to punch out a couple contracts and my phone kept buzzing. It's all important stuff right? But I found with my diminished ability to focus at age 53 that I kept grabbing my phone and then looking back at my computer trying to figure out where I was. Eventually I put the phone on do not disturb and finished my work at the computer in a very short amount of time. And, everybody lived. Lol. That makes me think of the acronym FOMO. Fear of missing out. I think that is quite prevalent in our society today. Everybody has to be part of everything or they feel left out. Don't be afraid to unplug. I'll probably unplug this weekend. I think it's gonna rain most of the weekend but I'm gonna throw a log on the fire and sit back and enjoy myself. A little solo time never hurt anyone. Anyway, I think I got off track on this one but my main point was to fight the cravings for instant results with delayed gratification. Save your money, skip that meal out and make something at home, get to bed early, shut the phone off. I'm doing better with this, during the World Series I decided to turn my bedroom TV on and watch as I fell asleep. I had to reenter all my passwords because I hadn't turned the TV on for so long. I guess that was a good thing.
So I'll leave you with this. Are you happy? Are YOU controlling whether you are or are not? Who are you allowing to impact your happiness? What environments make you happy? How could you reframe how you think about your failures? Do you spend any time thinking about your successes? What could you delay today for more enjoyment tomorrow?
Go forth and conquer my friends. Well, don't conquer my friends, they are good people. Just go conquer.
6. Work on my grammar. 😆
Crush the Day! I'm out!
NOTE: You can listen to
MY podcast at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ordinary-people-doing-extraordinary-things/id1610569915
It's called "Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things". I try to connect with people doing cool things, and people that have done or been through a lot. Check it out and let me know what you think!