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Be Happy

The Secret to Survive and Thrive in This Crazy World Is That, There Is No Secret

Wherever we are in the world, we all want the same thing. We all want to survive and thrive. We want to be happy, healthy, and wealthy. Surely, there must be a secret to get to this Eldorado. I’ve got news for you: the secret to survive and thrive in this crazy world is that, there is no secret.

We are living in a world where everybody’s life is on display for all to see. People will generously display on their social media their amazing lifestyle, careers, looks, clothes, six packs, etc, for all to see. There are two ways to react to those picture-perfect images: they can either motivate you to wake up, dress up, show up and do your thing or they can make you feel like a total failure and red with envy.

We have a tendency to describe certain successful people as lucky because they just happened to be born with talent (that eludes the rest of us) and that talent and maybe a certain amount of luck, is what ultimately made them succeed. Certainly, talent and luck play a role, but if we look a little closer, we will find out as Thomas Edison famously said that “success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

Success is an iceberg. What people see on the surface: confidence, wealth, beauty, relationships, seniority, often don’t see what is hiding below: persistence, failure sacrifice, disappointment, good habits, hard work, and dedication. Some people will pay a tremendous amount of money to get access to gurus, life coaches, influencers in order to obtain their secrets. I repeat. The secret to survive and thrive in this crazy world is that, there is no secret.

The secret to survive and thrive …

The secret to survive and thrive in this crazy world is that there is no secret. Photo by Look Studio via freepik.

All the information we need to survive and thrive in this crazy world is already out there. The only skill you need to find this secret is to know how to use a laptop or a smartphone, and then you need the drive to do something with the information you found online. There are two types of people in this world, marathon runners and sprinters.

Marathon runners are those who are curious enough to observe the world they live in; they ask themselves questions and take the time to look for some answers. Once they have the information, they act upon it. Then you have the sprinters who get excited at every shiny object that sparkles in the distance. They are attracted by the prospect of quick success, they start the race without preparation or training, they lose interest quickly because of the lack of preparation and also because they are lagging way behind the experienced sprinters who spent years working on their skill. So, they end up stopping this race early on deciding to wait on the sideline for the next shiny object to present itself in front of them.

Those who survive and thrive have the fortitude, discipline, willpower, and patience to work on the information they have gathered. Every day they wake, up, dress up, show up, and do their things. Those who are struggling are those who complain all the time, think of themselves as victims, they want the rewards without the pain, they lack discipline, patience, and willpower.

“Timing, and perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”

Christopher Isaac, Co-Founder of Twitter.

The secret to survive and thrive in this crazy world is that, there is no secret

The secret to survive and thrive in this crazy world is that there is no secret. Photo by Look Studio via freepik.

We have a tendency to want to take the quickest, easiest path to our goals, we are impatient and want to see results quickly, but remember “there is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.” The best way to cultivate our natural impatience is to cultivate a kind of pleasure in pain – like an athlete, you come to enjoy rigorous practice, pushing past your limits, and resisting the easy way out.

The motivational speaker Les Brown articulated the concept of struggle and adversity pretty well. What he explained in one of his memorable speeches is that one of the greatest tragedies of our time is the way we perceive success:

“We perceive success as the belief that successful people just happened to be successful because they were lucky enough to have been born with some talent and that talent is what got them there, and destiny is what brought them to the finishing line. That belief is wrong because that kind of thinking takes the journey, the struggles to get to the top of the mountain, the setbacks, the pain, the fear and throws it all out of the window.

It completely mitigates what is most important. In the real world, it doesn’t matter who you are. You are never entitled to a result. Victory is a product of the fight and the biggest favor you can do yourself is to progress through life’s ups and downs and keep fighting the fight. Struggle is perfection in progress. It is a sign that you are in the midst of what separated the great from the average.

It is a necessity, and it is the most important step you will ever take because 99% of people cannot see past it. The world sees struggle and hardship as the time to pack their bags, to walk away, to be intimidated.”

Les Brown

Everybody knows that in order to have a healthy body you have to eliminate toxins as much as possible from your environment, eliminate tobacco and alcohol, eat healthy nutritious food, exercise and keep active. This information is no secret. It is out there, and it is available to everyone. Those people who walk around on the beach in their bikinis with a toned body and a six-pack didn’t get there by accident, they worked on it days in and days out. They didn’t take a secret pill that gave them a fit body overnight, they honed their skill quietly and patiently.

The expectation nowadays is for things to happen instantaneously; and when it doesn’t, we get frustrated even angry. Being patient is a virtue that has been forgotten. We should get re-acquainted with this concept. In public it is the impatient one that grabs all the attention, but patience is a skill that you practice quietly, behind a closed door, just like professional athletes who step away from the limelight taking some time off to heal their injuries so that they can come back stronger, step back in the arena and compete another day.

And this my dear friend, is the secret recipe to your success.

The Secret to survive and thrive in this crazy world is that there i sno secret. Photo by Vectorup Studio via freepik.com

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com

Categories
Be Happy

What You Should Know About New Year Resolutions

At this time of year, when some of us are already thinking about our new year’s resolutions, I’m encouraging you to invest a little time trying to understand a few things we could resolve that would help make us happier. We want to be happier, living a life of flourish, but we often chase both the wrong things and the wrong paths to get to them. It perhaps sounds strange but, people are awful at predicting what will make them happy. Even more disturbing is the fact that we are often disappointed when we get the very things we think we want. There are a few things that you should know before making your New Year Resolutions.

2021 Goal List?… Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

In one of the strongest statements against the possibility for change, Lykken and Tellegen, a pair of researchers from the Minnesota Twin Family Study suggested that “trying to be happier may be as futile as trying to be taller.” This study, which also coined the phrase, the hedonic treadmill, implies that our efforts to get somewhere, to be happier, don’t get us anywhere. I don’t believe this to be true, and below are three things that you may want to take into account when setting your goals for 2021.

New Year Resolutions the choice between possessions vs. experiences

What you should know about new year resolutions is that often it is a matter of choosing between possessions or experiences. There’s a logical assumption many people make when spending their money, that because a physical object lasts a long time, it will make us happier than an a one-off experience, like a vacation or a night out. But, a 20-year study by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, found the opposite to be true. “One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,” says Dr. Gilovich. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while, resulting in no permanent gain in happiness. Worse, according to this theory, as we make more money or buy more things, our expectations and desires for them rise in tandem.

Possessions v Experiences – Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

Experiences on the other hand tend to provoke more satisfaction than time using material possessions. A possible explanation is the endurance of experiences in people’s memories, while the perceived value of material goods weakens over time. Moreover, our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods.

“You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

Dr Thomas Gilovich

Another reason that experiences win over possessions, is that they connect us more tightly to other people. You’re much likelier to feel connected to someone you went to school with, went on holiday together, than say someone who just happens to buy the same type of car or smart phone.

Add to your new year resolution list: conquering negativity

Negativity is, in general, thinking that whatever happens is most likely going to turn out bad. It doesn’t help that we are hardwired such that negative events have a much greater impact on our brains than positive ones, psychologists refer to this as the negativity bias, but there is a subtle difference between negativity and negative thinking.

New Year Resolutions – Conquer NegativityPhoto by @freepik via freepik.com

The good type of negative thinking is why your mum checked if you packed a spare pair of pants on school trips. When your daughter is borrowing your car, when someone is asking you to take a risky investment decision, there’s good reason to think about worst case scenarios, it allows you to look at things more realistically, slows down decision making, and might save you money, or your life. Negative thinking often involves contemplating future events or outcomes where it is still possible to change the outcome; negativity, on the other hand, typically involves a habitual attitude of anger, cynicism, helplessness or sadness about things we cannot change. If you find yourself dwelling on an insult or fixating on your mistakes, and you keep playing it over and over in your mind, this is negativity, and it’s probably not doing you any good.

If you are someone who after an event takes place, finds yourself thinking “I shouldn’t have done that,” or focuses on things in a negative way, try to look for ways to reframe the situation in a more positive light. What did you learn? What would you do different next time?

Salvaging a funny story from your misfortunes can be a great way to turn the tide of negative thoughts. That old adage, “misery loves company,” is only partly true, “misery loves miserable company,” is more accurate. Humor is good medicine, the search for a funny aspect in a difficult moment can help us endure it, and when used to help others to copy, can be altruistic.

The Paradox of Choice

Psychologist Barry Schwartz took aim at a central tenet of western societies in his book The Paradox of Choice. Freedom of choice, in Schwartz’s estimation, has not made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied. Choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress.

In his book, Barry Schwartz explains that choice, the hallmark of individual freedom and self-determination that we so cherish—becomes detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being, impacts the challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs, and paradoxically becomes a problem instead of a solution.

Having too much choice, or choice overload, is a cognitive impairment in which people have a difficult time making a decision when faced with many options. Another factor which makes us less happy is FOMO, or the fear of missing out. To illustrate how FOMO works, imagine that you were shown 5 juicy oranges and told that one of them was the world’s tastiest, but you could only pick and eat one. Maybe you enjoyed your orange, but simply not knowing what the four other oranges taste likes lead to dissatisfaction. And, the more choices you have the worst it gets; if you have ten available choices, and you make a wrong decision, it’ll hurt more than if you only had 5 choices and made the same decision.

New Year’s Resolutions

So, when it comes to making your new year’s resolutions this year, try not to set yourself up for failure by setting goals that are vague, unrealistic, or influenced by what others expect of us. Because, if we ‘fail,’ we’re left feeling guilty, disappointed, and self-loathing—a far cry from the sense of confidence and empowerment we were after. Limit your choices, keep it simple, and try looking for something experiential. Happy new year, and here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2021!

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About the Book Self-Help

Self-Help Books Can Become Bestsellers, But Do They Actually Work?

Self-help books can become bestsellers, but do they actually work?

The self-help book market is worth over $10 billion dollars per year in the USA alone with twice as many books sold in 2019 than just 7 years earlier. With an ever-growing flock of followers who want clear answers to their questions, clear solutions to their problems and clear paths to follow along the road to a happy and successful life.

Psychologists, life coaches, gurus, and authors are filling up conference rooms, bookstores, social media platforms with their contents.  Consumers of self-help materials are all looking for the same thing, the secret to a happy, healthy and prosperous life.  

The most successful self-help books of all time are: 

  1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Over 80 million copies sold.
  2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Over 65 million copies sold.
  3. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. Over 50 million copies sold.
  4. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kyosaki. Over 25 million copies sold.
  5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. Over 25 million copies sold.

Do self-help books help? Looking at those figures, the answer seems to be a definite yes. But despite those compelling sales figures, some people find the effectiveness of self-help books debatable. Personally, I find them very useful; but I am totally biased on this subject-matter not only because self-help books are my favorite genre as a reader, but I am also the author of a self-help book titled This is Your Quest. Your Mission: To Experience Happiness Along the Way.

Let’s look at both sides of the argument and see where this leads us.

Are self-help books a waste of time and money?

The main argument against self-help books is that they don’t work. Some people argue that reading self-help books is like taking drugs; it makes you feel good for a little while but that feel-good factor doesn’t last very long. Initially, people will enjoy reading those books because they get lost in a sea of wisdom, advice, suggestions, new habits, new affirmations, but  once they have ingurgitated all that advice and new-found wisdom life resumes its normal course and soon they get lost in a sea of daily grind and forget about all those new habits they swore by a week ago. 

It is true that knowing without doing is like not knowing at all, and from this angle I tend to agree with the argument that self-help books don’t work. Most of the advice that is given in those books make perfect sense, but unless the reader decides to apply those advice consistently and diligently, reading those books will not change their lives one inch. Unfortunately, a large majority of people fall trap to this behavior. 

It is common knowledge that to lead a healthy life you need to eat healthy, exercise, practice your daily affirmations by thinking positive, be mindful and present in the moment, get in touch with your inner-child,  love yourself, and practice the art of being grateful. That is about it really. But If everyone already knows all of that why do you need a book to tell you those things that you already know? It is a fair point.

Self-help books; a sea of wisdom, advice, suggestions, new habits, new affirmations

So, why are people still reading those books? It is much easier to keep yourself in a state of preparedness by reading those books, taking notes and visualizing the amazing result you will get at the end, than actually doing the deed. Reciting positive affirmations every morning will not change your life if you are not following up with an action plan.  You have to be more intentional in your approach to self-help.

I am of the opinion that one size doesn’t fit all. We are all different, we all have different issues, different perspectives, different circumstances. I believe that it is not a waste of time and money to read self-help books, because you can learn from the successes and mistakes of others without having to make those same mistakes, giving you a huge advantage. However, at the end of the day, it is up to you to find the answer that applies to your own circumstances; after you have read those self-help books, you will operate from a more informed vantage point, having gained some knowledge, wisdom and clarity in the process. Nobody else can be happy for you, you have to figure it out yourself.

The types of people who read self-help books

There are two types of people who read self-help books.

  1. People who are going through personal, financial or emotional crisis, those who have suffered from traumas, or those who feel unfulfilled and very dissatisfied with their current situation. Their expectation is that reading those self-help books will increase their happiness level from bad to good.
  2. People who haven’t got any major issues with their life, they are curious, they have an open-mind, they want to improve and learn how to be the best version of themselves, they want to turn their life around and increase their happiness level from good to great and for the best students their expectation is to turn their happiness level from great to awesome.

We are constantly in the process of creating ourselves. Reading self-help books is a commitment to yourself; when the person is ready for action, self-help books can be part of a genuine life transformation. For the skeptics, they can also lay the foundations for the change that could happen in the future. The idea is to plant that seed, it will take some time to germinate but eventually it will grow slowly but surely.  It is just a matter of time.

Self-help books; plant a seed

We cannot force someone to hear a message they are not ready to receive, but we must never underestimate the power of planting a seed.’

Unknown Author

There are many reasons why you should try to develop yourself

Whatever your personal circumstances, there are many reasons why you should read self-help books.

  • Expand your horizon. You don’t know everything, and you haven’t done everything. There is so much that you don’t know and haven’t experienced yet. People tend to live within the comfort of their own echo chamber, doing the things that are familiar to them, connecting with people they know, reading the books that everybody else is reading. There is nothing wrong with living within your comfort zone, but there is so much more out there. Have an explorer mindset, go and explore the world.  This might sound like a big feat, but you don’t even have to leave your house; books can take you anywhere you want to go. Explorers have the ability to leave comfort and certainty behind them. They are in a continual search of new ideas and new ways of thinking. 
  • Build your knowledge. One of the main benefits of reading self-help books is that you learn loads. The Quest for knowledge and clarity is an endless pursuit. The destination is unknown. It is all about the journey. When things get tough and confusing it’s best to  stop rest, reflect, regroup, think, re-think, learn and unlearn some of the things you learned in order to decide which road to take next. Our knowledge of the world is limited, our perception of the world is groomed by the education we receive from our parents, by our culture, by the historical period we live in, by the rigidity of our mind. Have an open mind.
  • Give you access to free mentorship. Reading about people’s successes and failures and what they have learned from them is an excellent short-cut to acquiring wisdom without having to experience those same mistakes yourself. Books are a way to have access to the best minds that have ever lived. Need a mentor? Read the words of your favorite authors and role models.
  •  Give you Inspiration and motivation. Well-chosen words can breathe hope into you when your spirit is broken and revive you when your body is weary. The right words can redeem the wrong you feel, it can redeem the feeling of hopelessness that weighs heavy on your heart and can give you flight after a hard landing.

Why you should add ‘This Is your Quest’ to your reading list.

‘If you only read the books that everyone else is reading you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

Haruki Marukami

There are a lot of wisdom and hidden truths out there that have been forgotten or hidden away.  I wrote my book because I had a desire to explore the ins and out of what matters, to dig deep on subjects that affect all of us and then bring them to the surface and show its significance to all the curious souls out there who have a desire to become the best version of themselves. You will find in my book a treasure trove of insights and wisdom. Words have tremendous energy and power, they can educate, heal and illuminate the mind.

This is Your Quest

For the skeptics, I refer you to the wise words of  Les Brown who pointed out: “If you want to experience a sense of fulfillment you have to have an open-mind, so that new ideas can take root. Part of having fertile ground is the ability to break up that hard crust first, because if you plant seeds there, the wind will blow them away.” My book is the tool that can help you break that crust, allowing new seeds to take root. 

This Is Your Quest is the story you want to hear. Why? Because it is your story, the one that I wrote for each and every one of you.  People should live the story they want to tell. Your life is your story, and your mission is to write the best story you can and have lots of adventures along the way. 

We wouldn’t need books so much if we knew ourselves and the people around us better. Do you know who you are? Do you know why people do the things they do? Those two questions will dictate pretty much everything that happens in your life and turn it a pleasant experience or on the contrary an unpleasant one. That is where books come in. They explain us to ourselves and to others, and makes us feel less strange, less isolated and less alone.

The Quest for clarity is an endless pursuit. We all seek it. We all want clear answers to our questions. We all want clear solutions to our problems. We all want clear paths to follow along the road to a happy and successful life. We all want to move from a state of confusion, which brings with it a lot of suffering to a state of clarity, which brings joy and happiness. 

I see my book as being a small beam of light that is shining in the distance, and I am hoping that all the curious souls out there will be drawn to it, and once they grab it will open their mind and will bring them some clarity.  

This is my hope, and this is my Quest.  Are you ready to go on your own Quest? 


If you liked this post you can follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or you may also like:

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.