Instant Happy
You can read it in like 20 minutes. It's really more of a coffee table book. It seems like it might be a little cliche at first but then as you ponder the pages you realize it's pretty profound. Her main point is that happiness is about thoughts. Control your thoughts and you control your happiness.
Tai Jan 20, 2014

Todays Book of the day is a fascinating little book called Instant Happy by Karen Salmansohn.

One of the first pages says, "See your tormentors as your mentors."

The idea is build the skill of manipulating your mind into re-framing life events. Taking some 'tormenting' annoying person and using them as a springboard to something bigger and better. 
 
I am reminded of the psychological concept of "Ontology" which explains how we all tell ourselves a story. For example, the same thing happens to 2 people, let's say getting fired from a job. One person sees it as a horrible tragedy and focuses on the loss of income. The other person sees it as an excuse to start up the home business they have always dreamed of owning.
 
Same event, different story, dramatically different outcome in the long run. So the author says we should see:
 
  • Failure as Creation
  • Endings as New beginnings
  • Mistakes as new discoveries

It reminds me of the story of Thomas Edison who invented the lightbulb and the movie camera and who over his lifetime was awarded over 1000 patents. Edison reminded people that most of his ideas failed initially. But he manipulated how he perceived his failures by saying: “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” 
 
That was him re-framing failure to give him the energy to keep going. 
 
Michael Jordan was the same way. He says:
 
  • I have lost almost 300 games (that’s more games than many NBA players have court time in)
  • Missed over 9000 shots (again more shots than an average NBA player even takes)
  • 26 times was given the ball to take the game winning shot and MISSED.

Michael Jordan was the greatest athlete of all time because he tweaked his mind to see pain and failure as a normal part of success.
 
That's why I have always loved being an entrepreneur. We invent our own reality. One of my mentors taught me, "The definition of an entrepreneur is someone who makes the world in their own image."
 
I find changing reality with my business is easier though then trying it with my mind and thoughts. Why? 
 
Because our DNA, our evolution, has NOT built us to be happy. Our bodies and minds were built to optimize reproduction and the survival of our genes. Happiness is an after thought of our genetic makeup.
 
That's why we stay in bad relationships, or date people we know aren't good for us, or obsess over little details that we know aren't even important in the long run. It's also why we are afraid to speak in front of crowds, or why we get depressed. We were built that way.
 
I know many people want to deny this part of our biology but denial isn't healthy. It's better to face the reality and then make adjustments afterwards. This book is about the adjustments we all have to make so we rise above our animal tendencies. Because our animal brain, what they call the "reptilian mind" could care less whether you have a smile on your face all day.
 
 
Remember this: YOU WILL HAVE TO CREATE YOUR OWN HAPPINESS. 
 
It starts in the mind and in the control of your thoughts. 
 
The author says see your ex's as teachers not as wastes of time. See conflict as growth opportunities that will build 'mental muscle' just like lifting heavy weights builds physical muscle.
 
I read an interesting book about Warren Buffett called The Snowball  and it says he has a unique ability to tune out his mistakes. He just compartmentalizes his brain and "walls off' his mistakes. 
 
The billionaire, Charlie Munger says when he makes a mistake he thinks hard on the lessons he should learn from it. He even writes them down to embed them into his mind.  But then he moves on and never thinks about them again. 
 
Sam Walton, in his autobiography about starting Wal-Mart, tells how he didn't read the lease he signed for his first store (before he had even started Wal-Mart). And that this mistake basically allowed the landlord to 'steal' the store away from him. Walton was forced to start all over after years of hard work.  
 
Walton says:
 
"I've never been one to dwell on reverses... It's not just a corny saying that you can make a positive out of a negative if you work hard enough. I've always thought of problems as challenges, and this one wasn't any different. I don't know if that experience changed me or not. I know I read my leases a lot more carefully now, and maybe I became a little more wary of just how tough the world can be... But I didn't dwell on disappointment. The challenge at hand was simple enough to figure out: I had to pick myself up and move on with it, do it all over again, only even better this time."
 
It's obvious here that Sam Walton somehow had the ability to manipulate his mind to take a nightmare event and turn it into a springboard to come up with something even better. That failure and the mental ability to cope with it turned into the richest man in America 30 years later.
 
I read once that something like 70% of people will quit anything after failing once and 90% will quit after failing 3 times.
 
But the average millionaire has failed 3 times before finally getting rich. Put those two statistics together and its obvious why 10% of the world has all the money.
 
I just got back from a trip to Europe. I see why America is so far ahead with entrepreneurialism. It's because in the USA if you start a business and fail, no one cares. You just declare bankruptcy and move on. People see it almost as a badge of honor to fail once. But the European culture looks down on failure. That mentality leads to people being afraid to start something new.
 
Again everything is about the mind.  If you can control your perception of events you control everything.
 
Study history. The world is full of pain. During the 1600's the Bubonic plague killed like 50% of whole countries! The human experience is basically guaranteed to be filled with horrible things happening. My grandma was born in Germany in 1918. She lived through 2 world wars. All the men in her family were basically killed in the military.
 
The odds are that if you live long enough the world is going to throw all kind of hardships at you. So you might as well learn how to deal with them now before they happen.
 
Like this book says, start by re-framing little things. Learn to see a bad ex boyfriend or girlfriend not as a waste of years but as a teacher. 
 
Go watch my favorite movie "Life Is Beautiful"...
 
It won an Academy Award because it beautifully showed this father and son in a concentration camp facing certain death and how the dad turned it all into a fun game for his son. It's the only DVD I own. Gets me every time I watch it. 
 
The ability to reshape the worst circumstance into a fun game. I want to have that super power. 
 
When I was a teenager I collected quotes and I remember writing one down on a little 3 x 5 note card that said: "Who is mighty? He who has control over his own mind."
 
That is really what this Instant Happy book is all about. The last pages end by saying, "Spoiler alert, it will all work out in the end."
 
When I think back at the things that have stressed me out in life I realize that almost always after a few years I don't even remember them anymore. This book reminds me to keep some perspective in life and not exaggerate mountains from mole hills. Most things will work out just fine in the end.
 
I just went to the Grove and saw a great movie, "Lone Survivor" with Mark Walhberg that was produced by my friend Jeff Rice. At the end there was hardly a dry eye in the whole theater. You walked out of it thinking "Geez everything that I worry about all day isn't even important."
 
My mind naturally races. Sometimes it's great and helps me come up with good ideas for life and business. But often times it get's out of control. Maybe you know the feeling. 
 
I started doing a cool daily practice. My friend, Alex Mehr, the founder of ZOOSK told me about an app called HeadspaceA monk takes you through 10 minutes a day of guided relaxation and meditation. I kind of suck at it now but might be getting a little better slowly.
 
In the book Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt the author shows that some of happiness in genetic. Some people are born happier than others.
 
But we can all adjust our natural levels.  He says there are only 3 scientifically proven ways to increase your happiness.  One is with pharmaceutical drugs, the second is with cognitive therapy, and the last is with meditation. I'm into health so meditation seems the simplest with the least amount of side effects. 
 
But whatever you find works for you, find something. Take 10 minutes a day and start by simply pushing out negative thoughts that don't serve their purpose anymore. They pop in naturally, push them out, they will pop back in, so push them out again. Slowly you will get better at it. 
 
Practice changing the story of the painful event. Tell yourself how it led you to the next big thing in your life instead of dwelling on the pain of the event. 
 
Make the mistake, learn the lesson, move on to bigger and better things. Your mind is like a muscle, train it, exercise it, push it to grow and learn new thought habits. 
 
Control your mind, be mighty.

Stay Strong,
Tai

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Question: What painful events in your life or history can you learn from to succeed? (Leave your answer in the comments below)

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