8 Habits That Will Make You Happier
By Tina Black
For the next 8 weeks, we’ll be talking about 8 habits that will make you happier.
Habit #1: Wake Up Early
Are you ready for the first one? Wake up early! Here’s the trick to waking up early: fall in love with mornings.
Studies show that the ability to focus and be creative peaks between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. This is great news for me because I’ve always been an early bird. As I was growing up, my mom and dad always got up early and I would hear pots and pans clanging. I am such an interpersonal type, I couldn’t stand missing anything! I was a runner, too, and early morning was always the best time to run because there were fewer cars to dodge and it was a lot more peaceful to get into the groove. I have always worked out, and I’ve found the only way to be consistent with is to do it in the morning – not only to get it over with, but it also gives me so much energy and helps drive away any anger, worry, and depression. I HIGHLY recommend this!
It’s so important to get into a great routine. Your happiness depends on it … and who couldn’t stand to be just a little happier?
I found a great article by Christian time management author and blogger Loren Pinilis on winning the fight and waking up earlier. Here’s how I apply Loren’s eight specific steps:
- Take the first steps. The toughest part of the morning is simply getting out of bed. Why not set a plan for something that makes you excited to get out of bed? I have such a great routine that I can’t wait to wake up! The first thing I do is thank God for another day, say some prayers before I get up, and run through my day plan in my head. Then I make a pot of coffee, light my candle, turn on my worship music, grab my journal, and for the next hour it’s just me and God. It’s honestly my favorite time of the day, and I never miss it. Even if I’m traveling, I find a way to do it. Whether it’s in my hotel room or an isolated place in the hotel lobby, gym, etc., it’s my SACRED time.
- Cultivate a mental environment. As I mentioned above, I light a candle and play worship music. It really is all about getting your mindset. If you have kids or a husband, I HIGHLY recommend getting up an hour before them or this won’t work! I also highly recommend going to bed at the same time every evening for this to work the best, especially in the beginning. It’s important to figure out how many hours of sleep is best for you to function mentally. I need a minimum of 6 hours (but I often get 7 or 8 ). YES, it’s no secret: I like to go to bed early!
- Develop a “get to” attitude. This year I’ve been working on removing “I have to” from my vocabulary. For instance, when my husband leaves his towel on the floor or the kitchen is a mess, instead of saying, “I have to clean up after my family,” I say, “I get to clean up after my family.” This has honestly shifted my entire mindset. Now I’m working on doing this more at my businesses when I clean up the parking lot, or have to run an errand or go to the bank, and especially when I have to go grocery shopping, which is definitely not my favorite thing. Shifting those words makes a HUGE difference!
- Create some accountability. Sharing your intentions with your team or your family is HUGE. Ask them to hold you accountable. A little peer pressure never hurt anyone. And be a person of your word: integrity goes a long way.
- Sleep well. I can’t overemphasize this. If you aren’t sleeping well, don’t take a sleeping pill, for goodness sakes. Find out WHY you aren’t sleeping. Are you eating healthy? Do you need to cut back on caffeine? Have you seen your doctor to make sure you have a clean bill of health? Do you need a therapist or a coach? Stop putting a bandage on your worries and reach out for help! I can honestly count on one hand the number of restless nights I’ve had in the past year. I have truly learned to give all my worries over to God and surround myself with incredible mentors. I’ve hired the best coaches to help me put everything into perspective, and I’ve eaten “clean” for over two years and cut out all sugar (except one glass of wine most nights).
- Never snooze. And if you must, make sure you set your alarm to ring a half hour before you have to get up. On occasion I will do that so that I can spend 30 minutes planning my day in my head as I slowly wake up and hit the snooze button up to 3 times. But it’s intentional! I honestly do not remember the last time I overslept. I love mornings too much now to do that.
- Stick to your wakeup time. Getting up when you say you will gives you more integrity. Doing what you say you will do builds character, and when your character is strong your leadership is strong … and so is your happiness!
- Build momentum. As you do this each day (and give yourself grace when you fail, because you will in the beginning), just keep on it. Go back through these steps and start them over again. You’ve got this. Momentum is a leader’s best friend!
THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE: What shift are you willing to make this week, this month, and this year toward getting up earlier? Review the steps again and decide which ones you’re willing to do. What can you do that you’ve never done before to start loving mornings?
Habit #2: Be Curious
This is something I really need to work on. My mentor and business partner, Winn Claybaugh, talks a lot about this in his book Be Nice (Or Else!). He says that to be happy and nice, we have to be curious. For example, when we meet someone new, we need to keep asking questions until we find something interesting to talk to them about or learn more about them. Here are a few more ideas for becoming more curious, inspired by a Success magazine article by freelance writer Patty Onderko.
- Act on your curiosity. The happiest people learn something new every day. These days, it’s so easy to learn, and so fast, thanks to the Internet. We can Google everything! I even have an Amazon Echo that I can ask any question I want without having to type it.
- Don’t be embarrassed to ask. This is something I need to work on. My husband, on the other hand, is so good at this. He’s not afraid to ask any question of anyone. Maybe it’s his lawyer background, or maybe it’s just because he has high self-esteem. I definitely second-guess myself in this area, thinking I should already know the answer, so I will go to work on this one, too!
- Don’t think before you speak, meaning stop thinking about what you are going to say while someone else is talking. Listen. I mean really listen to the person talking and see if you can get a clue of how to dig even deeper into the conversation based on the words they speak.
- Get to know your spouse, significant other, close friends, and family members better. I sometimes take my husband of 30 years for granted, thinking I know everything about him. He and I lead an online Bible study, so I often include a get-to-know-you questionnaire where we ask questions of each other — likes, dislikes, favorite food, places to visit, etc. I can honestly say it’s been enlightening and fun getting to know my husband over and over again. After all, our likes and dislikes change often!
- Choose curiosity over comfort. I honestly have to work on this one, especially in the evening because I often like to go home, turn on a Hallmark movie, grab a glass of wine, and call it a day. So I am going to push myself next year to pick some things to do. For example, I have a goal to go through the Ford Museum and some other ideas up my sleeve. I want to get a little more curious, learn new things, and push past my comfort level.
- Imagine you are in an art gallery. I don’t know about you, but I think art galleries are so interesting. They open up my mind and make me ask, “Now what in the world is that?” I’ll never forget Winn Claybaugh taking us to Laguna Beach, California, to the Pageant of the Masters, an annual event known for its “living pictures” in which works of art are re-created by real people made to look nearly identical to the originals. It was so intriguing and made me realize how much I had missed art in my life. Think of life like an art gallery. Everywhere you go, get genuinely interested. You can find beauty anywhere. Stop letting life get so boring.
THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE: Rate yourself in each of these 6 areas, then choose one area to focus on for the week and go do it. At the end of the week, write down what you did and how it made you feel.
Habit #3: Show Respect
Respect is a two-way street. I honestly believe that when people respect you, it’s because you deserve to be respected. There are so many ways you can earn respect. Here are a few that were inspired by a great article by John Addison, Leadership Editor of Success magazine and author of Real Leadership: 9 Simple Practices for Leading and Living with Purpose.
- Dress modestly and neatly.We have a dress code in our Paul Mitchell Schools for a reason: to help our future professionals earn respect in their profession. Dress like a professional. Classic, dramatic, and fashion-forward clothing are all part of the dress code to which we hold our future professionals accountable. I always notice that the students in our schools and the staff in my salons who hold to this standard earn more respect and are a lot busier than those who don’t. They also attract a better clientele than those students and stylists who do not dress professionally, which means more money as well as more respect. We also have this rule for our students: “No boobs, butts, bellies, and backs.” We think modesty is an important part of the professional dress code. I believe that showing off those areas sends the wrong kind of message and takes away your professional respect. The same is true for personal hygiene: it’s important to bathe daily, wear perfume or cologne (not too much, please!), use deodorant, and make sure to brush and floss your teeth. Smokers beware! You smell! If you’re around people (which I’m sure most of you reading this blog are), you can lose their respect by smelling like an ashtray. And trust me, I’ve even heard this from smokers themselves. You get the point.
- Smile! I can’t say this often enough. Do people often ask you if you’re in a bad mood or if you’re feeling okay? Then own it! Learn to smile! Smiling people get more respect.
- Look at people. Have you ever talked to people who keep glancing around the room as if they’re looking for someone else? You’re pouring your heart out to them and they aren’t looking you in the eyes. You can lose respect immediately with this bad habit. Learn to look at people. When you’re with people, BE with them. I witness this especially with my business partner, John Paul DeJoria. I have the utmost respect for this man. He always makes people feel like they’re the only person in the room when he’s talking to them.
- Don’t be moody. Are you moody? Do people often wonder which side of the bed you got up on? Then own it! And stop it! Own the perception and become the most positive person in the room. ALWAYS! You will earn a lot of respect.
- Work on yourself. The most respected and respectful people constantly work on themselves. They are authentic, too: they admit their mistakes and repeatedly tell others which areas they are working on and growing in. Trust me, you’ll earn a lot of respect when you stop pretending you’re perfect (everyone knows you’re not) and stop preaching to people what they need to do better. Instead, tell them what you’re working on to be better. You will get a lot of respect.
- Don’t be judgmental. Yikes! Have you ever met anyone who has a critical spirit? Or worse yet, do you have a critical spirit? When I get around others who have critical spirits, I join right in. I am so energy-sensitive in this area that I have to protect myself and be careful who I spend my time with. If you are judgmental, own it and stop it. Identify the limiting beliefs you have about yourself that cause you to be so critical. Work on you, stop sabotaging yourself, and become a more accepting and loving human being. You will earn a lot of respect.
- Don’t be an attention hog. Okay, this is one I have to work on because, I’m not going to lie, I love attention. This is something I am keenly aware of and I’m working hard to give others the spotlight. I’m actually having more fun showcasing others than being in the spotlight so often myself, and I notice I’m getting more respect from the people I love.
- Be quick to apologize.This will get you respect quicker than all the other items on this list. Be the first to apologize, even if you think you are right. This is something I love about my mentor and friend, Kelly Cardenas. He constantly apologizes. I respect this man so much, and he has taught me so much about gratitude and humility.
- So there you go — 8 ways to show respect. Trust me, you will get it back, and watch how much happier you become.
THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE: On a scale of 1 to 10, how respected are you? Select at least one area on this list that you need to work on. Write it down, spend time reflecting on it all week, and watch yourself grow past it.
Habit #4: Learn to Forgive
In my book, Be Amazing, I remind readers to stop dwelling on past hurts or pain and choose to live a lifestyle of forgiveness. I am very good at this! I jokingly say I have a disease called CRS (a made-up term “for can’t remember stuff”) but my short-lived memory actually serves me well, especially in business. I can’t even begin to go into the details of the unfair treatment and the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars both my husband and I have had. My husband taught me years ago never to dwell on hurt. In fact, my book includes his story of being verbally disowned by his dying father and left thousands of dollars in debt in their family law firm. (You can read more if you purchase my book! Click below to order.)
I truly believe that when you choose to live a lifestyle of forgiveness, there is nothing anyone can do to make you lose your happiness. How about you? Are you holding on to a past hurt? Make the choice.
Robert Enright, professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a leader in forgiveness research and a founding member of the International Forgiveness Institute. In one of his books on the subject, Forgiveness Is a Choice, Enright breaks forgiveness into five steps. I’ve added my take on each one:
- Admit you’ve been treated unfairly … but choose to keep it to yourself! In our Paul Mitchell Schools we use the “bitch buddy” concept, meaning you choose one person to bitch to and that’s it. Any more than that is called gossip. Choose your bitch buddy wisely. Make sure the person is not a gossiper and can turn your mood around fast. Then, come up with solutions instead of dwelling on the negativity. We call that “forward focus” in our Paul Mitchell Schools.
- Express your anger. Yes, this is good! Get it out! But not for days, weeks, months, or even worse, years. Scream if you have to get it off your chest. But please don’t put it on social media. That, my friend, is gossip, and you never look good when you vent in public. Express your anger to your bitch buddy and that’s it. Move on. If you’re having trouble moving on, hire a coach or a counselor.
- Recognize the wrongdoer is a person and more than the offense at hand. A long time ago I realized that people aren’t the enemy. The enemy is the enemy. I’m a believer so please forgive me if this offends you, but Satan wants nothing more than to destroy you, and he uses other people to do it. Haven’t you ever heard the saying, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer?” Satan cannot stand when we love our enemies. Love changes people. And remember, hurt people hurt people, so when someone hurts you they must be hurting inside. The solution? Prayer. Yes, simply prayer. When I pray for my enemies, I can’t even begin to tell you how often they’ve turned around. Some have even become my greatest allies over the years.
- Accept that your pain may never completely go away. I truly believe in the concept that you can forgive but you probably will never forget. That can be a good thing, if you learn from your painful experiences. Having money stolen from us over the years taught us to change some of our business systems and made us stronger business leaders. I believe it was my fault that it happened: I didn’t have the systems in place to protect the losses. Luke Jacobellis, president and CEO of John Paul Mitchell Systems, is famous for saying, “Trust in God only; all others bring data.” In other words, trust no one. And as my dad always says, “Check the checkers!”
- Find meaning in the experience and grow from it. As I said in step 4, failure truly is my friend. When I am intentionally hurt or lied to, I know it’s my fault: I need better systems, better policies, better communication, better open dialogue with my family. My mentor Kelly Cardenas taught me to have “constant uninhibited communication that breaks down walls,” and we have made this part of our systems and included it with our immediate family. Believe me, incorporating this system into your culture takes work, but it’s well worth it and will save you from having to forgive in the first place.
THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE: Write down some lingering areas where you’ve been unforgiving in your heart, and choose to forgive. Maybe you’d like to share it here, as a comment. Maybe you need to call that person(s). I also challenge you to write this statement in your journal or someplace where you will see it often: “I choose to live a lifestyle of forgiveness.”
Habit #5: Be Good to Others
There are quite a few ways to be good to others – but honestly, you can do it by following the old adage, “Do unto others as you’d like them to do to you.” For example, when I’m driving and someone cuts me off, I try not to get upset. Instead, I remember that I’ve probably cut many people off unknowingly because I wasn’t paying attention. I try to think, “Oh, they must not have been paying attention, or maybe they have somewhere they need to go quickly.”
I also think of what my mentor Winn Claybaugh says: “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?” I used to always, always have to be right. Then I learned from my sweet husband to never be 100% positive about something because it always comes back to you. I used to say, “I’m positive I’m right!” Now I try to leave room for being wrong. (Well, almost always. I’m still a work in progress, if you want to know the truth.)
Showing grace and mercy to others when they make mistakes is important to my happiness, too. I don’t like being around know-it-alls, so why would I want to be one? I can’t even begin to tell you how many times people have given grace and mercy to me, like the police officer last month who didn’t give me a speeding ticket that I deserved. Getting that grace from him felt so great that it made me wonder, “Do I do that for others?”
Another way to be good to others is to have integrity – and integrity starts and ends with trust. Can you be trusted? Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to test your integrity:
- Am I willing to say what I’m thinking?
- Am I willing to risk being wrong?
- Would I want my child or someone else I love to do a particular thing? If not, then why am I doing it?
- Does this conduct make me a better person?
- Am I leading by example?
- Am I taking 100% responsibility?
If you answer no to any of these questions, then you need to work on your integrity. Experts say integrity is the #1 core value needed in leaders, so here’s a list of ways you can get to work on your integrity:
- Always follow through with your promises.
- Keep appointments.
- Keep your commitments. (Let your yes be yes and your no be no.)
- Examine how you react in tough situations. Do you speak impulsively or emotionally when challenged? Do you sugarcoat your responsibilities? Do you need to apologize quicker when you make mistakes?
- Polish your communication skills.
- Watch your language, especially regarding topics such as sexual preference, racism, and religion.
- Avoid people who lack integrity. Others pay attention to the people you associate with; if they lack integrity, others will assume you lack integrity, too.
THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE: Write down some areas on which you need to focus and go to work on them. When it comes to being good to others, what do you need to do more? What do you need to do less?
Habit #6: Take Charge of Your Health
Health is wealth. When your body is healthy, your mind is happy. You don’t get a second chance at another body, so take care of the one you have.
This rang true for me a few years ago after I was diagnosed with a precancerous lesion. It was a huge wakeup call that opened my eyes to educate myself and listen to my body. As I say in my book, Be Amazing, I spent most of my life addicted to dieting. I was a typical yo-yo dieter, hopping from diet book to diet book, from diet plan to diet plan. Being diagnosed with pre-cancer gave me a second chance, so I started researching how to prevent cancer. I even became a certified education ambassador for the nonprofit Bright Pink, and I started leading my own Beachbody team via Facebook to help enroll others in this new healthy living.
In my quest to be healthier and to help prevent cancer, I quickly found more energy, fewer food addictions and cravings, and a thinner waistline to top it all off. I finally felt free! Most recently, I discovered some alarming statistics in The China Study, a wonderful book by T. Colin Campbell. Check it out: to say you’ll be enlightened is an understatement!
So here are 13 ways to take care of yourself, based on an article I adapted from Success magazine.
- Set up specific time slots in your calendar to take care of yourself and your family. I’ve mentioned many times that I’m part of the 5 a.m. club. I love getting up way before my family (and now my new puppy) so I can take care of me by journaling, studying the Bible, planning my day, and working out. That 5–8 a.m. time slot is generally time for me. I also set aside 7–10 p.m. for my family (and now my new puppy) for dinner, date nights, or just catching up. It’s usually my sacred time with my immediate family.
- Start your day with meditation or prayer. Lately when my alarm goes off, I hit the snooze button and spend the next 10 minutes praying before it goes off again. I thank God for everything I’m grateful for, share my fears and anxieties, and mentally plan my day. I won’t lie: some days are more “hairy” than others so I hit the snooze button again and pray for twice as long. My sister loves to meditate and she uses several free apps to help her. I love listening to worship music without words during my morning prayer time. Try some of those apps; they’re amazing.
- Work out. It’s no secret that working out causes a chemical change in your body, causing you to feel happier. Before I discovered Beachbody, I used to get dressed, pack a bag, and go to the gym. Now I buy their workout DVDs, saving at least an hour of packing and driving time. I also travel a lot, and I love being able to do the workouts in my hotel gym or hotel room. I love the different varieties; they keep me motivated and help me love working out! It’s almost like a drug for me now: I can’t live without it! Yes, some days I’m dragging but I know how I’ll feel afterward. Some days I have to force myself to just do 2 minutes, but once I do, I’m into it and I keep going.
- Get enough zzzs. I’m writing this on a plane to Florida, and it’s after midnight. My staff members are probably laughing as they read this, because they know I’m normally in bed by 9 p.m. Listen, more sleep equals more happiness, better health, and better decision making. Sleep even detoxifies the brain, and it’s critical for recharging our batteries. My family calls me the Energizer Bunny in our house, and I know it’s because I get enough sleep 99% of the time. Sleep is sacred to me. My secret? I rarely if ever watch TV at night and NEVER watch the news. (Well, maybe the occasional presidential debate.) More rest keeps me at my best.
- Write a poem or a blog, or better yet start a video blog. Or start your book! I never thought I’d write a book but if I can, you can. We all have a book in us. For some reason, writing poems reduces stress, so that’s on my bucket list, too. My sister-in-law Donna is a master at this (she needs to publish her poems). No wonder she always seems so calm and happy.
- Keep a journal. Or as John Maxwell says, jot things down. He says some days he writes just 4 to 5 words, and by the end of the week he sorts it all out.
- I have found journaling to be my sacred time in the morning. It’s truly my reason for jumping out of bed, and I’m addicted to it. Journaling helps me sort out my life, put everything in perspective, and organize my priorities. Without journaling, I never would have started this blog or written my second book, Be a Leader (coming soon).
- Talk to friends and family. Don’t just text; pick up the phone. Especially reach out to those family members who cheer you on and are in your corner. I LOVE the online marriage Bible study Bryan and I lead. When we finish each week, my spirits are so high and I’m so happy that it’s hard for me to go to sleep. It helps to be around like-minded, positive people. And who can’t use more positivity?
- Wake up slowly. I already touched on this one, but be careful about answering emails first thing and getting anxious about your day (I’m often guilty of this). Instead, set aside work time until after your “me” time. I try to save the “heavy” emails until after 8 a.m. That way I can slowly wake up HAPPY!
- Read something fictional. Lately, I’ve gotten away from this so it’s something I’m going back to now. Reading fiction stimulates the right side of the brain and sparks creativity. Fiction can rejuvenate your soul—and who can’t use a little more rejuvenation? I’m a big fan of Karen Kingsbury’s books, and I recently met a local Florida author so I’m going to pick up some of her books this year.
- Do yoga/stretching. I have to admit that I’m not much of a yoga person, but when I’ve done it I can honestly say I’ve been stretched in areas I don’t think EVER got stretched before! I am a fan of stretching and PiYo (a Pilates-yoga inspired workout), and in the days following a major surgery I had years ago to remove a precancerous lesion, stretching helped tremendously. I couldn’t do any major workouts but PiYo and stretching helped me get centered and focused and helped my body heal much faster. Even taking just 4 minutes a day, as my good friend and author Shemane Nugent says, to stretch and listen to soft meditational or worship music can reset your mind and body. That’s one of my goals before going to bed every night.
- Listen to a podcast. I’m a huge fan of podcasts! When I’m depressed I listen to Christian author and speaker Joyce Meyer and she puts me back on track. When I’m motivated but need a little more kick, I listen to televangelist Joel Osteen. When I need a good giggle, I love listening to my son’s favorite podcasts with him (he loves comedian Robbie Sherrard). A good belly laugh is good for the soul! Lately I’ve been listening to stand-up comedian, author, and life coach Doug Addison’s weekly podcasts, and I love hearing motivational speakers like Darren Hardy, Jon Gordon, John Maxwell, and Tony Robbins … plus TED Talks by the dozen, and many more to keep me up on great business and leadership advice.
- Put yourself on a schedule. I often blog about this but I can’t overemphasize “the power of same.” We train our dogs that way, so why wouldn’t we train ourselves to get on a schedule? Getting up and going to bed at the same time every day keeps me focused and on track. Most successful people keep themselves on a schedule so they can build healthy habits. This is an area I excel at, and I constantly Tweet about my time-management system (I prefer to call it priority management system). Keeping a great system that works for you is what it’s all about! Join one of my Mastermind groups to learn more about my latest and greatest priority management systems. The next one starts on February 18.
- Make time for play. Last year we got a puppy, and I can’t begin to tell you how it turned my year around. People ask me, “What was the best thing that happened to you in 2016?” You’d think I’d say it was publishing my first book or doing a Masters Audio Club interview with Winn Claybaugh (which, by the way, were two of the biggest achievements I NEVER even imagined). But no, I say it was getting my new puppy. I am in LOVE with him! In fact, right now I’m out of town for 3 weeks while he’s with my kids and I’ve been FaceTiming him every chance I get! He’s my buddy. We get up early together and enjoy playing on the floor. He loves for me to throw him the ball, and of course he loves to bite my socks and clothes. He’s so cute! In 2016 I was so focused on my businesses and my goals that I forgot to play. Toward the end of the year, I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling depressed (I know what you’re saying: “Tina, you depressed?”) YES, it’s true! I didn’t realize I wasn’t making time for play, but the puppy was exactly what the doctor ordered. (I can’t wait for grandkids next!)
THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE: As you think about your health, which area or areas do you need to focus on this year? What can you do more of this year to take charge of your health?
Habit #7: Be Confident, Not Arrogant
Don’t confuse confidence with arrogance, though. Confidence is quite the opposite. Humble confidence is attractive, while arrogance is unattractive. Arrogant people are the ones who stand in a room with you while looking around to see who else they can talk to. Arrogant people don’t listen well and they “ramrod” their way through life. They always seem to be on their own path, thinking only of themselves. They rarely give back to others and are very selfish.
On the other hand, confident people know they aren’t perfect and always strive to be better. They’re on a growth path. They’re great listeners, and they’re always learning and always asking questions. Confident people are great to be around: you can’t wait to spend time with them and just being in the same room with them inspires you. Does this sound like you? Or someone you know? Well, let it be YOU by following these 7 steps to achieve more confidence!
- Push through self-limiting beliefs. What happened to us from age 5 until now? As 5-year-olds, we thought we could conquer the world. The sky was the limit – and then life happened. Our dreams got squashed, maybe from well-meaning parents, family, or friends. Somehow we lost the capacity to dream for ourselves, and especially to dream big. We started to second-guess our abilities. We got comparison disease: “I can’t do it better than them so I should just forget that dream.” Honestly, that was why I put my dreams of speaking and writing books on the back burner. Those two dreams would NEVER have happened if I hadn’t exposed myself to people who believed in me. How about you? Are you surrounding yourself with people who believe in you? This is exactly why I began Masterminds: to give people (including myself) the ability to constantly network with like-minded people who encourage each other and cheer each other on to live out our dreams. We all have to push through the self-limiting beliefs and discouraging negative words that we start to believe about ourselves, like “I can’t do it” or “I’m not good enough.” I always go back to the advice from televangelist Joel Osteen: “If it’s a positive thought, it’s from God. If it’s a negative thought, it’s from Satan.” We have to squash the negative words by speaking positive words. Positive affirmations are another way to push through self-limiting beliefs. For almost 6 months, I memorized positive Bible verses about who I am in God until they sunk deep down into my soul. You are amazing. Remember that!
- Never confuse memory with facts. I’ve learned that our memories don’t store information exactly as it’s presented to us; when we have low self-esteem, our brains store memories that confirm our lack of confidence. That’s why we’re often mistaken when we say that a friend doesn’t like us or we think someone is saying bad things about us. When I felt bullied in junior high, my self-esteem was at an all-time low. If someone even glanced my way and whispered to someone else, I was sure they were saying how ugly I was. I felt like a troll and a good-for-nothing human being, but those were my own self-limiting beliefs, and I was confusing memory with facts. Trust me, I still struggle with this from time to time. (I am a work in progress!) With awareness comes my ability to overcome this — and you can, too! Don’t confuse memory with facts. You are amazing. Remember that!
- Talk to yourself. The documentary The Human Brain claims we say 300 to 1,000 words to ourselves every minute. Navy SEALs and Special Forces use the power of positive self-talk to get through tough times. The limbic brain system is the part of the brain that helps us deal with anxiety, and it’s been shown that positive self-talk can influence our neurological response to anxiety. In my book Be Amazing, I talk about having 20 seconds of courage. Count to 20 and do it! I also learned recently to do a “power pose” — right before I go on stage, I put both hands on my hips (like Superwoman) and tell myself I am powerful. That simple positive affirmation and physical action give me so much confidence. Try it. You are amazing. Remember that!
- 4, Overcome self-doubt. When we lack self-confidence e become people pleasers and it becomes almost impossible to love ourselves. We get a constant victim mentality, thinking everyone is out to get us, so we make statements like, “I don’t’ need anyone to like me,” “I only trust myself, I never trust anyone anyway,” “I don’t need any friends,” “People are mean, and I don’t care.” We take on what I call an “animal mentality” and start to blame anyone and anything for our failures. Been there, and done that! Overcoming self-doubt is all about awareness. No one but you is stopping you from achieving your dreams, so once you identify the areas in which you doubt yourself, you can start peeling away those barriers. You are amazing. Remember that!
- Think positively. We all have a natural negativity bias that has kept humans “safe” for thousands of years. Unfortunately, negativity chisels away at our confidence because we are hardwired to pay attention to all that we’ve done wrong. Here is how you can turn it around: For every negative thought, come up with 5 positive thoughts to counteract it. Let each positive thought sit for 20 seconds before moving to the next positive thought. Acknowledge both good and bad emotions (don’t try to suppress negative ones), and label the emotions for what they are. Then move on. Do not enter into inner dialogue about the negative emotion; that only gives it more power. You are amazing. Remember that!
- Raise your curiosity levels. Curiosity is an important trait for people who want to be confident and successful. It is the foundation of lifelong growth. It keeps us humble and teachable. Always have a beginner’s mind-set; it will keep you active, make you more observant, and open opportunities, all of which make you more confident. You are amazing. Remember that!
- Face your fears. This goes back to my adage that 20 seconds of courage is all we need. Research shows that we can’t think logically when our emotional brain takes over. When we feel out of control, we get fearful, so the secret is to move closer to what threatens us. Or as my good friend Sarah Kobeski says, “Whatever you are most afraid of, you need to do next.” Here’s a great exercise: Think about your worst fear or something you know you need to do right now but you are afraid of. Is it motivational speaking? Writing your book? Having a crucial conversation with your spouse, parents, or boss? Building your business? Whatever it is, spend time with it. Now make your fear worse by getting closer to it. Imagine the worst that could happen. Now focus on breathing. Feel your body relax. See, you didn’t die, did you? You’re on your way to conquering your fear. If you don’t believe in yourself, how do you expect anyone else to believe in you? You are amazing. Remember that!
THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE: Review each of these steps and pick one area to focus on and grow in. Write it down and meditate on it. How did you do? What can you work on next?
Habit #8: Smile More
I read an article about a physician who lived from 1877 to 1964. Dr. C. Ward Crampton was an author, professor, scientist, consultant, and an active promoter of public service, physical fitness, and hygiene. He used to prescribe what he called his “miracle exercise.” Here it is:
- Raise the corners of your mouth an inch, take a deep breath and hold it for 10 seconds.
- You are smiling. If you have people watching you, they’ll probably start smiling, too.
- Now release your breath in short exhalations. You’re now laughing. Unless those other people are curmudgeons, they’ll undoubtedly start laughing, too.
The effect? A general feeling of well-being that triggers happy emotions and makes the people around you happy, too!
In his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie described a newspaper ad taken out by a New York department store. According to Carnegie, the store’s sales clerks were struggling with the holiday rush, so the store posted this ad:
THE VALUE OF A SMILE AT CHRISTMAS
It costs nothing but creates much.
It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give.
It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
None are so rich they can get along without it, and none so poor but are richer for its benefits.
It creates happiness in the home, fosters goodwill in a business, and is the countersign of friends.
It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and Nature’s best antidote for trouble.
Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is no earthly good to anybody till it is given away.
And if in the last-minute rush of Christmas buying some of our salespeople should be too tired to give you a smile, may we ask you to leave one of yours?
For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give!
So, if you want people to like you, SMILE!
When I’m speaking to an audience and I ask them if people ever tell them they need to smile more, I’m always surprised at how many hands go up. It makes me wonder why they don’t heed that advice. Why would someone walk around without a smile? It actually takes less energy to smile than not to. Many people tell me that I smile a lot – and of course I do – I’m lazy! Smiling gives me more energy. It tricks my mind into thinking that all is okay even when it’s not. I’ll walk out of an important meeting that didn’t go well with my accountant, a student who dropped out of my school, or a staff member we had to fire, and voila, I’ll have a big smile on my face and no one ever knows what happened.
Maybe it’s because my dad taught me early on to put a smile on my face, especially when I was reprimanded by him or my mom for misbehaving. I won’t lie: there were times as a kid when I thought I’d get spanked if I didn’t smile, but thank God that’s exactly what my dad knew I needed. And look what it’s done for me. My smile has opened more doors than I could have ever opened without it. In fact, just last week at a seminar in Hawaii, the owner of John Paul Mitchell Systems came up to me and asked, “Has anyone ever told you that you have a beautiful smile?” And I smiled even bigger and said, “Yes, they have. Thank you!”
THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE: Try on this miracle exercise. Smile every chance you get, and especially when something goes wrong (and trust me, it will). Write down what happened and how it made you feel.