As I waited for an international client to call me on Skype, I stumbled upon a Tony Robbins listicle which grabbed my attention and had me leaning into my laptop screen. 

Here’s TR’s “9 Things To Give Up If You Want To Be Happy” and my take on each one.

As I was researching how to craft this essay, I found a pleasant surprise in the work of Vernon Howard; an American spiritual teacher, author, and philanthropist. I’ve included quotes from Mr. Howard. I hope you find them as inspirational as I did.

OK, here we go.

1 – Complaining

Think about it. What does whining do for you? You can grumble ad nauseum to your circle of influence but they probably don’t give a damn. In fact, your constant griping might help them feel better about their own lives.

I’m curious. What’s the payoff for you to continue to act this way?

Complaining takes lots of energy. In fact, it’s probably having an adverse impingement on your personal and professional life. Most importantly, your health. 

You have a narrow window of time left on this speck of dust we call Earth. Be realistic about the cards you’ve been dealt. Then go out and seek the circumstances that will feed you a continuous flow of happiness.

“People fight to preserve their frozen beliefs and then complain of the cold!” Vernon Howard


2 – Limiting beliefs

A limiting belief is a myth. A thought that seems real to us yet is imaginary, created through what we’ve experienced in life so far. Limiting beliefs bridle our thinking and suppress our perspectives to a world full of possibilities.

The good news is you can change your limiting beliefs. Here’s a formula created by Byron Katie that can shift your beliefs. It’s called the Four Questions. Here’s how it works:Is it true?

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

Finally, turnaround your limiting belief by experiencing the opposite of your beliefs.Go to the Byron Katie website to learn more.

“Constantly ask yourself, ‘What level is above this one?’ This makes things different.” Vernon Howard


3 – Blaming others

Also known as playing the victim role. This behavior can stem from rationalizing the abuse of someone, a coping mechanism, a form of manipulation, or to gain attention.

If you feel you have a serious medical condition, please seek the help of a professional counselor. Issues like the aforementioned are outside the wheelhouse of a professional certified coach.

If you don’t have a therapy issue, examine the moving parts of your personal blame game. What’s this game all about? How does the world see you in this game? If you’re the most valuable player in this game, who would you like to become so you’re in control of your life?

“The only way you’re going to have a good relationship with anyone is to have a good relationship with yourself.” Vernon Howard


4 – Negative self-talk

Or what I prefer to call your Itty Bitty Shitty Committee.

Some call it your Gremlin or Monkey Mind.

Whatever you call this negative self talk, it’s not serving you well. Is it?

It’s just as easy to imagine positive vs. negative. It’s a choice. Make better choices regarding your thoughts and you’ll be happier.

“We burden ourselves with useless ideas which we carelessly take as facts. Instead of letting reality come as a new surprise, we insist that it conform to our habitual concepts, and thus, we spoil everything.” Vernon Howard


5 – Dwelling on the past

The past is history and the future is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.

It’s easy to get consumed with the past. Been there done that and bought the T-shirt.

History serves a purpose of lessons learned. So I’m not advocating it’s all bad. The problem is when you obsess, day in and day out, in regards to what’s happened. You waddle in the muddle while eating a large bag of Cheetos.

You complain, blame, cement even more limiting beliefs which fuels the negativity reserve.

Instead, accept the past. Forgive the person (maybe yourself) who caused you this anguish. And ask, what did you learn from this moment? What will you do differently in the future?

“The power of the present moment is so immense it is capable – when lived in fully – of destroying forever every past mistake and regret.” Vernon Howard


6 – Resistance to change

Living in a foreign country will teach you a lot about resistance. For example, I use credit and debit cards as much as possible. I simply don’t like carrying cash. For me it’s a cleaner transaction. We swipe the card and within a matter of seconds I’ve made my purchase and away I go. 

Not the case here in the Philippines. It’s been painful adjusting to their process. They swipe your card the first time. Then they print out three receipts of which you must sign two. Then their fingertips dance on the terminal keyboard and swipe the card again. Wait, we’re not finished. Read something off the card, enter a few more digits and out streams your long cash register receipt. Ponderous and painful.

After some time I became numb to their process and caved in to the fact that this is how it has to be for now. I’m not happy about it yet I don’t let it get to me as much.

“Resistance to the disturbance is the disturbance.” Vernon Howard


7 – The need to impress others

The operative word here is “need.”

I’ve experience a myriad of impressive people in my life. Lou Holtz who gave an inspirational speech at a sales kick off. Minx Boren, a fellow coach, who spoke at the funeral of my Uncle Gene Borek. And my Uncle John, Mom’s brother, who was my godfather and mentor.

These individuals impressed me not because they were trying to, they just were.

There’s no need to grandstand. Doing so will make you less attractive and repel important people in your life. Most importantly, you’ll diminish your happiness when you were unable to pull off the rock star persona, one too many times.

“The need to impress others causes half the world’s woes. Don’t add to them. Be real. Not impressive” – Vernon Howard


8 – The need to always be right

When I was young man, I was obsessed with being right. Not sure of the genesis of this behavior. Perhaps it was my competitiveness in sports. Or maybe my role as a sales executive in the IT industry, My compulsion to having all the answers might be the root of my rightness. 

Then about 14 years ago, the time I began my coaching journey, I realized it wasn’t healthy to be engrossed in the idea of always being right. In fact I felt it tiresome to constantly be embroiled in the right wrong game. I acquiesced and waved the white flag. The moment I made this decision, I felt a sense of freedom and relief. Surrender manifested a conduit of control to my state of mind.

“Our freedom can be measured by the number of things we can walk away from.” Vernon Howard


9 – The need for others approval

One of the major reasons most people fail to slay their endgame is what psychologists call Approval Addiction. Studies show the majority of the population is hooked to seek the approval of others, and they’re unaware of their behavior. Now if you have modest goals, approval addiction isn’t as strong.

However, take a person who wants to transform themselves and crush an extraordinary goal. As soon as they embark on their journey, they run into a wall of resistance from their circle of influence telling them all the reasons why this is a terrible idea. Unfortunately, one out of five people take the bait and abandon their dream.

“A truly strong person does not need the approval of others any more than a lion needs the approval of sheep.” Vernon Howard

And finally, an apropos message from Vernon Howard regarding happiness:

“Happiness is yours in the here and now. The painful states of anxiety and loneliness are abolished permanently. Financial affairs are not financial problems. You are at ease with yourself. You are not at the mercy of unfulfilled cravings. Confusion is replaced with clarity. There is a relieving answer to every tormenting question. You possess a True Self. Something can be done about every unhappy condition. While living in the world you can be inwardly detached from its sorrows to live with personal peace and sanity.”

By reading this post, my wish for you is that your energy surrounding your own happiness has shifted even in the slightest so it rains smiles on you the rest of the day.

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