May 092011

It blows my mind how people in some cultures can be happy in the harshest circumstances, while people in other cultures remain miserable while living lives that are easy by comparison. How is it that people who have almost nothing can be as happy as those who are rich, powerful and influential?

Last year I worked with a guy named Henry, and he always seemed to be happy. I’m sure everyone knows someone like him; the type of person who is unwaveringly positive at all times, never complains, and always tries to make the best of things. I was in a terrible mood one day, and I asked Henry how he managed to do it.

Turns out, Henry decided to be happy.

Henry told me about his life before moving to Canada, when he lived in an area of Africa ripped apart by civil war. Rebels burned down the entire town he lived in, and killed anyone who refused to leave the area. For a year and a half he lived in the countryside with his wife and two children, surviving in a makeshift shelter in the woods, foraging for food and drinking dirty water.

He was devastated by the loss of his home, his property, and by the murder of his friends in rebel attacks. He went through months of feeling desperate and hopeless before he decided to accept his circumstances and be thankful for what he had.

I felt absolutely ridiculous for complaining about whatever petty thing I complained about that day. Here’s this guy who lost everything he had in a vicious civil war, yet he’s one of the happiest people I have ever met. How could he be so happy in spite of his circumstances while I struggled to be positive even with more opportunity and less hardship?

What I realized is everyone has a subconscious checklist of requirements that must be met before they allow themselves to feel happy and satisfied. For people like Henry, the checklist is limited to being alive and having his loved ones around him. For most North Americans, material possessions and having social status are high on the list, things like owning a house or the newest iPhone, and having a position of power and prestige at work.

The good news is you can change your happiness checklist. You can eliminate some things, and you can change others. The biggest changes come from accepting the things you cannot change, like rush hour traffic or the weather. If you can’t change it, don’t worry about it.

Another big mistake people make is waiting to be happy. Wanting a Ferrari, a house, or an executive position at work are all great goals, but being miserable until you reach those goals is a bad idea. Being you will still feel the same whether you’re in a Ferrari or a Honda.  You will always have major goals, and when you achieve them new goals will take their place. If your happiness is based on achievement, you will only ever be happy in short, temporary bursts.

My business, my condo, my car, these are all things I get happiness from, but they aren’t the reason I’m happy. I’m happy because I have people in my life who I love and who love me. I’m happy because I have great friends, people in my life who I know I can depend on and make memories with. Find out what’s really important to you, and find happiness in that rather than in the superficial.

To Recap:
1) If you can’t change it, accept it
2) Write down the things that make you the happiest. Is your list a good one?
3) Is there anything you’re waiting for to feel happy and satisfied? If so, why?
4) Eliminate or change the things on your list that interfere with your ability to be happy on a day to day basis


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 Posted by on May 9, 2011
May 022011

What do women want? Real men.

It’s incredible to think about the huge decline in manliness over the past few generations, and even more incredible to think about it in terms of human history. At one point, even the least manly guy in any given society could go out with nothing more than a sharpened stick and come home with food for his family. We seemed to be doing alright until fairly recently, when for whatever reason the natural urge to be a man gave way and suddenly the urge to be a dipshit took over. Check out the decline of manliness in the average guy over the past thirty years or so:



All sarcasm aside, lots of women complain that guys these days aren’t manly enough. You don’t have to be tall, muscled, or have a deep voice to be manly,  just have the balls to take charge and go after what you want. On that note, here are five things you can do to be manlier.

1) Don’t complain

This one is pretty basic, but it makes a huge difference in the way people perceive you. No one wants to hear that you’re tired or that you hate your job, and if you’re the type of person who constantly complains, people won’t want to be around you. There are times when you will be in situations you have no control over, but one thing you will always have control over is your outlook. It comes down to a matter of choice: why be negative when you can be positive?

2) Be responsible

Responsibility makes a man. Whether it’s overseeing a project at work, having a family to look after, or owning a house, having people or things in your life that depend on you teaches you to make good decisions. People respect the guy who shows up on time, doesn’t call in sick because he’s hung over, and does what he says he’s going to do. Responsibility builds trust, and trust is critical in every aspect of life. No woman is going to get serious with you if you don’t seem like a reliable person, and you will never get anywhere professionally without trust and credibility.

3) Admit your mistakes

Everyone from your girlfriend to your boss will respect you for owning up to something when it’s your fault. Don’t make excuses or try to justify mistakes, just apologize and move on. Own your mistakes and be honest when you do something wrong; it will build credibility and strengthen your reputation as a solid guy.

4) Be confident

Confidence isn’t something you’re born with, and it’s not something that happens overnight. Building confidence is possible, but like most things, it takes dedication and hard work. You have to make a commitment to put yourself out there and step outside your comfort zone, accepting challenges even though you might not be able to handle them.

Confidence is your general belief in your ability to overcome challenges and deal with whatever life throws your way, and you build confidence by consistently dealing with things that might seem a bit out of your league. Every time you take on something that intimidates you and successfully deal with it, you prove you’re able to deal with the things that intimidate you, and taking action becomes easier every time.

5) Stay cool

Being emotional is strongly associated with being feminine, so it makes sense that manly men are very emotionally centered. By emotionally centered I mean they don’t take things too seriously, they’re light hearted, rarely get angry, and people tend to adopt their emotional state rather than the other way around. Great recreations of this behaviour can be seen by guys like Brad Pitt in the Ocean’s 11 or Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man.

Girlfriends can be frustrating. It’s important to be a rock for them and to pull them back to reality when they start acting all emotional, rather than letting them bring you down. Tease your woman playfully when she’s angry, comfort her when she’s sad, and never let the bullshit of the world bring you down.


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 Posted by on May 2, 2011