This is a compilation of thoughts and quotes that I have found or written recently, as well as many that I've collected throughout the years. Most thoughts are posted randomly, as I feel inspired. A listing of quotes can be found alphabetically (check the 2008 and 2009 archives listing), or by source.

Feel free to suggest additions!

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” – Proverbs 23:7

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Actually, Money Can Buy Happiness. Here's How:

The question of how much we need to be happy has puzzled everyone from philosophers to self-help gurus to, well, us regular folks. My research suggests that money often doesn’t buy us much in the way of happiness — not because it can’t, but because most of us aren't spending it the right way.
Think about where your money goes each month. If you’re like the people we’ve surveyed all around the world — from Canada to Uganda, South Africa to the USA — you probably spend the vast majority of your money on one thing: stuff. Big stuff like cars and houses, medium stuff like TVs and iPhones, small stuff like coffees and snacks.
There’s just one problem with buying so much stuff: all the data suggest that it simply doesn’t make us happy. The size of your house, the price of your car, your fourth coffee of the day — none of these have any bearing on how happy we are with our lives. And interestingly, this seems to be true for people all over the world, rich and poor alike.
So what can we spend our money on to make us happier?
Buy experiences.
Research shows that experiences — from small date nights to big vacations — are a more reliable source of happiness than stuff. For starters, experiences are more interesting than things while they happen. Think how much more enjoyable an evening out with friends is than one spent sitting plunked in front of a TV.
But experiences have additional hidden benefits as well. The days we spend waiting for stuff we’ve bought to arrive generally makes us feel impatient (a negative emotion), but the days before experiences actually fill us with anticipation (a positive emotion). It’s no fun to be pining for your next iPod, but it is fun to fantasize about your upcoming trip.
And experiences beat stuff in the longer term, too. Our TVs get old and outdated soon after we buy them, but trips actually get better in our memories over time. Many people reflect more fondly about their honeymoon than when they were actually sitting in the airport waiting for a delayed flight. Before, during, and after — experiences trump stuff.
Buy time.
In a talk I gave recently, I asked the audience to raise their hands if they felt they could afford to pay someone to clean their house once a month. Very few people did. Most felt that it was a luxury they simply couldn’t afford.
I then asked how many of them had bought a coffee that morning. Nearly every hand shot up. In fact, most people admitted buying not just one but several coffees each day. I asked them to do some math: the price of a few cups of coffee (or lattes!) every day for a month is equal to how much cash? (Take a moment to figure out your own “coffee cash.”) Many folks reported spending more than $100 each month on coffee alone — those trips to Starbucks do add up!
Then I asked a simple question: would you rather drink a little less coffee in exchange for someone cleaning your house once a month? You’d spend the exact same amount of money, but buy yourself better time: an entire Saturday you could spend with your family, or on an experience, or even time to stare at a wall. (Really what doesn’t beat cleaning the toilet?)
This failure to use our money to buy better time arises from our general tendency to focus on specific things — I need a coffee right now — instead of thinking broadly about how to allocate our money to maximize our overall happiness. Shifting our money from buying stuff to buying time frees us up to pursue the things that truly make us happy.
Invest in others.
Buying experiences and buying time both involve shifting from buying stuff for ourselves to buying things more valuable for ourselves. But my research has uncovered an additional means of buying happiness. In addition to changing what you buy, think about changing for whom you buy.
In experiments I've conducted with Elizabeth Dunn, a Professor at the University of British Columbia, we gave people free cash, but with a catch. They had to spend it following our instructions. Some got to spend their money on themselves, but others were told they had to spend their cash on someone else — a gift for a friend, a donation to charity, or any other creative means that allows them to invest their money in others.
Time and again, we saw the same pattern of results. People who spent on themselves didn't receive any happiness benefits — one more coffee doesn't change how we feel about our day. But people who spent on others were reliably happier. And this is true all over the world, even in very poor countries. At a very fundamental level, spending on others gives us the “warm glow of giving.”
Still think money can’t buy happiness?
Then you’re probably just not spending it right. If you'd like to try an experiment on yourself, break your monthly spending into “happiness categories.” Allocate enough of your cash to buying time, buying experiences, and investing in others. Making sure to do this at the end of each month will allow you to wring the most happiness out of every cent you spend.
by Michael Norton

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Six Health Lessons I Learned from Dr. Oz

Who doesn't know at least a little bit about Dr. Oz? Most of us can rattle off these impressive lines from his bio: A Harvard-trained cardiac surgeon, best-selling author, Emmy award-winning TV show host, and (sometimes controversial) wellness advocate.
I'd seen his show a number of times but as a cardiologist, mid-day is not my best TV viewing time. So I was more than curious to learn more about this famous doctor when I received a birthday gift inviting me to a talk he was giving. I showed up a few minutes early and was surprised to find that only Dr. Oz and his assistant were in the room, setting up for the talk. (Soon it was a packed house and he patiently took a pictures with every single person who asked for one.)
The title of his talk was The Good Life, as his new magazine is called. I took notes on a few business cards and wanted to offer you some of the insights that stuck with me:
1. Four things hold us back from making healthy changes.
Dr. Oz said that the big four restrictions to pursuing the health path we know we should are: enough time, enough money, enough knowledge, and fear of change. He emphasized that the last one, fear of change, was the most important. Health care professionals need to address this and discuss it with patients. He said that support groups, online tools, and follow-up visits or calls can encourage sustained change.
2. He discussed four factors that increase your chances of making positive changes.
They are:
  • Making it easy to do the right thing
  • Adoring your solutions with passion and energy
  • Appreciating that feelings about the benefits of change matter more than the facts (people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care)
  • Living the good life with joy. He emphasized that in order to succeed, you need the two Cs: connections and celebrations.
3. He listed the biggest goals to achieve for health.
If you want to improve your health, these are the most important areas to tackle first:
  • Have a goal blood pressure of 115/75
  • Exercise 30 minutes a day
  • Find a healthy diet easy to love (he dislikes added sugar more than added fats, a point where we differ)
  • Control stress and manage sleep
  • Control addictions
4. He showed us an amazing stress-reducing technique.
Dr. Oz pointed out that a lot of stress is created by clenching the jaw. He instructed us to open a bottle of wine (joking that if you drink the bottle, stress will be relieved) and place the cork in its full length on your upper and lower teeth to prop your mouth open for a minute or two. He said this creates a sort of natural smile and opens the tight TMJ, similar to a Duchenne smile.
5. He was emphatic that sitting is the new smoking, a public habit that shortens lifespan.
He pointed out that he was pacing and we were sitting; only he was actively prolonging his life.
6. Soon we'll all be using our cell phones to optimize our health.
In the next few years, our ability to monitor our health, metabolism, and overall wellness with smart devices will explode. He mentioned a free phone app, Ask MD, which I have tested and have found remarkable.
After his talk he answered questions for about 30 additional minutes. He demonstrated a broad grasp of integrative medicine, quoting recent medical literature more than once. He then took pictures one by one with anyone that missed that chance earlier. (I'd already nabbed a selfie, and given him a copy of my book, which he said he'd read on the plane.)
Overall, I came away from his presentation with a very high regard for the man, his commitment to continuing education, his approachabililty, and his integrity. As Dr. Oz has said previously, "whatever you choose, do it fully with a passion and child-like enthusiasm."
He has clearly found the field that he is passionate about and I am grateful he has opened the door to so many to consider alternative routes to health. It was a special birthday lunch for sure.
by Dr. Joel Kahn

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Iginite Your Passion

1. Give passion to get passion.
Think about how you respond to others. Are your responses filled with enthusiasm or are they flat and lifeless? The level of your energy will be reflected back to you--it's your boomerang to the world.

2. Value your values.
Just as important as what you do is how you do it. Living and working in alignment with your values reflects your passion as a person. Living your values also engenders the respect and commitment of others, who will see you as a leader of integrity.

3. Communicate with your community.
The word "communication" comes from the Latin root meaning "community." The best leaders surround themselves with others who share their motivation. Stay connected with your community to find support, to learn, to teach and to remain energized to stick with it.

4. Listen to Yoda. 
In the words of the Star Wars Jedi Master Yoda, "Do or do not. There is no try." If you are nervous that your plan won't work, you might find yourself saying, "Okay, I'll try to do it." You are laying the foundation for being unsuccessful from the beginning by giving yourself a way out. Yoda's adage is a passionate reminder that life rewards those who let their actions rise above their excuses.

5. Be still. 
Start each day in quiet meditation or prayer. Refresh your mind and refocus your heart on what you are passionate about. Concentrate on one new thing you can do that day to deepen your passion and make progress toward your goal ... even if it's something you don't like to do. Your passion helps you endure those daily disciplines that build the foundation of your success.

6. Enjoy the journey.
If it's only about achieving the goal, you are likely to lose steam along the way. Take time to be a human being, not just a human doing. Although high-achieving leaders have a laser-like focus, they also relish being in the moment. My favorite poem says it best: "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift ... that's why we call it the Present."

7. Imagine the future. 
Visualize the things you will be able to do once you have achieved your goal. Does it feel freeing? What will you be able to do with your precious resources of time, money and energy? This exercise is particularly helpful when you feel the flame of your passion barely flickering.

8. Serve others. 
Use your passion to inspire others. After all, great leadership is about others, not about you. Be ready to turn your passion into an example to encourage those around you to pursue their own goals. A true passion, like love, is limitless ... so share it.

Find more strategies for igniting passion in Stick with It: Mastering the Art of Adherence. Download free book chapters here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Excerpts from "Good to Great" by Jim Collins

Although much of the advice in the book "Good to Great"  is geared towards improving corporations, there is a lot of good stuff that equally relates to personal improvement:

Good is the enemy of great. 

And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.
We don't have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don't have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.

"That's what makes death so hard - unsatisfied curiosity." - Beryl Markham

Curiosity. There is nothing I find more exciting than picking a question that I don't know the answer to and embarking on a quest for answers. It's deeply satisfying to climb into the boat, like Lewis and Clark, and head west, saying, "We don't know what we'll find when we get there, but we'll be sure to let you know when we get back."

Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.

You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of difficulties, AND at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

As one of my professors once said, "The best students are those who never quite believe their professors." True enough. But he also said, "One ought not to reject the data merely because one does not like what the data implies."

"You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit." - Harry S. Truman

Level 5 leaders look out the window to apportion credit to factors outside themselves when things go well (and if they cannot find a specific person or event to give credit to, they credit good luck). At the same time, they look in the mirror to apportion responsibility, never blaming bad luck when things go poorly.

And under the right circumstances - self-reflection, conscious personal development, a mentor, a great teacher, loving parents, a significant life experience, a level 5 boss, or any number of other factors - they begin to develop.

... it is worth the effort. For like all basic truths about what is best in human beings, when we catch a glimpse of that truth, we know that our own lives and all that we touch will be the better for the effort.

...they developed a simple, yet deeply insightful, frame of reference for all decisions.

And even if all decisions do not become self-evident, one thing is certain: You absolutely cannot make a series of good decisions without first confronting the brutal facts.

The "hardiness" research studies...looked at people who had suffered serious adversity - cancer patients, prisoners of war, accident victims, and so forth - and survived. They found that people fell generally into three categories: those who were permanently dispirited by the event, those who got their life back to normal, and those who used the experience as a defining event that made them stronger.

The Stockdale Paradox: Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of difficulties, AND at the same time, confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

If you are able to adopt this dual pattern, you will dramatically increase the odds of making a series of good decisions and ultimately discovering a simple, yet deeply insightful, concept for making the really big choices.

The "rinsing your cottage cheese" factor:
The analogy comes from a disciplined world-class athlete named Dave Scott, who won the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon six times. In training, Scott would ride his bike 75 miles, swim 20,000 meters, and run 17 miles - on average, every single day. Dave Scott did not have a weight problem! Yet he believed that a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet would give him an extra edge. So, Dave Scott - a man who burned at least 5,000 calories a day in training - would literally rinse his cottage cheese to get the extra fat off. Now, there is no evidence that he absolutely needed to rinse his cottage cheese to win the Ironman; that's not the point of the story. The point is that rinsing his cottage cheese was simply one more small step that he believed would make him just that much better, one more small step added to all the other small steps to create a consistent program of superdiscipline.

Good to great comes about by a cumulative process - step by step, action by action, decision by decision, turn by turn of the flywheel - that adds up to sustained and spectacular results.

There was no miracle moment. Although it may have looked like a single-stroke breakthrough to those peering in from the outside, it was anything but that to people experiencing the transformation from within. Rather, it was a quiet, deliberate process of figuring out what needed to be done to create other, turn by turn of the flywheel.

When I look over the good-to-great transformations, the one word that keeps coming to mind is consistency

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sandra Bullock's Words to Warren Easton High Graduates

Sandra Bullock recently surprised Warren Easton High School graduates in New Orleans.  Here are some of her words of advice:

~"Stop worrying so much! Our memories never consist of what we were worrying about, so stop it!!

~Raise the bar higher. Nothing is a failure, it's just not supposed to happen this way right now.

~Dance a little each morning before you go into the world because it changes the way you walk.

~Eat something green everyday.

~Do not pick your nose in public.

~Hug with two arms.

~If someone doesn't want to play with you, it's ok, go find someone who does.

~Last but not least, go find your joy!!" 

~ Sandra Bullock

7 Things to Give Up

Monday, May 12, 2014

Self-Help Books Everyone Should Read

This list from Joshua Uebergang was posted on :

Some say self-help books were first written in the Egyptian era, others are of the opinion they came into being from the fourteenth century, while others call the Bible the first of such books. Whatever the exact origin, self-help books are written to help troubled individuals cope and deal with their respective problems.

These are some of my must-read books. They changed my life from a shy single guy cleaning school floors, to someone in a happy relationship running a successful business from home.

1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
A modern classic that focuses on seven key habits a person must practice to attain great personal development. Nearly every personal development blog makes reference to this book.

The book brings forward the incredible world of introverts who prefer listening to speaking. A must-read if you consider yourself an introvert or interact with people who seem quiet.

This book captivates readers with the idea of detaching one’s ego and attaining spiritual freedom.

This book is extremely relevant to our contemporary world. It shows you how to master your emotions and take control of your life.

This book explores an underlying dynamic in all of your personal relationships. People communicate and feel loved in different ways. Understand how to love and be loved with this this book, which comes highly recommended by counselors.

One of the few books that can truly help you to learn to better communicate with your kids.

This book is both inspiring and informative. You get essential tools to successfully get started with the practice of tapping known as the Emotional Freedom Technique.

Is a powerful book that guides you through your subconscious and teaches you how to break a bad habit and nurture the good ones.

Get the fundamental aspects of human nature and be reminded of the simple truths that we all know but hardly acknowledge.

This book provides us with hundreds of valuable tips on how to overcome the fear of public speaking and do it well.

11. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy. This book explains the deeply psychological reasons behind the ill habit of procrastination and how to overcome this habit. I particularly loved his idea of eating your ugliest frog first thing in the day.

12. Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern
This book outlines simple and effective plans which help the readers to break disorganization.

13. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
A prisoner of war explains his journey and how you can walk forward in life with renewed purpose. A terrifying and life-changing read.

14. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Hill researches almost fifty millionaires to assess how to use your personal strengths to reap maximum benefit. Many experts recommend this book for more than wealth.

An inspirational book on the positive effects of optimism and how to achieve it. Optimism is more than seeing the glass half full.

A follow up by Covey covering the intricacies of relationships and how to handle them in a proper manner.

You learn why you should bring your mind into the present moment and how to do it. A book that can impact every minute of your life.

Get inspired and motivated as you indulge in this collection and most importantly, act on what you learn!

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Man Who Created "Rocky" - A Rags to Riches Tale

His name is Sylvester Stallone. One of the biggest and most famous American movie superstars. Back in the day, Stallone was a struggling actor in every definition. At some point, he got so broke that he stole his wife's jewelry and sold it. Things got so bad that he even ended up homeless. Yes, he slept at the New York bus station for 3 days. Unable to pay rent or afford food. His lowest point came when he tried to sell his dog at the liquor store to any stranger. He didn’t have money to feed the dog anymore. He sold it at $25 only. He says he walked away crying.
Two weeks later, he saw a boxing match between Mohammed Ali and Chuck Wepner and that match gave him the inspiration to write the script for the famous movie, “Rocky.” He wrote the script in 20 hours! He tried to sell it and got an offer for $125,000 for the script. But he had just one request. He wanted to star in the movie. He wanted to be the main actor. Rocky himself. But the studio said no. They wanted a real star.
They said he "looked funny and talked funny". He left with his script. A few weeks later, the studio offered him $250,000 for the script. He refused. They even offered $350,000. He still refused. They wanted his movie. But not him. He said no. He had to be in that movie.
After a while, the studio agreed, gave him $35,000 for the script and let him star in it! The rest is history! The movie won Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Film Editing at the prestigious Oscar Awards. He was even nominated for best actor! The movie “Rocky” was even inducted into the American National Film Registry as one of the greatest movies ever!
And do you know the first thing he bought with the $35,000? The dog he sold. Yes, Stallone loved his dog so much that he stood at the liquor store for 3 days waiting for the man he sold his dog to. And on the 3rd day, he saw the man coming with the dog. Stallone explained why he sold the dog and begged for the dog back. The man refused. Stallone offered him $100. The man refused. He offered him $500. And the guy refused. Yes, he refused even $1000. And, believe it or not, Stallone had to pay $15,000 for the same dog he sold at $25 only! And he finally got his dog back!
And today, the same Stallone who slept in the streets and sold his dog just because he couldn’t even feed it anymore, is one of the greatest movie stars who ever walked the earth!
- author unknown

See also:
Rocky's message to his son