The Greatest Gift To Give a Son or Daughter

When my son graduated from college, I wrote a congratulatory note inspired by the author Sidney Greenberg that said:

“It is more important to know how to make a life than a living.”

I’m sure he would have appreciated a BMW more!  Who wouldn’t?

But the greatest gift we can give to our children, to those we love or for that matter to ourselves is the reminder that making a living and making a life are not the same thing. 

We tend to connect a happy life with money, but tens of thousands of psychologists and psychiatrists will tell you that money doesn’t insure happiness.

A recent Gallop study found that the average American by his or her own admission was happy if they earned around $75,000 a year.  After that, happiness did not proportionately increase with their income no matter how high it went.

Rabbi Greenberg leads us to this —  “The indispensible requirement for mastering life is mastering ourselves. We learn to live when we learn to give.”

As a Professor of Music Industry at the University of Southern California I was asked by graduating students:  “How can I be successful and make a lot of money?”

My answer.

Don’t try. 

Just work hard at being excellent doing something for which you have a great passion.

Ironically, the richest people may have money but they don’t always know how to make a life.

We can make that adjustment today.

Pursue passions not dollars.

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Do Not Postpone Joy

I have come to discover a fascinating author and physician who wrote a book called “Train Your Brain, Engage Your Heart, Transform Your Life”.

Amit Soot, a Mayo Clinic doctor says, “Do not postpone joy waiting for a day when life will be perfect and all your stressors will be gone”.

It’s about living in the moment.

There are always excuses for postponing your joy.  If you let these opportunities get away, you may have to wait a decade later to come back to it.

Being too busy or too stressed is not a good reason.

To quote Dr. Soot: “I have never had a day when my boat was fully secure in the harbor, the water was a deep blue, the winds were quiet, and the sun was bright and shining in the sky.  Waiting for such a day would be a very long wait.  So I need to admit the reality and find fulfillment in the present moment accepting all its imperfections”.

Your mind tends to push joy away and keeps you logged off from life.

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  • Another way to say it: Chase potential happiness, rather than run away from potential pain.

  • Happiness (or joy) is often a choice!  For some, the choice comes easier, for others (like me), it’s about re-learning how to look at things.  I strive for seeing — and experiencing — the joy every day.  It is not easy for me as I have to turnaround a lifetime of looking at what’s not happening instead of what is happening.  Reminders like this are always helpful, and thank you for the book recommendation.

Motivational Workouts

There is a new trend surfacing in New York City and Los Angeles and soon to be in 60 locations due to an acquisition by Equinox.

Cardio fitness.

Motivational sayings.

Lots of sweat and a very expensive fee – if you can get into a class. 

Lady Gaga, Chelsea Clinton, J Crew’s Mickey Drexler and Katie Holmes are among the celebrities who are earlier adopters.

SoulCycle is a spinning class with loud music and the all-important new exercise ingredient – motivational inspiration.  And they are onto something.

Exercise for the mind and the body.

You could start today with a motivational workout.  

Inspirational voices and music along with physical exercise. 

Even a walk with a pep talk.

Which begs the question, what great things would happen if we could put half the energy we put into physical fitness into bolstering our emotional health?

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Stephen Colbert On Suffering

TV’s Colbert Report star Stephen Colbert lost his father, a doctor and two brothers in a plane crash when he was 10 years old while they were flying to a prep school in New England. 

Colbert offers in a New York Times Magazine article that this profound sadness may actually be his explanation for becoming a comedian. 

It was Colbert’s mother who he credits for helping him not become bitter.

“She taught me to be grateful for my life regardless of what that entailed, and that’s directly related to the image of Christ on the cross and the example of sacrifice that he gave us.  What she taught me is that the deliverance God offers you from pain is not no pain – it’s that the pain is actually a gift.  What’s the option?  God doesn’t really give you another choice”.

There is value in suffering and sometimes it takes a great comedian to point it out.  Out of bad comes good.

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Successful People Never Win the Lottery

Isn’t that amazing?

We live in a world that fights over winning lottery tickets as if they are the ticket to success.  But ask billionaire Richard Branson which lottery he won.  Steve Jobs never got rich by buying a ticket at the local convenience checkout.  Or, for that matter, anyone who ever made a name for themselves.

Successful people thrive on adversity. 

Lucky people (or those who want to be lucky) fear it. 

There is no get rich quick scheme in life.

And people who spend their time waiting to get lucky wind up being poor in more ways than one.

Look forward to adversity.  It is the steppingstone to success.

Some thoughts:

  • Write down the failures in your life and career.  Then add the great thing that happened next.  Good always comes from bad.
  • Train yourself to scoop up problems as they occur in real time every day the way a shortstop scoops up baseballs in the infield.  Change your focus and look forward to problems coming your way like a shortstop anticipates and wants to handle ground balls.  If you make an error, get back up and be ready for the next challenge just like a ballplayer.
  • Solving problems is optional.  Dealing with them and putting them in some kind of order is required.
  • Your new mantra:  failure begins only when you give up.  Until then, you’re staying busy working on the human condition.
  • The Fat Lady never sings.  It’s never over until you say it is.

Only a fool expects life to be without challenges, disappointments and hurt but these are the gifts that drive achievers to success and happiness.

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