What is happiness? Are You Happy?

440.jpg

Here is a picture of me looking happy. Truth is that when this photo was taken, I had been fighting depression for about 7 months. I was feeling particularly down that day because I felt like I was making little progress toward defeating depression. It took me a while, but I did end up getting out of depression for good (and 100% naturally) by mid 2013. I can confidently say that I will never fall back into depression again. 🙂

This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The Truth About High School. Although I wrote this book for people in high school, there is a lot of valuable information in the book for anyone of any age. So without further ado, let’s get into it! 🙂


…What is happiness and are you happy?

Happiness is an “inside job” many people say. Which is true, of course. You don’t find lasting happiness in objects, places, or tons of friends. It all must start with you. Happiness is the end result of having positive emotions like inner peace, love, compassion, joy, etc. You come to these emotions by doing what fulfills you, what excites you, and what you are passionate about. You also can get these emotions from spending time with the people who are closest to you and who you really care about. These are the ones who will always be there for you no matter what. Who are these people in your life?

If you are unhappy or constantly negative it is time to reconnect with your happy and positive side. The happy life is one where positive emotions dominate. So by simply enhancing positive emotions, or experiencing them more frequently, you can become a happier person. BUT you need to get these frequent positive emotions through the things and people that fulfill you, or your happiness will be short lived and inauthentic.

Even life circumstances only contribute about 10% to your life’s happiness. This includes getting what you want in life, such as becoming a billionaire or getting married. So if getting what you want doesn’t give you that much lasting happiness, then what does? The answer: appreciating what you really have and being happy within yourself. If you want to be truly happy, a major part of happiness is gratitude and positivity. The happiest people:

  • feel and express gratitude even during tough times in life
  • stay in the moment as much as possible
  • enjoy the simple pleasures of life
  • don’t let unavoidable ups and downs disturb their inner peace

How happy are you? Stop right now and seriously ask yourself this question. If you aren’t sure how happy you are, don’t worry. Happiness is pretty tough to measure. It may help to rate your happiness level on a scale of 1 to 10. Try out this set of questions that can also help you determine how happy you are.

1. In general, I am:

Not happy 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Very Happy

2. Compared to others, I am:

Less happy 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 More Happy

3. Some people are generally happy regardless of what’s happening in life. To what extent does this describe you?   

Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Totally

4. Some people are generally not very happy. Although they aren’t depressed, they never seem to be as happy as they could be. To what extent does this describe you?

Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Totally

5. I smile:

Hardly ever 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Very often

If you look at the numbers you circled, it will give you a very broad understanding of your happiness level. You could always average these numbers too if you want another way to look at it.

If you got a low score on these questions, then you may be depressed. Take this quiz to find out. This quiz was created by Carol Landau, who has a Ph.D. in Depression. I don’t know if I would have ever realized that I was depressed or gotten out of depression if I hadn’t stumbled upon this quiz during my sophomore year of high school. I wanted to include it in this book because I hope that it helps you like it helped me. Even if it only helps one person, I’ll be happy. So let’s take the quiz!

To be diagnosed with depression, you have to feel extremely sad or have lost interest in life, and you must experience 4 out of the 7 following symptoms every day and for at least two consecutive weeks:

– Increase or decrease in weight or appetite without conscious dieting

– Insomnia or excessive sleepiness

– Agitation or lethargy and difficulty getting out of bed

– Loss of energy and fatigue nearly every day

– Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt

– Difficulties concentrating, thinking or making decisions

– Recurrent thoughts of suicide.

Scientifically, if your mood is constant and lasts more than two weeks, that’s a sign that you might be slipping into depression.

According to Lifescript, which operates the leading website for healthy living, more warning signs for depression include:

  • Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Sleep problems
  • Appetite changes
  • Lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or self blame
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of suicide

Now, there is a difference between grief and depression. Mourning the death of someone close to you is an exception to the two-week rule. For the first month or two, it is typical to have symptoms similar to depression, such as unrelenting sadness, frequent crying, trouble sleeping, poor appetite, and weight loss. But if it continues for longer than this, with no signs of improvement, then the grieving may have turned into depression.

If you are depressed, or if you would like to know more about depression, don’t wait to get help. Your condition will only get worse. But be careful when getting help. It always amazes me how many people think they know what depression is, and that they can solve it for others when they haven’t even been through it themselves! If they haven’t gone through it personally, then they don’t understand. I promise you this. I learned this the hard way when I was getting out of depression myself. If you think you are depressed, even if you aren’t completely sure, please please please do not wait. It is important to take action and start getting out of depression as soon as possible. The sooner you realize it, the sooner you can get out of it!

Trust me, I have been there. It is a dark place, and it is very difficult to see the light. But when you get a glimpse of light, hold onto it and don’t let it go. Build on it until there is no more darkness. You can do it! If I can do it, then you can too. I believe in you. I know that you have what it takes to be happy again and to get out of depression for good. And, strangely enough, once you have completely overcome the challenge of depression for good, never to fall back into it again… your past depression becomes a gift. How? That is a discussion for another book which I am currently writing, so stay tuned. 🙂

If you would like to be happier, you must take time to consistently develop your inner qualities. Every minute you have a choice of where you focus your attention. The more you relax, try your best, and allow life to unfold, the more you will get out of life and the happier you will be. When your mind starts spiraling into negativity, stop yourself. The more you do this, the easier it will be and the more control you will have over your own thoughts. Eventually, you will be able to decide what you want to think about and what thoughts you want to let pass through your mind. Notice the good things in life. Pay attention to the positive things and be an optimist. Understand what makes you happy, and appreciate yourself. Choose to be happy!

“As long as there is a lack of the inner discipline that brings calmness of mind, external facilities or conditions will never give you the feeling of joy and happiness that you are seeking. On the other hand, if you possess this inner quality, a calmness of mind, a degree of stability within, then even if you lack various external facilities that you would normally consider necessary for happiness, it is still possible to live a happy and joyful life. Achieving a genuine sense of happiness may require bringing about a transformation in your outlook, your way of thinking, and this is not a simple matter. In taking care of your physical body, you need a variety of vitamins and nutrients, not just one or two. In the same way, in order to achieve happiness, you need a variety of approaches and methods to deal with and overcome the varied and complex negative mental states… It is not possible to accomplish that simply by adopting a particular thought or practicing a technique once or twice. Change takes time.”

–Dalai Lama

So, what about you…

How happy are you?

Did you just find out that you are depressed?

Do you have a success story?

Feel free to share in the comments. We are a community here and we support each other. 🙂

To your greatest happiness,

-Alex 🙂


Odds & Ends:

  • There is now an Instagram page for this blog’s lifestyle! If you would like to  surround yourself with happy, healthy, and wealthy aspects of your dream life then don’t hesitate to follow @lifetools_official  I promise it will be worth it! 🙂
  • If any of you would like to contact me directly there are two ways:
    • One: Leave a comment on this blog. I will see it 🙂
    • Two: Contact me via Instagram: @lifetools_official . 

Completely Change Your Life With 4 Books

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 6.51.21 AM.jpeg

Reading these four books and implementing each into your life will completely change your life, your future, and even your values. It did for me and I hope it will for you too. These books will help guide you on your journey to become your best self and live your best life. But! They can’t change your life for you. Notice that I didn’t title this post “4 books that will change your life”. Why? Because you are the only one who can change your own life! A book can show you a new perspective, and spark new thoughts and ideas within you, but you are the ultimate decision maker and you run the show. A book doesn’t change your life. You change your life.

Here is the short version:

If you are struggling Financially, then I suggest reading Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. If you are going through a difficult time in your personal life, then read The Way of the Wizard by Deepak Chopra. If you want a top quality life and to achieve your dreams (no matter what they are), read The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. If you want to be physically healthier, more energetic, mentally sharp, and have  dramatically fewer health problems as you age, read Real Food by Nina Planck. If you want to be happy, healthy, and wealthy in all aspects of your life, read all four of these books and you will be well on your way!

Here is the long version: Completely Change Your Life With 4 Books: 🙂 

Raising Your Child’s Financial IQ by Robert Kiyosaki

Robert’s book Rich Dad Poor Dad would have also changed my life had I read it before this one. I actually picked this book up during spring break back in 8th grade. Reading this little book completely changed my entire perspective and direction of life in a matter of three days. All of Robert Kiyosaki’s books are awesome and I have read nearly all of them. I suggest you do the same. The life changing lessons I learned from his book:

  • I realized that I don’t have to live the traditional story. There are thousands and thousands of different options. I didn’t have to go to school and get really good grades so that I can get into a good college and get a degree so that I can get a good, secure, high-paying job, and work really really hard and save a lot so that I can retire at 65 or maybe even a few years early.  That’s what everyone else seems to do, so what makes them different? Nothing! There are much, much faster, easier, and in my opinion, better ways to make money than a 9-5 for the rest of your years.
  • I realized that I didn’t even want to go the traditional route. I had never really given it much thought, but I didn’t want to work at a job for  pretty much the rest of my waking life. I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I wanted more out of my life.
  • Question the “truth”. Question what society says is right. Question the things that you think you have to do, Question what society says is the only real truth; the only way. Often, society’s “right” and “wrong” are driven by ulterior motives. The only truth is the truth you decide for yourself.

The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

Another life-changer in matter of just a few weeks! Wealth is only partly about money. It is actually more about lifestyle. Tim Ferriss shows you how to live the lifestyle of a multi-millionaire without being a multi-millionaire, or even without having any money at all. It is not only possible, it is ridiculous that more people don’t live this way! This is by far my favorite book and I have read it at least 5 times. I learn new things with every new read and I have used tons of information within the book to implement changes into my own life.

The Way of the Wizard by Deepak Chopra

Spiritual development! This book helped me stay strong during a difficult period in my life, and it will help you develop yourself spiritually. But not religiously- there is a difference. Great book! It will get you to really think about yourself and your connection with your inner self. This book will help you change a lot of inner beliefs you have within you that aren’t serving you.

Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck

You truly are what you eat! This book changed the way I eat, think about, and buy food. It helped me make better eating decisions to take care of my body. Her book alone literally helped me become a better and healthier eater. If you are trying to eat healthier, then this is your book! Also, on the same note, watch the documentary called Food Inc. It will probably change your life or disturb you so much that you won’t want to acknowledge the truth that goes on behind the scenes in the food industry of mass production. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there!

Bonus Books: 

Here are some books I recommend that have changed some aspect of my life in one way or another:

  • Any book by Deepak Chopra, Tim Ferriss, or Robert Kiyosaki.
  • The Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker
  • Who Moved My Cheese? by Spenser Johnson
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey
  • How to be Rich by J. Paul Getty
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
  • Follow Your Passion, Find Your Power by Bob Doyle
  • Shel Silverstein poems. They are children’s poems, but similar to Dr. Seuss, there are deeper underlying messages to realize.
  • The Truth About High School by yours truly 🙂 I had to sneak one of my own books in here because it just finished going through the editing process, and will be out soon! I am excited since through this book I will be able to help teens go through a really difficult period of life. The book will get them to really think about their lives, and change their lives for the better!

What about You?

What book(s) have you read that changed your life?

To living your best life and becoming your best self,

-Alex 🙂

The Story of the Starfish

Today, I wanted to share a story with you. It may be very short and simple, but it is powerful. After you read this post, I advise you to meditate on the story and what it means for you. The best part is that you can use these insights from meditation to take action and incorporate new habits into your daily life. As a result, you will better yourself, your life, and everyone else around you. 🙂

The Story of the Starfish:

A boy went to the beach with his grandfather. When they got there, they saw that thousands and thousands of starfish had been washed up and were now drying out in the sun. The boy started to throw one starfish after the other back into the water. The grandfather said, “Boy, what are you doing? There are so many that it won’t make any difference if you throw a few back.” The boy picked up a starfish and said, “It makes a difference to him.”

You may wonder why you should even try to help others when there will always be more in need. It is true that you may not be able to help everyone, but if you try then you can help a whole lot more people than if you didn’t try. You may feel powerless in the big and overwhelming world, but the truth is just the opposite:

You are powerful beyond belief and you can do whatever you put your mind to.

The boy’s attitude in this story is contagious. If you were the grandpa, would you not feel more inclined and inspired to help throw the starfish back into the water?  Likewise, if you saw someone helping a stranger, would you not feel more motivated to help someone too? This energy is contagious in people and it catches on quickly, causing something of an exponential effect, yet it only takes one person to start it.

Helping others in a way that you feel you can really contribute is one of the most fulfilling things you can do. Many people have enjoyment in their lives, but they lack fulfillment. No matter how few people you help, it is always worth it.

To the world, you may be just one person. But to one person, you may be the world.

This is just a little snippet on the way I interpreted it, but it definitely isn’t the only way! It is now time to take a look at your own life and decide what this story means for you.  I would love to know what your insights are, so feel free to comment your thoughts below. 🙂

To living a fulfilled life,

Alex

Living From Intentional Habits (Or: Killing Bad Habits and Monotonous Routines)

Phra_Ajan_Jerapunyo-Abbot_of_Watkungtaphao.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

What is your first immediate reaction when someone cuts you off in traffic?

What is your most common meal?

What time do you usually go to sleep and wake up?

What is your most common negative thought? Positive thought?

Take a minute to answer these questions for yourself. You might find a pattern when you do. These are all questions of habit. How much time have you taken to think about your habits and how they affect your life? For most people, the answer is: not much. I find this really interesting because habits have such an impact on how we live our daily lives. And how we live each day is, of course, how we live our lives.

We have so many habits that we carry around with us every day and everywhere we go. Not only are they engrained in what we do, but also how we think, what we think, how we feel, and how we react to things. It is said that about 90% of our thoughts are reoccurring thoughts, meaning that we don’t usually come up with many new thought patterns throughout the day without effort. This means that about 90% of our thoughts are reoccurring day after day after day. Have you ever paid attention to what thoughts go through your head each day? I’d have to say that they are pretty similar day in and day out. Unless you really intentionally change something in your life, or have a huge change/epiphany, you are going to have the exact same thoughts as yesterday and last week and last month and even last year. This is because habits are shortcuts for the brain to use to make its job easier and more efficient. By nature we are habitual beings. I challenge you to really think about what you think about. Because thoughts lead to basically everything else. In fact, Gandhi once said:

Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words.Keep your words positive, because your words become your behavior.Keep your behavior positive, because your behavior become your habits.Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values.Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.

Habits are not a bad thing. In fact habits are amazing as long as they are good habits, or habits made out of intention for a better life. They are good if you are using them to your advantage instead of against you. The beauty of habits is that once they are established, they are easy to maintain so they are a perfect tool to get you living your best life.

While intentional habits are really good, you may have developed some unintentional, and really bad habits along your path. Maybe you aren’t eating the way you want to, but you love junk food. Maybe you always go to sleep late and oversleep in the morning. Maybe you continuously tell yourself negative thoughts throughout the day. Maybe you are having relationship problems and you have both gotten used to fighting everyday without fixing anything… for years. Whatever the problem is, don’t worry- I have good news for you! These are all just bad habits, so all you need to do is turn these bad habits into good habits.

It is simple to change a habit, but it is not necessarily always easy. Your body and mind must be retrained to a new pattern. But how? It actually takes just five steps. Going through these steps will be easier or harder depending on you as an individual, and how engrained the habit is within you.

  1. First, you must be aware of your habit. You wouldn’t fix something if you didn’t know that it was broken. Likewise, you can’t fix a bad habit if you don’t know that you have this habit.
  2. Then you must identify it as a bad habit that needs to be changed. Some people who have bad habits never get this far because they might know it is a habit, but they don’t see it as bad for themselves, even though it might be affecting them or others around them in a negative way.
  3. Once you realize your bad habit, you can go about changing it. This is the part that takes time and self control. You have to make a solid decision to not do whatever the bad habit is anymore. Then make a plan as to how you are going to stop. It doesn’t have to be a huge written out plan, it could just be in your head. All that matters is that you commit to ending the bad habit, and that you have a way (or multiple ways) to take action and end it. If you can’t think of a way to stop your bad habit, do some research on the subject and look for possible ways to fix it. The more you know about your bad habit, the better chance you have of changing it for good.
  4. Fourth, you must replace that bad habit with a good habit instead. If you don’t replace your bad habit with a good habit, then you could easily relapse into your bad habit. Why? Because stopping your bad habit creates a void of time. If you don’t fill it with something, then you will just think of doing that bad habit again, instead of doing whatever good habit you should have put there for replacement.
  5. Once you have gone through the first four steps, all you have to do is be consistently aware of your habits and make sure that you don’t fall back into the same old bad habit from before. You have come too far to go back now, and it will become easier and easier to maintain your new habit until you don’t have to think about it at all. You do it automatically!

About 6 years ago I used to eat pretty unhealthily. It started to give me problems because I didn’t have enough energy for the intense workouts I was doing at the time. I decided that it was time for me to fix this not only just for that period of time, but simply for the health and wellbeing of my entire life. I acknowledged that I had a bad habit and made a decision to change it. I decided that for me personally, I wouldn’t be able to just immediately be 100% cut off from bad eating because I knew that I would go back to my bad habits pretty quickly. So instead I decided to slowly ease myself into healthier eating habits. I started with a 2 sweets per week rule, and I stuck to it religiously. I kept track of the unhealthy food I ate per week, and I declined a lot of offers to eat unhealthy food. Within about a month, I wasn’t even eating two sweets a week because I simply didn’t want to, and I didn’t need to keep track any more. I did occasionally get big cravings still, but anytime this happened I would always grab something healthy and eat that instead. It worked. Within two months, not only did I have a new habit of healthy eating, but I also felt a million times better because I was taking care of my body, and I had so much more energy. I still have this healthy habit today, about 6 years later.

It takes time, patience, perseverance, and self control, but you can do it! If you want to create habits that will serve you for the rest of your life, then start now. Identify one bad habit you have and how you would like that habit to change. If you can’t think of a bad habit, then you can try thinking about other areas of your life where you would like to make a good habit. What aspect of your life would you like to make better, simpler, or easier? You can create a new habit to do just that.

So remember:

  1. Be aware of your habit.
  2. Identify it as a bad habit that needs to be changed.
  3. Make a solid decision to stop doing whatever the bad habit is. Make a plan as to how you will cut out your bad habit.
  4. Replace that bad habit with a good habit instead. Do this good habit every time you feel the urge to do the bad habit.
  5. Stick with it! You will kick your bad habit in no time! 🙂

If you want to live your best life, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to stop living out of blind and unintentional habits, and start living out of good and intentional habits. Stop being on autopilot. Wake up! This is your life and nothing about it is going to change if you don’t change (see: You Are the Key). Tired after a long day? Don’t have time to fix it? Everyone else is tired after a long day too. But there are people out there who make excuses, and then there are people who make it happen. If you don’t have time to fix your life to be the way that you want, then you really need to stop and think about the way you are living because you are the one who needs this lesson the most. The reason that you are not living your dream life right now has a lot to do with the fact that you have habits that do not coincide with your dream life. So to live your best life, you just have to change those habits. Once you change, your life will also change; and it will inspire you to continue on your path toward your best self, your best life, and your biggest dreams.

To living your best life,

-Alex

You Are The Key

 

Creative-Tail-Objects-mirror.svg.png

“You don’t get out of life what you want, you get out of life who you are.”  -unknown

Your dreams are a direct result of who you are. You must be happy with who you are to be truly happy and truly successful in your life.

The more you are yourself, the better you will understand what you truly want in life and the easier it will be to bring those ideas into your reality. The more you are truly yourself, the more you will be able to make decisions that are in favor of your best life. It is time to become your best self!

“But how?” you might ask, “What is my best self, and how do I even know when I am my best self?”

You are your best self when you have been the best person you could have possibly been in a day. You are your best self when you realize that you are enough. At the same time, you know that you can always become even better, so you learn and practice ways to be better than you were yesterday. You won’t be able to see much progress day to day, but looking back after a year (if you truly give your best effort) you will see a huge amount of improvement. Your best self is simply being the best possible person you can be. Not the best possible person others think you can be. Don’t think that to be your best you have to do what others think makes someone a good person. Do what truly makes you feel like a good person. Do what brings you happiness. By doing this, it will not only lead you to new opportunities, insights, and passions; but it will also be easier to accomplish your current dreams. When you are one with yourself and wholeheartedly being who you really are, things will start to change. Are you ready?

So many people will cover up their true selves to others just because they think that people might disapprove, or reject them. The truth is, though, that if you can’t be your true self around others, then you are not being your true self at all. Once you truly look at yourself and say, “this is who I am; I am simply me,” then you accept yourself as you are, flaws and all. When you talk to others, you will simply be you, not who you think they want you to be. If these people still disapprove of you, then they shouldn’t be in your life anyways. Be kind, but let this relationship fade. There is a quote that says, “the people who matter won’t mind, and the people who mind don’t matter.” It is exactly what I’m getting at. The negative people who don’t accept you for who you truly are, are simply creating more resistance between where you are now and your dream life. I am not saying that it is their fault that you are not living your best life, but I am saying that being around someone who puts you down for being you, or is always negative/judgmental, is not someone who is going to help you become everything you have always wanted. They don’t even believe it can happen for themselves! If they would just become their best self and start living passionately, they would see that not only is it possible, but it is absolutely necessary for a happy and fulfilling life. So just be honest when you are with others like your friends, family, strangers, coworkers, etc. Present yourself to them as you truly are. It feels vulnerable at first, but you will probably be very happily surprised with the results. A change in action precedes a change in results.

“A man may rule the world and still feel that he is unhappy if he is not supremely happy within himself.” -Seneca

So by being your best self now, you are not only more confident, happy, and fulfilled, but you are also well on your way to having your dream life. Work on yourself. Identify your flaws and make them better, read and learn about becoming your best self, get out of your comfort zone often (you are going to do a lot of this to bring your dream life into reality, so being comfortable with being uncomfortable is an awesome skill to have), spend time with people you look up to and want to be like, and mostly, accept and embrace who you are! These are all ways to be true to yourself and become your best self. Of course, there are many more ways out there, so don’t limit yourself to just the options above!

The more you are yourself, the closer you are to living your best life. In fact, one big part of living your dream life is being completely and authentically you. What good is a dream life if you are not able to be yourself? What is the point of any success if you aren’t happy with truly being yourself? What is your dream life worth if you wish you were someone else?

Nothing!

To be happy and successful in life, start with being your best self now. Your life can only be as great as you are!

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” -Dr. Suess

To being your truest and best self,

-Alex