Drew Griffiths keeps 7 lessons at the forefront of his life. Here they are.
I feel like a bit of a fraud writing this blog post. I don’t pretend to be any kind of especially positive or successful type of guy who is in any way better than anyone else. But I have read a few books on psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy and Buddhism. I’m also a big fan of Dale Carnegie’s books. Just in case you don’t have time to read a similar amount of books and articles as me, here’s a quick summary of what I’ve learned and what I’ve found to be worth using.
1. Selflessness – Buddhism
This is perhaps one of the most difficult concepts but I think it’s ultimately the best one. The idea and concept of having no ego is central to Buddhism. My own interpretation is slightly different – don’t care too much about what people say about you, and don’t overly concern yourself with what people think you look like. Concern yourself only with the opinions of your very best friends and family.
Related to this is the ability to not take yourself too seriously. A great practical example of this: Have you ever felt like you have to have the last word in every discussion or argument? It may make you feel better, but ask yourself, “Is it more noble to allow my friend to have the final say?”
2. Avoid Comparisons – CBT
A sure way to depress yourself is to compare your own fortunes with others. This can make you jealous of your friends who succeed. Instead, have an internal monitor or gauge of your own success and do not concern yourself too much with how well you are fairing with your career, etc. compared to your friends. Set your own goals and stick to them. If you feel jealousy coming, try to redirect its energy towards embracing their success and feeling pleased for them. When a friend gets a promotion, for example, quite often our default emotional response is one of jealousy. Have the intelligence to override this and share in your friend’s success and happiness.
3. Do Everything with Enthusiasm – Dale Carnegie
This is key to enjoying anything! Do everything that you undertake with enthusiasm and you are much more likely to enjoy it, and also a lot more likely to be successful in your endeavors than if you approach them begrudgingly. This is especially true when stepping out of your comfort zone (which in itself is important for open mindedness and general personal development). A great example of when this can come into play is when you are asked to do a task that is outside of your normal routine. Instead of approaching the task with a sense of resignation and bitterness at being asked to do something you don’t want to do, rise to the challenge and try to make it fun.
4. Let Negative Thoughts Drift Out of Your Mind – Meditation/Buddhism
Do not ‘attend’ to negative thoughts. Let them pass through your mind and out again without granting them too much of your attention. This has to be practiced to be mastered. Read up on meditation. It really is a functional habit and skill to adopt and attain. Mindful meditation helps you to live in the moment. Believe it or not, I use this mindset when training high intensity cardio. If I start thinking about how long is left to go then it is ten times more difficult, however, if I can mentally attend and live each second separately, thinking about just completing that second, then it gets a lot easier. Sometimes I think in 5 second or 10 second intervals too.
5. Suffering is an Important Part of Life – Buddhism
Obviously this is not true if taken to extremes, as you can be psychologically scarred for life. However, small amounts of suffering are necessary to build character and to allow us to appreciate when things go well. Try your best to battle through adversity with the enthusiasm and mindfulness previously mentioned. An obvious but good example of the importance of suffering is being out in the cold for hours, then coming inside to the warm. If you had been inside all day, you’d probably be bored, but that mild amount of suffering in the elements has made the indoors seem wonderful.
6. Approach Everyone with Warmth – Dalai Lama
Give everyone ‘a chance to be nice.’ When you meet a new person, be open and polite. When you see someone in the office, smile and say hello whenever possible. If they choose to ignore you or scowl at you (unlikely, hopefully) then it is up to you whether you wish to be friendly again. When are friendly and warm it’s often surprising how many people will reciprocate that warmth.
7. Learn to Love Imperfections – Made this one up myself
If you can convince yourself to appreciate imperfections for their character and quirkiness, then life in general does seem a lot better. This is especially true for aesthetic imperfections of yourself and perhaps your home. Perfection will never realistically exist, so rather than stress and strive for the impossible, accept that some imperfections are good as long as they don’t do anybody any harm. Your small house, your bald spot, your noisy car – all these things have character that can and should be appreciated.
Lastly, I keep close these two quotes from Dale Carnegie:
“Two men looked through the prison bars. One saw the mud, whilst the other saw the stars.”
“I once had the blues because I had no shoes. Then across the street I met a man that had no feet.”