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Ok…so we’re a couple of months into the New Year. We all survived the Mayan apocalypse. Congrats! I don’t know about you but I found the apocalypse a bit of a letdown. I expected more flash. More bang. At least some fireworks. Big pretty ones. That make you smile.
As our zombie looking friend on the left says, the end of the world has been cancelled. So what now? Well, what about making this year the best year ever?. Why not, right? We got lucky, and dodged an end of the world bullet. So let's celebrate by having our best year yet.
One way I plan on making this year a great year is by being luckier. That’s right. I want more luck, more serendipity, more “Wow that was an awesome coincidence” in my life. I know. Asking for more luck seems kind of silly. Kind of like my two year old wishing elephants came in various shades of pink. But I say the world would be a better place with pink elephants.
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I thought I would share my formula on how I am going to make luck a reality. The formula is a creation of personal experience, observations of lucky people, and reading the writings of others. It is a simple formula. Only five parts. The key is making the formula a daily routine. A daily habit. And patience. Increased luck doesn’t happen overnight. But I know it will happen, if I am diligent in the application of this formula.
Ok, here we go.
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1. Spiritual: I put this first as I believe it to be the most important. I believe it is what grounds us. Connects us. Get’s us outside of ourselves. It helps us put our own ego aside and realize the world does not revolve around us. Here is the daily application.
- Pray: Prayer is powerful. It helps us to ponder the good things in our lives. It helps us to connect with something that is much bigger than us. It is an opportunity to meditate with the eternal.
- Read Uplifting Material: I don’t care what you read. It can be scripture, a self help book, a book that makes you smile or feel good about life. It could be reading the poem If by Kipling. It doesn’t matter what you read as long as when you are done reading you are motivated to be better. Do better.
- Be Honest: It really is the best policy. Be honest with yourself. We all deceive ourselves from time to time. Work to eliminate it. Be honest with the people around you. Don’t be brutally honest. Be genuinely honest.
2. Mental: Mental is all about challenging yourself. Pushing yourself to create something new. To develop a new talent. Learn a new skill. It's about producing rather than consuming. Here are some ideas on how you can do that. You don’t need to do all of the ideas. Pick one of my ideas or come up with something that excites you. The key is to do it every day for six months. Evaluate at the end of the six. If it is going well…continue. If not pick something else.
- Learn a New Language: There is a great new website called Duolingo. It is phenomenal. The premise of the website is to teach you a language while you provide a service to the world. That of translating internet pages from the language you are learning to your native tongue. It is pretty impressive. And a clever way to provide a free service.
- Write Lists: Everyday, jot down 10 ideas. It doesn’t matter what the ideas are. Just jot them down. Could be ideas about books you want to write. Ideas about businesses you want to start. Ideas about people you want to thank. Ideas about 10 people you want to connect with each other. 10 ideas on how you are going to add value to your employer. 10 ideas on being a good parent/spouse/friend. It doesn’t matter. The key is to write down ideas. We all have an idea muscle. But like all muscles, if not used, it atrophies. The problem is even though our idea muscle has probably atrophied we still think we have good ideas. When in reality we have mediocre ideas. If you do this, the first 3 months will be a bit of a challenge. At about 3 months ideas will really start to flow. You will want to act on those ideas. Don’t do it yet. Set your best ideas aside for a few months. At about 6 months you will start generating great ideas. And you should start to act on one or more of them. And you know what will be awesome? Like magic, people will come into your life to help you execute and make your ideas a reality.
- Learn a New Skill: One of the things I am trying to do right now is learn to be a better cook and learn some interior design skills. So each day I read a little about both. With cooking, once a week I find a new recipe that will challenge me a little. This week I am thinking I will do a little sous vide. Should be interesting. With design, my goal is to find one project a month to do. Last month we reinventing our old coffee table. In the process it went from boring to amazing.
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3. Intellectual: Intellectual is a little different from mental. Mental is about the physical process of doing something. Learning a language, writing lists, making something. It is about producing. Intellectual is about expanding your mind. Learning. Studying. Consuming. Gaining a better understanding of yourself and the world around you. How should you do this?
- Read: Everyday. Read. History books. Fiction books. Poems. Plays. Harry Potter. John Adams. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. The Brothers Karamazov. The Writings of Cicero. It can be anything. If you are trying to be a funnier writer or wittier person pick up books by comedians. If you are trying to be a better thinker pick up books by philosophers. If you want to better understand human nature read one of the classics. I just finished reading the short story The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It is a magnificent piece of writing. Poe is a master at using language to communicate ideas/imagery/feeling. One last note. Try to make your reading something other than your spiritual material. So yes, you will be reading two books at the same time. Double dip if you must. But try not to.
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4. Physical: We all know the benefits of exercise and good eating. Not only have we been taught it since we were little but we know it instinctively. Part of having a lucky life is being healthy. So here are a few tips/things I am going to focus on.
- Exercise: Get up. Get moving. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete. You don’t have to train for a triathlon. You don’t even have to take hours out of your day. 20-30 minutes is all you need. 6 days a week. Get up, and break a sweat. That’s it. All you need to do is get your heart rate up high enough that you sweat for 20-30 minutes. Do yoga, walk, jog, jump rope, chase your kids around the yard, play basketball, hike, dance. You decide. Make it fun. Just do something everyday.
- Eat Right: First, cut out all or almost all processed sugars. That stuff is evil incarnate for your body. Also, eliminate junk food, processed foods, and significantly reduce your consumption of grains. Stop drinking soda. Even the no sugar kind. Instead eat good things. Natural foods. Consume more vegetables, fruits, nuts, and meat. I promise you will feel better. Have more energy. And your mind will be clearer.
- Sleep: Get your 8 hours of sleep each night. It is the rare person who can fully operate on less. If you get 8 hours you will find you won’t need stimulants to get you going in the morning. You will have less headaches. Your mind will be sharper. You will have more energy. It will almost be like magic. To help you sleep better make sure you have a dark room to sleep in. Try and get rid of any light. That includes lights from electronic gadgets. Also don’t watch tv or use a computer, ipad, etc an hour or two before bed. Studies show watching or utilizing electronics just before you go to bed makes it harder to fall asleep and sleep soundly. The blueish light they emit mimics daylight, which tricks your brain into thinking it is still daytime. Instead read an old fashioned book. Or and I know this is crazy, but spend time with your spouse. A little pillow talk is always a good thing.
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5. Gratitude: I end with gratitude on purpose. As it is a very important quality for a happy life and creating luck. It is said, that Albert Einstein once remarked, the most important decision you can make is deciding whether you live in a friendly or hostile universe. If you can develop an attitude of gratitude it is amazing how the world seems to conspire in your favor. Here are some ideas on how you can develop your gratitude muscle.
- Gratitude Moment: Try to find a moment each day, with a significant person in your life, to reflect on what it is you are grateful for. I have found the best time to do this is at night, with my wife, just before we roll over and go to sleep. Doing it at the end of the day gives me a chance to reflect. Each night in bed we ask each other, “What are you grateful for today”. Sometimes the answers are silly. I’ve been known to respond “bananas” once or twice. What? I love bananas. Especially in a morning smoothie. More often the answers are heartfelt. Doing this with a significant other will help strengthen the bond between you.
- Say Thank You: Think of people who have been positive influences in your life and write them a note telling them one thing that makes your grateful they were/are in your life. Be genuine about your gratitude. Ask them how they are doing. Getting this from you will be very meaningful. Imagine if out of the blue you got a thank you email, or better yet a hand written note, from someone long ago in your life. It would mean a great deal. Do this for someone in your life. Do it for 10 people. Do it once a month for the next year. Do it once a week for the next 6 months. Amazing things will start to happen.
- Write: Sit down and write a list of 100 things you are grateful for. If you can’t get to 100, that’s ok. Everyday add one more item. If you can get to 100, keep going. And everyday add one more item to the list. Write a paragraph about something you are grateful for. Write a novel about something you are grateful for. Write a gratitude poem.
So there you have it. The secret sauce for creating your own luck. Spread it on thick. Because luck is tasty.
The key is to make this a daily habit. Do this every day for the next 6 months and you will be amazed at the changes you will see in your life. If you can hold on for a year, by this time next year, you will look back and realize that life has really changed for you. I think Jefferson said it best, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”