Saturday, May 28, 2011

Axiom 4: Happiness is a Journey, Not a Destination

I don't think I can say this any better than this quote....
"For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin -- real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. 
This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one. Happiness is a journey, not a destination."
Father Alfred D'Souza

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Axiom 3: The Glass is Half Full - Why Positive Thinking is Like Winning the Lottery (or Better)

"Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier." - Colin Powell 

"Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Back in the fall of 2006 I came across a little video that you may have heard of called, The Secret. For those of you who are not familiar with the movie, it explains something called "the law of attraction". Basically whatever you think about consistently will come to fruition. The video gives supposedly true amazing stories of people that used positive thinking to transform from unlucky losers into successful rich people. 

Want to know the process? Simple. Want a million dollars in the bank? Visualize a million dollars in the bank everyday and believe it with your whole heart until it comes true. Use the same process for anything else you may want: your dream lover, a new job, a cup of coffee, anything.

But beware that the opposite also holds true. If you focus on how awful your life is it will continue to be bad. People that constantly have negative thoughts attract negativity into their lives. You'll notice that some people just keep having bad luck while others just keep rolling sevens.

So after watching The Secret I went on the Internet to tried to find some unbiased reviews. People either said it changed their lives, or it was pure crap. I figured that I really didn't have anything to lose, so I decided I'd give it a try and see if anything happens.

I started every night from then on by lying on the couch for 10 minutes or so and meditating. I imagined how I wanted my perfect life to be. I pictured my dream house, dream car, job, friends, and so on. I also imagined that I no longer had bad luck. The meditation was great for goal setting and putting my life into perspective. During the day I would also consciously eliminate negative thoughts when they would pop into my head and replace them with positive ones.  

I'm sure you want to know what happened next. During the course of the next year my life, and my luck, dramatically changed for the better. I won a $1000 football pot, found enough money to buy a new truck, got a raise at work, traveled to 6 states, met some great new friends, bought my first house, and met the girl that would later become my wife. And yes - this all happened over a period of less than one year from when I started thinking positively. It became by far the best year that I had up until then. 

For some there is nothing that I could write to convince you that positive thinking can change your world. I didn't become a millionaire (yet), and my life didn't dramatically change overnight. However, over a short period of time my attitude changed and my goals became more clear. I think this also helped attract outside positivity into my life. Positive thinking is the one thing I practice that I believe has had the biggest impact on my life so far.

So give it a try! What do you really have to lose by meditating once a day? It helps you relax, helps you set your goals, it puts you in a good mood, and could maybe even change your luck.

Monday, May 16, 2011

5 Tips For Easier International Travel

I just got back home after spending a week in Europe. This was my first trip overseas, and I really learned a lot about myself and about our world. If you are planning on taking a trip out of the country below are five tips that I have learned. These will be especially beneficial for novice travelers who have never been outside of the US.

5. Never Underestimate the Power of Jet Lag - If unprepared it can wreak havoc on the first part of your trip. You'll be exhausted dealing with culture shock and nothing familiar to cling to. To avoid jet lag as much as possible make sure you get a full night's sleep before your flight. People mistakenly think they can just get all the sleep they need on the plane. The problem with sleeping on the plane is that the quality of sleep in pretty much worthless. It's nearly impossible to get comfortable long enough to sleep and get any REM sleep, which is the deep phase of sleep that recharges your body. Sleeping pills don't give you REM sleep either, so they won't do much good except to knock you out for the duration of a long boring flight.

Once you are at your destination leave the first day's itinerary light. You want to make sure you give your body time to rest and adjust to the time change. 

4. Arrive Prepared - Before you leave home make sure you have an itinerary with addresses and phone numbers for all of the places you'll be going to. This will cut down on wasting time once you get there.

Other things to make sure you pack are: city maps (especially subway/mass transit maps), travel power plug outlet adapters (your electrical devices may not work without them), and backup copies of your passport and credit cards.

3. Buy Quality Luggage - I've learned the hard way over the years that buying cheap luggage costs more in the long run. The airlines are so hard on checked luggage that the cheap bags fall apart very quickly. Spend the extra money and get a quality brand like Samsonite. Sometimes you can pick up the quality brands for cheap at clearance stores like Ross, TJ Maxx, or Nordstrom Rack.

The first bag on international flights you check is free, as long as it is under 50 pounds. A good rule of thumb is that a 26" bag will weigh about 50 pounds fully packed and should be enough room for one person to pack 5-7 days worth of clothes. You can also buy a luggage scale to take with you to make sure you don't go over the weight limit.

2. Learn the Language - If you are going to a non-English speaking country make sure you take a phrasebook, and try to learn a little bit of the native language. I think people sometimes have grand delusions of trying to become completely fluent before their trip. Don't make this mistake, just buy a language CD and start with the basic phrases you'll be using on your trip. I bought some CD's from Michel Thomas that really saved me on my trip. They ended up being far more helpful than Rosetta Stone. While Rosetta Stone starts by teaching words like "boy" and "dog", the Michel Thomas CD's start by teaching phrases you use to order at a restaurant. 

Throughout the world English is more commonly spoken than you might think because of the economic power of the USA. Most people you meet will probably know at least a little bit of English, you just need to learn enough of their language to "meet them in the middle".

1. Embrace Their Culture - I think the biggest reason people have a bad time on a trip out of the country is because they lack the ability to step outside of their American expectations and embrace something new. Yeah sure America kicks ass at almost everything it does, and the standard of living is higher here than pretty much anywhere else. However, if you go to another country and embrace their culture I'm sure that you'll find things that they do better than here in America. Just remember that sometimes less is actually more. Focus on what makes that country special and try to adapt to their culture the best you can while you are there.