This week before New Year’s I’m going to share four things I learned over the years that have made my life better. I hope they do the same for you in 2022.
Swallow the Frog
We all have frogs – difficult or unpleasant things we must do. Naturally, we tend to put them off. The problem is (and we know this)…they almost never go away on their own. In fact, they tend to grow into monstrous frogs that we avoid even more because they become harder to face.
So my first New Year’s commitment is to…
Swallow those frogs, and do it early.
“If you know you have to swallow a frog, swallow it first thing in the morning. If there are two frogs, swallow the big one first.” -Mark Twain
Regret Is the Past Crippling the Future
My dad, Chubby, told me that if I lived a big, adventurous life I would make a lot of mistakes. From losing money to losing girlfriends, from failing tests to failing at anything, it’s normal (and easy) to get disappointed.
He said that one of the hardest things many people never learn is not to look back. A minute-old mistake is history. Yesterday’s mistake is ancient history. Chubby often warned me, “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.”
So my second commitment for 2022 is to make doubly sure I approach every day excited and fresh, 100% unburdened by any previous days, and never forget that regret is the past crippling the future.
“We crucify ourselves between two thieves: regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow.” -Fulton Oursler
It was a Saturday morning. Chubby and I were in our favorite booth at Perkins restaurant in Montgomery, Ohio.
The waitress wrote down our order and stopped at the next table. Nodding toward her, Chubby asked, “Did you notice the sign around her neck?”
“What sign?” I asked.
“The one with the big black letters,” he said.
I looked over at the waitress. I didn’t see a sign.
Chubby pointed to the couple at the next table. “Look,” he said. “She has one. So does he.”
Now I was really befuddled. What the heck? I didn’t see anyone wearing a sign.
He explained that whether we see them or not, everyone wears a sign around their neck that screams out “MMFI,”… please, please Make Me Feel Important.
Making people feel important (genuinely) achieves two worthwhile goals. First, you make them feel good. Second, they want to be around you, and help you when they can.
MMFI is not about fake compliments. It’s about honest flattery and genuine appreciation. What’s the downside? None.
So my third commitment for the New Year is to MMFI more deserving people each day in a genuine and meaningful way.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou
The Definition of Happiness
When I first started in real estate with my dad back in 1974, my goal was to accumulate $1,000,000 cash in the bank, own a nice home, and have a Porsche (911S coupe). I figured that would lead to “ultimate” happiness. Silly me.
After years of hard work, when that finally happened, I kept buying more. Cars. Clothes. Watches. There always seemed to be something “better,” and I had to have it.
Then one day I was having coffee with my friend, Bruce. He commented that I seemed “off” and asked what was wrong.
Interesting, I thought. Nothing was dramatically “off” in my life, but Bruce was right, I wasn’t the same old me. I didn’t feel as “up” each day.
So I told Bruce that while I certainly wasn’t unhappy, I didn’t feel as invigorated each day as I had in the past. What he then said may have been the single most pivotal moment in my life.
“Greg,” Bruce said, “I know your problem. You don’t know the definition of happiness.”
“What’s that,” I replied. These 21 words literally changed the way I approach life:
“Happiness is that deep sense of satisfaction that comes from the enthusiastic pursuit of a worthwhile goal of your own choosing.”
Bruce stressed that there are four key points in the definition:
You are striving for a deep in the gut sense of contentment with who you are and what you are trying to achieve.
You’ve got to be “all in,” aggressively going after your pursuits with gusto and commitment.
Your goal(s) must be worthwhile, doing good for others rather than being selfishly about yourself.
Your pursuits must be of your own choosing, not tasks and goals others foisted on you.
As we begin a New Year I wish you small frogs, big importance, no regrets and ultimate happiness.