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Live Like You Won The Lottery: How to Start Being Happy Today

Live Like You Won The Lottery: How to Start Being Happy Today

“Remember this; that very little is needed to make a happy life.”
Marcus Aurelius

At one time or another, most of us have stood in the shower and imagined what our lives would be like if we suddenly won the lottery. We choose a number (mine is 96 million), take out the taxes, then begin dividing it up—passing out houses, cars, and checks like candy. And not just to our family and friends, but to almost anyone who’s ever been kind to us.

Personally, I always give something to my fourth grade teacher, as well as to my mailman, and even the tow truck driver who once changed my tire for free. And, I don’t know about you, but it feels good when I pass out my monopoly money to those who need it. I mean, we’re happy to help, right? It makes us feel admired, and loved. At least for that one shower. I know I’m not alone, either. It’s a common dream that many of us share. The idea of instant happiness. The idea that somehow our life will take on a magical quality, if only we had the means to realize our dreams. We believe that if we could just get “there” we’d finally be happy.

And, of course, there in lies the problem with the lottery.

It’s not that we shouldn’t dream big or imagine possibilities. The problem comes when we buy into the illusion that everything we want is “out there,” instead of “right here” within us. The problem arises when we put off living in the meantime.It’s called “lottery thinking”—also known as always waiting for our ship to arrive. “If only I had this, then I would have that.” It’s waiting for all the stars to align just perfectly, so that we can begin living the life we think we deserve.

Unfortunately, when we live from this lie, we unwittingly buy-in to the idea that our life is somehow lacking in the meantime, like we’re forced to settle for some “less than acceptable” means of existence. Well, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to shatter this myth of what constitutes a happy life.

I’ll go so far as to say that we’ve already won the lottery. All we need to do is realize it.

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If you think I’m about to peddle some half-full glass of optimism, you’re right— I am. In fact, the quality of our thoughts are exactly what will determine the quality of our lives, or as Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” In other words, we don’t need to wait another second to feel as if we’ve won it all. We just need to change our perspective.

Here are four tips to get you started.

How To Win The Lotto Tip #1: Live In The Now

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

Buddha

The next time you’re in the shower, just enjoy the hot water. Stop thinking about what went wrong yesterday, or how tomorrow will be better. Just as it is impossible to be in two places at one time, the only thing it accomplishes is to zap us of today’s energy, while also robbing us of its joy.

As mystics and saints have been telling us since the dawn of time, it’s not Disneyland, but the NOW which is the happiest place on earth. It’s the only place where we can truly be present with our kids, enjoy nature, appreciate beauty, find solitude, discover love and be ourselves. It is also the home to peace, harmony and all the secrets of the universe.

How’s that for a Magic Kingdom?

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So, just how do we live in the Now? Again, ignore the past and forget the future.

Yes, we can learn from yesterday and plan for tomorrow, but then we must let it all go and live in the moment. This takes vigilance, which begins by mastering where we put our attention, a commitment to focusing on one thing at a time. That means appreciating who we’re with and what we’re doing. It means watching, listening, breathing, smiling, and accepting.

Living in the now is an art that ask us to slow down, go within, and find the stillness in our hearts. It is an art that asks us to treat every moment as sacred.

Cultivate this art and we’ll slowly begin to see that all the riches of the world are bundled up into the one single moment we’re living in.

How To Win The Lotto Tip #2: Find Your Purpose

“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it.”
Buddha

I know we’d all like to think if we struck it rich, we’d tell our boss to shove it and then go retire to our own private island in the Pacific Ocean. At the very least, there’d be no more rat race, working for the man, alarm clocks and time cards. We’d put up the “gone fishing” sign and start living the good life. Five star hotels. Private jets. Fine dining. Someone to iron our underwear.

While all that sounds wonderful, most of us know deep down in our hearts that there are just as many miserable rich people as there are miserable poor or middle-class people. And, I know we’d like to believe that being miserable wouldn’t be so bad if we were living in a seaside mansion, but the inescapable truth is this: money can’t buy happiness. Sorry, but the cliché is true, but, that’s okay, because real take-it-to-your-grave happiness comes at no cost and is accessible to anyone who is willing to take one simple, but challenging leap: to live the life you were meant to live.

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This is our call to do what excites us, moves us, and drives us to jump out of bed with purpose each morning. To live our purpose is to do what we would do if no one was watching. It’s to do what we were meant to do. It’s the reason we were born, and it should scare the hell out of us at the same time as it excites us.

Of course, we don’t always know what our purpose is. Sometimes we have to search for it. But, it’s out there. And it’s waiting. All we need to do is follow our intuition, pursue our passions, and chase our joys. Do that and eventually we will collide right into it. The most wonderful thing is that once we find our purpose, we’ll discover our talents, which, when shared with others, is how we will each make our difference in the world. That’s a jackpot we can all share.

How To Win The Lotto Tip #3: Spread The Love

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.”
Mother Teresa

If you want to help another human being you don’t need to wait until you win 92 million dollars to start—you can do it right now. You don’t have to buy your mailman a car; buy him lunch or a cup of coffee. You want to thank an old teacher? Write a heartfelt letter. You want to help out your family and friends? Show them how much you care, and be there for them when they need it. It’s not about money, it’s about generosity of spirit.

Sure, a big fat check with lots of zeros is nice and all, but what people really want is someone to listen to them, and to acknowledge their feelings. They want what you are, not what you have. The best part is, the more we give away our love, the more we bring it back into our own lives, making us even richer. Yes, Sir Paul McCartney was right. “The love we take is equal to the love we make.”

How To Win The Lotto Tip #4: Add More Joy & Adventure Into Your Life

“Sometimes, the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
Winnie the Pooh

Okay, you really want to win the lotto? Keep the buck in your pocket and add more joy into your life. And while you’re at it, make the seeking of joy an adventure that will take you into as many different worlds as possible.

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In other words, try everything. The mandolin, the banjo and the Cha-Cha. Also, barefoot running, rollerblading to work, gardening, miming, yoga, spin class, and a pickup basketball game with strangers. Don’t just explore the ballet, either; stop for break dancers in the subway, and seven year-olds holding magic shows. If you can’t backpack across Europe, pitch a tent in the backyard. If you won’t bungee jump off a bridge, at least write poetry to your spouse. What matters is that we jump in somewhere, anywhere, bravely, boldly and with no apologies. What matters is that we speak up and join in. That we are the first to say hello, extend the hand, offer the hug, take the chance, make the move. It doesn’t matter if we’re working for world peace or planning a surprise party for our kids. What matters is that we choose to participate in as much of life as we can.

This is where true joy and happiness lives.

This is the true lottery jackpot.

And, whatever you do, don’t let the guy in the Learjet talk you into believing anything less—not even if he offers you Cristal champagne in a golden flute.

The real lottery is all there for your taking. All you need to do is step up and claim it.

Congratulations, you’re rich!

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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