by Charly Mann
I came of age in a generation whose theme song was The Beatles "All You Need is Love". However I do not think many of my generation, including myself, really practiced what we preached. While everyone wants to be loved almost everyone I see on social media, the news, and in everyday conversation is pointing out the negative characteristics and mistakes they find in others. I think a major component of love is being respectful and tolerant of others.
Why are most of us so habitually focused on highlighting what we think are other people's faults instead of looking for what are endearing and positive about them? Can you imagine a world in which the hosts of MSNBC and FOX News spent most of their time talking about the admirable traits of people they had differences with? I actually think if we all did this we could more easily find common ground and work out our differences. Just think about this: everyone wants to be liked and respected, and nobody wants to be criticized or rejected. If we really cultivated the habit of extending love by seeing the best in others we would be far more likely to work out or better tolerate our differences.
Buddhists believe that one should always strive to speak in a manner that avoids disharmony. One of their bodhisattva vows is: "I vow not to talk about the faults of others." I have recently been focused on not judging other people, even to the point of not expressing a condescending look, or rolling my eyes, when I hear something that I might perceive as a fault or misdeed. Instead I am training my mind to look for the good qualities of people who do or believe something that I may find fault with. This change is making me more loving, open, and happier than I have ever been in my life, but I still have a long way to go to totally change my mindset.Click to Add a Comment
by Charly Mann
Common sense makes us believe that we learn from our mistakes. Yet if that were true two of the biggest mistakes people make would rarely be repeated – divorces in second marriages and war. Instead the divorce rate for first marriages is 41%, while it is 60% second marriages and there are still numerous wars being fought around the globe.
The primary reason we repeat our mistakes is that we find comfort in the familiar and we develop ingrained patterns to cope with the world. As a result we feel emotionally safe repeating habits we have developed, and the consequence is we continue to make the same mistakes. The truth is humans are much more creatures of than beings that change.
I have made many mistakes in my life. Most I have overcome, but some I have yet to conquer for more than a brief period. Fortunately the majority of my major ones I have been strong enough to correct. What works for me is to acknowledge my mistake to myself, and those closest to me, on a regular basis, and to say I am committed to overcoming it. This usually starts with a presentation I make standing up in front of these people in which I admit my error and then detail the specific changes I plan to make to avoid repeating it. I also make an audio recording of this as an additional incentive. This methodology has been quite successful for me, and has given me the confidence that I can overcome almost any mistake or bad habit. However I am not arrogant enough to think it will be easy, and I am daily humbled everyday by characteristics that I have not tried hard enough to fix.
I do believe it is true that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Success in life is all about making mistakes, changing our strategy, and improving our skills until we become perfect at what we do. The key is to acknowledge them and fix them. The real sin is ignoring mistakes, or worse, seeking to hide them.
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by Charly Mann
Learning is my favorite pastime. It often takes up my entire day. For me it is invigorating, absorbing, inspiring, enlightening and a captivating experience. It also helps me to continue to be more creative and enthusiastic about life.
When I was young I noticed that my father was adept at discussing almost any topic from rock music (which he rarely listened to), to politics, religion, mathematics, philosophy, and literature. He loved to have in-depth conversations with everyone he came in contact with from a homeless man who asked him for money on the street who he took along with him to dinner at a restaurant, to Nobel Prize winners, and noted politicians. He was a voracious reader from childhood, and had mastered advanced physics and calculus by the time he was fifteen. Even though I have never been as intelligent as my father, I assumed his behavior was not abnormal, and I suppose I innately developed this same inner passion for learning a great deal on an array of unrelated subjects. For most of my life my biggest problem has been that there were too many subjects I was interested in. An example of this can be more than 38 businesses I have started and others job I have had, which include clothing designer and manufacturer, record producer and record label owner, computer programming college professor, designer of ultra-modern homes, author of three books including one on happiness, producer and director of a weekly live television show, founder of the first video rental chain, and a blog on bird identification.
Almost everything I have learned has been self-taught. Because I dropped out of college after one semester, but continued my love for learning, my father labeled me an autodidact when I was 19. An autodidact is someone with insatiable curiosity who learns not only from reading a lot, but also from his or her own experiences. They are true do-it-yourselfers and many enjoy starting businesses that no one else has ever attempted. Steven Jobs, Walt Disney, John D. Rockefeller, Bill Gates, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, and Richard Branson are all examples of autodidacts with little or no college education that exemplify this.
The common characteristic of autodidacts is a high degree of inquisitiveness, which results in a very open mind. Even though an autodidact may have strong views on a subject, they are always interested in ideas from others who have a lot of experience and knowledge on the topic.Click to Add a Comment
by Charly Mann
How much is enough? How much money and love do you need to be satisfied? How many vacation days, friends, music albums, books, and TV channels would it take to make you happy? How much information do you need to make rational decisions? When is enough really enough to make you end a bad relationship?
Humans seem to be rarely satisfied with what they have. But what is enough? Why do we always want more? I have had a loving family, close friends, an incredible home, an abundance of material possessions, and no real financial concerns, yet for a long time I seemed to be incapable of being satisfied. I think this was because life offers an abundance of opportunities to grow and learn. I think if it weren’t for feeling dissatisfied humans would not innovate or improve their lives.
While I have strong desire to keep improving my life and learn more, I have also become quite content and have significantly rid myself of material desires. Materially I have been rich and I have been very poor, and I have found equal joy in both conditions. I believe that to a large extent contentment is an intellectual choice we make, however I am nowhere close to having an enlightened enough state of mind to be in a constant state of bliss. I am simply content not being fully satisfied with my faults and knowledge, and I am perpetually excited about making progress in these areas everyday.
Contentment for me means living my life to the fullest now instead of waiting for some event, amount of money, person, or thing to finally make it perfect. I find that people who live their lives like this keep repeating this cycle. They finally get something they really want and have a temporary thrill at the achievement, but invariably are soon dissatisfied again because of some other thing they need to make their life complete. This is an addictive delusion that most of us are hooked on; however there will never be that "one" last thing that will be enough. The only cure for this is to teach your mind that you are content with your life, and do not need any more money, things, or acceptance from others to make life great. It may seem difficult to quench worldly desire, but it is a habit you can actually learn and it will result in the realization that wanting more has been one of your greatest hindrances to becoming happy.Click to Add a Comment
by Charly Mann
One of the simplest ways to feel happy is to be grateful. Any time I am feeling stressed or down I can always rely on gratitude to put things into perspective. Sure bad things happen in life, but being thankful for our many blessings can help us realize what we have. Each time I add up all the great things and experiences I have had in my life I quickly see how they outweigh the negative ones by a wide margin, and I am immediately thankful and feeling better.
One of the worst things that befall us is the death of someone we love, but even then being grateful can lessen this sadness. After all we did get to spend time, share joy, and learn from that person, which is something we can be very thankful for.
I have noticed that grateful people are far more positive, optimistic, enthusiastic, satisfied, and much less prone to stress than people who exhibit tendencies of entitlement. They are also are far less envious of other people’s financial success and material possessions.
For the last decade I have spent the last ten to fifteen minutes before I go to bed making a list of all the great things that happened to me that day. When I began doing this it took me about three minutes to do the list, and I rarely had more than 15 things to be thankful for that day. Within three years I averaged more than 60 items a day, and it was not unusual for there to be more than 100. It was not that I was being more observant, or setting lower standards for what I was grateful for, it was that many more incredible things were occurring in my life each day. It seems that gratitude truly begets more gifts from life.Click to Add a Comment
Ever since I was very young I have been intrigued with how one could live happily ever after like the characters I read about in fairy tales. As a child I noticed most of the adults I was exposed to were often anxious and angry, and only a very few seemed to be calm and happy. By the time I was a teenager I was scouring philosophy and psychology books looking for instructions on how to have a marvelous life. I also began questioning scores of adults I would encounter about their philosophy on life and what they thought one needed to do to be perfectly contented. In 1967, at the age of 17, I started a daily journal that compiled all the information I acquired that day on the subject. Today that journal includes three dozen large notebooks and more than 3,400 pages on my hard drive.
I have had a marvelous life thus far - most of it incredibly happy, healthy, and successful. Since 1968 I have also tracked how happy and successful I was in the previous year. Through the end of 2013, each year has been significantly better than the year before. I believe much of this can be attributed on what I learned and implemented in my own life about achieving good health, success, and happiness. As I mature and learn more my methodology for making my life great has changed a lot. I achieved enormous financial success before I was 25, which contributed greatly to my enjoyment of life for almost a decade, but even before I was 30 I found that there were things far more important than wealth that made my life great and I keep discovering more. I have had financial independence since I was very young, but almost all the joys and pleasure I now derive from life are free or cost very little.
On Uplifting Visions I share insights that I have gained from my own experience, observation, and a life of research on attaining happiness, health, and success.