This blog post is part of a series from the tremendous book The Slight Edge.
It’s amazing. To see my introduction, click here.
The Power of Compounding Effort
Successful people do whatever it takes to get the job done, whether or not they feel like it. Successful people form habits that feed their success, instead of habits that feed their failure.
It starts with a choice.
Often, in the beginning, the success path can be uncomfortable, even scary. Especially if you’re the only one around who’s on it. That’s why being a pioneer takes such courage. Courage means to have a purpose and to have heart.
Obviously, It’s impossible for either of us to say exactly how long this will be for. But in my experience, in three to five years you can put virtually anything in your life solidly onto the right track.
The slight edge guarantees that your own success shall come to you. But you do need to care for those simple little actions which, compounded over time, will make the difference between your success—–or your failure.
There’s a popular expression you’ve probably heard, “Luck is preparedness meeting opportunity.” It’s a handy idea, but it’s not quite accurate. People who live by the slight edge understand how luck really works. It’s not preparedness meeting opportunity: it’s preparedness, period. Preparedness created by doing those simple, little constructive, positive actions, over and over. Luck is when that constancy of preparedness eventually creates opportunity.
Positive psychologists found that happiness isn’t some big thing you pursue. It’s not something you pursue, it’s something you do. When it comes to understanding how to achieve happiness., most of us have it backward. We believe, “Once I become successful, then I’ll be happy.”
The Right Philosophy -> The Right Attitude -> The Right Actions
But there was this in-between step. This stepping stone from philosophy to action. This thing called attitude. Your attitude is the thing that translates your abstract understanding (philosophy) into your concrete actions.
Another word for attitude is ’emotions’, that is, how you feel. You can reprogram your brain through some very simple exercises that both simple and easy to do. Simple tasks that, if you do them consistently and persistently over a long enough period of time, will get the results you are looking for.
Slight edge actions for happiness: happy habits.
- Each morning, write down three things you’re grateful for. Not the same three every day; find three new things to write about. That trains your brain to search your circumstances and hunt for the positive.
- Journal for two minutes a day about one positive experience you’ve had over the past twenty-four hours. Write down every detail you can remember; this causes your brain to literally re- experience that experience, which doubles its positive impact.
- Meditate daily. Nothing fancy; just stop all activity; relax, and watch your breath go in and out for two minutes. This trains your brain to focus where you want it to, and not get distracted negativity in your environment.
- Do a random act of kindness over the course each day. To make this simple, Shawn always recommends a specific act of kindness: at the start of each day, take two minutes to write an email to someone you know by praising them or thanking them for something that they did.
- Exercise for fifteen minutes daily. Simple cardio, even a brisk walk, has a powerful anti- depressant impact, in many cases stronger (and more long-lasting) than an actual antidepressant!
If you do any one of these things faithfully for just three weeks, twenty –one days in a row, it will start to become a habit—a happy habit. You have literary begun to rewire your brain to see the world in a different way.
Success does come from a small beginning – so tiny that it seems invisible and most people miss it. But there has to be a beginning. And your reward? When you get up the next morning, do you feel better? Not really. That is, not noticeably. Maybe just a little. Say, a penny’s worth.
Do the thing, and you shall have the power.
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