From Dark Depression To Happy and Joyful

Will ChouThis is a guest post by Will Chou, a young man who shares many of my passions and daily disciplines as you will see in this article. Enjoy!


Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. – Dalai Lama

I was lost in a dark world. In fact, the sky was dark too. And it just so happened that the music I was listening to switched to a dark song, Imagine Dragons’s It’s Time.

Now, that probably sounds pretty dramatic and I’m not really a dramatic guy, but that was the actual environment I was in. I was walking to my university’s diner to get a late dinner after a long night of studying. I had depression.
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Breakthrough: How to change your life with Tiny Habits

Tiny HabitsThe definition of tiny habit says it’s an activity that

-you do at least once a day,
-takes you less than 30 seconds,
-requires little effort.

Tiny habits were invented by BJ Fogg from Stanford University, as a result of his study on behavioral change. They are the tool for common mortals to learn the nits and grits of the process of habits development.

I won’t go into the details of my study about the etymology of the word ‘habit,‘ but it clearly revealed that your habits define who you are.

Thus, any tiny habit in itself is life changing. If you learn how to develop habits, you and your life will never be the same. I didn’t learn the art of habit development by practicing tiny habits, but I can confirm that one’s life changes when his habits change.

99% of answers to this question don’t refer to tiny habits. Heck, the top answer is “Read books at least 30 minutes a day!” That’s 60 times greater than tiny!

Here is the really tiny habit that has not only the potential (“could”), but real power to change lives:
Life-changing Tiny Habit

It has the power of setting your brain to positivity. Experiments confirmed that it’s enough to come up with three new reasons for being grateful every morning for one month to change hardcore pessimists into optimists.

Why is that important? Will those “newly created” optimists going around in blissful state with goofy smiles and saliva in the corners of their mouths? Nope. Their brains will be positive. Here what happens when your brain is positive:

“Every possible outcome we know how to test for raises dramatically.”

Cultivating gratitude is one of the easiest habits on earth. I started from jotting down 1 to 3 things about my wife in a dedicated gratitude diary.

Let it sink in. A tiny habit, less than 30 seconds a day. Every measurable output increases.

How’s that for a life change?

The above revelations are the result of scientific studies and they are right at the general level. Let me tell you a couple of stories that demonstrate the power of gratitude on individual level.

Stronger Than Death

I have a friend, let’s call her S. She had been keeping a gratitude diary for well over a year when her boyfriend died in a car accident. Can you imagine a more excruciating experience? Her whole world fell apart in a single moment. But she had a gratitude habit. Habits are not to be taken lightly. They are hardcoded in the most primal part of your brain. It’s not easy to get rid of them.

She kept her gratitude diary even throughout that dark time. It helped her to stay sane.

Today she is in a new relationship and her gratitude streak is well over 1,000 days long.

Saving Relationships

As I mentioned above, my adventure with gratitude started with a diary about my wife. As a proper tiny habit, it opened doors for more gratitude in my life. Now I am thankful for everything. I also started separate gratitude journals about my kids and about my days. I’m a fount of gratitude.

I’m deeply thankful for this first small habit however. The past three years were tough on our marriage. It was the usual story: years of marriage brought routine, boredom, over-familiarity and predictability creeping in.

I decided to turn my life around and my wife was absolutely not prepared for that. Quite often she said “I don’t recognize you.” This was obviously all “her fault,” (blaming is the easiest way in a relationship, isn’t it?), however the daily conscious effort of looking for something to be grateful for in or about her helped me to keep the right perspective.

I don’t claim that, if not for my gratitude journal, we would have been divorced or some other tragedy would have happened. It’s just that this tiny discipline made the turmoil in my life and marriage more bearable. It helped me to diminish my ego a bit.

Begin in a Tiny Way

Every morning (morning shapes your day), take a journal and note down at least one thing you are grateful for. If you can come up with 100, that’s fine, but 1 is enough. If you can elaborate why you are grateful for it, that’s fine, but focus on writing this one thing first. It should be a new thing every day.

There is no excuse for not doing this, not even the one my rebellious teenager throws at me: “I don’t know what I’m grateful for.” Everything can be a starting point: air, water, food, shelter, your body or its parts…

If S. found reasons to be grateful after her boyfriend’s death, you surely can find something too.

You Are Free

You are freeTurning your life around is free

You don’t need an online course for this. You don’t need a coach. You don’t need an accountability buddy. You don’t need money.

All you need to change your life is already provided for free.

You have the air
You can breathe. Without this free resource you would’ve suffocated; and a corpse obviously can’t change its life.

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You Are a Success

While reading The Science of Getting Rich this morning I stumbled upon this quote:

“Success in life is becoming what you want to be.”

You Are a Success
I suddenly realized: “Heck, I’m a success!”

I became what I wanted to be. I’m a writer. What is more, I beat the odds. Eighty percent of self‑published authors don’t even earn $1,000 a year. In 2015, there were several different months when I earned over $1,000.

The problem with becoming something, is that it never ends

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Patience

“Patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” ― Joyce Meyer

You need enormous patience when you want to turn your life around.

Patience
Each success seems so far away that it’s almost unattainable. Each milestone gives you joy for just a brief moment, because you realize there is a lot of similar milestones ahead.

Continuous effort is needed if you want to succeed on a journey. Your heart will ache for relief, but for a long time any relief seems far beyond the horizon.

Three years ago I began to believe that I could actually achieve something significant. A lot has happened since that time. I’ve bought a house. I sold our apartment. I became a writer.

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