The (Not So) Secret to Living Your Best Life

Summary & Transcription

In today’s episode, we’re going be talking about:

  • The myth of willpower.
  • We’re also going to go over the concept of the riverbed.
  • Then I’ll give you a brief introduction to what I call the VBAR Method. In future episodes, we’re gonna break this down in more detail, but for right now I just want to give you kind of a high level review.
  • Of course, we’ll end like we will with every episode, with a micro-action that I’ll ask you to take today.

So, I’m actually gonna start with the concept of the riverbed. If you listened to the last episode you remember when I talked about how our thoughts, our emotions, our actions are like the water of a river and how our underlying core beliefs and our programming and all these things are the riverbed. And so, the concept … I like to use analogies like this ’cause I think it provides a little more concreteness for people in understanding how important their beliefs are to their everyday life. If you look at where you are currently in your life, it’s because of all of the core beliefs that you have now, that you’ve had throughout your life and that you currently have that have led you to this point. I want you to think of looking down over a landscape and kind of seeing this winding riverbed that’s flowing through the land, and as you’re looking at it start to imagine and think about how our everyday thoughts, our emotions, our actions flow … comes to the path of least resistance, right?

So, just like water does, our thoughts, our emotions, our actions tend to follow these patterns that we’ve developed, and that’s where the riverbed comes in because it’s basically these patterns that you’ve created since you were a small child, whether it be things that other people told you about yourself or it be things that you started believing about yourself, about the world, about others. All of these beliefs came to form who you are today. Now, many of these beliefs are so far under the surface we don’t even know that we have these beliefs, but they’ll come out in the language that we use sometimes, and you’ll start to notice them more, that you have these limiting beliefs that you never knew you had. Once you start to really analyze your beliefs you’ll start to see that you do have limiting beliefs. Everyone has limiting beliefs, even some of the best people out there that you think are positive every single day and are super successful. They have limiting beliefs as well.
So, it’s okay to have limiting beliefs. It’s okay to be where you’re at in your life at this time. But what I want you to do is understand how these beliefs guide your life. And so, if you want to be living a certain type of life, whether that be just … you want to be just happy, right? You want to live every day happy, or whether you want to have an impact on the people that you come into contact with, or an impact on the world, or whether you want to do better in your work or whether you want to start your own business. Whatever it is, you have the ability to do it. It’s just a matter of looking at … in that topographical map, right? If we’re looking down on it and you say, “Hey. You know what? This is where my river is leading me, and this is where I’ll end up if I continue with the same belief set that I have.”

But if you say, “You know what? This is really where I want to be, over here,” you have to look at what are the beliefs that I would need, what are the beliefs that someone who would be successful in reaching that state or reaching that goal — whatever it may be that you’re trying to achieve — what are the beliefs that they would hold, right, because that’s what ultimately is gonna lead you to get to that point. Now, changing habits, changing patterns is not easy at all. It’s definitely … It’s simple. It’s actually really simple, but it’s not easy. That’s why … I’ll come back to this, but I want to talk about the myth of willpower for a second. So, the reason … I say “the myth of willpower” is because … you know, often people look at willpower and think, “Oh, it’s this thing that you just have, and you go out there and do it and you’re good. I can just choose whatever I want in that moment and that’s how you change.”

The honest truth is that is a portion of it. But I want you to think about willpower in the form of rowing up a river, right? So, if you’re trying to row upstream, you’re basically working a lot harder than when you’re going downstream, and that’s okay, right? It’s okay to work hard, and sometimes that’s required, that struggle’s required to be able to take a different path. But when you are constantly rowing upstream at some point you will tire, you will endure and you won’t actually use your willpower in that case. So, what you need to do in order to actually successfully change your habits is use a combination of willpower along with understanding … really taking and analyzing the beliefs that you hold and understanding how those beliefs are determining your actions.

So, if I’m sitting there and I have a habit of eating too many doughnuts, which I have had in the past, eating too many sweets and sugar just in general, and I look at that and I say, “You know what? I want to have this willpower,” and in that moment what I found was … okay, a lot of times there were things that would come up whether I was upset or stressed about something that I would eat sugary sweets, whatever it may be. If I had a lot going on, I would feel like, “Oh, you deserve this. You’re working hard.” I would make these kind of justifications for doing that. And those times of either stress or frustration or whatever it may be, your willpower is lacking.

But over time what I had to do was … The problem is people often try to create this new path without blocking the old channel, and if you think about how water flows down a river, if you were to just start kind of creating a new channel, right … it’s not as developed as the old channel that’s reinforced better, this big, deep kind of channel where water’s going and you start creating this kind of line across the surface on the other side that’s only a few inches deep at that time, starts to get maybe a few feet deep, things like that. Water’s still going to be flowing down that other path. So, what you have to do is you have to use massive focus and you have to create a new channel, but you also have to dam the old channel. You actually have to block that old channel ’cause we tend to replace old habits in a lot of cases.

So, if you’re trying to stop an old habit, you can replace it with a positive habit. So, instead of, for instance … if it’s say sweets or whatever habit it may be, you can look at the old channel and say … you can associate a massive amount of discomfort and uncomfortableness, pain with that channel, right? If I continue eating sweets, eating all these things, I’m going to be overweight. I’m going to have health problems, and how’s that going to make me feel? How’s that going to hurt the people in my life, right? How are all these things gonna happen? This isn’t an easy process whatsoever. It is … As you look into your own feelings about whatever habit or behavior you’re trying to change, it can be pretty emotional as you kind of uncover some of these things why you do what you do.

But when you look at it … and this is where focus comes in, right? So, I’ll start to talk about the VBAR Method as a whole. And part of the VBAR Method … The “V” in VBAR is vision, and so a lot of your actions also are based on your vision and where your focusing. If I’m looking right in front of me, and I’m only looking at that doughnut sitting in front of me, then at that point the pleasure of eating the sugary sweet is outweighing everything else because I don’t have … a lot of the pain and discomfort doesn’t come at that point, right? It comes later on down the road. So, you have to have a vision, and so you have to be looking out on the horizon. If I look out on horizon, then I’m actually seeing all of the pain associated with the action that I’m taking right now and I can actually see the pleasure with not doing it because now I’ve created this new channel where it’s like, “You know what? I feel so much better.”

When I actually eat a lot of sugar, the strange thing is I get drained of energy. It affects me in a weird way, and so I don’t like that. I don’t like being drained of energy, right? But when I’m eating good foods, I feel more fit. I feel more attractive. I am better emotionally and physically with the people in my life, my wife, all those kind of things. So, I can start to associate the things that I want, the things that will bring me joy and pleasure as I’m looking farther down the road. So, that’s why it’s so important to look at where your vision is, right? If you have no vision, right, if you don’t really have a clear vision of where you want your life to go down the road, then you’re always living by the whim of what’s right in front of you.

When you’re making choices based on what’s right in front of you in that moment, things that actually will bring you discomfort or bring you joy necessarily in that short term won’t necessarily bring that in the long term, that next day, the next week. There’s a lot of things that could bring you joy in the moment, but down the road not so much. So, I want to give you kind of a brief overview of what I call the VBAR Method. This is really from years and years … since I was about 23 years old … Gosh, that’s been a long time, almost 19 years. I had been slowly kind of writing different concepts and learning and all these things. I think this is a collection of what works for me, and when I’m looking at what I’m trying to achieve whatever it may be, right, when I’m looking at the life I want to live, when I’m looking at how I feel each day and what I’m doing — all those different things …

When I’m thinking about all those things, I’m analyzing generally these four kind of areas. So, VBAR … just like it sounds, a V-B-A-R, stands for vision, belief, action and results. So, when I’m looking at whatever it may be, whether it’s a relationship, whether it’s my business, whether it’s a health or fitness goal I’m often analyzing where I’m at in these four different areas. What is my vision in this area? Is it very clear? Do I have a clear picture of what I’m going to be, right? When I’m looking at it and saying, “You know what, this is where I’m going to end up. There’s no question about it. This is my vision. This is where I’m going to go,” and then I look at my beliefs and I say, “You know what? Some of these beliefs I have right now don’t necessarily support in a constructive way me reaching this vision, so how can I change those beliefs to help better kind of construct the path that will lead my thoughts, my emotions and my actions in the right direction to ultimately achieving the results I want?”

So, if you go from beliefs to the actions that you need to take and you look at, “Okay, here’s the actions that I need to take to get there,” often it’s really clear, right? We often know what we need to do. It’s more of how do we get in the habit of doing it? You’ll hear the excuse a lot from yourself, from others, that they don’t have the time. That’s bull. Bull. Just all around bull. It’s your priorities, right? For most people, the average person spends over an hour on social media. There’s an hour right there. A lot of people spend time watching TV, doing other things. You can get up earlier. There’s all these different things. So, it’s more of what is a priority for you. There’s other things. There’s ways you can organize your life, so all of that is not something that you need to make an excuse. One thing you’ll hear from me often is you can make excuses or you can make progress, but you can’t make both. All right?

So, when you look at that and you go, “You know what? I have this clear vision of where I’m gonna be,” and you start looking at aligning your beliefs with that based on what actions that you need to take to get there. A lot of times there’s gonna be discomfort in getting to this point, right, because when you’re looking at the water of a river it’s often following the path of least resistance. So, in that, your thoughts, emotions and actions are that water, and so you need to take that willpower, right, in combination with understanding the supporting beliefs that is guiding that and you need to use that just like … Ultimately, your path was originally created over multiple actions that you took along with beliefs, things that kind of were either put onto you, into you, things that you absorbed and ultimately kind of created this path. But over time, just like dripping water over a long period of time will create a channel, you with your actions will also start doing the same thing.

What you have to do is change your beliefs and use some serious focus just like a … there’s a … What’s it called? A high pressure, basically, water jet can cut through like 12 inches of steel, and it’s basically taking water under a super high pressure with a little bit of, I think, sediment in there. I don’t … I’m not an expert on this for sure. But it actually can cut through steel, 12-inch thick steel. And so, you need to think about how can you put all of this focus and pressure in creating this new channel and associating the discomfort with taking the old channel, right? Part of that is looking long term and understanding how that’s going to affect you in the long term. And then, as you go through actions and you look at results, an important part of the results, one of the most important parts of this is how do you define everything, right, ’cause two people could have the same experience and come out saying two totally different things.

I can go up and say, “Hey, it’s my first time really doing public speaking,” and I go out and I speak in front of we’ll say 50 people. I can go up there and say, “You know what?” Afterwards I can say, “I felt like I could have done a lot better had I prepared more, had I done other things, but overall I’m happy I did it. It was a great experience for me, and I want to get better at it. I’m okay that I didn’t necessarily do as well as I wanted to do because it was my first time. That’s fine. I’m gonna get better and I’m gonna learn from this and do better next time.” And then another person could have that same experience and say, “You know what? That was the worst experience of my life. The whole crowd was staring at me, and I said some things that were awkward and it was just so uncomfortable and I’m never gonna do that again,” right?

So, how you define and assess your results and how you look at that and say, ” You know what? I’m gonna assign meaning to how this happened.” If I’m working it and trying something … and say you’re a salesperson, and you’re going out there and you’re getting all these “no’s”, that result of a “no” you could say, “Oh, you know what? This means I’m not good at this,” or it could mean, “You know what? I just haven’t got enough ‘no’s’ yet.” It all depends on how you assess and kind of define the results that you’re getting, kind of the overall meaning that you assigned to that, and then how you change to look at, “Okay. Well, how do I get better to get me closer in line to where I need to be?” ‘Cause no one, no one in the world ever started out being great at something, right? No one came out of the womb walking. It’s just not something that happens, okay? We all start out being bad at something.

And then, over time of being bad at something, we get good at it, and then eventually you can become great at it. But putting the pressure on yourself to be great at something right out the gates or not allowing yourself the vulnerability to be bad at something, not … Basically, it’s more of a … I don’t want to necessarily use the term “weakness”, but people think of vulnerability as weakness, and I honestly think of the lack of vulnerability as a weakness because if you don’t allow yourself to actually expose yourself and get out there to being vulnerable, then you’ll never get to that point of embracing that … being comfortable with being uncomfortable, that drive where it’s like, “You know what? I got to constantly get in positions where I’m a little more uncomfortable, a little more uncomfortable each day,” ’cause what it means is that you’re growing and you’re learning, right?

So, this was just a brief kind of introduction. I’m gonna go into a lot more detail in the next episodes, but I wanted to kind of give you a high level overview. If you have questions, comments, anything like that, throw it please in the comments or shoot me an email through the site — You’re gonna help by asking some of these questions because I think it’s going to help refine some of the methodologies, some of the ideas that I have because, like I said, this is new for me as well. I’m going through this with you. I’m trying to create this … write this book through kind of an audio method. But today I want to finish with a micro-action, as always. And today I want you to think about one thing that you’re uncomfortable with, and again this is a micro-action. This isn’t something massive. Go if you want to take that action. That’s totally up to you.

But even something as simple as telling someone you care about them can be hard, right, ’cause it’s vulnerable. Your spouse, your friend — just letting them know you care about them, that could be your micro-action. It could be that, “You know what? I’m uncomfortable getting up early.” It could be that, “I’m uncomfortable putting my neck out there and telling my boss that I want to learn a new skill, and I want to do this.” It could be that there’s that person that you haven’t talked to that you want to just say hi to. It could be just saying hi and smiling at someone. Whatever it is, just start with that small action of becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. It all starts with that first drop, that little drip of a micro-action. So, go out there, think about what it is that you want to do, a small action like I said. It could be so simple as just saying hi to a stranger and smiling at them and do it.

Thanks again for listening to the Give, Grow & Be Grateful Podcast. If you received value from today’s episode, please share it and comment. Also, make sure to subscribe so that you’re updated when new episodes come out. Remember, every day you have a choice how you live. It’s not about what you get, it’s about what you give. Work on growing each day and getting out of your comfort zone, and then as you grow more you’ll be able to give more and have an abundant life and develop the habits of happiness by starting every single day with a focus on the things that you’re grateful for. I’m glad that you’re on this path with me, and make sure to choose to have a wonderful day.