Hello, and welcome to Get Yourself Optimized. I’m your host, Stephan Spencer, and today, I have Mark Dhamma with us. Mark is an executive health and mindset coach, a fitness model, and a corporate speaker. He focuses on helping people look, feel, and perform at their best by optimizing their health and mindset so he is an expert on optimization of your biology, of your mindset, and all the sort of stuff that we talked about on Get Yourself Optimized podcast. Mark brings a wealth of knowledge to his clients, including 17 years of experience in optimal health. He’s got a master’s degree in positive psychology under the famous “Flow” professor, Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi to teach his clients the science-backed proven principles that will help them feel happier and experience higher levels of well-being and success. Mark, it’s great to have you on the show!
Thank you very much, Stephan!
Because you have a master’s in positive psychology, let’s talk about positive psychology and happiness. There are plenty of books out there on the topic, and what would be some real tangible pieces of advice that you would give to our listeners so that they could be happier, more fulfilled, and have greater well-being?
Okay, yeah. Well, positive psychology, the science, the field has been around for about 30 years. The whole premise was, in psychology, the field of psychology, they were doing a great job at finding out what was wrong with people and how do we get them all right and how to get them normal. About 30 years ago, the professors, Dr. Martin Seligman of University of Pennsylvania-
-and my professor, Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi of Claremont Graduate University came together and made a call to the psychologists to start focusing on the more positive side of the human experience and human flourishing-how do you get human beings from normal, okay, to absolutely at their best so within about 30 years of research now, and the laws come out of that research on confidence, research on motivation, research on meaning in life, how it affects your physiology, a lot of research on how your thoughts affect your physiology, actually, especially around optimism, positive emotions, and from the research really boiled well-being or happiness as the general public would call it down to five areas and five domains.
The acronym to remember the five main domains is PERMA. The first P means “positive emotions.” Feeling good. When most people say, “Oh, I’m feeling happy, feeling good, and experiencing positive emotions,” we found that that is pretty obviously important when it comes to happiness-feeling good. The next thing is E, and it stands for “engagement.” Engagement, Stephan, means being in flow or being in the zone and being totally absorbed in whatever you’re doing at that moment-being present.
Some people get it from work. Some people get it from play. From sports.
Like extreme sports such as heli-skiing and things like that where your life is on the line you have to be in a flow state in order to stay alive.
Yeah, that kicks you right into it. Even other things like chess-you’re just being totally in the zone and immersed in what you’re doing. Meditation is another way to get into flow. That’s important. It’s one of the five pillars of your life with happiness and well-being. The third one is something you know a lot about actually, Stephan. It’s “positive relationships.” Dr. Christopher Peterson was one of the preeminent researchers in the field of positive psychology. He said that out of everything he studied over 25 years of studying positive psychology, he can boil it down to one sentence and that is, “Other people matter.”
As you know, as human beings, we are social animals and relationships are where we get the majority of our well-being or good feeling from. The third one are relationships-most specifically, positive relationships. Then, the fourth-M stands for “meaning.” That’s having some type of purpose or some type of meaning for your life. Some people get it from a higher power, some people get it from God, some people get it from other things like being a good mother-it gives them a lot of meaning, being a good parent, or really giving back to others or helping others through the job, or anything like that. Anything that human beings attach meaning to-as long as it’s permanent in life that leads to higher levels of well-being.
The final part of PERMA is A, and that’s actually “accomplishments.” Accomplishing goals. As you know, Stephan, human beings are goal-striving machines. We love to have goals and accomplish things. It’s actually very important in overall well-being. Actually, I have something for the audience. If they go towww.markdhamma.com/happy, they can do an evaluation on PERMA and we have some personalized tips on how they can increase their own happiness and well-being score.
Oh, that’s awesome! I’ll be sure to include the link in the show notes on getyourselfoptimized.com so, perfect! Now, once you take the assessment, you get a sense for how you score in terms of these five attributes. What do you do with that?
All right, let’s do it with you, Stephan!
Okay. I’m game!
Out of the five: positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments-if you’re going to score yourself from 1-10 with 10 being like, “Oh! I’m absolutely rocking it!” For example, with positive emotions, you’re feeling great all the time. What score would you give yourself on each one? Now, usually, I actually get clients to track their time over the week, write it down, and figure out the scores, but for you, just intuitively-what would you put yourself in positive emotions?
Okay, on positive emotions, I would give myself-oh, let’s say- 7.5 out of 10.
All right, 7.5 out of 10. What about engagement? Getting in the zone, getting into flow?
I would give myself maybe 6.5. I mean, this is an interesting area. I’ve been reading the Flow book by Dr. Mihaly. I’ve been kind of studying Steven Kotler’s The Rise of Superman. I heard him speak at Society Intensive, and I definitely want to develop my flow skills, but I get easily distracted to the point where I’ve even had to uninstall the Facebook app off of my phone because I just can’t help myself. I keep going in there and getting distracted. I need to allow myself to just get in the flow and stay there and not get the Shiny Object Syndrome. So, 6.5, I think.
Okay, 6.5. Out of my assistants told me a year ago, he turned off all notifications on my phone except for the incoming calls. If someone calls me, it does ring, but everything else is totally turned off, including text messages or anything like that. I’ve got to go looking for it. I find that helps.
Yeah. In the recent episode, I had Cal Newport on, and he wrote the book, Deep Work. He is just off of social media altogether. He’s invisible. You cannot find him on Facebook. You can’t find him on Twitter and so forth. He just doesn’t find that as a valuable use of his time. It takes him out of flow and out of “deep work” so he’s not just participating at all. He doesn’t even have a Facebook page.
Wow, that’s rad these days!
I know! But it works for him. He gets a lot done. He’s a high performer.
Fair enough, fair enough. I can see that. All right, relationships-what would you score yourself for positive relationships?
Hmm. I’d say I’m a 9. There’s always another level, but I found my soulmate, and we are just constantly improving in being our best selves and driving each other to be our best selves. We’re taking Kabbalah classes together.
We go to all these self-development seminars together. We’re constantly investing on our own self-development and doing it as a team. We’re working on taking it to the next level. We did a year-long Mastermind with Jaiya who is my first guest on Get Yourself Optimized. She’s a sexologist and an amazing lady. She definitely had an impact! We invest in our relationship big time. I had Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt on Get Yourself Optimized as well. Another great episode! Harville mentions that he does this daily appreciation with his wife. Every single day. They haven’t missed it one day out of the last 18 years so Orion and I have been doing this for the last few months, and it already had a big impact. Yeah, 9 or maybe 9.5 out of 10 for relationships.
That’s amazing! As I said before this episode, I want to ask you some questions about relationships. I know you really invest in those. Okay, great! How about meaning? Meaning in life? What’s that for you?
Well, if you asked me this a couple of years ago-three years ago even-I just would not have a high score. I was just kind of doing short-term fulfillment type of things. I was doing a lot of fun seminars, self-development stuff, workshops, Masterminds, and things like that, but I wasn’t in my purpose yet. Then, I started working on my self-help book that I’m writing. I’m an SEO guy, right?
I do optimizations of people’s Google rankings of their websites. But here I am writing a book about self-help because I want to make a difference in the world. I want to work in my gift. Yes, I’m very talented at getting companies to the top of Google. I’ve helped companies like Chanel, Zappos, and Sony, but that’s not why I’m on this earth. I guess it really started happening for me when I discovered Oneness. I went to Oneness University in India in 2013.
Then, last year, when I started taking Kabbalah classes at the Kabbalah center here in Los Angeles, things have opened up for me. Even though it’s my bread and butter to do SEO and get these companies highly-ranked in Google, I’m working on helping people move their lives forward. Every opportunity, I’m doing these podcast episodes and I’m writing articles. I had an article on Huffington Post that has just been published a week ago on Impostor Syndrome, a topic that I covered in a recent episode on Get Yourself Optimized with Elissa Fisher Harris. I feel like I’m really getting in the zone there in terms of my meaning and my reason for being on this earth. Nowadays, I give it an 8.5. Yeah.
What difference has that made to your overall well-being?
Oh, it has helped me in so many ways. It has helped me feel happier and more fulfilled. It has helped me to show up more powerfully in relationships with people I care about and to make more of an impact and more of a difference and leave more of a legacy for people. As a nice side benefit, it has helped me to be more successful in business and financially, but that wasn’t the reason for it. A simple rule or law of the Universe is when you tithe or when you give to organizations that are making a difference in the world, whether it’s your religious organizations or non-profit charities that are building schools or what-have-you’s-like, I donated to have a whole school built in Zambia-
I funded the whole school for the first year in the building of it. That’s sort of stuff really makes a big difference in your own financial health. When you start tithing, the money comes back and then some. I really encourage the listeners to make some, maybe, painful donations-10% is a good starting point of your income. I’ve been doing that lately and upping the numbers, and more abundance is coming in play so yeah, the abundance, the happiness, and the well-being seem like exponentially improving. It’s pretty cool!
Amazing! All right, thank you for that.
Thanks for asking.
Yeah. I’m really interested in tithing. How long have you been doing that for?
Well, I’ve really been upping it since 2012, I think. It’s when I made the big donation to The Impact Network for them to build the school in Zambia, and then I joined their board. Recently, I’ve been giving some five-figure donations to some different organizations both in the US and internationally. That’s a principle I learned from Kabbalah within the last year, and I’m taking it to heart. I’m starting to see the benefits from that, but that’s not the reason why I’m doing it. I’m doing it because it just feels right, and it feels more like in my purpose.
If you give looking for the reciprocation of that giving so it’s proactive sharing instead of reactive sharing. It’s kind of the law of the Universe that you will get blessings back whereas, if you do the sharing with the purpose of getting something in return, like if you give a $5-bill to a homeless person because they are looking out of sorts or whatever, and you want some reciprocation like a smile or a “thank you” or something and you don’t get it, instead they’re rude to you. If that’s what you’re looking for, that’s all you’re going to get. But if it doesn’t matter and it’s not what you want, in fact, you hope that they don’t give you a reaction? Like, you can just slip the $5-bill under their sleeping bag while they’re sleeping or whatever, and that’s as good, if not better-
Thank you. All right, that’s meaning. Now, moving on to the final one-accomplishments. What would you rate yourself on accomplishments or achieving goals?
This is an area where I discussed with Elissa on that Imposter Syndrome episode. I kind of feel like I might be an impostor. Like, I don’t want to be discovered as somebody who has kind of faked their way to success or whatever. What really resonated with me was this Comparative Success Syndrome concept that she described that relates to Impostor Syndrome. I feel like I gave up on this huge mission I had in life to cure cancer or some major disease. I was studying for a Ph.D. in biochemistry, and I gave up on that. I dropped out of my Ph.D. and started an online marketing agency. I say I felt a lot of guilt about it, but I’m working on that.
I’ve kind of sold myself short on all the gifts that I was given-like, this beautiful brain that I have, and I’m not really using it to solve a huge world problem like cancer or something like that. But I’m also, now, especially in the last year, where I’ve been really focusing on the self-help book, this podcast, and so forth, and really working on making a difference in people’s lives, not just for the SEO-I feel a lot less of that-that Comparative Success Syndrome. For accomplishments, even though I got three books, had seven TV appearances in the last three months, and I feel like I’m kind of a poser-kind of an impostor. Maybe I’ll give myself a 7.
All right, 7.
All right, here are the scores. I got you at 7.5 for positive emotions-
6.5 for engagement. That is your lowest score-engagement. For a relationship, it’s 9. Meaning, 8.5, and you’ve got 7 for accomplishments. Now, what’s interesting about accomplishments is-yeah, accomplishment is really down to the individual so with a lot of entrepreneurs, their accomplishment level is usually around 5 or 6. Even though they could be multi-millionaires and did all types of things in their lives, they’ll do this comparison that you mentioned isn’t really that much, and they’ll rate themselves at 5. Now, they could be someone else who objectively, at least, in the eyes of the Western world are not as successful or they could be like, “Yeah, well, I woke up this morning, and I made my bed so that was a goal that I had and I accomplished that so that’s good,” or “I made this dinner for my partner. I made it really, really nice. I’ve been working on it for a while, and that’s definitely an accomplishment,” and they’ll tick off all these little accomplishments and goals that they have achieved, which could be comparatively small ones compared to other people, and they’ll rate themselves an 8 or 9.
Guess what? This score-this accomplishment score-is not an objective score, it’s purely a subjective score so the people who tend to notice more accomplishments and count all the little things in life as accomplishment, that can increase their levels of well-being and happiness as opposed to those people who are perhaps objectively accomplishing a lot and yet, don’t feel that they’re accomplishing a lot. That can reduce their levels of well-being and happiness. I work a lot with my clients to get them to actually appreciate the things that they have accomplished. Sometimes, people can consciously appreciate it, but not really feel deep down that they have accomplished much, which sounds like what you might be doing, Stephan.
Yeah, and that kind of self-sabotage is me because if I don’t celebrate my successes, then I’m not giving my brain positive reinforcement to do more of the same.
Yeah. There are a couple of ways to approach that, by the way. One way is by consciously stop tracking little success and purposefully and consciously congratulating yourself. That way, you’re training your brain to start looking for accomplishments, to start looking for things, and you’re giving yourself a pat on the back. Another really powerful way, which you can actually use in conjunction, is hypnosis or some NLP tools for that too, which will just work right away most of the time.
Yeah, that’s great advice. I know this is an area, right? That I need to work on so, I started doing some journaling, which I’ve never done before in my life, but I’ve been doing over the last few months. This was at the recommendation, actually, of Mike Vardy, the Productivityist, who has the Productivityist podcast and was also a guest on Get Yourself Optimized. That’s helped! I haven’t been doing it rigorously, not every night, but it does help to kind of do a bit of a brain dump of some of the things that are on my mind and also, to think back to what were my wins for the day and just document that. I don’t even have to review it in the future. I just capture it, and I can go to bed.
Gratitude journaling, I think, is a great thing to do. Celebrate your successes like, physically jump up and down, shout “Woohoo!,” or do high five or fist bump with your significant other or your friends or whomever, and just really bask in the moment when you just landed a new client or you got a speaking gig or what-have-you. We forget to do that. I’m guilty of it too, but at least, awareness is the first step. Even if I choose not to celebrate in the moment, but I have the awareness of, “Yeah, this is something that really helps me. When I celebrate this, I’m going to reward my brain and give myself good serotonin, dopamine, and all that. Reinforce these positive behaviors in the positive things that I do.
Exactly! Making a conscious choice.
You mentioned hypnosis. How does hypnosis help with this thing of getting the positive reinforcements and the acknowledgement of accomplishments? Do you do guided meditation? Sort of closed-eye exercises? Do you just have them watch the watch go back and forth or make them bark like a dog? I’m being facetious here because I’ve actually have had the hypnotist on the show, Bart Baggett, and I spoke about hypnosis, but he’s got some really great training on hypnosis actually so does Ken Dubner. Those are two episodes that covered hypnosis NLP.
Where does hypnosis fit in? How does that work in terms of the accomplishment piece?
Okay. All right. Well, I really like the analogy that Dr. Jonathan Haidt uses in the book, The Happiness Hypothesis. He’s a positive psychologist. He studies a lot, especially around happiness and how it affects you physiologically. He uses the analogy as an elephant and the rider. Are you familiar with that, Stephan?
Okay. The analogy of the elephant and rider is-you’ve got a big elephant, right? A big, powerful, and dumb elephant. You can think of that as the subconscious mind or the unconscious mind. On top, sits the rider-an intelligent person and knows where he wants to go. You can think of this as the conscious mind. Now, consciously, the rider might want to go in one direction. He can tell the elephant where it wants it to go. That works really well now and again. But as the elephant does not want to go in a certain direction, there’s nothing the rider can do to get it there. For example, if they’re on the way to the store, the rider and the elephant, if a mouse runs in front of the elephant, the elephant might just freak out and run the other way, and because it’s so big and powerful, there’s nothing the rider can do to control it.
Yup. Oh, you know what? I do remember this analogy now.
So, the unconscious mind is the elephant?
Got it! Yes, I’ve heard this.
Consciously, you might be telling yourself, Stephan, “Oh, yeah, I got to appreciate my wins. I acknowledge my accomplishments when I achieve my goals,” so that’s the rider saying, “Come on, elephant! Let’s go to this direction. This is good for us. This is good for my happiness. This is good for my well-being. This is good for my physiology.” If you have some type of resistance to you that you don’t really want to do it, then that’s the elephant saying, “No, I don’t want to do that. I want to go to this other way. I’m just not going there.”
Another way is, how many people want to get in shape? How many people want to work out or eat healthily yet, they don’t go ahead and do it? A lot of the time is because their elephant or unconscious mind is not really convinced that it’s a good thing to do even though, consciously, they may know this, but unconsciously, the elephant might not think it’s a good thing to do. I know that’s a really simplified model. It is, however, effective in talking about hypnosis. It is actually fairly accurate when talking about people’s minds. In a hypnosis session and the law of NLP tools, you’re actually talking directly to the elephant.
You’re talking to the elephant in elephant language so it understands. Around your issue of not feeling accomplished and this Impostor Syndrome and this success comparison, well, through hypnosis, we could talk to your unconscious mind and let it know that it’s actually here on the perfect path for you right now, Stephan, and maybe you are not supposed to go ahead and fight cancer for a reason. Maybe everything is unfolding the way it’s supposed to, and the past was just preparing you for this new life ahead of you right now. And if we say that in elephant language through hypnosis, I’m 100% certain we could convince this elephant that everything is good to move forward confidently to enjoy life and enjoy your whims.
Yeah. That’s great. That’s really profound, and it touches home. I feel an emotional reaction to what you’re just saying. Yeah, my unconscious really needs to get this. Thank you.
Yeah. All good, man.
This is definitely something that-listeners, you, guys, need to take the test here and assess where you’re at in terms of these five areas, and then decide what you’re going to do it to take steps to improve the things that are not really high-performing for you. For me, the accomplishment needs some work. What are you-the listener-going to do once you find out what your score is? We’ve got gratitude journaling, hypnosis, and celebrating your wins like, physically getting up out of the chair and jumping out and down. Any other things that you recommend folks consider as ways to boost their scores and make some improvements?
Yes, so let’s go right back to you, Stephan.
You’ve got 6.5 as your lowest score for engagement.
I want to ask you-how often do you play?
Well, I’ve done less playing lately. I’ve been working a lot of late nights, and I feel like I’m kind of missing out, right? I used to-for example, after I sold my agency in 2010, I did essentially three years of playing. I followed Tony Robbins around the world. I was a platinum partner, which is crazy expensive. I was just burning through cash-you know, like six-figures a year just following Tony around the world, but making some incredible friends, having a peer group of outstanding people, and I was loving it. The people who are billionaires are in that platinum partnership group. Being able to rub shoulders with folks like that who aren’t just about the success, but are about the contribution and the growth, it’s so rewarding. It is amazing.
I’m no longer in that group. I dropped in 2013-late 2012 to early 2013-and I’ve been doing some other things, but I’ve not really replaced a platinum partnership with something similar. The closest and the most similar thing that I’m still doing is Neil Strauss’s secret society. It’s called The Society, and you know about this, and you know Neil. I’ve been doing it for five years, and it’s been amazing. We have four intensives a year. They’re like, 3-day-long intensives. I, unfortunately, missed the last two so I’ll be in the next one in September, but the last two I missed out on so, I’m doing a lot of travel, but a bunch of it is just kind of work-related. I was at Podcast Movement, which was a fun conference, but it felt like work because that’s not self-development. It’s not like a growth mindset sort of stuff. It’s like, “Okay, how do we market our podcast better? How do we do better storytelling? How do we get better guests? How do we get on other people’s shows as well?” It’s been exhausting with all the travel. It’s been exhausting doing so many conferences and working late nights to kind of get caught up from all the travel.
Not enough play for sure.
Okay. Well, alright. Play is important, and I’ve got my professor’s voice talking into me right now because what he would say is, I mean, these things are great: platinum partnerships, and you’re going out so on and you can get love, fun, and engagement there. However, the majority of engagement and flow is available to you any moment doing whatever.
At work, at home, doing anything. An easy way to get flow and more flow and engagement is by setting yourself little challenges so you could be washing the dishes, and you could set yourself a challenge of how quickly you can wash the dishes. You could be going for a walk or you could be going to work, and you could set yourself a challenge to find a quicker way to work. When you’re at work, you could set yourself a challenge of accomplishing a type of routine or task that you usually do in a different way and in a new creative way. My professor, Dr. Mihaly, he actually says it in the book, Flow, too that human beings tend to rely on their brain and use it as a problem-solving machine. It’s very gray at being a problem-solving machine. Also, it’s just as good as a fun-making machine, if you like.An easy way to get flow and more flow and engagement is by setting yourself little challenges. Click To Tweet
I like that better.
A fun-making machine, but we don’t use it like that. Meaning, we can use it to just add extra fun in our life, to add playfulness in anything we do, and that’s a shortcut to flow and engagement. By adding playfulness and adding fun to anything we do. Saving little challenges for ourselves in whatever we do.
I like that. Okay, so, now, I got a question for you.
In relation to making fun out of something that’s maybe considered work. I mean, I do these podcast episodes as a labor of love-
But I guess the word “labor” does equate to work-
So, how do I inject more fun into these podcast episodes? If I have a day full of podcast episodes-like, I have back-to-back interviews today with you and previously, Brian Clark of Copyblogger and Rainmaker. I’m like, “Oh, God! I’m not going to have lunch until late afternoon.” That feels like work, but oh my God, I get to speak to Mark and I get to speak with Brian-that’s awesome. I’ve been really looking forward to that. I guess it’s not really fun yet, but it’s at least positive-looking. I don’t know. I guess what I’m trying to ask is, how do I inject fun into these podcast recordings in a way that works for the listeners and helps me feel maximum engagement?
Okay, yeah, great question! The first thing I’m going to say to that is-well, you’ve already identified a bit of the language that you used to yourself. The language you’re using to set it up in your reminder of what you’re doing.
Yeah. Labor of love-what a terrible word!
What would be a better word?
My passion. My purpose. My joy.
I’m stoked to have the opportunity to do this episode.
Exactly! The words you used create your own reality, and I know you know this, Stephan.
I know you know this, man.
I do know this. The guy on the elephant knows this for sure.
Right. Okay, and then I’ll ask you-I’ll just repeat the question back to you: How do you make it more fun? How do you make it more fun for you because fun for you might be different from me? You tell me right now, how do you make it more fun?
Hmm. I guess I could come up with some sound effects or something?
Right? I forget which radio show does this. Is it Howard Stern or something? Maybe it’s not Howard Stern, but they’ll play little sounds or something-just funny things when people say something. Yeah, that could be fun!
All right. What else?
Incorporating some fun facts or fun anecdotes, stories, or trivia into the episode. Getting my guests to share an embarrassing story or something-I don’t know. Something fun where I get the guest to play along.
All right. One more for now. What else could be fun?
To do a little celebration dance with my fiancée after I complete an episode.
There you go!
And she’s got her own podcast too so, I’ll have to reciprocate it, and we’ll have to do a celebration dance after she records her episodes too.
Perfect! Absolutely perfect! As easy as that! You come up with three ideas right away.
You have this desire for engagement. When I’m working with my clients, the first thing I usually do-this is for every single one of my clients-is introducing meditation practice.
Okay. What kind of meditation because there are so many types, right? There’s transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation-you know, Jon Kabat-Zinn. You could do yoga, you could just do gratitude meditation, closed-eye exercises, and you could do walking meditations-what’s the best in your view?
Okay, the best in my view is a bit like the best exercise. The best exercise and the best meditation is one you will actually do.
That’s the best one. The one you will actually do. Usually, for the majority of my clients, meditation is a new thing so I just get them to do a simple mindfulness meditation-just counting the breaths up to 10 and then repeating. I’ve been very successful with them just doing 10 minutes a day for the first 30 days, and then moving to 15 minutes up to 20. Some of them wanted to do more than 20. Some of them are done at 20. From meditation though, that tends to get them into flow and engagement. It tends to increase all the scores. It tends to increase the positive emotions. They’re more relaxed. They notice more the environment. They see more they could be grateful for. It tends to improve their relationships because you’re less reactive to people. You’re calmer, more patient, and just kind, generally. It tends to improve the meaning in life. You’re seeing things to be more aware of life, be aware of the beauty of life, and what life has to offer for everyone. The accomplishments tend to increase too because they tend to be more compassionate with themselves to say, “Oh, well, I guess I did do that. That was a good thing to do.” I think meditation is just really the key to happiness.
I really think it’s the thing.
Kind of like a secret weapon, isn’t it?
I think it’s a secret weapon. I don’t know if it’s so much as a secret anymore. It seems like everyone is talking about it, especially in our world. Especially in the entrepreneur world. With content makers and personal development, it really isn’t a secret. We’ve got plenty of research backing it up nowadays too-like, hundreds of studies ensuring the benefits, ensuring that it actually increases brain density in your neocortex. There are all types of research backing it up now, and I can say, for my own life, I started meditating daily, perhaps, two years ago, and if there is one thing that made a dramatic difference in my life, it’s certainly that.
Mm-hmm, yeah. It’s amazing! It is really so powerful yet, we just oftentimes give it short-I know it’s important and yet, I haven’t been doing it. I have just been shortcutting it and doing kind of bare minimum. Like, I got to quickly get this done and move on to the next thing because I’ve got these three or five things I’ve got to do as part of my morning ritual or my night time ritual, and this is one of them so, I’ll tick it off the box. Sometimes, I’m too busy and I just don’t have time, or it’s too late and I need to go to bed, and I skip it.
Right. Well, I’ve got two things to say about that, and I experienced exactly the same thing. I was doing my master’s degree with all the research. It was a great idea when I was at a 10-day silent meditation retreat of the meditation. I felt amazing afterwards. I felt like my brain has been upgraded into some super human focus, awareness of my surrounding, and calm. I felt like a superhuman. I came off the retreat and I was like, “I’m going to meditate an hour a day for sure!” I didn’t meditate at all. I think I did in about 20 minutes over three weeks also. I was beating myself up about it though because I wasn’t meditating.
Then, I started to realize, “Wait a minute, Mark. It’s just like any habit.” To create a habit and stick to a habit, you need some type of prompt or some type of action. Doing the meditation and some type of reward at the end of it-prompt action reward. I call it P.A.R. This is what neuroscientists have found as to what causes a habit. If you consistently have a prompt, action, and reward for doing the action-so I was like, “All right, well, let me try this. The prompt would be waking up so, as soon as I wake up, I’ll know that it’s time to meditate. The action would be the meditation. I’ll just do 10 minutes at first. I’ll just do 10 minutes in meditation instead of trying to do an hour or two. I’ll just do 10 minutes. My reward would be a real nice cup of green tea. I bought a super expensive green tea that was really nice, and I figured I’ll just wake up, meditate, and then I’ll get my really tasty green tea afterwards and have that as a reward. It will really allow myself to experience positive emotions and enjoy it.
Oh, I love that! What brand of green tea was that?
Oh, which brand was it? I’m not sure of the name of the brand. I just picked it up from a tea shop, but it’s really nice. Are you a fan? Are you a green tea fan?
My fiancée more than I am, but green tea is good for you.
I’m a big fan so, we’ll talk about that!
Then, I just pop a little date chart beside my bed, and after I had my green tea, I’d just cross out the days when I meditated. I got into routine, and it became a habit, and it was easy. Then, I traveled a little bit, and I got off it. Well, I was doing about 20 minutes. I was doing it for about 20 minutes, which was low-key, but I could tell there was a difference between when I actually did an hour a day and 20 minutes. It was a huge difference in my focus, even in my level of presence and my level of joy and happiness. I experienced a huge difference. I got a lot more from the hour. One of my good buddies, Michael Morelli Jr., is a really big social media fitness guy-
Yes, I’ve had him on the show.
Oh, you’ve had Michael on the show?
Oh, okay, cool!
Small world, isn’t it?
Yes, it is. He is one of my best friends.
Oh, very cool! He’s a great guy! It was a fun episode.
Awesome! You, guys, know Michael. He was like, “Mark, why should I meditate? What are the benefits of meditating?” He’s like, “Why should I do it for an hour as well? You keep talking about this. What’s important?” I was like, “Well, Michael, it makes you more appreciative of life. It improves your relationships with people who are important to you because you’re just more generous to them. You see them through kinder lens. It makes you more patient. You listen better. It makes your more successful because when you want to focus on the most important things at work, it’s easier to focus and stay focused. It makes you a better human being overall. It helps you contribute in life. It reduces stress in your body so it may lead to a longer life span. It definitely keeps you healthier.” There’s research on that. People who meditate tend to have lesser illnesses as they go on. There are all these benefits. He asked me this question and he was like, “Well, what could be more important than spending an hour doing that every day?” It’s not answering emails.
No, it isn’t.
You know what I mean?
So, that really hit home for me. The practice I have now is, I wake up, I meditate, and then I’ll do my other things like my gratitude walk. However, the one thing, if I’m going to do one thing, I’m going to meditate, and that’s the one that’s getting done.
Yeah. And the full hour? Like, no compromises? It’s a full hour?
It’s usually a full hour, but this morning, I did 20 minutes because my girlfriend and I are trying a new thing where when we wake up, the first thing we do is go for a walk. That was the first day, and I was dragging my feet a bit when we were going for the walk so I got 20 minutes in today. But, yeah, tomorrow it will be an hour for sure.
Okay. Well, you’re definitely motivating me or inspiring me, I should say, to make meditation a bigger part of my regular practice. I do very much believe in that prompt action reward sort of thing. Using some sort of trigger. For me, it was the Way of Life app that helped me established a bunch of new habits. It’s an iPhone app that, like Vardy, the Productivityist, turn me on to. You put in whatever habit you want to establish, and once you done it, you mark it as green, and you’ll get this chain of green bars happening because you keep doing the thing, and that’s part of the reward. You don’t want to have a red mark there because it breaks the chain so, Seinfeld would do this. He’d force himself to write a joke every day, and he wouldn’t want to break the chain. He want to have an X on the calendar every day of the month.
Yeah, I heard that. I’ve actually been using that technique for getting to bed before 10 P.M. I’m looking at my chain right now. It’s a great one!
It’s the Way of Life app-definitely check that out, listeners, if you haven’t already. What about massages? Is that something that needs to be part of a healthy person’s routines?
I usually work with entrepreneurs, and my whole background is in sports and exercise performance before going to the mindset stuff so, I’m studying optimal health and performance from 13 years old. I got my bachelor’s degree in sports, science, and physiology, and I was involved in training athletes for a while. I really took that lens to when I’m working with CEO’s and executives, I really look at them as athletes playing a different game. They’re playing a game of business. The way a lot of business is dependent on that personal performance. It depends on that personal performance so, anything we can do to increase our performance physically or mentally, you’d hope would carry over and transfer to the business, and a lot of the times, it does because you make better decisions.
When people are at their best physically and mentally, they make better decisions. Rest and recovery is a big part of that. Rest and recovery for a lot of people who are work with, I recommend them to do yoga. I recommend to do yoga. I recommend them to do massage. I recommend them to meditate because rest and recovery physically and mentally help them relax and help them to be clearer. Also, by playing, Stephan, by going out and just having fun because having fun helps people to be more creative, hence, helping them to make better decisions, so yeah, massage, I recommend. Currently, I personally have massages every other week. I think, ideally, I’d like it every week or every 10 days. Anything that helps you relax. Anything that helps you get centered. Anything that helps you be more present-
-Is going to help you make better decisions.
Yeah. Love it! All right, so I got to ask you one last question-and you probably know where I’m heading here-you lived in a house with a bunch of pickup artists for a while-
Pick-up has a whole science behind it, and I know from studying it from Neil Strauss for a while-I mean, I’m not doing pick-up anymore, obviously. I’ve got the woman of my dreams, and I’m good now, but it was very helpful to get the confidence and to just not be socially awkward anymore. I’m curious-what was your experience like being in a house with a bunch of pick-up artists? I know you picked up some of the techniques from them, and you are quite good yourself so, what was that like? Do you have any learnings that you’ve taken with you because now, you are happily in a relationship yourself too?
Yeah, thanks for bringing this up. I studied pick-up personally for about 12-13 years ago. I was reading it the back in England when I was at college at University of Leeds. I was reading pick-up. First of all, I was going online looking at David D’Angelo stuff and Eben Pagan’s stuff-
I got a couple of books from Amazon, and I was doing it for, maybe, a year or so when The Game came out-Neil’s book. I remember reading it and I was like, “Wow, all these pick-up artists living in a house in the Hollywood Hills doing all of these. That’s amazing!” Never would I ever have guessed or imagined that I would actually live with the same guys from the book in a house in Hollywood Hills 10 years later. I never would have guessed. Yeah, so you know, Owen, he’s known as Tyler in the book, The Game, I lived with him. He’s got a company called Real Social Dynamics-
So, I lived with the real Social Dynamics crowd. Owen’s a really good friend of mine. He’s actually matured a lot from the book.
Oh yeah? He didn’t sound too good in the book. Like, he’s not somebody you want to hang out with.
No. Tyler in the book-NO! I didn’t like him from the book. I said, “I don’t like this guy,” but actually, I know him in person. He’s matured a lot, and he’s actually a great guy. He’s a really good friend of mine. What I learned from Owen is-one of his main teachings to get guys to actually approach women is actually just to take so much action that the self-talk can’t kick it. Take so much action, your self-talk can’t kick in. That’s, surprisingly, really effective. I took it to another level, and I just started cold showers every day because feeling the fear and the anxiety of jumping to a cold shower is very similar to feeling the fear and anxiety of going up and speaking to a hot woman. By just doing it every day-by just jumping in the shower and taking action, taking action-you’re actually conditioning your mind that when you feel that fear and anxiety, you’re just going to take action anyway-
And get through it.
It’s like a desensitization process.
Exactly! So, that worked. I’m actually in a relationship now, and I plan to propose in the next couple of months. Just saving up for the ring.
I hope she doesn’t listen to this episode. She’s spoiling the surprise here.
She knows what’s going on.
There’s nothing I can hide from her. Actually, a friend of Owen’s is a British guy-a British pick-up artist. He’s called Robert Baxter-he came out to visit in the Hills. We were walking around Runyon Canyon, a hiking trail in Hollywood, and there were a few girls checking me out. I wasn’t really approaching. I just wasn’t really tuned into it, and he really encouraged me just start approaching. He said, “Look, just approach. Say anything. Just say anything. Just start speaking to women. That’s it. Just go, approach, say anything, and start speaking to them. Just say, ‘Hey, it’s a nice day! What are you up to and so on and so on,’ say anything, and then leave.” He got me into the routine of just going up and speaking to women and leaving. It really paid off for me because I was at a restaurant a week later when I saw a beautiful woman who came with her friends. I just walked straight up to her, started speaking to her, and then it just came up to me that she’s my girlfriend and I’m going to propose-this is a year ago-and it all came just from taking action, not really thinking about it, and just speaking.
Yeah, that’s great.
For me, that was a lot.
And you can apply that to all aspects of your life. Like, business, networking, how to get speaking gigs, to get client deals, to just build relationships, and get more friendships.
All right, so I know we have to wrap up because you’ve got to run-how would folks get in touch with you, to work with you, if you have any information products or training programs they could sign up for-what would be the next step for our listeners?
I’d really recommend the next step would be to go to www.markdhamma.com/happy, and take the evaluation for themselves. Just take the happiness evaluation. See where you are, and then from there, they can get my email, and they can email me and speak to me. I’m also on YouTube. The easiest way is to just go to www.markdhamma.com/happy.
Love it! All right, thank you so much, Mark. It was such a pleasure. Thank you for working with me on this exercise. It was very powerful, and I hope that the listeners will get some value out of that as well, and actually take the next step and take the test too. Thank you for sharing that and for sharing your wisdom and being open and vulnerable and such a giver.
Thanks, Stephan! I appreciate it!
Listeners, be sure to go not only to www.markdhamma.com/happy, but also go to Get Yourself Optimized website at www.getyourselfoptimized.com. Check out the show notes and we’ll create a checklist of actions to take from this episode so be sure to download that as well. I hope you apply the stuff in your life. This is Stephan Spencer again, signing off. We’ll catch you on the next episode of The Optimized Geek!
Links & Resources Mentioned
- Mark’s PERMA Quiz
- Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
- The Happiness Hypothesis by Dr. Jonathan Haidt
- The Game by Neil Strauss
- Cal Newport – previous episode
- Jaiya – previous episode
- Harville and Helen – previous episode
- Elissa Fisher Harris – previous episode
- Mike Vardy – previous episode
- Bart Baggett – previous episode
- Ken Dubner – previous episode
- Michael Morelli – previous episode
- Brian Clark on Marketing Speak
- You’re A Fraud, And You Know It! Imposter Syndrome: The Plague For Successful People
- Way of Life app
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
☑ Find ways to get into the “flow”. Meditation or activities that require focus are great ways to become fully immersed in what you are doing.
☑ Other people matter. Humans are social and crave relationships, so meet new people often and keep those that you care about close to you.
☑ Take Mark’s quiz for your evaluation on PERMA and to receive personalized tips on how to increase your own happiness and your well-being score.
☑ Everyone needs purpose and meaning in their life. Spend time each day focused on what that meaning is to you, whether it’s your career, spirituality, your family, or something else.
☑ Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Having goals that you work towards and meet will help your sense of accomplishment and overall happiness.
☑ To dig deeper into your PERMA score, and track your scores over a full week. That will give you more insight as to what your numbers should be.
☑ Read Flow by Dr. Mihaly to learn how to get into “flow”, and also to learn how this positive state can be controlled.
☑ To become happier, more fulfilled, and to show up more powerfully in relationships, commit yourself to personal development.
☑ To up your accomplishment score, purposefully and consciously congratulating yourself. This will train your brain to start looking for small accomplishments.
☑ Set small challenges for yourself and use your brain as a problem-solving machine. Making a task fun will help you to accomplish it.
About Mark Dhamma
Mark Dhamma, MA is an Executive Health & Mindset Coach, Fitness Model & Corporate Speaker. Mark focuses on helping people look, feel, and perform at their best by optimizing their health and mindset. Mark brings a wealth of knowledge to his clients including 17 years of experience in optimal health, and a Masters Degree in Positive Psychology under the famous, ‘Flow’ Professor, Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi to teach his clients the science-backed proven techniques to feel happier and experience higher levels of wellbeing.