In this Episode
- [01:42]What is the secret to happiness? There’s a happiness equation, Anil says. It’s H equals G cubed. The first G is giving, the second G is gratitude, and the third G is growth.
- [03:52]Amil explains that one can be giving without being grateful; you can strengthen each one individually.
- [05:15]Focusing on others can reduce our own pain. Anil gives us an example featuring a little kid.
- [07:15]How can we raise our awareness?
- [08:16]Anil talks more about “becoming aware of being aware.”
- [09:52]Anil explains how he increases his happiness by looking around and seeing how he can find enjoyment in his current environment. He uses the example of a squirrel.
- [11:40]Our host Stephan shares a squirrel story of his own. A common thread between the two squirrel stories is the enthusiasm of children.
- [13:54]Stephan asks Anil to clarify whether he means we shouldn’t have emotional attachment to anyone. Anil explains that you can still have love for people without necessarily having attachment, and can then respond rather than react to events.
- [15:16]Anil explains how to reduce the fear that can interfere with love.
- [16:38]What specific exercise can someone do if they’re creating meaning for something that doesn’t have any (for example, believing that a spouse’s choice not to return a phone call means that the spouse doesn’t love or honor them)? A series of self-questions can help you let go of the situation.
- [19:35]We learn more information on ways to handle and overcome fear via a list of questions.
- [21:45]Anil talks listeners through an exercise that he used to help our host and his fiancee several years ago.
- [24:10]Anil responds to Stephan’s question of what he does to make his own wife feel special, first jokingly and then seriously.
- [25:02]It’s all about intent, Anil explains. He goes into details about why, using a hypothetical example about pushing his wife down to the ground.
- [26:48]We hear Anil’s thoughts on the difference between the Golden Rule and the Platinum Rule.
- [27:27]Anil discusses how not to raise spoiled children–or, in his positive spin, he discusses how to raise positive souls.
- [30:26]Love isn’t the greatest gift we can give our kids; instead, it’s the ability to handle life.
- [33:21]Anil tells us more about the process of their dinnertime meetings, especially the significance of alternating the role of meeting leader. Stephan elaborates on this, giving a real-world example of his own.
- [36:56]We learn more about Anil’s recommendations for how often to perform the dinner table exercise that he mentioned in the context of raising beautiful souls.
- [38:12]How can you stay connected with your children even once they’re grown and out of the house?
- [41:06]Anil explains his thoughts on the concept of EQ (emotional intelligence).
- [43:08]The similarities between his perspectives and Buddhism are “just common sense,” Anil tells us.
- [44:19]Anil gives us another exercise: writing down your accomplishments.
- [46:53]Positive incantations or affirmations can be a powerful tool. Anil suggests saying positive things to yourself about your own value during the course of the day.
- [47:40]Anil doesn’t have a productivity regiment–in fact, he’s very disorganized. He finds this gives him more freedom.
Hello and welcome to Get Yourself Optimized. I’m your host Stephan Spencer and today I have the distinct pleasure of inviting Anil Gupta onto the show. Anil is a great friend of mine and he’s also a powerful catalyst for change, especially in the area of happiness for people who feel blocked or in pain and he can bring them overflowing abundance, happiness, and fulfillment. It’s all within them, they just have to get out of their own way. He’s got a great book called Immediate Happiness, it’s a best-selling book. He speaks on stages all over the world, he has a thriving coaching practice, he’s also had numerous TV appearances. He’s been on Fox News for example. He’s also been on stages at Harvard University for example. Welcome, it’s great to have you, Anil.
Thank you, Stephan. We finally made it. We tried a few times to be on the show and now we made it.
Yep, yes. Tell me, what is the secret to happiness?
Well, you know, there is a happiness formula, an equation. If I could share with you, that really gives you the insight into how to live a rich and happier life.
Perfect, let’s do it.
The formula is h equals happiness equals G^3. The first G, is give. Give your time, your energy, your love, your commitment, your joy, your gift, your money. Give it away but wanting nothing in return, a pure gift. That’s the first G. The second G is you have to be grateful. Be careful for what you have and don’t focus on what you don’t have. Stephan, have at look at your hands.
Okay, I’m looking at them.
When was the last time you thanked them?
A couple of hours ago. I can’t remember ever thanking my hands.
Yeah, imagine what they’ve done for you. They’ve caressed the most beautiful woman in the world, your fiancé. They fed you, they’ve guided you, they’ve nurtured you, they’ve protected you. They’ve done everything for you. They’ve clothed you. My son is in a sling at the moment so he doesn’t have a use of his arm. We take these things for granted but if you’re grateful for what you have, and don’t focus on what you don’t have, it’s a big thing in the happiness world.
I like that.
The third G is you have to grow. Emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. That’s the formula. If at anytime you look at that formula and ask yourself which is the lowest G and if you will work on the lowest G, it will raise all of them. At any given time, you could be thinking, “You know what, at this moment, I’m not grateful. At this moment, I’m not giving. At this moment, I’m emotionally deprived or I’m low in my emotional content,” so if I work on that emotional side, that gives you clarity on the area in your life that you need to work on. It produces very, very, rapid results.
Great. Give me an example, let’s say that if you’re not feeling particularly grateful, how could you be in a giving mood? Don’t those kind of go hand in hand? If you’re giving, you’re grateful, and if you’re grateful, you’re also giving?
No. For example, an exercise–we could ask your listeners to do this exercise. Write down 50 things you’re grateful for. You can be grateful for your family, your friends, your brother, your sister, your wife, your children, your house, your car, your teeth, your eyes, your nose, your legs, your feet, your arms, your body, your health, your job, workmates, whatever. If you’ll write that down, that’s totally different to giving. Giving is entirely different. It means to donate, to give without wanting anything in return, a pure gift. A smile is giving. If you smile at someone, just for the sake of smiling or to make them happy but you’re not wanting anything in return, you don’t have an ulterior motive or a bad intent, in that moment, you give. I’ll share something, I was suicidal in 2008 and there’s only one thing that would have stopped from really ending it all, and that was when I started to give. In the moment you give, genuinely, authentically, the pain and suffering disappears. In that moment, it disappears. It’s very, very powerful.
When you’re focusing on other people’s needs and helping them, then your own suffering or the things that you’re incomplete about just kind of melts away just because you are focusing on others?
Yeah, let me give you a perfect example. At one time, I was really, very worried about a certain circumstance in my life then eight words completely destroyed that worry. I’ll tell you what those words were.
A little kid came running to the house and he said, “Uncle, your son AJ has had an accident, come quickly.”
Wow, isn’t it?
Turned out okay though?
Yeah but in that moment, ”Oh my god. What’s happening? Is he going to die? Did he hurt himself? What’s going to happen?” Then, the other stuff is not important. It’s not important. As human beings, what we focus on is what we get so if we focus on thinking life is not working, of course, it’s not working. But if you focus on the great things in your life, the things that are working, how blessed we are, how lucky we are, then you can lead a happy life. It’s just a shift, it’s just to shift that focus.
Yep. That’s one of the things that Tony Robbins teaches, is focus, physiology, and language.
Awareness gives clarity. Clarity gives focus. Focus gives action. Action gives results which ultimately leads to happiness.
Yeah but I mean what you focus on, what you look at is what you see. It’s not rocket science but you need the awareness to know that you’re focusing on the wrong stuff instead of focusing on what happened and the meaning you make it mean, you could focus on what’s great about the situation, how can I thrive from it instead of, “Whoa, it’s me,” it really is awareness. Awareness gives you clarity. Clarity gives you focus. Focus gives you action, and action gives you results which ultimately leads to happiness, fulfillment, and bliss but you cannot be joyous, you cannot be in love, you cannot be successful, you cannot be wealthy, you cannot be healthy without awareness.
How do we develop that awareness then? Just by doing these exercises or is there something that we can just kind of change within us that doesn’t require constant exercises?
Awareness is a muscle. If we exercise that muscle, it gets easier, and easier, and easier and it gets stronger, and stronger, and stronger. What I tell my coaching clients is this, on a computer screen, put a post-it note with the word awareness on it or the letter A, you don’t need to write the word. Every time you see that post-it note, you can remind yourself to be aware. You could have a handkerchief with a knot in it, every time you’re aware or you notice it in your pocket, that will remind you. You could have a wrist band, an elastic band or rubber band, whatever you call it in this country, and every time you notice that, you could be reminded. You could have someone call you, “Hey, I just want to remind you,” your secretary or someone like that or even your friend can make a special noise or alarm every two to three hours. As you develop this awareness, you become aware of being aware which is the next stage. It’s a muscle and as you develop this muscle, it gets stronger and stronger.
Becoming aware of being aware. Tell me more about this.
Okay. What are you aware of right now?
I’m aware of you. I’m aware of some of the Skype weirdness when the connection gets funky and we’re going to have to edit that in post. I’m aware of my feet on the floor, aware of some tension in my neck.
Okay. Just think about it. Are you aware that you’re aware of that?
Yes you are. Think about it, think about it.
Okay. Yeah, okay. I’m aware that I’m aware.
Can you see it? That’s just the muscle and once you turn that on, it’s very powerful.
Right. I just recently read this article that explained that habits are made up of three components. You have the cue, you have the habit itself, and then you have the reward. One way to increase your happiness level is to just simply notice little moments of joy throughout the day. Things like you just had a piece of candy, or somebody said I love you, or hello or something, and just developing that habit. The cue when you hear that person say that nice thing to you, you notice that, “Oh, that created some joy for me,” and now you’re instilling this habit and the reward is feeling that happy feeling. You’ll re-enforce that habit and become happier because you’re just starting to get in this habit of noticing.
Right but this is something more powerful than that Stephan.
It’s this, instead of giving someone fish, you can teach them to fish. This is what I do, say I’m in the park, I’m looking around thinking, “What’s wonderful here? What’s great here? How can I increase my level of enjoyment right now?” I’ll see something, it can be the smallest thing. It can be a squirrel. You know, I’ll tell you a story. I was walking in a place where I live and there was a squirrel running up and down and the kids were mesmerized and I said to myself, it’s only a squirrel and then I thought, “Oh my god, you idiot. It’s a squirrel. Oh my god. Look at that, it’s got these beautiful characteristics, it’s playful, it’s hyped, it’s collecting all these stuff to hibernate, it’s alive, it’s vibrant, it’s got this twitch and it’s got its tail.” I thought, “Oh my god, you’re taking this for granted.” That’s where the awareness of taking that thing for granted but it came from just being able to watch these kids being mesmerized by this squirrel. How many times do we do that? “Oh, it’s only a cat, it’s only a dog,” but if you look at closely at that cat, if you look closely at that dog, there’s immense beauty.
Yep, it’s a miracle. There are so many miracles and we just stare them in the face and we don’t even pay attention to them.
Oh my goodness. Really, so many things and until things go wrong, my son’s in a sling and I posted something today about taking things for granted. I can lift my arm, he can’t. To me, it’s like not a big deal but to him, it’s like, “Dad, I want to be able to do that. Dad, I want to be able to play tennis. Dad I’m going to beat you at tennis.” That’s not going to happen but that’s what he wishes. Simple stuff.
It’s funny you talk about the squirrel’s situation here that reminds me, this was years ago, it really made an impression on me though. My children were pretty young, they were under ten and we were at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago with a childhood friend of mine, a guy who’s the same age as me. We’ve known each other since third grade. We’re all at the park, I’ve got my kids with me and there’s a squirrel that crosses our path and the kids got so excited and my friend is commenting, “Oh yes, that’ the rare North American squirrel.” And he’s cracking up thinking like coming to this zoo and all these rare animals and they’re all excited about a squirrel and I thought wow, that’s so cool. I mean squirrels are pretty amazing and cute and full of energy and everything, why not get excited about the squirrel?
The quality of our life is dependent on the number of attachments we have.
If you really think deeply, what does the squirrel have to worry about? Does it worry about am I going to get fed today? Does it worry about how much money is in my bank account? Does it worry about if somebody loves it or doesn’t love it or is going to reject it or is the relationship going to fail or are we going to get a divorce?
Probably none of those things.
Who’s the evolved species? From my experiences with people, we worry about issues and personal dilemmas and the squirrel could be eating an apple and could die on the main road, we don’t know. They live a beautiful life and it’s a simple life and that’s the beautiful thing about it. The thing that the squirrel has that we don’t have is the ability to not be attached whereas as human beings, if I could just share this, the quality of our life is dependent on the number of attachments we have. The lesser attachments we have, the better the quality of life. Simple, powerful, and the truth.
But yet we’re attached to our significant other, we’re attached to our mission or our career, whatever we’re doing in our workday. We’re attached to our family, our kids, our parents if they’re still alive, siblings if we have them. How can you say don’t be attached to those things?
You can still have love for them but you can stop letting the attachment have power over you. You can be this person that can fluidly dance with life and circumstance as a free spirit and if things happen, you can be objective, and really instead of reacting, you can respond. It doesn’t reduce the level of love that you have. In fact, it would increase because the attachment creates some sort of fear and that fear will reduce the level of love and capacity to love that human being.
Okay, that makes sense. When you’re in fear, you’re not really in love, you’re not exuding the love because you’re in a state of contraction.
Yeah, it’s worse than contraction. It’s like negative. When you’re in fear, everything goes against you. You can’t love in that moment of being fearful. Then, the decisions you make under that fear status are normally the wrong ones. They’re going to not necessarily be the right ones and it doesn’t give you that clarity. It affects your breathing, it affects your health so that you don’t get a clear mind, you get a fogging mind and that causes more fear. It’s a catch 22.
How do you reduce fear?
Awareness. That’s the only thing. Ask yourself, “What am I fearful of right now? What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? What do I need to let go of? What am I not seeing? Where did this come from? Did this happen in the past? What do I make it mean?” As human beings, we’re meaning-making machines. For example, if my wife doesn’t return my call, I make it mean she doesn’t love me, she doesn’t honor me, she doesn’t respect me but all that happened was that she didn’t return my call but then I build a big story around it. As human beings, we love to be right especially me, I love to be right about being right. I will find justification to prove to myself that I was right, that she doesn’t love me, she doesn’t care for me. Whatever she does, or says.
When you’re in fear, everything goes against you.
Okay. I’m very familiar with that concept from Tony Robbins and how we create all these stories that aren’t true. What’s the antidote besides just awareness? What’s a specific, tangible exercise that somebody can take if they’re making up the story, they don’t see it, they don’t see that they are making up the story that their loved one doesn’t care because of not getting a return phone call or whatever it is. What’s the specific exercise that they would do that would snap them out of that?
The first question they ask themselves is this, “What actually happened?”
What actually happened was she did not return my phone call. Good. Next question is, “What do I make it mean?” I’m making it mean she doesn’t love me, then go back to what actually happened. Oh, she didn’t return my phone call and then ask yourself, “Is there really a meaning behind that?” No. She just did not return my phone call. The next question is if I continue to feel this way, “What is the cost to me? Is it costing me my love, my energy, my happiness, my joy?”
Next question is, “Am I willing to let this go? Am I willing to really look at this objectively and not react but respond?”
Okay, you go through, and those are the questions that you ask yourself.
Then you can ask, “Am I being right here? What other issues are going on in my head that would make me feel this way because I might be fearful of rejection by someone else. Someone may have said something to me.” Therefore you can go look deeper into what may have caused you to feel this way. Did my wife say something this morning? Did something happen this morning? Did something happen last night? What is it that I’m fearful of? Am I fearful of something? It’s constant questioning because as you develop this, you can ask yourself 10, 12 questions within 30 seconds because it’s so easy. Is it because I’m fearful? Do I feel that I’m alone or feel that I’m going to be rejected? Is she going to leave me? Are these all things that are going through my head because if they are, they’re racing and when they race, you can’t think straight. When she will come home, you’re not going to be in a good mood. You’re going to be angry, upset, frustrated and that’s not what she’s looking for.
Part of the antidote to the fear is to ask yourself these questions so that you can change your perspective. Another thing that I’ve recently was exposed to as a kind of a fear antidote, Orion and I, my fiancé and I, were at a Kabbalah class last night. We talked about fear and how you can kind of just let that envelop you and just think of the worst case scenario and be okay with that happening because in reality, if you try and resist it and run from it, it persists. What you resist persist so if you just accept that that could actually happen and that’s okay, you will survive and there’s a bigger picture here then the fear will not control you anymore and you’ll be able to move from that and operate on the place of love instead of a place of fear. Is that pretty well in line with your philosophy as well?
I would do it slightly differently. I would say, “Okay, I’m fearful.” For example, you lose your job, I’m fearful that I don’t have enough money. Instead of letting that envelop you, ask yourself this question, “Anil, you’re 56 years old, have you always handled everything that’s thrown at you?” Yes, I have so why would it be any different this time? I’ll say, “Well, I’m older.” Okay, you’re older but you’re not smarter. You know stuff that you never knew before. You’ve got friends, you’ve got relatives, you’ve got people who love and care for you, what’s to stop you instead of being fearful to be optimistic? What do you need to change? Rather than dwell in it and let it envelop you, you can ask yourself questions like what’s a powerful personal message I could get here? What am I really fearful of? Is it that I’m fearful of success, is it that I’m fearful of failure? Who could I become in this moment? What can I write on my tombstone that people can say about me? What can I show up as? Who can I show up as? All of these are great questions and your listeners can write all of these questions down and in any particular circumstance, they can just look at the questions and say, “This one’s applicable, this one’s applicable.” Then they’ll develop their own questions and then they keep the mastery over their emotions and this is where the emotional part of the happiness formula comes in, it’s part of growth.
Got it. You won’t have to worry about catching all these different questions you can just jump onto the website to get those questions that we’ve been talking through. Let me jump to an exercise that was really amazing and powerful that you did with me and Orion several years ago now. We were in person and you just sat with us and just did this process that was really, really cool. Could you kind of refresh my memory on that process and kind of walk us through it, me and our listeners?
What process is that? Was that where respect and love, is that the one?
I think that was, yeah, I think so.
Men wanted to be respected above love and women want to be loved above respect.
This is really very powerful and if you can make this available to everyone, it’s fantastic. Women really want something different from men. Women want to be loved, men wanted to be respected above love and women want to be loved above respect. The question that you could ask your spouse, if you’re a male, you can ask your spouse this, “Honey, what can I do to make you feel more loved?” Be quiet, let her respond. Normally, she would say, “No, no, no. There’s nothing you can do.” As the men they say, “Well, if there was something, what would it be?” And she’ll say something like, “I want more time with you.” Then you can ask, “What else can I do?” “I want you to be present.” “What else can I do? I want you to not be distracted.” “What else can I do?” “When I want to be heard, I don’t want you to fix anything. I just want you to listen to me and acknowledge me and just be with me.” “What else can I do?” “You can give me hugs and kisses.” “What else can I do?” “You can give me small gifts.” “What else can I do?” “You can write me little notes.” Therefore, the male doesn’t know what to do but now, he has a clear idea of what to do. Then we switch it over. The lady can ask the men, “What can I do to make you feel more respected?” The man would say something like, “I want you to pat me on the back.” This is what I want my wife to do. Physically pat me on the back and say, “Good job, I’m proud of you. Well done.” “What else can I do?” “I want you to just give me a hug and a kiss and say I respect you and just look me in the eye and give me a kiss.” “What else can I do?” “As you walk past me, I want you to just stroke my back.” “What else can I do?” “Occasionally, when I ask, can you cook my favorite meal?” It’s simple stuff. It’s so simple but if you push the other person’s buttons in a beautiful way, they’ll do anything for you. This is the main reason marriage has failed because you stop making your partner your number one priority and when you do that, they start looking elsewhere, they start getting comfortable and then when someone else gives them that attention, it’s really hard to stop. If you make your partner your number one priority, they will never leave you.
Yes. What do you do with your significant other, with your wife, that makes her feel like she’s number one in your life?
I’m not telling you that.
I give her my time. I give her my attention. I tell her, “Honey, I’m so glad I married you. I appreciate you being in my life. thank you for giving me two beautiful kids I absolutely adore, thank you for being by my side in my times of need, I would give up my life. You mean everything to me. You’ve given me so many magical moments. I’m always here for you. I will never leave you. I’m always here for you.” Stephan, I’m not a perfect husband. I have many faults. Please don’t think I’m a perfect guy. I have many faults but my intent is pure. It’s really about your intent.
Tell me more about that, why is it all about your intent? This aligns very well with what I am learning in Kabbalah class. It really is about intent. Tell me more.
For example, if we’re walking down the street and suddenly I pushed my wife to the floor, she could get very upset with me and she wouldn’t but she could. She could say, “Why the hell did you do that? That’s so disrespectful. I can’t believe you did that. I’m so embarrassed. I hurt myself,” or she could say, “Honey, I know you love me, why did you do that?” I say, “Honey, the reason I did that, I saw this truck coming your way and I was scared that he was going to run over you. I wanted to protect you and push you out of the way. I was willing to take the hit for you.” My intent is pure. If she gets upset, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because my intent was pure. If I did something, for example, I made a call to a friend, just having chit chat and I went to tell my friend my wife was worried about something and then my wife came back and said, “Hey, why did you tell my friend that I was worried about this?” I say, “Honey, my intent was pure because I wanted her to talk to you and just make you more relaxed.” If she gets upset with me, it’s not my problem because my intent was pure and honorable. There’s nothing I could have done better If I thought that was the best thing and I messed up, I’ll say, “Honey, look, I’m sorry but my intent was pure,” rather than get guilty and upset I’ll say, “Look, I apologize but my aim was genuinely to serve you.”If you make your partner your number one priority, they will never leave you. Click To Tweet
I guess the golden rule is to do to others as you would want to be done to you but the platinum rule is do unto others as they want to be done to. Just because that’s the way you want to be treated doesn’t mean that that’s the way that somebody else is going to want to be treated.
I disagree a little bit because you could have a spoiled little kid and if they want to be continually spoiled and you’re enabling that, that’s not always the best thing. I would say something like do the right thing. What’s the right thing to do? If you continually do the right thing, I promise you, you will lead a richer, fuller, happier life.
I believe that, I believe that for sure. Tell me how do you avoid raising kids who are spoiled and have this entitlement complex that seems prevalent in society these days?
Good question. Mother Teresa was asked to march against war and she said no. Why would she say that?
I don’t know.
She said, “I will not march against war but I will march for peace.” Instead of not wanting to bring up brats, decide and choose to bring up beautiful souls.
Okay, I like that.
It’s so much more powerful. People say, “Oh, I don’t want to be poor. I don’t want to be poor. I don’t want to be poor.” Change it to, “I want to be wealthy. I want to be rich. I want to be successful.” As opposed to “I don’t want to be not successful,” change it to, “I want to be successful.” I have a really beautiful, absolutely amazing dinner table conversation that I have with the kids. Stephan, if you do this, it’s so beautiful. You can even do it with anyone in your family, workmates, anybody. The first question you ask is this. Imagine myself, my wife, my nine-year-old son, and my seven-year-old daughter sitting around the table. The first question I would ask my wife is, “Honey, what have you done today that you have not been thanked for?” Good question. She may say, “I cooked this amazing meal. I put so much effort and love into this meal. Nobody said anything, no one thanked me.” Then, we go around the table thanking her saying, “Honey, I really felt the love and beautiful energy that you put into this food and all the nutrition you’ve given us. Please accept my apologies and accept my thanks for what you’ve done today. I really appreciate you.” Then, my son would say something and my daughter say something. Then, I would ask my son, “What have you done today that you have not been thanked for.” “Dad, I’ve got this amazing grade and you just ignored it.” I’ll say, “Son, it wasn’t 100%.” That’s not right, “You know son, you’re right. I apologize. It is a great grade and I apologize for holding such a high standard. Please forgive me.” My daughter would say something and I would say something. Next question is what acts of kindness did you see today?
Go around the table. Next question is, what acts of kindness did you perform today? Then, we go around the table. Next question is, what are you grateful for? Then, we go around the table. Next question is, what did you see, what did you notice today? “Dad, I notice when you came and picked me up, you gave me a hug and a kiss. Not everybody’s parent comes to pick up their children and not every parent gives their child a hug and a kiss and in fact dad, some kids don’t want their parents to kiss them.” I’ll say, “Son, I’m going to kiss you even if you’re 40 or 60 years old and if people say anything to you, this is what you’ll say to them. Say my dad loves me, that’s why he kisses me. He’s the greatest dad in the world. I want to be like my dad.” If you prepare your kids, because if you don’t prepare them for what’s going to be out there, Stephan, what’s the greatest thing you could give your kids?
The greatest gift you can give your kids is to give them the ability to handle life.
Nope, it’s not love.
This is my opinion only.
I think the greatest gift you can give your kids is to give them the ability to handle life. That’s what happens in nature. All of a sudden it has to fend for itself. That’s the greatest gift and a beautiful thing happens. When you do that, the love that they give you is a much purer and deeper love because it comes from a place of purity and strength, not weakness and fear.
So many parents are so scared that their kids are going to go against them, that they give them stuff that they shouldn’t be giving them. I think one of the worst things that a parent can do is give a very fast sports car on their 16th birthday. What’s going to happen next? If they get a sports car, what do they’d want for their 17th, 18th birthday? I see it all the time.
What do you give them instead?
I gave my daughter a very cheap car and she’s had it five or six years but she’ll always remember this car and then if she wants to get a better one, she has to work for it because it’ll show her the value of money, of working hard for something and really aspiring for something that she really wants whereas if you’ve given a thing, there’s no power in that.
Yeah, you actually take their power away. That’s something again I’ve learned from Kabbalah is the concept called Bread of Shame where if you do the hard things for your children or for anybody and you take away their ability to earn it because if they earn it, then the blessings or whatever the abundance comes and it doesn’t come with side effects, but if you didn’t earn it, if you got it for free, or you won the lottery or whatever, and something happens, you squander the money, you run into some sort of hardship because you didn’t earn it and then the side effects come.
Yeah, that’s why I said the greatest gift you can give your kids is to give them the ability to handle life and situations so that you know that they can handle anything that surrounded them. Sitting around this dinner table, the last question is, is there anything you’d like to say? One day, my daughter said, “Dad, I’m having a problem at school.” That’s what you want your children to tell you. “Honey, what’s going on?” She said, “Dad, I’m being bullied and there’s some stuff going on. I don’t know what to do.” We had a small conversation, we fixed it very rapidly but if she didn’t come and tell us, it could have gotten a lot worse and then you find out, “Oh my god, she committed suicide.”
Yeah, some kids will cut, they will self-harm in different ways and you never know what’s going on until it’s too late.
When you have these conversations everyday, there’s no room for anything not to be told or shared because they feel comfortable, they feel very special. This is the first part of the exercise. The second part is this, next day, my wife would lead a meeting, the day after my son who is nine at that time would lead the meeting, and then the day after my daughter was five or seven at that time, would lead the meeting. Imagine a seven-year-old leading a meeting and she’s bossing her nine-year-old brother around. At first, it’s funny because they don’t understand. But after a while, the level of awareness goes up because they’re looking for acts of kindness to perform and to see, they’re looking for gratitude and just noticing stuff. They become leaders because they have to lead the meeting, they have to be respectful. It’s a very, very powerful exercise and you can do this at work and with family members too. It’s a really incredible, incredible exercise. The youngest person I think that I’ve done it with is like a three-year-old, a five-year-old, and a three-year-old. The three-year-old obviously doesn’t understand but the five-year-old is picking it all up.
It’s such a different experience when you are the leader of the group because I went through this process where, over a year ago now, my youngest daughter, myself, and my fiancé were in a sugar challenge and then my fiancé Orion was leading that sugar challenge. I cheated a number of times.
You cheated Orion?
Yeah, no. I fell off the wagon in terms of eating sugar.
Oh, sorry. I had to slip that one in.
Restricting instead of suppressing.
Yeah, it’s fine. Anyways, I was not strict with this challenge. My daughter was feeling spectacular. She’d order big sundaes and things like that. At the end of two weeks, Orion is like, “Okay, I’m out. I’m going to just handle myself and I’ll be good and you guys do whatever you want to do.” Then, I turned to my daughter Cassie and said, “Do you want to do another week?” and she said, “Yeah, I want to give it another go.” I became a leader because I went to ask her if she wanted to continue or not. I needed to be an example. That week, I didn’t cheat once on the sugar, I didn’t feel the cravings as much. It felt more empowering. It felt like I was restricting instead of suppressing which is another Kabbalah concept. It stuck. I’m still sugar-free and it’s been over a year, a year and a half.
Well done, I’m very impressed.
Yeah, but part of the difference was becoming the leader. Empowering your kids to become the leader in this exercise and do it on a regular basis. That’s amazing. I love that. You do this every single night?
No, no. We would do it when we were much younger. Now the kids, they don’t necessarily stay with us and we’re separated but it’s given them the groundwork, it’s given them the ability. My son has spoken in front of 10,000 people. My daughter has spoken in front of 10,000 people in Columbia, my wife is there too she’s spoken in front of 10,000 and obviously I was the main speaker. It’s a big thing to be able to handle yourself in that way.
That’s great. How long did you do this exercise for on a regular basis when they were younger? Was it everyday for years or did you do it off and on maybe a couple of times a month for a year or two, what’s the frequency that you recommend?
Probably about two to three times a month because we’d all take turns. The problem is I just got so busy that I took my eye off the ball and we moved from England to the USA and a lot of stuff was happening, we kept on moving houses and businesses and all of that stuff. It’s easy, easy, to get distracted and this is where the coach comes in, he just reminds you, you put systems in place but if you get this going, it really starts a snowball effect because the kids get so powerful and any time my daughter has a problem she can just come out and say it. She’s not fearful. That’s a beautiful thing. That’s what you want your kids to do. You want to be able to confide with them and they confide with you. I confide with my daughter whenever I’m having a problem, I talk to her.
Your kids are grown now. How do you keep that connection alive when they’re in different cities and doing different things and they’re busy and stuff? I have grown kids and they’re very busy. They’re doing stuff and weeks go by where I don’t talk to them because I’m busy too and whatever and it doesn’t feel so good when it’s like a month goes by and we didn’t really have a deep conversation for that whole time.
Can I be brutal with you?
What you focus on is what you get.
Okay, go ahead.
You don’t mind?
Okay, you need to commit.
Are you not committed to having an incredible relationship with them? If you want to commit today, I’ll show you what to do. All you have to do is just get into their world. Look at what they’re watching. What’s their favorite program? What’s so good about it? Sit down and watch with them. Call them, “Hey, AJ, just thinking about you. What are you up to? Hey, I saw your post on Facebook. What was that like? How are you getting on?” Same with your daughter. With my daughter, I would do the same. Go see them, spend time with them, have vacations with them, send them notes. It’s very easy. It’s not that we’re too busy, it’s just that we’re not committed.
Or not a priority.
If you say to yourself, you know what, my children are my main priority, Orion is my main priority but my children are my second most main priority. Whichever way you want to do it. Then, live into that commitment. Saying, “Look, I’m committed to do this. I’m committed to not eating sugar. What do I need to do? Change my mindset. I’m not too busy, I can ring my daughter five minutes a day. It’s not a big thing.” You’re going to commit to that?
Yeah, well I’m going to commit to being much more present for them for sure whether it means a phone call everyday or messaging them or texting them or whatever. I’ll figure out what is going to work for them and me both because they work and they’re not always available and it’s tough to take phone calls.
See, now you’re asking yourself the right to do this. How do I get it done? All of a sudden you’ll find the answer. Beautiful, well done.
It’s simple. It’s so simple. It’s a matter of just committing and realizing the awareness is this, that if you don’t spend time with them, they’re going to drift away. You’re going to lose that love. Remember that day they were born. What did you say to yourself?
I’m the luckiest man in the world.
Yeah, you are. What else did you say?
So grateful. I’m so happy. I have a big responsibility and I’m going to live up to that.
There you go.
Cool. Let’s move back to the idea of being happy and just having a good emotional state. EQ or emotional intelligence is a term that’s bandied about a lot. Are you big in that movement? What do you see as kind of the most valuable aspect of that concept or that discipline?
I’m big on awareness. Awareness gives you clarity. Clarity gives you focus. Focus gives you action. Action gives you results which gives you success, happiness, joy, bliss but it all stands from awareness. Just ask yourself, what am I aware of right now? I’m aware that I’m not happy. I’m aware that I’m depressed. I’m aware that I’m feeling lonely. I’m aware that life is not working for me. I’m aware that I need to do something. Okay, that’s good. That’s where I am. Where do I want to get to? I want to have this deeper relationship with my wife. Good. How do you do that? Well, you know what, I need to give them more attention. How do you do that? It’s all about awareness. Awareness gives you clarity. That’s what people are missing, it’s clarity.
But instead, they have the attachments. They don’t have the awareness but they have attachments.
They have the attachments and they have the distractions and they have all that white noise.
What do you mean by white noise?
White noise is the television, the car, the radio, the cubicles, the train stations, the chatter at work, the TV, the elections, the phone, that’s all white noise. There’s not a place where they could just sit calmly, just space out, just let their mind wonder. Just like kids do, they don’t have that so there’s no way that they can relax because it’s like being constantly on the go. You get up, you get in a rush, you got to get to work, oh my god I’m going to be late and this happens and that happens, you go to rush land and then you come home and then you gotta eat. I’m too tired. See, it doesn’t need to be that way by you having five or ten minutes of quiet time is equivalent to two to three hours of rest. It’s very powerful.
Very cool. When you spoke about attachments and it sounded like maybe there’s some Buddhist philosophy in there. Have you taken any kind of Buddhism study or anything?
Nothing at all. It’s just common sense and just reading just books and literature and personal experience. In 2008 when I was suicidal, I was attached to money and I’ve realized that, “Oh my god, I’m attached.” I actually hit my head and all of a sudden, a lot of stuff downloaded because I got clarity but a lot of the stuff I talk about is experiential, because I’ve experienced immense pain, I’ve experienced suicidal thoughts. I’ve experienced suicidal actions almost. I was too stupid to do. The way I look at stuff is because of my personal experiences and that gives me great power to help people because I know what to do to get out of it quickly without going through counseling or therapy. You’ve experienced the power of a deeper connection with Orion in just a few minutes. That’s the gift of going through experiences.
Yeah. Are there any exercises that you want to share with our listeners that are particularly powerful?
I would do the gratitude exercise. Write 50 things that you’re grateful for, even 100 things or 200 things. Another exercise I found very powerful is to write down your accomplishments. Having my son, having my daughter, winning this tennis tournament when they said I wouldn’t, attending grammar school, going this, graduating, becoming an eye doctor, blah blah blah. Just write down your accomplishments. Opening a business, setting the business being successful here, buying that house, buying that house, selling that house. Write down your accomplishments because what you focus on is what you get. We sometimes dwell on what’s not working or I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough. These are common traits, I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, there’s something wrong with me, I don’t belong, I’m a failure, I’m not worthy. I’m not worthy is the biggest thing that causes suicides. If you feel worthy, then you’ll never commit suicide. If you increase a person’s self-worth, you’re probably saving their life.
This I’m not worthy is the background for some people. First of all, how do you tell what that tape is, what that negative self-talk is because a lot of people are not even aware of it?
Good. An exercise will be during the day write down your emotions. I feel lonely, I feel not worthy, I feel like I don’t belong. Keep on writing them down and at the end of the day, just have a look at the common denominator. How many times do you say I’m not worthy? How many times do you say I’m not rich enough? How many times do you say I’m not good enough? How many times did you say I’m poor? If you look at that and you do an analysis, maybe two days is long, maybe do it an hour. You’ll be surprised how many times you have these thoughts. Two hours. Highlight them and then you’ll see, Oh my goodness these are the thoughts then you’ll replace them with incantations such as, you could print this out and keep it with you, I’m strong, I’m powerful, I’m here to serve, I have a gift, I’m kind, I’m generous, I’m playful, I’m successful, I’m charismatic, I serve others, I’m here for a purpose, I’m living a mission, I’m living a passion. You can just keep on saying that and that will overwrite anything else and that will replace the negative incantations that you’re saying to yourself and it’s developing a different muscle.
These incantations or affirmations are something that you say what is part of your morning ritual or multiple times throughout the day, do you set a timer to remind yourself to say these things or do you write them down? How do you install them into your consciousness?
I do them during the day. I don’t even speak them out. I say it in my head. I’m driving around. I say to myself, I’m looking in the mirror, I do it sometimes before a coaching course. I’m here to serve, I have the gift, let me the best person I can so that I can serve to the best ability for this person who’s about to receive the greatest gift on Earth.
Awesome. You travel a lot. I know you go to Necker Island and hang out with Sir Richard Branson and you’ve gone to a lot of Tony events, Tony Robbins’ events. That’s how we met and yet you also have time to work with clients. Do you have a kind of productivity regimen that you follow that makes it easy for you to handle all this stuff or is there some other secret to your success there?
I’m very, very disorganized. I don’t like to organize things. With my coaching course, I tend to want the client to call me if they have an issue. We can schedule calls but I like to be free, like we did today, you called me today, “Hey, can we have the podcast today?” Perfect. The problem with scheduling things is that it tends to tie you up and I feel sometimes there’s a loss of freedom with that. With my coaching clients, I say, “Look, we’ll talk whenever you want to. If you have an issue, if something comes up today, and it bothers you, call me. We’ll break it down immediately. If I’m busy with a client, I’ll call you back.” I prefer that regimen rather than scheduling things on a regular basis.
Okay. Different strokes for different folks, right? I schedule a lot. I have a lot of structure but structure is kinda my thing. I’m a structure geek. How would somebody work with you if they wanted to get coaching from you or they wanted to learn some of these processes or get kind of a tune-up or kind of a happiness reset, how will they work with you?
Sure. The best way is if you go to my website that would be immediatehappiness.com and there are a few buttons up there. I think one is a Strategy Call, one is Coaching With Anil. You’ll find some testimonials. Just look through that. Make sure you’re comfortable and then if you’re ready for a change and you want massive change and you want it rapidly, I absolutely guarantee it. We’ll schedule a strategy call and we’ll say if you could fit in this happiness call, it’s myhappinesscall.com and if you fill this three-minute question area, you’ll find out how happy you are and areas of your life you need to work on. I can promise people if they had enough of the pain, if they’re not fulfilled, or there’s something missing in their life, or they need to forgive someone, I’m the right man and we can do that in two or three sessions.
That’s awesome. I love that tip to use the myhappinessscore.com resource to get a readout on what your current state of happiness is. I like that a lot.
That gives you clarity on areas of your life you need to work on and then from there, you can say, “You know what? This is three things I need to work on.” Go ahead and do it. You don’t necessarily have to come to me. Only come to me if you’re in a lot of pain and then we’ll just destroy it in minutes.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Anil. This was fantastic. I’m your host Stephan Spencer signing off and we’ll catch you on the next episode of Get Yourself Optimized.
- Anil Gupta
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- Immediate Happiness
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Checklist of Actionable Takeaways
Apply the H equals G cubed (give, gratitude, and growth) formula to yourself to see which G is the lowest. Work on raising that one in your life to achieve more happiness.
To strengthen the second G in the equation, take half an hour to write down 50 things you’re grateful for. Tomorrow, write down another list, with none of the same items.
Put a Post-it note on your computer screen with the word “awareness” on it. This way, you’ll be frequently reminded to be aware.
Set a phone alarm for a random time when you aren’t sure where you might be. When it goes off, look around your current environment, and find five reasons for enjoyment.
To reduce fear, practice increasing awareness. Ask yourself what you’re fearful of, what the worst thing is that can possibly happen, and what you need to let go of.
Take one thing that you don’t want, and practice reframing it into something you do want. For example, change “I don’t want to be poor” into “I want to be rich.”
Practice showing gratitude for the people you love. Ask one of them, “What have you done today that you haven’t been thanked for?” and then thank him or her for whatever the answer was.
For one month, resolve to perform at least one act of kindness every day. After a month, you may find it’s a habit you don’t want to break.
Think about someone with whom you want to have a closer relationship (a parent, child, or sibling, for example). Commit to strengthening the relationship, and figure out the best way to do it.
Take the 25-question test at My Happiness Score to find out your happiness score and learn areas for improvement.
About Anil Gupta
Anil Gupta is far more than simply the author of bestselling book Immediate Happiness, a speaker with appearances on Fox News and at Harvard University (among many others), and a guide with a thriving coaching practice–though those things are all impressive in their own right!
More importantly, he is a powerful catalyst for change. He focuses on helping people who feel blocked or are in pain find their own happiness and overflowing abundance. And, as he explains in this interview, doing so doesn’t require any huge external changes. Instead, it’s all about changes you can make within yourself. Anil generously gives listeners a plethora of valuable information in this podcast, sharing tools that you can use to increase your own happiness.
Disclaimer: The medical, fitness, psychological, mindset, lifestyle, and nutritional information provided on this website and through any materials, downloads, videos, webinars, podcasts, or emails is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical/fitness/nutritional advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Always seek the help of your physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, certified trainer, or dietitian with any questions regarding starting any new programs or treatments, or stopping any current programs or treatments. This website is for information purposes only, and the creators and editors, including Stephan Spencer, accept no liability for any injury or illness arising out of the use of the material contained herein, and make no warranty, express or implied, with respect to the contents of this website and affiliated materials.
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