As an MD, life and business coach, host, and executive producer of the “How to Live A Fantastic Life” podcast and syndicated radio show with 4,000,000 + listeners per episode, I’ve interviewed thousands of celebrities, VIPs, authors, television and movie luminaries, and ordinary folk — and I ask them all, “How Do You Live A Fantastic Life?” Not only have I learned a lot from these amazing guests, but I have also had my own journey that changed my life.
In 2003, I was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gherig’s disease) and told, “You better get your affairs in order. You have six months to live.” But I am surviving and thriving through tenacity and grit, finding the correct diagnosis, and making changes in my life. So I’m sharing some golden pearls I’ve learned to help make your life fantastic in 2023 and beyond.
- I never miss two days without exercise. A study of 1.2 million Americans found that exercise helps your mental health. The optimal workout is 20-30 minutes, three to five times a week. In addition to stretching and core exercises, I swim, take brisk walks, lift weights, and cycle on a stationary bike. I don’t push myself to exercise every day, but I only take up to two days off from some activity.
- I never miss a day without concentrating on my goals. Jack Canfield, the author of the # 1 New York Times best-selling book “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” and a co-author with me of the “Pillars of Success,” advocates the key to success is to do three things every day toward your goal. So I do this. They may be big or small. But repetition is the key. And to make a successful habit, it takes 21 days to 6 weeks.
- I never miss a few days without meditation. The practice of meditation helps to get beyond being in a reactive state to engaging your brain more positively. Your brain has two parts that have evolved – the upper brain, where higher functions exist, and the lower “monkey brain,” which keeps alive and is constantly reacting in a 4 F mode – Flight, Fright, Fight, or Freeze. So when stimuli come at us, the “monkey brain” keeps reacting in these ways. In this world, stressful things are always coming at us, and we must get beyond those things. Now meditation need not be difficult. It can happen in 3-5 minutes a day.
- I never miss a day without an act of kindness (paying it forward). It may be small or large. I always give. And by the way, that’s the secret to getting. If you are lucky enough to have a special loved one, tell them you love them. And do little things for them. For example, make them coffee or tea, ask them what they need, and snuggle. And if you have a family, do the same for them. Help them with all your heart. Show them love. And for those outside your family, show them love and compassion too.
- I’m never done with self-growth. Exploring your emotional health through concentrating on growth can be life-changing. It can help you understand who you are and what you want from life, strengthening your sense of purpose. Doing activities that focus on positive things in your life, like empathy, improving relationships, social skills, or cognitive abilities, can strengthen brain circuits that have been underdeveloped. The easiest way to do this is with a coach. You can do it yourself, but that is challenging because life gives the test before the lesson. Yes, failure is a great teacher, but going that way is fraught with difficulties.
- I never lose sight of my purpose in life. Humans are hardwired to have a sense of purpose. People lacking a sense of purpose can induce a chronic stress response and lead to poor cognitive function. Remember that purpose is multifaceted. It involves relationships with other people, yourself, and your community. We should all aim to have at least one role in society that allows us to contribute and feel valued. It can be as simple as having household chores or being a student, employee, caretaker, volunteer, or mentor. I have created a YouTube video on how to find your purpose in life. I also have a chapter in my book, “The Secrets to Living A Fantastic Life,” where I show you how to harness the Japanese concept of Ikaigai to find your purpose.
- I never miss a day without laughter. Mark Twain said, “[Humanity] has unquestionably one effective weapon—laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” That’s why I laugh every day. And as I get older, it’s often at myself. I broke my leg a while ago. Everybody asks, “How did it happen?” Well, I was at my rotary club giving a speech. The room was hot and crowded; it was standing room only. But I fainted at the end and broke my ankle. I told everyone I needed a dramatic ending that brought the house down. And I did. I also say that people don’t say “good luck” when you take the stage because that could give you bad luck. So instead, they say, “break a leg,” And I took that literally.
- I never miss a day without doing something for myself and living fully. I never miss a day when I don’t do something for myself. It could be reading, having a cup of tea, or going for a walk. Or it could be something major, like planning a trip. Let me tell you about the last “Pearl of Wisdom” – live life fully every day. We never know when it will end. I’m living on borrowed time. I was supposed to be dead in 2003. Treat each day as a blessed gift. It is true what they say; real life begins at the edge of your comfort zone, not in your comfort zone.
- I never miss a day when I don’t give gratitude. An attitude of gratitude is critical for a successful, fantastic life. And by saying thanks, you harness the power of the universe. It turns you from concentrating on the negative to the positive. The easiest way to do this is to think of 3 things in the morning and three in the evening. Don’t cheat – every day, think of different things. And at night, give thanks for three things that have happened during your day. The best way to keep track is to write these in a journal. It should be a paper journal. Why? If you do it on a computer, there are too many distractions.
So, in closing, I’m going to challenge you. Do something for someone else today – an act of kindness, gratitude, and love. Do it without thinking about what you might get. An act of kindness can change your day. One day of practicing kindness can change your life. And practicing throughout your life can change the world.