Archive for May, 2012


How to Make a Monster Trap: Why Expecting Failure Will Make You Happier!

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Have you ever had a friend say, “Oh my God, you have to see such-and-such a movie, it’s amaaaaaaazing. You’ll die. It’s so, so, so good!” But when you see it…eh. Then, you see a movie simply because it’s close to your house and has good popcorn (oh, or is that just me?) and you think it’s absolutely amaaaaaaazing.


This little birdie expects that finding food in the sand will be tough. And that makes a big difference.

Why is that? Well, because we build our sand castles on our expectations. In movies. In meals. In dates. In dreams. In life. We forget that at some point, the wind might pick up, the sand grains might blow, or a child might come stomping right over the foundation. Just because we sat down ready to build a perfect sand castle doesn’t mean the process will go perfectly. But as much as we know this, we’ve all done it anyway.

You know, we think…

…as soon as we get our dream job, we’ll be happy to wake up and jump out of bed every morning!

…as soon as we start to date, we’ll find a connection and fall in love!

…as soon as we write that book or screenplay or business plan, we’ll be millionaires!

…as soon as we marry the right partner, we’ll live life like a cotton commercial, snuggling and laughing our way through the day!

…as soon as we start trying to get pregnant, we’ll be those people who say it happened on the first try!

But that’s not how life works, right? Because no matter how much we love our jobs, there are days we’ll hate it. And no matter how much we love the people we meet, there are days we’ll butt heads and argue and wonder why we ever thought each other was so darn great in the first place! The issue is those expectations. Because if we expect things to be perfect and we smack into the wall of reality, it hurts like heck and we’re devastated. But if we expect to meet with a little failure along the way, reality will just be a speed bump in the road that we roll right over in an average day.

In other words, all it takes to be happier is to expect failure. And all we need to do that is a Monster Trap!

Make your own mental "Failure and Success" chart for life!

Watch this video of Audri Clemens, in which he explains how he made a monster trap—complete with a “Failures and Success” chart and his hypothesis of how many tries it would take him to succeed. “I think it will have ten to twenty failures and two successes,” Audri says, “that’s my hypothesis.” We then get to see him try out his trap, starting with “Failure #1.” And we can all learn from his plan.

When you plan for failure, it won’t hurt as much when you hit it. When you know there will be dark days in your job, your love life and the path to your dreams, you won’t be tempted to throw down the plans and stomp on them. If you’re out there dating, make your own “Failures and Success” chart and mark down the awful dates in the expected category.

Like those movies our friends—and movie companies—like to shout about, don’t get so hyped up by your own expectations that every date or every day at work will be amaaaaaaazing. When you know things might not go well, the failures can be spectacular and interesting and hilarious!

Expect failure. Plan for reality. And then hope for some fun surprises along the way. When you can appreciate the crooked journey along the way—failures included—you give yourself the chance to be so much happier every single day.

Big love,


TRY THIS HAPPINESS TRICK: Connect Your Life and Love Dots

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Do you ever wonder why you’re going through a difficult time? Why life has put you in the middle of the storm, or on the bottom of the pit, or left you stuck for an hour in the waiting room of the doctor’s office? Well, today I offer you a new way to answer: Just because you can’t see the reasons today, doesn’t mean the reasons aren’t there.

Looking backward, we can see how each dot, step or lilypad has gotten us where we are today. (Image by Amy Spencer, Florida Everglades, 2011)

When Steve Jobs’ commencement speech he made in 2005 was making the rounds, I most appreciated how he was able to look at his past from such a positive perspective. Here is what he said:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward,” said Jobs. “You can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” And when he looked back at the stops he made along his path of life, for instance—including dropping out of college and taking a caligraphy course—it became clear how he got to where he was. This is also a great way to look at our own lives today.

We may not know why the road is roundabout and rough, but when we get to our destination, the route that got us there becomes very clear. And looking at our past this way is a very useful tool to help us climb over tough hurdles in the future.

Try this: Look back at the dots of your life. See how they’ve led you to where you are today, and how you’re stronger, wiser, more capable, more resiliant, and more open to love because of the very path you struggled on. For example:

• That job folding sweaters at the Gap for your neurotic boss? That’s where you gained the skills to handle high-maintenance clients better than anyone else.

• That relationship that left you brokenhearted and distrustful for years? That’s where you gained the empathy to treat others as kindly as you do today.

• That art class you took in high school? That’s where you learned to think outside the box and work more creatively in every area of your life.

• That date who turned you down? That’s because you were meant for a love bigger and better than they could offer you, and it was the universe’s way of nudging you forward to find it.

When I review my life, I can now see clearly that every class, every job, every relationship and every experience played its part in making me who I am today, how I work today, and how I love today. The same is true for all of us. And that is why: When you don’t know why you’re going through a tough experience at work, in love or in life, trust that there is a reason. The dots are there. And when you reach the next pinnacle and look back, you’ll see clear as day how those dots connect and led you where you are.

“You have to trust in something,” Steve Jobs told those Stanford University graduates that day. “Your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

The dots are there. Trust that they will connect.

Big love,

Your Happiness And Success Is All About Perspective

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Are you convinced yet about the power of our point of view? This TED talk by Ogilvy ad man Rory Sutherland takes the entire concept behind my happiness book Bright Side Up and relates it to marketing and business. As it turns out, Rorry and I both agree: It’s not your circumstances that affect your happiness but how you see them that matters. Yep. Our happiness is all about perspective.

So, check out the video, “Perspective is Everything.” And if you want to know how to shift your point of view in real, useful ways in your own life, find out more about Bright Side Up or get your own copy online.

Either way, remember that what happens today doesn’t matter as much as how you see what happens in your life today. Change your perspective, be happy!

You might also like:

A Bizarre Thought for a Happy Life: The Day I Read My Own Obituary

Big love,