In his recent book Unshakeable, the life philosophy guru Tony Robbins lays down the basics on smart financial investing. In a nutshell: stick with index funds, diversify, and invest with your head, not your heart. Yet most interesting for the spiritually inclined are the chapters toward the end of the book where Robbins steers away from financial advice to make an important point:
Financial well-being means nothing without mental and spiritual well-being.
Robbins uses the following quote by Mahatma Gandhi to make a point: A man is the product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes. In Robbins words, “the mental and emotional state in which you live is ultimately the result of where you choose to focus your thoughts.” We can thus choose to live in one of two states of mind:
A Beautiful State. Where you feel love, joy, gratitude, awe, playfulness, ease, creativity, drive, caring, growth, curiosity or appreciation. Nothing feels like a problem and everything flows.
A Suffering State. Where you feel stressed out, worried, frustrated, angry, depressed, irritable, overwhelmed, resentful or fearful. Your stress is often connected to your fears.
Let me state the obvious: We all want to live in a beautiful state. But we often have excuses for why we can’t and don’t, and they usually center around our overly busy lives. We’ve got kids to transport, chores to do, deadlines to meet, and our minds may be occupied by petty squabbles with a spouse, co-worker or family member. So how do we get to this beautiful state?
We need to live with an attitude of gratitude.
Robbins tells the story of once interviewing the late-John Templeton. When asked the secret to a successful life, the billionaire investor answered with one word: “gratitude’. He said that true success is not about money and pointed out that both men knew people who were well-off and who lived miserable lives—while others, with seemingly nothing, are “grateful for the breadth of life, for everything, so they’re rich beyond compare.”
What does living a life of gratitude mean? It means taking the time throughout each and every day to think about the good in your life and give thanks for it. For example: Give thanks for your home. Give thanks for your family. Give thanks for the beautiful sunrise, the birds singing outside your window, the song playing on the radio.
When negative thoughts arise, trade them for appreciation. Rough meeting at work? Be thankful for your paycheck. A long wait at the bank? Be thankful for the lesson on patience it imparts or the time for contemplation it offers. Angry with the kids? Flip the switch and remember the joy your children bring you during less stressful times.
Should a situation in life get you down, and you can’t find the wherewithal to express gratitude, use a tip provided by Tony Robbins called the 90-Second Rule. As soon as you feel tension rising in your body, catch yourself. Gently breathe and slow things down. Give yourself 90 seconds to distance yourself from any negative or stressful thoughts and come back to the positive.
As John Templeton once said, “there’s a relationship between the invisible thoughts and feelings of our minds and the visible actions we take as a result of them. One cannot think and feel one way and act in an opposite way.” When we think gratitude, we begin to act with kindness and show appreciation for those around us.
But all this is just theory. Unless you begin to put this idea into practice. Start giving thanks for all the gifts that life bestows upon you each moment you can. You may discover a curious rule of life: When you give thanks for the good in your life, even more good will come into it.