On last week’s episode, we dove deep into life’s most brutal truths. This week, we are continuing the conversation with Part 2, where we examine more of the complicated truths we run away from. Here is what we cover:
The Cheat Sheet:
How does emotional reactivity set you up for failure?
What is value and how does it relate to time and relationships?
Why is the hamster wheel of achievement a flawed model for happiness?
What are people’s most common deathbed regrets?
How does celebrating the small wins help you achieve the big victories?
Today’s episode is built on the same brutal truths that our bootcamp curriculum is founded on. Learn more about The Art of Charm transformational bootcamp in Los Angeles here, where you will train hard, so you can fight easy.
Please Scroll down for Full Show Notes and Featured Resources!
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More About This Show
We think we can ignore the brutal truths of life. The fact that dreaming is for losers, or happiness is a choice, or investing in yourself always yields a positive return. But the reality is we can’t. No matter how hard we try, the truth catches up to us.
And on today’s episode of The Art of Charm, we stop running away from the elephant in the room, and face these prickly facts of life head-on. The initial sting is just the truth cracking whatever story you’ve been telling yourself. Eventually, your brain reworks this new truth into the narrative, and you will launch yourself into a higher trajectory.
Why Time Is Most Important
In last week’s episode, Brutal Truths Part 1, we discussed how accepting the finality of death actually makes us feel more free by exposing how sacred our time is. This week, we continue the conversation.
“Time, to me, equals relationships. It’s time invested in other people,” AJ says. “If you are giving someone value, you are essentially giving them your time. You’re paying attention to them, you’re accepting them, you’re acknowledging them, you’re appreciating them—that all takes time.”
But living in a capitalistic society, we forget how precious our time is. The billboards and TV shows have us burning midnight oil at the office to try to become one of the rich & famous. But does that actually work?
Johnny answers, “When I was younger, I went on the hamster wheel of, ‘I’ll be happy when I get to this point.’ And then you get to that point, and then you move onto the next point. Once you realize that no matter what you achieve, you’re not going to get there—you have to realize that’s flawed and fix it.”
What is the fix? It requires thinking about your deathbed, and letting that inform how you spend your time. Steve Jobs once said, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”
While this might sound morbid, mentally fast-forwarding to the end of your life will ensure that you are spending your finite time on this planet in the best way possible.
Stop Dreaming, Do The Work, and Be Grateful For It
We all want to achieve our dreams but might be struggling to make forward progress.
“Dreams—everyone can have. The action, the work, the results—not everyone can have,” AJ says, “It’s very easy to spend a lot of time dreaming and spinning your wheels and envisioning, and not taking the action necessary to get the results.”
But even when we stop dreaming and start doing, another challenge surfaces—we become susceptible to tunnel vision, only caring about the goals we want for ourselves.
“It’s so easy to focus on the next thing, the next great opportunity, that we can easily lose perspective on all those tender moments with loved ones, all those experiences we’ve been able to share with the people we care about,” AJ says.
But genuinely expressing gratitude can be difficult, especially when we’re submerged in the trenches of our work. Our vision is clouded; we can’t see what’s important beyond what the client needs or when the report is due. Taking a moment of gratitude, though, is the ticket to peace of mind. As Johnny so clearly states it, “You have every reason in the world to be happy right now in this moment.”
You Are Responsible For Your Emotions
We often say at The Art of Charm that “our emotions don’t define us.” To some, this might sound alarmingly detached. If our emotions don’t define us, then what does?
It’s the person experiencing those emotions in addition to the person monitoring, maintaining, and controlling them. AJ distills it into simpler terms, “I like to think of it as the gardener. You have the option of pruning and picking those weeds every day, and watering the plants you care about. Or neglecting—letting those weeds and negative thoughts overrun and dictate your emotions.”
When we channel effort into controlling our emotions and reactivity, we can start to choose happiness. Johnny elaborates, “My friends know that I’m easily excited. What they’ll say is, ‘Oh you’re a cheap date, aren’t you?’ Well, I’d rather be that way than everything being so difficult.”
Not only do our interpersonal relationships benefit from being mindful of our emotions, but so does our physiology. The science shows that reactivity leads to increased cortisol and increased stress, both factors that have been shown to shorten lifespans.
Always Invest In Yourself
Just when we think we’ve mastered our minds and prepared for any possible situation, something comes along to knock the wind out of our sails. How we prepare for this is by training with a weighted vest.
Coaching is your weighted vest. Most of us don’t have an accurate picture of how we perform on a date, or at a networking event because we’ve never received feedback. Here, at The Art of Charm bootcamp, we simulate these experiences to gather the constructive criticism necessary for when these high-pressure moments blindside us in real life—we already have the lessons internalized to easily handle them.
We can look at how athletes train as an example. Johnny draws the connection, “Athletes know they can only push themselves to such a point before they need an outside perspective to get them further.” And AJ adds, “Our brain has a governor. It slows you down before you physically are ready to slow down or need to slow down. Your hunger starts in your brain before you’re physically hungry. Your pain starts in your brain before the muscles start tearing.”
Whether it’s a life coach or business coach, personal trainer or therapist—when you recognize how significantly more sustained the emotional high of personal investment is (than say, material possessions) your day-to-day choices become much easier to navigate.
What if you don’t agree with the coaching? When asked about even the worst coaching he’s ever experienced, AJ responds, “There’s still a tidbit of information I can take out of it. Any investment you make in yourself has a positive ROI.”
Being open to outside feedback removes the ego from your story, launching you on to a clutter-free trajectory towards success. If that open highway to the top scares you—don’t let it. As Johnny so clearly states, “They always say, ‘It’s lonely at the top.’ But not if you bring people with you.”
Tune into today’s episode to get stung by these brutal truths of life, and rework the wounds into your personal narrative!
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AJ Harbinger - author of 1157 posts on The Art of Charm
AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality.
Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.
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