Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Too small to make a difference

As I am in the personal development field, most of my work very naturally focuses on ways you can improve yourself, become more successful, happier, achieve your goals, live your dreams etc.  For some people this is enough.  But others want to improve the world around them and make things better for everyone else.  They begin trying and then find they do not seem to be making the difference they had hoped for and give up.  Or they don't even begin trying in the first place, believing they are too small to make a difference.

But can you be too small to make a difference?  Have you heard the saying "if you think you are too small or insignificant to make a difference you have obviously not shared your bedroom with a mosquito"?  I always chuckle when I hear that, but it is so true!  Think about it for a moment.  Such a small insect can make your whole night miserable!  I know nothing about you, but even so I can assure you that you are far more significant than a mosquito!

Have you heard about quantum computers?  Quantum physics is the physics that deals with the very, very small.  Not at a size you can see with an optical microscope but at the size of atoms or even smaller particles.  Quantum physics used to be very theoretical with little apparent practical use.  But a quantum computer, because of some of the very weird peculiarities of quantum physics, can perform tasks very many times faster than the fastest supercomputer.  Google and NASA claim their D-Wave quantum computer is 3,600 times faster, and some scientists expect future quantum computers to be far faster than that.  I have even heard one scientist claim they will be able to perform in a few minutes a calculation that would take today's computers all the time that has passed since the creation of the universe!  Imagine that!

The moral from both these concepts is that you should never think yourself too small or too insignificant to make a difference.  You are most certainly not!

If you do not see that difference, do not be discouraged.  We are all making a difference in the world around us all the time, but usually we will not see that difference.  For example, maybe you smile and say hello to someone you pass in the street, a complete stranger.  You will probably never know what difference that made, but it could be a very big difference.  Perhaps that person was feeling really miserable, and suddenly your smile changed their whole day.  They then reflected that by passing on their new happiness to others around them.  It is like a chain reaction (borrowing from atomic physics again)!  The result of that one smile could be dozens or even hundreds of smiles.  Dozens or hundreds of people whose lives were made happier just because of a very simple and brief action by you.  An action you probably never thought twice about.

You may think this sounds extreme, but it is not.  It is often the small and simple things we do that can make such a difference in the world.

Remember this while you are trying to become a better person.  Everything you do to make yourself better will make the world a better place.  Remember the quote from the Talmud which says "whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world" (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:9).  Although the Talmud is specifically talking about saving a life here, the meaning of that quote can be extended to cover all good acts.

Keep working on your self improvement, knowing that self improvement will improve the world around you in so many ways.  Congratulate yourself for every step forward you take, accepting that you have already made the world a better place, and all the steps you make in the future are going to make it even better still.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Why should I think positively?

"What is all this nonsense about a positive attitude?  Why should I think positively?  If I think positive, and then the worst case happens, I will feel even worse than if I had just accepted everything would go wrong in the first place!"

Does this have a familiar ring?  I hope not to be honest, but I realize there are many people out there who feel exactly this way.  The "glass half empty" people.

Even if this is not your normal way of thinking you are probably tempted to sink into this feeling from time to time.  Especially when you seem to be going through one crisis after another.  At times like this you are probably tempted to thump the first person who tries to cheer you up with positive thinking stories!  Fortunately I am not close to hand, so if you are feeling this way now I am safe!

There are, of course, some very good reasons indeed why you must think positively.

The first reason I want to give is that if you think positively you are far more likely to find the right answer to whatever problem may confront you.  You will be telling your subconscious mind that you know there is an answer and it will therefore start looking for that answer.  The reality is that there always is an answer, even if you cannot see it at the time.  But your subconscious mind is a supercomputer and if you program it to find the answer then that is exactly what it will do.  In fact, for the more technically minded among you I would argue that your subconscious mind is not just a supercomputer, but a quantum computer.  To check out what I mean by this you will have to wait for a future blog!

The opposite is the case if you think negatively.  You will be telling your internal computer that there is no answer.  As an entirely logical computer, it will not bother trying to find an answer it has been told does not exist.

If you have the choice of programming a computer to find an answer to your problem or simply allowing the problem to remain, which choice are you going to take?

The second reason I want to give is that like attracts like.  This is a natural law of nature.  If you have a positive attitude you will attract around you others with a positive attitude.  Remember the first reason?  That positive thinking will help you find the right answer?  But what if not only your own internal computer is looking for that answer, but also the internal computers of a crowd of people around you?  How much more likely does that make it that you will find the right answer?

The universe rewards positive thinking and penalizes negative thinking.  Do you want a reward or a penalty?  Isn't the answer obvious?

But let us now assume everything I have said so far is complete rubbish.  Is there still a good reason for thinking positively?  When you think positively you will be happy, but when you think negatively you will be sad.  Which would you prefer to be - happy or sad?  I know which I prefer!

The Sikh mystic who introduced Kundalini Yoga to the United States, Yogi Bhajan, said "If you are happy, happiness will come to you because happiness wants to go where happiness is".  How true this is!

Finally, I want to address the very valid point about what happens if the worst comes to the worst despite your positive thinking.  How can you deal with this?

I do agree that sometimes this can happen, no matter how positive you may be.  I happen to believe that in such cases this is because God, the Universe, or whatever you may choose to call the universal hidden power of good, has something even better in store for us in the future.  We just cannot see it yet.  So even in those moments of catastrophe we can be happy, knowing that it is all for the best and that there is something really great just around the corner.

It is also possible, and even advisable, to prepare for this eventuality before it occurs.  This is something I learned many years ago from the master of personal development, Dale Carnegie, in his wonderful book "How to stop worrying and start living", and I have never had to worry about what might go wrong ever since.  You can sum it up as "expect the best but prepare for the worst".  Think about the worst possible outcome to whatever problem you are facing.  Imagine it has happened (but don't focus on this too deeply, as you are not trying to attract that eventuality!).  Just how bad is it?  Is it the worst possible thing that could ever possibly happen?  Are there people in the world suffering any worse than this.  By thinking this way you will be starting to put it into perspective.  Now think about some of the adjustments you can make in your life in order to cope with the new situation.  Realize that once you deal with the situation properly it will not be as bad as you probably initially thought.  Accept the situation and be prepared to move on from it.  Now stop there.  Do not spend any more time on this negative outcome.  You are ready for the worst if it should happen, but you do not expect it to happen.  What you expect is a good outcome.  Focus on that.

If you prepare properly in this way you will not "feel even worse than if you had just accepted everything would go wrong in the first place", as in a sense you have accepted that possibility anyway.  You do not expect it and do not focus on it (thereby causing it to happen), but you are able to accept it.

So the next time you are tempted to think negatively remember everything I have said here.  In fact, read this article through several times right now.  Internalize it.  Let it become an integral part of your thinking.  You will most certainly find, if you do this, your life from now on will be happier and more productive!

If you want to get a copy of Dale Carnegie's book, you can find it here:

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


Do you sometimes feel that just when things seemed finally to be going right for you, suddenly there is a catastrophe and you have to start from the beginning again?

Do not despair.  You are not alone, and if you have the right attitude then things will come good for you.

Today I want to tell you the story of one man who seemed to progress from tragedy to tragedy but who never gave up hope and who left us a marvellous legacy.  That man was Jakow Trachtenberg, the inventor of the Trachtenberg speed system of mental arithmetic.

Jakow Trachtenberg was born in Odessa, Ukraine, in the time of the Tsar.  He studied hard, graduating from the Mining Engineering Institute in St Petersburg.  In his early 20's he became chief engineer of the Obukhov arms factory, and then was made responsible for the development of the Imperial Russian Navy.

Then the first tragedy struck.  The Russian revolution of 1917.  Trachtenberg was highly critical of the new Bolshevik government and had to flee to Berlin.  There, a penniless refugee, he started a new life as a magazine editor.

Then the Nazis came to power.  Trachtenberg was a pacifist and soon made known his opposition to the Nazi regime.  Fearing for his life he again became a refugee, escaping with his wife to Vienna.  Perhaps not the best city to choose for refuge in the 1930's, but Trachtenberg was not to know that.

In Vienna he found a position with another magazine and tried to get his life together again.  Then, of course, there was the Anschluss, and Trachtenberg found himself yet again a hunted man in a Nazi state.  He was captured by the Nazis and sent to prison.

Trachtenberg managed to escape from prison in Austria and escaped with his wife to Yugoslavia.  Here he tried to remain incognito, but was found by the Nazis and was transported to a concentration camp.

While in the concentration camp Trachtenberg didn't give up hope, but kept himself sane by creating in his mind a mental arithmetic system which is now known as the Trachtenberg System.  He had no paper or pencil to do this, so he created it entirely in his head.

In 1944 Trachtenberg learned he was about to be executed.  He got a message out to his wife, who bribed the guards in the concentration camp and had him transferred to a prison.  Trachtenberg then escaped from that prison and fled with his wife.

He was caught and sent to prison again.  And again his wife bribed the guards who let him go.  This time he and his wife fled to the safety of Switzerland.

In Switzerland Trachtenberg released his Trachtenberg System to the world and used it to help children struggling with mathematics, turning into brilliant successes children who had been judged failures.

When you read all the above, compare it to your own life.  How do the setbacks in your life compare?  If Trachtenberg could have such a positive attitude and achieve so much in the face of so many enormous difficulties why can't you too?

As well as learning so much from Trachtenberg's attitude to major setbacks and seemingly insurmountable obstacles why not acquire a new skill and learn the Trachtenberg System itself?  A skill that enabled one 10 year old, who had previously failed miserably at mathematics, to smoothly perform in his head the multiplication of 5132437201 by 452736502785 and come up with the answer in just 70 seconds!

You can obtain a copy of the Trachtenberg System here:

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

New Year Resolution

Did you notice the title of this article is "New Year Resolution" rather than "New Year Resolutions"?  There is a very good reason for this.

The majority of people fail to keep their resolutions.  Many have broken most or all of them before the first week of the New Year has finished!  Why is this?  Why do New Year's Resolutions simply not work for most people?

The reason for this is that most people view New Year's Resolutions as something fleeting.  Something not really intended to last much beyond the holiday season.  They make a whole series of resolutions without any serious intention of getting them to work.

If you really want this year to be better for you than last year, don't fall into the trap of making a bunch of resolutions you are not highly motivated to keep.  If you fall into this trap it is most unlikely you will keep them.  You will feel guilty each time you break another resolution, and you will reinforce the idea that New Year's Resolutions simply do not work, making it even more difficult in future years to make and keep meaningful resolutions.

Instead of having a long list of resolutions you are doomed not to keep, why not just have one New Year Resolution?  Just commit to changing one thing in your life, one thing that will make a real difference.  It is so much easier to tackle one resolution at a time.  There is not really any need even to call it a resolution, especially as New Year's Day has already passed.  Instead, call it a goal.

You should find just renaming your New Year Resolution a goal will make a real difference.  Subconsciously you will be far more committed to achieving it.  Also those around you will probably have a very different attitude.  If you call it a resolution it is only human nature for people to wait to see how long it will be before you break it.  Not at all an encouraging attitude!  But if you call it a goal then you should find at least your real friends (and I include family in this description) will be only too pleased to help you achieve it.  I have heard it said that as a result you are 10 times more likely to succeed.

Sit down right now, or rather when you have finished reading this article, and decide what aspect of your life you would truly like to change.  Something you really want with all your heart's desire.  Choose well and you will be highly motivated to achieve it.

Write down your goal.  Writing it down makes it far more real.

If you really want to succeed, then advertise your new goal.  Post it on Facebook.  Tell your friends.  Now you are really committed.  The people around you will expect to see some results, so do not disappoint them!

Once you have made this commitment draw up a plan of attack.  Write a detailed plan, including mini goals with timescales to achieve them.  Or perhaps just enter the timescale for the first mini goal, with the others to be filled in as you achieve each mini goal.

Post updates in social media.  This will encourage you to keep going, and will also probably generate further encouragement from your followers.

Use any tools you may find helpful to keep you focused on achieving your goal.  If you subscribe to my newsletter you will see many such tools, and some of them will be the perfect fit for you.  You can subscribe to my newsletter here and at the same time get four free e-books which will also help you along the way to your goal:

Once you reach your goal it is then time to pick the next one.  Don't worry if it is not yet New Year.  Hopefully you will achieve more than one goal in a year so don't wait until the next New Year celebrations before working on a new goal.  Within a few years you will find you have achieved far more, and are probably far happier, than would have been the case if you had stuck to the tradition of setting New Year's Resolutions.

Credit for image:  Jenny Rollo, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia