I wasted seven years feeling sorry myself. I’ll never get those years back.
It was the first time I hit rock bottom. I thought I lost everything.
I was wrong.
I started new businesses, made new investments, new friends. And so on.
My lowest point was a product of my worst thinking. My mind was infected.
Then it happened again.
Rock bottom. I thought my life was over.
It took me three years to recover.
That’s better than seven.
Every time I hit bottom the recovery time is shorter.
Seven years, then three, then one.
I hope to get better and better at this.
My friend Amy Morin wrote an article, “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.”
One of the 13 things: “Mentally strong people don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves.”
I wanted to know what “mentally strong” meant.
And how do I become mentally strong?
The first time I had Amy on the podcast, we talked about all the reasons she wrote the book. She told me about her mom dying. And then her husband.
She made it though. And told me her strategies.
Now she lives on a sailboat in Florida. And in the summer she goes to Maine. She can work from wherever. And she remarried.
Life can be rebuilt.
But knowing how is tricky.
I’ll get back to that.
After the first podcast with Amy (about mental strength), she told me about her side hustle. I looked at my engineer, “Are you recording?”
“You have to come back on,” I said.
And I wrote about it: “The Easiest Side Hustle You Can Start Right Now.”
Fast forward to today. She’s back on the podcast. She might break the record soon.
I wanted to ask her about an article she wrote recently, “5 Ways to Simplify Your Life So You Can Make Room for Things That Matter Most.”
We go through each one on the podcast.
Here’s what I learned:
1. MISSING STUFF IS PART OF LIFE
The first tip in Amy’s article is “declutter.”
She lives on a sailboat. She doesn’t need more than one lamp. She can’t decorate rooms and rooms. She only has things she cares about. Or needs. That’s it.
A few years ago, I threw out my stuff. I was in a crisis state. And I started questioning why I even had a storage unit.
I called a friend for help. She came over. And I told her, “Get rid of everything.”
I threw away pictures, my diploma, posters from my childhood, books, furniture, everything. I lived in Airbnbs and only owned 15 things. If something couldn’t fit in my bag, I couldn’t buy it.
My life was disciplined and organized and simple.
Amy asked me, “Did it feel great?”
Everyone else asked, “Aren’t you going to miss things?”
The answer to both?
2. BE SURPRISED BY WHAT YOU LOVE
Every passion of mine has always been a complete accident.
I’ll be reading a novel. And let’s say the main character really loves chess. Then I’ll try it. And fall in love.
But I don’t know beforehand if it’s for me or not.
I can only guess. And if I guess “no” and I’m wrong, then what? Then I’m stuck.
Amy said people should challenge themselves. Try one new thing. Set a goal. It can be daily. Or weekly.
But don’t let years pass between each new passion. Don’t let decades come between you and your next great love.
3. CUT OUT TOXIC PEOPLE
I will never stop writing about this.
Just recently, I had to cut someone out of my life. I didn’t want to. But I had to learn over time, “Oh, this person isn’t good for me.”
That’s step one to cutting out toxic people: identify them.
Then you have to check to see what kind of toxic person they are. Are they someone you HAVE to be around? Like a boss or mother in law?
If so, set rules.
For example, I used to pander to toxic bosses. But I should’ve made myself scarcer. So if I saw him in the hall, I should’ve just nodded “hi.” And that’s it. Then focus on my work.
If you create scarcity of yourself, your value goes up. It’s a rule of economics.
Amy told me another idea.
When you have to see the toxic person, make it a game.
One of Amy’s clients was afraid of a certain family member. They’d always insult her. So the next time she had to see her, she made a list of everything that could go wrong and turned it into a Bingo card.
The family would all play Bingo secretly. And compete for all these horrible things to happen.
Part of this was acceptance.
They just accepted it was going to happen. The other part is expectation. They changed their expectations from “I hope she doesn’t make me feel bad” to “I know she’s going to be who she is.”
And they made it a game.
I had two hours with Amy. We split the podcast into two parts.
Part two is coming out soon.
That’s where I ask her for all the positive tips. Because her books are about what NOT to do.
I wanted to hear what people SHOULD do.
Some of it has to do with money. Amy said, “There’s a link between mental health and financial health and I wish that we talked more about that.”
I asked, “What can people do to take control of their money?”
“As a therapist, we know money is the number one stress of most people in America. And I would see it all the time. There are all these studies about debt and mental health,” she said. “The more debt you have the worse your mental health tends to be. And we don’t know which comes first. Your mental health problems lead to more debt? Or your debt leads to more mental health problems? But we know they play off of each other.”
I think they go hand in hand.
We broke it down into different categories:
- The psychology of making and spending money
- How to use money to make money
- How to make peace with money
And so on. All of that is at the end of part one, which you can listen to here:
And you can listen to part 2 here: (where we talk about positive steps you can take today to improve your mental strength)
I started this post saying that I’ve lost seven years of my life moaning.
And even though I know I can’t get those seven years back, I know I don’t want them.
My mind then isn’t my mind now. I feel like I’ve aged backwards. I feel healthy and happy at 50 years old.
And, one more thing, I’ve learned I have a choice to make every day for the rest of my life:
A) I can either feel sorry for myself and be stuck.
Or B) I can work to improve.
Every day, I choose B.
Links and Resources:
- “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, face Your Fears and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success” by Amy Morin
- “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Raising Self-Assured Children and Training Their Brains for a Life of Happiness, Meaning, and Success by Amy Morin
- She also has another book coming out soon called “13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do”
- Follow Amy on Twitter
- Check out her website
- Watch Amy’s Tedx Talk – The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong
- Amy wrote this article as a letter to herself, but when she published it, it went viral
- Listen to my other interviews with Amy Morin
- Yuval Noah Harari author of “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”
- My interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson: Ep. 399 “What is The Truth? The Real Science of Inquiry”
- Dave Ramsey
- Chris Hogan
- Jerry Seinfeld