Marc and Angel Chernoff have become go-to voices in the area of personal development, reaching tens of thousands of fans each day with their fresh and relatable insights. Now they're writing the book they wish they'd had when they needed it most.
Getting Back to Happy reveals their strategies for changing thought patterns and daily habits to bounce back from tough times. Sharing never-before-published stories and advice, the book shows us how to harness the power of daily rituals, mindfulness, self-care, and more to overcome whatever life throws our way--in order to become our best selves.
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Rituals: Practice Daily What You Want to Manifest Regularly
Carve out a little time every day to focus on the things that matter most, and the benefits will return to you exponentially.
"Today, on my forty-seventh birthday, I reread the suicide note I wrote on my twenty-seventh birthday about two minutes before my girlfriend, Carol, showed up at my apartment and told me she was pregnant. Her words were honestly the only reason I didn't follow through with it. Suddenly I felt I had something to live for, and I started making small positive changes one day at a time. It's been a journey, but Carol is now my wife and we've been happily married for nineteen years. And my daughter, who is now a twenty-one-year-old university student pursuing a degree in medicine, has two younger brothers. I read my suicide note every year on the morning of my birthday as a reminder to be grateful-I am grateful I stopped waiting and started doing things daily that ultimately gave me a second chance at life."
That's the opening paragraph of an email we received recently from a course student named Kevin. His words remind us that sometimes we have to endure our very darkest moments in order to be reborn and rise again as a stronger, happier version of ourselves. Although circumstances and people will occasionally break you down to the lowest of lows, when you keep your mind focused on the positive, your heart open to love, and continue to put one foot in front of the other, you can recover the pieces, rebuild, and come back much stronger and happier than you ever would have been otherwise.
Life is painful. Change is painful. Growth is painful. But in the end, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong. It's always better to be exhausted from meaningful effort on a daily basis than to be tired of doing nothing. Too often we spend our days-and our lives-thinking about taking the important steps we never take. We suffer far longer than we have to simply because we don't step through the tragedies and challenges we face on a daily basis. And that's precisely why we're starting here, with a deep dive into the power of daily rituals. Let's press forward with another pertinent story . . .
In 1911, two explorers, Amundsen and Scott, embarked on a race against each other to become the first known human being to set foot upon the southernmost point of Earth. It was the age of Antarctic exploration, as the South Pole represented one of the last uncharted areas in the world. Amundsen wished to plant the Norwegian flag there on behalf of his country, while Scott hoped to stake his claim for England.
The journey there and back from their base camps was about fourteen hundred miles, which is roughly equivalent to a round-trip hike from New York City to Chicago. Both men would be traveling the same distance on foot through extremely cold and harsh weather conditions. And both men were equally equipped with experience, supplies, and a supporting team of fellow explorers.
As it turned out, Amundsen and Scott took entirely different approaches to the very same challenges.
Scott directed his team to hike as far as possible on the good weather days and then rest on the bad weather days to conserve energy. Conversely, Amundsen directed his team to follow a strict regimen of consistent daily progress by hiking exactly twenty miles every day, regardless of weather conditions. Even on the warmest clear-sky days, when Amundsen's team was capable of hiking much farther, he was absolutely adamant that they travel no more than twenty miles to conserve their energy for the following day's hike.
Which team succeeded in the end?
Amundsen's team, the one that took consistent daily action.
Because what we do every day defines us.
Today's progress is always compounded by yesterday's effort, no matter how small.
And it all comes down to the power of self-discipline, which we discuss in detail soon. But for now, think about the most common problems we deal with in our modern lives, from lack of presence to lack of exercise to unhealthy diets to procrastination, and so forth. In most cases, problems like these are caused not by a physically present limitation, but by a limitation of the mind-specifically, a lack of self-discipline.
We put the hard things off until tomorrow for a variety of reasons, until we've lost our momentum. We grow accustomed to the belief that things should be easier than they are, and that waiting another day or two makes the most sense. Then one day we wake up and we're emotionally incapable of doing the hard things that need to be done.
Let this be your wake-up call!
Your mind and body both need to be exercised to gain strength. They need to be challenged, and they need to be worked consistently, to grow and develop over time. If you haven't pushed yourself in lots of little ways over time-if you always avoid doing the hard things-of course you'll crumble on the inevitable days that are harder than you expected.
And if we had to guess, we'd say Scott's team suffered in exactly this way. They tried to make things easier on themselves; the fantasy of "easier" became their mantra, their subconscious goal. But this fantasy was never going to be a reality during a fourteen-hundred-mile footrace to the South Pole.
Scott's team lost the race, not only on the ground, but in their minds first.
Don't follow in their footsteps!
No matter where you stand now, the next best step forward is yours for the taking. Will it be easy? Not likely. As you move forward in life, adversity is inescapable. Once you come out of the storm, you see yourself as you really are in raw form, without the baggage that's been holding you back. And that makes all the difference, because it frees you to take the next step, and the next.
We first learned this lesson a decade ago, shortly after we lost two loved ones to illness, lost our livelihood in a layoff, and ultimately lost sight of the goodness that remained in our lives. Like it was yesterday, we still vividly remember that rainy summer evening when Marc found himself lying on a cold floor, alone in the dark again, just thinking. Marc recalls that night:
Angel and I rarely spoke openly about anything meaningful during that period, mostly because I was withdrawn. I felt helpless and depressed about what had happened. I was lost in the darkness of my own negative thinking.
But something slightly shifted inside me as I was lying on that cold floor.
As I looked up and out the open window next to me, the moon suddenly broke through the clouds and illuminated the dark room I was in. Then, within seconds, a light breeze started blowing the white window curtains inward and over me. As the curtains fluttered four feet over my body, I smiled, for the first time in days. It was a beautiful moment. And without thinking twice, I whispered out loud, "Life is still a miracle to be grateful for."
Angel walked into the room at that exact moment and whispered, "I agree."
She ducked under the curtains and snuggled into me on the floor. After a couple moments of shared silence, we decided to list some things off the top of our heads that we were grateful for, despite our struggles:
We had each other.
We had parents, extended family, and friends who loved us.
We were reasonably healthy.
Most of our family members and friends were reasonably healthy.
We had some savings.
We had shelter, water, and food.
We could experience and appreciate the beauty of the moonlight illuminating the dark room we were in, and the breeze making the curtains dance.
And the list went on, of course, but you get the gist. Even when everything seemed to be wrong, we had a lot going right-a lot to be grateful for. That night I resolved to change my thinking and make gratitude a daily ritual in my life. I started spending fifteen minutes every evening focusing my thoughts exclusively on what I was grateful for and why. I called it my gratitude meditation. This may seem like a trivial, clichd practice to some people, but a ritual like this changes lives.
Here's what has gradually changed in my life as I've practiced my ritual of gratitude:
I appreciate Angel more, and tell her so, which has ultimately deepened our relationship by opening us to more vulnerable and honest communication.
I appreciate my extended family and close friends more, because I pay closer attention to their positive qualities.
I have grown kinder to everyone around me, and kinder to myself too, because I have replaced many of my old, needless judgments with simple appreciation.
Little frustrations bother me less, because I complain less.
I need less to be happy, because I am being present and sincerely appreciating what I already have.
I notice life's simple pleasures and little moments more than I ever have before.
Working through life's inevitable difficulties has grown easier, because instead of focusing on how painful everything is, I find gratitude and joy in the small steps of progress I make every day.
And this list goes on and on too. But the important thing to realize is that all of these changes are incredibly positive and powerful. They aren't trivial, and they're far from being a clich. My gratitude ritual has fundamentally changed the way I think and live.
Have no doubt: a simple ten-minute ritual can change your entire life. We began practicing a gratitude ritual because that was what we needed at the time. But whether it's to help you reach a goal, like finding a new job, or to pull you back from the brink of helplessness like our gratitude ritual initially did for us, having a daily ritual is one of the most powerful things you can do to help you change your life for the better.
The little things you do daily-your rituals-define you. All the progress you make in your life from this moment forward will come from your rituals. Take this to heart!
Table of Contents
Foreword Alyssa Milano vii
Chapter 1 Rituals: Practice Daily What You Want to Manifest Regularly 1
Chapter 2 Mindfulness: Ease Out of Busyness and Into Awareness 38
Chapter 3 Letting Go: Surrender Attachments That Are Holding You Back 56
Chapter 4 Self-Love: Commit to Putting Yourself on Your To-Do List 81
Chapter 5 Perspective: Find Beauty in Life's Challenges 103
Chapter 6 Getting Unstuck: Embrace Change and Take Action When Necessary 129
Chapter 7 Motivation: Harness Your Inner Drive and Keep Moving Forward 155
Chapter 8 Relationships: Foster the Loving Connections You Deserve 179
Chapter 9 Happiness: Nurture an Inner and Outer Environment That Fulfills You 214
Afterword (and Three Tiny Things to Do Now) 234
If You Want to Continue Your journey with Us 240