Feb 13, 2016

7 Simple Life Skills That Improve Everything

I recently started writing about more holistic topics (i.e. not just sex and relationship building topics) and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

So today, I’ve decided to write about the seven highest leverage life skills that I’ve incorporated into my life over the past few years that have had the greatest net positive effect. I changed these seven things, and their positive results were seen and felt across my entire life.

You might be surprised at how simple some of these tips are, and even more surprised by how far reaching the subsequent benefits are.

Here we go!

1. Join a mastermind group

Without a shadow of a doubt, one of the absolute highest leverage ways to improve your life is to be a part of a mastermind group of people you respect and are challenged by.

What is a mastermind group? A mastermind group is a group of people who are under the collective agreement to help each other navigate specific challenges using the collective wisdom and experience of everyone involved.

As humans, it’s impossible to see our own blind spots.

That’s why the best coaches see coaches. The best therapists see therapists. And the most successful people have other successful people who help point out their blind spots.

In 2012 I joined an invite-only mastermind of entrepreneurs where everyone had to fit a specific criteria. At that point in time, having had less business experience than most of the people in the group, I just squeaked in. And I committed myself to adding as much value to the group as possible on a daily basis.

I figured out what my mastermind members’ biggest pain points were, and I helped solve them (free of charge). I knew that what I lacked in relative experience in some areas, I made up for with my own unique strengths.

I can directly attribute some of my greatest growth curves (in my personal life, social life, and business) to being a part of this mastermind.

Having any number of people watching your back and lovingly call you out on your blind spots is such a high leverage way to expand the quality of your life.

I believe that there are two paths that you can take when it comes to being a member of a mastermind (so if you don’t know where to start, start by doing the following).

– Write down what your ideal mastermind setup looks like. Then, either see if that group already exists, or set about creating it for yourself with your existing network.

– If you know that it exists, do your research to make sure that you’re a good fit for their culture, and then ask/pay/network your way into it and become a massively valuable resource to the group.

– If the group doesn’t exist and you have to create it yourself, then do just that. Phone/email your ideal group members and let them know what you want to do. Maybe you want to do weekly video conference calls to keep each other accountable. Maybe you want to meet up for monthly meetings where you each get 20 minutes in the hot-seat to have your biggest question answered. Whatever it is, get clear on what you want, and make it happen.

By extending your real-life social network, allowing yourself to ask for help, tapping into the wisdom of others, and consistently getting feedback on your biggest personal challenges, your life will expand exponentially to the degree that you invest in your mastermind group.

2. Buy a blender and consume a green smoothie every day

I started this habit a few years ago, but I really started doubling down on it (in a more highly optimized way) within the last six months.

life skills

At the time of writing this in my life, I’m still relatively lazy in my cooking habits. I generally aim for the lowest maintenance, and most nutrient dense meals that I can get my hands on. If it keeps me healthy and thriving, while also taking less than ten minutes to make, then I’m all about it.

One of the best investments that I ever made in my health was buying a Vitamix blender and consuming at least one plant based smoothie per day.

We all know that we’re supposed to consume 5-10 servings of fruit and vegetables per day, and relatively few of us (especially those who were raised with a westernized diet) actually manage to do that. The fastest way to remedy that? Any combination of juicing and/or blending our meals to make them more quickly consumable.

Depending on what produce is in season, I aim to have a smoothie every day that contains green kale, black kale, spinach, avocado, cucumber, cinnamon, cacao nibs, pumpkin seeds, almonds/pecans, nori (seaweed paper), himalayan pink salt, coconut oil, a greens powder, a vegan protein powder, and almond milk/coconut milk/water.

What are the benefits? Since I’ve started consuming a daily green smoothie, I sleep better, poop better, have easier access to my emotions, have more energy, have a higher sex drive, feel less anxious, and feel significantly more immune to getting sick than I’ve felt compared to any other point in my life. It’s the closest thing to a silver bullet that I know when it comes to your overall health regime. Obviously, doing work that you love and occasionally sweating/moving your body also helps to keep your immune system strong and balanced.

(Note about diets: the vast majority of diets don’t work because they are set up from the get-go to have your mindset be accessing your world from a place of deprivation. We think to ourselves, “Oh I want to eat that piece of apple pie but I can’t because I’m on a diet… and I have to say no to all of the fun stuff.” This is why I am a fan of adding in large amounts of vegetables and some fruit into our diet by getting a super dose of them in one, drinkable solution. The cognitive re-frame focuses on what you get to add to what you’re consuming as opposed to what is off-limits.)

3. Incorporate play into your life

One of the greatest shifts that I’ve made over the past few months has been incorporating more play into my life.

I read a book called Play It Away by Charlie Hoehn in which Charlie describes his journey of going from being a burnt-out, anxious workaholic to being a relaxed, joyous person. His primary focus? Re-introducing play into his life.

The book encouraged me to take a ‘play inventory’ which is a fancy way of saying ‘Sit down and reflect on what it is that you used to do for fun before life became so serious for you.’

Shortly after reading the book, I started making short films, taking improv classes, skateboarding, and playing guitar again (all things that I did for fun between the ages of 10-18 years old).

I feel like one of the biggest differences between our childhood and our adult life is the amount of time that we allow ourselves to have unstructured play time.

Your general anxiety and level of irritability drop when you allow yourself to play. We’re healthier, happier, and more at ease as a by-product of play.

As my homie Dr. Stuart Brown once said, “The opposite of play is not work it’s depression.”

How could you incorporate more fun, play, and lightness into your life? What activities have you been neglecting that you know, on a bone-deep level, that consistently light you up and make you feel alive?

4. Hire a coach

Tiger Woods has a coach to help him with his golf swing. Oprah Winfrey sees a life coach. Paul Allen, billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, has financial advisors.

While there is a ton of value in keeping up a regular masterminding habit, there is another unique set of benefits that comes from having a dedicated coach who helps you with one specific area of your life.

If you find specific coaches for various areas of your life that you feel safe and seen with, then those people are worth their weight in gold.

Maybe you want to work on improving your sex life. Or making more money. Or being more deeply fulfilled in your life’s work. Or you want to lose weight and feel more energetic.

life skills

Whatever you’re looking to work on, there’s likely a coach to help you get there a lot faster.

Throughout different phases of my life, I’ve worked with a dietician, a personal trainer, a therapist, a sex coach, a life coach, a self-love coach, a financial advisor, an accountant, a personal assistant, and more. And I’ve never regretted a single dollar spent on this kind of help.

Dedicated, focused attention on you and your biggest problems/areas of improvement are so valuable.

Figure out what it is that you want, research coaches who do that kind of work in a 1-on-1 capacity, try them out, see if they’re a good fit for you, and then double down on your investment from there. If your growth and expansion are important to you, you won’t regret it.

5. Allow yourself to be alone sometimes

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”

– Michel de Montaigne

In what is commonly referred to as the age of distraction (or the Information Age), modern society is filled with noise.

It’s so easy to get swept up into the seemingly never-ending options we have of where to invest our time and attention.

And I believe that one of the absolute best ways that we can counteract the overwhelm that we can feel from this tsunami of information is to take regular, distractions-free alone time.

“When we are alone and quiet, we are afraid that something will be whispered in our ear, and so we hate the silence and drug ourselves with social life.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

When we allow ourselves time for peace and quiet we give ourselves the gift of transforming our loneliness into solitude. Whatever we fear might surface in our thoughts will ultimately be for our greatest healing.

You’ll feel unfelt feelings… ponder previously un-thought thoughts, and get clarity in your life that can only come to us when we allow ourselves the silence of solitude.

Not sure exactly where to start?

– Lie in bed for an extra five minutes when you wake up and simply breathe.

– Take a weekend vacation somewhere close to where you live with the overarching intention of doing nothing. Lie on your bed. Journal. Read a bit. Eat healthy food. Sit, ponder, and allow yourself to just be for a few days.

– Want to take it to an extreme and do some self-reflection? Assuming you don’t have any dependants and you can afford the time off from work, take an extended trip (to a cabin in the woods, or backpacking somewhere) to really get to know yourself. Maybe the solitude you avoid has some of the greatest lessons that you could ever learn… and they will only come to the surface for you when you allow them the time and space to bubble up in your thoughts.

6. Practice writing and expressing gratitude

It has officially been proven by scientists… a regular gratitude practice is good for your health, self-esteem, and happiness.

One of the highest leverage ways that you can feel happier is to quickly jot down a few things that you’re grateful for every day. And you don’t just feel better while you’re writing it… there’s actually a spill-over effect where, after a few days of doing this practice, you begin to feel happier and more grateful overall.

We always have a choice as to what we want to focus on in our lives.

You can choose to focus on the weather that you’ve labelled as bad… or you can focus on how beautiful your city is in all of its various conditions.

You can choose to focus on how your partner seems to be nagging you lately… or you can focus on how much your partner must love you for them to always want the best for you and your ultimate growth/expansion/happiness.

You can choose to focus on how you aren’t yet at a particular financial milestone, or you can acknowledge (and be grateful for) the fact that you are already well above your financial level of sufficiency for what you actually need to live off of.

Bottom line: you always have a choice. And choosing to be grateful for the various elements in your life is always a good bet.

(Note: I love The Five-Minute Journal by Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas. It’s seriously amazing.)

(Bonus round: once you have gotten used to the habit of recognizing and acknowledging what you’re grateful for, cultivate the practice of verbalizing it/writing it to those who you care most deeply for. Tell your friends, family members, colleagues, idols, and significant other how much you appreciate them. To read more about gratitude-bombing people you care about, check out this article and this one. And if you want to see an example of me gratitude bombing my dad in a public forum, check out this article of mine in The Huffington Post).

7. Focus and commitment

Any of the above six life skills would have been rendered effectively useless had I not incorporated focus and commitment into each and every one of them.

It was one thing to buy a Vitamix blender… but then I had to actually buy the vegetables and fruit that went into it and consume them every day.

It was one thing to join the mastermind group that I was a part of… it was another to focus on adding value to the lives of my members on a daily basis and deeply committing to showing up to all of the scheduled mastermind meetings and checking the group for updates.

It was one thing to pick up a copy of The Five Minute Journal or Play It Away… and another thing entirely to follow the densely packed and valuable advice in the books.

It was one thing to hire a coach/therapist/advisor… and another thing entirely to be a coach-able client, listen to their advice, and to consistently follow through on what they told me until I saw results.

Every habit that we try to take on needs focus and commitment in order to truly flourish.

Since the very first day that I started this website, I’ve had dozens of totally well-meaning people (family, friends, fans, and lovers) tell me that I should just do THIS ONE THING in order to really expand my business. I’ve had people tell me to write more books… put out more video content… do more speaking engagements….. the list goes on.

But I am deeply committed to growing my business in exactly the way that I see fit, in a way that leverages my highest leverage talents.

It isn’t big, or sexy, or necessarily glamorous, but I’ve written two value-focused articles per week for the past three years. That is what focus looks like to me. That is what I’ve committed to. Sometimes I put out more than two articles, and those are just happy bonuses.

What matters is that I committed to something that I care about deeply, and I consistently follow through on it. And it makes my heart happy knowing that I (as of the time that I’m writing this) reach over a million people per month with my words.

Whatever changes you decide to want to make in your life, you must have the essential ingredients of focus and commitment to accompany them.

Anyone can eat healthy for a day, or read a few pages of a book. The difference between success and failure, in any area of life, comes down to our ability to commit to and focus on the goals that we’re slowly chipping away at.

The Seven Life Skills That Improve Everything

So there you have it…

Joining a mastermind group, consuming a plant-based smoothie every day, incorporating play into your life, hiring a coach for a specific area of your life, allowing yourself to become comfortable with solitude, expressing gratitude, and focus and commitment.

I’m a person like anyone else. I don’t have the magic formula for a well-lived life. And I believe that emotional fulfillment always comes to us as a secondary by-product of the habits that we cultivate in our lives. But the aforementioned seven things have helped me in so many ways. I hope that you have gained something from reading this post.

Dedicated to your success,


Ps. If you enjoyed this article on high leverage life skills, you’ll likely also love reading the following…

– 11 Easy Ways To Actually Love Yourself More

4 Relationship Rules To Live By

– How To Overhaul Your Entire Life In 5 Easy Steps



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