I have a few questions that I want to get your perspective on. The first one is really simple because you’re one of the happiest people that I’ve ever met and that I ever get to speak to. I have to ask you, how do you stay that way?
Number one, I am a Buddhist. There are many schools of Buddhism. So when somebody says they’re a Buddhist, it doesn’t tell you that much. My school is a simple school. It’s basically, find happiness and meaning now.
I think the great Western disease is I’ll be happy when I get the car, the status, the money, the BMW, the achievement, the condominium. I’ll be happy when we all have the same win. We’re going to die eventually. I think the secret of life is find happiness, contentment and meaning now, and not next week, not next month or not next year.
By the way, many Western people misinterpret what I just said to mean you have to be happy every second of all eternity. That’s not what it means at all. You only have to be happy this second, now.
But you know one of the things you talk about in all of your work specifically in this book is that typically as human beings, at least Westerners, is our default response in life is typically not to experience that happiness.
No, our default reaction in life is to experience inertia. We all tend to go where we’ve been going, and do what we’ve been doing, be what we’ve been being. It is very hard for us to break this incredible spell of inertia. One of the great challenges is learning how to break that spell of inertia and achieve happiness and contentment where we are, not next week.
From your perspective personally, what do you do to not have to deal with that inertia from a day to day?
A couple of things, one thing I do is I have a coach. I have this daily question process. If anybody would like a copy of my questions, just send me an email at Marshall@MarshallGoldsmith.com. I’ll send you a copy of them. My coach asks me questions everyday, 24 questions. Every question has to be answered with yes, no, or a number. You put it on an Excel spreadsheet. It’s very simple to do.
The first question everyday is how happy were you yesterday on a 1 to 10 scale; and, how meaningful is yesterday. How many times yesterday did you try to prove you were right when it wasn’t worth it? How many angry or destructive comments did you make about other people yesterday? How many minutes did I walk? How many pushups? How many sit ups? They are a bunch of basic questions about life.
I find this to be a very, very useful process. I have something in the book called the MOJO Meter which I have. I get constant reminders to go through the day at the end of every interaction. Two questions, how happy was I and how meaningful was this? Everyday, I get this ongoing reminder to keep doing things that make me happy and provide meaning.