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3 Lessons That Got Me Out of Homelessness

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Homeless becoming successful inspirational story

Andy Andrews is a New York Times best-selling author and speaker. He’s spoken in front of four U.S. presidents and Zig Ziglar described him as “the best speaker I have ever seen.” But he wasn’t always that way.

In fact, he was homeless when he started his career.

Enjoy the story of the old man who taught him how to overcome his circumstances and achieve success.

His name was Jones.

Not Mr. Jones. Just Jones.

I was 23 years old and living underneath a pier on Alabama’s Gulf Coast when I met him. I was alone, scared, and, most of all, angry.

Life had not turned out the way I had wanted it. Both of my parents were dead—my mom from cancer and my dad from a car accident—and, other than the small amount of money I made cleaning fish, I didn’t have a penny to my name.

One question kept rolling around in my head: Is life just a lottery ticket?

Does one person get a family and happiness while another ends up under a pier?

And that’s when I met Jones.

He was a peculiar old man who happened to show up one night underneath the pier where I was living. He was a friend when I didn’t have one and told me the truth when I didn’t want to hear it.

Jones taught me more than anyone else I’ve ever met, and if it weren’t for these three lessons in particular, I might still be under that pier:

 

1. Successful people read. A lot.

That very first night I met Jones under the pier, he asked me a question before he left: “Do you read?

As I nodded, he added, “I’m not asking if you can read; I’m asking if you do.

At that point in my life, I’d always been more of a Sports Illustrated kind of guy when it came to reading, so I wasn’t too excited when Jones pulled three small, orange hardcover books from his suitcase.

Seeing the names on the books, I asked, “Biographies?

No, he said, with a twinkle in his eye, “adventure stories! Success, failure, romance, intrigue, tragedy, and triumph—and the best part is that every word is true!

What he said next is something that has stuck in my mind forever: “Remember, young man, experience is not the best teacher. Other people’s experience is the best teacher. By reading about the lives of great people, you can unlock the secrets to what made them great.

I read Winston Churchill until dawn. When I finished the three Jones left me, I returned them to the library and checked out three more. Over time, I read more than 200 biographies. The insights into what it takes to be successful, combined with action, are what got me out from under the pier.

 

2. Don’t be average.

Jones had many sayings—things that seemed like they should be on a poster in a classroom or etched on a monument somewhere. This one has been a source of confidence and encouragement every time I’ve attempted to do something that made everyone in my life think I was crazy (like doing stand-up comedy, becoming a speaker, and writing a best-selling novel).

If you are doing what everyone else is doing, you are doing something wrong. Because most people are not obtaining results that are considered extraordinary.

Do you want extraordinary results in your life? If you’re on this website, the answer is most likely “yes.” If that’s the case, then it is critical that you differentiate the way you think from the vast majority of people. If you don’t, you will continue to achieve results in your life that are merely average.

And extraordinary people are not average.

 

3. Become a “noticer.” (Keep things in perspective)

I never found out what Jones did for a living, or even where he slept for that matter. He simply always seemed to be “around.

He, however, did have a name for what he did—he called himself a “noticer.

While others may be able to sing well or run fast, I notice things that other people overlook,” he explained. “I notice things about situations and people that produce perspective. That’s what most folks lack—perspective—a broader view.

That “broader view” is exactly what Jones gave me, and taught me to give others.

One day shortly after we met, Jones said he had a feast to share with me. At that time, I was a “one-meal-a-day” kind of guy, so you can imagine my excitement. That excitement, however, soon turned to disappointment when I saw that his “feast” consisted of a couple tins of Vienna sausages and sardines.

Since passing on a meal wasn’t really an option, I went ahead and ate with the old man. It wasn’t long before he resumed his habit of asking me annoying questions to which I thought the answers were obvious.

What are you eating?” was the question this time.

Incredulous, I replied, “Vienna sausages and sardines…

Where?

In the sand.

He smiled to himself and kept eating. “I thought so,” he mumbled.

Now I was mad. “What are you talking about?” I demanded.

Young man,” he said, “you see only the sand at your feet and what you are eating that you wish was something else. Incidentally, you ate sardines and Vienna sausages in the sand. I dined on surf and turf with an ocean view.

He slapped me on the back and quickly added, “It’s all about perspective.

Think about this as you go through your day—what in your life are you currently looking at with the wrong perspective? What seemingly bad situations could actually be blessings in disguise?

Our realities are always shaped and molded by our perspective. If you want your reality to be defined by success, know this—a lack of perspective will make even your greatest successes seem like failures.

Stop for a moment. Look. Listen. Learn. Watch for opportunities to provide perspective. And when you do, don’t keep it to yourself. Those who bring perspective to others are often accepted as leaders and valued greatly in today’s world.

 

Make sure you get your hands on Andy’s latest book, based on his experiences with Jones, The Noticer Returns.

Andy Andrews is the author of the New York Times bestsellers How Do You Kill 11 Million People?, The Noticer, and The Traveler's Gift, and is also an in-demand speaker for the world's largest organizations. Zig Ziglar said, "Andy Andrews is the best speaker I have ever seen."

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Frank arcabascio

    Oct 19, 2013 at 5:54 am

    Amazing. I will email this to my friends. Surf n turf w an ocean view says it all … God gives us so much n we don’t care to see We block our own vision .. Literally. Thank you n god bless you Andy

  2. Sebastian

    Oct 13, 2013 at 4:42 am

    “Other people’s experience is the best teacher. By reading about the lives of great people, you can unlock the secrets to what made them great.”

    Thank God I found this.

  3. felix darkwah (@felixdarkwah)

    Oct 4, 2013 at 12:30 am

    this is a great piece…a bigger, wider and new perspective.

  4. Aleks

    Oct 3, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is worth reading.

  5. Andy Andrews (@AndyAndrews)

    Oct 3, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Awesome, Brandon! Thanks for reading!

  6. Nkiru Okeke Tugbiyele

    Oct 3, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Thank you for sharing these lessons. I’m blessed.

  7. Brandon

    Oct 3, 2013 at 12:49 am

    Nice write up! Just ordered “The Noticer” from what I have read so far it sounds good.

  8. Vig87

    Oct 2, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    Hey Andy, thank you for sharing your time to write this post. Really inspiring and helpful! I was wondering what are a few good biographies that you could recommend to me?

    • Andy Andrews (@AndyAndrews)

      Oct 3, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      Any biography on George Washington Carver would be worth your while. There is an incredible amount to be learned from his life!

  9. Abia Hunter

    Oct 2, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Thank you for sharing!

  10. LaTra Chivon

    Oct 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    I absolutely love this post! I may have to purchase this book I would love to know the ending!

    • Jon Vig

      Oct 3, 2013 at 12:06 am

      I was wondering what would be a couple of good recommendations on biographies for me or anyone else to read?

  11. Solomon

    Oct 2, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    This article is so awesome, especially your take on perspective, although i`m far from homeless, I feel hopeless and sad sometimes at the fact, I still haven’t found my life’s purpose at 26!

  12. Khalid

    Oct 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Hey Andy, would you say ‘be a noticer’ is one who grateful and always looks for the silver lining in any situation?

    • Andy Andrews (@AndyAndrews)

      Oct 3, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Khalid! I would say that is definitely one aspect of being a noticer. Gratitude plays such a huge role in shaping one’s perspective, so if you can master gratitude, life becomes much easier!

  13. Maxwell Ivey

    Oct 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Hello; This was a great post. When the government shut down is over and they reopen the national library services for the blind, I plan to download and read your books. I especially like the section on prospective. Recently I made a big sale, but the client didn’t pay the commission. I would be bitter, but the news of the sale brought me to the attention of a major manufacturer in my industry that wants me to represent their products through my website. I would be their exclusive sales person for the u s and north america. I also received requests to help locate other equipment for buyers because they saw the post I wrote about the sale. I will honestly admit that I may always have trouble enjoying my successes. But knowing this about myself does help me to take time to enjoy accomplishments and celebrate them. Keep up the great work, Max

  14. Andy Andrews (@AndyAndrews)

    Oct 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Thanks for featuring this, Joel! I’ll be checking in throughout the day to answer any questions!

    • Joel

      Joel

      Oct 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      Good on you Andy, this post is well written thanks for your contribution 🙂

      • Pritesh

        Oct 3, 2013 at 6:01 pm

        Hi Joel, I love your website. I really love it. Many a times though I wish there was a small button that can convert the article into a “Print Ready” page. Because, when I read an article like this, I wish to print it and stick it on the walls around my desk, so that I can see this for few days. Can this be done?

        • Joel

          Joel

          Oct 4, 2013 at 1:04 am

          Hi Pritesh,

          That is no problem at all, if you look on your left, there is a floating share bar. Point your mouse on the top button that says “Share” and then a drop down will appear, click on the “More” button and there should be a “Print” option that appears.

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Life

If You Want to Avoid Failure Once and for All, Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

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how to avoid failure
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You just invested in yourself and in your business. You are taking massive action but the results are just not clicking yet. While everyone is making 10X, 20X, and even 100X ROI on their initial investment, you have made $0 return. Failure is starting to overcast your bright shining positive attitude and you are feeling the pain and shame of it. (more…)

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3 Simple Hacks That Can Recharge Your Willpower and Help You Perform Better at Work

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How many times did you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world? You set ambitious goals for the day, you put on your best attire and walked out the door with a big smile on your face but eventually, life took over. Traffic, emails, work, family, and everything else you have around slowly but steadily started to drain your energy and made you feel exhausted.

You run out of battery, and the only solution that seemed viable was to rely on more caffeine. When that stopped working, all the temptations around you started to look much more appealing, and that sense of drive and commitment you had before slowly faded away. This is you running out of willpower.

Willpower: what is it? Why is it limited?

The American Psychology Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In the book “The Willpower Instinct”, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, explains how every person’s willpower is limited, and slowly depletes throughout the day. The more “willpower challenges” you face, the quicker your reserve drains. Dr. McGonigal divided the different types of willpower challenges you might encounter in three categories:

  • I will: We face this type of challenge whenever we should do something, but we simply don’t feel like getting it done right now.
  • I won’t: We face this challenge when we try to resist temptation, or we try to keep cool in stressful situations.
  • I want: This is a particular type of challenge where we keep track of our long term goals, dreams, and desires. In this instance, we feel like we should take action right now to come one step closer to the goal. 

It’s easy to recognize it when you face a willpower challenge because you literally “feel it in your body.” Imagine being really hungry and walking in front of a bakery. The sight and the smell of pastries quickly triggers an “I won’t” type of challenge, and it takes a severe amount of effort and energy to walk away.

Every time you manage to win one of those challenges, a little bit of your willpower reserve gets used. The more challenges you face daily, the harder it will be to stay true to your goals.

Can you train or recharge your willpower?

A growing body of research suggests that willpower should be considered a muscle. To strengthen it, you should exercise it regularly, but you should not overwork it. Therefore, we shouldn’t try to “be good” at all times. Instead, we should learn how to relax and recharge our willpower.

The general advice on how to improve willpower involves sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. This broad and general recommendation is often not downright applicable by most, because it consists of changing various daily habits. Luckily, three very effective hacks have been discovered, that have an immediate effect on our willpower and take just a few minutes to apply.

Here are the 3 ways to refill your willpower reserves:

1. Focused breathing

Breathing, when done correctly, can stimulate the release of calming hormones while reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. To make this effective, you should deeply and slowly inhale through the nose for at least five seconds. Fill your belly with air first, then your chest, and when there’s no more space for air, still try to do tiny inhalations through the nose.

You should feel a pulling sensation around your neck and trapezius muscles. Once your lungs are full, try to hold the breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for at least five seconds. If you repeat this process ten to twenty times, you should feel dramatically more relaxed. Use this method several times a day, especially when you’re experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.

2. Reward yourself when you accomplish a micro goal

According to a recent study, frequent instant rewards can boost motivation, and therefore, willpower. Creating your own reward system can help you to accomplish your to-do list, and also resist temptations. Since every individual has different tastes, you should come up with creative ideas about the small and frequent rewards you will give yourself upon winning any willpower challenge.

You can see this hack in practice in Apps like the popular Duolinguo, where after completing each lesson you get presented with a chance to open a treasure chest. This rewarding system seems to keep the users much more likely to keep learning new lessons.

3. Taking cold showers

Your body has an autonomic response to cold water. Getting into a cold shower is a difficult (but minor) willpower challenge on its own. As I previously mentioned, winning a willpower challenge strengthens your willpower muscle. Having a morning cold shower, on top of having multiple health benefits, will set you up for a positive winning streak of further challenges.

High performance is the sum of many small habits. Successful people don’t have an unlimited reserve of willpower, but they do have a set of daily rituals that made them succeed. These three hacks are some of the most effective techniques to develop willpower, but some of them may not fit every individual. You should try to find the perfect mix of daily practices that best fits your lifestyle and likes, so that you can strengthen your willpower muscle and perform better at work.

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3 Inspiring Lessons We Can Learn From Jim Carrey About the Law of Attraction

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You’ve more than likely heard of Jim Carrey before. Over the years, he has starred in many popular films including The Truman Show, The Mask, and Bruce Almighty (just to name a few.)

But his personality goes a lot deeper than just his comedic persona and movie star charisma. In fact, Jim Carrey is probably one of the most philosophical individuals on the planet

Although he isn’t in the spotlight as much anymore, throughout the years, he has credited his success and fortunes by applying the Law of attraction into his life. What’s even more inspiring is that Jim Carrey, like you and I, came from humble beginnings. No silver spoon or easy ticket. In fact, his family was very poor throughout his childhood. So what made him so successful in attracting such an extravagant and self-fulfilling life?

Here are 3 lessons you can learn from Jim Carrey when it comes to manifesting your dreams into a reality:

1. You Have To Take Action

You can’t just visualize then go eat a sandwich”, Jim Carrey says. It goes without saying that the law of attraction does require action. You cannot simply rely on visualizing and expect to see results, especially when it comes to manifesting desires that other people would like to achieve also. E.g. Careers, scholarships, competitions, anything that involves another individual.

Visualization and positive thinking are crucial when it comes to using the law of attraction, but you have to meet the universe halfway with the steps you take as well. We are physical beings that require physical steps to get physical results. The real key is to make daily plans/goals in order to get you closer towards achieving your desires. So after that sandwich, make sure start taking action toward your dreams!

This could be working on your hobbies or passion, applying for that dream job or studying to get better grades. As long as you are moving toward your goals then there’s no reason why it can’t happen. So get out there and kick some butt.

2. Double Down On What You Love

My father could have been a great comedian but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant and when I was 12 years old he was let go from that safe job, and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father. Not the least of which was that: You can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

If this story of Jim Carrey’s father doesn’t pull on your heartstrings and inspire you at the same time, nothing else will! This is such an undeniable life lesson that everyone needs to learn. A lesson to take risks, push comfort zones and go all-in on what you love doing. So if your dreams, hobbies or goals seem far fetched to the majority, then you are already beating the other 99%.

Be that 1% that’s willing to dream big and rise above the norm. Unfortunately, in today’s society, our ancestral instincts still rule our everyday life. Fear is one of them and controls the majority of our population. It’s scary to push comfort zones and try something new, the thought of failure is often paralyzing to many. But my question to you is, will you look back one day and regret the chances you didn’t take?

3. Keep Your Eye On The Prize

As far as I can tell, it’s just about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it, while letting go of how it comes to pass.” Holding onto every little detail when it comes to manifesting, can conjure up more harm than good. The reason is that the universe will deliver in ways you might not expect.

If you are too busy wondering when your desires will manifest, comparing yourself to others, or ignoring every sign that doesn’t look like your detailed plan you’ve written down, then you may be missing out on opportunities that are right in front of you! Your visualizations don’t have to be perfect, in fact, it’s better to just let go altogether and focus on the result itself rather than dwelling on every little detail. This doesn’t mean to simply forget about what you want but instead having the confidence it will happen in time. 

An example of this is when Jim Carrey wrote himself a check for 30 million dollars. The only detail he knew was that he would earn it through his acting career, and he did indeed achieve this goal! So make sure to tell the universe what you want, but try not to hold onto every little detail!

Jim Carrey is just another person like you and me, with his own personal ups and downs in his road to success. He is someone to look up to when applying the law of attraction in your life too. It doesn’t matter if your goals or desires are different because the core foundation will always stay the same. You can and will do this if you think, feel and act as if it will happen!

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Life

Meditation for Beginners: How It Works and Where to Start

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Meditation was first developed in India many years ago (around 5000-3500 BCE). It took quite some time to become popular in the western world, but today, it is celebrated as a therapeutic tool to ease stress, anxiety, depression, and addictions. In the past years, it has also become recognized as helping to improve mental performance, and consequently became a multi-billion dollar business. If you’ve never tried it, you may be wondering how something so simple as sitting with your eyes closed could deliver such incredible benefits.

How meditation works

Meditation is about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective over one’s thoughts. Many think that meditating is about trying to achieve a zen state of mind, but that’s not the point. Observing one’s thoughts, and then letting go of them so that eventually you may start to better understand them, is the real goal of each meditation practice.

There are different techniques to go through this mental process. Some focus on the breath and bodily sensation, others make you visualize an object, and others help you to channel your thoughts towards acts of love and kindness.

A typical meditation session involves you sitting on a chair or cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed. Once you assume a comfortable position and focus on your breath, you should start noticing your thoughts. At this point, according to what type of technique you’re using, you will try to let those thoughts go away by focusing on something else (this could be your breath or a mental image you created).

With time and practice, you may be able to reach a state of mind where very few thoughts (or none) are present. Despite the simplicity of this process, meditating for more than ten minutes is extremely tough for most. Many people that try meditation get discouraged by the fact that “they can’t stop thinking.” In fact, it has been proven that people spend most of their days being anything but mindful and peaceful.

In a 2010 study, Harvard researchers asked more than 2000 adults about their thoughts and actions at random moments throughout their day via an iPhone app. People’s minds wandered 47% of the time, and mind wandering often triggered unhappiness, the scientists reported.

They also observed that spending time observing our thoughts without getting stuck on them, may help to better understand oneself, and possibly being able to reduce the number of negative thoughts one experiences.

“The mind is definitely something that can be transformed, and meditation is a means to transform it.” – Dalai Lama

What science says about meditation

People have practiced meditation for thousands of years, but scientists have studied its effects for only a dozen. In the past few years, many studies have been published about the neurological benefits of meditation, proving it to improve brain function in many different ways.

Meditation’s benefits range from preserving the aging brain, to improving happiness by reducing the activity of the brain’s “me center” (monkey mind). A more recent study has even proven that meditation is as powerful as antidepressants in treating depression, anxiety, and pain. Many more studies are being conducted every day on meditation, and we can expect to gain a lot more insight in the near future.

Can anyone meditate?

Millions of people are practicing mindfulness meditation every day with great results, but there are also as many people that have tried meditating and didn’t like it or didn’t manage to be consistent with their practice. The most important part of developing a meditation practice is consistency. You don’t have to meditate every single day, but the benefits are tied to regular, consistent practice.

Some studies claim that some benefits of meditation such as improved mood, decreased stress and decreased blood pressure, can be felt after a single session. Some other benefits like increased focus and decreased anxiety may be experienced after a few weeks and others take longer to develop.

Some people claim that as little as five minutes of meditation per day can make miracles, but research shows that a regular practice associated with benefits involves 10-20 minutes of meditation at least three times per week.

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” – Mother Teresa

What’s the best way to begin a meditation practice?

A good place to start for aspiring mediators is Headspace. Andy Puddicombe, a former English student in sport science, dropped his studies to travel to Asia and trained as a Buddhist monk. He created Headspace with the goal of helping millions of people to live a more mindful life. Over 30 million people have downloaded and use headspace. This is due to his simplicity and its beautiful design and animations.

Do you meditate? If so, what’s your favorite aspect of it? Share your thoughts below!

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