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The 1 %

August 12th, 2013

15 Comments »

If you watch any political or financial news, or news in general, you’ll often hear about “The One Percent”.

“The 1 %” is a relatively new and very popular term to refer to the richest 1% of the people in society. So, for example, if you had a small town of 1000 people, “the 1 %” of that town would be the richest 10 people.

This term is used a lot when talking about “rich people” in general, or people who should be paying more in taxes, or when talking about the “wealth gap”. That is, the large and growing difference between rich and poor people.

A “gap” is a space. I could say, “She went to the dentist to fix the large gap between her two front teeth. She looks much prettier now”.

So when we hear something like, “The wealth gap is getting a lot bigger.” That means that the rich people are getting richer and the poor people are getting poorer.

“The one percent” are the rich people. They also want to stay rich. Many of them will influence politicians (law makers) to make laws that help them keep their money (low taxes) and help them keep earning more of it easily.

They have been very successful in the USA over the last 30 years. The top 1% of the people in the US now own about 25% of all of the money. (In the 1970′s, the top 1% had only 9% of the money.)

The situation is getting more and more severe as well. Life is amazingly easy financially for the top 1% of the people, and it’s very hard for the bottom 25% of the people. Those people have a hard time buying enough healthy food for their families and clothes for their kids.

Many, but not all, people in the 1% make the argument that poor people are lazy and shouldn’t get any help from the government. They believe they already pay more than enough money in taxes. They believe that if the poor people want more money, they can just work harder for it. No one is stopping them.

I am personally somewhere in the middle. I do believe that people who work hard should be allowed to have a much better stuff than people who sit around doing nothing. I also believe that many poor people are in fact very lazy and believe that they should get free stuff for doing nothing.

But I don’t believe that the rules of the game are reasonable. It’s possible to work for 60 hours a week (ie. not lazy) and still not be able to feed your family healthy food and pay for health care and pay for your kids to play sports and have an education. I think that’s a bit ridiculous.

An economic system that allows for rich people to have their own private air planes and also allow for millions of poor people to not be able to afford a tomato sandwich and a visit to the doctor seems stupid.

I’d like to see economists work towards a new system that allows for a very large and healthy middle class. There would still be some rich and poor people, but the difference wouldn’t be as insane as it is now.

BUT…… Guess what. I really can’t imagine that happening. It seems like we’re in a world where greed is #1. The richest people have so much control of everything and they will do anything to make it stay that way.

So, no matter what you think or hope is true, we’re living in a world where it is important to try to get ahead and earn money. No one is going to take care of you, you need to take care of yourself. The difference between rich and poor is huge, and it is getting bigger every year. Having a good job will pay a lot of money, and getting a terrible job will pay almost nothing, even if you are working hard in both jobs. You need to be more competitive. You need to improve your chances to get a high paying job by doing anything you can. Your hard work now will make your life much better in the future, and your family’s as well.

If that isn’t an amazing reason to start getting more serious about learning English right now (so you can be more competitive and earn more money) I really don’t know what is.

Love to hear your thoughts below.

For the best ways to improve your English fast, join us in the VIP, AND in our high level community. These places are for people who really want to get ahead in life.

Putting in an “Honest Effort”

July 23rd, 2013

17 Comments »

Even though you are not a native speaker and you have possibly never heard this term, I’m guessing you can guess what an honest effort means.

An honest effort, is when you actually try your best at something.  Only YOU know when you are trying your best, so only YOU know if you are putting in an honest effort.

When I was a young kid, my parents, teachers, and coaches were always telling us how important it is to try our best at whatever we do.  I’ll have to admit, I never realized how truly important this was until pretty recently.  I believe that part of the reason was that I was afraid to believe this.  I didn’t want it to be true.  For me personally, I almost fantasize about a successful and happy life without needing to put in a full effort.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want or expect success with no effort.  I guess it’s just that I hoped that hard work wasn’t so important for success.  I somehow wish that intelligence and great ideas were more important than they are.

I kind of hoped that hard work was something that was just for the “stupid” or the “average” people.  I wanted to be more creative, more thoughtful, and attain success from simply having better ideas than the ideas of the typical “hard workers”.

But the truth is that when I think about all the people I know in my own life who are successful at anything, hard and consistent work is almost always the biggest reason.  The most successful people I know are not the smartest people, and they aren’t the most talented either.  But they are the hardest working people.  Even if their ideas and plans aren’t that amazing, they end up succeeding at almost anything they do because they keep working hard no matter what the situation looks like, and they never give up.  If their first plan doesn’t work, they try something else and work even harder.

This is true for people who are successful in business, in relationships, in learning a new language, in fitness, in pretty much anything. Hard work is insanely important for success.  You can make all the excuses you want, and many of your excuses might even make sense, but the real truth is pretty simple; if you want more success in your life, then you need to work harder than you are now.

This blog is supposed to be a little “kick in the pants” for anyone reading this.  It’s a wake up call.  I know you’d like to improve many areas of your life, and your English level is just one of them; and it’s a very important one too.  Even if you already know a lot of what I’m saying, I just hope this wakes you up a little bit.  You need to study harder.  You need to be more consistent with your studying. You know that you need to improve your English, and I hope this blog helps you realize that you shouldn’t waste even one more day procrastinating and making excuses.  Life is short, and we have no time to waste.

For a great way (the best way) to improve your English, try our VIP community.  I’ve been uploading awesome documentaries, books, and now some full length awesome audio books.  When I was in Canada, I read a lot of really great books, and I’m sharing the best ones with you guys in this VIP community.  I’ll keep them there and keep adding more stuff I know you’ll love.  I just uploaded one of the best and most famous books ever about psychology and improvement.  This will absolutely help your English and your life. It’s in there now :)

Of course, the China232 VIP room is pretty sick as well.  Do you know that Add and I already have more than 211 VIP podcasts in there?  If you study all those lessons, you’ll have unbelievable English in less than 90 days.  Just sayin…

Love to hear your thoughts and comments as usual :)  Did this post help motivate you to get off your butt and start working harder?

Stop Feeling Guilty – It’s Killing You!

July 21st, 2013

15 Comments »

I love writing blogs that will teach you some quality English, make you think, make you feel happier, and help your life; all at the same time.  I guess that’s like killing 4 birds with one stone.

I was reading an interesting article written by an American female doctor.  She recently quit her job as a “traditional western doctor” and has since been writing about “Eastern medicine” like Chinese and many other types of traditional medicine.  The older I get, the more I believe in “Eastern” medicines.  It’s more about understanding human health, rather than just treating illness with pills and surgery.  (Pills and surgery make A LOT of money for the huge industry of western medicine, and people in that industry will do everything they can to make sure they keep making huge profits)

The article she wrote was talking about “self discipline”.  That basically means to learn to “control yourself’”.  If you have “self discipline” it means you can follow your own plans.  For example, if you say to yourself, “I promise I’m going to wake up every morning at 6 am and go to the gym for a workout”, and then you actually do it, it means you have good self discipline.  If you make that promise to yourself and then maybe go for a few days and then quit, start sleeping in, and watching TV on the couch instead, it means you have terrible self discipline.  So it is all about learning to do what you say you are doing to do, and not be a lazy piece of garbage who keeps doing the easiest things all the time.

Everyone knows that self discipline is absolutely important for business success and for overall life success.  This woman, however, was talking about how it’s also just as important for your physical and mental health as well.  Even though it seems like life would be much better if we had millions of dollars for no reason and we could just sit around the pool all day getting a sun tan and drinking fancy drinks, it’s actually not as good for us as we imagine.  (Trust me, I imagine how awesome this life would be ALL THE TIME)

We are happiest when we have things to do, even if they are sometimes boring things.  We respect ourselves more when we do a lot each day, and respect ourselves less when we sit around doing nothing or just goof around all the time.  When we don’t do much, we start to feel a sense of guilt for some reason.  I’m not even sure exactly why, and I kind of hate this fact, but I think it’s true for the “human animal”.  We simply need to do stuff just to feel useful, even if it’s not necessary for the money.

So, the first point is that we need to do what we say we are going to do, otherwise we are going to experience an annoying amount of “guilt”.  Who wants to feel guilty for any reason?  It sucks.  It’s unhealthy too!

The second thing I want to say about guilt was something I learned from a great book she recommended.  I got the audio book, I listened to it online, I LOVED it, and I put it here in the VIP community for you guys to listen to as well.  I think that book alone is worth trying out a month in there.  And there is a lot of other things in there, and a lot more to come…..

….. One of the many interesting things that the book was talking about was guilt from yourself, and guilt from other people.

There are 2 extreme personality types when talking about guilt.  One is “neurotic” and one is “character disorder“.  These are opposites and are both very extreme.  Most people are probably somewhere in the middle between the 2.

If you are “neurotic” it means that you blame yourself for everything.  If anything in your life or anyone else’s life goes wrong, you think it’s your own fault, and you feel super sick with guilt because you wish you could have done better.  You experience a lot of pain because you keep torturing yourself by telling yourself that you are a failure and you should have been better.  If you are “neurotic” in this way, you might be quite depressed and stressed.  It’s of course good to take responsibility and try to do the best you can, but if you feel overly guilty for everything that doesn’t work out well for you and blame yourself too harshly all the time, you will feel sick and you’ll be sick.  Being “neurotic” is not healthy.  If you notice that you are neurotic sometimes, then try to remind yourself to relax a bit and stop blaming yourself too much.  Just do the best you can and move on.  One advantage of being neurotic is that it makes you more likely to succeed at things.  Someone who is neurotic with their English study will often learn it really well, because they won’t accept failure, and if they fail, they will blame themselves and do whatever they can to make sure they learn it.  This is how they are with everything.  The important point to remember is that you need balance.  You can’t be overly harsh on yourself for everything or you’ll probably die young.  You need a balance.

“Character disorder” on the other hand, is the other extreme personality type for guilt.  If you have character disorder, it means you always think that everything bad that happens to you is someone or something else’s fault.  You blame yourself for nothing at all.  I’m sure you know people like this.  Maybe you are even in a relationship with someone like this…  They blame you for everything!  They make you feel guilty for everything and they always act like nothing was their fault.  They are masters at making excuses.  The positive for them is that they don’t feel much guilt, but the negative thing is they make other people extremely miserable all the time, and they also don’t succeed as often because they don’t believe they can control their situation.

The important thing to remember here is this, if you know people who have character disorder, do whatever you can to stop accepting their blame.  It doesn’t matter how good of a person you are, they will make you feel guilty, and get very sick, if you let them.  You need to stop listening to their insane nonsense excuses.  If you have character disorder, you might not even realize it if you are reading this, because you’ll be so great at blaming other people for everything.  It’s too hard for you to imagine that your behaviour is your own fault.  That’s what character disorder is!

Another thing I found interesting, and quite logical, was that many people who are neurotic date people with character disorder.  It makes for a very unhealthy relationship because one person (the one with character disorder) is always blaming the other person for everything, and the other person (the one who is neurotic) is always accepting the blame and guilt for everything.  If you are in this type of relationship. you need to either get out of it, or at least tell the other person what is happening and make sure you don’t allow them to “run all over you” and blame you and make you feel guilty for everything.  You’ll be sick if you do!

I’d love to hear your thoughts as always.  I think you’ll love the book too.  Again, the full book is right here for you to listen to and enjoy.

Are you neurotic sometimes?  Do you know people with character disorder?  Do you believe that endless guilt is as terrible as I’m describing.  Please share :)

Personal Experiment

July 14th, 2013

27 Comments »

Today I want to talk about doing a life changing experiment.  This personal experiment is all about seeing what kind of things your life would be better without.

I think its a really interesting idea and I’m thinking of doing it myself.  I just read about it yesterday and I’m thinking that maybe some of us can start doing it together.  I put this guy’s full experiment here in our 232 group.

So, here is the idea…

It’s about intentional self deprivation.  ”intentional” means that you do something on purpose.  ”Deprivation” means that you avoid something that you would generally want.  It sounds weird at first but it makes sense.  Just give me a chance to explain…

We are all living in a world where things are almost “too easy”.  And ironically, all of the modern advancements that are designed to make our lives easier and better can often end up making our lives far worse!

Think about things like, “watching TV, using Facebook, owning a car, playing on your cell phone, having junk food in the house”…..

All of these things are fun to do/use, but they can easily become a problem.  It’s so easy for all of us to become fat, lazy, and pathetic animals.

We all know we should watch less TV, go the the gym more often, eat healthier food, try to earn more money, etc.

The problem is that modern life is filled with so many ways to waste time or do unhealthy things.  The best way to live life is to do things that are both enjoyable AND helpful/healthy in some way.  Learning new things, exercising, spending quality time with your family and friends are all things that are both enjoyable in the short term and also useful and healthy things to do.  They are also, unfortunately, things that we often don’t do enough of.

Why?  Because life is filled with stuff that is so pathetically easy, that our little animal brains have a very hard time saying “NO” to something that is enjoyable in the very short term.

Sometimes it’s fun to watch your favourite show on TV, and sometimes it’s quite enjoyable to talk to your friends on Facebook or even eat unhealthy food.  But these activities are just SO EASY and SO CONVENIENT, that it’s quite possible to just waste so many hours doing these things, and very often not even get that much enjoyment from doing it.  It almost doesn’t make sense but we all know it happens, and happens easily.

Think about how easy it is to open up your computer or Ipad with no real goal at the beginning.  Maybe you think you are just going to check your email and then stop using it.  Somehow, 2 hours fly by and you mindlessly just start playing games, watching pointless videos, or having a boring or meaningless conversation with some friends on Facebook.  TV is even easier.  We go into the fridge or cupboard and grab some snacks, then sit on the coach and watch 3 hours of TV while pigging out.  I’m talking about eating when you aren’t really hungry, and watching TV shows that you aren’t even really interested in.  You just do it because it’s easy, and it gives your brain a chance to not think or worry about anything.

It’s really terrible and unhealthy behaviour, it’s not very enjoyable, but it’s so easy to do.  There are many things like this in modern life, and it’s our job to control these habits before they control us.  These habits suck our energy, kill our ambition, make us fat and sick, and make us poor and unhappy.

If you have any bad habit at all, even a small one that wastes too much of your time, I think the answer is simple (If you are actually serious about changing).

You NEED to stop it completely for a while.  If you have been watching too much TV lately, then you need to start watching NONE for a while.  If you have been eating too much chocolate or drinking too much coke lately, then you should try having NONE for a while.  If you have been wasting too much time on Facebook, then you should not use it AT ALL for a while.

Many people will tell you that you are being too “extreme” or going too “overboard” if you try to cut one of these things out of your life for a while.  The truth is that it may be necessary to be “extreme” for a while, if you really want to experience a healthy change.  (And trust me, I’m sure you want a big change).

If you eat too much chocolate, people will say, “try not to eat so much”.  If you waste too much time on Facebook or watching TV, then people will tell you to try using it less.  It sounds like the advice makes sense, but it almost never works.  If we just say that we’d like to “exercise more” or “watch less TV”, then nothing will happen.  The reason is that we have no rule to follow.  We can keep tricking ourselves by saying, “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “I’ll only watch for a little while”.  Then we find that nothing happens.

If we take something COMPLETELY out of our lives for a while, it’s actually easier to not use it.  Watching no TV at all is much easier than watching only 30 minutes a day.  Eating no ice cream whatsoever, is much easier than just having one or two little spoons of it and then stopping.

I highly recommend you try taking one simple thing out of your life, and see how you feel after just 7 days.  Don’t use Facebook AT ALL for one week.  Don’t watch any TV at all for a week.  Don’t eat any chocolate or drink any coke at all for a week.  It’s not that hard actually if you just make a clear rule for yourself and make a little game/challenge out of this.

You will start to notice that your life may be actually better with less convenient ways to waste your time.  You might hate it at first, but you may start to love it later.  Don’t even worry about what you will do with the new free time, just make sure that you stop one bad habit for an entire week.  Even if you think it’s stupid after 2 or 3 days, just keep doing it anyway for the full week.  I promise, a week with no Facebook won’t kill you.  You may love it, you may hate it, but I’m sure you’ll learn something about yourself.  After the week, you can decide whether or not you want to continue doing it or not.  You just have to promise that you won’t “cheat” during the week.

The guy I’m recommending here talks about his program and he suggests doing each of these things for a month.  He is an expert on doing this and has a great and clear plan.  Again, it’s here for you to read in our community.   (Along with many other free things in there.  Movies, audio books, e books, high level chatting partners…)  We’ll keep adding to this and making it better and better for you guys :)

If you’d like to try changing one small habit for a week, I’d love for you to write about it in the comments.  Share your experience with us.  Let us know your plan (Don’t be shy and there is no need at all to feel embarrassed).

Do you think this is a good plan?  Why?  Do you think one week is long enough, or do you think a full month is needed for this?  Do you also believe things like Ipads, smartphones, TV, 24 hour Macdonalds, and the many other things in modern life that are supposed to make our lives easier and better are often making our lives worse overall?  Do you agree that today’s generation is in many ways more weak, lazy, and pathetic than generations of the past?  (50 years ago for example)  Please share any or all thoughts you may have about this in the comments.  Can’t wait to read them!

Andy :)

Give Yourself a Break

April 28th, 2013

26 Comments »

It’s a beautiful day here in Shanghai.  I’m feeling pretty good today and I wanted to share some simple, but good advice with you.

Give yourself a break!  What do I mean?  I’m not talking about a holiday (although, going on a holiday is pretty sweet).

I’m just talking about giving yourself a break from any feelings you have of guilt.  We all have things that we’re feeling guilty about, maybe not super guilty, but even just a little.

Maybe your diet hasn’t been great lately.  Maybe you haven’t been the greatest boyfriend or girlfriend in your relationship lately.  Maybe you aren’t happy with how little you’ve been exercising or studying.  Maybe you have been doing as well as you’d like in business or at work.  I don’t know.  But I am guessing there is probably at least one thing in your life where you feel like you are kind of  blaming or even hating yourself in some way.

My advice today is simple:  Take a break from any self-hate, guilt, or worry that you have for at least today.  Just take a moment to realize that this worry and guilt you feel isn’t helping you.

I’m not saying that you should just do whatever you want and not care anymore.  I’m just suggesting that you take one day to completely forgive yourself 100% for anything that you are blaming yourself for.  Forget about what you did or didn’t do.  The blame isn’t helping the situation.  You should also stop blaming other people or outside events.  Just accept whatever situation you are in, at least for today.  See how you feel.

Just smile, relax, and enjoy being you.  None of us are perfect and we all have things we are blaming ourselves for.  It sucks our energy and makes us feel less confident, less happy, and just worse in pretty much every way.  This self blame, even if it is pretty small, isn’t helping the people around you either.

So just let go of any pain from the past that you are holding onto.  Today is a new day and you can change anything in your life starting now.  It will be a lot easier to do this if you can stop dragging the pain from the past into each and every day.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.   Your responses to the last blog were absolutely amazing by the way!

Have a great day :)