Episode 76: Brighter Above the Clouds

Do you ever feel that your life is one big storm? Has the pandemic created enormous stress and caused you to feel unhappy? Jimmy shares three powerful reasons to help you find the brighter side of life through positivity.

Episode Keys

  • Understanding how your brain responds to environmental factors such as sunshine.
  • The importance of facing the storms of life with an expectant mindset of positivity.
  • Why material assets and money will not bring you lasting happiness unless you understand the freedoms that it creates.
  • How to leave a legacy that impacts the lives of thousands.

Podcast Transcription

Oh! Hey, hey! Good morning! This is Jimmy Williams with Live a Life by Design your Monday morning moments of motivation to help you live a bigger, better, and bolder life. Gah, man, this has been a great week, hadn’t it? You know life is just filled full of surprises and things seem to be getting better, hopefully across our country and the world. At least from the standpoint of the pandemic. With an election looming here in just a couple of months. I don’t know that we’re getting better in terms of attitude in our country. There seems to be some challenges we’re facing. But, you know, I don’t get bogged down in life in those things that I just can’t control and one thing I’d like for you to consider. Adopting this approach in your own life will only make life better for you. It’s pretty funny, I do some work on Twitter, and I say work, instead of playing there. I just try to see what I can receive from tones and attitudes and others by just posting something that I think is a positive statement, for example. And not picking on either party, person, doesn’t matter. I just post things and somehow it never fails that there’s someone that I may have touched a nerve. But you know at the end of the day I’m just going to do me. Right? And today I want to help you be a better you. And the way we’re gonna do that is I’m gonna share with you today three reasons why you must find that happiness in life. The reasons that you can use to find a better day no matter what state you find yourself. 

So, let’s talk a little bit about how positivity plays a role in the mindset that you have each day, not just in your life but with those around you, right? We’re gonna talk a little bit today about how you can achieve lasting positivity in a higher satisfaction in life. And you’re gonna laugh, it’s really not all about material things. Right? So, let’s just visit for just a few minutes today. I want to share with you some things from the heart. Recently on a flight from Phoenix, AZ back to Oklahoma, as we taxied out to the runway to get in line with the other planes that day, a Boeing 737 we were flying in, my wife and I had an empty seat between us in a row of three seats and we had prepared for what we thought was a mundane short flight to Oklahoma. But our world was changed in just a few moments as we taxied out, we sat on that tarmac and then all of a sudden the plane starts rocking backwards and forwards. And then from side to side. And my wife looks at me, and I look at her, and I’m like, wow, what is going on?

I assumed that we may have gotten too close to another jet, or had a much larger jet taking off perhaps on an international flight that had more power, more thrust in the engines, and perhaps it just a little bit of a jet stream push on us. But we looked out the window and the clouds became very, very dark. We looked in the distance and we could see that things were being blown about and, you know, garbage was being blown across the runways. And it was just a pretty eerie feeling. And the pilot comes on the pa and he says that we’re now being held up by air traffic control because of a thunderstorm. You know, those storms of life that come along unexpectedly and just seem to have a way to take you and blow you right off course where you may have been plowing ahead making progress in life, but there’s this storm that comes that you can’t control. Well, as we sat on the tarmac, while the plane is just being jostled about, it gets to a point where some of the people are to actually scream out when the plane moved quickly from left to right and it jostled them, perhaps. 

And I was looking at my wife and I said, this is really no big deal. And she looked at me and she said, well, what do you mean? The pilot just came on and said we are being subjected to 55 to 60 mile an hour gusts. The equivalent of a small tornado is hitting the airport. And we’re sitting out there, on the tarmac. Defenseless, if you will, subject to the whims of the wind. And I told her, I said, there’s one way to really face these kinds of matters. Now I said it’s the same thing with life and that’s how this subject came up for the podcast today. This storm the plane was being subjected to, along with our other few passengers on there, is the same thing that happens to us in life when we feel like all of a sudden we’re derailed. All of a sudden we have everything we’ve been making momentum on suddenly grind to a halt. It’s that moment you realize, am I really happy in life? I told my wife, you know what, I’m not going to worry about this storm. There is nothing I can do about it. It’s all in the attitude we face when we are in a perilous situation. 

Was I trying to be macho and brave? No, not at all. What I was really trying to do is to educate and hopefully convince my wife that a better way to look at this storm is not to look outside where the darkness is, but to focus on the bright things above us. And I said, you wait, when we take off, we’re gonna go right over that cloud, cause it’s going eastward according to the weather app on my phone, and I said we’ve got to go eastward, so the quicker we can get above the storm and tumultuous event the brighter the day gets. Sure enough, we finally, after an hour and 45 minutes had the opportunity to take off. Our flight was now headed toward Oklahoma. As we got, oh a few moments into the flight I began looking out the window. What I would see out that window, as we took to a higher elevation, was the plane was being pitched back and forth and very turbulent winds would catch us and shift us sideways. And I’ll never forget, the co-pilot came on and said, you know, please remain in your seats, seatbelts, be prepared, you know, we’re gonna be jostled about the cabin. But then, all of a sudden we reached certain levels about the clouds, and nothing but peace. There was not a movement of wind according to that jet that was flying. We were just smoothly crossing the planet. 

Then looked at my wife, and I said look out your window now. She looks across my lap, she looks out the window and she says man, that is beautiful. And I said what does that come to mind to tell you from where we were just about two hours ago to where we are now in the same airplane. And she said, I get it. I get it. What you’re really saying is, is that those storms of life that come up on us, of which we can have no control, are best faced with an attitude of positivity knowing that the brighter day is coming. We have to somehow mentally rise above our emotional state of fear and panic to a state of satisfaction and happiness knowing that it’s just a part of life. And I wanted to share that with you, because I have three reasons today why you must find this plane of happiness above the storms of life. Why you must find some solitude.

And the first one is, your mental wellness depends on the brightness you see to be happy in life. Hyppocrates, the great physician of ancient days, believed a person’s overall health was affected by light. He noted the amount of daylight available each season and compared the behaviors and modes of people to hypothesize that these citizens were suffering from a lack of natural daylight in the winter and fall seasons. Many centuries have passed since this time. But we know that he had a valid finding. People who fail to experience sufficient natural sunlight suffer from a disorder coined S-A-D. Seasonal Affective Disorder, by doctor Normal Rosenthal of Georgetown University. 

Now you and I refer to this syndrome in a very, very vernacular that we call the winter blues. Personally I have an unexplained desire to seek bright sunlight in the heart of winter. Those dreary dark days with shortness of daylight when we do have it. Really gives my mind an opportunity to crave sunlight. For example, that’s why when you’re in the middle of winter, if you can escape to a nice sunny beach somewhere in the world, your body and your mind seem to just explode with enjoyment. Your brain, by soaking up this consistent sunlight creates a chemical called serotonin. And when your body contains high levels of this chemical you will notice your mental state is more satisfied and strong. But conversely, if you have lower levels of serotonin, this will give rise to you feeling very anxious and depressed. The next time you’re offered a choice between sitting down in front of the tv or going for a walk on a sunny day, choose the walk and improve your happiness in life. So the first reason that you must rise above the clouds and show you have positivity in your mindset is that your wellness, your mental wellness depends on your brightness in your life.

And the second reason for escaping the trappings of negativity and divisiveness is that your income will rise. I may have your attention now. You’re gonna say, Jimmy are you really saying that happier, more positive people will make more money? Well, that’s exactly what I’m saying. I have an interesting question for you though. Does money really buy happiness? A study by The World Counts evaluated the impact income has on the overall happiness of people. The findings were rather expected but yielded some interesting points that we will delve into a little deeper. In my own personal experience, I have stated many times that money does not buy happiness, however, it does lease it for a considerable term. That’s a poor joke, but I always like that one. From the moment we reach our teen years, or earlier in some people, the importance of obtaining money seems to be an obsession. Too often the person reaches their goal of riches but finds their satisfaction in life is no better than those days they struggled for the simple basics of life. 

The continual striving for more seems to create a person who doesn’t know the quality of life that can be found in finding happiness in whatever state they find themselves. Once we find that we can afford our basic survival needs how much more income do we require to find happiness and fulfillment in life? You see two major mechanisms explain the impact of income to our happiness. The adaptation and social comparison mechanisms. Adaptation mechanism says if you’re given a one off increase in your income, your happiness will temporarily increase until you get used to it, and then you aspire for more. 

Very rarely are we satisfied with what we have if we see that there are better things available. I’m not judging you for wanting to live a life that appears luxurious to others. I am not saying that you can not go out and own nice things. That is not what I am saying. I’m just saying will those nice things alone, in material mode, bring you better quality of life and happiness? The quality of life it may bring, but will it bring you true happiness? If you are happier in a state of luxury, I find no wrong in it. However, I am amused with some of the reality shows on television. One of the most funny to me, are these series of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, or New York City, or Atlanta or wherever they may be. To perform my research I participated in watching a couple of episodes of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with my wife. From the moment the scene had all of the housewives in focus, the opulence and grandeur was obvious. A game of one-up-manship ensued and the person with the most ostentatious dress or accessory or residence won the battle for the evening.

But it is not all about the luxuries their money could buy. It was the lack of deep meaningful relationships among the group’s members that would become evident when one of them left the room and the others would immediately denigrate the person. The bickering would increase on the show to a climax before the episode ended to entice viewers to tune in for another week. Are these people truly happy? You know, I don’t know that. But boy, if that is happiness I want no part of it. I would rather say with those means that they have, and I’m certain that they do a lot of great things in their community. But it would seem to me that if we’re really happy, all of those resources really aren’t buying the happiness, it’s what you can do with those resources that brings happiness. 

What these women are displaying is the second mechanism we mentioned of measuring the impact of income to happiness. The social comparison adaptation. This is the act that people evaluating their own income in comparison with others. Your happiness is measured in comparison to others that have less than you in terms of material goods. The findings of many studies on income and happiness are these results: A) Richer nations tend to be happier than poor nations. Well that makes perfect sense to me, right? If you’re not struggling in some of the third world countries just to have a decent meal for the day, or if you’re not hopefully able to have at least accommodations over your head to protect you from the elements, I could see how that wouldn’t be very happy for us. Or how about in the United States the average income increased by 300% from 1970 to 1990, but the American’s sense of well being didn’t improve with the increase in their paychecks. 

There is no direct correlation to income and happiness, merely because you have more wealth. And in the Easterlin paradox study of 1995, despite the growth in the income in the past decades, people’s self reported level of happiness and satisfaction did not improve. So happiness in the contributions you’re making to mankind, and the giving of oneself to the aid of others creates more wealth but also contributes significantly to the satisfaction of the person. What I’m saying is by focusing on the positive by products that wealth and money can provide, rather than the material goods it can buy, that is what is the primary contributor to happiness.

Increased income only brings happiness when it is used to provide greater freedom for people. This is what motivates me. This is the sole reason that I love to help people and I love to see how I can increase my own happiness. Is because of the freedoms that having means provides. For example let’s talk about some of these freedoms for just a moment. First, the freedom to choose the house you wish to live, or the neighborhood you wish to reside. This is a big freedom. If you have a choice between living somewhere where there’s a high crime rate, low amenities, there’s no water, there’s no beauty. There’s no neighbors that you relate to. That is not what is going to bring you happiness even though your home may be a multimillion dollar home. No, you wish to reside somewhere, and you have the freedom of choice when you have the means to do so, to choose a place where you have people that you can relate. Where you have those beautiful scenes that you open your back door and you can look at every morning. Maybe palm trees in the backyard overlooking a nice swimming pool. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just a freedom is what these income streams can bring you.

Let’s talk about another freedom, for example. The freedom to contribute to the causes you wish to support. This is vital for our family. We believe in supporting children and educational causes. We have been fortunate and blessed to be able to support our local high schools, universities so they can provide scholarships for needy students that haven’t been as fortunate in life. Well, I don’t want to digress very much, but I will tell you, when I was in undergrad school, I did not have as much money as I had month most of the time. You’ve heard that saying, I had too much month at the end of the money. And I will tell you, I was some of the most happiest of times for me during those four years. I met people that I have today some of the finest relationships. Some of the deepest, most meaningful relationships are with those people that I met during a time of which I barely had two pennies to rub together. I don’t want to brag, but here’s what I told one of my utility companies at the time. Yes, I had electricity in my small run down apartment. And the electric company, one time, contacted me and said, we have not received your payment. And I simply gave them the truth as I do with everyone. I said, you weren’t drawn from the hat. 

Now you’re gonna laugh, and I know you’re already laughing at me. But let me tell you how I had to do things back when I was in college. I had only so much means from the jobs I was working back then. And I had full time class load, now I’m gonna brag just a little bit here, I never left the Dean’s Honor Roll, not one semester and most semesters was on the President’s Honor Roll. But I didn’t have any money to go out and play, so I studied. Oh, I was involved in a lot of campus activities, but none of them required me to invest money in them because I didn’t have it to invest.

Again, I digress, but my point I’m making is, is the electric company had contacted me because I had failed to send them, now here it is, don’t laugh, for a whole month in my small apartment I had to send them $38 and some change. Now I didn’t have the $38 all excess and above everything else I had to pay, which you know was the phone bill, or I had the gas bill, or those things, or the rent itself, right? And I bought some groceries, of course. And so what I did is I placed all of my bills on a piece of paper, I’d write down the bill, you know the vendor. I’d write down the amount. I’d put it in one of my hats. I’d shake the hat around and then I’d reach into the hat and pull out one of the cards. Now, what I did was I took a notepad and I wrote the amount of money I had at the top. And as I pulled each of these out, I pulled out the cards and deduct them from the amount I had available. Like a check register. And I just went down that list until I was out of money. Now granted, too many times there were still pieces of paper or cards in the hat. 

But, I did what I could do the best I could. So when I told the electrical company that you were still in the hat, the young man on the other end laughed a little and he said, do you anticipate that perhaps we would be more lucky to be drawn next month than we were this month? And I said I will make certain that you’re gonna win next month. So I guess I call that my lifestyle lottery.

But, anyway, so you have the freedom to contribute to the causes you wish to support. For that we love to choose things that are very meaningful. How about the freedom to vacation where you choose? And freedom to live in the manner you design. You see, these freedoms are what brings us the happiness. It’s not the money that brings you the happiness. It’s the use of and the benefit from the money that brings you the happiness. A higher level of income to someone that can’t manage their current income will only give greater anxiety and stress to that person. You see, we can’t handle greater amounts of responsibility than we currently are as a person unless we grow emotionally and mentally. And so these freedoms are not availed to those with limited means. Only those that have substantial happiness and therefore greater opportunities to grow their income. So, step number two is to find a way to escape all the negativity and allow your income to rise. That’s the key to this, you will attract more people. You’ve heard me say before. Jim Rohn had a statement, my mentor that said, “You can not chase down success. Know what you do is attract it by the person you become”. And a big part of that is your attitude, your happiness, your positivity in life. Your ability to find that brighter spot above the clouds of the terrible storms of life, right?

But let’s talk about the third reason. The third reason for finding solitude and satisfaction in life through positivity is to truly lead a life that is inspiring. Think about the legacy you leave behind for others to find their way in life. Sure it is great to leave buildings and art, music and other more tangible evidence of your legacy. But think about the greater good in finding happiness. Satisfaction within a point of time that your mind is clear and you are able to enjoy the environment you find yourself. Leave photos of your family and friends that give rise to those readers in years past, to seek a desire from the more important assets in life beyond bank accounts and buildings. Share your stories of your struggle to find the place in life that you truly discovered your own happiness. Those bright moments in your life, such as your children’s birth. Your first date with the girl that eventually became your wife. I recall my first date with now, my wife. We’re celebrating 33 years of marriage in just a few weeks. And I will tell you it all started with that one date that we had that was extremely happy for me. 

I was well into my 30s before I realized true wealth is not about money or assets. It’s not about the accumulation of these things, but rather the life I lead that influenced others in a positive way. My satisfaction in life increases tremendously when someone comes to me and remarks how they have been positively influenced to achieve their own happiness and freedoms of life within any state of life they find themselves. Those storms of life will truly come. It’s how you approach them and how you face life itself with a better more positive attitude that will determine your true altitude in life. There is nothing wrong with money and wealth. However the shallowness of life is quickly evident when the end of times comes for you and the number of lives you’ve touched in a positive way are minimal or nonexistent. 

Think about the true legacy you wish to leave this planet. The ability to show others how to rise above the daily storms of life to a high quality of satisfaction, or are you simply just going to be another person in life that left your song within your soul. The issue of life is this, it was meant to be lived. And to live it happier and to live it with greater satisfaction is truly a freedom that you can claim today if you just follow these three reasons for doing so. When faced with a tumultuous day, and those days will come. Take the opportunity to look within and find the reasons for your striving for satisfaction. You can live a life full of joy and free of heartache and storm clouds if you can apply these three reasons. What have you got to lose? Thanks for listening today, go out in your world and make a difference to those around you in a positive way. Look at these three reasons for living life more happy and satisfied so that you too can do what you wish, and that’s live a life by design. 

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