How to become happy for no reason – Marci Shimoff
David Laroche : Hello, everyone. Today, I am with a new amazing woman. She's Marci Shimoff. You can maybe know her books, Happy for No Reason, and if you don't know this book yet, you have to buy this book now. Don't wait for the end of the interview. Go to Amazon and find this book. I will ask her how to be a great woman, how to be happy with no reason, and I have a huge example today, you will know about that. So hello, Marci.
Marci Shimoff : So good to have you here, David. Thank you.
David Laroche : I am so glad. I am very happy to be here and to do the interview with you.
Marci Shimoff : Yes, you are such a great and shining example of being happy for no reason. I see it in your eyes.
David Laroche : Okay, and I have a true example today. It is the first time I meet you and it is the first time of my life that I have… I don't know how to say that in English, with my car, no gas… How do you say… ?
Marci Shimoff : You ran out of gas in your car.
David Laroche : Yes.
Marci Shimoff : Just five minutes from my house.
David Laroche : Yes, five minutes and I was thinking, “Oh shit…” And I felt some bad feeling and I was thinking about your book Happy for No Reason and I was thinking what is a perfect example for today.
Marci Shimoff : It is, you know. Let me tell you what I mean by Happy for No Reason because a lot of people get it a little bit wrong. What I mean by Happy for No Reason is having an inner state of peace and well-being regardless of the circumstances. So it doesn't mean that you're walking around, 24/7, with a silly grin on your face. It doesn't mean that you're in some Pollyanna state of denial. You still have emotions. Your car runs out of gas, you feel frustrated or maybe a little anxiety. Someone dies, you feel grief. You still might have frustration and anger, but behind that, you've got this inner backdrop of peace and well-being, all is okay, and so you're able to make it through all those kinds of circumstances with greater resilience, and you get through it better, and you do a great job of showing that.
David Laroche : Thank you very much. So can you share some keys to get back in the happiness when some circumstances arrived like that.
Marci Shimoff : Sure, well, let's start at the beginning on the whole happiness journey,
if that's okay.
David Laroche : Yes.
Marci Shimoff : Is that all right?
David Laroche : I would love…
Marci Shimoff : Yeah, because people are always asking me if I was always happy and the answer is absolutely not. I came out of the womb unhappy. I was an unhappy kid, and I did what most people do. I set certain goals for myself, and I thought that once I get those goals, I'll be happy you know? I call this the myth of “I'll be happier when…” I'll be happier when I have a better job, or more money, or when I get married, or when I get divorced, or when I lose 20 pounds, you know. It's always out there, and I have that too. And so when I was… I don't know how old you are, but I'm going to guess you're…
David Laroche : Twenty-five.
Marci Shimoff : Twenty-five, okay, so when I was 25, I had five goals for myself. And I thought, “If I get these five goals, that is all I need to be happy,” and they were to have a great career helping people, to have wonderful friends, a great life partner or husband, a fabulous home, and the equivalent of Halle Berry's body. And I got four out of the five. I don't have Halle Berry's body, but I got the other four, and I have a healthy body at least, and I will tell you, it still didn't do it. Here was my turning point. And I think a lot of people can relate to this and I don't know… I'm sure you've achieved a lot of things, so maybe you'll be able to relate.
David Laroche : I'm sure I know this feeling.
Marci Shimoff : Yes, so it was 1998, and I had three books at the same time on the New York Times Best Seller list, in the top five. I was the coauthor of all the women's book in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, so three of my books were in the top five on the New York Times list. I had just given a talk to 8000 people. I had autographed 5432 books. The client had to have a massage therapist on hand to massage my hand every half hour so I didn't get carpal tunnel syndrome. I felt like an author rock star. It was like the height of everything, and all the other things in my life were working too, the goals I had set out: great friends, a wonderful home, a great life partner, healthy. At the end of signing that last book, autographing that last book, I went up to my hotel room, which was the penthouse suite that my client had gotten for me, and I plopped onto the bed, and I burst into tears. I burst into tears because I realized I had everything I thought I ever needed to be happy, and I still wasn't. That was the end of the line for me. I could no longer continue to think that just that next thing was going to do it for me. And I think that that's happening everywhere these days. People are realizing, “Well, I'm achieving some of my goals or most of my goals, and still there's an emptiness inside.” You know, we have more as a society than anybody's ever had in history, and we're no happier than we were 50 years ago. In fact, I think less happy. One out of four women is on antidepressants. We have an epidemic of unhappiness. And so that's the bad news, but the good news, David, is that science has cracked the happiness code. We know what it takes to be happier. It's not hard, and I know you want to get practical and I'll share some things.
David Laroche : Yeah, I would love to know other things about that. I would just like to say that I can relate to that because six months ago, I was, as you were saying, achieving all my dreams and meeting amazing people and I felt the top of my bad feeling. And I was thinking, “Oh shit, I'm achieving everything I want and I can't be happy now.” And it was a turning point for me, so I very'd like to talk about that.
Marci Shimoff : You know, here's what I learned from science. Science is, as I said, cracking the happiness code. The most sort of inspiring piece of research to me is that we all have a happiness set-point. It's like a thermostat setting, and no matter what happens to us, whether it's good or bad, we will hover around that thermostat setting, around that set-point, unless we do something to change it. So even when great things happen, you know, people win the lottery, for example, they're happier for a few months. But within a year, they've returned to their original happiness level. And the same is true of people who have tragedies. Within about a year, they've returned to their happiness level. So it's all in the set-point. The set-point is half genetic, you're born with that. It's 10%, and only 10% your life circumstances. We're all so busy running around, trying to change our circumstances to be happier, it's only 10% of the whole pie, the whole puzzle there. The other 40% is our habits, thoughts, and behavior. That's what we can do something about to raise our happiness set-point. And there are some progressive scientists like Bruce Lipton, who wrote The Biology of Belief.
David Laroche : I love him.
Marci Shimoff : Love him too. And they say that that 50% that's genetic, that will change when you change your habits, which means that 90% of your happiness can be changed by changing some simple habits.
David Laroche : Wow, let's talk about that. What is the habits you have to change?
Marci Shimoff : Okay the habits, so they fall into seven main areas. And I'll just go quickly through the seven areas, and you can see where you might be stronger or weaker. And I tell people to start where they're the weakest. People have a hard time remembering seven of anything, so I made a little analogy, and I call it, “Building your inner home for happiness.” So a home has seven components. It's got a foundation, four corner pillars, a roof, and a garden. So the foundation is taking responsibility for your happiness, not waiting for something else to change for you to be happier, but going, “Okay, I get it, there's a set-point and I can do something about it.”
David Laroche : It is my responsibility to be happy.
Marci Shimoff : Totally, and your responsibility to recognize that it's not going to come from your circumstances, that it's going to come from you changing some habits. So that's step number one.
David Laroche : Foundation.
Marci Shimoff : Foundation. Four corner pillars: pillar of the mind, pillar of the body, pillar of the heart, and pillar of the soul. So what are you thinking, what are you feeling, what are you doing to support your body, and how plugged into your spirit are you? So those four corner pillars. Then there's the roof, and the roof is your purpose or passion in life. Are you really living an inspired life? Are you living your calling? And then the garden is who are you surrounding yourself with? Do you have a lot of toxic people in your life? I call them the weeds. Or do you have a lot of roses and lilies and beautiful flowers, the supportive people who are really out to help you with your dreams?
David Laroche : You are saying that your environment is very important to build this kind of happiness, right?
Marci Shimoff : Well, the people you surround yourself with. Every parent knows, they care who their children spend time with because they know that children are influenced by their friends. It's the same with adults. They say that we catch…there's a phenomenon called emotional contagion. It says that we catch the emotions of the people around us, just like we catch their colds. And so just ask yourself… We become the average of the five people that we spend the most time with. So ask yourself who are your five and do you want to catch their emotions, because that's a really important one. But you look at all seven of those areas and what I tell
people is rate yourself, on a scale of 1 to 10.
David Laroche : Okay, in each area.
Marci Shimoff : In each area, how well am I doing in this area? And where you're the lowest, we call that your Achilles heel, that's where you want to start. So for somebody, they don't really have the physiology, the body to support happiness. They don't have the happiness chemicals like serotonin and oxytocin and endorphins, and they need to focus on what can I do to build the physiology of happiness. For some people, they're stuck in anger and resentment and lack of forgiveness. They need to work on their heart, on letting love in. Some people just have too much thinking, that is quite negative, they need to focus on their mind. Some people are disconnected from their spirit, they don't spend time in silence or in meditation or in communing with nature or with the universe. Some people are really not living their passion, you know.
David Laroche : A lot of people.
Marci Shimoff : Yeah, a lot of people actually. So look at which of these areas are you the weakest in and then start there. I have 21… I've discovered there are 21 main happiness habits and they fall into these seven areas. And so you want to start where you're the weakest to get the fastest growth. How about if I give you three specific things that anybody who is watching today can do?
David Laroche : I would love…
Marci Shimoff : Yeah?
David Laroche : Let's do that.
Marci Shimoff : Okay, where do we want to start? Let's start with the heart.
David Laroche : Yes. I love that. It's a good place to start. So there is research that shows that when you're angry for five minutes, it will suppress your immune system for six hours. When you're frustrated or angry or in what science calls the stress response for just five minutes, it can suppress your immune system for six hours. But when you're feeling love, when you're feeling gratitude, when you're feeling joy and ease, it can strengthen your immune system for six hours, just five minutes of that. So I'm going to share with you right now a very quick — it will only take two minutes — a very quick technique to move us from the stress response into what science calls the love response. You can do it anytime, anywhere. Is that good?
Marci Shimoff : Wow.
David Laroche : Yes.
Marci Shimoff : Want to do it?
David Laroche : I will do it.
Marci Shimoff : Okay. Here's what we're going to ask, though. We're going to ask that everybody who's watching us do it along with us, because really this is where the difference is made is when you're doing this. You can watch us do it, but it won't be that much fun. But please, do it along with us.
David Laroche : Take action now.
Marci Shimoff : Take action and use your own life as an experiment to see if this works for you. Okay, ready?
David Laroche : Yes.
Marci Shimoff : So first, you can do it with your eyes open or closed, but wer'e going to do it with our eyes closed because it will go a little deeper, so please close your eyes if you can. The first step is to simply place the palm of your hand over your heart. Now that simple act of putting your hand on your heart starts the flow of a chemical called oxytocin. And oxytocin is dubbed the love hormone because it's what we have more of when we feel bonded and connected with each other. So mothers who are breastfeeding have lots of oxytocin, and when we make love, we have lots of oxytocin. But just putting our hand on our heart right now is helping the flow of oxytocin. Now, the second step is to imagine that you're breathing in and out through the center of your heart. And you can just picture that or you can feel that, that your breath is coming into your heart, and your breath is going out of your heart. At your own pace, you're breathing into your heart, you're breathing out of your heart. You're inhaling into the heart, exhaling out of the heart. And already, you might be feeling some kind of shifts in your body or in your emotions. Finally, the third step is on each in-breath, I want you to imagine that you're breathing in love, compassion, and ease; love, compassion, and ease. Now at your own pace, breathe into your heart love, compassion, and ease. On the exhale, you can just exhale normally. Each inhale, imagine breathing in love, breathing in compassion, breathing in ease, and you can think of a time when you felt those or you can just say the words to yourself and it will have the same effect. So one last time, breathing deeply into your heart: love, ease, and compassion. And on your exhale, you can slowly open your eyes and take your hand away, and just sit for a few seconds. And notice if you feel any different now than you did two minutes ago. And David, you're my guinea pig because I can talk to you and I can't talk to you, so I'm going to ask you how
different do you feel now than you did two minutes ago?
David Laroche : I am more in the now.
Marci Shimoff : Ah, more present.
David Laroche : Yes.
Marci Shimoff : Great, great, great. Anything else?
David Laroche : I feel kind of a peace inside.
Marci Shimoff : Good, good. So these are symptoms of the love response being present, feeling peace. Some people feel more grounded or more balanced. Some people have physical sensations like warmth in their heart or tingling in their hands and feet. And all of these are signs of going into the love response. And here's the deal, doing it once is just a nice experience, but nothing will really happen. What will make a difference is if you do this three times a day for the next two weeks. You will start to make a habit of being in the love response.
David Laroche : Okay, the new connection.
Marci Shimoff : Exactly, you're creating new connections, new neural pathways. I've done this thousands of times. And now all I have to do is put my hand up to my heart, and I feel this incredible wave of ease, peace, love, openness just by making that a habit. And you can do this while you're standing in line at the grocery store, while you're sitting on the phone talking to somebody, while you're sitting in a business meeting and you're bored, nobody has to know what you're doing.
David Laroche : Yes, when you are waiting for… to be helped in a car,
Marci Shimoff : That's right. That's right, when you're waiting, when you've run out of gas in your car and you're waiting to get some help. So simple, but don't underestimate the power of simple practices to really change your happiness set-point.
David Laroche : Yeah, it was great. I am very thankful to you because it's a practical things to do and I love that.
Marci Shimoff : Good.
David Laroche : Take action.
Marci Shimoff : Good, well I promised you…
David Laroche : So apply it.
Marci Shimoff : That's right, that's right. So I promised you three.
David Laroche : Yes.
Marci Shimoff : So you want two more?
David Laroche : I want two more.
Marci Shimoff : Okay, here we go. Well, first, let's do a little experiment, and it's about the power of our minds. Now I know you know all of the research out there, you've interviewed so many people. And I know you know that our minds are crazy powerful. We have, on average, 60,000 thoughts a day, and for the average person, 80% of those are negative. We inherited that from our caveman ancestors, the ability or the tendency to focus on the negative over the positive. So if you get 10 compliments in a day but one criticism, what do you remember at the end of the day?
David Laroche : The criticism.
Marci Shimoff : That's right, so happier people have earned to refocus their attention on the positives. And by doing that, they're creating new neural pathways in the brain that allows them more often than not to notice what's positive because we have… I've heard different numbers, but billions of bits of information come into us in every moment, and we only perceive that which we're looking for, and that which we're looking for is that which we're used to, which we've habituated perceiving. So if we have a habit of perceiving the negative, that's what we're going to see. It's as though we have these dark-colored glasses on and the world looks that way. But when we start making a habit of perceiving the positive, we start seeing the positive that's already out there. We can also change our own reality by perceiving things differently. This is where I want to do this experiment with you. It's a really cool one, you ready?
David Laroche : Yes, I'm ready.
Marci Shimoff : All right, so this is for everybody at home too, which… Where do I look to show them, because I want to show everybody at home this.
David Laroche : Okay, here.
Marci Shimoff : Here, here, very good. So we all have, at the very bottom of our palm, a crease. At the very top of your wrist, bottom of your palm, right there, you have a top crease. Do you see it?
David Laroche : Okay.
Marci Shimoff : The top crease. I want you to match it up with your other palm, like it's a science experiment. Make sure they're matched just right, okay? And then move your hands together like that, very carefully, and notice that one hand is longer generally than another. Do you see…is one of your hands longer than another a little bit?
David Laroche : Yes.
Marci Shimoff : Yes. Take the one that's shorter… And if you don't have one that's shorter, you can take either one, but if you have one that shorter, I want you to take it and put it out in front of you, okay? And you're going to talk to this hand, and you're going to talk very lovingly to this hand, but you're going to tell it to grow. And we're going to do this for about 20 seconds. I want you to say it out loud with me and just very lovingly, as you speak to it, I want you to see it growing, okay? So grow.
David Laroche : Grow.
Marci Shimoff : Grow. Say out loud with me.
David Laroche : Grow.
Marci Shimoff : Grow.
David Laroche : I need to speak French.
Marci Shimoff : Oh, you can say it in French. Grow, grow, grow. Oh you, beautiful hand, grow, grow, oh grow, you're such a good hand, grow. And see it growing. Grow, grow, grow. Okay, ready?
David Laroche : Yes.
Marci Shimoff : We're going to do the same experiment again. Match those lines up perfectly, bring the hands back together, and see what happened. Did it grow?
David Laroche : Yes.
Marci Shimoff : Yes. So that's how powerful your mind is. Our mind creates changes in our body, it creates changes in our world. By the way, I do this in large groups of people, and usually men look at me and ask me afterwards, “Does that work on all body parts?” So it's just a great demonstration to show how much, how powerful our minds are, and what we put our attention on grows stronger in our lives. So when you put your attention on what's good, what's working in your life, that's what you will get more of. There's research on happiness that shows that people who write down a list of the five things that they're grateful for every day, at the end of the day, within 30 days, they will have raised their happiness set-point, super simple process. So what I suggest that people do… One of those women that I interviewed for Happy for No Reason says she plays a little game. It's called the Happiness Academy Awards. And every day, she pretends that she's the Academy Awards Committee, and she's on the lookout for anything she can give an Academy Award to. So one day, she was out for a walk and she sees a cute fluffy, little, white dog and it's the cutest dog she's seen. And she says, “Oh, that dog wins my Academy Award of the day for the cutest dog.” Or she sees a beautiful tree, or somebody does a wonderful act of kindness for her. She's on the lookout for every day to, at least in her mind, give away five Academy Awards. So it's a game. If you've got children, it's a great game to play with your kids.
David Laroche : Yeah, I love that. Pretty simple.
Marci Shimoff : Second one. Okay, now I know you want the third, don't you?
David Laroche : Yes.
Marci Shimoff : People are always asking me what's the fast track to happiness. You know, if there was any one thing that was the thing that supercharged happiness, what would that be? And while I think there are a lot of different things, I think there is one in particular, and that is forgiveness. When we hold on to anger, when we hold on to resentment, we are not hurting the other person. We're hurting ourselves by closing our heart. It's very hard to feel happy, to feel good, when we're contracted. And anger and lack of forgiveness is very, very contracting. I'm going to share with you, in a minute, a practice that I do that, to me, is the most powerful practice, one of the most powerful practice I've ever done.
David Laroche : Just before, do you think we have to forgive to ourselves before?
Marci Shimoff : Oh, I definitely think self-forgiveness is a key. And it doesn't even matter, when you need to forgive another person, it doesn't even matter that you do it with them in person, or that you even let them know. You're doing it for your sake. The person can be dead.
David Laroche : It can be your father.
Marci Shimoff : Yeah, an ancestor that's passed away. And the idea is that this anger, this lack of forgiveness tightens us up. I love doing demonstrations, so can we do one more little demonstration before I give you my technique?
David Laroche : Yes, I would love.
Marci Shimoff : Okay. It's a demonstration that shows the difference between contracted energy and expanded energy. There's only two energies in the universe: energy of contraction, energy of expansion. When we are in the energy of expansion, we are in the happiness zone. We're moving in the happiness flow. When we're contracted, we are not. So let me prove this to you. I'd like you all, and I'd like you all to do this with me. I'd like you to curl into a little ball and get really contracted. And on the count of three, I'd like you to say, “I feel happy.” Ready? One, two,three, I feel happy. Okay, sit up. Did you feel happy?
David Laroche : Not at all.
Marci Shimoff : No. Not at all. You might have felt a little stupid, but not happy. Hard to feel happy like this, when you're contracted. The opposite is also true. When you're expanded, like this, it's hard to feel bad.
David Laroche : Yes.
Marci Shimoff : So go like that. On the count of three, we're going to say, “I feel depressed.” Ready? One, two, three.
David Laroche : I feel depressed.
Marci Shimoff : Did you feel depressed?
David Laroche : A lot.
Marci Shimoff : No. It's hard when you're feeling so expanded that you don't feel depressed.
David Laroche : You can't.
Marci Shimoff : You feel joyful. You know, when you're smiling, it's hard to feel depressed.
David Laroche : Yes.
Marci Shimoff : So one of the fastest ways to move into this expansion zone is through forgiveness. And there are many forgiveness techniques out there, but the one that I like most is one perhaps you've heard of its called Ho'opono'pono.
David Laroche : I've heard about that, but I don't know it.
Marci Shimoff : Oh good, then we're going to teach it to you. And here's the good news, you never have to be able to say the word “Ho'opono'pono.” It's a Hawaiian word, it's a very hard one to pronounce, and doing the practice of it is much easier than saying Ho'opono'pono. So here's what it is. All you do is you get an image in your mind of the person or the situation that you need to forgive, it can be yourself as well, and you send these four phrases to the situation, to the universe basically, and the four phrases are: I'm sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you. I'm going to repeat those: I'm sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you. You don't need to say them to the other person at all. It's a matter of shifting in your heart. And you're saying… These four phrases have a very high energetic vibration. I have taught this to people for years. I've seen miracles happen. I've seen miracles happen in my own life. Do we have time for me to share with you a story about that?
David Laroche : Yes, I love stories.
Marci Shimoff : Okay, stories. So about four years ago, my sister and I got in an argument, and we weren't talking to each other. And this had never happened in our family before, so it was very uncomfortable. But I was being very stubborn and I was not seeing things from her point of view at all. And about four months into this situation, our whole family gathered at our mother's new home, she had just moved into assisted living, and we gathered to unpack her things. So I was really nervous because it was the first time I'm seeing my sister, since we've been in this silent treatment. And when I came in, I hugged and kissed everybody hello except her. I ignored her. She ignored me. We went through the whole morning ignoring each other. It was so uncomfortable. Everybody could feel the tension in the air. And after a full morning of this, I was so stressed out, I decided to go to my car and take a break. On the way to the car, I remembered Ho'opono'pono. So I sat in my car, I closed my eyes, and I just thought of my sister and I sent her those phrases: I'm sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you. And I also sent them to myself because I've been upset at myself as well. Well, after about maybe seven minutes of doing this…
David Laroche : So you repeated that.
Marci Shimoff : I just repeat it, internally, not out loud, just inside, not out loud, just feeling them in my heart. After about six or seven minutes of feeling that…
David Laroche : Did you visualize her?
Marci Shimoff : I did. I did. I just felt her and visualized her. And after about six or seven minutes of that, I felt this wave of love come over me. My heart broke wide open, and I suddenly saw everything from my sister's point of view. I saw that she wasn't angry at me for what had happened a few months earlier. It was a lifetime of stuff. And I understood totally and I had compassion and I felt so much love for her. I went back into the apartment feeling completely different, but I decided not to say anything to anybody. I just go back in, I continue unpacking. Three minutes after I'm back, my sister comes to me, out of the blue, she takes me by the hand, and she says, “Come on, let's go unpack mom's closet together,” as though nothing had ever happened. We had a great time doing that. An hour later, we're at lunch, she hands me her baked potato and says, “Here, Marci, I know you like these more than I do.” I was so surprised that I pulled my brother aside and I said, “What did you tell her while I was gone?” And he said…
David Laroche : Nothing.
Marci Shimoff : “Nothing. We have no idea what's just happened.” Well, David, that was the beginning of an entirely different relationship that I now have with my sister. And it happened at a critical time because nine months later, she and I found ourselves standing in that very same closet of our mother's. This time, we were packing up Mom's clothes, because our mother had just died very unexpectedly. And I cannot imagine what that would have been like had she and I still been mad at each other. And I tell that story because I know that every single person listening, watching, every single person in the world has someone that they need to forgive, and including themselves.
David Laroche : Yeah, a lot.
Marci Shimoff : A lot, ourselves, so I say don't take my word for it. Use your life as an experiment. Try it out. Do it, you know, maybe every day for a week or two, and see what happens in your life. See what miracles happen.
David Laroche : Yeah, I love that. Huge and amazing, you were saying, thank you very much.
Marci Shimoff : Yes.
David Laroche : It's great. I will try it. I will do it the next time.
Marci Shimoff : Yay. Great.
David Laroche : I have a lot of questions to ask you and I would like to ask you something. Today, you have another mindset than before, in the past? Do you think you could have the same success if, at the beginning, you were like you are today? Because sometimes, the fact that you were thinking that you will be happy after…
Marci Shimoff : Right, did it motivate me?
David Laroche : Yes.
Marci Shimoff : Did I need that belief that that thing was going to make me happy to motivate me to want to do what I've done?
David Laroche : Yes.
Marci Shimoff : Well, that's such a really good question. I really appreciate that question.
David Laroche : I wonder myself…
Marci Shimoff : I think it's a myth. I think we all innately have a purpose for being here.
David Laroche : I think so.
Marci Shimoff : And it's a purpose that will bring us joy and bring us expansion and happiness. And we've grown up with the belief that it's through self-criticism, through pain, through suffering, that we're going to motivate ourselves. And I don't think that's true because I can tell you, I created a lot of success in that old model of being motivated to succeed so I would be happy. So that works. You can still be successful.
David Laroche : Not happy, but successful.
Marci Shimoff : Not happy, but successful. But I also have seen that happiness will bring you greater success. In fact, people who are happier, they tend to be much more successful. They, on average, make a million dollars more over the course of their lifetime. And I can tell you that in the last few years, I really feel happier than I've ever felt in my life. And it's really a deep inner state of happiness. And the success and ideas that are coming my way now are beyond what I came up with back then, in the days of… I think you can have creativity both ways, but it's the happiness and success together that really matters. And you don't have to get there through pain and through suffering. That's an old model and an old belief system. These days, I'm actually talking about and teaching the idea of living in the miracle zone, where miracles are kind of commonplace, I mean, just everyday miracles. And we can't create miracles in our life, but we can create the circumstances that put us in that miracle zone, in that zone of just everything's working, everything's clicking, you're in the flow, you're in the zone, and I'll just give you a quick example. I was in India a few weeks ago, and I was at… I just visited a town called Varanasi, very holy town in India, and it was my first time there, 5 million people in the town, and I drop off my bags in the hotel, and my hotel is right on the Holy River Ganges, and I just go for a walk along the Ganges River, right just along the sidewalk next to it. And three minutes into the walk, I look up, and there walking right past me is a friend of mine from California. I said, “John, what are you doing here?” He said, “Oh, I'm staying in that hotel over there.” And he says, “Oh, and I ran into some other friends that I've known for 35 years. We're going on a boat ride tonight on the Ganges, come join us.” Now, had I taken that walk 5 minutes later or 15 minutes earlier, I may not have run into him. But it was, you know, it was kind of a miracle. And every day, there are things like that happening to me, where just the right person calls at the right time, the right idea comes just when it's needed. And I've seen this over and over again. I have 1800 people right now going through this program called “Your Year of Miracles,” and people are having miracles like their houses have been on the market for two years, and all a sudden, they do certain things to put themselves in the miracle zone, and the house sells like that. They have been wanting to get pregnant, they get pregnant. They've been wanting… Miracles, money shows up, just amazing things and…
David Laroche : How can we activate the miracle zone?
Marci Shimoff : The miracle zone. Well, part of it is by raising your happiness set-point. Everything in life is energy and everything is based on the energetic vibration. Happiness, love are two of the highest energetic vibrations on the planet. So doing the things that I talk about in terms of raising your happiness set-point will help put you in the miracle zone. But also being on the lookout for them and being open to receiving miracles, big and small. One of the things I tell people to do is to keep a little miracles journal, so you start noticing. What are the miracles that are happening in your life? Because the more you put your attention on those, the more they'll show up. And I mean I read 20,000 stories that had been submitted to Chicken Soup for the Soul, and I will tell you, over half of them were about miracles that happened. And I know that they are…that we can put ourselves in the zone to be open to these. Can I share with you, since you like stories, one more miracle story?
David Laroche : Yes, I'd love to hear it.
Marci Shimoff : Okay, okay, good, good.
David Laroche : Great to demonstrate.
Marci Shimoff : So this is a story about an amazing miracle. It's about a man named Marcel Sternberger. And Marcel lived in New York City. It was 1948. And he was a very methodical man. He, every day, would take exact same the morning subway. This one particular morning though, he took a detour, and he went to go visit a friend of his who was sick. So he ended up taking a later subway into work. As he got on that subway, it was really crowded, and he saw only one empty seat. So he went over to that empty seat and he sat down. As he was sitting down, he noticed that the man next to him was reading a Hungarian newspaper. And Marcel was from Hungary, so they started speaking in Hungarian. And he found out that this man, his name was Bela Paskin, and Bela had just arrived in New York City a few months earlier. He had come from Hungary. And during the war, he had gone through many atrocities during the World War II. He was in a Russian work camp. And when the war was over, he had to walk over 200 miles back to his hometown in Hungary, only to find that his entire family, including his beloved wife, had been killed. So he was devastated. He decided to leave and come to America and start a new life. And as I said, he had just arrived a few months earlier. So upon hearing this, Marcel was amazed because just a few days earlier, he had
been at a party at some friend's house and he's met a woman who had a very similar story to tell. And he was so intrigued that he wrote down her name and her phone number and he put it in his pocket. So he turned to Bela and he said, “What was your wife's name?” And Bela said, “Oh, my wife, she's been dead for years, but her name was Marya.” Marcel takes Bela by the hand and says, “We have to get off at the next train stop.” They jump off at the next stop. They run to the closest payphone. He calls up the woman from the piece of paper and he says, “What was your husband's name?” She says, “Oh my husband, he's been dead for a number of years, but his name was Bela Paskin.” Marcel turns to Bela
and says, “It's a miracle, it's your wife, say hello.” I mean it happened on
a Brooklyn Subway, you know, so we can open ourselves up. Now most of us don't need a miracle that extreme in our lives, but for us, it's the miracle of meeting the people that are going to make our lives full of joy. It's the, you know, are going to help enrich our lives. It's the miracle of landing into the right work for us. It's the miracle of just having wonderful things happen during the day. You know, you showing up, running out of gas, but there's always an answer, and somebody's there for you within five minutes to come get you, so you know, everyday miracles too.
David Laroche : I love this story and what you are saying, and that I would like to ask you something that people ask me and to listen to your answers.
Marci Shimoff : Sure.
David Laroche : There are a lot of people who watch the movie Secret.
Marci Shimoff : Yes, yes.
David Laroche : And learn from the gurus, and a lot of masters, the great keys, and sometimes they write to me, “Oh, I know everything about that. I tried, I tried, but I don't understand why it's don't work.”
Marci Shimoff : Not working.
David Laroche : It's not working for me. So what do you want to say to people that think that is not working?
Marci Shimoff : I have two answers for that. One answer is are they really doing all the steps? Because there was one step that I think many people overlooked which is the step of action. You know, I actually learned a formula that was similar to what was taught in The Secret, but for me, this formula works…is a more appropriate representation of the Law of Attraction for me. It's three steps, and they rhyme, so I like it. I don't know if they rhyme in French, but they rhyme in English. And they are intention, attention, and no tension. So we have to be clear on what our intention is, we have to put our attention on it, that means our life energy into it, and that includes our thoughts, our words, our feelings, and our actions. So all four of those need to be really aligned with your intention. It's not going to work just sitting around in the living room thinking about this thing happening. “I'm going to win the lottery, I'm going to win the lottery.”And then the third thing is no tension. Once you are clear about what you want, and you have done everything there is that you know to do with your thoughts, your words, your feelings, and your actions, then you need to let go, relax, surrender, let the universe bring it to you. Let the universe bring you that or something better. Maybe your intention is not necessarily for your highest, so we think that we can completely control the universe. I want, you know, a purple elephant to show up in my living room. Well, maybe that's not the highest and best thing for you. Maybe, you know, so sometimes, it doesn't happen because it's actually in our best interest. I believe it's a friendly universe.
David Laroche : It's a goal, but it's not your goal.
Marci Shimoff : It may not be the best goal for you. You know there's a saying called “high intention, low attachment.” Let go. Allow the universe to bring me what is best. You put in your order thinking you know, and that's great, but don't be so attached to it that it has to be the way you think it has to be. I could never have dreamed that the things that have happened to me have… I couldn't have made them happen if I had tried to control it. I couldn't have made it as good as it has been. So a lot of it is just letting go, trusting, believing it's a friendly universe and that what's happening is always happening for your good, and patience. Sometimes…so that's the second part of my answer, timing is involved. And you know, your timing might not be the universe's time. And so that's why it's so important to be happy for no reason. Don't wait for the things you want to manifest to make you happy. When you're happy for no reason, you can be in that state of no tension because you're happy whether or not that thing you think you want happens.
David Laroche : Yes, that's right. I think because XXX. And the same thing, a lot of people ask me, “Okay, I understand that, but I don't know how to find my purpose. I did some exercise, some questions, but I don't find what I really… in this planet.” So do you have some advice in particular, maybe?
Marci Shimoff : Yeah, I do. You know, what you're here to do changes. I think there are two purposes we all have. One is a universal purpose and that purpose is to grow in our experience of ourselves as one with the universe, to grow in our own personal development, to grow in the ability to give and receive love. It's a spiritual reason. This is a lesson universe. We're here to grow in the enfoldment of our true essence, of knowing who we are. That's for everybody. And everybody can be doing that every day. And as long as you're doing some of that, you are living your part of your purpose.
David Laroche : So looking for how-to road to what you have to do.
Marci Shimoff : How to grow in the ability to know the truth of who you are, how to grow in your ability to love, that's a universal purpose. It doesn't have to do with being, you know, a carpenter or a baker or a doctor. It has to do with being human. You know, people who've had near death experiences often come back after that experience and they say that at the end of our lives, we are asked a question, it's like a final exam. It's a one-question final exam. And the question is how much did you love? How much did you grow in your ability to give and receive love? And I don't think this is the kind of exam that you can kind of wait till the end to start studying for. I think it's a day-to-day thing. So as long as you're living every day unfolding that question, how can I experience more of my own divinity, then you are on purpose. That's one half of the answer. The other half is we all do have, I believe, an individual purpose as well. I would really make a very bad singer. It would be a cosmic joke if I was put on the planet to be a singer, because I don't sing very well.
David Laroche : Me too.
Marci Shimoff : Yeah. But so it changes throughout our life, so follow what it is that brings you joy, and don't worry that it's not your big life purpose, it's your purpose for now. So I'll give you an example of this. My father was a dentist, and he loved being a dentist. And he retired when he was 72. What happens to people when they retire?
David Laroche : They do nothing. They do nothing and they die.
Marci Shimoff : Yes, because they don't have any…
David Laroche : Purpose.
Marci Shimoff : Exactly, so my dad knew about that. And he said, “That's not going to happen to me.” So he analyzed what he loved about being a dentist. And he realized that it wasn't just putting in fillings, but it was working with his hands in intricate ways and being an artist. He felt like dental work was artwork to him. So at age 72, he took up needlepoint — very, very fine refined artwork with the needle in and needlepoint, and he became a master. He won Awards throughout all of California. He was 85 when I went home one day, he was working on his newest needlepoint and it was his biggest one ever. It was that wide and that high, and it was so intricate, and I said, “Oh my gosh, Dad. How long is this going to take you to finish?” And he said, “Well, I figured it out, and at the pace that I'm currently going, it's going to take me four years.” This was an 85-year-old man starting a four-year project. Did he finish it? Absolutely. And it hung proudly in my parents' living room until my mother passed away. He lived until he was 91, by the way, and it brought him so much joy every morning to work on that needlepoint. And since it's really our family treasure, and it's now since been moved into my living room, and we can see it up there. That's the needlepoint he started when he was 85 and he completed when he was 89.
David Laroche : Wow, I love that, you have a precise, accurate answer. I love that.
Marci Shimoff : Well, it's really about what is it today or in this short period of time. You don't have to know your life, life, life purpose. You just have to know what's ahead of you right now. You know, the way, I think, Jack Canfield, who's my mentor, the way he said it was in The Secret is if you're taking a trip from Los Angeles to New York, you only have to be able to see a hundred yards in front of you in order to get there. You don't have to be able to see the whole journey. You just see what's right in front of you and you do that.
David Laroche : The next step, the next step.
Marci Shimoff : The next step, exactly.
David Laroche : I love the baby steps.
Marci Shimoff : The baby steps, that's the way to everything is baby steps.
David Laroche : Yes, I love that. I would love to know… Can we talk also about The Secret also?
Marci Shimoff : Sure.
David Laroche : Because I think this movie inspired a lot of people. It's a good start.
Marci Shimoff : Yes, that's right.
David Laroche : According to you, why so many people don't have XXX.
Marci Shimoff : Yeah, well, I think that it is a wonderful place to start. And I'm very grateful to have been part of the project and I think that it really awakened many, many people to the power that we have in our lives to create a change, and the responsibility that we have in our lives through our thinking, through our actions, through our happiness, you know, how that impacts the quality of our life. I think that what's a little dangerous is to only focus on the material aspects of let me get the great car, or the great house, or the beautiful diamond ring. That's such a small piece of the pie. And I'm not saying things aren't great. I love material things, I love beauty, I love getting to have flowers around me, and you know, being in a beautiful environment, but it's really not the whole purpose of the game. The whole purpose of this life game is the deeper spiritual awakening. And I believe in something that one of my very first spiritual teachers called 200% of life which is 100% of the inner life, and then from that, 100% of the outer life. So the outer life is really just a reflection of the growing of your consciousness. And so I would say that the next frontier is that really frontier of the development of consciousness, that development of the state that some people call oneness, some people call love, unconditional love. I wrote a whole book about it called love for No Reason.
David Laroche : It's here.
Marci Shimoff : Yes, there it is, just there.
David Laroche : Love for No Reason
Marci Shimoff : The seven steps to creating a life of unconditional love, and what I mean by that, I'm not talking about relationship love. I'm talking about the love that you feel, that inner love that you feel when you look at a sunrise and you just feel the awe of life, the inner love that you feel when you really feel in love with yourself and in love with life and in love with the divine. And I have to say…
David Laroche : Is it different for you with gratefulness? Gratitude?
Marci Shimoff : That's an aspect of it. Gratitude is an aspect of that love. I think it's one of the ingredients of that love. I've interviewed thousands of people now who are happy for no reason and love for no reason. I found the one thing that they all share the most was a very deep spiritual experience. It didn't have to be religious in any way, but a spiritual practice, a practice of connecting with themself, connecting themself with the universe, whether you call it God or the divine or universal intelligence or nature. Doesn't matter. It's that bigger greater energy in life. And when we connect up, when we feel hooked up to that greater energy of life, plugged into that, that's what life's about. That's what makes life work. That's what creates true unconditional happiness and allows us to live in the miracle zone.
David Laroche : Wow, I would like to ask you a serious question.
Marci Shimoff : The others haven't been serious?
David Laroche : No.
Marci Shimoff : Okay.
David Laroche : This question is very serious.
Marci Shimoff : Very serious, Okay, I'm ready.
David Laroche : So what could be the keys to be an unhappy person?
Marci Shimoff : An unhappy person?
David Laroche : Yes, let's imagine that XXX.
Marci Shimoff : Okay, good. I actually did create a YouTube video called the “10 Ways to Have a Miserable Life.”
David Laroche : Yes, let's do that.
Marci Shimoff : I don't exactly remember all 10 of them, but it's the opposite of my happiness steps is my unhappiness steps. So it's surround yourself with horrible people, who don't believe in you.
David Laroche : Okay, we have to look for XXX people.
Marci Shimoff : Yeah, look for everything that's wrong in your life.
David Laroche : Okay, focus on what's wrong.
Marci Shimoff : Focus on what's wrong. Blame everybody for your unhappiness and for everything that's going on.
David Laroche : Yeah, you're not supposed to be…
Marci Shimoff : Blame everybody else for it. Eat all the wrong foods and take terrible care of your body.
David Laroche : Okay, it's important.
Marci Shimoff : Yes, very important. Always hang on to your anger, don't forgive anybody. Really make sure that everybody is, you know, that you're not going to forgive them. Let's see, what are some other… I love this question, what a fun question to have. You know, the next time you make a mistake, just always keep reminding yourself about those mistakes. Keep criticizing yourself and beating yourself up because, of course, that's the only way to grow. Yeah, yeah, and you know, no matter what happens, it's never good enough. So make sure you can't be grateful for anything, because nothing is ever enough. Make sure that you base all of your happiness on whatever you accomplish, so that anything that… Your only happiness can come from what you achieve or accomplish. And completely separate yourself from any feeling of oneness with life, you know. In fact, if possible, be as angry at life as you can be.
David Laroche : It's not enough.
Marci Shimoff : No? More?
David Laroche : No.
Marci Shimoff : It's not enough there you go. You're mastering that, you're a master of how to make it… how to be unhappy, very good.
David Laroche : Yeah, I was trying to apply it because I believe in taking action.
Marci Shimoff : The taking action, good, good, good. Now, forget everything we've just said. Get amnesia, but that's a fun way of looking at it. And you can…honestly, you look out at the people that you know in life who are unhappy, and you can go, “Oh my god, of course, they're doing that, that, that, and that.” It's such a simple thing. Unhappy people live one way, happy people live another way. Which do you want to be?
David Laroche : Yes, we have to choose.
Marci Shimoff : That's it. And we don't just choose to be happy, we choose to practice the habits that happy people have.
David Laroche : I love that. I have two last questions, so what could be your message for youth to be happy or believe in XXX, what do you want say directly to youth for that?
Marci Shimoff : Good. It is not an accident that you are alive. You have the ability to go for your dreams. Whatever it is that you want in your heart is not put there by accident, it's put there because it was meant for you to go for. The sooner you discover what those dreams are, and you go after them, the happier you will be. Surround yourself with happy people. Surround yourself with people who believe in you, who believe in your dreams. Believe in your own dreams, and know that everything is possible. You are here to be a hero in your own life, to be a hero for yourself. And start now, because the sooner you start, the better off you'll be. And I wish you the most happy life possible. It's there for you.
David Laroche : Wow, I love your message.
Marci Shimoff : Good, yay!
David Laroche : I care a lot about helping youth to grow.
Marci Shimoff : Yeah, that's beautiful.
David Laroche : And my last question is for women, you are an inspiring woman.
Marci Shimoff : Thank you.
David Laroche : So a letter a woman XXX about how they can succeed without becoming a man.
Marci Shimoff : Right, how to have success and still be a woman.
David Laroche : Yes, perfectly.
Marci Shimoff : Yeah. A dear friend of mine is a woman named Claire Zammit, and she's actually developed a program called Feminine Power. And what she's shown is that there is a certain power in a feminine way of doing things. The feminine has very wonderful qualities that can really bring about great success. And we need to trust those : things like our intuition, our creativity, our inner wisdom, our ability to collaborate, to be relational. All of these are very key for our success. And I really understand this quandary. You know, I've been in a man's business world for many years. I got an MBA from UCLA when I was in my early 20s, and it was a very highly focused, highly… a lot of the qualities of the masculine. We all have the masculine and we all have the feminine. So what I've found is that it's really wonderful to be able to exercise those qualities of the masculine in business. Focus is a great thing. But I will tell you, my greatest success has come from my intuition, from my ability to listen to my inner voice, from my ability to trust and to build relationships. There is no way on earth that my books would be a New York Times Best Sellers without the support of many of my colleagues in getting the word out there. So the qualities of the feminine are wonderful qualities that both men and women can employ in business and in getting ahead. I think that it's really important for women that they honor those qualities of the feminine and really see how much they can serve their success.
David Laroche : Is it selfish to be and become happy?
Marci Shimoff : Yeah, right, a lot of people ask me that question also. Is it selfish to want to be happy? What about the rest of the world? David, I think it is the least selfish thing that we can do because when we're happy, we're raising our happiness set-point, we're changing our energetic vibration, and it goes out into the world, and it changes the people around us. It changes our community, and ultimately, it changes the world. And there's a beautiful Chinese proverb that sums this up. It's actually hanging right over there in my living room. It says, “When there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person. When there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. When there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation. And when there is order in the nation, there will be peace in this world.”And my prayer and my wish for you, for me, for everyone listening, is that we all feel that light in our souls and that love in our hearts, and through that, we create peace here on this planet of ours.
David Laroche : I think you will love this quote of Gandhi, “Be the change you want see in the world.”
Marci Shimoff : Absolutely. Absolutely.
David Laroche : I love this sentence. It helps you a lot to do what I'm doing.
Marci Shimoff : Beautiful. Well, you have such a fabulous energy, and I love what you're doing. I'm really honored to be a part of it.
David Laroche : Thank you. I love what you're doing too.
Marci Shimoff : Thank you. It's a mutual love society going on here.
David Laroche : Yeah, Mutual love.
Marci Shimoff : Good, good.