I used to think that to “feel good” was to have a good career and earn a lot of money. That was my belief during my younger years. Luckily, in my search for the “real” feelgood, I found it. This book is about my personal journey from not knowing the meaning of “feelgood” to becoming a man with FeelGoodX. The X is for extra. And no one is more surprised than I am that I wrote this book about how to feel good all the time.
If I can do it, then, truly, anyone can.
As teens, we were given all kinds of tutoring to guide us as emerging adults, but we receive none of this same tutoring as emerging elders. Most people above 50 feel they are over the hill. I didn’t like those odds, so I adopted what Tony Robbins calls a “growth mindset”, determined to be different from the status quo. I discovered the real meaning of “feeling good” on my own, using various means such as listening to podcasts, attending seminars, and joining online courses. With my newfound knowledge, I started to embrace this new mastery while appreciating the roles of both a wisdom keeper and a seeker.
Some parts of this book tell of the experiences of friends or former colleagues, but most of what I share here are my experiences alone. What happened to me is unique to my circumstances. I hope this book will give you some inspiration that FeelGoodX is not hard and requires only your determination to find your new path. What happens to you will be unique to you.
Practice makes perfect, but nobody is perfect. There is beauty in how our practices differ. Noticing and honoring what is easy and difficult for you will support your journey much better than blindly following exactly what I did.
My experience is a barometer by which to gauge your own situation, along with the FeelGoodX library of quotes, manifestos, checklists, and charts provided throughout this book. Once you have your bearings, take from this guide whatever you want. Make FeelGoodX your own, and share it with others through our website and Facebook. With this, you will have something that stays with you for your entire life, and a new tool of joy to lead your life. None of that can be taken away from you.
May your FeelGoodX journey be successful beyond your wildest dreams.
“I choose to make the rest of my life the best of my life. ”
This book is designed to encourage a mind shift towards greater relevance, and to empower you to consider what’s next for your wellbeing road map. Because life is a trip. Modern life is a two-tank journey. Society’s outdated model of a three-stage life (Learn, Earn, Retire) taught us this was a one-tank ride where we fuel up with curiosity and counsel in our Learn period (mostly our teens and early 20s) and burn most of our school fuel in the Earn period. But today, with the increased longevity and accelerated changes of the modern world, many of us are running on fumes and in need of a midlife pit stop.
I consider myself to be in midlife. And let’s face it, midlife is a marathon. For the past half a century, since the phrase “midlife crisis” emerged into popular lexicon, midlife has been defined as 45-65 years of age. But today, in many industries, geographies, and cultures, people start feeling “old” in their mid-30s. And on the other side of the spectrum, with an increasing percentage of us living to 100, it is plausible that midlife might extend into your mid-70s. This new timespan from 35 to 75 feels like a run-on sentence that could use a little punctuation.
Midlife hasn’t historically come with any kind of societal rituals, other than the stereotypical gold coin (or any form of gold) after spending decades in the same job. Yet midlife is full of stressful transitions—whether it’s marriage, divorce, career changes, or caring for children or aging parents, midlife is a time of exhaustion from the sheer volume of identities we inhabit.
The increased longevity we may have, compared to our parents or grandparents, doesn’t necessarily mean an extra ten years tacked onto the end of life. Rather, it means we have an extra decade in our midlife. When I left my position as a senior executive in hospitality a few years ago, I started pondering how those of us in midlife could create a new architectural blueprint for our lives: not by slapping an addition onto the back, but by creating a bright hall in the centre. The hall is filled with fresh air and sunlight, and it presents an opportunity for reflection on all the rooms that open off it, inviting us to discover a variety of choices about how to spend our extra years.
To build the bright hall, we must have a purpose in life. Sharing our unique gifts with the world allows us to tap into more joyful living. Why are you here? What is your calling?
This concept is so deeply connected to our lives—spiritually, emotionally, and even physically. In fact, research has shown that having a sense of purpose produces longer, happier lives. Having a greater purpose in life is consistently found to predict lower mortality risk, and the longevity benefits of feeling a sense of purpose are apparent even after other indicators of psychological wellbeing, like relationships and emotional status, were accounted for.
Discover your purpose
So how can we tap into our own sense of purpose? Here are the top three tips that have helped me find my own calling and live a fulfilled life:
Notice what makes you feel best. The expression, “If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life” holds true. It is useful in discovering what I am really passionate about, along with what unique skills I am able to offer the world and how these skills can benefit others. This applies to all phases of my life. What did I love as a child? What activities were drawn to throughout school? As an adult, what parts of my schedule did I look forward to the most? These are all helpful clues that led me to feel a stronger sense of purpose in how I interacted with the world so that I could begin formulating a plan to do great things.
In with the good, out with the bad. Take a close look at your normal routine. Is it packed with obligations and things you do not truly enjoy? Is all your free time devoted to doing things for other people, while the activities you want to do fall by the wayside? Finding your purpose means nothing if you don’t make regular time for activities that support it. Early on, I started saying “no” to things I found draining, and filled my time with things that sparked my passion. I got rid of the distractions that were sucking away my precious time. I skipped many hours of TV and social media and went to bed earlier, so I could wake up earlier to tackle projects that energised me. I prioritised the things that ignited me and made me feel alive. Doing this more frequently is a sure-fire way to feel more meaning throughout life.
Be open to possibilities. You may have more than one purpose in this life, so it’s important to realise how all of your different passions can co-exist and become something truly special. Anything is possible! For me, the first step was owning who I am, pursuing what I cared about, and allowing myself to seize the opportunities that brought me a feeling of purpose.
It is never too late to tune into your sense of purpose and identify ways to strengthen its role in your everyday life. Start with these simple tips and reap the mental, spiritual, and physical benefits as you embrace your passions.
Many years ago, I went through a life-threatening and difficult period. I had to change what was on my plate and be open to new things, such as meaningful spiritual practice, enjoyable physical activity, an inspiring career that I love, and honest and open relationships. I am lucky to have my wife to support and encourage me in this new journey.
I started the journey with finding my own “why,” like who I am and what my main goal is. Without that, my “what”—like meditation every morning—would not stick with me. My initial goal was for myself, and now many years have passed, I am aiming to lead a movement to inspire everyone to find their own “why.”
I like Simon Sinek’s golden circle concept from his book Start with Why. The golden circle consists of three concentric circles, with the “why” as a bull’s-eye in the centre, the “how” wrapped around that, and the “what” as the outermost circle.
For “how,” I have come up with the term FeelGood. FeelGood is nourishment that doesn’t appear on the plate. When why, how, and what are balanced, food is secondary. I discovered that healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career, and a spiritual practice could fill my soul and satisfy my hunger for life. By nourishing myself on a holistic level, I feel more vibrant with joy, meaning, and fulfilment.
The modern mystic Osho said, “To be in romance with life is religion.” Osho did not teach any religion or belong to any affinity. He believed that when we create nourishing lives for ourselves, that is the highest form of religion. Osho’s neutral, holistic approach to life and religion mimics the core of FeelGood. Osho said that the body needs physical food, of course, but taught that a robust, fulfilling life is the real fuel for happiness and balance.
Of course, my journey of FeelGood needed adjustment, and I had to make changes that, at the time, were intimidating. I believe that we should face our challenges anyway. Along this journey, I embarked on a new career, ended any relationship that was no longer serving me, and learned new skills, like the fundamentals of wellbeing, that aren’t typically taught in schools.
After a few years, I found that a fulfilling career, loving relationships, an energising and rejuvenating exercise routine, and a spiritual practice were not all that I should include in my FeelGood. I continue to search, always taking the next step to bring myself closer to complete mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical satisfaction.
There were many missing elements that would infuse more joy and satisfaction into my life. The new additional elements included:
Part A: Heart Emotional health Purpose
Part B: Health Food
Body and movement Finances
Home and environment
Part C: Soul
Mindset and practices Relationships
From the list, I looked for the “how” to find the way in which the “what” is achieved: how do I handle everything? What is it that, for example, turns my financial process into something more structured and beneficial to me and my family?
My “why” is to “live my life, love my life.” The “how” are those elements that I listed above. And the “what” are those actions that I do to achieve each element.
Want to be successful? Feel good first! When we experience positive emotions, the feelgood chemicals dopamine and serotonin flood our brains. These chemicals give us more than good vibes; they also boost the parts of our brains responsible for learning.
It’s no surprise, then, that psychological studies have found that when we feel good and have a positive mindset, our brains work better and we feel more motivated, which leads to more success.
In fact, over 200 happiness studies involving nearly 275,000 people found that it’s happiness that leads to success in nearly every aspect of our lives—from relationships to jobs, and from health to creativity.
We can learn a lot from this. We just need to practise feeling good in the moment, perhaps through meditation or mindfulness. It’s also a great excuse to do more things that delight and relax you! It’ll set you up for a successful future.
When I set out for FeelGoodX, I began with goals. I applied what I learnt from an interview that Larry King did with Carl Lewis, an American track and field athlete who won nine Olympic gold medals. King asked, “What advice do you have for people pursuing dreams?” Lewis’ reply was, “Start with the ultimate and work back.” This is the mindset of the great achievers. They have a clear idea of what they want in their lives, and they develop a “backwards plan” to get it. If I don’t know what I want, it is hard to know how to make decisions in day-to-day life. But if I have a clear picture about what I want in my life, I can measure my daily decisions against my ultimate goals. This helps me plan all the little intermediate steps that I need to take along the way, and makes my goal feel real in my head. It changed me from a dreamer to a doer, and from someone with a wish to someone with a plan.