My 93-year-old father was moving some old furniture around when he discovered a few long lost black and white photographs.
One of them was of me.
At the age of ten months.
I had never seen the photo before.
But as I stared at myself of almost 65 years ago, I saw a happy child.
My father told me, “Joe, you were one happy baby!”
Maybe I was.
But I certainly wasn’t happy shortly after growing up.
And I went through long periods of unhappiness as an adult, and as a struggling writer wanting to be a success.
What happened to that happy child?
What happened to that uninhibited smile?
Oh, it’s still here.
People can see the baby smile in my adult face today.
But where’d it go for so long?
My guess is, it never left.
And I’m guessing your original innocent smile is still in you someplace, too.
Lately I’ve been encouraging people to look for their very early baby pictures.
Not the ones where you are still in diapers, and not the ones where you are going off to school.
I want you to find the baby pictures where you are showing signs of awareness and your “original smile” is still on your face.
Get that photo and use it as a meditation.
Stare into the smile.
Let it expand from within yourself.
Feel the original innocence of bliss today.
Because it’s still there.
And if for some reason you can’t easily or quickly find an early photo of yourself smiling, then consider looking at my photo. Or someone else that makes you grin or giggle. Or draw or paint one.
The point is, that original smile is not lost.
It’s in you.
I used to teach a form of meditation where you imagined an inner smile within yourself. As you visualized it, it grew. Before long, you had an outer smile.
Your inner child is still within you.
And it is still smiling.
It’s time to find it again.
PS – I also believe there is something like an “original laugh,” too. That’s where you laugh without control or inhibition. Recently author-singer-TV celebrity Lisa Winston and I held a Facebook Live to discuss our forthcoming event, “Own the Stage.” We were so open and playful with each other that by the end of the broadcast, we were laughing so hard we were crying. Where is your original laugh? Where is your original smile? I urge you to look within and see…
Jaime Vendera is a famous vocal coach who challenged me to write a book on using Law of Attraction and mind power etc for musicians. I threw the challenge back at him. The result is our new book, already a bestseller, titled Mind Over Music. Here’s my introduction, which explains the back story:
Why Anything Is Possible
An Introduction by Dr. Joe Vitale
One day I checked Facebook and there was a curious message from Jaime Vendera. I knew Jaime from his books on singing, which helped me with my own vocal technique. I had gone from zero to musician in the span of a few years, and Jaime was one of my never-met coaches along the way. I had bought and read his books. I knew he was a badass vocal coach. His ideas had helped me, and still do.
So I looked at his message. He wrote:
“Listen up, Vitale, the Universe smacked me again to put this in your brain…and I am pretty sure I told you this a few years back:) You REALLY need to write an “LOA/Ramp up your music making mojo” type book. It’s not a book about the art songwriting, but more a book lining out the steps to get a musician off their butt and finishing their songs and recording/releasing them… You are THE perfect person to write this considering what you’ve accomplished!!! If you don’t write this, that voice in my head will never leave me alone. It will pester me to pester you until you hear it too;) There, I told you, just as I was instructed to do. So now please write the book so it will make the voices stop, hahahaha;)”
I admired his playful audacity. I’ve written over 70 books and Jaime knew it. He also knew my expertise in self-help methods, as well as the Law of Attraction, applied to would-be musicians, would be a hit.
He also knew that my appearance in the hit movie The Secret, and my books on the Law of Attraction (LOA), made me qualified to teach musicians.
But I also felt that this idea was his, not mine. I suspected he was just tossing a monkey at me and hoping I’d adopt it. I already had enough monkeys.
So I wrote back to him saying:
“hmmmm Maybe it’s in your head and not mine so you write it and i add to it to be coauthor…”
Seemed like a fair counter offer to me. Jaime could blow me off but at least I didn’t dismiss him. I was acknowledging his idea but turning it back in his direction. I was sending the monkey home. To my surprise, he accepted my challenge.
He wrote back saying:
“Hahaha well that will work then. I just had this image of you explaining how you knocked out so many songs so quick. I’m knocking out 4 new products right now but I’ll start writing soon.”
He did, too. Not only did he start writing, but he caught on fire and wrote the entire book by himself – in only four days.(!)
A week later he wrote to me saying:
“Just letting you know I never back down from a challenge;) I am writing three new books, filming two new videos, two new audio programs, and writing/recording as we speak, and it is all part of the focus of this book. feel it should be called MIND OVER MUSIC and show the musician that Writer’s block is only a state of mind, as well as teach them how to get it out of their heads and recorded in record time. So, I had a quick question for you. Do you have a musical bio I can copy/paste. i want to mention the day you decided to become a musician and record and ALL the albums you have released since then. I am blown away by your energy and what you’ve done. It is soooo refreshing.”
He was referring to my becoming a musician with 15 albums recorded in about 5 years. That seemed impossible to most people. But I teach “Anything Is Possible” (and wrote a book titled that very statement.) I sent him the material he wanted and he inserted it into his book. Then I read the book.
Now it was my turn to be blown away.
He wrote the book with a passion I rarely see in other authors. And he gave steps and secrets and insights along the way. He included me and my story of becoming a musician, beginning with zero experience, and going on to record numerous albums, study with rock icon Melissa Etheridge, and even overcome terror to sing on stage with my Band of Legends.
In short, he had created the very book he wanted me to write. And he did it without me.
But being the kind and generous soul that he is, he wanted my name as coauthor because he said I inspired the entire project. He wanted me to have credit. That’s the kind of loving person he is. So I accepted.
The good news for you, the reader, is you get to benefit from the combined experience of two authors, teachers, coaches, and musicians: us.
I’m living proof that you can dissolve blocks and get in the studio and on stage, no matter who you are, where you are, what your level of experience, your age, or much else.
And Jaime is living proof that when you adopt his methods, you will shine in the studio and on stage, too.
All in all, you are about to read an illuminating guide to getting past the excuses and blocks and into the studio and onto the stage. Bright lights and applause await, as well as the deep satisfaction of sharing your music with the world.
And now, curtain up…
PS – Our bestselling book, Mind Over Music, is more than Law of Attraction and self help principles; it is about facing fears and overcoming doubts so you can get in the studio or onto the stage. It is on Amazon for Kindle and in print at https://smile.amazon.com/Mind-Over-Music-Through-Blocks/dp/1936307456/
Last month I was lucky enough to be given an advanced prepublication review copy of The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga (Atria Books, May 2018 release).
I say “lucky” because the book changed my life.
I had never heard of it before. But the book is a runaway bestseller in Japan. It sold 3.5 million copies in Asia.
The book is a dialogue between a student and a philosopher.
The messages are potent.
Most of the material stems from the work of psychologist Alfred Adler. As much as I’ve read in psychology, I wasn’t familiar with Adler.
I am now.
Adler (1870-1937) was an Austrain physician, psychotherapist, and the founder of Adlerian psychology, sometimes called Individual Psychology.
Around 1907 Adler and Freud, along with Rudolf Reitler and Wilhelm Stekel, began meeting weekly in a type of early mastermind. Their “Wednesday Night Meetings” eventually grew into the birth of the psychoanalytic movement.
Freud and Adler did not agree and went separate ways. I’m currently collecting and reading Adler’s works, such as Understanding Human Nature (1927) and The Science of Living (1929).
While I am digging into the original words of Adler, I find The Courage To Be Disliked an easier approach to understanding him.
The Courage to Be Disliked is a refreshing stir for self courage.
Rather than giving away your power to circumstances, you use your power for choice.
The book explains etiology, which is the idea of cause and effect, versus teleology, which is the idea of meaning and choice.
“We are not determined by our experiences, but are self-determined by the meaning we give to them…” – Alfred Adler
In other words, many schools of thought (including Freud’s) say you are the product of your past and/or your environment.
That is cause and effect thinking, or etiology.
But Adler’s approach is to say you can create your life from new meaning and choice, which is teleology.
Obviously, the latter is more empowering and freeing.
The latter doesn’t need anything outside of you to change for you to change.
You can change with a decision.
The Adler way is not one of victimhood but of empowerment.
For example, rather than saying you are the way you are due to the circumstances of your childhood, or current circumstances, you instead choose to create how you want to be from goals selected out of this moment.
At first glance, the concepts in The Courage to Be Disliked could seem daunting and unrealistic.
But as I kept reading the book, and following the concepts being explained, I realized that this book is a manual for awakening.
There are too many concepts to repeat here, but one crucial one is this:
“All problems are interpersonal relationship problems.”
Let that sink in.
“All problems are interpersonal relationship problems.”
The idea (simplified) is that you may sometimes try to please others, which is giving away your power to others.
You can’t easily be happy if you are waiting on another’s approval.
When you choose yourself, you are free.
You may be disliked; but you are free.
But here’s an even deeper insight…
An advanced insight is this: you have an interpersonal problem with someone in order to justify something you don’t want to do.
In short, you created the need for an excuse and then created the interpersonal problem to rationalize the excuse.
The problem or person didn’t come first; your need for a way out did.
This is similar to my own observation:
“The meaning you give an event is the belief that attracted it.”
You don’t realize it, but it’s actually you and your meaning/beliefs creating your life.
This completely transforms the idea of problems with other people.
You created them!
The Courage To Be Disliked explains all of this, and more, in an easy to read style.
It’s simply a conversation.
But “the student” is asking what you would probably ask.
And “the philosopher” is responding as might Socrates, or Adler himself.
Along the way you get “aha” moments of insights.
For example, learning to separate tasks is important.
That means learning to understand what is under your task to do, and what is for others to do.
Knowing this “task separation” gives you freedom.
“We cannot think, feel, will, or act without the perception of some goal.” – Alfred Adler
I’ve often referred to people trying to give me their task as them trying to give me their monkey.
They don’t want to care for “the monkey” so they try to pass it off to me.
But I have enough monkeys.
Knowing that I don’t want another monkey, and that their task isn’t mine to do, makes it easier for me to have a boundary and maintain it for my own self-care.
As a result, I can be free.
Here’s a recent example:
Jaime Vendera is a vocal coach. A terrific one. He’s written Raise Your Voice and The Ultimate Breathing Workout. He’s helped lots of singers, including me.
He wrote to me one day saying he had an idea for a book I could write. He suggested it could be about mindset for musicians.
While I liked the idea, I sensed he was passing a monkey to me.
So I wrote back, saying it was his idea, or his task, so he should write it.
To my surprise, and his credit, he took the challenge.
He completely wrote the book, showed it to me, and I added some content, and a subtitle to it.
We are now coauthors of the book, Mind Over Music: Break Through the Blocks to Get Into the Studio and Onto the Stage. (It’ll be out next month.)
Instead of my taking on his task, I simply kept my boundary and supported him.
The result was a win-win for both of us.
Do you see how this works?
The Courage to Be Disliked contains far more wisdom, theory, and technique than I could possibly relay in this article.
But I don’t want you to settle for this post.
I want you to read the book.
Whether you do or not, of course, is your task, not mine.
PS – The Courage To Be Disliked will be in stores May 8, 2018. You can order it in print, for your Kindle reader, or on audio right now at Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Courage-Be-Disliked-Phenomenon-Happiness/dp/1501197274/
* What would you try if you knew “Anything Is Possible“?
* What goal could you achieve if you knew “Anything Is Possible“?
* What dream could you make come true if you knew the 7 steps proving “Anything Is Possible“?
My latest book is a ball of fire in print.
It’s designed to help you attract, achieve and accomplish all of your dreams, goals and intentions using a new formula for success.
But it also might push your buttons.
It did someone on Facebook.
My new book is called –
“Anything Is Possible!”
It reveals –
“The 7 Steps for Doing the Impossible”
It explains —
This may be the most exciting and inspiring book I’ve written in years. At least in my humble opinion.
Strongman Grandmaster Dennis Rogers said –
“In January of 2017 Joe Vitale attended my annual strongman seminar: Oldetime Strongman University. By the end of the day he had twisted a horseshoe, bent a steel bar into the shape of a fish, and with one blow of his fist – drove a nail so far through a piece of construction lumber that he surprised us all. That morning he left his home as a 63 year-old guy. That evening he arrived home as a Strongman.”
The story of what happened that day, and what I learned afterwards and then applied to all areas of my life, is exactly why you’ll want to go get “Anything Is Possible.”
I’ve had people go get copies of this book in bulk – to give to family, friends, clients and peers – when they haven’t seen the book yet!
They’ve been hearing about my feats of strength, and seeing photos and video of me bending steel, and they want the inside secrets of such extreme accomplishment right now.
I’ve spoken about the stories and insights from the book on stages around the world, from Spain to Thailand, and people stand up and applaud because they get so inspired.
The 7 steps I reveal are unlike anything ever shared before – including by me.
Here’s an excerpt of what Mark Brody (who I don’t know at all) said in his five star public review on Amazon —
“…Joe Vitale goes into what you actually need to be doing in order to be successful. Yes, anything is possible, but there are steps to take in order to get there. Not just sitting there visualizing and wishing upon a star. This is truly a success manual.”
This is new, different, exciting, engaging and oh so much more. But don’t take my word for it. Look what others are saying:
Lisa Winston said this in her five star public review on Amazon —
“If you struggle with setting intentions, keeping commitments, taking action or if you just feel uninspired, ‘Anything is Possible’ will give you all you need to deliberately, methodically, successfully and joyfully achieve absolutely anything you choose to accomplish.”
Erica Garvin said this in her five star public review on Amazon —
“This book was my first introduction to Joe Vitale and his writing. Needless to say, reading this book was a turning point in my life. Never before has a book influenced me more to achieve life long dreams and goals. I believe this book is for anyone, especially those who might feel they are struggling in life and need tested methods to progress forward. Joe truly shows readers that anything that can be imagined can be obtained, and how to do just that.“
Fitness expert and personal trainer Scott York said —
“I loved this book. I learned a lot and laughed a lot at some of Joe’s colorful stories. I was inspired by it all.”
But, as you might imagine, not everyone agrees that “Anything Is Possible.”
Even though the book is urging you to stretch your mind to consider “Anything Is Possible,” some people use the idea to create limitations.
One person on Facebook posted the question, “What if you lose an arm and you want to grow it back, do you think anything is possible then too?”
I found it odd that someone would go to the outer limits of extreme examples to argue for limitations.
Richard Bach wrote, “Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.”
Then I thought, given our current understanding of limb regeneration, growing an arm seems unlikely.
But that thought also assumes there will be no new research, or discovery, or inventions, ever.
Obviously, life will continue to evolve and new discoveries will always be made.
In fact, that flippant question on Facebook got me curious.
I did a quick Google search on “human limb regeneration” and easily found this article posted on January 3 2018 at https://humanlimbregeneration.com/human-limb-regrowth-with-acorn-worm-dna:
“A group of scientists have been involved in a recent study in researching how human limb regrowth could one day be applied with the help of the Acorn Worm. They are looking at how amputees could regrow limbs and for patients to regenerate the spinal cord after injury.”
See what I mean?
There is always the possibility of something new being discovered or created.
So with that more empowering and optimistic belief, and that Google evidence, I stand by my book title: “Anything Is Possible.”
I’m saying it might happen.
I’m saying it could happen.
I’m saying it’s possible.
I’m saying “Anything Is Possible.”
And why not believe in possibilities rather than limitations?
Why not “Dare Something Worthy”?
Why not go for your dreams?
Why not tackle the big challenges of life with a mindset focused on solutions, not limitations?
“We have more power than will; and it is often by way of excuse to ourselves that we fancy things are impossible.” – Francois Duc De la Rochefoucauld
After all, people are creating new limbs using 3-d printers. That’s happening right now. (For proof, read Mick Ebeling’s great book Not Impossible: The Art and Joy of Doing What Couldn’t Be Done.)
I can’t help but wonder what’s next. Maybe it’s the Acorn Worm. Maybe it’s something else.
In my same Google search about “human limb regeneration,” there was a 2016 article at https://www.livescience.com/59194-could-humans-ever-regenerate-limbs.html that said –
“Human regeneration, he (professor David Gardiner) said, is likely still in the future, but not too far off — it’s possible one of his current graduate students or postdoctoral researchers will crack it, and limb regeneration will be a part of the medical toolkit.”
Are we living in exciting times or what?
“Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done.” – Robert A. Heinlein
So much for the critical skeptic who posted his/her question on Facebook.
Obviously, Anything IS Possible.
My new book reveals “7 Steps for Doing the Impossible.”
But you are welcome to believe in lack and limitation instead.
Up to you.
The T-shirt I’m wearing on the cover of my new book shares my motto:
“It is what you accept.”
You can accept a victim mindset – “It is what it is” – or you can adopt a more empowered mindset – “It is what you accept.”
As philosopher/psychologist William James once said, “Belief creates its verification in fact.”
In short, you get what you believe.
If you are open minded, and want to believe in possibilities, my new book is now available on Amazon in print (and/or for your Kindle reader) and you can go get it right now at — https://www.amazon.com/dp/
Expect Miracles (unless you prefer to Expect Crap).
PS – Be honest: What would you do if anything really was possible?
Whenever you attempt a new goal, no matter what it is, you have to be aware of critics or criticism.
I’ve had my share of them over the decades.
It used to trouble me, as I didn’t understand how some people could be so negative or hurtful.
But an insight from science helped me.
It came from my favorite science author, Loretta Graziano Breuning. Her book on cynicism, Beyond Cynical, explained that critics have a chemical that goes off in their brain when they criticize someone.
In short, they feel good about themselves because they feel superior to someone else.
This feeling of “one up” comes from a serotonin shot in their brain.
Emmet Fox, a legendary author of metaphysical books, explained, “Criticism is an indirect form of self-boasting.”
When someone puts down you or your idea, it makes him or her feel smarter than you; better than you.
Critics like that feeling.
Loretta’s book, Beyond Cynical: Transcend Your Mammalian Negativity, grabbed me as soon as I read the back cover copy:
“Cynicism feels good because it triggers the brain chemicals that make us happy. It triggers dopamine by making things seem predictable. It boosts serotonin by making you feel superior to ‘the jerks.’ It stimulates oxytocin by cementing social alliances. Cynicism relieves cortisol as you fight or flee in your mind. Negativity is natural, but you can go beyond it if you choose.”
Now criticism makes sense.
Critics spread their negativity not to help others, but to help themselves.
It’s a type of drug addiction.
Only the drug is in their brain.
In other words, critics often criticize simply to (unconsciously) make themselves feel good.
They get a chemical rush in their brain, they like it, and they want more of it.
And thus a critic is born.
But are critics or criticism helpful?
I’m not talking about professional critics.
An employed critic’s job is to review art, movies, books, food, music and such. I’m not convinced they truly help people, but that’s another article for another time.
I’m not talking about inner criticism, either.
Getting past your own “monkey mind” of self-talking negativity is part of the awakening process to achieve your goals. But that’s also for another time and another article.
I’m not talking about invited criticism, either.
Visionary giant Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX advises to constantly seek criticism. He says, “A well-thought-out critique of whatever you’re doing is as valuable as gold.”
What I am talking about here are the people who offer their criticism without your asking for it.
These are the people who show up and rain on your parade, before you even begin parading.
They don’t even like the idea of a parade, let alone your own parade.
And they don’t like rain, either.
How do you handle these people?
My rule of thumb is this: when you are starting a path to a goal, don’t share your dream with anyone except those who can help you attain it.
I have a ten-year-old great nephew who wants to build a car company.
Yes, a car company.
He has ideas for the make, model, name, and more. I’m in awe at his enthusiasm and creativity. I marvel at his ability to dream big, fearlessly and relentlessly. I wasn’t like that at age ten.
I was at a party with him once.
He started to share his auto design ideas with a relative.
But the relative started to bat down and criticize my great-nephew’s ideas.
“That’s been done before,” this critiquing relative told him. “None of your ideas are original.”
This same critic added, “Don’t be afraid of criticism. Welcome criticism.”
The critic’s comments were not helping my great nephew.
They were not practical suggestions.
They were not improvements or refinements.
They were dismissals.
Of course, most ideas have been done before.
The trick is to combine them and reinvent them and extend them so they become something new.
There will always be “new” cars that are “just” refinements of other cars. And some of these new cars will sell well.
So my nephew has as much a chance as anyone to create a car company that succeeds.
Besides, he’s only ten. Let him dream.
I don’t think my great nephew was swayed or stopped by the unsolicited criticism, which is a testament to the fortitude of him and youth.
In fact, when I checked on him later, he was still exuberant about making cars.
He told me, “You’re getting the first one I make, Uncle Joe. It’ll just cost you one thousand dollars for parts and stuff.” (He’s a kid. He has no idea of money yet.)
But not everyone is like that.
Even today, I keep my big goals to myself.
I don’t invite negativity.
I only invite support and input from people who might be able to help me achieve the goals.
You have to protect your dream in the early stages.
It’s much like an unborn child. You don’t want people judging you or it before it is even born.
If you are wanting to start a business, for example, I wouldn’t invite criticism.
Instead, invite people who have acknowledged success in the area of starting a new business.
Ask their advice, suggestions, and input, but not criticism.
I see uninvited critics as people who kill dreamers and dreams.
“If you have no will to change it, you have no right to criticize It.” — Mark Twain
I agree with Twain.
If you have something to offer to help a dreamer achieve their goals, then offer it.
But to condemn, criticize, complain, or any way rain on the parade, or darken a person’s sunshine, isn’t helpful. If that’s all you got, you should remain quiet.
Mark Twain also said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
My own policy is to encourage people.
“I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.” — Charles Schwab
Since I have no idea what the future holds, there’s no possible way for me to accurately predict if any idea will work or not.
So if I see or hear of someone pursuing a dream, I cheer him or her on.
I got the nickname “Mr. Fire” decades ago for this trait of always “lighting a fire” under people to go for their dreams.
Besides, encouraging people lights up my brain.
It’s my brain drug.
It feels good to help, to serve, to encourage.
Goethe said, “Correction does much, but encouragement does more.”
I’ve found being encouraged a type of fuel for my success.
Actor Kevin Bacon said, “A good director creates an environment, which gives the actor the encouragement to fly.”
When I was filming my first acting role, the director (Liz Tabish) made me feel safe and encouraged me.
As a result, my first starring role in an indie movie was easy and fun.
And according to the early reviews of Cecilia, I did pretty well, too.
In the end, you have to follow your dreams to feel fully alive, despite encouragement or criticism.
Of course, at some point you have to complete your project and release it to the world.
And that’s when you can expect critics and criticism.
When I was recording my first album back in 2012, a musician friend warned me, “Gird your loins! When you release your music, everyone will slam it. Just remember there are people who don’t like the Beatles, and I think they were gods.”
A friend of mine once said that “success breeds contempt.”
It helps explain why so many of my friends turned against me when my levels of success started to escalate beyond the sky.
It stirred the critics.
My point here is to keep your plans to yourself until they are complete.
And after that, remind yourself that there will always be critics.
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right–for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
Life is really about pursuing your own passions and purpose, despite the odds and the critics.
Whatever your goal, whether to attract money or health or a relationship or some big audacious dream, there will always be people who will say you can’t do it, or explain why it won’t work.
“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn–and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” — Dale Carnegie
Just remember that critics are drug addicts.
They get high on putting down others.
So understand them and forgive them.
And also realize there are always people who will cheer you on, believe in you, support you and encourage you.
“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” ~ Epictetus
Look for those cheerleaders in your life.
Surround yourself with them.
And let the critics criticize and complain.
Stay too busy going for your dreams to even notice them.
To quote author Elbert Hubbard, “The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure criticism without resentment.”
PS – You can find clarity and support in my Miracles Coaching program.