Jack Canfield is the co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He has developed 42 New York Times bestsellers, and holds a Guinness Book World Record for having seven books on the New York Times bestseller list simultaneously.
Known as “America’s #1 Success Coach,” Jack has studied and reported on what makes successful people different. Over the last 40 years, his compelling message, empowering energy and personable coaching style has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals achieve their dreams. He has been a featured guest on more than 1,000 radio and television programs in nearly every major market worldwide. He lives in Santa Barbara, California.
In this podcast, Jack and Cindra talk:
- His mirror exercise to give yourself appreciation
- How to reduce your negative thinking
- Ways to address your limiting beliefs
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Jack: Well, one of the things I teach in the book is called Scorekeeping for Success. In fact, there’s now something online called the Seinfeld method. There was a comedian asked Jerry Seinfeld. He said, you know, you’re very funny. What advice would you give to a young comedian? And Jerry is reportedly saying every day, take one hour and write jokes. And he said that on your calendar X it off in red and you never want to have a day where there’s not a red X, you want to keep the string going 100 days, 200 days, 300 days, 40 days. And every joke you write won’t be funny, but if you don’t sit there and do that, you’re not going to get jokes. I do that for writing. You know, I write for an hour a day. I don’t care where I am. I’m on an airplane. If I’m doing a seminar, I do my ruminate, etc.. I recorded so many podcasts, so many YouTube videos, so many, you know, Facebook lives every week, etc.
Those are commitments that have become habits to my lifestyle. People do it with their exercise. I have one, we teach something called the Mirror Exercise, which is every night before you go to bed. You talk to yourself in the mirror and you appreciate yourself because we know that our inner child responds to appreciation. You know, one of the five love languages that Gary Chapman writes about in his book is Words of Affirmation. We all want affirmation.
And so, what happens is I can say to myself in the mirror, Jack, I want to acknowledge you for the following things today. You wrote another chapter for your book. You did two great interviews. You ate healthy. You pass up dessert. So, we acknowledge ourself for what we accomplished. Any disciplines we kept, you know, you read for an hour or whatever. And then also any temptations you overcame, like you didn’t need dessert.
You didn’t stay up till 3:00 in the morning playing words with friends, you know, whatever it is that you did. And then you end with I love you like a woman in New York who’s been doing this for seventeen hundred and seventy-six days as of today. And she was one of these kind of bitchy New York type people, you know, real hard and tough person. Now, she’s one of the sweetest, nicest people I’ve ever met.
You think she lived in California or Minnesota? Nice Minnesota people. So, what happens is that you can transform yourself if you keep things going on a level. And she said now it’s like food. I wouldn’t want to go through a day without the mental food as well as the physical food I put into my body. And that’s why meditation is so important to do every day I do something called the Hour of Power in the book.
And it’s 20 minutes of meditation, 20 minutes of reading, something uplifting, inspiring or educational, not a novel. And then something 20 minutes of exercise, whether it’s an aerobic exercise or high intensity training, Pilates, yoga. But I recommend something. Get your body moving so your energy is going. You’re detoxing your body and so forth. You do those three things is hour of power and you’re going to be wiser, healthier and more successful at the end of the year.
Cindra: So, in that example, I’m just hearing the importance of doing it every day. And I remember listening. I think I was listening to one of your audio programs on a way to a talk with some athletes. This is maybe five years ago. You know, I think it was a DVD you can put in your in car, I still have it in my car. But I remember you talking about the mirror test, and I really like that idea. Do you encourage people to say it out loud or can you say it in your head? What do you think is most powerful? And has there been anyone that has I’m just thinking maybe there might be some people that might be like maybe that’s not for me. But I want you to kind of describe why it could be for, you know, anything new is not for me.
Jack:. You know, it’s like, you know, I just recently got into essential oils is oils that you can actually diffuse in your room and you can rub on your hands and smell them, things like lavender napkins and opened up a whole new world for me. And, you know, three years ago, I would’ve said, oh, that’s the stuff they put in the spa. When you go get a massage, it’s, you know, who needs that in the manly man approach. You know, my wife has scented candles, you know. So what? And perfume, whatever. So, I think a lot of times when we don’t understand something and it’s new, we tend to pooh pooh it because we do understand it.
And one of the things we do is we talk to ourselves all day long. Some poor doctoral student figured out that we think 50 to 60 thousand thoughts a day. And the majority of those thoughts for the majority of people are negative. I can’t do that. I’m not smart enough. That’s not going to work. There are no men left in town to marry. I’m going to lose my job, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah.
And so, if we can replace that negative self-talk with positive self-talk, it actually affects our health because whenever we’re thinking a negative thought, it literally creates a vibrational waste product in your body. Now, what do I mean by that? There’s an emotion you feel. All negative emotions actually create toxins and end up in your liver is one of the reasons that a lot of people are sick. I know this sounds woo and strange, but we know that Rose has a vibration that basically makes you feel good. Makes you hope it opens your heart. Why do we give roses to people? You know, people show up on the date with flowers, roses on Thanksgiving, rose perfume. Very, very wonderful joy creating kind of fragrance. So, we don’t understand that. We just kind of pooh pooh it because we don’t want to look stupid. We think it’s weird. Whatever. So, I think when people hear talking to themselves in the mirror, that sounds like some a crazy person with you talking to herself all day long anyway.
So now we’re going to intentionally for just a few moments, replace some of that negative self-talk with positive self-talk, which builds our self-esteem, builds our confidence, acknowledges our success, acknowledges our progress, acknowledges our disciplines and our, you know, the things we’re committed to and not being succumbing to the things we shouldn’t be doing. And so that is very powerful. Now, as far as doing it out loud, I recommend that as long as it makes sense to do it.
So, if your kids are in the next room and they think Dad’s lost it, you know, you could do it silently to yourself. But I do it in the hotel. I still do it. I learned this; I’d say 20 years ago. And so, my wife knows I do it. So, if she walks in, it’s not a big deal. When I first did it, I said, honey, I going to be talking to myself in the mirror. It’s not that I’m crazy, it’s an exercise I’m doing here to see how it works. I used to beat myself up if I misplaced the keys. I’s go “Oh Jack you’re so stupid, you never can find anything.” Now, if I misplace the keys It’s “Well, I misplaced the keys. Let’s go look for them.” I don’t have that negative self-talk. It’s like, it’s like we’re putting plants in that crowd out the weeds, so the weeds disappear, and we only have positive thoughts. It takes a while to do that, you know, at least a month to start seeing the real impact. But it’s worth it.
Cindra: So, one month and you’d start seeing an impact, maybe sooner. So, I appreciate you saying that, Jack. I think I was kind of similar to you that I used to think that beating myself up, would help motivate myself. When I was in college, I was a really good runner, but I kept on getting in my own way. And I thought, well, the more I think about that hard race, that difficult race and how much I fail, you know, I’d be motivated for the next one. But it was quite the opposite. So, I try to practice and self-compassion too.
Jack: I can relate. I actually ran track as well, and then they tried to make me a long-distance runner. I never really achieved that. But when I was running even a half mile, I was like, you know, “come on, you whose! don’t.” I was doing that kind of stuff. Now it’s like, you know, come on. You have the energy behind you. You can do this. You’re amazing. And I heard this person, he’s the world’s triathlon champion double triathlon where they run. They do two triathlons two days in a row. I mean, I can’t even imagine. And they were interviewing him, and he said, what made you able to do this? He said, I stopped listening to my inner critic. I started talking to it instead.
Cindra: Nice, powerful. Yeah. A few other questions I have about some of the content in your book. I really like this idea of limiting beliefs and moving past those limiting beliefs. And you said something earlier that many times you don’t even realize we have laws limiting beliefs. So, tell us a bit about the structure that you give in the book of just identifying those limiting beliefs, like how do we move forward towards beliefs that really are going to build us up or help us be more successful or reach our goals?
Jack: Sure. Well, basically, I think I was writing about that in the area of money. And a lot of us have limiting beliefs in free money. You know, money doesn’t grow on trees and it’s easier for. It’s easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get to heaven. Money is the root of all evil, etc.. So, you know, and nobody in our families ever made money. you know, if you want money, it means you’re greedy. There’s a lot of stuff. So, what you have to do is, first of all, just watch your thoughts. This is why meditation is so powerful. You sit there and as you’re thinking about things, you can watch what you’re thinking and you develop this witness and then you begin to go, wow, you know, I’m thinking this negative thought over and over. Whether it’s about money, there’s no magic, no available women in town or all the good jobs are taken. You know, I’m going to go bankrupt, going to die from COVID-19. You start seeing that, then you have to say, OK. There’s a lot of different questions you could ask yourself. The one the main one is this thought serving me? It’s not, you know, what would be. Then he could ask you, so where does this thought come from? Most of our thoughts come from our parents, from our schooling, withdraw from the culture we grew up in, perhaps from the church we go to, etc.. And then what’s the opposite thought? You know, the opposite of money is the root of all evil can be, money is the root of all philanthropy, money is the root of all generous giving in my family, money is the root of great education for my children. So, we start to shift the belief, what’s the opposite?
And then what we have to do is what would be the benefit of thinking this thought and start to see if I think this thought, where am I going to end up with? If I think that other thought, where am I going to end up? You know, now that I have this new thought, we have to implant it through repetition. Just like with the mirror exercise. Being yourself. So, this is where affirmations come through. So, you create the opposite thought. You know, I have everything I need to accomplish, anything I want instead of I’m stupid or I didn’t go to college or, you know, whatever. And then when you want to repeat that and why recommend it in the morning and right before you go to bed and what happens in the morning when you first get up, you’re kind of in that half-asleep, half-awake state. Great time. You have some three by five cards or your phone with your affirmations in it, whatever. Just read them. You can read them out loud. Read them with feeling. And then I recommend people close their eyes and see what their life would look like if they were to actually achieve it. You know, if you were living that life based on that belief, then do it again before you go to bed, because what you think about right before you go to bed, your subconscious is going to play with more through the night and into your hippocampus, into your memory. And unfortunately, most people are watching the negative news or they’re watching some terrible movie, which is a lot of violence. That’s what’s getting imprinted.
Cindra: I think that last part is really powerful about envisioning and doing some energy in visualization about what would my life look like if I believed this and even imagining that. And I’m thinking about how then that becomes shaping your identity and who you are, if you can continue to imagine yourself that way.
Jack: Exactly. You know, I think it was a Zig Ziglar said worrying is negative goal setting. It’s visualizing and thinking about the exact result you don’t want to. So, what you want to do when you find yourself in a negative belief or a negative thought or worrying thought is to ask yourself, what’s the opposite? What do I want to be experiencing? Focus on what you want, Martin Luther King said. Focus on what you want. Not what you don’t want. He didn’t give a speech called I have a Complaint. He gave a speech called I Have a Dream. And so, he had a lot to complain about. People were blowing up his church, trying to kill him, etc., threatening his family. And so, he said, I’m not going to focus on that. I’m going to focus on what I want the world to look like, where all the young boys and girls are judged not by the quality, by the color of their skin, but by the quality of their character. And have we achieved that fully yet? Obviously not. Are we further ahead than we were in the 1960s? Obviously, yes. So basically, we have to keep working toward and focusing on what we want. So always be spending your time talking about, thinking about visualizing, planning for the future you want, not what you don’t want.