Aaron: Alright. IÕm here with Leslie Stein. And IÕm really excited to have her on the line today. She has just an infectious excitement about life and I want to really look in forward to digging into her life and what makes her so happy and just so you can welcome to the call Leslie.
Leslie: Hey. Thanks Aaron. IÕm so excited to be here.
Aaron: Yeah. Well, you posted this thing on Facebook yesterday and just your enthusiasm about just even jumping on the call here. ItÕs just, itÕs just infectious like, where do you get that from?
Leslie: Well, I feel like thereÕs a little bit of me thatÕs just no actually that way and I didnÕt know that it was something that everybody can feel and so, I kind of like of get came right out of me for a while. I was in the army for several years and for (inaudible) I turned it down a bit. And once I realized it was a gift to be happy and that you have to actually, just like working out, you keep your muscle strong like, you have to use your happy muscles to keep them strong. So I choose it basically every single day. IÕll try to be happy today. IÕm always asking myself that question.
Aaron: That is awesome. So tell me then, why? And that may be part of it but why are you so thrilled to wake up every single day?
Leslie: Gosh. There are so many reasons. I recently started doing this hundred day photo challenge. ItÕs like a #100happydays. And, the statistics that drew me into that 71% of the people would not be able to finish the challenge of finding one happy moment every day for a hundred days. And itÕs really not statistic has (inaudible) me because I realized that specifically the last couple at least 3 or 4 years, I have shifted my focus in life to really asking myself what is great about today. WhatÕs happy about today? You know, what do I love about today? And so, I would think I only get to do one photo a day, that doesnÕt seem enough, right? Because I find so many things.
Aaron: Yeah. So you have one photo per day of a happy moment?
Leslie: Exactly. And it could be anything from having coffee in the morning to seeing a long lost friend like, people do all kinds of stuff. So, the # that you put it in like, Instagram or Facebook like you see all sorts of cool things.
Aaron: WhatÕs the # again?
Leslie: WhatÕs that?
Aaron: What was the #?
Leslie: The #?
Leslie: itÕs 100happydays
Aaron: Oh, okay.
Leslie: Yeah. And itÕs just really, IÕm on day like 87 right now. So, IÕm almost done with th e hundred days and itÕs just a great structure and I feel like, people who feel like they donÕt have enough happiness in their lives so that they would want to have more should point a structure like that. That I think part of what helps me to be happy was burrowing structures from other people and making up my own structure, that kind of made my lens that I looked through where the happiness instead of whereÕs the sadness or what structuring when thinking about your lens.
Aaron: So, the essence of, I mean, like you said, there are so many things that make life amazing but just your choice to choose to look for happiness daily like, as a conscious effort you started 4 years ago but which you continue to add new tools and try new things daily. Is that what it is?
Leslie: Absolutely. And I think the other things that really, thereÕs a couple of things that IÕve done that really shifted the way I look at the world, Aaron. And a lot of them you know, and a lot of times that I do this, IÕm sort of beyond obsessed with finding money on the ground, right. And it started several years ago because I found a $20 Bill on my walk home from work and I get a little happy then like, woo, free pedicure for me.
Leslie: And while I was getting the pedicure with about $20 to do that, I thought, what would happen if I pick up all the money I found? And so, for a year, I dedicated myself to doing that and picked up every Penny, Nickels, Dime, whatever I found, it doesnÕt matter if it was a gutter or under the bus seat on the metro bus when I used to in Washington D.C. I would go under there and get it. And, I started to have this shift of realizing I have been going through life looking for $20 Bill kind of happiness. Think of that. You know, like graduating from a program or you know, having a big birthday party like (inaudilble) like 30 or 40. And so, this project helps me shift to looking for happiness in Penny sized increment because after a few months of doing it, people started knowing that I was doing it and they thought a name and the name was the Penny Project because mostly thatÕs what you find.
Leslie: And so, thatÕs what it the way I look at happiness.
Aaron: What led you to that project? Like, what led you to think that you have to making that shift in doing that?
Leslie: Well, for the year that I found that $20 Bill, kind of coincided with some big shifts in my life and I had been living with a roommate. We kind of parted ways and I thought my own condo living on my own and it was a bit of a turbulent time for me and I called home a lot and my mom because weÕre very close and I would be crying that things werenÕt going well and she would say, have you met yourself? Like, you have a lot of great things happening like, a friend of mine has taken me to the Grammys that year. She said, you went to the Grammys. How is your life not at hand? And you know, of course, you never listen to your mom, right. We always have to argue like, mom, I would know if my life was at hand.
Aaron: Well, you didnÕt feel like it was at hand. There was some turbulence. I mean, you didnÕt feel like there was a disconnect.
Leslie: Exactly. Like, and sheÕs playing like one (inaudible) experience that IÕm like, that doesnÕt make a life at the time.
Aaron: Yeah. ThatÕs a good, thatÕs a really interesting insight there. I mean, and so, that goes to the point of your $20 thing. I mean, itÕs like, these $20, these experiences that we tend to strive for and want to make these memories around doesnÕt actually make life at hand. ThatÕs what you find out?
Leslie: Exactly. And they donÕt happen that often. Like, youÕre not going to graduate from college more than a couple of times. It makes you lucky. You graduate once and then get a couple of degrees but, thereÕs only so many times that you can do those kind of what I call Ņpeak $20 BillÓ moments. And so, my mom said to me in that call before I hung up on her, did it ever occur to you that life doesnÕt have to be a 10 every day? But then, if you have 7 plus a 7 plus a 7 and then a 10 every now and then, you actually have a life such a 10, and I said, you know, IÕm not buying your new mMth. I donÕt know what you mean. This is stupid. IÕm done with the conversation. So I went off and looked a bit more. But it was in the back of my head like, what does that mean?
Aaron: So, you didnÕt agree with her and do you agree with he now?
Leslie: I didnÕt agree with her at the time. I thought that was stupid. I donÕt buy your new Math. This is ridiculous. But I started thinking about it and I was about 6 or 7 Months end to picking up Penny to that point and just started thinking about this whole Penny journey right now and I thought, well, okay, so, $20 Bill or any paper money, thatÕs a big experience. When you find paper money, itÕs pretty rare. It only happens unless itÕs the time of the year, IÕve been tracking this for 8 Years now. It only happens once a year and you are pretty excited. Paper money, thatÕs a 10, right?
Leslie: You find a Quarter, thatÕs still a big deal. ThatÕs a 9. Like, (inaudible) are 8, but Pennies to me are still a 7. Like, I give a little like, woohoo, I found one. I track it all on a spreadsheet, IÕve been tracking every Penny from beginning of 2007 and
Aaron: And youÕre still doing this today?
Leslie: And I realize that, whatÕs that?
Aaron: Are you still doing this today?
Leslie: Oh yeah. I couldnÕt give it up. I almost quit after the first year but the other people that I got involved with were learning all these from lessons and they were enjoying picking up money. So, we kept it going. And, what I learned that year, that my momÕs Math was actually right. So, I crossed that first year. I found over $32, mostly in Pennies. I found a $5 Bill and a couple of $1 Bills. So, I had a couple of peak moments, thatÕs 10 but it was mostly Pennies. And it was more than that $20 experience at the beginning.
Aaron: So youÕre saying, of this small stuff that you had earned, youÕd only found $32 and youÕd only found $20 peak experiences? I mean, of the big bills? Is that what you said?
Leslie: Well, that wasnÕt even including the $20.
Leslie: So, I found the $20 and thatÕs what kind of prompts you the project but from January 1st to December 31st of that first year, outside of the $20, I still found $32. More than I had actually found to take off the project.
Aaron: Yeah, interesting. So, what was it that you learned from that?
Leslie: So, I learned that, I never again, I still, 7 Years had never found another $20 Bill. So, I was living my life looking for $20 Bills. If I had done that for the last 7 years, I think IÕve been really disappointed, right? because it never has again happened.
Leslie: But, I stopped doing that and focused on the smallest increment of money I could find, right? Which is a Penny. I find them, maybe not daily but definitely weekly and by carrying my passion, other people looked for money and even though IÕve never found another $20 Bill, other people in my life have. My dad even found $250 on the ground.
Aaron: ThatÕs funny.
Leslie: So, by sharing my passion, other people gets to have these cool finds because their (inaudible) has shifted. And I find other things outside of money. I found 2 iPods, 2 wrist watches, a pair of sunglasses. I found some great stuff but none of it is what I had originally set out looking for.
Aaron: So, you ended up writing a book about this, right?
Leslie: Yeah. I actually did. ItÕs called ŅPenny PerspectiveÓ and itÕs 34 life lessons on how to look at the world the Penny way. Like, how do you find incremental happiness, right?
Aaron: Yeah. ThatÕs fascinating. So, 34 life lessons, how you look at the world the Penny way. Is that the sub title?
Leslie: The sub title is actually, let go of happily ever after and invest in happily ever now.
Aaron: I like that.
Leslie: So, I feel like that was another kind of lesson that Penny has thought me was you know, you donÕt know what youÕre going to find tomorrow. You canÕt predict Penny finding. You canÕt assume youÕre going to find it in a certain place. So, all you can do is be present and open to finding whatever is there or not finding something if thereÕs nothing there. And by doing that, like, itÕs hilarious. People will write to me and my gosh, we found $4 in airport security and usually, we hate flying and this made it so much more fun.
Leslie: So, people make open and present, they found ways to have fun in places they hate. Like, how cool is that?
Aaron: ThatÕs awesome. So, itÕs just focusing on that positive. I love how you put that into this, I love the concept to that Penny perspective thing. The whole, itÕs one of the definitions that I live by on. 1 of the 12 Pillars of a truly amazing life is to succeed right now. And that success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal and it just really fits. ThatÕs what youÕre talking about that these, like, we tend to as a society or me personally, it was exactly like what you did. I put these big milestones that I was always trying to achieve these big things. But then, there are all these struggle and trudging along, drudgery in the middle there, right? And you hit this one goal but the goal is never even that as satisfying. YouÕre just living your whole life in the struggle rather than, look, IÕm successful today because I took one step forward towards my vision and IÕm happy about it.
Leslie: ThatÕs amazing.
Aaron: I just fit so perfectly with your perspective there. What are some of the other perspectives in your book that youÕve come up some of those insights?
Leslie: One of my favorite ones was this whole chapter about inconvenience joy. And this happened to me when I was walking home. I used to live in Washington DC. And so, you know, you didnÕt drive anywhere. You always walked everywhere. And the grocery store was about 6 blocks away. And I had intended to just buy a few things. There was that weird time of that year where you need a coat in the morning but youÕre roasting by mid afternoon. And so, I have my big heavy coat and my little reusable grocery bag and I go to the store and of course, everything I use all the time is on sale. Like, a ridiculously good sale. So, I way more spend that I really needed or that I plan on buying I guess. When I have these 2 heave grocery bags now and a coat thatÕs making me like, (inaudible) in the heat. When walking home and on the ground of course because I notice them all the time, I see a Penny. And my first thought is that, oh yey a Penny. My first thought is like, really universe? YouÕre going to give me a Penny right now when I have these 2 big bags? And I kind of roll my eyes in my find. So, I sat down the bags, pick up the Penny, I take about 10 more steps, I find another Penny, I go through the same thing again. And thatÕs like another block on the way, I find a couple more Pennies and this time I was like, I had this realization, I was like, you know whatÕs so funny? I want what I want but I want it exactly when and how I want it, right? And so, but actually getting mad at the universe for giving me Pennies which is what IÕve been asking for every single day for the last 2 or 3 Years. But it feels inconvenient to me at this moment but it is exactly what I wanted. It was this fun realization that sometimes like, you really have to put down the baggage youÕre carrying. Like, I had actually physical baggage, but sometimes we have emotional baggage that blocks us from getting the things weÕve really wanted all along.
Aaron: ThatÕs a powerful insight. What would be an example of that? Like, from the emotional baggage standpoint. You have any thoughts on that?
Leslie: Well, I mean, for me, I would say that the place I traveled the most on my life is dating. And IÕm still single, turning 40 on my next birthday and I have a cat like, it doesnÕt get any more clichˇ than that. IÕm like, what am I doing wrong? IÕve got to be successful and happy everywhere else but I canÕt figure out dating. I think itÕs because a lot of times like I have some kind of emotional baggage or fear around being hurt or you know, I had my heart broken once or twice. So, you bring that boy with you. And so now, I look at people, IÕm like, oh you couldnÕt possibly hurt me in the future. So, I better not deal with you now. ItÕs kind of like, I donÕt want to put down those bags and risking hurt again.
Aaron: Even though this love of your life is showing up and maybe has shown up 10 times but because youÕve had this big baggage, you werenÕt willing to, it wasnÕt the way that you could see wanting it or.
Leslie: Exactly. Like, oh he doesnÕt have the job that I thought my dream guy would have or he doesnÕt look like my dream guy would look or you know.
Aaron: Or itÕs just the wrong time that youÕre too busy with this right now or whatever right?
Leslie: Exactly. Oh, my schedule is not open so it must not be meant to be or heÕs too busy or it wasnÕt meant to be so, all these little reasons that are easy to use as excuses but, itÕs really a matter of like, am I really willing to put the bags down and take the risk and say, I really like you and I want to see if this works.
Aaron: Yeah. And in that case,
Leslie: And be open to the (inaudible) or not?
Aaron: Yeah. And in that case, what youÕre talking about too is something thatÕs quite deeper actually where a lot of us donÕt recognize that weÕve been carrying that baggage that is stopping us from seeing.
Aaron: And the fact that youÕve recognized that is a huge first step that a lot of us. I mean, I know personally, thereÕs baggage that IÕm carrying that I donÕt even know that IÕm carrying that is stopping me, thatÕs inhibiting me and IÕm kind of on a mission constantly to be uprooting those things so that I can expand my options. But, I just want to point that out because sometimes itÕs clear that weÕre carrying a baggage but other times, not so much.
Leslie: Oh, absolutely. And itÕs really to me itÕs become kind of fun and funny when I realize, IÕm like, oh my gosh, IÕve been carrying this baggage and I didnÕt even know how much it was getting in my way. And so now, itÕs like, when somebody points something out to me or was asking me a question or catches me off guard or giving me advice that seemed out of context, IÕm like, okay, where is the useful piece of that? Because everything that we encounter has something useful in it and a lot of times itÕs this frustrating moments that make you realize youÕre carrying around baggage you didnÕt even know you were carrying.
Aaron: Yeah. I like how you said Ņeverything we encounter has something usefulÓ and it goes with this quote from Napoleon Hill that has kind of always gotten me for a long time Ņthat every adversity, there is this seed of an equal opposite advantageÓ and it also what led to kind of the whole, my whole feeling for the basis of kind of what I teach in the truly amazing life community that everything is conspiring for your benefit because you can choose to look for the good in every single thing.
Leslie: Absolutely. I had a friend once had read like advanced Philosophy book and the main principle that she took away, IÕm sure this mean that everything happens for the best possible reason.
Leslie: Not just any old reason, it doesnÕt just happen not random but everything happens for the best possible reason.
Leslie: And thereÕs people that use that philosophy but hereÕs what I know, when I started believing that and trying it on for size, I felt that went bad, Ņbad things would happenÓ
Aaron: Yeah, things that seemed that. Yeah.
Leslie: I would say, oh, go ahead.
Aaron: Yeah. That seemed bad on the outside.
Leslie: Yeah. Exactly. Like, you know, for instance. I got in a car accident once and it has like totaled my car and that is a pretty you know, bad thing right and so, not really fun to deal with. And IÕve asked myself, you know, okay, if this happens for the best possible reason, whatÕs the possibility here? The car is already wrecked. I cannot undo that, I cannot use the law of attraction to reverse it to make my car whole again. ItÕs not going to work so, all I can choose now is my attitude. So, I want to have a wrecked car at a bad attitude or do I want to have a wrecked car and a good attitude. So I ended up, while we were waiting for the cop calling the guy who hit me my Penny story and he had giving me like a whole change trade full of Pennies for the project and the cop came and we had our picture taken together holding the Pennies that became this great story and now use when I speak. And my car, look, I was driving a 1997 Gio Prism with no (inaudible). So it wasnÕt like it was the best car in the world in the world anyway. The car ended up getting so much more money from being totaled that I could have ever sold it for that it ended up being a good thing in the long run. It made me let go of this car that really didnÕt suit me anymore instead of something that is so much better to suit my personality and where I am today. I ended up getting a new car that I love. And so, it was like, all of that like, none of that is would have happened if it werenÕt for the car accident. So when I tried on that theory of everything happens for the best possible reason, my little amendment to that is and you may not see that reason immediately. It may take a day or a week or a year for the reason to be obvious. But keep looking for it.
Aaron: Or never. I mean, you might not see it while youÕre alive.
Aaron: Like, literally. And that doesnÕt change the fact that itÕs such a more fun life to live looking for the good than sitting there dwelling on the negatives that whole time.
Leslie: Well, I feel it got ties to what you just said about be successful today. Like, when IÕm looking for the good and myself and other people and the situation, to me, that feels like success.
Aaron: Yeah. And it is success because you are looking for itÕs like, itÕs a noble thing in looking for how you can make good instead of dwelling on this negative. ThatÕs really cool .I love that insight. Love your stories on that with the car and the money and stuff. So, I want to go back a little bit because you, I think youÕve probably got just some cool stories in the past and I havenÕt heard them, havenÕt dug into them but I know you were in the army at one point and I donÕt imagine I mean, before you started Penny project and getting all these insights. Has your life always been, have you always woken up thrilled each day and then super enthusiastic about life or has it been different in the past?
Leslie: Oh no. There are definitely times. I think we all go through these you know, whenever we want to say, itÕs a test or a trial, whatever it is. Life happens and when you havenÕt built your happiness muscles, it can be kind of devastating to me at times and I can think of one particular period of my life where I graduated high school, when straight to West Point which is the military academy because a mission into the army out of there and you donÕt go to West Point if youÕre not driven and a high day personality and an over fear. And youÕve probably failed a whole lot.
Aaron: What drove you into going into West Point? What was that motivating factor for you at that time?
Leslie: I was drawn to the camaraderie and the idea of working like for something greater than myself service my country, being a team, like, being part of a team, doing something that really matters. And that was just amazing. So, I go off to West Point, I do my thing. I have some ups and downs you know, I failed the physical fitness exam once and you know, burst into tears because I hadnÕt failed anything before but you know, I got through those times. I graduated, things were good. I head off to flight school because I had chosen to aviation as my branch in the army and I struggled. Like, for whatever reason, I just could not see into, things didnÕt come easy in flight school as they had everywhere else in my life. So, I failed the check ride and then I failed another check ride again. After you failed 2, they send you in front of a Kernel who determines whether theyÕre going to let you stay or if theyÕre going to kick you out. And so, I mean, youÕve experienced, probably most of you listeners too. When you failed something or youÕve done something wrong, youÕre already beating yourself up worse than anyone will ever could. Like, youÕre already kicking you own butt for making a mistake. So, IÕm standing in front f this Kernel in a meeting whoÕs kind of determining my future. IÕm either going to get like, well, try again, or IÕm going to have to tell everyone I know that I bailed out.
Aaron: Did they send you on to a different program and kick you out or whatever? Exactly.
Leslie: They kick you out and send you to a different branch. Yeah. I tell people what happened. So, IÕm standing there sweating, not in my stomach, (inaudible) on dry throat you know, whatever. And he sits down and heÕs like, you know, (inaudible) I got to tell you, weÕre going to let you stay on the program. I was actually, oh my gosh, it was like instant relief that I was like, thank goodness. But then he said something after that that was the biggest punch in the stomach I think I ever had in my life. And he said, I feel sorry for the unit that gets you next because you are a liability, not an asset. Now, get out of my office.
Aaron: Wow, yeah.
Leslie: I didnÕt know what to do with that. Like, here was this person that I respected and admired and leader telling me that IÕm a liability.
Leslie: So, that probably put a big dark cloud over me for quite a while because I believe that, I mean, he was already, he was a kernel, I was a lieutenant. What do I know that he doesnÕt know? So, I left that office believing and thinking to myself over and over again, IÕm a liability, not an asset. IÕm a liability, not an asset. It was a good couple of years though. It took me until I hit some people that was kind of like, you know what, youÕre not a liability, we want having you on our unit. Your positivity makes difference to us. And, they kind of help me shake that off and realize that who I am matters and I canÕt let one person to (inaudible) on me hold me back.
Aaron: But, thatÕs a really, you know, you just breezed through a couple of years. I mean, thatÕs, a couple of years is not a short time period.
Aaron: To be living in the dark cloud of self loathing and lack of confidence. I mean, if youÕre thinking youÕre a liability and believing that, what were those 2 years like?
Leslie: Well, I (inaudible) a little bit like Jaclyn Hyde because thereÕs a part of me thatÕs happy and canÕt turn it off. Like, my inner Tigger like hikes out from place to place, you know. But then, I feel like, so when he said, youÕre a liability, it was like, that has to be a liability, I canÕt be happy maybe thatÕs the problem. And so, even though I naturally kind of wanted to be happy, I would make myself wrong for being happy. And so it was very late, there were days that I forgot he said it and then I would remember. I would kind of be like a downward spiral. And then I forget, I kind of get happy again. So, it was kind of a Jaclyn Hyde. It was like almost like my own battle of good and evil inside of myself, which voice am I going to listen to.
Aaron: Well, because thereÕs one voice, the truth saying that youÕre amazing and thatÕs like, you love life.
Aaron: And then, thereÕs this voice, that lie, thatÕs sitting there in complete opposition to that.
Leslie: Absolutely. And I think itÕs one of the best like, little story that IÕve heard is about, itÕs a Native American story I believe where a man and his grandson are sitting around the fire and the grandfatherÕs telling the grandson about this battle that is inside of every man that there is two wolves. One wolf that is amazing, that is enlightening, goodness and love and hope and inside, every man has another wolf thatÕs dark and angry and spiteful and mean and that battle is constantly going on. And the grandson asked the grandfather, weÕll who wins the battle grandfather? And he says, whichever wolf you feed. And so, there were days that I fed that dark wolf you know. ItÕs like, it must be true. IÕm not good enough. And of course, when IÕm not good enough, I slash out on other people. YouÕre not good enough. This is not good enough. Nothing is good enough. And I wasnÕt necessarily super fun to be around. IÕm very fortunate I have people in my life including my family that remember who I was before hearing all these kind of things, right? And so, they would kind of bring me back and help me feed the good wolf again. Like, youÕre awesome, we love you, youÕre amazing, weÕre so happy youÕre on our family and great friends and these things, I will feed that wolf and then over time I started to learn those triggers that made you feed that dark wolf. And so, once you say like, oh itÕs a choice, but there are certain things that make me choose the dark wolf, you start being more aware of it and awareness is like a light you know, itÕs like, shine light on it and like, cockroach is scattering. All of a sudden, things start going away and
Aaron: The darkness and light canÕt really abide together.
Leslie: No. They canÕt.
Aaron: So, you had people that help you remember that but it was this, that sound kind of like an epic battle and it was not literally until 2 years later that you kind of pull out of that completely or more hopefully?
Leslie: I mean, I was like, getting out of the army, getting the out of that environment probably helped just over all, you know, and there were still things like, learning about spirituality and all sorts of different things I studied and now, itÕs this still, I didnÕt know it was a choice then. I didnÕt understand that I could choose not to feed the dark wolf. And so, over time, I was realizing that even that everything was a choice. You are not a victim of your emotions, you are not a victim of whatever happens to the world. It may or may not happen. You get to choose how you react to it. And so, knowing that I have that choice, and exercising the muscle. In some days you know what, IÕm like feeding the dark wolf today. I need a (inaudible) day. And I just allow myself that. ItÕs part of being human you know. Be upset, be annoyed, just donÕt park your car in that parking lot forever.
Aaron: Yeah. ItÕs like, IÕve had these battles between, and I donÕt think. ItÕs not like that battle ever ends in life. ThereÕs always going to be that negativity, that negative force there. And IÕve called it just truth and lies. Like the dark wolf is lies, and the good wolf is truth. And it was interesting, I was, this long note. I was writing the other day. I was really feeling oppressed by some lies. Some of these lies about myself that were just like comparison in judgement and after I had left this really great seminar with other like, entrepreneur peers and stuff and I wasnÕt feeling like I was living up. So these lies were kind of like getting overwhelming and I just had this little battle on paper with against the lies and so, itÕs funny, i like the analogy of the good wolf and the bad wolf that puts it like a more personal, I could really relate to that battle that you were going through. And when I did it, it was like, I just literally was just slayed. It was like this epic battle where I called myself out to battle against these lies and I like slayed them with the sword of the truth and it just like took them down. It was really cool. I think I might publish some of that on the blog. It was really intense. I was laughing about it afterwards but, weÕll see if it ends up being published or not. But anyway, I wanted to ask you those. So when, what was it that shifted because that sounds like, that was definitely an important thing for you in your life. You needed that experience to teach you about choice and to teach you who you really are or have that battle to go through and what was it that, is there like a turning point of getting out of that like when you realized that you have a choice? Was it like slow progression out of it? What was it like to get out of? Until
Leslie: Interesting like, I heard someone say once, if you can suffer a trauma and think you can recover from that trauma in an instant. I think thereÕs a lot of truth to that and I know that sometimes, itÕs a slower path. Like, you make the choice to start moving in that direction but youÕre not ready to move in to it fully, yeah. And so, your baby stuff, you know, itÕs like, IÕm going to take one step forward and okay that worked, now take a few steps and see how it does work, that 3 steps that eventually youÕll pick up speed. So, I would say thereÕs a lot of things in life that kind of shifted me that were baby stuff in that direction. But honestly, the thing that, the most drastic change in my life that I can remember was I had gone through a break up and I had kind of moved around. That was another period like, I felt you know, the dark wolf was getting fed a lot, that IÕm not worthy, IÕm not lovable, nobodyÕs going to want to marry me, like, all of those voices were screaming at my head and I heard them, right? And so,
Aaron: When you say you fed that, when you say you fed them, what does that mean? Or kind of whatÕs your picture of how do you feed them or not feed them?
Leslie: Again, IÕm not a hundred percent sure that I knew it was a choice. It was like, yeah, I have been dumped and thereÕs no other choice but to just be moby and sad about it. And so, I didnÕt know that I could re-channel my thoughts effectively like, of course, that initial thing of like, nobody loves me is going to come up. And instead of like this following this train of thought blindly, now, IÕm like, nobodyÕs going to love me. I stop and IÕm like, okay, where is the opposite of that true in my life? Like, my parents love me so much, theyÕre so awesome, like my sister, best sister in the world. My trainer became my best friend. Like, you know, itÕs like, (inaudible) my partner and so I start, I asked myself, okay, that could very well be true but where is that not true? And that lead me more towards getting that positive wolf. And so,
Aaron: So, through that break up, you were saying like, there was something that happened there. Was that when you realized that you had a choice or was?
Leslie: Yeah. I think that something about, what happened was I took a trip to South Africa with my family and we did the Safari. And honestly, we just traveled for 36 Hours to get there. We took our first night Safari right after getting there and put our bags down and theyÕre like, get the people going now. And so we went out and saw zebras and giraffe and all these amazing animals and the guys were just so happy. And, I turned to my mom and I know this sounds crazy because weÕve been here whopping 4 Hours after traveling for 36. But, I feel like IÕve already gone my moneyÕs worth out of this trip. Sure, itÕs been 1 night Safari. And so, we just kept experiencing that day after day with these people that they appreciated everything about where they live. They appreciated to opportunity to be around tourists, for the animals, for the land and it was just, IÕve never been around so much gratitude in my life. Everywhere, I mean, every person was like that. And, on that trip, my sister and I, you know, we had been normal siblings, weÕve fought over stupid stuff and sometimes not so stupid stuff. And you know, smack each otherÕs hands and like, we would get a little fat and itÕs tiring. ItÕs tiring to be that way with people. And so, I sat down with her one night when we were on the bed and breakfast. It was after the Safari which was exhausting and before the next they go to trip. And I said, how can I be a better sister? That was when I asked her. How can I be a better sister? And, for the first time in my life I think, I was ready to hear the hard things I didnÕt want to hear about where I wasnÕt being so nice and where I was being supportive. But I opened the door for her to tell me and then for her, turned around and asked the same question. How can I be a better sister? And so I said, well, maybe this and maybe that and that was 6 years ago. And, this is not a stretch or lie. We have not one single harsh word taken with each other and say youÕre not one. And it was all because we were willing to say whether you need to be a better sister. You know, how can I support you better. And for some reason, I forgot in that conversation made me realize, you always have a choice. When these people choose to be happy every day, I chose out my sister to question and listen to the answer. She chose to ask back. Like, you know.
Aaron: ThatÕs truly cool.
Leslie: We all have a choice.
Aaron: So, itÕs like all these combination, your experience that had led you to go over there in Africa where these lessons could really sink in and really hit home. And then, you just made like, in one moment, a whole lifetime of bickering kind of heaviness between your sister has shifted completely.
Leslie: Completely. And I think the mindset that happens for me which is like, wow, even when I am not perceiving that she had my best interest in heart, she really does. Like, I started looking at her and sheÕs amazing. IÕm still lucky to have her as a sister. And when I start feeding that wolf and making that the story, now IÕm like, how am I lucky to have a good day. Like, oh, I havenÕt heard from her for a week. And then and thereÕs like a short text message like, hi, and thatÕs all that is says. ThereÕs a lot of different stories that you can write about that.
Leslie: How come you donÕt talk to me all week? Why is your text message so short?
Aaron: It could be all the negative. Yeah.
Leslie: You know. Or you can write that says, holy crap, youÕre a really busy woman with a baby and a husband and a fulltime job and you still found the time to still send me a text message. How awesome is that?
Aaron: I love that exact example because itÕs so clearly articulates of how much of a choice it is and how we, based on our own deep perceptions in our own moods and everything we cast. All these judgments on other peopleÕs things and we can choose to be looking on the negative. We donÕt realize weÕre doing it. So, I mean, but even then, on the other side. Even if she was like, regardless of what her intent was, just for your, I mean, if you look for the positive side of it, you still, even if somebody has negative intent, you still donÕt have to be affected if youÕre looking at the positive.
Leslie: Exactly, exactly. ItÕs that whole, like I said, be successful now. When I find the positive intent, when I write the best story that makes me happy, these people that say like, but what if itÕs not true? What if youÕre getting taken advantage? IÕm like, how am I getting taken advantage of it at the moment where when I think about my sister, I love her and her to me. That doesnÕt feel like getting taken advantage of being taken advantage of. You know, it feels like choosing happiness. So, IÕm less interested in truth and more interested in free that make life happy.
Leslie: And the more you write that story, the more it comes true.
Aaron: Yeah. ItÕs like youÕre more interested in making happiness your truth rather than making negativity your truth and your reality.
Leslie: Absolutely. A hundred percent.
Aaron: I mean, that reminded me of that song by the dude that happy song, what was his name? Farrell Williams or something.
Aaron: Farrell. Yeah. Is that how you say that?
Aaron: You know, clap along if you feel that happiness is the truth. And thatÕs kind of youÕre living.
Aaron: YouÕve chosen to live the truth that is in the sense of what youÕre experiences and I just love these stories in your life and what youÕve just illustrated for people here. ItÕs just such a great example of how you choose that, really refreshing to hear. IÕm really, really glad that we got to chat about this stuff. Thank you so much for sharing all that.
Leslie: Oh. Thanks for having me here. I love what youÕre doing and I think it is a truly amazing life and sounds like, ooh, any chance I can get people to shift to that story that feels better, I will take it. So, IÕm always glad to have conversations like this.
Aaron: ThatÕs so cool. IÕm really glad to have you. LetÕs wrap up and just tell people how they can get in touch with you and learn more about you, to get your book. Can you direct people to your website or any place to get in touch with you if they want to?
Leslie: Absolutely. The easiest one is, I have a website that is just my name so, www.lesliestein.com and that will take you to all the links to the different things I have projects for women of leadership and I have information about the Penny Project. You can find links to the book, buying it on Amazon and all of that right there on the website. So, I would like to be friends just to stop by and say hi on Facebook. That you can find me on Facebook to view my website and so I kind of live and breathe and share all my positive (inaudible) and everything else.
Aaron: Awesome. Thanks for sharing that. And so, for everybody listening, go to lesliestein.com and IÕm going to put links to this also on this show notes in case you canÕt hear it right or whatever. So, if you go to trulyamazinglife.com/podcast and you click on this episode, will open up link to LeslieÕs website and her Facebook and link to her book and everything over there. So, you can check her out and get more insights from her and IÕd be curious to hear what people think about your book and those insights. IÕm sure thereÕs a ton more we talked about one of them but, I bet thereÕs a (inaudible) really cool insights over there and thatÕs fascinating so, awesome Leslie. Well, thank you so much and thank you everybody for listening and weÕll see if you can catch on the next episode.
2:22 – 100 Happy Days.
5:43 – These big experiences that we tend to strive for and want to make these memories around doesnÕt actually make life a 10.
8:33 – I never again, I still, in 7 Years have never found another $20 bill.
10:36 – They found ways to have fun in places they hate.
13:07 – IÕm actually getting mad in the Universe for giving me Pennies which IÕve been asking for every single day
15:54 – IÕve been carrying this baggage and I didnÕt even know how much it was getting in my way.
20:34 – when you havenÕt built you happiness muscles, it can become devastating
22:51 – You are a liability, not an asset.
27:20 – Everything has a choice. You are not a victim of emotions, you are not a victim of whatever happens in the world.
31:49 – A trip to South Africa with my family
35:35 – Even if somebody has negative intent, you still donÕt have to be affected if youÕre looking at the positive.