How to Benefit From Bad Things

Want more actionable ideas every week?

Join millions of readers and subscribe to The Breakthrough newsletter below.

No spam or unexpected emails. Ever.

100 people had breakthroughs so far this week. Will one of them be you?

One thing for you to think about

The optimal amount of most “bad” things in life is usually greater than zero:

  • A little bit of selfishness is better than none (it helps you care for yourself)
  • A little bit of anxiety is often better than none (it shows it matters)
  • A little bit of self-doubt is definitely better than none (see: Kanye)

What else?

Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

Two things for you to ask yourself

Have you been frustrating yourself by trying to eliminate your negative experiences instead of simply better managing them? If so, how?

Where in your life could you actually benefit from a few more negative experiences? How have you been avoiding them?

Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

Three things for you to try this week

Seek out a productive conflict. Seek out some productive anxiety. Seek out a little bit of productive selfishness. Did the world end? Probably not.

Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. Reply to this email and let me know how it went for you.

Last week’s breakthroughs

Last week’s email asked you to focus on what you can add to your life: a new hobby, a new friend, a new skill. Since The Breakthrough began, many of you have started a journaling practice. Here’s Stefanie on how hers is going:

Prompted by one of your emails, I decided that I was going to really ‘get into’ journaling this year and that I would choose to value it and use it as a place to reflect on life/express emotions etc.

I went out and bought a really lovely, posh journal and a stupidly expensive ‘special’ pen, and I haven’t looked back. I have made a routine of writing in my journal each night and it’s something I look forward to each day. It’s time and space for me to take a moment and reflect. It helps me keep track of my goals and it’s a good space to acknowledge the things I’m grateful for. Choosing to do this and value it is definitely adding to my life. I like getting your weekly journal prompts too—great food for thought!

While Varga is revamping his approach to relationships:

All my life, I thought that to get to know more people and develop new friendships and relationships, you had to go to pubs and parties, but most of these friendships and relationships turned out to be either shallow and meaningless, or straight up toxic. Lately I started to go to the gym, picked up swimming classes, and started doing yoga. The connection with these people started to become a lot better, even though we don’t hang out as much, because everybody has a life.

Today, I got a library card and joined a hiking group, and I also signed up for the first trip together which will take place later this month.

Wish me luck!

Other things readers added to their lives last week include practicing self-reflection, signing up for classes at the local college, starting therapy, reading more, and a bunch of people joining me on the non-drinking bandwagon.

Last but not least, here are some helpful tips for starting a new habit from a busy parent whose goal is to lose weight and live more healthily:

A couple weeks ago, I recalled that in the past, when I have spent a lot of time working out, for some reason, it seems to change my eating habits. A keystone habit of sorts. I’m not sure why that’s the case but it seemed to work. It also has been one of the most difficult things to work into my routine since having two kids in six years. I’m tired. It’s busy. Kids require a lot of attention and by the time they’re in bed, I’m exhausted.

Recently though, I’m just so fed up with this problem and feeling horrible, I found the motivation to do something about it. Checklists really seem to motivate me so I made a big chart for the next three months laying out an exercise plan. Every day I have to check off on that sheet and it’s a visual reminder to keep the streak going. Subsequently, it does really help with my overeating problem and I seem to choose healthier foods when I make a healthy choice with exercise. I have decided that if I can keep to my exercise plan for three months (hopefully enough to build a habit) that I will buy a mandolin I’ve been eyeing for quite some time but don’t really need. This also motivates me. My wife also knows the deal so I can’t get away with skipping a day.

It sounds silly, but small visual cues like a checklist can actually affect our motivation quite a bit. I’ve written before about the importance of keystone habits, rewards, and accountability when building habits, and I was glad to see this reader implement them well.

As always, send your breakthroughs by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.

Until next week,

Mark Manson

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author
My WebsiteMy BooksMy YouTube Channel