148 – Happiness and Forgivess Featuring Laura and Mark Tong

Highlights from today’s show…

  1. Dr. Dave has two special guests on today’s show! Have you ever heard of a “happiness freak”?
  2. Laura and Mark share how to be happy. 
  3. Dr. Dave, Laura, and Mark discuss forgiveness and how it can be affecting your happiness. 

Hey! Welcome back to The David Madow Lifestyle Show. This is the show where I help you live stronger, thinner, healthier, happier, and a lot more. As a matter of fact I want to share this with you. We’ve been doing this for about 3 years now. We talk about everything from eating, exercise, happiness, forgiveness, meditation, and yoga. We talk about so many things. But it seems to me that whenever I do a show that has the word happiness in the title, for some reason the number of listens and the number of downloads goes crazy. It goes to show you that we as human beings want to be happy. So I’m thinking, is happiness the most important thing in our lives? I have been talking about this for quite some time and I believe that it is. No matter what we eat or how many yoga poses we do, it seems to me that we just want to be happy.

Be sure to follow my LIVE daily broadcasts on Periscope at www.periscope.tv/davidmadow.

I did some research and I found the two greatest happiness experts on the planet. They are guests on my show today. Their names are Laura and Mark Tong. And they are actually “happiness freaks”. That’s what they call themselves! In fact, their website is postivelyhappy.me .

Dr. Dave: “Welcome Laura and Mark! How are you doing?”

Laura: “Thank you so much David. We are doing fine. And thank you for having us here.”

Mark: “Absolutely fabulous tonight!”

Laura: “You’ve really racked up the pressure now haven’t you calling us experts? C’mon!”

Dr. Dave: “Well, then you’ve got to live up to that. (chuckling). Share with my listeners just a little bit about you. Including that you don’t sound like you’re in America. It seems to me that you are across some big body of water. So tell us where you are and what you do.”

Laura: “Yes, it’s a giveaway isn’t it? We are in England just a little north of London. In this beautiful green pocket of woods, trees, and wildlife which makes us very very happy. As you said our site is postivelyhappy.me because that’s what we are all about. We are about all positivity and happiness.”

Dr. Dave: Mark, did you have anything to add or was that a good enough intro for the purpose of this show?”

Mark: “That was definitely a good intro. I think so, yes!”

Dr. Dave: “I think she actually did a fantastic intro. So let’s talk about happiness. You heard my intro and it really is true that whenever I do a show that has the word happiness in the title I get a ton of listens and a ton of downloads. Which leads me to believe that people are more interested in how to be happier than their weight or the way they look or the way they feel. So, do you think that most people are happy? And how can we even tell if we’re happy? Is there some sort of measurement? How do I know if I am happy right now? I’m smiling…”

Mark: “I think there’s a bit of confusion. The thing about the word happiness is that everyone has a different interpretation about what happiness means. For us happiness, I suppose in some ways, almost always translates into contentment. Unlike day to day happiness which always goes up and down. The ancient Greeks saw happiness as a completely different thing. They saw happiness as the sum of your life. In fact, a lot of great philosophers have said that you couldn’t tell if you had been happy in life until the day that you died. That was their view. So really I think it’s a much bigger thing than I think that people look at it now. People think am I happy? Am I smiling? Am I happy in the present moment? That’s not really what we’re about at all. Happiness is a much larger deeper thing than you just had a nice beer and you’re feeling quite relaxed. That’s not where we’re at.”

Dr. Dave: “Laura do you have anything to add to that or did Mark pretty much sum that up?”

Laura: “Well I’ve gotta say he did sum that up but I do have something to add actually. The thing about happiness is that people do confuse it with contentment very much. And I think there’s also a huge pressure on happiness. I think people worry about the fact that they’re not happy and I think they get confused about what happiness actually is. Whereas what I would say is that Mark and I, we’ve set our lives up to be happy. So if we look at something and it isn’t going to make us happy, we don’t do it. For a lot of people, and this is in no way judgemental, but a lot of people will say that the important thing is money and having a proper house and a proper car. We’ve tried that and it didn’t make us happy. We gave it all up. So people might look at us now and think that we’re not doing so well with cars and houses. But to us, it’s very much a conscious thing. It doesn’t make us happy. We’ve tried all that. We didn’t enjoy it in any way. We live a very simple life and we are extraordinarily happy. It’s a choice. That’s what happiness is. It’s choices. You need to decide what makes you happy. Or you need to go and explore and have fun and decide what makes you happy. And then when you find it you need to go with it to be happy.”

Mark: “I think one of the really big problems is that you’re taught from school age on and it’s thrust down your throat what is going to make you happy. Then by the time you are an adult, you have very little idea for yourself what is going to make you happy. So you go and do what is supposed to make you happy and for some people it works. But for other people it doesn’t work. Which kinda comes back to your question David, are people happy? I think people could be happy or a lot happier if they stopped trying to fit themselves into this sort of one happiness fits all model. I don’t think one happiness fits all. Happiness is different for everybody.”

Laura: “Let me ask you a question David, if I may. As you said, how would you know if you’re happy right now? Do you think you’re happy right now?”

Dr. Dave: “Laura that’s a great question. And I am totally going to answer it but before I answer the question I want to share something with you. A few years ago I ran into an old friend of mine that made some life changes. He moved to another city and I think his job was a little bit different. And I said to him John, you’ve made all these changes but are you happy now? And he looked at me in the eye and I’ll never forget these words, he said to me I think I’m happy. Just like that. That to me said he’s not happy. So I’ll answer your question Laura, yes! If you had to ask me right now on a scale from 1-10 how happy I am, I’m going to emphatically give you a 10. I am really really happy! And I’ll tell you why. I’ve got a lot to compare it to. I’ve been through some fairly tough times in my life. I was in a marriage for 23 years that did not end very well. I was lonely and depressed after I got divorced. I couldn’t find myself. I was trying to fit into a mold that I thought society wanted me to fit into. At one point I said this is ridiculous. I’m gonna live the life that I want to live. I don’t care what people think I should be doing. I want to be the real me. I want to be the true David Madow. In the past I think I was trying to be somebody that I was not. But ever since I realized that, I am going to be me. If people like it they like it if they don’t like it they don’t like it. As soon as I figured out that I am going to be me and I don’t care, guess what? This whole new feeling came over me. I’m with a wonderful woman now and we’ve been together for the last 12 years. When I am with her, I feel that I am happy every day. Even when I travel a lot and we are not together. I feel at peace doing what I want to in life. People think I am crazy and totally immature but it’s the real me. So yes to answer your question in a very long winded way, I am really really happy.”

Laura: “That’s fantastic!”

Mark: “I think David you absolutely nailed it. That’s what I was trying to say about happiness. Happiness isn’t how you feel at this present moment depending on circumstances. That’s not happiness. I’ll give you an example. At 4:00 this morning I woke up with really bad pains in my leg which I get sometimes. And I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was hobbling around and it lasted most of the day. But that didn’t stop me from being happy. Because on the base level just like you, I am really happy. You have these circumstances on top of that base level happiness. You asked how you can tell when you’re really happy? That’s when you can tell that you’re really happy. Because when you have these things happen, you’re still happy. It hurts or occasionally things go wrong but at the base level it doesn’t disrupt your happiness. That’s when you really know you’re happy. When small things that happen on a daily basis don’t knock you off. If it keeps knocking you off you’re happiness pedestal, then you’re not really happy. You haven’t really got it nailed.”

Dr. Dave: That’s really well said and I will add to that Mark. I mean look, I am a human being. Do I ever wake up in the morning not feeling fantastic or do things in my business not go well or do I ever get sad? Absolutely! Of course, I am a human being with emotions. But whenever that happens to me I take a step back and take a look at my life. I say to myself that this will pass. I am loving my life and I am doing great and I know that this is just a temporary condition. I want to just take a step back though. I believe it was Mark that talked about living a life with fancy cars and material possessions. Speak a little bit to that. I talk about this all the time. I am right now at the point where my wife and I are trying our best to downsize our lives. We found that things do not make us happy! We don’t need a lot of things. I don’t need a large house. I don’t need fancy cars. I wear no jewelry except for a Fitbit and a few beaded bracelets that give me energy. And same thing with my wife. We just don’t need these expensive things to make us happy. We are inherently happy. Tell me about you guys. What happened with the cars and possessions and things like that?”

Mark: “Well I’ve gotta say first that happiness is a choice and it also is individual. If nice things make you happy, go for it! You know? My family is half French and they believe in l’art de vivre and joie de vivre and fancy things. And they like fancy food and nice restaurants and all this kind of stuff. So if that’s your bag that’s absolutely fine. It just happens to be for us it isn’t. We tried all of that with three houses and four cars. We tried the materialistic life style. But for us it didn’t work. We are basically minimalists through and through. And I think Laura would back me up on that.”

Laura: “Absolutely! But I think it goes back to what you said David and that is that you have to be you. What we had to do was that we had to find who the real us was. So we got to a point in life fairly early on were we thought we could do better in life. We went down the normal route. We went down the fancy career path and had money. So we spent more money and bought more things. As Mark said we had houses in three different countries. We had four different cars. And life was an absolute nightmare. We had so much stuff we couldn’t keep up. We were so busy keeping up with stuff that we stopped keeping up with friends. And life got really small. And then one day we just looked at other and said this is really dreadful. We sold everything. And everything we couldn’t sell, we put in the car park outside of our house and we burnt it because we wanted it gone. We now live with the bits that we have left and we have never been so happy.”

Dr. Dave: “I love that story. I would like to even know more about that at some point. That is a great story, seriously! Ok so let’s shift gears a little bit now to forgiveness and letting go. I know it’s connected to happiness and it’s another big topic with my listeners. I am one that has found out over many years that holding a grudge or holding bad feelings or hatred or anything like that. I have people in my life who have done bad things to me but when you hold it in it’s only hurting you. I’ve learned to let go and forgive. I’ve been teaching this to my listeners for quite some time now. Occasionally, I do get somebody that says that this person wronged me in such a bad way that I will hate them for the rest of my life. What do you think about that?”

Mark: “Well, first of all let’s be realistic about this. It’s really hard to forgive someone if you think that they intended to do some harm. It’s great talking about these things but in real life situations it’s really hard. If someone is struggling to forgive somebody you have to give them a lot of credit. It’s just not as easy as it sounds. Having said that, if you want to be happy, you’ve got to forgive people. Look at it this way, take the example of the chap you are talking about. The reason you don’t want to forgive them is that you think that they’ve done you a lot of harm. So you’re going I can’t forgive them because they have done me a lot of harm. If I forgive them it’s kinda like they’ve gotten away with it. Right? But if you carry on with this rage and anger inside of you about what they have done, then they are winning aren’t they. All you’re doing is just giving them the power to carry on harming you.”

Dr. Dave: “Exactly!”

Mark: “The minute you say I don’t care about you, I don’t care what you’ve done, I don’t care what you do in the future, then all that power they’ve got to harm you disappears. So you’re winning then. You’re the boss at the point! That’s the way to look at it, I think.”

Laura: “I think the other way that I would say is that the reason we find it so hard to forgive people is that we have a different idea about what forgiveness is. To me, I am very happy to forgive somebody just by letting it go. If I said David you wronged me but I forgive you, people think that it means that I think that what you did was ok. No it doesn’t necessarily. I might not think that what you did wasn’t great, but it doesn’t bother me anymore.You’re you, I’m me and we have different point of views. It really doesn’t matter. I can move on in my life if I let it go. A lot of the time when I say forgiveness, that is what I mean. I don’t hate you for it. But I don’t have to like you for it either. We’re neutral. It doesn’t matter. I think that is the thing that is so important for happiness. If you don’t manage to forgive or let go, you are keeping yourself in that painful space. And you are never going to be happy in a painful space.”

Dr. Dave: “Perfect! I love that. If you could give my listeners some tips so that my friends here can start moving forward. How do you forgive? How do you do it?”

Mark: “If you see someone in public, that really is very hard to cope with. But if you think about it, all the time that you are seething inside you are giving them that power to carry on doing what you are saying is so bad. So if you can just think about that and think no I am not going to let them have all this power over me anymore. The way to do that is to take all the emotion out and say no you are not going to affect me anymore. Then you’re winning. You’ve reversed the situation. That’s the way to go isn’t it?”

Dr. Dave: “Right, so here’s the scenario. You’re in a public place, let’s say a restaurant, and you run into this person or group of people who have harmed you in the past. It’s always difficult to see these people. But now you’re confident and you’re ready to let go. Do you acknowledge them? Do you say hello to them? Or do you look the other way? How do you handle them in public?”

Mark: “Here’s where you’ve got to be honest about these things. I would say what you could do is just smile, shake their hand, and forget it ever happened. You probably won’t get that far down the line. I’ll give you an example. Somebody did do something to me that was perhaps incorrect. It cost me an awful lot of money and it meant that I had to leave the country I was living in and go to another country. In the end I had to take him to court and it was proven that I was correct because they were informed to pay me a lot of money. I didn’t want to do any of this. I tried for months to handle it without going through the court but they wouldn’t respond. In between, that person had been slandering me on the internet trying to ruin my reputation. To which I hadn’t responded to at all because I never respond to anything like that. I then ran into the chap purely by accident about three months later. He tried to talk to me but I simply acted as though he wasn’t there. That’s probably as far as a human being can get for being put on a mountain. Because to me, I don’t wish that guy harm at all. I just needed to get my money back because I had done a lot of work for him and he hadn’t paid me. I’ve got no problems with the guy at all. But when I saw him and tried to talk to him, I might very well have gotten angry. So instead I just ignored him completely. You have to give yourself a huge amount of credit for however they handle the situation because in real life it’s really difficult to do these things. But if you can get to a point where they don’t have any power over your emotions then you can do stuff like that. And really you’re the one that’s happy and they’re not.”

Laura: “Another way to look at it, and we found two other ways to look at it, is that everybody has different roles. There will come a point where we will have different ways of looking at something. And if somebody is acting in a way that is really detrimental to anybody’s life, I actually feel really sorry for them.To me I look at those people and think that I actually feel really sorry for them. I think it’s a bit of a tragedy that is how you get kicks in life. And I think that is says to me that you are not happy. I think at that point I actually feel sorry for them rather than angry.”

Dr. Dave: “A lot of great great information here about happiness, forgiveness, and letting go. Guys, we are just about out of time. So to wrap up is there anything you want to leave my listeners with as far as happiness, forgiveness, and letting go.”

Mark: “Yeah, I’d say don’t look at anybody else and wonder if they’re happy. That’s the biggest mistake a human makes. If you look at anybody and you think they’re happy, you’re wrong. You have no idea. Everybody in life is struggling with something. And some people are much happier than they look and some people are much less happy than they look. You want to find your own way to be happy. And when you find it, you want to just stick with that and not compare it to anything else. And that is really hard to do. That’s the thing. It’s no good looking at anybody else who looks happy because they may not be. Happiness is a unique thing and you want to find your own version of it. And if you want to be truly happy, you have to take that as your basic core decision and then you have to go from there to make all your other decisions. If you want to be happy, you have got to forgive people because if you don’t forgive people you can’t be happy. That’s the baseline.”

Laura: “I think the only thing I would add to that as I said in the very beginning everything we do has to do with happiness. all our choices, all our opinions, where we live, what we do, how we earn our money, everything single thing we do, we do it to be happy. To measure we’ve got one rule. Will it make us happy? If not, we don’t even entertain it. That might be a little extreme. And maybe you will have to work up to it, I don’t know.”

Dr. Dave: “This has been a wonderful show. And I am going to invite both of you to come back any time you like because I think we can speak about happiness. I think maybe we touched the tip of the iceberg today but we’re gonna expand on that in the future. Share with my listeners how they can reach you.”

Mark: “The best thing to do is to come along to positivelyhappy.me, that’s our website. On there we’ve got a lot of resources about happiness. If you come to the site there are a lot of things on there for you to spider out from and see how you can be happy. What really important is that you can come and find your own way through to be happy.”

Dr. Dave: “The website is positivelyhappy.me. We’ve just had Laura and Mark Tong on the show. I want to thank both of you again. It was wonderful. Anytime I can get people on that can help my listeners that’s what this show is all about. Thank you both so much. I appreciate it. Sorry for any technical problems.”

Laura:“Thank you David! That was really fun!”

Mark: “Thank you! That was fabulous!”

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