Many people get stuck on thinking as soon as something happens then they’ll be happy. The fact of the matter is your circumstances only account for 10% of your overall happiness. People have to realize that the outside achievements are not the end all, be all to being happy and wanting to stay on the planet. Positive psychology expert Rob Mack you can achieve happiness from the inside out and the opportunity for happiness in this day and age is greater than it’s ever been in the history of time. Rob shares some insights into how to persuade and influence people easily and effortlessly, and how to have a sense of peace, confidence, and joy when you pitch anything so that you are happy regardless of the outcome.
Our guest is Rob Mack, the author of Happiness from the Inside Out. Rob talks about how many people get stuck on thinking, “As soon as something happens and then I’ll be happy,” when in fact, your circumstances only account for 10% of your overall happiness. He has some insights into how to persuade and influence people easily and effortlessly, and have a sense of peace, confidence, and joy when you pitch anything so that you are happy regardless of the outcome.
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Happiness From The Inside Out with Rob Mack
I’m honored to have my friend, Rob Mack. He is an Ivy League educated Positive Psychology Expert, a Celebrity Happiness Coach, an Executive Coach for those of us who are not celebrities, a published author, and a TV host and personality. He’s been endorsed by the likes of Oprah, Vanessa Williams, and many others. He is hosting and producing a show that I had been fortunate enough to be on called Good Morning LaLa Land, which is a daily live streaming morning show focused on positivity. He’s always being asked to come on camera and consult for shows on OWN.
He was a Celebrity Love Coach for Famously Single on E! and he’s been on many different kinds of shows. His first book, Happiness from the Inside Out: The Art and Science of Fulfillment, is important to anyone who might be struggling with depression or anybody you know in your life. It is both an art and a science. He’s received his Bachelor’s Degree from Swarthmore College and he conducted his MBA coursework at University of Miami. He is an all-around nice guy that walks his talk. Rob, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me, John.
I love to ask my guests to take us back to their own story of origin. You do that in your book, Happiness from the Inside Out, but I’m going to let you go back as far as you want. It could be college, high school, or younger than that. When did you start to get some insights into your own world of, “I maybe not as happy as I want to be and I’m going to figure out how to get there?”
I feel like at birth I was deeply in touch and in tune with my own stress and anxiety. I was aware of that from a young age. I felt uncomfortable, insecure and unsure about myself with respect to all people, all places and all things. At a young age as far as I can remember and as I grew up, that only increased. I became more of a ruminator. I think more about the stress, anxiety, and insecurity that I felt. As I moved into school and into sports, I found that on one hand I was able to do pretty well in sports with respect to academics in school. I didn’t feel any better for it, and I would keep upping the ante.
I’d get an A, and then the A wasn’t good enough. I would get a perfect score. I’d do well in cross country or in baseball. It was never enough. I could have hit two homeruns, but it should have been three. I could have gotten a perfect 4.0, but I should have gotten a 4.3 if I take that advanced class. That mentality, I continued to build on that unwittingly and unknowingly. It got to a place where I eventually was deeply, beyond dysphoric. I was deeply depressed and suicidal for many years.
What age did the suicide thoughts happen?
I would say probably about sixteen or seventeen, maybe a little younger. I remember reading a book, my first glimpse into the possibility that I could turn around my thinking, my confidence and my happiness. I probably read that book at around thirteen, it was Psycho-Cybernetics. It gave me a glimpse that something could be changed. I toyed with it but I didn’t find a whole lot of success because you’ve got to be persistent, you’ve got to put the time in and it doesn’t happen overnight all the time. I’d say thirteen, fourteen. When I think about it, that went at least through my mid to late twenties.
With some recent sad news about some relatively famous people like Kate Spade and Anthony committing suicide, it triggers a lot of issues in people. What I noticed is this mass consciousness illusion that if I had all those things, money and fame, I would then of course be happy. When you see someone having that at a high level, very few percentage of the population get that success or fame and they are not happy. It breaks the illusion a little bit that people think, “If I keep working hard enough and get more money, more fame or get famous, then I will be happy,” and then you’re like, “That’s not the answer?” When we talk about helping people with their pitch, whether it’s a pitch to get hired, a pitch to get their startup funded or even a pitch to get a new client if you’re in the business of anything, you always have to be selling to get new clients. Why now?
Why is now an important time for this product to come along? If you look back at Uber, without a majority of people in urban areas having smartphones, Uber wouldn’t have worked. The why now, Rob, is your mission. I’ve read your book, I’ve seen you on camera several times, I’ve heard your story and that’s why we’re so happy to get you on the podcast because your time is now more than ever. Your whole life, from my perspective, has led up to this very minute that you are being called to help people in the business world and other worlds, specifically in the business world. Realize that the outside achievements are not the end-all be-all to being happy and wanting to stay on the planet.Happiness is a science and an art. Click To Tweet
When you look at what’s going on, it’s like, “I went through all these struggles but for what? What’s my why? What’s my personal mission?” When someone else can hold a mirror up to you and go, “Here’s what I see. This is why you went through that,” and here’s why now is more important than ever to help all the people that might be reading this, going through whatever struggles, personal, business. The sense of wanting to give up, even if you’re not willing to give up in a dramatic way like checking out, but giving up on your dreams. How did you get from being this great athlete but still not feeling good enough to saying, “I’m going to get into being on camera,” whether it’s doing a movie with Vanessa Williams?
The one thing without question is that the opportunity for happiness in this day and age is greater than it’s ever been in the history of time. We’ve got more unhappy people on the planet now than ever, and we have those unhappy people on the planet despite the incredible technological advances that have been made in medicine, health and well-being. That has been made in the quality of our lives. This phenomenon of life getting objectively better, but people filling subjectively worse for it. Things on the outside getting better in general, on average, but people feeling worse on the inside is what we know is the progress paradox.
When I was going through this experience and contemplating suicide, I had stumbled upon this term and this idea that there was something happening in society that mirrored what was happening inside of me. That I was doing great athletically, I was doing great scholastically, but I was feeling worse for it, whatever reason. That began to allow me to begin to tease out what’s happening there and discern between true happiness and the happiness that was dependent on things outside of me. There was a difference between those two things.
As I began looking at this more closely, I found this program at Penn. The program at Penn is a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology. The study in science of what makes life worth living. It’s all this Ivy League science that’s accumulated over decades. They put it into one body of research and they call it Positive Psychology. As I began studying that more I thought, “I should probably do something here with this.” At the same time, in order to pay for that school because it’s a very expensive program, I moved on from my consulting career and I was trying to figure out what to do. At this time, I had moved to Miami. I was walking along the road. Some guy come up to me and said, “Have you ever thought about modeling?” I was the most insecure guy in the world. My high school class voted me Most Shy. I was the ugliest person on the planet. I had always felt that way, truly.The greatest challenge most people face is that they're letting whoever they’re pitching to dictate what they're thinking and feeling. Click To Tweet
When he came up to me and said this to me, I thought, “I wonder what he wants. I certainly don’t have much money.” I didn’t take it all that seriously. He gave me a card. Another week later, another agent came up to me and said, “You should stop by the agency,” happened to be the same agency, different agent. I stopped by and I joined this modeling agency. I started doing modeling. I didn’t have any real future plans. I didn’t know what’s going to do with respect to my career at this point. The Positive Psychology ideas in my head weren’t all that clear. I hadn’t quite discovered the Positive Psychology world yet. I started the modeling thing. I was doing it basically to pay the bills while I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. Life is what happens when you’re busy planning for it.
Over a course of a couple of years I was doing this, enjoying my life, really focused on being happy. I’d given up this idea that success and money can make me happy. I was clear about that at that point in time. The more I read, the more I discovered how true that was. I’m doing the modeling. I had a female friend who was a model. She said, “Rob, are you go to this casting?” I’m at the pool, I’m going to relax. I’m not going to book whatever casting it is anyway. My hit rate with casting wasn’t great. I was sitting at the pool and she said, “Would you mind giving me a ride? You sure you don’t want to go?” I said, “I’ll come pick you up on the scooter. I’ll drop you to casting, I’ll wait for you and then we’ll go home.”
I get there, so I go and then the next thing you know, it was originally supposed to be a role for just a model, a model guy in a new show called South Beach that was airing on The CW. I was going to have no lines, walk the runway and whatnot. One of the producers comes over and says, “You three or four guys here, we’ve got this role. It’s for this guy named Paco. He’s an abusive model, boyfriend type of guy. Do you guys want to audition for that?” I was like, “No, I don’t think I could pull it off. I’m not an actor.” He ended up saying, “Give it a shot. Here are the lines.” Part of it was I was indifferent about whether or not I’ll book it or not. I had fun with it.
The next thing you know I booked the role. It was opposite Vanessa Williams. That’s where my interest in the entertainment world began to take a look. I thought, “This is pretty interesting. I’m not even trying hard and things are happening in this direction, so I’ll trust that a little bit.” I was collecting notes on how to be happy for a long time and she encouraged me and said, “Rob, what are you going to do with those notes that you’re taking on being happy? You should share them with people. People always ask me about why you’re smiling and whatnot.” I thought, “Maybe I should,” so I eventually published it. It became Happiness from The Inside Out.
What a great story. The takeaway is when we’re not attached to the outcome of something and goes with the energy that’s flowing along and then people can feel that. You’re more relaxed during the audition process. Bringing it back to people who are in the mindset of pitching, if you are desperate to get an investor for your idea or if you’re desperate to get this client so you can sell a house, hit your quota the sales, get someone to join your startup or even get a job to get hired, people feel that. It’s a lot like dating. Since you were a Celebrity Love Coach, there’s some transference and some observations there that you might be able to share with us on what mistake or mistakes did you see people making when it comes to, “I’m attracted to this person. I don’t want to come across desperate, but I want to let him know I’m interested.” What’s the happy medium there?
For my executive coaching clients, we call it executive presence. It’s the ability to persuade and influence effortlessly, easily and enjoyably. I would say that at the root of it, the greatest challenge that most people face is that they’re letting the client, customer or whoever they’re pitching dictate what they’re thinking and feeling. This is a good thing. We want to calibrate and recalibrate based on our audience. That being said, you want to be able to do that in a way that your ability to regulate your emotions isn’t compromised. What do I mean by that? It’s an immovable, unshakable peace and confidence that I feel most people are challenged by.
The folks I see that are being at their most successful in terms of pitching anything, they have an immovable, unshakable sense of peace and confidence, and there I say joy. Regardless of the way in which the customer, client or the audience is showing up. They continue to persist and are consistent in this ability to regulate their emotions. When dating, what that means is that no matter whom I’m with or what I’m doing, my intention is always to have as much fun as humanly possible. To share as much love as humanly possible, and I don’t care whether I get it back or not. I don’t care if they’re having fun, that’s the challenge.
Normally what happens is, you’re not getting it back until you stop giving. You don’t have to continue to give to someone that’s being rude or disrespectful. We’re not talking about that. I find that same principle, this principle of deep, immovable, unshakable equanimity, confidence and joy that isn’t based on this quid pro quo idea that I’ve got to get it back. That isn’t even dependent on whether or not you sell anything.Have a sense of peace, confidence and joy when you pitch. Click To Tweet
My brother and my sister are great. They’re both phenomenal sales folks. My brother does medical device sales. My sister does luxury homes. They weren’t always fantastic sales folks. The way they thought and felt was dependent on the responses they got from people that they weren’t very good. The second they detached those things that they detached the response they we’re getting from the way in which they were showing up. All of a sudden they would sell effortlessly, easily and they had a lot more fun. I would say that it’s a number of things. Mostly I’d say it’s being independent of the ways in which other people are showing up that you continue to show up in the same, positive, happy, confident, strong and you don’t make that dependent on anything or anybody.
Have a sense of peace, confidence and joy when you pitch. That’s my real takeaway there. It’s a constant, “Am I grounding myself? Am I centered?” One of the things I say to myself when I’m deciding, and it comes from branding. I do this with clients all the time, “What three words define you as a brand?” It empowers people, especially when they’re interviewing, to think of themselves as a brand going to work for another brand, and not some poor, desperate person. The three words are integrity, passion, and joy.
The people I might be working with are an integrity, I’m passionate about this and they are and it brings me or someone else joy. All three of those boxes get checked off then I do it, because that’s my moral compass and that’s my criteria. Having something behind that intention of always being peaceful, confident and joyful helps a lot. If you’re able to think on your feet, do you have three words that you would define the Rob Mack happiness within brand?
It’s going to sound cliché but it is. I would say that the very heart of it is peace, love and joy. The one thing I’m clear about as a Positive Psychology practitioner is that an emotion is more contagious than anything else on the planet. By far and large, that’s proven. My brand is being as deeply and independently peaceful, joyful, and loving as possible. My experience has been when I stay out of the results place, when I embody that fully and I’m deeply and truly present, that in and of itself is persuasive. I’m not trying to persuade you of anything. I’m not trying to influence you to anything. I find that all of a sudden you’re persuading, influencing directions that I love.
I would say it’s trying to embody that as fully and deeply as possible. It’s taking out all this reciprocity thing, it’s dangerous particularly when you’re pitching, particularly when you’re selling. I have to be intentional about that when I’m trying to pitch anything or I’m trying to sell anything, that I do it because I love it. I communicate that and stay out of reciprocity. It’s a little dangerous and people feel that. It’s hard to hide even if you don’t speak to it. People feel that you’re pitching, you’re selling something and attempting to get something from them and that’s not my approach. It hasn’t worked for me.
In the same way in the dating world and what you said really resonates with me about not all or nothing black and white thinking and that comes from your education. That’s one of the goals of therapy is to let go of having everything be all or nothing, black and white and there are shades of gray. If someone’s not returning the love and the joy in a dating situation back to me, it doesn’t mean I have to shut off being who I am. It’s just not right for them. The same thing when I’m offering someone an opportunity to buy something from me, it doesn’t mean they say no it’s no forever. Even if it is no forever, it doesn’t mean I suddenly dimmed my light because someone has said no.
It’s funny that you say that, by funny I mean interesting and profound. When I was modeling, I learned many things that I never expected to learn through modeling. I can be a little over analytical. I used to think of trying to get clear about what is it about the jobs I’m booking versus the jobs I’m not booking, and how is that related to my personality, my looks and all this stuff. It can drive you a little mad. I started discovering little things. I would always book the job that I had no interest in booking. The one that was I most indifferent about, I would book. The South Beach thing was a perfect illustration.
I started asking friends, and I’d find another trend. One of the other trends was that some of the most successful models were trust fund kids at birth? They’d go into the casting or audition, and they did it because it was fun. They were having a good time, they’re totally relaxed, there’s no desperation when they hand you the comp card or they handed the book to the client. It was all coming through in every pore of their being that they didn’t need that job. They were there because it was fun. They enjoyed interacting with other people.
That being said, there are many shades of gray. It can become complex and every person’s a little bit different. Sometimes it’s good to be strong and even communicate it. You expect nothing in return if that’s the approach that works for you. I believe in what using what works, but in my experience, there’s no higher principle than been fully, truly, and deeply present and not thinking that anybody else is the source through which your abundance comes. That to me is deep.
In your book, Happiness, you say it’s both a science and an art. There are a lot of listeners that are structured, data oriented and measure things, but that’s not enough to being happy. It’s not like you lift many weights, so many times and increase the weight, do this kind of eating and then you’ll get this physique. There’s a little more to it when it comes to happiness that it’s not strictly a science like that. There’s an art to it. Can you explain how that’s worked in your life as an art form?
I believe in taking calculated risks. I want to take calculated, informed, and well-educated guesses when I can. Roll the dice if I can legally and ethically in the direction that is the best interest of everyone including myself. That means looking into the science and seeing what it says about happiness. What does lead to a happy life and what does not? We’ve got a lot of data there. You have to custom tailor and customize everything in your life, including the science. Science is changing all the time for one, for two, it doesn’t study Jesus or Buddha. It doesn’t study the Oprah’s of the world. It studies everyday people.
There’s a lot about science that isn’t necessarily included in every single study that you see, or even most studies. That means the truth of life, the truth of my life in particular is within me. I like to use my own experiences for the data that I want to learn from. It’s the data of my own life experiences that have been most valuable to me. That means a number of things. One, based on Positive Psychology research, after $70,000 additional dollars mean very little in terms of your happiness. Education doesn’t lead to happiness. Even great health doesn’t lead to happiness. Being married doesn’t lead to happiness. Having kids doesn’t lead to happiness. Nothing leads to happiness.
When you have a perfect life, that means when you have as much money as you could possibly imagine. When you’ve got the perfect partner or the perfect dating life, the perfect number of kids or none, depending on what your ideal life is. When your life is perfect circumstantially, all of that together only accounts for 10% of your happiness. That means 90% of your happiness are other things that are beyond the conditions and circumstances in your life. That’s where the art comes in. It’s trying to understand, based on science, what I personally need to do to make me happy. I found a number of things that worked for me. All that science says, “When you move to a sunny place, does it really change your level of happiness?” I found that it did for me. Little things like that.Happiness makes your life more successful and better. Click To Tweet
The big awareness there is, “If I get all my ducks in a row, the life, the income, the house, the job, the car, the relationship, the money, the time to travel, I get all of that finally at the optimum level and then I’ll be happier.” That only contributes 10%. A lot of it has to do with your mindset and your genetics, because you can always find something to not be happy about is the bottom line to it all.
That’s the bottom line and you’re right. One thing I highlight real quickly, which is a great thing you’ve underscored here is that even with respect to genetics, they’re completely malleable. Meaning they’re changeable. Based on the thoughts you think, experience that you have and the feelings that you have, that DNA is malleable, it’s changeable. We often thought of our happiness as being something. It was at least partially hardwired. Not true at all.
It is the mindset as you nailed. It is also some of the behavioral things that we do. Do we exercise? Are we part of a spiritual community? Do we have social support? At the end of the day, remember that even within the context of all those additional things, there have been people in the world and there are people in the world. John, you’re a great example. Hopefully, I’m an example. There’s Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu and all these people are great examples that you can find and be happy, despite not having any of those things that most people think that you need to have in order to be happy. In fact, you can even be happier.
There’s a lot more to happiness and I would say success as well. The other interesting finding in this Positive Psychology body of research is that when you’re deeply, truly happy, you increase your odds of being successful in every single life domain. That means that the happier you are, the quicker, the earlier you get married, the longer you stay married. Even if you’re not married, the happier and healthier all your relationships are, the more money you make. You make $600,000 to $700,000 more than your less happy counterparts. Your health is objectively better, you live six to seven years longer. Even within those longer years, you’re healthier during that time. You experience less job burnouts. In every way, happiness makes your life more successful and better. That’s why it’s a huge key to being a pitch whisperer, if you will, like yourself.
It’s the chicken and the egg, “As soon as I get all this success, then I’ll be happy.” What I hear you saying loud and clear is no. Choose to be happy now and then the other things will come or not come, but you won’t be attached to the outcome either way.
You’ve already got the ultimate success. That’s the greatest test in the world to be happy. The only reason we do, achieve, accomplish, acquire anything is because we think we’ll feel better. If you can feel better without doing all that stuff, you’re the smartest person in the planet.
The book is Happiness from The Inside Out. We can catch you Monday through Friday on Live Facebook, Good Morning LaLa Land. If someone wants to hire you for your executive coaching, how can they find you?
Everybody can find me at CoachRobMack.com.
Rob, I can’t thank you enough for being such an insightful and happy guest that allows us to feel happier.
John, I appreciate you so much. You have no idea. I mean that both as a professional but as a friend. You’re such a great guy with a huge heart. I learned so much from you. I want to thank you for your time and your energy.
- Happiness from the Inside Out: The Art and Science of Fulfillment
- Rob Mack
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