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573: Embracing Holiday Gratitude To Become Happier And Healthier with Ted Ryce

As we embrace the holiday season, many of us, especially those over 40 who are constantly striving for success in our careers and personal lives, might be facing this struggle: Despite living a life that seems like a dream, we often catch ourselves measuring our success against where we think we should be.  

Sounds familiar?  

In this special Christmas episode, Ted explores how gratitude can transform our mental health, how shifting our mindset from idealized future goals to acknowledging our progress can change our perspective on success.  

He delves into the concept of the negativity bias, and reveals how measuring our achievements backward against our past reality can cultivate contentment and appreciation for our growth. 

He underscores the importance of an internal reference for defining success and leaves us with thought-provoking journaling prompts to encourage reflection, gratitude, and joy during this festive season. 

You’ll learn actionable steps to appreciate your journey, acknowledge wins, and find contentment in the present moment.  

As we step into the season of gratitude and reflection, remember that happiness is not found in the next achievement, but in appreciating where we are now. Merry Christmas to all of you! 


You’ll learn:

  • What is the negativity bias, why do we have it, and how it influences our lives
  • Understanding the GAP and the GAIN
  • Expanding happiness through goals
  • The dangers of the hedonic treadmill
  • Ted’s journey from the GAP to the GAIN
  • The key secret to unlocking gratitude, and appreciation for personal growth and experiences
  • Redefining happiness: happiness is a practice
  • Actionable steps to appreciate your journey, acknowledge wins, and find contentment in the present moment.
  • And much more…


Related Episodes:  

Ted Talk 163: Celebrating The True Meaning Of Christmas 

Ted Talk 115: Let The Christmas Spirit Ring! How Holiday Gratitude Can Make Us Happier And Healthier 

333: Our Christmas Episode with Ted Ryce & Gisele Oliveira 


Links Mentioned:

Join The Unstoppable After 40 Newsletter

Learn More About The Unstoppable After 40 Coaching Program

Schedule a 15-Minute Strategy Call with Me!

Watch My Body Breakthrough Masterclass  


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Podcast Transcription: Embracing Holiday Gratitude To Become Happier And Healthier with Ted Ryce

Ted Ryce: Merry Christmas, and welcome to the Christmas episode on the Legendary Life podcast. If you've been listening to this show for a while, you know this is my favorite time of year. Eating, spending time with family—I love how I mentioned eating first and family second. It really isn't in that order. It's family first for sure, but I love the festivities.

I love the lights; I love the Christmas music. It brings back such great memories of childhood—my parents, for some of the, some of the ways they lack, they always put on this incredible Christmas. I got together with other branches of our family and all got together, had such a great time.

And I hope you're having an incredible holiday season as well. And if you're just tuning in for the first time, well, welcome to the show. I'm your host, Ted Ryce, health expert and coach to executives, entrepreneurs, and other high-performing professionals. We do this show for two reasons.

Number one, I've been in this business for 24 years, and I want you to avoid the mistakes that I made in those 24 years. There's no need for that. And this is a way of helping you to achieve faster results. Also, many of our clients come from the podcast because they're looking for someone to help them achieve the same level of success with their health that they've had in other areas of their life. Now today, I'm going to again take a different approach here. I'm going to talk about a personal struggle that I'm sure you can relate to.

And even though this is the best time of the year and I'm looking forward to 2024, I know 2024 for sure, objectively, measurably, quantitatively is going to be better than 2023. Sometimes I still catch myself measuring my success against where I think I should be.

In fact, if I could go back in time and talk to who I used to be just, let's say eight years ago—not even 10 years ago, just seven or eight years ago—and say, "Hey, listen, I know you're stressed out and a little chubby and not really loving personal training anymore, and you're stuck in traffic, driving around from client to client, even though you're going to multimillion-dollar property to multimillion-dollar property, guess what you're doing now? You're traveling the world, you're making more money, your clients are getting better results, they're more grateful for you, you're making a bigger impact with a podcast and with what you put out on social media, you're crushing it compared to where you think you are right now or where you think you're going."

And that version of myself eight years ago, I don't even think they'd believe me. It's like, "Hey man, we're going to go to Thailand, we're going to spend some time there, we're going to spend actually two years in Southeast Asia, you're going to go to Bali, and you're going to live a few months there, you're going to go to Vietnam, actually a few cities in Vietnam, you're going to go to Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong.

Then you're going to spend a year in Brazil and Colombia and Mexico. It's going to be great. You're going to live in Europe, and you're going to fall in love with Italy." So, if I could go back and tell that version of myself eight years ago, this is what your life is like, that would be crazy. I'd be like, "Oh my gosh, no way. That can't possibly be true. I'm so far away from that when I think about where I am right now. How can that possibly be where I end up? And I'm doing better financially and much as backpacking everywhere."

But here's the thing, now, even though I'm aware of where I came from, I often catch myself measuring my success against where I think I should be. And I want to talk about how this is ultimately a mindset issue. And I want to talk about how you, if you feel a bit like that, if you look back at 2023 and feel like, "Ah, I could have done better. I didn't get to where I wanted to get to."

And yeah, 2024 is going to be great. But, you know, I'm still not feeling it. So, if you don't resonate with that, fantastic. If you're just crushing it, you're in the zone right now, I'm happy for you.

However, if you feel a little bit like what I'm saying, and by the way, it's very common for high achievers to feel this way, and it's very common for people who join my program, my coaching program, to also feel this way, I want to talk a little bit about how I'm working to get out of this state of mind, this mindset.

And the first thing I want to talk about is something I've talked about many times. It's the negativity bias. And hopefully, you've heard of this concept before, but if you haven't, all human beings, myself included, grapple with it. It's called the negativity bias because it's this innate tendency to focus on negative experiences more than positive ones.

Why? Because survival. Because while having your first-born child is great, the fact that you see the crops starting to die or whatever, or there's a drought, might put your life in danger. So, you focus on that instead of the good things because it might end your life. But here's the thing, in modern times, we're not really going to be faced with a drought or a food shortage or anything that's going to threaten us existentially.

And I know you can make some arguments and some people think World War III is going to happen. Look, nobody can tell the future. And I don't think any—well, I don't want to go down a weird rabbit hole or can or open up a can of worms, rather, not really a weird rabbit hole, but open a can of worms, but I want to talk about in modern times, we just don't have those issues.

And this disconnect between our innate wiring and how modern life is, it can be a hindrance to being happy. And look, my past, like many of yours, has its shadows and this negativity bias that sometimes clouds our appreciation for the present. So not only do we have it, just everyone has it, but if you have some negative events in your life that have happened, you might have this too.

And I want to talk about a concept I've recently stumbled on. I've been delving into the works of Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy. Now, Dan Sullivan, I guess he's the original, the OG coach for entrepreneurs.

And he helps coach entrepreneurs to success, like business coaching, I guess, or personal development coaching. And Benjamin Hardy is someone he's written several books with. And one of the concepts is called the gap and the gain. And it's been a real eye-opener for me.

It made me realize why I fall into this trap of being dissatisfied where I am in life. And I shouldn't say, I should say feeling dissatisfied, despite the fact that I know I'm in a much better place. I mean, if you look at—well, how often have you traveled? How many cool experiences have you had? How much money are you making? How are your relationships?

Everything's gotten better. But why do I find myself still dissatisfied at times? Yeah, okay, negativity bias aside, I think that's really important to consider. We just have this tendency, but sometimes I really work hard at overcoming that negativity bias, and I still feel like there's something missing.

And when I came upon or stumbled upon rather, this concept of gap in the game, I started realizing some things. So, I'm operating in the gap when I'm looking to the future, saying, "Yeah, well, I'm not there. I'm not making that amount of money. I'm not, I didn't have that experience. I haven't traveled there. I haven't done this. I haven't done this other thing."

I'm measuring myself against an ideal or distant goal. So let me explain the gap and the gain a little bit. So, the gap, as Sullivan and Hardy explained, your future growth and progress are now based on your understanding about the difference between the two ways in which you can measure yourself, against an ideal, which puts you in the gap.

So, whenever you're thinking about, "Okay, here's where I am right now, but I don't have this house that I really want, or I'm not retired yet, or I haven't sold my business, or my business isn't making the amount of money that I want, or whatever the thing is." You're measuring yourself against an ideal, and it puts you in the gap. Conversely, there's something called the gain. And what they say is, the only way to measure goals is backwards.

Fascinating, right? I'm going to say that again. The only way to measure goals is backwards against the past. Use the reality of where you currently are and measure backwards, backward from there to the reality of where you started. Fascinating, right?

And I actually did an exercise at a retreat in Jamaica recently, where we got into this, where I started answering these questions, like, "What are three ways that I've grown in the past 12 months? What are five things I'm most proud of from the past 12 months? What are the ways in the past year that I've 10x'd, where I've taken a monumental leap? What are the ways in which that's happened?" And this is really important. A great quote that resonated with me is this, "I don't think we set and achieve goals in an effort to become happy. We do it because we are happy and we want to expand our happiness."

And for me, this was a powerful reminder that our drive to achieve should stem from a place of contentment, not a relentless pursuit of what we don't have. And here's another thing. This is really, really important here.

Because if you are on this relentless pursuit of what you don't have, you can find yourself on what psychologists call the hedonic treadmill. And what this is, is our tendency to quickly adapt to changes in our life, leading to a constant pursuit of more or better. It's a cycle that can leave us feeling perpetually unsatisfied and always chasing an elusive ideal.

So, in other words, and I saw this a lot when I was working in Miami Beach as a personal trainer, because in my 20s, I believed money was the way to happiness. Money equals happiness. In fact, I grew up, my dad had this on a patio when I was in high school in our house. I mean, he had this plaque for a while, but we had this plaque that said, "People who say money can't buy happiness aren't very good spenders."

And I saw my parents chase money, and I like money, I don't have issues with it, and I think we should make as much as we feel like we need to. But at the same time, I would say if we're using money or material things as a way to make ourselves happy, it becomes an issue. And I remember having a conversation with a client of mine.

I was in, oh, I forget the island in Miami Beach. It wasn't Star Island. It was, you know, there's all these islands there. Star Island's the famous one, but I was on one of the islands in Miami beach, I was training this very well-known real estate developer there, Craig Robbins. And I said, "Craig, you know, what's the issue with people?"

And like, why do people just want to make more and more and more money? He was a multimillionaire doing very well. And I knew people who had more money than him. And I was just really curious about the whole thing. I was trying, I was in my twenties and I was trying to get a bearing on what success meant what I should shoot for in life. And I remember him telling me, he's like, "Well, you can buy a painting for a million dollars. You can buy a painting for $10 million. You can buy a painting for $100 million."

He used art because he was very into art. By the way, Craig's the person who ended up introducing me to Robert Downey Jr. and how I went on to train Robert. But I remember that conversation and I was like, "Man, is that, you know? Is that what you have to look forward to when you, you know, you make a few million bucks and then you buy a painting and then now you buy just more expensive stuff and buy more expensive yachts?” .

And this can lead to that hedonic treadmill and I bring this up because not only did I see people who were at the pinnacle of, or at least what most people would say are at the pinnacle of success in their life. Some of them were happy and some of them weren't.

And it wasn't the money that made the difference. It was two big things that made the difference, or maybe three. One is they were in good health. Two is they had a good family, good connections, good relationships. And if I had to throw a third one in, they had purpose about what they were doing.

And this is why I talk a lot about health being the foundation for success in our life because, and why trading wealth for health becomes a bad exchange. Because one of the things that can happen, not only do we have a negativity bias, but as you get in worse and worse shape, there's big connections.

You know, that's not the most quantitative way of explaining it, but there are strong connections based on research showing that people with insulin resistance have higher rates of depression. We know that people who have more visceral fat usually also have more bodily aches and pains. And if you're constantly in pain or your brain is inflamed, that's pretty, that's a bad place to be and you may not be happy just because of that, regardless if you're on the hedonic treadmill or not.

But let's push the physical health aside for a second because you can end up here even when you're in good physical health, like me. I haven't had a DEXA scan recently, but my waistline is quite, I mean, I wear size 32. And, you know, I've been struggling with this anyway.

And here's what I've learned and what I'm actively working on is embracing the progress. So, I'm starting to think about, okay, well, what are the big changes that I've made instead of focusing on where I want to be or, you know, where I think my business should be or how many Twitter followings or where this podcast is in the rankings, where have I come from?

Because the issue is trying to hit that ideal that we set for ourselves. If we ever do hit it, we just move the cold post. I mean, I remember when all I wanted to do was make $5,000 a month. In 2000, I was in 2018, I had left my personal training business. I just started out online. When I moved to Thailand, I was all in on the online business. All I wanted to do is make 5,000 a month to start.

The big goal was 10,000 a month, but it was 5,000 a month. That was, I was like, man, if we could just get that and then we could hit the 10k, well, guess what,? I did all that, right? And I forgot about it. So really embracing progress. And also the second thing is redefining happiness. Understanding that happiness is a practice and not a destination. You have to practice being happy.

I'm going to go off on a tiny bit of a tangent, but I still think it's important. Right now, there's a lot of a big narrative around trauma and healing, or at least that's, I see a lot of that on social media. Maybe it's just the algorithm and what I've clicked on, but do you see that too?

And what I would argue, especially based on the things that I've been through, is that healing doesn't really exist. And here's what I mean by that. You can't, you, happiness, healing is a practice, meaning you can't say, well, you know, I, I went through this really hard thing. I became an alcoholic. I would get in fights and, uh, you know, I'm coming up with a totally ridiculous situation, but just bear with.

I'm an alcoholic, I get into bar fights and I get arrested, but I've done some healing. And so, I still am an alcoholic, by the way, and I still get into fights and get arrested, but I feel so much more at peace with myself. Total nonsense, right? What I mean by happiness and healing is a practice is you're doing the things you are taking care of yourself.

Right? That's what healing is. Your behavior changes, your lifestyle changes, how you look at things change. And happiness is the same way.

So, happiness is a practice, happiness is a practice. And I often tell people this, and sometimes don't take my own advice, but happiness is a practice.

In the program, in my coaching program, some of my clients feel like, you know what, I'm not going to be happy until I hit that goal. I'm not happy because I didn't lose any weight this week. And what I say is, listen, happiness is a practice. If you're not happy now, when you hit the goal, you're still not going to be happy. Why?

Because a practice really means a habit, and a habit is a pattern of operation in your brain. It's a shortcut in your brain, and you've already trained yourself to be constantly unhappy.

And if that's true, the reverse is also true. We can train ourselves to be happy, but we have to have a practice for it. And it needs to be, I don't know, I don't have a daily happiness practice, but I was feeling a little off. And I went diving on Sunday. Today is, what is today? Wednesday? No, Tuesday. And I went diving on Sunday. I'll be honest with you sometimes I don't love diving. I love jiu-jitsu, I love going out to eat at restaurants.

But I don't love diving sometimes, but I do it anyway. And the reason I did it, and I should say cave diving or cavern diving, I went and dove into this cavern and it's a tight space and it's a little bit freaky and your anxiety levels go up. But after I come out of there, I feel amazing. After I come back from a day of diving, I feel amazing. I left at 8.30 in the morning, I came back around 3.30.

So, for about seven hours, I was completely off social media. I was, you know, disconnected from work because where I went diving, there's no Wi-Fi connection. And so that can help reset my happiness or decrease stress. That's an example of practicing happiness.

Another thing that's really important is avoiding comparisons. Social media, it's often just a highlight reel of other people's lives, but they're not sharing the whole thing and rightfully so.

Nobody wants me to, nobody, if I posted a photo like, hey, feeling kind of blue guys, nobody, I would have to say it in a way where if I was really in a bad mood, I couldn't write it. It has to be something kind of poppy and, you know, people don't pay attention to that stuff. What people pay attention to is the photos of me in Italy in Milan at the Duomo, right or in Lisbon at the Belen Tower.

So, keep in mind that if you're on social media, it's designed to keep you in the gap, designed to keep you saying to yourself, oh, this person has a better life than me. And I'll be honest with you, I don't fall prey to that one. I don't look at people's lives on social media and say, oh, you got a better life than me. You know what I do? I look at people's social media and followings that are in my business, and then I'm like, oh, I don't have a social media following like that person. Oh, they said something.

I wish I could write like that. That's where I end up in the gap. Again, happiness, it goes back to that second one. Happiness is a practice and avoiding comparing yourself or maybe even better, just limiting your social media use. It can help with those feelings of inadequacy or like you're not accomplishing much. Remember, no one else can set your happy meter for you.

Another important point is internal reference. So, one thing that I saw in Miami Beach, and I've met people who've been through this outside of my personal training days, is defining success on your own terms. What do you really want?

What do you really want? And I say that because often we want things to compare with other people. Like, oh, well, I remember my, my parents ended up buying BMWs in a response to our neighbors who bought luxury cars. You know, my parents never told me that, but it seemed quite odd that our neighbors got new cars and then my parents got new cars, you know, keeping up with the Joneses.

But the thing is new cars are great, there's nothing wrong with a new car. And if you can afford one and you can afford a luxury one, great. Just don't expect it to do much for you though. Again, that, uh, that hedonic treadmill because the truth about this, another thing I learned in, in Miami, working with a lot of high-net-worth individuals is that a Ferrari at the end of the day is just the car that, you know, a guy with a Ferrari gets around in just becomes your car. Your luxury car becomes your car. Your Rolls Royce becomes your car. Your wraith with a driver just becomes just how you get around and you get used to it.

And maybe when someone cocks at your car says, whoa, you have a driver and you're rolling around in this wraith. I think it was a wraith one of my clients. It's just their car. And apart from that reminder where, oh yeah, other people react strongly to this, it's really not going to do much. So, what really makes you happy? That internal reference point.

And that's what I want to talk about today. That's what I want to leave you with today.

And as we head into this Christmas season, let's focus on the gain. In other words: the progress we've made, the challenges we've overcome, and the growth we've experienced.

It's about shifting our perspective from what we lack to what we've gained. And I want to leave you with a few questions to journal on. These questions are from the book "The Gap and the Gain," and they were questions that I answered recently during a retreat and it made a big difference. So, the first question was, "What three wins did I have today?"

In fact, I want to challenge you to journal at the end of every day. This is going to be something I'm going to take on from today forward. "What three wins did I have today?" So, start with that one and then answer the question, "How have I grown in the last three years?"

And the next question is, "What are the biggest things I've learned in the last 12 months?"

And the next question is, "What are the top 10 accomplishments that I've done in the last 12 months?"

And the last one is, "What are the most meaningful life experiences I've had in the last 90 days?" In fact, I'm going to redo this right after this episode, and I'd like to hear from you. Did you end up journaling? And did it make a difference? I'll be straight with you. Journaling is something I haven't historically done.

I've dabbled in it, but it's something that I want to get into, especially when I'm in a period where I feel like I find it easy to get stuck in the gap. So take some time with these. It doesn't have to be right now, but if you can do it immediately because what's going to happen? You're going to listen to another podcast or something's going to come up and take you away from it.

You're going to get busy, but answer these questions and then pay attention to how you feel as you do it or after you do it. Did it make a difference for you? And again, when we talk about this idea of happiness being a practice, this is what we're talking about. So, here's to a season of gratitude, reflection, and joy.

Remember: happiness is not found in the next achievement, but in appreciating where we are now. Stay healthy, stay grateful, and as always, live a legendary life. And if you got value out of this episode, the biggest compliment you can pay to the show and to not just me, but the team of people who worked very hard to produce it for you is to share this with someone that you care about.

That's it for me. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and here's to 2024.

Ted Ryce is a high-performance coach, celebrity trainer, and a longevity evangelist. A leading fitness professional for over 24 years in the Miami Beach area, who has worked with celebrities like Sir Richard Branson, Rick Martin, Robert Downey, Jr., and hundreads of CEOs of multimillion-dollar companies. In addition to his fitness career, Ryce is the host of the top-rated podcast called Legendary Life, which helps men and women reclaim their health, and create the body and life they deserve.

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