A few days ago we broke the 1000 book barrier.
A lot of people like “Happiness and Success”, and some have even told me that they couldn’t put it down. Several readers mentioned that they really appreciate the fact that it can be put into use immediately, although action should follow naturally after reading. Moreover, the book is considered very accessible.
But the most important thing for me is that some young people told me they were excited when they read it, because they were discovering things they were completely unaware of. This is very rewarding news, because I wrote this book with the aim of offering people who wanted to take their lives into their own hands the tools to do so. There is no age limit on using these tools, but the simple fact of knowing they exist early enough will plant the seeds, and these seeds will germinate.
As we walk down the paths of our life, we constantly reach new crossroads. Sometimes these are simple little crossings that will give us pretty and enjoyable detours. Other, more important, crossroads will sometimes cause us to make big changes of direction.
At each intersection we have a choice to make, in complete freedom. There is no good or bad choice. Our decision will simply change the direction of our walk. The area we are going to visit, that is to say, the rest of our lives, will be full of surprises whatever happens, and certainly wonderful.
There are a hundred thousand things to see and to discover, each one more beautiful than the last. Sometimes we are given beautiful landscapes, without any effort. They are simply there, before our eyes, completely free, without us having to go and look for them.
But it is often at the cost of a certain effort that the most exceptional panoramas will be discovered, because they are generally at the top of hills or mountains that we will have to climb. If we are lazy, we risk always taking the same paths; those that seem to us to be the easiest. Those who are scared are more likely to take the paths that appear to them to be the safest. Perfectionists and calculators will take the fastest paths, the ones that give the best “return on investment”.
We are all, at least at times, lazy, fearful or too calculating. By regularly making the same choices when new paths open up to us, we limit our lives to what they already are and we unknowingly pass by some really exceptional things. Moreover, in choosing to limit ourselves in this way, we do not grow and we risk never correcting our mistakes and our weaknesses.
But there is even worse: as surprising as it may seem, some people wilfully take the wrong path. Without hesitation they follow signs which read: “alcohol and drugs”, “cheating and lying”, “laziness and unhealthy pleasures”. Why do they follow these paths, when they know very well where they will lead them?
At each crossing, we have a choice to make. Some people claim that we are not totally free in our choices, that they are sometimes dictated by our obligations or our experiences. I am convinced, however, that we are TOTALLY FREE IN OUR CHOICES, because I have never seen anyone at a crossroads with a gun to their head.
We are free to choose which direction we wish to take and each choice will take us somewhere. Those who choose the paths of lies, laziness or addiction do so for gain, in the short term anyway. It is very often a short-term pleasure, which will certainly involve long-term suffering.
Those who choose the safest ways do so because that reassures them, even if they know that their life will be monotonous and without surprises. Those who choose more unpredictable paths do so because they know that by making some effort they will reach higher heights, which will lead them to greater successes. Those who voluntarily take chaotic or dangerous paths also do so because they think they will gain something from them, or because they do not know, or pretend not to know, that these paths will lead them to suffering. Finally, those who choose more unpredictable paths do so because they know that by making some effort they will reach higher heights, which will lead them to greater successes.
What if we all began to change the way we approach the new intersections we encounter?
The good news is that we meet new crossroads every day. All roads lead to Rome and all paths can lead us to happiness and success.
No matter where we are now, it’s never too late to head to regions that are more beautiful, or wilder, according to what we desire.
What if those who follow the signs marked “short-term pleasures” remembered that these paths always lead to long-term suffering?
What if those who follow the signs marked “laziness, dishonesty and cheating” could see where they will be in ten years?
What if those who follow the signs marked “easy path” changed their habits and finally made the effort to achieve that famous project that otherwise they will never achieve?
What if those who follow the signs marked “safe path” allowed themselves some diversions to discover beautiful things that would make them say: “So that’s what real life is!“
What if we all followed the path that our heart, deep within us, tells us to follow?
Last September, I was lucky enough to take part in one of the fabulous bike races that Haute Route offers around the world, the Dolomites 2017.
This seven-day race, masterfully organised as always, took place in the extraordinary Dolomites region, which every cyclist or tourist should visit at least once in their life. The landscapes are breathtakingly beautiful, and we had everything we needed for a wonderful week.
This year’s race took place between Innsbruck and Venice, totalling 850 km / +21,000 m. The weather forecast wasn’t very good, and we were expecting to suffer a little (21,000 m is the altitude difference that a cycling enthusiast averages in one year).
People who don’t take part in any sports and who like their home comforts might think that we were completely crazy. Someone who does sport occasionally, and is therefore in a better position to understand what this seven-day event represents, might also think we were a bit mad.
Had my four teammates and I lost our minds alongside the other 350 participants? No, quite the opposite! We were there because it’s moments like this that allow you to feel truly alive.
This is real life! The life that we, the civilized and often hyper-urbanised people of the 21st century, have lost. A way of really using our most precious possession, the one that some people have almost forgotten that we possess: our bodies. In my book I advise you not to forget this essential element of happiness: “Go out, live, run, dive, play, roll in the grass and even eat some if you want. That is where life truly happens. Rediscover the little child that runs through the fields until they fall over; above all, forget about knowing the names of the flowers, the weather, the time and worrying about being ridiculed. Forget everything else; you are that little child, a tiger or Tarzan. Become anything you want, except that excessively intellectual being that you are normally.”
But did we suffer during that intensive week? After all, an undertaking like that is no walk in the park. Actually, no! My beloved teammates and I didn’t suffer at all and, to judge by their smiles, neither did the other competitors. It was all about pleasure and happiness, even during the terrible weather conditions we encountered. In the evening we allowed ourselves to eat like horses and enjoy some good bottles of wine. It must be said that my fellow travellers cultivated a positive attitude with as much vigour as many people seem to cultivate a negative one. If you have read my book, you will have realised that this is one of the many values I promote.
I did not suffer during this race—in fact, I got a lot of pleasure from it—because throughout my life I have applied the range of tools that I suggest in my book. These techniques allow even race days to become days of pure pleasure. The method is exactly the same for all areas of your life: simply get into the habit of using the right tools, at your own pace, and then just live, joyfully and successfully. You too, can enter a world of happiness and success!
In January 2017, while I was preparing for the publication of this book, an extraordinary event took place.
On that day, Roger Federer accomplished what some specialists have described as the most significant event in the history of sport. Not a single trainer, coach, doctor, journalist, former champion or tipster had bet a single dollar on Federer to win the 2017 Australian Open.
By winning the tournament at almost 36 years old and after a six month hiatus due to injury, he achieved something akin to a miracle. The most optimistic people predicted his return to the top 10, but almost no one expected to see him win a Grand Slam tournament again. Yet “Rodgeur” did it. What he achieved is simply amazing, because we need to remember that he had to fight against the best tennis players in the world, who are mostly much younger than him. Professional players who train well beyond their pain barriers, and who would give anything to win a tournament of this magnitude even once. But Roger Federer is a genius, an artist and a virtuoso who transforms everything he touches into gold.
What particularly stood out about this memorable feat, and made me very happy to see, is that Federer seems to use the tools that I laid out in “Happiness and Success” and that took me 40 years to find and refine. For the rest of this article, I am going to highlight the titles of the chapters in my book, which I humbly believe can be tied to the extraordinary way in which my illustrious compatriot lives.
The full power of his brain allows Federer to vary his game infinitely. His great strength lies in knocking his opponent off balance by continually changing his game, before surprising him with a final, and often bewildering, blow.
The clarity of his ideas and constant self-questioning allow him to analyse himself and question what he does every time, in order to further improve his game. He took advantage of his convalescence to work on his back hand, which was already considered the best on the circuit. His ability to reinvent himself is phenomenal. When something does not work perfectly, he innovates, and invents a new weapon. He will use it, but without forgetting his old techniques, some of which date back a very long time, which he will use again at the right time to stun his opponent.
Even when he is behind, his level of confidence and mental attitude allow him to never lose faith in a possible victory, unlike other great players. It’s obvious that Roger Federer has moments of doubt when things don’t go exactly as he would like, but I think it’s his faith, which is much stronger than that of his adversaries, which allows him to conquer. In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill calls faith the crucial element in success. “If you are absolutely certain you are going to succeed, you will succeed”.
Being able to let go, acceptance, relativisation and flexibility of mind allow Roger to ignore what has not worked so far and immediately get back to a state of mind that will enable him to succeed.
In my book I place a lot of emphasis on the tremendous benefits that flow from living in the moment. Being in the moment is absolutely vital to winning a tennis match. From a mental point of view, you must not think about the past by reliving your bad shots, nor should you think about losing or even winning the match. How many games have been lost by players who became unrecognisable when they mishit the ball in a match that they should have won?
You also need to live in the moment on a physiological level, in order to be present for the10th of a second it takes to volley the ball or hit it so perfectly that the player seems to be able to slow down time.
We can push the analysis of the benefits of living in the moment for tennis even further. Did you know that a famous tennis coach has speculated that the smartphone is the reason behind the as yet unanswered question of why young tennis players have so much trouble beating their elders? During their daily training sessions, those born with a smartphone in their hands are thinking about their social networks and what they can post. They are therefore no longer in the present, which reduces the benefits of their training. But most of all, they do not practise staying in the moment, and will be unable to concentrate and keep themselves entirely in the present during games that last several hours, leaving the victory to Federer and his “old” colleagues.
When you see Roger Federer playing, you can’t help noticing the joy and happiness that he experiences, as well as the love and respect that he shows towards everyone, from his entourage to his adversaries. In addition to being a great champion, “Rodgeur” is an extraordinary man. Some athletes, regardless of their fame, become arrogant and proud to as soon as they are successful. Him, never. Everyone recognises and loves him for his great human qualities. Every time he is interviewed he shows a lot of modesty and lots of love and gratitude. He never fails to thank the public and his entourage, and regularly expresses how lucky he is to be able to give people so much happiness by giving putting on a good show.
Finally, of course, Federer continually takes action by correcting his few remaining weak points and undergoing training sessions which the ordinary citizen can never truly understand. “Roger continues to work and improve every day, it’s almost scary”, says Mario Ancic. “Having a gift doesn’t get you anywhere. You have to work, time and again, and love what you do if you want to go far.” Roger Federer
American psychologists have examined this phenomenon which is common to virtuosos and sportsmen at the peak of their art. They call the trance-like state “getting into the zone”.
Roger Federer lives in a world where everything is slightly different from the one we live in. Thanks to his talent and his ability to use the fabulous tools that were given to us at our birth, he lives “in the zone”, where everything becomes easy, beautiful and bright.
“I don’t think anyone in the world has more fun than me when I’m on a tennis court.” Roger Federer