How can you lose $20,000 in five minutes and be happy about it? People think this is a trick question. No one likes to lose money. But with the right approach and by using the Water-to-Wine Hack (link is external), any situation, however awful it seems, can become a positive motivational experience. This hack teaches us how to manage the emotions sparked by the inevitable disasters of life: losing money, job termination, grief from the deaths of friends and family, and dozens of more mundane sorrows.
We all know people who always seem to be having a bad day, and other people who are generally upbeat, optimistic, and enthusiastic, despite having the same problems as everyone else. The difference between the constant complainers and the habitually happy is driven by two motivational beliefs: the realization that things will not always go as planned and the understanding that we can control and regulate our subjective responses to life’s tragedies, disappointments, and curve balls.
The answer to my riddle is simple. If you take a risk and fail, you want to minimize your losses, right? That is exactly what my friend Alec Torelli (link is external) does when he plays professional poker. By the time he was 27, Alec had earned over three million dollars from poker tournament play. Alec sometimes loses large sums of money, because he cannot control the cards he is dealt. But he does control his response to the hand he is given.
Source: Alec Torelli, used with permission
If he knows he cannot win and folds, Alec has made the right decision in a hopeless situation. He might have lost $20,000 on that hand, but he kept himself from losing more, so he’s happy to see the smaller sum go. Like skillful poker players, we can convert negativity into useful outcomes by focusing on improving ourselves rather than ruminating about life’s unavoidable misfortunes.