A few weeks ago, I told you about the experience I had the first time I stayed at a luxury hotel.
Little did I know, I would be staying at another one a few weeks later. Funny how life works like that. You never do something, and then all of a sudden you’re doing it often. (I’ll tell you how this all came to be at the end of this post.)
As I said before, I’m a simple man. I’m not familiar with the typical luxury hotel crowd. But as I soon discovered when I arrived at the St. Regis Bahia Beach resort in Puerto Rico, there are all sorts of successful entrepreneurs and business executives at these places.
And guess what? You can learn a lot from these people.
Here are a handful of lessons that I learned during my brief stay. If you’re looking to build a successful business (or just make smarter decisions in the near future), I think these 5 lessons that I learned could help you as well.
1. There is no one “best life”.
There were people from many different walks of life at this resort. Entrepreneurs, athletes, rich kids, business managers, lowly bloggers.
If you would love to travel to different countries and stay in fancy places, there are a lot of ways to get there.
Just because your friends are all going into finance, doesn’t mean you have to do so. Just because your peers are focused on getting a promotion, doesn’t mean you can’t break off and do your own thing. Just because you’ve had a career in one industry, doesn’t mean you can’t switch to another.
There are many paths to greatness. The important thing is that you walk one of them.
Related note: as I sat on the beach and enjoyed my time in the sun, I realized that I’ve had many other wonderful experiences that had nothing to do with a luxury resort. Some of the best moments of my life have been incredibly simple. So the idea that “there is no one best life” extends to your goals and experiences as well.
Just because society puts money and wealth and fame on a pedestal doesn’t mean that you need to go chasing it. You can choose your own route to happiness just as easily as you can choose your own career.
2. Gratefulness is the key to happiness.
There was a funny moment that happened after I ate dinner one night. This resort is so snazzy that it sends golf carts to pick you up and take you back to your room (you know, because walking isn’t an option).
Well, the golf cart was late and this one guy wasn’t happy. He was cursing and pacing and yelling about how much money he spent to stay there.
Now, I’ll admit that I didn’t have to pay for my room, so perhaps my mind was in a different place than his. However, the fact that he could afford to stay there means he has more resources, opportunity, and wealth than 99% of people in the world. Why not be grateful for that?
Why not take the long walk back to the room (it would have been about 15 minutes) and enjoy the stroll with your wife? Why not appreciate the few moments you have in this beautiful place? Why not think back on what you did to get here and be proud of the accomplishments you’ve enjoyed?
Here’s the real kicker though: we ALL do this in our daily lives.
We all take opportunities for granted. We all complain when we could live in the moment. We all forget how lucky we are to be here and to simply be alive.
Recently, I heard about a set of interviews that a nurse did with people who were on their death bed. She said, “So often we don’t realize the opportunity that our health gives us until it’s taken away.”
You are alive and that is not insignificant. Be grateful.
3. Keep your eyes on your own paper.
Want to be unhappy?
Compare your life to everyone around you. Measure your success by what your neighbor, your friends, your co–workers, your competition, and the rest of the world is doing. Make everything a race.
I’m starting to find more and more that comparison is useless. Not only that, it’s one of the biggest drivers of unhappiness.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still guilty of it. But I’m working to get better.
In a resort filled with successful people, you would hope that everyone would take a breath and celebrate their success. But instead you see each patron trying to out do the next. You roll up in a BMW, the next person rolls up in a Ferrari.
There’s nothing wrong with doing great things for yourself, but do it for you and not to win some imaginary competition.
4. Do things you can sustain.
I saw a few families at the resort and I started thinking about how long it would take my family to save for a trip like this and bring everyone down to this resort in Puerto Rico. “Probably 10 years,” I thought.
For a moment I was impressed by the thought of that kind of financial discipline and saving, but then I remembered that many people would just rack up a bunch of credit card debt to have the trip of a lifetime.
As I’ve hinted many times in this article already, you can find happiness in a wide range of lifestyles. There’s no need to rack up debt or buy things that you can’t afford in some attempt to purchase joy.
This idea of doing things you can sustain extends to other areas of life as well:
- Ignoring your friends or family once or twice might be fine, but if you don’t keep contact then you’ll never stay connected. Socialize in a way that you can sustain.
- Pulling an all–nighter once might be alright, but forcing yourself to work hard while running on empty isn’t going to work for very long. Work in a way you can sustain.
- Relaxing for a day is great, but if you live a sedentary lifestyle, then you’ll gain weight and die sooner. Life a life you can sustain by moving and exercising more.
5. Don’t cheat your goals.
If you’re not as wealthy or successful as someone else, then I think the tendency is to assume that this other person had some stroke of luck that you didn’t have.
In reality, I think that’s rarely the case. The truth of the matter is that almost all of us start in the same place: no money, no contacts, no experience.
The difference is that some people decide to go for bold things anyway, despite the lack of resources. This may be in stark contrast to what you’ve been told for most of your life (i.e. “Be reasonable.”).
What I’m starting to discover is that there are so many people trying to be “reasonable” that going for an average goal actually has much more competition than going for a major goal.
Don’t cheat yourself. Go for something big. You just might find it easier to achieve anyway.
Would you like to stay at a luxury hotel?
As you may know, American Express and Starwood Hotels are official sponsors of Passive Panda, which is how I ended up at the Bahia Beach resort. I had a great time there and I’d love to share the experience with you.
For that reason, I’m giving away 50,000 Starpoints to one lucky reader, which can be redeemed for a free hotel stay at any Starwood hotel property. The retail value of these points is $1,250 (i.e. that’s what you would pay for an equivalent stay at the hotel).
How to Enter: Leave a Comment Below
UPDATE: Congrats to the winner, Joy Holland. Thanks to everyone who entered!
To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment below telling me why you would like to stay at a Starwood luxury hotel. You can enter once per day until Monday, January 21.
The Fine Print: the winner will be chosen at random on January 21, 2013 at 3pm EST.
Disclosure: American Express and Starwood Hotels are official partners with Passive Panda and they have donated 50,000 Starpoints for Passive Panda readers to win.