Forget Everything Else

Here’s the only real “secret” to success and happiness

by Kris Ward

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Pay Attention Image ©

Pay Attention
Image ©

Forgive my I, I, I-ness for a second while I lay a foundation here.

I coach all day long…

Supporting people in very intimate ways through overcoming their fears; conquering their bad habits; seeing their blind spots; realizing, owning and expressing their truth, talents and hearts; embracing the chaos; dropping the drama; and finding ways to live a grounded, authentic and abundant life that feels good to them.

I have countless game-changing tools and practices for getting from confusion to clarity or from overwhelm to order.

I customize program after program including the right combinations of these tools and practices, in the right order, for the right person. Because we’re all so different.

No we’re not. We’re all the same.

If you were to see into my world and all the shifts and transformations and breakthroughs and awakenings and liberations and launches and reboots I’ve had the privilege of helping to facilitate…

You’d no doubt have the same tendency that I’ve had to see to the core of things and recognize that the solution to all of it––the most powerful catalyst for change––could be boiled down to one “secret”.

It’s a secret that’s been talked about for eons. Kind of. The masters have at least hinted at it. We’ve just misconstrued the teachings unfortunately.

Anyway. Here’s the secret:

Paying attention is enough.

To explain what I mean, I’ll share a poem with you that was written by one of my teachers who doesn’t know she’s my teacher (and yet every day, I stand on a foundation she’s helped to give me).

In The End

by Tara Sophia Mohr, writer and coach

In the end
you won’t be known
for the things you did,
or what you built,
or what you said.

You won’t even be known
for the love given
or the hearts saved,

because in the end you won’t be known.

You won’t be asked, by a vast creator full of light:
What did you do to be known?

You will be asked: Did you know it,
this place, this journey?

What there is to know can’t be written.
Something between the crispness of air
and the glint in her eye
and the texture of the orange peel.

What you’ll want a thousand years from now is this:
a memory that beats like a heart–
a travel memory, of what it was to walk here,
alive and warm and textured within.

Sweet brightness, aliveness, take-me-now-ness that is life.

You are here to pay attention. That is enough.

Paying attention (REALLY paying attention… slow, steady, patient attention), and being deeply compassionate and curious in how we respond to and treat ourselves and others––I’ve come to see this as the secret to a truly happy and successful life.

That, and never stuffing an emotion.

(All feelings need to be acknowledged, felt and validated in order for them to move on through versus clogging our system and morphing into horribly limiting self-sabotage and destructive behaviors.)

This form of paying full attention, often referred to as mindfulness, is a skill we have to learn and cultivate.

Those of us who think we have it down? Ummm. Not likely.

It’s a muscle that must be strengthened deliberately and repeatedly––on the daily.

And if it’s built upon a philosophy that’s grounded in reality versus one that clings to unrealistic SHOULD’S or IDEALS, that gives us even more power and clarity to work with because we’re not wasting energy arguing with reality or trying to change what isn’t ours to change.

More on this “philosophy” in a moment.

One of my other heroes, Sam Harris, defines mindfulness as simply:

a state of clear, nonjudgmental attention to the contents of consciousness, whether pleasant or unpleasant.


So what makes that so special and important? How is it the secret to success and happiness?

Let’s check it out.

Picture yourself in a heated argument with someone you love and admire.

First, see yourself WITHOUT mindfulness (clear, nonjudgmental attention).

Not a pretty picture, is it?

Reactivity. Stubbornness. Opposite teams. Passive aggression perhaps.

Or maybe it’s verbal jabs. Either way, it’s shit you’ll regret.

It flies off the handle. And nobody wins.


The focus is on being right versus being connected.

That’s what happens by default in any argument––when we aren’t in practice with slowing down enough to really pay objective attention.

Primal brain takes over. Survival mode kicks in. Then comes the fear based thinking.

We want to be understood before we ourselves really seek to understand.

Whether we’re right or wrong, it doesn’t matter. Without a true sense of presence and curiosity (think open fist vs. closed fist), the whole argument experience will just SUCK. And it surely won’t be productive.

Like I said, nobody wins.

Now picture yourself WITH mindfulness.

There might be some discomfort. Probably a lot. Some strong emotion swirling in your belly. A tightness in your throat. An impulse to lash out.

But at least as you think and feel and say, you’re also simultaneously watching yourself as the doer and the thinker… engaging in this back and forth… experiencing these emotions… breathing… and being breathed.

If you’re being both the watcher AND the doer, automatically…

There is more space, a broader perspective and a greater capacity to make decisions you can be proud of now and in the future.

When we can remain this grounded, and yet wide open in our consciousness (again: open fist vs. closed fist), we find solutions much easier.

And more importantly, we simply stop wasting our precious energy on petty matters. (I’m repeating myself now, I know. But it’s purposeful because I really want to be clear here.)

The secret to happiness? PLUGGING THE ENERGY DRAIN.

After all, we only have so much life force. How we use it is what determines how we’ll feel. And the only reason we ever set out to do anything important (or courageous, or empowering, or beautiful, or whatever) is because we think we’ll feel better in the doing or the accomplishing of it.

So whether we’re talking about:

  • a fight with someone we love,
  • a big decision we really don’t want to get wrong,
  • resistance to what’s happening in our lives, or
  • a battle we’re waging with ourselves…

If we have a strong capacity for mindfulness (breathing and feeling and paying attention without judgment or painful meaning making), then we can stand in the center of the storm and still have access to what is needed (be it patience, love, humility, courage, discernment or whatever) in order to take right action and move ahead with grace.

The more we practice mindfulness (especially during scary, unpredictable times), the more we become clear channels through which guidance, wisdom and massive productivity can pour.

According to Sam, developing this quality of mind has proven to reduce pain, anxiety, and depression; improve cognitive function; and enhance focus, learning, memory, emotional regulation and self-awareness. The benefits go on and on.

But the biggest place we’ll see and notice them is in our relationships and in how we deal with uncertainty.

We become the kind of person everyone wants on their team…

And that creates tremendous opportunity.

So are you ready for that? (Or for a REcommitment to that?)

Here’s a practice and an invitation.

Sam has produced two guided meditations (9 minutes and 26 minutes) for getting started (or reacquainted) with a mindfulness practice. Please use them and feel free to share them as I have.

I’d also love to hear from you as you utilize these as well as the poem above. I’d love to hear what shifts, what opens up, what gets resolved. Thanks for making this a two-way conversation.

Last thought:

Wrapping back around to that “philosophy” I hinted at earlier.

I found the following image on facebook via one of my clients and just loved the message. It’s a message that describes a beautiful, reality-aligned, energy-efficient philosophy I’ve done my best to live by every second of every day, at least for the last few years.

I’ve only recently gotten “good” at it––probably as a result of various mindfulness practices I’ve kept (lots of paying attention) coupled with major learning through painful, humbling and eye-opening loss and life lessons––but I’ve found this way of living to be more helpful and rewarding than all the business, relationship and mindset strategies I’ve ever learned (even from multiple $10K+ trainings) put together.

Go figure.


Embrace the Chaos
Image ©

Embrace the chaos + pay attention… that’s all it really takes to be happy.

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Kris Ward
Kris Ward is a Lifestyle Design Coach™ Trainer and the president and founder of She has helped to educate and inspire over 100,000 people worldwide out of painful conflict around money, self-sabotage, and inhibited self-expression into having the freedom and abundance to do what they love every day, and more

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Read 5 comments

  1. Dr Shiva

    Awareness is teacher,this is taught in India from the first day in school.It takes a long time understand.There is so much light to be seen,only if we are aware.

    Thank you for a wonderful thought.


  2. Terry Love

    I Love it Kris..
    I appreciate u and your beautiful connection to helping us all take better care of each other… i feel that’s why I was born! ALL ONE LOVE!
    Terry Love

  3. Jennifer Waugh

    Thank you Kris. Good reminder. I love it xo

  4. Marlene

    Hi Kris! Thanks so much for that beautiful post. What an insightful poem and reminder to mindfully embrace the chaos. Today already feels lighter with that concept underlying my seemingly scattered and full ‘to-do’ list.

    It’s also quite timely that your email landed in my inbox this morning. For some reason AY crossed my mind just yesterday:) I think it’s likely because I’ve been thinking more and more about my big vision and investigating what steps are required to land where I want to land 2 years from now.

    I always look forward to reading your messages that have an excellent way of staying seated in reality while touching on grander ideas and deeper concepts.

    Thanks again!

    From your yogi friend in Toronto, Canada,


  5. Gaia

    Yes, yes, yes. One of the things I’ve loved about you, Kris, is that it’s palpable in the energy of your business that you’re on the journey as much as anyone else. In it with the intention to be brave and confident and to love who and what you are, expressing that fearlessly, even if fear happens somewhere along the way…. Giving us the permission to do the same, modeling that it’s possible. So glad I can have the example in you.
    This testament to the mindful choice is a beautiful reminder that it truly does come again and again back to moment-by-moment choices, every second of every day, to be present to what IS. As a community of self-growth, we’re articulating this better than ever before, which I believe tells us it’s becoming more clear than ever before. I feel inspired to keep up with my own mindful work, as well as my service in facilitating the trials and triumphs in the mindful endeavors of my clients.
    And wow, what a poem! Thank you for passing that along!