August 9, 2020

Look ma, life’s easy! What I learned about leading an easy life from Ernie Zelinski

Ernie Zelinski is another author that I am glad I discovered. I remember it was through a chance meeting with another Toastmaster at HomeSense. I had a couple of books that I was interested in buying, and then saw another Toastmaster who actually led a very similar life to mine. He’s into technology, he is the host of a podcast, he wrote a children’s book, and he is an ever-present and active Toastmaster. He introduced me to his partner and then they both mentioned that there was a store that re-sold items for charity and that the store had a lot of good books, if you were willing to be patient. I told him that I was working on a book and he told me that he knew Ernie Zelinski who wrote The Joy of Not Working.

I had never heard of the book before, but I purchased a few copies for my Dad to give him a nudge that he should retire soon. Shortly after, I decided to purchase a copy for myself and then purchased some of his other books, which has since changed my life.

Look ma, life’s easy is another book by Ernie, but this one is in the form of one of my favourite styles of non-fiction books, it is a parable. A lot of parables can be cheesy or contrived, and it is a challenge to write a parable sharing lessons without it being contrived. The premise of this book is that Sheldon, a student studying in college, meets Brock, a man who appears to be quite wealthy. They get into a conversation where Sheldon is envious of Brock’s nice car. Brock remarks that anyone can achieve his level of wealth, though Sheldon is skeptical, thinking that those people have certain opportunities or inheritances or other sources of income that average people do not have. Brock says that actually, when he was in his thirties, he was $30,000 in debt and was laid off from work, yet he managed to achieve his level of wealth without any of the opportunities that Sheldon thinks he had. Sheldon and Brock depart from each other, but later have another chance meeting where Brock invites Sheldon to help out and attend a three day seminar where Brock is teaching others how ordinary people can be successful.

Another nice thing about this book is that it is based in Vancouver and has a few Vancouver references to streets and restaurants. Being from Vancouver, I liked those references and it made me a bit nostalgic.

Here is what I learned about leading an easy life from Ernie:

Easy and comfortable vs. Difficult and uncomfortable

The first rule of success (i.e., the first day of the seminar) is that if you do the easy and comfortable things, life will be difficult and uncomfortable for you. If you do the difficult and uncomfortable things, life will be easy and comfortable for you.

What kind of easy and comfortable things do you do in your life?

  • Watching TV and binging Netflix
  • Eating junk food and sitting around all day
  • Staying up late at night, waking up groggy in the morning
  • Gambling
  • Online shopping to the point where you are in debt
  • Purchasing the car or big screen TV that you don’t really need but would be ‘nice to have’

Or are you doing the difficult and uncomfortable things?

  • Reading personal development and self-help books
  • Waking up early or taking time out of your day to exercise every day
  • Preparing meals ahead of time so that you are eating healthy and not eating out
  • Curbing your purchases to only the things that you need
  • Networking and putting yourself out there to make the right connections
  • Calling your parents on a regular basis to catch up

Of course it is easy to make the easy and comfortable decisions now. We all do not want to experience ‘pain’. However, pain with the difficult and uncomfortable things is usually short term and leads to long term benefits. Avoiding pain in the short term leads to long term pain.

The seven creativity principles

  • Choose to be creative. Whether you are starting out, reinventing yourself, switching careers or have been employed for many years, creativity can be your differentiator.
  • Look for many solutions. Somehow, when we are young, we are taught to find the one right answer. Many times, once we find the one answer, we stop looking for other solutions. This is part of the reason why we may not be as creative as we could be. Is life like math where there is one right answer or is it like a personality quiz where there can be many different answers (and one that is not necessarily ‘right’)?
  • Do something with your ideas. Execution of an idea is everything. Just because you had the idea for Facebook or Uber does not mean anything unless you can make it happen.
  • Don’t overlook opportunities all around you. Every single day, there may be things that frustrate you. To you, these are pain points in your daily life. To others, these are opportunities to solve problems.
  • Don’t resist failure. On average, if you want to be successful, you are going to have a lot more failures than successes in your life. That’s just part of the path to success. The good thing is, you don’t have to be afraid of it if you know that it is part of the process. Unfortunately, you won’t know how many failures you will have before you hit that success.
  • Dare to be different. The alternative? To be the same. To achieve the same. To make the same money.
  • Be persistent and pay your dues. Creativity is a shortcut to success, but it cannot shortcut it completely. If you are persistent, are creative every day, you will achieve whatever it is you wanted to achieve when you first set out.

The two rules of happiness

  • Rule 1: Be happy with who you are, where you are, with what you have
  • Rule 2: When you find yourself unhappy with what life brings your way, go back to Rule #1

Many people seem to think that money can buy happiness. Money can’t buy family. Money can’t buy fulfillment from your work. Money can’t buy friends. Money can’t buy time with loved ones. Money can help, but take a look at Rule #1. Happiness is about being satisfied with who you are, where you are and with what you have. It is not about achieving a certain level of wealth. Getting that car you have always wanted. Building that house you have dreamed of.


What do you think about these rules and principles? How will you apply these to your life? How have you been creative in your work or personal life?

One thought on “Look ma, life’s easy! What I learned about leading an easy life from Ernie Zelinski

  1. Hi Wang, glad you found Ernie’s books to be valuable resources and fun to read. BTW, I thought we ran into reach other at Winners, but I guess it’s a Winners/ Home Sense. LOL, Regards, Greg.

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