Dr. John Gray, as you know, is the best-selling author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. One of the most interesting things I learned about John was that he used to be a celibate Hindu monk for nine years. He ate one meal a day and led a very simple life (in contrast to his current life as a best-selling author and speaker commanding millions of dollars every year). As a monk, he became an expert meditator in eight years. What is fascinating to me is that it took him another twenty years to create what he calls ‘practical miracles’.

What are practical miracles?

You might think of miracles as physical cures. Someone you know had terminal cancer, and then several months later, the cancer is in complete remission. But practical miracles can be a physical healing, or it could be that an emotional block disappears (i.e., you forgive your partner for cheating on you). Miracles are unexplained – they happen one day and you don’t know how to repeat them. Until John Gray came along.

The nine principles

In summary, the nine principles for practical miracles are:

  1. Believe as if miracles are possible
  2. Live as if you are free to do what you want
  3. Learn as if you are a beginner
  4. Love as if for the first time
  5. Give as if you already have what you need
  6. Work as if money doesn’t matter
  7. Relax as if everything will be okay
  8. Talk to God as if you are being heard
  9. Feast as if you can have whatever you want

Shall we explore each principle further?

Believe as if miracles are possible

The first principle of creating practical miracles is believing they exist. You likely know the story of Roger Bannister and the 4-minute mile. When you think a 4-minute mile is impossible, it presents a roadblock to your achievement. When Roger broke the barrier, others around him, realizing and believing it was possible, started to run sub-4-minute miles too. Was it their ability that had changed? No, it was their belief.

Do you believe practical miracles are possible? Why or why not?

Live as if you are free to do what you want

I don’t take this principle to mean you can do whatever you want. Instead, it’s the mindset of being able to do what you want and not being limited by your beliefs.

For example, when you were younger, did you dislike a particular food? For me, it was brussel sprouts. The only reason I didn’t like brussel sprouts? Because other kids around me said it was the worst vegetable. For years, I would avoid it because I thought it would taste horrible. Later, when I grew up, I tried one brussel sprout because, well, why not? And it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I’m not saying brussel sprouts are the next superfood, but I missed several years of eating a great veggie because of my childhood belief that brussel sprouts tasted terrible.

What limiting beliefs are holding you back?

Learn as if you are a beginner

Any time anybody mentions ‘beginner’, I think about a picture Lance Armstrong posted with a quote on his bike. The quote reads, “never forget your beginner’s spirit”.

When you are a beginner, you have passion and unbridled enthusiasm for the things you learn. It’s fun because everything is new to you and you seem to improve at a rapid pace. You don’t have the arrogance or pride of someone that is experienced. You don’t need to be a know-it-all or show-off. Instead, you know that any learning journey begins with a few (or many) stumbles.

It’s why I love re-reading books. I don’t fool myself into thinking I know everything a book has to offer. I learn something new every time I re-read a book.

Take a field you consider yourself an expert in. What new things have you learned recently? I can almost guarantee that even if you are in the top 1% of your field, you are there because you are constantly learning about all the new developments and changes in that field.

Love as if for the first time

I’m trying to remember when I fell in love for the first time. It was sweet. Innocent. But one of the things that struck me was that my love was not dependent on someone else loving me. It was unconditional.

Dr. John Gray, as a marriage counsellor and mediator, says that people like the idea of unconditional love, but then many years later, they complain about their partners saying how ungrateful they are, or how lazy they are in doing anything around the house. To get love, you have to be loving yourself. And when you’re in a relationship, you have to ‘go first’. Don’t be loving after expecting and getting love. Be loving first and you will find the love returned manyfold.

Do you remember what it was like to love for the first time? Whether you’re in a relationship or not, bring that love to someone close to you (or your future partner).

Give as if you already have what you need

I’ll admit, this principle was hard for me to digest. I think it was from many years of living frugally and seeing my parents instilling in me the value of spending less than you need and taking advantage of anything free out there.

The interesting thing is when you give away things you thought you needed, life has a way of rewarding you. I gave away many copies of my newest book (Essential Habits), not expecting anything in return, but I watched as opportunities came and new friendships and business partnerships were created from giving away my books.

Look around your home – what can you give away to someone that needs it more than you do?

Work as if money doesn’t matter

Think about this principle for a second – what does it mean to work as if money doesn’t matter? You may have heard advice from those that have achieved massive success: find someone that will pay you for doing what you love, and you will never work a day in your life. It has some truth to it – I am most productive working on things that have no monetary value associated with it: writing, sharing ideas, and reading.

I think what it means is if you found work that you’re willing to do for free, but someone will pay you for, you’ve got a winning career.

Are you early in your career? What would you want to do even if you never got paid for it? Are you later in your career? What kind of ‘free’ things could you add to your work to make it more enjoyable?

Relax as if everything will be okay

Look at the alternative: stress as if everything won’t be okay? One of my favourite thinkers is Norman Vincent Peale, the best-selling author of The Power of Positive Thinking. You can think about situations in a positive or negative way – but all things being equal, why not think more positively? You won’t have as much stress. You may think of creative solutions. Rather than thinking that life or someone is out to get you, you come at problems or roadblocks as a sign that you are on the right path.

What is something you are worried about right now? What if what you were worried about wasn’t a problem at all? Assume that’s the case until you know otherwise.

Talk to God as if you are being heard

I’m not a religious person myself and when I asked my Mom whether she was religious, she also said no, but that she likes to think there is a powerful being (could be God, could be something else) out there observing us and the lives we live. I like that so whether it is God for you or something else, talk as if you are being heard. Believe that the universe is listening to you.

If you could ask the universe for one thing, what would you ask? Ask it right now.

Feast as if you can have whatever you want

I’ll tell you a funny story: I have travelled to China on a few occasions. On one such occasion, I was there and worried about my weight. There is incredible food in China and without access to any gyms or exercise equipment, I thought I would gain several unseemly kilograms. I didn’t let the lack of activity bother me though – I still ate whatever I wanted, but while out and about, I would take the stairs if I could or do a bit more walking than usual.

When I got back from the trip, I found I had lost weight despite eating everything in sight. What?

Nowadays, I don’t watch what I eat, but I try to follow the rule of getting to 80% full and then stopping. I also try to be active at least 5 days a week (it’s more like 2 – 3 times these days). I think the principle here is don’t limit your diet to the point where you aren’t happy. But don’t be a glutton either. Eat healthily. Eat the tasty food you like. Eat with moderation. Exercise. Be active.

Experiment over the course of a month – eat whatever you want, exercise as much as you feel comfortable with and see what that does to your weight. (I’m not a doctor, so please don’t listen to me if you have an existing medical condition, etc. – please listen to your doctor).

What I learned following these nine principles

  • It all starts with the belief that you can create practical miracles. Believe that everything is possible.
  • The more effort you put into achieving something, sometimes, the less likely you will achieve it. You can do more by doing less. Think about where you can achieve 80% of the results with 20% of the effort.
  • Practice having an abundance mindset. Think about the people that are rich. They have worked extremely hard to get to where they are. After they become rich, what happens? They earn even more money by doing what they want. They work as if money doesn’t matter and they get more money in turn.
  • In all situations, be the first one to ‘give’. Love your partner even if they aren’t being loving to you. Say hi to your neighbour when you pass by and don’t wait for them to say hi to you first. Contact your friends and ask them to lunch – don’t wait for them to make plans.
  • Just because you can do whatever you want, eat whatever you want, work however you want, doesn’t mean you should – although I imagine if you have gotten this far, you’re reasonably intelligent and levelheaded, so you know what these principles mean for you.