26 11, 2023

The Power of Hope


Upon returning from her adventure, going back to Kansas with a click of her heels, Dorothy uttered, “There’s no place like home.” I feel the same. After being away for several weeks, visiting Sweden, Spain, and Florida, I have returned to my long wooden back porch at my Texas ranch house, looking out over the arid plants, twisted and gnarly oaks, and distant purple mountains, enjoying the crisp morning air and the remaining vibrant hues of autumn.

I’m still basking in the gift of Thanksgiving, having had the triplets home, gathered around our table, and feeling as though nothing ever changed and no one ever left. And I’m comforted that each is doing well and finding their way. Yet today, everyone heads back to their roles elsewhere, and we start our quest to get everyone back again for Christmas. Yet I can’t help but reflect on the Thanksgiving spirit that still lingers in the air. A spirit of gratitude, of togetherness, of compassion, and most importantly, of hope.

I can never articulate it, but it’s as though someone sprinkled magical fairy dust on me, starting about last Tuesday. Suddenly, I was consumed by true gratitude for the people in my life. I had clearly launched into holiday mode on Tuesday and had a hard time focusing on work on Wednesday, though final year-end planning has to get done.

The Power of Hope

Hope, that resilient flame that flickers even in the darkest of times, is what I find myself drawn to today. Hope, the driving force that propels us forward, that motivates us to believe in a brighter tomorrow, a tomorrow filled with possibilities and the promise of a better world. Some days it’s hard to find hope when you track what is happening in the world, yet I have faith that mankind always finds its way and settles its issues. When I see the spirit of Thanksgiving spread across my deep network of friendships, my confidence in mankind is renewed. 

Lessons from Thanksgiving

In the aftermath of Thanksgiving, as we bask in the warmth of shared meals and sleepy tryptophan-fueled couch napping, along with the joy of family gatherings, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But amid the chaos, let’s not forget the profound lessons Thanksgiving has imparted — lessons of gratitude, kindness, and the power of human connection. What if we were all more grateful every single day?

Hope: A Guiding Light

These lessons, like the gentle rays of the sun, have the power to illuminate our lives, to guide us through the darkest of times, and to remind us that even in the face of adversity, there is always hope. Hope is not just a fleeting emotion; it’s a powerful force that can transform our lives. It’s the belief that things can get better, that we have the ability to make a difference, and that we’re not alone in this journey.

A Journey of Hope

As we navigate the ups and downs of life, let’s seek out hope like a precious lighthouse, guiding us toward a brighter future. Let’s nurture it with our actions, with our compassion, and with our unwavering belief in the inherent goodness of humanity.

The Power of Human Connection

Remember, hope is not a destination; it’s a journey. It’s the continuous act of choosing to believe, to persevere, and to make a difference in the world. It’s having faith in our fellow man, and understanding that deep down, everyone means well and has purpose. Conflicts are driven by differences, fueled by people feeling as though they are not being heard. All conflicts can be resolved by listening. Seems naive, doesn’t it? Yet it’s the foundation of settling everything.

Spreading Kindness

So, as you go about your day today, let the spirit of hope guide your steps. Let it inspire you to reach out to those in need, to spread kindness wherever you go, and to believe in the limitless possibilities that lie ahead. Instead of that cold, hard shell we often put on when passing a homeless person, judging them for begging on the streets, perhaps we need to give them the benefit of the doubt and be grateful that it’s not us or a family member, understanding that this person is someone’s son or daughter, struggling with bad choices or uncontrolled circumstances or the inability to cope. I’m sad to say that I’ve experienced seeing someone I love be homeless, and it is a helpless feeling because you know that at some point, they will have to pull themselves out of it, even after so many attempts by others to rescue them. Yet everyone can use a friend and a helping hand.

Creating a Better Future

For it is in the depths of hope, in the resilience of the human spirit, that we find the strength to overcome challenges, to build a better world, and to create a brighter future for generations to come. And as the Christmas season officially begins and people are showing their greed by fighting over big-screen TVs in Walmart, let’s all keep the spirit we’ve captured this week, carrying it through Christmas and into the new year. And as we think about resolutions for the soon-to-be-coming new year of 2024, let’s remember that the spirit of generosity and giving should fuel us each day — and it will, if we allow ourselves time to let that spirit consume us.

Happy Sunday, and may the warmth of hope fill your hearts and homes.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Time away and reflection have brought me to some new and frightening places, because my thoughts have pushed me out of my comfort zone and are driving me to pursue some new things in the coming months. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I think it will be a good thing. I like the idea of change for the sake of change. I don’t want to be the man who lives to be a hundred and has repeated the same year, the same things, a hundred times. I want to live each year as its own, with its own unique experiences. No more Groundhog Day. Every day, every year, fresh and new. Like I said, I can’t tell you what it means or what it is, but I’ve had this feeling before and I feel change coming. Stay tuned — it’s going to be an interesting year.

PS 2: One project is to write a new book, different from my last two, which were different from one another. This one is broader, with deeper purpose. It’s started, and will continue to progress until it’s done. Honestly, I don’t want to do it because it pushes me out of my comfort zone and forces me to examine my life and my theories. But I know I can help millions of people by saying what others haven’t said. I have no interest in repeating what’s been said before and copied hundreds of times by others. I have a big vision for this, and I look forward to seeing what happens.

PS 3: These last few weeks of the year are the most important of all. Not just because of the spirit of the holidays, but because what you decide now, plan now, and begin to implement will determine the direction and success of your year. Time spent now will make a big difference because, as you know, the minute the year begins, it’s already over. As I look at all the gurus on Instagram who give everyone all the advice about how to be rich or successful, few if any ever mention the most important part: planning. If you could pick one giant thing you want to have happen and two smaller but important things, what would they be? Can you measure them, so you know when you’ve accomplished them? If you lay those things out, then lay out 50 steps toward each one, then throw those steps in your calendar, you will hit it. You can do this in one day, though it deserves more thought and time than that. What if you took the time and got that done so you hit the ground running in 2024?

PS 4: Remember this. If you think 2024 is going to be a bad year because of the economy, the election, wars, or other things, you’re exactly right. On the other hand, if you think it’s going to be a great year, possibly the best year in your life, you’re also right. You have the choice. It starts with what you’re believing and ends with who you’re listening to. No one else has the right to tell you that you’re going to have a bad year no matter what you do. Don’t listen unless it’s constructive or helpful. 

PS 5: I don’t have actual numbers because so many people receive this when it’s forwarded, and I don’t really care how big or small the audience is. But I know this. If you received one thought, one idea, one bit of encouragement, or some value out of reading this, sharing it might be a gift to someone else who needs those things. Who do you know that needs a rudder in their life? You know what to do.

PS 6: This weekend tens of thousands of people got some great bargains during our Black Friday sale on art instruction streaming videos. According to our stats, they are already opening them and viewing them, and gradually, as they watch, they are being transformed into artists, or better artists. Even those who don’t believe they have what it takes. I want that for you because most of us need something other than work and kids or grandkids. We need something that is our own, expressing our creativity. Those deals are still out there at www.painttube.tv. These make great gifts too.

PS7: And if watercolor is something you are destined to master, join our Watercolor Live worldwide virtual conference in January by signing up now at www.watercolorlive.com

The Power of Hope2023-11-25T20:09:43-05:00
19 11, 2023

Say Hello to Your Future Self


Everything is blowing around … palm trees are bending, giant waves are crashing and spraying, wind is whistling, and the hurricane shutters are rattling loudly as a huge storm makes its way across the state. In the distance I can faintly see the towers at Cape Canaveral, and this week I’ve had the treat of watching rockets soar into space while the air around me vibrates.  

When I was a kid, I went to the 1965 New York World’s Fair, where we saw prototypes of Dick Tracy-style talking watches, flying cars, phones with TV screens so you could see the person you’re talking with, and robots who would do your work for you. We were told that one day TVs would hang on the wall like pictures. Rockets were something that happened annually, if we were lucky, and now rockets go up more than weekly. Now I can talk on my Apple Watch just like Dick Tracy, and my phone is the communicator from Star Trek (the only thing missing is the ability to beam me up). I can talk to anyone in the world on my screen. Flying drone cars are available now, as are jetpacks so you can fly, and rockets are going up frequently to put satellites in so we can have high-speed Starlink Internet and TV anywhere in the world. AI robots can do a lot of our work for us, freeing up time. We are living in the future. 

High-Speed Change

The rate of change we’ve seen in the last five years is greater than any change we’ve seen in our lifetimes — greater than any time in history. What happens in the next five or 10 years will blow your mind. You and I have to be ready for an unknown future, which is very exciting but also a little intimidating. For instance, I went to a conference that said, “If you can live 10 more years, you’re likely to live 30 to 50 more years.” Imagine how that impacts our lives. I know people who know their great-grandchildren, but they might end up knowing another generation or two.


When I mention such things, I’ve had people tell me they don’t want to live that long. But what if you could do it and be healthy, vibrant, relevant, happy, and have plenty of money? Google says someday you’ll be able to transfer your brain to a new 3D-printed body, eliminating death altogether. (That brings up lots of social discussions I’ll avoid for the moment.) But at bare minimum, tech has changed so much that even now, you can reverse aging with a simple supplement protocol that is proven to lengthen telomeres on your DNA strands, and within just one or two years from now, a person who is 70 could reverse to 65, then 60, then 55. All within a few years. Again, this isn’t science fiction, it’s today. 

Maybe today, thinking about the next 30 years is too overwhelming. But what about the next five or 10? 

Programmed to Assume Age Causes Problems

I was recently with an elderly couple who were experiencing some health issues, and when I asked about why that was happening, the answer was, “Well, of course it’s because of our age.” What I wanted to say (but resisted) was, “I know people 10 years older than you who are not having these problems.” Old age was blamed when the reality is that the culprit was lack of exercise, poor diet, and bad attitude. Of course we can’t control the expression of our predetermined genes, but we can slow it, or reverse it. Physically, I’m younger today than I was a year ago; I’ve actually reversed my aging by following that  protocol, and the result is that I’ve lost 40 pounds, I’m stronger with more muscle mass — stronger than I’ve probably ever been — and I have boundless amounts of energy. 

I’ll Take What I’m Given

I’m not sure I want to live forever, and I’m not even sure what age I’ll want to live to, and I know I can only control it up to a point. I know it’s ultimately in the hands of my Maker. But I love the idea of knowing grandkids, great-grandkids, and maybe more. My brother has his photo with his mother, his grandmother, his great-grandmother, and his great-great-grandmother. People used to live to meet five generations.

So now I’m faced with a new challenge … I have to plan for my future. How do I make enough to live several more decades? And what do I want my future life to look like? Do I want to do more of the same? Do I want to occupy my time with new things?

Get to Know the New You

Whether you’re 20 or 70, it’s a good practice to think about your future self and lay out a plan. If you’re 70 and vibrant, how do you remain vibrant and relevant and healthy? How do you get healthier and in better shape? As my friend Tom told me the other day, “My trainer asked me why I never worked out when I was younger so I could prevent the issues I’m having now, and I answered that I did not need it then; I could do everything I wanted to do. Now I can’t.”

If you’re 25, you want to make a plan to get where you want to be as rapidly as possible so you can begin living the life you dream of. The more you exercise and eat right now, the more you’re buying quality of life when you’re older.

Write a Letter

I like to start with a letter to myself: “Dear Future Eric.” For starters, I want to focus on the next decade, so my letter will address that. How do I want to define my next 10 years? Do I want to work? Paint every day? Play Pickleball? Start a couple of new businesses? Your letter can address the next two or five years, or the next 50. But things change so rapidly, I like starting with 10 at a time. 

Where am I now?

Where do I want to be?

What are the most important things I want to accomplish?

What are the things that bring the most meaning in my life, and what can I plan to make sure those things occur? 

Your letter should define what you want your life to look like so you know what to focus on, what goals to pursue.A Ship Adrift

According to Dr. Ben Hardy, a specialist in this field, research indicates that we tend not to understand how different our future selves will be from our current selves, because we don’t take the time to imagine a new, fresh future. Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”  But most of us take more time to plan dinner than we take to plan the next few years of our lives. And if you don’t make a plan, you’re a ship adrift at sea without a map, and you could end up in any port, or on the rocks. 

Reinvention Is Reinvigoration

When we reinvent, we bring new excitement into our lives, giving ourselves new energy and a better outlook. I watched my own father do this. 

When he was 60, he sold his business, reinvented himself, spent a year learning a new business, and then he launched it and ran it successfully for a decade. Then at 70, he sold that business and went a completely different direction, and did that for a decade. At 80, he did it again, and was actively doing it yet again when he died at 94. He never was one of those guys talking about the “good old days before he retired.” Instead, he retired, hated it, and then started a new business. When he got bored, or felt he had done all he could with it, he moved on to the next thing, then the next. As a result, his brain was pliable and sharp till his death. He even went to a Tony Robbins event at age 90 because he wanted to learn new things, and he left there with lots of new friends he stayed in contact with the rest of his life. 

Just because you are doing something today does not mean you have to do it forever. It’s your choice. But finding new things to add to your life will reinvigorate you.

What have you always wanted to do but could not do because of your condition or other restrictions?

What would you do if you did not have to worry about anyone else?

What would you do if you did not have to worry about money or paying a mortgage?

What do you catch yourself dreaming of?

What do you think about that you’re telling yourself isn’t possible?

Write Just Two Pages Today

Again, research shows that people dramatically underestimate how DIFFERENT their future self will be from their current self. Dr. Daniel Gilbert explains that this is because people don’t take the time to imagine their future selves. Pull out some paper and write two pages. On the first page, write all the ways you’re different from who you were 10 years ago. On the second page, write about where your future self could be, and where you want to be 10 years from now,  or what you want the next 10 years to look like. 

This may sound overwhelming, but it’s not. Have fun with it. Be playful. Be truthful with yourself. And don’t judge yourself. Don’t avoid writing something down just because your brain is telling you, “That will never happen.” Write it down anyway. Then once you have your list exactly where you want it to be, read it every day. Suddenly your rudder will steer you toward the future.

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.” —  Napoleon Hill 

It’s Groundhog Day

In my letter to myself, I’m not only addressing the things mentioned above, but asking, “What are the things I do on autopilot? What are the things I’ve done over and over as a routine? Do I still want to do those? Do I still want to show up at the same places, with the same people?” (In my case, I love the people I interact with.) There are things in my life that feel like Groundhog Day, and it’s time to move on. What about you?

Perhaps you’re happy where you are. Great. Do the assessment and letter anyway, because it never hurts to have reinforcement. But if you want to live a rich, full life, exactly the life you’ve designed, or better, find a quiet spot and write a couple of pages. Look at it a couple of days later, and adjust it as needed, and then make it your guide. You’ll thank me later.

Eric Rhoads

PS: I sent one of my kids and his friend to a Tony Robbins event in Dallas last weekend, and I’m already seeing transformation. I used to think TR was just a motivational speaker, but that’s not what he is at all. He presents valid research on techniques to improve your life, and it’s not the same drivel you hear elsewhere. I’ve been, I’ll go again, and one day, I’ll be onstage with him. Mark my words. If you want to kickstart your life, find a TR event and go. After you get over the sticker shock, do it anyway, because there is no better investment you can make in the rest of your life. 

PS2: As you know, I have been flitting around Europe both on business and some play. I wrote about it here. You’ll learn about one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life …  so simple, yet so meaningful to me.

PS 3: Do you know what is proven to lower your blood pressure, improve your attitude, remove your stress, and put a giant smile on your face? When I’m stressed, I go to my studio and paint, and because it’s using a different part of my brain, I forget I’m stressed. Every CEO, MD, lawyer, nurse, or anyone in a stressful job should do it. It has an amazing impact. And ANYONE can do it, and do it well. It’s not about talent, it’s a learned skill. (Maybe I should teach 10,000 people to do it from the stage at a TR event.) 🙂My next training is in January at WaterColorLive.com. It will change your life or I’ll refund your investment. 

Say Hello to Your Future Self2023-11-16T18:43:22-05:00
12 11, 2023

The Cure for Burnout


Rolling out of bed naturally, I head to the bathroom, flip the light switch I’ve hit every morning for over a decade — and something feels wrong. I’m not struggling to find a switch or bumping into walls or tripping over suitcases. Today is the first normal Sunday I’ve had in weeks. It’s glorious. 

There is no better feeling than the coziness of my own bed and the familiarity of my own house after weeks away. 

I just returned from three weeks abroad, plus a week of driving, and a week at one of my artist retreats. I’ve been living out of a suitcase and realizing that I’ve not had a mental break in over four years. The candle has been burning at both ends, and the life of constant business, events, shows, columns, and running a company had me lost, burned out, and even a little unenthusiastic. 

Yet this week, I’m a new man, refreshed and filled with ideas and the excitement to implement them. Problems and challenges bounce off my chest like bullets off Superman. I no longer have to fight through miles of spiderwebs in my brain. My burnout is gone.

Funny thing — I did not know I was burned out. Like all of us, I just keep plowing forward, doing what I need to do to survive. But there have been clues. Ideas were harder to come by, especially fresh ones. And I caught myself being a little grumpy in some tough moments in meetings. Very unlike the normal me. It was time for a break, but work had other plans for me. 

The reality is that I went for four years without a break. Most of us did. When Covid hit, I launched a YouTube show called Art School Live. I did it because I knew everyone was lost and freaking out, and they needed someone to be there for them. I went live every day, seven days a week at 12 noon, for seven solid months. Then, because it was so hard on me and my staff, doubling our workload, I cut down from seven days a week to five days a week. Then last year I started replaying some old shows a couple of days a week and only doing three days live. Though I loved doing the show, I needed a break. 

That natural break came when we made our first Fine Art Trip to Europe in four years. This was our 11th trip to see museums and art behind the scenes. And though it was fun and not especially challenging work, it’s not like I can sleep in or skip a day.  And you can’t completely relax or let your hair down because you’re with customers all day for a couple of weeks. 

But following the two weeks of art touring, and being around amazing art every day, I needed a vacation. So we took one. Five days in Majorca. No art, just being tourists, eating lots of gelato and tapas and being absorbed in the local culture. 

But here’s the trick that worked so beautifully to give me a refreshed attitude, new ideas, and enthusiasm about getting back … and it’s a great way to overcome burnout.

You have to disappear from the world, bury your head in the sand, and ignore everything.

Here’s what I mean.

Once we started our official vacation, I set up a security net around my brain.

  1. No reality. I was in Spain to escape reality. I wanted to pretend I lived there. Thankfully my wife speaks Spanish fluently. So we tried to avoid using English whenever possible. I didn’t want to see or hear anything about America. I didn’t want to eat American food, or deal with other Americans. Being in another country is a great way to escape.
  2. No news. My wife is pretty good about keeping me posted about the world. But I asked her not to tell me anything about the news. No war, no conflict, no crisis. I told her she could tell me anything once we landed in America. I avoided all TV news in any language, and I refused to look at headlines on the newspapers as I walked by. I simply did not want to know and assumed I could do nothing about it anyway.
  3. No social media. I took the entire week away from social media. Though I did  occasionally check messages for practical reasons, I did not open them if they were not relevant to a need on a trip. It was hard. My addiction to social media means always picking up my phone. It was hard to overcome, but I stayed off all social media feeds for an entire week. Of course social media tends to get newsy and political too. So it was another filter from the news.
  4. No English-language media. I love watching TV in foreign countries. It’s fun to see new products, shows we’ve never seen, in a language I can’t speak. And it’s a good way to learn some words. But I would not watch anything in English. Flipping through the channels, I avoided CNN, BBC, and even things like Discovery, if they were in English. Avoiding English has been a mental break.
  5. No e-mail. I refused to check e-mail, and I asked my assistant to deal with it all. She knows not to call or text me for any reason unless it’s critical. The only communication we had was about flights.
  6. No texting. I made the mistake of checking texts one day early in the week, and because a colleague had sent me a note about something, I got stressed out and I laid awake all night ruminating about a particular problem. It’s my own fault; I allowed it to bother me. But I should have not checked. So I did not text or check text the rest of the week. 

I never really consider myself stressed out, but I realized from this experience just how much stress there is in my life. I don’t mind it; I thrive on solving problems or facing challenges. But I think the key to living among stress is the ability to escape it and separate yourself from it. 

Now, after my little weekly experiment, I plan to spend weekends off of social media, e-mail, and texting. Nothing can be that important, right?

On a typical night before bed, I’m on social media for a couple of hours, just doom scrolling. That ends now. I’ll replace it with painting time or hobby time. Let’s see if I can do it.

We tell ourselves that we can go on vacation and stay in touch on e-mail. That’s a mistake, and I tell my employees not to do it, to avoid work 100 percent. You may think the world will fall apart without you, but you need an escape. And a week without any business e-mail will do more good than you realize. 

What about you? What are you stressing about?

Do you need an escape?

We can’t always go to a foreign country, or travel at all, but we can take reality breaks from media and social media for a weekend or even a week. 

The end result is you’ll be happier, you’ll have to find other things to replace all that scrolling time, and you’ll grow from the experience.

If you can’t put your phone down to enjoy a conversation at dinner, your addiction is impacting your life and relationships, whether you realize it or not. My kids were always pointing it out to me. So I need to stop the addiction. I’m not sure if I could leave my phone at home, but it’s worth a try. 

At Thanksgiving, just around the corner, friends tell me all phones go into a basket for dinner. Otherwise everyone is always looking at their phone and missing everything that’s going on.

What did we do before we became addicted to our phones, social media, and the news?

Happily I have my hobbies of painting and woodworking to escape to. If you don’t have anything, find something. It will do you a world of good. But most importantly, try to escape. You’ll thank me later.

Eric Rhoads

On my trip I met a guy, and the conversation went like this….

Me: What do you do outside of work?

Him: Not much, really. I read the paper and check my investments.

Me: Do you have any hobbies or interests?

Him: Nope.

Me: What will you do when you retire?

Him: Probably die or play a lot of golf.

Me: So you play golf?

Him: Nope. But I’ll probably take it up because that’s what all my friends do.

Me: So you’re looking forward to it?

Him: Not really. 

My best advice: Find something now. Don’t wait. Whether it’s bird-watching or stamp-collecting, it’s important to have something else. If for no other reason than because of what I mentioned above.

Tens of thousands of people have used our website PaintTube.tv to discover how to paint. Maybe there is something there for you.

I just finished our online Realism Live seminar yesterday. Our next one is about watercolor, in January. You can learn about it at WatercolorLive.com.

The Cure for Burnout2023-11-11T12:11:41-05:00