Avoid the Norm: Find Your Own Inner Joy

Post originally written for parlepost.com 


It was 12:48am.

I placed my tortilla chips, mozzarella cheese, and two PBRs (Tall Boys. Obviously) on the counter. I’m sure I was quite the sight.

Living a healthy lifestyle is something I take pride in. But I like a break from routine every now and then. Earlier that night, I also treated myself to a low key evening with friends. It involved draft beer and bar pizza. These were the perfect ingredients for a “Tony night off” – good company, good food, and a break from the usual.

As midnight rolled around, I was surprised to find myself more excited than I had been all night as I ventured toward the twenty-four hour Jewel Osco.


Why was this happening?
Was there something wrong with me?
Am I just not a normal social person like the rest of my friends?  

Click to read full post!

***   ***

“Tony. Why do I have to click links now?” 

So glad you asked. I’m a contributing writer to parlepost.com. In the hopes that I can stay on the team, I’ve asked readers to check out my content on their page.

“So like, is this content any different?” 

Nope! Still me talking in my own voice about taking control and being a happier person.

“Does this mean you’re done posting original content here?” 

Nope! But for now, I’m linking the post that are up.

“Okay fine. I kind of like your content regardless…so…are you available for hire?”

You bet. Shoot me an email at tony.rossi@gmail.com to discuss what I can do for you. Or check out my very official posting here.


What happens when you trust uncertainty in your life

Don’t drink too much caffeine. Don’t put product in your hair. If you don’t show up early, you might not get paid.

The things we do as creative artists to pay the bills….

I signed up for a research study. I signed a confidentiality agreement and am not allowed to reveal details. I can say that I arrived after a #notperfect day. Add on top of that my continuous work on becoming more happy while working random gigs like these, and you have one unique, lanky, long nosed and quite troubled fellow coming into your office to take said study.

I’ve been working hard on myself. I want to believe that “everything always works out for me” whether I’m having a good day or not. Yet today, I was struggling. And it didn’t help that I was running late. I finally arrived to read the details of my consent form. The Tony-Rossi thoughts went as follow…

“I could be here two hours? And I’m going to be subject to a set of potential emotional experiences in order to give them a particular response? Don’t even tell me I might have to taste something on Day 2 of my new nutrition plan…Ugh. Why didn’t I just cancel? This can’t be worth my time…”

Right before I signed the form, figuring I was already there and have backed out of too many things I shouldn’t have in the past year, I had a new thought: Maybe this will be fun. Maybe I’ll get paired with someone nice. Maybe we’ll get out early. Or perhaps this will just be a great story or experience of yet another random side job I worked to get to success….

A voice interrupted my positive thoughts. It came from the nice lady behind the front desk. She was telling me that they’ve already begun the study. Something about the participants. And then concluding with, “…and we’re going to just pay you anyway.,

I’m sorry….what?

I’m getting paid to leave right now?

I. Was. Elated.


Note to self: Make sure to crop out the full gift card number before posting….

Lessons from yours truly (who, upon writing this, is currently celebrating with a tall dark Christmas blend from Starbucks):

1) You are doing yourself a disservice if you freak out about uncertainty. While evolution has lead us to be on alert for uncertainty as a previous mode of survival, we’re no longer (hopefully) subject to attacks from wild animals who might kill us. Furthermore, you’re closing yourself off to the abundance of surprises and positives that are waiting to flow your way.

2) Believe that good things are supposed to happen to you. As speaker Les Brown says, “A lot of us think bad things are supposed to happen to us.” Start to ingrain a new belief into your brain that good things happen to you and that you deserve them. See what happens.

3) If all else fails… copy and paste this part somewhere so that you have it ready:

“Dear Universe (or whatever it is you choose to believe in – God, higher being, Tony Rossi, etc): Please forgive me for doubting you. You clearly want good things to happen for me. Thanks for that. I’m #notperfect. But I’m making progress everyday. With a little bit more practice…this will be second nature. Until then – thanks for your patience with me.”

Life is going to be as good or bad as we expect it to be. I’m expecting it to be awesome. Care to join me?

Let’s go get ’em.

Just go do it yourself. (Spoiler: There’s some choice language…)

Stop asking. Stop waiting. And go F-ing do it yourself. 

“Tony. That’s mean. And you’re scaring me.” 

I’m sorry. (And sorry for cursing.) I’m not saying that condescendingly. I’m saying it lovingly. As in, “I’m on your freaking side, my friend. Let’s go get ‘em.” 

I get asked a lot of questions. I love it. I love helping people and it absolutely boosts my ego knowing that I made someone’s life easier. Even if it’s a question about doing Facebook Live and how to save them after. Here’s the thing though – I learned about Facebook Live through google. I had never done one and wanted to know how. I also don’t like waiting. And the amount of time and energy you save when you take control and do things on your own isn’t just faster – it makes you more confident that you can find more answers. 

That’s a small example. But I think this is where it starts. I’m in a lot of private groups for actors, entrepreneurs, and fitness enthusiasts. (Hint: Birds of a feather flock together. Want to start thinking bigger and smarter? Surround yourself with people who do that. Facebook is such an easy way to do this.) These are great resources to finding answers to the questions we so desperately seek. At the same time, it becomes very easy to give up control and let others do the work for us. I frequently see questions from others who want to know basic information that they could look up on their own. Things like what time a team meeting is, or a particular file that was posted a while ago. Don’t get me wrong – sometimes these individuals have already put in time and energy looking on their own with no luck. I’m not talking about them. I like them. And some of them are cute. (Looking at you, Pablo. I’ve seen your results this month.) I’m talking about the ones who go RIGHT for the post button the minute they have a question.  It’s not entirely their fault. They’ve become so set in their ways that it’s part of their wiring.

And maybe that’s you. So….let’s rewire you. 

The next time you are looking for answer – don’t post about it. Don’t bug your friend. Put some time in to figure it out yourself. Even if it seems like something that might take a little while to figure out. Give it ten minutes. Set a freaking timer if that helps. And if you haven’t gotten answer by the time the timer goes off – stop. The point is to start a new habit – not necessarily to find the answer. THEN….go ask your friend. 

And if it’s Pablo, see if he’s free for coffee later. (Seriously ladies, get on that one.) 

To reiterate: This seems like a small step. It can lead to bigger things. I realized this earlier yesterday morning when I saw one of these questions coming from a friend. They asked a question about something basic that I could have figured out if I cared enough to know. I love this friend to death. And while this particular topic wasn’t important in the grand scheme of life, I could help but notice – This friend is struggling with a few different and MUCH bigger areas right now. What if by starting by figuring out that one answer on their own – they were able to start a compound effect to making more awesome, powerful decisions on their own? 

That’d be pretty fucking cool, wouldn’t it? 

Let’s go get ‘em friends. Let’s take back control. 

PS – Sorry for swearing so much in this post (Mom). 

PSS – Pablo isn’t real. I just like that name. Sorry ladies. You’ll have to do your leg work to find such a looker. 

We get what we expect. We expect what we feed our mind.

Things that are upsetting and bothersome don’t belong on social media.

I’m a big advocate for posting things that inspire others. Things that make us happy. Posting about how terrible something is doesn’t change the scenario, nor does it change the bigger picture of what we want others to do.

Earlier this week I was having a rough afternoon. Had I posted about it on social media as it was happening, it wouldn’t have made for very positive content – that is, until it reached a really awesome point.

Basically, my debit card got declined. For the third time in less than two weeks. Oh, and the last two times happened within ten minutes.

I wasn’t just frustrated. I was perplexed. This has came at a time when I’ve had more control over my finances and more funds in my account than I’ve had all year. Not only did this not make sense, but I hate wasting time. I was not a happy camper.

The third time it happened was when I was at a shop in Wrigleyville called Strange Cargo.

strange cargo

They often write funny messages on this marque. (This one’s less funny. Just a true statement.)

I’ve only come in here a small handful of times. Each time I have, it’s to buy a pair of converse. It’s usually a quick trip. I pop in, grab the shoes pay for them, leave. This time I was hoping to do the same. But of course…

Shop owner: “Your card got declined.”

Me: “This just happened to me next door! There must be something wrong with my card…I’ll have to run to the ATM – “

Shop owner: (Sliding the shoes toward me) “Don’t worry about it.”

Me: “Wait…what?”

Shop owner: “Go ahead and take them. When you get a chance, you can come back and pay.”

Me: “Are you sure?”

Shop owner: “Yeah! You can come back next time you’re in the area.”

Me: “…….”

This came at a time where there’s been more negative material on social media than I’ve seen all year. My brain has been flooded with ideas about how terrible people are, how corrupt society is, and how scared others are. Not only was this effecting my mood (without my even realizing), but it was giving me a false impression of how terrible people are.

This man who works at Strange Cargo is not a terrible person. He’s a freaking awesome person. And we should probably all go to Strange Cargo and give him all our money.

What we feed our brains affects the way we think.  This effects how we feel on a day to day basis. And it effects how we feel about others. I don’t know what this man is feeding into his brain on a regular basis, but I’ll gladly take a double dose.

When I returned, he was surprised. “You didn’t have to come back today!” He shared that he’s done this with customers before. “I’ve never been burned once.”

Need I say more?

Two thoughts to wrap us up:

  • What we feed into our minds – links on social media, garbage television, gossip from coworkers – it all affects the way we think
  • We get what we expect. If you expect everyone to be an asshole, you’re going to notice all the people who cut you off, all the people who are holding you up in line, all customers who are ruining your day.

Start feeding your mind with positive fuel. You’ll be happier, and expect better things.

Go get ’em guys. (And go to Strange Cargo. NOW.)


Why results shouldn’t be your main focus

I hate being vague. But what I hate even more is when I find out spoilers from my favorite shows. (Don’t get me started on the Harry Potter series.)

Forgive me as I go into very vague details on a very popular show so I don’t upset anyone.

In a show that focuses a lot on death, a character discovered he had a chance of nearly guaranteed survival. Unfortunately, this came at the cost of spending the rest of his life alone.

I loved this theme. It reminded me of how we go for a certain objective without focusing on how it’s going to make us actually feel. In this scenario, the character would have received his objective, but it wouldn’t have felt very good. So he went in the other direction. It’s something that I admittedly have a hard time with myself.

Allow me to share some specific examples:

Clean eating

This is such a tough area. It took me forever to learn what I should be eating. Once I did, the journey wasn’t over. I still had to learn to control cravings. And about a year ago I finally got a good handle on both areas. I wasn’t perfect (and I’m still not), but I was at the point where I could cut down to just one planned treat day a week. That’s it.

At first it made me happy. Then it just made me stressed.

I had busy days where eating small, clean meals every couple hours wasn’t realistic. I practically locked myself in my apartment so that I would continue to have access to healthy meals. If it was a busy work day, I’d stress myself out packing food the night before. Sure, I looked better. But I wasn’t very happy.

Today: I base my eating schedule around my life schedule. I don’t try to be perfect. I keep in mind what results I want (for me right now, that’s abs and toning) and modify the days after. I’m not only happier, but I’m still thrilled with the results.


While I watch much less television than I used to, I still enjoy ending my evening with Netflix. While this started out great, I found there were nights when I’d be squeezing in the rest of my work in order to make time for Netflix. By the time I put Netflix on, I wasn’t even focused on the show. I was either stressed because I was frantic to get everything else done, or worried about other things I could be doing.

Today: I don’t always get my Netflix in. If I still have work to do at night, I focus on that. I also base it off of my schedule and what time I get home from work. I might be behind on my shows, but I’m much happier when I go to sleep.

Note: I’m behind on all of my shows. I can give you a list. If I see spoilers on facebook, we’re going to have a problem.


(No judgements, family members!)

I found myself doing what most millennials do when it came to alcohol. I’d have nights (treat nights, of course) where’d I’d have a bit too much, get drunk too quickly, or experience a hangover the next day. I had completely forgotten why I liked drinking in the first place: Because it was fun.  Drinking too quick or too much usually resulted in feeling upset with myself or guilty – not to mention less pleasant to be around (though my jokes get better, I swear).

Today: I remind myself of how I want to feel when I go out (or stay in). If drinking starts to make me feel anything other than that, I know it’s not going to make me happy. So I modify accordingly .

Being happy is the whole point.

If what you’re doing isn’t making you happy, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and remind yourself why you started in the first place.

Let’s be happy, yeah?

Go get ‘em guys.

It’s not that you can’t lose weight. It’s that you’re choosing to keep it.

The first time I had a clarity session with Courtney Rioux, we chatted about my job as a server. I was miserable and couldn’t wait to get out. She asked me if I could quit. I answered something along the lines of, “I wouldn’t be able to do that and still earn as much as I’m making now.” Her response wasn’t one that I liked:

“Okay. So you’re choosing to stay.”

Excuse me? Um, no. That’s not what I said at all. Was she not listening? I thought she was supposed to be helping me…

Of course, she was right. Sure, quitting my job and replacing my income would be difficult. But difficult is not impossible. And too often we confuse the two.

Think about it:

Work: Can you really not quit your job? Or is the thought of applying to a new one overwhelming? Or maybe you were in my boat and can’t imagine a job where you earn enough, yet have the same (or better) schedule?

Money: Can you really not afford new headshots? An acting class? Seeing a play at Steppenwolf? Or are you choosing to spend your money on Starbucks, take out food, and drinks on the weekend?

Weight loss: Are you really and truly incapable of losing weight? Or are you choosing to give into instant gratification, prone to skipping workouts when you get home from work, and unwilling to invest in a sustainable meal plan? (Note: A sustainable meal plan means you’re not starving yourself. You hopefully have a mix of lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, while limiting healthy fats and carbs. But still eating them. More on that later. Or in my inbox later tonight if you need to know this now.)

I promised you a story.

Several months after that clarity session with Courtney, I finally pulled the plug. I quit my job. It was scary, but I knew I’d never have to be handed a dozen credit cards that were all paying the same bill, while I had four other tables also waiting for their checks. (Okay I’m stopping. It’s making me cringe just thinking about it.)

About a month later, I got a phone call from another job I had applied for as a brand ambassador. This introduced to the world of promotional events and in store demonstrations. It’s not always glorious, but most of these gigs either have a high day rate, or pay upwards of $20 an hour. I could easily replace my income from serving with this type of work. My choice to stay at my job was limiting me from exploring solutions that I didn’t even know existed.

This isn’t to say that any of the excuses I shared above aren’t justified. Almost all of those are ones I’ve said myself. Rather, with a consistent commitment to your own self-improvement, you’re capable of so much more than you ever thought possible.

So here’s my question to you: Why would you choose not to go after that life?

Go get ‘em, friends.

Wanna know how I started connecting with Courtney? She had just held one of her free calls, open to anyone. She doesn’t do these often, but she’s got one tonight (Thursday 10/29) at 6:30pm central/7:30pm eastern. I’ll be on. I hope you will too.