daily snippet

3 times a day




daily snippet

3 times a day







Your daily motivation

His Imperial Majesty Norton I., Emperor of the United States, (and Protector of Mexico)

You want to climb a high mountain? You need the right mindset to get to the top. You want to run a marathon? You need the right mindset to finish it. You want to become the Emperor of the United States? You need the right mindset to… wait, what? 

Yes, it’s possible to become the “Emperor of the United States” just by believing in it. 

At least that was the case with Joshua Abraham Norton, a citizen of San Francisco. 


On September 17, 1859, Joshua A. Norton took matters into his own hands and distributed letters to the various newspapers in the city, declaring himself “Norton I, Emperor of the United States”. And people seemed to respect that. The San Francisco Evening Bulletin was the first newspaper to print his proclamation (for humorous effect). 

What followed was his peaceful 21-year “reign” over the United States.

During his term of office Joshua A. Norton, better known as “Emperor Norton” or short “the Emperor”, was quite active. 

He issued multiple decrees: For one, he summoned the army “to proceed with a suitable force and clear the Halls of Congress” (3). Added to that, he declared the abolition of both the Democratic and Republican parties (4). The Emperor also made efforts to establish democratic relationships with foreign rulers, in which he was successful – to varying degrees. He actually wrote multiple letters to Queen Victoria suggesting to get married to strengthen the ties between their nations (unfortunately she never wrote back). He also had a meeting with Emperor Pedro II of Brazil, and was even recognized as the sole leader of the US by the King of Hawaii, Kamehameha V.

And when the Emperor was not busy reforming the political landscape of the US he was said to spend his days inspecting the streets of San Francisco wearing a blue uniform with gold-plated epaulettes. During his inspections, he would inspect the conditions of the sidewalks and cable cars, the state of repair of public property, and the appearance of police officers.(1) If the Emperor found something to be not properly maintained or if the taxes and water rates were too high, he issued a Proclamation on it. After all, he was a man of the people. And that’s why the San Franciscans loved him so much. 

One of the most charming anecdotes holds that the phrase “king (queen) for a day” originates with him. He would occasionally issue this “patent of nobility” to those (especially children) who had done him a good deed or who just seemed to be having a bad day and needed cheering up. (2) 

To supplement charitable contributions of money, food, rent and personal effects (which to preserve his dignity, he called “taxes”) the Emperor eventually started to issue his own money in form of scrips or promissory notes which were honored by some restaurants in San Francisco. 

After wrongly arresting Norton I for “lunacy”, the police was pressured in releasing him after various newspapers sprang to the Emperor’s defense. The police chief offered an apology (which was kindly accepted by the Emperor) and officers from now on started to salute Norton I whenever he passed them on the street. 


But that’s not the end of the Emperor; you could even say that he has been immortalized, at least in literature by no other than Mark Twain. The writer was resident in San Francisco during the “reign” of Emperor Norton I, and admitted later that he had modeled the character of the King in “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” after him. (5)


The moral of this simultaneously bizarre, humorous and inspiring story is that it turns out that maybe, if we really believe in something, then we can actually make it happen. I mean, if someone can become an Emperor just by believing in it, who’s to say there’s limits to what you can achieve when you put your mind to it?

Allow yourself to be happy


Sometimes it is difficult to allow ourselves to engage in activities just because we enjoy them, to give ourselves the time and space to explore what would really make us fulfilled and happy.

Engaging in this Workout might feel contradictory to some, especially to those who feel an external pressure to be in “working mode” everyday, despite the circumstances that may exist in their lives. Indeed, working out for our happiness requires us to actively think and engage in activities that we feel could make us happier. But do we intrinsically want that? Could it actually be the case that we see the program rather as a help for structuring our activities and to be even more productive, instead of really just exploring what happiness is for us? If this is the case, let’s try to change our perspective in order to focus on the real goal of the program, i.e., our happiness. 


This persistent sensation of feeling forced to be productive could be due to the fact that nowadays, we feel like all our actions need to deliver measurable results. How many of you felt the urge to spend the time in quarantine learning something useful or working harder, considering that we had “extra time” due to the absence of social activities? There’s a good chance you were not the only one feeling this way. 


We usually tend to postpone pleasurable activities only after the mandatory ones have been completed. But are they ever really over? The next tasks to do, papers to write or exams to study for are always in sight, as is the norm in the workplace or at university. Because of this, however, we seldomly allow ourselves to “feel done” and just for one day, or evening, or at least for an hour to relax and decide to take care of ourselves by learning, for example, how to play a new instrument or to read that novel that has been waiting for us on the shelf. 


We perceive those activities as not useful in regards to pursuing our goals, or maybe even for what we believe to be our goals for our happiness, which we very often measure in monetary terms. Because we believe that learning how to play the saxophone may not necessarily improve our career skills or help us get a higher position at work, we delay it. For instance, one of my dreams has always been to write a book – but as I am sure it would be just a hobby for me, I have neglected it so far. Such a pity!


Very commonly, this pattern can lead to the opposite result in the long run, so we may eventually feel distressed, upset and unhappy. It may reach a point where we do not find pleasure in anything we do, but still feel guilty in pursuing what we like the most. It is so often the case that we engage in “working” mode that we neglect our present status, and ignore both our feelings as well as what our body and mind really need at the present moment.


Taking part in this Workout may look the same at first glance: Why should you spend time doing something that might not, at first glance, be relevant for your career, your professional life, the necessities you feel you need to work hard for to attain (a house or a car…) ?
In this program, we are asked to think of what we enjoy and put it into practice. If this makes you feel bad, if you feel guilt for giving so much space in your life to the things that could potentially make you feel happier because you feel you have to prioritize other “more productive” tasks, take a moment. Become aware of these ongoing thoughts. Accept that they are there and understand how they make you feel. And finally, allow yourself to work on yourself with all you’ve got. Immerse yourself fully- think of it as a gift you are giving to yourself. After all, being happy is never a waste of time.