This is a course that covers hundreds of life-enhancing topics that they don't teach in high-school or most colleges, but should. This is more than a course on self-improvement; it is a course on mastering life.
If life had an instruction book... this would be it.
Learn how to really connect with others
Learn the tricks to having strong relationship
Learn what you need to know about your health and staying fit
Learn how to increase your overall well-being
Learn how to be better person
Learn how to be a responsible member of society through improving your critical thinking skills
Learn how to be more creative
Learn how to sell
Learn how to handle money—and make more of it
Learn about the major religions of the world
Learn about getting a job—and creating one
Learn about success and how to achieve it
Learn About Mastering Life
This course is a result of the continued research that suggest adults in the United States today are woefully unprepared for today's social and professional environment. People struggle with effective communication, relationships, weight and health issues, depression, life purpose, achievement, discerning fact from fiction, selling ideas to others, earning enough to live comfortably, finding jobs, and overall peace of mind. These are problems that get in the way of living a happy and fulfilling life when one's energy is spent on just trying to get by. This course addresses each of those problems, and many more, with the goal of helping you avoid those problems while focusing on what energizes you most.
By the end of this course, you will be on the right track to designing the life you want to live, and living it well!
Unlike most online courses unaffiliated with a university, each lesson in this course includes assignments that are manually evaluated by the instructor with detailed feedback provided (instructor evaluated course option only).
For this course, text, audio, and video resources are used. All of the resources are compatible with virtually all modern web-browsers and mobile devices.
The instructor is available for students to discuss course-specific content via e-mail, online chat, Skype, and telephone for the first six months of the course (instructor-evaluated option only).
There are no prerequisites for this course.
There are no required resources for this course.
There are no optional resources for this course.
This course begins with an introduction lesson, then the other lessons presented are in no particular order. You are free to skip around to the lessons that interest you most at the time and complete the lessons in any order.
This course is graded on a pass/redo scale. When lessons are reviewed, the student will either get a "pass" or a "redo". Students can redo assignments as many times as they like. All of the lessons are evaluated by both manual review of lesson-specific assignments and automatic grading of quizzes.
This course contains instructor-reviewed assignments, self-evaluated assignments, and multiple choice quizzes. There are no due dates or time limits on any of the assignments or quizzes.
As a self-paced course, there are no time expectations. However, student support is limited to 6 months from the start of the course date. Students are expected to communicate with instructors and other students in a professional and respectful manner.
This Syllabus May Be Updated
The contents of this syllabus may change from time to time. All students will be notified by e-mail of any significant changes.
Lessons in this Course
Click on any lesson below to see the lesson details. If you are a student and logged in, or if the lesson is a sample lesson, you will be able to go to the lesson.
Research continues to show that making a good first impression is important because a bad first impression can be extremely difficult to correct. There are many ways to make a good first impression that include the use of all of our senses. Articulation and manners play an important role. But making a good first impression isn't good enough; a lasting impression is what you want to make.
In this lesson, we will look at how to make a good first impression.
Imagine being the human resources director for a large firm. You are reviewing applications and seeking candidates to fill a top-level position. After searching through hundreds of resumes, you come across a candidate that looks perfect on paper, and you arrange an interview. Within the first 30 seconds of the interview, you realize you’ve made a mistake when the candidate says to you, “Thanks for invitin’ me here. It’s frezzin’ outside—I prob’ly shoulda worn a heav’yer coat.” Although the candidate looks like a professional and has the credentials to back him up, you do not give him the job because you know his poor articulation will evoke negative perceptions in customers who speak with him.
Courtesies are polite behaviors, gestures, or remarks. While entire books have been written on manners, this lesson focuses on a few select behaviors that apply to both professional and personal situations, which are most likely to influence your level of success.
An impression is an effect, feeling, or image retained as a consequence of experience. However, like a footprint in the sand at a beach, impressions eventually fade away; a lasting impression is one that does not. When we refer to making a lasting impression in terms of success, we are referring to a positive impression.
Small talk is polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters, especially as engaged in on social occasions. As much as people despise small talk, it is a necessary social lubricant to connecting with people and discussing more important issues.
It is said that over 90% of communication is more than just the words we use, and 60% of our communication is nonverbal, or body language. It is also believed that nonverbal signs have about five times more impact than verbal ones.
Imagine that you work for XYZ Corporation, a large company that manufactures widgets. The company sends you and a few of your coworkers to an international widget convention where there will be thousands of your suppliers and potential customers. Once there, your colleagues are busy meeting others while you quietly keep to yourself because you do not see yourself as a “people person.” When the conference is over, your boss asks you for a list of the contacts you have made. You then realize that your lack of social skills may have just cost you your job.
Sigmund Freud, the Austrian founder of psychoanalysis, was known as one of the greatest active listeners of all time. One of his greatest contributions to the field of mental health was his discovery that in order to understand and effectively treat a patient, a doctor had to listen to his or her patients. He further explained that communication may be with direct words, with actions, or in some other disguised manner whose code is very difficult to decipher. Active listening is not just a key element of psychoanalysis, but it is the key element of successful communication.
Do you know that person at the party who is constantly rambling on about him or herself, not giving anyone else a chance to speak? We all know that person, and the chances are many of us ARE that person. We may not realize it, but others sure do. It was Dale Carnegie who said, over 80 years ago, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
You have just found out that one of your subordinates at work made a costly mistake that may cost you your job. When you confront your subordinate about the mistake, he is obviously remorseful but you proceed to vent your frustration and say everything that is on your mind anyway. As a result, he quits, and several of his co-workers are now full of resentment toward you, and have lost respect for you. Productivity in your department is way down, and ironically, you are now at an even greater risk of losing your job, all due to your inability to criticize effectively.
Empathy is the experience of understanding another person's condition from their perspective. It is important because it is known to increase prosocial (helping) behaviors. Empathy is a key component of likability, because people like to be understood, and they tend to like those who understand them.
It has been said that a person’s name is the most important word in the world to that person. Using a person’s name in conversation is one of the best ways to build rapport. Sounds good, but if you are like most people, the names of people you meet go in one ear and out the other. So step one is remembering the name. First, however, a memory primer.
The secret of a good memory is attention, and attention to a subject depends upon our interest in it. We rarely forget that which has made a deep impression on our minds." - Tryon Edwards (1809–1894)
When I sold my first web hosting company to a large, publicly traded corporation, I was excited about taking our already profitable and successful web hosting company to a new level. We went from 11 employees to a division of over 200 people. We then had the resources of many bright people with Harvard educations who had been in business for decades. We also had access to money to improve our current services and begin some real marketing campaigns. However, within just days, my enthusiasm began to wane with the realization that flexibility was not part of this new corporate culture. Changes that we used to implement in minutes now took months. This rigid, multi-management layered environment in an industry that demands flexibility would eventually lead to the downfall of the entire division.
Have you ever spoken with someone and had the feeling that you were “not on the same page” or “not speaking the same language”? How about engaged a possible romantic companion only to realize very quickly that you were “incompatible”? The chances are you did not have good rapport (pronounced ra - poor) with the other person. The ability to build rapport is one ability to which many great communicators attribute their success.
Hundreds of the most influential people throughout history understood the power of a simple smile. A smile is something that costs nothing, yet is priceless. It cannot be bought or sold, only given away. The more smiles you give away, the more you get in return. A smile is a key element to both our happiness and success in life.
Every one of us has an amazing power that we seldom use. With this power, we can make another person instantly feel better, put a smile on their face and a skip in their step. In some cases, we can even give another person an emotional high that will last all day long. Of course, with any great power comes responsibility; in this case, the responsibility is using the power itself every chance we get. This power is the art of praise and compliment.
Have you ever found yourself in a conversation with one or more people sharing stories? Have you ever noticed the “one upper” in the group who appears to always feel the need to tell a story that is more dramatic than the one just told, or make a statement that immediately takes the positive attention off another? Are you, or have you ever been, the “one-upper”?
Grammatical errors in both speaking and writing can distract from the message itself and cause negative feelings in the listener or reader. Avoiding grammatical errors can help you avoid low grades, lost employment opportunities, lost business, and embarrassment.
Lesson #19: 50 Common Grammar Mistakes and How To Avoid Them
One can spend a lifetime learning and mastering seemingly endless rules of English grammar. While this might be time well spent for a small portion of the population, it is a waste of valuable time for the rest of us. The 90/10 rule applies to grammar: if you learn 10% of the rules, you will be 90% of the way to mastering grammar. While I can’t be sure that the 50 mistakes or rules I list in chapter represent that magic 10%, I am confident that it gets us close.
Lesson #20: Winning Others To Your Way of Thinking
Back in the 1930’s, to the detriment of mankind, a man named Adolf Hitler was able to convince millions of people that his conduct was “in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.” Several years earlier, a man called Mahatma Gandhi helped free the Indian people from British rule through nonviolent resistance. What did these two men on complete opposite sides of the moral spectrum have in common? They were both masters of winning others to their way of thinking.
There are six words in the English language that anyone interested in effective marketing and communication should know how to use. These words are what, who, where, when, why, and how. In both business and personal situations, answering these single word questions can add clarity, brevity and most important, effectiveness to your written and verbal communications.
Lawyers use these powerful tools very often in court to make a point and win a jury to their way of thinking. Debaters use these tools as well because they know the power of such statements. Authors use these tools to reinforce their point. These are very powerful tools used for both persuasion and manipulation. Use them for persuasion, but never let yourself be manipulated by them.
There is a tool we have in communication that is so important, yet most people fail to make full use of this tool. It is called the question. Most people use questions for one purpose, to get information. This is a fine use of the question but certainly not the only use. Questions can be used in several ways in the art of communication. Those who use questions effectively will be more successful and influential communicators.
One of the common characteristics shared by just about every great leader in history is the mastery of the art of diplomacy, or using tact and sensitivity in dealing with others. Diplomacy is more than saying or doing the right things at the right time; it is avoiding saying or doing the wrong things at any time. Although there are times when we want to tell others exactly how we feel, there are ways to communicate our message more effectively while strengthening relationships and being sensitive to the feelings and emotions of others. This is the art of diplomacy.
Perhaps one of the most famous disciplinarians in history was Mike Brady, from the ’70s sitcom “The Brady Bunch.” In just about every episode, he would lecture one or more of his kids, with his lovely hair-of-gold wife by his side. Mike may be one of the most famous disciplinarians, but his use of the contradicting “but” and “however” sure left a lot to be desired.
High self-confidence and success are often directly related. As you become more and more successful, your self-confidence increases, sometimes to the point where you believe you are right in just about everything you do and say. Very often, you may be right, but when you are wrong, and you project a cocky attitude, others will be all over you for it.
If you own a television set, you have most likely seen an interrogation session where one or more members of some kind of law enforcement agency attempt to extract information from a suspect or convict. Or perhaps you have seen a witness being interrogated by a lawyer in a courtroom. This is done by the interrogator attempting to rouse the witness, suspect or criminal and get him or her to act from emotion and not reason. This is an example of controlling the conversational climate. For most of us, we will not find it necessary to interrogate witnesses or criminals, but we do want to maintain control of the conversational climates in our communications with others.
An objection should normally not be seen as a rejection; it is nothing more than a request for more information. Not accepting a rejection is not being pushy; it is being persistent. It is not about being aggressive, but being assertive. Most people quit at the first rejection, but it is the small percentage who persist by not accepting the first three rejections and find success.
In the world of sales, when a prospect says “no” or “not interested,” what it really means, most of the time, is that the prospect needs more information. It is estimated that more than 50% of the time we say no, we are doing so out of reflex or habit. At the same time, many people are pressured into saying yes when they really mean no mostly out of fear of offending or fear of standing out. Every day we end up getting stuck doing things we do not want to do, buying things we really don’t want, and missing opportunities because we do not know how to say no.
I wish I knew in my school years what I know today about the importance of a good vocabulary. Back then, when teachers gave us scores of words to learn, all I could think about was the fact that I had never heard any of these words spoken by my peers. To me, they were just words randomly interjected into our readings so we could be tricked into thinking that they were important. I never realized this one important fact: as my peers began to learn these new words, they began to use them, which left me “below the curve.” I was only thinking about my present and not my future. Many adults don't bother to increase their vocabulary for the same reason.
Lesson #31: A Brief List of Vocabulary Words Every Adult Should Know
Here is a list of just over 100 words that every adult should know and use in their everyday vocabulary. Remember that simply reading or hearing unfamiliar vocabulary words is rarely enough to memorize those words; it is important to relate the words to you and your life. How can you use these words?
Gautama Buddha’s preaching was interrupted one day by a man unleashing a flurry of abusive invective. Calmly waiting for his critic to finish, Buddha asked, “If a man offered a gift to another, but the gift was declined, to whom would the gift belong?” “To the one who offered it,” the man replied.
I’m sorry. These are perhaps the two toughest words for many people to say. Of course, there is a difference between saying you are sorry and actually meaning it and some people simply are not really sorry and do not want to lie by saying they are. But more often than not, an apology is deserved but not offered. When we do offer a sincere apology, we are acknowledging a mistake that was often brought to our attention by someone else. In this sense, apologizing is one of the best ways we can learn from others.
One of the greatest obstacles that stands in the way of success is one’s own ego. It seems to be in our nature to prove our superiority, point out when others are wrong, and become very defensive when others point out when we are wrong. Constructive debating and talking out a difference of opinion are appropriate at times, but it’s usually best to avoid arguments when possible.
Socrates (470-399 BC) was a Greek philosopher who is perhaps best known for asking continual questions until a contradiction was exposed thus proving the fallacy of the initial assumption. Socrates knew that telling people they are wrong rarely causes them to change their minds.
It all starts in preschool. You are minding your own business while building a magnificent castle out of wooden blocks. Just as you are putting the finishing touches on the tallest tower, some kid named Billy Sanderson, wearing a t-shirt that reads “Born To Be Bad,” pretends he’s Godzilla and destroys your creation. He then turns to you, opens his big mouth with his two little pointer fingers, sticks out his tongue, then runs off. After you take a moment to digest the situation, you pick up a wooden block, and like an Australian hunting down a kangaroo with a boomerang, you forcefully whip the block at your fleeing adversary. While he cascades into a pile of tinker toys, a feeling of satisfaction overcomes you knowing that you have just dealt with your first difficult person. Unfortunately, dealing with difficult people becomes more challenging outside of preschool. What we need as adults are techniques and philosophies, not wooden blocks.
Back in the “old” days, before e-mail, people used to use ink filled tubes called “pens” and material made of cellulose pulp, derived mainly from wood, rags, and certain grasses (paper) to compose messages to send to others. They would use a delivery system called “the postal service” to send this “mail” which took days, not seconds, for the recipient to actually receive the letter. When one was acting on anger and composed a hostile message, he had plenty of time to clear his head before actually mailing the letter; there was the process of writing the letter, addressing the envelope, putting the letter in the envelope, affixing the postage, and placing it in the mailbox. Today, one can compose a nasty message, send it, and have the recipient reading it, all in less than a minute. Needless to say, this type of instant communication causes our emotions to get the better of us in our e-mail communication. Effective handling of hostile e-mails, and avoiding sending hostile e-mails yourself, will give you a significant boost in your pursuit of success.
“I have a dream...” Who can forget those immortal words spoken by Martin Luther King, Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963. Dr. King managed to influence millions of people and change a nation, not because he was rich, or in a position of power, but because he was an effective public speaker. Dr. King and other highly influential people before him, such as Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln, just to name a few, mastered the art of public speaking and earned their place in history. Mastering the art of public speaking may not make you world famous, but it will most certainly help you to succeed in just about anything you do.
Lesson #40: Achieving Optimal Physical Fitness Through Science, Not Wishful Thinking
Gallup just released the results of their latest poll on adult obesity in the United States, finding that obesity increased from 25.5% in 2008 to 27.7% in 2014 (“In U.S., Adult Obesity Rate Now at 27.7%,” n.d.). Health can be best defined as the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being—it is more synonymous to well-being than simply a part of it. Obesity, and even being overweight, subtracts from one's health. Being obese increases one's risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and some cancers (“Obesity,” n.d.). Being physically fit has countless physical, psychological, and even social benefits that can drastically enhance one's well-being. As we will see, however, the U.S. government's idea of health excludes millions of very fit Americans. Thinking critically about health is one instance where reason and skepticism can literally save one's life—and at the very least, make it a heck of a lot better.
This lesson is based on the work of Martin Seligman in the area of positive psychology. Positive psychology asks not what is wrong with you, but what is RIGHT with you—it is the scientific study of well-being.
In 1928, James E. West, the “Godfather” of the Boy Scouts, said, “...the Daily Good Turn is an important factor in the development of a habit of service and attitude of mind which offset a tendency to selfishness.” The Boy Scouts refer to good deeds and random acts of kindness as “good turns” and focus on the benefit of helping others by a selfless act. In fact, selflessness (not selfishness) is a common characteristic of both successful and happy people with benefits extending far beyond displaying mere selflessness itself.
Overall, very few people have a strong understanding of what science is and what it is not. This ignorance often leads to the “rejection” of science or at least a strawman idea of science that can easily be dismissed. But science is too important to let this slide.
Everyone sells something. Everyone is in business for him or herself. You are in the business of marketing or selling your services and skills. Even when already employed, you are constantly selling others ideas, reasons for promotion, comfort, etc.
So, what are taxes? Why do we pay taxes? What is all that tax money used for? In this lesson we cover types of taxes, progressive and regressive taxes, tax brackets, and we'll even get into a few historical scenarios where bad tax policy led to revolutions. We'll also look a bit more closely at income tax.
Note: This lessons focus specifically on taxes in the United States.
Judaism is a monotheistic religion developed among the ancient Hebrews. Judaism is characterized by a belief in one transcendent God who revealed himself to Abraham, Moses, and the Hebrew prophets and by a religious life in accordance with Scriptures and rabbinic traditions.
The question “what is the secret to success” is a prime example of what is called a loaded question, or a question that contains an unjustified assumption. The unjustified assumption is that there is a secret to success.
In this final lesson, you can choose from the many "how to" videos provided. We went through hundreds of videos and included what we thought were the best of the best for life mastery (and some for fun). The first video is required, then the rest are optional, but we suggest you watch at least 5 of them.
About Your Instructor
Bo Bennett, PhD. Robert "Bo" Bennett started "Adgrafix", a graphic design firm, right after graduating Bryant University in 1994, with a bachelor's degree in marketing. In 1995, he sold the graphic design business but kept the name "Adgrafix" that he used for his new web hosting company. As a self-taught programmer, Bo created one of the first (perhaps the first) web-based affiliate systems and web-based web hosting interfaces. He built Adgrafix to a 5 million dollar a year business, then sold it to Allegiance Telecom in 2001.
A day after he sold Adgrafix, Bo started Archieboy Holdings, LLC as a holding company for many different web properties, some of which have become their own entities, and sold to new owners, and others which he is still running today. One of the past sales include Boston Datacenters -- the distressed datacenter in Charlestown, MA purchased by Bo from former HarvardNet founder. He took the company from losing tens of thousands of dollars per month to profitability in less than a year. In two years time, he sold the property to Hosted Solutions. Today, the property is owned by Windstream and it remains one of the premier datacenters in New England.
Bo is currently the founder and CEO of eBookIt.com, a company that formats and distributes eBooks, print on demand, and digital audio books, as well as president of Archieboy Holdings.
By age 10, Robert "Bo" Bennett started listening to and reading personal development tapes and books. Over the years he has developed a science-based approach to success that differs quite a bit from the over-hyped success guru's approaches commonly seen today. Before beginning his lifelong quest to shape the lives of others, he had to prove to himself that his theories, beliefs and convictions worked.
At age 10, Bo started in business by creating and selling wooden key racks in his father's workshop. Since then, he has started several companies and sold them anywhere from to $20,000,000.00.
After selling his first company of significant value, Bo began writing Year To Success, the most comprehensive book ever written on success, based on his experiences, thoughts, and timeless success principles. Year to Success is a book Donald Trump calls, "an inspiration to every person who reads it."