Entrepreneur, self-help guru and personal finance expert DDnard is officially Thailand's most popular author, having sold over 1.5million copies of her Life Compass series of books to date. She speaks exclusively to Female First about her first English-language title, The Compass of Now (available now, priced £9), and how she went from £2million in debt to a multi-millionaire. For more information visit www.ddnard.com
I wrote The Compass of Now as a gift for people who may be facing situations that they find hard to overcome. When we are facing challenges, we need to hear that things will be all right and that this too shall pass.
Why do people often think that their future is not in their own hands?
I believe that things happen to take us to the best things in our life, when we turn to our best side to take care of things. So I wrote The Compass of Now to remind people to manage their inner life. The external circumstances of a person's life is actually the reflection of their internal conditions. So if you want your life to be better, manage your mind. And I show readers how to do it easily. As you read and learn, you can start to observe your mind moving around and picking up negative thoughts, like a knife, to harm yourself. No one can make you unhappy, but you. So it stands to reason that only you can make yourself happy, wealthy, and bring love and warmth into your life — by having that in your mind first. The way to do so is simple and more natural than you think.
The book has had a wonderful reaction so far, so how important is it to you to receive feedback from your readers?
Seeing their lives getting better is the best gift to my life. I’m glad that what had happened to me turned out to bring out the best in me and in so many people’s lives.
On the morning of New Year’s Eve, I got the news that my husband had passed away and at the funeral I learned that he left me and my eleven-month old son with two million pounds debt.
Learning that, at that moment I knew that I had to stand strong because of my baby. I didn’t want my son to have a loser mother and grow up with all the debts. So, as a mother, we need to know what’s all-important. I had to stand strong for my son. What happened was that we had to end the funeral in just two days. In my country, it normally takes seven days. But there were too many predators and people came up to us and we said, “Okay, that’s enough. We need to leave”.
So I flew on the plane with my little baby son. That’s the first time I had a chance to cry. I didn’t realise that my son would know it. But as a baby, he just took the bun that the air hostage left us. He took a tiny bit of the bun and put it in my mouth and wiped away my tears. So, what I learned was that when we adults have problems, we keep banging our head to the wall and keep asking the wrong question: "Why is this happening to me?” But that’s the wrong question. We should be asking, "What’s the best thing I can make out of this situation?" And my answer is that no matter what happening, I will turn this to be the best thing that happened to my life.
I focused on what I can do. I stopped thinking about my debt. I talked to all my bankers. The most important thing is that – and people who don’t have debts won’t understand this – those of us in debt feel smaller than our bankers. But I realised that all the creditors, they’re doing businesses just like us. We’re going through the venture together. So why should we be smaller than our creditors?
With that idea in mind, I stood up and stood firm and said to them, looking them squarely in the eye, “Okay, you earn your interest. So, now let’s talk about this.” I asked them to leave me alone. I focused on working on the things I could do and forgot about the things that I could not solve. Why? Because I believe that there’s no point of being miserable. If we can’t solve the problem, there's no point to be miserable. With that mindset I was able to pay off the two million pounds of debt in two years.
How can your book change attitudes to people and things around you?
The problem I had is shared by so many people and while reading the book they can reflect on themselves through the stories it shares.
For example, the story of the monkey and the peanuts. In some countries, when a farmer wants to catch a monkey, he hollows out a coconut and then fills that hollow space with peanuts. Eventually, a monkey comes along, wants the peanuts, and sticks its hand inside to get them. The hole in the coconut, however, isn’t large enough for the monkey to pull its enclosed fist back out. The monkey only has to let go of the peanuts to be free, but it doesn’t. The monkey becomes imprisoned by his desire for the peanuts, and the monkey’s inability to let go of the desire becomes its undoing.
When many people hear about such monkey traps, they laugh at the folly of these poor monkeys, yet we are a lot like monkeys, aren’t we? Some of us become so fixated on owning one thing — perhaps a certain type of car or a larger house — that we end up losing everything in the process. Our mind only considers one option, so it misses countless other doors of opportunities.
Or, for example, regards paying off my two million pounds debt, I show them how I did it. The starting point is being happy from observing your mind and feeling separated from your debt. The power of this sense of freedom cannot be underestimated – it helps you see things much more clearly and act in your own best interests, not against them – and it is something which anyone can achieve when they try.
Why in your opinion, have previous books not motivated people to change their life, where yours has?
I think each book does move people in its own way, and therefore has value. I like the way my book moves people very much. I have received many inspiring letters and emails from readers who have benefited from the lessons it contains, and it is wonderful to know my teachings are helping make a difference.
Why is self-reflection so tough?
Looking inward makes you see the changing nature of life, and the feelings of pain in your life. The pain is there, yes, but the true happiness is there too, if only you are brave enough to see through the pain.
I also realised that in all of our lives we never actually get to 'be' with ourselves. We deny our present moment all the time. This moment is never good enough; instead, we always look forward to the future. When we are young, we look forward to growing up, to when we are rich, to when we have children. But when we finally get to that goal of being rich, we realise that happiness never really came with it. When you read The Compass of Now you start to see your own thoughts. When I first saw my own thought, and I observed myself feeling and thinking, it was like I truly lived for the first time.
And while you’re observing, the worry, the pain and the suffering became something else, as if it belongs to somebody else. That frees you, and the good news is that you can achieve that immediately. Normally, people think they can solve their problems through external factors: by doing more things, seeing more people, making more connections. But if you ask anyone who has made it what their secret is, then they will tell you that if you manage your inside, you can control the outside. If you never know your internal circumstances, which is your mind, you can't control your external circumstances and nothing ever really changes. Across the whole world people keep trying to change their external circumstances and forgetting about their internal. But the moment I saw that my pain was separate from me, and focussed on living in the present, not the future, I knew that I was going to be liberated and that I’d be very rich, which I achieved.
What is next for you?
In Thailand, I run regular meditation retreats. Some of these I will be offering free to the public, along with online clips offering handy tips about relaxation, happiness, and wealth.
The other big thing for me is writing. I am Thailand's bestselling author and have sold over 1.5million copies of my Life Compass series of books. The Compass of Now was the first English-language edition of any of my books and I will be following it up with more titles on happiness and wealth later this year. It's a very exciting time and gives me lots of excuses to visit the UK, which I love.