LIFEHACK PRODUCTIVITY

 
Subscribe to Newsfeed LIFEHACK PRODUCTIVITY
Lifehack has all the refreshing ideas you need to end negativity, get things done fast, and achieve your goals.
Aktualisiert: vor 5 Stunden 15 Minuten

How to Manage Stress (A Step-by-Step Guide to Turn Stress Into Success)

25. April 2018 - 14:00

Stress is something I’ve faced in a deep and personal way, and have overcome successfully. Living with stress is surprisingly common – according to the American Psychological Association, approximately 60% of Americans are stressed with concerns over money, job pressure and health contributing to 76% of stress.[1]

Numerous studies have shown that stress has a strong negative impact on well-being and prolonged stress has been associated with anxiety, depression, coronary diseases and sleep problems.[2]

It’s clear that to live a happy and fulfilled life, we need to learn how to respond to life’s challenges without getting stressed. However, stress itself is complicated. There are many different types of stress and there is no easy one size fits all solution.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper to examine the real cause of stress and how to manage stress and turn it into success.

Where does stress come from these days?

Stress is an evolutionary response to a threat in our environment. In our caveman days, stress helped us survive by triggering our ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ response to help us run away from wild animals or fight to defend our territory.

In today’s modern world however, stress has evolved as a coping mechanism to help us manage mental and emotional overwhelm such as dealing with demanding bosses, managing our finances or surviving health issues.

As these are daily problems, we simply do not have the emotional strength and mind space to respond effectively each and every day – this is how stress becomes chronic and starts to interfere with our lives.

Symptoms of feeling stressed

Symptoms of stress can be very obvious or buried deep in our psyche depending on how we’ve dealt with stressful experiences through our lives.

Overt (or obvious) symptoms of stress

Symptoms of stress commonly manifest in terms of physical, mental or emotional discomfort.[3]

  • Physical signs include headaches, tiredness, an upset stomach or an inability to sleep well
  • Mental signs include feeling overwhelmed, being ‘down in the dumps’ and unable to enjoy yourself or switch off
  • Emotional signs include being irritable, impatient, anxious, nervous, depressed, lonely and feeling like there’s no way out
Deeper (or not so obvious) symptoms of stress

Many times, we tend to avoid dealing with stressors head-on, thinking that avoiding problems will make them go away or stop us from getting anxious. In psychological terms, this is known as avoidance coping a.k.a “What you resist, persists”.

Avoidance coping doesn’t work in the long-term because not dealing with our problems only increases anxiety instead of diminishing it.

We also tend to adopt other not so obvious ways of coping which can be even more detrimental to our health and well-being such as:

  • Emotional eating or overeating – Turning to food when we are stressed is very common because food helps us feel better in the moment by triggering our brain’s reward system. Often, we end up overeating to numb our feelings so we can avoid thinking about them. This often ends up leading to compulsive or binge eating where we can feel that we don’t have any control over our food choices.
  • Reliance on substances like alcohol – Similar to food, some of us turn to alcohol or other substances to help us relax in the moment. However, by doing this over and over again, it can easily become an addiction.
  • Nervous behaviors like chewing nails – Since we are not dealing with stress directly, we end up releasing our nervous energy by biting nails or pinching our skin.
  • Procrastination – One of the most common consequences of avoidance coping is procrastination which only serves to increase our anxiety and makes us feel even worse than we started with. We end up questioning our motivation, willpower and discipline which can lead to low self-esteem and feeling stuck in life.
  • Passive aggressiveness – The stress of being stressed makes us irritable and more aggressive than normal as we usually want to be left alone and don’t have patience in dealing with other people or routine tasks during the day. Often, this can lead to us pushing away the people we most love and makes us feel even more lonely and depressed.
  • Rumination – Some of us keep thinking about the same negative stressors over and over again wondering why this is happening to us and brooding over the circumstances. This sends us even more into a negative spiral and unable to respond to life’s challenges in a proactive way.
  • Chronic Illnesses – incidences of autoimmune illnesses such as IBS, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis affect about 50 million Americans and is only increasing each year.[4] Studies have shown that up to 80% of patients have reported high levels of stress prior to diagnosis leading researchers to hypothesize that increased production of stress-related hormones. This leads to immune dysregulation and cause auto-immune illnesses.[5]

In a nutshell, not dealing with stress directly leads to what we commonly perceive as self-sabotage – engaging in behaviors seemingly against our own will and feeling a lack of control over our lives.

This lack of control damages self-esteem and can send us into disordered patterns of behavior including anxiety, depression and binge eating.

How to manage stress (a step-by-step guide)

To deal with stress in a healthy way, we need to understand what causes stress at the deepest level so we can deal with the root causes rather than just the symptoms.

Part A – Decode the 4 real causes of stress

Stress as we learned previously is primarily a threat to our survival, and these threats in the modern world occur in four different dimensions according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Identifying which of these are the biggest stressors for us can help us formulate an effective response instead of relying on ineffective coping mechanisms.

1. Safety threats

The first rung of Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs states that we all have a basic desire for safety in terms of good health, financial freedom and a stable job. If any of these are missing from our lives, it is perceived by the body’s evolutionary system as a threat to survival which triggers our stress response.

At this point, ask yourself if you are facing any safety threats:

  • Work pressure – Do you have a too demanding boss? Are you overloaded with work? Do you have annoying co-workers? Are you fearful of losing your job?
  • Financial freedom – Are you anxious about having enough money to take care of yourself and your family? Do you not have a stable income source? Are your expenses more than your means?
  • Health issues – Do you or anyone in your family have a health crisis or chronic illness? Do you feel like your health is not good enough to fully live life on your terms? Are you dependent on other people for optimum health?
2. Love and belonging threats

The second rung of Maslow’s needs states that we are all seeking to belong to a social group and that love is an important human need.

Are you feeling a sense of love, intimacy and belonging or is this something currently missing in your life?

  • Do you have a happy marriage or relationship with a partner that fulfills you?
  • Are you happy with your role as a wife, mother, daughter and sister? Or do you feel like you aren’t able to give your all to your family?
  • Do you have friends or a social circle that you feel connected to?
  • Do you experience feelings of loneliness or lack of love and support?
3. Self-esteem threats

The third rung of Maslow’s needs are a key motivator for many of our actions – our need for self-esteem. This is reflected in our confidence, achievement and the respect we receive from others.

If your self-esteem is affected:

  • You maybe constantly seeking for validation from external sources, not from within yourself
  • Your confidence and belief is high when you are praised or when you achieve something, otherwise you feel depressed.

Are you experiencing any of these feelings?

For many of us, our self-esteem can also be low because we are too tough with ourselves – for example, we may have many achievements but we judge ourselves based on our weight, our clothes size or what we didn’t get done instead of recognizing what we are doing well.

Dictated by societal pressures and our own perfectionism, this leads to artificial stress which we create for ourselves. Often escaping from this stress makes us so obsessed with the task at hand.

For example, to lose weight, we may go on extreme diets that we end up self-sabotaging (for example, binge or emotional overeating to stop feeling stressed about our weight) which then makes us even more stressed and creates a vicious cycle (diet – binge – diet cycle for example).

4. Self-actualization threat

The final rung of Maslow’s needs is the ultimate goal of all human existence – to fulfill our potential and be our best selves. When we are able to do this, we can chase our dreams and have the autonomy to be creative, spontaneous and engage in activities that are meaningful to us.

If self-actualization is your biggest cause for stress, ask yourself:

  • Do you feel like you are holding back? Do you feel like you are not living up to your full potential that you could be so much more?
  • Is there a dream, a deep desire to change the world that you’ve been holding back on?

If you feel like you are holding back either because you don’t know what to do, you’re experiencing a mid-life crisis or because you’re valuing stability over chasing your dreams, then finding a way around this is your biggest challenge.

Summing it up

Once you’ve gone through these 4 causes and the related questions, identify your biggest stressor and which bucket it falls into.

In the next section, we will talk about how to manage the stressor without getting stressed.

Part B – Change your mindset to turn stress into success

There are two key mindset changes that are crucial to not only overcoming stress, but using it to turn a stressor into something successful.

1. Use the “thinking brain” not the “primitive brain”

Like we saw before, stress is our primitive brain’s response to survival which activates our fight or flight systems. While this was incredibly useful for our survival as a species in caveman times, it’s this very response that causes us to freeze, feel overwhelmed and unable to think when we are in a stressful situation today.

When we can’t think, we respond to stress unconsciously – with negative feelings of anxiety, worry, sadness or anger.

While we can’t stop the primitive brain from responding to stress with such emotions, we can simultaneously engage our thinking brain to decide how to respond to these emotions.

Our “thinking brain” can make reasonable and conscious choices in regulating our response to stress.

It can help us decide that although we are experiencing emotions of anxiety (which is a biological response), we can choose not to feel anxious. As feelings are a result of how we respond to our emotions, we are fully in control of how we feel when we are confronted with a stressful situation.

Our feelings are not our emotions. Our feelings are how we choose to respond to our emotions.

Recognizing that we are in fact in control of how we respond to a stressor is a key realization necessary to manage stress better.

2. Use stress as an incentive to be better

The second mindset change needed is to recognize that stress is just a symptom and not a cause of our anxiety or unhappiness.

When we start looking at stress as a way to diagnose what’s missing in our life, we can then use it to make changes that will help us live more satisfied, calm and relaxed lives.

Stress then gives us an opportunity to have better careers, more loving relationships and to fulfill our potential without which we might have never done and just “settled” for whatever life threw our way.

Part C – A step-by-step guide to manage stress

With the key stressor identified from Part A and the new mindsets adapted from Part B, you now understand that you are in control of how you respond to and feel about the stressful events in your life.

The following four simple steps can help you fully manage stress positively:

1. Accept the stress instead of avoiding it

The first step to managing stress positively is to accept it. By accepting the stress, we can be fully present and connect with our emotions. This is when we recognize our emotions and know that we can decide how to respond to stress in a healthy manner.

Avoiding stress effectively negates any positive impact from dealing with stress and instead only hides it temporarily. In most cases, it leads to vicious cycles like binge eating, procrastination and self-sabotage that we learned about in the previous sections.

Effective therapies like ACT (used in depression, anxiety and addiction) also tell us that acceptance is the key to healing.

2. Be proactive in making a change

The second step now that we’ve accepted the stress is to do something about it if it’s in our control.

For example, from Part A, if you realize that your biggest stressor is that your self-esteem is mostly dependent on your weight and body image, you can decide to focus more on your other achievements. Maybe you also developed emotional or binge eating as a coping response to this stressor, then you can get help from mentors who’ve been through the same experience.

Taking an active part in changing the conditions or environment that cause the stress will reduce stress.

3. Practice the “Circle Of Influence” mantra

Popularized in Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Circle of Influence” tells us that focusing on the things we can control – i.e., what we eat, who we spend time with, – will make us more effective in making proactive changes.

Instead of worrying about or reacting to conditions over which we don’t have much influence, the third step to managing stress is to focus on the activities that we can actually change.

This means we can stop comparing ourselves to others or worrying about what others think of us. We can focus on doing our best and being motivated internally – all positive and healthy habits.

4. Develop grit

Dealing with any stressful situation requires a keen interest to make a change and tenacity to push through difficult challenges. This combination of passion and perseverance is the key to success according to psychologist Angela Duckworth.

Passion is a combination of chasing a meaningful goal and being internally motivated to keep chasing it. Passion is not just a fiery burst of energy or willpower but an internal drive that will help us push through challenges.

At the same time, persevering through difficulties requires us to be aware of our blind spots. It’s important to be realistic to set achievable goals, prioritize, focus and motivate ourselves by recognizing our efforts. For high performers who are used to instant results and achievement, this can be very difficult.

Understanding ourselves and our blind spots can help us persevere in the face of challenges.

With these 4 steps, we can now start to not only manage stress but thrive under it and use it to become even more successful.

Turning stress into success

Stress is our response to how we deal with life’s pressures. We can change stress from being an unconscious behavior to a conscious response by using our “thinking mind”.

By re-framing stress to be a positive tool for self-improvement, we can use it to identify our biggest need (safety, belonging, self-esteem or self-actualization). Then, use the 4-step process to accept the stress and be proactive about dealing with it to turn stress into success.

Even though you may feel like you are not stressed, but you’re dissatisfied with life or having coping mechanisms like binge eating or procrastination, your stress is just hiding beneath the surface. Use this 4-step process to build a happier, relaxed and more satisfied life starting today.

Featured photo credit: Kaboompics via kaboompics.com

Reference [1] ^ American Psychological Association : What is Stress? [2] ^ International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology: The link between stress, well-being, and psychological flexibility [3] ^ Mind: What are the signs of stress? [4] ^ Scleroderma News: 10 Facts and Statistics About Autoimmune Diseases [5] ^ NCBI: Stress as a trigger of autoimmune disease function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

The post How to Manage Stress (A Step-by-Step Guide to Turn Stress Into Success) appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-2.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/04/19034216/how-to-manage-stress.001.jpeg

How to Make Positive Changes Now (And Start Living a Fulfilling Life)

25. April 2018 - 13:00

Whether you find yourself facing redundancy or the loss of a loved one, stuck in a rut or unable to stay motivated, making positive changes is likely to feature in the things you’re going to need to do to feel happy and successful again.

However, it can be easier said than done.

In this article, I will share with you how I helped my clients to make positive changes and lead a fulfilling life again, and how you can make it too.

From losing control over life to radiating happiness again

They sat opposite me and didn’t just look dejected, they looked like the world had caved in on them and was likely to stop their heart with the effort of living. Everything felt wrong and seemed wrong. How could they move on from that?

This client had come to me because they felt like they’d lost all control over their life and it didn’t matter what they did, how they acted or who they spent time with, everything seemed to go wrong. When that is how life is, how do you make changes then?

Why should you even bother? This is exactly how the client had been feeling with the “what’s the point?” feelings. The point of change is that although it can feel tough and difficult to even get started, let alone keep up the changes you’ve made.

Change is something we can learn to do organically to live the life we want to, and feeling the way we want to. When we feel good somehow, we feel stronger and more capable like we can tackle anything.

Wind on 6 months and this client doesn’t just smile when they walk in, they radiate sunbeams and happiness. It’s almost like a different person is before me. And they’ve not just gained a smile and got rid of “the world hates me” look about them, they’ve “magically” found they are earning more money and attracting opportunities that hadn’t seem imaginable, let alone possible 6 months before.

What happened? How did they do that? No, we didn’t bring anyone back to life or help them win the lottery.

I want to share with you the tools and techniques we used. Before I do that we need to look at why we need to change.

Why change is necessary for everyone

Like many things in life, the need to bring about change rarely happens overnight. It takes something like a Eureka moment, a coach or an accident for us to really look at ourselves and realize that something needs to change.

We don’t wake up one day mega stressed and feeling like life is like climbing a mountain of sand in heels, with our hands tied behind our back. These things gradually descend upon us until we start to suffer the results. It is often the results that we notice first and not the need for change.

Signs you need some change

Here’s some signs your life needs some change:

  • Can’t get to sleep or can’t stay awake.
  • Can’t concentrate on a book.
  • You spend too long on social media scrolling through stuff you’ve already looked at.
  • Can’t focus your mind on work or study.
  • Lack interest in further learning or hobbies.
  • Gained some weird rash, random pains or headaches.
  • Eating too much or lost your appetite.
  • Steering clear of friends and family.
  • Snapping or moaning all the time.

All classic “My life needs some changes” results. What is worse, all the above damage your health, your career, your relationships, your earning potential, your happiness, your contentment and your life in general.

Perks of making a positive change

Ever noticed that person that seems permanently happy and in a good mood? They aren’t necessarily the person with the biggest bank account and yet somehow, they exude true happiness. They are highly likely to be a person that is in touch with what they need so that they can be like that.

To really excite you about change and its potential for overhauling your life, here are some of the results I’ve seen with clients through change:

  • Higher earnings.
  • Stop fearing what people think of them.
  • Stop trying to please everyone and put themselves at the top of the importance list.
  • More confidence.
  • Happier.
  • Healthier.
  • New relationships.
  • New careers.
  • Overcome lifelong fears like the fear of public speaking.
  • Stood up for what they believed in.
  • Overcome shyness.
  • Better at sales.
  • Business growth.
  • Overcome agoraphobia.

To say the list is extensive would be an understatement, although I have coached thousands so I really believe in what I share here.

Let’s look at how you can create positive change in your life.

How to create positive change in your life Feel it – Pain

One of the reasons we don’t create positive change in our life is because we don’t have a big enough desire to do it. Before you do anything else, feel the pain of the way things are for you right now on a level that makes you physically want to squirm in your seat.

When I do this with clients, I lay it on thick. For instance, when a client told me that they want financial freedom, they talked about their over enthusiastic love of the credit cards. I picked up a note and a credit card and through them in the air joking “Fly free my pretties, fly free!” the client was highly embarrassed (as you would be with someone throwing money around a desk) but when the credit card landed on their notepad, they flicked it away.

I asked them if they felt the credit card was dangerous or something? And they were able to feel the full pain that the credit card was bringing to their lives and their families. Together we could see that the credit card was a symbol of all of the emotions and negative feelings that they hated in their lives. When they left, they made a point of saying they were going to leave a credit card on the side in their home to remind them powerfully why things had to change.

Imagine every aspect of the pain so that it makes you feel miserable and every other bad emotion that hides in your mind.

Feel it – Pleasure

Once you’ve felt the pain and realize powerfully why you want to get away from it, now consider the opposite emotions.

If you want to be financially free, what does that look like? How does it feel? You could concentrate on the car and home you will own, however in my experience that is harder to powerfully visualize than emotions are. You see when you get accomplished at this, you are able to change your emotion and feelings in less than a second because you appreciate why you need to and the damage of not doing so. Therefore if you can really feel the emotions, this can help you stay on track when you have a new plan for change.

I find that for most clients, this exercise is best done last thing at night as you drift off to sleep:

  • It stops you from stressing about everything that is going on in life.
  • You are ending your day with a surge of positive emotions
  • You give your mind clear ideas on what to work on.

I honestly believe that creating space in our brain enables us to get answers that we’ve been struggling to find. It’s almost like asking a giant computer to create the formula for success, and your job is to recharge your mind and body while the computer gets on with it. That may sound daft, however I’ve seen astonishing things achieved by clients that have asked the question, worked out what they wanted and gone off to Sleeplyland.

Feel the pleasure of what you wish to achieve on a level that makes you grin. You remember the excitement and happiness you felt on Christmas Eve as a child? The level of energy that felt like it was going to burst out of you? That is how feeling the pleasure of change should feel. No need to work out why, how, where or with whom. Just think about the way you want to feel.

Feel it – Fear

We can’t move forward without accepting that change can bring fear. My book Fight the Fear – How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life helps people to deal with 12 of the top fears that impact on success — whether it’s the fear that you can’t really change, or that you will never have the confidence to say or do that, or the fear that you set the wrong goals or worry constantly about what other people think.

Many fears hide, lurking in our way just as we aim to change. By feeling the fear and understanding how it impacts on you, you can make a decision to do something about it. Fear is the result of a lack of confidence and confidence comes from doing. The irony is (and what stops positive change) is that we are scared to do something different and so stay stuck in the place we are with the results we get.

Here are 5 ideas to help you fight the fear;

  1. Know why you are awesome. We often have plenty of proof that says we rock but we are unlikely to pay attention to that when fear of change is encroaching upon us. I call it the head to heart disparity. Appreciating why you are awesome and all the things you have achieved enables you to ignore the heart’s noisy “you can’t do it” attitude to hear the facts that the head holds on to.
  2. Lean on someone. Whether people do this deliberately from a place of love or spite, or whether they are unaware of the damage they are causing to your confidence and thus helping to reinforce fear; the wrong people will keep you fearful and stuck. There are many reasons for this – they don’t want you to fail and be sad, they don’t want you to be different, they don’t want you to look better than them, it’s a long list. Your job is not to change their minds, it’s to find the right people to help you. They don’t ever have to say a word about what you aim to do, just be the positive, “can do” people that will help you stay on track.
  3. Love failure. Failure is good for us. At the time it doesn’t feel like it, it can feel more like we were not just the last in the running race at schools sports day but like we are the biggest loser on the planet. Don’t let that happen. Accept that through failure, you learn. By learning what went wrong, you have powerful information to help you move forward. One failure doesn’t make a life of ineptitude.
  4. Understand and accept that fear can be fixed in 2 ways. Some fears I can fix for a client in an hour because it is about dealing with their mindset, others need a little longer because the client also has to learn new skills. Skill set and mindset are the key to fighting fears that stop change. What skills do you need?
  5. Action. Fear hates action. It’s very happy when you do nothing, divert your eyes from the fear and feel stuck and out of control. That makes fear smile. Fear hates it when you get a plan. When you get a plan, it won’t always go right. Fear will try and be a noisy voice in your head that says “ha ha, I told you that wouldn’t work.” Ignore it! At the start it doesn’t matter a great deal what action you take, just that you take action. Remember to ask yourself “how will I shut up fear when it tries to keep me here?”
Essential steps to make positive change

Lastly here are the steps I’d take to make change:

  1. Know what fears and obstacles you could experience. List them – for me this is always in a mindmap. It can be visual or a list. Knowing your natural style can be powerful for other things you aim to achieve in the future.
  2. Ignore the rules. When we say we are looking to change, we can often feel like it’s a good idea to look at what everyone else is doing. Only get your ideas from inside you. One of the reasons change is so hard is because we try to do it like other people. You are not them and they are not you. Learn to know your values, loves, beliefs and how they fit into your way of change. If you find yourself comparing yourself with your friends, peers and family, you are not working according to the most powerful way, which is your way.
  3. Challenge your thoughts. Thoughts can sneak into your head and before you know it, you are the one damaging your chances of success. What thoughts do you have connected to this change? For instance, I had a client advise me that they felt our plan of action we had created was going to be hard work. On exploring this, the client admitted that everything they had achieved had just “fallen in their lap” and they “were allergic to hard work”. How likely were they to succeed if they felt it was going to be hard? Be mindful of the way you word your change and actions. For example, instead of saying “this is going to be hard work”, say “this is the next stage in my life and I’m excited to get on with it.” (And yes it did work for this client!)
Create the change YOU want

The personal and professional development industry is worth billions. That’s because while we may know what needs to happen, we often want a magic pill or something that will make it happen instantaneously. Anything you truly want in life takes effort, a change in thought and time. So if you don’t create the space to think about it, how will you create the space to actually do it?

Change is powerful and change is natural but it does take some effort on your part. Nothing in nature is ever the same. Follow this plan and you could create the understanding of yourself, the plan of action and the results you want.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

The post How to Make Positive Changes Now (And Start Living a Fulfilling Life) appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-1.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/04/23004513/positive-changes.001.jpeg

How to Maximize Family Time? 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Immediately

25. April 2018 - 12:00

Barbara Bush was wise when she said the following about having a meaningful existence in life:

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.

The struggle to strike a good balance between family time and work time is real. This struggle can leave many with deep feelings of anguish and guilt. Am I spending enough time with my kids so that they feel secure in our relationship? Is our family time meaningful and considered quality time?

The good news is that there are solutions and tips you can implement today to strike a good balance between work and family time. Below are these tips for you so you can maximize your family time:

1. Make family events a priority

If you are not a life saving surgeon and currently on-call, then your work can likely wait. Most of us aren’t in the business of life saving. That gives us some legitimate flexibility in our off-work time. You don’t need to be tied to work 24-7.

When your kid has a little league game on a week night, then don’t work late that night. Make your family events a priority. Get there so you can be present in your child’s life. In order to be a good parent, it means you need to be there.

If you are working all the time, you are missing out on the family events that you can’t replace. Kids grow up fast and they don’t get to repeat their childhood.

That little league play off game may be the only time they make it to play offs. Their piano recital may be more than just showing their level of skill, it is their time to shine and show their parents how hard they have worked so that their parents can be proud.

Being present at family events shows your spouse or partner and children that you care. Love is shown in actions. Make sure your actions are showing love, by showing up for holidays, birthdays, family nights, and the kid’s games and performances. These things matter.

Even if they act like it doesn’t matter (like most teens will act), know that it does in the long run. They will remember that you showed up time and time again, that you put family in front of work and you make family your top life priority by being present.

Quality time is a wonderful thing but it is difficult to achieve without having quantity time. Make sure that you are spending time with your family so that you can develop deep relationships that are meant to last a lifetime.

Those relationships will be even more important when life hits rough patches for any of your family. Death, job loss, moves, etc…they all have a huge impact on your lives and you want your family to be the ones you can count on. Developing relationships, as the kids grow up, is what will help each of you when your lives hit rough times.

2. Schedule it on the calendar

We put our work stuff on the calendar because it is important. But what about family time, family events and kid’s activities? If you aren’t putting those things on your calendar, you may want to ask yourself why not?

If you value your family, then the activities that involve your family should be on your weekly schedule. Put in those ball games, ballet recitals, family date nights, holiday parties, and more.

You need to make sure you have time for your family. If your calendar is getting filled up with work stuff every week, then plan ahead. Find out your kid’s activities’ schedules when they start, as most of us get a schedule for the semester or year when they begin practice. Then take that schedule and put the important games or performances on your calendar so that time slot can’t be taken in the future because of a work obligation.

Making time for your family means making things a priority before they come up. Scheduling can be one of the biggest obstacles, so having things on the calendar well in advance should help you immensely.

3. Establish work boundaries

You need to be a team player at work, but you also need to be a team player for your family. Don’t allow your work to over-run your family time.

When you have family activities on the calendar, then be willing to speak up when you are asked to stay late for the third night in a row. Know your boundaries with your boss, so that you aren’t jeopardizing your job, but you also don’t want to minimize the value of your family and your time that you have scheduled.

This is why it becomes important to place the important activities on the calendar, so you know which nights are more important than others at a glance. If it’s not on the calendar, it becomes easy to forget until that date pops up.

Don’t allow your family to be trumped by your job when it doesn’t need to be that way.

4. Have a weekly scheduled no phone time

One of our good family friends is a CFO of the world’s largest property management companies. He is obviously a very busy guy. Yet he is purposeful about making family time on the weekends.

Every Saturday evening, he disconnects from his phone and does not reply to texts, emails, or phone calls (unless it is a true emergency). He does not reconnect with his phone and communications until Sunday evening, long after the kids have been tucked into bed. This allows for his focus to be devoted to his wife and children during those 24 hours.

He is present during the week as well, but he disconnects from his phone and other electronics for a full 24 hours once a week to dedicate his entire focus to his family.

What he does is a great example to all of us. What if we could dedicate 24 hours of the week to disconnect from our devices in order to reconnect with our families?

There are 52 weeks in the year. That would give us 52 days of true, 100% focus of what is most important to us, which is family.

We can work hard to provide for our families, but if we never connect, nor do we develop strong interpersonal connections, what is the point? Then our work and efforts are in vain.

Work hard for your family, but also play hard with them to make the time count.

5. Have purposeful family time

Make your time with family have purpose. If you are all at home, yet you are all in different rooms doing different activities, it doesn’t count as family time. The best kind of family time is when you are engaged with one another in an activity. This way meaningful discussions can take place.

Other options include side-by-side activities. Either help to create bonds and relationships within the family unit. The goal is time together, doing things together.

Being at the same place, but not together is not helpful to creating relationships. Therefore, if you go someplace outside the home, such as a museum or art gallery, make it a priority to stick together to experience things as a family.

Below are suggested activities for you and your family to do together. Create variety to make things interesting and fresh for everyone. Schedule these activities on your calendar, so that work doesn’t come up and take you away from your family time together:

  • Play board games
  • Go hiking
  • Do family yoga
  • Go indoor rock climbing
  • Pick a family movie to watch together
  • Visit a state park
  • Visit a national park
  • Go to a museum
  • Go to an outdoor concert
  • Go to a play
  • Take an art class
  • Go to a make-your-own pottery studio
  • Get manicures or pedicures
  • Check out local events in your community
  • Go fishing
  • Play a backyard sport like softball or soccer
  • Attend church
  • Go swimming
  • Rent a boat
  • Go camping even if it’s in your own backyard
  • Go biking
  • Go to a beach
  • Take a scenic drive
  • Go to a park
  • Go on a picnic
  • Play lawn games like croquet or badminton
  • Go to an art gallery
  • Plan and cook a meal together
  • Make holidays and birthdays a celebration
  • Read books aloud (especially great for families with smaller children)
  • Complete craft and art projects (there are at least a million ideas on Pinterest)
  • Go to a fair or theme park
  • Attend a craft fair
6. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Many times in life, we allow the small stuff to get the best of us. We get upset about things that won’t matter a year from now, or for that matter, even a week from now.

If it doesn’t matter in the long run, then let it go. Some things are not worth getting upset about which in turn get the rest of the family upset. Usually if one parent is upset, it creates an upset in the entire family. Don’t let your time together as a family get upset by things that shouldn’t.

A bad day at work? Leave it at work, don’t bring it home. A fight with a friend? Forget about it for now, and commit to have a conversation with the friend after your family time. Your teen is not completing their chores? Let them know they will do it after family time, but don’t guilt them so that it ruins your family time.

If it isn’t something that must be dealt with immediately, then don’t allow it to interrupt your family time. Chances are the problem will still be there and in the same condition when you get back to it later. Deal with emergencies, but let other stuff slide and get to it later.

Make your time and focus intentional on the family, rather than extraneous junk that can be dealt with later.

7. Make kindness and forgiveness a policy

It becomes difficult to have quality family time if there is arguing, anger, hostility, and other negative emotions going on between family members.

If you have serious issues that impede on family time habitually, then it’s time to get some family counseling. If it’s bickering, lack of forgiveness, and/or general lack of kindness, then a policy needs to be established so that family time is a time for everyone to get along.

Meanness or lack or kindness will not be tolerated. The example begins with the parents. Teach your kids by talking about kindness, but also by being an example of kindness to your fellow family members.

If things start getting unkind, then have a key word that helps family members remember that they are supposed to be kind to one another and not to bicker, argue, name call, or be unkind. Our family’s key word is muskrat. You can think of your own word and perhaps make it funny to lighten the mood when undesirable behavior does arise.

8. Make sure time away from work is time off

Are you taking your work home with you every night? Are you playing catch up after hours? Are you still returning work calls and emails after work? If this is your daily habit, then you may need to access your situation.

Can you begin to wean yourself from bringing home work and doing work activities after work hours? If you can’t stop cold turkey because the panic that rises inside you is too overwhelming, you can begin to wean yourself from afterhours work. This means you find ways to cut these things more slowly from your evening routine, so that you are giving more time and priority to your family in the evening.

If you are working tirelessly in your job and it is not humanly possible to get it all done during a normal working day, maybe it’s time to talk to your boss. Make sure you have legitimate examples and a breakdown of how your time at work is spent, so that they can see your point of view. Present it in a way that they can step into your shoes and see things from your perspective.

Not all bosses will understand, but there are also laws surrounding work hours and wage. If you aren’t certain if your employer is violating wage and hour laws, but you think there is likely a problem, then you can contact the US Department of Labor, Division of Wage and Hour via their free hotline at 1-888-487-9243.

9. Use family meetings for deep discussions

When tough topics come up, like setting rules and dates for family time together, make it a family meeting at the dinner table. Sit together and discuss things, free of electronic distractions, so that you can all understand one another and the goals.

When you say “family meeting time”, everyone should know that it’s time to gather around the dinner table for an important discussion. If you have never done this before, then you can call your first family meeting to discuss your plans to have weekly family time and come up with ideas together.

Our twins are only four years old and they are always included in the family meetings. These meetings can start at a young age, that way each family member knows that they are valued from a young age. Their opinion and inclusion in discussions is important, because they are part of the family, regardless of age.

10. Make the time enjoyable and not a punishment

Don’t ever use family time as a threat. Time together as a family should never be perceived as a punishment. If it is, your approach or the activities together are not right.

Find activities that everyone can enjoy to some extent. You will never find something everyone loves to do, but you can find activities that all will like to do. The goal is an enjoyable time together where you are bonding together through activities and interactions. The more face to face interactions the better. Games can be of great value because they require more immediate interaction.

Make your goal of family time to be enjoyable and fun, so that everyone looks forward to that time together. Include your children (especially the teens) in your discussion of how family time should be spent, so that you have an idea of what everyone finds enjoyable.

You will end up with great family memories because your family activities were a positive experience. You will also be forming bonds that will help strengthen family unity.

11. Be committed to regular family time

Making time for family shouldn’t just be reserved for birthdays and holidays. If those are your guidelines for defining family time, then you are missing out on the rest of the year.

Time with family should be a regular weekly commitment. If you want family ties and true family relationships, you need quantity time and not just quality time on the rare occasions.

Showing up for birthdays and holidays is simply not enough to make meaningful connections and deep relationships (ask any kid who has been in a divorced situation and only sees one parent on those special occasions). The relationships lack depth if everything is always on the surface level.

In order to develop relationships below the surface, time must be invested. Making a commitment to things like dinner as a family several nights a week can make a huge impact on family relationships in the long run. If you can’t all be home for dinner, think about other options that don’t take long periods of time, such as half hour family walks in the evening several days a week.

The time commitment isn’t huge, but doing it consistently is what makes an impact. You get to talk about what is happening to your kids throughout their week and not just highlights on the weekend when they may have forgotten about what happened during their week.

12. Family dinners are a wise investment of your time

If you can make one thing a priority in family time, it should be doing family dinners at least several times a week.

Michigan State University examined research studies about family dinners and found that kids from homes that did family dinners at least three times a week had better grades, were less likely to develop eating disorders, had better language development skills, and better health.[1] They also stated the following of importance:

Frequent family meals are associated with a lower risk of smoking, drinking and using drugs. Additional associations include lower incidence of depressive symptoms, suicidal thoughts and better grades in 11 to 18 year olds.

Dinner time not only helps form relationships and meaningful conversations during the week, but also has overall benefits that affect the development of children and teens.

You have to eat meals anyway, so its something that won’t cost your family anything extra to do together. Don’t allow electronics to be a distraction at dinner time, keep them away from the dinner table to keep the attention on family conversations and interactions.

12. Put distractions aside

The biggest distractor from family time is the phone. If you have teens with smart phones, it becomes an easy distraction from family time, which means family relationships are being disrupted. The quality time needed to form meaningful relationships is non existent.

Make rules, for adults and minors to abide by when it comes to phones and other electronics. Make family time as distraction free as possible. They can check their email and texts after family time. If an emergency comes up, you will know it because the person will likely call repeatedly.

Everything else can wait until after family time. It likely will not affect your life, work, or social life if you have to pause your phone activities for a few hours. If you can have a basket in the house for everyone to place their phones during family time so that you all are completely distraction free, then you are truly winning!

Keep the devices away and you are likely keeping the distractions away, so that everyone can be present in mind and body during your family time together.

13. Make family time a judgement free zone

Life is hard enough. We get judgement from the rest of the world all day long. Time with family should be a safe haven from judgement.

Make a rule about passing judgement on one another when you are having family time. If there is a serious issue that needs addressing, call a family meeting to discuss the issue. Otherwise, let it be.

Let your family be themselves, warts and all, and let them know they are accepted and loved for just the way they are. Because isn’t that what family is supposed to be about?

At the end of your life

Friends tend to come and go, but the people who tend to stick the closest from birth to death are family. We don’t get to chose them, but we can make relationships stronger, closer, and more positive by implementing these above tips on creating positive family time together.

The bonds created when your children are small can last a lifetime. The key is making meaningful bonds and loving relationships that are built on positive experiences and quality time interacting together.

Time in the same home, yet never interacting makes you roommates. Doing activities together, having meaningful conversations, having quality weekly family times and doing life intertwined together makes you a family with bonds connecting you for a lifetime.

Kids go from zero to 18 quickly. If you are buried in your work, you may just miss out. Make family a priority today by choosing family time and getting it on everyone’s calendar right away.

Calling a family meeting is the best way to get the ball rolling. Don’t forget to ask your children what they would like to do for family time to get started on the right foot.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference [1] ^ Michigan State University: The value of family meal time function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

The post How to Maximize Family Time? 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Immediately appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-1.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/04/23233639/family-time.001.jpeg

How I Calm Anxiety and Start to Feel Happier and Secure with Myself

24. April 2018 - 14:00

We all experience stress once in a while but some of us suffer from extreme anxiety that keeps them from living their life. They are so afraid to take even the smallest decision thinking that they’ll ruin their lives or the lives of others.

I was one of them and, after figuring out how to calm my anxiety effectively, things got much better. I might even say that anxiety is a thing of the past now.

Anxiety is not dangerous. However, it might keep you from living a good life and having great relationships that will support your well-being. Anxiety makes you avoid people or situations that will trigger an anxiety attack.

In this article, I will share with you how to calm anxiety by showing how I healed my anxiety with the psychodynamic technique. If you’re interested in calming your anxiety, I advise you to start as soon as possible.

How to calm anxiety with the Psychodynamic Technique

After four years of therapy, I learned that you can calm anxiety in few steps. It will take you months to practice these steps, do have patience with yourself!

1. Go to the root cause of your anxiety

This is the most important step in recovery. If you skip this one, you might just well skip the entire article. You won’t calm your anxiety in a million years if you don’t know where it came from.

There is a cause and effect to everything we do and feel. So, try to understand that, diving deeply into your own anxiety is crucial to your recovery. To manage this, keep a journal and do 20-30 minutes of journaling every day.

It took me four years to discover my root cause. The cause was my toxic upbringing. The reason why it took that long was because I was, for a very long time in denial that my family was dysfunctional.

Psychologists and researchers concluded that, a majority of people who struggle with panic and anxiety grow up in dysfunctional or negative homes. If you didn’t have a secure attachment as a child (meaning that, your parents divorced when you were small or your mother had depression and couldn’t care for you), you will become anxious and confused about yourself and the world.

Action step:

Try to go to the root cause of your anxiety by talking to a therapist or counselor whom you can trust.

Warning: don’t drag friends into this, as it is not their duty to guide you.

2. Once you find the root cause, stay there and educate yourself about it

Let’s say that, your root cause is you never having a father in your life because your mother got divorced when you were small. This means you might struggle with the fear of loss and abandonment. You might think you’re not good enough or that you’re not worthy of love.

Your anxiety revolves around the fear of being left alone, so you’ll be clingy to situations or people in your life. You won’t be able to live alone, travel alone or just sit by yourself as your anxiety might be going through the roof otherwise.

Action step:

Grieve the parent you never had, or the loss of a past relationship that hurt you.

If your father, for example, is not in your life, grieve him. Look at a photo of him and sit through the feelings that come up. Expect a high level of difficulty here. I assume that, if you grew up in an unstable home, you weren’t allowed to feel the pain.

The way I managed this step is by educating myself about dysfunctional families. My mother has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). I started on a journey of learning about this disorder and what it means to grow up in a family affected by it.

Now is the time to learn how to let go and grieve an unhappy time in your childhood. Read books on abandonment and shame. Read about how a divorce affects a child if that’s your case. I recommend The Journey from Abandonment to Healing: Turn the End of a Relationship into the Beginning of a New Life by Susan Anderson.

If you can, connect with the other parent and express these feelings to her/him.

3. Learn the language of emotions

As I said above, you need to go deeper and let go of all the negative emotions you’ve kept in your prison since forever. If you had a father who wasn’t present, you’re probably angry or upset with him.

In my emotionally unstable home, I learned that it’s not good to cry or scream or make noises as a child. I was even scolded for crying once.

As an adult, I would rarely cry or get angry with people. But that was before psychotherapy. Once I learned that crying is healthy, I would start weeping for hours. It felt so ‘right’.

So, if you have trouble expressing a negative feeling, seek the help of a therapist or coach. Don’t be ashamed to cry or balk in their presence. They are there to help.

You might say, ‘But I’m a guy. Guys should look strong in front of others.’

So what if you’re a guy! If you have this limiting belief, it means you were taught this by someone in your family. Or by your school or mass media. Know that all you’ve been taught about emotions is wrong.

Action step:

Read the book The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You by Karla McKlaren, you will find out more about how to learn the language of emotions from this book.

Use journaling to try and find out daily how you feel. If you start crying out of the blue, let it go. Don’t be ashamed to cry.

Everybody should learn to tune into their emotions and know what they feel at a specific time. If you are using games, internet, drugs or alcohol to numb your emotions, stop that. You are making your anxiety worse. Panic attacks are usually a cover for unexpressed negative emotions like anger, sadness and guilt.

4. Let go of your inner passivity

Inner passivity is a term I learned from Peter Michaelson, a psychodynamic therapist from Michigan. He links inner passivity to chronic unhappiness and panic attacks.[1]

Briefly, inner passivity relates to a fear inside ourselves produced by our inner critic. For example, you might refuse a job offer in another state, fearing that you’ll have panic attacks on the plane.

You are in an avoidance mode, which makes you a victim to your circumstances. You might tell yourself you don’t have the skills to perform your job. Or that you’re not that interested in it.

The truth is, your inner passivity is keeping you from achieving your goals, so you won’t have to suffer. What you don’t know is that, inner passivity destroys your confidence little by little.

I believe the first step in letting go of inner passivity is to build a better self-esteem.

Action step:

How to build a better self-esteem?

  • Being truthful with yourself
    If you want something badly (for example, ‘I want that web design job in New York’) say it out loud. Write it down. Tell others. But don’t avoid this wish. If you have flight anxiety, you can learn breathing exercises, take medication or do mindfulness exercises. Don’t let fear stop you from pursuing something you love.
  • Teach people how to respect you
    Try to learn boundaries and surround yourself with people who love you and appreciate you. Very often, people stay in relationships that are stressful, full of drama and even abuse out of fear. If that’s you, set those boundaries in place. When you understand that you deserve to be happy just like everybody else, you’ll stop the cycle of toxic relationships. You’ll stop making excuses for people when they treat you badly and move on.
  • Make a list of 5 things you want to achieve (or have) and accomplish them
    Start small, like, ‘I want to eat breakfast daily’. Make a food plan where you can write what you’d like to eat for breakfast. Make it fun and exciting for you. If you love pancakes, go ahead and make pancakes, use Maple syrup and strawberries if you want. Accomplishing this small thing will give you the confidence to accomplish other, bigger things. Remember that inner passivity comes into action when you make excuses for not doing something or when finding valid reasons for giving up. Or, in other words, you’re self-sabotaging.
  • Talk positively to your inner critic
    You don’t have to sit still and take the kicks from your inner bully. If your inner critic starts a fight, fight back. Teach the inner critic to talk positively to you and encourage you. Use positive affirmations to retrain your mind. They will help you in long-run to counteract the negative effects of your negative voice.
  • Set boundaries
    As for boundaries, you can learn about them with a therapist in a safe environment. You can start researching what boundaries are and talk about what you have found with him/her. If you want a cheaper approach to learning boundaries, read Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.
5. Confront your fears

This might be an obvious advice but many people engage in avoidance behavior because of their fears. For example, for many years my anxiety kept me from going to the bank and asking about my own debt.

The bills would be sent home and I would be terrified of opening them. My fear was real: I didn’t have money to pay those debts but it made life a daily challenge. Each time I’d return home, I’d see the unopened letters piling up on my kitchen table and I’d shiver. I’d tell myself that tomorrow is a good day to confront the debt but ‘tomorrow’ never arrived.

When I finally got the courage to call my bank and negotiate on a new payment plan, I felt free. I opened the letters and realized that the fear was bigger in my head than it was on paper.

Action step:

Find 30 minutes every day to learn about your fear and make friends with it.

For example, maybe you have a bank to call about an outstanding loan, just do it! You can tell a friend and ask her to assist you during this time and, perhaps, knowing that someone is there for you will make things easier.

If ‘just do it!’ advice doesn’t work (and I assume it might not), try writing about the fear. Ask yourself why are you so afraid of calling the collection agency or the bank:

Is it because you’re afraid they might find out how ashamed you are of being in debt? Do you think they’ll judge you for it? Know that collection agencies deal with debtors every day and they don’t really make an opinion about them. They just wanna do their job so they can earn an income.

If this doesn’t work either, ask help from a therapist to face your biggest fears.[2]

You shouldn’t be afraid of anxiety because it is there to help you and not destroy you. Make anxiety your friend.

Calming anxiety is possible

Learning how to calm anxiety is not such a difficult task to do if you are really committed to getting better.

Carve a chunk of your time daily and dedicate it to knowing yourself and your feelings better. Do some research about your early life or experiences and get some kind of closure to what they meant to you. Invest in some therapy sessions with a psychodynamic therapist.

Learn how to put your emotions into words and understand how inner passivity plays out in your life. And maybe, you can let go of toxic relationships to make room for positive people who will treat you well.

You will see that once you start feeling happier and more secure with yourself, your anxiety will not terrify one bit.

Featured photo credit: Allan Filipe Santos Dias via unsplash.com

Reference [1] ^ Why We Suffer: Illustrating the Characters Who Mess With Our Mind [2] ^ Kelly L. Drake • Golda S. Ginsburg: Family Factors in the Development, Treatment, and Prevention of Childhood Anxiety Disorders function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

The post How I Calm Anxiety and Start to Feel Happier and Secure with Myself appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-1.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/03/18060012/allan-filipe-santos-dias-365405-unsplash.jpg

How Being True to You Gets You Back on Track When You Feel Lost

24. April 2018 - 13:00

You often hear people say, ‘be yourself’ or ‘be true to yourself’ or ‘just be you’. Many legendary quotes speak to this concept and it is one of the topics about which I’m most passionate.

I deeply believe (and have experienced this with hundreds of people) that if we are ‘true to ourselves’, we will experience greater success and more fulfillment with less stress and frustration along the way.

My primary goal as a coach and consultant, is to help people do just that — to live a life of greater happiness, fulfillment and success; to get them from where they are, to where they want to be by removing any obstacles along the way; and to help them take one step closer, towards health, towards balance, towards wholeness.

While there are many (awesome) books, courses, programs, and words of advice on living a life you love, I always come back to the conclusion that the fastest way to get there, is to be true to you and get back to who you are.

In this article, I will share with you the importance of being true to yourself to get back on track.

There is no place like home – your true self

In the movie “The Wizard of Oz”, Dorothy taps her ruby red slippers together and repeats “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…”

The same is true for each of us. There’s no place like home. There is a core in each of us where we thrive. This place or “state”  is a reservoir from which we generate health and energy. And ultimately your body, your mind, your spirit all yearn to get back to this “home.”

Much of our stress, our angst, and our frustration is caused by being disconnected from, or out of alignment with the source of who we are.

Why people stop being true to themselves

From a  young age, we are pulled off track from being true to ourselves by well-meaning family members, teachers, the education system, our communities and society.

Perhaps you were told to be quiet when you had  much to say; or maybe your curiosity was crushed when your ‘whys’ were met with ‘because I said so’; or your creativity and free spirit were suffocated when you were forced to fit in and sit quietly in a traditional classroom setting.

There are hundreds of examples of this, and I’m sure you have your own.

In fact, we as a culture, as a society, as humanity, are derailed now, more than ever. We are thrown off by the multitude of challenges in our own lives, by what’s happening in our countries and the world. There are unrealistic expectations and demands coming from every direction.

We are pulled off track by our 24-hour, technology-fueled world. We are being pulled in different and sometimes even opposite directions, playing the many roles in our lives – employee, friend, parent, partner. All of these diverse roles have their own demands and expectations.

We read books about how we should do things, take courses on what we are supposed to do and try to model what we see others doing  to improve ourselves or be the right influence on others. And depending on the day of the week, or time of the year, or the newest article or study……the advice is often different and conflicting!

What happen if you are not true to yourself

It’s no wonder there are such staggering statistics around stress, health and well-being, especially here in the U.S:

  • 77% of Americans find themselves regularly experiencing physical and emotional symptoms of stress
  • Over 50% of adults have a chronic health issue including heart disease, stroke, chancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity and arthritis.
  • 55% of people regularly take a prescription medicine.
  • Worldwide, the most recent Gallup poll showed that 85% of people worldwide hate their jobs.

Sadly, I could go on. But I won’t. Hopefully, you get the point I’m trying to make here.

For one reason or another, we are disconnected from our core self, we have slipped out of alignment with who we really are, and what we already know. And that friction, that pull is having widespread and significant consequences to us each individually, and the health of our communities, organizations and, honestly the world.

Let’s think of ‘being true to self’ as a magnet. Your core self is compelled to get back ‘home’, it is your ‘truing mechanism’. But life’s circumstances and crises may actually have a stronger and demanding pull. As you get pulled from your home base, it’s like a magnet being wrenched from its attachment.

What happens when you pull a magnet away? It gets shaky, it tries to get back. But if you let it, it will snap right back into place. Again, if you try to pull it away, it shakes again. Think of this shakiness as the magnet’s way of saying, “Please!  I want to get back home. I need to get back home.”   

The warning signs (that you ignore)

Now think of this for yourself. When you get separated from your core self, from being true to you, what do you experience?  Do you get ‘shaky’ like the magnet?

This ‘disorientation” can manifest as:

  • Physical symptoms such as low energy, headaches, stomach issues, tense muscles, frequent colds and infections, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, you name it.
  • Emotional symptoms can include feelings of anger, frustration, being overwhelmed, loneliness and eventually depression or anxiety.

These ‘warning signs’ are your body’s way of saying, I want to get back home, I need to be there.

But most of the time, we ignore them. We keep pushing them down or forcing our way through. If we get a headache, we take some Advil; if we have high blood pressure, we get a prescription; if we feel depressed or anxious, we drink a bottle of wine, or take a tranquilizer.

But the reason those things are showing up, is to tell you something. Your body may be telling or even screaming at you that something is not working. What we really need to do is pause and identify the ‘why’ behind the symptoms we are experiencing. These often relate to us being off track from our true selves and what works best for us.

The unwanted consequence

What happens if you pull that magnet completely apart? What happens when you pull it so far away that it can’t find ‘home’ anymore?

It loses its sense of self. Like a compass that has lost its ‘true north’. You have no sense of direction, you are lost, confused and anxious.

Without this sense of ‘belonging’, you might experience feeling like you’re going off the rails, about to crash and burn. This is what’s happening to too many of us. We don’t even know where ‘home’  is anymore.

But you DO. Your core sense of self knows! It knows exactly where home is.

How to be true to you and get back on track

You might, at this point, be thinking this all sounds wonderful.  But how do you get back on track? Some of you might even be wondering what being true to yourself even looks like any more.

Here are 11 ways to be true to you and get back on track again:

1. Identify what you need to thrive

One way to figure this out is to think about times in your life when you felt fantastic. On top of things, under control, in the ‘zone’.

Think about times in your life when you felt most happy, fulfilled and successful. Write them down.

Now, think about what was it about those times that made them so great? Was it the environment you were in? The people you were surrounded by? Something you were building or creating? Or maybe a feeling you had? Maybe you had a clear picture, a plan, a purpose or challenge?

2. Think about what makes you happy

Genuinely happy! What makes you feel joy? Laugh? What do you love to do? Are you doing that? Why not? How can you live more in touch with your passions or be doing more of the things that make you happy?

3. Pinpoint what makes you feel most like you

Think about when you feel most like yourself. What makes you feel connected, grounded and centered with who you are.

Is it time with friends and family? Meditation or Yoga? Being a complete badass, adventurous risktaker? Connecting with something deeper and more significant on a spiritual level? How can you get more of that in your life? What nourishes your soul at a deep level?

4. Know when you don’t feel like you

In order to get back on track, you have to know you’re off track in the first place. That’s why it’s just as important to know when you don’t feel like you.

How do you know when things aren’t working for you? Think about what pulls you out of stride? We talked before about physical and emotional symptoms that show up. What are those for you? What do you think, hear or feel?

Notice. Pay attention to these ‘early warning signals’ your mind and body are sending you.

5. Look at your core values

Do you know what’s most important to you? How can you reprioritize and put those things first? If one of your core values is family, how can you live that more? Maybe it’s health, what are you doing towards greater health?

6. Use your talents

What are the innate strengths or talents that you could be using more? Your inner genius? Are you amazing at solving problems, listening to friends or cooking healthy, wholesome food? Where can you use that talent, now?

7. Connect with your purpose

Some people are very clear about their purpose, others are still searching. I know this is a big one.

Even if you aren’t clear on what your purpose is, are you living each day with purpose? On purpose? With a clear intention?  Or have you been pulled off track by distractions, expectations or life?

8. Focus on taking care of all of you

Get back to basics with healthy eating and living. Focus on your overall wellness. Take care of your body. Does that mean you need to exercise more? Sleep more? Mediate more often? Eat less?

I’m a big advocate of a healthy body. While I believe this piece is important, it’s also important to note that you could work days and years on your health, nutrition, hydration, etc. But if you don’t take a step back and look at the energetic pieces of you, you’re not going to make much progress.

9. Rediscover what you loved to do before things got so busy

Was it hiking outdoors? Being with friends? Sitting in the library reading a good book? Doing absolutely nothing at all?

10. Take a test

I know this might sound odd when you’re trying to find yourself. And yes, the answers are inside of you. However, I know that soul searching can be tough work. Sometimes, it helps to get a little jump start.

My favorite test to help you figure out what being true to you actually looks like — The Instinctive Drives (I.D.). It identifies what you need to be at your best. Check out the test here: The Instinctive Drives (I.D.)

It’s different to other tools I’ve tried because instead of focusing on personality or your behavior, it digs deep into the core, the innate part of you, and helps you understand what you need to thrive.

11. Let go

Let go of the expectations of others that aren’t serving you. Let go of the way you ‘should’ do things. Let go of who you are ‘trying’ to be and instead, try being you.

We try so hard to please, to meet expectations, to make others happy or to fit in. Much about being true to you is about what you let go of as much as what you hold on to.

I once read a quote that fits this sentiment perfectly:

Take your first step

As you might imagine, you don’t have to do all 11 of these to get back on track. Just one step in the right direction will start to lead you home.

How do you know which one to start with? Like the magnet, see which ones ‘attract’ you. Which one of these resonated most with you? If you’re not sure, read them again, and see which one(s) have that magnetic pull. Your core self knows which one of these is the next right thing to focus on for YOU.

The next step?

Take a step. One step to bring you closer to you. One step to get back on track. One step towards being true to yourself.

What is that step for you?

Featured photo credit: finda via finda.photo

The post How Being True to You Gets You Back on Track When You Feel Lost appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-1.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/04/20055301/inner-voice.001.jpeg

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

23. April 2018 - 14:00

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.
Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference [1] ^ High Spark: 4 Ways to Establish Trust In Your Presentation or Sales Pitch [2] ^ High Spark: Presentation Design Hacks: 5 Ways to Look Like a Pro Fast function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

The post How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide) appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-1.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/04/20000110/fear-of-public-speaking-highspark-1024.jpeg

Creative Problem Solving: Create Meaning from Contradictory Ideas

23. April 2018 - 13:00

Those who succeed in an unending changing environment are able to do one thing really well:

Create meaning from contradictory ideas.

We can create meaning by determining the factor of the interaction between contradictory ideas. We can do this through what is known as the Dialectic Method. This method was constructed mainly by Karl Marx, yet it heavily built on the ideas of the Hegelian dialectic.

In this article, I will explain to you what exactly the Dialectical Method is and how you can apply it in life to be a more creative problem solver.

Creative problem solving: the Dialectical Method

Dialectic implies a process of evolution, where dialectical logic is a system identifying the structure of thought and was initially intended to replace the laws of formal logic. Nevertheless, I do not intend to dive into the history of the Dialectical Method.

My intent here is to propose this method as a way to create meaning and create something new in our contemporary chaotic world by examining the three stages of development within the Dialectical Method:

  1. Thesis
  2. Antithesis
  3. Tension resulting in Synthesis

All thought is based on pieces of a previous thought:

Before you start diving into any of the stages, you need to first understand the meaning for each stage.

Just like anything else, you must understand what each stage is before an understanding of the topic is reached.

Stage #1: Thesis

First, you have your thesis, known also as a proposition. This is the starting point or the status-quo giving rise to the reaction (antithesis).

Stage #2: Antithesis

Second, the antithesis is the reaction or the contradiction. This is the counter-proposition.

Stage #3: Synthesis

Third, the tension between the thesis and antithesis is resolved by synthesis.

In other words, this is where meaning is created and where the new thesis comes to be.

What’s important to understand here is the meaning of synthesis and how it differs from analysis:

  • Analysis is an examination of the elements of something (think of breaking something apart or analyzing each individual piece of a puzzle).
  • Synthesis is the combination of ideas to form something new (think of putting the pieces of a puzzle back together, yet you see something completely new).

Want to know the best part of the Dialectical Method?

This process is unending. Your synthesis is your new thesis, for which it too will possess a counter-proposition (antithesis).

Watch the following video for a deeper understanding of the Dialectical Method:

Destructive deduction and creative induction

According to John Boyd, famous Air Force Colonel, we are constantly breaking apart old paradigms and putting the pieces back together creating a new perspective better matching our current reality. Essentially, we orient our self to a rapidly changing environment. This ultimately led to Boyd’s creation of the OODA Loop.

Check out this article to find out more on the OODA Loop: A Fighter Pilot’s Secret to Surviving Wars: Making Right Decisions Fast

Boyd described this through a thought experiment in a presentation called Strategic Game of ? and ?. Through the process of Destructive Deduction (analyze and pull apart mental concepts into discrete parts) and Creative Induction (using these elements to form new mental concepts) we can create a new mental model that more closely aligns with reality.

Moreover, Boyd illustrated this thought experiment in an interesting way. Let’s see if you can figure it out.

Part 1 of his question:

“Imagine that you are on a ski slope with other skiers…that you are in Florida riding in an outboard motorboat, maybe even towing water-skiers. Imagine that you are riding a bicycle on a nice spring day. Imagine that you are a parent taking your son to a department store and that you notice he is fascinated by the toy tractors or tanks with rubber caterpillar treads.”

Part 2:

“Now imagine that you pull the skis off but you are still on the ski slope. Imagine also that you remove the outboard motor from the motorboat, and you are no longer in Florida. And from the bicycle you remove the handle-bar and discard the rest of the bike. Finally, you take off the rubber treads from the toy tractor or tanks. This leaves only the following separate pieces: skis, outboard motor, handlebars and rubber treads.”

Sounds crazy right?

Yet, what do you imagine would be created from these parts?

The answer:

a Snowmobile!

How to apply the Dialectical Method (Step-by-step guide) Step #1. Identify your thesis

Your Thesis is your starting point or status-quo. This is where your thinking exists today.

Step #2. Identify the antithesis

The Antithesis is the mechanism for change. This is the opposing group or ideas that do not support the status-quo (your Thesis).

In order for things to change, we must have some form of opposition. These ideas bring about change by clashing with the Thesis.

Step #3. Synthesis (new thesis)

When a Thesis and Antithesis clash, we get progress. This is a meeting of two groups bringing about a new and better process. However, this process never ends.

Let’s examine two examples of this method:

Example #1
  • Thesis: Being
  • Antithesis: Nothing
  • Synthesis (New Thesis): Becoming
Example #2
  • Thesis: People need to go to the bank to draw cash.
  • Antithesis: It’s not necessary to go to the bank to draw money.
  • Synthesis (New Thesis): Develop ATM to dispense cash at convenient locations.
The reality behind this method

The dialectical method becomes a continuous and unending mechanism for building on ideas.

The truth is:

The strongest ideas survive through the continuous dialectical process.

“Truth is found neither in the thesis nor the antithesis, but in an emergent synthesis which reconciles the two.” – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

This method shows us why we should never get stuck living in our comfortable lives. We should continue to evolve and adapt; continue to challenge our hidden biases and assumptions.

After all,

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” – Charles Darwin

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

The post Creative Problem Solving: Create Meaning from Contradictory Ideas appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-2.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/04/18034305/creative-problem-solving.001.jpeg

Benefits of Water: Science Proved 5 Great Reasons to Stay Hydrated

20. April 2018 - 13:00

You may already be aware that you should drink plenty of water each day but do you know why? Yes, it’s true that you cannot stay alive for very long without drinking water. But keeping well hydrated is also essential for general day-to-day health and well-being.

This article will give you scientific and academically based benefits of water. By the end of this article, you will learn great reasons to stay hydrated.

The nutritional value of water

In terms of nutrition, plain water contains zero calories. This alone is a great reason to consume more of it.

Unlike almost every other consumable, water is not a source of carbohydrates, protein or fat.[1] Its only function is to hydrate you and you can drink plenty of it without worrying about any weight gain.

5 scientific benefits of water

Water has so many benefits for your health that it would be impossible to list all of them in this article. However, here are 5 solid scientifically and academically backed benefits that water has for your health and why you should always stay properly hydrated.

1. Drinking water keeps you at peak performance

Your physical performance can suffer if you don’t drink enough water. In fact, your physical performance can be severely impacted if you lose as little as 2% of water in your body. The result of this can be things like fatigue, loss of body temperature control, less motivation and performing exercise will feel a lot more difficult from a mental and physical perspective.

On the other hand, studies show that a good level of hydration not only prevents the above from happening, it may even reduce oxidative stress that comes with high intensity activities. This makes sense when you think about the fact that water makes up 80% of muscles.[2] So stay well hydrated to remain at peak physical condition.

2. Water is good for brain function

Your level of hydration has a big impact on your brain function. Studies show that even a modest level of dehydration of 1-2% (of reduced water in the body) can impair many brain functions.[3]This was highlighted in a study conducted with young women at the University of Connecticut. The research shows that women who had a fluid loss of 1.36% after exercise suffered from impaired concentration, poor mood and had many more headaches.[4]

A similar study involving young men also shows that a fluid loss of 1.59% increases feelings of fatigue, anxiety and reduces working memory.

3. Drinking water may help to prevent and treat headaches

This follows on from the previous point that shows how important water is to brain function. Dehydration is usually the root cause of migraines in many people. However, new studies show that drinking water can be an effective way of treating and even preventing headaches from happening in the first place.[5]

4. Water delivers nutrients to your body

Although pure water does not contain any nutrients itself, it can absorb some minerals and deliver it to your body.[6] For instance, bottled mineral water can sometimes contain healthy minerals that your body needs like sodium, magnesium and calcium.

Just make sure you read the label to learn the exact mineral content of your bottled mineral water.

5. Water helps your body regulate temperature

Water is excellent at absorbing and transferring heat in your body. In fact, it is the primary way that the human body is able to regulate its temperature.

Water has a relatively high heat capacity and it means the water in every cell of your body can work as a shield against sudden temperature changes.[7]This is also the reason why professionals always recommend you drink plenty of water in hot climates or environments.

How much water to drink in a day?

Now that you understand why you should drink more water, the next question is how much? The Internet is full of bogus responses to this and the most common response is the un-scientific 8 cups a day rule.

However, most scientists and health professionals agree that it’s much better to drink according to your gender, weight, level of physical activity and climate. Read this article to know how much water you should be drinking each day: How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

How to drink more water?

After working out how much water you should drink in a day, you might discover that you’re not drinking enough. If this is the case you will need to find new ways to drink more water each day. For instance, you can eat water-rich fruits like watermelons and make new hydration habits like drinking a cup of water before each meal.

If you need help to get you to drink more water, check out these articles:

You can even eat your water from these fruits:[8]

Conclusion

Water is essential to a properly functioning body. You should proactively try to keep yourself well hydrated.

Hydration is not the only benefit you will experience from maintaining a good level of daily water intake. Water can help you stay at a peak physical condition, maintain brain function, prevent headaches and regulate your body temperature.

Make sure you drink enough water each day to enjoy all the amazing health benefits that water has to offer.

Featured photo credit: MrWaterGeek.com via mrwatergeek.com

Reference [1] ^ Beverage Impacts on Health and Nutrition: The Nutritional Value of Bottled Water [2] ^ Sports Medicine: Hydration and Muscular Performance [3] ^ US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Mild dehydration impairs cognitive performance and mood of men [4] ^ US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health:: Dehydration Affects Mood In Healthy Young Women [5] ^ US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Increased water intake to reduce headache: learning from a critical appraisal [6] ^ Livestrong: Nutritional Value of Water [7] ^ Sciencing: How Does Water Stabilize Temperature? [8] ^ Skinny Ms: 21 Ways to Eat Your Water function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

The post Benefits of Water: Science Proved 5 Great Reasons to Stay Hydrated appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-2.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/04/13151010/benefits-of-water.jpg

Mastering The Art of Happiness (9 Tips to Get Started)

20. April 2018 - 12:00

As we get older, we begin to understand that a fulfilling life is one in which we are unapologetically happy.

However, finding and maintaining that happiness can be evasive for some; even though the potential for happiness is all around us!

If you’ve always thought of the potential of mastering the art of happiness, but was never quite sure where to begin, we’ve got you covered.

In this guide, we’ll break it down for you so achieving happiness isn’t just attainable, but actually quite simple!

Happiness Is Simple

If you want to live a happier lifestyle, here are 9 tips that will help you to get started on the road to happiness!

1. Acceptance is Key

It becomes easy to lose track of your happiness when you are consistently fighting against the current of your life.

All things, no matter whether they are good or bad, enter our lives for a reason; and, we choose how to respond to each situation.

Rather than pushing each of these situations away when they don’t appeal to you, attempt to embrace them and find solutions that help you come out a victor on the other side.

When you begin to go with the flow and work with what you’ve been given, you’ll find that you become much happier overall.

2. Positivity is All Around You

Everything has a positive aspect. Everything!

Even the most painful or difficult situations have a silver lining to them. When we fail to recognize these positive aspects and only focus on the negative outcomes or qualities of a certain person or situation, it makes it easier for sadness and doubt to creep into our lives.

The next time that you are dealing with something painful or difficult, try to take a step back from the situation and assess it logically.

Is there something in this situation that could be perceived as positive?

If you search deep enough, you are certain to find some type of positivity. Never give up!

3. Fill Your Life With Love

A life filled with activities and relationships that do not fulfill you is a waste of your time and will not make you happy. As life goes on, we lose track of our hopes and dreams and begin to settle on what we think we should be doing rather than what we want to do.

Although this is a habit that is hard to break away from, settling can make us rather unhappy. The solution? Start taking a look at each area of your life and decide whether or not you feel fulfilled.

In the areas where you feel as though you are lacking, take some time to figure out what may make you feel happier. For example, imagine that your job is not quite what you thought it would be when you first started, and definitely not the job that you dreamt about when you were growing up.

While some people would stick with this job despite this major issue, consider the idea of making a job change. The reason you make this change is because you know that you will be happier doing what you want to do rather than what is expected! Although it will take some time, the end results will be worth it.

4. Make Every Minute Count

The honest truth about life is that we only have so many minutes on this planet. Why waste them being unhappy?

You should be living your life to the fullest and getting everything you want, rather than spending your time doing things that don’t matter to you. If you have moments where you feel unfulfilled, or you are voluntarily spending time with people that make you less than happy, reduce these tendencies.

It can be hard to remember that there are so many hours in the day but it is a very motivational piece of information.

To remind yourself of this key piece of information, put a sticky note down in a place where you find yourself repeatedly throughout the day or set the reminder as your phone wallpaper.

This way, you will always remember that each minute counts and that you need to chase what you want in order to lead the happiest life possible. Prioritize your time as though it is precious–because it is.

5. Practice Self-Care

Self-care is one of the most important things to do to stay happy and maintain your overall mental health. What is self-care? To put it simply, self-care is the practice of engaging in activities that help you to mentally recharge.

For example, a self-care day may involve an hour of intense journaling, a trip to the spa where you get a full body treatment, and a couple of hours of your favorite movies. No matter what you do, self-care activities will always help you to center yourself and make you feel more relaxed.

There is no rule as to how often you need to practice self-care to stay happy and healthy. Just practice it whenever you feel that you need it! Of course, don’t neglect your obligations, but certainly don’t feel guilty for giving yourself a mental recharge every once in a while. In the end, these small acts of self care will make a big difference.

6. Seek Out Exciting Experiences

A stagnant lifestyle can become a boring and unsatisfying lifestyle rather quickly. Even the happiest of individuals can find themselves unsatisfied if they continue to live the same day repeatedly.

You should always be seeking out new experiences to learn more about the world around you and to discover new passions and interesting (and inspiring!) people. The best thing about new experiences is that they often don’t have to be large or expensive to be satisfying.

Sit down with your phone or with a piece of pencil and a paper and jot down some of the things that you have always wanted to do. After you’ve finished your own personal list, do some exploring on the internet and come up with some ideas of activities that you’ve wanted to do or places that you’ve wanted to visit as well.

Once your list is full, make it your goal to tackle these items one by one. Eventually, you will have fulfilled these passions and you can begin to create a list of new ones! Before you know it, you’ll look back on what you’ve accomplished and feel incredibly fulfilled.

7. Set Goals and Dominate Them

There is nothing quite like setting a goal and successfully following through on it. In fact, this is one of the main confidence-building methods recommended for those who are trying to work through their depression.

Without goals, life can become very bland and you may lose focus on what truly matters to you. Goals are what give you purpose and motivation to live through each day doing what it is that will make you happy.

One great source for goal-making and following through on your goals is Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life. This source will teach you about the main categories of life goals that you should be setting for yourself, and how you can be strong on your follow through as well!

8. Express Endless Gratitude

Being grateful is truly a blessing. Through gratitude, we learn that there is always something beautiful going on in our lives. Even during the darkest of days, you can still be grateful for something as simple as getting eight hours of sleep or having a stranger saying hello to you on the street.

To start practicing gratitude, all you have to do is begin reciting the things you are grateful for daily. One popular method for showing gratitude is to grab a journal and to write down three things each day that you are grateful for.

After a while, you will begin to notice that your perspective towards life has shifted and you will begin looking for the positive rather than focusing on the negative!

You’ll find it easier to focus on all the things that you are grateful for without trying, which will being a great sense of joy to your everyday life. This comes in handy especially during times of stress; in these times, remembering the things you are grateful for can be incredibly beneficial.

9. Volunteer Your Time 

As Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” We all get a little too tangled up in our own lives and thoughts sometimes, that we can forget there is a whole world out there filled with situations and people who are just as complex as we are.

Volunteering helps shed some light on that reality and it gives you the opportunity to reach out, help others, and make a difference in the community or in the world. When you have the ability to make a major difference in someone’s day, happiness is sure to flock to you.

Helping others will also make you consider all the things in your own life to be grateful for, and again, this gratitude will take you quite far in your pursuit of happiness.

Happiness is All Around

While happiness may seem hard to obtain, the truth is that it is all around us and you just need to know where to look, what to do, and how to appreciate the pockets of happiness in life.

By following the guidance within these 9 suggestions above, you will be living the happy life that you have always wanted in no time.

Featured photo credit: Photo by Jenn Evelyn-Ann on Unsplash via unsplash.com

The post Mastering The Art of Happiness (9 Tips to Get Started) appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-1.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/03/31134625/jenn-evelyn-ann-112980-unsplash-1024.jpg

Anxiety Help Through Meditation: How the ‘Here and Now’ Enhances Your Life

20. April 2018 - 11:00

Is there a “magic pill” that could solve all your stress and anxiety? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

In a world that’s becoming increasingly more stressful, people are now experiencing the symptoms of stress and anxiety more than ever before.

Many of the solutions you’ll find on a typical Google search will tell you to “reduce stress” or “avoid stress,” but there’s a problem with that logic.

Not all stress is avoidable or reducible. So what are you left to do? Anxiety help is possible, and it’s as simple as adding a daily meditation practice to your life.

Read on to find out how practicing meditation for anxiety is a smart solution.

Crush Anxiety and Stress with Meditation

You may not be able avoid the stressful board meeting, the sales call, or your kids jumping off the bed, but you can strengthen your brain’s ability to handle and deal with your anxiety and stress. If you can build your stress-handling muscle, you’ll be better equipped to tackle your anxiety and your stress.

Do you want to learn how to reduce the feeling of stress and anxiety so you can start living your life again? Meditation may hold the key.

Meditation has become the go-to brain strengthening training for people like Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, and Tim Ferris. In this article, I’ll show how meditation can help and how to get started, even if you’ve never meditated before.

Train Your Brain: Rewiring the Firing

Meditation isn’t just a spiritual practice. It’s more like a brain exercise.

If you want to build strong muscles, you need to go to the gym and exercise. Which muscles you choose to exercise will determine which muscles get stronger.

The same goes for your brain.

There’s a saying in neuroscience that says, “The brain wires the way it fires,” which means the more we participate in a specific way of thinking, activity, or habit, the more the brain will actually build more wiring to make that process easier the next time around.

When the brain is constantly stressed and anxious, it begins laying down wiring to make that process easier, which is the opposite of what you want.

So rather than trying to completely eliminate stress from your life, you need to train your brain to better resist and handle stress and anxiety.

Pump the Brakes on Stress

The brain has two modes of operation: Sympathetic (Fight-Or-Flight) and Parasympathetic (Growth, Health, and Relax). Imagine the sympathetic nervous system as the brain’s “gas pedal” and the parasympathetic nervous system as the “brake pedal.”

Chronic stress and anxiety pushes on the “gas pedal” and hardwires your brain to become more sympathetic dominant (stuck in stress), which shuts off the parasympathetic mode (relax mode), making it more difficult to calm down, relax, and reduce anxiety and stress.

Meditation pushes the brake pedal and helps the brain strengthen the parasympathetic side of your nervous system, which helps you to restore balance and calm.

Mindfulness meditation, a meditation technique that emphasizes focusing on the present moment, trains the brain to shut off the signals producing anxiety and stress by simply doing something as simple as concentrating on your breathing. [1]

By focusing on the “here and now,” it helps the brain become more aware of the source of your stress and anxiety, while simultaneously training the brain to become more resilient against stress and anxiety.

Destroy Your Stress Hormones

When your brain is stressed, it promotes the release of cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, to help the body deal with your stress. It’s a healthy, natural response to stress for a short period of time; but, it is not meant to be a long-term solution to the work, financial, or relationship stress that may be causing it.

Chronic high levels of cortisol from stress and anxiety can interfere with your energy, slow brain performance, promote weight gain, and increase the risk of depression. [2]

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to decrease your stress hormone, cortisol, which can help you feel more energized and healthy while simultaneously crushing stress and anxiety. [3]

Ramp Up Your “Feel Good” Chemicals

Not only does meditation lower the symptoms of your stress and anxiety, it also boosts the chemicals in your brain that make you feel happier. [4]

Chronic stress and anxiety can lower your brain’s “happy” neurotransmitter, serotonin, as well as your brain’s “feel good” neurotransmitter, dopamine.

  • Low serotonin levels can make you feel more sad, unhappy, lethargic, depressed, and anxious.
  • Low levels of dopamine can make you feel unmotivated, less resilient to stress, tired, and forgetful.

Studies show that meditation can increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, helping your brain not only crush stress, but allow you to feel happier, motivated, and energized.

Help Make Lasting & Positive Change

Do you feel like you are always stressed and anxious as though it is the preset mode of operation for your brain?

Would you like to be able to change that? Meditation may be the solution to lasting change and results.

Science has shown that the brain continues to change and reorganize itself throughout your lifetime depending on your lifestyle and your experiences. This is called neuroplasticity. One of the most influential promoters of neuroplasticity is a protein called Brain Derived Neutrophic Factor (BDNF).

BDNF helps the brain produce more brain cells, create new connections in the brain, and helps protect the brain against damage and stress. BDNF can help your brain adopt new healthy habits easier, learn faster, and even promote a healthy brain.

Meditation can increase the production of BDNF and help your brain reprogram itself for less stress, less anxiety, and more happiness. [5]

Make Your Brain Bigger and Stronger

So is meditation only helping you manage feelings and emotions?

It turns out that meditation does more than meets the eye. Not only can meditation make you feel less stressed and anxious, it can actually change the physical structure of your brain.

One study in particular found that regular meditation increased the thickness of the brain. A thicker brain is a stronger brain. [6]

One area of the brain that scientists discovered an increase in thickness was in the insula of the brain. The insula is thought to be a center for controlling consciousness, awareness, and emotion regulation.

This means that meditation can help you increase the work capacity of the portion of the brain that regulates your consciousness and emotions.

Put Yourself In The Driver’s Seat

Often times, people who are chronically stressed can feel “out of control” of their stress and anxiety and constantly feeling overrun by the source of their stress.

Anxiety and stress act like a fire alarm in the brain. When you are stressed, often your concentration is on the feeling or source of your anxiety, not the solution.

This can make you feel like a passenger in your own mind, constantly rebounding from your emotions.

Meditation teaches you to calm the constant fire alarm of stress to gain perspective and clarity on the solutions.

Meditation trains your brain to regain control over your thoughts and emotions, which allows you to get back in the driver’s seat with your hands on the wheel and control the direction and course of your mind.

Meditation Techniques When Your Brain Won’t Turn Off 1. 5 Minutes a Day Can Make a Major Impact

Little steps still lead to large goals.

When you first started working out, did you start with a full marathon?

Of course not. You trained your way up.

You can use the same strategy for meditation. You can start with just as little as 5 minutes a day, adding a minute at a time to progress further.

You don’t have to be a Buddhist Monk, meditating for hours a day, to experience the benefits mentioned earlier.

Even if you are busy, you can still find at least 5 minutes during your day to step away and find a quiet spot to take some time for yourself and meditate.

“If you don’t have 10 minutes, you don’t have a life.”
– Tony Robbins

Try meditating at different times of the day. Some people prefer morning, while others prefer afternoon or evening. Find what works best for you.

Start with meditating just 5 minutes a day and begin building up a minute at a time until you reach 20 minutes.

2. Box Breathing has Big Benefits

A simple yet powerful way to start is by concentrating on your breathing. This helps to block all distractions and bring your brain to the present moment.

Box Breathing” is a great technique to start with. Here’s how it works

  1. Inhale for 4 seconds.
  2. Hold the top of your inhale for 4 seconds.
  3. Exhale for 4 seconds.
  4. Hold the bottom of your exhale for 4 seconds.

*Repeat as often as necessary.

Deep and slow breathing has been shown to activate the “brake pedal” of your brain, helping your brain to deactivate the stress response and activate relaxation and attention. [7]

Counting the time of your inhales and exhales helps to keep your focus and attention during your meditation.

3. Try Out Some Tools of the Trade

There is no shame in seeking help, especially when it comes to meditation.

In today’s modern age, you have access to more technology and resources than ever before. Why not use them to help make meditation easier and more effective?

Using helpful tools like the ones listed below can help you avoid distractions and help you stay consistent with your meditation.

Here are some helpful tools available that can help you with your meditation.

  • Guided Mediations: Youtube videos, CD’s, and podcasts can be a great way to get started and pick up new ideas for your meditation practice.
  • The Headspace App: The Headspace app is an Apple/Android app that has plenty of guided meditations to help you get started and continue your meditation practice in as little as 10 minutes a day.
  • Music: Find nice relaxing instrumental music that you can play through your headphones to block any distractions like dogs barking, the neighbor mowing their lawn, etc.
  • Classes: Many cities have local classes or meet ups, where you can go for free or for a small fee and get some guidance for the meditation. You can also meet other like-minded individuals who you can connect with.
  • Timer: You don’t want to have to continually check the clock to see if your time is up. Set a timer that will do that for you.
  • Advanced Technology: There is some amazing state-of-the-art technology available today such as Muse. Muse is headset that measures your brain waves and gives feedback during your meditation to help you stay on track, while also tracking how you are progressing.
4. Keep Consistent

In the beginning, it’s natural that your mind will begin to wander as you meditate. Don’t be too hard on yourself if this happens. Just bring your focus back and keep going.

If you want to lose weight at the gym, do you think you’ll get results if you only go once a month?

Not likely.

The key to creating change in the brain is effort and consistency. Consistency is one of the most important factors in getting the benefits of meditation while making it a lasting practice.

Remember the saying mentioned earlier? “The brain wires the way it fires.”

In order to create new wiring and to feel more in control of your stress and anxiety, you need to consistently “fire” the brain enough times to stimulate your brain to rewire itself.

Over time, meditation will become easier and the benefits will last longer.

5. Take It One Step Further

As you become more comfortable with meditation and it becomes easier to calm your mind and focus, you are left with an amazing opportunity.

As you reach a state of calm focus, the brain waves change pattern and your brain becomes very attentive and receptive to what you put your focus on.

This gives you a great opportunity to start programming into your brain the things you want to achieve from your meditation.

For instance, you can start focusing your thoughts and attention on:

  • What you are grateful for
  • Positive affirmations
  • Visualizations
  • Mantras or sayings that are meaningful to you
  • Prayers
Where to Go From Here?

Meditation can have profound and long-lasting effects on your brain. There is a reason why some of the most successful and happy people have sworn by meditation as one of the most important influences on their life.

Meditation isn’t as complicated as it may seem and there are plenty of simple strategies, tools, and resources to get started even if you are brand new to meditating.

If you are ready to get back in the driver’s seat and get a hold of your stress and anxiety, there is good news for you. Anybody can do it and you can start with only a few minutes a day to start experiencing results. So go ahead and get Zen!

Featured photo credit: The Digital Artist/ Pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference [1] ^ Springer: Anxiety Reduction Following Exercise and Meditation [2] ^ Psychology Today: Why Cortisol is Public Enemy #1 [3] ^ Ohio University: The Effect of Meditation on Cortisol [4] ^ Springer: Serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine metabolites in transcendental meditation technique [5] ^ New York Academy of Sciences: Does Meditation Enhance Cognition and Brain Plasticity? [6] ^ NCBI: Meditation Experience Linked with Increased Cortical Thickness [7] ^ NCBI: Meditation Experience is Linked with Increased Cortical Thickness function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

The post Anxiety Help Through Meditation: How the ‘Here and Now’ Enhances Your Life appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-1.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/03/27152104/stress-1024.jpg

9 Ways a Clean Eating Diet Can Help You Feel Better

19. April 2018 - 15:00

A poor diet can leave you feeling sluggish, groggy, and lethargic.

You may even find your cravings for junk food are actually stronger, rather than satisfied, after indulging in salty or sweet snacks; unfortunately, your health and your waistline will pay the price.

With all the diet fads out there, it can be difficult to weed through the hype and find concrete information on what you should be eating, what you should be avoiding, and most importantly, why to do either.

Outlined below are 9 ways a clean eating diet can help increase your energy, reduce bloat, improve your health, and maybe even slim your figure– all while making you feel stronger, more focused, and in-tune with your body’s needs.

Clean Up Your Eating Habits

There are many different opinions out there on what constitutes a “clean” diet.

In general, and broadly speaking, clean eating means to focus on nutrient-rich, whole foods. It suggests you minimize pre-packaged, overly processed foods, and it encourages you to make your food from fresh, natural ingredients whenever possible.

It is imperative to note that however you would like to interpret those guidelines is entirely up to you.

Some people choose a paleo strategy, some prefer a vegan diet, and some find their body responds best when they limit dairy.

Either way you need to choose a path that fits your lifestyle, and give yourself permission to be flexible. Once you start to weed out the processed, high-sodium, -fat, and -sugar foods, you will find it easier to pinpoint which options agree and disagree with your unique tastes.

1. Protein = Satisfaction

Some examples of lean protein include chicken, turkey, white fish, beans, lentils, and low- or no-fat dairy. Proteins are the building blocks of your muscles and help make up other structures within your body such as skin and cell membranes.

Protein is slow to digest in the stomach, which helps you to feel fuller longer, and will keep hunger at bay between meals.

Because lean proteins have a low fat content, they are subsequently lower in calories, making them easy to incorporate into any meal. For example, throw some hard-boiled eggs and chopped chicken breast into a salad and it goes from rabbit food to a filling meal.

2. Scrub Your Intestines

Fiber, or roughage, is important for keeping your digestive tract moving smoothly; it is like a scrub brush for your intestines.

While that may sound a bit harsh, both literally and figuratively, it is exactly what people are looking for in popular cleanses and fasts, but without the drastic measures and high costs.

Older adults especially, can get deposits of build-up in their intestines which cannot only lead to major discomfort, but is also been known to cause colon cancer and other significant health problems.

Fiber also naturally helps regulate your blood sugar levels. Without the spikes and dips that accompany a processed diet, your cravings for sweets will remain regulated and on an even keel. This can not only help your metabolism stay humming throughout the day, but it can be a huge emotional and mental relief as well.

A healthy portion of fruits, vegetables, peas, whole-grain foods, and beans are all great sources of fiber. These foods have also been linked to a decrease in the risk of cancer and heart disease, due to their fiber content specifically.

3. Skip Added Sugar

One way to clean up your diet is to start limiting the amount of added sugars you consume throughout the day.

Fruit naturally contains the sugar fructose; when you are looking for a sweet treat around the house, reach for a fresh piece of fruit for a satisfying snack instead of a candy bar or sugary, baked confection.

The sugar-type fructose is a form of carbohydrate. It will give you that boost of energy you may be looking for during your mid-afternoon slump, but without the blood sugar hike, and subsequent crash, of sugary candies.

It is important to note that sugar hides in many foods parading around as “healthy.”

Many popular brands of yogurt or granola bars, for example, can have an astronomical amount of added refined sugar. Be sure to read food labels and steer clear of any foods with a sugar content in the double-digits.

4. Cut Back on Saturated Fat

Less than 10% of your total daily calories consumed should come from saturated fatty acids. Total fat intake, of all types, should be between 20 and 35% of all calories. That means that if you are following a 2,000 calories per day diet, no more than 700 of those calories should be from fats; this equates to an absolute maximum of about 77 grams of fat per day.

Please read food labels; many people will find a heavy portion of those 77 grams in their “healthy” salad dressing alone!

One helpful fact is that most saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Think about the white fat on bacon and other meats versus the healthier oils (also fats), such as olive oil, that are liquid at room temperature. This is an easy way to keep yourself in check with how much saturated fat you are consuming; you can often literally see the fat in many popular foods.

5. High Salt Means High Blood Pressure

The recommendation by the AHA (American Heart Association) is no more than 2,300mgs (about 1 teaspoon) of salt for adults, but they set an “ideal” limit of no more than 1,500mgs.

Far too many people reach this limit in a single meal alone, especially if they are eating out at restaurants often.

Salt enters the blood stream and disrupts the balance of electrolytes in the body, making it difficult for the kidneys to do their job. To be fair, a low potassium intake is just as likely to cause high blood pressure as an excess in salt might. However, so many people consume prepackaged foods as part of their everyday diet and still have no idea how much salt they are really consuming.

Salt is used a preservative in many foods; years ago, meats were even packed in salt to extend their shelf life.

Now, so much natural flavor is cooked out of foods during the manufacturing process, that salt is added to heighten the flavor that is left. This is why the spaghetti sauce you make at home can have drastically less salt and yet loads more flavor than the same sauce bought pre-cooked in a jar or can from the store.

Lastly, high salt intake causes your body to hold onto water as a way to dilute the sodium absorbed into your body and its tissues.

This is the reason behind that post-meal bloat you may feel up to two days after a salt-heavy meal, such as a dinner of a burger and fries from a popular chain restaurant.

6. Indulge in Complex Carbohydrates

One of the most popular diet misconceptions you will find these days is that the answer to weight loss is to eat less carbohydrates.

This is totally true if what you are eating is highly-processed, sugar-laden foods made in a factory. It is not true, however, if you are consuming nutritious, fiber-dense, complex carbohydrates that provide your body with fuel and energy.

Carbohydrates are the go-to fuel for organ activity; this includes the heart, skeletal muscles, and in particular, the brain.

White bread, bleached flour, and other processed carbohydrates are the ones to avoid when you are looking to clean up your diet.

These have little-to-no fiber and turn into sugar and then fat when not used as energy; they also likely contain many added sugars. However, fresh vegetables, 100% whole grain breads, lentils, beans, and whole potatoes are excellent sources, of energy and fuel for your body and mind.

7. Hold Out for Homemade

Here is a fact that will both astonish and astound you: legally, food labels and calorie counts on packaged foods and in restaurants only have to be accurate within 30%.

This means that if you choose to indulge in an entrée listed as a whopping 1,000 calories, it may actually contain as many as 1,300 calories, and this does not always account for the butter and oils used to grease pans during cooking.

At home, you can create the same dishes with far less of an impact on your health.

There are endless healthy-food swaps you can make to decrease calories and increase your intake of vital nutrients.

Some examples would be using condensed milk in the place of heavy cream in recipes, cauliflower in place of rice for a low-carb alternative (if you are into that sort of thing), or a quick spray of olive oil to prep a pan instead of a pat of butter.

Quite possibly the best parts of cooking at home is that you have the ability to alter recipes to meet your liking, and you can save hundreds of dollars each month with proper planning.

Some things to keep in mind if you are trying to save money on groceries is to shop farmer’s markets for fresh produce, buy foods that are in-season for peak freshness and the best value, and when necessary, opt for frozen foods over canned; frozen vegetables tend to be flash-frozen at the peak of ripeness, increasing their nutrient content when compared to their canned counterparts.

8. Boost Your Antioxidant Intake

If eating a diet low in saturated fat is cleansing for your arteries and heart, and eating a fiber-rich diet is cleansing for your gut, then antioxidant-rich foods promote the same type of health benefits for your body’s cells.

The long and short of it is this: oxidants are radicals found in the environment through some unavoidable circumstances such as air pollution, but also from lifestyle choices such as alcohol, cigarette smoke.

These oxidants have been know to cause damage to our cells, possibly leading to diseases and certain cancers. Antioxidants, however, perform just as their name implies; they help balance the oxidants to a healthy level that the body can handle.

A popular tactic of modern food manufacturers is to boast the health benefits of their food on labels. Buzz words like “anti-aging” and “cancer-fighting” appear on packages as a way to draw you in. The truth is, none of these foods compare to the health benefits of whole foods in their natural state.

Grapes, blueberries, nuts, and yes, even chocolate (cocoa) contain nutrient-rich antioxidants that can help keep your cells healthy and your body operating with efficiency.

9. A Clean Kitchen Leads to a Clean Diet

Have you ever cleaned out your closet of all your old, unworn clothes?

After doing so, the next time you go to pick an outfit you open your closet doors you feel relief at the organization; suddenly you find yourself at ease in your own wardrobe! Now, imagine if opening your refrigerator or pantry made you feel the same way.

Many advocates of a clean eating diet are also fans of meal prepping.

To meal prep means to cook a batch of meals at once and save portions of them to eat throughout the week. This is ideal for people on-the-go or who often struggle with what to eat. You can cook once or twice a week and not have to worry about what to do for your next meal.

This works particularly well if you work during the day and want to be able to grab your breakfast or lunch on your way out the door.

While this strategy for weekday eating will definitely save you money and calories, the biggest benefit is the peace of mind and mental relief you may feel from taking the uncertainty out of the equation.

Many people find going out to eat stressful when they are trying to follow a clean diet. Others feel overwhelmed at the options at the grocery store and what to buy and cook at home. By preparing batches of food you can experiment with recipes, shop according to grocery store discounts and sales, and you will always have a healthy meal ready when in a pinch.

Clean Eating Can Clean Up Your Life

Clean eating can mean a number of different things to different people. Although, experts and nutritionists urge against cutting out any entire food group, such as fats or carbohydrates, from your diet.

At its core, clean eating is really about balance and fueling your body with nutrient-dense food that keeps your metabolism, muscles, and brain in peak performance.

Your body was designed as a well-oiled machine; it comes equipped with everything it needs to keep itself in gentle homeostasis, and the better quality fuel you feed it, the better you will feel.

Many people find that just by adopting a cleaner diet, they shed unwanted, excess pounds, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and eventually find themselves being taken off diet-related medications.

As you delve deeper into what foods you choose to cut out and what foods you may want to add in to your diet, your tastes will change also.

You will eventually find your body craving the healthy stuff as much as you might have once craved the junk food you thought you could never live without. This transition may take time, however, so be patient with yourself.

Finally, a clean eating diet does not mean that you never get to indulge.

Food is about satisfying your body and its needs, even if that sometimes means a treat or guilty pleasure.

When you take care of your body every day, these instances will become that much more enjoyable–especially when they don’t leave you feeling sluggish and tired afterward. So, next time you get a craving… be sure you’re reaching for foods that are “clean”!

The post 9 Ways a Clean Eating Diet Can Help You Feel Better appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-2.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/04/30133859/pexels-photo-793759-1024.jpg

13 Home Remedies for Stomach Ache (Simple and Effective)

19. April 2018 - 14:00

It’s back. That I-feel-like-I-was-punched-in-the-stomach sensation that leaves you hunched over, nauseated, and without an appetite. We’ve all been there, whether because we ate something bad or because there is another digestive health issue at play. Either way, you need relief – fast.

Before you rush off to the pharmacy to pick up a big bottle of Tums or chug Pepto Bismol, I’d like you to consider these home remedies for stomach ache that can not only take the edge off quickly, but help to address the reason why you have the stomachache in the first place.

Below are 13 home remedies for a stomachache:

1. Take a “shot” of apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar packs a big and beneficial punch when it comes to our digestion. It helps to balance the acidity of the stomach, which we need a certain level of in order to even break down food fully.

Oftentimes we actually lack enough acid in our stomach, despite popular belief that we have too much, and this can make digestion quite difficult. Stomachaches are one of the telltale signs of too little acid in the stomach.

Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water and drink it as soon as you can to help boost acid production and begin relieving your stomachache. It can also help to do this in advance of eating to stimulate digestive function early on.

2. Give yourself an abdominal massage

If your stomachache is due to constipation, giving yourself a gentle abdominal massage can help move things along and relieve the blockage that may be causing the stomachache.

Massaging this area lightly with your forefinger and middle finger in a clockwise motion stimulates muscle contractions and helps break up food that may be stuck in the intestines, either due to overeating, not chewing thoroughly, dehydration, or a lack of enzymes or acid to break down the food in the first place.

Of course, all of these potential inhibitors to digestion should be addressed (and the tips in this post will help you to do so) but massaging can be a quick way to get things moving along and relieve the stomachache in the moment.

3. Do 5 minutes of breath work to focus the body on digestion

Especially if you were stressed when eating, or if you experience chronic stress, that can take a toll on digestion.

The body has two states: “fight or flight” or “rest and digest”. If you’re experiencing a stressor, such as from work, the body is in “fight or flight mode” to address the stress, not rest and digest to focus on digesting food. This makes digestion particularly difficult, which can often result in a stomachache.

To reset the body for digestion, taking a few deep breaths can help to recenter it and shift its focus to digesting your food. At the onset of a stomachache (and ideally before sitting down for a meal), take 3-5 really deep breaths in and out to help reduce the stomachache.

Watch this video to learn some deep breathing exercises (if you want to go straight to the techniques, go to 3:10):

4. Drink extra water

As mentioned earlier, oftentimes stomach pain is due to constipation and cramping of the intestines. A big contributor to that is dehydration.

Water not only helps hydrate the colon and speed up elimination, it’s also a key nutrient for the mucosal lining, which supports the small intestine bacteria for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Lack of water can cause constipation and acid reflux, among other things, so be sure to take in about 70oz of water per day to stay fully hydrated.

To remind yourself to drink enough water, try one of these free water drinking apps. They make drinking more interesting and keep you healthy.

5. Take a digestive enzyme

Our bodies need 3 categories of enzymes in order to break down food: lipase for fat digestion, amylase for carbohydrate digestion, and protease for protein digestion. Many of us lack proper levels of each of these enzymes due to over-medication, poor digestive function, and a nutrient-poor diet lacking in foods containing these enzymes.

Supplementing with digestive enzymes in the short-term can be a good option if digestion is impaired. Taking one after a meal if a stomachache comes on can help curb the pain and support digestion, and ideally, you should get in the habit of having one before the meal, as that’s the optimal time to take one.

6. Chew on a fresh piece of ginger

Like apple cider vinegar, ginger is another fantastic natural stimulant to digestion.

If you have a piece of fresh ginger in your house, or you can quickly go out to the grocery store to get some, break off about 1 centimeter of it and chew on it for a few minutes. This stimulates digestive fire (meaning your acid secretions and muscular contractions) to keep things moving along and relieve your stomach pain.

7. Drink aloe juice

The aloe plant is beneficial for more than just soothing a sunburn. It also plays an important role in digestion. Just as it’s soothing to your skin, it can soothe the cells in your digestive tract.

If your stomach isn’t agreeing with the food you ate, low-grade inflammation may be at play, and aloe can help to soothe that and help ease the system.

Drink 1/3 cup of pure aloe juice (be sure there is no sugar added as these kinds have minimal nutritional value) upon getting a stomachache to comfort your digestive tract.

8. Have a warming cup of bone broth

Similar to aloe juice, bone broth offers numerous benefits to our digestion. Not only is it potentially anti-inflammatory, it’s also extremely healing.

Bone broth is rich in both collagen and gelatin, which help to repair damage to cells. If you eat a nutrient-poor diet, have a known digestive health condition, or have taken medications that may have compromised the integrity of the digestive tract, cellular damage may have occurred and bone broth is a great way to begin repairing.

At the onset of a stomachache, drink 1 cup of warm bone broth (ideally organic) and take a few deep breaths. (As you can see, many of these tips pair well together!)

Here’s how to make organic bone broth:

9. Apply peppermint essential oil to the abdomen

Like the benefits that ginger and apple cider vinegar offer, peppermint essential oil acts in a similar way. If you don’t have ginger or ACV on hand when a stomachache hits but peppermint oil in your cabinets, this can be a great way to help relive the pain.

Peppermint offers a number of digestive health benefits, most notably it can help to reduce muscle spasms in the gastric lining and colon.

Mix a few drops of peppermint essential oil with a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil and rub across your abdomen wherever discomfort is occurring.

If you don’t have peppermint oil but you have peppermint tea, this can be equally beneficial and soothing to drink.

10. Make lemon tea or water

Lemon is another go-to for digestive health remedies. Lemon also helps to entice proper digestive secretions to ensure your food is properly broken down and moving along in your system.

If your stomach isn’t feeling so great after a meal, make a hot lemon tea, or simply add 1 tbsp of lemon juice to a cup of water and sip on it to help relieve the stomach pain.

Here’s more you can’t miss about the benefits of lemon water: 11 Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water (And How to Drink It for Good Health)

If you really want to kick it up a notch, you could also add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your lemon water. This is also a great combination to have before a meal.

11. Rest, rest, rest!

Trying to push through the pain of a stomachache often only makes it worse. Especially if bloating is accompanying your stomachache, you’re feeling quite uncomfortable.

It would benefit your body to sit down and relax for a little while. This gives your body time to focus its energy inwards and resolve the issue that caused the stomach pain.

While resting, try to incorporate a few of the tips covered so far, such as deep breathing, doing an abdominal massage, or drinking a soothing tea. Even just a few minutes of this can be quite beneficial.

12. Eat a high-fiber snack

Fiber plays a critical role in digestion, from regulating beneficial bacteria growth, to moving things along in the digestive tract, to detoxification of the colon. If your diet lacks fiber, digestion may suffer, which can result in issues like frequent stomachaches.

An easy way to address it is to simply add in more fiber. Foods like leafy greens, almonds, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, chia and flax seeds are all high in fiber.

Eat a handful of nuts or seeds, make a small green salad or add chia or flax seeds to a juice or small smoothie csn help address a potential lack of fiber and begin relieving the stomachache.

13. Evaluate what you ate

It’s important to know if what you ate was the direct cause of the stomachache. While this may not help you in the moment, it can give you good information going forward.

If, for example, you ate a lot of dairy or sugar and you find you most often get stomachaches when these foods are in your meals, that’s a signal from your body that you may either lack the ability to properly break them down (this is what lactose intolerance is) or that these foods simply don’t agree with your body.

It may be helpful to start a food journal where you write down everything you eat so that you can better correlate it with digestive upset, like stomachaches.

Treating your stomach well: Your action plan

While any number of factors can bring on a stomachache, the good news is you have many easy at-home remedies that you can now use to address it.

Taking the last point into consideration, it’s important to identify if any foods in particular trigger an upset stomach so you can begin to reduce or remove them from your diet (temporarily or long-term). Knowing how to address a stomachache if and when it comes on is far more beneficial than trying to just push through the pain and discomfort.

What’s more, most of these foods and tips provide digestive health benefits beyond just relieving the stomachache in the moment; they can also can promote better digestion in the future.

Be sure to also consider using some of the pre-meal recommendations provided in this post, such as drinking ACV or water before a meal to help overall digestion.

Let us know which of these tips was most useful to you, or which you are excited to try next!

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

The post 13 Home Remedies for Stomach Ache (Simple and Effective) appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-1.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/03/12225001/home-remedies-for-stomach-ache.001.jpeg

How Practicing Deep Breathing Exercises Can Make You a Better Parent

19. April 2018 - 13:00

Do you want to be a better parent? Chances are, the answer is “yes”. After all, as parents we are always looking out for the wellness of our children–and that especially includes our own interactions with them.

What if I told you that simple deep breathing exercises can vastly improve your parenting skills?

Not convinced? Read on to learn how this simple technique can make you a better parent.

Good Versus Better Breathing

Breathing is something that we take for granted. We’re potentially not even conscious of it, yet it is a key ingredient to human function and performance.

Breathing is a human reflex we’re born with; it’s attached to our nervous system, which has an input and an output. As a parent you most likely cried with joy at your kids first screaming breath; that very moment changing your life forever.

Most likely, though, no one told you as you dove into the art of parenthood that your breathing patterns have a profound affect on us.

If you have poor breathing patterns (input), you’ll have poor motor output, which can result in muscle compensations, stress and even possible injuries.

Breathing plays a huge role in optimal nervous system function, proper motor function, relaxation, focus, and efficiency.

Today I’m going to take you on a journey into what deep breathing is all about. You’ll learn how it is congruent with less-stressed parenting, and how to go about fitting that in with everything else you have to juggle.

Two Types of Breathing

There are two types of breathing:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing is the most natural way in which the breath utilizes the deep muscles allowing the spine to be stable and mobile. This type of breathing comes from the rib cage and allows the lungs to expand top to bottom, front to back and to each side.
  • Chest breathing (also known as apical breathing) refers to a pattern of breathing where the movement is confined to the upper chest. This type of breathing results from fewer muscles being utilized, so the muscles that are used (upper chest, neck and shoulders) undergo more stress and more movement to facilitate the breathing rhythms.

Deep breathing is not simply expanding your breath as much as possible. Deep breathing is actually defined above as ‘diaphragmatic breathing’.

“Your posture and presence is everything; how you hold yourself determines how your connect to yourself, others and the world around you.”

The diaphragm is a dome shaped band of connective tissue that sits under the ribcage. It helps to draw air into the lungs and the belly when one is taking a full breath, and it massages the body’s organs as it drops down.

The diaphragm is a storehouse for emotional tension, stress, and anxiety.

As our posture changes to a more forward folding movement, such as while sitting or driving for extended periods of time, the diaphragm is ‘locked down’ or becomes ‘stuck’. Similarly the pressures and postures put on a woman’s body throughout pregnancy and during the post-natal period is an example of this.

We go through our lives and forget to breathe into the belly at rest, the sympathetic nervous system of fight/flight and freeze is activated.

The diaphragm and breathing has a direct link to the nervous system.

Carrying out deep diaphragmatic breathing can assist you, your family and your kids to overcome the stresses of everyday life. You be able to live more vitally with more energy, better posture and less pain.

How to Breathe Better

To really get the best from your deep breathing exercises, it is wise to first understand the three main components of deep breathing:

  1. Opening up the chest
  2. Releasing the diaphragm
  3. Practicing the breath work

I’ve made a video that you can watch below, or follow the written instructions underneath the video.

  1. Open the chest by applying medium to hard pressure to the sternum area using your fingers or a lacrosse ball. Then use your fingers/the ball to ‘shift the skin’ by dragging your chosen implement back and forth. This can be a little painful but can massively assist reduction in neck/shoulder pain so I truly recommend it. Watch the video if you’d like more clarity on exactly how to do this.
  2. Release the diaphragm by doing the same ‘shifting the skin’ at the edge of the ribcage 1-2 inches below the sternum. This is where the diaphragm sits. By doing so you’re inviting movement in the tissues (muscles & fascia) of the diaphragm and surrounding area.
  3. Practice the breath work by first placing one hand on your chest and one hand on your tummy just below your ribs. Practice breathing into your lower hand and keeping the upper hand immobile. Once confident in practicing this type of breath you can add ‘resistance’ to your breath by sucking air through your fingers as you breathe.
Go Deep with Ease

Keep these tips in mind when you’re practicing diaphragmatic/deep breathing:

  • It can take some time to relearn how to breathe. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. Take some time each day to practice this exercise. The nice thing is, you can do it anywhere.
  • Try to practice at a time when you’re already relaxed. This will make it easier to take deeper breaths.
  • If you’re having trouble taking deep breaths, try going to the hand on chest and hand on tummy breath. Aim to keep the hand on your chest immobile as you breath into the lower hand on your tummy.
  • Practice taking 5 breaths each morning as you rest in bed. For each breath count in for a count of 3, hold for a second then breathe out for a count of 4.
  • In time and with practice you will get an idea about how long you need to practice deep breathing exercises to reduce stress. Early on it may be helpful to set a particular time limit, for example, 5 breaths if you’re pressed for time.
  • Keep in mind that it’s usually more effective to practice several shorter periods of deep breathing rather than single long episodes of deep breathing. Practicing more often also helps you to easily incorporate deep breathing as a habit into your lifestyle.
Take a Deep Breath and Improve Your Parenting

Deep breathing is just one method of reducing–or at least coping with–stress in your life; but, there are many stress management techniques that may help you live with more joy and less worry every day.

It is something that can easily be practiced in minimal time. I suggest aiming to commit to just 5 breaths each day after the chest opening and diaphragm release.

Doing those two things in conjunction with deep breathing will massively help you to feel less stressed, more comfortable and at ease throughout your day.

Even better, encourage the idea that a stress management lifestyle can be a family affair!

Try some of the practices mentioned above with your children along with yourself so that everyone can reap the benefits of deep breathing.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

The post How Practicing Deep Breathing Exercises Can Make You a Better Parent appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-1.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/04/19223733/deep-breathing-exercises.001.jpeg

Why Being a People Pleaser is Terrible for Your Productivity

18. April 2018 - 15:00

You most likely were drawn to this article because you believe you are a people pleaser. Your friends ask of you one thing, your family another, and your boss is on top of you insisting that a job due tomorrow should have been completed yesterday. You say “yes” to it all.

All of this leaves no room for you or your work. Meanwhile, you’re just going around in circles, feeling as if no work actually gets done. The feeling is familiar to many, which is why it’s important to understand how people pleasing can negatively impact your productivity.

The solutions to reduce your people pleasing tendencies will be simple to implement, but not easy. So if you are expecting a magic pill, you won’t find it here. But, the good news is, with a little change of attitude and practice, you’ll be able to make positive changes in your productivity.

Below you’ll find a list of 6 things to do to stop being a people pleaser and increase your productivity:

Pass on People Pleasing for More Productivity 1. Make Sure it Moves the Needle

Have you heard about the Pareto principle? If not, the Pareto principle tells us that 80% of effects come from 20% of causes.

20% of the things you do cause 80% of the effects. This can apply to wealth (20% of people hold 80% of wealth), territory (20% of people own 80% of land), productivity (20% of the things you do produce 80% of your results), and many more situations.

But how do we use the Pareto principle in action? It’s simple. Just ask yourself one question: “Does it move the needle?”

This is a question Brendon Burchard asks himself to determine his focus. If doing the action will help him come closer to his goal, he will do it. If not–and it doesn’t matter how good of an opportunity it is–he will skip it.

 “A ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ is irrelevant if it is the wrong opportunity.” –Jim Collins

Moving the Pareto 80/20 rule to 87/13

Greg Alexander, founder of Sales Benchmark Index, indexed more than 1100 B2B sales organization and found out that the rule of 80/20 shifted to 87/13. Now the 13% of salesman did 87% of all revenue.

And, this was after the salesman got the sales training and knew about the Pareto principle. But the 13% didn’t just know about the principle, they were rigorous in implementing it.

That’s why I said that these solutions are simple to implement, but not easy.

Asking yourself the question “Does it move the needle?” is easy, but implementing a change of action after getting a response is difficult. Because if you are a people pleaser, telling someone “No” will be a hard act to do.

But as you see above, doing so will yield massive results.

You may say to yourself: but there are a number of people who say “yes” to everything and still appear to be successful! What gives?

The keyword here is “appear” and the next part of the article will explain that perception.

2. Stop Running in Circles

You look around and see all of these people “making it.” They run around, say “yes” to everything, do everything, have the perfect family, perfect life, perfect job, perfect relationships.

But, that’s only what is apparent on the surface. If you actually took time to investigate how these people have been spending their last 5 years, you will most likely see that they are running in circles.

They are using speed instead of velocity and here is the difference:

Take an airplane which goes 700 miles per hour with its goal to reach Miami (point B) from New York (point A). However, instead of traveling straight there, the plane flies around in circles, covering great mileage with an enormous speed but still not getting to the targeted place. The pilot can brag later on that he flew 2500 miles in less than 4 hours, but the truth is that he still got nowhere – that is speed.

Though, if an airplane travels only 500 miles per hour but flies straight from New York to Miami, it will get there in a 2 and half hours. This plane traveled half the mileage (1250 miles) and it was slower than the first plane. Nothing for the pilot to brag about here, except that they hit their goal directly. [1]

This is the difference between people who seem to be people pleasers and still managed to do everything – they run around in circles thinking that they are getting things done while in reality, they are in the same place where they were 5 years ago.

You may be thinking, “Well I got where I am by being a people pleaser and saying “Yes” to everything.” But, as Marshall Goldsmith said it best: “What got you here, won’t get you there.” And that is the next solution we will dive into.

3. What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There

When you just start out, many people will tell you to take every opportunity there is. And, they may recommend, if there are no opportunities then create some yourself.

This is actually great advice when just starting out, as you have less to do and oftentimes saying yes leads to immense opportunity.

Peter Diamandis, co-founder of Abundance 360 and X-prize has a variation of this in his “Peter’s Law” number 2: “When given a choice, take both.”

So if you are just starting out, you know what to do: say “yes”! But as you to grow and take on more responsibility then you will quickly come to a place where being a people pleaser and saying “yes” to everything becomes a problem.

That’s when the phrase “What got you here, won’t get you there” comes into play.

At this point, you need to start saying no to almost everything – except for the things that “move the needle.”

This is really hard for our minds to comprehend because our mind is a non-stop meaning-making machine. And that means that it looks for a pattern in everything we are doing so that we believe that the thing that worked in the past will work now.

Being a people pleaser may have worked before – but it won’t work now. Convincing your mind that “what got you here won’t get you there” is a difficult task, but you can do it.

You become good by knowing what to do. You become great by knowing what not to do.

So, what else do you need to do become more productive? Procrastination and be boredom! Yes, that’s right. That is the next solution on our list.

4. Procrastinate More

If you are going to create on a big level and do only the things that move the needle, then you need to have off periods – times when you are doing nothing.

This time is necessary for the mind to recuperate even though our minds never fully go off – you can’t stop thinking.

Does this mean that by not doing anything, we can actually increase our productivity?

The answer lies in the difference between idleness and boredom.

Idleness is laziness and indolence – it’s refusing to do what needs to be done.
Boredom, on the other hand, is a pause between inactivities–a deliberate escape from activity altogether.

When you have time to be bored, take that time to cease all activities and do something relaxing such as talking a walk, showering or simply zone out with some great music.

Your conscious mind will relax and enjoy while your unconscious will actually work on your tasks and problems. In these moments of boredom and relaxation, you will find one of the biggest discoveries in your life and work.

It is how how Albert Einstein got the idea for the Theory of Relativity. [2]

Just because you have spare time, doesn’t mean you actually need to do something with it.

Rest is as important as work – and if you are a people pleaser, start defending your time like your life depends on it.

You may still not be convinced. You may think. “But isn’t everyone who is a people pleaser making it work?” Truth be told, if you do what everyone else is doing, you will end up as everyone else.

As Ramit Sethi said: “When everyone zigs, you zag.” Which is our next solution.

5. When Everyone Zigs, You Zag

There isn’t a sane person in this world who would tell you not to listen to your boss and do as he or she tells you to do.

Yet, here is a story to contradict that notion:

The Story of Shane Parrish

Shane started out his career right after graduation, in an intelligence agency, working with the government within a very niche cyber-related area.

In the first year, his boss would show up at his desk and throw new projects at him almost every single day.

And the projects weren’t the type where you spend 15 minutes and voila, get a solution. They were simply busywork. Shane’s response?  “That sounds amazing, but it’s not for me. I’m busy enough.”

Yep, his boss came to him and gave him work and he responded with a “no”.

Shane Parrish was the new kid there, and every single one of colleagues pulled him aside and told him “You’re not going to get anywhere with that attitude.”

But Shane knew the difference between busywork and work which moves the needle. While everyone was zigging, doing everything their bosses wanted them to do and going nowhere with that, Shane Parrish was zagging and focusing only on the crucial work.

Again, telling your boss “No” is quite simple, but not easy.
Enduring your peer pressure is quite simple, but not easy.
Staying on your course when everyone tells you to change it is simple, but not easy.

“The difference between successful and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” –Warren Buffett

But all of these solutions are going to be in vain if you don’t master one simple skill – and that is the art of saying “no”. Being a people pleaser is not a bad thing but you need to know that it won’t get you where you want to go.

And that brings us to the final solution:

6. The Art of Saying “No”

“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” –Tim Ferriss

These words ring true no matter who you are or what you are doing with your life. All of the solutions above will work, but they will require that you are able to say “no” to people. And for a people pleaser, that is the hardest thing to do. I know because I used to have big people pleasing tendencies.

Many people feel that they need to have a really good reason for saying “no” because otherwise, others may think that you are being rude or selfish. But the art of saying “no” is the way forward. When you are clear on your purpose of doing work (does it move the needle?), you will have a compelling reason to say it.

But how to actually do it?

To do that, we will borrow the knowledge of Chris Voss, one of the negotiating masterminds who regularly beat negotiating professors at Harvard in their own games.

Say “No” like your life depends on it

So what does Chris Voss actually tells us? Instead of saying ‘No’, say “How can I do that?”

Negotiation, as he put it, is not about being a problem solver, it’s about being a people mover.

So instead of simply saying no, you can confront people – and get your way – without confrontation. And this is coming from a man who confronted terrorists and mass murders and got what he wanted.

So how to do it?

Here is a step-by-step process on how to say “No” without saying “No” by Chris Voss:

  1. Use the late-night FM DJ Voice (voice of calm and reason that conveys “I’m in control”)
  2. Start with “I’m sorry…”
  3. Mirror. (When you repeat the last three words – or the critical one to three words – of what someone just said.)
  4. Silence. At least four seconds, to let the mirror work its magic on your counterpart.
  5. Repeat.

Chriss Voss gave us an example of how that looks like in a conversation between a boss who wants everything in a physical copy and employee who wants to go full digital:

“Make two copies of all the paperwork.”
“I’m sorry. Two copies?” (DJ voice + mirror)
“Yes, one for us and one for the customer.”
“I’m sorry, so you’re saying that the client is asking for a copy and we need a copy for internal use?” (wanting to understand)
“Actually – I’ll check with the client- they haven’t asked for anything. But I definitely want a copy. That’s just how I do business.”
“Absolutely. Thanks for checking with the customer. Where would you like to store the in-house copy? There is no more space in the file room here.”
“It’s fine. You can store it anywhere.”
“Anywhere? (mirror)
*silence*
“As a matter of fact, you can put them in my office. I’ll get the new assistant to print it for me after the project is done. For now, just create two digital backups”

A day later the boss emailed her with “The two digital backups will be fine.”

Wrap it Up Like a Gift

We have seen the 6 solutions that help you become more productive by stop being a people pleaser.

The solutions are:

  1. Does it move the needle?
  2. Speed vs. Velocity – Why you might be running in circles
  3. What got you here, won’t get you there
  4. Productivity involves having time for procrastination
  5. When everyone zigs, you zag
  6. The art of saying “No”

So the next time someone asks you something that you know will mess up with your productivity, it’s okay to say “yes” to them but do it like this:

“Yes. Which of the other projects should I de-prioritize to pay attention to this new project?”

If you know a people pleaser or just someone who needs help with their productivity, share this article with them; if it has helped you, it will most likely help them as well.

Featured photo credit: Photo by bruce mars from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-man-in-white-dress-shirt-holding-phone-near-window-859265/ via pexels.com

Reference [1] ^ Farnam Street: Understanding Speed and Velocity [2] ^ BBC: The Clock That Changed the Meaning of Time function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

The post Why Being a People Pleaser is Terrible for Your Productivity appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-1.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/04/08183514/rawpixel-com-558596-unsplash-1024.jpg

What Am I Doing with My Life? Find Your Answer Here with These Steps

18. April 2018 - 14:00

“What am I doing with my life?”

As a life coach and business consultant, I hear this question – or some version of it – all the time. Those asking the question are likely facing one of a couple scenarios.

One, you wake up one morning and find yourself in a job you hate, a relationship you don’t want to be in, or a life that has little resemblance to the one you had imagined. You might be feeling low, filled with frustration, shame or regret. This is not where you wanted to be at this time in your life… it’s not the life you wanted to live.

Or maybe you don’t feel unhappy or lost, but you wake up and realize you want something more, new or different. You may have accomplished many of the things you’d imagined for your life and now you’re trying to figure out what to do next.

My job as a coach and consultant is to support my clients to be happier, more successful and fulfilled. To help them get from where they are to where they want to be, uncovering obstacles along the way. This usually involves working through a process and asking powerful questions so they can discover the answers to their biggest questions – including this one.

One of the very first things I share with my clients is this: you don’t have to figure out what you want to do with the entire rest of your life!

You don’t have to work out what you want to be when you “grow up” or discover your entire life’s purpose. You don’t have to commit to a career for the next 20 years. I see so many people paralyzed by thinking they must work everything out for the entire rest of their lives. Of course they feel stressed and overwhelmed!

My advice? Focus on identifying what’s next. At this age, in this stage, facing your current circumstances. I’m not saying this won’t be attached to a bigger vision, but that doesn’t mean you have to have the whole plan right now. I love MLK’s quote,

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, you just have to take the first step.”

Such is true for figuring out what you’re doing with your life.

How to answer the question – what am I doing with my life?

Back to the question. Let’s look at a couple of my recent clients.

Sabine* was a smart, successful, vibrant woman. She already had several successful jobs during her career, traveled the world, had a family, and was settling back in a new city. While she originally called wanting to take her business to the next level, we soon realized that wasn’t what she really needed or wanted.

She was trying to figure out what she was doing with her life. For her, this meant realizing she had lost her sense of self. While no one would know from the outside, she was feeling overwhelmed, lost and unsure of herself. She was doing all the “right” things for everyone around her, but she wasn’t doing all the right things for her.

Together, we were able to help Sabine:

  • Get a clear picture of what she wanted for this next stage in her life.
  • Align her life and actions with her value and priorities.
  • Remember who she was and feel more like herself than she had in years.
  • Regain confidence and take action on things she had been avoiding.
  • Gain motivation, self-trust, and security in her decisions.

Then, there’s Max*. Incredibly smart, fun and motivated, Max had successfully climbed up through his career ladder and was happily married with his first child. Life was good. He came to me because he was in the second scenario; Max was trying to figure out what he wanted to do next. Even though he had a great job, he was looking for more – something new, different, challenging and interesting.

In our time together, Max was able to:

  • Identify his priorities and what was important in this next stage of life (and what wasn’t)
  • Pinpoint several new career options/ideas
  • Uncover and work through old, limiting beliefs and thought patterns
  • Start exploring potential new careers.

Here’s the process and the questions I walked through with Sabine and Max. Following these will help you make progress towards identifying what you’re doing with your life too:

Step 1: What do you want?

Whenever you’re looking at what you’re doing with your life, it’s important to take a step back, look at the big picture and identify what you want. Frankly, if you don’t know what you want, how do you expect to get it?

This seems simple, yet it’s often quite hard to address. When I ask this question, people often tell me what they don’t want or what’s not working. They’ve gotten into the habit of making decisions based on what’s best for their career, family or others… and forget to think about what they want for themselves.

Sabine originally thought she wanted to “take her business to the next level”, but when she dug deeper, she realized there was so much more. She ultimately found that she wanted to feel like herself again; to feel secure, trust and assert herself, and regain her sense of self.

Max wanted to love what he was doing. He wanted to be in a career (or role) that he was energized and “jazzed” about.

Your turn:

What do you want? Get specific.

Is it a new career in which you feel excited and energized? A relationship where you feel honored and loved? To be confident and happy with yourself? To live in a particular place or to explore the world?

Maybe, like Sabine, when you think you have your answer, ask yourself, “what else?” and see what comes up.

Once you are clear on what you want, you can move to the next question.

Step 2: Who are you?

I have a strong belief and a lot of experience that self-awareness and a little soul searching is critical for success – especially when you’re trying to figure out what you’re doing with your life.

Understanding yourself at a deeper level and making decisions based upon those insights will make sure whatever you choose to do next is something that will make you happier, more successful and more fulfilled. It will make sure that your next step is a step in the right direction, not just another step.

While I take my clients through a series of many questions, here are a few of my favorites:

  • What is most important to you right now?
  • What are your core values? What are the beliefs, guiding principles or ideas that are deeply important to you? Which ones are you off track with?
  • What are your passions? What do you love? What interests you? What gets you engaged, motivated, excited?
  • What are your skills and talents? Which would you like to use going forward?
  • What is your wish list? What do you want and need in your life/career/relationship? This might include the type of environment you thrive in, people you want to be surrounded by, or something you want in a role.
  • What is the impact or difference you want to make? How do you want to serve, contribute or add value?
  • What do you NOT want? While you don’t want to spend too much time in this space, it’s as important to be aware of what you don’t want as much as what you do!

In addition, I always have my clients take the Instinctive Drives™ questionnaire. It’ s a profiling tool that helps you understand what you need to be at your best. While it happens to be my personal favorite, I highly recommend any tool or resource that will help you gain personal insight.

In her soul searching, Sabine identified that she needed to find and surround herself with her “people”; uncovered what she needed to feel safe and secure; learned she needed to delegate more; and discovered that her direct approach was getting in her way.

Max realized what was most important to him at this stage of his life, identified the limiting beliefs that were getting in his way, learned to stop comparing himself to others and realized how important it was to infuse humor and joy into his everyday life.

Your turn:

Grab a journal. Ask yourself these questions and allow the time and space to discover the answers.

Write everything down. Then, review what you wrote and highlight or circle what stands out or resonates the most. These are what you want to pay attention to as you move forward and think about what you’re doing next with your life.

Then, with a little soul-searching under your belt, it’s time to move on to step 3.

Step 3: What are your options?

You’re not happy where you are. You know you want something else. But what is that “something”? This question allows you to explore what your potential options.

At this point, it’s not about deciding the one thing or making the right choice, it’s about allowing your creative mind to expand and see all the possibilities.

If you hate your career, what new potential careers are on your mind? If you’re unhappy in your relationship, what can you do? If you’re feeling like you need change or an adventure, what could those possibly be?

Brainstorm ALL your options without worrying about whether they are possible or not (just yet). Make a list and keep asking yourself…. what else? This allows you to dig deeper and see opportunities you might have otherwise not explored.

Your turn

What are all of your possible options at this point in time? Don’t limit them if you can’t see how it’s possible, just get all your ideas out on paper.

Once you have your list of options, then you can move to the next step.

Step 4: Which options are the best fit right now?

Okay, so you have your list of options and possibilities. Now it’s time to narrow it down and explore those options in a little more depth.

Once Max had a complete list of potential career options (including advancing in his current role), he narrowed the list down to the top most interesting and compelling opportunities. We then worked through each of those in greater depth.

A fantastic way to do this is to envision your life “as if” you were in that new role/situation/relationship/option.

Max imagined himself living the life in his new career options. First, he imagined himself as an REI employee. Yes, he had grown a beard and was drinking from a metal mug.

But the next question was even more important. I asked him how he felt. He said while he was excited to be outdoors more, he realized he wouldn’t be fulfilled in that role. He definitely didn’t feel “jazzed”.

We went through all his options, envisioning what life would be like in each role until he found the one in which he felt the most connected. We could both feel a shift in his energy immediately…he was on to something.

Your turn

Go back to your options list and circle the 1-3 that you feel most connected to, energized by or engaged with. You’ll want to make sure those options fit what you want (question 1) and who you are (question 2).

Once you have a short list, imagine your life as if you took that as your next step. What would you think, feel, hear and see? Can you picture yourself there? Does it feel good? You can also do some research at this point to learn more about each of your options.

Then, armed with information and idea of the best next option for you, it’s time to move on to the next question.

Step 5: What’s stopping you?

This is a big one. As you explore your options, it’s likely you may come up against some barriers.

Perhaps you have fears or limiting beliefs of what you can or can’t do or what someone said you were capable of. Maybe it’s lack of self-esteem or confidence. When these come up, it doesn’t mean the option is wrong, it just means you need to dig a bit further to find out what’s going on It’s important to explore what’s getting in your way.

With Max, he was being held back by a deep, long time belief that he wasn’t good enough – that he wasn’t capable of taking on a higher level, higher risk role. This was holding him back. We worked together until he could move past this perception and on to his next step.

Your turn

Think about what’s getting in your way or stopping you from moving forward. Once again, don’t stop at your first answer. Ask yourself, “what else?” until you identify what’s getting in your way.

Then, it’s time to move to the last question..

Step 6: What can you do to move forward?

You’ve narrowed down and explored your options and now it’s time to take action. I know this part is hard.

What if it isn’t right? What if there is something else out there? What if it’s the worst decision I ever make? Arrgghh!

These are all real and good questions, but not if they stop you from moving forward towards a more fulfilling life. If you’re feeling hesitant about taking the next step, let me give you a different way to look at it.

If you’re unhappy where you are now, what is the bigger risk? Staying where you are out of fear of doing the wrong thing OR moving forward and seeing where it leads you? It’s better to rock the boat than to die sinking in it, right?

Once you’ve decided, it’s time to act. What’s your first step? Take it.

Give yourself a deadline, a timeline or a goal to make it happen so you can move from ideas to reality.

Your turn

Make a decision about which option is best for you to move forward into the life you want. Then, take the first step towards that option. Then the next and the next one after that.

So, what ARE you doing with your life?

Just the sheer fact that you’re asking yourself what you’re doing with your life is a step in the right direction. A mentor of mine always said, 90% of solving a problem is awareness that it exists. You know you need to do something.

Now, if you’re serious about moving forward, it’s time to take the time and put in the effort and answer the questions above. Then, like Sabine and Max, be willing to take action – to step forward into a more fulfilling future – even if you’re not exactly sure how it’s going to play out.

Be brave. You’ve got this. It’s not too late. It’s your life, and, yes, it can be everything you’ve imagined.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

The post What Am I Doing with My Life? Find Your Answer Here with These Steps appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-2.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/04/18030449/what-am-i-doing-with-my-life.001.jpeg

How to Stop Worrying About Your Future (and Start Saving Time!)

17. April 2018 - 14:00

Have you ever lost sleep worrying about something that has yet to happen?

Has worrying about the future interrupted your productivity? Your flow? Your day? Your mood?

If you answered “yes”, you are not alone.

Worry happens to all of us, particularly when it comes to events, people, and things that are important.

The trouble with worry is it is a complete and total waste of our valuable time and energy. We all know that on a logical level, and yet we still worry.

Here’s the good news; while we may never learn how to stop worrying about the future completely, there are ways to help us better manage that worry so we can save ourselves some time. In this article, we’ll go over exactly how to do just that.

Worrying Wastes Time And Energy

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” –Leo F. Buscaglia

Part of managing worry is being aware of the costs. When we create awareness we are better able to create proactive solutions to minimize or eliminate that cost.

  • Cost #1: Worrying about what has yet to happen uses up valuable mental real estate and time.

“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere” –Erma Bombeck

  • Cost #2: While worry may give you something to do, you most likely have better things to do with your time and your energy. For example, you could instead focus on your to-do list or notice the multitude of opportunities waiting for you. Focusing on worry not only makes it difficult to handle your to-do list, it also blocks you from seeing those opportunities or the steps that lead to them.
  • Cost #3: Worrying about the future is also an energy drain leaving you susceptible to more worry. Did you know that worry takes advantage of the times when your energy is low? That is when worry is at its most powerful.
  • Cost #4: It is a present moment joy crusher that can lower not just your energy but also your mood.
  • Cost #5: Speaking of mood; worry never gets you anywhere. Worry does not get you to a place where everything is OK. It does not make sure that everything is taken care of. Actually it does the opposite.
  • Cost #6: Worrying about the future creates a vicious loop of more worry about the future.

What does worrying about the future cost you?

Tried and True Worry Busting Techniques

When I find myself worrying about the future, I use the following techniques to manage the worry. (Just a little side note: I like to switch it up a bit. I use a different technique each time I find myself worried about the future, or worried about anything for that matter.)

Practice Mindfulness

Since worrying about the future pulls us into the future, nothing busts worry faster than some good old fashion present moment mindfulness.

Take a look around and notice what is surrounding you. What do you see? What do you feel? What do you taste? What do you hear? What do you smell?

Taking note of your surroundings by using your senses is an awesome way to pull yourself into the present moment where future-related worry cannot bother you.

Do Deep Breathing

Have you ever noticed your breathing when you are worrying? If not, the next time you are worried about a future-related event check in with your breathing.

Worrying causes our breathing to become shallow. And, deep breathing can help us to relax and get us out of worry mode.

Here are two techniques to use to engage those deep breathes and cue the relaxation:

The first is the 4,4,and 4 technique. Give it a try right now by taking a deep breath in through your nose to a count of four. Then let the breath out through your nose or mouth to a count of four. Do that four times. (Another side note: Be sure to do this technique slowly so you do not hyperventilate or make yourself dizzy.)

The second technique is called Oxytocin Breathing because it actually releases the powerful hormone oxytocin into your brain. This is the same hormone that is released when you are hugging or kissing someone you love or after making love.

Just a word of caution: you may not want to do this breathing technique in the middle of your busy office or a crowded street. It is best to do it some place private.

Here’s how to do Oxytocin Breathing:

Take a REALLY deep breath so that you are filling up your belly with air. Once you feel your belly expand to the point that you can no longer take in any more air, release it slowly by letting out an audible “Haaaaaaaaaaaahhh”.

Repeat this technique a few times until you feel yourself relaxing.

Check out this video to see the technique in action.

By the way, worry hates deep breathing so this is one of the quickest and the easiest techniques to use.

Express Extra Gratitude

As you are probably already aware, worry creates negative thoughts (and feelings). Gratitude does the exact opposite.

Since your brain can not think positive and negative thoughts at the same time gratitude is an awesome worry buster. Not to mention it’s something you can do any where, any time, especially when you are short on time.

I actually use gratitude when worry wakes me up in the middle of the night. When this happens, I begin listing all the things I am grateful for until I fall back to sleep. It works like a charm.

Similar to the present moment exercise, take a look around.

Really quickly begin listing at least three things (or more) that you are grateful for. It could be the chair you are sitting in or the sleeping pet at your feet. Just start listing and before you know it the feeling of gratitude will replace the negative feeling that worry causes.

Lean Into “What Ifs”

It is all too common to want to shove worry aside or try and stuff it. Especially when you have a tight project deadline or a calendar full of obligations. Doing so, however, is just an invitation for the worry to stick around even longer.

Rather than try to ignore the worry, lean into by asking yourself the following question, “What if what I’m worrying about were to actually happen?”

Once you have your answer then ask yourself this follow-up question, “Then what would happen?” Keep asking the follow-up question until you have run out of “then what’s”.

I always find that doing this exercise takes the bite out of worry. I also walk away with a plan should what I’m worrying about actually happen. (Which, by the way, usually does not happen.)

Take Back Control

“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” — The Dalai Lama

What do you have control over? What can you fix? What can you do to prevent whatever you are worrying about from happening?

For many us worry creates a feeling of being out of control and not safe. Doing things that are within our control helps us to regain those feelings of control and safety.

Tighten and Release

When you are worried, do you often feel a tightness in your stomach or your neck? Use that tightness to help you relax.

It sounds funny, but go ahead and tighten every muscle in your body. Tighten your legs, suck in your stomach, clench your bottom, tighten your arms, and make fists. Hold your muscles in that tight position for just a moment, and then release all your muscles.

This technique is called Progressive Muscle Relaxation. It combats worry and even stress by creating awareness around what the body feels like when it is in a relaxed state. And when you are in a relaxed state you are not in a state of worry.

Use Worry As A Gauge

Worry serves as a great gauge to let us know what is important and what is not. When you are worrying about something, tune-in to the gauge.

How important is what you are worrying about on a scale of 1-10? If you gave it a 5 or less, ask yourself this question,”Since this thing I’m worried about isn’t super important, what is really driving the worry?”

If you gave it a 5 or higher then it’s time to turn worry into a motivator to start taking action. To help, go back to the Take Back Control technique and ask yourself those questions.

Write or Talk It Out

Getting worry out of your head diminishes it. It is like the old analogy that if you shine a light on bacteria it dies. But if you keep it in the dark it grows.

If you do not feel comfortable talking it out with a friend, family member, coach, or another trusted professional, try writing about it. Get it all out on paper and then throw the paper away.

Writing about your future-related worry takes the charge out of it and creates more clarity and awareness.

Worrying Has Nothing On You

The next time you find yourself worrying about the future:

  • Create awareness around what the worry is costing you.
  • Use one or more of the worry busting techniques.
  • Remember that you are not alone when it comes to worrying (we all do it).

So, there you have it. By following the steps above you’ll be able to have a more worry-free life so that you can reclaim your precious time and get stuff done!

Featured photo credit: Freely via freelyphotos.com

The post How to Stop Worrying About Your Future (and Start Saving Time!) appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-1.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/04/17235131/Stop-Worrying.001.jpeg

What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

17. April 2018 - 13:00

With this ever so competitive era consistently demanding people to be their best versions all the time, setbacks are bound to occur some stage. Be it failing to secure a job at the company of your dreams or not being able to marry the girl you held so close to your heart, many people dive into self-destructing coping mechanisms that take a toll on their mental as well as physical health.

This is where being resilient is so much more significant as it not only helps us to make a strong comeback whenever we lose control of our life, but also propels us in the right direction to attain the goals we cherish.

In this article, I will explain to you what resilience is and how you can apply it to life to become a better and tougher person.

What is resilience

Resilience is a method of how well a person can adapt to a situation when faced with trauma, stress, tragedy or other likewise scenarios. Simply put, it means getting your life back on track every time you’re being knocked down by a difficult experience.

Studies undertaken by numerous psychologists point out that a person blessed with good resilience has the knack of turning their fortunes fairly quickly as compared to their counterpart who might struggle for a longer duration before getting their act together.

However, it does not necessarily mean that a person who portrays resilience effectively eventually becomes untouched by difficult experiences or traumatic situations in life. It is just that those people just know how being resilient can be beneficial for them.

Resilience is not a quality that people may or may not have. It consists a set pattern of thoughts or ideas that can be mastered and used into practice by any individual over time.

Why resilience is important to your life

With a lot more people finding their lives in the doldrums, being resilient has never been as vital as it has become today.

As per a research carried out at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, depression has risen significantly over the last decade or so, especially among the teenagers. Also, the number of professionals queuing up outside a psychiatrist’s office has also registered a steep rise.

A closer sneak peek into resilience can help us throw light on the vast benefits it has in store for us:

Opportunity to introspect

Whenever we let ourselves or a close one down, a feeling of guilt can easily creep in not only making us look dejected but also lets us lose all hopes and aspirations of further doing anything right. But these moments of challenges also help us to turn a new leaf by defying all odds and reach the pinnacle of success.

During these testing times, it is wiser to take a step back and try to understand who we really are and what we would like to become. Trying to understand our thoughts and ideas can help us analyze the situation better and see alternatives that we might not have paid heed to at all in the first place.

Self-discovery can be a life changing experience that can shape the direction of our entire life, breaking barriers of orthodox mindset and paving way for a brighter future. After all, the difficulties in life are nothing but opportunities to enhance ourselves.

Immunity towards adversity

Think about a problem that had been giving you sleepless nights recently. What if you had pulled it in a corner instead of breaking sweat when it first surfaced? That’s what resilient people do.

Resilient people understand that it is not the problem but our mindset towards it that eventually matters in the end. It’s not that resilient people who have fine-tuned the art of bouncing back in life find facing their struggles a walk in the park, it is just that they know how to embrace them meticulously.

Change is the only constant, so why not adapt to the constant change happening around us? This can only not open up more career opportunities for you, but also prepare you to take every challenge of your life in the best possible way.

Enlighten your mind

Resilience is a key element that helps to re-develop our thinking and learning patterns. Whenever we find ourselves deep in trouble, we draw inspiration from similar experiences of others and try to imitate their feat to help us conquer our existing fear.

We must break away from our old selves that limit the ability of our mind. Instead, we should fuel it with meaningful knowledge and theories that build our wisdom. Strengthening the mind through habits like reading helps us to focus clearly on our long term vision.

Resilience helps you to take care of yourself not only physically but spiritually as well. When things are not going bright in the outer world, you can connect with the inner self to look for a clarity of goal and re-develop your march towards victory.

Not to mention, when you understand your inner desires better, it helps you to adapt better to the surroundings.

Fulfill your dreams

Some people put everything at stake to achieve their ambitions. However, if victory eludes them in the first attempt, they prefer giving up on the dream and follow the crowd who might have always wished for their downfall.

It is crucial to stay focused all the time and not accept defeat until you cross the finishing line. Resilience and motivation go hand-in-hand and always push you forward in your relentless pursuit of the bigger picture.

You only live once, so why not give your best shot at your dream until you can finally lay your hands on it? There is nothing like getting to live your dream when the odds were stacked up against you. This will lead you to be successful just the way you want.

Connect with like-minded people

Everyone wants to be connected with people who have a positive influence on them and from whom they can draw inspiration.

Being resilient can help you develop bond with groups and communities that think alike and love helping each other towards their goals.

How to do build resilience (a step-by-step guide)

Whether you find yourself engaged with a challenge right now or would like to be in a better position to tackle the next one, there are a few ways that can help you become resilient and improve the way you look at your challenges.

Here goes the list:

1. Believe in yourself

Research has shown that a majority of people remain unsure of what instigates their everyday behavior. Labelled as motives, our behavior is primarily based on what we think of ourselves. The beliefs we carry in our minds or the ideas we preach will determine the course of our actions.

Below are a few ways to develop self-belief that can work wonders in your life.

  • Make bold decisions. Set practical goals that you feel are achievable in a certain time-frame. Implement a strategy as to how you plan to achieve that goal. Once you reach the desired outcome, only then it is wiser to push your limits and aim for a higher goal.
  • Appreciate yourself. Most people get too harsh on themselves at times, which not only puts a dent into their self-confidence but also inculcates negative thoughts. Therefore, it’s always wiser to give yourself a pat on the back, even for a tiny accomplishment. This goes a long way in inducing self-belief.
  • Avoid comparisons. Making comparisons with others can also let your self-belief vanish in thin air. Even though you might be good at your trade, there will always be someone who could be better than you. The comparison game will only harm your self-belief. Making comparisons is instilled strongly in our nature, but can always try to reduce it by keeping your mind busy doing productive tasks.
2. Become action-oriented

Always shying away from your problem and putting it off to solve it another day will only elevate it further. You may not get all the answers to your problem initially, but solving it by bits and pieces actively will surely lead to a successful outcome.

Some ways that can help you prevent procrastination and be more action-oriented:

  • Set deadlines. Begin by making a to-do list that includes all the tasks that you probably have been avoiding recently. Then set deadlines as to when you’ll likely want to get them done.
  • Cut down on temptations. Get rid of any distractions that might pull you down from achieving your deadlines. If you think your phone texts or notifications is the biggest hindrance, keep your phone away from you or turn the notifications off until you cover your goal for the day.
  • Reveal your intentions. Take your family and friends aware of your goals and deadlines, so they can push you towards it whenever you refrain from showing up. Letting others know your intentions will also add pressure on you to perform when everyone expects a desired outcome from you.
  • Pamper yourself. Always have a reward carrot in place. In case you finish your assignment now, you can buy your favorite meal. This will help you to get things done more efficiently and timely.

If you want to start taking actions and stop putting things off, this guide can help you: A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

3. Give a helping hand

Reaching out to the needy is a great way to build your own resilience. According to researchers, the neurotransmitter serotonin that regulates mood and social behavior builds up when we engage in acts of kindness.

  • Volunteer. Volunteering is one of the best ways to help others and bring a smile on their face. Take some time and visit a charity nearby, and let them know you are there to help in whatever way you could.
  • Donate. Instead of discarding your old clothes or any household items, you can give them to someone who can make better use of it. You can also get some food for a homeless person rather than just giving them money.
  • Teach. You can teach your friend a new skill that you’ve recently mastered, or lend help to a child who might be finding his homework difficult. Teaching something will always help you connect better with others and improve your problem solving skills.
  • Compliment. Compliment your colleague in front of others for a presentation that have been working hard on. You can also compliment a complete stranger for their appearance or attire that can make their day. You never know–by striking a conversation with a stranger, you could win a friend or business partner for life. Plus, there is hardly anyone who doesn’t like to be complimented.
4. Enhance your skill bucket

Learning a new skill set at any age never goes out of fashion. Want to learn how to play guitar but don’t have time for it? Look for any online course or a video session that can help introduce you to a few basics. As building up new skills becomes mandatory to get ahead in life, here are a few tips you could follow to start your journey for self-improvement.

  • Clarity of thought. While beginning a new skill set, it is important to know what we really want to attain out of it. A chef might want to learn making a new cuisine to help his restaurant attract more customers. Similarly, someone may want to learn a new language to open up more career opportunities. It is beneficial for you to know how that skill can help for you to grow.
  • Learn how it suits you. Living in an era where abundant information is just a few clicks away is always a boon to have. In case you don’t have a budget to enroll for a professional course, you can easily access all the blogs, videos and online channels. You can also join community groups where people with similar interests can bond with you.
  • Don’t rush into things. Select one skill set at a time and try to understand how you can adapt in by breaking it into smaller achievable goals. For example, if you want to be a better writer, start by reading books and articles of famous writers and writing a journal for 15 minutes everyday.
The takeaways

Rome was not built in a day, nor can resilience be built in a day. Even if you currently find yourself struggling with your share of problems, it’s time to move on and bring about a positive change in your lifestyle that can help you become a better version of yourself.

While we cannot change our personality in a blink of an eye, we can certainly make an effort to change our perspective immediately towards our problems. As you set your mind towards new challenges, your resilience towards achieving them gets stronger.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

The post What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide) appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-1.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/04/13034454/what-is-resilience.001.jpeg

How to Explain Things Better and Make Others Understand Your Ideas Easily

16. April 2018 - 14:00

Do you ever find that you understand a topic, yet you can’t explain it to anyone?

What if I told you there was a simple method you could use as a way to better understand and clearly communicate a concept or idea?

There actually is a very simple method you can use called SEE-I. This method was originally created by Richard Paul and Linda Elder and has been refined into its current state by Gerald Nosich.

So, what exactly is this method and how can you apply it?

Let’s take a look.

What is the SEE-I method?

SEE-I is an easy-to-use and methodological critical thinking technique assisting people in clarifying their ideas.[1] It stands for the following: State it, Elaborate, Exemplify, and Illustrate.

Let’s examine each element of SEE-I:

  • State it: Clearly and succinctly state the concept or idea in a single sentence or two.
  • Elaborate: Explain it further in your own words.
  • Exemplify: Provide concrete examples and counter examples of the concept.
  • Illustrate: Provide a picture, diagram, metaphor or analogy of the concept.

Essentially, SEE-I begins with a concise statement of the concept (S), followed by further elaboration in your own words (E). Then you are to provide specific examples and counter examples of the concept (E), Lastly, you end with an illustration of the concept (I).

Let’s examine the following example of SEE-I:

  • Concept to understand/explain: Critical Thinking
  • State it: Critical thinking is a self-directed process by which we take deliberate steps to think at the highest level of quality.
  • Elaborate: In other words, critical thinking is “thinking about thinking” (metacognition) in order to make it better.
  • Example: Critical thinking is an analysis, an evaluation, and improvement. For example, it is an analysis of thinking by focusing on the parts (or the elements); an evaluation of thinking by focusing on the quality (or the standards); an improvement of thinking by using what you have learned.
  • Illustrate: A great interactive illustration of Critical Thinking (Analysis – Evaluation – Improvement) is the Online Model for Learning the Elements and Standards of Critical Thinking.

How to apply SEE-I to explain stuff (Step-by-step guide)

Let’s examine a step-by-step approach you can use to apply the SEE-I method.

Step 1. State it

Identify the concept or idea you wish to communicate – clearly and succinctly state the concept.

Example: Learning is the gaining of knowledge, understanding, or ability.

Step 2. Elaborate

Using phrases such as: “In other words,” to further expand on your concept.

Example: In other words, learning is a process where a person gains specific knowledge. It involves different degrees of progress. The learning process occurs through stressful repetitive perception allowing neural networks to adapt to the repetitive input. True learning is the internalization of the knowledge being learned. I know I have learned something when I can not only repeat the information, but when I can explain it, use it, and integrate it along with other knowledge.

Step 3. Exemplify

Using phrases such as: “For example,” to provide an example plus a counter example to your concept.

Example: For example, a child slowly learns to ride a bike by being guided, practicing, and falling down. A counter example is repetition of the same mistakes over and over again.

Step 4. Illustrate

Find an image, picture, or design your own image to present your concept (i.e. use a metaphor or analogy as your illustration).

Example: Learning is like a sponge absorbing whatever liquid it comes in contact with, yet does not get saturated.

Summing it up

The SEE-I method is a way to provide a clear and concise narrative to explain any concept or idea along with an illustration. In other words, the method allows you to further paraphrase your idea while providing strong examples supporting the concept and counter examples opposing it.

The method clearly expresses an individuals understanding of a concept through a narrative and strong illustration through the use of a metaphor or analogy. In essence, it allows you an easy (and extremely simple) way to explain anything to anyone.

For additional information on how to use the SEE-I method, read Learning to Think Things Through: A Guide to Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum by Gerald Nosich.

Featured photo credit: Image via Gaurav Rukhana via dribbble.com

Reference [1] ^ CriticalThinking.org: The Foundation for Critical Thinking function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

The post How to Explain Things Better and Make Others Understand Your Ideas Easily appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-1.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/04/02064540/cover.jpg

Financial Freedom is Not a Fantasy: 9 Secrets to Get You There

16. April 2018 - 13:00

Have you ever considered your life now, and how it would be if you had more time to spend with your family and less worries about money?

Nowadays, financial stress is one of the most troublesome weights in life. If you’ve ever encountered financial stress, you know the difficulty of not having enough income to pay your obligations or bills.

Many people say that money is not the ultimate goal of life. While that’s true, money certainly plays a very significant role. The meaning of financial freedom changes with the different phases of our life, but ultimately, it is something that many people strive for.

In this article, we’ll explain how to capture that financial freedom you’ve been looking for. Read on to learn the secrets to financial freedom.

Break Free of Your Finances

Financial freedom is about having a constant flow of cash from your assets to cover all your regular needs.

When you are not worried about your income, or living paycheck to paycheck, you gain a great sense of freedom. It’s the freedom to be obtain and do what you truly need to make your way through everyday life.

Gaining financial freedom, though, is a process of growth, making small improvements and gaining emotional strength.

Though it seems hard to believe, it is really very simple to get financial freedom.

To do so, you simply need to make sure that your assets exceed your liabilities. In other words, you’ll need to find the sweet-spot where your residuals meet or surpass your expenses. This is something that you can achieve with the proper plan.

While not every person will accomplish financial freedom, the potential for anyone to do so is certainly there. Anyone can achieve this success, regardless of their income level.

Outlined below are 9 secrets that will help you in your goals of achieving financial freedom.

1. Stop Unnecessary Spending

We often spend money inwardly, instead of objectively.

For example, you may spend when you’re anxious, depressed, restless, exhausted, from fear of missing out, or to please others. This is a very unhealthy way to handle your finances.

To stop this habitual spending, log down all your spending over the course of a month.

Just as some people keep a food diary, keep an expense diary. Remember not to just write down how much and what you spent the money on, also include the circumstances of why you spent the money. Was it an impulse buy at the checkout line or was it something you planned to purchase?

This increased self-awareness could enable you to avoid triggering situations in the future when you are considering an impulse buy.

2. Plan a Monthly Budget

This is a great opportunity to get serious.

Take a seat with your spouse or partner and make a monthly budget based on your income, not your expenses. You are never again going to spend more cash then you have on hand.

Overspending is the thing that led you to more financial obligations. Make sure you decide every month what is coming in and what will be going out and stick to that budget… no matter what.

3. Cut-up Credit Cards

Perhaps you are the type of person who always pays your credit card balance in full before the end of your billing cycle, and enjoys the reward points you gain. If this is the case, then you’re already way ahead of the game.

If not, you may want to consider ridding your life of the burden that credit cards bring.

Many cards have strategies set up so that if you make a certain number of late payments, they will raise your interest rate much higher. This can really add up in the long run and you won’t be doing your financial situation any favors. If you’re prone to late payments or have a large balance due on your cards, cut them up!

Without proper self control on credit card spending and payments, you are basically throwing your money away. To ensure that you have better control over your spending, use only cash or debit for all future purchases (and don’t forget to pay at least your minimum payment on your cut-up cards each month!).

4. Increase Savings

There is no doubt that for a comfortable retirement you must accumulate satisfactory savings throughout your working life.

It’s good practice to save up to 15% of your income.

Start with your workplace 401(k), if you have one. If not, a Roth IRA (if you are eligible) or a traditional IRA (if you are not eligible for the Roth) are the next logical steps.

Increase in longevity means you might be able to look forward to 25 to 30 years in retirement, or possibly even significantly more. Investing now in good retirement plans will ensure that you have a guaranteed a stable monthly income when the time comes to stop working. [1]

5. Invest Wisely

Consider investing in funds.

Specifically, you will gain higher returns if you invest in different types of mutual funds such as Debt funds, Equity funds and Hybrid funds with a proper balance, although it absolutely relies on your personal preferences and sense of risk taking.

To get the most of these benefits, make sure you are investing in a variety of assets. Another resource of investing in mutual funds is SIP (Systematic Investment Plan) where you invest some money every month in funds. SIP works by averaging the per unit price of the stock.

Mutual fund investors are aware of the benefits of an SIP (Systematic Investment Plan). For one, it is the most secure way to invest in equity mutual plans so that wealth is created over a long period of time. This plan also helps you to gain a better sense of financial discipline, which will come in handy in all your financial endeavors.

6. Invest in Gold

There isn’t really a better way to invest in gold than to have the physical gold itself in your possession.

You can purchase gold coins and bars from mints as well as from coin dealers and other private sellers.

Another way to invest in gold is through ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds).

These are is similar to mutual funds but they are exclusively investments of gold. ETFs are great because they offer more liquidity; the ETF owns the actual physical gold, stores it, and retains the value of the shares. These shares can then be bought and sold in the stock market, and one big benefit is that the transaction costs of gold ETFs are much lower than the that of physical gold.

With its consistently-increasing demand, investment in gold can be very wise long-term investment to make.

7. Stash Emergency Funds

Whether it’s a cash gift or a work bonus, always try to save any extra money that comes your way rather than making unneeded purchases.

If you get paid every other week, you’ll get an “extra” paycheck (three rather than the usual two) twice a year. Either save those paychecks towards your emergency funds or utilize the money to pay down other obligations, such as loans, credit cards or other debts.

Make it hard to get your cash.

Put your savings in an alternate bank, maybe an online bank that forces you to delay for several business days before transferred money hits your regular bank account.

8. Find Fabulous Mentors

Find a mentor, such as a friend or family member, who has exceptional control over their finances and pay attention to everything they do.

If you do not have any friends or family that are enjoying financial freedom, then find a mentor online! There are numerous blogs and guru websites featuring the advice of many people who have reached financial freedom, and they exist primarily to let you in on how to achieve it for yourself.

There are also plentiful forums available that share tips and tricks on how to best achieve financial freedom. Read as much as you can and start changing your habits for the better.

9. Be Extra Patient

Patience is the key of financial success.

Being patient can be quite tough, especially when you’re struggling with your finances, but having faith is worth it. You’ll continuously be on the right track if you are taking the proper steps above.

So don’t be discouraged, even if you are only saving a few dollars a month; it all adds up. Within just a few years you’ll look back proudly at your accomplishments and be glad that you had the patience to get there.

Financial Freedom for All

Anyone can achieve financial freedom, regardless of their financial circumstance.

Use the tips provided above to get yourself on the track to financial freedom and toss your monetary concerns out the window. If you wish to achieve a life with financial freedom for yourself and your family then you must adopt a disciplined approach towards your finances.

Following the simple secrets above is a great start to making your money work for you, so you can work less and live more!

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference [1] ^ Hartford Gold Group: IRA Retirement Accounts function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

The post Financial Freedom is Not a Fantasy: 9 Secrets to Get You There appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-2.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/04/15161429/rawpixel-com-602154-unsplash-1024.jpg

Why Happiness is a Choice (And Why It's a Smart One to Make)

13. April 2018 - 14:00

You’re struggling to find this elusive thing called “happiness.” Most days, you feel either overwhelmed, anxious, angry, depressed, or flat. Or, maybe you experience quick shifts of mood.

You can remember times when you were happy, but they seem distant, and your life circumstances are different now.

But what if I told you that you can actually choose happiness? And, that it’s easier than you think?

In this article, I’ll break down the basics of how you can lead a happier life, just by following a few basic principals. These are easy to implement in your own life, which means happiness is just around the corner!

Ready to find out more about how and why happiness is a choice? Let’s dive in further to gain a deeper understanding.

Happiness Isn’t an Idea, It’s an Experience

The idea that happiness is a choice seems to be just that, an idea, and one that doesn’t apply to you. How can you choose to be happy when someone has treated you so badly, when circumstances beyond your control are bombarding you with pain?

Many people feel this way.

Each year, the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network releases the World Happiness Report.

This measures the overall happiness of different countries. The 2018 report finds that residents in Finland rank first place, while the residents in the United States are all the way behind in 18th place.

Despite the fact that Americans’ incomes have more than doubled since 1972, we’re not even in the top 10 of happiest countries.

Understand the Easterlin Paradox

Americans have continuously made more money, yet we’re not reporting an increase in happiness. This disparity between income and happiness is called the Easterlin Paradox.

Chances are you see more money now than you ever have in your life, yet you’re still trapped in the paradox, struggling to understand why you’re unhappy.

What explains the paradox?

The answer to this question can help you understand what happiness is. Solving this dilemma seems complex — it is a paradox, after all. Yet the answer is a lot simpler than you might expect: happiness is a choice.

It’s as Simple as Choosing Happiness

Happiness is a state of being that you can seize, such as when a runner takes in air with her lungs. Each inhalation is essential, and with every inhalation, exhalation must follow.

If happiness is a state of being, then you could say that happiness is simply an experience, or a set of experiences.

Amanda Pinnock is a college student at Arizona State University who experienced this type of happiness without ever expecting it. To earn her degree in global health, she needed to do a study abroad program, but she was worried she was going to be disconnected from her group as a nontraditional student earning her degree online. [1]

To her surprise, the other students in her group were inclusive and eager to connect. Then there were the locals in Fiji, the country she’d chosen for the program. They seemed to truly understand how happiness is a choice. According to Amanda:

“Fijians are probably the happiest and humblest people in the world. They welcomed us with open arms and made sure we were fed and had the accommodations we needed. It wasn’t until I talked further with the group leader and tour guide that I realized they were giving us more than what they have for themselves on a daily basis.”

Plenty of Fijians don’t have running water, but Amanda noted that they felt they lacked for nothing. She says:

“They live off the earth and they all help one another … They may not have had nearly as much money as an average American, but they are wealthy in their lives, and I think Americans can learn a lot from that. It really put into perspective what’s most important: family, loved ones and the environment.”

For the Fijians Amanda encountered, happiness isn’t a concept, it’s the act of supporting each other.

Happiness is the act of finding joy in everyday experiences with other people.

Communities of people who give to each other and share the value of generosity, the value of love—a love which expects nothing in return—are the happiest.

That’s why, according to the World Happiness Report, generosity and social support networks are two key factors that lead to happiness. [2]

Every second you’re alive and conscious, you have choices to make. Amanda Pinnock chose to experience another culture even though she was worried about fitting in. She was happy to share the experience with the other students and the Fijians that welcomed them.

Each day of your conscious existence you can choose to support others, to accept their support, to engage in activities that are good for you.

All of these acts will bring happiness. You can choose to trust others and do things that help them to trust you. You can choose to build up the community around you and be a part of it.

The Art of Sisu Can Change You

In Finland, famine wiped out 9 percent of the population during the 1860s —hardly an event that would engender happiness. The Finns have made a point of recovering by embracing a philosophy called sisu, which is a shared value of grit, determination, and rational action, even when life is painful.

Sisu is also about powering through exercises that are challenging and uncomfortable, such as taking a swim in an ice-cold river, running a marathon, or biking to work in the rain. [3]

According to This Is Finland, “Sisu is extraordinary courage and determination in the face of adversity … Sisu is embodied by people everywhere who defy the odds and hold on to hope when at first there seems to be none.”

Sisu is simple: seize life, do it with courage, and build your courage by engaging with the world in challenging ways.

Be Proactive in Your Happiness

You can be happy by being proactive. People who choose to recover from addiction choose to take proactive steps toward recovery.

You can think of choosing to be happy as choosing to recover from depression. As it turns out, exercise benefits recovery in a number of ways:

● Exercise imitates the effect of drugs on your brain (or rather, drugs imitate
the effect of exercise) by releasing endorphins.

● Exercise helps you sleep better and increases feelings of well-being.

● Exercise helps you cope with stress, structure your day, and improve your
physical fitness.

This lines up very well with sisu, although sisu asks you to take it to another level and challenge yourself beyond your comfort level.

Even if you don’t take it to that extent, start small and exercise on a regular basis, then build up to greater challenges. Work on making connections with other people based around your exercise routine.

What the Buddhists Know

Buddhism is particularly concerned with cultivating happiness through constant practice.

First, Buddhists acknowledge that existence lends itself to pain and mental dysfunction. This is the wear and tear of the world that comes from desiring and expecting what you don’t have.

Buddhists follow a set of practices towards enlightenment:

Clear the mind of negative thoughts: Recognize negative thoughts, redirect
them positively, and act on positive thoughts.

Practice mindfulness: Without applying judgment, contemplate how your
body feels and pay attention to your breathing; pay attention to your own
thoughts; pay attention to “phenomena” — the world around you.

Meditate and concentrate: Let random thoughts go while you’re sitting and
concentrating on one single thing, such as the sound of water, your breathing,
or a humming sound.

Have compassion: Personal happiness is directly related to the happiness of others. Contemplation of others and their suffering leads you to a place of true compassion, and compassion for others is a simple path towards happiness.

Buddhists choose to live neither in the past or future.

Thoughts of the past can bring brooding and depression, and thoughts of the future can bring anxiety. Contemplation of the present and compassion for others in the present can help alleviate depression and anxiety, freeing your mind to accept happiness.

People choose many creeds, philosophies, and religions in the pursuit of happiness. In any situation, you can choose to concentrate on what makes you happy.

You can choose to accept the most excruciating challenge as an opportunity to be good now and to create happiness.

Make the Smart Choice of Happiness

Happiness is finding joy in everyday experiences.

When you choose to include other people in your happiness, then with it comes community—in both social networks and shared experiences.

Happiness is the smart choice because deep down it’s what your being strives for; it’s what other people want, too.

When we’re choosing happiness together, we’re choosing to care for each other, and the whole world opens up to infinite possibility.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

Reference [1] ^ Arizona State University: Find Yourself by Getting Lost [2] ^ World Happiness Report: World Happiness Report 2018 [3] ^ This is Finland: Sisu Begins Where Perseverance Ends function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

The post Why Happiness is a Choice (And Why It’s a Smart One to Make) appeared first on Lifehack.

https://cdn-media-2.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2018/03/28182442/brooke-cagle-336464-unsplash3-1024.jpg

Seiten

Was du jetzt tun kannst ...

 

 

oder

Werde Lebensunternehmer oder helfe anderen dabei, es zu werden!

 Herz fuehrt Verstand, dann kann nichts schiefgehen

Sie möchten weitestgehend frei über Ihre Lebenszeit verfügen und Ihre Fähigkeiten, Ihre Neigungen, Ihre Kreativität (Phantasie) und Ihre Gefühle bestmöglich ausleben?

Sie möchten Ihre eigenen Ideen realisieren, vielleicht sogar von zuhause aus arbeiten und sich ein Einkommen erwirtschaften, das Ihren Lebensunterhalt sichert. 

Sie möchten langfristig gut und deshalb im Einklang mit der Natur leben?

Neben einer vereinfachten Lebensweise spielt dabei auch die moderne Technik eine wichtige Rolle.
Wir finden heraus, wie Sie einfacher leben und die aktuellen technischen Möglichkeiten optimal nutzen können.

Beispielsweise bietet sich zur Fortbewegung in den Städten das Car2go- oder Car-Sharing-Konzept an oder wie wäre es in Zukunft mit einer AllinOne-Solaranlage zur weitestgehend autarken Stromversorgung oder verbrennen Sie Biomasse (z. B. Kuhmist) und erzeugen Sie so Ihren eigenen Strom.

Sie möchten sich mit Ihrer eigenen Stimme an den gesellschaftlichen Entscheidungen, die Sie interessieren, beteiligen ?

Möglicherweise wünschen Sie sich insgeheim schon lange, so zu leben und entsprechende Erfahrungen und Erkenntnisse zu sammeln.

Ja, wie wäre es, wenn Sie Ihre Begeisterung für diese ganzheitliche Lebensweise sogar zu Ihrem Beruf machen und sie auf diesem Wege, Ihr Wissen mit anderen teilen und anderen Menschen helfen können, erfüllter zu leben.

Verwirklichen Sie doch Ihren Traum! Werden Sie ein ganzheitlich denkender Lebensunternehmer oder falls Sie das schon sind, geben Sie Ihr Wissen weiter und geben Sie so Ihrer Zukunft ganz neue Perspektiven! 

Verdienen Sie mit Ihrer selbst gewählten Aufgabe Ihren Lebensunterhalt.

Sie können als Lebensunternehmer-Coach Ihr Wissen weitergeben oder aber auch als Coachee, die ganzheitliche Denkweise der Lebensunternehmer kennen lernen.

Natürlich können Sie auch nur einzelne Schwerpunkte aus dem Lebensunternehmer-Konzept trainieren bzw. coachen, etwa den Workshop wo es darum geht für Berufsanfänger und Berufswechsler den optimalen Beruf bzw. die Lebensaufgabe zu finden.

Für die Teilnahme sind keine besonderen Schulabschlüsse oder Zertifikate erforderlich! 

Wichtig ist, daß Sie von Ihrem Thema begeistert sind und gerne lernen bzw. später als Lebensunternehmer-Coach Ihre Erfahrungen und Erkenntnisse leidenschaftlich gerne an andere weitergeben.

Ja ich möchte:

 

Erfahre mehr über das Lebenskonzept der Lebensunternehmer und die optimale Lebensumgebung dafür!

Im eBook-Shop gibt es dazu:

eBooks zu dem Lebenskonzept der Lebensunternehmer 

eBooks über eine sich selbst organisierende Gesellschaft, die auf der Eigenverantwortung jedes Einzelnen aufbaut (die optimale Lebensumgebung für Lebensunternehmer)

eBooks über Insel-Solaranlagen und Windräder und Solarkollektoren, die man umweltfreundlich und Ressourcensparend aus Schrott, Altmetall und Abfällen bauen kann

im eBook-Shop stöbern … 

Lebensunternehmer-ebook-Shop

 

bestimmte Inhalte gezielt finden

 

Mit der Suchmaschine können alle Inhalte zum Lebensunternehmer-Training und zur artgerechten Umgebung für Lebensunternehmer gezielt nach bestimmten Stichwörtern durchsucht und so die jeweils  relevanten Inhalte gefunden werden.

Besonders wichtige Stichwörter:
naturverbundenheit, traumberuf finden, selbstentfaltung, autodidaktisch lernen, urteilsvermögen, entscheiden, beteiligen, Verantwortung, demokratie, netzwerke, grundeinkommen

Geben Sie doch testweise die Stichwörter, die Sie besonders interessieren, in die Suchmaschine ein und schauen Sie sich die gefundenen Trefferanzeigen an!

 

Loading

 

Logo

>> die Ideenwerkstatt der Akademie für Lebensunternehmer

hier geht es um Lösungen, Konzepte und Projektideen für eine sich selbst organisierende Gesellschaft, die auf unserer tagtäglich gelebten Eigenverantwortung basiert

Dazu gibt es: Workshops, Coachings, Videokurse und eBooks | wichtige Werte und Gewohnheiten für alle die ihr Leben unternehmen | die ganzheitliche Lösung für eine sich selbst organisierende Gesellschaft, die auf der Eigenverantwortung jedes Einzelnen aufbaut | eBooks für Lebensunternehmer | die Lebensunternehmer-Idee | eine FAQ zur Klärung vieler Detailfragen zum Thema "das Leben unternehmen" | der Lebensunternehmer-Blog | den Bauplan für eine neue Gesellschaft | die Projektidee zu einer Internet-Entscheidungsplattform | News zum Thema “gesellschaftlicher Wandel” | das Grundkonzept für ein neues Bildungssystem und vieles mehr

>> aktiv mitmachen

diese Site soll dich dazu anregen aktiv bei der Akademie für Lebensunternehmer mitzumachen

weitere Websites von mir:

>> die Akademie für Lebensunternehmer
das Leben unternehmen - wie geht das?

>> mach was du liebst
hier geht es um die Kernfrage: Wofür lohnt es sich für dich zu leben?

>> wachse und gedeihe
hier geht es um die Kernfrage: Wie kannst du dich optimal weiterentwickeln, also effektiv lernen?

>> nutze das Internet sinnvoll und hilfreich
hier geht es um die Kernfrage: Wie können dir die vielfältigen Software-Tools bzw. Internetdienste dabei helfen, daß du deine Tagesaufgaben einfacher und schneller lösen kannst?

>> nutze freie Energie
selbst Strom erzeugen und Energie sparen