We all know the uncomfortable feeling of anxiety. Our hearts race, our fingers sweat, and our breathing gets shallow and labored. We experience racing thoughts about a perceived threat that we think is too much to handle. That’s because our “fight or flight” response has kicked in, resulting in sympathetic arousal and a narrowing of attention and focus on avoiding the threat. We seem to be locked in that state, unable to focus on our daily chores or longer-term goals. As a Cognitive-Behavior Therapist with more than 15 years of experience, I have found a variety of techniques that I can teach my patients with anxiety disorders such as phobias, panic attacks, or chronic worry. Some are based on changing thoughts, others on changing behavior, and still others involve physiological responses. The more aspects of anxiety I can decrease, the lower the chance of relapse post-therapy. Below are six strategies that you can use to help your anxiety:
(1) Reevaluating the probability of the threatening event actually happening
Anxiety makes us feel threat is imminent yet most of the time what we worry about never happens. By recording our worries and how many came true, we can notice how much we overestimate the prospect of negative events.
Even if a bad event happened, we may still be able to handle it by using our coping skills and problem-solving abilities or by enlisting others to help. Although not pleasant, we could still survive encountering a spider, having a panic attack, or losing money. It’s important to realize that very few things are the end of the world.
(3) Using deep breathing and relaxation to calm down
By deliberately relaxing our muscles we begin to calm down so we can think clearly. If you practice this without a threat present at first, it can start to become automic and will be easier to use in the moment when you face a threat. Deep breathing engages the parasympathetic nervous system to put the brakes on sympathetic arousal.
(4) Becoming mindful of our own physical and mental reactions
The skill of mindfulness involves calmly observing our own reactions, including fear, without panic or feeling compelled to act. It is something that can be taught in therapy and improves with practice.
(5) Accepting the Fear and Committing to Living a Life Based on Core Values
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an approach that encourages people to accept the inevitability of negative thoughts and feelings and not try to repress or control them. By directing attention away from the fear and back onto life tasks and valued goals, we can live a full life despite the fear.
Exposure is the most powerful technique for anxiety and it involves facing what we fear and staying in the situation long enough for the fear to habituate or go down, as it naturally does. Fear makes us avoid or run away, so our minds and bodies never learn that much of what we fear is not truly dangerous.
One of the biggest problems people face is the lack of discipline — they have goals or habits they want to achieve, but lack that discipline needed to stick with it.
Then we beat ourselves up about it. We feel crappy because we can’t stick with it.
And that leads to more failure, because we’re forming a mindset that we don’t have the necessary discipline.
Here’s what to do when you face a situation like this:
1. Forgive yourself. You aren’t perfect. No one is. Realize that beating yourself up will only make things worse. Take a few slow, deep breaths and let it go. Forgive yourself. And move on.
2. Realize that discipline is an illusion. While discipline is a common concept, it doesn’t actually exist. It’s not a thing you can actually do. Think about it: people say discipline is pushing yourself to do something you don’t want to do. But how do you do that? What skill is required? There isn’t a skill — it’s just forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do. And that requires … some kind of motivation. Without motivation, you won’t be able to force yourself to do anything. So motivation is the key concept — and this is something that’s real, that you can actually learn how to do.
3. Focus on motivation. What’s your motivation for pursuing the goal or habit? How will you sustain the motivation when you struggle? Have very strong motivations for doing something, and write them down. Commit publicly. When things get tough, remind yourself of your motivation. Focus on it. It’ll pull you along — that’s more powerful than trying to focus on the push of discipline.
4. Make it easy. Discipline is tough because whatever the task or habit you’re trying to do is tough. Instead, make it easy. Remove barriers. Having a hard time exercising? Make it ridiculously easy, by only exercising for 5 minutes. What use is exercising for 5 minutes? You’re creating the habit, not getting yourself into shape overnight. The 5 minutes of exercise will have only a tiny impact on your health, but it makes exercise super easy. If you can do that 30 days in a row, you now have an exercise habit. Hate waking up early to go to the gym? Do it at home. Do it during lunch or after work.
5. Focus on enjoyment. It’s hard to push yourself — to have discipline — when you hate doing something. So find something enjoyable about the activity. If you don’t look forward to exercise, find some good music, or a workout partner who you can have a nice conversation with, or a peaceful setting in nature that is just beautiful. And focus on that enjoyable aspect. Hate doing your paperwork? Find a peaceful sanctuary where you can do the paperwork and enjoy yourself. Maybe have a nice cup of tea or coffee, play some nice music. And focus on the enjoyment.
6. Repeat. You’ll almost inevitably slip up sometime, no matter how good you are. Unfortunately, people often take this to mean they don’t have discipline, and they just beat themselves up and give up. Well, it’s just a bump in the road. Get up, dust yourself off, and get going again. Start from Step 1 and start all over.
“The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus. And I put them in a book. If you don’t like their rules, whose would you use?”
– Dale Carnegie
“Who was Dale Carnegie?” you may wonder. Well, he was a guy that was born 110 years ago. He died in 1955. He was a rich man, a very successful man.
He wrote a little book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. It went on to sell over 30 million copies. It still sells today and is probably one of the best books on how to improve your social skills.
Carnegie then continued to write more books and to create courses on how to interact with people, on how to make friends and on how to gain influence.
Here are 10 of my favourite tips from Dale Carnegie. And as the opening quote says, these tips have been time-tested for the last few hundreds or thousands of years. They are pretty solid.
1. Create your own emotions.
“If you want to be enthusiastic, act enthusiastic.”
Emotions work backwards too. You can use that to your advantage. If you are stuck in a negative emotion then you can often shake it off. Change your body – how you move, sit and stand – and act as you would like to feel. Enthusiasm and other positive emotions are much more useful and pleasurable for everyone in an interaction. Because…
2. It’s not so much about the logical stuff.
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”
This is so key. Logic is good but in the end, in interactions and in life, we are emotional creatures. We send and receive emotions from other people. That is one reason why body language and voice tonality is often said be up to 93% of communication. Now, those numbers were for some specific situations but I still believe that these two ways of communication are very, very important.
The body language and the voice tonality is a bit like the rest of the iceberg, the great mass below the tip of the words we use. Those two things communicate how we are feeling and give indication to what we are thinking. And that’s why it’s important to be able to change how you feel. To be in a positive mood while interacting. Because that will have a great impact on how you say something and how you use your body. And those two things will have a big impact on your results and relationships.
3. Three things you are better off avoiding.
“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.”
Now these things may not be easy to avoid all together. Much of our interactions and perhaps even bonds are created and maintained through those three negative C’s. There is a sort of twisted pleasure in criticising, condemning and complaining. It might make you feel more important and like a better person as you see yourself as a victim or as you condemn other people’s behaviour.
But in the end these three C’s are negative and limiting to your life. Bringing up negative stuff and wallowing in it will lower your mood, motivation and general levels of wellbeing. And this can trap you in a negative spiral of complaining, complaining with other complainers and always finding faults in your reality.
You will also be broadcasting and receiving negative emotions. And people in general want to feel good. So this can really put an obstacle in the way for your interactions or relationships.
4. What is most important?
“The royal road to a man’s heart is to talk to him about the things he treasures most.”
Classic advice. Don’t talk too much about yourself and your life. Listen to other people instead. However, if they ramble on and on, if they don’t reciprocate and show and interest in your life then you don’t have to stay.
Some things people may treasure the most include ideas, children, a special hobby and the job. And…
5. Focus outward, not inward.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
A lot of people use the second, far less effective way. It is appealing because it’s about instant gratification and about ME, ME, ME! The first way – to become interested in people – perhaps works better because it make you a pleasant exception and because the law of reciprocity is strong in people. As you treat people, they will treat you. Be interested in them and they will be interested in you.
I would like to add that one hard thing about this can be to be genuinely interested in the other guy/gal. Your genuine interest is projected though your body language and tonality. So, just waiting for the other person to stop talking so you can talk again isn’t really genuine interest. And that may shine through. And so your interactions will suffer.
6. Take control of your emotions.
“The person who seeks all their applause from outside has their happiness in another’s keeping.”
It wrote about this problem a few days ago in 9 Great Ways to Make Yourself Absolutely Miserable. And it basically consist of being too reliant or dependent on external validation from other people. External validation is something someone communicates to you that tells you that you are person of value. That you, for example, are pretty, smart or successful.
This leaves much of your emotions in the hands of other people. It becomes an emotional roller coaster. One day you feel great. The next day you feel like just staying in bed.
But if you fill that inner cup of validation for yourself instead then you take over the wheel. Now you’re driving, now you control how you feel. You can still appreciate compliments of course, but you aren’t dependent on them.
This will make you more emotionally stable and enables you to cultivate and build your emotional muscles in a more controlled way. You can for instance help yourself to become more optimistic or enthusiastic more of the time. This stability and growth can be big help in your relationships.
7. No, they are not holding you back.
“Instead of worrying about what people say of you, why not spend time trying to accomplish something they will admire.”
Caring too much about what people think will create and feed imaginary monsters within your mind. You may for instance think that people will condemn you if you try something. Maybe they will. But most of the time people are thinking about their own challenges and ups and downs. They just don’t care that much about what you do.
This may feel disappointing. It can also be liberating. It helps you remove inner obstacles that are you holding yourself back.
As you, bit by bit or in one big swoop, release those inner brakes you become more of yourself. You become more confident, you have a better chance at success, and you will feel more positive feelings and less negative ones. All these things can give a big boost to your interactions and help you sharpen those social skills.
8. So, what’s in it for me?
“There is only one way… to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it.”
If you want someone to do something then will they care about your motivation for getting this thing done? Perhaps. Often they will not have that great of an interest in what you want out of something.
They want to know what they will get out of it. So, for the both of you to get what you want out of something tell that person what’s in it for him/her. And try to be genuine and positive about it. A reason for them to do it delivered in a lame, half-assed manner may not be so persuasive. And so you both lose.
9. How to win an argument.
“The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.”
Getting two egos wrapped up in an argument, having two sides defending their positions desperately, will not improve relationships. You are more likely to feel negative feelings towards each other long after the argument is over. And so you both wallow in negativity and you both lose. When possible, just avoiding unnecessary arguments is a win-win situation.
10. It’s about more than your words.
“There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it.”
I often feel that there is a bit too much emphasis on the third way of contact (what we say). Don’t forget about the rest. Most people stereotype people at their first meeting. They might not want to but it is a way for their – and perhaps your – mind to organize impressions and people. So think about how you look. Think about how you make first impressions. Think about your body language. And how you are saying your sentences.
Think about how you feel because that will be reflected out into the world. And the world will often reflect back something similar.
I have a friend who has struggled with her creativity for a long time. She’s extremely uncomfortable thinking of herself as “creative.” We’ve been working together on it, and making progress. One of the tools that’s really helped her has been journaling.
From Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way to Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones to Linda Trichter Metcalf, Ph.D. and Tobin Simon, Ph.D.’s Writing the Mind Alive to numerous other publications, journaling has enjoyed a long history of creative-nurturing along with a host of other benefits.
For my purposes, I’m defining journaling as any sort of loose, longhand writing. Whatever thoughts come into your head you put them down on paper. There’s no structure, no form, nor concern about spelling or grammar or even legibility.
Even if writing isn’t your dream, incorporating a regular program of journaling into your life is a wonderful way to jump-start your creativity and cultivate a constant flow of new ideas. Here are three reasons why.
1. Helps you get rid of the junk in your head. We all have it. Junk thoughts. Everything from self-defeating comments (“Oh, I’ll never be good at that.” or “Who told you that you could be a writer?”) to the “worry of the moment” to neurosis of every type to the ever-growing, constant to-do lists.
Who can be creative with all that noise going on? For that matter, who could even hear a creative thought over all that racket?
Journaling is a way to quiet the mind. Writing all that junk down transfers it from your head to the paper. Suddenly, you find you can actually think rather than simply react.
The best part is this quiet lasts long after the journaling is done for the day. And if you journal frequently, then the effect is cumulative.
When I finish journaling, I find that I feel peaceful. Calm. Able to focus. The junk is gone, leaving space to be creative.
2. Gives you a chance to try new ideas. What better way to see if a new idea will work than to try it out on paper? You can write out the pros and cons, describe a scenario, play “what if” games (“What if my new business was successful?” “What if I tried that new advertising campaign?” “What if I contacted the editor at Money Magazine?”). And the best part is it’s all in a private little notebook that no one will ever have to see.
Try writing down your hopes, dreams, goals, visions. Play around with them. You may find as you journal about them, a strategy for making them come true suddenly presents itself, right there in the pages of your notebook.
3. Helps you build a bridge to your muse. This one really only kicks in after you’ve sufficiently done number one (at least, this is the way it works for me). It seems only after I’ve gotten most of the junk out of my head that the muse sometimes slips out to play a bit.
How do you know the muse came to visit you? When that brilliant idea flashes in your head. It may not happen while you’re journaling, but instead while you’re showering, walking, driving or something else. This is the muse talking to you.
It’s important to remember muses have quiet voices. They can easily be drowned out by the incessant bickering of the other noisy chatter going on in your head. Once you can get those other voices to shut up, you can start to listen for the muse.
Don’t worry if this doesn’t happen right away. There have been weeks and even months when I write nothing but junk down. But then, one day, that great idea appears on the paper or in my head as I’m walking my dogs.
And when that happens, I know all the time I spent journaling about nothing has paid off.
Creativity Exercises — Journal more ideas
I would love it if you made a pact with yourself to journal regularly for a month. If that’s too much of a commitment for you, try it as a creativity exercise.
Write down your challenge at the top of a piece of paper. Maybe it’s ways to increase business or promote your products more or a new PR campaign. Now just start writing about it.
Don’t think, just write. Fill a few pages of musing about that particular challenge. Don’t type it either — write longhand. If you wander away from it, try nudging yourself back.
Write for at least 20 minutes. If no answer presents itself in that time, don’t get too hung up about it. Try it again the next day or a few days in a row. Sometimes it just takes awhile to jar things loose. And remember, great ideas have a tendency to pop up in the most unexpected places, not just when you’re doing something “creative.”
Michele Pariza Wacek is the author of “Got Ideas? Unleash Your Creativity and Make More Money.” She offers two free e-zines that help subscribers combine their creativity with hard-hitting marketing and copywriting principles to become more successful at attracting new clients, selling products and services and boosting business. She can be reached at TheArtistSoul.com.
When do you experience anger? You become angry when you are frustrated, unhappy, or when your feelings are hurt. You also experience it when plans don’t turn out as desired, or when coming against opposition or criticism.
Anger never helps anyone. It wastes your energy, and hurts your health, spoils your relationships, and causes you to miss opportunities. Getting angry is acting against your best interests.
Things don’t always proceed according to plans and expectations. People do not always act the way you wish them to act.
You may not be always be in control of external influences and conditions, but you can certainly learn to control your attitude and reactions.
There is no sense of allowing circumstances and people to pull your strings and affect your mind and feelings.
You can choose not to let what people say and do affect your moods.
I often see people getting angry over unimportant and insignificant matters. Some insignificant remark or action, not getting a satisfactory reply to a question, or just moodiness, are enough to set fire and cause anger, snappy remarks, arguments, and even physical fight. This is absolutely unnecessary. Life can be happier without this behavior.
Anger is a negative reaction, and if you wish to progress on the path of self-improvement or spiritual growth you should avoid it as much as possible.
Learning to calm down the restlessness of the mind and gaining peace of mind, is one of the best and most effective methods to overcome anger, and in fact, all negative emotions.
If you are willing to invest the time and energy, you will reap great rewards. Peace of mind will not only help you overcome anger, but also help you overcome anxiety and negative thinking, and enable you to stay calm, tranquil and self possessed in difficult and trying situations.
Peace of mind requires the development of an attitude of emotional and mentaldetachment, which is of vital importance for overcoming and avoiding anger. It protects you against being too affected by what people think, say or do, and is therefore highly recommended. Detachment is not an attitude of indifference and lack of sensitivity. It is an attitude of common sense and inner strength and leads to peace of mind.
I would like to suggest a few simple tips for inner detachment and peace of mind, tol help you overcome anger:
1. Devote a few minutes, at least once a day, to thinking on how much your life would be better without anger.
2. When you feel anger arising in you, start breathing deeply and slowly several times.
3. You may, instead of breathing deeply, or better still, in addition to it, count slowly from one to ten. This will delay your angry reaction and weaken it.
4. Drinking some water has a calming effect on the body.
5. Try to be more patient, no matter how difficult it might be.
6. Be more tolerant toward people, even toward people you don’t like.
7. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. You can disagree with people, but still maintain tact and diplomacy.
8. Choose to react calmly and peacefully in every situation. Try again and again, regardless of how many times you lose control and get angry.
9. Positive thinking makes it easier to disregard remarks and behavior that otherwise could cause anger.
10. Try to manifest at least some self-control, self-discipline and more common sense.
11. Don’t take everything too seriously. It is not worth it.
We all make assumptions, and many of them turn out to be wrong. But noticing those and learning from them is hard. Maintaining a “Surprise Journal” can make reality clearer and help you improve yourself.
Julia Galef of the Center for Applied Rationality says her technique helps you confront your confirmation bias, separating reality from assumptions in a gentle way. In your Surprise Journal, write down anything that surprises you and why. Ignore whether the surprise is positive or negative and simply note what it is.
The Surprise Journal has two benefits. First, you start noticing more odd or unusual things, simply because you looking out for them. Second, it is a soft blow for your biased brain to admit when something is against expectations:
“People generally don’t want to give in to evidence that they might be wrong—and I include myself here—because it is stressful to admit it, even to yourself… We train ourselves to avoid it.”
On the other hand, looking for surprises in the world can be an empowering or exhilarating experience. “It appeals to my curiosity and it just feels different—it feels like I am getting as clear a picture of the world as I can,” she says.
The end result, as Galef mentions, is that you become more aware of areas where you need improvement. For example, Galef’s ratings as a teacher were lower than colleagues, which indicated over-confidence in her abilities and not taking on feedback to get better.
The conclusions of your Surprise Journal are going to be what you make of them, but the mere act of noticing the disparity should set you on the right path, according to Galef.
No one wants to be — or be around — a Negative Nancy. Positive people encourage others to be happier and more comfortable with themselves because their energy is contagious. And with all the adversity we face in our lives, it’s no wonder that kind of outlook is appealing.
Studies show optimism certainly has its benefits. And even though it’s always possible to find the negatives in a situation, there are a few ways to cultivate the sort of mindset where you choose to see the positives. (After all, as Oscar Wilde once said, “We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”)
So how do we become a positive power wherever we go? Try these science-backed strategies:
Put kindness first.
We never forget the times people show compassion toward us, whether it’s a genuine smile from a stranger when we look down, or a friend who surprises us with ice cream and a movie after we’ve just been dumped. And turns out, it’s not just the recipient of kindness who experiences benefits — research shows those simple, empathetic behaviors make us happier, too.
Talk to someone you don’t know.
While we tend to ignore those we don’t know, a recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests we should be doing the opposite for the sake of our happiness. Researchers found that talking to strangers increases positive experiencesthrough feelings of social connectedness. Step outside of your comfort zone and strike up a conversation with someone new in the room — you just might find yourself in a happier mood.
Those with optimistic attitudes have an innate ability to bring out joy in others, and as a result, they’re incredibly effective leaders. People who look on the bright side tend to be more inspiring communicators and have a way of rallying others around them to see the positive, Forbes points out. These kinds of leaders don’t just know what it takes to get tasks done — they encourage others around them to optimistically do the same.
Be mindful of your body language.
The secret to a positive attitude may just start with positive posture. Research suggests that uncrossing your arms, standing tall and having a more approachable demeanor can all be positive marks of confidence. Studies also show that even just the simple act of smiling can make you seem more open (not to mention it can also boost your mood).
Listen more than you speak.
Good listening skills are a quiet, yet coveted power — and being a good listener also conveys positivity. “When you listen, you open up your ability to take in more knowledge versus blocking the world with your words or your distracting thoughts,” David Mezzapelle, author of Contagious Optimism, previously explained to HuffPost Healthy Living. “You are also demonstrating confidence and respect for others. Knowledge and confidence is proof that you are secure and positive with yourself, thus radiating positive energy.”
Open yourself up to positive thoughts.
It’s natural for us to dwell on the negative, but the truth is, we all have the capacity to look at life through a glass half full. The key to being a positive force is to open yourself up to like-minded thoughts. One way to do that? Practice gratitude. Studies show reflecting on what you’re thankful for can make you a happier, more positive person. And when’s the last time anyone hated counting their blessings?
It’s one thing to wax eloquent on positivity, but quite another to be a positive person at heart.
Despite believing to have a positive outlook, we invariably weigh the cons first, consider several times before sparing a compliment, and broadcast only the odds when someone counts on us for advice. What’s more, we prefer needless sarcasm for humour, manage a wry smile when something is genuinely funny, and believe deep down that the glass is actually half empty.
We live in denial of our inherent negativity for the most part, and often wonder why the world around is so mean and reckless. At work, we never fail telling our juniors how meeting deadlines can be a tough proposition, and not to think too ‘out of the box’ to impress the boss. In short, we never tire telling all concerned how tough things can be! Unlike dogs we may not be born eternal optimists, but positivity is something that can be imbibed even if a tad forcibly; such as by trying to tweak our sense of humour, the way we react to a given situation, by being more pleasant and believing others too have a mind, and by smiling each time somebody says ‘thank you’.
While positivity is a state of mind, the answer lies in our perspective. Clinical psychologist and lifestyle advisor Dr S.K Sharma shares his ideas on how to be a positive person everyday.
Have the desire: First thing first, to become a positive person one must have a strong desire to be positive. And the desire will come only if you are convinced that becoming a positive person will enhance the quality of life. Positivity is like an aura, and you know you are a positive person when people start trusting you, random people become polite with you, colleagues at work start patronising you, and you start building rapport easily.
Be realistic: Do not try to become a saint. Becoming a positive person does not mean you can never have any negative emotion or encounter any negative situation. It is the overall attitude that matters. Don’t get bogged down by failure, and disappointed when your expectations are not met. Mentally, you should always be calculating a way out of difficult situations come what may.
Experiment: Be a keen observer. Use everyday life incidents to see how you can manage them in a more positive manner. These will serve as perfect instances to turn your outlook more positive. For starters, contemplate how you could have better handled a situation by being less hostile and more indulgent. Come up with five ways that could have saved the day, and learn to take things at face value sometimes. Remember, your ability to trust the other person also reflects your genuineness.
Speech and body language: Try and make positive words a part of your daily lingo, and work on your body language in way that you come across as friendly and approachable. Look amused when something is amusing, laugh when something is funny, congratulate when someone’s bought something new, and give others a chance to narrate their side of the story. Never think you are the only interesting, knowing one around.
Company: One way to becoming positive is to seek positive company as both positivity and negativity are infectious. If the people you spend most of your time with are grumpy or have a pessimistic standpoint, you’ll find yourself mirroring the same emotions before a different set of people inadvertently. In order to inculcate positivity it is imperative that your friend circle is a positive, energetic, and a happy bunch. You’ll find yourself carrying the same positivity everywhere you go.
Activities: Do not remain idle and brood. Take up positive activities with others or in isolation. Share a joke, narrate a pleasant incident, take part in sporting activities, go for a run in the evening after work, have healthy sex, and you’ll find yourself bubbling with positive energy.
Take it easy: Everyday life is bound to give you shocks. Be prepared to minimise impact and shrug it off. For instance, you may get too hassled everyday while driving to work or trying to park your car. When you accept the fact that certain things cannot be changed, you’ll be more at ease with yourself and those around too.
Learn yoga: Says yoga teacher and nutritionist, Abhilasha Kale, “Do pranayam everyday as it lets you focus and meditate. Not only does it secrete happy hormones but also creates a sense of awareness within you.” With the help of yogic asanas you control your breathing, and by way of it, control your mind from wandering. Every time you do yoga, you feel a surge of positive energythrough your body that calms your nerves, soothes your mind, elevates your mood, and not to mention enhances your level of tolerance.
Maintain a diary: Instead of recounting all events of the day, filter out only the positive ones and make a note of them. It could be anything trivial from your bus arriving on time, your mom cooking a delicious breakfast, to remembering to pay the bills on time. When we look for positivity in the little things that make our lives worthwhile, we leave no room for negativity. “Try consciously practising this for 10 days, and at the end of day ten when you read your diary back you’ll only have memories of all the good things that happened to you,” she asserts.
Say ‘thank you': Thank god, thank your parents, friends, and thank yourself for all the hard work you did, for everything you achieved. Says Abhilasha, “Saying thank you frequently makes you humble, and a humble person is seldom cynical.”
Try these methods, and you’ll be surprised when others notice the change in you.
And, for the most part, I’m okay with that, since I can always be a better me. I can ride faster or climb better than I do now, and I can make a bigger difference in the lives of my family and friends.
Think about the people you admire and pick a few of their qualities to emulate, not their accomplishments.
You can’t be them.
The cool thing is, they can’t be you.
Let others be who they are. Your customers, your vendors, your suppliers… they aren’t going to change. Don’t expect them to.
Pick one source of frustration and decide what you will do differently, including, possibly, walking away.
When you stop focusing on negatives you may start to notice the positive qualities you missed. Rarely are people as bad as you make them out to be—and if they are, it’s up to you to make whatever changes are necessary.
Help an employee. Don’t wait to be asked. Pick someone who is struggling and offer to help.
But don’t just say, “Is there some way I can help you?” Be specific: Offer to help with a specific task, or to take over a task for a few days, or to work side-by-side.
A general offer is easy to brush aside. A specific offer not only shows you want to help, it shows you care.
Help a superstar. Counterintuitive? No way.
Compared to others, the best-performing people don’t need help so they rarely get it. As a result they’re often lonely, at least in a professional sense.
Offer to help with a specific task. Not only will you build a nice interpersonal bridge, some of their skills or qualities might rub off on you.
Help anyone. Few things feel better than helping a person in need. Take a quick look around; people less fortunate than you are everywhere.
For example, I conducted an interview skills seminar for prison inmates (after all, who needs to know how to deal with tough interview questions more than a convicted felon?) It only took an hour of my time and was incredibly rewarding.
Most of the prisoners were touchingly grateful that someone—that anyone—cared enough to want to help them. I got way more out of the experience than they did.
Change measurements. Over time we all develop our own ways to measure our performance.
Maybe you focus on time to complete, or quality, or end result. Each is effective, but sticking with one or two could cause you to miss opportunities to improve.
Say you focus on meeting standards; what if you switched it up and focused on time to complete?
Measuring your performance in different ways forces you to look at what you regularly do from a new perspective.
Change benchmarks. If you develop apps it’s fun to benchmark against, say, the success of Angry Birds. Setting an incredible goal is fine—if you don’t aim high you won’t reach high—but failing to hit a lofty goal can kill your motivation.
So choose a different benchmark. Look for companies or people with similar assets, backgrounds, etc. and try to beat their results. Then, after you do, choose another target.
Aim for the heights, but include a few steps along the way. The journey will be a lot more fun.
Go opposite. If you haven’t reached a goal then what you’re currently doing isn’t working.
Instead of tweaking your approach, take an entirely different tack. Pick one goal you’re struggling to achieve and try a completely different approach.
Sometimes small adjustments eventually pay off, but occasionally you just need to blow things up and start over.
Drop one thing. We all have goals. Often we have too many goals; it’s impossible to do 10 things incredibly well.
Take a look at your goals and pick at least one that you’ll set aside, at least for now. (Don’t feel bad about it. You weren’t reaching your goals anyway, so what’s the harm in dropping a few?)
Then put the time you were spending on that goal into your highest priority. You can’t have it all, but you can have a lot—especially when you narrow your focus to one or two key goals.
Change your workday. Get up earlier. Get up later. Take care of emails an hour after you start work. Eat at your desk.
Pick one thing you do on a regular basis, preferably something you do for no better reason than that’s the way you always do it and therefore it’s comfortable, and do that one thing in a different way or at a different time.
Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt. Sometimes familiarity breeds complacency, and complacency is a progress and improvement killer.
Choose a new habit. Successful people are successful for a reason, and that reason is often due to the habits they create and maintain.
Take a close look at the people who are successful in your field: What do they do on a regular basis? Then adopt one of their habits and make it your own.
Never reinvent a wheel when a perfect wheel already exists.
Choose someone to mentor. I learn more when I teach than the people I’m trying to teach. (Hopefully that says more about the process of teaching than it does about my teaching abilities.)
When you mentor another person you accomplish more than just helping someone else. You build your network—and more importantly, you learn a few things about yourself.
Maintain a positive attitude. – Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. The mind must believe it can do something before it is capable of actually doing it. So be aware of your mental self-talk. We all talk silently to ourselves in our heads, but we aren’t always conscious of what we’re saying or how it’s affecting us. Start listening to your thoughts. If you hear negative thoughts, stop for a second and replace them with positive thoughts. As the Dalai Lama once said, “The way to overcome negative thoughts and destructive emotions is to develop opposing, positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful.” For some practical positive thinking guidance, I recommend reading The Power of Positive Thinking.
Be kind to yourself. – If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend? The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others. You must love who you are or no one else will.
Embrace problems as a natural part of growing. – Part of living and growing up is experiencing unexpected troubles in life. People losejobs, get sick, and sometimes die in car accidents. When you are younger, and things are going pretty well, this harsh reality can be hard to visualize. The smartest, and oftentimes hardest, thing we can do in these kinds of situations is to be tempered in our reactions. To want to scream obscenities, but to be wiser and more disciplined than that. To remember that emotional rage only makes matters worse. And to remember that tragedies are rarely as bad as they seem, and even when they are, they give us an opportunity to grow stronger.
Create your mission statement. – Mine was simply “To translate what gives me joy, fulfillment and makes me genuinely happy into a career that will allow me to work for myself and spend more time with my family.” This meant starting my own business as a coach to help individuals and small business owners get what they want out of their life and business. Formulating this sentence allows us to create a short mission statement that summarizes exactly what we want from life, which will help to keep it in the forefront of our minds when we’re making important decisions.
Exploit the resources you do have access to. – It’s not about having access to countless resources; it’s about exploiting the resources you do have access to. Stevie Wonder couldn’t see, so he exploited his sense of hearing into a passion for music, and he now has 25 Grammy Awards to prove it. What resources do you have access to that you are not using?
Help others when you are able. – In life, you get what you put in. When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you. Love and kindness begets love and kindness.
Narrow your focus. – Concentrate your efforts on smaller and smaller areas. When your efforts are diffused over a wide area they won’t have much of an impact. So focus on smaller areas and your efforts will be felt more fully. It could take time for change to happen, but keep that focus narrow.
Stretch your comfort zone by trying new things. – Doing the same exact thing every day hinders self growth. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. Growth happens when you change things – when you try new things – when you stretch beyond your comfort zone.
Create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals. – Successful people are objective. They have realistic targets in mind. They know what they are looking for and why they are fighting for it. Successful people create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. When you identify S.M.A.R.T. goals that are truly important to you, you become motivated to figure out ways to attain them. You develop the necessary attitude, abilities, and skills. You can achieve almost any goal you set if you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that once seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them.
Make your own needs a priority. – Stop putting your needs on the back burner. The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too. Yes, help others; but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
Learn and practice one new skill every week. – Self-reliance is a vital key to living a healthy, productive life. To be self-reliant one must master a basic set of skills, more or less making them a jack of all trades. Contrary to what you may have learned in school, a jack of all trades is far more equipped to deal with life than a specialized master of only one. And besides, learning new skills is fun. Check out this article, this article, andthis book.
Stop procrastinating. – Start taking action and making changes. Action and change are often resisted when they’re needed most. Get a hold of yourself and have discipline. Discipline is choosing what you really want over what you want right now. Putting something off makes it instantly harder and scarier. What we don’t start today won’t be finished by tomorrow. And there’s nothing more stressful than the perpetual lingering of an unfinished task.
Forgive people and move forward. – Don’t live your life with hate in your heart. You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate. Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.” It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.” Forgiveness is the remedy. It doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened. It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life. Remember, the less time you spend hating the people who hurt you, the more time you’ll have to love the people who love you.
Excel at what you do. – People watch what you do more than they listen to what you say. Be someone worth emulating. Most people are inspired by GREAT musicians, writers, painters, speakers, entrepreneurs, engineers, mothers, fathers, athletes, etc. There’s only one thing they all have in common: They excel at what they do. There’s no point in doing something if you aren’t going to do it right. Excel at your work and excel at your hobbies. Develop a reputation for yourself, a reputation for consistent excellence.
Identify the lesson in every situation. – Everything is a life lesson. Everyone you meet, everything you encounter, etc. They’re all part of the learning experience we call ‘life.’ Never forget to acknowledge the lesson, especially when things don’t go your way. If you don’t get a job you wanted or a relationship doesn’t work, it only means something better is out there waiting. And the lesson you just learned is the first step towards it.
Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Kinda cool right? So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness. And that’s without having to go out and buy anything. It makes sense. We’re going to have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.
Savor the joy of simple pleasures. – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the best things in life are free. They come in the form of simple pleasures and they appear right in front of you at various locations and arbitrary times. They are governed by Mother Nature and situational circumstance and captured by mindful awareness. It’s all about taking a moment to notice the orange and pink sunset reflecting off the pond water as you hold hands with someone you love. Noticing these moments and taking part in them regularly will bring unpredictable bursts of happiness into your life. Read The Happiness Project.
Stop caring about what everyone else wants for you. – Unfortunately, just before you take your first step on the righteous journey to pursue your dreams, people around you, even the ones who deeply care for you, will usually give you awful advice. It’s not because they have evil intentions. It’s because they don’t understand the big picture – what your dreams, passions and life goals mean to you. They don’t understand that, to you, the reward is worth the risk. So they try to protect you by shielding you from the possibility of failure, which, in effect, also shields you from the possibility of making your dreams a reality.
Make small, positive changes every day. – How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The same philosophy holds true for making changes in your life. Making small, positive changes – eating a little healthier, exercising a little, creating some small productive habits, for example – is an amazing way to get excited about life.
Read great books. – The Web is grand. With its fame for hosting informative, easy-to-skim textual snippets and collaborative written works, people are spending more and more time reading online. Nevertheless, the Web cannot replace the authoritative transmissions from certain classic books that have delivered (or will deliver) profound ideas around the globe for generations. Read books that are packed with wisdom capable of igniting a new understanding of the world.
Keep an open mind. – Someone else doesn’t have to be wrong for you to be right. The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know. We all have our own unique path and feelings. When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.
Don’t rush intimate relationships. – Love is not about sex, going on fancy dates, or showing off. It’s about being with a person who makes you happy in a way nobody else can. You don’t need a perfect one, you just need someone who you can trust – who shows you that you’re the only one. If you haven’t found true love yet, don’t settle. There is someone out there who will love you unconditionally, even if it’s not the person you were initially hoping for.
Embrace change. – If nothing ever changed there would be no sunrise the next morning. Most of us are comfortable where we are even though the whole universe is constantly changing around us. Learning to accept this is vital to our happiness and general success. Because only when we change, do we grow, and begin to see a world we never knew was possible. And don’t forget, however good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That’s the one thing you can count on. So embrace it, and realize that change happens for a reason. It won’t always be easy or obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.
Choose to smile more often. – A smile is a choice, not a miracle. Don’t wait for people to smile. Show them how. A genuine smile makes you and everyone around you feel better. The simple act of smiling sends a message to your brain that you’re happy. And when you’re happy, your body pumps out all kinds of feel-good endorphins. This reaction has been studied since the 1980’s and has been proven a number of times. Bottom line: Smiling actually makes you happier.
Let go of the past. – Don’t let the past steal your present and future from you. Accept the fact that the past in not today. You might not be proud of all the things you’ve done in the past, but that’s okay. The past is not today. The past cannot be changed, forgotten, or erased. It can only be accepted. We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.
Face your fear of failure. – You might fail. And that’s OK. Failures are simply stepping stones to success. No matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be. Either you succeed or you learn something. Win-Win. The biggest mistake you can make is doing nothing because you’re too scared to make a mistake. If you can’t handle failure, then you can’t handle success either.
Be proud of yourself. – Being proud isn’t bragging about how great you are. It’s more like quietly knowing that you’re worth a lot. It’s not about thinking you’re perfect – because nobody is – but knowing that you’re worthy of being loved and accepted. Boost your self-esteem by recognizing your accomplishments and celebrating them. Acknowledge your positive qualities, and when you come across a quality in yourself that you aren’t proud of, don’t sulk in your sorrows, proactively work on correcting it. Read Today We Are Rich.
Be attentive to your stress level. – Slow down. Breathe. Give yourself permission to pause, regroup and move forward with clarity and purpose. When you’re at your busiest, a brief recess can rejuvenate your mind and increase your productivity. These short breaks will help you regain your sanity and reflect on your recent actions so you can be sure they’re in line with your goals.
Let go of regrets. – Follow your heart. Be true to yourself. Do what makes you happy. Be with who makes you smile. Laugh as much as you breathe. Love as long as you live. Say what you need to say. Offer a helping hand when you’re able. Appreciate all the things you do have. Smile. Celebrate your small victories. Learn from your mistakes. Realize that everything is a lesson in disguise. Forgive. And let go of the things you can’t control.
Keep learning and nurturing your personal growth. – Achieving higher consciousness comes from your commitment to personal growth. You’re a totally different person compared to who you were at this time last year; next year will be no different. How much you grow and who you become is up to you. But remember, the acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing; growing happens when what you know changes how you live.