Benefit from clearing your head.
Do you find yourself having trouble focusing when you really need to get something done? Chances are, life has happened to you, making it hard to concentrate on the productivity at hand, and it might be hampering your work or personal life.
Here are three powerful tips that will help you capitalize on the benefits of having a clear head.
1. Write your thoughts on paper.
Sometimes you can’t express yourself the way you want to or should. Perhaps you are worried about hurting someone close to you or you’re afraid your words will create more trouble than they’re worth. The fact of the matter is, keeping emotions bottled up isn’t healthy for your mind or your body.
To remedy those occasions, go purchase a special notebook to be your outlet for expressing yourself, without causing hurt feelings. Whenever Abraham Lincoln wanted to really tell someone how he felt about them, he would write a nasty letter to that person and not send it. Therapeutically, it allows you to get everything out, all the while making you feel better and more productive.
Not really concerned about a certain person? That’s OK, too. The notebook is a catchall for your emotional distresses and anything you’re worried about. Keeping these thoughts together gives you an outlet, and when you release emotional distress from your mind, it allows you to make better decisions, think clearer and, therefore, be more productive.
2. Find your meditation practice.
While you might go for crossing your legs, closing your eyes and chanting om as to quiet your mind, there many other meditation practices you can try.
Meditation can be any place or practice you enjoy. My mother goes into the kitchen to cook. My father goes fishing. I run. It’s an exercise I can enjoy in solitude. It’s a place I can go to be alone and clear my head.
Whatever the scenario, make it yours. Find a place you can go to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday living. This daily practice of getting alone and thinking about the events ahead of you will give you peace of mind. And if you choose some sort of physical exercise, that is doubly good for you mentally and physically.
3. Find your distraction.
This may seem counterproductive, but neuroscientists at Brown University have concluded that the key to some productivity lies at the root of distraction. Your mind can only house one idea at a time, and when you are not being productive, then you are harboring other thoughts that keep you from your goals.
So in order to create a clear mind, you need a distraction. For example, at work, get some of your co-workers together and have a night out. Don’t talk about work at the lunch table, either; rather, find something everyone is interested in, like that basketball game last night. It allows your mind to recharge and reassemble for the rest of the day.
Distractions, while they are not the perfect solution for someone who is supposed to be focused, can be a great way to charge up the old brain cells to have them ready for round two.
If you’re having a little trouble being productive, these suggestions are powerful enough to restart everything.
I’m a sucker for list articles. Especially ones providing tips for fostering personal growth. The more I’ve clicked on these stories, the more I’ve noticed a recurring suggestion: meditation.
I’ve been intrigued by meditation for a while now. I’ve even tried it out a couple of times, always without direction, and I never found success.
In my experiments, I’d sit for a few minutes, attempting to think about one thing explicitly, or nothing at all. The goal varied on the technique I was trying, often something I’d read online or my mom had seen on Oprah’s channel.
And inevitably, I’d go insane. I couldn’t get it right. When my timer went off, I was more tangled than when I started.
The problem was clearly me, not meditation, which is why I decided to sign up for a class. I figured the structure and guidance would give me a chance to get out of my own way. I was right.
For more than a year now, I have been meditating daily. The results have been so positive that I’ve come to view meditation like any foundational health block, such as quality sleep or a nutritious diet. It impacts everything. It makes it a little easier to be me.
Although it helped to find a technique that fit, the difference has come from my commitment to show up consistently and remain open to whatever happens.
Because once you do that, the benefits are boundless. Here are three.
1. Meditation has helped me be myself.
I admit it: I have road rage. Which is uncharacteristic, because when I’m anywhere else, (I like to believe) I’m easy going. It’s not the kind of rage where I confront fellow commuters, but it’s arguably as hazardous.
Every day I navigate two rush hours, and every day I’m faced with offenses that drive me to exasperation: people not letting me merge, people driving below the speed limit, people cutting in at the lip of a freeway exit so they don’t have to wait in line (as if the rest of us want to either).
I sit there seething, banging my steering wheel, as the tension inside simmers. My only recourse is pulling along the offending vehicle to give its driver the turn-and-look treatment (which is never as satisfying as it should be).
But since I’ve started meditating, I’m not pushed beyond my boiling point as easily or as often. Don’t get me wrong—the aforementioned misdeeds are just as unacceptable; I’m just not as affected.
As handy as this composure has been on my commutes, it has also permeated other areas of my life. I still feel impatience, anxiety and fear; they’ve just been dulled to a more manageable level.
It’s as if the daily meditations have doubled as dress rehearsals, allowing me to practice being calm and even-keeled, reminding me that the extra four seconds I have to wait for that guy to go when the light turns green aren’t worth being a jerk about.
For the first time in a long time, I’m more capable of behaving like the person my parents raised me to be.
2. Meditation has given me new perspective.
In the Seinfeld episode “The Pick,” George doesn’t know how to handle a particular situation, so he asks Kramer for advice.
“What does the Little Man inside you say?” Kramer says. “The Little Man knows all.”
“My Little Man’s an idiot,” George replies.
Like Costanza, I struggle with my Little Man—that inner narrator who critiques everything I do, say and think. At different times, he’s instilled fear, shattered confidence and sabotaged attempts I’ve made to move forward.
So naturally, my meditation was ripe for invasion.
When I first started practicing, the Little Man would grade each effort, not just after I was done, but as I was doing it. Going full backseat-meditator on me, he’d judge how well I was connecting with my mantra or impatiently whine, How much longer?
Finally, the teaching kicked in. My class taught me that there’s no such thing as a good or bad meditation session, because each one gives you what you need: Sometimes that’s the chance to learn or process stresses; other times it’s the chance to relax or gain critical insights.
And really, the same can be said of any experience I have. Too often, I’ve gotten hung up on what I could’ve or should’ve done differently, or how I was victimized by an unfortunate fate.
Now, no matter what comes my way, I’m much quicker to accept it. I recognize that whatever happens, for better or worse, is what was supposed to happen. And it’s up to me to acknowledge it, learn from it and trust that it provides the building blocks I need to progress.
With an outlook like that, the Little Man has no retort.
3. Meditation has made me tougher.
My family and King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls aside, my two passions are writing and golf.
As a writer, I often like having written something more than I liked actually writing it. The destination can be more enjoyable than the journey.
Staring at my computer, the screen is as blank as my brain feels. I either have no words and no direction, or a million words I can take in a million directions. The net result is the same.
There’s also that blinking cursor, like a tapping finger, taunting me with its I’m waiting! impatience. It doesn’t matter how many times I fight through this inertia; there’s at least a part of me convinced that this time I’ll be exposed as a fraud.
In golf, every shot you face can be as intimidating as that blank screen. On the first tee, your round is unwritten, and though there are outside forces like wind and water, the story that unfolds is ultimately up to you.
The ball is just sitting there, waiting for you to tell it where to go. And when you give it bad directions, there’s nobody to blame but yourself. Do that enough during a round, and it’s not long before you’re overwhelmed by a sense of inadequacy.
Fortunately, meditation has made writing and golf more manageable, even more enjoyable.
I once heard someone describe meditation as a shower for your brain. That’s a good characterization. My daily practice helps cleanse the filth—fear, anxiety and self-doubt—that derails me. This keeps me calmer while also making me tougher and more resilient.
When I can’t think of what to write or when I’ve banana’d my Titleist into somebody’s swimming pool, instead of my mind turning in on itself, I now have the energy and clarity to absorb the hit, put the past in the past and get back into the present.
The results prove it. Since I began meditating, I have lowered my golf handicap by salvaging numerous disaster-destined rounds, and I have been more productive as a writer.
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Two hikers were camped out overnight in the mountains. A thunderous voice roused them from their sleep. The voice said, “This will be the saddest day or the happiest day of your lives,” then instructed them to pack up their belongings, make their way to the river, gather stones in their backpacks that they couldn’t look at until morning, and continue on their journey never to return to the river or the mountain again.
The hikers did as they were instructed and stumbled through the darkness to the river. They stuffed their packs with cold, wet stones and carefully trekked down the rocky trails that would lead them away from the mountain.
Shortly after sunrise they reached a valley and decided to set up camp to rest for a while. But first, they pulled out their packs to examine the stones they’d collected from the river. To their surprise, what they’d thought were river rocks were actually diamonds and rare gems. Both hikers sat in silence, overwhelmed by the bounty before them.
The first hiker said, “Now I know why this is the saddest day of our lives. We should’ve gathered more stones.”
“You must be kidding!” the second hiker said. “This is the happiest day of my life. Look at the wealth we attained by simply taking advantage of an opportunity that was offered to us.”
Therein lies the perfect example of what Winston Churchill meant when he said: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Positive thinking alone may not ensure success, but it’s an important start. If you don’t believe in yourself, you’ll have a hard time persevering against the obstacles and setbacks you’re likely to encounter.
How you look at life can drastically affect how much you enjoy your life. Optimists expect the best out of life. Good news: It’s an attitude that can be learned.
Optimism is based on these tenets:
- Bad things happen in life, but they are temporary.
- Bad things in life are limited in scope.
- People have control over their environments.
Pessimism is based on these tenets:
- Good things in life are temporary.
- Good things in life are limited in scope.
- People have no control over their environments.
According to conventional wisdom, optimists and pessimists are both right about the same number of times, but optimists get to enjoy their lives more. Optimists help create some of the good they come to expect, so they are probably right more than not. And they don’t waste time worrying about what they’re not right about.
If you want to maintain the right attitude in the face of adversity, start by telling yourself you can change. Think of how you’ve changed throughout your life emotionally. You’re probably a different person today than you were five years ago, so don’t assume you can’t evolve further.
Use positive language. Replace words and phrases like “impossible” and “I can’t” with words that emphasize strength and success: “challenging” and “I must.”
Create the right environment. Listen to music that uplifts you. Watch inspirational movies and shows. Read motivational books. Don’t spend too much time on downbeat material. Mix it up, with a leaning toward the positive.
Appreciate your life. Take some time to enjoy what you’ve already achieved with your life. Think about what you did to get where you are, and use that as a reminder of your capabilities.
Let go of mistakes. You’re bound to fail at some things. Learn what you can and move on instead of beating yourself up over and over.
In the autumn of 1994, animated film studio Pixar was in trouble. According to “Likeonomics” by Rohit Bhargava, Pixar was deep in the red, due in part because its upcoming movie “Toy Story” was way over budget. Microsoft had expressed interest in buying the company to gain access to some of its 3D graphic design software. The deal fell through, and Pixar’s prospects were shaky in advance of the movie’s release.
That didn’t deter the team, though. As they were putting the finishing touches on “Toy Story,” the filmmakers met for lunch to discuss possible new projects.
The three ideas they came up with? “A Bug’s Life,” “Monsters Inc.,” and “WALL-E,” all of which became blockbuster hits. Despite their financial uncertainty, the “creative types” retained their optimism about the future.
Do you suppose they ordered their food “sunny-side up”?
Mackay’s Moral: It’s just as easy to look for the good things in life as the bad.
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Be the kind of person you want to add to your own business and social circles.
1.- Be a good listener.
At the top of the list is being a good listener. Our success in networking depends on how well we can listen and learn. The faster you and your networking partner learn what you need to know about each other, the faster you’ll establish a valuable relationship.
A good networker has two ears and one mouth — and should use them proportionately. When you’re engaged in conversation, listen to the other person’s needs and concerns so you can find opportunities to help him or her. In many ways, networking is about connecting the dots. Listening will enable you to help people make the connections they seek.
2.- Develop a positive attitude.
Your attitude, or how you take things in general, is the first thing people see from you. A consistently negative attitude makes people dislike you and drives away referrals. By contrast, a positive attitude makes people want to cooperate and associate with you. This is why positive business professionals are like magnets. Others want to be around them and will send their friends and family to them, too.
3.- Collaborate to serve others.
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Helping people puts that care into action so others can see it at work. One survey respondent said “people want to network with individuals who have a collaborative attitude.” You can help others in a variety of ways, from e-mailing a relevant article to putting them in touch with someone who has the knowledge or access to assist them with a specific challenge.
Several respondents commented they didn’t want to network with people who are “in it for themselves.” A willingness to collaborate is essential to building trust and establishing strong relationships.
4.- Be sincere and authentic.
You can offer the help, the thanks and the listening ear, but if you aren’t sincerely interested in another person, she or he will know it! People who’ve developed successful networking skills convey sincerity at every turn. One respondent said “it’s all about the authenticity” that someone shows you. We’ve all seen people who are seemingly good at networking but lack sincerity. Faking it isn’t sustainable.
5.- Follow up.
If you offer opportunities to someone who consistently fails to follow up, you’ll soon stop wasting your time with this person. It doesn’t matter if your call to action is a simple piece of information, a special contact or a qualified business referral. One respondent said that when it comes to networking, “the fortune lies in the follow up” and many people just “don’t follow up anymore.”
6.- Prove your trustworthiness.
One respondent said it best: “It doesn’t matter how successful the person is, if I don’t trust them, I don’t work with them.” When you give a personal reference, you’re putting your reputation on the line. You must be able to trust your referral partner and be trusted in return. Neither you nor anyone else will refer a contact to someone who can’t be trusted to handle it well.
7.- Be approachable.
One respondent said people “will forget what you said and what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Effective networking starts with approachability — and while this characteristic appears last on the list, everything flows from this manner of thought and action.
Each of the characteristics in this article ties into the notion of “farming,” not “hunting.” It’s about building mutually beneficial business relationships.
Know what you are good at and work to enhance those skills. Know what you’re not good at and surround yourself with people who can help you improve those skills.
Working to better your skills and learning how to use them effectively is what really counts.
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Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of BNI
The most important benefit of setting goals isn’t achieving your goal; it’s what you do and the person you become in order to achieve your goal that’s the real benefit.
Goal setting is powerful because it provides focus. It shapes our dreams. It gives us the ability to hone in on the exact actions we need to perform to achieve everything we desire in life. Goals are great because they cause us to stretch and grow in ways that we never have before. In order to reach our goals, we must become better.
Make a decision to go all the way to the top. Up to now, you’ve thought about it. Up to now, it’s passed your mind. But now make up your mind to go all the way to the top, and your life will take off. It’s the most extraordinary thing.
Your life is like a shadow going up the dark side of a hill—until the moment you decide that I’m going to be the best at what I do. And suddenly you rise into the sunshine, and your life is forever after different—wonderful.
Get serious. Don’t fool around anymore.
We all know inspiration when we feel it. Vladimir Nabokov described it as first, “a prefatory glow,” followed by a “feeling of tickly well-being.” After a few days, a lightning bolt hits you.
The idea grips you and furious napkin writing ensues. You forget to eat. You build a prototype. This kernel starts a nuclear chain reaction that fuels a lifelong undertaking.
OK, OK, it’s not always that profound. Sometimes inspiration takes you only as far as, I think I’ll have another coffee.
Like its cousin, motivation, inspiration seldom bowls you over. In its more common form, it’s a gentle hand on your shoulder, but it always moves you forward.
If we don’t learn good habits, life becomes more difficult. We have a choice: Get hard on ourselves so life becomes easier, or get easy on ourselves resulting in life getting harder.
Successful people choose good habits over a stagnant life. At first it might not seem like you are accomplishing much, but don’t be fooled. “Small hinges open big doors.”
Not all good habits are created equal. Some are more powerful than others. See the ones that will strengthen your confidence, help you get what you want and result in a satisfying journey.
You’re never too busy for 10 minutes, which is all it takes to improve yourself just a little each day. You can de-stress using meditation, yoga or reading. Track your unhealthy spending habits. Learn a new language. The possibilities are endless. Stop prioritizing the busy parts of your life and make time for the important things, such as the constant development of your mental, physical and emotional well-being.
We compiled a list of 43 easy ways you can improve yourself in 10 minutes or less. Ready, set, go!
Have you ever held back from making a change or taking a chance, afraid of what might happen if you did? Have you ever stayed silent when there was something you really wanted to say, scared of ruffling feathers or being rejected? Have you ever thought to yourself, I wish I just had the guts?
If you have, you’re not alone.
As human beings, we’re wired for caution. We steer away from situations that expose us to the possibility of failing, losing face or feeling foolish. Our desire for safety and certainty pulls hard against our desire for growth and adventure.
If only I had the courage, we often say to ourselves, as though courage is something only a lucky few are endowed with. But that’s not true. Within you lies all of the courage you will ever need—to make that change or take that chance—in your work, relationships and life.
You just haven’t learned how to access it. Yet.
If you’re afraid, count down, 5- 4- 3- 2- 1, then act brave. At the heart of everyday courage is a choice. Five seconds at a time you make a decision to do, say or pursue what’s truly important to you. That’s why there’s such a tight bond between courage and confidence. Every time you face doubt and 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 right past it, you prove to yourself that you are capable. Every time that you beat fear and 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 to do it anyway, you display inner strength. Every time you 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 and smash your excuses, you honor the greatness inside of you that wants to be heard.
A full-fledged restart is scary. But it’s those full-stop second chances in life end up being monumental breakthroughs in people’s lives.
When that fear strikes you, don’t expect it to go away. Dramatic restarts will always cause doubt, worry, uncertainty and fear. Anticipate that reality, and then honor the struggle. Expect there to be hardship, and decide that you will meet it as an opportunity to grow and show the world what you’ve got. Honor those big steps outside of your comfort zone because they will make you better.
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May 9, 2017
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