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Founder, Global Connection Network, Inc.
Never underestimate a person’s challenges. Everyone is struggling. Some are just better at hiding it than others.
Too often we judge people too quickly, or too subjectively. We tell ourselves stories about them without thinking it through—our perceptions and biases get the best of us. I was reminded of this today when I received the following in an email from a Think Better, Live Better 2020 ticket-holder (I’m sharing this with permission):
“…I learned the hard way that a smile can hide so much—that when you look at a person you never know what their story is or what’s truly going on in their life. This harsh reality became evident to me this morning when I found out one of my top students—always straight A’s, a positive attitude, and a smile on her face—died by suicide last night. Why? Nobody seems to know. And it’s killing me inside.”
Talk about a reality check, right?
What we tell ourselves about others—what we think we know—is often far from the truth.
And with that in mind, I’m sitting here reflecting on all the little things we have to stop assuming about other people, for their sake and ours…
- We need to stop assuming that the happiest people are simply the ones who smile the most. – Behind the polite smiles and greetings people give you, some are hurting and lonely. Don’t just come and go. See them. Care. Share. Listen. Love. We can’t always see people’s pain, but they can always feel our kindness. So be kinder than necessary.
- We need to stop assuming that the people we love and respect won’t disappoint us. – When we expect perfection we tend to overlook goodness. And the truth is, no one is perfect. At times, the confident lose confidence, the patient misplace their patience, the generous act selfish, and the informed second-guess what they know. It happens to all of us too. We make mistakes, we lose our tempers, and we get caught off guard. We stumble, we slip, and we fall sometimes. But that’s the worst of it… we have our moments. Most of the time we’re pretty darn good, despite our flaws. So treat the people you love accordingly—give them the space to be human.
- We need to stop assuming that the people who are doing things differently are doing things wrong. – We all take different roads seeking fulfillment, joy, and success. Just because someone isn’t on your road, doesn’t mean they are lost.
- We need to stop assuming that the people we disagree with don’t deserve our compassion and kindness. – The exact opposite is true. The way we treat people we strongly disagree with is a report card on what we’ve learned about love, compassion, kindness and humility. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of the NEW edition of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- We need to stop assuming that we can’t trust people we don’t know. – Some people build too many walls in their lives and not enough bridges. Don’t be one of them. Open yourself up. Take small chances on people. Let them prove your doubts wrong, gradually, over time.
- We need to stop assuming that the rude people of the world are personally targeting us. – We can’t take things too personally, even if it seems personal. Rarely do people do things because of us. They do things because of them. And there is a huge amount of freedom that comes to us when we detach from other people’s behaviors. So just remember, the way others treat you is their problem, how you react is yours.
- We need to stop assuming that other people are our reason for being unhappy, unsuccessful, etc. – We may not be able control all the things people say and do to us, but we can decide not to be reduced by them. We can choose to forgive, or we can choose to forget. We can choose to stay, or we can choose to go. We can choose whatever helps us grow. There’s always a positive choice to make. Thus, the only real, lasting conflict you will ever have in your life won’t be with others, but with yourself… and how you choose to respond… and the daily rituals you choose to follow. (Angel and I build small, life-changing daily rituals with our students in the “Goals and Growth” module of Getting Back to Happy.)
Dealing with People Who Deeply Offend Us
Some of the points above (like numbers 4 and 6 for example) potentially require a willingness to cordially deal with people who yell at us, interrupt us, cut us off in traffic, talk about terribly distasteful things, and so forth.
These people violate the way we think people should behave. And sometimes their behavior deeply offends us.
But if we let these people get to us, again and again, we will be upset and offended far too often.
So what can we do?
- Be bigger, think bigger. – Imagine a two-year-old who doesn’t get what she wants at this moment. She throws a temper tantrum! This small, momentary problem is enormous in her little mind because she lacks perspective on the situation. But as adults, we know better. We realize that there are dozens of other things that 2-year-old could do to be happy. Sure, that’s easy for us to say—we have a bigger perspective, right? But when someone offends us, we suddenly have a little perspective again—this small, momentary offense seems enormous, and it makes us want to scream. We throw the equivalent of a two-year-old’s temper tantrum. However, if we think bigger, we can see that this small thing matters very little in the grand scheme of things. It’s not worth our energy. So always remind yourself to be bigger, think bigger, and broaden your perspective.
- Mentally hug them and wish them better days. – This little trick can positively change the way we see people who offend us. Let’s say someone has just said something unpleasant to us. How dare they! Who do they think they are? They have no consideration for our feelings! But of course, with a heated reaction like this, we’re not having any consideration for their feelings either—they may be suffering inside in unimaginable ways. By remembering this, we can try to show them empathy, and realize that their behavior is likely driven by some kind of inner pain. They are being unpleasant as a coping mechanism for their pain. And so, mentally, we can give them a hug. We can have compassion for this broken person, because we all have been broken and in pain at some point too. We’re the same in many ways. Sometimes we need a hug, some extra compassion, and a little unexpected love.
Try one of these strategies the next time someone offends you. And then smile and breathe, armed with the comforting knowledge that there’s no reason to let someone else’s behavior turn you into someone you aren’t.
- 1 Thing You Should Know About Our Uncertain Reality
- 9 Things it’s Not Too Late to Start Doing for Yourself
- An Open Letter to Those Who Have Lied to Impress Others
- 20 Five-Minute Journaling Prompts for a Mentally Strong Finish to January
- 20 Powerful Affirmations We Should Repeat to Ourselves This Year
Glad To Be Alive The Path To Adulthood – Healing The Pain Becoming The Adult Overcoming Loneliness – Part Two How To Overcome Loneliness How We End Up In Misery How To Deal With Loneliness Emotional Abuse Test Emotional Health – What Millions Still Don’t Know Emotional Insecurity Help You Have Emotion You Have Beliefs You Have Choice You Are Enough You Are Loved You Have A Heart
EMOTIONAL HEALTH –
EMOTIONAL HEALING –
A fusion of thought and feeling that expands your consciousness.
Are You Toxic? 10 Ways to Tell (And How to Stop)
If you find yourself wondering why some of your relationships have ended, it might be because you’re exhibiting some toxic behaviors.
In my early 20s, I became intensely close to a girl named Laura.
I’d just moved to the area a couple of years before and struggled to find my “place,” so she was my first real friend in a while.
I idolized and envied her.
She seemed so carefree and happy, beautiful and cheerful.
We were both adamant about not dating for a year, but not even six months into it, she started talking to a few guys who kept breadcrumbing her.
“Why do you keep talking to these stupid guys?” I railed her.
“Because I want to! What’s the big deal?” she snapped.
You can probably tell where this is going.
The more she chased after these dudes, the more jealous and possessive I got.
I wanted her to be my friend and only my friend.
I didn’t want to share her, and eventually, it became too much, and she drifted away from me.
That’s hard for me to write because I remember feeling so lonely and hurt that the only close friend I’d had in a few years was now moving away from me.
I didn’t have the kind of supportive community everyone needs to grow and thrive, and that came out in some behaviors I now know (thanks to therapy) that were very unhealthy.
One of the definitions of the word “toxic” on Urban Dictionary is, “a word describing any destructive behavior or personality.”
It is important to differentiate a toxic “person” from a toxic “behavior.”
Someone who commits a toxic “behavior” isn’t toxic; we aren’t the sum of one or even several ugly behaviors. We all make mistakes, and we all likely lack some self-awareness too.
I wasn’t aware at the time of how toxic I was being with that friend because I was stuck in my emotions.
I didn’t want to be alone again, and that’s what motivated me to act the way I did.
If you find yourself, like me, wondering why some of your relationships have ended, it might be because you are exhibiting some toxic behaviors you’re not aware of.
Here are ten major ones:
1. People avoid you or end their relationships with you.
This is often the first indicator that something is wrong.
If you keep having relationships end abruptly, it might be because you’re harming them in some way.
People will make an effort to spend time with you if they enjoy it.
If they don’t, they’ll make an effort to be as far away from you as possible.
2. You’re judgmental and hypercritical of other people’s choices.
Whenever we’re judgmental of other people, we’re implying we’re better than them, and no one likes to feel inferior to someone else.
“I can’t believe you’re talking to that guy again,” I told my friend.
“I know,” she said. “I just like him, and he did send me a text…”
People need the freedom to make whatever choices they want to without judgment from their friends and loved ones.
Making mistakes is how we all grow and change.
No one is going to handle something perfectly, and I can’t assume or act as I know better when I make just as many mistakes.
3. You’re controlling.
Do you try to make other people do what you think they should?
Are you blunt and rude even?
It’s all about your intention.
f you’re purposefully trying to have power over another person, you’ve become controlling.
You aren’t letting other people be who they are, and no one wants to be changed.
4. You don’t apologize.
Asking for forgiveness is an amazing way to be vulnerable with another person.
You’re admitting you weren’t perfect in front of someone else, which can be scary but is important for building and fostering intimate relationships.
If you choose never to apologize, even when it’s obvious you were at fault, then there’s no chance you’re going to build an intimate relationship.
You might not realize this is what you’re doing, but if the words, “I’m sorry” don’t pass your lips and instead you keep making up excuses or doing #5, then you’re not a person most people would want to be close to.
5. You’re never responsible for anything.
Life is unfair, but if you find that you are always the victim, then it’s likely your thinking, not your life, that might actually be the problem.
For example, you might find yourself saying something like, “My boss just won’t leave me alone!
I don’t understand why she’s always up my ass!”
Well, what’s the deal?
Is your boss really unfairly targeting you, or is she just trying to hold you accountable for showing up for work on time and you don’t like it?
Is there some part of this equation that you should look at?
No one cares to be around victims.
Life is hard enough that we don’t need to hear constantly about anyone else’s problems.
6. You’re a taker instead of a giver.
When someone is kind to you, it’s always good to consider, “When was the last time I was kind to someone else?”
Like if someone gives you a thoughtful gift, maybe you need to consider someone in your life who could benefit from receiving something from you, even if it was just a nice note.
We can’t always be focused on what we can get from others.
We do have to start looking at how we can help other people too.
If you look back over the last three months and you can’t remember the last time you did something for someone else, you’re a “taker.”
Often people get exhausted “giving” to someone who never reciprocates.
7. You take things personally.
Your friend is going through a rough time and they ask for some space.
Instead of respecting their request, you assume that they’re mad at you and not being honest.
You’re hurt, and you decide to retaliate.
You blow up their phone.
Call them selfish and bring up things they told you in the past (“You told me your mom used to do this all the time. I can’t believe you’re now doing this to me!”).
You talk badly to everyone around them.
Not everything is about you, but when you make it that way, you ensure other people are not going to want anything to do with you.
8. You don’t celebrate the success of others.
I used to think that life was a zero-sum game like if someone got something, that meant I wasn’t going to get it too.
If someone got a book deal, a job, had a baby, etc., I thought that meant that the cosmic muffin in the sky had given MY gift to them.
Because I thought I was being “deprived,” I wasn’t happy if people got something, even if I knew they deserved it.
I couldn’t get over feeling like they were walking away with what I was supposed to get.
Friends and loved ones need to show love and support for one another, and we aren’t doing that if we don’t make sure to celebrate the good stuff.
9. You can’t keep a secret.
Open and honest communication is necessary to building healthy relationships.
Divulging the secrets your people share with you is thus a major form of betrayal.
We often might find ourselves wanting to share secrets because we love gossiping or we don’t really care about the person, so we just want the goods on them.
If someone is gossiping TO you, they’re gossiping ABOUT you.
The only way to have healthy honest relationships is to be trustworthy.
You can’t do that if you run your mouth whenever you learn someone’s darkest awful.
10. You make passive-aggressive comments.
Healthy relationships begin at the intersection of trust and safety.
We can build both trust and safety by communicating clearly. Making passive-aggressive comments, though, is the exact opposite of clear communication.
Passive aggression is actual aggression that is spilling over.
It usually means that we’re hurt and angry and need to communicate something directly to our friend, loved one, etc.
Here are some examples:
“Why are you getting upset?”
“I was only joking.”
“I told you I’m fine.”
These sorts of comments throw the other person off-kilter and make them wonder wtf is going on.
How To Stop
If you can relate to any of the points I listed above, you’ve done the first step by identifying some of your toxic behaviors. We can’t change things we aren’t aware of.
To move forward and reduce and then eliminate these undesirable actions, work on recognizing why and when you act out on these behaviors.
Is it only when you’re around certain people or settings?
Is it because you’re feeling fearful?
Are you wanting to fit in?
Or are you being just a little self-centered?
If you struggle to figure this out or want to make sure you tackle these issues, get help.
I personally got a lot of benefits from working with a therapist.
Identifying ugly traits about yourself isn’t fun, but it’s necessary to make real lasting change.
Be kind to yourself.
Know that things won’t get fixed overnight, but you can keep learning as you go.
One day hopefully, you’ll become the kind of person no one would ever call “toxic.”
- How to Begin Again After an Unexpected Ending
- 1 Tiny Yet Hard Step You Need to Take for Yourself
- 2 Quick Stories that Will Change the Way You Show Up in Your Relationships
- 7 Difficult Things You Should Start Doing for the People Around You
When You Are Disappointed in Yourself, Practice Self-Compassion
Don’t allow past and present disappointments ripple through to the core of who you are. Pick yourself back up!Thomas Oppong
Disappointment in ourselves is something we all share.
You’ve probably had at least one time when you could have pushed yourself a little bit further to reach a goal, change a habit, or meet a deadline.
We all get frustrated when this happens.
Learning how to thrive in spite of even your most epic disappointment is the key to bouncing back as soon as possible.
Most people experience disappointments almost every week.
They feel they are not living life to their own standards and values.
They expect more from themselves.
When you are disappointed, your mood quickly can changes. The feeling can significantly affect your progress in life. Disappointing yourself can make you question your choices, ambitions, self-worth, and your abilities.
Robert Kiyosaki once said, “The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way.”
Be kind your yourself
If you recently failed to deliver a career-making presentation, missed a deadline, said something you absolutely should not have said to a loved one, a colleague at work or a friend — your life is not over!
Everyone will not remember this mistake for the rest of your life.
Our failures are rarely as big as we imagine them to be. Ask yourself, will this matter one year from now?
“Being overly critical of ourselves can increase anxiety about a setback. But overthinking, or ruminating on what happened, is like agonizing self-criticism on repeat,” Rachel Simmons wrote in The New York Times’s guide to overcoming failure.
Accept and acknowledge your disappointments
The first step, as always, is awareness — name it to tame it.
Pause for a moment, and turn inward to find out if your feeling frustrated or disappointed with yourself for anything. If you notice a negative shift in your attitude, get in touch with your emotions by asking yourself why you feel the way you do. Try to zero in on the real issue rather than continuing to feel emotionally distressed.
Instead of overthinking your many disappointments — which makes it harder to live life to the fullest, accept what went wrong, remind yourself of your successes in the past, and find ways to do better next time.
Overthinking any mistake, disappointment, or personal failure — asking questions like, “How could I have said/done that?”, or “What’s wrong with me”, can damage your self-worth or motivation.
“The first step to correcting a monumental blunder is to be honest and critical with yourself and to acknowledge that it was indeed a mistake.
This is much easier said than done, but unless we’re nakedly candid with ourselves about the mistake itself, there’s no way to move past it,” writes Tim Herrera in The New York Times.
If you know why you’re disappointed, you’ve got a head start on being able to make an action plan.
When you take the time to learn from your disappointment, you’ll be more prepared for your next actions.
“In a study, executives and engineers who deliberately confronted feelings about job loss felt more control over their situation and had a much higher rate of re-employment in the following months,” says Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist.
But acknowledgment is only helpful if you can get past it. Your priority should be moving on quickly from it and making progress. The point is to remember you are more than your disappointments.
In the past decade, self-compassion has emerged as an important quality for mental health and well-being. Respond to your inadequacies or disappointments with understanding, patience, and acceptance, rather than with harsh self-criticism.
Dr Julia Breines, who studies how social experience influence the way people treat themselves, explains, “The ability to forgive ourselves for mistakes, large and small, is critical to psychological well-being.
Difficulties with self-forgiveness are linked with suicide attempts, eating disorders, and alcohol abuse, among other problems.”
Self-compassion can also help you bounce back stronger, make better choices, and live life to the fullest despite your shortcomings.
“People who have higher levels of self-compassion tend to handle stress better — they have less of a physical stress response when they are stuck in traffic, have an argument with their spouse, or don’t get that job offer — and they spend less time reactivating stressful events by dwelling on them,” writes Carrie Dennett in The Washington Post.
Pursue realistic and attainable goals
Disappointment is directly tied to the expectations we place on ourselves.
If you are aiming for nothing less than perfect, you will be disappointed.
High expectations are great, but to reduce your disappointments, match your actions with your expectations.
Making sure you’re prepared is an important way to protect yourself from future disappointment.
Do you give yourself enough time to reach your goals? Do you set clear and measurable boundaries?
Asking the right questions and understanding how your plans can fail is crucial to plotting your next big endeavor.
Whatever you plan to do or achieve, dig deeper to expose any of the flaws in your plan. Help yourself win more.
Disappointments are difficult to deal with, but with the right personal support system, you can always bounce back and keep moving. With patience, you can get back on track to build the life you want.
Lack OF Energy? How To Get More Energy
Is your energy being zapped from you each day? Millions of people suffer from a lack of energy for a variety of reasons.
There is no one “magic bullet” such as an energy drink or supplement that will truly fix the problem.
Here are some reasons, some surprising, why you may have daily energy drain and some simple strategies on how to get more energy. read more.........
GlobalCnet is a collection of original thought and found expert advise, assembled here in one place to add variety and inspiration to YOU and your desires. When you click on a link observe all the other articles and information available to you, copy what you need. The original authors, like Unstuck.com, Readers Digest and other web sites wrote, published and illustrated information for your benefit and personal growth. GlobalCnet Connected you. It is my hope that you use all information for your personal growth goals.
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The Most Productive Thing You Can Do With 10 Free Minutes Alone
It’s probably the opposite of what you expect
We all get the same 24 hours each day.
Some of it is taken up by sleep, some of it by previous commitments, but there is still plenty of time to get important work done.
Obviously if you can, you want to set aside big chunks of time for working on the things that move you closer to your most important goals. But often there are little slivers of time throughout the day that are too small to engage in deep work. What should you do with them?
I have at least three good answers but I think that one is the overwhelming winner. First, the honorable mentions:
It’s no secret that developed nations are becoming less healthy and more sedentary.
It’s also important to remember that you are a body and not just a brain, and that the capability of your brain isn’t entirely disconnected from the state of your body.
If you have 10 minutes to spare, there are worse things you could do than some calisthenics.
I read 59 books last year and so far this year I’ve read 50 (as of 11/28/18). It’s pretty safe to say that I wouldn’t be writing on Medium without my reading habit.
Writing requires input and output. You need to feed your mind and then use it to produce valuable thoughts. The higher quality your inputs, the higher quality your outputs.
Reading books is a great way to increase the quality of your inputs. A spare 10 minutes every day can lead to an additional 15 books every year, even at fairly average reading speeds.
Imagine how much you could grow by reading an additional 15 books a year.
The Real Winner
While I’m completely sold that you should be adding exercise and reading to your list of daily habits, I actually have a different suggestion for what you should do with 10 spare minutes alone:
That’s right, I think the most productive thing you can do if you find yourself with ten minutes to spare is to do nothing.
Now, obviously I need to do some explaining, and I’ll start by clarifying what I mean.
I don’t mean that you need to lie perfectly still and not move a muscle, I just mean that you give your brain a chance to relax for a bit. That you give your mind time to wander.
Every athlete knows that rest is one of the most critical components of elite performance, but no one seems to bother to apply this lesson learned from the body to the mind.
Your brain essentially has two modes that it can operate in. Psychologists often call these modes system one and system two, taking their cues from Nobel prize winner and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman.
System one is effortless and swift. It’s what you might call intuition. System two is slow and effortful and where real thinking happens. If you were walking next to me and I suddenly asked you what 228 divided by 38 was, you would probably stop in your tracks. This is an outward expression of the inward switch from system one to system two.
Neuroscientists call these two modes diffuse mode and focus mode. Diffuse mode is something like a pinball machine: there’s a lot of mental space for your thoughts to bounce around and make connections. Focus mode is like a bowling lane with bumpers. Your thoughts are locked in on one goal and there’s not a lot of wiggle room.
Neither of these is better than the other and they both have their uses, but the important point is that you are most effective when you are able to alternate between these two.
Deep work happens in focus mode, but it is quite taxing. Sooner or later you need to let your mind relax again. Not only does this rest allow you to be more effective with your next focused session, it also allows you to be more creative as it gives your mind time to make connections that you miss while in focus mode.
This is why many people find the famous pomodoro technique effective, it provides a system for alternating focus and diffuse mode.
Real vs. Fake
Here’s a key point though: your mental rest needs to be real rest.
There are lots of examples of you “checking out” or “unwinding” that are counter-productive.
For instance, what do most people do with ten free minutes? They check their phones. In some cases this is even somewhat justified, they have businesses that in part revolve around their ability to connect socially.
Here’s the problem though, when you are looking at your phone (or any screen), your mind is not free to wander. Instead, as MIT professor and Harvard alum Sherry Turkle points out in her excellent book Reclaiming Conversation, your attention is captured and divided.
It’s almost like a third mode for your brain to exist in has been created: reactive mode. In reactive mode you have the illusion of control, but your attention is more often than not under the control of an algorithm. It sort of looks like focus, but there’s no deep thinking. It sort of looks like mental relaxation, but your mind is not free to wander and proactively determine what it will think about. You are stuck reacting to someone else’s agenda.
There are many ways to let your brain relax and your mind wander, but one of the most classic is going for a walk.
There are good reasons behind this. If you are a knowledge worker, chances are that you were quite stationary during your bouts of focus. A walk is a good opportunity to add some much needed movement to your routine. There’s nothing about the mechanics of executing a walk that requires any concentration, and the while some of the visual stimuli you encounter might be interesting, there is nothing that demands your attention the way a screen does.
Of course, a walk is just one method. You can lie on your bed and throw a football at the ceiling if that is your thing. You can pace back and forth as I often do if you wish.
Whatever you do, you will be more effective and more creative if you regularly give your mind time to wander.
If the title of this post was at all appealing to you, chances are you are too busy for your own good. You need some time for your mind to unwind.
Fortunately, there might already be time in your busy schedule that can be repurposed and used intentionally and the best part is, you don’t even have to do anything. Stop scrolling and spend some time idly daydreaming.
Sometimes doing nothing really is more productive than doing something.
Small Steps to Big Change
When making big change in our lives, it can be easier to break it up into a few small changes to avoid overwhelm.
When we decide that it's time for big changes in our lives, it is wise to ease into them by starting small. Small changes allow us to grow into a new habit and make it a permanent part of our
lives, whereas sudden changes may cause a sense of failure that makes it difficult to go on, and we are more likely to revert to our old ways. Even if we have gone that route and find ourselves
contemplating the choice to start over again, we can decide to take it slowly this time, and move forward.
Sometimes the goals we set for ourselves are merely indicators of the need for change and are useful in getting us moving in the right direction. But it is possible that once we try out what seemed so ideal, we may find that it doesn't actually suit us, or make us feel the way we had hoped. By embarking on the path slowly, we have the chance to look around and consider other options as we learn and grow. We have time to examine the underlying values of the desire for change and find ways to manifest those feelings, whether it looks exactly like our initial goal or not. Taking small steps forward gives us time to adjust and find secure footing on our new path.
Life doesn't always give us the opportunity to anticipate or prepare for a big change, and we may find ourselves overwhelmed by what is in front of us. By choosing one thing to work on at a time, we focus our attention on something manageable, and eventually we will look up to see that we have accomplished quite a bit. Forcing change is, in essence, a sign that we do not trust the universe's wisdom. Instead, we can listen to our inner guidance and make changes at a pace that is right for us, ensuring that we do so in alignment with the rhythm of the universe.
- Glad To Be Alive
- The Path To Adulthood – Healing The Pain
- Becoming The Adult
- Overcoming Loneliness – Part Two
- How To Overcome Loneliness
- How We End Up In Misery
- How To Deal With Loneliness
- Emotional Abuse Test
- Emotional Health – What Millions Still Don’t Know
- Emotional Insecurity Help
- You Have Emotion
- You Have Beliefs
- You Have Choice
- You Are Enough
- You Are Loved
- You Have A Heart
Supporting and Inspiring
True leaders create an environment in which everyone can develop their potential.
When we call someone a leader, what we sometimes mean is that they are the best in their particular field; they are inspiring because of how much they accomplish. To be highly accomplished is
impressive, but that isn't what leadership is about. True leaders are not just high achievers; they also support the people around them to achieve, and, in certain cases, to become leaders
themselves. In other words, true leaders do not create a static group of followers. Rather, they create an environment in which everyone can develop their potential. True leaders don't get so caught
up in the forward thrust of their own energy that they forget about others or the larger environment. They set an example with their actions, and they also support others to act. This is why true
leadership is so rare.
Not everybody is cut out to be a leader, but most of us have the potential to serve in a leadership role at some point in our lives. When doing so, we might want to be inspired by the highest manifestation of leadership, remembering that we are meant to forward not only ourselves but a whole environment--an ideal, a plan, the people around us. While this won't be easy, it is the true meaning of the job, and we can trust that we are capable of it. Otherwise, we probably wouldn't find ourselves in the position to lead.
It's also possible that we have determined that our gifts are best applied in a secondary position, supporting the efforts of a leader whose vision we admire. In this case, we can ensure that our energy is best applied by holding the person for whom we work to a high standard of leadership. In this way, we take responsibility for our own gifts by guaranteeing that they will be appreciated and developed in a way that best serves the whole.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
— Albert Einstein
The older we grow, the more peaceful and grateful we become. Life humbles us gradually as we age. We realize how much nonsense we have wasted time on. And we begin to feel the peace that flows from our decision to rise above the petty drama and distractions that don’t really matter.
I was reminded of this today after reading the opening lines of an email from a seasoned “Think Better, Live Better 2020” digital ticket attendee named Mary Ann. She gave me full permission to share her words with you…
“Today I am celebrating my 90th birthday. I’ve seen the world change many times over. It’s amazing how much progress we’ve made. When I was a child there was no such thing as a television, and now I’m online typing this on a touchscreen tablet my grandson bought me for my birthday. This ride we call ‘life’ is amazing! It’s something worth appreciating every day.”
The rest of her email discusses the ups and downs of her 90-year journey, and how she perceives life as being like an “ongoing jigsaw puzzle” we never quite complete. “It’s crazy how some pieces randomly go missing, and then other pieces you didn’t even know existed fit so perfectly in the empty spaces,” she says. “We just have to do our best to not let our own negativity get the best of us.”
Mary Ann’s words of wisdom remind me that there will always be ups and downs in life, but ultimately, at the end of the day, that’s what makes each of us who we are. Which is why you have to learn to accept both the good and the bad that falls on your plate with grace. Because everything in life happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. For everything you lose, you gain something else. And for everything you gain, you lose something else. You don’t have to appreciate it, but it’s just easier if you do.
So, pay attention to your outlook on life. Every day you can either regret or rejoice; it’s your choice. When you choose the latter, life opens doors to amazing experiences you will likely remember forever.
Here are 40 such experiences…
- Flowing and working through life’s great challenges. – No matter what happens, do your best and smile. You won’t enjoy your life if you don’t enjoy your challenges. Great challenges make life interesting, and overcoming them makes life meaningful.
- The freedom that comes from acceptance. – The secret to happiness and peace is letting every situation be what it is, instead of what you think it should be, and then making the best of it.
- Moments of sincere gratitude. – Appreciate life even when it’s not ideal. Happiness is not the fulfillment of what we wish for, but an appreciation for what we have. When life gives you every reason to be negative, think of one good reason to be positive. There’s always something to be grateful for.
- The beautiful happenings that made it all worthwhile. – When you can look back on painful events and feel that you were blessed for how you grew, for the love you knew, for the very fact that you did live through those times, then, and only then, can you truly appreciate gratitude’s vital role in the process of letting go.
- Walking comfortably in your own shoes. – We are all weird in some way. What sets you apart may seem like a burden, but it’s not. Most of the time it’s what makes you so incredible.
- The moment you start listening to your inner voice, rather than defying it. – Sometimes your mind needs more time to accept what your heart already knows. Breathe. Be a witness, not a judge. Listen to your intuition.
- Aligning what you do with who you are. – Make the rest of your life the best of your life. Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside.
- Using your unique ideas, perspectives, and skills to make a difference. – If you desire to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world, and you must be bold enough to show it.
- Designing your own life, your own way. – No matter how you live, someone will be disappointed. So live a life you are proud of. Live YOUR truth and be sure YOU aren’t the one who is disappointed in the end.
- Working hard on something you love. – Hard work becomes easy when your work becomes your play. Never underestimate the value of loving what you do. When we lose ourselves in the things we love, we find ourselves there, too.
- Knowing deep down that you gave your dreams a fair chance. – Most of the time the only difference between a dream that came true and one that didn’t, is a person who wouldn’t give up and one who did.
- Reflections of your own bravery. – When you’re scared but you take the next step anyway, that’s bravery.
- The glory of conquering an old fear. – Fear is a feeling, not a fact. The best way to gain strength and self-confidence is to do what you are afraid to do. Dare to stretch yourself.
- Being courageous enough to grow and evolve. – It takes courage to grow and become who you really are. Don’t fear change. You may lose something good, but you may also gain something great.
- The way you feel at the end of highly productive days. – Laziness may appear attractive, but work leads to happiness. You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do. Good things don’t come to those who wait; they come to those who work on meaningful goals.
- When your patience finally pays off. – Patience is not the ability to wait, but how you act and how hard you are willing to work while you’re waiting for your work to pay off.
- Making the impossible possible. – In most cases, impossible is not a fact; it’s an opinion. Almost anything is possible if you’ve got enough time and enough nerve.
- When you have a great reason to be impressed with yourself. – Spend less time impressing others and more time impressing yourself. Climb a mountain so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.
- Engaging deeply in your own journey, drama-free. – Let the tasks of refining, improving, and appreciating your own life keep you so busy that you have no need and no time to criticize others, or engage in their drama.
- Standing up for yourself. – Sometimes we suffer, not because of the violence others inflict on us, but because of our own silence. When someone tries to bully you, stand up for yourself and say, “Not so fast, buddy! Your delusion of superiority is your problem, not mine.
- Relationships that make you a better person. – Know that it’s less important to have more friends and more important to have real ones. Surround yourself with people who make you better, and cherish every moment of your time together.
- Knowing deep down that you truly matter to someone else. – Someday you will be just a memory to some people. Do your best to be a great one.
- True intimate love. – True love is not about how many days, months or years you’ve been with someone. True love is about how much you actually love each other every day.
- Appreciating the beautiful imperfections of another person. – Imperfection is real and beautiful. It’s how two people accept and deal with the imperfections of their relationship, that make it ideal in the end. (Read The Gifts of Imperfection.)
- Following through with your promises. – Unless a real commitment is made there are only empty promises and hopes, but no real plans or results. Remember, commitment means staying loyal and keeping a promise long after the mood you made the promise in has left you.
- Giving a struggling soul a little extra leeway. – Don’t be so quick to judge. The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about.
- Helping someone who desperately needs your kindness. – Those who are hardest to love often need it the most. So treat everyone with kindness, even those who are rude. Give them a chance.
- Knowing you did the right thing. – True integrity is doing the right thing, no matter what, even when nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.
- Seeing genuine smile you helped create. – Few things are more satisfying than helping someone else smile a little more than before.
- Coming to a loving compromise with someone special. – Sometimes we must choose to be wrong, not because we really are wrong, but because we value our relationship more than our pride.
- Moments of mindful presence. – If you’re always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you’re in? Stop over thinking and worrying. Life is too short for that. Worry and rumination are the worst enemies to living happily in the present. Take a moment here and there to just be and breathe.
- The liberation of letting go. – Letting go of the past is your first step toward happiness. So finish each day before you begin the next, and build a solid foundation of rest between the two.
- The process of growing through failure. – Remember, your failure does not define you, your determination does. Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, smarter than before.
- When the sun finally shines through the dark clouds again. – Don’t give up on yourself. Keep fighting. Sometimes you’ve got to go through the worst of times to get the best. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Surprising new beginnings. – Every ending is the beginning of something else. Every exit is an entry somewhere else. As long as you are breathing, it’s never too late; every day is a new opportunity.
- The nimble feeling of being a beginner. – Allow yourself to be a beginner. No one starts off being great. Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.
- The exhilaration of first time experiences. – You can see or do something a million times, but you can only see or do it for the first time once. And that makes doing so worth it. Many of the great times you will remember for a lifetime are the ones when you stepped outside of your comfort zone and tried something new.
- Becoming a parent. – Being a mother or father is discovering strengths you didn’t know you had and dealing with fears you never knew existed.
- The happiness YOU create for yourself and those you love. – In life, you often have to create your own sunshine. So read something positive every morning when you wake up, and let it inspire you to do something positive before you go back to sleep at night. That’s how memorable days are made.
- Every moment you are busy living through love. – Today is one of the good ol’ days you’re going to miss someday. So be sooo busy loving your life and those in it that you have no time for hate, regret or fear.
Now, it’s your turn…
Truth be told, talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Let’s break this negative habit today and talk about our joys, our loves, and our victories instead.
So answer this:
What makes your life incredible? What about it is worth remembering?
Don’t just rant online for a better world. Love your family. Be a good neighbor. Practice kindness. Build bridges. Embody what you preach. Today. And always.
About a decade ago, at one o’clock in the morning, my grandpa who was suffering from Alzheimer’s got up, got into my car and drove off. Angel and I contacted the police, but before they could find him, two college kids pulled into our driveway with my grandpa. One was driving him in my car and the other was following in their car. They said they overheard him crying about being lost at an empty gas station 10 miles away. My grandpa couldn’t remember our address, but gave the kids his first and last name. They looked him up online, found our address, and drove him home.
I was randomly reflecting on that incident today while sitting near the edge of a beautiful ocean-side cliff in San Diego. As I stared off into the distance, the sudden awareness of footsteps behind me startled me. I turned around to see a young lady who was almost in tears slowly walking to where I was sitting. I jumped up, walked up to her and asked, “What’s wrong?” She told me she was deathly afraid of heights, but was worried about my safety and wanted to get over her fear because she needed to make sure I was okay.
“You were sitting so close to the edge, and with a such despondent expression,” she said. “My heart told me I needed to check on you—to make sure you were in a healthy state of mind.” Her name is Kate, and her braveness and kindness truly warmed my heart.
I’ve spent the rest of the day thinking about what an extraordinary person Kate is, and about those amazing college kids who helped my grandpa, and about what it means to be a kind and giving person. As Kate and those kids found out, being kind isn’t always easy. Sometimes you have to go the extra mile, or face your biggest fears, or stand up against your own negative tendencies to make a positive difference in someone else’s life. Let this be your wake-up call today. It’s time to start doing the hard things—the right things—for others…
1. Start being a source of sincere support.
The closest thing to being cared for is to care for others. We are all in this together and we should treat each other as such. The very demons that torment each of us, torment others all over the world. It is our challenges and troubles that connect us at the deepest level.
If you think about the people who have had the greatest positive effect on your life—the ones who truly made a difference—you will likely realize that they aren’t the ones that tried to give you all the answers or solve all your problems. They’re the ones who sat silently with you when you needed a moment to think, who lent you a shoulder when you needed to cry, and who tolerated not having all the answers, but stood beside you anyway. Be this person for those around you every chance you get.
2. Start giving people your undivided attention.
There is greatness and beauty in making time, especially when it’s inconvenient, for the sake of someone nearby.
You don’t have to tell people that you care, just show them. In your relationships and interactions with others, nothing you can give is more appreciated than your sincere, focused attention. Being with someone, listening without a clock and without anticipation of results is the ultimate compliment. It is indeed the most valued gesture you can make to another human being.
When we pay attention to each other we breathe new life into each other. With frequent attention and affection our relationships flourish, and we as individuals grow wiser and stronger. We help heal each other’s wounds and support each other’s growth. So give someone the gift of YOU—your time, undivided attention and kindness. That’s better than any other gift, it won’t break or get lost, and will always be remembered. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of the NEW edition of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
3. Start respecting and supporting people who are different than you.
Life’s greatest privilege is to become who you truly are. You have to dare to be yourself, one hundred percent, however anxious or odd that self may prove to be. The people who support you in doing so are extraordinary. Appreciate these people and their kindness, and pay it forward when you’re able.
Never bully someone into silence. Never victimize others for being different. Accept no one’s close-minded definition of another person. Let people define themselves. You have the ability to show people how awesome they are, just the way they are. So act on this ability without hesitation; and don’t forget to show yourself the same courtesy.
4. Start being willing to be wrong.
The mind is like a parachute; it doesn’t work when it’s closed.
It’s okay to disagree with the thoughts or opinions expressed by others. But that doesn’t give you the right to immediately reject any sense they might make. Nor does it give you a right to accuse someone of poorly expressing their beliefs just because you don’t like what they are thinking and saying. Learn to recognize the beauty of different ideas and perspectives, even if it means overcoming your pride and opening your mind beyond what is comfortable.
Healthy relationships and human interactions are not a power struggle. Be willing to be wrong, while simultaneously exploring your truth.
5. Start giving recognition and praise for the little things.
A brave, extraordinary soul recognizes the strength of others. Give genuine praise whenever possible. Doing so is a mighty act of service. Start noticing what you like about others and speak up. Having an appreciation for how amazing the people around you are is extremely rewarding. It’s an investment in them that doesn’t cost you a thing, and the returns can be astounding. Not only will they feel empowered, but also what goes around comes around, and sooner or later the people you’re cheering for will start cheering for you too.
Also, be sure to follow this rule: “Praise in public, penalize in private.” Never publicly ridicule someone when you have the option not to. If you don’t understand someone, ask questions. If you don’t agree with them, tell them. But don’t judge them behind their back to everyone else.
6. Start giving people the space to save face.
What others say and do is often based entirely on their own self-reflection. When someone who is angry and upset speaks to you, and you nevertheless remain very present and continue to treat them with kindness and respect, you place yourself in a position of great power. You become a means for the situation to be graciously diffused and healed.
A spiritual teacher once told me, “When somebody backs themselves into a corner, look the other way until they get themselves out; and then act as though it never happened.” Allowing people to save face in this way, and not reminding them of what they already know is not their most intelligent behavior, is an act of great kindness. This is possible when we realize that people behave in such ways because they are in a place of great suffering. People react to their own thoughts and feelings and their behavior often has nothing directly to do with you. (Read Buddha’s Brain.)
7. Start being a bit more gentle.
Be gentle and compassionate with those around you. Mother Nature opens millions of flowers every day without forcing the buds. Let this be a reminder not to be forceful with those around you, but to simply give them enough light and love, and an opportunity to grow naturally.
Ultimately, how far you go in life depends on your willingness to be helpful to the young, respectful to the aged, tender with the hurt, supportive of the striving, and tolerant of those who are weaker or stronger than the majority. Because we wear many hats throughout the course of our lives, and at some point in your life you will realize you have been all of these people.
(Note: Angel and I take a deep dive into the aforementioned points with our students in the Relationships module of the Getting Back to Happy Course & Coaching.)
Now, it’s your turn…
The bottom line is that it’s time to be less impressed by your own money, titles, degrees, and looks. And it’s time to be more impressed by your own generosity, integrity, humility, and kindness towards others.
Don’t you agree?
What is your specific "energy type"?
According to a 4,000-year-old energy system developed by the ancient Chinese, everyone has a specific energy type.
And knowing your unique energy is key to unlocking a higher mental, emotional and even physical potential.
What Donna Eden says is that in the same way, our different body types respond differently to different foods and medicines...
...Our unique energy will respond differently to different energy techniques.
Which is why I wanted to share this quiz designed to help you discover your energy type.
In the end, you'll receive a five-minute video from Donna where she'll teach you a personalized energy technique to instantly bring more health and vitality to your day.
Take the time today to really notice and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you.
On this day, one possibility is to rise early enough to see the sunrise. Watching the sky change colors and the world emerge from darkness is an experience that will influence the whole rest of your day in ways that words cannot describe. Or simply observe the quality of the morning light as it infuses the world with its particular pale golden beauty. You may let the light play on your own hand, remembering that you are also part of the natural world. Let your intuition guide you to the elements of nature that call to you throughout the day, such as the sound of the wind as it shakes and sways a tree or the feeling of snowflakes landing on your warm eyelids and cheeks.
After you devote one day to opening your eyes more fully to the beauty of nature, you may want to make this part of your daily routine. Each day drink from the beauty all around you, and allow it to rejuvenate your entire being. All you have to do is pause, for just one minute, and really take it in, remembering to thank Mother Nature for her beauty.
You need to do hard things to be happy, healthy and successful. Because the hard things ultimately build you up and change your life.
If you already feel like you’re at the end your rope today with little slack left to hold on to, realize your mind is lying to you. It has imprisoned you by reciting self-defeating stories in your head—stories about your mistakes and what you should have done differently. And you’ve begun to believe that you’re really stuck.
But you’re NOT.
You are alive in an immense world with infinite destinations. Take a moment to remind yourself of this fact. Go outside. Look up at the sky and the clouds or the stars. THIS is the world in which you really live. Breathe it in. Then look at your current situation again.
Remember that adversity—doing and dealing with the hard things in life—is the first path to truth. Your defeats often serve as well as your victories to shake your spirit and light your way. You just have to hold on tight, embrace the daily pain, and burn it as fuel for your journey.
Easier said than done, of course. Which is why you need to continually remind yourself…
1. Every day you are growing stronger from your struggles.
Life can be a struggle. It will break you sometimes. Nobody can protect you from that. And hiding alone in a cave somewhere won’t either, for prolonged solitude will also break you with an endless thirst for connection. You must dare to love. You must dare to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth.
You are here to sacrifice your time and risk your heart. You are here to be bruised by life. And when it happens that you are hurt, or betrayed, or rejected, let yourself sit quietly with your eyes closed and remember all the good times you had, and all the sweetness you tasted, and everything you learned. Tell yourself how amazing it was to live, and then open your eyes and live some more.
To never struggle would be to never have been blessed with life. It is within the depths of darkness that you discover within you an inextinguishable light, and it is this light that illuminates the way forward. (This process is something Angel and I discuss in the Adversity chapter of the NEW volume of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
2. The hardest days shine a light on what’s truly important, and what isn’t.
Adversity is like walking in to a turbulent windstorm. As you fight to push through it, you not only gain strength, but it tears away from you all but the essential parts of you that cannot be torn. Once you come out of the storm you see yourself as you really are in raw form, still holding the passions and ideas that move you, and little else.
Ultimately, there is only what you want and what happens. When you don’t get what you want, there is only grabbing on and holding tight to the passions and ideas that move you. These are the lusts that matter—the love that defines you. It is this kind of love that drives you forward and even when the going gets tough. It is this kind of love that should never be overlooked.
3. Stress can be a healthy guidepost for making positive changes.
Sometimes when the going gets really tough, the world seems like it’s spinning too fast and you feel completely out of control. It seems like you’re losing your mind and going crazy, but you’re not. You need to pause and take a deep breath.
Just about every emotional issue imaginable, from fear to anxiety to the onset of depression, is triggered by a mounting build-up of stress. Stress impedes your ability to think straight and see the world as it is—a world that is not spinning too fast or burning to the ground.
Being extremely stressed-out and feeling overwhelmed is not a sign that you are psychotic or “going crazy.” It’s just that stressful experiences make it harder to think clearly and can make you think you’re more out of control than you actually are. The craziness you feel is stress. It’s not time to give up, it’s time to regroup and hold tight to your sanity. The more you relax, the saner you will feel.
- Am I working too much with not enough downtime?
- Am I getting enough sleep?
- Am I eating healthy balanced meals?
- Am I spending enough time with those I care about?
- Am I involved in relationships that cause me excessive stress?
- Am I drinking too much alcohol or relying on other (non-prescribed) drugs?
- Am I constantly worried about some other time and place?
If you are experiencing any of the above issues, you know what you need to address to reduce your stress. The vast majority of us never go crazy; the vast majority of us simply fear, at some point, that we may go crazy based on stress factors we allow to reside in our present life situations.
So let your stress guide you—make sure you fill your time with meaningful activity, get enough sleep, eat well and manage your stress so it doesn’t mange you. (Note: Angel and I customize and implement this process with our students in the Getting Back to Happy Course & Coaching.)
4. You have something special to offer the world.
You are only destined to become one person—the person you decide to be. Do not let your own negativity walk all over you with it’s dirty feet.
You feel a unique gift burning inside you that you want to offer to the world, to help move it in the right direction. It may be covered up by days and weeks of waiting, doubting and defeat, but it’s present and as bright as ever. If you look deeply enough, you’ll find it. There is a capable person inside you that wants to soar, to create, to build, to love, to inspire, to do far more than just exist.
Your everyday chores and difficult tasks can be a prison or a pathway. It all depends on you. No matter how far down you think you’ve traveled, there is always a road leading to higher ground. There are always great possibilities in front of you, because you are always able to take a small step forward.
Stay true to yourself. Hold on to your values and passions. Never be ashamed of doing what feels right. Decide what you think is right and gradually step in that direction.
Now is the time…
There’s no shame in feeling overwhelmed. You are not a robot; and even if you were, you’d still need to stop for maintenance once in a while. There is no shame in admitting to yourself that you feel tired, doubtful, and low today. This is a natural part of being human. The simple fact that you are aware of this means you are able to turn things around, one day at a time, starting now.
Potent Treatment Strategies to Address Men’s Sexual Health
Healthy sex cannot be underestimated as a factor for reducing stress, bolstering self-esteem, and fostering feelings of intimacy and bonding between partners. This goes for both men and women, although men tend to be encouraged to use sexual-enhancement drugs like Viagra when their virility starts to peter out.
An estimated 30-40 percent of adults experience a lack of interest in sex for at least several months in any given year. The reasons for low libido are complex and run the gamut from stress and other emotional difficulties to physical problems, including erectile dysfunction.
Most men, however, really do not need drugs to address such issues. What they probably DO need is a lifestyle adjustment. Your sexual health has a lot to do with your lifestyle, and a variety of all-natural strategies can be helpful in this area.
Are You Tired All the Time?
Renewing your energy is possible, once you learn to combat common causes of fatigue.
Culprit: A Vitamin or Mineral Deficiency
Having low levels of iron or vitamin D or B12 can make you feel tired, anxious, and weak, says Irene Park, a nurse practitioner in New York City. Many experts believe that a significant
percentage of the U.S. population is deficient in vitamin D. “And lower levels of vitamin D can cause muscle weakness and pain,” says Keenan. Also, if you’re a woman of reproductive age, you’re
statistically at greater risk for iron-deficiency anemia.
The only way to tell if you’re low in any vitamin or mineral is to see your doctor for a blood test. Meanwhile, to bolster your body’s stores, consider taking a multivitamin with at least 100 percent of your daily requirement of vitamins and minerals. (Experts generally advise that healthy adults also supplement with 1,000 to 2,000 international units of vitamin D daily.) read more......
In this Self-Esteem Course you will each week for 12 weeks get a part of the puzzle of high self-esteem.
- Exercises for understanding. I will share the powerful exercises that helped me to understand myself better and to make steady improvements in how view myself and the world.
- Strategies so that you don’t get dragged down in everyday life. I’ll share the ways I have learned to handle those common situations, habits and pitfalls that can drag your self-esteem down on a daily basis.
- The habits of high self-esteem. I’ll share the habits I have cultivated that allow me to feel a lot better about myself and feel the inner freedom to explore life as I want to.
The Art and Science of Remembering
Key techniques for creating a lasting memory
Cramming for the exam, repeating someone’s name: Some experts say they’re not that effective at solidifying a memory.
Memories don’t just happen — they’re made. In the brain, the process involves converting working memory — things we’ve just learned — into long-term memories. Scientists have known for years that the noise of everyday life can interfere with the process of encoding information in the mind for later retrieval. Emerging evidence even suggests that forgetting isn’t a failure of memory, but rather the mind’s way of clearing clutter to focus on what’s important.
Other research shows the process of imprinting memories is circular, not linear. “Every time a memory is retrieved, that memory becomes more accessible in the future,” says Purdue University psychologist Jeffrey Karpicke, who adds that only in recent years has it become clear just how vital repeated retrieval is to forming solid memories. This helps explain why people can remember an event from childhood — especially one they’ve retold many times — but can’t remember the name of someone they met yesterday.
Making memories stick
Karpicke and colleagues have shown that practicing retrieval, such as taking multiple quizzes, is far superior in creating solid memories than doing rote memorization. To study this, they had students use different methods to learn the translations of foreign words flashed on a computer screen:
- One group simply studied each word and translation once, with no quizzes.
- A second group was quizzed until they could recall each translation.
- A third group was quizzed until they could recall each translation three times in a row after initial success.
- The fourth group did the same as the third, but their quizzes were spaced out in time.
A week later, all the students were quizzed again. Here’s the amount they remembered via each method:
Based on these findings, Karpicke says self-quizzing — with flashcards or other means — can be an effective way to solidify new knowledge into memories, but the best way is to space those quizzes out, rather than doing them all in one sitting.
For more complicated memory tasks, such as memorizing a long speech, some long-used strategies do appear to hold up today. The ancient Greeks had an elaborate method to remember complex trains of thought. They called it the “Memory Palace,” also known as the method of loci. It works because research suggests people are much better at remembering things they can see, rather than raw facts or abstract concepts.
The way to create a Memory Palace is to walk through a familiar place (like your home) and make offbeat associations between the objects you know well and the things you wish to remember. Let’s say you’re giving a talk about global warming. If you were to use the Memory Palace technique to remember your lines, you might take a walk through your home and associate the fridge with an unusually frigid winter storm. You would then pretend SpongeBob is right there, in your kitchen, eating a Krabby Patty, to represent global warming’s negative effects on sea level and the health of crustaceans. During your talk, you take a mental stroll through your kitchen and let the wacky associations bubble up.
Modern memory competitions, in which participants memorize entire poems or the order of several shuffled card decks, have resurrected the Memory Palace technique. Ben Pridmore, a three-time World Memory Champion, used the practice to memorize the order of 1,528 random digits in one hour, among other feats of mental gymnastics.
Joshua Foer, a science journalist, covered the United States Memory Championship in 2005. Foer figured he’d be better prepared to write about the mind-boggling contestants if he learned a little about their techniques. He spent a year studying the tactics. In a 2012 TED Talk, Foer explains how memorization is all about associating the mundane with the interesting or even the bizarre:
“As bad as we are at remembering names and phone numbers and word-for-word instructions… we have really exceptional visual and spatial memories,” Foer says. “The crazier, weirder, more bizarre, funnier, raunchier, stinkier the image is, the more unforgettable it’s likely to be.”
Foer got pretty good at memorizing. Instead of covering the competition the following year, he entered it. “The problem was, the experiment went haywire,” he says. “I won the contest. Which really wasn’t supposed to happen.”
“Great memories are learned. But if you want to live a memorable life, you have to be the kind of person who remembers to remember.”
In his bestselling book Moonwalking with Einstein, Foer says all memory champions like himself will claim that they actually have average memories. And science backs that claim. Back in 2002, researchers scanned the brains of World Memory Champions while they were memorizing facts and detailed images. The results showed that “superior memory was not driven by exceptional intellectual ability or structural brain differences,” the authors wrote. “Rather, we found that superior memorizers used a spatial learning strategy, engaging brain regions such as the hippocampus that are critical for memory and for spatial memory in particular.”
It’s not that memory champions are smarter than everyone else. They just work hard at remembering, and therefore apply more of their brains to the task.
A couple easier techniques
If creating a Memory Palace seems too involved or absurd, there are simpler strategies you can try, like taking a nap or doing nothing at all for a period of time.
Studies have shown that sleep is important for memory formation, and several studies have indicated that naps function just like overnight sleep. In one study published in the journal Sleep earlier this year, researchers had 84 college students learn some basic facts. One group then napped for an hour, another group just took a break and watched a movie unrelated to the material they’d learned, and the third group crammed, going back over all the material.
“When retention was tested immediately after learning, both napping and cramming produced better retention than taking a break, but only the nap benefit remained significant when tested one week later,” the researchers concluded.
Michael Craig and Michaela Dewar at Heriot-Watt University in the UK have found in several studies that sitting quietly and doing nothing — what they call “awake quiescence” — helps people remember more. The idea is that when you learn something new, what you do next is crucial in helping you retain that information, and taking a pause might be the best choice to let the brain process new information.
In a 2012 study led by Dewar, people ages 61 to 87 heard two short stories and were quizzed on the details of the stories immediately after. Then the people were split up into two groups. For 10 minutes, half the people in the study played a computer game that required some thought, while the others sat in a quiet, dark room, alone, with their eyes closed. Neither group was given any instructions about trying to remember things (they were told the researchers were headed off to prepare for the next test).
The quiz was then repeated a half-hour later and again a week later, and in both retests, the people who sat and did nothing for 10 minutes “remembered much more,” the researchers reported in the journal Psychological Science.
“Our findings support the view that the formation of new memories is not completed within seconds,” says Dewar. “Indeed our work demonstrates that activities that we are engaged in for the first few minutes after learning new information really affect how well we remember this information after a week.”
The biological mechanisms behind awake quiescence haven’t been investigated. But Craig says he thinks that memories are fragile and vulnerable to disruption and that hanging onto them requires sleep or quietude to allow them to consolide, or solidify.
“Findings in rodents and humans indicate that the brain consolidates new memories by ‘replaying’ them” in the minutes after initial learning,” he says. “We believe that awake quiescence might be so beneficial to memory because it is conducive to the ‘replay’ of new memories in the brain.”
The replay is not conscious — it’s an automatic biological process, Craig explains. After the memory tests, his team asks people what they were thinking about during their quiescence period. Normally they say their minds were wandering, as happens with anyone not engaged in a task. “People rarely report thinking about the studied materials during these periods,” he says.
Among the most exciting aspects of awake quiescence is that it seems to work for almost anyone. The researchers use the same tests on the young and old, and even people with serious memory problems. Awake quiescence hasn’t been tested on associating names with faces, but it has been found to boost spatial-associative memory, such as binding a landmark to a location. “So, it is possible that quietly resting for a moment after meeting someone new could well help you to remember a person’s name and face better,” Craig says.
The ultimate takeaway is that improvements in recall may require the adoption of a process, even if it’s a conscious effort to spend some time not doing much thinking at all.
“Great memories are learned,” Foer says. “But if you want to live a memorable life, you have to be the kind of person who remembers to remember.”
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