Positive Thinking Can Help Your Health Later In Life, According To A Recent Study

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Life sure can have its ups and downs, but it looks like maintaining a strong sense of optimism could actually benefit your health in the longterm. According to a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), positive thinking can help your health in your later years. Who knows — positive thinking could just be the key to immortality. I’m kidding, of course (or am I?)

The study, conducted by Professor Andrew Steptoe and Dr Daisy Fancourt, analysed data collated between 2012 and 2016 from over 7,000 adults over the age of 50 as part of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), as described by University College London.

When asked “to what extent they felt the things they did in their life were worthwhile,” participants were instructed to rate their answer on a scale from one to ten. Researchers found that those who rated higher lived life significantly better. From walking faster to sleeping well, those with a positive attitude exuded it in both mind and body.

Having an optimistic outlook on life has plenty of other benefits too, including an improvement on your ability to cope with stress, can boost your immunity, and can even lead to an increased lifespan, according to Verywell Mind.

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Taking other aspects of a participants life into account, the study was also able to determine that those who had higher ratings kept their lives pretty busy, surrounding themselves with strong relationships, socialising, and exercising. Participants who rated lower were “twice as likely to develop depressive symptoms,” and were also linked with living on their own and feeling overwhelmingly lonely.

“As more and more men and women live longer, we need to understand better what factors lead to healthier and happier older age,” Steptoe explained. “This is a two-way process. Not only do good social relationships and better health contribute to our sense that we are living meaningful lives, but this sense of meaning sustains social and cultural activity, health and wellbeing in the future.”

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Even though this study focuses on those aged over 50, that doesn’t mean that those in their thirties, twenties, or even teens can’t adopt a more positive outlook on life. I mean, starting early is always the best thing in my book, especially if it can improve your health and mental wellbeing.

And even if you’re introverted or have mental health issues like depression, you can gain positivity from literally anything. For me, it’s always the little things like immersing myself in video games or just spending time with my family.

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“We do not know what activities the participants in this study thought were worthwhile,” Fancourt explained. “For some it might be supporting their families, for others a particular accomplishment in their work or hobby, enjoying nature or perhaps following a favourite sports team. What is important is that the individual finds these activities worthwhile and feels like they give a sense of meaning to life.”

If you want to start living your life to the optimistic full, here’s some advice. Pick one thing your absolutely passionate about, and fit it into your daily routine. Even if you’re having a rough day, it’ll be there to pick you up and spin your mind back into the positive.

How to Make Your Mind Chatter More Positive

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By Susanna Newsonen

If you’re anything like me, you might have noticed that you’ve got some internal chatter in your head. This might happen especially when you’re by yourself, when you’re ruminating about something, or when you’re faced with a scary challenge or setback.

This mind chatter can be good or bad. If it’s good, it can help you to plan what to say or do, to process things that have happened or to give yourself a pep talk about overcoming a challenge. If it’s bad, it can get really bad. Here’s an example.

The other week, an old bully resurfaced in my life and sent a series of hurtful messages to me. I was initially shocked by this unprovoked attack but quickly gathered myself to tell them to stop being a bully. They continued with their attack to the extent that I had to block them from being able to contact me.

This is when my not-so-helpful not-so-loving mind chatter kicked in. “Why did you do that? That’s not very helpful. Clearly, there is something wrong with you and that’s why they’re attacking you. This is a result of your actions. The universe is punishing you.” It just continued and continued with multiple different variations of this. This wasn’t exactly helpful. It didn’t make me feel better about myself or the situation—in fact, it only made me feel worse.

I called one of my friends to talk about it as I needed some outside perspective. She was already familiar with the bully and she said the following to me: “Susanna. You’ve done what you can. You’ve already tried to resolve this situation before and they’re not listening. This isn’t about you but about them. There is nothing wrong with you.”

That’s when it hit me. I’d fallen back to my old, pessimistic way of thinking for a moment and it totally lacked any ounce of self-compassion. My friend triggered me to really reflect on what I’d said to myself in that moment of crisis and also notice the kind, encouraging words she had said.

Imagine how much better you would feel if you talked to yourself the way you talk to your bestest friends? Imagine if you could cheerlead yourself the way you cheerlead them and they cheerlead you? Just imagine for a moment what that would be like. Pretty darn good, right?

That’s why today I want you to take a good close look at your self-talk. Today, as you go on with your day and notice your internal chatter kicking off, ask yourself:

1. Are these words helpful, constructive and/or encouraging?

If not, how can you change them to be more like that?

2. Am I being rational and reasonable with these words – or am I blowing things out of proportion?

Usually, we overdramatize things with that inner critic’s voice so it’s important to check how realistic you’re actually being.

3. Is this something I would say to my best friend?

Often the answer is no and that is a good wake-up call to start treating yourself more like you treat your best friend.

The more aware you become of your internal chatter, the easier it is to start managing it. At the start, this can be scary as you might not like everything that you hear yourself say.

However, with continuous practice, you’ll notice the voice change into a more positive one. It won’t happen overnight and there will be some days that are worse than others, but the key thing is that you try.

After all, you can’t escape yourself so you might as well make yourself one of your best friends.

If you want to work on being your best friend, join The Self-Love Boostercourse before February 18th.

The Benefits of Positive Thinking—and How You Can Do More of It

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By Jen Doll

No doubt you’ve heard it before, or some version of it: “Turn that frown upside down!” “Smile, you’ll feel better!” “Stop focusing on how stressed you are and think about how #blessed you are.” These little positive-thinking prods might be enough to make you want to punch a wall—look, no one wants to be told to smile, ever—but you might consider repeating the general message to yourself. Positivity has benefits that extend far beyond any Instagram meme. And even if you were born the polar opposite of Pollyanna (your outlook may in fact be influenced by your genes), you can make positivity work for you.

So what is it, exactly? “Positive thinking is all about having an open, optimistic viewpoint. It’s the idea of seeing the silver lining on a bad day,” says Paraskevi Noulas, PsyD, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone Health in New York City. That doesn’t mean you sweep your actual thoughts under the rug to make room for unicorns and rainbows. Instead, it’s about viewing situations from a more well-rounded perspective. For example, when you’re stressed out over your workload, take a deep breath, consider what you’ve already accomplished, and tell yourself you’ll get the job done in the best way you can.

RELATED: What Does It Really Mean to Be Happy? 6 Experts Explain

Shifting your mind-set can make you feel better and also lead to real health benefits. “Research shows that positive thinking is an incredibly important and efficacious way to improve your mood, physical health, energy level, concentration, productivity, and more,” says Noulas. People who are positive have been found to be better at problem-solving and dealing with setbacks. They’re more resilient. And positive thinking can open up creativity, help you connect better with others, and boost your overall well-being, too. Here, experts share a few simple ways to start seeing things in a sunnier light.

Build the Skill

“You can’t just pick up a violin and play,” points out Richard J. Davidson, PhD, director of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Similarly, you can’t just wake up and decide you’re going to be positive. You need to practice summoning those feelings— and rehearsing works. When Davidson and his research team did MRI scans of the brains of people who’d been practicing compassion meditation for two weeks, for just 30 minutes a day, they noticed stronger connections in a key brain circuit that regulates positive emotion.

Even short bursts done regularly—like appreciating a nice view or a lovely piece of art—can help retrain your mind to notice the good stuff all around you. Some other positivity-boosting tactics: List things you’re grateful for at the end of each day. Or engage in simple meditation exercises. For example, you might envision a crowd of people and acknowledge that we all share the same wish to be happy and free of suffering. Then mentally extend that wish to others.

RELATED: Here’s How Feeling Grateful Can Improve Your Life

Spread Some Kindness

One of the most powerful strategies to promote your own positivity, it turns out, is to be generous toward other people: Hold the elevator door for someone, send a handwritten note, pay for the person in line behind you at the coffee shop. A 2016 study found that performing acts of kindness was even more effective at boosting happiness than simply treating oneself. So instead of booking that spa day, try volunteering…or better yet, do both. The more we are helpful to others, the better we feel about ourselves, says Noulas. “Rather than waiting for good or positivity to come to you, take the initiative and create it for those around you. Then enjoy the ripple effect that unfurls as a result.”

RELATED: A Total Stranger Braided This Woman’s Hair in the Hospital, and Now the Story Is Going Viral

Flash a Grin

For a quick dose of positivity, try cracking a smile. A 2012 study conducted at the University of Kansas found that smiling reduced stress. And other research has shown that smiling is contagious. Noulas explains: “If you’re in a horrid mood, but you go to work and put that smile on and treat your colleagues well, their positive response has the ability to slowly shift your mood so that you’re genuinely in a better place.”

RELATED: Traveling Alone Is a Bold Move—But You Will Never Regret It

Nurture Your Relationships

Here’s one more reason to prioritize quality time with your family and friends: Your social ties can color how you experience life, says Vivian Zayas, PhD, an associate psychology professor at Cornell University. Zayas’ work includes a study in which people received a supportive text message from their partner right before a stressful event. “Just getting a text increases positivity in the moment,” she says. She’s also done lab studies in which the researchers showed a photo of a loved one to participants who were recalling an upsetting memory. “Seeing an image of a support figure helped them recover,” says Zayas.

RELATED: Gretchen Rubin’s Daily Tricks for Staying Happy

Take Care of You

“You can’t be positive without also understanding how to deal with the negative—and self-compassion is the secret sauce,” says Kristin Neff, PhD, an associate psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin and coauthor of The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook. Selfcompassion helps you navigate the parts of life that aren’t so positive, like health problems and professional failures. To start, imagine how you’d treat a friend if she was in your situation, Neff suggests: “What would I say? What would my tone of voice be? Then try it on yourself.”

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About Pet Fostering—and How to Get Started

It’s Ok to Get Mad, Too

Feeling angry on occasion can actually be cathartic and helpful. “Sometimes you need to be angry because you see injustice, and it makes you take action,” explains Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, a professor and vice chair of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. The key is knowing the difference between functional emotions—which help you improve your situation—and unproductive reactions, like road rage. In the case of the latter, “you have to be aware of the trigger and distract yourself from it,” she says. This is where your positivity practice comes in. Say you’re stuck in gridlock. Test out one of your tools: Think of a dear friend or a stellar memory. “The world is both a wonderful and terrible place,” Lyubomirsky notes. “There are good and bad things. It’s what you choose to put in front of you.”

The Benefits Of Being Kind To Yourself Are More Powerful Than You Think, According To Science

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BY 

It’s not always easy to be nice to yourself. I’m not sure why this is, but I do know that that cliché about being your own worst critic is definitely true. It’s just so easy to get into the habit of placing other people’s needs or desires (read: your mom, your SO, your boss) way, way above your own. But the benefits of being kind to yourself can actually have a deeper, more lasting impact than you might immediately assume. While self-compassion is an important habit to practice no matter what, the results of a new study suggest it can have a very real, positive, if unexpected impact on your physical body.

Researchers from the Universities of Exeter and Oxford in the UK discovered that, when you actively practice self-compassion, it can actually calm and slow down your heart rate, not to mention switch off your body’s threat response, aka its fight-or-flight mode. Just to put that in perspective a little, when your body’s threat response is activated more than it needs to be (i.e. when it’s consistently activated during times of stress), it can legitimately damage your immune system over time, per research published in the journal Current Opinion in Psychology. So, if there are ways to avoid having that bodily response when it isn’t necessary, it’s all the better for your well-being.

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As for the new research from the UK, which has been published in the academic journal Clinical Psychological Science, here’s how that study went down: According to a press release from the University of Exeter, 135 students from the school were divided into five groups. Each group received different audio instructions, and while some included exercises of self-compassion, others “induced a critical inner voice.” To gauge how these different instructions affected the participants, the researchers tracked their heart rate and sweat responses, and they asked the students to report how they felt after hearing the instructions, with questions like “how safe they felt, how likely they were to be kind to themselves and how connected they felt to others.”

After all of that, the researchers found that the two groups whose audio instructions were encouraging them to be kind to themselves both reported feeling more self-compassion and connection to other people, and yes, their bodily responses illustrated feelings of relaxation and safety as well: Their heart rates dropped and slowed down, and the participants’ bodies produced less sweat when listening to self-compassion exercises. Meanwhile, the instructions that guided the participants toward a more critical inner monologue seemed to lead to the opposite results: a faster heartbeat, more sweat, and more feelings of distress. The main author of the study, Dr. Hans Kirschner, said in the study’s press release,

These findings suggest that being kind to oneself switches off the threat response and puts the body in a state of safety and relaxation that is important for regeneration and healing.

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Co-author of the study, Dr. Anke Karl, added,

Previous research has found that self-compassion was related to higher levels of well-being and better mental health, but we didn’t know why.

Our study is helping us understand the mechanism of how being kind to yourself when things go wrong could be beneficial in psychological treatments. By switching off our threat response, we boost our immune systems and give ourselves the best chance of healing.

And listen, I know self-compassion is kind of this lofty, what-does-it-really-mean kind of idea, which can make it feel daunting to practice or really trust as a legitimately helpful habit. But being kind to yourself can truly mean so many different things. Maybe you can create an easy ritual for yourself at the end of a hard week, like getting a bagel at your favorite bodega. Or maybe you can climb into bed early on a Friday night so you can devour more of that graphic novel you never have time to read. Maybe self-kindness just means making a quick list in your phone of all the things that made you smile that day.

Whatever it looks like for you, just do it — give it a try. What’s there to lose, right?

Raise Your Very Available Hand If You Always Claim To Be Busy When You’re In A Relationship

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By Mary Grace Garis

When my recent plans got canceled on account of a polar vortex, I hesitated when my friend texted to reschedule for the following Friday. “I might be free on the 8th, but I’ll let you know,” I answered. I knew that the space on my Google Cal was wide open, but these days, Friday and Saturday are automatically reserved for my relationship. Friendship meetings are for weekday, after-work drinks and the occasional witchy, new moon cauliflower pizza party—and nothing else. But that reality of mine doesn’t exempt me from a cold, hard truth: I regularly lie to friends in order to stay totally available for my boyfriend, Luke. Cue: self-loathing panic leading me to wonder whether I seriously and monumentally suck.

Indeed I might when it comes to ditching my friends in favor of spending yet another consecutive night with Luke. But I know in my bones that other people do it do it too. (Which—I know, I know—doesn’t make it right, but it does pique my curiosity.) Only confirming my suspicion is a chat I recently had with psychologist and Loving Bravely author Alexandra Solomon, PhD, who was was able to share insight on why so many people seem to do this.

It’s how our brain works

It’s not you, it’s the chemicals. According to Dr. Solomon, the neurophysiology that comes when you fall in romantic love is simply more powerful than any friendship, especially during that beautiful honeymoon phase. With neurochemicals like norepinephrine (a source adrenaline rushes) and dopamine (a stimulant of feel-good pleasure) rushing through your body, it’s easy to fall victim to cartoon hearts circling your head and then flake on friends. But I’m a year deep into my relationship, and way past the honeymoon phase—so what’s my excuse?

Once we’ve nested into our relationship, we make room for oxytocin, which Dr. Solomon describes as the “cuddle hormone.” Settled and cozy in a routine, being around our partner comes with a sense of relief. So after a stressful workweek, it only makes sense to curl up with takeout boxes, the TV remote, and the person who makes you think, as Dr. Solomon puts it, “I just get to exhale and come down from my week.” It’s relaxing to not worry about taking two forms of transportation to meet friends for $16 cocktails—even if you earnestly do value those friendships.

It’s something you can work on

Just like with oh-so many issues in life (workplace struggles, family arguments, existential crises), self-awareness is key. So, pay attention to patterns you’re setting, and notice when they’re becoming problematic. In my case, the pattern in question is that I’m protecting my weekend time, and realizing this has brought to my attention that I’m doing something potentially harmful to my friendships.

And to be clear, I aim to protect my healthy friendships. I love my friends! They’re brilliant, funny, driven, and amazing to be around. So how do I suck less?

There’s nothing shameful in telling someone that you’re struggling with booking friend time over significant other time.

Honesty and transparency are cornerstones to friendship upkeep, and Dr. Solomon says there’s nothing shameful in telling someone that you’re struggling with booking friend time over significant other time. So from here moving forward, I’m going to be upfront with the platonic loves of my life, and then I won’t suck so much.

But it’s not something to beat yourself up about

Fact remains that there’s no perfect balance, nor will there ever be for the rest of time. In light of this, Dr. Solomon stresses the importance of being good to yourself. “Navigating friendships and intimate partnerships is not a problem to be solved but an ongoing process that shifts and changes all the time,” she says.

Guilt assuaged, I now plan to make a concerted effort to work on not letting my relationship monopolize my weekend time. I’ll check in with my friends and really try to make plans to see them. And for that friend I lied to about only maybe being free on a Friday—I’m going to follow up and let her know I’m fully available. If she wants to hang out on Friday, let’s hang out on Friday.

…But, like, Thursday is also good.

50 Small (But Big) Changes To Become An Ultimately Happier You

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Liza Varvogli

1. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier. Select to wake up to your favorite song. Enjoy your coffee or tea in a special mug. This sets off your day in a whole different way.

2. Write down the intention of the day; “Today I choose to be happy,” “Today I choose to stay calm,” you get the idea.

3. Accomplish one small goal to set off your day in the right direction; for example, make your bed or wash your mug.

4. Read a book.

5. Declutter your living space.

6. Start small, by organizing your desk drawer.

7. Keep your brain and body hydrated; get a water bottle and aim at finishing it by lunchtime. Refill it.

8. Keep a gratitude journal and jot down three things that went well or were positive every day.

9. Go out for a 15-minute walk.

10. Follow positive people on social media.

11. Compliment a friend.

12. Cook a healthy dish for dinner; try a different cuisine.

13. Listen to some relaxing music on a daily basis.

14. Listen to podcasts on subjects that interest you.

15. Find a new hobby.

16. Start a collection.

17. Choose an art poster and hang it on your living room wall.

18. Choose to wear accessories that make you feel good.

19. Make a positive affirmation that works for you and keep repeating it daily; i.e., “I choose what I become.”

21. Write down your favorite quote on a post-it note and stick it on your bathroom mirror.

22. Use an inspirational quote as a screen saver; or set your smartphone to remind you of it several times during the day.

23. Make a playlist of ten happy songs that you like best. Listen to them at least once during the day.

24. Listen to TEDex talks on topics that interest you or topics you are curious about while doing chores or driving.

25. Commit to explore one new idea or do one new thing.

26. Remind yourself that you control how you feel by repeating often “I’m in charge of how I feel and today I choose happiness.”

27. Make it a habit to sit quietly and take deep, slow breaths.

28. Take a power nap or sleep 20 more minutes every night.

29. Make a photo album with pictures carrying happy memories.

30. Call, text, or email a friend that you haven’t seen in a while.

31. Sit in a quiet spot preferably outside, in nature, and do nothing for 15 minutes

32. Write down your three core values.

33. Write a positive comment or compliment someone inspiring on social media.

34. Watch comedies.

35. Read poetry.

36. Learn how to meditate and do it daily for 10-15 minutes.

37. Take a test to find your core strengths.

38. Next to each strength write down specific ways you can use it in your routine.

39. Sing your favorite song or whistle.

40. Go dancing.

41. Write down one important goal.

42. Now jot down three specific things you can do this week in that direction.

43. Tell yourself three reasons why you are happy to be alive.

44. Make a list of your “favorites” (dish, songs, books, films, travel destinations, anything).

45. Pick one thing and do it today.

46. Pick another thing from that list and do it tomorrow; you get the idea.

47. Identify five things that make you happy. Write down specific ways of how you can incorporate them in your day and do more of them.

48. Learn one relaxation technique and practice it daily.

49. Write a thank you letter to someone and be specific on what they did that helped you (you don’t need to mail it).

50. Remind yourself “I truly and deeply love and appreciate myself and I am invested in my personal development.”

Seven Ways To Start Meditating

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Meditation
 Are you sitting comfortably? The correct posture is not all-important. Photograph: Westend61/Getty Images

Find a meditation approach that you enjoy

“This idea that meditation is hard work and takes a long time to master is not correct,” says Jillian Lavender, co-founder of the London Meditation Centre. The trick is to find an approach (such as classes, online tutorials, books or apps) and a practice (from mindfulness to transcendental meditation) you enjoy. “If you’re putting yourself through some torturous process because ‘That’s what I should be doing’, then it isn’t easy or enjoyable, and most likely you won’t stick with it.”

Start small

Dan Harris, a US newscaster and the author of Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, advises abandoning the idea of lengthy practices when you are starting out. Instead opt for more manageable chunks that you can slot into daily life. Just five to 10 minutes’ meditation a day can be enough to feel the benefits, Harris told NPR – even one minute a day is worthwhile.

Make yourself comfortable

It is more important that you feel comfortable than it is to be straining to maintain a certain posture, says Lavender. From sitting on the floor in a full lotus position to using a cushion or chair, choose what feels best.

Work with your daily schedule

Lavender, a Vedic meditation teacher, tells her students: “Anywhere you can sit down, you can meditate.” Developing that ease around it means there is a higher chance of fitting it in, she says. Start by finding somewhere you feel warm, comfortable and not too self-conscious.

Give an app a go

While some say using an app to meditate misses the point, others find them to be a useful and accessible resource. Headspace and Calm are two of the best-known offerings, but they charge to unlock more content. Insight Timerbrings together 15,000 free guided meditations, while Smiling Mind was designed with children and teenagers in mind. Buddhify and Simple Habitdeliver nuggets for specific moments such as before a big meeting or winding down for bedtime.

Embrace failure

Stopping and starting is part of the process of learning to meditate. Harris says trying to refocus your attention when it has wandered is like a “biceps curl for the brain”. Just pick yourself up again, says Lavender. “Dipping in for a few minutes will make a difference. If you have a moment on the train and you take the moment to sit, give yourself a breather and close your eyes, great.”

Explore available resources

As with any new technique that you are trying to learn, it is worth investing some time researching about meditation. If you are after a cheap and easy taster before committing to a course or retreat, the NHS offers a bedtime meditation video, while some local councils offer free weekly meditation classes. Have a look online to see what’s on offer in your area. The charities Mind and Age UK also provide guides on mindfulness.

17 Daily Habits Practiced by Highly Successful People

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Your best days are likely the ones in which you take good care of yourself while being highly productive. To make it happen, though, you need to be intentional with how you use the minutes of your day. Here are more than a dozen habits highly successful people practice to push themselves to the next level.

1. Find your purpose, refer to it, and let it guide your path

“Knowing and following a personal, specific purpose empowers us to live with greater confidence. Having an active awareness of our purpose leads to deeper satisfaction as we readily know if a choice or task serves or takes from our purpose. Set aside time and explore your purpose. Write it down, refine it, share it, and refer to it often no matter how large or small. It doesn’t have to be monumental: ‘Make memories with my family,’ ‘Provide for those I love,’ ‘Create jobs,’ ‘Serve others,’ etc. Just be certain to make your purpose your daily mantra.”

–Doug Bloom, Philadelphia chair of Tiger 21, a peer membership organization with more than 650 high-net-worth wealth creators and preservers worldwide

2. Connect with someone

“Humans are inherently social. We’ve an innate desire to connect with one another–whether it be over a meal, traveling to other countries, or watching a movie together. Due to this, I make a daily effort to get out of the office (when feasible) to show up and meet interesting people as a means of identifying opportunities, striking partnerships, connecting, and learning new things. But I believe that how you show up is just as important as the act of showing up itself. You can’t expect every meet-and-greet to be as simple as driving down to your local coffee shop, so I’m adamant about immersing myself in their world as well: catching a plane, meeting them in their office, [or] driving to their home. I’ve been fortunate enough to start and invest in numerous successful businesses because I showed up to meet someone, many of whom I was meeting for the very first time. Ultimately, relationships are what drive businesses forward, and there is no better substitute when developing a relationship than to show up.”

–Adam Jiwan, founder, CEO and Chairman at Spring Labs, a blockchain startup that raised $14.75 million in 2018

3. Practice the SAVERS habit

“Currently, I use a process from The Miracle Morning book by Hal Elrod. It’s based on the acronym SAVERS: Silence (meditation), Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribe (journal). Every morning I meditate for 10 minutes, then move into five minutes repeating my affirmations, spend five minutes doing visualization exercise (seeing your future and what you must do to attain it), read for 10 to 15 minutes, then finish with 10 minutes of journaling and preparing for my day. Being able to clear my head and focus on my goals and priorities has made my days more productive and less stressful.”

–Krista Morgan, cofounder and CEO of P2Binvestor Inc., an online lending platform which has raised more than $13 million in equity

4. Get updated on industry news first thing, then work out

“I am a creature of habit, committed to routines that keep me informed and energized. Every morning, I begin my day with a 30-minute review of my news feeds, favorite websites, and alerts. No work email yet, just an overview to get a sense of industry activity to share with my direct reports through Slack. Then I work out. As an avid mountain biker, I try to get a ride in multiple days a week (personal trainer and home gym the rest of the week), followed by a shower and breakfast. Once in the office, I exercise my Domo muscles (Domo is a business intelligence and data visualization tool). The data-driven platform gives me an early view into new issues or opportunities within my company. Together, these pre-work rituals allow me to dive into the normal course of business activities mentally and physically prepared with insights into both my industry and company that keep me ahead of the curve.”

–Drew Edwards, founder and CEO of Ingo Money, a provider of mobile-forward, turnkey instant deposit and payment services solutions that works with companies including Visa, PayPal, KeyBank, and Safelite

5. Clean up your inbox over the weekend

“Email can be a huge time suck. I’ve found that it’s best to prep my outbox over the weekend while I have some downtime. I block time on Sunday to start responding to emails and save them as drafts, so I can hit send first thing Monday morning. This helps me go into the week less stressed without dumping things on my team over the weekend. To limit time spent on email Monday through Friday, I check Apple Mail to read messages in batches every couple days. If something is urgent, my team knows that I’m big on texting.”

–Isaac Oates, founder and CEO of Justworks, an HR technology platform supporting more than 60,000 employees of entrepreneurs and companies in all 50 states

6. Endure short-term pain for long-term gain

“Almost all of life’s decisions, business and personal, come down to the same question, can you accept short-term pain for long-term gain? Losing weight, firing a producing employee that is problematic elsewhere, exiting markets that are profitable but aren’t your focus–all point to the same thing. Most people choose to focus on short-term gains and get long-term pain. People who want to win are willing to accept some level of professional pain to find opportunities that might elude everyone else.”

–Marty Puranik, CEO of Atlantic.Net, a cloud service provider serving 15,000 businesses in over 100 countries

7. Learn something new before the kids wake up

“Every morning, before my children wake up, and I get ready to leave for work, I will typically spend around thirty minutes reading the news. As I read, I make a point of researching any topic or context I’m unfamiliar with. There is something very energizing to me about starting the day with this mindset of curiosity–of learning something completely new or broadening my perspective on an issue or concept. It’s important to me, before I spend the day focused on my work and company, to expand my horizons, and tune in to what is going on in the world and the reality and interests of others. I find there is often an opportunity to apply these findings and discoveries in my work, even if at first they seem far-removed.”

–Jonathan Cherki, founder and CEO of ContentSquare, an A.I.-powered user experience analytics and optimization platform which raised $42 million in capital last year and works with companies including Walmart, GoPro, Avis, and L’Occitane

8. Live below your means

“The great part about the human spirt is our ability to adapt to our surroundings and environment. Whether you own a billion-dollar company or work the night shift at the local gas station, I firmly believe that your future is highly dependent on your habits, today and tomorrow. Something that I always do, and would encourage everyone else to do, is take that bonus, that compensatory raise, that record-earnings year for your company, and defer the use of those funds through savings or investment. By saving or investing those funds instead of digesting them into your bank account, it may be the difference between a want today versus a future need. I encourage people of all ages to maximize their retirement contributions from annual compensation increases before doing anything with after-tax dollars.”

–David Kilby, published author and president of FinFit, a financial wellness benefits company with more than 125,000 clients

9. Stop adding value

“It is seductively soothing to be doing tasks that add value. ‘Am I adding value?’ is so easy to answer because almost everything you do usually adds some value. It is much harder to answer the question ‘Is this the best use of my time?’ To wit, it’s easy to be busy improving the product but it’s a lot harder to look up and realize the product is good enough already and I should be focused on finding the right distribution partner.”

–Kon Leong, cofounder and CEO of ZL Technologies, an information management provider with clients spanning the Fortune 500, including half of the top 10 financial services companies

10. Read a chapter or a section out of a book, or an article

“Studies show the more you read, the greater your chance for success. When you have an insatiable desire to learn you grow personally and professional at a faster rate. You could take one thing from the chapter or the article and implement it, and that one thing could make a huge impact in your future.”

–Nicole Middendorf, author, wealth advisor and founder and CEO of Prosperwell Financial, a financial services company with over $160 million in assets

11. Start your day with clear focus and gratitude

“It’s too easy to jump into the day’s activities and lose sight of the big picture. Spend time each morning doing something that will help you grow as a person and as a leader. I start my day by reading the Bible and in meditation. Then, I listen to something positive, uplifting, and motivating while exercising and getting ready for the day. Each morning I post my top three annual goals to the top of my calendar, where I will see them daily. I also share with my team three things that I feel blessed for each day.”

–Robin Kocina, a Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame honoree and president/CFO of Media Relations Agency, a performance-based marketing agency

12. Make a to-do list

“This act of writing down what needs to get done helps me feel less anxious because the tasks seem less on paper than in my head. The list also allows me to see what is a priority or time-sensitive, and I can order what needs to be done accordingly. And crossing off an item, or deleting it, gives me this sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, even if it is just the task of dropping off a package at the post office.”

–Tracey Welson-Rossman, co-founder and CMO of custom software development firm Chariot Solutions and founder of TechGirlz, a nonprofit inspiring tens of thousands of middle-school girls to pursue technology careers

13. Take time every Sunday to write out the full list of what you want to accomplish for the week

“I consider how [these tasks] align with my bigger goals for month or quarter and once I’ve got a solid list, I draw a line on what must [be] accomplish[ed]. I try to keep that to just three things, and everything below the line can be pushed. Then I review my calendar to make sure my schedule has time carved out for me to be successful. The 30 minutes this takes on a Sunday helps me manage my time and hit the ground running on Monday.”

–Dave Evans, cofounder and CEO of virtual manufacturing platform Fictiv, which has raised $25 million in funding

14. Practice being humble

“I believe that cultivating humility is crucial to success for any professional as they advance their careers and assume greater leadership in their organizations. It is equally important for growth and development in our personal lives. I try to cultivate humility every day by being present and aware–whether I’m stuck in traffic, changing my son’s diaper, or apologizing for a mistake I’ve made. Embracing these humbling moments gives me motivation to keep learning, listening and improving as a husband, father, son, brother, friend, colleague, leader and human being.”

–Raul Vazquez, CEO of Oportun, named one of Time magazine’s 2018 “50 Genius Companies Inventing the Future” for its work providing over 2 million small dollar loans which have saved its customers more than $1.3 billion

15. Seek out tough feedback

“I make a point to connect over coffee daily (or weekly) with people on my team who aren’t my direct reports.  I always ask them to tell me something they don’t think I want to hear, whether it’s a challenge they’re facing, or something about the business that they’re concerned about. Not only does this give me an opportunity to see inside parts of the organization that I might not see every day, and a unique perspective and understanding of the complexity of their day-to-day, but also gives me a new way to think about where my help and leadership can make the most impact. It has repeatedly broken down barriers and opened up the lines of communications across our organization.”

–Jennifer Tescher, president and CEO of the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), a nonprofit that brings together hundreds of financial institutions, employers, innovators and policy makers

16. Write out your to-do list early in the morning

“I watch the sunrise, have a cup of coffee, and write out the list of all meetings and tasks for the day. I do this every day with paper and pens and sometimes in different colors.”

–Dede Gotthelf, owner of the Southampton Inn which has received several Best of the Best awards from Hamptons publication Dan’s Papers

17. Keep a detailed calendar while looking back at this time last year

“I maintain a detailed calendar each day of the week and keep copies of my schedule for at least a year. Each week, I review the prior year’s calendar to see what projects I was working on and whom I was meeting with around the same time the year before. This process gives me a 360-degree perspective on how I progressed on those projects, what projects I need to complete or restart and reminds me to reconnect with specific people. Looking back at what I was doing the year before helps me stay on top of important projects and professional relationships.”

–William T. Sullivan, executive director of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation (SWCRF) which has increased philanthropic revenue by 30 percent since 2017

Resources For Introverts; Introvert, Dear

Introvert, Dear is a website focusing on..you guessed it, the INTROVERT! It has awesome categories, even a different subsections of the introverted MBTI personality types, which is freaking awesome, in my opinion. You gotta check it out!

A Few Cool Articles:

Why Do Introverts Love Being Alone? Here’s The Science
If You Relate To These 21 Signs, You’re Probably An Introvert
16 Signs You’re An INFJ, The World’s Rarest Personality Type
Why Is It Hard For Introverts To Share A Home With Others?

 

6 Simple Ways To Use Neuroscience To Improve Your Day

See Author Article Here

As the spokesperson for the FBI in Northern California, there were long stretches of the day when eating became hard to fit in, as were bathroom breaks. Each day was a full onslaught of updates on important cases, calls to return, emails to read and interviews to schedule.

If you face busy days and tight deadlines, there are several ways neuroscience can help you to improve your day.

Humans have an amazing capacity to process complex information. Our brain can bring order out of chaos. It can place people, words, and behavior into patterns that make sense to us. Below is a paragraph that raced across the Internet a few years back:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Brains have an attention filter that helps us find patterns in the information we see and hear. This helps us know what to pay attention to and what we can safely ignore. In the caveman days, it helped us be alert to predators. In the information age, it helps us identify data that impacts the way we live our life.

Several studies suggest that we now receive five times as much information as we did in 1986. Every day the average person processes six newspapers worth of information compared with just two and a half pages 24 years ago—a 200% increase.

All of this information is competing for resources in your brain. Here are 6 simple ways you can use neuroscience to improve your day:

1. Your brain wants you to value what you do
Dopamine is a chemical produced by the brain that can affect our performance because it shows up both when we anticipate a reward and when we’re motivated to perform. As a result, dopamine levels can be linked to motivation and our willingness to work.

A team of Vanderbilt scientists used brain-mapping technology to analyze the brain patterns of “go-getters” who were willing to work hard for their rewards and the “slackers” who weren’t as motivated to work.

The team found that the go-getters had higher levels of dopamine in the reward and motivation part of the brain. The slackers had higher levels of dopamine in the emotion and risk part of the brain.

It’s not only a matter of raising dopamine levels. Instead, what’s essential is to raise dopamine levels in the right areas of the brain. To get through your day, you need to balance your willingness to work alongside your willpower, because willpower is your ability to get things done.

How To Make It Work For You: Nothing will motivate you to be a go-getter if you don’t truly desire the reward that comes with the work. If a paycheck is the only thing that motivates you to get out of bed, don’t expect your brain to get too excited about it, either. On the other hand, if you’ve hitched your performance to something that contains value and meaning for you, you’ll be on the go-getter side of dopamine production.

2. Your brain wants you to start your day with the hard stuff
The American Psychological Association’s annual stress in America survey asked participants to assess their ability to make healthy lifestyle changes. Survey participants regularly cited lack of willpower as the #1 reason they don’t follow through with the changes.

Many people believe their lives would improve if they could boost their willpower—more control over what they eat, when they saved for retirement, and how to achieve noble goals.

There’s been considerable research into willpower and one of the pioneers in this area is Roy Baumeister. Baumeister discovered that willpower actually operates like a muscle: it can be strengthened with practice and fatigued by overuse. Willpower in the brain is fueled by glucose and it needs to replenished in order for it to perform optimally.

How To Make It Work For You: Willpower and self-control is at its peak first thing in the morning, so this is the best time to make yourself take on the hardest tasks of the day. When you write your list, make certain that the toughest projects are the first ones you tackle.

3. Your brain wants you to use lists
Our brains love lists. In fact, it’s the most effective way for the brain to receive and organize information. Recent research suggests that the key to a more organized mind and productive brain is to make to-do lists.

Neuroscience tells us that the brain’s working memory stores information on a short-term basis. According to Dr. Daniel Levitin, most people can hold about four things in their mind at one time. When we ask our brain to store more than is optimal, it causes our performance to suffer.

How To Make It Work For You: Go ahead and make an old-fashioned to-do list. A to-do list will free up space in your brain for other more important tasks that need to be accomplished during your day. Since our brain has an attention filter, urgent matters will be at the forefront. At the same time, our brain doesn’t forget those less important matters either, and won’t hesitate to remind you of them somewhere around 3:00am. If you have a to-do list, your brain can rest because it knows you’re on it.

4. Your brain wants you to use bullet points
According to a New Yorker article, our brain processes information spatially. It’s easier for us to remember if we write the information down line by line, in bulleted or numbered points rather than in paragraph form.

Numbered or bulleted lists facilitate both immediate understanding and later recall. Because we can process information more easily when it’s in a list, our brain feels comfortable about how and when the information will be retrieved.

How To Make It Work For You: Bullet points create succinct and actionable messages, whether it’s a grocery list, your to-do list, or a corporate presentation. When you reduce a thought to a bullet point, you’ve boiled it down to one, salient sentence.

5. Your brain wants you to write it down
In a recent study by Mueller and Oppenheimer, they found that people remember lectures better when they’ve taken handwritten notes rather than types ones. Mueller and Oppenheimer’s research appears to confirm that plain old pen and paper is one of our best learning tools.

Whether you’re a student or a busy executive, if you write down your priorities, your brain processes the information as you write it. That initial selectivity tells the brain the information is important and leads to long-term comprehension.

How To Make It Work For You: Start your paper list with the day’s top priorities and keep it with you. Write in pencil so you can erase them or re-order them as your day changes. Again, this list frees up your brain to think of other important tasks in your day.

6. Your brain wants you to move
Research into neurogenesis, the ability of certain areas of the brain areas to grow new cells, indicates that we can foster new brain cell growth through exercise. Our brain has the amazing ability to rebuild and rewire every day.

The area of the brain linked to learning and memory is called the hippocampus. Research shows that endurance exercise sparks new neuron growth in the hippocampus as a protein (called FNDC5) is released into the bloodstream when we sweat.

How To Make It Work For You: There are many well-established benefits to exercise, such as improved heart heath. An additional benefit is that even a 20-30 minute walk can help grow new brain cells.

This article was originally published on LaRae Quy