Positive Psychology Exercises Increase Happiness In People Recovering From Substance Use

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Positive psychology,Positive psychology exercises,Substance abuse
The study, published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, examined whether positive psychology exercises increase happiness in people recovering from substance use.(Shutterstock)

Self-administered exercises can significantly boost in-the-moment happiness for adults recovering from substance use disorders, suggests a recent study.

The study, published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, examined whether positive psychology exercises increase happiness in people recovering from substance use.

“Addiction scientists are increasingly moving beyond the traditional focus on reducing or eliminating substance use by advocating treatment protocols that encompass quality of life. Yet orchestrated positive experiences are rarely incorporated into treatment for those with substance use disorders,” said Bettina B. Hoeppner, lead author of the study.

As part of the study, the authors noted that effectiveness of positive psychology exercises may be promising tools for bolstering happiness during treatment and may help support long-term recovery.

According to lead researchers, the study underlines the importance of offsetting the challenges of recovery with positive experiences. Recovery is hard, and for the effort to be sustainable, positive experiences need to be attainable along the way.

8 Physical And Mental Health Benefits Of Owning A Dog

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We can thank our dogs for many things – laughs, companionship and muddy paw prints on the carpet included. But do you ever stop and think about the more long-term impacts that owning a dog can have on your physical and mental health?

This National Love Your Pet Day (20th February), we are thanking our pets for the health benefits they bring to our lives, from exercise to increasing confidence.

8 mental and physical health benefits of owning a dog

1. You might visit the doctor less

An Australian survey found that dog owners make fewer visits to the GP in a year and are less likely to be on medication for heart problems or sleep issues.

2. You could be less anxious

Veterinarian Dr Jo Gale, Mars Petcare Scientific Advisor, says: “Several studies have found that interacting with pet dogs or therapy dogs is associated with reductions in the stress hormone cortisol and reductions in self-reported anxiety.”

2. You could have lower risk of cardiovascular disease

A nationwide 2017 study in Sweden found that owning a dog could be beneficial in reducing the risk of the owner developing cardiovascular disease, thanks to having increased motivation to exercise and a non-human social support network. Interestingly, the study found that owning hunting breeds lowered the risk the most.

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3. You are more sociable

An American study, which looked at three factors of being sociable – getting to know people, friendship formation and social support networks – found that dog owners are five times more likely to know people in their community. They found that dogs, acting as companions, helped owners be more sociable on every level, from one-off interactions to the development of deep friendships.

4. You might live longer

In the Waltham Pocket Book of Human-Animal Interactions there is a wealth of evidence to suggest that the physical benefits of having a dog can lead to a longer, healthier life. Section 8 reads: “The many health benefits of regular physical activity are well documented, and include lower rates of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, depression and certain types of cancer.”

5. You have higher self-esteem

2017 study by the University of Liverpool found that growing up with a dog can increase self-esteem in children. It also found young people with pets to be less lonely and have enhanced social skills. Lead author, Rebecca Purewal, states: “Critical ages for the impact of pet ownership on self-esteem, appear to be greatest for children under 6, and preadolescents and adolescents over 10.”

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6. You exercise more

A 2019 study by Lintbells found the average dog owner walks 870 miles every 12 months with their pets. That equates to just four miles less than the distance between John o’Groats in Scotland and Land’s End in Cornwall. Just over half of the 2,000 British adults surveyed owned a dog, and they walk, on average, more than 21 miles a week – 17 of which are with their pet. That’s around seven miles more than non dog owners who only clock up 14 miles a week.

7. Children miss less school

Veterinarian Dr Jo Gale says: “Having pets in the home has been linked to enhanced immune function in children, as evidenced by better school attendance rates due to fewer illness-related absences. The effect was particularly strong for younger children (five to eight-years-old) and, in some cases amounted to nearly three extra weeks of school attendance for children with pets.”

8. You are less likely to be lonely

Studies have shown that, out of any other pet, dogs have the strongest connection to loneliness, mainly because they are on show a lot more. Over 80% 0f people who took part in Mars Petcare’s 2018 research said that, just one month after getting a dog, they felt a lot less lonely.

The Single Most Important Factor in Leading a Happy, Fulfilling Life—According to Science

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Working out at the gym got a lot easier the day I realized the sweat served a higher purpose. I’m 43, and have three kids under eight years old, so if I want to be around—healthy and active—for my grandkids, I better put the work in now or face regret later.

Activities that aren’t inherently joyful, like clocking time on a treadmill, get better when done in service of something bigger.

The same can be said of cleaning out one’s closet. Satisfying, yes, but the buzz is too fleeting to be self-sustaining. It’s only when decluttering is reframed as a piece of a larger, more significant puzzle that it sticks.

Without a bigger picture in mind, our actions are often dictated by “What’s more pleasurable in the moment?” rather than “What’s better in the long-term?” In the moment, the consequences of most choices are insignificant. It makes little difference, on a particular day, if you opt to stay on the couch rather than hitting the gym, but over the course of a year, the negative results from this repeated decision will compound.

An intentional life is one marked by long-term thinking that leads to beneficial short-term decision-making. First, decide what you want. Then, decide—every day, in ways big and small—how to get there. Have the ends in mind, and the means will become clear.

Determining the ends, however, is not always easy.

What makes Netflix so appealing—the quantity of programming—also makes it hard to decide what show to watch. The same quandary applies to life, but the stakes are obviously far greater. There are countless ways to live, values to prioritize, and experiences to optimize for. However, because there’s no clear path to follow despite the abundance of options, it’s easy to bounce aimlessly through life like a tumbleweed.

One of the best ways to live a fulfilling, intentional life, and direct one’s actions toward a beneficial end, is to adopt an “ism” operating system. Some “isms,” such as materialism and consumerism, have proven to be harmful and should be avoided. Others, such as minimalism, lead to smart decision-making, contentment, and happiness.

Years ago, when I first stumbled across the notion of minimalism, I bought into the idea that a life with less could lead to more. Like many, I began my journey by eliminating the low hanging fruit of plentiful and obvious excesses from my life. Over time, despite how satisfying purging could be, I came to realize that minimalism is not an end in itself. The process of decluttering, detaching, and deemphasizing materialism is simply a step on the road toward something more significant. Minimalism is a mechanism to create space and time for what really matters.

The Real Secret to Happiness

For thousands of years, people have grappled with the big question of “What really matters?” What, among the many alternative ways we can choose to spend our finite time, will bring us happiness?

Recently, another batch of smart people have attempted to answer these eternal questions, and their conclusion reinforces something that most of us intuit.

According to Harvard’s Grant & Glueck Study, which tracked more than 700 participants over the course of 75 years, the key to long-term happiness and fulfillment comes down to a single factor: the quality of our relationships.

The root of happiness is not money, fame, or good looks—it’s the people we choose to surround ourselves with and how well we nurture our relationships with them.

Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, explained that: “The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

As with most things in life, when it comes to building good relationships, quality is more important than quantity. Indeed, practicing minimalism is as important in curating relationships as it is in decluttering a closet.

In the 1990s, British anthropologist and researcher Robin Dunbardetermined that we are only capable of having a finite number of people in our social sphere—150 at most—due to the size of our brains. Any more, and it becomes impossible to manage one’s social network. This theory is known as “Dunbar’s Number.”

Dunbar went on to conclude that while we can form, at most, 150 loose relationships, we only have the capacity to form close, meaningful relationships with approximately five individuals.

The takeaways from the Grant & Glueck Study, and Robin Dunbar’s research, are both hopeful and daunting. Hopeful in the sense that our capacity to lead happy, fulfilling lives rests on our capacity to forge close bonds with merely five individuals. Daunting in that most can appreciate the challenge posed by nurturing just one close relationship over a lifetime.

Nonetheless, despite how hard it may be, the reward is worth it. As Booker T. Washington once said, “Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.”

The Payoff from Positive Relationships

The benefits of having close, healthy relationships with members of one’s immediate family are self-evident. A safe, secure, and loving family results in happy, independent children and parents who derive the satisfaction of having completed a job well done. The payoff from social and professional relationships may be less obvious, but are no less important. Consider the following historical examples of people leveraging close relationships into meaningful success:

In the 1920s, Ernest Hemingway moved to Paris to join a group of expatriate, “Lost Generation” writers, including Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who had taken up residence in the Left Bank. They hung out at cafes, argued about politics, caroused late into the nights on the streets of Paris, and produced some of the greatest works of literature of the 20th Century.

In the 1970s, young and brash directors Francis Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Brian De Palma, known as the “Movie Brats,” took Hollywood by storm. They competed, collaborated, shared resources, worked on each other’s films, gave critical feedback, and formed friendships. They transformed an industry because of, not despite, one another.

A “tribe” of inspiring and supportive people can lift you up, hold you accountable, and inspire you to live to your greatest potential. As motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously observed, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. So choose wisely.

Implicit in this principle, of course, is the fact that it works both ways. If you fail to choose wisely, and surround yourself with people who exhibit behaviors and habits that are inconsistent with your own desires, you’ll have a hard time bucking the group’s standards—as unappealing as they may be.

For example, if you desire to lead a healthy and active lifestyle, you’ll be hard pressed to do so if your inner circle consists of couch potato friends who spend their days playing video games and eating junk food. On the other hand, if your friends are physically fit you stand a much greater chance of being fit yourself because the cultural norms of your group will influence your own behavior. Who you spend the most time with is who you are.

Find the Tribe that’s Right for You

Our instincts to fit in have ancient roots. For thousands of years, humans have lived in tribes in which it was essential to conform. To buck the tribe was to be shunned or cast out altogether, leading to great hardship. Modern culture is different, but from fraternities and sororities to sports teams and social groups, tribes still exist and still enforce social norms. Just ask a young college student who is pledging a fraternity whether participating in hazing rituals is optional if you doubt the existence of modern tribes and their codes of social conduct.

In this environment, faced with the expectations of a tribe, you have a few options: (1) conform to the rules of the tribe, (2) resist, or (3) find a new one.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with conforming to a tribe’s social norms—as long as those norms align with your own desires. If you’re living out of alignment with your desired values, and those around you are exemplifying the lifestyle you want to live, then the quickest way to get what you want is to surrender to the group’s standards. But often the opposite is true—you want something different than what the group demands. In this scenario, surrendering to the group is sacrificing the life you desire.

Another option is to resist the group, but this path is perilous. It’s hard enough to change one’s own thoughts and behaviors. Why take on the nearly impossible task of trying to change someone else’s?

The third way is to practice relationship minimalism, which is not always the path of least resistance, but is certainly the path of greatest benefit. Most people enter into relationships too haphazardly, or maintain existing ones by default. They rely on proximity or convenience to guide relationship decision-making, or are gripped by the inertia of the status quo.

Finding the tribe that’s right for you is not always easy. It requires careful consideration. Often it means making difficult decisions to part ways with those who don’t align with your values. But isn’t the payoff of lifelong happiness and fulfillment worth it?

There are people out there who can bring real joy to your life, who you can share meaningful experiences with, and who will be there to lift you up when you need it. Cultivate a tribe in which your desired behavior is the normal behavior. Surround yourself with people who are leading lives you want to live.

Here’s how:

First, use minimalism to shed the extraneous excesses that clutter your home and your mind. Cast aside harmful “isms” that are detracting, not adding, value to your life and the lives of those around you. This will create the space and time necessary to tackle life’s more important issues.

Second, leverage your newfound mental bandwidth to think deeply about how you want to live your life. How do you want to spend your time? What makes you happy? What kind of person do you want to be?

Third, make the hard decisions necessary to part ways with toxic people in your life, and scale back ambivalent relationships to make room for new, better aligned ones.

Fourth, find people who exemplify the values and lifestyles you aspire to. Clusters of such people may already have found each other and formed groups—from book clubs to biking groups—centered around the activities and experiences that are consistent with your desires. Begin to engage.

Fifth, take frequent, consistent steps to strengthen budding relationships with members of your newfound tribe. Show up. Give back. Express gratitude. Let your guard down. Be generous. Find your people, then never take them for granted. You’ll become a transformed and better person when you surround yourself with people who push, prod, and encourage you to reach new heights.

Give of yourself to others who inspire you and a delightful thing will happen: you’ll get so much more than you could ever imagine in return.

***

Jay Harrington blogs at Life and Whim where he offers insights and inspiration about how to live a life full of more First Moments.

The 6 Financial Habits of Successful People

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The image of a successful person conjures up visions of Richard Branson relaxing on his private island or a garage full of shiny luxury cars.

But most wealthy and successful people didn’t get to that stage overnight. It’s the culmination of good personal finance habits and smart spending and saving patterns to create wealth over time.

Glen James, financial adviser and host of the My Millennial Money podcast, put together the top personal finance habits of successful people after interviewing wealthy people and observing the habits of people he’s worked with to improve their money habits.

He shared his six tips with Your Money Live.

1. They keep away from consumer debt

“It’s interesting that now there’s advertising out there almost slapping us across the face every day with borrowing for holidays, borrowing for lounges,” James said.

Wealthy people steer clear of easy credit and ‘buy now pay later’ services like ZipPay and Afterpay. “That’s a trap,” he said.

2. They automatically invest money

James calls this “low hanging fruit”, an easy habit that anyone can start today. Set aside a small amount of money each month and siphon it to a savings account out of reach, a superannuation account or investment.

“If I can remove myself from the process and set up the habit of the (payment) automatically occurring, the year goes by and at the end of the year you’ve got money there that would’ve otherwise been spent,” he said.

James gives an example of his clients who are teachers and “over a period of years they’ve invested into a managed fund, investment account or ETF [exchange-traded fund] and they’re very wealthy relative to where they live and the people around them.”

3. They automate their spending accounts

Most successful people have a solid budget and personal spending plan.

They calculate a weekly budget and automatically divert their cash into various accounts like spending, bills and savings.

“It sounds really basic but the effects on someone’s life can be huge,” James says.

Removing the human nature element and automating your accounts is not only a good habit to get into, but allows you to cap daily spending and removes the temptation to splash the cash on a whim.

4. They keep themselves educated and focused

Successful people are always learning and working on their personal development.

James suggests getting in the habit of listening to podcasts, audiobooks or reading to satiate your curiosity on topics you’re interested in.

“What can you read to inspire you? Whether it’s a financial book, or Your Money website articles, just to keep up to speed and encouraged in your own personal life.

“The best golfer in the world needs a coach. The best tennis player in the world has a coach. All it is, is third-party accountability. I believe none of us are above that.”

5. They are goal-driven

James says successful and wealthy people are strongly motivated, and it’s not always money they are driven by.

The key to being motivated is to pick a goal, and it doesn’t need to be a financial one, he suggests.

“What can you do to give yourself a purpose in life?” James said.

6. They are always thinking long-term

Successful people think about the future and develop the habit of delayed gratification.

“There’s a study that said if they offered people on the street ‘Hey, would you like $100 today or $200 at the end of the year,’ most people would take the $100 today.”

Successful people delay short-term gratification for the benefit of gaining something long term.

Want to Have a Fantastic Day? Give Yourself These 11 Challenges

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Change doesn’t come unless you challenge yourself. Those challenges don’t have to be a thousand miles wide, though. In fact, it’s small, everyday challenges that can make the biggest difference over time. If you’re not sure where to start, try one (or all) of these.

1. Do something mundane.

I know it can be hard to downshift when you’re psyched about an opportunity or have a lot on your plate. But do the dishes like Bill Gates. Fold laundry. Wrap yarn into a ball. The idea is that you give the decision and critical thinking parts of your brain some time to downshift. This lets your thoughts wander, letting the areas associated with creativity be more active.

2. Check your progress.

It’s easy to let goals slide if you don’t give yourself some accountability for them. Assess what you did for the day toward what you’re aiming for. If you weren’t able to work on those goals, determine exactly what interfered and how you can that from happening again tomorrow. Recommit! Checking progress also can include acknowledging how you’ve grown, healed or changed for the better. A big area that’s great to track? Your personal budget.

3. Do something small that scares you.

Even if it’s just braving the cobwebs in your basement or finally saying hello to someone on the subway, this classic recommendation from Eleanor Roosevelt will teach you to move forward, even when the situation isn’t entirely comfortable for you. Eventually, you’ll learn that the little stuff isn’t such a big deal and improve your overall confidence.

4. Keep screens off when you don’t need them.

You don’t have to swear off tech, but the idea is that you control the devices, rather than having them control you. If you are really working toward something important, turn off your phone and other devices until you actually can respond in bulk to any notifications you might get. This way you won’t get distracted and can focus on the job ahead, rather than on yet another ping. Don’t give in to the temptation to turn them on if you have the opportunity to have a conversation in real life instead.

5. Get rid of something.

You don’t have to go all Marie Kondo on your stuff, but aim to toss, recycle or donate what doesn’t have purpose. Start with lightening your purse, deleting some files, tossing unneeded receipts or letting go of that T-shirt you never wear. The less clutter you have, the more space you have to be who you are, and the less you have to worry about and maintain.

6. Perform a good deed.

Acts of kindness don’t just help others. They remind you that you have a very real influence for good in the world, which is essential for your sense of purpose and self-esteem.

7. Contact or connect with someone.

Maybe this means calling your mom or an old friend. Or maybe it means finally sending that email or tweet to an entrepreneur you admire. Talking to someone new as you wait in line counts, too. Interaction can improve mental and physical health, provides opportunities and ensures that you don’t lose yourself too deeply in work.

8. Skip the lies.

Even if the truth is hard to swallow, it doesn’t stop having value. It is what helps people trust you, so just tell it like it is as kindly as you can. Don’t be surprised if this challenge is harder than you expect, because maintaining truth requires you to face just about every insecurity and fear you’ve got.

9. Learn.

The more you know, the more you can apply, and the more you understand the world enough to change it. Listen to an educational podcast, watch a fun instructional Youtube video, ask your smart speaker for some cool facts or take an afternoon to head to a museum. Doing some work by hand rather than taking a shortcut is perfect, too.

9. Rephrase something to be positive.

Consciously halt your knee-jerk tendency to complain and instead find the good in something in front of you. For example, instead of saying, “I couldn’t get in touch with Joe today,” you can say, “I was able to leave Joe a clear message so we can continue tomorrow.” The more you actively look for the positive, the easier it is for your brain to find it.

10. Say “I am” or “I have” rather than “I will”.

You admittedly can’t always get to a job immediately, and there’s definite value in having a clear vision and focus for your future. But with this subtle language shift, you force yourself to try to take some immediate action and not procrastinate. It also helps you look at what you’ve already accomplished toward your goals and can feel good about. For example, say “I am calling her to find a time to meet” or “I have put her on my calendar”, rather than “I will meet her tomorrow.”

11. Do something physical.

Whether it’s just taking the stairs or doing some seriously intense kickboxing, any kind of exercise keeps you agile and fit enough to do everything else you love. It also can help relieve stress, improve energy and boost your mood.

Daily Success Habits: 12 Habits I Try To Do Everyday

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  1. Working out or stretching: Do something active every day. Ideally going to the gym, taking a class. I try to get it in before lunchtime these days with a newborn.
  2. Read personal development book: Something positive and encouraging so I can learn something.
  3. Review goals: I review my annual goals so I know where I am headed. This will impact what I do that day and the ideas I have. My best ideas come while driving and while in the shower. Not working is when I have the best ideas. Reviewing my goals helps get those ideas flowing.
  4. Gratitude journal: Everyday I write down three things I am grateful for in my gratitude journal. When you’re grateful for the things you have, those things instantly increase. The more gratitude you feel, the happier you will be. Studies show people who practice gratitude have closer relationships, are more connected to family and friends and have people look upon them more favorably.  Even being thankful for your boss will give you more patience, understanding, compassion, and kindness. You will forget about the things you use to complain about them if you are thankful for them. I once had a very tough client in my previous corporate consulting job who was not nice to me AT ALL, but I was and still am SO THANKFUL to her for showing me how to handle difficult clients and situations with class. This is exactly why I make it a habit in my morning routine to write down three things I am grateful for each day. It just makes me happier and gives me a better outlook for the day.
  5. Affirmations: If you listen to last week’s podcast, you know how much I believe in affirmations. Repeating positive statements every single day. I’ve been doing this with my daughter lately and we’ve been saying, I choose to make today the best day of my life.
  6. Journal/write: write a blog post or write in my 5-year journals for my daughter memories of our days. This is another form of gratitude for myself and my writing my blog helps me help others and that makes me happy. Sometimes its just writing an Instagram post on my @annarunyan account. As long as I’m doing this daily I feel better.
  7. Drink water: Fill up four bottles of water in the fridge the night before and try to drink them throughout the day.
  8. Work on my top priority: I have three priorities every week so every day I try to do something that will help me complete that priority.
  9. Vitamins: Gotta take them!
  10. Meditation: Even if its 30 seconds of shutting my eyes. Quiet is really hard to find in my house!
  11. Green smoothie: Spinach every day!
  12. Devotional: Reading my bible or daily devotionals that I get sent to me every day. Habits make them easy for you.

Come follow my Instagram accounts, Classy Career Girl and Anna Runyan to see the behind the scenes of me doing these habits each and every day!

One last thing: Remember this. You can create your future! You are in control of your calendar, your day, your response to what happens in your life. You can make your dreams happen. I believe in you! Let’s make do it!

Have a great day and I’ll see you next time!

How Self-Help Can Help The World

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Many meditators, yogis, and other spiritual practitioners will answer this question with a resounding yes. Critics – ranging from religious studies and management scholars to serious Buddhist practitioners – may disagree.

Mindfulness meditation, which has grown exponentially in popularity in recent years, is commonly associated with a wide-ranging set of contemplative practices aimed at training oneself to pay “attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally,” as defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society.

Early leaders in the mindfulness movement, many of whom came of age in the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, had a more activist bent; they hoped that mindfulness would lead to a wave of self-actualization, increased compassion for others, and democratic decision-making. With these tools, humanity would be able to collectively address the many complex social problems we collectively face, such as racism, overconsumption, economic inequality, and environmental degradation.

To investigate the spread of mindfulness across powerful social institutions in science, healthcare, education, business, and the military, I travelled around the country from 2010-2012, and again in 2015, talking with leaders of the mindfulness movement. The passionate, inspiring mindfulness advocates at top Ivy League and flagship universities, at Fortune 500 companies like Google and General Mills, at K-12 schools, and the U.S. military had personally benefited from meditating and felt bolstered by a wave of scientific evidence which has supported the practices’ beneficial effects on well-being, memory, attention, meta-awareness, cognitive flexibility, and emotional regulation. Above all, by sharing mindfulness, meditators believed they not only transformed themselves, but the world around them.

Yet, most meditators I spoke with revealed more self-centered effects from spending time in quiet contemplation. This was not surprising to some of mindfulness’ leaders.

Sitting in his office at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society in January of 2015 in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, Executive Director Saki Santorelli told me that people loved to do mindfulness because they learned about who they were, and through the practice, they transcended who they previously were, and who they had thought they were. This process was intrinsically rewarding and exhilarating.

People come to their mindfulness program, he said, because they have “a Real. Life. Problem. Something is just not right,” he said. “And what keeps people engaged is . . . the most interesting topic in the world.” He paused and turned toward me.

“What is this most interesting topic in the world?” He paused again, waiting.

“The most interesting topic in the world,” he responded, “is me.” He continued, “People come here because they are interested in me. Meaning themselves. And something’s not quite right about me or I want to learn more about me including “how am I going to live with this condition for the next 20 or 30 or 40 years?”
In teaching mindfulness at the Center, they seek to “draw out,” rather than “pour in” knowledge. They seek to ignite “a fire with people to know more about ‘who’ or ‘what’ I actually am,” he said. He explained:

They start with practice. Practice reveals not because I say so, but because they discover it. They discover that they have a breath, they discover that it feels a particular way, they discover something about the relative present moment, whatever that is. They discover something about what happens in their viscera when they have a particular thought or a particular emotion . . . They discover the ways that they’re conditioned or limiting themselves or living today out of yesterday’s memory, about whom or what I am or what I’m capable of. And they love it. . . . And whenever people discover a little bit more about who they are, they transcend. And ultimately, I think that’s what’s transformative—is that sense of transcending. Transcend some idea about who you think they are, even if it’s a tiny little idea, and then you feel more room.

Others found meditation useful for different reasons. Neuroscientist Ravi Chaudhary (pseudonym used upon request) thought mindfulness practice provided him with a critical cognitive distance that enabled him to pause, reflect, and ultimately, have greater self-control in facing the challenges that arose in his life. He has learned “not be super reactive to unpleasant situations,” he said. “There’s difficult situations no matter what,” but with mindfulness, he now can take “a moment, sit back and accept that . . . I am not part of it, but rather it is there and I am here.” This helps him make decisions “as if it’s a presumed situation,” and he feels less entangled with difficult situations.

These effects of mindfulness meditation are no doubt important: they help people learn about themselves and, hopefully, engage in more thoughtful decision-making. Mindfulness meditation can also have a therapeutic effect for many people, helping them de-stress, calm themselves and provide openings to experience a sense of peace.

However, mindfulness’s impact off the cushion of the larger organizations and communities where it is practiced largely remains to be seen. Most mindfulness programs have never gotten around to confronting the many larger-scale social problems we face as a society; in fact many newer practitioners might be surprised to learn that founders of early mindfulness programs had sought out such activist-minded ends. In speaking with dozens of program leaders and mindfulness teachers, only a handful had any evidence at all that their programs’ impacts extended beyond the program’s direct participants and into the larger organizations they were a part of.

The impact of mindfulness practice, even among top CEOs and corporate leaders, is largely not trickling down into their larger companies and causing them to cut down expected work hours or loads or increase wages, which are the fundamental causes of the stress many Americans face today. While meditation practices may individually improve the lives of practitioners, and perhaps even those they regularly interact with, it is less clear how the practices lead to the collective action needed to address the complex social problems we face daily in our workplaces and in our democracy.

Yet, the myth that mindfulness will lead to a more progressive, utopian world continues to linger, as a mirage, that might appear just around the bend.

Featured image credit: “Take a seat photo” by Simon Wilkes. Public Domain via Unsplash.

9 Valuable Lessons I Learned In The Real World

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Let me tell you a story:

When I was in the 3rd grade, we had to write a paragraph about something we loved, and then draw a picture in the box above it.

We were first asked to draw and write in pencil, and then once the teacher had checked our work, we were supposed to carefully go over each word in the paragraph with a black pen, creating the finished product.

When I started going over the words with my black pen, I outlined the first word of the paragraph, and then the second, and then I thought it would be fun to outline the last word of my story, and then some words in the middle — just sort of outlining the letters I was drawn to next, not following any sort of rigid path.

My teacher walked over and said, “Cole? How’s it coming?”

I held up my piece of paper to show her how far I’d gotten — I was very proud of my work.

She scrunched her eyebrows, crossed her arms and asked, “Why aren’t you going over the words in order?”

A bit confused by her question, I said, very honestly, “They’re all going to be colored in at the end. Why does it matter how I get there?”

She called home that night and told my parents I had a learning disability.

My experience with formal education was, shall we say, less than impressive.

I was a straight C student all the way up through high school. I was a horrible test-taker. I didn’t do very well on my ACT. I was constantly asked to leave class because the questions I would ask were so rudimentary that my teachers thought I was mocking them — when really (at least, most of the time…) I just had trouble following the lesson.

Not everyone learns the same way.

And I believe a significant portion of my adolescence was wasted by a school system that tried to wedge me into a tiny circle on a Scranton sheet.

I’m not dumb.

I’ve been playing Mozart and Beethoven on the piano since I was seven years old. I’ve won writing contests and debate competitions. I am about to publish my first book. I just learn better by getting my hands dirty — not sitting in a fake-marble desk chair listening to a monotone teacher in front of a whiteboard.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I definitely did not give school everything I had — I gave up on school at a very early age. Mostly because I felt like school gave up on me.

School never asked, “How do you learn?” Instead, school told me how I should learn — and when it didn’t work, school called me Dumb.

Well, here are 9 things school didn’t teach me that I learned on my own:

1. There are no rules

The people who enforce the rules (creatively speaking here) are the people who don’t have the confidence or the belief that the world is an easel and everyone has a paintbrush.

2. Titles are crippling, not “The goal”

All those kids that got straight As, went to the Ivy League school of their choice, got the fancy title at the fancy company… They can keep it.

Titles are crippling.

Titles encourage you to relax, and let your title speak for you — instead of your skill and knowledge earning you other people’s respect.

But when push comes to shove, it’s the people who have gotten their hands dirty in the trenches you want on your team. Not the ones with a fancy title in front of their names.

3. There is no “1 right way” to do anything

This is a massive disservice school teaches kids — that there is a “right” way and a “wrong” way.

False. There are a million ways.

And the name of the game isn’t to do it any one particular way. It’s to understand which one works the best for YOU, and will allow you to maximize your strengths.

4. HOW is more important than WHAT

HOW you do something is far more important than WHAT you do.

In every industry, there are those who do things with honor, integrity, discipline, passion, and heart, and there are those who do so with malicious intent, or a lack of sincerity, etc.

Think about the people who respect or look up to. You look up to them because of HOW they approach what they do, not WHAT they do.

5. Acceptance is overrated

Remember all those class projects you had to do?

Remember all the times you were told to agree with your classmates for the sake of learning how to ‘work well with others’ ?

That cultivates a bad habit of suppressing your own unique voice and the great debates that spark truly meaningful ideas.

Being accepted is overrated — and the real world taught me that the hard way.

6. Learning how to learn is what’s important

Reiterating the point here, school would be so much more beneficial if it taught students HOW to learn — not WHAT to learn.

What good is memorizing chemistry equations if you don’t fundamentally understand the process of learning?

So many kids struggle as soon as they get out of school because they don’t have anyone telling them anymore, “Here, learn this next.”

They lack direction — because they were never taught the art of learning.

7. Your passion is not a waste of time

School (and society at large) wants us to believe that there are acceptable hobbies and hobbies that are a waste of time. It’s the reason the first departments to go are always art or music related.

But what you love is NEVER a waste of time. You will always learn more from an interest pulled at from your heart than a pursuit dangled in front of your head.

8. “Success” does not have one definition

School likes to measure things — usually in the form of a letter grade beside each subject of study.

It inherently defines “success” as “better” or “higher” or “more.” But that’s just not true. “Success” could mean honest expression, or it could mean presence, or it could mean facing a challenge, failing, and learning a valuable lesson.

Success comes in many different forms. It’s not always about getting the “A.”

9. It’s OK to be different

And finally, the most important one of them all: Who you are is already good enough.

School has this funny way of making kids that are “different” feel extra-different, extra-weird, extra-not-normal. But you know what? Get out into the real world, and the most valuable thing you could possibly have is to be “different.”

Everybody wants to stand out. Everybody wants something that’s going to set them apart.

You have what everybody wants: Remember that.

This article originally appeared on Inc Magazine.

7 Signs You’re Too Hard on Yourself

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People who are too hard on themselves typically see their self-criticism as justified. Perfectionists are especially vulnerable to this. To give yourself a reality check, read through these seven types of excessively negative self-judgment, and note which you can relate to.

1. You psychologically beat yourself up over mistakes that have minimal consequences.

The vast majority of the time, when we make mistakes, they’re small ones that have no or minimal consequences. For example, you’re usually vigilant about checking sell-by dates, but one time you don’t, and you end up buying a huge tub of yogurt that’s expiring the day you buy it. Or you usually choose fruit carefully, but you manage to pick three rotten avocados in a row.

Tip: Try giving yourself a threshold for mistakes to cut yourself some slack on. For example, mistakes that waste under $5 or under 10 minutes. (This strategy of creating rules of thumb is one I talk about more in the podcast discussion here.)

2. You keep criticizing yourself after having corrected a mistake.

Earlier today, I called someone the wrong name in an email. I realized my mistake a couple of minutes after I hit send and messaged the person straight away to apologize, but then continued to criticize myself for it, particularly because I’d done the same thing to someone else a couple of weeks ago. On and off all day, I’ve been telling myself how rude and disrespectful it is to get someone’s name wrong. While this is true, I’d done what I could to make the situation right, so my self-criticism probably should have stopped there.

Tip: Recognize that the healthy role of guilt is to motivate us to make amends and to endeavor not to repeat mistakes. Allow yourself to move on once you’ve done your best to correct an error.

3. Your self-care is continually bumped off your to-do list in favor of your other priorities. 

Let’s say you need a new mattress, because you current one has become uncomfortable. You’ve been trying to find the time and energy to mattress shop for six months, but it keeps getting usurped on your to-do list by other things.

An example of mine is that the last time I got a massage was three years ago when I was pregnant. Pretty much since then, I’ve been thinking, “Once X, Y, and Z is over, and I have more time, I’ll go get another massage.” Inevitably something else comes along that keeps me busy, and I never go. I’m far from miserable, but still, three years is a long time to never prioritize something I’d like to do!

Pay particular attention to when you continuously bump health– and fitness-related self-care, since these are high-stakes areas of life.

Tip: You might take care of yourself reasonably well in some ways, but have some domains of self-care that you never prioritize. Consider allowing yourself the time, money, or mental space you need.

4. When someone treats you poorly, you find a way to interpret it as your fault. 

When something goes wrong interpersonally, do you always see it as your fault? For example:

  • If a teammate doesn’t follow through, it was your fault for not reminding them.
  • When someone wrongs you, you second-guess yourself about whether you’re entitled to feel angry. You tell yourself the problem must be some aspect of you, like you’re too fussy or demanding.
  • If someone doesn’t communicate with you clearly, it must be because you’re unapproachable, or you didn’t make it easy enough for them to communicate.

If you find yourself wanting to speak up in situations when you feel annoyed or aggrieved, do you do it? Or, do you second-guess yourself and chicken out?

Tip: Recognize the middle ground between taking too little personal responsibility and too much. If you currently take 100 percent of the responsibility when things go wrong, self-experiment with taking 50 percent and go from there. Ask yourself, “What’s the most helpful level of responsibility to take?” in each specific situation that comes up. By this, I mean what level of responsibility-taking is likely to reduce the chance of the problem reoccurring? It’s unlikely to be letting the other person escape any responsibility.

5. You always go the extra mile.

Going the extra mile is admirable, but constantly going to the last inch of the extra mile is exhausting. If you deplete yourself by doing this, there will likely be negative consequences you experience as a result. For example, you’re so busy being perfect in relatively unimportant areas that you leave important things unattended to.

Tip: This pattern can stem from imposter syndrome, where you fear that not being excessively conscientious will result in your flaws being revealed and a quick unraveling of your life. The easiest way to break this pattern is to practice not going the extra mile in tiny ways. Each time you do this and nothing terrible happens, it will get easier to do. Likewise, if you don’t go the extra mile, and something small goes wrong as a result, you’ll recognize you were able to handle it.

6. You feel like a failure, even though you mostly have your life together.

People who are self-critical look at their life and see all the areas in which they’re not perfect. They overlook all the things they do right.

Tip: Ask yourself what your life looks like to other people. If other people would view you as having your life together, consider whether there is at least a grain of truth to that. Is the reality of your life and decision-making less rosy than other people might perceive, but considerably better than you give yourself credit for? What do you do right that you take for granted? For example, you pay your bills on time.

7. You see other people’s “dumb” mistakes as understandable, but not your own.

We all do stupid things. For example, you turn on your blender without the lid on properly and get smoothie all over your walls. When other people do things like this, do you see their mistakes as understandable? After all, it’s easy to get distracted and make mindless mistakes. Conversely, when you make these types of mistakes, do you cut yourself no slack whatsoever and launch into self-criticism?

Tip: When things like this happen, ask yourself what you’d say to someone else who you like and respect in a similar situation. Try saying this to yourself!

Take-Home Messages

  • There are practical and relatively simple things you can do to reduce your self-criticism.
  • To be motivated to try these strategies, you’ll need to understand why ditching harsh self-criticism will benefit you. It’s not just about feeling better. Being less self-critical can help you make better decisions and waste less time and emotional energy, which in turn will make you more productive.

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30 Behaviors That Will Make You Feel Unstoppable

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A lot of people are good at what they do. Some are even elite. A select few are completely unstoppable.

Those who are unstoppable are in their own world. They don’t compete with anyone but themselves. You never know what they will do — only that you will be forced to respond. Even though they don’t compete with you, they make you compete with them.

Are you unstoppable? By the end of this blog you will be.

Let’s get started:

1. Don’t think — know and act.

“Don’t think. You already know what you have to do, and you know how to do it. What’s stopping you?” — Tim Grover

Rather than analyzing and thinking, act. Attuned to your senses, and with complete trust in yourself, do what you instinctively feel you should. As Oprah has said, “Every right decision I have ever made has come from my gut. Every wrong decision I’ve made was the result of me not listening to the greater voice of myself.”

The moment you start thinking, you’ve already lost. Thinking swiftly pulls you out of the zone.

2. Always be prepared so you have the freedom to act on instinct.

“Just as the yin-yang symbol possesses a kernel of light in the dark, and of dark in the light, creative leaps are grounded in a technical foundation.” — Josh Waitzkin

Become a master of your craft. While everyone else is relaxing, you’re practicing and perfecting. Learn the left-brained rules in and out so your right brain can have limitless freedom to break the rules and create.

With enhanced consciousness, time will slow down for you. You’ll see things in several more frames than others. While they’re trying to react to the situation, you’ll be able to manipulate and tweak the situation to your liking.

3. Don’t forget your WHY on the path of success.

While pursuing big dreams, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day weeds. If you don’t continually remind yourself WHY you’re doing this, and WHY it’s important to you and other people, then you’ll get lost.

Additionally, as you become successful, don’t forget WHY you’re really doing this. Having nice things is, well, nice. But for you, it’s never been about the money, prestige or anything else outside of you. Take these things away and nothing changes for you. You’re still going to be pushing your personal limits and giving it your all. Give these things to you and they won’t destroy you like they do most people.

4. Never be satisfied.

“The way to enjoy life best is to wrap up one goal and start right on the next one. Don’t linger too long at the table of success, the only way to enjoy another meal is to get hungry.” — Jim Rohn

Even after you achieve a goal, you’re not content. For you, it’s not even about the goal. It’s about the climb to see how far you can push yourself.

Does this make you ungrateful? Absolutely not. You’re entirely humbled and grateful for everything in your life. Which is why you will never get complacent or lazy.

5. Always be in control.

“Addictions embody repetition without progress. They produce incapacity as a payoff.”  —  Steven Pressfield

Unlike most people, who are dependent on substances or other external factors, you are in control of what you put in your body, how you spend your time and how long you stay in the zone.

Act based on instinct, not impulse. Just because you could doesn’t mean you do. And when you do, it’s because you want to, not because you have to.

6. Be true to yourself.

Although 70 percent of US employees hate their jobs and only one in three Americans report being happy, relentless and unstoppable people purge everything from their life they hate.

Have the self-respect and confidence to live life on your terms. When something isn’t right in your life, change it. Immediately.

7. Never let off the pressure.

“Pressure can bust pipes, but it also can make diamonds.” — Robert Horry

Most people can handle pressure in small doses. But when left to their own devices, they let off the pressure and relax.

Not you. You never take the pressure off yourself. Instead, you continuously turn-up the pressure. It’s what keeps you alert and active.

8. Don’t be afraid of the consequences of failure.

“The idea of trying and still failing — of leaving yourself without excuses — is the worst fear within the fixed mindset.” — Dr. Carol Dweck

Most people stay close to the ground, where it’s safe. If they fall, it won’t hurt that bad. But when you choose to fly high, the fall may kill you. And you’re OK with that. To you, there is no ceiling and there is no floor. It’s all in your head. If something goes wrong — if you “fail” — you adjust and keep going.

9. Don’t compete with others. Make them compete with you.

Most people are competing with other people. They continuously check-in to see what others in their space (their “competition”) are doing. As a result, they mimic and copy what’s “working.”

Conversely, you’ve left all competition behind. Competing with others makes absolutely zero sense to you. It pulls you from your authentic zone. So you zone out all the external noise and instead zone into your internal pressure to produce.

10. Never stop learning.

“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.” —  Alain de Botton

Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning. If you’re pursuing a bigger future, then you’ll be failing a lot. If you’re failing a lot, then you’re learning and transforming and reshaping your brain.

When you look back every 90 days at your progress — by measuring THE GAIN rather than THE GAP — you’ll be stunned at all you’ve learned and accomplished. You’ll look back and be blown away by where you were and who you were. And how far you’ve come. This will bolster your confidence to continue stretching forward with greater imaginative leaps.

11. Success isn’t enough — it only increases the pressure.

“I firmly believe you never should spend your time being the former anything.” — Condoleezza Rice

For most people, becoming “successful” is enough. At some point or another, they stop focusing on the future and become content with a particular “status” they’ve acquired. The status, it turns out, was what they were really after.

However, when you’re relentless, success only increases the pressure to do more. Immediately following the achievement of a goal, you’re focused on your next challenge. Rather than a status, you’re interested in continuous growth, which always requires you to detach from your prior status and identity.

12. Don’t get crushed by success.

“Success can become a catalyst for failure.” — Greg McKeown

Most people can’t handle success, authority or privilege. It destroys them. It makes them lazy. When they get what they want, they stop doing the very things that got them there. The external noise becomes too intense.

But for you, no external noise can push harder than your own internal pressure. It’s not about this achievement, but the one after, and the one after that. There is no destination. Only when you’re finished.

13. Completely own it when you screw up.

“Implementing extreme ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility. Admitting mistakes, taking ownership and developing a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team.” ― Jocko Willink

No blame. No deception or illusion. Just the cold hard truth. When you mess up, you own it. And as the leader, you own it when your team fails. Only with extreme ownership can you have complete freedom and control.

14. Let your work speak for itself.

“Well done, is well said.” — Anthony Liccione

Cal Newport’s recent book, Deep Work, distinguishes “deep work” from “shallow work.” Here’s the difference:

Deep work is:

  • Rare
  • High value
  • And non-replicable (i.e., not easy to copy/outsource)

Shallow work is:

  • Common
  • Low value
  • Replicable (i.e., anyone can do it)

Talking is shallow. Anyone can do it. It’s easily replicated. It’s low value. Conversely, deep work is rare. It’s done by people who are focused and working while everyone else is talking. Deep work is so good it can’t be ignored. It doesn’t need words. It speaks for itself.

15. Always work on your mental strength.

“Mental resilience is arguably the most critical trait of a world-class performer, and it should be nurtured continuously. Left to my own devices, I am always looking for ways to become more and more psychologically impregnable. When uncomfortable, my instinct is not to avoid the discomfort but to become at peace with it. My instinct is always to seek out challenges as opposed to avoiding them.” — Josh Waitzkin

The better you can be under pressure, the further you’ll go than anyone else. Because they’ll crumble under pressure.

The best training you will ever do is mental training. Wherever your mind goes, your body follows. Wherever your thoughts go, your life follows.

16. Confidence is your greatest asset.

recent meta-analysis shows that most people misunderstand confidence. Confidence doesn’t lead to high performance. Rather, confidence is a by-product of previous performance.

Confidence and imagination go hand-in-hand. The more confidence you have, based on small/large wins from your past, the more imaginative you can be with your future.

Hence, your confidence determines:

  • The size of challenges/goals you undertake (imagination)
  • How likely you will achieve those goals (commitment)
  • How well you bounce back from failures (flexibility)

17. Surround yourself with people who remind you of the future, not the past.

When you surround yourself with people who remind you of your past, you’ll have a hard time progressing. This is why we get stuck in certain roles, which we can’t break free from (e.g., the fat kid or shy girl).

Surrounding yourself with people who you want to be like allows you a fresh slate. You’re no longer defined by your past, only the future you are creating.

18. Let things go, learn your lessons.

“You can have a great deal of experience and be no smarter for all the things you’ve done, seen, and heard. Experience alone is no guarantee of lifetime growth. But if you regularly transform your experiences into new lessons, you will make each day of your life a source of growth. The smartest people are those who can transform even the smallest events or situations into breakthroughs in thinking and action.” — Dan Sullivan and Catherine Nomura

Being unstoppable requires carrying no unnecessary mental or emotional baggage. Consequently, you’ll need to immediately and completely forgive anyone who has wronged you. However, forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget. Instead, it means you integrate your new experiences into your daily approach so that you learn from your experiences and don’t repeat them.

19. Have clear goals.

“While a fixation on results is certainly unhealthy, short-term goals can be useful developmental tools if they are balanced within a nurturing long-term philosophy.” — Josh Waitzkin

According to loads of psychology research, the most motivating goals are clearly defined and time-bound.

Your goals can either be focused on your process/behaviors (e.g., I’m going to exercise 5 days per week) or on the outcomes you’re seeking (e.g., I’m going to have 10 percent body fat by October 2019).

For most people, behaviorally-focused goals are the better and more motivating option. But when you crave the results so much that the work is irrelevant, your aim should be directed straight at the outcomes you want.

Without question, the human brain appreciates tangible things to focus on. Numbers and events, according to Dan Sullivan, are candy for the brain. I agree. Goals framed as numbers and events are more powerful.

Numbers can be both process-oriented and results-oriented:

  • I will workout 60 minutes 4 times per week (and at least 150 times per year)
  • I will be able to run 10 miles in under 90 minutes by October 2019

The first bullet above is process-oriented, the second bullet is results-oriented.

You can actually turn the second bullet above into a tangible event, which can create anticipation and excitement.

  • By October 2019, I will have run 10 miles in under 90 minutes on the beach and afterward, eat at my favorite restaurant

Events can cause transformational experiences that upgrade your subconscious mindset. Events can be immersive and deeply memorable — and by creating deep memories, you shutter your former belief system.

As an example, my wife and I are currently trying to improve our marriage and connection. We are attending therapy and setting goals.

One of the EVENTS I want to create an experience with Lauren this year is to fly to Chicago and eat dinner at Alinea, a famous restaurant in Chicago we’ve both been wanting to go to. Given that we now have five kids and are super busy, it would be very easy to push that desired experience off.

But when you’re truly living your life, you don’t push stuff like that off. In other words, you don’t build your dreams around your life. Your build your life around your dreams. You don’t hesitate.

So, we’ll schedule it, buy our plane tickets, and then figure out how to make it real. If you don’t initiate action first, then you’ll always be left waiting for the perfect moment. It’s best to put yourself in a position where you must act. In my book, Willpower Doesn’t Work, I called these types of initiations that compel forward progress, “forcing functions.”

20. Respond immediately, rather than analyzing or stalling.

“He who hesitates is lost.” — Cato

The anticipation of an event is always more extreme than the event itself — both for positive and negative events.

Just do it. Train yourself to respond immediately when you feel you should do something. Stop questioning yourself. Don’t analyze it. Don’t question if it came from God or from yourself. Just act.

You’ll figure out what to do after you’ve taken action. Until you take action, it will all be hypothetical. But once you act, it becomes practical.

21. Choose simplicity over complication.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” — Albert Einstein

It’s easy to be complicated. Most of the research and jargon in academia and business is over-complicated.

Cutting to the core and hitting the truth is hard because it’s simple. As Leonardo da Vinci has said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Very few people will give you the truth. When you ask them a question, it gets mighty complicated. “There are so many variables” or “It depends,” they say.

T. S. Eliot said it best, “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

Wisdom is timeless and simple. Learn wisdom and choose it.

22. Never be jealous or envious of someone else’s accomplishments.

Being unstoppable means you genuinely want what’s best for everyone — even those you would consider your competitors. Jealousy and envy are the ego — which operates out of fear.

The reason you are happy for other people’s success is because their success has nothing to do with you.

You are in control of you. And you are different from every other person. There is no one who can do exactly what you can do. You have your own superpower with your own unique ability to contribute. And that’s what you’re going to do.

23. Take the shot every time.

“If I fail more than you, I win.” — Seth Godin

You miss every shot you don’t take. And most people don’t want to take the shot. Fear of failure paralyzes them.

The only way you can become unstoppable is if you stop thinking about it. Just take the shot. Don’t do it only when it’s convenient or when you feel ready. Just go and make whatever adjustments you need after the fact.

Here’s what’s crazy — you don’t actually know which shots will go in. I’ve found this over and over. By being consistent, for example, at posting blogs, I’ve been shocked at which ones have gone viral. Almost always, it’s not the one you’d expect. But it would never happen if I wasn’t just taking shots.

Are you taking shots every day?

Are you trying stuff that could potentially fail?

At some point or another, life does kind of just become a numbers game. You have to be great at what you do. But you also have to stack the odds in your favor.

24. Seek results, but don’t get caught up in them. This will keep you stuck living in the past.

“Knowledge comes from the past, so it’s safe. It is also out of date. It’s the opposite of originality. Experience is built from solutions to old situations and problems. This is lazy. Experience is the opposite of being creative. If you can prove you’re right you’re set in concrete. You cannot move with the times or with other people. Your mind is closed. You are not open to new ideas.” — Paul Arden

When you start doing noteworthy stuff, there are benefits that can become distractions. It can get easy to “ride the wave” of your previous work. Keep practicing. Perfect your craft. Never forget what got you here. Results are based in the past. Don’t get stuck in a “status.”

25. Think and act 10X.

“When 10X is your measuring stick, you immediately see how you can bypass what everyone else is doing.” — Dan Sullivan

Most people — even those you deem to be “world class” — are not operating at 10X. In truth, you could surpass anyone if you radically stretch your thinking and belief system.

Going 10X changes everything. As Dan Sullivan has said, “10X thinking automatically takes you ‘outside the box’ of your present obstacles and limitations.” It pulls you out of the problems most people are dealing with and opens you to an entirely new field of possibilities.

When you take your goal of earning $100,000 this year and change it to $1,000,000, you’re forced to operate at a different level. The logical and traditional approach doesn’t work with 10X. As Shane Snow, author ofSmartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success, has said, “10x progress is built on bravery and creativity instead. Working smarter.”

The question is: Are you willing to go there? Not just entertain the thought for a second or two and then revert back to common thinking. No. Are you willing to sit with 10X thinking? Are you willing to question your own thought processes and open yourself to believing an entirely different set of possibilities?

Could you convince yourself to believe in your 10X potential? Are you willing to undertake goals that seem lunacy, to you and everyone else? Are you willing to take the mental leap, trusting “the universe will conspire to make it happen”?

26. Set goals that far exceed your current capabilities.

“You need to aim beyond what you are capable of. You need to develop a complete disregard for where your abilities end. If you think you’re unable to work for the best company in its sphere, make that your aim. If you think you’re unable to be on the cover of TIME magazine, make it your business to be there. Make your vision of where you want to be a reality. Nothing is impossible.” — Paul Arden

If your goals are logical, they won’t force you to create luck. Being unstoppable means your goals challenge you to be someone more than you currently are. As Jim Rohn has said, “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better.”

27. Make time for recovery and rejuvenation.

“Wherever you are, make sure you’re there.” — Dan Sullivan

When you focus on results, rather than being busy, you’re 100 percent on when you’re working and 100 percent off when you’re not. This not only allows you to be present in the moment, but it allows you the needed time to rest and recover.

Your ability to work at a high level is like fitness. If you never take a break between sets, you won’t be able to build strength, stamina, and endurance. However, not all “rest” produces recovery. Certain things are more soothing than others.

Recovering from my work generally consists of writing in my journal, listening to music, spending time with my wife and kids, preparing and eating delicious food, or serving other people. These things rejuvenate me. They make my work possible, but also meaningful.

28. Start before you’re ready.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese Proverb

Most people wait. They believe they can start after they have enough time, money, connections and credentials. They wait until they feel “secure.” Not people who are unstoppable.

Unstoppable people started last year. They started five years ago before they even knew what they were doing. They started before they had any money. They started before they had all the answers. They started when no one else believed in them. The only permission they needed was the voice inside them prompting them to move forward. And they moved.

29. If you need permission, you probably shouldn’t do it.

A mentor of mine is a highly successful real estate investor. Throughout his career, he’s had hundreds of people ask him if they should “go into real-estate.”

He tells every one of them the same thing: that they shouldn’t do it. In fact, he actually tries talking most of them out of it. And in most cases, he succeeds.

Why would he do that? “Those who are going to succeed will do so regardless of what I say,” he told me.

I know so many people who chase whatever worked for other people. They never truly decide what they want to do, and end up jumping from one thing to the next — trying to strike quick gold. And repetitively, they stop digging just a few feet from the gold after resigning the spot is barren.

No one will ever give you permission to live your dreams.

30. Don’t make exceptions.

Zig Ziglar used to tell a story of traveling one day and not getting in bed until 4 a.m. An hour and a half later (5:30), his alarm went off. He said, “Every fiber of my being was telling me to stay in bed.” But he had made a commitment, so he got up anyway. Admittedly, he had a horrible day and wasn’t productive at all.

Yet, he says that decision changed his life. As he explains:

“Had I bowed to my human, physical, emotional and mental desire to sleep in, I would have made that exception. A week later, I might have made an exception if I only got four hours of sleep. A week later, maybe I only got seven hours of sleep. The exception so many times becomes the rule. Had I slept in, I would’ve faced that danger. Watch those exceptions!”

Hence, Zig was unstoppable.

Conclusion

When you’re unstoppable, you will make sure to get what you want. Everything you need to know is already within you. All you need to do is trust yourself and act.

Are you unstoppable?

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