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.

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.

Why You Need To Follow Your Passion, Even If It Requires Sacrifice

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I call this “the passion trap”.A quick look over at Amazon suggests that “follow your passion” is a lucrative bit of advice. But (and I’m definitely not the first to say this) it’s not the best advice. And I’m a much happier, more “successful” person for interrogating the reasons behind my passions.!

Story time.

The first email I ever sent was to Stephen Hawking. I sent the email in the spring of 1998 when I was 16 years old from a computer at my high school (because I didn’t have internet at home) using a friend’s AOL account. I had just finished reading Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and knew that I wanted to be an astrophysicist (or a cosmologist). I emailed Hawking to tell him how much of an inspiration he was to me and how passionate I was about physics.

Passion. Follow your passion. For those of us lucky to have choices in our life trajectory we’re bombarded by advice to follow our passions. Chase your dreams. Go to culinary school. Major in whatever you love. Drop out and start a company! Listen to no one, just follow your heart!

When I was in high school I was a physics and math chauvinist. I saw psychology and the biological sciences as “soft”. My love for physics was probably planted in part by this goofy book:

I’ve always been inclined toward the sciences, but that book lit a fire in me. It got my imagination going about what could be possible if enough smart people got together to work on a Big Idea. This creative aspect of science really drew me in and, I’ve come to realize, shaped my career.

Whenever anyone asked 10-year-old me what he wanted to be when he grew up, I’d answer “an astrophysicist”. Yeah, I wasn’t the coolest kid. But that spark stayed with me and I found some fun outlets. I spent a lot of time in high school playing video games, role playing games with friends, etc. All of the nerd-flavored creative outlets.

As for school, it was easy and I coasted through.

Home life was… non-standard… so when I was given the opportunity to skip my senior year of high school to attend the University of Southern California I seized it. One late August night in 1998, at about 2 am, I called up my buddy Curtis and he drove me to Los Angeles to drop me off at college.

I immediately declared as a physics major and kept going with all the “advanced” versions of the courses. Around the same time I discovered that I enjoyed socializing and I made a lot of new friends. One part of my life was rewarding, the other was not, so I stopped going to classes. I did poorly, but I had a lot of fun doing it. My love for physics started waning due to the monotony of the work and the lack of wonder exhibited by the professionals I saw working in academic physics.

The only reason I didn’t drop physics sooner was the fear that my physics friends would make fun of me for “going soft”. And because I didn’t know what else to do.

Physics was all I’d ever wanted to do. Physics was my passion.

There’s that word again.

Becoming a astrophysicist was this grand ideal I’d built up for myself. It had become part of my identity. Once you start defining yourself by one thing—a political belief, religious affiliation, career, family, whatever—you lose identity to that thing. You reduce the number of paths to happiness and success and wrap your entire self around it.

To put it mildly: that can be unhealthy.

Modern psychological thinking generally breaks “passion” into two distinct subtypes. In their highly influential 2003 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology paper, Les Passions de l’Âme: On Obsessive and Harmonious Passion, Vallerand and colleagues differentiate harmonious passion (HP) from obsessive passion (OP):

Harmonious passion (HP) results from an autonomous internalization of the activity into the person’s identity. An autonomous internalization occurs when individuals have freely accepted the activity as important for them without any contingencies attached to it. This type of internalization produces a motivational force to engage in the activity willingly and engenders a sense of volition and personal endorsement about pursuing the activity. Individuals are not compelled to do the activity but rather they freely choose to do so. With this type of passion, the activity occupies a significant but not overpowering space in the person’s identity and is in harmony with other aspects of the person’s life.

Obsessive passion (OP), by contrast, results from a controlled internalization of the activity into one’s identity. Such an internalization originates from intrapersonal and/or interpersonal pressure either because certain contingencies are attached to the activity such as feelings of social acceptance or self-esteem, or because the sense of excitement derived from activity engagement becomes uncontrollable. Thus, although individuals like the activity, they feel compelled to engage in it because of these internal contingencies that come to control them. They cannot help but to engage in the passionate activity. The passion must run its course as it controls the person. Because activity engagement is out of the person’s control, it eventually takes disproportionate space in the person’s identity and causes conflict with other activities in the person’s life.

I hate to go all “Medical students’ disease” here but this really seems to capture the gist of my personal physics passion struggle. Breaking out of that was very hard for me. It really felt like I was abandoning my identity. Or like I was lying to myself about who I am.

During my sophomore year I lived in a crazy place. One of my friends wanted to take a psych class and, because I had a free slot in my schedule and I had no idea what to do, I took that class with him. The classes I did attend were pretty cool. Dammit if it didn’t turn out that people, and not just particles, are fascinating, too!

Fast forward one semester: I go to register for classes my junior year and find out that my grades had been too low for too long and I was basically kicked out of school. Long story short: I plead and begged, got a one-semester reprieve, got my shit together, and became a psychology major. I finished all the required courses in a semester.

I devoured the stuff.

At the time USC only had a cell/molecular biology major. No cognitive neuroscience. So I basically made my own major (though my final degree was in Psychology). I took C++ and Java classes, AI, Philosophy of Mind, Communication, etc.

I volunteered in a research lab as an RA and discovered that my ability to write code was a semi-magical skill because I could automate a lot of laborious manual jobs. I learned that I had a “knack” for approaching problems that way.

Really my interests as a doe-eyed wannabe cosmologist kid aren’t that different from my doe-eyed adult neuroscientist self. My weird childhood, party-fueled and tumultuous college years, and crazy friends made me odd but kept me optimistic and protected me from being jaded. Ironically I now use a ton of math and physics in my neuroscience work.

Take that chauvinistic past-me.

Now, instead of asking “how are we all here, these tiny specs in the vast universe, pondering our origins?” I spend my days asking “how are we all here pondering our origins, we tiny specs in this vast universe?”

Ask yourself if you are harmoniously passionate, or obsessively, and if the answer is the latter, remember you are not your job, your belief, your class, your color, or your passion. To paraphrase a dear friend of mine: don’t follow your passions, follow your competencies, and you might just find you enjoy doing something you’re good at.

(Note, some of the above also comes from my answer to For those who work in neuroscience, how did you end up there? Were you interested in it from the beginning?, which is relevant here.)

This article originally appeared on Quora.

The Beautiful Truths about being a Highly Sensitive Human

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Being intense and sensitive—seeing the world through different eyes and feeling the world on a distinctive wavelength—does not lay an easy path.

You are most likely a deep thinker, an intuitive feeler, and an extraordinary observer. You are prone to existential depression and anxiety, but you also know beauty and rapture. When art or music moves you, you are flooded with waves of joy and ecstasy. As a natural empathiser, you have a gift; yet you are also overwhelmed by the constant waves of social nuances and others’ psychic energies.

You might have spent your whole life trying to fit in with the cultural “shoulds” and “musts In school, you wanted to be in the clique, but you were unable to make small talks or have shallow relationships.

At work, you want the authorities to recognise you, but your soul does not compromise on depth, authenticity and connections.

You feel hurt for being the black sheep in the family, but your success is not recognised in a conventional way.

In these following paragraphs, I want to remind you how precious your unique life path is. Rather than pretending to be who you are not, you only do yourself and the world justice by celebrating your sensitivity and intensity.

(Please click here for a full definition of what it means to be emotionally intense and sensitive)

SENSITIVITY AS A FORM OF BRAIN DIFFERENCE

Emotional sensitivity is a brain difference—an innate trait that makes one different from the normative way of functioning.

While the mass media and medical professionals are eager to use labels to diagnose people with a way of being that is different from the norm, findings in neuroscience are going in the opposite direction. More and more, the scientific community acknowledges “neurodiversity”—the biological reality that we are all wired differently. Rather than being an inconvenience to be eliminated, neurodiversity is an evolutionary advantage, something that is essential if we were to flourish as a species.

Like many brain differences, it is misunderstood. As people naturally reject what they do not understand, the emotionally sensitive ones are being pushed to the margin. Those who feel more, and seem to have a mind that operates outside of society’s norm are often outcasted. In the Victorian era, women who appeared emotional were given the humiliating label of “hysteria.” Even today, emotional people tend to be looked down upon, and sometimes criticised and shunned.

The stigma attached to sensitivity is made worse by trends in the mass media. In 2014, author Bret Easton Ellis branded Millennials as narcissistic, over-sensitive and sheltered; from there, the disparaging term “generation snowflake” went viral. The right-wing media ran with the insult. Last year, a Daily Mail article described young people as “a fragile, thin-skinned younger generation.” This notion is not only unfounded but also unjust and damaging.

The sensitive male is also misjudged and marginalised. Under the ”boys don’t cry!” macho culture, those who feel more are called “weak” or “sissies,” with little acknowledgement of their unique strengths. Many sensitive boys and men live lives of quiet suffering and have opted to numb their emotional pain of not fitting the male ideal with alcoholdrugssex, gambling, or other addictions.

Being sensitive and intense is not an illness—in fact, it often points to intelligence, talents or creativity. However, after years of being misdiagnosed by health professionals, criticised by schools or workplaceauthority, and misunderstood by even those who are close to them, many sensitive people start to believe there is something wrong with them. Ironically, low self-esteem and loneliness make them more susceptible to having an actual mental disorder.

SOME OF US ARE BORN SENSITIVE

Since the 1990s, various scientific frameworks have emerged to explain our differences in sensitivity. Some of the most prominent being sensory processing sensitivity, “differential susceptibility theory,” and “biological sensitivity to context” (Lionetti et al., 2018).

From birth, we differ in our neurological makeup. Each baby has their style based on how well they react to external stimuli and how they organises sensation. Medical professionals use tools like the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) to measure such differences.

Harvard developmental psychologist Jerome Kagan was amongst the first scholars to examine sensitivity as a brain difference. In Kagan’s studies of infants, he found that a group of infants are more aroused and distressed by novel stimuli—a stranger coming into the room, a noxious smell. To these cautious infants, any new situation is a potential threat.

On closer examination, sensitive infants have different biochemical reactions when exposed to stress. Their system secrets higher levels of norepinephrine (our brain’s version of adrenaline) and stress hormones like cortisol. In other words, they have a fear system that is more active than most.

Since the regions of the brain that receive signals for potential threats are extra reactive, these children are not geared to process a wide range of sensations at a single moment. Even as adults, they are more vulnerable to stress-related disease, chronic pain and fatigue, migraine headaches, and environmental stimuli ranging from smell, sight, sound to electromagnetic influences.

In 1995, Elaine Aron published her book Highly Sensitive People, bringing the idea into the mainstream. Aron defines high sensitivity as a distinct personality trait that affects as many as 15-20 percent of the population—too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority.

Here are a set of HSP traits in Aron’s original conception:

  • Noticing sounds, sensations and smells that others miss (e.g. clock ticking, the humming noise from a refrigerator, uncomfortable clothing)
  • Feeling moved on a visceral level by things like art, music and performance, or nature
  • “Pick up” others moods or have them affect you more than most
  • Being sensitive to pain or other physical sensations
  • A quiet environment is essential to you
  • Feel uneasy or overwhelmed in a busy and crowded environment
  • Sensitivity to caffeine
  • Startle/ blush easily
  • Dramatic impact on your mood
  • Having food sensitivities, allergies, asthma

THE ORCHIDS AND THE DANDELIONS

But does being born sensitive destine one to lifelong unhappiness and turmoil?  To answer this question, Thomas Boyce, M.D., founded the “Orchid and Dandelion” theory.

Combining years of experience as a paediatrician, and results from empirical studies, Dr. Boyce and his team found that most children, approximately 80 percent of the population, are like dandelions—they can survive almost every environmental circumstances. The remaining 20 percent are like orchids; they are exquisitely sensitive to their environment and vulnerable under conditions of adversity. This theory explains why siblings brought up in the same family might respond differently to family stress. While orchid children are affected by even the most subtle differences in their parents’ feelings and behaviours, dandelion children are unperturbed.

But sensitivity does not equal vulnerability. Many of Dr. Boyce’s orchid children patients have grown up to become eminent adults, magnificent parents, intelligent and generous citizens of the world. As it turns out; sensitive children respond to not just the negative but also the positive. Their receptivity to the environment can also bring a reversal of fortune.

Orchid children’s receptivity applies to not just physical sensations, but also relational experiences such as warmth or indifference. In critical, undermining setting, they may devolve into despair, but in a supportive and nurturing environment, they thrive even further more than the dandelions.

The Orchid and Dandelion theory holds a provocative view of genetics, which asserts that the very genes that give us the most challenges also underlie the most remarkable qualities. Sensitivity is like a “highly leveraged evolutionary bets” that carry both high risks and potential rewards (Dobbs, 2009). The very sensitive children that suffer in a precarious childhoodenvironment are the same children most likely to flourish and prosper. They may be more prone to upsets and physical sensitivities, but they also possess the most capacity to be unusually vital, creative, and successful.

In other words, the sensitive ones are not born “vulnerable”; they are simply more responsive to their surrounding system. With the right kind of knowledge, support and nurture—even if this means replenishing what one did not get in childhood in adulthood—they can thrive like no others.

THRIVING IN A NEW WORLD

Our world is changing. Qualities such as sensitivity, empathy, high perceptiveness—what the sensitive person excel at, are needed and celebrated.

In Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future, he pointed out that our society has arrived at a point in which systematisation, computerisation, and automation are giving way to new skills such as intuition, creativity, and empathy. For more than 100 years, the sequential, linear, and logical were praised. As we move towards a different economic era, the world’s leaders will need to be creators and empathisers. As Pink quoted: “I say, ‘Get me some poets as managers.’ Poets are our original systems thinkers. They contemplate the world in which we live and feel obligated to interpret and give expression to it in a way that makes the reader understand how that world runs. Poets, those unheralded systems thinkers, are our true digital thinkers. It is from their midst that I believe we will draw tomorrow’s new business leaders.”

It is clear that humanity is calling for a different way of being, and a redefinition of power. In today’s world, people yearn to be led by empathy, rather than force. Even in the most ego-driven corporate space, we hear people saying things like “trust your gut instinct,” “follow your intuition,” or “watch the energy in the room.” Sensitivity, emotional intensity, deep empathy—what were previously thought as weaknesses—are now much-valued qualities that make you stand out.

We are in a time where the previously highly sensitive and empathic misfits rise to become the leaders. Therefore, embracing your gift of sensitivity is not just something you do for yourself, but also those around you. If you can summon the courage to stand out as a sensitive leader, you set a solid example for all others like you. The more you can free yourself from the childlike need to trade “fitting in” for authenticity, the more you can channel your gifts and serve the world.

TRUE BELONGING

For years, you have desperately wanted to “fit in.” 

But at times, you hear a tiny whispering voice that champions the truth. It asks: 

What if what your inner self needs is to be allowed just to be you, even when it means not fitting in the crowd?

What if what your soul is destined to be different, like many rebels, the artists, and visionaries in history?

What if like all the honourable trailblazers and truth tellers, your seat in this world is indeed on the fringe?

Coming to terms with your authentic place in the world might mean accepting the reality that you will never “fit in” the conventional way. 

This is not immediately easy. 

After all, you want to belong, to be part of a tribe, to feel like a wider part of humanity.

But once you have released the old idea of what “fitting in” meant, you could make room for a new meaning of belongingness.

In true belongingness, fitting in means something different. 

It means you have made a home for yourself.

It means you have committed never to reject yourself, even when the world says otherwise. 

It means you have asserted your boundaries, and you honour only the opinions of those who have earned your respect.

It means you drop the task of peacemaking and align with the mission of truth-telling. 

It means you stop buying membership with the cost of your true self, but instead create membership by making your mark in the world.

With the courageous acceptance of your authentic place in the world comes both beauty and terror, excitement and fear. 

See if you can embrace both, but keep your eyes on the prize.

Soon, your courage will bring you what your deepest self have longed a lifetime for—a true sense of belonging.

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!

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

Author Article

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?

The Strangest Way I Ever Improved Myself

Author Article

For a few months I tried, almost every day, not to utter a single word for the whole day while living my normal life. I’m married, have three kids and at that time, I had a full time job.

I never succeeded.

But I tried more than a hundred times, and I think my biggest accomplishment was to say something only about two dozen times in one day.

It was definitely strange and I definitely improved. I imprisoned words in my head and it triggered a cascade of changes.

1. Self-awareness

I became more aware about my internal dialog. Normally, it goes on autopilot and spills from your mouth without an ounce of conscious reflection. Because I kept the words inside me, I had a chance to notice how they bounce inside my head trying to get out.

2. Emotional Intelligence

I’m an introvert. Give me some good books and I can spend a few months not seeing another human being.

But I’m also a human being. We are so social animals and we don’t admit that. When I kept my mouth shut, I quickly realized how many of my verbal interactions were just an attempt to create a rapport with others. My words weren’t meant to convey information. Rather, most of them were meant to emphasize my positive traits, make me feel better because I was trying to impress others or simply create a bond with people.

That was a huge discovery for me. Quickly, I recognized the same patterns in other people. Once I became aware of how much we interact only to socialize, I was able to notice when someone tried to inflate their ego, to impress others, to entice compassion with a self-pity party or say something only to be heard in the conversation, with no sensible agenda at all.

Nowadays, it’s very hard to make me angry in conversation. I see through the other person’s words straight to their intentions.

And I find people less irritating. I have a workmate who simply loves the sound of his voice. In the past I wanted to rip the guy’s guts off. Now I’m telling myself: “Well, I’m exactly the same; only the scale differs a bit.”

3. Self-control

“There is no labor from which most people shrink as they do from that of sustained and consecutive thought. It is the hardest work in the world.” — Wallace D. Wattles

Taming one’s tongue is one of the hardest jobs in the world. It’s an enormous mental effort. My practice of silence increased my focus, sharpened my attention to details and contributed to my ability to work deep for extended periods of time.

Steering your speech is almost as hard as steering your thoughts. Everything you say begins in your mind first. The most efficient way to control your tongue is by controlling your thoughts. And if you can control your thoughts, you become a master of your fate.

Of course, I didn’t gain the ability to think whatever I want to think in each and every second. Probably every novitiate for a Buddhist monk is better at that than me. However, my ability to steer my thinking and mindset definitely increased, and it improved while living my totally average normal life!

4. Personal philosophy

I rebuilt my personal philosophy from “Live to just get by” to “Progress is my duty.” I credit my silence to at least part of how swift and smooth this process was. I was able to control my thoughts better, thus I was able to get a grip on my internal interpretation of everything that happened in my life.

This is a crucial part of changing one’s philosophy. You can read a lot, you can interact with successful people, but it may be all in vain if your self-talk is destroying your progress as you build it.

You can diminish every success principle and deride any good advice in your mind and stay the same, despite of loads of new insights. That’s the secret behind the phenomenon of self-help junkies who read and listen a lot, but progress very little.

I avoided this trap thanks to my silence. I became self-aware of my thoughts, so I could quickly notice when I torpedoed my own progress. I didn’t allow my internal voice to neglect what I was studying, thus I was able to solidify my new personal philosophy relatively fast.

Or is it not so strange?

Scientists have concluded that it’s beneficial for our health — it lowers blood pressure, boosts the body’s immune system, decreases stress by lowering blood cortisol levels and adrenaline, promotes good hormone regulation, and prevents plaque formation in the arteries.

A 2013 study found that two hours of silence could create new brain cells in the hippocampus region, and a study from 2006 concluded that two minutes of silence relieves tension in the body and brain and is more relaxing than listening to music.

Scientists connected silence with increased creativity, better cognitive abilities, and relief from insomnia.

Shut up. Silence is a powerful tool for improvement.

This article originally appeared on Medium.

Why You Need a Self-Care Plan

Author Article

Roi_and_Roi/Adobe Stock

Over the past few weeks of our Self-Care Series, we’ve defined self-care, examined the reasons why it’s so hard to consistently engage in self-care practices, and made a case for why self-care does not need to be an individual pursuit. We’ve agreed to begin looking at self-care as a long-term pursuit, one in which taking care of our inner and outer selves are equal parts of the equation. We’ve also learned how to develop coping strategies that can help us and others in our community weather the struggles of self-care with grace and steadiness.

The unsung common thread running through each topic we’ve covered over the past 6 weeks is that everyone needs their own Self-Care Plan, otherwise known as a Coping Strategy.

Three Reasons You Need a Self-Care Plan

A Self-Care Plan is an intervention tool that keeps you from being completely sucked into the vortex, saving you when you find yourself standing on the precipice gazing into the dark abyss. It’s a fail-safe, reated by you, and filled with your favorite self-care activities, important reminders, and ways to activate your self-care community.

1) Customizing a Self-Care Plan is a preventative measure. By designing a roadmap that is unique to you, in moments when you’re NOT in crisis, you’re directing your best self to reflect on what you may need (and have access to) in your worst moments. The reality is that only YOU know how intense your stress levels can get and what resources are available to you. Write that sh*t down.

2) Having a plan takes the guesswork out of what to do and where to turn in moments of crisis. From a mindfulness point of view, it helps you respond instead of react to the situation at hand. When you have a plan in place, you’ll feel more in control of your circumstances and life won’t feel quite as chaotic. (It also makes it easier to ask for help from those you share your plan with.

3) A Self-Care Plan helps you stay the course. You’ll find it far easier to stick to your personal care strategy and avoid falling into the trap of making excuses. Having a plan helps you establish a routine, ensuring that you and your self-care partners don’t wind up in isolation, but rather check in with each other, hold each other accountable, and share the responsibility to support one another.

How to Create A Self-Care Plan

Your Self-Care Plan is a roadmap that you can carry in your back pocket. It’s there to help you walk your talk as well as help you find your way back to equilibrium by providing a clearly defined route back home if you find yourself on off-track.

Creating and following a plan helps you balance your mental, physical, and emotional needs while reminding you of the important people in your support system and the self-care goals you wish to accomplish.

How do you begin creating a Self-Care Plan?

1) First, create an activity list organized around different parts of your life: I’ve found that the easiest way to start is by breaking up this daunting task into several categories, for example:

  • Work
  • Physical Fitness
  • Emotional Life
  • Relationships & Community

For each area above, write down the activities or strategies that you can call on, that are authentic to you and contribute to your wellbeing.

Some examples we’ve discussed over the past weeks include spending time with friends, eating healthy, being active, mindfulness meditation, and finding the confidence to create healthy boundaries. Have fun, be creative, and most impprtatnly, be real with yourself about what works for you and what doesn’t.

2) Second, note any barriers that may be in your way and how to shift them. As you write down each activity, ask yourself what barriers might get in the way of you being able to accomplish it. Then, try to strategize ways that you might be able to shift these barriers (FYI, this works even better when you do so with a friend, partnerm or community!).  If you find that you can’t shift the barriers, feel free to adjust the activities. Your Self-Care Plan is NOT written in stone! It’s meant to be a living, breathing guide that adapts as your life circumstances and demands change.

3) Third, share your plan with your closest friends. Don’t forget to rely on your network of self-care buddies, your community of care. Share a copy of your Self-Care Plan with them and ask them to hold you accountable. Encourage them to create their own Plan and share it with you so you can do the same for them.


Example Self Care Plan

Category: Emotional Life

Activities

1) Develop friendships that are supportive

2) Write down three good things that you do each day

3) Do something that brings you joy (Go to the movies, sit in a café, hit the beach, or set off a hike)

4) Regularly meet with your social group/community of care

Barriers

1. Your friendships are not equal in “give and take.” Shift it: define expectations with your closest friends. Don’t assume your friends know what you need from them.

2. You’re in the habit of negative self-talk. Shift it: every time you catch yourself saying something negative to yourself say the exact opposite to yourself.

3. Don’t have a babysitter or the ability to get away for the evening. Shift it: Activate your self-care community

4) My friends or self-care network don’t have time to meet. Shift it: Set up a meet-up in advance and regularly. Create a monthly calendar.


Make it Visual

I always suggest that, if possible, you make your Self-Care Plan visual. Think of it as your very own personal self-care infographic:

Try this:
1) Start by jotting down a list of keywords or phrases from the activities list you created—choose whichever words resonate with you the most.
2) Then, grab a white piece of paper or a posterboard and transform these into graphic elements. Go ahead and use different colors, drawings, photos, whatever works for you to create visual cues that resonate with you and your pla.

Once you complete your masterpiece, put it somewhere you’re sure to see it every day because doing so will help you think about and (re)commit to your strategies.  A byproduct of keeping it visible is that others will see it, too, and this will encourage them to ask about it, reflect on it, support your efforts, and, just maybe, even get them thinking about creating their own self-care vision. (By the way, I love to see these, so if you create one, please share it in our self-care group!)

Sticking to Your Self-Care Plan

Just like an athlete who trains for a competitive event, Self-Care Plans require that you practice the activities regularly. Be realistic with yourself by remembering that it takes time for a new practice to become a routine. There will be moments when you falter and that’s okay. We’re all human. Don’t punish yourself, but instead refocus and recommit to your plan. This way, if you find yourself on the edge of that void, staring it down, you’ll be prepared. How do you get yourself back on track when you falter? The answer to that question will be different for everyone, and will depend on what’s in your self-care plan. Here’s what works for me:

When I realize I’m beyond the edge in a black hole this is LITERALLY what I do: I have an old fashioned egg timer (you can use your phone timer, too) and I set a timer and allow myself 30 minutes (whatever time works for you) to feel really sorry for myself and mad at myself and beat myself up if I need to. Sometimes I even write it all down. It’s ugly. Usually, by 15 minutes in I’ve exhausted myself. And then I MAKE myself do something that makes me happy even if I’m not in the mood. Last week it was playing Al Green’s “Love and Happiness” in the kitchen super loud and dancing. Sometimes it’s pulling my husband in to swing dance to the Stray Cats with me.

When you just allow yourself to be in the vortex and really lean into it you are usually ready to finally extract yourself. And by having a plan in place for those moments when all seems lost, you can more easily find your way back to center.

As Louis Pasteur once observed, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

5 Motivational Life Mantras For A Happy And Successful Life

Author Article

1) Before You Tell Your Thoughts, Think A Bit:

Speaking the wrong words at the wrong time can increase your troubles.

Ultimately, we all need self-discipline. It is a simple solution that we can easily cope with the difficulties in life, by changing our attitude. And keep love relationships for life.

2) Avoid Criticism And Do Not Make Fun Of Others:

There are two types of effects of our sensation and its outbreak. If you send positive thoughts in the form of love, affection, kindness, compassion, welfare, then it will make your relationship even more beautiful and stronger. On the contrary, those who use anger, hatred, anxiety, criticism, molestation, negative thinking and bad words, their relationship seems to be diminishing. And in this concern, love and happiness always go away from the human life. In the relationship between two people, both should have the power to understand each other, and there should be ego and hatred in each other.

3) Do You Feel Easily Miserable And Are Happy With You?

I believe that keeping good and bad habits to a limited place can lead you to the wrong path. The people have a habit of adopting bad habits early and developing them, while good habits only take place after a lot of difficult and lots of attempts. And that is why we are annoyed with each other. We should bring our inner feeling to our mind. Considering the inner feeling, we should bring positive feelings out and destroy negative feelings.

Contrary to the feeling of happiness, love, attraction, meditation, kindness and compassion, we all see it in our own nature. Our nature reflects our qualities and our happiness depends on our nature.

The easiest solution to remove the sour taste in the relationship is to humiliate your temperament and whether the situation is favorable or the opposite is always a smile. To be happy, you need to change your nature.

4) Change Your Definition:

Make your definition so much that you can easily feel happy and can be very happy. Make sure your best day is today, today you can easily live the life you want. Always remember these things, then happiness, love, freedom will always be there in your life.

If someone asks you how you live happily and enthusiastic? So your answer, “I am so happy because I live in today and easily breathe and I feel happy”.

Your attitude will help you to live a happy life. And you will always be living in the atmosphere of love, charm, helper and kindness, compassion, so that both your health and your property will be safe.

Apart from being easily happy, there is one more thing that you should be in, and it is not that easy to be unhappy. It is impossible for any person to make you sad. Make sure to limit your frustration to a limit. You will be disappointed if you lose more than $ 1 million in the day, if you have any such event in your life then you should be disappointed. If you use these limitations in your life then you will never be easily dissatisfied. And you will be able to live happily throughout life.

5) Use These Conditions:

You make all the changes just to make positive changes in life. To increase these habits you need to be humble, honest and consistent. All the time, you should be aware of this new definition of life. Write all these terms on many pages and put them at different places in the house. So that your attention will turn to them again and again. You can also keep all these terms as wallpaper of your computer, laptop or mobile phone.

Doing so will change your bad habit in good habits in just a few days, and you will find yourself the happiest person in this world. You can always be happy with doing this. And you can also learn how to please others with your attitude.

And there will be no place for anger, hatred, despair and trouble in this world.

Always remember one thing ….

Love and happiness win everywhere.

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