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There are plenty of ways to have fun even if you have to stay at home.

It’s mid-March, and the world finds itself in the throes of a pandemic. If there’s one thing that most experts agree on when it comes to the best way to stay safe from the COVID-19 virus, it’s that we should all try to stay home as much as possible.

Although having to stay home may sound awfully boring, it doesn’t have to be. There are lots of ways to entertain yourself without having to leave your dwelling. Below you’ll find 12 ways to have fun at home.

1. Play Board Games, With a Twist

As I explain in my post, 12 Board Games for Developing Thinking Abilities and Life Skills, you can use board games to learn through play. As an illustration, if you want to learn about cells, play the game Cytosis: A Cell Biology Game–it takes place inside a human cell and is biologically accurate (and fun).

Another example of a board game that will allow you to build important life skills is Dominion. It’s a deck-building game with a medieval theme in which monarchs attempt to expand their kingdom. Here’s what you’ll learn by playing Dominion:

  • Strategic thinking.
  • Resource management.
  • Adapting to changing resource availability.

Dominion is available online for free.

2. Build Your Own Board Game.

A few Christmases ago I gave my nephews all of the necessary supplies to build their own board game. This included a “A Create Your Own Board Game Kit”, as well as a couple of books on how to build board games, and supplies such as markers, glue, and scissors (plus magazines to cut out images).

Just as most of us have a novel in us, I think a lot of people have a board game in them. If you want to build a bord game, ask yourself questions like the following:

  • Which are your favorite board games?
  • What topics are you interested in?
  • Do you prefer games of strategy or games of chance?
  • What types of board games do you like (roll and move; deck building games; area control games; and so on)?

You have an endless number of themes to choose from. Here are some ideas:

  • If you love politics, your board game could use a presidential election as the theme.
  • For art lovers, your board game could be a trip around the best museums in the world.
  • Book lovers can use their favorite book as their theme.

You can even build a board game to teach your kids about money, the national parks, the US presidents, an important period in history, and so on. The possibilities are endless.

3. Play Geography Jeopardy!

A great way to have fun at home is to play Jeopardy!

Jeopardy!–of courseis an American television game show hosted by Alex Trebek. The show consists of a quiz competition in which contestants are presented with general knowledge clues in the form of answers. Here’s an example:

Q: “This green pigment is necessary for plants to carry out photosynthesis.”

A: “What is chlorophyll?”

The questions can come from many different categories, including science, literature, world history, entertainment, and so on. Your category is going to be geography. Here are some questions you could use:

    • Q: “This is the largest country in Africa.”
    • A: “What is Algeria?”
    • Q: “This country borders Spain to the West.”
    • A: “What is Portugal?”
    • Q: “This is the highest mountain in the world.”
    • A: “What is Mount Everest?”

Come up with questions by doing some research online. By the time there’s a vaccine for this virus, you’ll be a geography whiz!

4. Try a Science Experiment

I have a confession to make. I never made one of those lava-spewing volcano projects when I was in school. And I feel like I missed out on something important. Sooner or later I’m definitely going to make one.

After a quick Google search, I now know that two of the ingredients used to make a volcano are baking soda and vinegar. The reason why there’s an eruption is because of the chemical reaction between these two ingredients. Interesting!

If you want to build a homemade volcano, there are plenty of sites you can use to learn how to make a volcano, like this one.

Another science experiment I’ve always wanted to try is to make a battery from a potato. What science experiment would you like to try? There’s plenty to choose from, and you can be a mad scientist for a day from the comfort of your own home.

5. Create a Collage of Your Bucket List.

Start off by creating your bucket list — a list of all the things you want to see, do, and experience during your lifetime. Then, do the following:

  • Grab a stack of magazines and cut out any images that represent the items on your bucket list. You can also look for images online and print them out.
  • Glue your images on a piece of paper.
  • Decide if you want to draw on top, add little pieces of fabric, glue on some letters to spell out messages, and so on.

Then, start planning how you’re going to achieve your bucket list.

6. Watch a Marathon of Classic TV Shows.

There are a lot of good shows on TV right now (“Homeland”, I’m looking at you). But now and then it’s fun to watch old TV shows, like “Leave It to the Beaver”, “I Love Lucy”, “M*A*S*H”or “Bonanza”.

My all time favorite classic TV show is “The Andy Griffith Show”. It’s set in the idyllic fictional small town of Mayberry in North Carolina and centers around the town’s sheriff, Andy Griffith. Andy is kind and compassionate but is also an effective sheriff. The show evokes a feeling of nostalgia for a simpler time.

fun things to do at home

7. Paint Rocks

Of course, we have to add something artistic to a list of fun things to do at home. One idea is to paint rocks.

Get yourself some rocks, acrylic paints, and paint brushes. You can also use Posca Paint Markers. The sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing what to paint on your rocks: you can paint geometric shapes, animals, holiday motifs, and so on.

A lovely project to try is the Kindness Rocks Project. You paint uplifting messages on rocks and leave them where others can find them (once it’s safe to venture outdoors once again). Your messages can be something like the following:

  • You are capable of amazing things.
  • The best is yet to come.
  • You got this.

8. Start a Passion Project

As I wrote in my post on 14 Reasons to Start a Passion Project, a passion project is “an enterprise that you decide to take on—usually in your spare time–in order to gain some benefit for yourself.” These benefits include increasing your happiness, adding creativity to your life, making your life more meaningful, and even earning additional income.

Here are some ideas for passion projects:

  • Start designing a tiny house–a residential structure under 400 sq. ft.–you’ll move into some day.
  • Create an app that helps solve a problem that you and your friends are having.
  • Write a book of poetry.
  • Start a non-profit that helps solve a social problem you’re passionate about.

9. Have a Harry Potter Marathon

Add some magic and whimsy to your stay-at-home time by visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There’s no need to go to Orlando. Just get the books and the movies (you can even go digital, if you wish).

Read each Harry Potter book, and then watch the corresponding film. There are seven books–each covering one year of Harry’s stay at Hogwarts– and eight movies (the seventh book was made into two separate films).

fun things to do at home10. Fill Out the Proust Questionnaire

Learn more about yourself, and about your friends, with the Proust Questionnaire. It consists of 35 questions made famous by French essayist and novelist Marcel Proust. He believed that by answering these questions an individual revealed his or her true nature.

Here are some examples of the questions included in the questionnaire:

  • Which living person do you most admire?
  • On what occasion do you lie?
  • When and where were you happiest?
  • Which talent would you most like to have?
  • If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

You can even host a virtual cocktail party–or a quarantini–and take turns answering each question.

11. Have a Jigsaw Puzzle Contest

I love jigsaw puzzles, and I know a lot of other people do as well. You can turn building puzzles into a fun contest (because everything is more fun if you turn it into a contest). Here’s what to do:

  • Choose a puzzle and buy one for each contestant (the same puzzle for all the players).
  • Individuals or teams try to put the puzzle together as fast as they can.
  • Whoever finishes first, wins. Alternatively, you can set a time limit and whoever has the least remaining loose pieces when the timer goes off is the winner.
  • Give the winner a prize.

12. Memorize Some Gilbert and Sullivan

Memorize the first verse of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Major General Song from their 1879 comic opera The Pirates of Penzance. The sung satirizes the modern, well-rounded education of British army officers of the latter 19th century.

It’s sung to a very fast tempo and has a rapid succession of rhythmic pattern, which makes it a lot of fun to sing! Here’s the verse:

I am the very model of a modern Major-General,
I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;[a]
I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’ news,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.

Bonus – Learn About the Universe

In 1980, Carl Sagan–one of the world’s most famous astronomers–hosted and narrated Cosmos: A Personal Voyage”.  It was a 13-part television series on the history of the universe and the evolution of life on earth. It’s considered a milestone for scientific documentaries.

The series was updated in 2014 and renamed Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, with Neil deGrasse Tyson as the host and narrator. Get the 13-part new documentary and go on an adventure across the universe of space and time, while lying on your favorite couch.


You don’t need to leave your house to have a good time. Fortunately, there are many fun things to do at home. Which activities are you planning to try from the list above? Live your best life by having fun at home.

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ability to learn

Stop self-sabotaging your learning efforts.

I’m a weightlifter. One of the most difficult weightlifting exercises to perform properly—if not the most difficult—is the barbell back squat. This is for several physical reasons, including the following:

  • In order to squat properly you must have good flexibility and mobility. This includes ankle mobility, hamstring mobility, hip mobility, and thoracic mobility.
  • You also need glute strength to squat properly. If your glutes aren’t strong enough, or if they’re not firing properly, the hip flexors take over to pull you deeper into the squat, causing you to lean forward (which is not proper form).
  • In addition, your core stabilizes you as you squat. If you have a weak core, this will compromise your ability to squat properly.

However, even if you’re physically capable of performing a squat—you have enough strength and flexibility—you may still have trouble squatting deeply. Why? Because your brain could be holding you back and stopping you from squatting.

If your brain thinks that squatting is dangerous for you–even if it isn’t because you have the physical ability to do it properly–it will send signals to your muscles to stop before you’ve gone all the way down.

In much the same way, a lot of the time the reason why you can’t learn a skill isn’t because you don’t have the ability to do so. Instead, it’s because your brain is holding you back, or—effectively—sabotaging you. Your brain sabotages you by holding on to false beliefs that hinder your ability to learn.

Here are three beliefs which may be sabotaging your efforts to learn new things:

  • “I’m not smart enough to learn that skill.”
  • “I can’t do X. I just don’t have the X gene.”
  • “I wish I had learned to do that as a kid. I can’t learn it now. I’m too old.”

Let’s debunk these beliefs one by one.

“I’m Not Smart Enough to Learn That Skill.”

I’m going to share something with you. Your ability to learn a skill depends mostly on the technique that you use to learn the skill and the quality of your practice. Your IQ has much less of an effect on your ability to learn new skills than was previously thought.

In the book, “Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise”, Anders Ericsson explains that while certain innate characteristics, such as high IQ, may give people an advantage when they’re first starting out learning a skill, that advantage decreases over time.

This means that while there is an initial correlation between IQ and a person’s ability to learn a skill—very smart people pick up skills faster, at first—this correlation gets smaller and smaller as years of practice increase.

When it comes to scientists—a profession that you would normally associate with high IQ—Ericsson says the following: “Nobel prize-winning scientists have had IQs that would not even qualify them for MENSA.”

So, if you have trouble learning a skill, its not because you’re not smart enough to learn it. It’s because you haven’t acquired the meta-skill of learning how to learn.

“I Can’t Do ‘X’. I Just Don’t Have the ‘X’ Gene.”

I recently wrote a post on this blog titled: “A Mantra That Will Change Your Life: Everything Is Learnable”. In it I explain that everything—from personal development skills like being happier and becoming more confident, to entrepreneurial skills like creativity and problem-solving skills—is learnable.

As I shared with you in my previous post, I’ve always had great faith in my ability to learn new things. However, there’s one negative belief that I’ve had about my mental abilities since as long as I can remember.

I’ve always believed that I have poor spatial awareness. In fact, I had concluded that it was a defect that I had and there was no way to fix it.

However, I was reading the book “A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science” by Barbara Oakley, when I came across a section titled: “Spatial Abilities Can Be Learned”. In that section, Sheryl Sorby, an award-winning engineer, states the following:

“Many people erroneously believe that spatial intelligence is a fixed quantity—you either have it or you don’t. I’m here to say emphatically that this is not the case. In fact, I’m living proof that spatial abilities can be learned. I almost left my chosen profession of engineering due to poorly developed spatial skills, but I worked at it, developed the skills, and successfully completed my degree.”

I decided to put this statement to the test. I love puzzles, and I own several puzzle books that I bought from Amazon. There’s one type of puzzle that I would always get wrong, because it involves spatial ability. The puzzle consists of a cube that has been deconstructed, so you’re presented with a cross-like shape, where one end is slightly longer than the other end.

Then you’re presented with four different cubes, and you’re asked which cube is the only one that can be constructed from the deconstructed shape. This requires taking a 2D shape and visualizing it as a 3D shape. For the life of me I couldn’t solve these puzzles correctly. I kept telling myself:

“Marelisa, it’s because you have poor spatial reasoning. Just skip over these puzzles because you’ll never get them right.”

However, once I started telling myself that everything is learnable, I decided to learn how to solve these puzzles. I went online and I did some research on how to solve the cube puzzles. Then, I practiced what I learned.

Now, whenever I come across one of these cube puzzles when I’m going through one of my puzzle books, I get them right. Because I learned how to do them.

Keep repeating the mantra: “Everything is learnable.” Because everything is learnable.

“I Can’t Learn That Skill Now. I’m Too Old.”

There are many who believe that, as adults, their brains no longer have the malleability that’s necessary to learn new things. However, neuroscience has discovered that this isn’t the case. In recent years there have been many important discoveries about the brains’ ability to change itself.

Here are two of the most important:

  • The brain is a lot more plastic than was previously thought; and
  • Adults can grow new brain cells.

Let’s look at the first of these. In the book “The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science”, Norman Doidge, M.D., explains that the new science of neuroplasticity is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the adult human brain is immutable.

In his book, Doidge shares remarkable stories that evince the brain’s ability to adapt, including stories like the following:

  • A stroke patient who learned to speak again;
  • A woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole; and
  • People rewiring their brains with their thoughts to cure previously uncurable obsessions and traumas.

When it comes to learning new skills, one way that the adult brain learns is by creating new connections, or synapses, between brain cells. Researchers have recently found that in the adult brain, not only do existing synapses adapt to new circumstances, but new connections are constantly formed and reorganized.

In addition, for a long time the established dogma was that the adult brain couldn’t generate any new brain cells. That is, it was believed that you were born with a certain amount of brain cells, and that was it. And since you naturally lose brain cells as you age, after age 25 it was all downhill for your brain function.

However, scientists have now discovered that you can grow new brain cells throughout your entire life. The process is called neurogenesis. This is great news for people who want to learn new skills because new neurons enhance your ability to learn.

Adult learners rejoice: not only can you take advantage of your brain’s ability to create new synapses in order to learn new things, but you’re also growing new neurons which you can devote to acquiring new skills.


Stop sabotaging yourself and start learning new things.

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pick yourselfStop waiting to be picked. Pick yourself.

Author, marketing expert, and entrepreneur Seth Godin explains that we’re taught since we were kids to wait to be picked. When we want something, we wait to get permission from those who are in a position of authority: the Human Resources Director, the publisher, the record label manager, and so on.

Look at the following:

  • In school you stand around during Physical Education (PE) class waiting for one of the team captains to choose you to play on their team (I remember the agony of this vividly).
  • As a senior in high school you apply to several colleges hoping that at least one of them will pick you.
  • As college graduation comes near you apply to different companies in the hopes that one of them will hire you.

And the list goes on and on. Well, here’s an idea: instead of waiting for someone else to pick you, why don’t you just pick yourself? Here’s Godin:

“What pick yourself means is that it’s never been easier to decide to be responsible for your own work, for your own agenda, for the change you make in the world.”

It’s never been easier than today to access the wisdom of experts and specialists in every given field. In other words, it’s never been easier to acquire the skills that you need in order to pick yourself. In this post I’m going to show you how to raise your hand and announce to the world:

“I’m in”.

How I Picked Myself

I’m going to begin by sharing with you how I picked myself.

I followed the route of waiting for other people to pick me for the first 32 years of my life. And that strategy worked out well for me, at first. I got picked for everything I wanted:

I went to the Georgetown University Business School; I graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center; I passed the New York Bar; I passed the Panama National Bar; and I was hired as an attorney by the Assistant General Counsel of the Panama Canal Commission (later the Panama Canal Authority).

Then, the strategy of waiting to be picked stopped working for me. A position that I had wanted for about three years, and which I had been hustling like crazy for, became available.

However—although I was the best candidate for the job—it was denied to me because the General Counsel refused to let me go. He decided that it was in his best interests for me to stay where I was, and the Human Resources Director didn’t have the backbone to oppose him.

I was angry, frustrated, and heart broken. And I decided that it was time for me to stop relying on other people to pick me. I was going to pick myself.

Picking Myself

I quit my job and started looking around for something else to do (I had savings). That’s when I decided to hang out my shingle. The problem was that, although I went to business school, I was taught how to be a corporate employee, not how to be an entrepreneur.

Nonetheless, I’ve always had a lot of faith in my ability to learn new things, and I decided I was going to teach myself how to be an entrepreneur. Specifically, I was going to start a blog from which I could sell information products that would show others how to live their best lives. Today I own one of the top 100 Personal Development blogs in the world.

I then decided I was going to become a learning expert. Yes, that’s right: a learning expert. (The chutzpah, I know!)

I designed a method for becoming an expert, and then I followed the method to gain expertise in rapid learning. As I explain in my post on the benefits of learning how to learn, here’s the process that I followed:

As I went along, I applied everything I learned. This allowed me to create a learning system. I then tried out my system by learning weightlifting. The next step was to tweak and perfect the system by learning to code. Finally, I fine-tuned the system by learning French, piano, and drawing.

Now, here’s how I describe myself:

Renaissance woman – personal development blogger, entrepreneur, lawyer, runner, book lover, weightlifter, multilingual, learning expert.

I picked myself.

How You Can Pick Yourself

Have you decided that you too will start picking yourself? Good! Here’s the basic formula for picking yourself:

First. Ask yourself these three questions.

  • What do I want?
  • What skills do I need to acquire in order to achieve what I want?
  • How can I learn those skills?

Second. Once you’ve identified the best way to learn the skills that you want, start learning them.

Third. With the skills that you need in your tool belt, boost your gumption, add a little mojo, become more daring and audacious, and pick yourself. Get out there and do what needs to be done.

Ten “Pick Yourself” Illustrations

Here are ten illustrations of picking yourself:

  1. Are you waiting to get a promotion? Find out what skills you need to get promoted and acquire those skills.
  2. Didn’t get the promotion? Look at advertisements for positions you want in other companies, identify any skills you lack in order to apply, and learn those skills.
  3. Still can’t get hired for the position that you want? Learn business and entrepreneurial skills, start your own business, create your dream position, and hire yourself.
  4. Are you waiting for something to happen before you can be happy? Take $30, buy the three best positive psychology books you can find on Amazon, and learn how to be happy now.
  5. Are you waiting for someone to publish your book? Learn how to self-publish and publish yourself.
  6. Are you waiting until you have more time before you start working on that important goal? Learn time management, make the time, and get started.
  7. Are you waiting for life to calm down? Learn how to meditate and how to do yoga and calm yourself down. Once you’re calm, you’ll be better able to deal with the chaos around you.
  8. Are you waiting until you’re not scared anymore? Start building your courage muscles by learning how to do something that scares you (public speaking, improv, or singing would be good options).
  9. Are you waiting until you can afford a personal trainer before you start lifting weights? Learn how to weightlift and train yourself.
  10. Are you waiting to be accepted to an MBA program? Choose the business books and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) that will teach you what you need to know and get a Do-It-Yourself MBA.

There Are no Guarantees

Of course, there are no guarantees that you’ll succeed if you pick yourself (at least not the first time around), but no one will ever have your best interests at heart as much as you do. Therefore, despite the risk, I believe that the wisest choice is to pick yourself.

And, in a lot of ways, it’s riskier to wait to be picked. I trust me at the wheel of my life, not somebody else.

Here’s a quote by diarist, essayist, novelist, and writer of short stories, Anaïs Nin, which I feel perfectly encapsulates the importance of picking yourself:

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

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everything is learnable

Change your life by making this your mantra: “Everything is learnable”.

Look at the following phrases:

  • I wish I were. . .
  • I wish I had . . .
  • I wish I knew how to. . .

How would you conclude each of these phrases? There are hundreds of ways to do so, and nearly 100% of them are learnable. Below you’ll find some examples.

I wish I were. . .

1. I Wish I Were More Confident.

onehouradayformula banner longAccording to psychologists, confidence is a learnable skill. Most confident people achieved their goal of becoming more confident by deliberately learning specific skills. These skills include the following:

  • Displaying friendly body language;
  • Understanding the format of carrying out conversations with new people; and
  • Focusing on what the other person is saying instead of on how you’re being perceived.

Award-winning coach, mentor and speaker Dr. Ivan Joseph is the author of “You Got This: Mastering the Skill of Self-Confidence”. He explains that becoming more confident is all about repetition, repetition, repetition. Just as you would practice kicking a ball over and over again to become good at soccer, you can practice the actions that will make you more confident.

As an illustration, when Joseph has to give a speech in front of a large group of people, he practices his speech repeatedly. By the time he gives the speech he does so confidently become he’s already done it many times. That’s how he masters the skill of confidence.

2. I Wish I Were a Better Spouse.

Do you think you can learn to be a better spouse, or that being a good husband or wife is unteachable? Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, one the leading private research and teaching universities in the United States, would argue the former.

They have a course, Marriage 101, that relies on academic studies to teach their students how to have more fulfilling love relationships. The largest takeaway from the course is that fostering good relationships takes skills.

Here’s a quote from Alexandra Solomon, one of the professors teaching the course:

“We’re a very romantic culture, and it seems a little unromantic to talk about skill building and communication skills. But it’s important.”

Of course, loving your spouse matters, but knowing how to be a good spouse is just as important.

3. I Wish I Were A Good Parent.

You may think that parenting is simply an instinct. However, there are research-backed ways to raise kids well. And those good parenting skills can be learned.

I searched for “how to learn parenting skills” on Amazon, and I got the following results:

    • “The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind”
    • “Parenting Toolbox: 125 Activities Therapists Use to Reduce Meltdowns, Increase Positive Behaviors & Manage Emotions”
    • “Anger Management Workbook for Kids: 50 Fun Activities to Help Children Stay Calm and Make Better Choices When They Feel Mad”

In other words, these books will teach you the following skills:

  • How to nurture your child’s mind.
  • How to help your child manage their emotions.
  • How to help your child stay calm.

Those are all skills that will make you a better parent.

4. I Wish I Were A More Effective Leader.

There’s an age-old debate on whether great leaders are born or made. There are many examples of leaders who came naturally to leadership. But there are also examples of people who developed their leadership skills through tenacity and experience. That is, they learned to be effective leaders.

This year my new mantra is: “Everything is learnable.”Click To Tweet

5. I Wish I Were More Creative.

Creativity is often viewed as a quality that a person either has or doesn’t have. However, creativity is not a gift from the fickle gods. There are methods and techniques that can be learned that provide deliberate, systematic processes that result in innovative thinking.

One example of these methods is Edward de Bono’s lateral thinking, which forces the brain out of a purely analytical state. But there are many others. In fact, there are creative studies courses available in various universities around the world.

Just as you can learn critical thinking, you can learn creative thinking. Here’s a quote from the New York Times article linked to above:

“Once considered the product of genius or divine inspiration, creativity — the ability to spot problems and devise smart solutions — is being recast as a prized and teachable skill”

Have you always wished you were more creative? Sure, some people are more imaginative than others. But we can all learn to be more creative.

6. I Wish I Were Better at Math.

A lot of people–more women than men–tend to think that you have to be born with a special gene to do well in math. Well, scientists have concluded that there is no math gene. And a recent study found that boys are not better at math than girls.

In “A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science”, engineering professor Barbara Oakley explains how to effectively learn math and science. She explains that math is learnable. If you want to be good at math, you just have to apply the right learning strategies.

7. I Wish I Were Happy.

Science tells us that you can learn to be happy, just like you can learn to play the guitar, or learn a language. Books by positive psychologists show us how to acquire the skills necessary to be happy.

There are even courses taught at top universities, such as Harvard, that teach their students how to be happy. Yale has a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) on The Science of Wellbeing in which they explain that you can become happier by learning and applying psychological science.

everything is learnable

I wish I had:

8. I Wish I Had More Friends.

Making friends is a social skill. Friendship skills include starting conversations (speaking and dialogue skills); listening; cooperation; emotional regulation; and being aware of the emotions of others.

As an illustration, here are three books you could use to learn the skill of making friends:

  • “The Social Skills Guidebook: Manage Shyness, Improve Your Conversations, and Make Friends, Without Giving Up Who You Are”
  • “4 Essential Keys to Effective Communication in Love, Life, Work–Anywhere!: A How-To Guide for Practicing the Empathic Listening, Speaking, and Dialogue Skills to Achieve Relationship Success”
  • “The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over”

So, if you want to make new friends, learn how.

9. I Wish I Had More Money.

There are several different money skills–such as starting a side hustle, budgeting, investing, and managing debt–that will allow you to make, keep, and grow your money. And they’re all learnable.

10. I Wish I Had My Own Business. 

Some people believe that there are those who are cut out to be entrepreneurs, while others have no other choice but to be employees their whole lives. The truth is that entrepreneurship is a skill, and anything that is a skill can be learned. More precisely, it’s a cluster of skills.

The skills that you need to learn in order to be an entrepreneur include resource allocation, project management, problem solving skills, selling, time management, and strategic planning.

11. I Wish I Had A Good Contact Network.

Creating a good contact network involves skills such as building a brand, delivering your message simply and clearly, and relationship building. All of which are learnable.

12. I Wish I Had Better Health.

Would you believe that a lack of skills could be the root cause of your health problems? After all, if your poor health is due to bad eating habits, a lack of exercise, and too much stress, learning the right skills could help you with all of these.

You can improve your health by learning the following skills:

  • Stress management.
  • Cooking healthy meals.
  • Yoga or Tai Chi.
  • Weightlifting.

13. I Wish I Had Inner Peace.

Inner peace is something else that can be attained by learning different skills, including meditation, anger management and emotional control, present-moment attention, nonjudgmental acceptance, and managing your internal dialogue (or keeping your monkey mind in check).

I wish I knew how to:

14. I Wish I Knew How to Play Tennis (or any other sport).

Greg Glassman, cofounder of CrossFit, has the following to say: ”Regularly learn and play new sports.” By learning to play new sports you’ll be testing out your fitness level.

Playing a new sport will allow you to identify mobility/flexibility issues that need to be addressed, whether your cardio-vascular fitness is up to par, if there are certain muscles that you’ve been neglecting, and if you need to work on your balance and/or coordination.

If you discover that you have a problem in any of these areas, you can simply develop a plan for correcting those problems. This makes any sport learnable.

15. I Wish I Knew How to Draw (or carry out any other artistic skill).

John Gadsby Chapman wrote the following in his 19th-century instruction manual, “The American Drawing-Book”:

“Anyone who can learn to write, can learn to draw.”

If you learned the skill of writing, you can learn the skill of drawing. In fact there’s research that shows that taking an introductory class in drawing or painting literally alters students’ brains. These changes improve fine motor control and other technical capacities needed to carry out these artistic skills.

16. I Wish I Knew How to Adopt Good Habits.

Having a skill is when you have the knowledge, ability, and experience to carry out a task with predetermined results. Using this definition, adopting good habits is a skill that can be developed.

In fact, you can find tons of articles, books, and even courses along the lines of “how to adopt positive habits”. Once you’ve learned how to create new habits, you can continue applying your newly acquired skill to adopt more good habits.

17. I Wish I Knew How to Give Presentations.

Here’s a great joke by Jerry Seinfeld about public speaking:

“I read a thing that actually says that speaking in front of a crowd is considered the number one fear of the average person. I found that amazing – number two was death! That means to the average person if you have to be at a funeral, you would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Nonetheless, I can tell you from personal experience that public speaking is a skill that anyone can learn. When I was in college, I was embarrassingly bad at public speaking. Embarrasingly. Bad.

Now I’m very good at giving presentations (and it’s something I even enjoy). How? Because I learned how to give presentations. That is, I’ve acquired the skill of public speaking.

In the article, Conquering Public Speaking: From Zero Experience to World Championships in Seven Months, Tristan de Montebello explains how he went from having almost no experience in giving public speeches, to giving world-class speeches, in just a few months.

He indicates that if he can leave his readers with one lesson it would be the following: “Public speaking is a skill. Learning it will change your life.”

18. I Wish I Knew How to Write Persuasively.

Writing is a skill that can be learned and improved through deliberate practice, like any other skill. It involves learning to write clearly and concisely, establishing a clear structure, and making your writing more engaging to your audience.

19. I Wish I Knew How to Play a Musical Instrument.

One of the reasons that many adults shy away from learning to play a musical instrument is that they believe it’s too late. However, neuroscientists and music teachers alike say that it’s never too late to learn to play a musical instrument.

In fact, it’s a good idea to learn to play an instrument as an adult. It’s great mental exercise and can keep brain cells alive that would otherwise wither and die.

20. I Wish I Knew How to Code.

Avi Flombaum, co-founder and dean of the Flatiron School, a 12-week coding academy, explains that anyone can learn to code in the same way that anyone can learn to read and write. That’s not to say that learning to code is easy; you’ll be embracing a whole new way of thinking. But anyone who is willing to put in the work can learn to code.

If you need further convincing that everyone can learn to code, I think the video below will do the trick:


If you want to learn something, go learn it. You don’t need anyone’s permission (except for your own). Live your best life by understanding that everything is learnable. Make it your new mantra!


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improve your life by 1000

Create a plan to improve your life 1000% this year!

Now that you’ve reflected on 2019 (because, you’ve done that, right?), you’re ready to plan for 2020. Of course, you should start by creating a ten-year plan to make sure you have an epic decade—and I show you how to that in this post.

onehouradayformula banner longOnce you have your ten-year plan in place, you can create a plan for each 0f the ten years, so that each one will help you move your ten-year agenda forward. One way you can do this is by planning how to improve each year—starting with 2020—by 1000%.

Here’s the process to follow:

  • Choose X number of goals (from 1 to 10).
  • Decide what the top score is for each goal, and what you need to do in order to earn that top score.
  • Come up with a way to break each goal down into chunks, with each chunk worth a certain percentage of the top score for that goal.

And that’s the process you need to follow in order to improve your life by 1000% this new year. I’m going to explain this in an easy-to-understand way below (there’s some math involved, but it’s simple math).

Choose How Many Goals You’ll Work On

You’re going to start out by choosing goals that are important to you and will help you to improve your life. How many goals should you choose? Choose between one and ten. Do the following:

  • You can choose ten goals and have each one be worth 100% (because 10 x 100 = 1000).
  • You can choose five goals and have each one be worth 200% (because 5 x 200 = 1000).
  • You can choose four goals and have each one be worth 250% (because 4 x 250 = 1000).
  • You can choose one really big goal that will a huge impact on your life if you complete it in 2020 and have it be worth 1000%.

You get the picture.

First Example: Running

For this first example, let’s say that you decide that in 2020 you’re going to become a runner. That’s going to help you become more fit, improve your health, and help you to develop discipline. Here’s the process you’re going to follow:

  • It’s one of ten goals that you’re going to set, so it’s worth 100%.
  • Create a schedule of how you’ll increase your mileage each week. For example, in Week One you can choose to run three times and run a third of a mile each time, for a total of one mile (if you’re athletic, you can choose to be more aggressive with your first runs).
  • Add up how many miles you plan to run each week (start with one mile on Week One and increase every second week between 5 and 10%).
  • Then, add up the miles that you plan to run in total for the year. Let’s say that it adds up to 200 miles. This means that your top score for running is 200 miles. If you run 200 miles in 2020, you give yourself 100% for that goal. If you run 150 miles you give yourself 75%, if you run 100 miles you give yourself 50%, and so on.

Second Example: Losing Weight

Suppose that your second goal for 2020 is to lose 36 pounds. Then the process would look as follows:

  • You can give yourself 100% for this goal at the end of the year if, by December 31st of 2020, you’ve lost 36 pounds.
  • This means you’re going to lose 3 pounds each month (12 x 3 = 36).
  • Each month that you lose 3 pounds, give yourself a score of 8.33 (100/12).
  • Therefore, if you lose 3 pounds in ten out of the 12 months of the year, give yourself a score of 83.3 (8.33 x 10).

Third Example: Reading More Books

If one of your goals is to read more books, decide how many books you plan to read in 2020. Suppose you decide to read ten books. Decide which ten books you’re going to read. Then, for every one of these books that you read, give yourself 10%.

If you read three of the ten books in 2020, then give yourself 30% for this goal. If you read all ten books, give yourself 100%.

Fourth Example: Build a Meditation Practice

You fourth goal could be to start a meditation practice. Let’s say that you’ve decided to achieve this goal by completing a 365-Day Project. Your project is the following: you’re going to meditate every morning of 2020 for ten minutes.

Here’s the process you’re going to follow:

  • Meditating every morning of 2020 gives you 100%.
  • Every day that you meditate for ten minutes, give yourself a score of .274. (100/365).
  • Sum up your totals monthly, and then sum up how much you got each month to give you a total for the year.

Therefore, if you meditated 273 days of the year, your score would be 74.8 (273 x .274).

Fifth Example: Wake Up Earlier

If you currently wake up at 7:30 a.m. and you set a goal of waking up at 6:00 a.m. by the end of the year, then waking up 90 minutes earlier by the end of 2020 would get you the top score of 100%. This means that every minute that you wake up earlier is worth 1.11.

So, if you’re waking up at 6:30 a.m. by the end of the year (60 minutes earlier), you give yourself a score of 66.6 (60 x 1.11).

Sixth Example: Learn a New Skill

Let’s say that another way in which you’re going to improve your life 1000% in 2020 is by learning a new skill. Specifically, you decide that you want to learn to blog so that you can create a new source of income. You decide to structure your goal as a 12 x 12 challenge which means you’re going to complete one challenge each month of the year.

You deconstruct the skill of blogging into 12 subskills, and you create a challenge for each subskill. Suppose you come up with the following subskills:

  • Subskill 1 – How to Use and Manage WordPress
  • Subskill 2 – How to Write for the Web (Content Creation)
  • Subskill 3 – Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Subskill 4 – Copywriting (craft compelling copy)
  • Subskill 5 Grow and Convert Traffic
  • Subskill 6 – Online Marketing
  • Subskill 7 – Using Twitter effectively
  • Subskill 8 – Instagram Marketing
  • Subskill 9 – Using Pinterest to promote your brand
  • Subskill 10 – How to Write an Ebook
  • Subskill 11 – Branding
  • Subskill 12 – Using Visual Elements to Enhance Your Blog Posts

Each subskill that you learn gives you 8.33% (100/12). If you’ve learned all 12 skills by the end of the year, give yourself 100%.

Seventh Example: Save Money

Another goal you may have is to save money. If you want to save $10,000 by the end of the year, then having $10,000 in savings by the end of 2020 would give you 100%. For every dollar you save throughout the year, give yourself .01 points.

Look at the following:

  • If you save $1000 in 2020, give yourself 10% for this goal.
  • If you save $2500 in 2020, give yourself 25% for this goal.
  • If you save $8500 in 2020, give yourself 85%.
  • If you save $10,000 in 2020, give yourself 100%.

Eighth Example: Declutter

You decide that you need to declutter your home to live a better life. In addition, you determine that you’ll give yourself a score of 100% if you pack 100 boxes full of stuff and get them out of your house (either by giving stuff away, donating it, or throwing it out).

For each box you successfully fill and get out of your house, you give yourself 1 point. If you pack and unload 95 boxes, this gives you a score of 95%.

Ninth Example: Create a Morning Routine

Suppose that you decide that you’re going to create a morning routine consisting of the six habits of  Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning. You’re going to follow this routine each weekday morning of 2020. That means you’re going to follow the routine 250 times in 2020.

If you follow the routine 250 times in 2020, you give yourself 100%.  Each time that you follow the routine you give yourself .4 points (100/250). Therefore, if you follow the routine 125 times in 2020, you would give yourself 50 points (125 x .4).

Tenth Example: Increase Your Focus

As a last example, let’s suppose that your life would be greatly improved if you increased your focus. You decide to do this by using the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro technique consists of setting a timer for 25 minutes and focusing all of your attention on the task at hand for those 25 minutes.

Specifically, you decide to use the Pomodoro technique four times a day, every weekday, for 2020. As in the pervious example, this means 250 days. Therefore, you’re going to use the technique a total of 1000 times in 2020. Each time that you use the Pomodoro technique, give yourself .1 points.

So, if you use the Pomodoro technique 900 times in 2020, you get a score of 90.

Did You Improve Your Life by 10,000%?

If we tally up how you did with your ten goals in 2020, we get the following:

  • Your first goal was to run 200 miles in 2020, and you did, so that’s 100% for that goal.
  • Your second goal was to lose 36 pounds in 2020, and you lost 30 pounds. Give yourself 83.3% for this goal.
  • Your third goal was to read more books. You read all ten of the books that you wanted to read in 2020, so that’s 100% for your reading goal.
  • Your fourth goal was to create a meditation practice. You meditated 273 days out of the 365 days of the year. This means you got 74.8% for this goal.
  • Your fifth goal was to wake up 90 minutes earlier. You’re waking up at 6:30 a.m. by the end of the year instead of reaching your goal of waking up at 6:00 a.m., so give yourself 66.6% for this goal.
  • Your sixth goal was to learn the skill of blogging. You learned all 12 of the blogging subskills, and you now have a blog. Therefore, give yourself 100% for this goal.
  • Your seventh goal was to save $10,000. You saved $9000, so give yourself 90% for this goal.
  • Your eighth goal was to declutter by filling 100 boxes with stuff you no longer need. You packed 95 boxes full of stuff and you got them out of your house. Therefore, you got 95% for this goal.
  • Your ninth goal was to follow a morning routine every weekday morning. You followed your morning routine half of the time, so you get a 50% for this goal.
  • Your tenth and final goal was to improve your focus by applying the Pomodoro technique 1000 times in 2020. You used the Pomodoro technique 900 times in 2020, so you get a score of 90%.

If you add up your scores for your ten goals, you get a total of 850.7. Therefore, you improved your life by 850.7% in a year. Not bad!


I know what I’m going to be doing on the 31st of December! Live your best life by setting goals that will improve your life 1000% in 2020.


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10 year plan

Instead of planning your life year by year, plan 10 years at a time.

The year 2019 is coming to an end, and 2020 is about begin. The question on a lot of people’s minds is: Is 2020 the beginning of the next decade? That is, is a new decade about to begin?

According to Farmers’ Almanac, an annual American periodical that has been in continuous publication since 1818, the answer is no. They argue that decades begin with the number “1” (as in 2021) and end with the number “0” (as in 2030).

Nonetheless, we refer to decades as the 50s, the 70s, the 80s, and so on. In addition, this Wikipedia article alleges that the 2020s begin on January 1, 2020, and end on December 31st, 2029.

onehouradayformula banner longSo, which, is it? Are we going to start a new decade in a little over three weeks, or do we have a year left of the decade we’re currently on? Whichever side of this debate you fall on, the fact remains that–if you want to have a remarkable life–you should be thinking long-term.

Every year people set New Year’s resolutions. The problem with this is that planning a year at a time is short-sighted. You should have long-term vision, which means that you should be planning for at least the next ten years.

In other words, you should create a 10 year plan. I’m going to show you how to do this in today’s post.

Why Make Long-Term Plans

I could write an entire blog post on the importance of thinking long-term (both for countries and for individuals). But for now, I’m going to refer to something I wrote on this blog a few years ago about building wealth.

Keith Cameron Smith explains in ““The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class” that millionaires think long-term, while everyone else thinks short-term. He breaks society down into five groups, and explains how each group thinks:

  1. The very poor think day to day.
  2. Poor people think week to week.
  3. The middle class thinks month to month.
  4. The rich think year to year.
  5. The very rich think decade to decade.

This is what happens when you plan long term:

  • If you have a bad few months, or even a bad year, it’s just a bump in the road.
  • Ten-year goals are small enough for you to believe that they’re achievable, but big enough to really move your life in the direction that you want it to go.
  • You can strike a better balance between your present wants–e.g. I want a new pair of shoes–and your future wants–e.g. I want to make a sizeable investment in a mutual fund.
  • Making a tangible difference takes a long time. If you’re always thinking in the short-term, you’ll never accomplish anything great.
  • Long-term thinking gives your life purpose and direction.
  • Once you have a long-term plan, you can set mid-term and short-term goals that will allow you to achieve that long term plan.

Now that you know why it’s important to think long-term, go ahead and create a 10 year plan. I’ll tell you how to do this next.

Questions To Ask

You create a 10 year plan by asking yourself questions in several life categories, such as the following:

Your Skillset In 10 Years’ Time

  • Mastery of a skill usually takes about ten years. Is there a skill that you want to get started learning now in order to have achieved mastery in ten years’ time?
  • You can get reasonably good at a skill in about a year. What skills do you want to get reasonably good at in the next ten years?
  • You can obtain basic proficiency in a skill in about a month’s time. Are there any skills in which you wish to gain basic proficiency in the next ten years? If so, which skills?

To help you gain all the skills that you want to acquire in the next ten years, I’ll be launching my video course on this topic soon. It’s called “Learn Any Skill Faster and Better: How to Learn to Code, Play the Piano, Lift Weights, Speak French, Draw, Or Anything Else”.

Sign up for my free 5-part course, How to Learn A Skill Quickly: A 5-Part Process, and you’ll be notified when the video course launches.

Your Finances In 10 Years’ Time

  • How much money will you have amassed in 10 years time?
  • What types of investments will you be holding?
  • What will your debt situation be like?
  • What assets will you own?
  • How will you be making your money?
  • What level of financial security will you have obtained?

Your Health in 10 Years’ Time

  • How will you manage your weight in the next ten years?
  • How will you stay fit?
  • How will you look and feel in ten years’ time?

Your Career In 10 Years’ Time

  • Will you move up the corporate ladder in the next ten years?
  • Do you want to strike out on your own in the next ten years?
  • What contributions do you want to make in your field in the next ten years? How will you expand your field’s area of knowledge?
  • What will you be known for in ten years’ time?
  • Do you want to retire in the next ten years?

Travel and Adventure In 10 Years’ Time

  • What countries do you want to visit in the next ten years?
  • What adventures do you want to have in the next ten years?
  • What events do you want to go to?

Your Relationships in 10 Years’ Time

  • What type of people do you want to surround yourself with in the next 10 years?
  • Do you want to get married in the next ten years?
  • If you’re married, how will your marriage grow in the next ten years?
  • Do you want to have kids in the next ten years?
  • If you have kids, how will you promote and support their physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development in the next ten years?
  • Do you want to build a business contact network in the next ten years? What kind of people do you want in your network?
  • What will your social life be like during the next ten years?

Your Personal Development In 10 Years’ Time

  • How will you change and grow in the next ten years?
  • How will you improve your mental and emotional health in the next ten years?
  • What habits do you want to adopt over the next ten years?

Projects In Ten Years’ Time

  • What projects–such as writing a novel, composing a piece of music, or opening a gym–do you want to work on during the next ten years?
  • Will you work on one long project for the next ten years?
  • Will you complete several mid-sized projects in the next ten years?

Contributions In Ten Years’ Time

  • How will you further your legacy in the next ten years?
  • How will you help make the world a better place in the next ten years?
  • What charitable contributions will you make? How will you volunteer in your community?

Next Steps

Once you’ve answered the questions above and used those answers to create a 10 year plan, you can plan for each of the ten years by referring back to your plan. Do the following:

If you do this every year for the next years, chances are high that you’ll achieve your 10 year plan.


What do you think? Are we about to start a new decade, or is that next year? Either way, I’m sure that you see the power of long-term thinking. Live your best life by creating a 10 year plan.


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how to practice gratitude

Notice and reflect on the many blessings in your life.

November–the month in which Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States–always makes me reflect on the transformative powers of gratitude. There are countless studies which show that feeling and expressing gratitude improves mental, physical, and relational wellbeing.

Some time ago I wrote a post on the life-changing benefits of gratitude. These benefits include the following:

  • Increased happiness;
  • Better sleep;
  • Strengthened resilience:
  • Improved health; and
  • Enhanced peace of mind.

I’ve illustrated these in the infographic below:

how to practice gratitude

With so many benefits that come with the feeling of gratitude, why don’t people engage in this emotion more often? I think that it’s because we have a tendency to focus on what is going wrong, and on what we lack.

Instead, we should be paying more attention to what is going right and to everything we have. To help you bring more gratitude into your life, I’ve collected–and created–a few gratitude exercises which I’m going to share with you in this post.

Below you’ll find 12 gratitude exercises for increased joy which you can go through the next time you’re wondering how to practice gratitude.

1. If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?

“If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young” is a 2013 collection of nine commencement speeches from the beloved American writer Kurt Vonnegut. Here’s a quote from one of these commencement speeches:

“My Uncle Alex, who is up in Heaven now, one of the things he found objectionable about human beings was that they so rarely noticed it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime, and Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”

So I hope that you will do the same for the rest of your lives. When things are going sweetly and peacefully, please pause a moment, and then say out loud, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”

Gratitude isn’t about feeling thankful each time you get something more. It’s about pausing, looking around, and taking in what’s already there. Take Vonnegut’s advice and make sure to appreciate the simple, sweet moments that life offers.

2. Think of a Near Miss.

One day, while I was living in Washington, D.C., I walked into a furniture store looking for an item for my apartment. I was told by a salesclerk that I could find the item I needed on the basement floor. As I was walking down the stairs, suddenly and inexplicably, I stopped.

At that moment, a store employee who was standing on the floor above accidentally pushed over a large box with a heavy piece of furniture in it. It landed right in front of me. If I hadn’t stopped when I did, the box would have landed on me. It would have either killed me, or at the very least I would have been severely injured.

I don’t know what saved me that day (intuition, luck, a guardian angel. . .), but I’m grateful that it did. I think a lot of people have their own near-miss stories. What’s yours? Aren’t you relieved it was a near-miss? Take a moment to feel gratitude that it was just a close call.

3. Use Gratitude Prompts.

One of the most useful gratitude exercises that I’ve come across is creating an inventory of 100 things you’re grateful for. I have a post with 100 gratitude prompts that you can use to trigger ideas for your list, including the following:

  • I’m grateful for these 3 things I see:
  • I’m grateful for these 3 things I hear:
  • I’m grateful for these 3 things I smell:
  • Im grateful for these 3 things I touch/feel:
  • I’m grateful for these 3 things I love to eat:

You can find all of the prompts here: 100 gratitude prompts.

4. Turn a Negative Into a Positive.

One of the exercises that I include in my post, 22 Gratitude Exercises that Will Change Your Life, is to put things in perspective. One way to do this is to try to see things through a lens of gratitude.

After all, gratitude can help you turn negatives into positives. At least once a day, try turning a negative into a positive by asking yourself questions like the following:

  • Is there a silver lining to this?
  • Is there a better way to look at this?
  • What can I be thankful about in this situation?

Here’s an example from my own life: About three weeks ago, in close succession, my laptop’s battery died; the screen started freezing sporadically; the keyboard began scrolling down by itself; and my external speakers stopped working. It was almost like they had a team meeting and decided to retire, en masse.

Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. However, I went on Amazon, and I was able to find replacements for everything that had stopped working at a reasonable price. When the stuff I ordered from Amazon arrived, I went to a computer store that’s close to where I live, and they installed everything in half-an-hour. Plus, everyone at the computer store was friendly to me.

I felt very grateful that everything could be fixed, and my computer is now working like new again.

5. Keep A Gratitude Journal.

Keeping a gratitude journal is an oldie but goodie. Every night, take a moment before you go to sleep to review the day and give thanks for all the good that came your way. Both the big and the small.

I’ve created the template below which you can use for your gratitude journal. You can download the template by inserting your name and email below:

how to practice gratitude

If you’re looking for gratitude quotes to write down at the bottom of the template here are 89 of them:

6. Think of All the Things You Take for Granted.

A while back I was watching one of the late-night talk shows—I don’t remember which one—and the celebrity that was being interviewed was talking about how fast we become accustomed to new benefits, and how quickly we start taking things for granted.

He explained that he was on a plane, when the pilot announced over the loudspeaker that the airline had started offering inflight Wi-Fi. Everyone was pleasantly surprised, and some people even started clapping. About half-an hour-later, the internet signal fell. You could immediately hear the groans and complaints from the passengers.

Something that had been unexpected boon just a few minutes before, had become standard in just half-an-hour, and people were upset that it had been taken away. In a very short amount of time, the passengers on the plane felt that they were entitled to WiFi during their flight.

Stop to think of all the things which make your life infinitely better, but which you simply take for granted, or feel entitled to. Here are ten of them:

how to practice gratitude

Now stop to think for a moment how lucky you are to have these things. There are many parts of the world where people don’t have access to many of the things that are simply a matter of course for you.

Eight Hours to Get Drinking Water

As an illustration, it takes Aysha—a girl in Ethiopia—eight hours a day to gather water for her family. If you really want to feel grateful the next time you simply have to walk over to your faucet and open it to get clean water, watch this video of Aysha’s daily trek through the desert in order to collect this vital liquid.

7. Gratitude Cards

At the beginning of each day, grab an index card and write at the top: “Things I’m grateful for today.” Put it in you wallet and fill it out throughout the day.

You can ask your family members to do the same. Then, at dinnertime, each family member can share with everyone else what they wrote down on their cards.

8. Show Yourself Some Gratitude.

There’s a little gratitude game that I play with myself, that involves my past-self, my present-self, and my future-self.

When my present-self benefits from something that my past-self did, I take a moment to thank my past-self. For example, if I’m hungry and I open my refrigerator door to find a delicious meal that I cooked the day before, I take a moment to thank my past-self for preparing the meal.

On the other hand, when I do something to achieve one of my goals, I visualize my future-self thanking my present-self.

For example, if I go to gym to exercise, I’m working toward my fitness goals. When I’m done, I think of the future version of myself who will have achieved those goals, and that version of me thanks my present-self for doing what was necessary for her to get there.

A little gratitude time travel, if you will. 🙂

9. Gratitude Questions.

The fifth item on this list was to keep a gratitude journal. I already gave you a template to help you with that, and now I’m going to go one step further. I’m going to give you 55 gratitude questions to help spark ideas on what to write in your gratitude journal.

Here are the first five:

  1. What was the best part of the day?
  2. Who helped me today?
  3. Who was kind to me today?
  4. What made me laugh outloud today?
  5. What insight did I gain today?

You can get all of the questions here: 55 gratitude Questions – Count Your Daily Blessings.

10. Remember a Teacher Who Believed In You.

At the very top of this post I shared with you an exercise taken from the collection of Vonnegut’s commencement addresses, If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young”. Here’s another one:

“That’s one favor I’ve asked of you. Now I ask for another one. I ask it not only of the graduates, but of everyone here, parents and teachers as well. I’ll want a show of hands after I ask this question.

How many of you have had a teacher at any level of your education who made you more excited to be alive, prouder to be alive, than you had previously believed possible?

Hold up your hands, please.

Now take down your hands and say the name of that teacher to someone else and tell them what that teacher did for you.”

We’ve all had that one special teacher who helped us become the person we are today. Think of them and what they did for you. Now, tell someone else.

11. Go On a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt.

I’m sure you’re familiar with scavenger hunts, but in case you’re not, it’s a game in which you take a list of items, and then the game participants proceed to search for the items. When each player finds an item, they can do any of the following:

  • Collect the item.
  • Check the item off the list.
  • Take a photo of the item.

Here’s a list of items you can use for your Gratitude Scavenger Hunt:

  • Find something you love to smell.
  • Go to the grocery store and pick out a fruit you love.
  • Find something that’s really useful for you.
  • Find something in your favorite color.
  • Find something you love to touch.
  • Find a sound you love.
  • Find something that reminds you of someone you love.
  • Find something that says “home” to you.
  • Find your favorite book.
  • Find a beautiful tree you can sit under.
  • Find a Siberian husky (or a dog of a breed that makes you smile).
  • Find a store clerk or government employee who does their job well,
  • Find a place with a great view of your city.
  • Find something that fills you with pride for your country.
  • Find a board game you love to play.
  • Find your favorite flower.
  • Find something that makes you laugh.
  • Find something that reminds you of something you’ve accomplished.
  • Find something that keeps you healthy.
  • Find something you’ve made with your own hands.
  • Find something you treasure that money can’t buy.
  • Find a gratitude quote you love.
  • Find a gift you received recently.
  • Find something you use when you need some self-care.
  • Find something that fills you with wonder.

12. A 2-Minute Morning Exercise to Boost Your Gratitude and Happiness

Most people are constanty looking for ways for start their morning right. After all, the way you start your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. You can start the day filled with gratitude by taking two minutes to say a few gratitude affirmations.

Here are three you can try:

  • Thank you for this new day.
  • I’m filled with happiness and gratitude.
  • I’m grateful for a new chance to live my life.

You can see ten morning affirmations here: 8 Ways to Practice Gratitude to Boost Your Wellbeing.


Gratitude allows us to shift our attention from what we lack to the abundance that is already present in our lives. It allows us to appreciate all the good that we have. Use these 12 exercises to help you bring more gratitude into your life this November, and every month of the year.

Live your best life by discovering how to practice gratitude.


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practice accpetance

Practicing acceptance can transform your life.

Acceptance means embracing reality. It is a willingness to experience things as they are, instead of insisting that they be as you want them to be. At the same time, acceptance is not any of the following:

  • Acceptance is not agreement—you may not agree with what happened, but you accept it, because it’s useless to struggle against what is.
  • Acceptance is not acquiescence that what happened is just—it’s a fact that there is often injustice in the world.
  • Acceptance is not weakness—it takes a lot of courage to face reality when it’s not in your favor.
  • Acceptance is not giving up—it’s realizing your time and effort are best applied elsewhere.
  • Acceptance is not quitting—it’s shifting your focus and attention from what you cannot change or influence, to what you can.
  • Acceptance is not resignation—it’s the first step to overcoming any misfortune you experience.

Although learning to accept the things you cannot change can be challenging, there are many benefits to doing so. Here are three of them:

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  • Practice acceptance because whatever you’re refusing to accept is causing you pain, but your nonacceptance is making it worse. Consider a common saying in Buddhist philosophy: Suffering = Pain x Resistance. You may be going through a painful experience but refusing to accept what happened will simply increase the pain.
  • Desiring the world to be something it is not at the moment is frustrating, demoralizing, and draining.
  • Acceptance allows you to move on instead of being perpetually stuck in a quagmire of “should haves” and “would haves”.

In this post I’m going to share with you three ways to practice acceptance:

  1. Practice Detachment
  2. Practice Letting Go
  3. Practice Stoicism

The first way to learn acceptance is to practice detachment.

Practice Detachment

I’m a big believer in setting goals, planning how to achieve them, executing your plan, and monitoring your progress. However, no matter how smart you are and how hard you work, there are lots of things that are simply not within your control.

Once you’ve done everything you can to achieve your goals, practice detachment.  That is, take a step back and simply allow things to unfold. Become an impartial observer who is just taking in what happens. Look at the following:

  • If you achieve your goal, you’ll be fine.
  • If you don’t achieve your goal, you’ll be fine.

As author Donald Miller once said, “Hold your dreams and aspirations with open palms.”  We all want to achieve our dreams, but if we hold on to them too tightly, we can’t change course if need be, or accept that we need to choose a different dream if the original one proves to be unattainable.

I recently read that the trick is to behave like an actor playing a role: become fully immersed in the part of someone who is one-hundred percent committed to obtaining your chosen objective. However, at any point you can step out of character and detach yourself from the desired outcome.

Don’t Attach Who You Are to Any Desired Objective

Detachment is knowing that you are complete in and of yourself, without anything external needing to happen. It’s understanding the following:

  • Your happiness does not depend on achieving a certain goal, having someone else’s love, or on how any situation unfolds.
  • Your love, respect, and appreciation of yourself do not depend on any particular outcome.
  • Things, other people, and situations don’t define you.

Osho–the Indian philosopher and spiritual guide–, wrote the following in his book, “The Secret of Secrets”:

“Remain in the world, act in the world, do whatsoever is needful, and yet remain transcendental, aloof, detached, a lotus flower in the pond.”

Detachment is realizing that you’re okay as you are. You can find wholeness within. Practice acceptance by practicing detachment.

Practice Letting Go

Do the following: pick up a pencil and hold it tightly in your hand. Hold it tightly, hold it tightly, hold it tightly. . .and then let it go.

When you refuse to accept something—an outcome, a situation, or an event—you’re holding on to the way you wish things would have happened like you were holding on to that pencil. And just like you can let go of the pencil, you can let go of your insistence that things should have unfolded differently.

I’m going to share with you an anecdote to illustrate the principle of letting go.

My College Flat Mate

When I was in college at Georgetown, in Washington, D.C., one of my flat mates was from northern Italy. She was in a relationship with an Austrian—who also went to Georgetown—and she thought they were both very much in love and had a future together.

However, one day, he broke up with her. He just didn’t want to be in a relationship with her anymore. This woman refused to accept the fact that the relationship was over.

She pestered him for months. Whenever I—or any of our other flat mates–spoke to her all she wanted to do was talk about her ex. She would go on and on about how perfect the relationship had been, and how they were meant for each other.

As time went on and he showed no interest in getting back together with her, it became abundantly clear to everyone around her that she was simply refusing to accept reality. Here’s what she was doing:

  • She was wasting her time—time she could have spent studying, having fun with friends, taking advantage of the cultural opportunities available in D.C., and so on.
  • She was causing herself a lot of stress and mental anguish—she was upset all the time and always seemed to be on the verge of tears.
  • She was limiting herself—after all, as the saying goes, there are plenty of fish in the sea.

There was nothing she could do to get the outcome she wanted. He wasn’t going to get back together with her. Eventually she managed to let go and started dating someone else, but she would have spared herself a lot of unnecessary suffering if she had let go sooner.

When You Should Let Go

If there’s something that you’re refusing to let go of, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I beating a dead horse?
  • Am I wasting my time and effort?
  • Am I limiting myself?
  • Am I deceiving myself by thinking I can change the way things are when it comes to this situation?
  • Is it better for my mental, physical, financial, and/or emotional well-being to just let this go?

When the answer to one or more of these questions is “yes”, it’s time to let go. Take a deep breath, begin to loosen your grip, slowly open your hands, and let go.

Practice Stoicism

As I write in my post, “7 Lessons on Life and Happiness From a Stoic”, stoicism is a philosophy of life which was founded in ancient Greece. Stoicism can be summarized as follows:

“Stay calm and serene regardless of what life throws at you.”

That right there is acceptance in a nutshell. I’m going to share with you two stoicism exercises that will help you to practice acceptance.

First Stoicism Exercise

Among the most fundamental maxims of Stoicism is the idea that it is foolish to focus on things that are not within your control. Here’s how Epictetus—one of the most well-known practitioners of Stoicism–put it:

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”

Worrying, complaining about, and ruminating about things we cannot influence, or change is irrational and useless. On the other hand, when we focus on things that are within our control—our attitude, interpretation of events, habits, thought patterns, and actions—we can begin to change things.

In my post on “How to Take Back Control of Your Life”, I recommend that you give yourself a challenge that’s within your Circle of Influence—which includes all those things which are within your control.

For example, let’s say you’ve recently suffered a disappointment, and you’ve come to the realization that there’s nothing you can do to change things. Do the following:

  • Make a list of as many things you can think of that are within your control.
  • What challenge can you give yourself that would fall within your list?
  • Maybe you’re ten pounds overweight, and you decide to challenge yourself to lose those ten pounds. After all, starting an exercise regime and cleaning up your eating habits are two things that are within your control.
  • You can’t fix the event or situation that disappointed you, but you can fix the problem of being ten pounds overweight, so focus on that.

Practice acceptance by taking your attention off the things you can’t control and placing it on those things you can control.

Second Stoicism Exercise

You can think of whatever you’re refusing to accept as an obstacle. When you come across an obstacle, you can stand there and stare it as you bemoan your fate, or you can accept that you’ve come across an obstacle and deal with it as expeditiously as possible.

The Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius recommended the second approach. He admonished that we should deal with any obstacles we find along the way quickly, instead of wasting time complaining about the obstacle. Look at the following:

 “A cucumber is bitter. Throw it away. There are briars in the road. Turn aside from them. This is enough. Do not add, ‘And why were such things made in the world?’”

Here’s how to apply this stoicism exercise in your own life:

  • If you lose your job, apply for another job.
  • If your novel does poorly, write another novel.
  • If a friend betrays you, look for a better friend.

Don’t argue with what is. Practice acceptance by moving on.


The poet and educator Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.” Live your best life by practicing acceptance.


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productivity killing habits

Identify those habits that are killing your productivity and eliminate them.

Being productive means that you get more of the right things done in the least amount of time. We all want this.

Nonetheless, sometimes we do things in the name of productivity which are actually making us less productive. And to make matters worse, a lot of these things are done on automatic. That is, they’re habits. To be more specific, they’re productivity killing habits.

In this post I’m going to share with you five of the most insidious and harmful of these productivity killing habits, as well as a strategy for breaking each of them.

1. Checking Your Email Constantly

Checking your email constantly throughout the day, which is something that a lot of us are guilty of, is a productivity killing habit for several reasons.

onehouradayformula banner longFirst, checking your email while you’re working on something else is commonly referred to as multitasking, However, Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT and one of the world experts on divided attention, explains that our brains are simply not wired to multitask well. He says the following:

“When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.”

In addition, multitasking increases the stress hormone cortisol, as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline. This overstimulates your brain and causes mental fog and cloudy thinking.

And there are even more negative effects to interrupting your work in order to check your email. Once you’ve checked your email, you have to make all sorts of decisions, such as the following:

  • Should you answer that email from a client? Or should you mark it as “unread” and answer it later?
  • If you decide to answer, what should you say?
  • Are there a few emails you should just delete?
  • Since you’ve opened your inbox, should you send out a few emails of your own?

Making decisions, even small ones, decreases the amount of glucose that’s available for your brain. As a result of this, your ability to focus diminishes, which makes you more susceptible to other distractions.

To make matters worse, every time that you check your email you get a little hit of the feel-good hormone dopamine. This means that you’re rewarding your brain for losing focus and seeking novelty.  And the more you reward something, the more likely it is to continue to happen.

And let’s not even go into what happens if you get an email that irritates or annoys you. That will undoubtedly have a negative impact on your ability to concentrate on the report you were supposed to be working on in the first place.

productivity killing habits

How to Fix It

The way to stop checking your email nonstop throughout the day–like a mouse hitting a lever that releases food pellets– is by scheduling your email time. There are a few ways to do this:

  • First, have time blocks throughout the day for focused work when you absolutely will not check your email.
  • Second, go cold turkey and decide on one or two times during the day when you’ll check your email. For example, you could check your email at 10:00 am and at 5:00 pm. Then, check your email only at those times.
  • Third, gradually decrease how often you check your email. As an illustration, if you currently check your email once every fifteen minutes, start checking it once every half-an-hour. Then, once every hour. After that, once every two hours. Continue in this way until you’ve reached a frequency that works well for you.

2. Creating Long To-Do Lists

The next habit on this list of productivity killing habits is creating never ending to do lists.

Humans tend to think that their future selves will be very different from their present selves. This is so even if that future self is just twelve hours into the future. Maybe today you only managed to get seven things done in the entire day, but tomorrow. . . tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow you’ll be able to cross 20 items off your to do list.

That wishful thinking is what has us constantly creating extremely long to-do lists. But the same thing happens day after day: we never manage to get through that overly optimistic to-do list. This makes us feel stressed and overwhelmed, which are feelings that are not conducive to remaining productive.

My nephew has a t-shirt that says: “Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. In that case, be Batman.” We all need to come to terms with the fact that we will never be Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, or any other superhero for that matter. Which means we need to stop creating superhuman to-do lists.

productivity killing habits

How to Fix It

The solution that I’ve come up with for finally eliminating the mile-long to-do lists I used to create for myself is something called calendar blocking. That is, instead of creating a to-do list, I take out my calendar, create time blocks, and write down what I’ll be doing during each time block.

Once I run out of time blocks, that’s it. Nothing else gets scheduled for that day. Why? Because there are no more time blocks left over. See how that works?

3. Scheduling the Trivial Things First

Many of us look at what we need to do for the day and see one big, hairy, difficult (and important) task, and four or five smaller ones. Then we tell ourselves that if we do the small stuff first, we get to knock four or five items off our to-do list. That’s more efficient than just finishing the one important task, right? Wrong!

Scheduling the trivial things first is one of the productivity killing habits on this list for two reasons. First, because you have limited willpower. And, second, because you have limited time.

In order to concentrate and avoid distractions, you need willpower. But willpower is like a muscle: it gets fatigued from overuse. Every time you use a little bit of willpower—to stop yourself from going on YouTube to watch animal videos or pop onto twitter to see what your friends are up to—your ability to subdue your impulses lessens.

Here’s willpower expert Roy Baumeister:

“The longer people have been awake, the more self-control problems happen. Most things go bad in the evening. Diets are broken at the evening snack, not at breakfast or in the middle of the morning. Impulsive crimes are mostly committed after midnight.”

productivity killing habits

This is one of the main reasons why you should do the most important thing you need to get done each day first. That is, when you have the most willpower and are most likely to be able to focus on the task at hand.

Also, if you do the most important thing first, you’ll be able to say that you had a successful day. This is so even if you don’t have enough time to finish the other tasks that you wanted to get done that day.

How to Fix It

When you’re creating your schedule for the day, ask yourself what your number one priority for the day is. Then, schedule that first. That way, you’ll tackle it when your willpower is at its peak.

In addition, even if the rest of your day doesn’t go as planned, at least you’ll have gotten your most important task for the day out of the way.

4. Working Nonstop Until You’re Done

It would appear to make sense that the longer you work, the more you can get done. Using this logic, if you start working at 8:00 am and work nonstop until noon, you’ll have an incredibly productive morning. But this isn’t the case.

The way to retain the highest level of productivity throughout the day is not working longer but working smarter with well-timed breaks. It’s much more effective to work for a short period of time—many argue 52 minutes is the sweet spot—with one hundred percent focus, and then take a ten to fifteen minute break, than it is to work for four unfocused hours nonstop.

How to Fix It

To stop the habit of working nonstop to exhaustion, set a timer for 52 minutes and focus completely on the task at hand during that time. When the timer goes off, stop and take a short break.

During your breaks you can go outside and take a short walk; close your eyes and meditate; or even do something playful like coloring or doing some origami.

productivity killing habits

5. The News Habit (Insert Your Own Productivity Killing Habit Here)

We all have that one habit that’s killing our productivity, that perhaps other people don’t share. For me it’s checking the news constantly throughout the day. There’s so much going on in the world, and I can talk myself into believing that I’m not being unproductive, because it’s important to know what’s happening.

Right now, I can tell you—with an embarrassing amount of detail–what’s going on in the US, Panama, Venezuela, Peru, Hong Kong, and Britain. And how does that help me achieve my goals? It doesn’t.

There’s nothing wrong with checking the news a couple of times throughout the day, but doing so constantly—like I do—is a terrible productivity killing habit. What’s the one thing that you find yourself doing constantly that’s killing your productivity? How are you talking yourself into believing that what you’re doing is actually productive?

Here are some possibilities:

  • Maybe you’re constantly logging on to social media, and you’ve convinced yourself that you’re building your brand.
  • Perhaps you’re playing video games more than you should, but you tell yourself that it’s important to have some downtime.
  • It could be that you’re constantly chatting with your coworkers, and you justify this to yourself by arguing that you’re creating good rapport and camaraderie with your colleagues.

All of the above is true: it’s a good idea to build your brand, have some downtime, and have a good relationship with the people you work with. However, none of these things should come at the expense of your productivity.

How to Fix It

My plan for controlling my news habit is to schedule when I can check the news, as well as limit the amount of time that I spend reading, watching, and listening to the news.

You can do the same. Create specific time slots throughout your day for going on social media, playing video games, and/or chatting with co-workers. Make sure that the amount of time that you give yourself for each of these activities doesn’t interfere with your ability to get the really important stuff done.

productivity killing habits


Break the habits that I’ve listed above and watch how your productivity skyrockets. Live your best life by getting your productivity killing habits under control.


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books on power

If you want to create a better world for yourself and others, you need to amass the power necessary to do so.

onehouradayformula banner longWanting power, like wanting money, is seen by many as being immoral. However, power is neutral. You can acquire it unethically and use it unjustly, or you can gain power through moral means and use it to improve your life and that of your loved ones, and for the betterment of society. In addition, knowing how others acquire power can help you to identify when someone else is trying to take your power away, so that you can take action to stop them.

In this post I’m going to share with you five books on power that you must read. In addition, I’ve summarized one or more of the best lessons in each book.

The Prince

books on powerThe Prince” by Niccolò Machiavelli is the first book on power I’m going to recommend that you read. It was written in 1513 but was not published until 1532. Machiavelli was a diplomat, politician, historian, philosopher, writer, and playwright.  He had been exiled from Florence and wrote “The Prince” to curry favor with the ruler of Florence, Lorenzo de Medici (the grandson of Lorenzo Il Magnifico), and win an advisory position in the Florentine government.

Although some equate “The Prince” with ruthlessness and guile, it’s a must-read not just for those who are interested in political science, but also for those who want to understand how the world works. After all, Machiavelli was a pragmatist. Here’s a quote from the book:

“There is such a gap between how one lives and how one should live that he who neglects what is being done for what should be done will learn his destruction rather than his preservation.”

Here’s a gold nugget from the book: “… to exercise the intellect the prince should read histories, and study there the actions of illustrious men, to see how they have borne themselves in war, to examine the causes of their victories and defeat, so as to avoid the latter and imitate the former.”

In other words. read so that you can avoid the mistakes made by others and emulate their successes.

The 48 Laws of Power

books on power

The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene is another book that makes a lot of people’s hair stand on end. Greene explains that he wrote the book to expose the dirty ploys of the executives he encountered during a period as a Hollywood screenwriter. Here’s how one reviewer on Amazon describes the book:

“It doesn’t teach one to be self-absorbed or evil or a heretic. It teaches one to stand your ground and to protect yourself from taking unnecessary burden, unfair treatment, and manipulation from corrupt people.”

In other words, the book prepares you for the real world. You need to accept things as they are in order to be able to work toward making things run as they should.

My favorite of the 48 rules in the book is Rule 34: Be Royal In Your Own Fashion: Act Like a King to Be Treated like One. Here’s Greene explaining the law:

“The way you carry yourself will often determine how you are treated: In the long run, appearing vulgar or common will make people disrespect you. For a king respects himself and inspires the same sentiment in others. By acting regally and confident of your powers, you make yourself seem destined to wear a crown.”

Greene uses Christopher Columbus to illustrate this law. Columbus was the son of a humble wine merchant. Nonetheless, when he was in the Portuguese and Spanish courts trying to get his trip to Asia funded, he passed himself as Italian nobility.

He was confident and bold, and people—including the king of Portugal and Queen Isabella of Spain–believed him when he claimed to be the descendant of aristocrats. Therefore, these monarchs treated him seriously. Eventually, Queen Isabella funded his trip.

I would sum this idea up as follows: act like the person you want to be.

The 36 Strategies of Ancient China (or The 36 Stratagems)

books on powerThe Thirty-six Strategies Of Ancient China” is a Chinese collection of 36 proverbs meant to be used as military tactics to defeat your opponent.  Each stratagem refers to a battle or folklore from the Three Kingdoms (from 220–280 AD, when China was divided into three states). It was written by a General named Tan Daoji , around 400 AD, and it cannot be missing from a list of books on power.

To illustrate that these strategies are not just for war, I’m going to refer to Linda Tan, a social entrepreneur and rice farmer who uses these ancient war stratagems to defeat pests in her field. Linda explains that she dreams of a great yield at the end of each season. Her worst nightmare is that by the end of the year her plants will have been destroyed by insects.

Although the obvious choice to get rid of pests is to use pesticides, studies show that pesticides are bad for the farmers’ health. Therefore, Linda had to find a different approach to attack her enemy. So, she turned to the 36 stratagems. Here are two of the stratagems that she used:

  • 3 – To Kill With a Borrowed Sword
  • 10 – Hide a Knife Behind a Smile

Below you’ll find an explanation of each.

To Kill With a Borrowed Sword

What this stratagem means is that if you want to hurt your enemy, you should find a third party to attack your enemy for you. The third party when it comes to defeating the pests in the rice fields is ducks. If you release ducks in a rice field, they eat the pests. Therefore, Linda got some ducks and released them in her fields. And the strategy worked: the ducks foraged in the rice fields, thereby reducing Linda’s pest problem.

Hide a Knife Behind a Smile

This stratagem means that you defeat your enemy by giving it something it likes. Then, when it’s off its guard, you move in for the kill. Pests really like nitrogen-rich plants. Therefore, when the farmers are applying nitrogen fertilizers, they have to be careful not to use too much.

However, the farmers choose a section of the field in which they use a lot of nitrogen fertilizer. That means that there’s a section of the field that becomes incredibly attractive to pests. As a result, a large percentage of the pests move to this section of the field and leave the rest of the rice alone.

Furthermore, the farmers can then apply pesticide to that small area, thereby killing a large portion of the pests.

As you can see from the two examples above, the proverbs in “The 36 Strategies” have many real-world applications. Increase your power by learning to wield these stratagems wisely. You can read all of the stratagem here.

The Art of Worldly Wisdom

books on powerThe Art of Worldly Wisdom” is a gem. As I write in my post, 35 Pieces of Life Changing Wisdom That Will Make You More Powerful and Successful, this book was written by the Spanish Jesuit scholar Baltasar Gracian in the 17th century. It contains 300 proverbs that will help you to succeed in life.

Here’s one of my favorite proverbs from the book: “Don’t show off every day, or you’ll stop surprising people. There must always be some novelty left over. The person who displays a little more of it each day keeps up expectations, and no one ever discovers the limits of his talent.”

That is, make your skills and talents limitless by displaying them a little at a time.

Another of Gracian’s proverbs advises that you choose your friends wisely: “Put the right people beside you. The company you keep can work wonders. Customs and tastes and even intelligence are transmitted without our being aware of it.”

The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once said the following about The Art of Worldly Wisdom:

“Absolutely unique. . . a book made for constant use. . . a companion for life. [These maxims are] especially fitted to those who wish to prosper in the great world.”

I would wholeheartedly agree.

The 50th Law

books on powerA while back I watched a video of a group of three hunters in Africa who—without weapons—took a wildebeest carcass that a pride of lions was feasting on. They walked up to the lions with so much confidence and fearlessness, that when the lions saw them approaching, they fled.  The men cut the pieces of meat that they wanted and quickly walked off before the lions realized it was a bluff.

This video immediately came to mind as I was reading about the book “The 50th Law”, written by Robert Greene—author of the “The 48 Laws of Power”– and the rapper 50 Cent, who went from selling drugs at the age of twelve to becoming a Grammy -winning musician who has sold over 30 million albums worldwide. He’s also survived being shot at close range nine times.

Here’s a quote that perfectly encapsulates the message of the book:

“…your fears are a kind of prison that confines you within a limited range of action. The less you fear, the more power you will have and the more fully you will live.”

Whatever situation you’re in, be the person with the least fear. This will give you a constant strategic advantage.

Always remember that while fear can alert you to danger so that you can take action to stay safe, a lot of fear is in the mind. The second type of fear—which is the most common –is unjustified fear which simply keeps you paralyzed and stops you from taking bold action. Learn to tell the difference between the two.


Just as you should have a plan for increasing your wealth, you should have a plan for increasing your power. The five books on power that I recommend above will help you devise your plan. Live your best life by learning how to acquire and yield power, and how to protect yourself from power grabs by others.


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