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75 Simple Life Rules

simple life rules

To have a good life, you just have to follow some simple rules.

The world would be greatly improved if everyone lived by some simple rules. The kind of rules that most people learn as kids (but promptly seem to forget the minute they enter middle school). What are these rules? You’ll find them below.

Here are 75 simple life rules to follow to have a better life.

1. Be yourself.

2. Know yourself.

3. Pick up after yourself.

4. Keep your promises.

5. Say please and thank you.

6. Have good table manners.

7. Make healthy food choices.

8. Don’t eat more food than you need.

9. Stay fit.

10. Get enough sleep.

11. Drink lots of water.

12. Keep yourself clean.

13. Wake up early.

14. Wake up smiling.

15. Spend time in nature.

16. Avoid excess.

17. Wear sunscreen.

18. Wear your seat belt.

19. Follow the Golden Rule: do unto others like you would have them do onto you.

20. Mind your own business; if it’s none of your concern, stay out of it.

21. Choose your friends wisely.

22. Nurture your close circle of friends.

23. Don’t give unsolicited advice.

24. Don’t interrupt others when they’re speaking.

25. Be honest.

26. Think before you act.

27. Count your blessings.

28. Don’t gossip.

29. Don’t take anything that is not yours without permission.

30. Be kind to yourself.

31. Be kind to others.

32. Have a positive attitude: look for the bright side of things.

33. Take responsibility for your actions.

34. If you hurt someone, apologize.

35. Spend less than you make.

36. Save money for a rainy day.

37. Budget your money.

38. Budget your time.

39. Be prepared.

40. Plan ahead.

41. Live in the now (this point and the one above it are not in conflict).

42. Make time for those you love.

43. Set priorities.

44. Plan your day.

45. Don’t over-commit yourself: say “no” to things that are not aligned with your priorities.

46. Have some “me” time each day (to think, meditate, or just be).

47. Do your best.

48. Believe in yourself, but be aware of your limitations.

49. If you fail, try again.

50. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it and do what you can to fix it.

51. If you’re in over your head, ask for help.

52. Read more than you watch TV.

53. Be patient with children.

54. Respect the elderly.

55. Be kind to animals.

56. When you’re talking to someone, give them your full attention.

57. Don’t yell or speak harshly to others.

58. Don’t put others down or make them feel bad about themselves.

59. Don’t take credit for the work of others.

60. Develop your talent.

61. Share your gifts with the world.

62. Work hard –results require discipline and perseverance.

63. Set aside some time each day to play, laugh, and have fun.

64. Have goals; go after them.

65. Step out of your comfort zone; do this on a consistent basis.

66. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

67. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

68. Don’t worry about things that are outside of your control.

69. Don’t whine, complain, or make excuses.

70. Don’t take more than you need.

71. Seize good opportunities.

72. Challenge yourself.

73. Take smart risks.

74. Don’t take stupid risks.

75. Don’t break any of these rules.

Conclusion

See how simple rules those are? Why don’t more people follow them? Live your best life by following the 75 simple life rules above.

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laugh more

A simple way to have a happier, healthier life is to laugh more.

Laughter is a physiological response that involves rhythmic and involuntary action, and denotes merriment, happiness, or joy.  Over the past several years countless studies have been conducted that show the positive effects that laughing has on one’s physical and mental health.

Here are some of the many benefits of laughing more:

  • Laughter causes you to gulp in large portions of air, thereby oxygenating your blood.
  • Laughter decreases stress hormones in the body such as cortisol and adrenaline, thus helping to stave off illness.
  • Laughter strengthens the immune system.
  • When we laugh our bodies release hormones and chemicals that have positive effects on our system. One of these chemicals is endorphins, the feel-good hormone.
  • One minute of laughing burns the same number of calories as 6 to 10 minutes on a treadmill.
  • Laughing raises your mood; joyfulness through laughter is the fastest way to create a positive state of mind.
  • Laughing is good for the heart and improves blood circulation.
  • Laughter can reduce pain and aid the healing process.
  • Laughter creates and strengthens human connections.
  • It feels good to laugh.

Are you ready to laugh more? Below you’ll find 22 ways to bring more laughter into your life.

1. Set the Intent to Laugh More. Make a resolution, or set the intent, of laughing heartily as often as you can. Setting a goal to laugh more is as important as setting the goals to get more exercise, eat healthier, and drink more water.

Tell yourself: “I resolve to laugh more”.

2. Include Laughter in Your Morning Routine. Many of us have a routine that we follow every morning to help set us up to have a great day. How about adding laughter to your morning routine?

One way you can do this is bygetting a year-in-a-box calendar that will give you a quick laugh when you glance at the joke for the day. Choose a year-in-a-box calendar that tickles your fancy and put it right next to your alarm clock.

I’m partial to the Garfield year in-a-box calendars, but I know a lot of people like Dilbert. Start your day with laughter!

Garfield3. Smile More. Yes, I know: smiling is not laughing. However, smiling also has a myriad of benefits. When you smile, happy changes begin to take place automatically, both internally and externally. In addition, you can think of smiling as a warm up for laughing.

One way to remember to smile more is to have smiling cues sprinkled throughout your day. There are a number of ways to do this, including getting yourself a coffee mug that makes you smile. That way, every time you get yourself a cup of coffee you’re reminded to smile.

Maxine

Here are three more cues you can use to remember to smile:

  • Smile as you step into the shower.
  • Smile every time you’re about to enter your home.
  • Smile every time you open the refrigerator.

4. Read the Funnies. If you’re one of those people who still reads the newspaper offline—like me—don’t skip the funnies. After reading about everything that’s going wrong in the world, a little levity will do you good.

5. Befriend a Funny Person. Some people are just naturally funny. They may have a way with words, or they may have a wacky way of looking at the world. These people are gems. If you find one, befriend them immediately.

6. Have a Favorite Comedian. There are lots of great comedians out there, but almost everyone knows of at least one comedian who really appeals to their own particular sense of humor. Choose your favorite comedian and look for some of their comedy routines on YouTube.

If you’re wondering who my favorite comedian is, it’s George Carlin (1937 – 2008). I love his dry, sarcastic humor. Here are three of his most memorable lines:

  • “In most polls there are always about 5 percent of the people who ‘don’t know.’ What isn’t generally understood is that it’s the same people in every poll.”
  • “Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song?”
  • “I have six locks on my door, all in a row. When I go out, I lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three of them.”

7. Follow a Funny Sitcom. Although I advocate watching less TV so that you have more time to read—or work on projects that are important to you—I’m not one of those people who argue that you shouldn’t watch any TV. Just make sure that you’re watching shows that you really enjoy.

Specifically, limit your TV viewing to shows that make you think, and shows that make you laugh. Here are two shows that make me laugh:

  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Parks and Recreation

8. Have More Fun on Date Night. Keep your relationship strong by laughing more with your partner. On date night, go to a comedy club. If you want to stay in, make some popcorn and watch a funny movie. Here are two funny movies I would definitely recommend:

  • Burn After Reading, starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and John Malkovich.
  • The Other Woman, starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, and Kate Upton.

9. Read a Funny Book. I often recommend that you read the classics, but you should also read books just because they’re funny. A genuinely funny book is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Here are two funny books you can get started with:

10. Find a Little Kid You Can Hang Out With. Little kids haven’t forgotten how to laugh yet. They’ll laugh at just about anything, and there are few things more infectious than a little kid’s laugh.

11. Get a Pet. More specifically, get a dog. Dogs make us laugh because. . . well, just look:

happy dog

12. Play Fun Games With Friends. Playing competitive party-style games with a group of friends you enjoy hanging out with will have you laughing in no time. There are lots of games you can choose from, including the following:

Just set up the game, put out some guacamole and chips, and get ready to laugh ’till it hurts.

13. Learn to Laugh at Yourself. Most of us take ourselves too seriously, which limits our ability to find the humor in difficult situations. In addition, it can make us uptight and overly sensitive to what other people may be thinking of us.

Learning to laugh at yourself takes some of the pressure off, and it will allow you to be more authentic and vulnerable (both of which are desirable character traits). Here are two ways learn how to laugh at yourself:

  • Give yourself permission to be silly. At the right moment, being silly is a plus.
  • Look for the funny side of things. When you’re upset over something, ask yourself: “How is this situation funny”? Humor is a great way to deal with adversity and can even turn a negative into a positive.

14. Take Up Something New. When you try something new–whether it’s to draw, perform a karate kick, or learn to roller blade— your initial attempts will likely be clumsy and even ridiculous. That is, funny.

And, since in the point above you learned how to laugh at yourself, taking up something new is very likely to result in lots of laughs.

15. Have a Favorite Comic Strip. My favorite carton strip of all time is Calvin & Hobbes. I have all of Bill Waterson’s Calvin & Hobbes books. When I need a pick-me up I grab the pile of books, sprawl out on my bed, and look through them.

In a short while I’m laughing, and soon after that I’m out of the funk I was in.

Calvin & Hobbes

16. Start a Pinterest Board of Funny Stuff You Find Online. Before the site Squidoo went belly up, I had a Squidoo lens that I used to collect the funny stuff that I found online. This included YouTube videos, images, jokes, quotes, and so on.

Although Squidoo no longer exists, you can do something similar with Pinterest. Start a Pinterest board and every time you find something funny as you browse the web, pin it to your board.

Here’s one of the jokes that I had added to my Squidoo lens:

A police officer pulls over a driver and informs him that he has just won $5,000 in a safety competition, all because he is wearing his seat belt.

“What are you going to do with the prize money?” the officer asks.

The man responds, “I guess I’ll go to driving school and get my license.”

His wife says, “Officer, don’t listen to him. He’s a smart aleck when he’s drunk.”

The guy in the back seat pops up out from under the blanket and says, “I knew we wouldn’t get far in this stolen car.”

Just then a knock comes from the trunk and a voice calls out, “Are we over the border yet?”

17. Start a Scrapbook of Funny Things Your Family Members Say. Family members are a great source for funny comebacks and sayings. Start a scrapbook to collect the funny things your family does and the things they say. This will make you more aware of their funny moments, which will make you appreciate them more.

18. Put Laughter Quotes Up On a Bulletin Board. Put up a bulletin board where you’ll be sure to see it often, and fill it with laughter quotes. Here are some to get you started:

  • “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” — Mark Twain
  • “At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.” — Jean Houston
  • “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” – e. e. cummings
  • “If laughter cannot solve your problems, it will definitely dissolve your problems; so that you can think clearly what to do about them.” – Dr. Madan Kataria

19. Do More of What Makes You Laugh. When was the last time you had a really good laugh? What were you Doing? Do more of that.

20. Follow Funny People on Twitter. Follow two or three funny accounts on Twitter so you get a few laughs as you see the tweets go by on your stream. One funny account I follow is @itsWillyFerrell. Here’s a tweet from him I found hilarious:

vfunny tweet

21. Start a Joke Jar. Get your whole family to laugh more by starting a joke jar. Do the following:

  • Get a nice jar and some scraps of papers.
  • Find some funny jokes and write them down on the scraps of paper. Ask your family members to do the same.
  • Put the scraps of paper with the jokes written on them in the jar.
  • At dinner time have someone reach into the jar, take out a joke, and read it out loud.

Here are some family-friendly jokes to get you started (they’re Easter oriented since it’s almost Easter):

  • Q: What do you call a rabbit with fleas? A: Bugs Bunny!
  • Q: Why shouldn’t you tell an Easter egg a joke? A: It might crack up!
  • Q: What kind of book does a rabbit like at bedtime? A: One with a “hoppy” ending.

22. Try Laughter Meditation. As I wrote in my post on how to meditate, there are many different meditation practices you can try. One of these is laughter meditation. Do the following:

  • Find a comfortable place to sit.
  • Bring your attention to your breath and release all tension from your body.
  • Bring up an image of something you find really funny. Once you have the feeling of laughter, spread it throughout your body, from the top of your head, to the tip of your toes.
  • Bring up another image that makes you laugh. Continue spreading the feeling of laughter throughout your body.

Conclusion

I hope this post made you laugh! After all, laughter is the best medicine. Live your best life by laughing more. Get started with the 22 tips above.

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How to Not Give Up

Never give up!

When you’re pursuing a worthwhile goal it’s almost inevitable that at some point you’ll think one or more of the following:

  • “This is harder than I thought it would be.”
  • “Why is this taking so long?”
  • “I’m getting nowhere with this.”
  • “I keep failing at this goal.”
  • “I can’t do this. What was I thinking?”

And when you do have one—or more—of these thoughts, it’s very likely that you’ll want to give up. When that happens, come back to this blog post to stop yourself from quitting. Below you’ll find 8 strategies for not giving up.

1. Adopt An “I Won’t Quit” Mindset.

I just finished watching the fourth season of “House of Cards” – an American political drama about a Congressman and his wife who will stop at nothing to achieve their goal of climbing up the political ladder. Now, the protagonists of the show–Frank and Claire Underwood–are definitely not good role models. They’re ruthless, manipulative, self-centered narcissists.

But the one thing that they do have going for them is that they just won’t give up. Even if all the tables are turned against them, they keep going.

Not giving up is a mindset. And it’s a mindset that you can adopt. Fortunately, you don’t need to have a personality disorder—like the Underwoods–to refuse to give up, no matter what. Instead, what you do need is to constantly tell yourself the following:

  • I persist when things get tough.
  • I will either find a way or make one.
  • Every problem has a solution, and I have the perfect ability to find it.
  • Every day I gain more knowledge and insight about what works and what doesn’t, which means I’m getting stronger and wiser.
  • Setbacks are temporary.
  • I will find a way through this.
  • Think! What’s the best thing to do now?

Having an “I won’t quit” mindset will make it much easier for you to persist—and refuse to give up—until you achieve your goal.

2. Watch Someone Else Persevere.

We can learn a lot by watching other people. And learning to persevere is no exception.

There are lots of great movies out there which are based on real life stories about people who faced incredible odds and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but who nonetheless refused to quit. And they managed to achieve what they were after.

Sitting down to watch these movies can be helpful when you feel like quitting. Here are three examples of inspirational movies which will allow you to watch someone else persevere (so you can follow suit):

  • Rudy – This film is a based-on-fact account of Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger, a small town boy who dreamed of playing football for Notre Dame, but was always told he wasn’t good enough (not big enough, smart enough, athletic enough, and so on). Nonetheless, he persevered until he achieved his dream.
  • The Pursuit Of Happyness — Inspired by the true story of Chris Gardner, this film is about a single father with a 5-year-old son who rises from homelessness to Wall Street legend.
  • Erin Brockovich – This is a biographical film about an unemployed single mother of three who finds work as a legal assistant and manages to bring down a California power company accused of polluting a city’s water supply.

Watching others refuse to give up will strengthen your own resolve to keep going. Tell yourself the following: “They didn’t quit, and neither will I.”

3. Call Someone.

I’m sure you’ve seen TV shows in which someone decides to stop abusing alcohol, so they join AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). One of the things AA does for them is give them a sponsor. If they ever feel like having a drink, they’re supposed to call their sponsor so that their sponsor can talk them out of it.

When you’ve been chasing an important goal for a while, but you haven’t made much progress and you feel like giving up, call someone whom you know will talk you out of quitting. You can think of this person as a “goals sponsor”, if you will. Resist the urge to give up by calling your goals sponsor.

4. Go Back to Your “Why”.

One of the most important steps in setting a goal is to create a list of all the reasons why you want to achieve that goal. In fact, if you discover that you don’t have a strong enough “why” for a particular goal, it’s probably a good idea to discard it. After all, your “why’s” are what will motivate you to continue striving for a goal, even when the going gets tough.

When you feel like quitting, look at your list containing all of the reasons why your goal is so important to you. If need be, add even more reasons why. The greater the quantity of reasons—and the stronger the reasons—that you have to keep going, the more likely it is that you won’t quit.

5. Find a Different “How”.

Refusing to give up doesn’t mean that you should simply keep doing the same thing over and over again. If the approach that you’re currently using isn’t working, try a different approach. Continue in this way until you find a method, technique, or strategy that does work.

Tell yourself the following:

  • “I refuse to give up because I haven’t tried all possible ways.”
  • “Wanting to give up is just a sign that a different approach is needed.”

When you want to give up, take out a pen and a piece of paper and start brainstorming different alternatives you can try. Then, choose one of them, and try it!

6. Succeed at Something Else.

Human beings love being rewarded. In fact, we crave it.

When you’ve been working toward the achievement of a goal for a long time, but your efforts haven’t resulted in any rewards—you haven’t made any money, you haven’t achieved anything you can brag about to others, you don’t really feel like you can pat yourself on the back, and so on–you’ll probably be tempted to quit.

One way to stop yourself from quitting is to take a break and go do something else that you know will be rewarded. Here are some examples:

  • Write a brilliant blog post that will get you lots of social media shares (bask in the glow of the online attention).
  • Increase the length of your runs and complete a 10K (take a selfie as soon as you cross the finish line and send it to all your friends).
  • Try a new recipe and have people over for dinner (give yourself kudos every time someone asks for the recipe or wants seconds).
  • Drop one pant size in a month and go out and get yourself a great new pair of jeans (smile graciously as people compliment you on how great you look).

Remind yourself of what success feels like. Then, allow that success to sustain you for a while longer while you take another swing at your goal.

7. Use Failure As a Stepping Stone.

In 2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton— then the junior United States Senator from New York– wanted to be president of the United States. She announced her decision to run and campaigned her heart out. However, she didn’t even succeed in getting the Democratic party’s nomination, much less was she elected president.

Even though she failed, she didn’t give up on her goal. Instead, she accepted a position as Secretary of State. After all, being Secretary of State put her one step closer to the White House. It was a stepping stone.

Now, in 2016, she’s running for president once again. And—because of the foreign policy experience she gained as Secretary of State–she’s in a stronger position than she was back in 2008. I don’t know if she’ll win the presidency, but at least she hasn’t given up on her goal of becoming the first female president of the US.

If you fail as you try to achieve your goal, instead of using that failure as an excuse to quit, use it as a stepping stone.

8. Keep Chipping Away.

When you want to quit, push yourself to keep taking consistent action toward the achievement of your goal. Even if you haven’t seen results yet, you never know what may be happening underneath the surface. Look at the following:

  • The bamboo plant spends five years just growing its roots. During that time, the grower has nothing more than a small shoot as the only visible aspect of the plant actually being there. Then, after five years, the plant shoots up to 25 meters in a short amount of time.
  • You can hammer away at a rock, perhaps a hundred times, without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the next blow it splits.

Just because you can’t see anything yet, although you’ve been working on your goal for awhile, this doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. You may be closer to achieving your dream than you think. Don’t give up, when you could be just moments away from succeeding. Keep chipping away.

Conclusion

Achieving large, hairy goals isn’t easy. Somewhere along the way it’s very likely that you’ll want to quit. But when you feel like quitting, don’t give up. Live your best life by refusing to quit. Start by applying the 8 strategies explained above.

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how to overcome self-doubt

“Our doubts are traitors . .. “ – William Shakespeare

Everyone feels self-doubt at least every once in a while. However, high achievers overcome their self-doubt, while low achievers wallow in it and allow their self-doubt to prevent them from achieving their goals. Self-doubt sounds like the following:

  • “I’m not sure I can do this.”
  • “What if I fail?”
  • “What if I just don’t have what it takes?”

Fortunately, there are ways of conquering those doubts, so that they don’t hold you back. Below you’ll find eight ways to overcome self-doubt.

1. Beware of Naysayers.

Self-doubt comes from one of two sources, from other people—also known as naysayers–or from your own negative inner chatter. Let’s start with the naysayers. They’re the people who are constantly telling you things like the following:

  • “That’s too hard; there’s no way you’ll succeed. Don’t even try.”
  • “That doesn’t sound safe.”
  • “You’re too old to try that. Remember, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
  • “What if you fail? You’ll never be able to live it down”

The motivation behind these comments could be any of the following:

  • They may be trying to keep you from getting hurt, albeit in a misguided way. If this is the case, explain to them how you’ve prepared yourself for the challenge that lies ahead, and reassure them that you’ll be fine.
  • They’re reflecting their own doubts about themselves onto you. Don’t adopt other people’s doubts as your own. Instead, tell those people: “I’m sorry if that’s how you see yourself, but that’s not how I see myself.”
  • They may be jealous that you’re trying something new, while they’re too scared to change. Move away from these people as fast as you can.

Deal with naysayers in the ways explained above so that they stop feeding your self-doubt.

2. Challenge the Negative Chatter in Your Head.

The second source of self-doubt is your own negative inner chatter. The best way to quiet the negative chatter in your head is to present evidence against anything it’s saying. Here are some examples of possible responses:

  • “What are you saying? That I’m too old to run a marathon? There’s a British man named Fauja Singh who ran a marathon at the age of 100! I still have time.”
  • “Yes, I realize that I didn’t go to business school. That’s why I’m taking business courses online.”
  • “I understand that it’s going to be hard. But this is important to me, and I’m willing to do the necessary work.”

Just continue in this way, and sooner or later you’ll hear your inner chatter say, “You know what? Do whatever you want.”

3. Shrink the Challenge.

It’s easy to doubt yourself when the challenge that you’re facing is very large. Therefore, you can decrease your self-doubt by making the challenge smaller. Here are three examples:

  • If you’re thinking of quitting your job to work as a freelance writer, stay at your job—for now—and do freelance work on the side.
  • If you want to be a writer, don’t start by trying to write a novel. Instead, start by writing short stories.
  • If you want to start making video courses, don’t start by getting expensive, professional-quality equipment. Instead, put together a simple home studio for yourself that includes just the basics.

Get over any self-doubt you may be feeling by shrinking the challenge. Later, when you’ve overcome your self-doubt, you can make the challenge big again.

4. Ask – What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

Another way to overcome your self-doubt is to come up with the worst case scenario. If you fail, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Then, ask yourself the following:

  • Is it really that bad?
  • What steps can I take to lessen the probability that the worst case scenario will come to pass?
  • What can I do to be prepared in case the worst does happen? What sort of “insurance” could I set up in order to protect myself?

Conquer your self-doubt by realizing that the worst case scenario wouldn’t be something catastrophic. Instead, even if it were to take place, you would be prepared to deal with it.

5. Ask – What’s the Best that Could Happen?

If you go after your dreams, you might fail. But you might also succeed. What would that look like? Paint a vivid picture of what your life would be like if you achieved your goal. Whenever you feel self-doubt rearing its ugly head, pull up that image of yourself succeeding and achieving your goal.

Overcome self-doubt by keeping your eye on the prize.

6. Take the Focus Off of Yourself.

Sometimes you feel self-doubt because you’re too focused on yourself. If that’s the case, what you need to do is shift your focus to others. Look at the following:

  • Instead of asking, “What if I bomb the presentation?”, ask yourself, “What do the people who are going to be in the audience need to know about this topic, and how I make the presentation fun and informative for them?”
  • Instead of asking yourself, “What if nobody buys my product?”, ask yourself, “What problem am I trying to solve for others with this product?” and “How can I make sure that my product solves that problem?”
  • Instead of asking yourself: “What if I ask for the promotion and I don’t get it?”, ask yourself, “What does the company need from someone in the position that I want, and how can I best meet those requirements?”

See what the trick is here? If you’re not thinking about yourself, how can you doubt yourself? Put an end to self-doubt by focusing on others.

7. Share Your Goal with People You Trust.

If you share your goal with the wrong people—toxic people, people who don’t like change, or people who are just sad and miserable—they’ll probably add to any self-doubt that you may be feeling. However, sharing your goal with the right people will help you to conquer your self-doubt.

These are the kind of people you should share your goals with:

  • Someone who has already achieved what you’re trying to do and can point you in the right direction.
  • Someone who will remind you of for your past successes and encourage you to move forward.
  • Someone who can point out any flaws in your plan, and give you advice on how to fix those flaws.

There are some people who can act as a bridge between where you are now and where you want to be. Those are the people you want to be sharing your goals and dreams with. They will help you overcome your self-doubt.

8. Walk Through Your Fear.

Self-doubt is fear: fear of failure, fear of being ridiculed, fear of disappointing others, and so on. In order to overcome self-doubt, you have to walk through your fear.

I’m going to give you an example of walking through fear. My bedroom door has an opening over it which is partially covered by three wooden slots at an angle. You can’t look out into the hall from the bedroom, but you can clearly see whether the hallway light is on or off through the opening.

A few nights ago—it was late at night–I was in my bedroom, about to fall asleep, when I turned over and opened my eyes for a moment. At that instant, I saw the light out in the hall flicker on and off twice through the opening over the door. I froze. What had just happened?

I turn all of the lights off before going to bed, and I live alone. So why was the hallway light turning on and off? I thought to myself: “Please let me have imagined that.” I continued staring at the opening over the door, and then it happened again: the light out in the hall flickered on and off a few times.

You can imagine how scared I was. However, I forced myself to get out of bed and pull on the string that turns on the ceiling fan light. I then stood very still, and it happened again: the light out in the hall flickered on and off three or four times.

In my mind I could see a dark figure standing out in the hall with its hand on the light switch, moving the switch up and down (the imagination goes into overdrive when it’s very late at night).

I told myself that I needed to go out there and see what was going on. I looked around for a weapon and noticed I had left my broom leaning against one of the bedroom walls. I grabbed the broom and readied myself. Then, I resolutely walked to the door, swung it open, and raised the broom in order to smack whoever—or whatever–was out in the hall with the broom.

The hallway was empty. Then I noticed that what was flickering on and off wasn’t the hallway light, but the kitchen light.

That’s when I remembered that the kitchen light wasn’t working. It would take some time to turn on, then it would turn off, and a while later it would start flickering. When I went to bed I hadn’t noticed that the kitchen’s light switch was in the “on” position, because when I walked past the kitchen the light was off.

I breathed a sigh of relief and went back to bed. This story has two morals:

  • When you’re afraid you have to force yourself to walk through the fear.
  • Once you do walk through the fear, it’s very likely that whatever fearful outcome you were imagining will not materialize.

In order to overcome your self-doubt, walk through your fear.

Conclusion

I started off this post with the beginning of a quote on doubt by Shakespeare. Here’s the quote in its entirety:

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

Live your best life by overcoming self-doubt and going after the things you really want. Start by applying the eight strategies above.

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stop taking things personally

Improve the quality of your life by not taking things personally.

The other day I was in a building running an errand. As I walked through the lobby toward the exit, a woman I didn’t know walked past me. As she did she said, “Buenas”–which is a standard greeting–, and I answered, “Buenas”, and kept going. Then I heard the woman say:

“You’re so rude. Learn some manners. When someone greets you, you should greet them back.”

I stopped and turned around, and I saw that the woman was talking to me. Obviously, she didn’t hear me when I answered her greeting. In addition, it was evident that she had concluded that I simply chose to ignore her, and she took it personally. Given her state of agitation, it was clear to me that she felt slighted. I told the woman that I had responded to her greeting, and it wasn’t my fault that she didn’t hear me. Then I left. What I really wanted to tell her was that she needed to learn how to stop taking things personally.

Whenever I walk into an elevator and there’s already someone in there, I say “Buenas”, because that’s a cultural practice in Latin America. Most of the time people answer my greeting. But sometimes they don’t. And when they don’t, I don’t take it personally.

I used to take things personally all the time, but now, for the most part, I don’t. How did I stop takings things personally (or at least get much better at it)? I learned certain strategies, which I’m going to share with you. Below you’ll find eight ways to stop taking things personally.

1. Question Your Beliefs.

As I explained in my post on Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), psychologist Albert Ellis–the father of REBT–argued that a person is not affected emotionally by what happens around them, but by their interpretation of what happened. In turn, our interpretations are formed by our beliefs.

Obviously, I can’t say for sure what was going on in the mind of the woman in my example above, but I can guess that her beliefs were along the following lines:

  • If I greet someone, they have to greet me back.
  • If they don’t return my greeting, they’re being disrespectful.
  • If they’re disrespectful, it’s because they think that I’m not worthy of respect.
  • If people think I’m not worthy of respect, then they think I’m worthless.
  • If people think I’m worthless, then maybe I am.

You can see how that line of reasoning would lead the woman to feel bad and want to lash out at me.

I, on the other hand, don’t get upset if people don’t greet me when I greet them, because my beliefs are the following:

  • I greet people when I walk into an elevator because I think it’s polite to do so, but not everyone has the same view.
  • If they don’t greet me back it’s not about me, but about them. Any of the following could explain why they didn’t return my greeting: they didn’t hear me; they don’t speak Spanish (there’s a lot of foreigners in Panama); they’re having a bad day; or they simply think it’s best not to talk to people they don’t know in elevators.

The woman from my example and I react differently to the same situation because we have different beliefs. If you want to stop taking things personally, question your beliefs.

2. Stop Worrying So Much About What Other People Think of You.

The only reason why you would take something someone says about you personally is if the approval of the person you’re interacting with is important to you. Realize the following:

  • You’ve been conditioned since birth–read, brainwashed–into thinking that you have to belong and be accepted by others.
  • The truth is, not everyone has to like and accept you.
  • In addition, you can’t control what others think of you. Even if you follow all of the “rules” and do everything “right”, how others respond to you is outside of your circle of influence.
  • If you accept yourself, and act in the way that you think is right, you’ll attract people who will accept you for who you are. That is, people around whom you don’t have to worry about what they’re thinking of you, because you know they love you.

3. Recognize the “Spotlight Effect”.

A lot of the time when we feel that we’re been judged or criticized by someone else, we’re actually not. Since we’re each inside our own head, we’re acutely aware of our flaws, weaknesses, and insecurities.

But other people, for the most part, aren’t. Therefore, you may think that you picked up on some criticism from a co-worker, when the reality is that they weren’t talking about you at all.

Think of the following: without a doubt there have been times in the past when you’ve taken something personally, when what was said wasn’t even about you. Keep that in mind the next time you’re tempted to take something personally.

4. Become More Confident.

Confidence acts as a buffer between you and the comments and actions of other people. The more confident you are, the thicker that buffer is. Look at the following:

  • If you have low confidence you’re likely to bristle at any negative comment people throw at you because there’s a part of you that’s afraid that what they’re saying is true.
  • If you have high confidence and someone says something negative about you, you know that what they’re saying isn’t true; that it’s a small flaw that isn’t going to hold you back in any way; or that it’s something that you have the ability to fix. Therefore, it’s much easier for you to simply shrug it off.

5. Think: “Troll-Delete”.

Right now the comments section for this blog is closed. However, there was a time when the comments section was open and people would leave comments. Although most of the comments I received were positive, I would sometimes get comments like the following:

  • “This is so stupid. Whoever wrote this must be an idiot.”
  • “What a lame article.”
  • “You’re obviously not an educated person.”

Did I take these comments seriously? Did I dwell on them? Did they make me feel bad about myself? No, on all three accounts. I would think ,”troll”. Then I would delete the comment, and move on to the next task on my to do list.

The next time someone says something negative about you out of the blue, just think: “Troll-Delete”.

6. Be Too Busy to Care.

The truth is, if you have time to dwell endlessly on what so-and-so said about you, you have too much time on your hands. Find something productive to do. Go on Duolingo and learn some phrases in a foreign language; take an “Introduction to Computer Science” MOOC; or read a book.

The next time you’re tempted to rehash a conversation that left you feeling as if you had been belittled, tell yourself: “I’m too busy for this. I have far more productive things to do with my time than sit here, thinking about this.”

7. Stop Giving Your Power Away.

When you let other people upset you, you’re allowing them to dictate how you feel. That is, you’re giving them power over you. Stop giving your power away. Do the following:

  • Calm yourself down by taking a few deep breaths.
  • Tell yourself that you will not give anyone the power to make you unhappy.
  • Take your power back by taking control of what you’re thinking and choosing a different line of thought.

8. Don’t Drink the Poison.

In The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz, the second agreement is “Don’t take anything personally.” Here’s a quote from the book:

“Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds…Taking things personally makes you easy prey for these predators, the black magicians. They can hook you easily with one little opinion and feed you whatever poison they want, and because you take it personally, you eat it up….”

Here are a few more insights from Don Ruiz:

  • Don’t take anything personally because by taking things personally you set yourself up to suffer for nothing.”
  • Even if others lie to you, it is okay. They are lying to you because they are afraid.
  • There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.”
  • The whole world can gossip about you, and if you don’t take it personally you are immune.”
  • When you don’t take the emotional poison, it becomes even worse in the sender, but not in you.”

Conclusion

Taking things personally takes a toll on your happiness and on your peace of mind. Live your best life by not taking things personally. Start by following the eight strategies above.

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how to become a runner

Running sets you free.

I’m a runner. Running has helped me to lose weight, look better, and feel better about myself. It has helped me to strengthen my willpower. Running has taught me that I’m capable of much more than I thought I was. Needless to say, I think everyone should run.

If running is something that you’ve been thinking of taking up, below you’ll find 10 easy ways to become a runner.

1. Stop Telling Yourself that You Can’t Run.

When I was in middle school the physical education (P.E.) teacher would have us run twice around the school’s soccer field at the start of each P.E. class. And every time I would run 1/8 of the way, and then walk the rest. I had convinced myself that running was for “athletic” people, and I wasn’t athletic, so I  couldn’t run.

Today I run 7 kilometers, three times a week. Which means I can easily run about 20 times around a soccer field. What changed? I stopped telling myself that I couldn’t run.

If you’ve been telling yourself that you can’t run, how do you convince yourself that you can? Well, the other day I read that everyone who is alive today is descended from runners. Why? Because your ancestors survived to pass on their genes by outrunning the non-runners (who were caught and eaten by saber tooth tigers).

So, remember, you’re here today because your ancestors were runners. Running is in your DNA. Say this to yourself: “I can run. I can become a runner.”

2. Get Everything You’ll Need.

The second step to becoming a runner is to get everything that you’ll need. Beware: there’s an entire industry based around running gear and technology. There are running accessories galore. However, you don’t need to go out and spend lots of money to start running. All you really need is comfortable clothes and comfortable running shoes.

Even now that I’m a seasoned runner, I keep my running gear simple:

The only item that you need to be picky with are your running shoes. Go to a running store and ask an expert to help you pick out a running shoe that’s right for you (it depends on the shape of your arch, your mileage, your pronation type, and so on). I wear ASICS running shoes and I love them.

Running costs me about $600 a year, or $50 a month. Not bad.

3. Be Ready to Be Uncomfortable.

Know that running is not always comfortable. When you start out, you’re pushing your body beyond it’s current capabilities, which produces discomfort. But even after you’ve been running for a while, there’s still some discomfort involved with running. After all, you’re doing something that’s taxing on your body and cardiovascular system.

However, anything worth doing brings some discomfort with it. Look at the following:

  • In order to start your own business you have to deal with the discomfort of taking on risk; of having to acquire new skills; of having to hustle for customers; and so on.
  • In order to do well in college you have to deal with the discomfort of studying when you’d rather watch TV; of participating in class discussions when you would rather just zone out at the back of the room; of working on your report when you’d rather be hanging out with your friends; and so on.
  • In order to save money so that you can travel you have to deal with the discomfort of skipping the Starbucks coffee; of foregoing buying those cute shoes all your friends are wearing; of cooking your own food when you would rather just order take-out; and so on.

In order to succeed with running–as with anything in life–you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Running is hard, and that’s one of the things that makes it great.

4. Start Small.

Forget running 5 miles on your first day. Instead, just run for a minute and then walk the rest of the way. Two weeks later, run one minute for every four minutes that you walk. After that, continue to increase the amount of time that you run gradually. Start small, and then make incremental increases.

5. Get a Plan.

In order to become a runner, you need a plan. That is, you need guidance and structure for building your mileage. Find a running plan online, in a magazine, or in a book for runners, and follow it. Here are some plans for you to consider:

6. Quiet Your Mind.

Your worst enemy when you’re trying to become a runner is the little voice in your head. You’ll hear the little voice saying things like the following:

  • “You want to do what? Go out for a run? Are you nuts? Do you know how hard running is?”
  • “It’s been such a tough day today. Let’s just relax and watch some TV. Come on, you deserve it.”
  • “Why don’t you wait until you’ve lost a few pounds before you try running?”

You need to find a way to ignore the little voice in your head. There are three things you can do. First, look for ways to take your attention away from the little voice. Distract yourself from what the little voice is saying by doing any of the following:

  • Plan what you’re going to have for dinner when you get back from your run;
  • Recite a poem that you’ve memorized; or
  • Think of a fond memory, particularly memories related to goals that you’ve achieved in the past.

Second, override what the little voice is saying by reminding yourself of the many benefits of running. Here are a few of them:

  • Running boosts your mood.
  • Running increases bone mass.
  • Running reduces your risk of getting diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
  • Running increases lung function.
  • Running can help you live longer.

And, third, you can look for ways to trick the little voice in your head. Try this:

  • When you hear the little voice complaining, tell it that you’re just going to run around the block once.
  • Then, once you’re out there, talk it into running around the block twice.
  • Continue tricking the little voice in your head in this way until you’ve completed your run (thankfully, the little voice in your head is dumb, and easy to trick).

7. Schedule Your Runs.

In order to run on a consistent basis, you have to schedule your runs. I devote one-hour-a-day to fitness. Here’s my workout schedule:

  • Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I lift weights at the gym from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
  • Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays I run outside from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

I don’t leave my fitness to “when I get around to it” or “when I have some spare time”. I schedule it, so it gets done.

8. Choose Your Running Route.

You don’t just need to know when you’re going running, but also where. The first requisite is that you find a route that’s safe. Consider things like well-lit areas, sidewalks, and the presence of other people who are exercising.

Walking out your front door and running around you neighborhood is often the most convenient thing to do. If there’s a high school near your home you may want to run around their track.

I’m very fortunate that there’s a gorgeous running path right in front of my building that runs parallel to the sea for several miles. If you can find a jogging path near to where you live, that would be ideal.

9. Have an Outcome Goal.

I’ve already stated that I run 7km three times a week. Going out for a run is a process goal. However, ideally, you should also have an outcome goal. That is, a specific outcome that you’re working toward.

I do best when I have a specific outcome to work toward, because I’m an achievement-oriented person. It’s easier for me to get motivated if I feel like I’m working toward something concrete. I’m guessing that a lot of you are the same way.

Ask yourself: What goal am I trying to achieve by running X times a week for Y amount of miles? Here are some examples of outcome-based goals:

  • Run a mile in ten minutes.
  • Run a 5K.
  • Break 30 minutes in a 5K.
  • Run a 10K.
  • Run 30 miles a week.
  • Run a half-marathon.
  • Run a marathon.
  • Finish a sub-4-hour marathon.
  • Qualify for the Boston marathon.

10. Make It Fun.

It’ll be much easier to get yourself to go out for a run if it’s something that you look forward to. You can achieve this by making running fun. Here are three ways to make running fun:

  • Listen to music- create a running playlist filled with songs you love and which fill you with energy.
  • Gamify your runs – look for ways to turn your runs into a game. This can include quests, challenges, rewards, and so on.
  • Run with someone -you can make your runs fun by finding a running buddy you enjoy being with.

Conclusion

Taking up running is one of the best things that I’ve done for myself, and I recommend that everyone try it (with your doctor’s consent). The process above is the one that I used to become a runner, and I’m confident that it’ll work for anyone. Live your best life by taking up running.

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life experiment

Solve any problem you may be having by conducting life experiments.

Why would you want to conduct life experiments? To solve problems. Whenever I have a problem, I solve it by conducting an experiment. I follow a ten-step process which I developed, and which I’m going to share with you in this blog post.

Keep in mind that you can conduct life experiments in any life area. Here are some examples:

  • If you want to lose weight you can conduct experiments to determine which exercise is most efficient in burning calories (or which exercise you’ll stick to).
  • If you have a health problem—such as high cholesterol—you can conduct life experiments to help you determine the diet which is most helpful in helping you to control your symptoms.
  • If you want to create a passive source of income you can conduct life experiments to help you determine which method—of the many that are available—works best for you.
  • If putting your kid to bed every night is an ordeal, you can conduct life experiments to uncover a bedtime routine that will help your child easily transition from wakefulness to sleep

Below I’m going to reveal my process to you, and I’m going to use a life experiment that I’m currently conducting as an example.

1. State Your Problem.

The first step of the process is to state the problem that you want to solve by conducting a life experiment.

On January 28th of this year, I went to the dentist for a routine teeth cleaning. This revealed the following:

  • I have a cavity between two teeth that the dentist wants to fill.
  • My teeth need to be re-mineralized.
  • I’m a coffee drinker, so my teeth are a little bit stained.
  • My gums are somewhat inflamed in some places, and receding in others (studies show that more than 75% of American adults have some form of gum disease).

The dentist gave me a list of about 10 different procedures she thought I needed, most of which sounded rather invasive. In addition, these procedures would cost me a total of $1500. Needless to say, I was not happy.

First, I don’t want the dentist drilling my teeth to fill the cavity that she found. Second, I don’t like the idea of getting fluoride treatments to re-mineralize my teeth. And, third, I honestly felt like she was trying to talk me into procedures that I don’t really need.

Therefore, I decided that I would try to fix this problem by conducting a life experiment. Here’s how I stated my problem:

I want to reverse the cavity that I have between two of my teeth naturally; I want to re-mineralize my teeth naturally; and I want to whiten my teeth.

Here are my teeth at the start of the experiment:

my teeth

2. Conduct Research.

The second step of the process is to conduct research in order to determine what your course of action will be. Make sure that you only rely on high quality resources.

My research uncovered a book called Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition by Ramiel Nagiel. The book is based upon the pioneering nutritional program of dentist Weston Price, former head of research at the National Dental Association. I purchased the Kindle version of the book and read it.

I also found a blog called “Wellness Mama”—a top source for healthy recipes and natural remedies—in which the owner, Katie, writes about ways to live more naturally.

Katie has several blog posts in which she shares everything she does to keep her teeth and gums healthy. She reports that she has successfully reversed cavities and improved her oral health. Here are two of her blog posts that I found particularly helpful:

I also read a few more articles by people who indicated that they had been able to reverse cavities and improve their gum health naturally. In addition, I read Amazon reviews for several products that are credited with being beneficial for teeth and gum health.

3. Construct a Hypothesis.

The third step of the process is to construct a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a supposition made on the basis of limited evidence which is used as a starting point for further investigation.

My hypothesis—for this experiment–is that I can heal my cavity, improve my gum health, and have whiter teeth naturally, without the need of going to the dentist to get expensive, invasive, and possibly unhealthy procedures done.

4. Design an Experiment to Test Your Hypothesis.

Once you’ve done your research and you’ve constructed a hypothesis, you need to design an experiment to test your hypothesis. In designing your experiment you should be able to answer all of the following questions:

  • What You’re Going to Do
  • When You’re Going to Do It
  • How You’re Going To Do It
  • How Will You Know if You Succeeded
  • Establish a Start Date for Your Experiment
  • Establish a Deadline or End Date for Your Experiment

What I’m Doing

Here’s what I’m going to do for my experiment (as well as when and how):

  • Oil pull with one spoonful of organic virgin coconut oil every night before bed, for 20 minutes. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic dental technique that involves swishing oil in your mouth.
  • Brush my teeth three times a day with my homemade toothpaste, using the Bass Brushing Technique. My homemade toothpaste consists of 3 Tablespoons of Dolomite Powder; 4 Tablespoons of Bentonite Clay; and 1.5 Teaspoons of ground cloves. I’m going to add 3 drops of OraWellness HealThy Mouth Blend to the mix before each use. I’m going to brush as soon as I wake up in the morning, after lunch, and at night immediately after oil pulling.
  • I’m going to take one softgel of Vitamin D-3 5000 IU right before breakfast.
  • I’m going to take two capsules of Blue Ice Royal Butter Oil / Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend right before breakfast, and 2 right before dinner.
  • I’m going to floss every night right before oil pulling. In addition, I’m going to add one drop of the Healthy Mouth Blend to my dental floss.
  • I’m going to drink water immediately after drinking coffee.
  • I’m going to continue scraping my tongue every morning after brushing my teeth.

How Will I know If the Experiment is Successful

I’ll know if the experiment is successful if I get a clean bill of health after my next dental appointment.

Start and End Dates

Here are the start and end dates of my experiment:

  • Start Date: February 14th 2016
  • End Date: August 15th 2016

5. Gather What You’ll Need

The fifth step of the process is to gather everything that you’ll need (or at least the things that you’ll need in order to get started).

Once I decided what I was going to do, I made a list of all the things I was going to need. With my list in hand, I went to a health food store near my house and bought all of the items on the list which I was able to find there. Then I went on Amazon and ordered the items that weren’t available at the health food store.

I received my packages from Amazon, and then I had everything that I needed.

6. Take Action

The sixth step of the process is to take action. By this point you should already have decided what you’re going to do, as well as how and when you’re going to do it. You should also have everything that you need to get started. Now, act.

Starting on February 14th I’m going to do everything that I planned to do in Step 4 of the experiment process. I will take the action that I planned, how I planned it, and when I planned it. I will take daily action until I reach the end date of my experiment.

7. Monitor, Measure, and Track Your Progress

As anyone who has ever conducted an experiment of any kind knows, you have to monitor, measure, and track your progress. Careful observation is very important during this step of the process.

Every day I will write down on an index card the action related to this experiment that I took on that day. In addition, I will make a note of how my gum and teeth feel, and how they look, as well as anything else that I consider relevant to the experiment.

8. Make Changes as Necessary

The eight step of the process is to make any necessary change as you go along. As your experiment progresses, you may decide to make some modifications. It’s alright to do this, as long as you keep a record of any changes that you’re making.

As I monitor my progress, I may decide that I need to make some changes to the experiment. For example, if I notice that my mouth doesn’t feel as fresh as usual—since my homemade toothpaste consists of a mixture of powders– I might add some peppermint essential oil to my toothpaste.

In addition, if it appears-after a month or so–that my teeth are not re-mineralizing, I’ll consider adding some of the other recommendations for teeth re-mineralization that I found during my research. Here are three that look promising:

Also, if my teeth aren’t looking whiter in about a month’s time, I’ll consider brushing them with activated charcoal twice a week (on Mondays and Thursdays). Lastly, when it’s time to change my toothbrush I’ll consider getting a Bass toothbrush.

Of course, if I feel any pain in my teeth, my gums start to bleed, or there’s any other indication that there’s something wrong, I’ll immediately schedule an appointment with my dentist.

9. Analyze Your Data and Reach a Conclusion.

Once you reach the end date of your experiment you need to analyze your data and reach a conclusion.

I plan to schedule a dentist appointment for August 15th (or close to that date). Based on what my dentist says, I’ll analyze all of the data I gathered throughout my experiment and reach a conclusion on whether the experiment worked or not.

10. Decide What’s Next.

The last step of the process is to decide what to do next.

Whether my experiment works or not, I need to decide what to do once its over. Here are three options:

  • Declare the experiment a failure and ask the dentist to proceed with all of the procedures she recommends.
  • Declare my experiment a success and continue taking the same action.
  • Declare my experiment a success but make modifications to it.

Conclusion

Once again, you can use the 10-part process above to fix any problem you may be having, in any life area. Go ahead and try it out. Live your best life by conducting life experiments.

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overcome perfectionism

Perfectionism is a thief.

Perfectionism—refusing to stand for anything short of perfection–steals all of the following from you:

  • It steals your joy.
  • It steals your self-confidence.
  • It steals your ability to get things done.
  • It steals your passion.
  • It steals your self-acceptance.
  • It steals your ability to grow.

If you have perfectionist tendencies, as many people do, apply the 10 tips below for overcoming perfectionism:

1. Recognize Perfectionism. Some people may not even realize that they’re perfectionists. They may be telling themselves that they just have high standards and strive for excellence. However, there’s a difference between excellence and perfectionism. The questions below can help you to identify whether you’re a perfectionist:

  • Do you have trouble meeting your own standards?
  • Do you have an overwhelming fear of failure?
  • Do you think that mistakes are landmines (instead of stepping stones)?
  • Do you find yourself missing deadlines because you can’t get yourself to stop going over your work?
  • Do people often say that you have unrealistic expectations?
  • Does your self-confidence depend on your accomplishments?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you may have a problem with perfectionism.

2. Learn How to Take Criticism. Nobody likes being criticized. However, some people know how to take criticism. They do the following:

  • They evaluate who the criticism is coming from and question why that person is being critical.
  • They identify anything in the criticism that they can use to improve.
  • They simply discard any criticism that is unhelpful.

Other people deal poorly with criticism. These people do the following:

  • They feel that any criticism, regardless of where it’s coming from, is a personal attack and a comment about their self-worth.
  • Instead of looking for anything they can learn from the criticism, they just feel bad because they were criticized.
  • They replay the criticism over and over in their heads.

Perfectionists tend to be in the second group: they’re devastated by criticism. Therefore, they try to avoid any criticism by always going over and beyond what’s expected of them. The idea is to be so meticulous, that no one could possibly find fault with what they did.

Well, guess what? Other people will always find a way disagree with you, criticize you, or point out improvements that need to be made, no matter how hard you try to do a “perfect” job. Hence, instead of trying to avoid criticism at all costs, a much better strategy is to learn how to take criticism.

3. Recognize the Difference Between Healthy Striving and Perfectionism. Wanting to improve yourself—whether it’s losing weight, increasing your running speed, reading more books, getting better at public speaking, and so on—is a good thing. However, there’s a difference between healthy striving and perfectionism.

Brené Brown– an American scholar, author, and public speaker–describes healthy striving as seeking excellence from a place of wholeness. That is, you’re happy with who you are, and you know that you can be even better.

Perfectionism, on the other hand, comes from a feeling of not being good enough. People who are perfectionists think that if they achieve X or Y standard, they’ll finally be able to feel good about themselves.

To put it another way, healthy striving is about honoring yourself by endeavoring to achieve your full potential. Perfectionism is about dishonoring yourself by telling yourself that there are certain things that you need to achieve before you’re “enough”.

4. Set Realistic Goals. Perfectionists set goals that are completely out of their reach. Then they spend a few months feeling angry and frustrated because no matter what they do their goal is still way off in the distance. The solution to this is to start setting realistic goals.

Realistic goals are just out of your reach. They require you to stretch some, but allow the likelihood of success. Once you reach your realistic goal, set another goal that’s just a little farther off. Keep going in this way and you’ll soon realize that you’ve made a lot of progress.

5. Identify the “Must-Haves” and the “Nice-to-Haves”. Suppose that you’re house-hunting. The first thing that you need to do is to identify your “must-have” features. These might be something like the following:

  • Three bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.
  • A large kitchen.
  • Quiet neighborhood.
  • Good school district.
  • Lots of light.

Then think of your “nice-to-have” features. These could include the following:

  • A fireplace.
  • A swimming pool.
  • A patio.
  • A den.

Now you have two choices. You can either search for a house that includes just your “must-have” features”, or you can search for a house that includes both your “must-have” and your “nice-to-have” features.

Of course, a house that contains both kinds of features will take longer to find and it will cost more. So the question becomes: Are you willing to pay the extra price — in terms of both time and money–for the “nice-to-have” features?

You should ask yourself these same questions for anything that you do:

  • A report you have to hand in to your boss.
  • A project for a client.
  • The vase that you’re making for your pottery class; and so on.

What are the “must-have” features? Which are simply “nice-to-have” features? Although perfectionists have a tendency to want to include the “nice-to-have” features in everything that they do, in most cases, the “must-have” features are good enough.

Include the “nice-to-have” features only if it’s something that’s worth the extra effort, and you have the necessary time and resources to do so.

6. Lower Your Standards. A big problem for perfectionists is setting standards that are way too high. You can correct this problem by lowering your standards. Instead of aiming for what you consider to be 100%, aim for what looks like a 90% effort to you. Then, analyze what happened:

  • Did the sky come crashing down?
  • Was your boss upset because the project wasn’t good enough?
  • Did someone complain?
  • Was the client disappointed?
  • Are there any negative consequences?

If everything was fine at your 90% effort, try lowering your standards to 80%. Is everything still OK? Then consider lowering your standards further still.

Of course, your aim here isn’t to start doing things subpar, but to test your standards with the goal of making them more realistic.

7. Try New Things. Perfectionists have a tremendous fear of making mistakes. And all this does is hold them back. After all, making mistakes is how we grow. In addition, being able to tolerate mistakes is a vital component of innovation and risk taking.

One way to overcome your fear of making mistakes is by trying new things. When you’re learning something new you’re far from perfect. In fact, just the opposite. You make mistakes, you fall, and you make a mess of things.

By allowing yourself to make mistakes in areas in which you’re a total newbie, you’ll become more comfortable with making mistakes, in all areas of your life.

8. Move Away from Anything that Reinforces Your Perfectionist Tendencies. A while ago I was watching a TV show in which the protagonist was this gorgeous woman who was a brilliant neurosurgeon. She had attended top learning institutions in the US and she spoke several languages. When they mentioned that she was also a marathon runner, I changed the channel.

The world around us sets impossibly high standards:

  • Business gurus tell us to always over-deliver.
  • You constantly hear slogans like the following: “No one remembers who came in second.”
  • Every magazine that you open is filled with models with flawless bodies.
  • Everyone on Facebook pretends to have a perfect marriage, perfect kids, a perfect house, a perfect business . . .

It just doesn’t end. Move away from all of the stimuli that reinforces your perfectionist tendencies:

  • Stop reading magazines that make you feel like a failure.
  • Unfollow anyone on Twitter who is constantly going on and on about how perfect their life is.
  • Stop hanging out with people who make you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough.

Instead, do this:

  • Read material that empowers you.
  • Surround yourself with people who accept you as you are and encourage to be even better.
  • Follow people on social media that inspire and motivate you.

9. Accept that You’ll Never Be Finished. The other day I was reading an article written by a woman with baby twin boys. She was complaining that she was never done.

If one twin was crying and she finally managed to get him to sleep, a minute later the other twin would wake up and start crying. As soon as she changed one twin’s diaper, the other twin needed to be changed.

That’s what life is like. Look at the following:

  • You may have achieved your ideal weight and be doing really well at work, but then your significant other loses his job and your relationship starts to suffer due to the stress this causes.
  • Then you get your relationship back on track, but your boss leaves and her replacement is impossible to deal with.
  • You spend a couple of months looking for a new job, and you find something that’s even better than the job you had before. However, while you were busy job hunting you didn’t have time to exercise, so you gained weight.

See how that goes? Life is in a constant flux. Even if you manage to get to a point where absolutely everything in your life is “perfect”—and this is a very big “if” –it’s almost guaranteed that it will be short lived. In order to overcome perfectionism, accept that you’ll never be “finished”.

10. Enjoy the Ride. Perfectionists keep their eyes firmly focused on the destination. That’s all that matters to them. In fact, they’re so focused on the destination, that they fail to enjoy the ride.

In order to overcome your perfectionist tendencies, keep in mind that the destination is just the cherry on top. The journey is the ice cream, the fudge, the whipped cream, the caramel, and the marshmallow crème. Look at the following:

  • You haven’t run a 10K yet, but feel satisfied that today you ran 6 kilometers.
  • You can’t leave your day job yet, but be proud that your side business is growing day by day.
  • You still can’t play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on the piano, but play those pieces that you do know with joy.

Conclusion

Refuse to allow perfectionism to continue wreaking havoc on your life. Start by applying the 10 tips above. Live your best life by overcoming perfectionism.

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Give yourself permission

The only person you need permission from is you.

When we’re kids we have to ask permission for everything:

  • We have to ask our parents for permission to ride our bikes outside.
  • We have to ask for permission to watch TV.
  • We have to ask for permission to have a snack.
  • We have to raise our hands in class and ask for permission to speak.
  • We even have to ask the teacher for permission to go to the bathroom.

Then we grow up, but we continue to think that we have to ask others for permission. Well, guess what! You’re an adult now. You no longer need anyone else’s permission. The only person you need permission from is yourself. So stop withholding permission from yourself. Instead, give it freely!

What do you need permission for? Here are 50 things you may want to give yourself permission for:

1. I give myself permission to take breaks.

2. I give myself permission to be lazy on Sundays: to sleep in and wear pajamas all day.

3. I give myself permission to take good care of myself.

4. I give myself permission to laugh.

5. I give myself permission to play.

6. I give myself permission to make mistakes.

7. I give myself permission to say “no” to demands on my time that are simply draining.

8. I give myself permission to remove toxic people from my life.

9. I give myself permission to say “yes” to what I want.

10. I give myself permission to go on adventures.

11. I give myself permission to step out of my comfort zone.

12. I give myself permission to fulfill my lifelong dreams.

13. I give myself permission to ask for what I want.

14. I give myself permission to be who I am.

15. I give myself permission to try again.

16. I give myself permission to have fun.

17. I give myself permission to give myself what I need.

18. I give myself permission to design my own life.

19. I give myself permission to ignore naysayers.

20. I give myself permission to listen to my gut when it tries to tell me that something isn’t right.

21. I give myself permission to stay focused on what’s important to me.

22. I give myself permission to let go of the expectations of others.

23. I give myself permission to have my own agenda.

24. I give myself permission to be whatever body shape I like.

25. I give myself permission to be imperfect.

26. I give myself permission to ask for help.

27. I give myself permission to stop caring what others think of me.

28. I give myself permission to write a lousy first draft.

29. I give myself permission to move on.

30. I give myself permission to pivot – if I don’t like the direction I’m moving in, I can shift direction.

31. I give myself permission to start over.

32. I give myself permission to create—paint, play an instrument, compose songs, knit, and so on.

33. I give myself permission to start a business.

34. I give myself permission to make more money.

35. I give myself permission to validate myself.

36. I give myself permission to be a beginner, and be comfortable with not knowing, when I’m learning something new.

37. I give myself permission to grow.

38. I give myself to be happy.

39. I give myself permission to smile a lot.

40. I give myself permission to succeed.

41. I give myself permission to eat anything I want, in moderation.

42. I give myself permission to start now, even if I don’t have all of my ducks in a row.

43. I give myself permission to act boldly.

44. I give myself permission to forgive myself for the times I haven’t acted in the best way I could have, for the times I’ve let opportunities slip by, and for the times I haven’t stood up for myself.

45. I give myself permission to release the past.

46. I give myself permission to be OK with where I am now.

47. I give myself permission to be a hero on a journey.

48. I give myself permission to shine and stand out.

49. I give myself permission to step into greatness.

50. I give myself permission to conquer the world.

Conclusion

The next time you feel like you have to ask someone else for permission for something that you need, look in the mirror and ask yourself. Then tell yourself: Permission granted! Give yourself permission to live your best life.

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ways to become cultured

People who are cultured have an appreciation for beauty and the finer things in life.

The Russian writer Anton Chekhov once wrote the following: “In order to feel comfortable among educated people, to be at home and happy with them, one must be cultured to a certain extent.” But, what does it mean to be cultured? Here are some possible meanings:

  • To be cultured means to be educated.
  • Knowing about a variety of subjects.
  • Being refined and sophisticated.
  • Being curious, unprejudiced, and open-minded.
  • Being tolerant and respectful of people who are different from us.
  • Living a life of excellence and discernment.

Below you’ll find 20 ways to become more cultured:

1. Learn How to Appreciate Art.

Cultured people know how to appreciate art. In order to fully appreciate master paintings, sculptures, prints, and so on, you need to have certain technical skills and knowledge. To be cultured, you should learn how to view art through the lenses of line, light, perspective, composition, and other crucial elements of craft. Here are three ways to do this:

2. Recognize the World’s 50 Greatest Paintings.

A cultured person should be able to recognize, identify the artist, and know a little about each of the world’s 50 greatest paintings. Get a book such as 50 Paintings You Should Know, or do some research online.

3. Go to Museums and Art Galleries.

Visit every important museum and art gallery in your city. If you can, expand that to the major museums in your country. Of course, if you can travel to the best museums in the world–including El Prado, the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and so on–that would be ideal.

4. Recognize the World’s 50 Greatest Buildings.

From the Colosseum to the Chrysler Building, you should be able to recognize the world’s greatest buildings. In addition, you should know who built them, when, and the building’s intended purpose. Get started with the world’s 50 greatest buildings.

5. Recognize the World’s 25 Greatest Sculptures.

There are incredible sculptures from all around the world that every cultured person should be able to recognize, from The Winged Victory of Samothrace–also known as the Nike of Samothrace–, to the Leshan Giant Buddha.

Get started with a book such as Sculpture: From Antiquity to the Present Day, or do research online. There’s a good list of great sculptures from around the world here.

6. Read 50 Books From the Canon of Western Literature.

The canon of Western literature is a list of the books that Western scholars generally accept as the most important and influential in shaping Western culture. That is, the books by Western authors that have the greatest artistic merit.

You can find many lists of books that are included in the canon online. This one is found in the appendix to Harold Bloom’s The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages. Pick 50 of these books, and read them.

7. Read Authors From 25 Different Countries.

The problem with the canon of Western literature is that it leaves out great books from most of the countries in the world. You can bridge that gap by making sure that you include books from at least 25 different countries in your reading list.

You can use the list of books read by Ann Morgan as a reference. She spent a year reading books from every country in the world. The list of the books she read is here. Pick 25 of them and start going through them.

8. Try Food From 30 Different Countries.

A cultured person has sampled food from many different countries. Although it would be ideal to travel to different places to sample their food, depending on where you live, that’s not essential.

For example, Charles Biblios lives in New York City and is on a mission to try food from every country without leaving NYC. Even you don’t live in a cosmopolitan city, it’s very likely that there are at least a few ethnic restaurants in your city. Make a list of these restaurants and go try them.

9. Develop Religious Literacy.

Religious literacy—the knowledge of basic teachings, symbols, practices, founders, institutions, and values of the world’s major religious traditions—can help us to better understand the world around us.

The world’s major religions are Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In order to find out more about these religions you can do the following:

  • Talk to someone who practices the religion you want to know more about and ask them questions.
  • Visit their places of worship.
  • Find a book you can read which does a good job of summarizing the basic precepts of the religions you want to know more about. One such book is The World’s Religions
  • Do some research online.
  • Take an online course, such as Cultural Literacy for Religion.

10. Listen to Classical Music.

The music genre that is most often associated with culture is classical music. Begin by listening to, and familiarizing yourself with, the 10 pieces of classical music that everyone should know.

11. Be Familiar With the World’s 10 Most Important Operas.

Opera and culture go hand in hand. Watching and listening to opera can help us to see, hear, and experience the world more richly. You can get started with Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro).

Although it’s always better to experience opera live, watching it on your TV or laptop will do until you have the opportunity to attend the real thing.

12. Be Familiar With the World’s 10 Most Important Ballets.

Ballet, like opera, is at the core of culture. When attending a ballet performance you get to listen to some of the most iconic music ever written and watch beautiful choreography.

You can start with Swan Lake by Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky. Like opera, the real thing is best, but watching from home will do.

13. Listen to Music From 35 Different Countries.

Just as you should read books from different countries in order to be cultured, you should also listen to music from different countries. YouTube is a goldmine for finding music from other countries.

You can start by listening to a Tamborito from Panama here.

14. Go to the Theater.

Live performance is an important art form which goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks. Ideally you would travel to New York to see a Broadway play, or to Shakespeare’s Globe in London to see one of Shakespeare’s plays.

However, you can get started in your own city by attending plays put on by your local theater company or by traveling theatrical groups.

15. Watch Foreign Films.

Foreign films allow you to get a glimpse of life in places you may never visit. It imbues you with a new understanding of foreign traditions and viewpoints. You can get started with “Red”, one of the films that make up Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy.

16. Learn Proper Manners and Etiquette.

I already mentioned Chekhov’s letter to his brother in this blog’s introduction. In said letter Chekhov indicates that cultured people are always kind, gentle, and polite. That is, cultured people are respectful of others.

One way to help ensure that you treat others respectfully is by learning proper manners and etiquette. After all, good manners make things in life smoother and more pleasant for everyone. In addition, the most elegant person in the room is not the one that is best dressed, but the one with the most beautiful manners.

17. Keep Up With Current Events.

A cultured person is aware of what’s happening in the world, economically and politically. For important stories, make sure that you know not just the who, the where, the how, and the when, but also the the why. In addition, come up with your own ideas on what should be done about the situation.

18. Travel.

Part of being cultured is being familiar with different parts of the world, and the best way to achieve this is by traveling.

In addition, as Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” The more you interact with people from other cultures through travel the more you realize that–in the ways that really matter–we’re all pretty much alike.

19. Learn a New Language.

There are many ways in which learning another language will help you to become more cultured. Here are three of them:

  • First, you’ll be able to understand cultural references and nuances.
  • Second, it helps you to grasp different ways of thinking and life perspectives.
  • And third, it allows you to pepper your conversation with foreign words and phrases. This last one is awfully pretentious, but what’s the point of being cultured if you can’t show off once in a while. 🙂

Duolingo is one of the tools I’m using to learn French, and it’s surprisingly good. Choose a language–I would recommend French, since it’s often thought of as the language of culture–and go through all of the modules for that language on Duolingo. When you’re done you won’t be fluent in that language, but you’ll have a good grasp of it.

2o. Memorize Five Poems.

Poems can teach you to think in terms of similes and metaphors, which is one of the hallmarks of intelligence. In addition, they often make reference to history, myth, and literature, which can be useful in familiarizing yourself with these subjects. Finally, great poems are filled with rich language and emotion.

Pick five poems you like, and memorize them. A fun one to try is Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll (which I memorized in the 5th grade and have never forgotten). Here’s a simple procedure for memorizing poems.

Conclusion

Live your best life by becoming more cultured. You can get started with the 20 suggestions outlined above.

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