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feel wealthy, lucky and successful

“You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya punk?” – Dirty Harry

Your state of mind can make all the difference in the world. To be wealthy, lucky, and successful you need to think wealthy, lucky, and successful thoughts. That is, you have to feel wealthy, lucky, and successful.

In addition, adopting a feeling of wealth, luck, and success is easier than most people think. You do it by tuning into the real sources of wealth. These are the following:

  • Health;
  • Creativity;
  • A good attitude;
  • A good mind;
  • A strong work ethic;
  • Appreciation;
  • Imagination;
  • Peace of mind;
  • Meaning; and
  • Faith in the future.

If you have these things, and you apply them well, you will–almost without a doubt–be wealthy, lucky, and successful in the foreseeable the future. Below you’ll discover 20 ways to feel wealthy, lucky, and successful now, regardless of your current circumstances.

1. Make a List of Five. Make a list of five things that you want more of in your life, which don’t involve money. For example, more love, more serenity, and more laughter.

Then, make a conscious effort to be more loving, actively look for reasons to laugh more often throughout the day, and start a meditation practice. You’ll soon have more of what you want in your life, without having spent a penny. And that will make you feel wealthy, lucky, and successful.

2. Become Financially Literate. Regardless of the current size of your bank account, start learning about money–learn how to take care of it and how to make it grow. Do the following:

  • Pick up a book about managing your finances, such as “The New Guide to Financial Freedom” by Charles Schwab.
  • Take a personal finance class, whether in person or online.
  • Set up a mock portfolio — choose a list of stocks and track their performance over a certain period of time.

Being knowledgable about money will help make you feel that you have what it takes to make lots of it and invest it well.

3. Go On a Rampage of Appreciation. Right now think of 100 things that you’re grateful for. Write them down. Then, read through your list and allow the feeling of gratitude to wash over you.  It’s hard not to feel wealthy, lucky, and successful when you’re focused on all the good that there is in your life.

4. Help Someone Else. Realizing that you have more than enough is a great way to feel wealthy, lucky, and successful. The best way to realize how much you have–other than by feeling grateful–is by giving to others.

There are many ways to give to others: you can make a donation; volunteer your time or services; mentor an at-risk-youth; and so on. Whatever you have, share it with others, and notice how that makes you feel. Good, I bet.

5. Nurture a Positive Attitude. Having a positive attitude can help you feel lucky and successful. Look at the following:

  • Negative Attitude: “It doesn’t matter what I do, I’ll never be successful.”
  • Positive Attitude: “By adopting good habits and taking small steps in the right direction, I will succeed.”

Which of the two thoughts above is more likely to make you feel good about yourself? Which is more likely to encourage you to perservere, instead of giving up? Obviously, the positive one. Instead of telling yourself that you’ll never have what you want, nurture a positive attitude and tell yourself that by being resourceful and working hard, you can have everything you want.

6. Dress the Part. Neil Pattel, owner of the popular blog Quicksprout.com, wrote a post in which he explains that spending $162,301.42 on clothes made him $692,500. Why? Because the reality is that people make assumptions about you based on how you look and dress. If you dress well, others will assume that you must be in high demand and they’ll want to do business with you.

This doesn’t mean that you should go into debt in order to buy nice clothes. What it does mean is that you should accept the reality that people do judge a book by its cover, and buy–and wear–the best quality clothing you can afford. In addition, looking good will make you feel good about yourself, and it will make you feel more successful.

7.  Treat Yourself to a Small Luxury. It’s essential to set money aside for a rainy day, for investments, and for your retirement. However, it’s also important to treat yourself to small luxuries once in a while. Here are some examples:

  • Pamper your inner diva or divo (the male equivalent of “diva”) by spending the day at a spa.
  • Indulge the serious artist in you by getting a Moleskine notebook and a fountain pen.
  • Be a food snob–if only once in a while–and eat at the best restaurant in town.

Denying yourself what you want all the time will make you feel deprived, which is not conducive to feeling wealthy, lucky, and successful. Once in a while, buy the expensive chocolates, get yourself tickets to the opera, and have lobster for dinner. Small luxuries can give you a high return on your invesment in terms of how you feel and how you portray yourself to the world.

8. Let Go of 27 Things. Letting go of items and possessions which you no longer find beautiful or useful can help you to make room for good things to come into your life. Also, decluttering will help bring to your awareness the fact that you own a lot more things than you need, which will go a long way toward making you feel wealthy and lucky.

In Feng Shui–a Chinese philosophical system which examines how the placement of things and objects affects the energy flow in your living environment–27 is a lucky number. Do the following:

  • Go through your living space and look for 27 items which you can donate, give away, or throw out.
  • If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, spend the next nine days–nine is another lucky number in Feng Shui–decluttering 27 items each day.

9. Strip Experiences Down to Their Essence. Strip an experience that you want to have, but which you can’t afford at the moment, down to its core essence. As an illustration, if you really want to visit Italy, but you can’t afford to do so right now, ask yourself what it is about Italy that you really want to experience.

  • Is it the food? Then start looking for the best Italian restaurant you can find within driving distance of where you live.
  • Is it the art? Go to a museum.
  • Is it the culture in general? Rent a couple of Italian movies, such as “La Strada” and “Profumo di Donna”.

Even if you can’t go to Italy at the moment, you can find ways to experience the things that you love about Italy, right now.

10. Start a Dream Jar. In my post, 14 Awesome Things You Can Do With Just $25, I explain that the way to finance your life goals is to start right away setting aside some money–even if it’s just one dollar a day–and placing that sum in a dream jar. Knowing that you’ve started saving for your dreams, even if it’s just a small amount, will help you feel that you’re on your way toward making those dreams come true.

11. Adjust Your Materialism Levels. It’s fine to want things. However, in today’s society people are incessantly bombarded with messages from marketers trying to sell everything from expensive colognes to insanely priced cars, which often creates a feeling of dissatisfaction among those who do not belong to the wealthy elite and who can’t afford these items.

If your levels of materialism have gone off the charts, you need to adjust these levels or risk never feeling like you have enough and never feeling satisfied.

12. Lack Is In Your Mind. Realize that a feeling of lack is all in your mind. There are 3 billion people in the world living on less than $2.00 a day. In addition, 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day.  (Source). And you feel that you live in a state of scarcity because you can’t afford that leather jacket in the store window? You may want to rethink that.

13. Let Go of Your Need To Own Things. A while ago I was reading an anecdote about a group of tourists who were in Africa on safari. They were watching a beautiful sunset over a lake, when one of them said: “I would love to have a house overlooking that lake”. The guide that was with them pointed out that he had noticed the following about tourists to his country: when they experienced beauty, their first reaction was to want to “own it”.

Experience the beauty around you, and just let it be.

14. Nurture Inner Peace. By nurturing inner peace you’ll be creating calm and joy in your inner world, which will help you to feel good about yourself regardless of what may be happening in your outer world. Those who are spiritually rich feel wealthy, lucky, and successful even during the most trying of times.

15. Spend Time in Nature. Instead of going to the shopping mall, go to the beach. Instead of watching TV, go to the park, sit under a tree with a good book, and read. Instead of eating at the cafeteria, walk to an arboretum or a public garden near your place of work, and eat there. It’s hard to harbor feelings of lack when you’re surrounded by the abundance of nature.

16. Read Rags to Riches Stories. There are many biographies available of people who started out with little and ended up having a lot. Read these stories when you need inspiration. After all, if they could do it, why not you? Feel wealthy, lucky, and successful by reading about others who were once where you are and then went on to rise to great heights.

17. Learn Something New. Even if you’re not rich in material goods at the moment, you can be rich in knowledge. Explore Beethoven’s sonatas, read the classics, and memorize great poetry, such as “Daffodils” by William Wordsworths. After all, how can you not feel wealthy and lucky to be alive when you’re engulfed by one of Beethoven’s cello sonatas or dancing with daffodils.

18. Learn a Marketable Skill. Prepare yourself to be wealthy and successful in the future by learning a marketable skill now. The more valuable you are to others, whether it’s a boss or your clients, the wealthier and the more successful you’ll be. And the way to make yourself more valuable is by learning new skills.

19.  Make a List of Ten Things Money Can’t Buy. The best things in life can’t be bought. Here are some of them:

  • Friends who love you for who you are.
  • A close-knit family.
  • A spouse whom you would trust with your life.

If you have these things, you can be sure that you’re luckier and wealthier than most people living in mansions and driving around in Bentleys.

20. Set Goals For the Future. The fact that you don’t have the money to take singing lessons or visit Paris right now, doesn’t mean that you won’t have the resources to experience these things in the future. Accept where you are now, while you make plans for where you want to be in the future. Then, allow yourself to feel that you can, and that you will, have these things.

Conclusion

Live your best life by feeling wealthy, lucky, and successful. You can start with the 20 ways explained above.

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mindmap

Mind maps engage your whole brain and allow you to see the big picture.

A mind map is a whole-brain method for generating and organizing ideas which is largely inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s approach to note-taking. The concept was brought into the mainstream by Tony Buzan and is based on patterns found in nature, and on research on how humans think and how the brain works.

In “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci”, Michael J. Gelb explains that by using mind mapping regularly, you can train yourself to be a more balanced thinker, like da Vinci. Gelb adds that mind mapping stimulates both brain hemispheres: it lets you develop a logical sequence and detailed organization of your material, while encouraging imagination and spontaneity. In fact, he explains that the note-taking styles of many of history’s geniuses feature a branching, organic structure complemented by lots of sketches, creative doodles, and keywords.

These geniuses include Charles Darwin, Michelangelo, Mark Twain, and, of course, da Vinci. Below you’ll find step-by-step instructions for creating mind maps, as well as 14 brilliant uses for mind maps.

How to Create Mind Maps: Step-by-Step Instructions

Mind maps represent a task or an idea in pictorial form with a minimum of words. They rely on key pictures and keywords that act as triggers. Here are step-by-step instructions for creating mind maps:

Step 1. Get a plain sheet of paper and turn it so that it’s on its landscape side. You’re also going to need colored pens and/or pencils.

Step 2. In the center of the page draw a picture or paste an image that represents the central concept of your mind map. Then, write down a keyword which represents the central idea.

Step 3. Use colors throughout. Adding images and colors stimulates right-brain thinking. That is, it stimulates creativity and imagination.

Step 4. What are the main concepts or ideas that can be derived from the image and/or keyword you’ve placed in the middle of the page? Do the following:

  • Draw anywhere from three to ten thick branches leading out from your central image/keyword.
  • Make the branches curve and flow.
  • Try to make each branch a different color.
  • Choose an image and a keyword for each branch.

Step 5. Look at your branches and begin making free associations. Draw smaller sub-branches that stem from each branch to accommodate the new associations that you’re making.

Step 6. Connect third-level branches from the ends of the sub-branches. You can even create a fourth and a fifth level. Let your mind work freely by association and have fun.

Step 7. Throughout the mind map, use keywords. Keywords exercise your analytical “left brain” and help you find the essence of your subject. However, using too many words will restrict your thinking. Try using just one keyword per line; this will give you the freedom to discover lots of creative associations for your keyword.

Step 8. Use images throughout. Images make the mind map more interesting and more memorable. In addition, pictures generate far more associations than words do.

Step 9. When you’re done with your initial mind map, do the following: add details; jot down questions that radiate from particular nodes; and draw little “vines” that connect ideas on different branches.

14 Brilliant Uses For Mind Maps

Now that you know how to create mind maps, here are 14 brilliant uses for mind maps:

1. Use Mind Maps For Idea Generation. Place an image in the center of the page that represents the topic for which you want to generate ideas. From that image, start to radiate out every idea that comes into your mind on that subject-matter. Create a branch for each idea.

Look at the branches and see what ideas are triggered by the keyword and the image on each branch. Put these new ideas down as sub-branches. Next, brainstorm at least three ideas for each sub-branch and put these down as third level branches. You can stop there, or you can add a fourth level.

When you’re done, look through your final mind map and decide which idea you’re going to implement. Finally, go out into the world and implement your idea.

2. Use Mind Maps to Better Retain Information From Books and Articles. Most people complain that they quickly forget what they read. However, there’s a way to remember and retain more of the books and articles that you read. You can achieve this by creating a mind map each time that you read something that you find informative or helpful.

When you’re reading a book, the branches of the mind map can be the chapter headings of the most important chapters. Then, write down the main ideas of each chapter as subheadings. Third level branches can include examples, quotes, and even your own comments on what you just read. In the fourth level you can write down ideas on action steps that the book or article has inspired you to take

3. Use Mind Maps For Problem Solving. When problem solving, insert an image which represents the problem you’re having in the center of a piece of paper, along with the appropriate keyword.  Then, draw six branches leading out of the center image/keyword and write one of the following questions on each branch:

  • What?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why?
  • How?
  • Who?

Answer these questions in the sub-branches of your mind map and proceed to free-associate solutions to your problem from there.

4. Use Mind Maps to Take Notes During Meetings. When you’re at an office meeting, do the following:

  • Write the purpose for the meeting in the center of the page.
  • Each agenda item will be represented as one of the main branches on your mindmap (get the agenda ahead of time, if you can).
  • As the meeting progresses, add sub-branches to each agenda item with the main points discussed for each item (ideas, facts, budget, who is going to do what, and so on).
  • Draw pictures and interlink items.

5. Use Mind Maps to Set Life Goals. Write “Life Goals” in the center of the page (you can also draw an image of yourself or paste a photo). Choose what you consider to be your main life areas. These can include travel, adventures, family, contributions, career, finances, and so on. Each one of these will be one of the branches of your mind map.

Further divide each life area in a way that makes sense to you. For example, the “Family” branch could be divided into the following sub-branches: parents; siblings; spouse; kids; extended family; and so on. Then, write down at least three life goals for each of your sub-branches. These will be the third level branches.

As fourth level branches you could write down ideas on how to achieve each goal, a deadline, the resources that you’ll need, and so on.

6. Use Mind Maps for Project Management. What’s the name of the project that you’re going to be working on? Write it down in the center of the page. What are the main tasks that need to be completed for the project? Write those down as sub-branches. Divide the main tasks into sub-tasks and write those down as third level branches.

For each sub-task you can create a fourth level by adding information such as duration, cost, materials needed, and so on.

7. Use Mind Maps to Write Your Novel. Put your story’s tentative title, or the genre, in the middle of the page. Your branches can be the following: Setting; Characters; Conflict; Theme; Plot; Scenes; and Point of View. The “Character” branch–for example–can be further broken down by creating a sub-branch for each character.

Then, create third level branches by creating a character profile for each character. You can write down things such as the following: Age; Appearance; Occupation; Income; Education; Special Characteristics; Strengths; Flaws; and so on.

8. Use Mind Maps to Write Ebooks. If you’ve been trying to write an eBook for a while but you keep getting stuck at the planning stage, a mind map could be just what you need. What’s your eBook’s topic? Write that down at the center of the page.

Then, add ten branches. Temporarily label them Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and so on. Later on you can add the specific titles of each chapter, but for now just write down potential topics. For each chapter include sub-branches with ideas of what you’re going to include in each chapter. Then, as a third level, write down examples for each of your ideas.

9. Use Mind Maps to Write a Business Plan. Write the name of your business or your business idea in the center of the page. The branches are the major components of your business plan. This can include things such as your business concept; your legal structure; your marketing plan; a market analysis; your financials; and your sales strategy.

Further divide each of the main components by adding sub-branches. For example, your “Marketing Plan” branch could lead to the following sub-branches: brochures; press releases; web site; social media; advertisements; and so on.

10. Use a Mind Map to Write Your Memoir. Write down your name at the center of the page. Your main branches could be something like the following: early childhood; adolescence; college; life after college; marriage; retirement; and so on. Taking “early childhood” as an example, you could create the following sub-branches:

  • School
  • Friends
  • Neighborhood
  • After-School Activities
  • Chores
  • Holidays
  • Family Life
  • Pets
  • Favorite Memories
  • Traumatic Events

Then, you can take “School” and further divide it as follows: Favorite Subjects; Favorite Teachers; Grades; Riding the Bus; School Books; Learning to Read; Kids From School; and so on.

11. Use A Mind Map to Plan Your Finances. Creating a mind map of your finances is a good idea since it illustrates the big picture of your financial life. The branches of your financial mind map can include things such as the following: Income; Expenses; Debt; Investments; Retirement Plan; Estate Plan; and so on.

Each branch can then be further broken down into sub-branches. For example, the “Estate Plan” branch could be broken down into the following: Will; Revocable Living Trust; Power of Attorney; Health Care Proxy; and so on. You can choose to add more details by adding third and fourth level branches.

12. Use Mind Maps for Your To-Do List. Write something obvious such as “to do” at the center of the page. Then, identify your main categories and put those down as branches. Here are some examples: Blog; Work; Home; and Errands. List the tasks that you need to get done for each of your categories as sub-branches.

As an illustration, for the “Blog” category you could add the following sub-branches: write a blog post; share the blog post on social media; spend 15 minutes on Twitter; visit three blogs in my niche and leave comments; and email potential sponsors.

For a third level you could further break down each task: include time limits for each task; include more information about the task; and so on.

13. Use Mind Maps for Holiday Planning. The holiday that you’re planning goes in the center of the page. Let’s use the 4th of July as an illustration. Draw an American flag and write down “July 4th” at the center of the page.

Then, create a branch for each major area that you need to plan. Here are some examples:

  • Barbecue
  • Decorations
  • Parade
  • Fireworks Show
  • Teach the kids about the 4th of July

The “Barbecue Branch” can be further broken down with the following:

  • Drinks
  • Food
  • Snacks
  • Dessert
  • Backyard Activitivies for the Kids
  • Music

Each sub-branch can be further broken down by adding more details. As an illustration, you could create third level branches for “Dessert” with the following: flag cake; cupcakes with sparklers; carved watermelon filled with fruit; red, white, and blue jello; and so on.

14. Use Mind Maps for Yearly Planning. Write down the year that you’re going to be planning in the middle of the page. Create branches: each branch represents a goal for the year. For example, let’s say that one of your goals for the year is to make an additional $12,000 which you’re going to put down toward your retirement.

You’re going to divide that goal into four milestones; each milestone is a sub-branch. Here are your four sub-branches:

  • Make $3,000 by March 31st.
  • Make $6,000 by June 30th.
  • Make $9,000 by September 30th.
  • Make $12,000 by December 31st.

Then, further break down each milestone. Continuing with our example, the sub-branch “Make $3,000 by March 31st” can be broken down as follows:

  • Make $1,000 by January 31st.
  • Make $2,000 by February 28th.
  • Make $3,000 by March 31st.

Those are your third-level branches. Your 4th level branches can be the action steps that you’re going to take in order to make that money.

Conclusion

Mind maps are a fantastic tool for generating ides, organizing your life, planning, and so on. The 14 uses for mind maps explained above are just the beginning. Live your best life by engaging your whole mind with mind maps.

 

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Happiness begins at home.

Here’s a great quote which I found on Gretchen Rubin’s blog, The Happiness Project:

“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends.” – Samuel Johnson, The Rambler, No.68

What makes a home? Here are some definitions:

  • Home is a comfortable refuge for the people who live in it.
  • Home is the place that makes you feel relieved when you walk in through the door.
  • Home is the place where you live and where you feel that you belong.
  • Home is where your loved ones live; where the people who love you are.
  • Home is where you’re treated well.
  • Home is the place where you feel at peace.
  • Home is a lawn that needs mowing, a floor that need to be swepted, a warm meal on the table, and a soft bed to crawl into at the end of the day.

As someone once said, home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling. We all want to feel happy at home. To that end, below you’ll find 10 ways to be happier at home.

1. Declutter Your Living Space. Cutter has a mental cost. It bombards us with excessive stimuli, it signals to our brain that work is never done, and it makes us anxious and creates feelings of guilt. None of this is conducive to happiness. Increase your happiness at home by decluttering.

In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Japanese organizational expert Marie Kondo recommends that you declutter your home by picking up each item and asking the following question: Does this bring me joy? She recommends that you only keep in your home those items that spark joy.

She adds that you should tackle decluttering by subject– for example: books, then clothes, then photos and mementos, and so on. Once you’re done decluttering, store everything that’s left in drawers, arranging all the items in such a way that everything can be seen at a glance. Kondo says the following:

“The inside of a house or apartment after decluttering has much in common with a Shinto shrine . . . a place where there are no unnecessary things, and our thoughts become clear.”

2. Display Items That Bring Back Happy Memories. In my post on Five Ways to Buy Happiness I explain that research has shown that experiences make us happier than material goods. One of the reasons for this is that experiences provide a cycle of enjoyment. This cycle includes the following:

  • Planning the experience;
  • Anticipating the experience;
  • Enjoying the experience and sharing it with others; and
  • Remembering the experience.

By displaying items around your home that bring back happy memories, you’ll be stretching out the happiness cycle of your experiences. Each time that you catch a glimpse of that photo of your family at Disney, or that African mask you picked up on your honeymoon, you’ll get a little jolt of happiness from the memory of those happy times.

3. Spend Money on Things To Cultivate Family Experiences at Home. As was mentioned in the previous point, one way to be happier at home is to turn your home into a gallery of positive memories. In addition, spend your money on things that will allow to create positive family experiences at home.

One of the best ways to do this is to turn your family room into a space for relaxation and entetainment. Here are three examples of things you can do:

  • Get a ping-pong table for the family room so that your kids will gather there to have ping-pong tournaments.
  • Get a game table and a few board games and institute family game night once a week.
  • Invest in a comfortable sofa and get the entire collection of several movie sagas on DVD–such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and The Lord of The Rings–and gather the family together for movie marathons with popcorn.

One of the best ways to be happy at home is to create positive, bonding experiences for your family.

4. Fill Your Home With Plants. As I explained in my post, 8 Reasons Why You Need to Spend More Time In Nature, research shows that being out in nature boosts happiness levels. In addition, bringing nature indoors also increases our sense of well-being.  Houseplants eliminate stuffy air in the home, reduce stress, help deter illness, and boost your mood.

To increase your happiness at home, visit a nursery and pick out plants that suit your home and lifestyle.

5. Give Warm Greetings and Farewells. In her book Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life, Gretchen Rubin indicates that as part of her quest to increase the happiness of her home, she wanted her family members to feel acknowledged and welcome every time they walked in through the door.

With this in mind, she proposed the following to her family:

“I want us to have the rule that when any one of us comes home, or is leaving, we all have to pay attention to that person for a minute. Let’s give warm greetings and farewells.”

Gretchen shares that her family began to follow this resolution. She adds that this has created moments of real connection among her family members. In addition, this small thing has helped to improve the atmosphere in her home.

6. Turn Your Bedroom Into a Sleep Haven. Sleep has been linked to happiness. A survey of more than 7,000 adults in the US showed that people who get more sleep have a higher sense of well-being than those who get less sleep. You can boost your happiness at home by turning your bedroom into a sleep haven. Do the following:

  • Install a good set of blinds or curtains, and consider getting black shades.
  • Get the best matress you can afford and high quality bedding (think of it as an investment in your health and well-being).
  • Consider sound-proofing your room, or at least get a white noise machine to block out noises that could disturb your slumber.

Everyone is happier in the morning after they’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, so be happier at home by making sure that the bedrooms are conducive to good sleep.

7. Have Mood-Boosting Snacks Handy. If you want your entire household to be happier, fill your kitchen with easy to access mood-enhancing snacks. These include the following:

  • Dark chocolate — Dark chocolate stimulates endorphins,the pleasure hormone. It also contains serotonin, which is a chemical that acts as an anti-depressant.
  • Fruit — Fruits such as grapes and strawberries have mood-boosting effects. Stock up on these, wash them, and store them in see-through containers in the fridge.
  • Nuts — Eating a handful of nuts has been found to increase levels of serotonin, which translates into a better mood.

In addition, have tea at hand. Theanine, which is an amino acid present in black and green tea, reduces anxiety and calms us. This is because it increases the number of inhibitory neurotransmitters, which balance our moods out. In addition, theanine modulates serotonin and dopamine, which are feel-good hormones.

8. Get Fitness Games for Wii. The happiness boosting benefits of exercise have been well documented. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that are associated with relaxation and improved mood. However, most people can’t get themselves to walk on a treadmill or hop on an exercise bike in order to get the recommended 150 minutes a week of aerobic exercise.

That’s where your family’s addiction to video games comes in. Get your family members’ hearts pumping, and raise their happiness levels, with Wii dance games, such as Just Dance, ABBA You Can Dance, and Zumba Fitness World Party – Nintendo Wii. It’s a sneaky way to get everyone to exercise more.

9. Build a Home Library. Research has shown that reading increases mental well-being and reduces stress levels. In addition, reading makes you happier. Specifically, reading makes us happy by fulfilling our need for competence. After all, when we read we gain knowledge, and gaining knowledge satisfies competence.

Increase happiness levels at home by setting aside an area of your home and making it conducive to reading. Make sure that the area has chairs where your family members can get comfortable, that there’s good lighting, and that you have lots of good books to choose from. You can find ideas for what books to include in your home library in my post, How to Be Well Read.

10. Get a Fire Pit. As Shawn Achor, Ph.D., explains in his book, The Happiness Advantage, our social support network is one of the greatest predictors of our happiness. Get yourself a fire pit for your backyard and create a gathering place for your friends and neighbors. You can roast marshmallows, have drinks, or just shoot the breeze.

Of course, your gathering place doesn’t have to be a fire pit. Simply design an area of your home in a way that encourages socializing so that your friends will want to drop by. Be happier at home by making it a place in which you can connect with others.

Conclusion

It’s a great feeling when you know that whatever happens during the day, you have a happy home to go to at night. Live your best life by being happier at home. Start with the 10 ways to be happier at home explained above.

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one hour fast track

You can achieve all of your goals in just one-hour-a-day.

John Updike—the American novelist, poet, short story writer, and literary critic—, when asked what advice he had for writers just starting out, had the following to say: “Reserve an hour a day”. Here’s Updike in his own words:

“To the young writers, I would merely say, ‘Try to develop actual work habits, and even though you have a busy life, try to reserve an hour, say—or more—a day to write’. Some very good things have been written on an hour a day. Henry Green, one of my pets, was an industrialist actually. He was running a company, and he would come home and write for just an hour in an armchair, and wonderful books were created in this way. So, take it seriously, you know, set a quota.”

Updike’s advice doesn’t just apply to writers. It applies to everyone, regardless of the life goal that they’re trying to achieve. Whatever goal or dream you have, make it a reality by reserving one-hour-a-day to work on your goal. Here are ten reasons why you can fast track your goals with just one-hour-a-day:

1. An hour a day is enough time to start seeing results in a few weeks. A few years ago I gained some weight (more than I would like to admit), so I went to a nutritionist who prepared a diet plan for me. In addition, she indicated that I had to exercise for an hour a day, six days a weeks. I followed her advice and did the following:

  • I started going to the gym six days a week.
  • As soon as I walked into the gym I would hop on the treadmill and walk for an hour.

Within a month I could already see that I was losing weight and looking more fit, and that motivated me to keep going. I persisted–and it took me four months–but I lost all of the weight that I had gained. If you set aside one-hour-a-day to work on your goals, you’ll start to see results within a few weeks, and those “wins” will inspire you to keep working on your goal.

2. An hour a day is small enough to fit into your schedule. Right now you may be thinking:

“I can’t even squeeze fifteen minutes into my schedule”.

However, once you’re crystal clear on an important goal that you want to achieve, you’ll find that setting aside an hour a day to achieve that goal is doable. Just as you find ways to save money when you want to buy something that’s important to you, you can find ways to save sixty minutes a day so that you can achieve your goals.

3. It gets you focused. When you have a one-hour chunk to work on something, it’s enough time to hit your stride. You know that you won’t have to stop after ten minutes to go work on something else, and that you won’t be interrupted every five minutes. You have an entire hour.

Even if you need a few minutes to warm up, once you get going, a one-hour block of time is enough to allow you to enter your productivity zone—that is, achieve a state of flow–and really get things done.

4. An hour a day allows you to ease into your goal. Your goal might be to make a full-time living by starting your own business, becoming a full-time blogger, writing a best-selling novel, and so on. However, if you don’t have a good amount of money set aside, it’s very risky to quit your job and jump into these activities full-time.

Nonetheless, by devoting an hour-a-day to your goal, you can ease into it. Then, you can quit your job once your hour-a-day has shown you that you can succeed at the activity that you want to take up, and that you can make enough money from that activity to cover all of your living expenses.

5. Since an hour-a-day is a small amount of time, you can lower your expectations. If you’re devoting three, four, or five hours a day to a project, there’s a lot of pressure to do something epic. And the pressure to do something great is often paralyzing. When you set your standards too high it often happens that you can’t get started because of the fear of failing.

However, when you’re setting aside just one-hour-a-day to work on a given project, or goal, you can lower your expectations. After all, it’s just one hour. Once you’re no longer paralyzed by the fear of doing something epic, it’s a lot easier to get started.

6. Setting a time limit can make you more creative. A lot of people think that limitations are bad; these people tell themselves that if they only had more time and more money, they could finally get started on making their dreams come true. However, the reality is exactly the opposite: limits are a good thing. Limits make you more creative, and more productive.

When you tell your brain that it has all the time in the world to come up with a new idea, or with a way to solve a problem, or with a plot twist for your novel, your brain will take you at your word. That is, it will take all the time in the world. However, tell your brain that it has one hour to do the following:

  • Come up with a table of contents for an eBook that you’re writing.
  • Create a marketing plan for your small business.
  • Write a blog post.
  • Brainstorm a solution to a problem that you’re having.

What does your brain do? It goes into overdrive, and it delivers. An hour of focused attention will get you better results than an entire day of meandering.

7. You’ll have low sunk costs, so you can quit if you want to. Within 30 days of devoting an hour-a-day to learning a new skill you’ll have enough information to decide whether it’s something that you really want to continue working on, or if it’s best to quit. If you do decide to quit, then at least you’ll be moving one thing out of your “I wish I could do this list” and into your “tried it but didn’t like it list”.

One-hour-a-day for 30 days is a small enough investment that it won’t be too painful for you if you do decide to quit.

8. It gets you started. The hardest part of any endeavor is starting. This applies to everything: getting fit, writing a book, taking up meditation, learning to paint, and so on. The first step always offers the most resistance and takes the most effort. However, once you’ve taken the first step, taking the second step is a little bit easier. Then, each successive step gets easier until you’re well on your way.

If you keep telling yourself, “Well, I’ll get to work on this dream someday, when I have the time”, this prevents you from ever getting started. However, if you tell yourself that you’re going to start simply by devoting an hour-a-day to your goal, this allows you to take that vital first step. And, as Lao Tzu once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

9. You can create momentum. Sir Isaac Newton once said that an object in motion will remain in motion. When it comes to achieving your life goals, your goal will stay in motion as long as you do something to push it forward a little bit each day. Once you’ve taken the first step toward the achievement of your goal, keep your goal in motion by working on it for one-hour-a-day.

10. An hour-a-day has a cumulative effect. One way to think of your one-hour-a-day is as follows: one-hour-a-day comes to 365 hours a year. That’s nine 40-hour work weeks. That is, by setting aside an hour a day to work on your goal, in one year you’ll have devoted nine weeks —or two months–to your goal. Not bad!

Conclusion

Stop telling yourself that you simply don’t have enough time to achieve your goals and go after your dreams. Instead, carve out one-hour-a-day and start crossing your life goals off of your bucket list, one by one.

“The One-Hour-A-Day Formula: How to Achieve Your Dreams in Just One Hour a Day” is a step-by-step plan for making all of your dreams come true by using the odds and ends of time. You can download the introduction to “The One-Hour-A-Day Formula” here.

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tame your monkey brain

Zen Buddhists refer to the constant chatter of the mind as monkey mind.

The Buddha held that the human mind is filled with drunken monkeys flinging themselves from tree branches, jumping around, and chattering nonstop. He meant that our minds are in constant motion. Typical mind chatter sounds like the following:

  • Your mind reading off a laundry list of to-do items.
  • Your mind listing its fears, both real and imaginary.
  • Your mind recalling hurtful things that have happened in the past.
  • Your mind judging the present.
  • Your mind creating catastrophic “what-if” scenarios of the future.

As a result of this monkey mind, it’s nearly impossible to slow down and enjoy the present. In addition, all that negativity affects our mood—making us unhappy, angry, restless, and anxious; it hampers our ability to concentrate; it has a negative impact on our behavior; and it interferes with our ability to have positive interactions with others. It’s also very stressful to have a barrel of monkeys screeching in our head all day long. The good news is that there are ways to get the monkey mind to calm down.

Taming your monkey mind will do all of the following for you:

  • It will give you clarity of mind.
  • It will allow you to focus on the present and on the task at hand.
  • It will improve the quality of your sleep.
  • It will increase your sense of calm and of well-being.
  • It will make you happier.

So, let’s get to it! Below you’ll discover 10 ways to tame your monkey mind and stop mental chatter.

1. Know that Your Monkey Mind Can Be Tamed. The first step in your quest to calm your monkey mind is to know that it’s possible to do so. It’s very likely that up until this point you’ve allowed your monkey mind to run wild. But now you’re going to put an end to that. After all, your thoughts don’t rule you. You rule your thoughts.

2. Talk to Your Monkey Mind. When your monkey mind is in full swing, calm it down by having a conversation with it. Stop for a moment and listen to what your monkey mind is saying. Why is it upset? What’s all the raucous about? Then, do the following:

  • Is your monkey mind trying to remind you of something that needs to be done? Make a note of it and schedule the item so that your monkey mind doesn’t need to worry about it any longer.
  • Is your monkey mind anxious about something in the future? Reassure your monkey mind that everything is going to be fine. Conduct a worst-case scenario with your monkey mind, and come up with a contingency plan.
  • Is your monkey mind voicing resentment over something that happened in the past?  Realize that you need to create an action plan for dealing with your past so that your monkey mind stops bringing it up.

Sometimes your monkey mind just needs to be heard. Once it feels that it’s been allowed to voice its grievances and concerns, it will settle down.

3. Establish a Journaling Practice. This is similar to the point above, but it’s more deliberate. By establishing a regular journaling practice, you’ll be setting aside a window of time each day specifically to address your monkey mind’s concerns. Do the following:

  • Let your monkey mind know that every morning you’re going to give it 15 to 20 minutes to run amok.
  • During this time, write down what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling, and anything that you’re worried about.
  • Do this for the amount of time that you’ve allotted to journaling, and then stop.

Once the time is up, let your monkey know that it’s had it’s say for the day, and that you will not pay attention to anything else it says until the next day’s journaling session. Then, keep your word. If your monkey mind starts screeching at any other time of the day, refuse to place your attention on whatever thoughts the monkey mind is generating.

Tell your monkey mind the following: “Your session for today is over. Wait until tomorrow’s session. I’ll listen to you then.” Soon, your monkey mind will realize that it’s completely futile to make a fuss at any time other than during your journaling sessions.

4. Meditate. Meditating is the most effective technique you can use to calm your monkey mind. By meditating you’ll be training your mind to become still, and you’ll be regaining power and control over your thoughts. If you create a daily practice of meditation you’ll become skilled at quieting your mind and at silencing the monkey mind at will.

5. Practice the A-B-C Technique. A lot of the time, monkey mind is caused by your thoughts disagreeing with what’s going on. That is, there’s a contrast between your thoughts and your surroundings. When the present moment doesn’t align with what your monkey mind wants, your monkey mind begins to spit and howl.

The A-B-C technique can help you deal with the disparity between what your monkey mind thinks should be happening, and what is actually happening. Here’s how it works:

  • A is for “activating event”. That is, something happens.
  • B is for “beliefs”. Your monkey mind starts interpreting what’s happening based on your beliefs.
  • C is for “consequences”. As a consequence of the thoughts that you’re having about what just happened, you feel certain emotions.

The key to taming the monkey mind by applying the A-B-C technique is to question the beliefs that the monkey mind is relying on in order to reach the conclusions that its communicating to you. Here are three examples of questioning your beliefs:

  • Are people really obligated to act at all times in the way in which I want them to act?
  • Is it realistic to believe that things must always go my way?
  • Is it true that I have to perform well all the time?

If you reject the beliefs that your monkey mind is relying on to justify its temper tantrum, the monkey mind will no longer have a place to hang its hat on. And it will have no choice but to quiet down. You can read more about this technique in my post, A Powerful Tool for Your Happiness Arsenal: REBT.

6. Stop Assigning Meaning. The Spanish abstract artist Pablo Picasso once said the following: “If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes.” Although that’s a rather grotesque image, pause for a moment and reflect on the quote’s meaning.

What Picasso is saying is that you should simply allow your senses to take in what’s going around you, and then stop. Skip the step in which your monkey mind jumps in and starts judging, critiquing, and assigning meaning. Once you start doing this on a regular basis, you’ll notice that you begin to see things more clearly. In addition, you’ll be able to see much more than you did before.

7. Recite a Mantra. Interrupt your monkey mind mid-sentence and distract it by reciting a mantra. When you recite a mantra you draw in your scattered attention and focus it on a word, phrase, or sound. A mantra that I like to use is “Peace” (but you can use whatever mantra you want).

Although you can recite your mantra silently, it’s more effective if you it say out loud. That way, you’re also listening to the word, phrase, or sound, which engages your sense of hearing. The more senses you can stimulate, the easier it will be to distract your monkey mind.

In addition, by repeating a positive phrase–either to yourself or out loud–you’ll be listening to something positive, instead of listening to the negativity being spewed by your monkey mind.

8. Play a Game of Fives. The moment in which you hear the first monkey howling in your mind, you’ll know that it’s very likely that your mind has wandered off and that it’s no longer in the present moment. You can get the tribe of monkeys in your mind to quiet down by bringing your mind back to the present.

One way to bring your mind back to the present is by playing the Game of Fives. Pause your train of thought and notice five things in your environment. It can be five things you see, hear, or smell. Then, fully experience the sight, sound, or smell. You can do this by pretending that it’s the first time you’ve ever experienced that sight, sound, or smell, and by adopting a sense of awe.

The moment in which you do this all of your attention will be placed on the present moment, and your monkey mind will be silenced.

9. Engage Your Mind. I’m sure that you’ve experienced moments when your mind was completely still. Perhaps you were so involved in a book, or in a movie, or in your writing, that the monkey mind went silent. You just experienced directly what was going on, without your mind chatter giving you a running commentary of events, as they occurred.

This is because one way to silence your monkey mind is by engaging your mind. The next time your monkey mind is driving you nuts, look for an activity that draws you in completely, so that all of your attention is placed on what you’re doing, and there’s no attention left over to listen to the monkey mind.

10. Try Piko-Piko Breathing. Piko-Piko breathing is one of the basic practices of the ancient Hawaiian Huna philosophy. “Piko” means “navel” or “center”. The technique involves doing the following:

  • Breathe in deeply. As you inhale, place your attention on the crown of your head.
  • As you exhale, center your attention on your navel.
  • Keep breathing in and out as you switch your attention from the crown of your head to your navel.
  • Do this a few times.

The act of breathing deeply, centering the attention on one spot, and then automatically moving the attention to another spot will help you to calm your restless mind.

Conclusion

As was stated in this post’s introduction, taming your monkey mind has many benefits. Although calming your mind will take some practice, it can be done. The 10 strategies and techniques explained above are a great place to start. Live your best life by taming your monkey mind.

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How to Be Well Read

how to be well read

Everyone who is serious about self-improvement wishes to be well read.

A while ago I pondered the question of what it means to be well educated. Now I’ve asked myself the following: “What does it mean to be well read?”

According to Google, 129,864,880 books have been published in modern history. Needless to say, that’s a lot of books. Upon the myriad titles available, which ones should you read? Should you go out and get yourself a copy of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, Don Quixote, The Odyssey, The Decameron, War and Peace, Papá Goriot, and a collection of Emily Dickenson’s poems?

  • What else should be on your reading list?
  • Should you have a lifelong reading list at all, or should you simply read at whim?
  • Should you stick to the classics or should you add both fiction and nonfiction across a variety of topics and genres?
  • Do you need to include a multicultural array of authors?
  • Do the books on your list have to be challenging and difficult to read? Can you include popular fiction?

In addition, how should you read the books that you select so that you can get the most out of them, reflect on what you’ve read, and have better retention? I’ve attempted to answer all of these questions in this post, and hope to have succeeded.

Below you’ll discover how to be well read.

What to Read to Be Well Read

The first question people usually ask themselves once they’ve decided that they wish to become well read is the following: What should I read?

Fortunately, this is a question that several bibliophiles have attempted to answer, so you can look through their recommendations in order to reach your own conclusions. Here are ten suggestions on how to develop a list of books to read:

1. Thomas Jefferson’s Recommended Reading. Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States, and was incredibly well read. When the British burned down the Library of Congress during the War of 1812, Jefferson—who had the largest personal collection of books in the US—offered his library to Congress as a replacement.

Throughout his life, several people wrote to Jefferson asking him to recommend a list of books that they should read. Jefferson would respond to those letters. In those letters, Jefferson provided a lengthy list of books that he found to be uplifting. Here’s a list of Jefferson’s recommend reading.

2. 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. This literary reference book was compiled by over 100 literary critics and was edited by Peter Boxall. It includes both novels and short stories and each title is accompanied by a synopsis and an explanation of why it was chosen.

You can get 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die on Amazon, or you can take a look at the list of the 1001 books here.

3. The Harvard Classics. I’ve written about the Harvard Classics on this blog before. Charles W. Eliot—the president of Harvard University from 1869 to 1909 —once said that anyone could get a Harvard quality liberal arts education by reading for 15 minutes, every day, for a year.

Eliot identified exactly what one must read to accomplish his claim in a collection titled the Harvard Classics. The collection contains works from literature, religion, philosophy, science, education, and history.

You can get “The Harvard Classics in a Year: A Liberal Education in 365 Days”, for your Kindle, for just $2.50.

4. Great Books of the Western World. This is another collection of books which is designed to give the reader a liberal arts education, along the lines of the Harvard Classics. It was the brainchild of Robert Maynard Hutchins –president of the University of Chicago—and Mortimer Adler, a philosopher and educator. It contains what is widely known as the Western canon.

The Great Books were marketed door-to-door through the 1960s with the message that anyone could become well-read. You can get the Great Books of the Western World on Amazon, or you can get them here as free eBooks.

5. Great Books. David Denby—an American journalist best known for working as the film critic for The New Yorker Magazine for 16 years—got a B.A. from Columbia University in 1965. Then, in 1991–at the age of 48—Denby returned to Columbia and re-enrolled in two core courses in Western civilization:

  • Literature Humanities
  • Contemporary Civilization

Denby retook these courses in order to reacquaint himself with the major Western literary, historical, political, and philosophical works. That is, Denby exposed himself once again to “the great books”, beginning with the Greeks and the Bible and ending with the most influential political thinkers of the 20th century. In his Great Books, Denby takes the reader through his personal odyssey of these works.

6. The New Lifetime Reading Plan. The New Lifetime Reading Plan: The Classical Guide to World Literature by Clifton Fadiman and John S. Major was first published in 1960. However, it’s been revised and modernized. This reading plan provides an introduction to great literature from around the globe, including writers and works from Confucius to Charlotte Bronte, and from Gabriel García Márquez to the Koran.

The authors give you a synopsis of each of the books that they recommend, as well as recommendations on how to read and think about them. You can take a look at the list of books included in the lifetime reading plan here.

7. How to Be Well Read. In How to Be Well Read: A Guide to 500 Great Novels and a Handful of Literary Curiosities, John Sutherland—a British academic who has taught English literature for over 50 years—argues that if you want to be well read, just reading the classics won’t cut it.

In fact, his list includes everything from imposing Victorian novels to more eclectic picks, such as Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger, E.L. James’ erotic romance Fifty Shades of Grey, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books.

8. Classics For Pleasure. In Classics for Pleasure, Pulitzer Prize winner and book critic for The Washington Post Michael Dirda recommends ninety of the world’s most entertaining books and offers a brief essay on each one. Although the word “classics” is in the title of the book, Dirda wanted to go beyond the “obvious classics”.

In his “Classics for Pleasure”, Dirda includes Icelandic sagas, the Tao Te Ching, Dracula, and other books he has enjoyed across several genres which he felt have helped to shape literature, even if they’re not considered “classics” in the traditional sense of the word. Dirda indicates that instead of thinking of a book as being either high literature or popular literature, the only question that really matters is whether the book is well written or not.

Here’s a YouTube video of a talk that Dirda gave at the Library of Congress in which he reveals why he wrote “Classics for Pleasure”, as well as the titles that he recommends in said book.

9. Stephen King’s Recommended Reading. Stephen King—the beloved author of horror, fantasy, and the supernatural whose books have sold over 350 million copies–explains in his book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”, that if you want to be a writer, you have to read. In addition, he goes on to recommend 96 titles that all aspiring writers should read.

You can take a look at King’s list of “96 Books For Aspiring Writers to Read” here.

10. The Little Guide to Your Well Read Life. In The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life, Steve Leveen advises the following: “Do not set out to live a well-read life but rather your well-read life.” That is, instead of blindly adhering to someone else’s reading list, seek out those books that seem to have been written for you. He recommends that you choose books that thrill you, move you, and transport you.

Leveen writes that in mid-life he concluded that he wasn’t well read. He then decided to change that by making reading a priority. In his guide he shares that the result of reading more books was the following: “my life has become electrified and zestful –like living in color rather than black and white”.

In his guide Leveen recommends that you create a list of books that you want to read by doing the following:

  • List the books that you already know that you want to read.
  • Divide your list into categories and genres that make sense to you.
  • If there are a few business books that you want to include or books on how to advance in your career, include them.
  • Ask friends and people whom you admire to recommend books to you and–if you’re intrigued by their suggestions–add them to your list.
  • If there’s an author you’ve enjoyed reading in the past, look for more books by that author and include those books on your list as well.
  • Is there a subject that you enjoyed in school that you want to know more about? Look for books on that subject and write down their titles.
  • What else interests you? What are the best books in those areas? Those books should also go on your list.

Ten General Principles on Becoming Well Read

As stated in the introduction, in order to be well read it’s not enough that you read a lot. In addition to reading lots of good books, you have to read well. Here are ten general principles on how to read so that you can become well read:

1. Read Deliberately. As was stated in the section above, instead of simply picking up books at whim, create a lifetime plan for reading. Choose your reading carefully and deliberately. After all, as Henry Thoreau once said, “Read the good books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”

2. Read For Pleasure. You will never make time to read if you don’t choose books that you think you’ll enjoy reading. That is, read for pleasure and not out of obligation. Life is too short to force yourself to read books that you don’t want to read.

3. Block Out Time In Your Calendar. In order to read more, you have to block out reading time in your calendar. When are you going to read? First thing in the morning? Last thing before going to bed? Give your reading a time slot in your schedule.

4. Shut Off All Distractions. Treat your reading time as sacred. Find a quiet spot, close the door, turn off your phone, and do whatever else you need to do in order to focus completely on your reading.

5. Be Patient. At first, your internet brain won’t want to stay still during the time that you’ve allotted for reading books. Instead, it will crave the constant stimulation that it gets from the internet. However, if you stick to it, you’ll discover that after a while you’ll regain the ability to become completely engrossed in what you’re reading.

6. Alternate Between Different Levels of Difficulty. While it’s true that shouldn’t try to force yourself to read books that fill you with dread, you should add books to your reading list that are currently above your level of comprehension. After all, that’s how you grow as a person and expand your mind.

A great way to get yourself to read difficult books is to alternate between different levels of reading difficulty. Do the following:

  • Take a look at your reading list and choose a book that’s easy to read to tackle first.
  • Once you’re done reading the first book you’ve selected, look for something that’s more challenging.
  • When you’re done with the challenging book, choose another easy book.
  • Continue alternating the books that you read depending on their level of difficulty.

7. Think About What You Read. As Denis Parsons Burkitt once said, “It is better to read a little and ponder a lot than to read a lot and ponder a little.” At the end of each paragraph, each page, or each chapter of the book that you’re reading, stop for a moment and think about what you’ve just read.

Think back to when you were in school and your teacher would ask you to read a passage out loud and then explain to the class what the passage was about. Do that for yourself now.

8. Write In the Margins. Make the book your own by scribbling your thoughts on the margins and highlighting passages that you consider to be particularly important. In addition, hold a conversation with the author as you read and write down where you agree with the author and where you disagree.

As Mortimer Adler once said, “ . . . writing in a book indicates intellectual ownership”.

9. Learn How to Read Well. Of course, you already know how to read. However, there’s a difference between reading at an elementary level—which is the level at which most people read–and reading well. That is, reading at a level in which you digest and absorb what you’re reading and are able to incorporate it into your knowledge base.

In order to read well there are a few additional steps that you need to add to your current reading process. The two best resources that I’ve found for learning how to read well are the following:

10. Start a Reading Journal. One of the best ways to retain what you read is to write a summary of it in your own words. Here’s a format you can use:

  • Write the title of the work and the author at the top.
  • Rate the work from 1 to 10, depending on how much you enjoyed reading it.
  • Copy quotes and passages from the book that you highlighted.
  • Write a 400 word summary of the book.
  • Write a few sentences on how the book changed you, or how it has helped you to gain a better understanding of the human experience.

You can simply use a Moleskine or any other notebook, or you can get yourself a book journal such as Reading Journal: For Book Lovers by Potter Style.

Conclusion           

Take control of your reading by creating a lifelong reading plan. Then, find a comfortable chair, make sure that you have good lighting, and get to it. Live your best life by being well read.

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self-kindness

Want to be happier? Start by being kinder to yourself.

Elizabeth Gilbert writes in her bestselling book, “Eat, Pray, Love”, that one day she walked into a building in New York City in a hurry. She was dashing toward the elevator, when she caught a glimpse of herself in a mirror. However, she didn’t immediately recognize herself. Instead, she thought: “Oh, look! I know her. She’s my friend.”

Gilbert moved toward her own reflection with a smile, ready to hug this person, when she realized that she was looking at herself. Later, she remembered this incident one day when she was in Rome. She felt sad and alone, but thinking of that day in New York brought her some comfort. She was journaling and she wrote the following at the bottom of the page:

“Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.”

In order to recognize yourself as a friend, you have to be kind to yourself. If you’re not sure how to do this, you’re in the right place. Below you’ll discover 17 ways to be kind to yourself.

1. Carve Out Some Time For Yourself. Every day carve out some time for yourself and do something that brings you joy. You can draw, journal, write short stories, play a musical instrument, or do anything else that you love to do. Be kind to yourself by giving yourself some “me time” each day.

2. Give Yourself Recognition. Often, we’re quick to acknowledge the achievements of others, but slow to acknowledge our own. That has to stop. Become aware of your own achievements and give yourself recognition.

When you do something you’re proud of, stop for a minute and dwell on it. Praise yourself and relish the achievement. Complement yourself. Pat yourself on the back and say the following: “Kudos to me!”

3. Cultivate Your Inner Advocate. We’re all familiar with the inner critic. It’s that little voice in our heads that’s quick to judge and is always ready with a put down. Well, it’s time for your inner critic to meet your inner advocate.

And who exactly is this inner advocate? It’s another voice in your head: the one that defends you. When your inner critic comes at you with ridicule and scorn, your inner advocate jumps in and presents arguments on your behalf. While your inner critic is against you, your inner advocate is for you.

Be kind to yourself by cultivating your inner advocate (mine wears Armani suits and carries a black leather Gucci brief case).

4. Forgive Yourself. We all mess up. Look at the following:

  • Maybe you did something in the past that you’re not proud of.
  • Perhaps you failed to stand up for yourself and you let someone else get the better of you.
  • You may have missed a great opportunity because you got scared.
  • Maybe you failed to follow through on an important goal.

If you’re angry at yourself, you need to show yourself kindness: stop blaming yourself, resolve to do better from now on, and forgive yourself.

5. Take Good Care of Yourself. One of the best ways to show yourself kindness is to take good care of yourself. Get enough sleep, eat fruits and vegetables, and get some form of exercise on a regular basis. In addition, choose a way to release stress, be well groomed, and look after your appearance.

6. Respect Yourself. Self-respect is valuing yourself for who you are, and not allowing others to dictate your value. It’s trusting yourself, thinking for yourself, forming your own opinions, and making your own decisions. In addition, it’s refusing to compare yourself to others.

Finally, self-respect is about keeping your promises to yourself and following through on what you tell yourself that you’re going to do. Be kind to yourself by deeply respecting yourself.

7. Treat Yourself. I’m not advocating shopping therapy, or consumerism. However, if you see something that you really want, treat yourself. If it’s expensive, save up for it. You don’t have to wait for someone else to give it to you as a gift. Give it to yourself. (You get bonus points if you get the shop to wrap it in colorful gift wrap.)

8. Soothe Yourself. Did you have a tough day? Did you get into an argument with a co-worker or a friend? Did you bomb your presentation? Was it one of those days in which everything that could wrong, did go wrong? Be kind to yourself by soothing yourself. Do the following:

  • Soak in a hot tub. Add scented bath oil.
  • Give yourself a scalp massage. Rub your feet.
  • Make yourself some hot cocoa with little marshmallows in it and sit back with a mystery novel.
  • Lock your bedroom door, turn on some music, and dance around in your underwear.

After all, nobody knows how to soothe you better than you.

9. Remind Yourself of Your Good Qualities. Maybe you’re a little heavier than “the ideal body type”, but you have long, lustrous hair. Maybe you’re not great at sports, but you’re an ace at math. Maybe you have a tendency to be melodramatic, but you have a great sense of humor.
Always remind yourself of your good qualities.

10. Lift Yourself Up. When you fail, make a mistake, or do something wrong, you have two choices. You can tear yourself down, or you can lift yourself up. People who are kind to themselves choose the latter.

Tell yourself it’s going to be OK. Give yourself a morale boost by reminding yourself of your past successes. Then, come up with a plan for dealing with what happened, and take action.

11. Tell Yourself, “I Am Enough”. We’ve all had times in our lives when we’ve thought, “I’m not good looking enough, or smart enough, or strong enough to get what I want.” Stop it with the “I’m not enough” self-talk and replace it with the following;

  • “I’m enough, just as I am.”
  • “I’m worthy.”
  • “I deserve to be happy.”
  • “I deserve to have everything I want.”

In addition, tell yourself that nothing has to happen to make you worthy. You are already enough.

12. Honor Your Dreams. People who respect themselves–people who are kind to themselves–honor their dreams. That is, they don’t downplay their dreams by labeling them as silly fantasies. Instead, they take their dreams seriously by turning those dreams into goals, and creating a plan for achieving those goals.

13. Find the Sweet Spot Between Acceptance and Striving. Part of being kind to yourself is acknowledging your potential. As was stated in the previous point, you should know what you want and go after it. However, never being satisfied with where you are, or with what you have achieved so far in life, is being unkind to yourself.

Be kind to yourself by finding the sweet spot between being happy with who you are, while taking action to become even better.

14. Stop Trying to Be Perfect. People who set a standard of perfection for themselves are setting themselves up for failure. After all, perfection is unachievable. Can you think of anything more unkind than making success impossible for yourself?

Instead of setting a standard of “perfection” for yourself, aim to improve, one step at a time.

15. Show Yourself Compassion. In the book, How to Be Your Own Best Friend by Mildred Newman and Bernard Berkowitz, the authors recommend that you befriend yourself by showing yourself compassion. The best way to feel compassion for yourself is to imagine that someone you love is feeling hurt. Look at the following:

  • What would you say to them?
  • How would you treat them?
  • How would you reassure them?
  • How would you make them feel cared for and loved?

Now, do that for yourself.

16. Believe In Yourself. Part of being kind to yourself is wanting the best for yourself. And in order to get the best, you have to believe in yourself. Have faith in your own abilities and in your own judgment. Think highly of yourself: believe in yourself.

17. Accept Yourself. Accept yourself as you are. You have strengths, and you have weaknesses. Sometimes you succeed, and sometimes you fail. Sometimes you’re right, and sometimes you’re wrong. Allow yourself to fully be who you are.

Conclusion

There’s only one person in the world you’ll always have a relationship with, and that’s yourself. Therefore, you better start making sure that you’re a good companion to yourself. Live your best life by being kind to yourself. You can get started with the 17 tips explained above.

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Mario Vargas Llosa

Mario Vargas Llosa is one of Latin America’s most celebrated writers.

Born in Peru in 1936, Llosa has been on the literary scene for decades. Here’s a short list of his accomplishments:

  • He’s written over 30 novels, plays, and essays– his work explores politics, culture, and everyday life in Latin America. “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter,” “The Time of the Hero” and “Conversation in the Cathedral” are just a few of his works.
  • He was a candidate in the 1990 elections for the presidency of Peru.
  • He publishes regular political columns in major American and European newspapers.
  • He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010.

The writing tips below were curated from Llosa’s book on writing, “Letters to a Young Novelist”, which is written à la Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet”. It consists of twelve chapters, each written as a letter to a fictitious aspiring writer. In addition, I relied on a 1990 interview of Llosa by the “The Paris Review”, as well as other speeches and interviews he’s given over the years.

Here are 18 invaluable pieces of writing advice from Mario Vargas Llosa:

The Literary Vocation

A common question asked by aspiring writers is the following: “Should I become a writer?” Llosa has the following to say about the literary vocation:

  • “The defining characteristic of the literary vocation may be that those who possess it experience the exercise of their craft as its own best reward, much superior to anything they might gain from the fruits of their labors. That is one thing I am sure of amid my many uncertainties regarding the literary vocation: deep inside, a writer feels that writing is the best thing that ever happened to him, or could ever happen to him . . .” (Letters To A Young Novelist)
  • “[The literary vocation is] . . . a predisposition of murky origin that causes certain men and women to dedicate their lives to an activity that one day they feel called, almost obliged, to pursue, because they sense that only in pursuing this vocation – writing stories, for example – will they feel complete, at peace with themselves, able to give the best of themselves without the nagging fear that they are wasting their lives.” (Letters To a Young Novelist)

What Should I Write About?

Aspiring writers often ask where writers find ideas for their stories and novels. Llosa’s answer is this:

  • “My impression is that life—a big word, I know—inflicts themes on a writer through certain experiences that impress themselves on his consciousness or subconscious and later compel him to shake himself free by turning them into stories.” (Letters to a Young Novelist)
  • “…So does it make sense to speak of authenticity in fiction, a genre in which it is most authentic to be a trickster, a swindler? It does, but in this way: the authentic novelist is the novelist who docilely obeys the rules life dictates, writing on those themes born out of experience and possessed of urgency and avoiding all others. That is what authenticity or sincerity is for the novelist: the acceptance of his own demons and the decision to serve them as well as possible.” (Letters to a Young Novelist)
  • “As far as I’m concerned, I believe the subject chooses the writer . . . I never get the feeling that I’ve decided rationally, cold-bloodedly to write a story. On the contrary, certain events or people, sometimes dreams or readings, impose themselves suddenly and demand attention.” (The Paris Review)

On Style

Llosa also indicates in “Letters to a Young Novelist” that writers should find their own style. He says the following:

  • “For practical advice, I’ll give you this: since you want to be a novelist and you can’t be one without coherent and essential style, set out to find a style for yourself. Read constantly, because it is impossible to acquire a rich, full sense of language without reading plenty of good literature, and try as hard as you can, not to imitate the styles of the novelists you most admire and who first taught you to love literature….Imitate them in everything else; in their dedication, in their discipline, in their habits; if you feel it is right, make their convictions yours. But try to avoid the mechanical reproduction of the patterns and rhythms of their writing, since if you don’t manage to develop a personal style that suits your subject matter, your stories will likely never achieve the power of persuasion that makes them come to life.”

Using Humor As A Literary Tool

Llosa has the following to say about using humor as a literary tool:

  • “I used to be ‘allergic’ to humor because I thought, very naively, that serious literature never smiled; that humor could be very dangerous if I wanted to broach serious social, political, or cultural problems in my novels. I thought it would make my stories seem superficial and give my reader the impression that they were nothing more than light entertainment. That’s why I had renounced humor, probably under the influence of Sartre who was always very hostile to humor, at least in his writing. But one day, I discovered that in order to effect a certain experience of life in literature, humor could be a very precious tool. That happened with Pantaleon and the Special Service. From then on, I was very conscious of humor as a great treasure, a basic element of life and therefore of literature.” (The Paris Review)

About His Work Habits

Here’s what Llosa has to say about his work habits:

  •  “First of all, it’s a daydream, a kind of rumination about a person, a situation, something that occurs only in the mind. Then I start to take notes, summaries of narrative sequences: somebody enters the scene here, leaves there, does this or that. When I start working on the novel itself, I draw up a general outline of the plot—which I never hold to, changing it completely as I go along, but which allows me to get started. Then I start putting it together, without the slightest preoccupation with style, writing and rewriting the same scenes, making up completely contradictory situations . . .” (The Paris Review)
  • “The first draft is always very difficult — a kind of fight against demoralization. I feel I’ll never get over the difficulties. What I like most is rewriting. To correct, to suppress, to add, to rebuild the story — this process is the most exciting for me.” (Source)
  • “I think what I love is not the writing itself, but the rewriting, the editing, the correcting . . . I think it’s the most creative part of writing. ” (The Paris Review)
  • “First, I write by hand. I always work in the morning, and in the early hours of the day, I always write by hand.” (The Paris Review)
  • “I have a very rigorous work schedule. Every morning until two in the afternoon, I stay in my office.” (The Paris Review)
  • “Monday through Saturday, I work on the novel in progress, and I devote Sunday mornings to journalistic work—articles and essays.” (The Paris Review)
  • “If I started to wait for moments of inspiration, I would never finish a book. Inspiration for me comes from a regular effort.” (The Paris Review)
  • “At the end of a day of intense work, when I find myself in a state of great inner turmoil, a movie does me a great deal of good.” (The Paris Review)

More Writing Tips From Mario Vargas Llosa

Here are three more writing tips from Llosa:

  • “ . . . stories must seduce the reader not by their ideas but by their color, by the emotions they inspire, by their element of surprise, and by all the suspense and mystery they’re capable of generating.” (The Paris Review)
  • “A good novel is a conjunction of many factors, the main of which is without a doubt, hard work.” (Source)
  • “Faulkner was the first novelist I read with pen and paper in hand, because his technique stunned me. He was the first novelist whose work I consciously tried to reconstruct by attempting to trace, for example, the organization of time, the intersection of time and place, the breaks in the narrative, and that ability he has of telling a story from different points of view in order to create a certain ambiguity, to give it added depth.” (The Paris Review)

Conclusion

In the very last line of “Letters to A Young Novelist”, Llosa says the following:

“My dear friend: what I am trying to say is that you should forget everything you’ve read in my letters about the structure of the novel, and just sit down and write.”

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how to have a great attitude

Your attitude determines how you live your life.

Even if –at any given time–your choices of action are limited, your choices regarding your attitude are not. Always choose a positive attitude.

A positive attitude makes you happier and more resilient, it improves your relationships, and it even increases your chances of success in any endeavor. In addition, having a positive attitude makes you more creative and it can help you to make better decisions. To top it all off, there are studies that show that people with a positive attitude live longer than their sourpuss counterparts. Below you’ll discover 21 ways to create and maintain a positive attitude.

1. Have a Morning Routine. How you start your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. Make sure that you have an attitude-boosting morning routine that puts you in a good mood so that you can start the day off right.

2. Carry An Attitude of Happiness With You. Instead of waiting for external things to make you happy, be happy and then watch how that influences the things that go on around you. That is, instead of telling yourself that first something good has to happen, and then you’ll be happy, be happy first. Happiness is an attitude, not a situation.

3. Relish Small Pleasures. Big pleasures—graduation, getting married, being promoted, having your book published—come too infrequently. Life is made up of tiny victories and simple pleasures. With the right mental attitude, watching the sunset, eating an ice cream cone, and walking barefoot on the grass are all you need to be filled with joy.

4. Smile. Smiling will give you an instantaneous attitude boost. Try smiling for a minute while you think of a happy memory or the last thing that made you smile. Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin, also known as the feel good hormones. It’s a lot easier to adopt a positive attitude when the chemicals being released by your body are conducive to well-being.

5. Upload Positivity to Your Brain. Read books with a positive message, listen to music with uplifting lyrics, and watch movies in which the protagonist’s optimism helped him to overcome obstacles and win despite the odds. Change your attitude for the better by uploading as much positivity into your brain as you possibly can.

6. Take Responsibility. At any moment your attitude can be that of a victim or of a creator. The first step you need to take to shift from victim-mode to creator-mode is to take responsibility. Here’s the attitude of a creator:

  • I create my life.
  • I am responsible for me.
  • I’m in charge of my destiny.

7. Have a Zen Attitude. Think of life not as something that’s happening to you, but as something that’s happening for you. Look at any challenging situation, person, or event as a teacher that’s been brought into your life to teach you something.

The next time you find yourself thinking, “Why is this happening to me?” choose to have a Zen attitude, instead. Ask yourself, “What am I supposed to learn or gain from this”? or “How will this help me grow and become a better, more enlightened being?”

8. Be Proactive. A reactive person allows others and external events to determine how they will feel. A proactive person decides how they will feel regardless of what may be going on around them. Be proactive by choosing your attitude and maintaining it throughout the day, regardless of what the day may bring.

9. Change Your Thoughts. Positive thoughts lead to a positive attitude, while negative thoughts lead to a negative attitude. Changing your attitude is as easy as hitting the “pause” button on what you’re thinking and choosing to think different thoughts.

10. Have a Purpose. Having a purpose in life gives you a fixed point in the horizon to focus on, so that you can remain steady amid life’s vicissitudes and challenges. Bringing meaning and purpose into your life—knowing why you are here—will do wonders for your attitude.

11. Focus On the Good. In order to have a positive attitude, focus on the good. Focus on the good in yourself, the good in your life, and the good in others.

12. Stop Expecting Life to Be Easy. The truth is, life gets tough at times. For all of us. It can even be painful. But you’re brave and resourceful, and you can take it. Know that sometimes things won’t be easy, and adopt the attitude that you have what it takes to deal with anything that life throws at you.

13. Keep Up Your Enthusiasm. Enthusiastic people have a great attitude toward life. Have a list of ways to lift your enthusiasm ready for those times when you feel your zest for life draining away. Being enthusiastic will help you maintain the attitude that life is good and that you’re lucky to be alive.

14. Give Up On Having An Attitude of Entitlement. Think of the parable “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson. Two little mice and two miniature people are put in a maze. Here’s what happens:

  • When the mice discover that the cheese isn’t where it’s supposed to be, they immediately get to work on finding another piece of cheese.
  • The two miniature people, instead, get angry that the cheese has been moved. They waste time expressing outrage and blaming each other.

Stop demanding that things be handed to you. Your attitude at all times should be the following:

  • It’s up to me to get what I want.
  • Good things come to those who work hard.
  • I adapt to change easily and quickly.
  • I keep going even when things get tough.

15. Visualize. When things aren’t going your way, keep a positive attitude by visualizing yourself succeeding and achieving your goals. When Nelson Mandela was incarcerated—in a tiny cell that was just 6 feet wide–he kept his hopes up by visualizing himself being set free.

Mandela once said, “I thought of the day when I would walk free. Over and over again, I fantasized about what I would like to do.” By visualizing his release he was able to maintain a positive attitude, even when he found himself under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

16. Limit Your Complaints. Whining about anything and everything is not conducive to a positive attitude. When you complain you’re saying negative things about a person, place, or event, without offering a solution to fix the situation. Instead of complaining, do the following:

  • Remove yourself from the situation.
  • Shift your perspective about the situation.
  • Offer a possible solution.
  • Accept that there’s nothing you can do to change the situation and that complaining about it just fosters negativity.

Constantly complaining leads to a bad attitude. So stop complaining. Instead, start looking for solutions or accept what cannot be changed.

17. Watch Your Words. Use positive words when you talk to yourself. Studies have found that positive self-talk can boost your willpower and help you psych yourself up when you need to get through a difficult task. In addition, it can calm you down when you’re worried or anxious.

If you want to change your attitude from “I can’t do this” or “I’m going to fail”, to “I’ve got this” or “I’m going to do great”, change your self -talk.

18. Use The Power of Humor. People who know how to laugh at themselves and at life’s absurdities have a great attitude. Your sense of humor is a power tool, and you can use it to lift your mood and enhance your emotional state at any time.

When something goes wrong, ask yourself, “What’s funny about this?” A humorous perspective will have a positive effect on your attitude.

19. Use Gratitude to Improve Your Attitude. When you find yourself focusing on what’s wrong in your life, what you don’t have, or what you’re missing out on, adjust your attitude by feeling gratitude.

Studies show that having an attitude of gratitude is beneficial for every aspect of your life: being grateful improves your health, your mood, your relationships, your career satisfaction, and on, and on. If you need an attitude lift simply think of all the things that you have to be grateful for.

20. Develop an Attitude of Curiosity. The best way to approach any situation is to be open to what you can learn from it. That is, be curious.

Curiosity gives you a present-moment orientation which is similar to mindfulness. Being curious about a situation allows you to experience it more fully. In addition, curiosity will help you to approach uncertainty in your daily life with a positive attitude.

21. Seek Out Others With a Positive Attitude. A positive attitude is contagious. When you feel that you need an attitude boost, find someone with a great attitude and look for an excuse to hang out with them. Their attitude can’t help but rub itself off on you and you’ll be able to face the world with renewed optimism.

Conclusion

John Mitchell once said the following: “Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude toward us.” The 21 tips above will help you to keep a positive attitude at all times. Live your best life by having a great attitude.

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follow through

In order to achieve your goals you have to master the art of follow through.

We’re nearing the end of the first quarter of the year. If you’re like most people, you started the year with a long list of goals and projects that you wanted to get done in 2015. Your list probably looks something like the following:

  • Lose 20 pounds.
  • Start meditating.
  • Start a blog.
  • Write an eBook.
  • Learn to play an easy song on the guitar.
  • Achieve Level B1 in French.

Are you following through with the goals on your list? Can you say that you’re one-fourth of the way done with any of your projects? If the answer is “no” you may have a problem with follow through. No worries. There are still nine months left before the year is over. You can still salvage your goals, if you start following through.

Below you’ll find eight ways to follow through on your goals, projects, and objectives, so that you can create a habit of completion and finish what you set out to do.

1. Take Care of the Little Balls. Marie Forloe–owner of the blog by the same name–recommends that you create a habit of follow through by taking care of the little balls. For example, if you’re answering an e-mail, don’t quit mid-through and go do something else. Instead, work on the email until it’s done, and then press “Send”.

As a second illustration, if you’re paying your bills, don’t get up until you’ve gone through the whole stack. Forloe indicates that by taking care of the little balls, the big balls will take care of themselves.

2. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable. Some people are under the mistaken assumption that when they’re working on a project they love, they’re going to enjoy every step of the way. Then, when they realize that there’s a lot of hard work involved, that they have to stretch their boundaries, and that some steps of the creative process are just plain boring, they quit.

People who follow through understand that, as they work on important projects, not everything will be pleasurable. However, they push through the short-term discomfort in order to achieve long-term gains.

3. Less Is More. The other day I saw an interesting graph go by on my Twitter stream. On one side of the graph there were five bars, each one partially colored in. At the bottom it said: bad day. Why? Because by spending the day working on five different things, you were busy all day but you didn’t get anything done.

On the other side of the graph there was a single bar, but the bar was completely colored in. At the bottom it said: good day. Why? Because by spending the whole day working on one thing, you’re able to get it done, and that gives you the sense of satisfaction of having seen a task through to completion. The graph looked something like the following:

Bad Day Good Day

The concept of the graph also applies to your year. A year spent working on ten different projects, without completing any of them, is a bad year. A year in which you worked on one important project and saw it through all the way to the end is a good year.

Right now, choose your most important project and give it all you’ve got until it’s done. If you still have time before the year is over, start working on your second most important project, until it’s done, and so on and so forth. By the end of the year it’s very likely that you won’t have gotten all of your projects done, but you will have finished the most important ones. And that’s what counts.

4. Count the Positive Effects. The more positive effects a project will have if you finish it, the more motivated you’ll be to achieve it, which makes it more likely that you’ll see it through to the end. Do the following:

  • Make a list of all of the positive effects that the project will have on your life if you finish it.
  • Make a list of all of the positive effects that the project will have on your family if you finish it.
  • Make a list of all of the positive effects that the project will have on your community if you finish it.
  • Make a list of all of the positive effects that the project will have on the world at large if you finish it.

If the list of benefits that you come up with is short, consider doing one of two things. Either discard the project, or look for ways to modify it so that the project becomes more valuable and has a greater number of benefits attached to its completion.

5. Get Clear On What Needs to Be Done. In my post “How to Change Your Life” I explained that–as the Heath brothers indicate in their book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard–in order to get yourself to take action on your goals you need to know what to do. After all, if you don’t know what to do, how are you going to do it? Do the following:

  • Join a class.
  • Buy the best three books on Amazon on your subject matter.
  • Find someone who has achieved the goal you’re working on and pick their brain.

Once you’ve gathered some information on how to achieve your goal, brainstorm possible action steps. Then, start taking those steps.

6. Create A Sense of Urgency. When there’s something urgent that you need to get done, you just do it. Look at the following:

  • If your boss is expecting the sales report by 5:00 p.m., you get it to him by that time, even if it means working through your lunch hour.
  • If your college professor announces that the report that’s worth half of your grade is due on the 30th of the month, you hand it in to her by that date, even if you have to pull an all-nighter.

Create a sense of urgency when it comes to your goals by setting deadlines and making those deadlines non-negotiable. A great way to make sure that you comply with your self-imposed deadlines is by rewarding yourself if you reach them, and by setting up a punishment for yourself if you don’t.

7. Use the Power of External Pressure. Some people have an inner drill sergeant that pushes them mercilessly until they achieve every goal that they set for themselves. Those are the people who are out jogging at 5:00 a.m., who study at the library until it closes, and who haven’t eaten anything with wheat in it in the past ten years. (I both admire and hate these people.)

For those who were born sans inner drill sergeant, all is not lost. You can always use the power of external pressure to compensate for your lack of inner pressure. Ask yourself the following: How can I make others hold me accountable for the achievement of my goals? Here are some ideas:

  • Get an accountability partner
  • Hire a life coach
  • Create a Mastermind Group

Accountability–or external pressure–is one of the key elements of following through on your goals and objectives.

8. Set Aside One-Hour-A-Day to Work On Your Goals. A lot of people cite a lack of time as the reason for their failure to follow through on their goals. However, there’s a way to get over this excuse. Set aside one-hour-a-day to work on your most important goal, every day.

By working on your goal for an hour each day you’ll be taking advantage of the compound effect. If you keep at it, little by little, you’ll achieve your goal, however big, hairy, and audacious it may be.

Conclusion

How many times have you said the following to yourself: “I get started, but I don’t follow through”? If this sounds like you, use the eight tips and techniques explained above to create the habit of following through on your goals, and to make sure that you finish what you start.

Live your best life by following through on your goals.

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