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cure wanderlust

What do you do when you want to travel, but can’t?

People love to travel for many reasons. Here are some of them:

  • We crave knew experiences.
  • We may have read, or heard, of a place that sounds like it would be fantastic to visit.
  • We want to discover new ways of doing things and expand our perspective.
  • We want to meet people who are different from us.
  • Sometimes we just need to escape our everyday reality.

However, for any number of reasons, travel may be something you just can’t do at the moment. But, like I’ve said before on this blog, it’s not a good idea to focus on what you can’t do. Instead, think of what you can do.

If you would like to travel at the moment but can’t, the ideas below will allow you to experience many of the joys of travel, without having to get on a plane. Below you’ll discover 9 ways to cure wanderlust when you can’t travel.

1. Read World Literature

As I write in my post on 13 Ways Reading Will Improve Your Life, reading will allow you to visit more place and know more people than you ever could in real life. You can visit a country from your living room couch by reading that country’s literature.

A couple of years ago I decided to read the best books of Russian literature. That whole year I felt myself being transported to Russia each time I sat down to read one of the books on my list.

2. Listen to Music from Other Countries

I think I’ve shared with you before that I lived in Florence for a year between college and law school. It was one of the best periods of my life, and I often find myself thinking that I need to go back. During those times, I put on the music that I used to listen to when I was there, and it really takes me back.

After all, a country’s music is a reflection of who its inhabitants are. Think of Argentina and you probably hear a tango in your head, while Edith Piaf’s songs capture the essence of the French soul.

If you’re not sure what music to listen to for the country of your choice, go on Twitter and ask for ideas.

3. Try Recipes From Around the World

I love food. And, as an added bonus, you can discover the world through food. There are many ways to try recipes from around the world without leaving the city in which you live. Here are three of them:

  • Find restaurants that serve cuisines from other countries in your city.
  • Subscribe to a food subscription service, such as Try the World.
  • Get a cookbook filled with recipes from another country and learn to make the recipes yourself. You can get started with Around the World in 450 Recipes.

4. Study a Foreign Language

As Rita Mae Brown once said, “Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.”

Before visiting a country, it’s always a good idea to at least become familiar with that country’s language, so that you can get around easily once you’re there. You can use the time during which travel isn’t a possibility for you to learn the language of the country you’d like to visit someday. Think of this as your preparation time.

Right now I’m learning French. I’m amazed at how I watch videos in French on YouTube and understand everything they’re saying. And this from someone who only knew how to say “oui” and “merci” after years of taking French in high school.

If you’d like to learn another language–or anything else for that matter–enroll in my course:

5. Watch Foreign Films

I mentioned above that I spent a year during which I read several of the best works of Russian literature. One of the books I read was “War and Peace”. Now I’m dying to see Sergei Bondarchuk’s seven-part adaptation of this classic.

In 1961, Bondarchuk commandeered a huge budget for the film. He used furniture on loan from over 40 museums across the USSR, and he marshalled thousands upon thousands of actual soldiers to shoot the war scenes. I’ve heard that watching this film is the next best thing to visiting Russia.

In addition, I’ve recently discovered Iranian films. Here are three that are on my must-watch list:

  • The Song of Sparrows. This is a 2008 movie directed by Majid Majidi. It tells the story of Karim, a man who is fired from the ostrich farm he works in and is forced to take a job in Tehran. He starts making more money than he ever has before and this causes problems in his personal life.
  • Children of Heaven. This 1998 film, also by Majid Majidi, tells the story of a brother and sister who live in a poor section of Teheran. Ali, the eleven-year-old protagonist, loses his siter’s only pair of shoes and this mishap snowballs into a calamity.
  • A Separation. This is a 2011 Iranian drama film written and directed by Asghar Farhadi. It’s a compelling drama about the dissolution of a marriage.

There are many fantastic foreign films on Netflix. You can even start making Friday nights your “Foreign Film Night”. That way, every Friday, you get to visit a new country. If you want ideas on which films to watch, get the book Around The World In 80 Movies.

6. Plan Your Next Trip

The fact that you can’t travel now doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do so in the future. Once the possibility of travel opens up again, where would you like to go?

Don’t just write down the name of the country you would like to visit. Go online and do some research. Make a list of everything you want to see and experience in that country. Include details like the following:

  • What’s the best time of year to visit?
  • What type of clothing should you pack?
  • How much time will you be setting aside for your trip?
  • Who will you travel with?
  • Where will you stay?
  • How much money do you need to set aside for this trip?

If you would like ideas on where to go, here are 10,000 bucket list ideas.

7. Reminisce About Past Trips

What countries have you already visited? Where have you already been? Take out your scrapbooks of past trips, sit down on a comfortable armchair, and take a trip down memory lane. One of the best things about travel is that you get to experience it three different times:

  • First, there’s the anticipation when you’re planning the trip.
  • Then, there’s enjoying the trip itself.
  • And, finally, you get to relive the trip once you’re back home.

You can even call a friend and swap war stories of the trips you’ve taken in the past. Have I told you about the time I took a cruise down the Nile? I was in college, and my father was living in Cairo. . .

8. Do a Virtual Museum Hop

Every trip I’ve ever taken to another country has included a visit to a museum. And I always stop by the museum shop to get a book that contains the museum’s collection. That way, I can look through it and enjoy the art whenever I want.

There are many museums that offer online virtual tours, but you can also purchase art museum books (or borrow them from the library). Travel the world virtually through its best museums.

9. Watch Travel Documentaries on Netflix

There are several great travel documentaries on Netflix which you can watch to learn more about the world. I did a little research while writing this post, and these 3 look good:

  • Street Food (2019): This documentary explores some of the world’s best street food in nine episodes. Countries featured in the film include India, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore.
  • Virunga (2014): This 2014 documentary focuses on the conservation work of park rangers within the Congo’s Virunga National Park. The park is home to mountain gorillas and is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
  • Magical Andes (2019): Learn about life along South America’s majestic mountains.

Conclusion

I know it’s difficult to have to put off travel when it’s something that you really want to do. But I hope that the ideas above will help you to cure your wanderlust until you can travel once again. Live your best life by traveling the world from home.

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goal commitment

You need unwavering commitment to achieve your goals.

A while back I wrote a post on Ten Must-Watch TED Talks for lifelong learners. One of the talks that I highlighted in that post was by Connor Grooms. Grooms is a young man who learned to speak Spanish in a month.

In his talk, Grooms explains that he had tried to learn Spanish a few times before and had failed. What finally led him to succeed in achieving his goal of learning Spanish was commitment. As Grooms explains:


“No learning methodology or strategy in the world will work for you, unless learning the skill that you’ve decided to acquire is nonnegotiable. You must be absolutely committed.”

This same principle holds true for any goal you want to achieve, whether it’s learning a new skill, running a marathon, becoming a lawyer, writing your novel, or anything else. Therefore, in order to increase your odds of achieving any important goal that you’ve set for yourself, you have to boost your commitment to reach that goal.

In this post I’m going to share with you how to increase your goal commitment so that you can achieve your most important goals.

The Four Elements of Goal Commitment

In “Commit to Win: How to Harness the Four Elements of Commitment to Achieve Your Goals”, Heidi Reeder, Ph.D., unpacks over forty years of research by psychologists and economists to show that the key to reaching any goal is commitment.

Reeder indicates that there are four variables that drive commitment. Here are the four variables:

  • Treasures: the benefits we get from working toward a goal.
  • Troubles: the difficulties we have to deal with as we strive to achieve our goal.
  • Contributions: the time, money, and effort we invest in the goal.
  • Choices: the number of good alternatives we have.

By manipulating these four variables you can dial your commitment up or down. That is, you can increase your commitment to those things that will serve you well or decrease your commitment to those things that aren’t serving you well.

In our case, we’re trying to increase our commitment to achieve an important goal. For illustrative purposes, we’re going to choose learning a new skill as the goal that you want to achieve. Let’s take a look at how you would manipulate the four variables in order to increase your goal commitment.

Treasures

Treasures are all those positive outcomes and valuable things that you’ll obtain from a commitment. When it comes to learning a new skill, it’s all the benefits and positive results that you’ll acquire if you learn the skill. It’s all the reasons “why” you’ve chosen to learn the skill.

When you’re making a list of all the “treasures” that you’ll acquire by learning the skill, keep in mind that your treasures can be innate or extrinsic rewards. Take a look at the following:

  • Treasures can be innate rewards, like learning a new skill because it will make your life more meaningful, give you a sense of accomplishment, or because you have fun learning the skill.
  • They can also include the extrinsic results of attaining your goal, like earning a higher salary, winning a prize, or gaining status.

The more treasures you have, the higher your commitment. Therefore, to increase your commitment, increase the treasures—or the benefits—that you’ll receive by learning your chosen skill.

Troubles

Any goal you want to achieve, including the goal of learning a new skill, will be accompanied by troubles. Specifically, troubles include costs and obstacles. Let’s take a look at each of these.

Costs

Costs are the resources that you’ll need to devote to achieving your goal. These resources include time, money, energy, and so on.

Some costs are simply the “cost of admission” of learning your skill. For example, you’ll have to devote time and attention to learning the skill. That can’t be avoided. In addition, there may be some tools and equipment that you’ll need to buy, as well as learning material you’ll need to invest in.

Obstacles

No journey to achieving any worthwhile goal is obstacle-free. Accept that obstacles are simply part of the process, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What obstacles will I potentially face as I strive to learn this skill?
  • What resources will I need to overcome these obstacles?

If you come across an obstacle when you’re learning your skill—for example, there may be a concept that you have a lot of difficulty understanding—you need to brainstorm ways to overcome that obstacle.

Treasures – Troubles = Level of Satisfaction

When it comes to treasures and troubles, subtracting one from the other gives you your level of satisfaction. The higher your level of satisfaction, the more likely you are to commit to your goal.

Therefore, to increase your goal commitment, look for ways to increase your treasures and reduce your troubles.

Contributions

The contributions variable takes into account the fact that the more that you invest in something—in terms of your time, your energy, your creativity, your money, and so on—the more committed you’ll be to it.

This variable tells you to ask the following question: “How much have you already devoted to this activity?” After all, when you’ve already committed a lot of resources to something, it makes it more likely that you’ll follow through with it.

Contributions At the Start

When you make a decision to learn a new skill, you’re more likely to commit to the skill once you’ve made an initial investment in it. That is, buy the tools and learning material that you’ll need to learn your skill and you’ll increase your goal commitment.

Contributions As You Move Forward

Once you’ve been working on learning your skill for a while, the fact that you’ve already invested time and energy in learning the skill will help boost your commitment to keep going. If you need a commitment boost, remind yourself of all the effort you’ve already made to learn the skill.

In addition, if you want to build your resolve to learning your skill, invest money in it on a regular basis. For example, if you want to learn to paint, you can invest initially in the tools that you’ll need to get started. Then, each month you can buy some new supplies to help keep your commitment high.

Level of Satisfaction + Contributions

We already said before that the higher your level of satisfaction (treasures – troubles) the more committed you’ll be to learn your chosen skill. Now, we’re adding contributions to the equation.

The more contributions you make to learning your skill, the more committed you’ll be to your goal of learning it.

Choices

Suppose that every day, for one hour a day, you’re locked in a room. The only items in the room are those that you’ll need to learn your chosen skill. What do you think will happen? You’ll probably get to work on learning your skill. After all, for that hour, there’s nothing else you can do.

The opposite is also true. Suppose that, once again, you’re locked in a room for one hour a day. But this time, the room contains all of the following:

  • A state-of-the-art television set.
  • The material that you’ll need to learn your chosen skill.
  • Books.
  • The materials you would need to learn several other skills.
  • Many other shiny, interesting objects.

What do you think you’d do now? Would you get to work on learning your skill? It’s not very likely that you would, because you have so many other choices.

The more choices you have–or the more choices that you perceive you have–the less likely you are to commit to your initial choice. And the less choices you have, the more likely you are to commit. Therefore, to increase your commitment, decrease your choices.

The Commitment Equation

I’ve already shared with you most of the Commitment Equation:

Level of Satisfaction + Contributions

Now, here’s the equation in its entirety:

Level of Satisfaction + Contributions – Choices

By manipulating the four variables in the ways that I shared with you above, you can increase your commitment to your goal.

Conclusion

What goal have you been trying to commit to? Boost your goal commitment by manipulating the four variables of commitment and see how it goes. And if your goal is to learn a new skill, get my course on learning new skills faster than you ever thought possible:

Live your best life by committing to your goals.

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coping during covid-19

Being able to cope during hard times, such as these, is an invaluable skill.

Life moves in cycles. Sometimes we’re up, and sometimes we’re down. The upcycles are great, but the downcycles can be difficult to deal with.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, humanity is currently going through a downcycle. This makes the question, “What’s the best response when life takes a downturn?”, extremely relevant.

Most of us were caught off guard by the coronavirus, and I know that a lot of people are scared and filled with anxiety right now. I wrote this article to share some coping mechanisms with you which I hope will help you get through the current state of affairs.

After all, your life isn’t defined by what happens to you, but by how you respond to it. Here’s a quote that illustrates this point:

“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be, it’s the way it is. The way you cope is what makes the difference.” – Virginia Satir

Below you’ll find some ideas on how to cope when things get tough. Specifically, I’m going to give you some ideas for coping during COVID-19.

Practice Acceptance: The Tug-of-War Metaphor

I’m going to be completely honest with you. When this pandemic started, and the government of Panama issued a lockdown order, I had a lot of trouble accepting what was happening. It all seemed like a bad dream. This is what I kept saying to myself:

“This can’t be happening! Everything was fine and, suddenly, we’re in a pandemic! How is that possible? This is the 21st century! Why don’t we have the ability to deal with this without forcing everyone to be imprisoned in their own homes?”

Fortunately, after a couple of weeks of this, I was able to realize that my inability to accept what was happening wasn’t helping me in any way. It was doing quite the opposite: I felt anxious and upset all day long. I decided to find a way to accept the pandemic.

After all, pandemics are nothing new. Humanity has lived through plagues, pestilences, and pandemics throughout history. In the words of the French-Algerian author and philosopher Albert Camus:

“Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky. There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.”

Outbreaks of infectious diseases are part of the human existence, and we’re going though one now. Resisting or fighting against this fact isn’t going to help us in any way. Coping during COVID-19 requires that we accept it.

Practice Acceptance

Acceptance simply means allowing what is to be. It doesn’t mean that you like it or that you approve of it. What it means is that you stop fighting against what is, which is a futile battle.

We have to accept reality for all of the following reasons:

  • Refusing to accept reality doesn’t change it.
  • There’s a lot of mental pain associated with this pandemic. Most people’s plans have been derailed, and they fear for their health and economic security, as well as that of their loved ones. But struggling against what is only increases the pain we’re going through.
  • Once we’ve accepted what is we can begin thinking of how to make things better.

A great way to practice acceptance is to use the tug-of-war metaphor.

The Tug-of-War Metaphor

I’ve already written about Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) on this blog before. Basically, it’s a form of therapy that uses metaphors as a tool to help people understand abstract concepts and be better able to apply these concepts in order to modify their behavior.

I recently came across a great ACT metaphor which has helped me to accept this pandemic. It’s the tug-of war of metaphor.

Imagine that you’re engaged in a tug-of war with a monster. In this case, the monster is the coronavirus. You can even make your monster look like COVID-19: grey and round, with red spiky tufts jutting out in every direction. Ugh!

coping during covid 19

You’re each holding on to one end of a long rope. Between you and the monster there’s a bottomless pit, and you’re pulling as hard as you can to avoid being pulled into the pit (the pit symbolizes being overwhelmed by the “monster” you’re facing).

But the harder you pull the harder the monster pulls. After a while, you start getting tired of pulling, but you know you must keep going. Soon, you’re exhausted. But the monster hasn’t even broken a sweat.

What makes matters worse is that there are lots of other things you would rather be doing instead of standing there with all of your attention placed on the monster. Part of you knows that this fruitless tug-of-war is a complete waste of time and energy, but you can’t stop pulling because you’ll fall into the pit.

What should you do?

The best thing you can do is to drop the rope. Simply stop struggling with the monster. Acknowledge that it’s there but turn your attention to the other things you would rather be doing–working on your goals, relaxing, and engaging in other tasks that are aligned with your values.

When you drop the rope, the monster won’t disappear. In fact, it will most likely throw the rope at you to try and get you to reengage with it. But you can refuse to take hold of the rope. Regardless of how many times the monster throws the rope at you, you can simply allow the rope to drop to the floor.

Don’t fight with the monster. That is, don’t argue with what is. Every time you find yourself thinking, “Why is this happening?” or “How can this be?”, tell yourself the following: “Drop the rope!” This is a great way to cultivate acceptance of the fact that the COVID monster is now a part of your life and will be for the foreseeable future.

coping during covid-19

Focus On What You Can Control

Once you’ve accepted what is, you can start taking steps to make things better. You do this by taking your focus off the things that you can’t control and placing it on those things that are within your control.

Right now, there are many things that are not within your control. Here are some of them:

  • Maybe you were working on an important project that’s been postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic.
  • Your government may be limiting your mobility (for your own safety).
  • Perhaps your vacation plans were canceled.
  • Someone you care for may have gotten sick.

It doesn’t help you in any way to be constantly fixated on those things that are not within your control. Doing so will only lead to stress, worry, and feelings of helplessness.

Instead, you need to shift your focus to what you can control. Make a list of those things you can control within your little world, even in the time of COVID. Here are some examples:

  • You can stay home as much as your situation permits.
  • You can wear a mask and practice social distancing whenever you go out to get groceries or take care of other essential tasks.
  • You can avoid touching your face, wash your hands often, and use antibacterial gel.
  • You can create a routine for yourself so that your day doesn’t feel unfocused and unstructured.
  • You can get going on projects that you can work on from home.

I’m going to share with you an exercise that will help you to focus on those things which you can control.

An Exercise for Focusing on What You Can Control

A while back I wrote on this blog about a teenager named Sam Berns (1996 – 2014).  He suffered from progeria, a rare genetic disorder that manifests as aging at a very young age. There were many things other kids his age could do that Sam couldn’t.

However, instead of focusing on all the things that he couldn’t do, Sam would focus on all of those activities that he could do and was passionate about. This included things such as the following:

  • Playing music.
  • Reading comic books.
  • Watching sports.

At the same time, he would look at the list of things that he really wished he could do but couldn’t, and he would look for ways to make adjustments so that he could do them. One example was playing the snare drums in his high school’s marching band.

The snare drums and the harness needed to carry the drums were just too heavy for Sam’s frail body. But he really wanted to march with the band. So, Sam and his parents hired an engineer to work on the problem.

The engineer came up with a snare drum apparatus—which included the drum and the drum carrier—which weighed only about six pounds. With this adjustment, Sam was able to achieve his dream of marching with the band.

The simple exercise for focusing on what you can control that can be derived from Sam’s philosophy is the following:

  • First, focus on the things you can do, instead of thinking of the things that you can’t do.
  • Second, take a look at the list of things you can’t do–and wish you could–, and choose one of them. Then, start looking for creative ways to make adjustments, find an alternative way of doing things, or modify the goal slightly so that you can do it.

Using Me As An Example

Here are three things I love to do that I can still do (even under lockdown):

  • Read great literature. This quarantine I’ve read, “The Plague”, by Camus and am going to read, “A Journal of the Plague Year”, by Daniel Defoe next.
  • Learn new skills. I’m learning to sing.
  • Listen to music.


And here are three things I can’t do, but if I make adjustments, I can get some or all of the benefits of the activity:

  • I can’t go out and jog—Panama has a very strict quarantine—but I can do cardio by jumping rope in my living room.
  • I can’t visit my sister and my nephews, but I can visit them virtually via Zoom.
  • I can’t go to the gym to lift weights, but I can follow a routine that I created for myself using a couple of dumbbells and a kettlebell that I own.

Go ahead and make your own list of things that you love to do and still can, despite COVID. Then, think of those things you’d love to be able to do, but can’t, and look for ways to do them with some adjustments.

Practice Self-Care for Coping During COVID-19

Practicing self-care is always important, but it becomes even more so during difficult times. To keep up your strength during these trying times, you have to look after your own wellbeing. That means eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep, and staying hydrated.

In addition to the coping strategies that I described above, there are many self-care strategies that will help you to deal with all of the new challenges we are now facing due to COVID. Here are some of the ones that I recommend:

  • Follow a morning routine that includes a stress-reduction technique to help set you up for the day. I do something called the Five Tibetan Rites—which is similar to a 10-minute yoga routine—and I meditate for 10 minutes every morning.
  • I’ve added “breathe” to my schedule. I’ve divided up my day into several 25-minute chunks, and after each chunk I give myself 5-minutes to be mindful and breathe deeply.
  • I do some stretches and bodyweight exercises 6 days a week, and I jump rope for 10 minutes daily. (If you haven’t tried jumping rope, try it. I’m enjoying it tremendously. Plus, it’ll make you feel like a kid again.)
  • Give yourself a little treat every day. I allow myself to have two chocolate chip cookies with breakfast every morning during quarantine. It’s a little reminder that there’s still some good in the world. 😊
  • Make sure you schedule something fun each day. I hadn’t watched the Marvel Universe movies, and I decided to do so during quarantine. Every night before bed I spend some time with Iron Man, Black Widow, Captain America, and the other Avengers. It’s a fun and relaxing way to end the day.

In addition, for those times throughout the day when I start to feel sad, anxious, or overwhelmed, I recite a mantra. Here are some I like:

  • “It is what it is.”
  • “One day at a time.”
  • “With each breath I calm my body.”
  • “I have what I need in this moment.”
coping during covid-19

Create a coronavirus self-care routine for yourself, and you’ll have an easier time coping during COVID-19.

Practice Realistic Optimism

Coping during COVID-19 requires realistic optimism. You don’t want to have a Pollyanna attitude toward the coronavirus, but you don’t want to have a defeatist attitude either.

Whenever I go on Twitter, I see at least a couple of Chicken Little tweets. There’s one Panamanian reporter in particular who has become a harbinger of doom. Every time I read one of his tweets it’s about the difficult times that are up ahead for this country, and how ill-prepared we are to face them.

I responded to one of his tweets saying that what we need right now is realistic optimism. We shouldn’t pretend that everything is fine, because it isn’t. But it’s also unhelpful to run around proclaiming that the sky is falling.

Right now, we should each calmly assess what we need to do to put ourselves in the best possible position for facing the challenges that lie ahead. Here are two things not to say to yourself:

  • Overly Optimistic: “Everything is perfectly fine. There’s nothing I need to do. I’m sure everything will work out for the best.”
  • Overly Negative: “I’m going to lose everything and end up living on the street.”

And here’s what realistic optimism looks like:

  • Realistic Optimism: “If I take a realistic look at what is happening and will likely happen in the foreseeable future, and I prepare for that reality, my family and I will be fine.”

In addition, ask yourself realistic questions like the following:

  • “What steps do I need to take to be able to face the challenges that lie ahead?”
  • “What’s the best thing I can do under these circumstances?”
  • “What changes do I need to make to my lifestyle to stay safe?”
  • “What do I need to do in order to be ready for the post-COVID job market?”
  • “What problems do I foresee will occur as a result of the virus lockdown, and what are my options for solving those problems?”

The best attitude for coping with COVID-19 is realistic optimism. Believe that in the end things will work out for the best if you take the necessary steps to make it so.

Play the Hand You’ve Been Dealt

At the very top of this post I wrote about the ACT metaphor of tug-of-war. Another ACT metaphor that’s useful during coronavirus times is the “Play the hand you’re dealt” metaphor. We’ve all been dealt a bad hand with this pandemic. And we have two choices:

  • We can fold; or
  • We can play the hand we’re holding to the very best of our abilities.

I choose the second option. How about you?

And This, Too, Shall Pass

I mentioned above that I’m reading Camus’ “The Plague”. It’s set in the town of Oran in Algeria, during a fictitious plague in the 1940s. The novel eerily mirrors what we’re going through during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the book ends on an optimistic note: the plague ends.

At present, this pandemic feels. to many, like it’s going to go on forever. But it won’t. All the pandemics that society has lived through have come to an end, sooner or later. This pandemic, too, will come to an end. It, too, shall pass.

Conclusion

I’m a big Lord of the Rings fan, and here’s a quote from the trilogy that refers to coping with difficult times:

coping with covid-19

How are you coping with COVID-19? Live your best life by learning to cope well with adversity.

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

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

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

1. Play Board Games, With a Twist

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

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

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

Dominion is available online for free.

2. Build Your Own Board Game.

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Play Geography Jeopardy!

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

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

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

A: “What is chlorophyll?”

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

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

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

4. Try a Science Experiment

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

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

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

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

5. Create a Collage of Your Bucket List.

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

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

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

6. Watch a Marathon of Classic TV Shows.

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

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

fun things to do at home

7. Paint Rocks

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

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

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

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

8. Start a Passion Project

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

Here are some ideas for passion projects:

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

9. Have a Harry Potter Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Have a Jigsaw Puzzle Contest

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

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

12. Memorize Some Gilbert and Sullivan

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

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

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

Bonus – Learn About the Universe

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

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

Conclusion

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

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ability to learn

Stop self-sabotaging your learning efforts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s debunk these beliefs one by one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Here are two of the most important:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

Stop sabotaging yourself and start learning new things.

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pick yourselfStop waiting to be picked. Pick yourself.

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

Look at the following:

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

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

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

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

“I’m in”.

How I Picked Myself

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picking Myself

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

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

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

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

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

Now, here’s how I describe myself:

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

I picked myself.

How You Can Pick Yourself

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

First. Ask yourself these three questions.

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

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

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

Ten “Pick Yourself” Illustrations

Here are ten illustrations of picking yourself:

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

There Are no Guarantees

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

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

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

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


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everything is learnable

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

Look at the following phrases:

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

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

I wish I were. . .

1. I Wish I Were More Confident.

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

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

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

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

2. I Wish I Were a Better Spouse.

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

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

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

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

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

3. I Wish I Were A Good Parent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. I Wish I Were A More Effective Leader.

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

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

5. I Wish I Were More Creative.

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

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

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

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

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

6. I Wish I Were Better at Math.

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

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

7. I Wish I Were Happy.

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

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

everything is learnable

I wish I had:

8. I Wish I Had More Friends.

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

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

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

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

9. I Wish I Had More Money.

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

10. I Wish I Had My Own Business. 

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

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

11. I Wish I Had A Good Contact Network.

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

12. I Wish I Had Better Health.

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

You can improve your health by learning the following skills:

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

13. I Wish I Had Inner Peace.

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

I wish I knew how to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17. I Wish I Knew How to Give Presentations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

18. I Wish I Knew How to Write Persuasively.

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

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

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

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

20. I Wish I Knew How to Code.

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

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

Conclusion

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

 

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improve your life by 1000

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

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

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

Here’s the process to follow:

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

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

Choose How Many Goals You’ll Work On

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

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

You get the picture.

First Example: Running

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

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

Second Example: Losing Weight

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

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

Third Example: Reading More Books

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

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

Fourth Example: Build a Meditation Practice

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

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

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

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

Fifth Example: Wake Up Earlier

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

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

Sixth Example: Learn a New Skill

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

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

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

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

Seventh Example: Save Money

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

Look at the following:

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

Eighth Example: Declutter

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

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

Ninth Example: Create a Morning Routine

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

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

Tenth Example: Increase Your Focus

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

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

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

Did You Improve Your Life by 10,000%?

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

 

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10 year plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Make Long-Term Plans

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

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

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

This is what happens when you plan long term:

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

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

Questions To Ask

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

Your Skillset In 10 Years’ Time

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

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

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

Your Finances In 10 Years’ Time

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

Your Health in 10 Years’ Time

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

Your Career In 10 Years’ Time

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

Travel and Adventure In 10 Years’ Time

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

Your Relationships in 10 Years’ Time

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

Your Personal Development In 10 Years’ Time

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

Projects In Ten Years’ Time

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

Contributions In Ten Years’ Time

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

Next Steps

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

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

Conclusion

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

 

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how to practice gratitude

Notice and reflect on the many blessings in your life.

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

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

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

I’ve illustrated these in the infographic below:

how to practice gratitude

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

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

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

1. If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?

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

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

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

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

2. Think of a Near Miss.

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

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

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

3. Use Gratitude Prompts.

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

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

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

4. Turn a Negative Into a Positive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Keep A Gratitude Journal.

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

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

how to practice gratitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

how to practice gratitude

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

Eight Hours to Get Drinking Water

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

7. Gratitude Cards

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

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

8. Show Yourself Some Gratitude.

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

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

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

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

A little gratitude time travel, if you will. 🙂

9. Gratitude Questions.

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

Here are the first five:

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

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

10. Remember a Teacher Who Believed In You.

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

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

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

Hold up your hands, please.

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

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

11. Go On a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are three you can try:

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

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

Conclusion

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

Live your best life by discovering how to practice gratitude.

 

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