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hygge

Many credit the concept of hygge for the happiness of the Danes.

The World Happiness Report is a measure of worldwide happiness published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The purpose of the report is to encourage countries to consider happiness to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy.

The first World Happiness Report was published in April 2012. Since its inception, year after year, Denmark has topped this poll. It’s been in the top ten from 2012 to the present, and it’s been ranked #1 in world happiness three out of the six years that the poll has been out (this year it’s second, after Norway).

So, what makes the Danes so happy? One of the secrets to Danish happiness is a concept known as hygge. In short, hygge means to live cozily. But it’s more than that. It means slowing down, noticing the present, and enjoying it.

Here’s a great definition of hygge:

Here are a couple of more definitions:

“The Danish art of building a sanctuary of coziness, stirring the senses, and enjoying the simple things in life.”

“The art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel open-hearted and alive; a coziness of the soul.”

Below you’ll discover 10 ways to be as happy as the Danes by adopting the concept of hygge.

1. Bring the Outside In.

onehouradayformula banner longAs you can see in the definitions of hygge which I shared with you above, an important part of hygge is turning your home into a sanctuary. You can begin to do this by incorporating natural materials in your décor—think materials that have been harvested from the earth, such as stone and wood. After all, nature is inherently calming and stress-busting.

Bring items from nature indoors and use them as decoration. This can include river rocks, fruit placed in bowls, pinecones, branches, and so on. In addition, plants are an easy way to bring the outdoors in. Choose those that do well indoors, such as spider plants, aloe, succulents, fiddle-leaf figs or cacti.

You can also pick up a bouquet of fresh flowers at the grocery store and put them in a vase next to your bed, or on the coffee table. Better yet, get several bouquets and place them all over your home.

2. Create a Reading Nook.

Bring even more hygge into your home by creating a reading nook, or corner. Few things say “comfort” like having an area in your home that invites you and your loved ones to sit back, pick up a good book, and get lost in its pages.

Be sure to include the following in your reading nook:

  • A comfortable chair you can sink into.
  • A foot stool so you can put your feet up.
  • A side table to place a drink, and maybe a snack.
  • A lamp, to make sure that you’ll have all the light you need.
  • A quilt to wrap around yourself in case it gets cold.
  • A basket filled with books and magazines.

Sometimes, happiness is a comfy chair and a good book.

3. Hygge By Savoring a Warm Drink.

A warm drink is almost synonymous with coziness. If it’s autumn, you can have some hot mulled cider or a pumpkin latte. In the winter, make yourself some hot cocoa with all the trimmings, a hot toddy, or some hot buttered rum.

A cup of green tea is good in any season. Try my new favorite – Yogi Green Tea Kombucha. And be sure to add half a teaspoon of raw honey.

You get extra hygge points if you serve the warm drink in a great mug. I love art, and my favorite art movement is Impressionism. I’ve owned many coffee mugs throughout the years that feature Impressionist paintings. Just looking at one of those mugs makes me happy.

Of course, it’s not just about having a warm drink. It’s about being fully present as you wrap your hands around the mug, inhale the fragrant steam, and drink sip by sip, fully appreciating the moment.

4. Light Candles.

One of the pillars of hygge is atmosphere, and few things create a warm and inviting atmosphere more readily than candles. Think tea lights, candles in jars, lanterns, the lot. Set individual candles here and there, and group several candles together on a table.

Once your candles are arranged, enjoy the serene glow. As an added bonus, if you get beeswax candles , you’ll also be purifying the air in your home (beeswax candles produce negative ions when burned, and those ions help to neutralize pollutants in the air).

If you’re not a candle person, at least turn off the overhead lights and use table lamps for light to give your home a warmer feel.

5. Host a Game Night.

Another of the pillars of Hygge is community and togetherness– spending time with friends and loved ones. And there’s no better way to spend some quality time with those who are important to you than to host a game night.

Set out a cheese platter and serve some wine. Then, take out all your board games, and let your guests choose what they want to play.


6. Cook Some Comfort Food.

Readers of this blog know that I love learning new things, and the latest thing that I decided to teach myself is cooking. One of the first things that I learned to cook is a dish that’s very common in Latin America: sancocho de pollo — a type of chicken stew.

There are many variations to sancocho, but the one that I make involves chopping onions, scallions, garlic, tomatoes, and cilantro. You add chicken drums, root vegetables (otoe, ñame, and yuca), corn on the cob, spices, and water. Then you let all that goodness simmer for about an hour.

At roughly the half-hour mark, the most incredible aroma begins to waft through my apartment. I would say it’s the smell of coziness. (I’m going to have to cook sancocho for my neighbors, because when I make it I can hear them standing outside my door whispering that whatever I’m cooking smells fantastic.)

And, of course, once it’s done, it’s delicious! Slow food—taking the time to cook something delicious and then sitting down to enjoy it—is very comforting, and very hygge.

7. Have a Candlelight Dinner.

Now that you have candles, and you’ve prepared some comfort food, set a nice table, and sit down to a candlelight dinner. Make sure that you get yourself some dishes and place mats that make you smile whenever you look at them (I need to do this).

8. Make a Mundane Task More Joyful.

If there’s something you don’t enjoy doing, but it has to be done, you can’t delegate it, and you can’t pay someone to do it for you, then find a way to make the task more joyful.

The steps you need to take to make a mundane task more joyful are the following:

  • Accept that the task needs to be done. Stop struggling with what is and don’t make things worse by putting it off or by complaining.
  • Tell yourself that the problem isn’t with the task itself, but with your inability to fully appreciate it.
  • Ask yourself how you can make the task more joyful. Do you need to turn it into a game by timing yourself, giving yourself points, or making up new rules? Would some music make the task more enjoyable? Can you tie it to something you like doing? Can you do it with somebody else?
  • Sometimes all you need to make a task more joyful is to perform the task mindfully. As an illustration, as you wash the dishes keep repeating to yourself: “I’m now washing the dishes.” Then, be fully present as you soap and rinse the dishes.

One way to practice hygge is to find ways to add joy to what you’re already doing.

9. Have an At-Home Hygge Movie Night.

Reading is very hygge, but so is snuggling up on the couch to watch a good movie or TV series. Here are the steps to follow to have an at-home hygge movie night:

  • Choose what you’re going to watch. Some choices include: The Gilmore Girls, Vikings (this show is violent, but excellent), and Homeland.
  • Find a great blanket or throw, preferably faux fur.
  • Fill your sofa with velvety pillows.
  • Wear something really comfortable, like a cashmere t-shirt or wool socks.

If you have someone—or a pet—to snuggle up with, that’s great. But if it’s just you, that’s great too.

10. Embrace Simple Pleasures.

Hygge is about building a little pleasure into your routine. You can do this by scattering simple pleasures into your day. Here are some ideas:

  • Take a mid-morning break to enjoy some coffee with a small pastry.
  • Use the five minutes that you have between meetings to close your eyes and listen to Chopin or Vivaldi (or whatever music you enjoy).
  • Watch the sunrise and/or sunset.
  • Sit in your reading nook with a great book.
  • Take your dog out for a walk.
  • Go for a bike ride.

Make a note of these simple pleasures in your gratitude journal so you can relive them each time you go over what you’ve written in your journal.

Conclusion

As you can see from this post, hygge is about self-care, midfulness, and community, all rolled up into one. Live your best life by bringing more coziness and comfort into your life. Hygge!

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brain fog

We’ve all had times in which our brain feels “foggy”, and it’s no fun.

“Brain fog” is a term that refers to symptoms that inhibit your ability to think clearly. These symptoms include confusion, forgetfulness, a muddled thought process, having “blank moments”, and an inability to focus and concentrate. In short, it’s when you feel like you just can’t think straight.

There are two main causes of brain fog:

  • Your lifestyle.
  • Medications that you’re taking, or having a medical condition.

This blog post addresses the first of these: brain fog that is caused by your lifestyle. Below you’ll find eight ways to clear brain fog so you can stay sharp, feel like yourself, and deal effectively with whatever the day brings. After all, having a clear, focused mind is key to having a successful life.

1. Eat Brain-Friendly Food

onehouradayformula banner longBrain fog is often a sign that there’s inflammation in your brain. In addition, one of the main culprits when it comes to inflammation is food. The good news is that, just as there are foods that inflame your brain, there are also foods that have anti-inflammatory effects.

According to the Harvard Medical School, these are some of the foods that will inflame your brain and body, and which you should try to avoid as much as possible:

  • Refined Carbohydrates — such as white bread and pastries.
  • Fried Foods – such as French fries.
  • Soda – such as soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Processed Meat –such as hot dogs, sausage, and deli meats.
  • Margarine – also shortening, and lard.

Here are some of the foods with anti-inflammatory effects, which you should try to eat plenty of:

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Green Leafy Vegetables — such as spinach, kale, and collards.
  • Nuts — like almonds and walnuts.
  • Fatty Fish — like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines.
  • Fruits — such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.

Head on over to your kitchen, go through your fridge and cupboards, and get rid of any inflammatory foods you find there. Then, go grocery shopping and load up on the stuff that’s good for your brain, and which will help you to get rid of your brain fog.

2. Clear Brain Fog with Regular Exercise

In 2012, researchers followed a group of 4289 men and women—with a mean age of 49.2 years—for more than 10 years.  They found that regardless of their weight or body mass index, those who got at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise each week lowered their markers of inflammation by at least 12 percent.

As was stated in the previous point, inflammation in the brain causes brain fog. Exercise, by reducing said inflammation, is incredibly helpful in clearing brain fog.

3. Get Enough Sleep

Dr. Lawrence Epstein, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, explains that having a sleep deficit has an adverse impact on thinking. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night can help you to eliminate fuzzy thinking and restore your mental clarity. Here’s Dr. Epstein:

“You really can make up for lost sleep and restore focus and clarity. You can lose the brain fog within a week. But start now; the longer you have bad sleep, the longer it will take to catch up.”

4. Cut Down On Stress

Evan Brand, a functional medicine practitioner, explains that the hippocampus is where short-term memories are turned into long-term memories. To illustrate the importance of the hippocampus, Brand refers to a medical case in which a man was having seizures; the doctors decided that the best course of action was to remove his hippocampus.

The good news was that the man’s seizures were cured. The bad news was that—while the man’s long-term memories remained intact–he lost the ability to create new memories.  What the doctors learned from this case was the importance of the hippocampus to a healthy brain.

What does this have to do with brain fog? If you’re constantly under a lot of stress, your body is continuously producing a hormone called cortisol. Too much cortisol can be harmful to your brain. Specifically, when you’re under chronic stress your hippocampus is basically being marinated in cortisol.

In the short-term, the result of this is mild cognitive impairment, or brain fog. Over the long-term, the cortisol can start eating away at your hippocampus. This can lead to early onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Therefore, to cure brain fog—and prevent future brain-related problems—you should cut down on stress.

There are many ways to reduce stress, including simplifying, prioritizing, and taking frequent breaks throughout the day to help you recharge. Another great way to deal effectively with stress–and keep your brain clear of fog–is to meditate. This is discussed in the next point.


5. Meditate Daily

Psychotherapist Mike Dow is the author of “The Brain Fog Fix: Reclaim Your Focus, Memory, and Joy in Just 3 Weeks”. He indicates that one of the best ways to clear brain fog is by meditating for 12 minutes a day.

Dow explains that brain scans have shown that meditating for just 12 minutes a day will help you to strengthen your prefrontal cortex, which will help you to think more clearly.

Here are 2 meditations you can try:

6. Have a Wellness Shot

Something else that Dow indicates will reduce your brain fog is the spice turmeric. Turmeric contains curcumin, which has major anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also increases levels of a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor) which has been dubbed ‘Miracle Gro’ for the brain.

Dow recommends that you get your daily dose of turmeric in a wellness shot. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Take ½ teaspoon of turmeric and mix it with ½ teaspoon of black pepper (the black pepper makes the turmeric bioavailable for you body).
  • Add an ounce of water and a squeezed lemon.
  • Optionally you can add about an inch of ground ginger, as well as a pinch of cayenne pepper, to make the wellness shot even healthier.

Just put everything in a shot glass, chug it down in one fell swoop, and be done with it.

Dow adds that if you do this every day, it will help to remove the plaque that causes brain fog, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s. In fact, Dow indicates that if you have turmeric every day, your chances or getting Alzheimer’s can be reduced by 90%.

7. Get Plenty of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

As was stated in the first point of this blog post, what you eat can either fog your brain, or it can clear it of brain fog. Dr. Dow explains that—to keep your brain sharp—it’s vitally important that you eat foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

Although one of the best sources of Omega-3 is wild-caught salmon, salmon can be pretty pricey. Dr. Dow indicates that a cheap, healthy, and readily available source of Omega-3 is farm raised rainbow trout. In addition, Dr. Dow recommends that you eat almonds, walnuts, and flaxseeds, all of which are also good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.

8. Douse Brain Fog – Drink Lots of Water

One of the causes of brain fog is dehydration. Up to 75% of Americans are thought to be chronically dehydrated because they don’t drink enough fluids throughout the day. Because a large portion of the brain is made up of water, even slight dehydration can have a negative impact on short term brain plasticity.

This negative impact on short term brain plasticity results in mental decline and fog-like symptoms. If you want to keep brain fog at bay, be sure that you drink lots of water. If you need some help with this, I wrote a post on 10 Simple Ways to Drink More Water.

Conclusion

Which of the tips above will you start implementing today in order to move the fog out of your brain, be able to think clearly, and keep your brain sharp? I, for one, am doing all of them. After all, my brain is my most important asset. Live your best life by clearing your brain fog.

If you suffer from chronic brain fog, this could be caused by an underlying medical condition. Please see your doctor.

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personal project analysis

Whether you flourish or flounder depends on your personal projects.

I recently came across the concept of Personal Project Analysis, which is a methodology that was created by personality psychologist Brian Little. Personal Project Analysis is about asking yourself how you’re doing.

Since our lives are very complex, you may not be sure of exactly how you’re feeling or how well you’re doing. The way to fix this is to stop thinking of your life as a whole. Instead, take a look at each individual unit of your life. That is, take a look at your personal projects.

A personal project is defined by Little as follows: “a set of interrelated acts extending over time, which is intended to maintain or attain a state of affairs foreseen by the individual”. To simplify this definition, personal projects are goals. They’re commitments that we make to courses of action that will allow us to achieve something we want.

Here are some examples of personal projects:

onehouradayformula banner long

  • Lose 20 pounds.
  • Apply to graduate school.
  • Take a Massive Open Online Course on gamification.
  • Learn to draw.
  • Write a novel.
  • Run a 10K.
  • Learn Python.
  • Redecorate the living room.
  • Go skiing in Colorado at the end of the year.
  • Become more conscientious.
  • Boost self-esteem.
  • Be an understanding and supportive spouse.
  • Be a better pet owner.
  • Spend 15 minutes a day meditating.
  • Mentor an at-risk youth.
  • Start a blog for your company to improve brand awareness (personal projects include work-related goals).

In this post, you’ll discover how to conduct a Personal Project Analysis so you can increase your happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being. That is, so that you can flourish, instead of floundering.

Personal Projects and Happiness

Little explains that our happiness levels are closely related to our personal projects. As an illustration, look at the following two people:

  • Ann is pursuing several personal projects which she considers to be important and meaningful. Although she’s at different stages of completion for each of her projects, they’re all progressing well. In addition, her projects give her a sense of control and autonomy.
  • Billy is pursuing several personal projects. He doesn’t find any of them meaningful and feels that others are forcing him to work on these projects—his boss, his parents, his girlfriend, and so on. In addition, one of the projects is incredibly boring, another one is very difficult, and a third is something that he’s sure that he’ll never be able to achieve.

Which of these two people do you think is likelier to be happy? Obviously, Ann is probably a lot happier than Billy. Right now, would you say that your life is more similar to Ann’s life, or to Billy’s life?

One way to increase your overall feelings of happiness and wellbeing is to reevaluate your personal projects.  You can do this by following the five steps described below.

Make a List of Your Personal Projects

A personal project can be something trivial, like “Organize my Closet”. It can also be something bold and audacious, such as “Create a social media platform that will rival Facebook”.  Sit down and make a list of all the personal projects that you’re currently working on, or considering.

Then, narrow your list down to your 10 most important personal projects. Choose projects that you intend to be working on during the next few months. Now that you’ve completed the first step in Personal Project Analysis, move on to the next one.

What Do You Think About Your Personal Projects?

The next step in Personal Project Analysis is to ask yourself what you think about each of the 10 projects that you selected in the step above. You’re going to do this by rating each one from 0 to 10 (where 0 is the lowest rating and 10 is the highest) on the following dimensions:

1. Importance – How important is this project to you? How meaningful is it to you?

2. Difficulty – How difficult is it for you to carry out this project?

3. Visibility – How visible is this project to the people around you?

4. Control – How much do you feel that you’re in control of this project?

5. Initiation – How responsible are you for having initiated this project?

6. Time Adequacy – Are you spending enough time on this project?

7. Likelihood of Success – How likely do you think it is that you’ll succeed on this project?

8. Self-Identity – How aligned is this goal with the way in which you see yourself? How aligned is it with your personality?

9. Other’s View of Importance – How important do the people around you think that this project is? (The social messages we receive about each of our projects will have an effect on how we feel about that project.)

10. Value Congruency – How congruent is this project with your values?

11. Challenge – How challenging do you find this project? (You don’t want to be overwhelmed, but you don’t want to be bored, either.)

12. Absorption – How engaged do you feel when you’re working on this project? To what extent do you feel deeply engrossed when you’re working on this project?

13. Support – How much support are you getting from others (this can be emotional support, monetary support, guidance on how to carry out the project, and so on)?

14. Competence – To what extent do you feel competent to carry out this project?

15. Autonomy – To what extent do you feel that you’re acting autonomously when working on this project?

16. Legacy – How much of a lasting legacy do you feel this project will create?

How Do You Feel About Your Personal Projects?

The third step in Personal Project Analysis is to ask yourself how you feel when you’re working on each of the personal projects that you selected for this analysis, or when you’re thinking about these projects. You may feel things like the following:

  • Angry
  • Upset
  • Frustrated
  • Happy
  • Stressed
  • Satisfied
  • Hopeful
  • Enthusiastic
  • Discouraged
  • Relaxed
  • Gleeful
  • Wretched
  • Delighted
  • Other Emotions

The emotions that you feel when you’re working on any of your personal projects will impact both your ability to complete that project, and your overall sense of wellbeing.

If you’re working on several projects that make you feel frustrated, or wretched, you can clearly see how that would have a negative impact on your quality of life. On the other hand, if most of your personal projects make you feel happy and satisfied, that would have a positive impact on your quality of life.

How Much Progress Have You Made?

Next, to continue with your Personal Project Analysis, you’re going to ask yourself how much progress you’ve made on each of the personal projects that you’re evaluating. Use the following scale:

  • Thinking about getting started.
  • At the planning stage.
  • Have taken the initial steps.
  • Have completed about 10% of the project.
  • Have completed about 20% of the project.
  • Have completed about a quarter of the project.
  • Have completed about one third of the project.
  • Have completed about 40% of the project.
  • About half-way through.
  • More than half-way through.
  • Have completed about two-thirds of the project.
  • Have completed about three-fourth of the project.
  • Almost finished — you’re basically done but you’re reviewing what you’ve done and making some revisions.
  • You’re done—you’ve successfully completed the project.

Personal Project Analysis

Once you’ve completed the steps above, the final step in Personal Project Analysis is to analyze the information you came up with. You’re going to do the following:

  1. Determine which projects you should keep and which you should discard.
  2. Determine how you should modify the projects that you decide to continue working on to make it more likely that you’ll complete each of them, and that each project will have a positive impact on your wellbeing.

Here are the questions you should ask yourself:

  • Which projects should you discard? Take into consideration what you think about the project, how it makes you feel, and how far along you are in the process of completing that project.
  • Of the projects which you decide to keep, which should you prioritize?
  • For those projects which scored low on meaningfulness, how you can make them more meaningful? Keep in mind that sometimes you can make a project more meaningful simply by the way you frame it. Think of the story of the two brick layers. One thought of himself as simply a brick layer. The other one thought of himself as someone who was building a cathedral.
  • If you feel that you’re not getting enough support from others for your project, how can you get more support? Do you need to find someone to partner with on the project, join a group, take a class, or find a mentor?
  • If the project is boring, how can you can make it more fun?
  • If  the project is too difficult, how can you simplify it to make it easier?
  • If the project is currently unmanageable, how can you make it more manageable?
  • How can you modify the project to make it more engaging?
  • Do you need to try new projects? If none of your projects are meaningful for you, or if they don’t make you happy, then you should really consider coming up with new projects.
  • How can you make more time for an important project that isn’t getting all the time that it needs?
  • If you feel that a project has little likelihood of success, how can you change that? Is there a skill you need to acquire? Do you need to lessen the scope of the project? Do you need to increase your feelings of self-efficacy?
  • If a project is making you feel negative emotions, such as anger or discouragement, why is this happening? How can you modify the project so that you no longer feel those negative emotions when you’re working on the project or thinking about it?
  • How can you increase the positive emotions that you feel when you’re working on each of your projects?
  • If a project isn’t aligned with your personality—but you still want to pursue it because it’s very important to you—how can you better cope with having to act out of character? For example, if you’re an introvert but your project requires that you give presentations and interviews, make sure that you spend some time alone after each presentation or interview so you can restore your energy.

Here’s some guidance from Little on which personal projects to choose: projects that are “meaningful, manageable, and connected with others, and that generate more positive than negative feelings”.

Conclusion

Little indicates that “bringing our personal projects to successful completion . . . seems to be a pivotal factor in whether we thrive emotionally or lead lives of . . . quiet desperation”.  Use the analysis above to start bringing more of your projects to completion.

Live your best life by conducting a Personal Project Analysis.

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Benjamin Franklin life lesson

There are many life lessons that can be found in Benjamin Franklin’s writings.

I’m a huge Benjamin Franklin fan. Franklin, of course, was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. He was also a polymath, author, politician, scientist, and inventor. In addition, he was a self-improvement devotee.

Fortunately for us, this wise man left behind an autobiography, letters that he wrote to friends, and several other books he penned. From these documents, we can glean nuggets of wisdom which can help us lead better lives.

onehouradayformula banner longIn 1779, Franklin wrote a letter to a friend, Madame Brillon. In his letter, Franklin recounts an event from his childhood which taught him a life lesson that he never forgot. When he was about seven years old, on impulse, he bought a whistle from another child for a lot more money than the whistle was worth.

This taught him a lesson on being careful when buying material items not to pay more than the item was worth. But it also taught him to be careful before making any sort of expenditure. This included time; effort; attention; intangibles such as dignity and self-respect; and so on.

Below you’ll find the letter that Franklin wrote to his friend. Then, after the letter, you’ll find 20 questions that will help you to avoid paying more for anything than the thing is worth.

The Whistle by Benjamin Franklin

Here’s Franklin’s letter:

“In my opinion we might all draw more good from it than we do, and suffer less evil, if we would take care not to give too much for whistles.

For to me it seems that most of the unhappy people we meet with are become so by neglect of that caution.

You ask what I mean? You love stories, and will excuse my telling one of myself.

When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one.

I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.

This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, ‘Don’t give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.

As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.

When I saw one too ambitious of court favor, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, this man gives too much for his whistle.

When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect, ‘He pays, indeed, said I, ‘too much for his whistle.

If I knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth, ‘Poor man, said I, ‘you pay too much for your whistle.

When I met with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporeal sensations, and ruining his health in their pursuit, Mistaken man, said I, you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure; you give too much for your whistle.

If I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in a prison, Alas! say I, he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle.

When I see a beautiful sweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured brute of a husband, What a pity, say I, that she should pay so much for a whistle!

In short, I conceive that great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.”


Are You Paying Too Much for Your Whistle?

It’s likely that there have been many times in the past when a soft voice in your head tried to warn you that you were paying too high a price for certain things. This could include things like the following:

  • Chasing after a promotion that really wasn’t worth it.
  • Maintaining a toxic friendship.
  • Buying a house with a lot more space than you really needed.
  • Getting a degree in an area that didn’t really interest you.

Do any of these sound familiar? Even if you’ve paid too much for things in the past, you can stop doing so now. Here are 20 questions to help you determine whether you’re paying too much for whistles:

1. Do I really want this, or is this something society is telling me I should want? (This can apply to anything: items, careers, status symbols, relationships, and so on.)

2. Is this item worth the amount of time that it took me to earn the amount of money that it sells for (i.e., if you make $30 an hour, an item that sells for $90 is equivalent to three hours of work)?

3. Should I wait 72 hours before deciding whether I should buy this?

4. Are there any cheaper alternatives?

5. What is the real cost of this item (including maintenance, repairs, storing, cleaning, additional parts that must be purchased, and so on)?

6. If I’m going to finance an item, what is the cost of the item once I factor in the amount of interest that I’m going to have to pay?

7. Is this costing me my mental or physical health? (For example, is a highly stressful job that doesn’t leave you enough time to exercise and practice self-care worth it—even if you make a lot of money?)

8. Is this relationship worth the amount of heartache it’s costing me?

9. Is this friendship worth the amount of inner peace it’s costing me? Is it worth holding myself back so that “my friend” doesn’t feel inferior?

10. Is this goal worth the amount of time, effort, and energy expenditure that it’s costing me?

11. What could I buy with this money, instead?

12. What could I be doing with my time, instead?

13. Does this task justify the amount of time it takes to complete it?

14. When I factor everything in, what am I really trading for this–including things such as happiness, love, life meaning, passion, honor, dignity, and self-worth?

15. Is this brownie covered in vanilla ice cream worth the calories?

16. Is this meal of a cheeseburger and fries worth an increased risk of heart disease?

17. Is relaxing on the couch and watching TV worth missing another workout?

18. Is the feeling of safety that comes from staying in my comfort zone worth the cost of not going after my dreams?

19. Is partying with my friends worth getting bad grades because I don’t have enough time left over to study?

20. What is this costing me in terms of what I value most in life?

Conclusion

Live your best life by estimating the real cost of things. Don’t give too much for whistles.

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learn from your mistakes

Mistakes can be a good thing – if you learn from them.

You’ve probably heard repeatedly that it’s fine to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them. But that can be easier said than done. After all, society is very good at punishing people for making mistakes. On the other hand, we’re never really taught how to learn from our mistakes.

No worries. I’ve got you covered. I know a lot about making mistakes–I’ve definitely made my share of them. And I also know how to learn from them.

Below you’ll find six ways to learn from your mistakes.

1. Be Willing to Admit Your Mistakes

onehouradayformula banner longKathryn Schultz– an American journalist and author–explains in her TED Talk, “On Being Wrong”, that we all understand in the abstract that everyone makes mistakes. However, when we think of ourselves in any given situation, this acceptance of fallibility goes out the window. We feel that we’re right about everything.

After all, realizing that we’re wrong feels bad. It can be embarrassing and it can even make us feel stupid. But if you’re wrong and you don’t acknowledge it, then you don’t feel those negative feelings — being wrong and not acknowledging it, feels like being right.

This unwillingness to feel the negative feelings that come from accepting that we’re wrong makes us very attached to being right. In turn, this attachment to our rightness does the following:

  • It doesn’t allow us to prevent the mistakes that are preventable.
  • It doesn’t allow us to learn from our mistakes so that we can avoid making those same mistakes in the future.

Therefore, the first step to take in order to learn from your mistakes is to admit when you’ve made a mistake. Simply allow yourself to say: “I’m wrong”, and tolerate the discomfort that comes along with that.

I would argue that being able to admit that you’ve made a mistake is a sign of intelligence. It means that you’ve being able to do the following:

  • You’ve overridden society’s conditioning that making mistakes and being wrong is shameful.
  • You have self-awareness: you have the ability to step outside of yourself, notice what you’re doing, and evaluate it objectively.
  • You’ve recognized that being able to admit your mistakes, and learn from them, is an important tool for achieving your full potential.

When you’ve admitted that you’ve made a mistake, you’ve taken the first step toward learning from that mistake.

2. Don’t Dwell On Your Mistakes

In the previous point I encouraged you to admit your mistakes, even if this means having to feel the discomfort of acknowledging that you were wrong. However, the idea here isn’t to replay your mistakes in your head in an endless loop like a broken record. Rumination offers few insights and will keep you stuck in a negative state.

Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D, a former psychologist and professor at Yale University, indicates that, instead of dwelling on your mistakes, you need to practice adaptive self-reflection.

This means taking the time to reflect on your mistakes with the purpose of identifying how you need to alter your behavior so that you can do better the next time. You can differentiate between rumination and adaptive self-reflection by asking yourself the following:

  • Is this keeping me stuck in the past? Then it’s rumination.
  • Is this helping me to learn and grow? Then it’s adaptive self-reflection.

One way to practice adaptive self-reflection is by asking yourself the right questions. This is addressed in the next point.

3. Ask the Right Questions

When you’ve made a mistake, to learn from it, you need to ask yourself the right questions. Here are some examples of the questions you should be asking in order to learn from your mistakes:

  • Is there something you can do to remedy the mistake?
  • What can still be salvaged?
  • Is there a hidden opportunity in the mistake?
  • What was the cause of the mistake?
  • Was the goal that you set for yourself feasible?
  • Did you make a mistake in the strategy or the method that you chose to follow?
  • Did you make a mistake executing the plan?
  • What should you have done differently?
  • Were there any warning signs that you missed?
  • Did you make any assumptions that turned out to be wrong?
  • Has making this mistake revealed any of your blind spots?
  • What did this teach you about other people and how they behave?
  • Did this mistake reveal that there’s a skill that you lack or that you need more practice in?
  • What worked? What didn’t work?
  • Did this mistake reveal a character trait that’s holding you back, such as hubris or inflexibility?
  • What insight did you gain from this mistake?
  • Did a negative habit play a role in this mistake, such as going to bed late, failing to put things back where they belong, or leaving things until the last minute?
  • How will you do things differently moving forward?
  • What will you do to prevent this—or something like this—from happening again?
  • How do you think your behavior should/would change if you were in a similar situation in the future?
  • If you saw someone else making a similar mistake, how would you advise them?

Learn from your mistakes by going carefully through the answers that you gave to the questions above.

4. Practice Self-Compassion

Once you’ve asked yourself the right questions and have identified the lessons you can learn from the mistake you made, release any remaining negative feelings you may have about the mistake by showing yourself self-compassion.

I’ve already referred on this blog to a study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley on the positive effects of self-compassion.

That study found that, when students did poorly on a test, they were more motivated to spend more time studying for the next test if they were reminded to show themselves self-compassion. The researchers used phrases like the following:

  • “Try not to be too hard on yourself.”
  • “It’s common for students to have difficulty with tests like these.”

Here are some phrases you can use to show yourself self-compassion the next time you make a mistake:

  • “I’m not my mistakes. My mistakes don’t define me.”
  • “No one has ever succeeded in life without making mistakes.”
  • “Making mistakes is part of being human.”
  • “I’m proud of myself for having tried.”
  • “I made a mistake, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it.”
  • “I’m grateful to this mistake for the lesson it taught me.”
  • “I’m now better equipped to do better in my next attempt.”
  • “I can’t undo this mistake, but I can refuse to carry it into the future.”
  • “I forgive myself for having made this mistake. I’m ready to move on.”
  • “I’m going to take corrective action and try again.”

In order to allow yourself to learn from your mistakes, you need to show yourself self-compassion.

5. Learn From Your Mistakes and Move On Fearlessly

The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said the following:

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”

The fear of never achieving anything worthwhile, and failing to even try to go after what you want in life, should be much bigger than the fear of making mistakes.

Plan ahead and look for ways to avoid making mistakes to the extent that you can, but know that–sooner or later– you will make a mistake. And that’s OK.

When you do make a mistake, be prepared to learn from it by following the steps that have been covered here so far. Then, armed with your newfound knowledge, move on fearlessly!

6. Take a Trial and Error Approach to Life

The world is incredibly complicated. No one can be expected to go out there and get everything right from the get-go, not even extraordinarily smart, educated, and talented people. The technique that should be used for solving problems and trying new things in this complex world is the trial and error approach.

The trial and error approach is basically the following:

  • When faced with a problem, make the decision to try many different things.
  • Create a systematic way to determine what’s working and what’s not.
  • Analyze the data you receive by trying, make any necessary adjustments, and try again.

It’s similar to the rapid prototyping approach that I wrote about in my post, “How to Apply Design Thinking to Your Life”.

The next time you’re going to try something new, tell yourself the following: “This is what I want to achieve, and this is what I think will allow me to achieve it. However, I can’t be sure that this is going to work. I’m going to try and see what happens. If it doesn’t work, I’ll try something else.”

Here’s a quote by Frank Underwood—the President of the United States in the TV series, House of Cards—which illustrates this point:

“Franklin Delano Roosevelt ushered in an era of hope and progress when he proposed the New Deal, and at the time his reforms were considered radical. But he once said, ‘This country demands bold, persistent experimentation.’ It is common sense to take a method and try it and if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. Roosevelt would have understood better than anyone the necessity for trying something different. The New Deal succeeded for many years, but we must now try something newer before it fails us. If America Works succeeds, we will reinvent the American Dream. If we fail in our attempt, we will admit it frankly and try another. But above all, we must try something. Thank you, and God bless the United States of America.”

Your life demands bold, persistent experimentation. Try to achieve your goals. If you fail in your attempts, learn from your mistakes, and try again.

Conclusion

Everyone makes mistakes. We might as well stop being afraid of the inevitable and look for ways to turn our mistakes into something positive.  We do this by turning our mistakes into learning opportunities.

Live your best life by learning from your mistakes.

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How many of your dreams have you missed out on due to self-sabotage?

self-sabotage

It’s time to stop being your own worst enemy.

Self-sabotage is having conflicting thoughts and feelings about achieving what you say you want. In addition, it’s when these thoughts and feelings lead you to act in ways that interfere with your ability to achieve your long-term goals. In other words, it’s you, acting against yourself.

People can sabotage themselves in any life area. Here are some examples:

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  • Finances: You’re trying to set money aside for an emergency fund and you already have a few hundred dollars in your savings account. Then, you go to the mall to get a birthday gift for a friend and end up buying five pairs of shoes, a leather jacket, and a couple of kitchen gadgets you have absolutely no need for.
  • Health and Fitness: After three weeks of healthy eating, you’ve lost five pounds and are feeling proud of yourself. But then you spend the weekend overeating fatty and sugary foods, and you gain all the weight back.
  • Relationships: You’ve been in a new relationship for four months, and everything is going great. Then, as always, you become overly critical of the other person, or you start accusing them of imaginary slights, and everything goes south from there.
  • Work: You’re a good and efficient worker, and you get things done. However, every time you’re up for a promotion you start missing deadlines and coming in late.
  • Business: You launched a small business and your income has been climbing slowly and steadily. Then, you notice a great opportunity. However, instead of taking advantage of that opportunity you find yourself  watching too much TV and playing video games.
  • Self-Growth: You’ve set aside one-hour-a-day to learn new skills, you’ve started meditating, and you’re working on increasing your self-esteem. But then you go back to spending endless hours with your “friends” who do nothing but gossip and complain.

Does any of this sound familiar? If you’re like most people, the answer is “yes”. But why would anyone act in a way that is contrary to their own self-interest? And what can be done about it? Below you’ll discover the root cause of self-sabotage, and seven ways to overcome it.

Your Deserve Level

Psychotherapist Pat Pearson is the author of “Stop Self-Sabotage: Get Out of Your Own Way to Earn More Money, Improve Your Relationships, and Find the Success You Deserve”. In her book, she identifies something which she calls the “Deserve Level”. Here’s how she defines it:

“Just as your IQ, your intelligence quotient, is an indicator of your level of intelligence, your Deserve Level is a gauge of the degree to which you believe you deserve to have what you want in various areas of life.”

She adds that self-sabotage is how we regulate ourselves to make sure that we stay within our self-chosen boundaries. In other words, your Deserve Level creates a ceiling beyond which you won’t allow yourself to go. The good news is that your Deserve Levels can be changed.

How to Stop Self-Sabotage

We’re often very good at recognizing self-sabotage in others, but we have a hard time recognizing it in ourselves. The way to stop sabotaging yourself every time you start gaining traction is through self-awareness.

By taking a good, hard look at yourself, you can begin to notice how you act in ways that are counter-productive to the achievement of your goals. Here are seven ways to become more self-aware and put an end to self-sabotage:

1. Become Aware of Your Ceiling.

Notice where your Deserve Levels are right now in your different life areas. Have you been stuck at a certain level of income for a long time? Is there a certain number of clients you can’t seem to get over? Do you feel like you stay at a certain weight no matter what you do?

The first step in breaking through the ceiling being set by your Deserve Level is noticing where the ceiling is.

2. Accept Responsibility.

One way in which people sabotage themselves is by denying responsibility for what happens to them and blaming others. External forces–such as other people and circumstances–can be partially responsible for your failure to get what you want.

However, in the end, it’s your choices and your actions that will determine where you end up. Stop playing the victim and take back control of the wheel.


3. Identify Your Patterns.

What do you do to stop yourself when you start getting close to achieving what you want? In other words, what’s your self-defeating behavior? Maybe you do the following:

  • When the alarm rings in the morning, you find yourself hitting the snooze button over and over again. Oversleeping is one way to avoid taking the risks that are necessary so that you can achieve what you want.
  • You get irritable and find yourself snapping at those around you.
  • Worry gets the better of you and starts making you sick. It’s one thing to think about what could go wrong so that you can plan ahead and decide how you’re going to deal with any problems that come up. It’s a whole other thing to ruminate endlessly over possible negative outcomes.
  • Instead of working on what’s most important, you obsess over unimportant details. Perfectionism is self-sabotage in disguise.
  • When things seem to be speeding up you get scared and pull back. You decide that you need to take another course, read a few more books on the subject, or consult with yet another expert, before you can continue moving forward.
  • You get to work on secondary projects–most of it “busy work”– and you focus on tasks that you could be delegating. That is, you procrastinate.

Once you’ve identified how you sabotage yourself, you can be on the look-out for these behaviors. Then, when you spot yourself acting in self-limiting ways, make sure to stop.

4. Change Your Stories.

The stories that you tell yourself about what has happened to you, and what you’ve done, create your self-image, or how you think of yourself. Those stories may be getting in your way and holding you back.

Keep in mind that the worst stories–the ones that will really keep you down–are those that make you feel shame and guilt. You may be holding yourself back in an effort to “make up” for something you feel you’ve done in the past.

If this is the case, you need to reexamine and reframe your life stories.

5. Identify Negative Beliefs.

Sit down and think about an important goal you’ve set for yourself. What thoughts pop into your head when you think about your goal? Maybe you think something like the following:

  • “There’s no way I can achieve that.”
  • “If I fail I’ll never be able to show my face in public again.”
  • “I don’t deserve that.”

If so, you’ve identified negative, self-sabotaging beliefs. You need to replace those negative beliefs with positive, empowering beliefs. Say things like the following to yourself:

  • “I’m going to have to work hard to achieve this goal, but it’s important to me and I’m ready to do what it takes.”
  • “Failure is evidence that I tried to make a better life for myself. There’s no shame in that.”
  • “I’m a good person and I do good for others. I deserve to be happy and realize my dreams.

Don’t just accept what your inner saboteur says to you. Instead, be ready with your counter-arguments.

6. Move Away From People Holding You Back.

Let’s face it: one of the reasons we sabotage ourselves is out of fear of outgrowing the people who currently surround us. Here are some possible scenarios:

  • What if your friends no longer want to hang out with you if you start making a lot more money than they do?
  • Or what if your boyfriend feels threatened if you start to lose weight and get in shape?
  • Who will you have lunch with if your colleagues at work resent the fact that you got a promotion and are moving up the corporate ladder?

Encourage your friends and loved ones to join you as you strive to improve yourself. But if they try to hold you back, then you need to move away from them. Find a group of people who will pull you up, instead of allowing those around you to drag you down.

7. Raise Your Feelings of Self-Worth.

The higher your self-worth, the more you’ll feel that you deserve to have the things you want. And the more deserving you feel, the less likely it is that you’ll sabotage yourself.

One way to raise your self-worth is to take inventory. Sit down and ask yourself questions like the following:

  • What good have you done?
  • How have you helped others?
  • What are you proud of?
  • What value have you contributed to society?

The worthier you feel, the more likely it is that you’ll allow yourself to break through your current Deserve Level and achieve more of what you want.

Conclusion

Instead of being your own worst enemy, work on becoming your greatest ally. Uncover your inner saboteur, and escort them out of your life. Live your best life by putting an end to self-sabotage.

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Fogg Behavior Model

The Fogg Behavior Model will take you from where you are now, to where you want to be.

Psychologist. BJ Fogg is the founder of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University in California. He’s been studying how to change behavior for the past 20 years.  Fogg condensed his findings on how to change behavior into a model which he named: the Fogg Behavior Model.

In essence, the Fogg Behavior Model states that behavior will only happen when three elements occur simultaneously. These three behavior change elements are the following:

  • Motivation — People have to be sufficiently motivated to change their behavior.
  • Ability — They must have the ability to do the behavior.
  • Trigger — They have to be triggered, or prompted, to do the behavior.

If one of the elements is missing, behavior won’t happen. Another way to say this is as follows:

B = MAT

(Behavior = Motivation + Ability + Trigger)

Here’s what the Fogg Behavior Model looks like:

The Fogg Behavior Model

Below you’ll find an explanation of the Fogg Behavior Model.

Application of the Fogg Behavior Model

The Fogg Behavior Model can be applied in any area in which there’s a behavior that you want to take place, including the following:

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  • There’s a habit that you want to adopt—such as exercising, working on your blog, meditating, or clearing your desk every day before you leave work—but you can’t get yourself to do it.
  • There’s something that you want someone else to do—such as getting your kids to do their homework when they get back from school.
  • The model can also be applied in a technological environment. For example, you’re a website owner/designer and there’s something that you want your visitors to do – such as sign up for your newsletter.

As you can see, the model can be applied in both a professional and a personal setting. In addition, it can be applied to change your behavior or to change the behavior of others.

Overview of the Fogg Behavior Model

Here are four things you can notice right away about the Fogg Behavior Model from looking at the graph:

  • As a person’s motivation and ability to perform the target behavior increase, the more likely it is that they will perform said behavior.
  • There’s an inverse relationship between motivation and ability. The easier something is to do, the less motivation is needed to do it. On the other hand, the harder something is to do, the more motivation is needed.
  • The action line—the purple curved line—lets you know that any behavior above that line will take place if it’s appropriately triggered. At the same time, any behavior below the line won’t take place regardless of the trigger used. Why is that? Because if you have practically zero motivation to do something, you won’t do it regardless of how easy it is to do. At the same time, if you’re very motivated to do something, but it’s incredibly difficult to do, you’ll get frustrated and you won’t act.
  • If you want a behavior to take place, look for ways to boost motivation or ability (or both). In other words, aim for the top right of the model — move along the red line toward the yellow star:

The Fogg Behavior Model

Below you’ll find more information on how to apply the Fogg Behavior Model to trigger behavior change. As an illustration, I want to do a 30-day planking challenge (do plank exercises every day for 30 days). I’m going to use the Fogg Behavior Model to help me with this challenge.

The Three Elements of The Fogg Behavior Model

As stated above, the three elements of the Fogg Behavior Model are motivation, ability, and trigger. Let’s take a look at each of these, one by one.

Motivation

As you can see from the graph, the Fogg Behavior Model has two axes. The vertical axis is for motivation and it goes from low motivation to high motivation.

The Fogg Behavior Model

As has already been stated, the more motivated you are to do something, the more likely it is that you’ll do it. According to Fogg, there are six core motivators, grouped into the following three categories:

  • Sensation – Pleasure/Pain. The result of this motivator is immediate. People are responding to what’s happening in the moment.
  • Anticipation – Hope/Fear. Hope is the anticipation of something good happening. BJ Fogg considers hope to be the most ethical and empowering motivator. Fear is the anticipation of something bad happening, often the anticipation of loss.
  • Social Cohesion – Social Acceptance/Rejection. People are motivated to do things that will win them social acceptance and status. People are especially motivated to avoid any negative consequences that will lead to them being socially rejected.

I plan to increase my motivation to plank daily for 30 days by doing the following:

  • Making planking fun by playing music I like while I plank, and turning it into a competition with my sister (pleasure).
  • Pledging to give my sister $10 for every day I don’t plank (pain).
  • I’m going to print out the Lifehack article on 7 Things That Will Happen When You Do Planking Exercise Every Day, which describes all the wonderful things that will happen to you if you start planking, and put it up where I can see it (hope).
  • I’m doing the plank challenge with my sister (social cohesion).

Ability

The second axis is horizontal, and it’s for ability. It goes from hard to do, to easy to do (or from complicated to simple).

The Fogg Behavior Model

Although one way to get people to take action in terms of ability is to train them to carry out the target behavior, Fogg explains that people have a tendency to be lazy. Therefore, it’s a better idea to make the behavior easier. In other words, make things simpler.

Fogg breaks down ability into six sub-components.

  1. Time– The behavior shouldn’t take up a lot of time, or you probably won’t do it.
  2. Money—If you can’t afford to take a certain behavior, then you won’t have the ability to carry out that behavior.
  3. Cognitively Demanding (Mental Effort)—You probably already have a lot to think about, so any new behavior that you’re trying to take shouldn’t increase your cognitive burden too much.
  4. Physically Demanding (Physical Effort)– For behavior that requires physical effort, you’re more likely to take action the less physical effort is required.
  5. Social Deviance—It’s not easy for anyone to take behavior that goes against the social norm.
  6. Non-Routine—You’ll find it a lot easier to take on a new behavior if you include it in your routine. That is, tie it to something that you’re already doing.

This is how I plan to make planking as easy and as simple as possible:

  1. Time — The Lifehack article I mentioned earlier contains a five minute planking routine which I plan to follow. Five minutes is very reasonable.
  2. Money — All you really need for planking is a yoga mat, which I already own.
  3. Mental Effort — Planking doesn’t require much thinking.
  4. Physical Effort — Although planking isn’t difficult to do, right now my left arm hurts since I haven’t been stretching properly after lifting weights. Therefore, I don’t have the physical ability to start the plank challenge, yet. However, my arm will be fine soon, and then I’ll have the ability to plank and I’ll get started with the challenge.
  5. Social Deviance — Fortunately, planking is socially acceptable behavior. 😊
  6. Non-Routine — I’m going to include planking in the morning routine that I already have in place. Specifically, I’m going to do it right after I meditate.

Trigger

A trigger is a cue, or a call to action. It’s something that says, “Do this now.” There are three types of triggers in the Fogg Behavior Model, depending on where a person is on the graph:

  • Spark — A trigger which is applied when there is high ability but low motivation. The trigger should be designed in tandem with a motivational element. As an example, it’s easy to wake up in the morning when you’ve gotten enough sleep, but you may not be motivated to leave your comfortable, warm bed. If that’s the case, you can get yourself a really loud alarm clock, like the Sonic Bomb, and place it far away from your bed. When the alarm goes off you’ll definitely be motivated to get out of bed to turn that thing off!
  • Facilitator — A trigger that is applied when there is high motivation but low ability. It seeks to simplify the task. As an illustration, suppose that you’re trying to eat healthier but you’re not very organized. You can sign up for a newsletter that is delivered every Sunday morning to your inbox with easy-to-make, delicious recipes for healthy meals. This will prompt you to sit down with the newsletter and plan your meals for the upcoming week, right there and then.
  • Signal — A trigger applied when both motivation and ability are high. This is just a prompt that serves as a reminder. It can be something as simple as a post-it note.

Take a look at the following image so that you can see the triggers graphically:

The Fogg Behavior Model

Keep in mind that the trigger has to occur at the right time. That is, it has to occur when the target behavior is supposed to take place.

In my example of planking, I have high motivation and high ability (once my arm heals), so all I’ll need is a signal. I’m going to turn my morning routine into a checklist–which will include planking–and put it up where I’ll be able to see it in the mornings. Looking at my checklist will remind me, or trigger me, to plank after I meditate.

Conclusion

If you’re having trouble getting yourself, or others, to adopt a certain behavior, ask yourself the following:

  • Is there a motivation problem? If so, how can I fix it? Which of the six core motivators should I apply?
  • Is there an ability problem? If so, how can I fix it? How can I make the behavior easier or simpler? Which resource is the most scarce (time, money, physical ability, and so on), and how can I address that?
  • Am I using the right trigger? Am I applying the trigger at the right time?

Live your best life by applying the Fogg Behavior Model.

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mantra meditation

Meditate for five minutes a day by focusing on five beautiful mantras.

The 5-Word Mantra Meditation is a five-minute meditation that I came up with and which I use every morning to help me start the day off right. I find it’s very effective, and I wanted to share it with you.

Meditation is bringing all of your awareness to the present moment. One way to achieve this is by repeating a mantra over-and-over again and placing all of your attention on the mantra as you say it. A mantra is simply a word or phrase that has meaning for you.

This meditation consists of five mantras—or five words—each of which you repeat for one minute. The five words are the following: Release; Peace; Tranquility; Love; and Joy. I’m going to say each of these words for one minute, and you just silently repeat each word as you hear it.

The meditation is accompanied by a beautiful piece of music which is called Ofelia’s Dream, and it’s from www.bensound.com. Here’s the meditation:

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mantra meditation

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self-care

Self-care is care given for you, by you.

If you fall and cut yourself, what do you do? You clean the cut, put some Neosporin on it, and then cover it with a Band Aid. That is, when you suffer bodily injury you act quickly so that you heal properly.

But what about mental injuries? You suffer mental injuries all the time. In fact, almost everyone suffers mental injuries much more often than they suffer physical injuries. Here are some examples:

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  • You overhear someone say something negative about your looks as they walk by.
  • Your boss asks for several corrections on a report you worked hard on.
  • You’re rejected by a love interest.
  • You fail to meet your monthly sales quota.
  • You’re publicly shamed by your professor when he calls on you and you don’t know the answer.
  • You get into an argument with a co-worker and she starts spreading lies about you.

At the same time, it’s very likely that you just try to ignore those mental injuries. But if you ignore them, they don’t heal properly. And that leads to all sorts of problems: you become convinced that you can’t succeed; you begin to suffer from low self-esteem; you start to lose perspective; and so on.

Self-care is the mental equivalent of washing a wound, putting an antibiotic ointment on it, and covering it up. It’s important to practice self-care on a regular basis so that your mental wounds heal properly and you can stay mentally healthy. This will make you more self-confident, resilient, and optimistic.

Below you’ll find 15 self-care practices for well-being (for both women and men).

1. Get a Massage.

There’s a shopping center across the street from my building, and they have a kiosk that offers chair massages. Last Friday I got one for the first time ($10 for 15 minutes). I lift weights and the lady got all the knots out of my back–which was heavenly–and I’m thinking of making it a weekly thing.

2. Meditate.

When you meditate you’re taking a break from the rest of the world and you’re redirecting your focus toward yourself. It’s a mental break from the deluge of information that you’re constantly being subjected to. This is indispensable for the brain.

You can also practice self-care with active meditation, which includes yoga, Tai chi, and–my personal favorite– Spring Forest Qigong.

3. Journal.

While keeping a diary is primarily a way of recording the events happening around you, journaling focuses on your interpretation  and reaction to those events. It offers you a glimpse into the workings of your mind, and it helps you to deal with whatever is worrying you or making you anxious.

4. Fika.

Fika? What’s that? It’s a Swedish coffee break. But it’s more than that. It’s making sure that you build some downtime into each day. Here’s a quote from the book Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and Other Treats:

“Functioning as both a verb and a noun, the concept of fika is simple. It is the moment that you take a break, often with a cup of coffee, but alternatively with tea, and find a baked good to pair with it. You can do it alone, you can do it with friends. You can do it at home, in a park or at work. But the essential thing is that you do it, that you make time to take a break: that’s what fika is all about.”

Fika is about self-care.

5. Read a Good Book

Reading a good book can give your mind a break from what’s going on around you, so you can come back to the “real world” refreshed. For me, this year, it’s the Russians (Tolstoy, Pushkin, Nabokov, Chekov, Dostoevsky, and so on). For you it might be a book by Elena Ferrante, a suspense thriller, or science fiction.

Choose a genre you enjoy–there’s nothing quite like getting lost in a good book, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

6. Take a Long Shower or Bath.

Water has restorative powers. For millennia, people have sought physical relief, emotional healing, and spiritual renewal by immersing themselves in water. If you choose to take a bath, you can enhance it by adding a bath bomb. Bonus: turn on some ambient sounds and light a candle.

7. Soak Your Feet.

Soaking your feet is one of the most relaxing things you can do. After all, you have over 72,000 nerve endings in your feet, and each one corresponds to a different area of the body. Get a basin and add some hot water (not too hot), Epsom salts, and your favorite essential oils. Then, slide your feet into the water.

When you’re done, dry your feet, get some lotion, and give yourself a foot massage.  Bliss!

8. Go Out In Nature.

As I wrote in my post on 8 Reasons Why You Need To Spend More Time in Nature,  studies show that spending just 20 minutes in vegetation-rich nature improves vitality. Vitality is defined as emotional strength in the face of internal and external oppositions, and living life with enthusiasm.

I sit outside and put my bare feet on the grass for fifteen minutes, at least three times a week. I find that this direct contact with nature is beneficial to my physical health and psychological well-being.

9. Take a Nap.

In her book Take a Nap! Change Your Life, Dr. Sara Mednick explains that taking a nap does all of the following for you:

  • Increases alertness;
  • Boosts creativity;
  • Reduces stress;
  • Improves perception, stamina, motor skills, and accuracy;
  • Enhances your sex life;
  • Helps you make better decisions;
  • Keeps you looking younger;
  • Aids in weight loss;
  • Reduces the risk of heart attack,
  • Elevates your mood; and
  • Strengthens memory.

Excuse me. I’m going to take a short nap now. 🙂


10. Listen to Music.

I’ve written about easy ways to bring more music into your life on this blog. When you listen to music, your brain releases the “pleasure chemical” dopamine. This is one of the reasons why music has played such an important role in societies throughout history.

In addition, research shows that people who combine music with a healthy diet and exercise get better results in achieving wellness.

If you’d like, you can dance and sing along.

11. Play.

I have an adult coloring book and a Play-Doh set (Playful Pies). And I take play breaks throughout the day, guilt-free. Playing is fun, it relaxes me, and it keeps my inner kid happy. Practice self-care by playing more.

12. Move.

Moving is vital to our well-being. It’s like taking a happy pill with no side effects. Go rollerblading, go for a bike ride, go for a hike, walk your dog, or find a buddy to join you for a friendly game of tennis.

13. Practice A Hobby .

Whether it’s playing a musical instrument, doodling, or filling out puzzles, practicing a self-absorbing activity that promotes your health is a great way to take good care of yourself. Practicing a hobby isn’t just a way to pass the time, it’s also a way to promote mental and emotional balance.

14. Listen/Watch/Read Something Inspirational.

I’ve already mentioned reading fiction as a method of self-care, but you can also read personal development books for inspiration. YouTube videos, inspirational movies, and motivational podcasts are also a great choice.

Another fantastic option is to peruse the articles on this blog.

15. Use Acupressure.

Acupressure is placing pressure over specific points along the body to improve blood flow, release tension, and enhance or unblock the life-energy, or chi. This release allows energy to flow more freely, promoting relaxation and healing.

The most popular acupressure point is the meaty part of the hand between the thumb and the index finger. Here’s how to locate the specific point.

Another option is to get yourself an acupressure mat and lie on it for twenty minutes or so while you watch TV, meditate, or before you fall asleep.

Bonus — Here are seven self-care affirmations that will foster self-nurturing:

self-care

Conclusion

Use the 15 ideas above to create your own list of self-care alternatives for when you need them. Live your best life by taking good care of yourself.

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curate your life

Imagine a life in which everything that’s in it has been carefully curated by you.

I love to read. I’ve been an avid reader my whole life. However, up until about two years ago, my reading was very haphazard. I would choose what book to read next on things like the following:

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  • A friend would mention that they were reading a book and that it was good, so I would go out and get myself a copy.
  • I would walk into a bookstore, browse around, and pick something.
  • I would happen upon a book review while perusing a magazine or newspaper, and I would order the book.
  • A neighbor would leave a book that they had finished reading in the building’s lobby, for anyone to take (that someone was invariably me).

That made for a lot of random reading—some good, and some not so good.

However, my reading is no longer determined by chance. Instead, I now have a reading plan. I’ve created a list of the 365 most important books–from the time of the ancients until around 1975–, in various fields, including literature, philosophy, and political science.

I am now making my way through that list. That is, I’ve curated my reading. This has helped me to ensure that I spend my reading time on the best books in existence (at least the best books according to me), instead of simply grabbing whatever book I happen to chance on next.

It recently occurred to me that I could apply this same concept to other areas of my life, with the purpose of making my life richer, and to live more on-purpose.

To illustrate further, think of what a museum curator does to build a museum exhibit:

  • They select the artwork or artifacts that best represent the story that they’re trying to convey.
  • The curator strategically excludes those pieces that detract from the overall beauty of the exhibit.
  • They organize a layout for flow and clarity.

Doesn’t that sound like a great approach to life? By curating your life you’ll be more intentional with the things that you do, the relationships you enter into or cultivate, and your general environment.

In addition to your reading list, below you’ll find seven more areas you can curate in order to live a better life.

1. Curate Your Closet.

Curate your closet so that your wardrobe consists only of those pieces you would want in your fashion story. Ask yourself questions like the following:

  • What colors do I most love to wear?
  • Which styles suit me best?
  • If I could only own 40 pieces of clothing what would they be?

Imagine opening your closet in the morning to get ready for work, and finding it contains only high quality pieces that you love, that look good on you, and that mix and match well. Keep your closet neat and organized and filled only with those things that make you feel great.

By curating your closet you’ll be wearing your favorite clothes every day.

2. Curate Your Belongings.

Curate your home with quality pieces over time. For each and every room in your house, ask yourself these two questions:

  • What function does this room serve?
  • How do I want this room to “feel”?

Then, buy quality pieces one at a time. Carefully consider how each piece will serve in your home. If the piece is expensive, save for it. If you’ve thought carefully about your choice, it won’t have gone out of style by the time you can afford it.

When you curate your life you should always keep in mind that quality is infinitely more important than quantity.

3. Curate Your Relationships.

Life’s too short to spend it with people you don’t really like, or people who bring you down. Curate your social circle so that it includes only people you love spending time with—people who add to the joy in your life, instead of subtracting from it.

Ask yourself questions  like the following:

  • What kind of people do I want to be surrounded by?
  • Who do I want in my social circle?
  • What do I want my friendships/personal relationships to be like?

4. Curate Your TV Watching.

I’m not one of those productivity bloggers who tries to get people to stop watching TV. Instead, I encourage people to limit their TV time. You do this by being picky about what you watch. Don’t just watch what’s on.  Watch only what you love.

For those times when none of your favorite TV shows are on, have a list of documentaries or YouTube videos to choose from. Curate your life by curating your entertainment.

5. Curate Your Goals.

Curate your goals by looking for projects—whether it’s writing a novel or running a 5K—that will allow you to create the future that you want for yourself. When you’re curating your goals, ask yourself questions like the following:

  • Do I find this goal meaningful?
  • Is this goal in line with my values, purpose, and life mission?
  • Does this goal make me feel joy, or stress and frustration?

Curate your life by pursuing only those goals that will help you build the vision that you have for your life.

6. Curate Your Time.

Tumblr is a micro-blogging tool where people can publish short posts of text, images, quotes, links, video, audio and chats. Most people who have a Tumblr invest a lot of time in curating it. They carefully comb through content and then re-blog only the best material that they can find.

Follow a similar approach when it comes to your time. Instead of adding tasks to your schedule willy-nilly, carefully consider each task before penciling it in. Do the following:

  • Like they would ask, “Is this worthy of my Tumblr?”, you should ask: “Is this worthy of my time?”
  • Like they would ask, “Will this add to the usefulness and beauty of my Tumblr?”, you should ask: “Will this add to the usefulness and beauty of this day?”
  • Like they would ask, “Is this image consistent with my brand?”, you should ask: “Does this task help me create the kind of life I want for myself?”

Curate your life by curating your time.

7. Curate Your Thoughts.

I recently wrote a post on following a 7-day mental detox. In that post I explain that, while you can’t choose the first thought that enters your head, you can choose the second. That is, whenever you start thinking about anything, you can choose to tell yourself: “I’m not going to think about this.”

Instead of passively allowing your inner voice to prattle on about anything it wants, actively choose which thoughts you’re going to allow to blossom in your mind, and which thoughts you’re going to pull out and toss out like weeds. That is, carefully curate your thoughts.

Conclusion

Curate your life carefully. It’s your masterpiece, after all. Live your best life by selecting only the best for yourself, excluding anything that does not contribute to the beauty of the whole, and arranging the pieces into a glorious work of art.

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