Books, Brain Hacks, Mindfulness, Minimalism, Motivation

One Thing

Change One Thing” another relatively small self help book by Sue Hadfield, is in some ways pretty straight forward and predictable, and yet it remains entirely helpful for the self help novice. It’s premise is simple: making just one change (however small) can impact the rest of your life. Although throughout its pages it suggests many small changes to assist in projecting this impact.

The past is over and only exists when you choose to recall it. Therefore you cannot let it get you down, instead see your mistakes or regrets as examples of how change will come to you whether you invite it or not. Start being pro-active about this unstoppable foe: Change!

• Motivation
It all begins with motivation. You want to be aware that you are living a life worth living while living it.
• Identification
Know who you are and what it is that you want. Know your values and embrace them.
• Recognition
Having purpose in life is in many ways more powerful than having your perceived “needs” met. Don’t delay following your purpose because you have yet to meet those needs. It’s like saying “I can’t do something until I get a better job” when by following your purpose or passion your inner life would be happier and that in turn would colour your outer life. A great life can be as easy as fulfilling your own potential.
• Procrastination
Procrastination is basically resistance to change. It stems from the belief that you either aren’t capable of change or you have to wait until change comes for you and you have no other choice. You may seek instant gratification and therefore become impatient with those small steps that eventually become a big change, or are a perfectionist afraid of making a mistake and therefore put things off. Instead of focusing on the negative outcomes try focusing on the positives.
• Inspiration
Clarify your goals, success comes from preparation, planning, research and staying power. So prepare! Research the changes you wish to make and ask questions about the process from people who have already been there, done that. Look at how these changes align with your values.
• Preparation
Keep on learning, keep on gathering information and prepare yourself for the inevitable setbacks. Success isn’t about luck it’s about persistence.
• Implementation
It’s all about finding time and working towards your purpose. There’s a danger in being busy doing things that don’t bring value or joy to your life. Don’t let life become a treadmill where you loose track of your values or purpose.
• Determination
Start now and keep going. Resilience is key, and a part of that is understanding and welcoming obstacles as a chance to see how far you come and re-evaluate your plans.

It’s all relatively obvious, but empowering regardless. A great book and one that actually takes the time to identify and describe the entire process from start to finish. Which is actually quite a unique feat for a self help book.

Motivation

Universe vs You

“The universe doesn’t care about you.”

It’s the central hypothesis of the book “The universe doesn’t give a flying fuck about you” by Johnny Truant. I’m not going to lie, yet again I was drawn in by the title. That and the fact that this eBook is free, relatable, funny, smart and it’s quite sarcastic too. There’s also a Battlestar Galactica reference and if that doesn’t sell you on this I don’t know what will.

Honestly this book is like a locker room speech style call to arms to start living your life. It’s deeply inspiring. Completely unhelpful in terms of techniques to achieve your goals, but definitely worthwhile reading for the sheer force of will it elicits.

In the grand big scheme of things we’re just a bug on the highway and the universe does not care about what we do with the nanosecond of time we have on this earth. But it’s for this very reason that we should care. Time won’t stop for us, the end is nigh so start doing “epic shit!”

 

Brain Hacks, Motivation

Intention is Key

I’ve been reading “The stuntman’s guide to learning anything” by Brett Solomano. I was hooked by the title, assuming rather incorrectly that it would be a how to guide for juggling chainsaws or executing a burnout in my driveway…

It’s not.

But despite my initial disappointment, I did find a few pearls of wisdom within this rather ill titled guidebook (seriously not even one word on how to do a wheelie) that made up for any feelings of animosity I had. It can all be whittled down into three main points.

The first being that intention is key! Intention is everything in fact, at least when it comes to learning. It’s therefore important to not only learn and therefore act deliberately, but to have a clear and precise plan for your actions. You must set clear and explicit goals early on, that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Ambitious
  • In the present tense
  • Re-adjustable and refinable
  • Timed
  • Tangible

Once your game plan is put in place, you then have to hold yourself accountable in actioning it. While you can let others know and have that outside force keep you in check, an even better way to encourage accountability is by acknowledging the milestones you reach towards your goal. Celebrate the progress you make and it will stimulate your brain to keep going.

Finally you have to learn to retain the information you collect, by understanding how the brain undergoes this retention process. Unfortunately it does not learn chronologically, so for example reading a book from start to finish will be unlikely to result in learning. But if you can base your enquiries on information that has relevance to your actions or has similarities/differences to information you already have stored (thus allowing you to build from previous knowledge) then learning becomes much easier.

 

 

 

Books

Grateful

I discovered a new tool!

A new technique to brighten my mood and alleviate stress: Being grateful.

I came across the practice of gratefulness after falling down a rabbits hole of YouTube videos, and finding myself addicted to the life philosophies of Cornelia Grimsmo. She’s truly amazing and inspirational. Positive and extremely kind. She also wrote an eBook: How to Build Your Inner Home: Create Your Dream Life From The Inside Out With Easy Exercises For The Mind.”

In a few of her videos she mentions the power of being grateful and making gratefulness lists. How this lets you focus on the positives in your life. I’ve even heard of a study on the effects of gratefulness that found positive results. Basically a test group was asked to write down two or three things they were grateful for and why. They did this every day for just one week. This group continued to report higher levels of happiness and satisfaction, throughout the following month. Meaning the effects of doing these exercises for just one week, continued on for the entire month.

I’ve been putting it to the test this week, and I have to say it is definitely improving my mood. I’m not happy 24/7, but I feel more at ease and more in control. All I’ve been doing is saying out loud, in my car, what I am grateful for. It’s things like: my family, being lucky enough to live in Australia, green lights, sunshine, feeling positive. I try to make sure that I include things about myself too, like that I’m grateful for my sense of humour or my health.

Anxiety

Don’t Panic

Guess what? I found a self-help book about anxiety!

This one is titled: “Don’t Panic: You can overcome anxiety without drugs” and it’s written by Dr Sallee McLaren.

The central thesis is that anxiety is more often the result of ineffective coping strategies acquired through childhood, than from a serotonin imbalance in the brain. Therefore drugs are not a viable treatment and could indeed cause more harm than good. Instead therapy should be used to address and assess the faulty assumptions and negative coping strategies, which lie at the heart of our anxiety.

The book is divided into seven chapters, each one based on a faulty assumption. This list includes:

  1. The world looks dangerous.
  2. Other people are hostile.
  3. I can’t trust myself.
  4. I feel out of control.
  5. I need to stop the pain, now!
  6. I feel powerless.
  7. Deep down, I’m bad.

Most of these assumptions are the result of what Dr McLaren often refers to as difficult backgrounds. Basically it’s your parents fault, you learnt it from them. The cases she employs as examples confirm this pattern of bad parenting, in the evolution of each individuals anxiety and depression. They also explore the steps taken to challenge and conquer them.

I found many of the cases to be quite extreme and therefore unrelatable, the backgrounds sounded truly terrifying and when compared to my own childhood made me feel inadequate. This was in all likelihood not the authors intent, but rather my own biased reading of the text. Yet as she points out, anxiety often makes you biased and resistant to any opinion that requires you to open up and change.

One concept or remedy that did strike a chord with me however, was the link between confidence and skill. That you can increase your confidence by learning and preserving a new skill set. In other words, get out of your comfort zone and take a class. Borrow a library book and teach yourself something. Watch instructional YouTube videos or online tutorials. The more you learn and develop these skills, the more value you will feel you have. Self assurance and confidence occur as a bi-product of a diversified skill set.

Brain Hacks, Mindfulness

Anchor

Another rather wonderful mindfulness exercise: dropping anchor.
Basically this is a technique to assist you in releasing yourself from your everyday automatic pilot. It’s about focusing on your physical self in that particular moment, so you are able to fully implement mindfulness breathing and observation strategies.
It is very simple. You begin by planting both feet on the floor. Once you attain stability, begin tuning into the sensations in your body. Notice your legs and the feel of the floor, what they are touching, what are they connected to, everything including the heat within your own body. Slowly work your way up noticing your breath, your chest rising and falling. Feel the air come in and then out.
Take the time to really be in your body and to enjoy the sensation of being alive. Observe your body. Anchor yourself in the present moment and just breathe. Then start observing the things around you. The way your body interacts with these things.
I’m finding it to be a very useful tool in calming myself down. Distracting myself from any momentary stress.
Brain Hacks, Mindfulness, Minimalism

Evening Rhythms

Attempting to orchestrate an evening rhythm is no easy task.

If you happened upon my previous blog post about Brooke Mcalarys mindfulness book “Destination Simple” you will understand the exercise I am referring to. But perhaps not the frustration I felt in being unable to undertake it successfully.
The problem is that I get it into my head that everything needs to be worked out immediately, with immediately conveniently being right before bedtime. But the urgency I feel in needing to deal with these “issues” does not represent or correspond with the actual necessities of the moment. It’s not a part of the flow I so dutifully constructed in accordance to the book.

In my search for a solution I came across a really useful trick called allocating worry time. It does take a bit of practice (a lot of practice), but it’s completely worth it because it does work.
So basically you want to begin by taking some deep breaths. Focusing on your inhale and exhale, on the rise and fall of your chest as you breath in and out. Basically trying to relax your body and to let go of your physical tension.
When your mind starts to think about this or that, when you start planning or obsessing, you need to imagine a red light. And you want to tell yourself to stop. You might want to say this out loud or just in your head. But you need to tell yourself to stop.
Say to yourself, “Now is the time to sleep. You will worry about this for an hour tomorrow, at 2 pm.”
The exact time you choose to schedule in your worry is up to you, but it is very important to be specific. Be sure to specify not only the exact time, but also how long you plan to worry about it. Then go back to your relaxation exercises. The moment any of those thoughts come back, just run through the exercise again. See the red light, tell yourself to stop. Now is not the time, tomorrow at 2 pm is the time and you will have a whole hour to figure it out.
The most important thing though, is to follow through with the scheduling. The next day at 2 pm, or whenever you have designated to do it, sit down and think about whatever it was that you were so focused on the night before. Spend that time planning, organizing and worrying about it.
That is it. That’s the trick. It just takes practice and consistency (my two least favourite words) and you can incorporate it into both your evening and morning routines for ease of use.