How To Be Mindful And Cultivate Self-Control

47% of the time you’re thinking about something else than what you’re doing.

Mind-wandering is common. And sometimes, pleasing too. But concentrating on what you’re doing will always make you more happier.

Even if you daydream about something pleasant.

Mindfulness just doesn’t make you happier, it helps improve your memory, increase your concentration and even helps you sleep better.

But controlling yourself from distractions isn’t just a piece of cake, right?

When you pay attention to how many times you’re paying attention, you’ll notice, more often than not, you’re not fully aware of what you’re doing presently.

While meditating is the language of mindfulness, there are several other ways that could help you gain mindfulness.

Here, I give you some tricks to gain mindfulness and develop control towards distractions:

 

1. Notice The Routine Tasks

When you stop and notice the tiny, routine tasks that you do, you may realize something unfamiliar – they’re interesting.

Start early: Pay attention to how you brush, ever thought of that? 65% of the time, you’re not paying attention. Or noticed closely how the water drips off your body when you shower?

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Try listening intently in an conversation when someone talks to you.

Practice this often. And even if you start thinking about something else, it’s fine. When you realize your mind is wandered, slowly bring your attention back.

In the book, The Mindfulness Manifesto,  Dr. Jonty Heaveresdge and Ed Halliwell, tell us to focus on day-to-day tasks which we may ignore unknowingly. It could be more engaging than we’ve imagined it to be.

Controlling your mind from distractions isn’t easy, I know. But self-control is like a muscle that gets stronger with use: The more often you practice it, the better you get at it.

Willpower is an old solution, but it’s still what resists temptations.

 

2. Take A Walk, Not A Drive

Of course you could’ve walked to that nearby mall to get some grocery.

But half your attention would be split in driving, and you’d focus on the road in limited horizons.

So why not, take a walk?

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Walking is one of the best types of meditation to boost your mind. Be fully aware of your surroundings and enjoy each step.

Walking could trigger ‘involuntary attention’, which allows room for self-reflection too. See? It just doesn’t help the waist lines!

In her TED Talk, Got a meeting? Take a walk”, Nilofer Merchant talks about how ‘Walk The Talk’, could drive fresh thinking and bring new set of ideas.

The real miracle isn’t to run on water of run on fire, it’s to walk on Earth.

 

3. Uni-task

Debunk the myth of multitasking.

Multitasking makes you loose control over things you thought you’d climb a mountain of. And you don’t do any of the multiple tasks efficiently.

It also soaks away the joy of enjoying focused attention.

When your mind is engrossed in doing three activities simultaneously, it’s impossible to be mindful in any.

Of course, you can chew gum and clean at the same time. But what I’m talking is about two distinct tasks that require your full concentration.

Keep away the phone when you’re having a conversation. Look up from the screens. Take all in what is.

If you turn off your TV and just focus on every bite of the food you chew, you might notice the process itself is, delicious (even if the food isn’t).

When you do just one task at a time, you enjoy more of how it feels.

 

4. Go Through What You Go Through

Mindfulness isn’t about being happy all the time.

Nobody can be happy all the time. Everybody’s got their own baggage of unsolvable addictions and problems.

But what mindful people do differently is, they don’t avoid pain.

They completely and willingly accept what they feel. They don’t try to change it or avoid it. They feel it wholly.

While positivity is a nice thing to carry, it can have counter-intuitive effects: It might not help you get rid of any problems. But sometimes, it could make them worse.

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In his TEDx talk, ‘The willingness to crave’Jonathan Bricker, tells to be aware of your cravings instead of running from them.

He tells that the biggest secret to self control is to let go of self control. He tramps all those advises that tells you to distract yourself from distractions.

He says to be aware of them instead. Being willing and mindful of cravings and seeing them as just a thought, a thought separate from you.

 

5. Don’t Take Yourself Seriously

Mindfulness is knowing that you’re really tiny in the universe.

Don’t be carried away by emotions and anxiety all the time. Sometimes, taking things too seriously than they actually are just piles more shitload.

And eventually, everything, every problem is going to pass anyways. So better enjoy it rather than whine about it.

The right self-control is knowing you cannot control everything, and allowing yourself to cut some slack is necessary.

Else why would they have cheat days on diet plans?

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The ability to laugh at yourself helps you deal with stress easier, makes you more humorous, happier and more mindful too!

In fact, meditation and laughter look same in the brain. Amazing, isn’t it? 

I promise you this, laughing would make look everything easier.

Conclusion

While meditation is the primary key to mindfulness, there are several other easy-to-apply steps that can help you enhance control over your life:

  • Noticing the menial tasks could increase your focus level on the task in hand. While they may seem boring, paying close attention would make you realize how interesting they can be.
  • When you feel low in life, take a walk. Just as simple as it can be. Taking a drive over a walk would narrow down your attention on the road. Walking is one of the best types of meditation.
  • The myth of multitasking traps you into frustration and low productivity. Avoid doing two distinct tasks at the same time. It steals the joy of both.
  • Finally, laugh at yourself. Your problems are too tiny to be acknowledged by the universe, and that’s a good thing. Laughing and meditating look same in the brain, take the hint, laugh it away.

What problems have you faced in gaining mindfulness? How has these techniques helped you?

I’d love to know in the comments below!

The Beginner’s Guide For Improving Focus In A Distracted Economy

You have an attention span of just 8 seconds. That’s one second shorter to goldfishes.

Out of all the human abilities that have diminished during the decades, focus is the most problematic.

You have faced it too, haven’t you? You stared at the screen for five minutes without blinking, went through the page thrice, but you couldn’t grasp what was written.

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You noticed your mind is wandering.

You aren’t alone. All of us have troubles focusing. We all have been distracted.

And sadly, distractions feel great. However, there is no such thing as free lunch. No matter how amazing distractions feel, they lead to failure and regret.

Focus is the key to get things done. It’s how successful people have fulfilled their goals and become extraordinary.

It is more important than effort. Infinite amounts of effort is useless with your attention being split.

Challenging times are a piece of cake with the human ability to concentrate. Most of your tasks could be accomplished in a fraction of your normal time with complete focus.

But with the current economy selling your scarce attention, focus seems like an expensive choice.

In this article, I share with you some straightforward and easy-to-follow procedures to improve your ability to focus:

(Just don’t loose your attention in between)

 

1. Prioritize Your Energy

Have you ever felt that there are not enough hours in a day to get things done?

In the book, The Power Of Full Engagement, authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, explain why we don’t get things done even with enough time:

It’s not time that we lack, it’s energy. Human energy drains with each hour of the day. The book defies the law of “time management” and focuses on “energy management” instead.

Managing your energy (not your time) efficiently and productively, is the secret mantra to higher performance and faster growth.

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Also, make your to-do lists according to your priorities. When our mind sees the top item in the list, it automatically assumes it to be the most urgent.

The priority action needs to be taken on the task that is:

Urgent + Important + Hard

Set the list according to this technique and go on checking things off.

But remember…

 

2. Have Only One Goal At A Time

This is the easiest to get and hardest to implement strategy: Stop having so many goals.

All of us have tried to check off all the items in a long to-do list and feel good about ourselves.

However, accomplishing quantity isn’t accomplishing quality. Choices frustrate us. When there are too many things to do at the same time, we end up doing nothing.

Or we end up trying to do everything.

We all know how that works out. The secret is not to work harder to achieve more, it is to work smarter and achieve greater.

Barry Schwartz, the author of The Paradox of Choice, talks in his TED talk about how choices produces three negative effects on people:

  1. When we get too much to choose from, we find it hard to choose at all.

One effect, paradoxically, is that it produces paralysis, rather than liberation.

2.  Even if we manage to overcome the paralysis and make a choice, we end up less satisfied with the result of choice than we would be if we had fewer options to choose from.

The more options there are, the easier it is to regret anything at all that is disappointing about the option that you chose.”

3. Choices escalates our expectations. And expectations ruin you.

“Adding options to people’s lives can’t help but increase the expectations people have about how good those options will be.”

You might think that getting more done would fasten your progress. But it’s the opposite. Humans suck at multitasking. It makes you less efficient and hinders your creativity.

Set your mind only on one task at a time. Decide a time limit to your goal. Finish it. And then, focus on the next goal.

However, don’t become a workaholic…

 

3. Schedule Boring Breaks

Studies have found that people who take 15-minute breaks every couple of hours end up being more productive.

Scott Young, was able to put 8+ hours of focus per day during the MIT challenge. He mentions in his blog that he never studied in the evening or on weekends. And he is guilt-free for that.

He highlights that if you don’t schedule your off hours, your mind will do it for you: by procrastinating and losing focus.

Decide first when you are not going to work. Yes, that’s right. Schedule your distractions as precisely as you schedule your working hours.

If breaks are taken correctly, they could enhance your focus.

They help you restore your energy. Amazingly, breaks also help you in problem-solving. Ever left a problem and found the solution out of nowhere in a while or two?

That, my friend, was the power of breaks. Detaching from the problem you are stuck on for a while could help you regain your focus. Relaxing is as important as focus.

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But, do you know what good breaks are?

Good breaks are boring. Breaks are tricky business. If not applied with intelligence, they could make you fall in the pit of procrastination.

Here’s the trick: A break shouldn’t be fun. It should be relaxing. Do a boring break than the work you’re supposed to do (take a walk, sit quietly doing nothing for some time). This will make you itch to do something.

That’s when you get back at work.

But, what if your work environment is uncomfortable, or distracting?

 

4. Create The Right Environment

Motivation is often overvalued. Environment matters more than you think.

If you want to focus on grasping a subject matter by self-study, a noisy, distracted environment doesn’t allow you to.

Your motivation, willpower, focus, ability- all of this matters. But in the long run, your environment overpowers them.

If you are trying to concentrate with tabs of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram open, you are not focusing. You are just creating an unhealthy work environment for yourself.

Distraction could make you feel guilty. You wanted to complete the task today but then you started surfing over YouTube.

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Cut off all distractions. Use softwares to block social media sites when you work. Set your phone on pilot mode. Hang a “Do not disturb” sign at your door so that your colleagues or family don’t interrupt you. Unplug from technology when you work.

Keep yourself in a quiet surrounding if it works better for you. Use music to re-energize yourself in a distracted environment.

Dehydration could also reduce your concentration. Drink water frequently even if you don’t feel thirsty. Don’t sit on uncomfortable chairs to work. Have the right breakfast. Get proper sleep. Walk regularly.

Create an environment that favors you. Environment could make winning easier.

But even the perfect environment cannot make you get shit done if you let your thoughts overpower you…

 

5. Be Here Now

When you’re working, you’re working. When you’re relaxing, you’re relaxing.

Don’t think of relaxing when you are finishing your task and don’t think about working when you’re chilling on your weekend.

If you think about the upcoming party at your house while making a presentation, it’s not going to be your 100%.

Be aware. Be present. Thinking is continuous. Once you start thinking about something else in the middle of your work, it’s hard to come back and regain that flow and focus.

Meditation and exercising could help you improve your attention span to a considerable extent.

Don’t feel guilty when your mind wanders. It happens to literally everyone. Instead, identify your distraction. It’s the first step to gain awareness.

When you realize that your mind has wandered, slowly bring your attention back to the task you were doing.

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If you worry too much, schedule a “Worry Time”. This a psychological trick to stop worrying amidst your work. Set aside some 15-30 minutes for the day for just, worrying.

In this time, you could list all the things that trouble you or stress you out. Don’t think about how to solve them. But if your mind goes there, it’s fine.

And interestingly, this could lead to a significant reduction in anxiety and stress during work. You could do the same if you overthink.

Conclusion

With having an attention span of just 8 seconds, it’s hard to attain focus and get things done. I have shared some simple and straightforward methods to throw away your distractions and improve your focus. 

First, you have to prioritize your energy. It’s not time that you lack, it’s energy that drains out. Do the most important tasks when you’re the most energetic.

Second, have only one goal at a time. The more you try to get done at the same time, the less efficiently will you be able to do it.

Third, schedule breaks accordingly but make sure they’re boring. When you do something less interesting than the task at hand, it makes you itch to go back and continue. 

Fourth, create the right environment. It matters more than you think. Working in a distraction free, favorable environment enhances focus. 

Fifth, be in the present. Do what you’re doing. Stop thinking about something else. Identify when your mind wanders, and slowly go back to focus on the task you were actually doing. 


What are the problems you faced in focusing? How did you deal with them? I’d love to know in the comments below.

Why Do You Need To Cultivate The Art Of Challenging Your Beliefs

There’s a woman who comes into the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston for surgery.

Beth Israel is a teaching hospital for Harvard, one of the best hospitals in the country.

So, this woman comes, she’s anesthetized, the surgeon operates her, stitches her back and she’s out of the recovery room.

Everything seems to have worked out fine.

Except, it didn’t.

She woke up and found the wrong side of her body in bandages. The operation that had to be performed on the right side of her leg was wrongly done on the left side.

The vice president for health care quality at Beth Israel said in reference to this incident,

“For whatever reason, the surgeon simply felt that he was on the right side of the patient.”

So, do you know what being wrong feels like? It feels like being right.

How often do you find yourself wrong about any idea you’ve had? If you’re like most people, you’re answer is not very often.

It’s the same with the beliefs you hold about your life. Like, everything happens for a reason. God has punished me because I have done something bad in my past life.

All these beliefs are so integrated in your system that you hardly question them anymore.

When certain beliefs occupy your mind for years, it’s hard to debate them and see beyond it. Even if you’re wrong, you feel like you’re right.

You feel like that surgeon from Beth Israel.

And that’s a problem. Because soon enough, we operate a patient on the wrong side which feels the right side.

Now, you might ask,

What’s Wrong With Being Right (All The Time)?

You might have a lonely childhood which has caused you to believe that any friend you ever have is going to be a dickhead. As an adult, you don’t have a social circle and feel as lonely as you felt when you were 6.

Now, if you don’t get rid of this belief, it’s going to harm you and your well being. And you’ll waste a whole lot of time confirming this false belief (because, hello, confirmation bias is a monster).

You’ll search for more certainty. You’ll want that feeling of “rightness” so you’ll attract people that screw you up.

See what you just did? You dug your own grave for your social life by holding on to a stupid belief.

Why did you do that? Because you didn’t want to be wrong. Because you didn’t want to accept that what you believe was a mistake.

You’ve spent most of your life trying to avoid making mistakes.

But you know, no matter how hard you try, there’s no escaping.

You thought you’re going to marry your childhood sweetheart and live a perfect life together, but something else happened instead.

You thought you’d be happy with this job, that promotion, 500,000$, but something else happened instead.

You thought things will never work out in your 20s, but something else happened instead.

This internal sense of rightness is often not a reliable guide to the real world.

And if you close your hand, clutch these beliefs and refuse to let go, they’ll get released as a hurdle to your progress. Their heads will float in between reasonable and meaningful conversations.

Why do you want to be constantly right about everything, anyway?

Why It Feels So Good To Be Right

There’s a difference between being wrong and realizing you’re wrong.

When you’re wrong but don’t know it yet, you feel like you’re right.

But, what do you feel when you realize you’re wrong? Embarrassing. Scary. Stupid. Unworthy. Uncomfortable.

Who would want to feel that, right? But, who associated these feelings with making mistakes?

Of course, you. Your classmates laughed at you when you shouted 2+2=5 and you refused to forget it. Everyone judged you when you screwed up. So you that’s what realizing you’re wrong is supposed to feel like.

The one who’s wrong is always the loser.

And the one who is right gets attention. The one who is right is intelligent. The one who is right has all of it figured out.

Being right is addictive in itself. When you’re right about something, your brain releases adrenaline and dopamine, which is an out of body experience.

It feels so good that the next time, we want to be right again.

But instead of getting addicted to this feeling, we can approach things with another chemical.

Oxytocin, the love hormone. 

If you go towards things with an open mind, completely rejecting the assumptions you’ve built up, you can allow oxytocin to work its magic.

Instead of going, “Hey buddy, you’re wrong” with a bitch face, take a deep breath.

Then you might say,

“Maybe I’m wrong. I’ve never thought of it this way before.”

You should get started with the basics. The basics actually are the most overlooked, yet the most important part of getting started.

Questioning Your Core Beliefs

I have a friend who recently told me that he believes that money is everything, at least for him. It’s his alpha and his omega, the beginning and the end of every problem.

When I started a healthy discussion about this with him, he backed out. He just shrugged his shoulders and went “Meh.”

I wondered why wouldn’t he want to see the world in another lens, another viewpoint, another perspective. Doesn’t it feel refreshing to do that?

He told me he’s been everywhere. And what he has realized is that he’s special, that he’s not meant for all this mediocrity.

Do you recognize the core beliefs he holds on to here?

  1. Money will give me happiness
  2. I’m not average

Core beliefs are beliefs that control how you see your life, how you see others and how you see the world.

In the above scenario, my friend sees the world in bank accounts, others as mediocre and himself as above average.

All of us have certain core beliefs that we hold on to. Ironically, the most common core belief is “The one who’s right is the winner, the one who’s wrong is the loser.”

Now, some of these core beliefs can be useful (“Everything should be tested with logic and rationality”), some of them can be vague (“Everyone has a passion”), and some of them can be self-limiting (“Everyone is a dickhead so I shouldn’t make friends”).

I want you to think of a belief that you hold in all these three categories, right now.

Done? Great. Write them down.

Ask yourself now, “When was the last time that I checked on this belief? Is it still applicable?”

Some of your beliefs might not even make any sense to you. You might get shocked at some. It might surprise you how they have made your decisions for you all along. 

Talk to someone who wouldn’t share the same belief as you wrote. Listen to them with an open mind. Read a book of an author whose opinion you disagree with.

And if it’s a self-limiting belief that has stemmed from your childhood or a traumatic incident, get rid of it. Question it. Edit it ruthlessly. Why do you hold on to it? Who told you this? How long have you been believing this? Are your decisions affected by this belief? Have you been seeing the world with this preconceived notion? And finally,

Can you improve this belief to a new idea, a better one?

“Wow. I’ve never seen it this way before. Maybe I’m wrong”, you’ll say. 

Trust Yourself Fella: 5 Easy Ways To Overcome Self-Doubt

Let’s imagine for a moment that self-doubt is this cute little puppy named Tuffy.

It's hard not to love him, right?
This is our pet self-doubt dog Tuffy.

Now having a little puppy lick you on the side while you finish your dream project is sweet. Tuffy is healthy to have when he stops you from crossing the fine line between self-confidence and arrogance.

He’s useful when he stops and makes you polish your work and enhance its effectiveness.

But soon, he starts to yell at you, petrify you.

You should never send this out. Read it yourself. It totally sucks. Everyone’s going to laugh when you send this out”, barks Tuffy.

Hello, loser.

Just when you pride yourself in having healthy relationships, Tuffy bites your partner. Your boss praises you but you cannot hear him because…Tuffy keeps woofing in your ear.

Have you ever found Tuffy’s hair on your suit before a big presentation? No one will spot it but you cannot unsee it.

Tuffy doesn’t stroll in the parks like normal puppies. He likes to go on a walk with you in the examination hall.

You can see him, licking and breathing heavily as you write that book you’ve always wanted to.

Sounds similar?

We all carry Tuffy around in our heads. Successful owners of great running businesses, recognized artists, CEOs, your Facebook friend who has the perfect life because he has the money to travel everywhere – all of them have Tuffy in their lives too.

If you come home and feed this sweet monster puppy, he’s going to grow into a German Shepherd and eat everything you ever dream of.

“But I’m a dog person”

Whatever man, Tuffy haunts everyone.

Heck, Tuffy even makes you question if you were ever worthy of what you have achieved.

What do you do when a puppy has powers to hinder your life? Make you feel uncertain, un-confident and afraid? Makes you overthink everything you’ve done and wonder whether you’ll ever be good enough?

Look at him. Lying around, making you feel like a loser. But don’t you worry.

Let’s give this puppy something to cry about!

1. Accept That Tuffy Is Never Leaving

When I was a kid, I was afraid of dogs (TBH, I still am). Whenever I went to my best friend’s house, I was horror-struck at seeing her female dog (a bitch, no offense) sitting in the same bed as us.

I hated it when she smelled me.I hated it when she came so close. I would become restless and try to run away.

That’s when my best friend gave me an important life advice. “It’s better if you let her smell you, recognize you, come near you. The more you try escaping your fears, the more they come after you”,she said.

I called her a bitch and stood still like a mannequin.

But after a while, she went away herself. That’s when I realized that our little Tuffy is just like that.

Tuffy won’t go away, ever.

So, what can you do?

Accept that Tuffy may pop up at any time unannounced. But don’t push him away. Once you do that, he’ll pop up face-close the next time.

Haha, I’m back!

Let Tuffy smell you. Sometimes it’ll howl and yelp and lick your ears as well. Let him do his thing and then you can move on without paying heed to his barking.

“Tuffy keeps howling at me that I’m not good enough, but fuck it, I know better than him. I know I can do it”, say to yourself.  

If you run away from dogs in fear, they chase you more, right? But what do you do when Tuffy takes up all the room in your brain and keeps coming back and forth on your lap? You ask him, hey, where have you been?

2. Where Is Tuffy Coming From?

Let’s imagine for a moment that Tuffy is coming to visit you – unexpectedly, of course.

Now, try to find out where he had been all this time.

Was he locked up in a time where you were miserable because you failed at something and kept sabotaging yourself? Does he mince words of someone close that had hurt you in the past?

All of your insecurities have a root cause. Tuffy smells like the past, a rotten extinct thing you cannot let go of.

The Tuffy that keeps visiting me has the fragrance of people who have told me that I suck at what I do. When my Tuffy barks, it feels like he’s repeating the words someone had said to me four years ago.

To try and limit the time Tuffy spends with me, I try to practice mindfulness. I realize that the he is coming from the past, and not the present.

Once you have found that Tuffy is not rational because he mostly talks of the past, you can stop making fear-induced decisions. You won’t allow Tuffy to help you procrastinate and validate your insecurities.

Because let’s accept it, if you listen to Tuffy, you’re going to be fucked up. The guy sucks. He leaves you bummed most of the time when he visits.

But maybe sometimes you do listen to what Tuffy says, and oh-oh, sometimes you agree and get pissed at yourself.

Before you trash talk yourself about what Tuffy the self-doubt puppy monster said to you, let me ask; What’d you do if Tuffy shows up at a loved one’s door?

3. When Tuffy Bites Your Darlings

What would you say to your friend, partner or family member if he or she was bit by Tuffy?

Thought of it? Great. Now say those words to yourself.

Studies have proven again and again that self-compassion is positively correlated with a positive psychological health.

I know it’s not that easy. But when something goes wrong, what you do defines the frequency of your sessions with Tuffy later on. More often than not, we’re our worst critics.

If you feel inadequate and tell yourself that you’re a failure and you’re not good enough, Tuffy is going to get the hang of it and repeat it to you for months.

So what do you do? How do you stop being plagued by self-doubt monster puppy Tuffy? Just ask yourself this:

“What’d you do if Tuffy showed up at someone else’s door?”

Maybe you give them a tight hug. You tell them that you believe in them. Maybe you remind them how far they’ve come. Now, just repeat those for yourself.

It sounds cheesy, I know. But self-compassion is a no side effect medicine for eliminating the Tuffy disease. It’s worth it if it gets that dog out, right?

Apart from self compassion, there’s another antidote to Tuffy – your achievements.

4. Honor Your Achievements

I’m guilty of learning this method a little too late myself. But hey, better late than never, right?

Make it a ritual to write your goals AND your achievements. It’s important to move forward. But it’s equally important to be thankful for where you are right now.

Honoring your achievements might sound trivial, but it’s pinnacle for your happiness and productivity. If you see how far you’ve come, it’s hard to doubt that you cannot move ahead.

Cross off items in your to-do list only to rewrite them as “My Accomplishments.”

And please add anything else to the list you pride yourself in. Make them visible. Give yourself credit for anything you’ve achieved.

Next time when Tuffy visits you with a list full of reasons why you’re not good/smart/competent/worthy enough, flash him with a list of your accomplishments.

Seeing that, he’ll grind his teeth, squeeze his eyes and leave. That’s how you looked as a child when you had a tablespoon of cough syrup.

But what if Tuffy is the pet of someone close to you?

5. Notice Patterns Of Tuffy’s Footprint

Where do you find Tuffy’s footprint the most?

Is it outside a friend’s house who you dread meeting? Is it outside your boss’ cabin who never gave you a compliment?

Sometimes the ones closest to you can hamper your self-confidence by constantly criticizing you.

Don’t get me wrong. I love feedback. As much as they suck, they improve me. But if you tell me there’s something wrong with me every time I come to you, it’s a goodbye.

The people you surround yourself with have a lasting impact on you. If you notice Tuffy barking at you every time you meet someone, maybe consider letting them go.

Life’s too short to have a relationship with Tuffy’s owners.

What do you do when Tuffy visits you? Tell me in the comment section below!

Until next time!

Why You Should Approach Everything In Life With Genuine Curiosity

A book loving girl of 5 has now figured out that books don’t just pop out of heaven, but that people write them.

And these people are called, writers.

After knowing this, her destiny is changed. She knows she wants to be a writer and that she needed to be a writer and that she was born to write.

At 16, she pledged and vowed to God that she’ll write all her life and never, ever give up this vocation.

From the beginning, this little girl knew that all she wanted to do in life was write.

She got a day job as a diner waitress and worked all day and then came home smelling like other people’s french fries. And then, the waitress got to her real work: Writing.

Rejection letter after rejection letter kept pouring in. Until, one fine day, she published her first book.

Yet, it wasn’t like she can rely on her art to pay her bills. She continued her day job even after her third book was published.

But with her fourth book, she got her break. It was a massive success. People kept talking about her and her writing. Her struggle was recognized and seen as an inspiration to “never, ever give up.”

Then, people started to ask her to come and inspire other people. She went on stage and kept preaching every single time: Follow your passion. Follow your passion. Follow your passion.

But does this knowing-what-you-want-to-do-with-your-life-at-kindergarten happen often?

At 5, I wanted to be an astronaut. At 8, a teacher. I joined a music class at 11 and all I dreamed of was becoming a singer and performing concerts.

At 13, I was all into Science and wanted to be a doctor. But I chose to study Accounts, Economics and Mathematics at 15. Then, I switched my college major to Psychology.

Most of us don’t know what do we want to do with our lives even after we’ve graduated college. In your 20s, your career aspirations change by the hour.

Every adult goes through this phase where he or she struggles to find their “life purpose” or their “passion” or their “calling.”

What do adults like you and me do when we struggle with this existential crisis?

We listen to motivators like that little girl who has “made it.” We find stories of people who never gave up and became an “overnight success.”

People who just came into the world and announced, “This is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life” and stuck to it.

Maybe another tab is open in your browser about an under resourced small town boy who made it to Harvard.

But let me tell you right away something that you’re soon going to realize: It’s possible not to have a single “passion”. It’s possible that there is no “one thing” you were born to do.

When you realize this, you’re going to get pissed off at everyone who told you otherwise. You’re going to regret buying those quick fix solutions about chasing your passion and hurl abusive YouTube comments at people who told you “If you can dream it, you can have it.”

Just like you, a woman was pissed of at the successful writer we’ve been talking about. She looked for some guidance that does not paraphrase the same “passion” bullshit she has heard all her life.

After that passionate writer wounded up repeating the same things, she went and wrote a letter to her on Facebook out of frustration.

At that time, she had no idea she’s altering Elizabeth Gilbert’s beliefs drastically.

Gilbert has made the mistake of assuming that everyone has a passion and everyone can find it and pursue it with fire in their bellies and a soul-revolution in their rib cages.

The author of Eat, Pray, Love, comes on to stage and apologizes for the millions of people she has left behind when she urged people to “follow your passion.”

The World Is Divided Into Two Kinds Of People

Do you believe that the world is divided into two kinds of people?

People with 24654 unread emails and people who check their mail every 20 minutes. People who set their alarms to 8:00AM and people who set it to 8, 8:15, 8:30 and 8:45. People who open Chrome and a new tab opens and people who open Chrome and 30 tabs start loading.

But there’s also another not-so-funny and non-tumblr category of people.

Gilbert calls these people jackhammers and hummingbirds. Archilochus, the Greek poet, called them hedgehogs and foxes.

A fragment of Archilochus’ poem, goes like this: “The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows only one thing.”

Hedgehogs and jack hammers are the specialists. They have unwavering central focus and never-dying passion for what they do.

But this deep ended knowledge of just one subject makes their perspectives narrower. They do simplify problems. But their solutions are derived from a limited source, which makes their predictions less reliable.

Biologically speaking, the hedgehogs species are less adaptable to change. But in the real world, they succeed because of their strength to concentrate.

Who are these hedgehogs and jackhammers? The gynecologist you go to when you have an itch. The PhD psychologist who can relate your itch to the brain traps.

These are the people who know more and more about less and less. These are writers like Gilbert and dedicated artists who have been practicing since they were at a single digit age.

And you need them, whether you accept that or not. You’d rather go to a cardiologist when you have a stroke rather than a physician, right?

But we also have the foxes and hummingbirds, who are the generalists.

These are the people that learnt to draw a human body but not the face. The people who can be your plumber on a Sunday and the one who makes DIYs on YouTube. These are the people that have led their lives following not their passion, but their curiosity.

They have switched jobs and studied, experimented, learnt multiple things. The generalists tend to form their perspectives based on the plethora of experiences that they had in their lives.

They know that just one “big idea” is not responsible for any outcome. Their predictions involves multiple causes and a pinch of luck – they are mostly right.

Biologically, foxes are flexible to change. They’re openness to learn new things allow them to thrive in any kind of environment.

Foxes know that a happy life is a balance of fulfilling work, good relationships, healthy body and everything else.  

Who are these hummingbirds and foxes? These are the top-rated CEOs who need to manage work, people and innovation. The manager who needs to listen to the labor forces and also understand his boss.

These are artists like Da Vinci who not only painted the Mona Lisa but was also a genius in engineering, botany, history, mathematics and literature. He was, in fact, notorious for holding thousands of different jobs in his lifetime.

You might know Shakespeare as only a writer but he possessed an extraordinary knowledge in agriculture, Latin and politics too.

So, which one could you be?

The Generalized Hedgehog

The modern world requires you to excel in something. You’ve got to choose a major in college and study, perform, work in one specific field for the rest of your life.

But if you’re anything like me, one profession doesn’t quench your thirst for a happy life.

And also, if you stay in only your core competency, you’re only going to get diminishing returns. The value of your specialization might go on decreasing as innovations in technology increase.

I don’t mean that you should drop out of your college and do different jobs and barely survive. I urge you to do is find a sweet spot.

Try to find something that interests you other than your specialization. Learn about its key ideas and get back to your specialization.

Instead of killing your curiosity, try to nurture it. 

Maybe you already have a job, a PhD and something that you excel at. And if it serves you, please keep at it.

But bring along your curiosity. If something sparks up your interest, go ahead and learn it. Have wonderful new experiences. With the internet, doing all this in a budget and according to your time is so much easier.

You know what’s gonna happen once you do that?

Da Vinci’s knowledge about botany and mathematics glorified some of his paintings. He applied them rigorously into his specialized art.

Shakespeare’s writing was greatly influenced by his grip over agriculture and politics.

Gilbert, in her hummingbird speech, also mentions that generalized specialists carry their experiences around from tree to tree, from flower to flower, pollinating everywhere.

This makes their lives blossom with flowers and makes them excel and stand out in their area of expertise. It’ll make you see something you saw daily with new eyes.

And what have you got to lose, anyway? You didn’t pledge allegiance to any one interest. You didn’t commit lifelong practice to it or quit your job.

If you find it too hard, just read a book about something that you’ve been curious for.

So, tell me, what new thing are you going to approach next?

5 Scientifically Uncommon Ways To Be Happy

Relationships, fulfilling work, exercising, gratitude- all these are some of the common things that contribute to your happiness.

But sometimes the little things make the biggest difference. There are some tiny unnoticeable things we do that spark joy – without us even noticing it. These things are the granola to your breakfast parfaits and garlic to your curries.

What I’m saying is, they’re super easy to apply and super healthy to use!

A total win-win, right?

1. Self-love Or Selfless-giving

What do you do when you feel sad or upset? Do you preach self-love and buy yourself something fancy?

Maybe you binge on a potato chips packet until you’re elbow deep into it. Maybe you binge on something else, like Netflix and finish out 28 one hour episodes in 5 days (Yup, not guilty of doing that, at all).

Whatever you do, you spend some money on yourself to make yourself feel better. And I’m all in for it. You need to allow yourself to relax and enjoy sometimes – it shows you love yourself.

Unless it becomes a habit and starts hurting your health. Self-love is all good and necessary until it reaches to the point that you become obese and unproductive.

So, the next time you feel disheartened, maybe you could try spreading some love instead of keeping it just for yourself. Share those potato chips and become obese together!

No, just kidding. Share some broccoli.

In a recent experiment, participants were divided into two groups and given equal amount of money. One group was asked to spend it on themselves and others were asked to spend it on someone they know.

And what do you know? Generosity and happiness have a neural link.

The people who had committed to spend this money on someone else were found to be more happier. Not just happy in the moment, but their overall long term well being was also improved.

I’m not asking you to buy a diamond ring for your mother and drums for your friend. Something as simple as buying flowers for your spouse is also a sign of giving.

Or go to your parents and make them dinner. Buy your friend a book he’s wanting since long. Donate to a street musician. Listen to him for a while. Smile at your neighbor. Ask your mailman how he’s doing. 

You see? Money is not important at all. The important thing is time, effort, attention and most of all, a little love.

The next time you think the best way to make yourself feel better is to buy yourself a treat, consider the opposite. It’s worth a shot – making someone smile.

2. Slip On Dusty Photo Albums

How about you spend the dull days swapping through those photo albums?

Do you remember playing teacher with 50 imaginary students? Do you know you ate flour raw as a toddler? And see, it’s your graduation day. Everyone looks so happy bumping into the real world – which sucks, but we’re gonna love it anyway!

It’s bittersweet, I know. You remember happy times which kinda make you sad it’s over but happier that it happened, you all know what I’m saying?

But apart from reviving happy memories, nostalgia helps you develop a more positive outlook for your future.

It’s obvious, isn’t it? You hop on a roller-coaster, travel back in time and when you’re on your ride back, you see how far you’ve come.

Seeing this assures you that you can make it ahead as well. It makes you look positively at your future with confidence. You believe you’re worthy and capable of having an optimistic destiny.

Clear off the dust from the album shelf and jump inside the roller-coaster ride. Remember those stories you created. Look how dreamy it all looks.

Can’t find photo albums?

No problem. Pick up your phone and dial to your oldest friend. Talk about that class you bunked to create the memories you remember. Laugh at how stupid you were.

If you cannot find your oldest friend on Facebook and Instagram, don’t worry. You created a personal diary! Maybe you were not regular but I know you’ve all begun sometime.

So read it again and travel back with words. It’s like looking at a word photo album. And it smells like an old friend.

This feeling is a “Dear Diary” moment.

Nostalgia, anyone?

3. Food!

I think women belong in the kitchen. Even men belong in the kitchen. Everyone belongs in the kitchen. Kitchen has food.

Now, I know this for sure; food makes everyone happy. The smell of a slice of pizza ringing on your doorbell jumps up your dopamine pleasure buttons and makes your head swirl in that beautiful mozzarella cheese.

I know your mouth is watering…

But I said before that this list is going to be healthy! And it is. So the delivery boy came to the wrong house.

Ugh.

But worry not, because I still have something that’s gonna make you happy.

FRUIT! And a vegetable salad.

A study done in Britain on over 80,000 people has proven that people who consume fruits and vegetables daily have a higher likelihood of life satisfaction and happiness.

But what about how tasty a pizza is?

The oily and greasy stuff may gratify your tongue for the time being, but junk food actually hampers your physical health and mental mood in the long-term.

What you seek is happiness, what you get is pleasure.

So what foods make you happy? Fruits that contain vitamin C, baby! It releases dopamine too. And what has Vitamin C? Fruits!

Also other nutrients contained in veggies and other fruits, like calcium, chromium and iron promote happiness.

Not convinced yet?

Healthy people are on an average 20% happier than pizza eaters. A whopping 20%!

You don’t want to miss out on that, do you?

4. Get That Vacuum Cleaner, Now!

I know I’m not your mom and you’ve moved away and you’re so grown up and a messy desk is a sign of creativity, but whatever.

Stop with the excuses already. You’re social animals, not wildlife animals. The jungle of your hair clogged in the bathroom or the smelly pillowcases or the heap of useless papers is not adaptable for you.

This clutter and mess is going to increase cortisol in your brain. You know what cortisol is, it’s a stress hormone, you fool.

And you’re going to catch a disease if you don’t take the trash out soon. And trust me, I know most of the trash is lying on the empty side of your bed.

I know you’re going to say you’re stressed because of work and busy. But hey, Scottish Health Survey has found that doing housework can reduce that – by 20%.

But are you so stressed that you cannot even sleep properly? Then make your bed child! It makes you 19% more likely to have a better quality of sleep.

Clear the clutter in your household to clear the clutter in your brains, kiddo.

Enough sounding like a mathematical mom.

5. Have A Genuine Interaction With A Stranger

I know I just scolded you to clean like your mother then I’m telling you to indulge with strangers.

I’m an unique mother.

Forget what your parents have taught you about never, ever interacting with a stranger. Become a grown-up and know when someone is offering candy to hit on you or to kidnap you.

If you count the number of unfamiliar faces you come across in a day, you’d run out of fingers. Can you even describe your mailman’s face to the police? Do you know if the Uber driver that came to pick you is the same from the picture that comes on his profile? How many neighbor’s names do you know?

You see a familiar face on bus every day and you know his stop but not his name. You never even tried to pass a smile.

I know you love your solitude and you don’t care about people. But just sometimes, strike up a conversation. People (named research) say it makes you happier.   

Social animals, not wildlife animals, remember?

The next time, talk to your neighbor. Ask what he does for a living. Or talk to your barista. Know where he is from. Or your cab driver. He might know an interesting place. Or the guy you see on the subway everyday. He might share a few hobbies.

Put the damn phone down and have real conversations.

Conclusion

If you’re upset or having a rough time, start to declutter the mess. Take out your vacuum cleaner. And now you’ve come across that old photo album, take a moment to visit it.

I know you’re hungry after all this cleaning. Don’t order a pizza, grab a fruit. 

If you’re still gloomy, buy me a beer. Maybe we could have a genuine conversation too.