10 Life Improvement Secrets That Actually Work

Growing up and facing the reality of becoming an adult might be overwhelming for some of us. It seems like all the everyday life hardships affect our life quality and we cannot do anything to change this.

The good news is: we can improve our well-being and our lives. No need to do something magical, but we can follow some simple life hacks. Paying attention to details, to our minds and bodies is the secret. Sounds complicated, but let’s see ten of the most successful life improvement secrets that actually work.

 1. Wake Up Early

I know, we are all waiting for those weekend days, when you can sleep how much you want, when you do not have to go to your job and can actually spend time with yourself. But, if you sleep until noon, how much time for yourself is left?

The answer is: too little. Waking up early is the biggest secret to improve your life. You will have more time to invest in your hobbies and yourself. As Benjamin Franklin once said: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”.

2. Get Rid of Your Bad Habits

We all have some dirty pleasures. While some of us are smoking, some are eating a lot of sweets when nervous. These bad habits are constantly affecting our life quality and we are not doing anything at all to change this. They are jeopardizing our goal accomplishment and our physical and mental health.

As James Clear says, you do not eliminate a bad habit, you replace it. A lot of our bad habits form when we are bored or stressed. So, it is better to replace a bad habit with a good one, a habit which is satisfying the same needs as the previous one.

3. Take a Break

We are constantly living in a rush. Some days, even if we wake up early, it seems like we do not have enough time. We have to go to work, meet with friends, cook and eventually, read or watch a series.

We all know how tiring and stressful a day can become. Sadly, we do not have a pause button, but we can take a break. You cannot expect to have success, to be effective or creative when you are stressed or tired. Taking a break can be beneficial for both your mental and physical health.

4. Read Books

A very common piece of advice is to read more and more books. Books make you smarter. So, why not improve your abilities to ease your life? Why not relax a little bit? Why not learn something new? Not only do we have to take care of our body, we have to do the same for our soul and mind.

This is the easiest way to stay updated and learn something new at the same time. If you feel that your reading pace prevents you to spend more time on this hobby, you can learn to read 300 percent faster in just 20 minutes. Why don’t you give it a try?

5. Identify Your Values

Have you ever wondered what guides our behaviour and a way of thinking? What makes us act the way we do? The answer is our values. Even though for most of us it is hard to identify what are the most important things to us, it is not impossible. You can ask a coach for help, or you can try to identify your core values by yourself.

It is important to know yourself the best you can. These values influence your way of being and living your life. But, you can use them to your advantage. You can get rid of the things that harm you and you didn’t even know. Act according to your core values and you will be happier and happier.

6. Set SMART Goals

The concept of SMART goals is often present in the corporate environment. Yet we can use it in our everyday life too. Of course, we all have goals and dreams, we all want to have them fulfilled. But what is it that makes it so hard to even start to accomplish them?

Put aside reasons like a low level of motivation, lack of time or tiredness. Start working on how you set your goals. SMART comes from Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bounded. If you set your goals too general, it will come hard to evaluate if you achieved them.

So, follow the rules of SMART goals. It is the first step in your journey of fulfilling your dreams and accomplishing your goals. Having something more specific to follow will make your journey easier and more enjoyable.

7. Practice Positive Thinking

We have all heard about the power of positive emotions. Emotions have recently raised the interest of researchers. And learning about them and how to control them can improve your quality of life.

The positive thinking can be present in many forms, starting from optimism and ending with self-efficacy. What is most important: the power of positive thinking is increased by our core values. So, if you have identified your core values, you have probably changed your way of thinking and behaving at least a bit.

You can learn about what makes you happy and how your connections with others can influence your life in a positive way. The power of positive thinking is unimaginable and can give your super powers! You may also consider reading “Zen and the art of happiness” by Chris Prentiss, it can change the way you live your life.

8. Practice Mindfulness

Focusing on your past or on the things you could have done better will have no positive influence. Mindfulness is a technique that helps you stay present. It is based on meditation and helps you concentrate on the present moment.

This technique teaches you how to sharpen your concentration skills by using breath as an anchor to the present moment. Meditation has powerful benefits on your mental health and on your stress level.

If you are a beginner, you may find it difficult at first. The most important is not to give up. Continue, learn how to do it and become your own master of relaxation.

9. Keep Your Back Straight

Jordan B. Peterson has a famous saying: “If you slump around, with the same bearing that characterizes a defeated lobster, people will assign you a lower status, and the old counter that you share with crustaceans, sitting at the very base of your brain, will assign you a low dominance number.” This quote underlines the power of susceptibility.

There are a lot of things that harm us or make us happy and we don’t even know how. On the same side, there are a lot of ways to improve your lifestyle, and you are not aware of them.

Keeping your back straight and your shoulders back are some of these effective and subliminal ways that help you keep the anxiousness and sadness away. Just give it a try!

10. Surround Yourself with People That Love You

Yes, we have all heard the famous advice: Choose your friends wisely. Having lots of friends who say that they will be there for you any moment you will need them, is a nice thing to have. But are they all true friends?

Even though the friendship is a long-term one, it is wise to keep in mind that the human nature is mysterious sometimes. And it also works in some strange ways. We expect the others to be fair and sincere with us like we are to them.

That’s why it is important to surround yourself with people that love you, that won’t let you down and will be a source of motivation and encouragement.

Conclusion

No one wants to have a life full of boredom and stress. A life with no accomplishments and no dreams fulfilled. That’s why we have to learn to control the things we can and accept the things that we cannot control.

A happy life is a life lived to its fullest. Even though there might be hardships, it is important to know how to overcome them. Take into consideration adopting new lifestyles and new ways of thinking.

Even if it is not something practical to do, it’s something highly effective. Embrace and decipher all the secrets that will totally change the way you live and your perspective of the world.

Photo credits: https://www.freeimages.com/photo/inspiration-again-1383695

Where Is Your Center?

In the midst of work storms of the modern world, we normally forget where our mind is centered. The mind is at ease when it locates itself at a single point, however our peace or distress largely depends on where the mind actually rests.

Different centers

Imagine it is the weekend and you have promised your kid to take him to a fair ground. Your boss asks you to stay at work to do some arrangements for the upcoming event. You may doubt what to do and at last you accept to spend your weekend at the office postponing the fair to another time. If something like this happens a lot, you are probably work-centered.

The issue is not always with the job. Imagine there’s a sound inside you that constantly calls for the joy and party, drinks and night life. You are mostly in the clubs or you have long hours of staying awake playing and enjoying and probably trying to convince yourself that you are happy and free. In this case, you are joy-centered.

Many people’s mind is totally dependent on other people. For example, you are obsessed with your partner’s behaviour. You adjust everything to satisfy him or her. You constantly analyse their actions to see if they are happy with you or not. Honestly speaking, you are partner-centered.

It is the same for friends; your plans depend on your friends’ plans; if you are alone for a day, you feel lonely and depressed. This is labelled as friend-centered.

Let’s contemplate it more. In some cultures showing respect to the family is greatly encouraged and it is truly a universal goodness. However, many people might not think that being too much attached to the family may hurt them someday. Life is always changing. It’s unsteady and it has never promised to stay the same. Life is changeable and so are the people! Can you be a hundred percent sure that your family is immortal? Or they will never embarrass you or even choose a way which is totally against your life-style or your life philosophy? When you are in such a situation and you are family-centered, it is the time to re-evaluate your values and fix them mindfully.

Silencing the mind

This list is endless. We might be self-centered, product-centered, fashion-centered, church or mosque-centered, status-centered and so on…But the big question is where the mind should be and how we can gain peace of mind? Many philosophers, mind masters and even neuroscientists advise us to provide some moments of silence for the mind; when the mind is silent but alert! This is a good practice to train the mind to be free from all thoughts and worries of life.

There are numerous techniques of meditations and yoga which help us do so. A very useful type of meditation which I personally practice is to take the mind to the center of the body. The center of the body is the center of gravity. It is approximately located two finger width above the navel. Meditation is not a magic and it needs to be practiced every day. We brush our teeth every day for two or three times. Meditation is also one of our daily routines which we need to do to keep the mind healthy and free. It is a mind exercise to position the mind in its right place. When our mind is at the center, we avoid spending lots of energy to center the mind on purposeless things around us. We need to take care of our mind and by doing so we gradually become professional in taking mindful decisions and enjoying a balanced life.

Inspired by the book: The seven habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey

Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash

4 Ways Travelling Makes You Grow

grow

One day I went snorkelling on a boat in Vietnam, and met an Australian couple who travel permanently. They have retired and dedicated their life to travelling, and I was very surprised to hear from them that “travelling was hard work”. Years have passed since then, and today I perfectly understand this sentence. Not only do we laugh, enjoy, post on instagram when we travel, but we also become disciplined, overcome our fears and grow.

How exactly does travelling help you grow?

1) Out of your comfort zone

Your comfort zone is where you do not have to make efforts. Please agree that to arrange a trip, you need to search, compare, book, communicate, plan and make a lot of effort. When you start fearing, this is when you go in the right direction – fear and discomfort are indicators of growth, of expanding your comfort zone. When your comfort zone expands, you start feeling comfortable in more places and situations, and your mind expands too.

Facing your fear helps you grow.

grow travel

2) New perspective

Have you every eaten salty pig fat? If you visit Ukraine, you may think this is the best dish ever. Have you ever eaten corn and beans for dessert? This is what they eat in China. Have you ever dressed in a skirt as a man? In Burma it’s a national costume, and all men in the streets wear skirt.

It does not matter if you pick up the new perspective or not, but you learn to notice it, and appreciate it. Sometimes lessons from another culture really help change your life – I learnt from Thai people how to be ‘sabai’ – not to worry about anything and just chill out.

Learning new perspectives allow you to grow.

3) New skills and habits

I love travelling so much that I decided to make it my lifestyle. I managed to give away most of my things and live out of the backpack. This is my shower and make up kit, only the things I need and very well packed. This is how travelling can discipline you!

travel grow

You can learn how to ride a bicycle instead of using public transport in Beijing, because it is the easiest way to get around. One can study yoga in India, because this country is breathing yoga. You can learn free-diving in Koh Tao, the conditions for it are the best there. It is very often that places where we go create the best environment for learning a new skill. 

With new skills and habits you grow.

4) Understanding others – understanding yourself

Sometimes you come to a new country and freak out because things are done differently. In Thailand everyone is smiling at you and does not show their emotions. Being polite is a top priority, emotional intelligence is not trendy there. In Vietnam people are so open and sincere that it sometimes feels rude. One of my Vietnamese friends once told me – ‘You got a bit fat and your skin is so dark’ (which was her disapproving that I went suntanning). She was very sweet and I did not get offended, but she expressed it so honestly that it may feel inappropriate in other cultures.

Seeing both perspectives helped me put myself in the shoes of a person from another culture, and I could easier understand both cultures.

When you understand, you grow.

How does traveling make YOU grow? Please comment below.

Enjoyed this article? Read about 5 Ways nature can heal you.

grow travel

 

How To Program Your Mind For Success?

Our time and energy in this life is limited. A person can spend a great deal of time worrying and doubting, especially when feeling stuck. This way, one would end up wasting a lot of time, often not realizing that the solution is to channel the willpower, to start with one thing, then slowly build it up. How to make sure that the time we spend here is not wasted? A lot depends on how we program our mind and what we feed our mind with. Here are some techniques to help you.

1) Check your habits

What we feed our mind is what creates the patterns according to which we operate; it determines the life and passion that we experience at each given moment. This leads us to the rate of success and happiness that we enjoy through our life.

In order to take control of this, we need to start by checking our habits. Are they taking us to the path of success and happiness? Let’s remember, that though we are endowed with the awareness to feel the weight of negative patterns, we also have the ability to rise and make our dreams come true by putting a conscious effort into patterns that we are creating. Ask yourself: how can I nourish myself in the next hour, in the next day so that I build the life I want and deserve?

2) Visualize success

Visualisation is a powerful technique that allows to picture and project ourselves where we wish to be to the greatest detail. We can grasp that feeling, use the energy we get from it to make it happen.

Make a conscious choice to give yourself time out. Walk in nature, cherish the moments that give an opportunity to disconnect from everything that is distracting and preventing you to be completely honest with yourself. Create your own rituals to start and end the day. Make time for meditation as often as you can. As you work with your willpower and attention, especially in meditation, you will notice the length of time, attention and concentration varying. As time expands, you will come to a point where you can feel comfortable and enjoy  longer practice sessions which give you the chance to sink in and touch the depths of what visualisation has to offer.

3) Be bold and imagine your own funeral

A bold exercise is to imagine your own funeral. Imagine walking into a room. Inside the room are your friends and family. And as you walk into the room, you see a box. You realise that you are in the box and it’s the day of your funeral. What kind of things do you want people to remember about the life you lived, about the kind of person you were, about the things you did and the way you made them feel when they were around you?

4) Empower your thoughts

You have the power to take control over your thoughts. Use the energy you save here for doing good. Replace the negative thoughts with those that support you. No one can do it for you, you are alone in this. Start to move towards your goal: visualise it, imagine it happening, feel it happening right now. Get clear on what you want to see happening and your life will change. You are worth it! A happy life is not an accident, and you can make it happen.

Whenever you catch yourself saying something negative about yourself or your plans and abilities, replace it with something wholesome.

5) Dig into yourself

Everyone has the opportunity, the right and the obligation to be happy.  What do you love doing? What can you do about it? Where are the people with similar ideas?

We are versions of many possibilities. And definitely more than the sum of our thoughts. Be aware of what the mind is telling you and ask yourself if it helps you become the person you want to be.

Conclusion

Every day is a new chance. You can get your mind to figure out where you want to be, what you need to do to achieve it, why it means something for you and then program your mind to do it. It is often that what you’ve been postponing  to do is the place where to start, the game changer. The one that can break the rut. The one that helps you start the day with fresh energy. You can program your mind for success.

“Owning your story and loving yourself through that process is the bravest thing that you’ll ever do.” (Brené Brown)

  • To learn more about visualising your own funeral see Michael Gerber The E-Myth Revisited
  • Photo credits: Vasilios Muselimis@unsplash

How Nature Can Inspire Some Habits

I have been observing the curious life of meditators for a certain number of years. From the journals of people who are writing their daily thoughts and experiences, I have come to notice that we often feel motivated to pay attention to the patterns arising in the mind, the quality of our inner talk and learning how to access the feeling of a mind that is settling down and, at the same time, be less patient with our bodies, the connection between the way we feel physically and how far we can get, mentally.

A meditator can patiently wait for hours for the mind and thoughts to settle down and have the feeling of inner calm restored in the process, yet be less tolerant with a back pain, cold, sleepiness creeping in at the end of a long day.

In the words of Alan Harrington “We must never forget that we are cosmic revolutionaries, not stooges conscripted to advance a natural order that kills everybody.”

Health is wealth and for that to be attained or maintained we must honour the nature in ourselves.

One of the best things we can do for our health is to fill ourselves with fresh air and leave aside the city hassle as often as we can.

I am not talking about the-once-a-year big get-away in the heart of nature or a retreat in an isolated place, but rather about making time to be in nature as often as we can.

In the past year, I feel nature has taught me a lot and there is much more to explore. 

From overcoming laziness to getting an early start for the day and spending time in the quietness of the forest at least 4 – 5 times a week.

Changing the weekend routine from sorting out things I did not have time to deal with during the week, shopping, eating out and catching up with friends to hiking from sunrise to sunset and sharing a lunch box with friends out of wifi reach and preferably somewhere at high altitude. From relying on my phone to tell me how to get to places to paying attention to the landscape, mentally recording landmarks so that I would be able to make my way back, learning about the clouds and the direction and intensity of the wind so that I would be able to tell which way I’d need to move to be out of storm’s reach.

The rules of nature are clear and nature respects everyone. Nature is welcoming and it makes space for all the plants and the trees, allowing all projects to grow and to flourish so that when one does not work out, not all is lost and the soil is not barren. I often feel that the rate of personal success and growth depends on clarifying our goals and the habits that support us. Nothing is lost and everything can be re-purposed. 

Two years ago, I have written about health and how peace starts on our plate.

photo source @seanafnan

5 Tips For Mindful Eating

Mindful-eating

Mindfulness is a state of mind that helps you focus on the present without being judgmental. You do not necessarily have to cut down on your food intake to lose those pounds as you can adjust your mindset by training your mind to be consciously aware of every bite that you take. Often we are not aware of what we munch and nibble on throughout the day casually in office, or while dropping your child to school. Your body continuously gives you cues as to when you are hungry and you need to decode your body’s feedback accurately so that you do not misinterpret them and indulge in impulsive eating. Just like a good night’s sleep is important for your child similarly eating mindfully can help you take care of your health. Continue reading “5 Tips For Mindful Eating”

Why meditation is better than counting sheep

Have you ever had one of those sleepless nights, where you change your posture for hundred times already, flip your pillows for that cooler side, count white fluffy sheep for an hour and still can’t fall asleep? If you had one of those nights, you know how annoying it is to check the clock constantly just to realize that you are still awake and even when you wake up, you feel more tired than before. One of such nights can be still bearable, but what if you cannot fall asleep night after night? Continue reading “Why meditation is better than counting sheep”