Consistent success cannot be attained by anyone without practising goal-aligned behaviours on a regular basis, and the good news is that consistency can be acquired and controlled.
There can be many factors that make highly successful people different from many of us. Natural ability, luck, access to various resources, genetics and environment, all play a big role in making someone famous and on top of their game.
The brain loves rewards, which it associates with novelty and happiness. If one focuses on the reward that comes when completing a task, it becomes enticing, and doesn’t take much effort. If one focuses on the challenges or on the effort required to complete the task, it becomes a pain.
Your direction of focus is the reason most new year resolutions fail, and also why you can’t wake up at 5:00 am.
When we decide to write more often or go to the gym every day we are setting vague, undefined goals, that are bound to be dismissed by the mind.
Setting up bold, clear and intentional statements makes us want to implement them. Example: I want to spend 30 minutes jogging at 7:00 am with this playlist on.
Too much friction diminishes the probability of our doing the desired task.
If our new habit requires a lot of effort, mind and energy, we are less likely to do it. If we want to paint, for example, and the colours and canvas are nowhere to be found, kept away in closets or the garage, we are less likely to start painting, due to the added friction.
One solution is to game your environment to facilitate certain good habits, triggering the desired behaviour. It’s also a good idea to automate certain behaviour patterns by using phone notifications or reminders.
If we focus too much on the destination we lose the flavour and the fun of the journey. Our brain gets tired of waiting for the reward and craves something in the present moment. The reward is also not completely certain, making it a zero-sum game.
The solution is to reframe your outcome as a learning goal, focusing on the mastery and fresh new skills you gain along the way. Example: Instead of learning coding languages for a degree that can land you a job, focus on learning the actual languages to improve your skills, enjoying the challenge of learning something new.
We try to use willpower to move past the million distractions that come in the way of us and our goals. It isn’t very effective. There is a shortcut that does not require heroic self-control and willpower all the time.
One can try implementing the Ulysses Pact, or a commitment device, which is a way to hack your behaviour in order to resist temptation. Example: Keeping your phone switched off or locked up until you have completed a certain task.
Philosophy, for the deep thinkers, was a daily discipline that put an end to the anxiety and suffering.
Great men like Socrates, the many Stoics, Epicureans and many others knew about the fundamental flaw in our judgement that is the reason for our misery: Valuing superficial things like money, prestige and material comforts.
We all have a mistaken belief that happiness can be bought by money, and that more is always better, or that success at the cost of integrity is a great bargain.
Living well means shifting our focus from external stuff we feel will bring us happiness, towards our own behaviour, judgements, pursuit and preferences. Working over our own inner worlds and behaviour is a kind of inner engineering which is deeply fulfilling, and is beyond material wealth or popularity.
Shifting our focus from the external to the internal is no easy task, and this was anticipated by ancient philosophers. Many of them understood that living in accordance with this philosophy requires continuous effort.
Like the Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius, one has to mentally prepare themselves for the challenges that might be faced by them each day. This can be done by certain spiritual exercises, guidelines that ready the mind and encourage an attitude of compassion.
Say to yourself first thing in the morning: today I shall meet people who are meddling, ungrateful, aggressive, treacherous, malicious and unsocial. All of this has afflicted them through their ignorance of true good and evil. But I have seen that the nature of good is what is right, and the nature of evil what is wrong; and I have reflected that the nature of the offender himself is akin to my own…
Ancient writings describe varied spiritual exercises that encourage behavioural change, promote good habits, and generally change one’s way of thinking.
Example: Set a period of some days or weeks in which you will be content with very little food of the cheapest variety, along with coarse, uncomfortable clothing.
These exercises prepare us for a sudden change in fortune, and remind us to not be too attached to the superficial luxuries of life. We are subsequently encouraged to adopt an attitude of gratitude.
Stoicism acknowledges the challenges we face and teaches us practical lessons so that we may overcome whatever stands in our way. By taking a practical approach to happiness, we learn how to maintain it for longer periods of time and help others do the same.
Buddha taught that there is suffering in this world, it is inevitable, and the root cause of suffering is mainly the desires we feel.
We want something, always, and feel miserable when we don't get it.
Stoicism teaches us to live in accordance with nature and to accept that suffering will manifest in different ways in our lives.
Knowing where you are heading in life, what is your purpose, your direction and your destination is crucial. One has to find one's calling in life.
If we travel with no destination in our minds, we are lost.
Theory and principles can get inside our heads and we can just be caught up in definitions.
Philosophy may be all about thinking but is not of much use if the principles are not applied.
The narrative we choose matters the most in the course of our lives.
What we tell ourselves decides our perspective and it is formed with first-hand experience along with knowledge and wisdom of the past.
Unavoidable life situations and circumstances can easily create a feeling of us being victims.
If we are faced with misfortune, hardship, disaster or tragedy, and accept them, then we are positive, make the best of them, and we get out of the victim mindset. Nothing should be on our way to be happy and alive.
In years passed, coffee drinkers didn't know how coffee was produced or brewed. Coffee was cheap, tasted bitter, and was purposed for medicine or fuel. But over the decades, coffee has been elevated to craft level.
Filter or drip coffee can taste smooth and sweet like chocolate or taste fruity. The expansion of flavours is partly due to new roasting techniques. Roasting at relatively low temperatures for a shorter time tends to bring out the flavours of the bean itself and where it was grown.
High-quality coffee is more expensive, and spending a bit more means your coffee is more likely to be ethically produced.
Coffee producers have historically been exploited, and even fair trade prices are not always enough. Where possible, buy your coffee from roasters who purchase their beans ethically.
Freshly boiled water acts as a solvent to the coffee molecules. The molecules that contribute to the acidity and sweetness tend to extract more quickly than those that contribute to bitterness.
An under-extracted cup that wasn't brewed long enough makes the coffee taste too sour. An over-extracted cup makes the coffee taste overly astringent. The correct timing depends on your device and coffee you're using. The size of your grounds also influences the timing. For beginners, the classic French press is recommended, using very course grounds and brewing for eight minutes. Medium to medium-fine grounds works best for pour-over devices.
Milk and sugar are often added to coffee to balance the bitterness of flavours. With the right high-quality coffee, you may not need these extras.
The more coffee you use, the stronger your cup will be. A ratio of between 1:15 (1 gramme of coffee to 15 grammes of water) and 1:17 is good to start with. Then experiment to discover what you like best.
Many new graduates face the stress of figuring out what to do after they get their degree. The post-grad crisis represents a general problem all of us face - figuring out what to do once you've won your major battles.
If your goal was to lose 20lbs, what next? Or if you aimed to graduate with your MBA, now what? An exit strategy could be to tweak your diet to keep your ideal weight, or apply for a promotion at your current job once you've graduated with your MBA.
We've all been bred to strive for success, attain perfection, sacrifice our dreams for obligation and "win", but we forget that failure is a necessary part of success.
Success happens outside "normal", and the only way to reach it is to walk though failure without losing your enthusiasm.
Neuroscience has shown that the adult brain remains malleable throughout life.
The circuits we use most often become stronger and more efficient — the ones we don't use, shrink and fade away.
To change anything in the brain, you have to focus your attention on the task at hand. However, most find it challenging to concentrate for long periods of time without daydreaming.
Curb your wandering mind by working out the cause for the wandering. Procrastination is a psychological coping mechanism that kicks in during times of stress.
When people are less able to focus for any length of time, they are leaning more heavily on the left hemisphere of their brain, while the right hemisphere is not working as hard as it should be working.
Brain training, using magnetic brain stimulation followed by computer-based training, may help a person to focus for longer.
Brain stimulation with a weak electromagnetic pulse can turn down the left hemisphere and force a person to develop the more efficient right hemisphere and boost the powers of concentration.
Your ability to pay attention is not about putting all your energy into the task - it's about allowing the brain to wander occasionally and gently refocussing.
When you get too stressed trying to focus, norepinephrine [a hormone responsible for vigilant concentration] receptors in the prefrontal cortex, shut off. It then makes trying to focus seem too hard and it makes us less able to concentrate.
Just like physical exercise, you have to keep training your brain to retain the benefits, or you’ll end up as before.
While research on brain training is still ongoing, mindfulness meditation may also help with continued focus. Another method to help you to focus is making a task more visually demanding. (It can be done by adding more colors or shapes to the page or increasing the number of sounds your brain has to process.)
Crystals are at the forefront of recent fashion and wellness trends. Celebrities are putting traces into their new perfume products while stores advertise the crystals' supposed healing powers and energy.
But people's fascination with crystals and other gemstones dates back for centuries. Poets and authors during the Middle Ages used the imagery of crystals in their writing. Some medieval poets also used crystals as a way to examine desire.
Most people think they know more than they really do.
Researchers showed that people believe they understand familiar manufactured objects much better than they really do. For instance, if you think you understand how a can opener works, try to draw a diagram of a can opener on a piece of paper. If you can't draw, write out a detailed explanation. Then, find out how it really works.
When we don't understand the details, it can cause much trouble. If a nation is overconfident that they will win a war, they will fight more wars. An investor that is to sure of their estimate of an asset's value will trade too much.
The world is too big to process and understand everything. We have to oversimplify the world to be able to function in it. The difficulty is that we don't think our models of how the world works are oversimplified. We believe they are correct. This creates a hidden risk.
Focusing on specific details in a complex system while ignoring the amount of detail contained within the system may at first show a benefit. However, it can create a massive collapse in the long-run.
In the late 18th century, the German government wanted to grow "scientific forests" to track and harvest timber. Underbrush was cleared, and tree species reduced. The first planting did well because of nutrients that were still left in the soil. But the clearing of underbrush reduced insect, mammal, and bird populations essential to soil building. Pests had few enemies left and infected the entire forest, resulting in massive forest death across the country.
Getting clear about your purpose means relating with the sources of meaning, joy, and inspiration that exist within you. Defining your purpose is the work of being truly aware of what you love and what is most alive within you and then acting accordingly.
This process (sometimes beautiful, sometimes painful) takes time, practice, imagination, compassion, curiosity, and awareness.
The qualities that lead to a strong sense of purpose are awareness, values, aspirations, and congruent behaviors.
To activate them, the process looks like this: use awareness to connect with what’s alive within you; intention, to visualize your best life; alignment, to match your actions with your values; and resilience, to unhook from rigidity.
Awareness simply means paying attention to the experience you are having as you are having it.
You can practice awareness of your own sense of purpose simply by taking the time to acknowledge the thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations that appear when you consider your life and what purpose means to you.
Intention is your inherent ability channel your energy and effort at will. It seems simple enough, but it takes a lot of practice to harness your innate ability to direct your attention at will. It takes practice and is a critical skill for the journey toward realizing your purpose.
Setting the intention to live with purpose meansdepicting an ideal future, and then living and working toward the realization of that vision.
Even recognizing the fact that you may not be aligned with your values is the starting point on the path to full alignment with your purpose.
Acting in a way that aligns with our values can be difficult, because we easily lose sight of what’s most important to us when we get tangled in the different scenarios of everyday life.
Resilience is the cultivated ability to bounce back from adversity, adapt, and thrive.
Developing resilience is critically important to realizing your purpose because it allows you navigate the challenges you will certainly meet along the way. The good news is that resilience is highly trainable.