Have you ever wanted to study a new topic, learn a new skill, or memorize important information, and no matter how hard you try, you forget everything and fail to see significant progress?
Or maybe you have a presentation or a test to take and can’t concentrate on studying effectively.
Whatever your case, the nine steps I’m going to share with you will help you improve your study habits and practice effectively, so that you can learn faster and master whatever skills you’re trying to improve.
We all need to learn more quickly and effectively to adapt to the changing environment in which we live.
But you don’t have to be a superhuman to develop the ability to learn quickly. In many cases, it is enough to make some small changes to your learning process to achieve remarkable results.
The secret, according to some research, is not to wear yourself out by studying or practicing a skill repeatedly for many hours; but to be smart about the way you practice. One approach that has been studied is to interleave new topics with existing knowledge to get variety and speed up the learning process.
For example, two groups of math students were analyzed, one of them using a traditional method where each topic was thoroughly explored, before approaching new ones. The second group used the interleaving method, where they combined new concepts while continuing to rehearse what they had already studied. In this experiment, it was found that the group that used the interleaving method, obtained on average, a 25% better score on the next day exam. But not only that, a month later, they were given a second test, and the second group did 76% better than the first one, which shows that this technique also helps to better retain knowledge in the long term.
The following steps will allow you to apply this approach to any area of your life where you need to develop your knowledge and skills.
You can study and learn more efficiently if you work in a comfortable space without distractions. You can set up a desk or a table in a quiet place in your home that you can use specifically for reading, reviewing notes, studying, writing, or practicing a new skill. Let the other people in your home know you’re studying when you’re there so you won’t be interrupted. And if you don’t think your home is a good option, you can go to a nearby library or coffee shop.
The important thing is that you have everything you need for learning on hand, such as books, notebooks, a computer, water, etc. And if you’re tempted to check your phone frequently, it may be better to keep it out of your workspace.
In addition to avoiding distractions, another advantage of having a dedicated place to study is that your brain will associate that physical space to the learning activity, allowing you to focus more easily.
Many times there is nothing wrong with you or the way you learn. Maybe your brain can’t retain information because your body isn’t getting something it needs.
One of the most common needs is sleep. You’ll need to make sure you get enough sleep, about seven to eight hours a night if you want your brain to be alert to absorb new information. Drinking an extra cup of coffee is not a substitute for rest. You may find it better to stop doing those late-night study sessions, and instead, go to bed early, get enough sleep, and then get up early to study with a fresh mind.
Another need you should meet is to eat well. Junk food doesn’t give your brain the nutrients it needs to perform at its best. That’s why it’s good to make sure you eat balanced meals at well-defined times and be prepared with some healthy snacks like fruit, vegetables, or some almonds to feel energetic between meals.
And of course, exercising is another need of your body to have well-being. Did you know that exercising helps you learn faster? Several scientific studies have confirmed that moderate cardiovascular exercise helps get enough nutrients and oxygen to your brain. That’s why it’s a good idea to at least walk at a fast pace for 20 minutes every day.
Also, try to keep a bottle of water handy to stay hydrated, even before you feel thirsty since your body and brain need enough water to function well.
What are the specific skills and knowledge you want to acquire? What is your goal in studying?
Look for a clear goal that you can achieve in the short term once you get into the habit of learning. After you define it, you will have to choose a teacher or a reliable source of information. What books will you take as a reference? Will you research the subject on the Internet? What reliable websites will you consult? Which Youtube channels can offer you updated and easy-to-apply tutorials?
Try to combine written information with audiobooks, podcasts, and video tutorials. Just make sure to confirm the relevant information on different sites that are supported by scientific studies. And, as you gather some data, you must define a specific area you want to focus on.
If you feel that the free information on the Internet is not enough or is too disorganized, sign up for an online class. You can also find a mentor who has already done what you want to achieve, and ask him or her to teach you, or at least to guide you on where you can get more specific knowledge.
As you gather more information, I recommend that you design a mind map or outline where you can organize it, from the most general to the most specific. This outline will help you visually represent the context of what you are trying to learn so that you can better understand it. You can also use a blackboard or wall chart to connect ideas in the form of notes, cards, or drawings. This way, when you are taking a test or writing a paper, you will be able to remember the information you need more easily, thanks to this visual representation.
What if a mind map doesn’t work as well for you because you are more of an audible person than a visual one? In this case, it might be a better idea to record your lessons in audio and then listen to them several times.
Not everyone learns the same way. By identifying your learning style, you can find the techniques that work best to help you retain information.
Audible learners capture information by listening to lectures, podcasts, discussion groups, and instructive videos.
Visual learners acquire new learning by viewing graphs, diagrams, images, videos, and written material.
Kinesthetic learners learn best by actively participating in an activity, such as a science lab, discussion group, hands-on workshop, or by following an online tutorial as they apply each step in real-time.
Find your style and enjoy the process. Many people have trouble learning a new language because they see it as a tedious and boring task. But one of the best ways to learn any language is through real interactions. If you want to learn English faster, it helps to spend enough time speaking English with other people, instead of spending too many hours studying grammar and vocabulary written in a book.
Another example is learning math. There are many case studies where you can apply maths to solve real-life problems, instead of just memorizing the equations that come in books.
Active learning is one of the best methods for learning any subject or skill. Just participate, experiment, work in groups, ask lots of questions, and apply what you learn as soon as possible, so your brain can better absorb the information through a multisensory experience.
A lot of research has shown that brain exercises help maintain mental sharpness, improve memory, develop focus, and help keep the brain healthy, no matter your age.
One of the most practical ways to exercise the brain that you can do every day is to solve jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, sudoku, or riddles. It has been shown that doing puzzles requires multiple cognitive skills and is a protective factor against brain aging. No matter how many pieces you have, you can start with some basic puzzles according to your available time and skill level.
Another exercise that can help you increase your brain activity is to try to use your non-dominant hand more. Just switch hands when doing some activities like writing, using the computer mouse, brushing your teeth, or eating. It will probably be challenging and a little frustrating at first, but these kinds of challenges are good for your brain.
An easy way to learn faster is to make sure you’re really paying attention when someone explains a subject, when you watch a tutorial, or when you try something new for the first time. Even the smallest interruption in your focus can cause you to not assimilate information correctly. Try to pay enough attention when you listen, as if you will have to answer a question about the topic immediately. In fact, repeating the information to yourself, in your own words, can help anchor the data in your brain.
Note-taking is another strategy that forces you to think about the material you’re learning and to stay focused while you organize your ideas. Also, having the right notes gives you a chance to review what you’ve learned. You can try writing a general outline of the topic with the whole picture, and add some specific information and keywords. Pay attention to detail and write down the main facts and any relevant information you want to refer to later.
Did you know that asking questions while studying or attending a class helps you to better understand the topic? Asking questions is an excellent way to stay focused while you learn, plus it enables you to make sure you’re truly understanding. They can be questions for yourself that allow you to further analyze an idea; or specific questions that you can express to your teacher.
If you want to further improve your focus and attention, try practicing some meditation and deep breathing before you start studying. Just close your eyes for a couple of minutes, inhale and exhale deeply, and let go of any thoughts, emotions, or concerns that may distract you.
Focus on the present moment, relax your body muscles, and experience a feeling of calm and inner peace. If you do this meditation exercise at the beginning of a study session, rehearsal, or before taking a test, you will notice better performance and a higher mental concentration.
Reviewing your notes every day for at least 10 minutes will help you retain the information you are trying to absorb. But this process doesn’t have to be repetitive and boring. A good idea is to review old information while studying something new. This way, you can experience the excitement of acquiring further information while going over previous knowledge. Also, when you encounter a new concept that you want to assimilate, you can create a connection with some related notion that you have learned before.
Try to involve several of your senses to study more dynamically. For example, try to transform written information or lists into images, like a graph or a map. You can also take notes on paper, then read them and record your voice on audio, and then listen to it in your commutes. You can even create connections between the concepts you were mentioning and the smells or physical locations where you were going by.
After you have been studying for several days, put your mind to the test. Don’t wait until the date of the exam or presentation. Remember that even if you feel very confident about what you have learned, the emotional pressure of a test can make you forget what is not well understood in your mind. That’s why it’s a good idea to take your own tests in advance. Try to write down on a blank page, without any support, all the related concepts you have learned. While taking a shower or driving, check that you have the correct information at hand. You can also request a friend to ask you some questions as a test to make sure you understand the topic.
Mnemonics can help you learn specific facts or lists more quickly by using simple words or phrases that allow you to memorize certain information.
One of the most common examples is the use of acronyms, which are words formed by the initial characters of a phrase or set of words. If you need to remember a set of numbers, divide them into sections of three figures each, and thus it will be easier for you to memorize the sequence. If you require to bring complex information to mind quickly, you can organize data into rhymes or easy-to-learn verses.
An interesting technique used by the Greeks to prepare a speech and remember what to say is the loci technique. This technique consists of visualizing a journey through some physical place that you know very well, such as your home, and associating the different sections and rooms with the ordered concepts that you want to memorize. Then, in your mind, you can take a tour of each place, and thus remember all of the points to be discussed.
When you are reviewing a lot of relevant information, such as vocabulary, fact sheets, or musical notes, it is a good idea to divide the task into several study sessions. Instead of trying to learn the meaning of thirty new words in Spanish at a time, try to study no more than five to eight words each day.
Are you taking enough time to study and practice your new skills? This is often one of the main reasons why many people do not make progress in their goals.
For you to make progress in developing new skills, you will need to mark on your calendar the necessary time to practice on certain days of the week at the same hour. The more time you devote to your growth, the faster you will master any skill you set out to do. You just have to be persistent and evaluate your progress frequently.
Establish specific criteria that will allow you to see your progress and make the necessary corrections. You can use a notebook or a mobile app to keep a record of each practice.
Continually ask yourself if the learning approach you chose worked, and if it did, then move forward with it. If not, choose a different one and keep on experimenting.
In general, these findings suggest that for any hobby, knowledge, or skill you want to master, it is best to practice dynamically, rather than simply to repeat the material over and over again mechanically.
It works better to stay focused while studying for short periods each day and repeat the process over several weeks or months. And if you define a specific place and time, if you maintain a healthy lifestyle, and if you find your best learning style, you will make your brain want to know more and not have a hard time learning.
Develop the habit of continually acquiring new skills and knowledge, and with practice, you’ll teach your mind to learn faster. With the necessary commitment and a good strategy, you will come to enjoy the process. Keep in mind that:
“Education without application is just entertainment.”
— Tim Sanders
Have you ever gone to sleep determined to wake up early, and the next day you find yourself hitting the snooze button over and over? Without realizing, twenty minutes or even an hour have passed, and you have to run out so as not to be late.
Imagine every morning being able to wake up easily, not tired, and full of inspiration. How would this change the quality of your life?
The good news is that you can develop the habit of getting up early. You just have to adjust your sleep schedule, make some changes to your routines and lifestyle, and allow your body to adapt to your new waking up time gradually.
Stay with me because today, I’m going to share with you seven strategies that will help you accomplish this goal.
“Waste an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it.”
~ Richard Whately
For most people, it’s not easy to get up in the morning when their alarm goes off. But with enough dedication and practice, we can all get into the habit of waking up early, so we can enjoy all the benefits of this positive habit.
Tim Ferris wrote,
“If you win the morning, you win the day.”
There are many benefits of waking up early, like the opportunity to enjoy the peace and quietness of your home when the other family members are still asleep. You can use this peaceful time to read, study, plan your day, write, exercise, and get out on time. Think about this: when you exercise in the morning, you’re less likely to have an excuse, and your morning workout will keep you energized all day long.
Plus, people who learn to get up early tend to eat a healthier breakfast, while those who get up later tend to run off, and they usually end up buying fast food.
Starting the day early, improves concentration, mental clarity, and allows you to have a more productive day. Your brain tends to be more alert in the morning, allowing you to advance in your priorities and make the most of your creativity.
The following strategies will help you develop the habit of getting up early, so you can make the most of your day.
1. Start by going to bed earlier.
If your mornings are unpleasant, if you feel tired and don’t feel like getting up, the main reason may be that you’re not getting enough sleep. It’s best to start by adjusting your bedtime according to the time you need to get up and then let your body get used to it for some days.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, most people need six to nine hours of sleep every night. When you sleep, your brain sends signals to your body to release hormones and substances that help decrease the risk of adverse health conditions, manage your hunger levels, keep your immune system healthy, and retain memory.
If you’re used to going to sleep at midnight and waking up at 9 am, you can’t just set your alarm for 6 am and expect to wake up quickly and full of energy. You need to get up a little earlier every morning and go to bed a little earlier each night.
Keep in mind that the goal is not to require less sleep time, but to balance and adjust your periods of rest and activity. For this reason, it’s recommended that you wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. I know that some people like to use weekends to get some sleep. And it’s okay to get a little more sleep on Sunday, as long as it doesn’t drastically disrupt your routine and make it very difficult to wake up on Monday.
2. Optimize your night routine.
Our bodies need time to transition between periods of rest and activity. The hustle and bustle of the day can keep us too active when it’s time to relax and sleep.
Having a proper nighttime routine that you can start at least twenty minutes before you go to sleep can serve as a signal to your body to prepare and be ready to have some rest.
This routine can consist of taking a hot shower, listening to relaxing music, preparing your clothes for the next day, brushing your teeth, practicing yoga, or reading under dim light.
Make an effort to decrease your mental and physical activity earlier each night. This includes eating dinner at least three to four hours before you go to sleep, avoiding watching TV or watching your phone screen an hour before bedtime, and not doing vigorous exercise before bedtime. Ideally, your mind should be as calm and relaxed as possible.
3. Set your perfect wake up time and adapt to it gradually.
To do this, you will have to go over the activities you need to perform in the morning and consider the time you plan to leave your house. What time should you get out of bed to have enough time to do them without feeling stress and be on time?
If you don’t have enough time, you will have to optimize your plan and eliminate some activities that are not necessary. Ideally, you should have a morning routine that motivates you to get up at the right time and perform a series of semi-automated actions every day.
Once you have defined your new schedule, you will need a little time to adapt. Instead of getting up an hour earlier from one day to the next, you can try to get up a minute earlier each day until you reach your ideal time. In the end, making a habit of getting up early over several weeks is better than nothing.
4. Avoid hitting the snooze button.
Many people set multiple alarms for every ten minutes to wake up and avoid staying asleep. But this could be counterproductive.
It’s a better idea to set one alarm and disable the possibility of snoozing it, so you get used to not having the option of staying in bed.
The truth is that trying to sleep for ten or twenty more minutes will not make you feel more renewed and energetic; in fact, you will feel worse.
It’s also not such a good idea to use your mobile phone as an alarm clock, as this means that it will be the last device you will use before going to sleep, and it will be the first thing you check in the morning. And we all know that checking your email, social media, or reading the news first thing in the morning is not the best idea for starting your day proactively.
There are several types of alarm clocks; you can even get a smart bulb that can be programmed to gradually light up your room at the same time every morning.
If possible, set your alarm clock away from your bed, even in another room, to force yourself to stand up and turn it off.
5. Plan and perform a positive morning routine.
It’s a good idea to define a set of positive actions you can take each morning, in the same order. These can be activities that you already do, such as brushing your teeth, washing your face, drinking a glass of water, getting some exercise, taking a shower, making tea or coffee, and getting dressed.
You just have to integrate these activities as part of a solid routine that you can carry out every day in the same way, without having to make any decision.
I recommend that you practice deep breathing and do some stretching to oxygenate your body and get into a good mood. Once you are up, you can go outside and get some fresh air to feel wide-awake and ready to start your day.
In the last topic, we shared a 7-minute guided audio with a routine to wake up easily and full of energy. In the notes, I’m going to put the link so you can watch, read or listen to it.
6. Implement some positive changes in your lifestyle.
You should do moderate to intense cardiovascular exercise at least three times a week for twenty minutes. This movement will allow you to have a better balance in your energy levels throughout the day, a better quality of sleep, and an easier time waking up. Just try not to do this type of exercise before bedtime.
Another change you should make is to avoid eating large amounts of food before going to bed and avoid caffeine in the evening.
And a rule that some people follow to improve their overall sleep and feel more rested in the morning is to avoid using their bedroom to watch TV, study, work, or use their mobile phone. That way, their mind gets used to it being a place of rest, and so, it is easier to fall asleep.
7. Let your dreams and goals motivate you.
What is the ultimate goal you want to achieve in the next few weeks or months? Waking up with the urge to keep working on building your dreams can give you the motivation you need to get out of bed and get moving. Make your goal the first thought that pops into your mind when you open your eyes in the morning and watch your motivation soar.
Try to have a plan of action for each day, and if you don’t, get up and write down the three priorities you want to focus on to have a productive day and move forward with your life project.
What other strategies for getting up early and energetic have you applied?
Life is relatively short, and the time you waste not going to sleep on time and wandering without a plan will never come back. For this reason, it is good that you make the most of every day of your life.
When you start to get into the habit of getting up early, you will be surprised how peaceful the world is in the early morning. There is nothing like witnessing a beautiful sunrise and performing your most essential tasks, free of distractions.
From now on, adopt a sleep routine that makes it easier for you to go to sleep and get up at the same time each day so that your body’s internal clock fits your life plan.
If it is difficult for you, I recommend you to listen every morning to the motivational audio that we shared in the last topic, and that you will find in our youtube channel: “Top Personal Growth.” It’s called “7-minute guided audio to wake up easier, refreshed and not tired…” It was recorded in such a way that you can start playing it when it’s time to get out of bed. The goal is that even if you feel tired and lazy, by listening to the audio, you can generate the energy and impulse you need to wake up with an excellent attitude and full of motivation.
Here in the notes, you’ll find the link to that video, which is also available on our audio-podcast, which you can follow on Spotify and iTunes. There you will find these same topics so you can listen to them again while you perform some other simple tasks.
Remember that the morning is the most productive time of day to advance your goals. The morning hours are so unique that they’re the time of day when some of the best ideas, projects, articles, books, scripts, and valuable content have been produced.
There are many good reasons to get up early every morning. Just find your own and do your best to make it happen.
Benjamin Franklin put it this way:
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
It’s not comfortable thinking about death, but the truth is that no one can confidently say that he will still be living tomorrow. Analyzing how short life is can help you focus on your priorities and avoid wasting your time.
Today, you have in your hands the opportunity to live another day and make the most of it.
I know you won’t always wake up with the same energy and desire to get up. Maybe you’ve had a hard night or didn’t sleep well, and all you want right now is to continue to rest.
But if your alarm clock just went off, it’s because you have the intention to get up right now. You need to seize the day, advance your goals, and carry out those essential activities that give meaning to your life. Because the choices you make today will determine where you will be tomorrow.
So, are you going to hit the snooze button again?
Or you are going to start this new day with the best attitude and determination…
Don’t worry, I’m not gonna ask you to jump out of bed and take a cold shower immediately. You don’t need to fight yourself. The best thing to do is to take it easy and let your energy flow.
You can continue to lie down and keep your eyes closed if you prefer. Just stay awake, breathe deeply, and keep listening. In the next few minutes, I’m going to guide you so that you can produce the energy and impulse you need to wake up motivated and with an excellent attitude.
Start by taking deep breaths and pay attention to your body.
Stretch your arms and legs, open and close your hands, then tense and relax the different muscles in your body.
Loosen your shoulders and let your belly expand as you take a breath. Inhale as you count to 5 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), and then exhale for a count of 5.
Feel genuinely grateful for the air you breathe, for your bed and for your home. Be thankful for the life that runs through your veins, for your ability to listen, for the significant people in your life, and for the opportunity to enjoy a new day. What other reasons to be grateful come to your mind?
Slowly sit down on your bed and put your feet on the floor.
Open your eyes and keep breathing so your body can get enough oxygen to work well.
Bring to your mind a goal you want to achieve, or visualize something you would like to complete today that you didn’t finish yesterday. It could be finishing an undone project, moving forward in a habit you want to establish, practicing a hobby you haven’t done in a while, learning something new, or materializing an idea you’ve been putting off for too long.
Focus on the wonder of being alive, and think that today can be a wonderful day.
From now on, you have the opportunity to start over and leave behind any setbacks you may have had yesterday.
Take advantage of the motivation your start to feel, stand up, and do some stretching.
Interlace your fingers above your head. Turn your palms upward as you push your arms back and up. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then relax and repeat.
Breathe deeply as you extend your arms upwards and stand on your toes. Then relax and hang arms at sides as you exhale.
Make some slow movements with your neck, tilting from side to side as you bring your ears down close to your shoulders.
How do you feel right now?
If you’re ready, go drink a glass of water.
Then you can go brush your teeth and wash your face.
When you are in front of the mirror, give yourself a big, authentic smile. Feel happy and grateful for the person you are. Think of all the reasons you have to feel good.
Think about your dreams. What are the 3 specific actions you can take today to move forward and achieve significant long-term results?
Keep visualizing what you want your ideal day to be like, and if any bright ideas come to mind, take notes.
Starting a brand new day is a great reason to feel excited and ready to tackle it positively and proactively.
At this point, right after performing this power routine, you should already possess the necessary energy and motivation to start your day the right way.
Now you can proceed to read a few pages of a book, meditate, study, work a little bit, exercise, take a shower, or prepare your breakfast.
Share with us, how did you feel when applying these actions?
I am preparing an upcoming topic where we will explore more strategies that will help you get up early, even without the need for an alarm clock. Just subscribe and follow us so you don’t miss it out. You will find the link here in the comments once we publish it.
Many people have trouble getting up early and staying active in the morning, even after getting enough sleep. But if you implement these steps one by one, you’ll be able to flow rather than struggle. Deep breathing, progressive movement, hydration, and morning motivation to go after your dreams will allow you to gradually activate your mind and body.
Maybe you were so used to hitting the snooze button that now you are gonna feel that you have some spare time in the morning, which is very good. You can take the opportunity to read something useful, prepare a nutritious breakfast and leave 15 minutes early for work or school so you can avoid traffic stress.
As you can see, when you get up early, your whole day changes for the better.
Get into the habit of getting up early and full of energy, by listening to this audio every morning from now on, instead of snoozing your alarm clock and staying half asleep for 10 more minutes.
I hope you have a positive, productive, and fantastic day. As Terri Guillemets said, “When I wake to see that it’s light out already, I feel the world has started without me.”
Your habits define you. Most of your life experience is determined by actions you take without thinking, which are part of your daily routine. The bad news is that many people become prisoners of destructive habits that prevent them from moving forward.
But just as a bad habit can lead an individual to failure, any positive habit you form will work to your benefit automatically. And although it may be difficult at first, once your new habit becomes part of your routine, you will be able to obtain wellness, advance in your studies, be productive, and persist until you achieve your highest goals in life.
Stay with me, ’cause today I’ll share with you 9 steps that will allow you to form any new positive habit in your life, and eliminate a bad habit that could represent an obstacle for you.
Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
About 43% of what we do every day, are repetitive, automatic actions that we perform while we’re thinking about something else. That’s what habits are. A habit is a kind of shortcut to repeating what we did in the past that worked for us and gave us some reward.
But how do you make good habits? And more importantly, how do you make them stick?
Creating a new positive habit can be challenging and can require several attempts. But the key is to start with a positive action that you can repeat every day for as long as it takes until you succeed in doing it automatically and effortlessly.
Early in her academic career, psychologist Wendy Wood noticed that her fellow graduate students struggled to meet projects and deadlines, even though many of them were among the brightest in the group. Their intelligence, talent, and motivation didn’t seem to be enough. Willpower didn’t seem to be the problem either, as their classmates were willing and able to change. This is how she has spent the last three decades searching for answers and recently wrote a book called: “Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes that Stick.”, in which she details the most relevant ideas from her research.
Some of the concepts we will explore here are based on Wendy Wood’s scientific research. Because having a better understanding of how habits shape and drive your behavior can help you make a positive change to achieve your goals, and enjoy your life more.
Before you start working on a new habit, you should make sure it’s in line with the goals you want to achieve. This will make it easier for you to maintain the necessary motivation and persistence. Imagine that you have the purpose of stay fit and have better cardiovascular health, and then decide to get into the habit of jogging or walking at a steady pace for 20 minutes every day. This habit is directly connected to an important goal, and in this way, you are much more likely to succeed in maintaining it.
When you set out to establish a new habit, ask yourself: What are the benefits of forming this new habit? How will doing it for months or years improve my life?
Clearly state the benefits and reasons for your new habit so that you can stay motivated for as long as it takes. This way, every time you lose your motivation to keep going, you can think of the positive results you will achieve with persistence.
If you’ve tried repeatedly to make a new habit without success, you can start small, even if you really need to make significant changes. Start by taking small achievements that will increase your chances of success. For example, if you decide to stop eating fried, fatty, and sugary foods, you may have trouble giving up all of them at once. But, if you start by replacing one category at a time, it will be easier for you to make a progressive and permanent change.
All habits take time to establish. At the beginning of something new, it’s natural to feel very enthusiastic, and it’s common for people to make the mistake of wanting to make very drastic changes, only to give up after a few weeks. For this reason, even if you feel quite motivated or anxious to make a habit, remember that a gradual change will be much easier to maintain in the long run.
2. Be aware of the good habits you would like to form.
Part of the reason some people have trouble forming new positive habits is because they live on autopilot and don’t think about the things they are doing. So by becoming more aware of your behavior, you will be able to make the changes you need to make the habit you want to have.
For example, if you want to get into the habit of going to the gym every morning, think about what’s holding you back. How does your usual morning routine look like? What do you do with your time when you don’t go to the gym?
The next time you find yourself going on autopilot and falling back into bad habits, review your behavior and feelings, and let go of what’s holding you back.
The following are some of the habits that can give you the best results for a healthy and positive lifestyle that brings you closer to success:
These are just a few examples. What other habits do you consider vital for success in life? Share with us.
3. Use “friction” to your advantage.
Wendy explains that if you want an action to become a habit, you must reduce friction. And if you’re going to get rid of a bad habit, you must increase friction. This has been proven by several scientific studies. Friction refers to adding obstacles to reduce bad habits and removing impediments to create good ones.
Try to stay away from objects, places, and people that tempt you to fall into a bad habit. Because habits are acts that we do almost without thinking, it is much easier to remove the stimulus than to stop a habit by using willpower only.
As you can see, changing your perspective on self-control can help you regain your sense of self-worth and be kind to yourself. This attitude will give you a sense of freedom. You just have to modify your environment to encourage positive habits and avoid falling into bad ones, instead of continually condemning yourself by saying, “Oh no, I’ve done this again that I didn’t want to do anymore. I’m a mess!”
Some people claim that they have a lot of self-control and willpower. But when they fail, they feel like a failure.
In several studies, it has been found that when a person is tired, distracted, or overwhelmed, his ability for self-control is considerably diminished, and they come back to their habits, whether good or bad. Most of us like to think that our self-control is always steady and will help us achieve our goals, when in fact that’s not always true.
You can rely less on willpower if you modify your environment as much as possible, using friction to your advantage. If the first thing you do when you get home and sit down on the couch is turn on the TV, hide the remote control before you leave, and place an exciting book on the couch. Changing your environment in this way will make it easier to break bad habits.
4. Ask a friend for support.
When it comes to forming good habits, friends can be a great source of emotional support, which is essential for staying motivated and persistent. Telling a friend about your goal can put social pressure on you to meet it.
It’s not about telling everyone about your plans or bragging about something you don’t have yet.
It’s about sharing your progress in a particular goal with a trusted friend so that you can have a stronger commitment that helps you stay motivated.
Perhaps your friend also has a habit that he wants to form, and you can follow up on his progress too. Just make sure that the friend you choose is someone you respect and someone who respects you.
And you can get even better results if you find a person who wants to form the same new habit with you, together. That way, when one of you is about to fail, the other person will provide the motivation and commitment needed to go running together, make healthier food choices, practice gratitude, or whatever habit you’re both trying to establish.
5. Replace a bad habit with a good one.
All the habits you have right now, whether good or bad, are in your life for a reason and are part of your routine. So when you identify a bad habit that you want to break, it doesn’t help to focus too much of your attention on trying to break it. It’s best to make some changes in your routine to incorporate a different habit that can take its place, and then the old habit will be easier to break.
Almost all bad habits have a “good one” opposite, which you can focus on. For example, to avoid unhealthy snacking, try to keep an apple on hand at all times; to stop drinking soda, carry a bottle of natural water with you throughout the day.
Choose a substitute for the bad habit you want to break and make a plan to visualize how you will respond when you find yourself in the situation that previously triggered the bad habit.
6. Define the best time to study and work.
The morning is the best time of day to exercise your willpower, self-control, and creativity. Think of willpower as a phone battery: you charge it at night while you sleep, and you wake up with a full battery in the morning. That’s how you can use your willpower to eat healthy food, be productive at work, organize and clean up, among other priority tasks you can plan for the early hours of the day.
Also, some research has found that if you live with other people, particularly children, you rely less on habits in general, simply because of the disruption other people cause in your life. That’s why it’s important to find the right time and a place where you really have control. It may be at 6:00 in the morning when the children are still asleep. This is an excellent time to establish your new habit of studying, writing, or exercising.
As a student, the temptation to open social media apps or watch television is higher when you stay up an hour before bed to study than if you choose to get up an hour earlier and study first thing in the morning.
Whatever your case, find the time of day when you’re most able to focus and be productive; and plan your habit for that time.
Connecting your new habit with an existing practice can also help you not to forget it and make it part of your routine more quickly. Always carry out your new habit after some other event or action that triggers it, every day in the same order. If you want to start meditating, you can do it at night right after you brush your teeth. If you’re going to start stretching and taking deep breaths, you can integrate them into your routine right after showering. And if you want to get into the habit of going to the gym every morning, you can put your workout clothes and sneakers by your bed the night before.
7. Implement healthy habits that will improve your quality of life.
The most important habits you can acquire are those that help you stay healthy because by having energy and good health, you will be able to focus on developing more and more favorable habits in other areas of your life.
A habit that many people have neglected lately, but that is vital to maintain health, is to sleep well.
A lot of recent research is finding that sleep deprivation negatively affects health and quality of life. Not sleeping well can cause moodiness, memory problems, and difficulties with thinking and focusing. Besides, lack of rest can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and a weak immune system. To find out if you’re sleeping well, look at how you’re feeling during the day. Do you feel rested, alert, and ready to function well during the day? Or do you feel sleepy and tired? Most adults should aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
Some habits that can help you improve the quality of your sleep are:
Eating a balanced breakfast every day is another good habit that will help you stay healthy and have more energy. Also, if you start the day with a healthy breakfast, you tend to eat better in other meals.
Little by little, you can incorporate more healthy habits into your daily routine, such as exercising, practicing meditation, deep breathing, or controlling your emotions. Start with small intervals, such as running for 10 minutes, and as you gain some progress, you can make gradual increments, increasing to 15 and then 20 minutes after a couple of weeks of conditioning.
8. Persist for as long as necessary.
Forming a new habit is a process that can take a long time, from a few weeks to several months, so be patient with yourself and work on establishing one habit at a time.
Scientific evidence suggests that it can take two to three months to form a simple habit, to the point where you do something so automated that you don’t have to think about it, you just do it.
You are likely to encounter several obstacles along the way, so be prepared and understand that they are part of the process of creating new habits. It’s good to remember that even if you stumble along the way, it doesn’t mean you will fail. If one day you don’t take your daily walk, don’t be discouraged. Acknowledge that you just had a bad day and do your walk the next day.
Add rewards to help reinforce your good habits. It can be as simple as learning to enjoy the fresh air on your face while jogging, or it can be listening to your favorite music while you’re doing some activity. Finding a way to enjoy the task will make it easier to start any habit and motivate you to continue.
Keeping track of your daily progress will also help you stay motivated and persistent even when things don’t go according to your plan. You can use a diary or a mobile application to record how often you keep a habit, which will make you feel satisfied when you see the weeks, months, or years of progress you have made.
9. Seek professional help when necessary.
If you notice that a bad habit or vice is seriously affecting your life, there are organizations and programs focused on fighting addictions. You can go to a therapist or doctor for advice and the best strategy to follow in your particular case.
Overcoming an addiction like drugs or alcohol requires professional help. And if life’s circumstances have led you to be in such an unfavorable situation, you’re not the only person in the world who has that problem. Ask for the support you need to get through it. Your future self will thank you.
Almost all healthy habits have positive results that you can enjoy in the future. Visualize yourself enjoying the benefits of leaving a bad habit behind and creating a good habit in your life, and get moving. Take the time to pat yourself on the back and celebrate any progress you make, no matter how small it is.
What are some of the habits that you would like to create in your life to have more well-being and happiness? Share with us!
Forming a good habit can be challenging, but it’s worth the effort because positive habits will allow you to reach any goal.
As human beings, we need time and effort to make any change in our behavior. So it is best to be patient and keep our eyes on the process for the long term.
Doing a positive action for the first time requires intention, training, and a lot of effort. But by repeating the action long enough, you will need less willpower and mental attention to carry it out; because the activity will become an automatic response to the time of day, the situation, or the environment.
Invest the necessary mental energy to start a new positive habit today, with a commitment to maintaining it over the long term. The gradual and constant change you will achieve will make you feel so satisfied and motivated that you will leave behind any negative aspects of your past, and you will be able to concentrate on enjoying your present and building a better future.
We all have aspirations in life, things we dream of doing, or being. They can be small purposes, or they can be ideals that require years of work. Following your dreams may not be easy, but it’s worth starting because this journey provides meaning to your life.
The truth is that you will never achieve a long-term goal just by dreaming and sitting on the sofa. You need planning, motivation, and self-discipline to make it.
The following six steps will help you commit to working on your vision, plan carefully, and stay focused for months, years, or even decades until you achieve success and make your dreams come true.
Success can mean something different to each person. If you have an ambition, a dream, or a purpose that you want to achieve, you need to adopt the right mindset and define solid goals. Also, it is essential that you stay focused and motivated throughout the process.
When you encounter failure, you will need to find the strength to get up and move on. With time and effort, you will discover that it is possible to reach your own definition of success.
Keep in mind that there is no secret formula or a perfect combination of ingredients that can guarantee success. What has worked for others will not necessarily work for you. But there are some basic steps you can take to improve your chances of success in life, in your personal relationships, at work, in your business or in any aspiration that is relevant to you.
1. Define a purpose that will lead you to success.
How can you know if you are on the right track if you don’t have a clear destination?
For each person, being successful represents something different. You need to have a clear definition of what success means in your particular case. In general, real success comes from achieving goals that are meaningful to you, and that helps you be fulfilled and happy.
Try to write down your own definition of success, whether it’s getting a job related to a particular activity that you enjoy, living in your favorite area of your city, travel, or having a happy family, among many other alternatives.
Ask yourself: What makes you happiest in life? Do you want to spend time with your family, travel, play sports, practice a hobby? What would you do if money were not a concern? Then consider what the next step is that you need to take to get a little closer to that goal.
Maybe you want to be a writer because you imagine yourself traveling around the world to promote your book, doing talks, and receiving lots of money in royalties. But this idealistic notion has little to do with the reality of writing a book, since it’s hard work that involves many hours of writing, editing and negotiating with a publisher, and then constantly promoting your book using your own money. The idea is not to discourage you, but to make it clear that you need to be motivated by more than ideals. You need to be passionate about your dream, passionate enough to get through the tough times, and strive to keep going even when the harsh reality hits you.
Identifying the activities that you like to do and that give you satisfaction can help you find the life purpose that will lead you to success. Because when you perform tasks that you enjoy, that you find meaningful, or when you are pleased to admire the positive results of your work, then you are allowing yourself to be driven by intrinsic motivation. And this is very good. Several studies have shown that intrinsic motivation tends to be a better predictor of the quality of people’s performance than when they only work for money or external rewards.
It is much easier to persist in a long-term goal that is related to something you like to do since each action itself will provide you with the motivation you need along the way.
2. Create a long-term vision.
Having a long-term vision can help you refine your purpose further. Where do you want to be in 5, 10, and 20 years from now? What can you do today to begin the journey that will bring you closer to that dream?
Imagine your ideal life. Close your eyes, visualize yourself, and put your future on paper. Try asking yourself questions like:
You can even try to write down your ideal day, from beginning to end, starting with the time you wake up and describing every task you do.
A long-term goal may seem impossible to achieve, especially if it requires years of work. Many people give up simply because it would take too long to achieve their goal. But if you break a big dream down into several stages and more manageable goals, you can focus on each one more easily.
One key idea that can help you is to express a general dream, like “I want to teach languages” into a more specific, measurable goal with a deadline. An example of a realistic goal might be: “In 5 years, I want to be an English teacher at a foreign language institute.”
Think about the skills you will need to achieve this goal. If you are afraid of public speaking, you will have to work on feeling comfortable speaking in front of students, as it is part of the process of achieving your dream.
To become a teacher, you will need to study, practice, and complete a course for teachers, as well as approve some international exams to become certified as an English teacher. Then you will have to look for teaching opportunities. What other stages will there be? How long will the whole process take? It’s up to you to find out.
Also, you will need a plan for each stage of your long-term goal. Don’t worry about having to formulate these plans now, all at once. Some will come later. The important thing is that you are organized, that you know what you need to do, and that you see how your daily or weekly tasks fit into the big picture.
3. Stay focused, and develop your skills.
Research by psychologist Carol Dweck suggests that there are two primary mindsets that influence how people view themselves and their abilities: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.
People with fixed mindsets believe that their intelligence and talents are static and immovable. They believe that success is not the result of hard work, but merely a consequence of good luck. Thinking that they lack the innate ability needed to excel, they tend to give up on challenges more quickly.
On the other hand, those with a growth mentality feel they can change and learn if they try hard enough. By believing that they can grow, they are more likely to succeed and are continually looking for ways to improve their skills and keep working, even when things get complicated.
The truth is that for you to be able to make your dreams come true, you will have to stay focused on your goals for as long as it takes. Focus can be smooth when it comes to short-term goals, which have a quick payoff. However, for long-term goals, it can be more challenging to stay motivated.
That’s why one of the critical traits of successful people is that they can stay focused on their goals. This requires self-discipline, which means continuing to work toward your goal even if you don’t always feel like working. It means taking a book and starting to read when you’d rather sit on the couch and watch TV.
Developing good habits can help you move forward every day, no matter the circumstances or your mood. Wake up earlier to read or write every morning at the same time. Set a time to perform twenty minutes of vigorous exercise three times a week. If you are constantly distracted by the Internet, turn off your wi-fi when you need to study or work. If the urgent everyday tasks prevent you from sticking to your plan, use your free time or weekends to persist.
Set up a quiet place to work where you are free from distractions. Ask your family and friends not to bother you while you work, and focus on one task at a time. If exhaustion gets you down, you can take 5-minute breaks for each hour of work to drink water, stretch, focus, and move forward on that exciting project that will lead to great results.
4. Learn from failure and obstacles.
You will likely encounter some obstacles or failures in the process of achieving your dreams. But you don’t have to let any setbacks derail your plans. You just have to learn to see failures as life lessons and deal with them constructively.
One failure doesn’t close all doors; some will remain open. Maybe your plan to become an opera singer failed, but that doesn’t mean a career in music is out of the question. Perhaps you have the training needed to sing in a choir, or maybe you can use your musical skills to become a singing teacher or a voice coach.
Sometimes it is necessary to make adjustments and be flexible. Imagine a person who has not been admitted to medical school for several years. Maybe instead of trying to go the same route over and over without success, he should try some alternative path, like entering nursing school.
Sometimes failure is an excellent opportunity to grow and improve. Instead of being depressed by a setback, it is best to do an analysis of what happened, determine the main factors of failure, and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes in the future.
Have you noticed that successful people are constant learners? They read, analyze, and find new and more efficient ways of doing things. They know that growth as a person is linked to learning; whenever they encounter a problem, they investigate the best solution available and carry it out.
Practicing good work habits, reviewing your goals, and celebrating your progress can help you stay focused. When you have moments of doubt, think about why you were motivated to pursue your goal in the first place, and don’t lose sight of your long-term vision.
Surround yourself with trusted friends, family, co-workers, and colleagues who bring out the best in you. They can be an invaluable support network for your growth.
When necessary, ask for advice from people you trust, listen to them, and try to be humble enough to acknowledge your mistakes.
5. Review your goals and celebrate your progress.
On the road to achieving your long-term dreams, you need to review your current situation periodically. Sometimes we find out that our desires change over time. Perhaps you started on the path to becoming an opera singer, but after a while, you discovered that you simply don’t like it as much as you believed. Maybe it’s time to rethink your goal.
Go back to your long-term vision and ask yourself if anything has changed. Sometimes goals need a complete reboot, and it may be necessary to re-evaluate what you want in life. Some other times, our goals may need only minor adjustments. Maybe your overall goal is still pretty much the same, but you want to make a small change in focus.
Either way, you need to continually check that you are on the right track and recognize your progress. Part of the joy of achieving your dream is in the process. Enjoy it. Be sure to celebrate every time you get a little closer to your long-term goal. Recognizing progress helps keep us motivated, especially when the long-term goal involves years or decades of work.
When you review your progress, pay attention to what you’ve learned and how much you’ve grown, rather than just focusing on the results you have achieved. Some studies show that we get more motivation if we look at each achievement as lessons learned that lead us to be more prepared for what is to come.
6. Develop self-discipline.
In a study that lasted several decades, psychologists observed and collected data from a group of children who were recognized by their teachers as highly intelligent. Comparing how these individuals fared throughout childhood and into adulthood, the researchers found that the ones who were the most successful in life shared some crucial characteristics that less successful individuals didn’t have, including perseverance and willpower.
These characteristics tend to be part of a person’s overall personality, but they are also skills that can be improved. Having the patience to delay gratification, learning to persist in the face of challenges, and waiting for the rewards of hard work are some of the most critical determinants of success in life.
Mental toughness is the stamina that some people have to keep going and keep trying even when they face obstacles. People who have this strength see challenges as opportunities. They also feel that they have control over their own destiny, are confident in their abilities to succeed, and are committed to finishing what they start.
Keep trying even when you encounter many setbacks, or the path seems impossible. Focus on the options available to you to develop your skills and move forward.
As you take action on the different projects that will lead you to your dreams, make sure you always know what to do next. Not being sure of the next step is a common cause of many people getting stuck in their progress toward a goal. So each week, check your project lists to see what tasks are coming up and make sure you’re ready for each one.
Keep in mind that willpower is a skill that can be built, but it requires time and effort. Start by achieving small goals that require willpower, such as resisting sugary snacks or soda. As you develop your ability to use your willpower to accomplish these small goals, you may find that your willpower becomes stronger and stronger as you work on bigger goals.
Share with us any significant accomplishments that have brought you a little closer to your dreams. What other keys to success have worked for you?
One additional tip that I would like to share with you is that you can learn about the process that people who have achieved their dreams have followed and be inspired by their stories. Find out what lessons they have learned on their journey and what experiences you can model to achieve your dreams. You can learn about other successful dreamers by reading their biographies, watching documentaries, or reading about authentic leaders and outstanding people on the Internet.
Making your dream come true is possible. Start by reflecting and defining your vision by brainstorming your goals, analyzing your past successes and failures, and finding out what makes you happy. Then move on to committing to your goal by taking action. Break down your dream into practical tasks that will help you get started immediately and keep moving forward.
And if you’ve only managed to spend 15 minutes on your dream last week, that’s good. Remember that the most important thing is not how fast you go, but that you keep moving forward without stopping. Moving forward is one of the best ways to stay motivated.
Start taking action on every little step that will get you closer to your goal and stay on track no matter how long it takes to get there.
When you look at your future, what do you see? Do you see yourself growing into the person you’ve always wanted to be? Do you have a clearly defined mission and accomplishments to achieve?
Creating a vision is the first step to realizing your life purpose, knowing what you aspire to, and recognizing your potential. It is one thing to believe that you have a promising future, but it is quite another to be able to visualize it with absolute clarity, to make it an awesome reality.
The nine steps you will learn today will allow you to define your goals, your dreams, and your personal mission so that you can develop the motivation and strength you need to achieve them.
Living a life of purpose will motivate you to get up every morning and focus all your energy. Having a purpose in your life can help you feel that your routines and habits are meaningful.
A series of scientific studies conducted in 2014 concluded that developing a purposeful mindset improves academic outcomes. This mindset improved self-regulation, persistence, grades average, and the amount of time students were willing to spend doing assignments and studying for tests.
In psychology, to have a purpose is to intend to accomplish something that is personally meaningful and influences the world beyond yourself. If you don’t feel fulfilled or happy with your life, you always have the option of evaluating your purpose and determining what actions you need to take to fulfill it.
It is never too late to start living a life that has meaning, and that brings you closer to achieving happiness and fulfillment. Take the following steps that will help you define a vision for life and fulfill a meaningful purpose.
1. Visualize the final result you want to accomplish.
Instead of just dreaming about how you would like your life to be, visualize yourself in the future, celebrating your achievements and satisfactions you have already reached. Thinking this way can help you focus your vision and stay on track.
Imagine yourself in your old age, reflecting on your life. What kind of life would you like to have lived? Would you be satisfied with how you spent most of your time traveling around the world, but not necessarily having a family? Or would you have felt proud and fulfilled if you had a happy and healthy family?
Thinking about things like getting old and what kind of legacy you are going to leave to the world is not easy. It’s especially hard if you’ve lost someone close to you, or if you or a loved one is going through a life-threatening illness. But seeking the meaning of life and accepting that no one lives forever will allow you to understand that your presence can leave a lasting impact on the world and that it is up to you to decide what you want to accomplish with your life.
Define your priorities and values on which you want to fundament your vision of life, and consider how you can leave a lasting and positive influence on the people around you.
It is not necessary to have a monument in your honor to leave a lasting legacy. Sometimes, it is enough to make a positive and meaningful difference by showing kindness, humor, service to others, and love. Your kind actions, like sharing knowledge or skills with someone, or helping a loved one through difficult times, can make a significant difference in your life and the lives of others.
2. Find meaning in your life.
Having a meaningful purpose increases the quality of life, and may even help you live longer.
A lot of scientific research has found that having a sense of meaning in life is associated with many positive health outcomes. And now a new study on older adults published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences goes even further. It has revealed that the sense that one is living a worthwhile life seems to be positively linked to almost every aspect of our lives, not just health. This study followed people over time and found that the more meaning they gained, the more positive changes they experienced in their personal lives, relationships, work, or business.
The feeling that life has meaning can come from many sources: from work, when you feel it is worthwhile, from relationships, from hobbies, from carrying out meaningful projects, or even from appreciating the sunset frequently.
Think about how you can create a positive impact on yourself, on others, and the environment while making the most of your abilities, for this combination of elements can give your life a profound meaning.
Of course, this may require you to try several different activities to identify the one in which you feel that your abilities and satisfaction are at their best. If you’re attracted to photography, borrow a camera or take a class and see how you feel. Or maybe you are interested in helping others, and you’re are good at communication, then try giving private lessons to see if teaching helps you feel fulfilled.
Remember that everyone has different priorities; finding out what’s important to you is essential to living a life that makes sense.
3. Write a personal vision statement.
By taking the time to write a personal vision statement, you can make better decisions that will keep you on track throughout your life. Besides, you will stay within what is known as the cycle of balance rather than a cycle of stress.
The cycle of balance is about doing activities that allow you to achieve satisfaction and positive long-term results. By defining a specific goal and pursuing it, you will feel the drive and motivation to set an even higher purpose. This way, you will be more satisfied, more productive, and experience more meaning in your life.
On the other hand, people who live without a personal vision may end up living under a lot of stress. They usually spend a lot of their free time doing activities that, while they may give them an immediate sense of reward, do not provide lasting satisfaction. When people are trapped in a cycle of stress, they experience exhaustion and feel that all their efforts are wasted.
To write a personal vision statement, write two or three paragraphs describing your values, your natural abilities, and your goals.
The following is an example of a personal vision that can give you a better idea of how to establish your own statement:
I will live each day as if I have all the power and influence necessary to make the world a beautiful place. By listening and serving others, I will learn new ideas and gain different perspectives. I will strive to master life’s challenges by increasing my skills, expanding my circle of influence, and reducing the emphasis on those areas of concern over which I have no control.
I will behave in such a way that I become a light, not an obstacle, for those who choose to follow or guide me. I will trust my dreams and avoid falling into vice and excess, so as not to be a prisoner of anything. I will use my private victories to create value for others. The pursuit of excellence will determine the choices I make and the paths I choose to travel. I will expect no more from others than I expect from myself.
I will seek new sources of inspiration and growth in nature, family, literature, and new knowledge. I will show love instead of expecting love. Today I choose to focus on being effective rather than efficient. Today I decide to make a difference in this world.
4. Follow your passion and your values.
A big part of living a life of purpose is realizing what you are passionate about. Ask yourself and answer as truthfully as possible: “What do I like to do? What makes me happy? What activity makes me lose track of time?
Art-related activities such as painting, singing, or writing can help you explore your personality. By spending time on these activities, you may find that you are passionate about a different career or job than you currently have. Or you may find that you are passionate about community service and decide to focus your career on serving others. Living by this passion may be more fulfilling for you, even if you don’t make as much money.
It’s essential to evaluate what you like to do, what you’re currently doing, and what you need to change your life to a more meaningful one. Some questions that can help you are:
The activities that are part of your purpose and mission are those that you like to do, even if nobody pays you to do them, and it is very likely that by doing these activities, you will lose track of time.
The scientist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi established the term “flow,” which in psychology is the state that an individual reaches when he is focused on the activity he is doing, to the point where his actions and thoughts flow naturally.
Make a list of accomplishments and goals that are important to you, and then consider whether the way you are living your life aligns with them. If not, how could you restructure your activities so that the actions you take every day, bring you closer to achieving the things that are important to you?
Try to integrate what you like into your daily life, even if it is in small quantities. Just remember that you may not find an ideal situation. In today’s world, we all have to find a source of income to cover our basic needs. Even so, you can carry out significant projects in the hours of free time that many spend on television, social media, or video games. Because we know that these activities in excess, consume all your free time and bring you problems instead of satisfaction in life.
5. Look for ways to help others using your talents and skills.
The Dalai Lama said, “Compassion is what makes our lives meaningful.” Sometimes this is easy to do, but many times it is a challenge.
When you see someone suffering or doing something that bothers you, try to put yourself in their shoes. Think about how you would feel or behave if you were facing the same situation. Perhaps by doing this, you will be encouraged to act assertively, either by trying to help the person or by showing understanding for them.
Throughout several scientific studies, it has been established that compassionate actions activate the pleasure center in your brain, causing you to feel good every time you help someone. Also, kind people are better friends, parents, and spouses, so developing compassion can also help you improve your relationships.
You can be compassionate in many ways. You can donate money, talents, knowledge, or a few minutes of your time to someone who needs it. However, keep in mind that you can’t give an hour of your time once a year and expect to get all the positive results we’re talking about. Research shows that it is necessary to be compassionate regularly.
Try to do something you enjoy, as a volunteer. For example, if you love animals, volunteer as often as you can at your local animal shelter. If you love children, see if you can volunteer at an institution or community center. Volunteering is one of the best ways to find your passion in life and helps you gain a clearer perspective.
6. Set clear and meaningful goals.
Having goals in your life can help you feel like you are living a life of purpose. Just set clear goals and work toward them. Write down your goals and put them somewhere you can see them, review them often, and mark them as you achieve them.
You can write down immediate goals like “learn how to bake a cake from scratch” or “learn the basic salsa dancing steps.” You can also write long-term goals like “take a course online to develop apps” or “learn to play the guitar.”
Think of something you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe you want to get into the habit of running or write a novel. Whatever it is, setting a goal to fulfill your dream will help you feel like you have a purpose.
If you have big goals, it’s crucial to break that big goal down into smaller, more specific, and manageable ones. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that breaking a big goal into smaller, more manageable steps makes it more likely to be achieved.
7. Indicate specific actions on your vision board.
In one study, researchers at the University of California asked one group of students to visualize themselves getting a perfect score on a test, and asked another group to visualize themselves studying for the test.
The group of students who visualized themselves receiving a good score obtained a lower score on the test. However, the students who visualized themselves studying spent more time preparing for the test and ultimately scored much better.
That’s just one example. Multiple studies show that athletes, students, and musicians perform better when they visualize themselves taking the necessary steps to succeed than when they only imagine success. This finding means that it is better to focus on the process and let the results come to you as a consequence.
Whether your goals are big or small, it’s necessary to identify the short-term action steps you can start taking right now and put them on your dream board. By turning your abstract dreams and goals into specific actions you can take every day, you will gain greater clarity to move forward and make them a reality.
For example, change your goal from “write a book” to “write for half an hour every day.” Divide a goal such as “become a dentist” into steps such as “study every day to maintain my grades,” “do an internship at a dentist’s office,” and “take a training course to be accepted in the university.”
By visualizing yourself performing the steps you need to succeed, you have a better chance of accomplishing them. Imagine yourself taking care of your diet, exercising, studying, and working on your professional projects.
The way you think is crucial: it affects how you feel and how you behave. But just thinking and staring at a dream board on the wall will not change your life. Positive thinking only works when combined with the positive actions you take today.
8. Align every aspect of your life with your personal purpose.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well.” If you have a job that doesn’t seem meaningful to you, then concentrate on being the best at your work. This change, in itself, can add meaning to your life because it requires you to go to work every day with a goal in mind.
You can also try to find different ways in which your work allows you to provide value. For example, if you work in a daycare center, think of it as helping not only the children you care for but also the children’s families by giving them time to go to work or attend to their matters. If you’re a teacher, you’re not only helping the students, but you’re also learning a lot of things about different subjects.
Plan your daily activities so that you can focus better and apply your talents and skills in your day-to-day life. You may have to limit yourself to checking social media only once or twice a day instead of every half hour. But it’s worth keeping out some distractions so that you can put your energy into the things you’re really passionate about.
Eliminate more and more distracting activities from your daily routine. Over time, you will have a more simplified daily routine, which will help you feel like you are living with purpose and not just busy doing a lot of meaningless things.
9. Make the necessary changes happen.
Reflecting on your daily habits requires you to be honest with yourself. If you decide that what you want to do with your life is something that requires significant changes (for example, traveling the world, investing your savings in studying a new career, or opening an online business using your free time), then you have to look beyond the fear. Fear often prevents us from doing what we want to do.
Building trust and acknowledging your fears can help you take courage. Maybe you have already tried to change your attitude about your current job without success. It may be time for you to look at other job opportunities. But before you end up in another position that won’t make sense to you either, take the time to write down the things you value in life. People seek to change careers for many different reasons. Your career goals or values may change over time; you may have discovered new interests that you would like to pursue, or you may want to have more flexible schedules.
Before you decide, it is essential to evaluate your current situation carefully to explore new career options, to determine if your career needs to be renewed and to choose a more satisfying profession. Sometimes it is best to try a new activity or hobby in your free time to determine if you want to make a significant change in your life.
Share with us, what other methods have helped you define your vision of life?
A clear personal vision is an integration of your interests, personality, values, goals, skills, experience, culture, and stage of life. There are many factors!
But having a personal vision will give you the guidance you need to make the right decisions every day that will bring you closer to reaching your ideals, purpose, and long-term goals.
It’s not about making a fixed, determined plan. The best thing is to live in the moment and savor every activity you do daily. Remember that the future is uncertain, and everything can change. Once you have established a life purpose, you must be open to taking alternative paths when necessary and shape your vision as you move forward, without losing sight of your ultimate goal.
Clearly define the meaningful purpose that will guide you from now on. Because living with intention and having a clear vision will allow you to achieve exceptional results in all areas of your life.
https://www.pnas.org/content/116/4/1207The Psychology of Purposehttps://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/january/meaningful-happy-life-010114.html https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167299025002010 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002210311100031X https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meaning_of_life
Have you thought about how nice it would be if we all made an effort to be kind and generous to each other?
Many people spend their time thinking about how to have more and receive more from others because they wrongly believe that this way, they will find happiness. But it has been proven that one of the best ways to achieve a life full of satisfaction and happiness is to give support and love to others.
Being kind is a strength of character that you can develop because it will allow you to build positive relationships, have more opportunities, and more meaning in your life.
Let’s take a look at these seven steps that will help you demonstrate kindness and generosity through your attitudes, words, and actions.
“Goodness begins by understanding that we are all facing our own battles.” — Charles Glassman
Although there are people who associate kindness to someone naive or weak, actuality, it’s not the case. Being kind and gentle is a social skill that requires courage, self-control, generosity, and strength of character.
Several scientific studies have shown that devoting resources to others instead of trying to accumulate more and more for oneself produces lasting well-being. Kindness to others is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in marriage. And many universities, including Harvard, are now taking kindness into account in their applications for admission.
Being kind is good for both you and the people around you. Recent studies point to something that has been intuitively known for generations: Giving and receiving kindness and goodness helps promote good health and general well-being.
Besides, being kind doesn’t have to cost money. You can simply give yourself, perhaps by offering to care for someone, giving a sincere compliment, or simply being polite and considerate of others.
Kindness produces a “ripple effect” that flows from one individual to another and spreads a lot of positive effects, reaching a large number of people. We just need to cultivate kindness in our communities by being generous, not only during particular seasons but every day of the year.
Practice kindness in your life by taking the following steps, and you will discover that your good actions can be contagious, and can lead you and those around you to greater fulfillment and satisfaction.
1. Practice gratitude and stay positive.
Gratitude is more than a feeling; it’s an act. Dozens of studies have shown that gratitude is beneficial for you because it changes your perspective almost immediately, and the rewards continue to grow as you practice it. Gratitude helps you feel more positive, improves your relationships with others, fosters compassion, and increases feelings of happiness.
Make an effort to recognize all the little positive things that happen during your day. Write them down in a journal, take inspiring pictures and write about them, or do anything that helps you recognize and remember these little things you are grateful for. For example, if your blueberry pancakes turned out to be perfect, if the traffic in your way to work was surprisingly light, or if your friend complimented you on your clothes, collect those little details in your gratitude journal!
As human beings, we tend to focus on the negative things and let the positive ones pass by. So when you notice something positive in your life, give it some attention and make it memorable. For example, if you see a beautiful garden with lots of flowers during your morning walk, stop for a moment and say, “This is a pleasant moment, and I want to remember how grateful I am for it.” Try to take a mental picture of the scene so you can remember those details later when you are going through a difficult time or some negative experience.
Having clean clothes to wear or a soft, comfortable bed to sleep can be little things to be thankful for. Not all the good things in life are obvious, so be aware of them. Thank people for what they do for you. From activities that someone in your home does, such as keeping the house clean or preparing food, to the attention you receive when you go shopping or eat breakfast at a restaurant.
Even though the cashier at the supermarket or the waitress in the restaurant may be in a bad mood, it is up to you to be grateful and to spread kindness to all the human beings with whom you interact. Think of it not as doing them a favor, but as doing it to make yourself feel great.
Being positive helps you be comfortable, even if you’re having a bad day. Also, a smile improves your outlook and makes people perceive you are confident and friendly.
2. Be kind to yourself first.
The reality is that we are usually our own worst critics, and we tend to be very negative about ourselves. Understanding this truth is essential because to be kind to others, we need to be careful of ourselves first.
Surround yourself with positive people who help you feel good. Give yourself time to process emotions and difficult situations. Avoid hurting yourself when you feel disappointment, regret, grief, or anger. Learn to laugh at yourself once in a while. Laugh at your silly mistakes, learn from them, and let them go.
Don’t compare your worst moments with the best of others, because that’s not a fair comparison. Appreciate the good that others achieve and let that inspire you instead of being jealous.
Keep in mind that making mistakes is normal. So, avoid judging yourself for your mistakes or your worst moments, and reflect on the learning you can get from them. If you have a bad habit that you want to change or have not yet reached your goals, be patient with yourself and remember that significant changes take time.
Being kind to yourself is one of those things that sounds easy but is very difficult in practice. But you can cultivate generosity by doing acts that allow you to appreciate, reflect, and grow. Growth, in any form, is never easy. It takes patience and persistence. And self-compassion is a consideration that we need more than once a day.
3. Act generously, be kind, and considerate of others.
Acting with generosity allows your brain to release almost fifty percent more oxytocin, which is the chemical that makes you feel good. This chemical, which we produce on special occasions, is also known to enhance creativity, the immune system, and the ability to solve problems. Do you realize how something as small as dedicating your time and attention to a conversation can stimulate your mood and give you and those around you a good feeling?
Sometimes we can get caught up in our own needs and desires and forget that other people around us can be hurt or offended by our words or actions. But, being considerate means taking the time to think about how others feel and putting yourself in the other person’s perspective, always seeking to implement the famous win-win.
Smiling and making eye contact is one of the simplest ways to spread goodness, and it’s free! Be generous and authentic with your smile. This simple gesture can brighten up your day and the day of the people around you.
Another way to be generous is to keep doors open for others to come in. Offer your help if you see someone who needs it, for example, an older person carrying a lot of items. If you see someone else competing for the same parking space, allow them to keep it. There is always room and time for everyone.
When driving your car, do so with courtesy. Remember that safety comes first. Use your turn signals when you are supposed to, and use the horn only when it’s necessary to alert someone. Keep enough distance between your car and the one in front of you. Try not to block any access with your vehicle, avoid abruptly changing lanes, and be considerate of others.
Good manners are essential in making people feel at ease. Treat others with respect, as well as, or even better than you would like to be treated. Use words like “please,” “thank you” and “excuse me.” Avoid getting angry with the salespeople in the store or the waiter. If you need to complain, ask for the manager, and make the complaint clearly and calmly.
Being tactful is an essential part of showing consideration. When expressing your point of view, do your best to not offend the people around you. Learn to give feedback or criticism in a kind and thoughtful way, without causing any hurtful feelings. You can do this by objectively highlighting what was done right and what actions can be improved, without pointing out the person in a negative way.
4. Perform three acts of kindness every day.
“We can’t help everyone, but we can all help someone.” — Ronald Reagan
In a recent study, a group of participants was assigned to perform at least one act of kindness daily for one week, while their levels of happiness were measured before and after the seven days of kindness. The researchers found that being kind to ourselves or anyone else, even a stranger, and even actively observing the goodness around us stimulates happiness.
A kind act by a stranger can often have a more meaningful impact on your day than the kindness of close friends and family. Spread the goodness in the world by doing something good for someone you don’t know, without seeking recognition. Performing three acts of kindness can significantly enrich your life.
The most significant acts of kindness are those that are given for free because you care about someone else and want them to be happy. Goodness itself is your reward, so it will enhance your sense of well-being and happiness no matter how big or small it is the action you perform. So if you do a favor for a family member or friend, don’t say: “You owe me one.”
But what if you go further? What if you challenge yourself to be kind and gentle with a person who others may consider undesirable?
To be honest, maybe the last thing you want to give to an offensive person is your kindness. Usually, when someone makes rude comments or acts in a hurtful way toward us, revenge can be very tempting. However, there is no more complete satisfaction than being a great person.
So take a deep, calm breath. If the person has just said or done something offensive to you, it’s crucial to stay calm and avoid reacting. In the heat of the moment, it could be easy to say harsh words and respond with anger. Choose your words very carefully. Speak slowly and calmly. This attitude and behavior can lead to solutions and results instead of drama, argument, and tragedy.
Remember that you don’t have control over the words and actions of others, but you do have control over your own. By being kind to all people, no matter how undeserving they might be, you become a person with great self-control, integrity, and compassion.
The point is to break the cycle. Unfriendly people misbehave towards others, with the justification that others have been harmful to them. But if you give them some kindness that they don’t often receive, you can break this chain of events, and you can even make a big difference in they having a positive change over time.
And if you still don’t feel like being kind to a particular person, do it for your health. Being grumpy and rude affects your health – don’t let someone else have the power to make you sick! Anger can increase the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. On the other hand, happy feelings have been related to better immune function.
Just remember to be careful and use common sense if a stranger asks you for help on a desolate street or in an empty parking lot. In this case, it may be better to go to a populated area and warn the authorities that there is someone who needs help.
Take the time to identify and recognize the things you have in common with the people around you. Try to understand them and think:
Incorporate the smallest acts of kindness into your daily life and notice the positive results. The Butterfly effect in Chaos Theory states that a small event in one region of the world can have a significant impact in another distant place.
5. Be optimistic and offer words of encouragement.
Giving words of encouragement and support to others, even through the challenges, injustice, and cruelty you can experience in the world, can strengthen your sense of faith in humanity. And by being optimistic, you keep your sense of humor active, which helps you not to take yourself too seriously so that you can see life’s tough moments in good faith.
It’s not always easy to be optimistic, especially when you’ve had a horrible day. But with enough practice, anyone can cultivate optimism by focusing on the positive instead of the negative, thinking about happy future moments, and living a life that is filled with more joy than sadness.
Offering words of encouragement to a person at the right time can make a big difference. Choose a famous phrase or an uplifting verse. Try to say something hopeful and honest when you notice someone is down.
“Unexpected goodness is the most powerful, least expensive, and most underestimated agent of human change.” — Bob Kerrey
Being kind not only has a direct effect on others, but it also has a positive impact on you.
6. Remember that everyone is fighting a battle.
Everyone is going through one challenge or another, and sometimes, it is too easy for us to ignore this when we are angry or immersed in our own problems.
Even when you feel the worse, remember that other people are also experiencing uncertainty, pain, difficulties, sadness, disappointment, and loss. In no way does this belittle your feelings, but it does allow you to realize that people often react from their pain, instead of their reasoning. And goodness is the key to seeing beyond our negative emotions.
Before you commit an action that could negatively impact someone else, ask yourself a simple question: “Is it nice to do this?” If you can’t answer yes, take some time to breathe, calm down, and think about what might be a better response.
To develop better compassion for others, you must practice compassion for yourself and learn to stay calm when necessary. When someone lets you down, keep in mind that people fight silently for many reasons. Don’t be quick to get angry or hold a grudge. Think that the other person may have gone through something unexpected, and remember that we all make mistakes, and there might be some strong reasons for the person’s behavior.
Commit each day not to judge anyone, because you are not the only one having a hard time.
7. Develop the power of goodness.
Many people want to be discovered to become the next star in music or movies or to make a lot of money and be the next billionaire. They think that one of these options is the key to complete happiness. But even when some get a lot of money or things, they then miss their previous life because they underestimate the traps that fame, celebrity, and wealth bring with them when we don’t have strong values and principles.
The truth is, our planet doesn’t need any more superstars. Our planet is in desperate need of peace, volunteers, dream makers, and loving people. Our world needs people who are committed to their community, people with moral values, willing to fight for our civilization to become more prosperous, more humane, and more compassionate.
You can practice goodness through simple acts of kindness and avoiding harm to any other living being or the environment. Besides, being kind increases your happiness and slows down the aging process.
Remember that it’s not necessary to belittle yourself in front of others to be generous; you just have to practice generosity while showing integrity. In this way, you can be assertive and kind even when others are trying to take advantage of your goodness.
Although simple, the ability to be kind in itself is a powerful and comforting reward, which also stimulates our self-esteem.
Imagine how rewarding it would be for you to go to sleep every night with a smile of satisfaction, knowing that you contributed something positive to someone else’s life.
You can be the change you want to see in the world. All you have to do is smile, be positive, and strive to be considerate of others.
Plato was very right when he said, “Be kind because all the people you meet are fighting a tough battle.”
There are many ways to be good and many opportunities to perform acts of kindness. And although sometimes it takes a great deal of effort to be able to treat others with kindness, through constant practice, you can begin to see kindness and goodness as virtues of your character that are worth cultivating.
Within yourself, you’ll find the qualities you need to show courtesy, consideration, and love for others. Strive to be kind and gentle, one action at a time, one person at a time. In this way, you will give more meaning to your life, and you will be able to generate joy for yourself and the people around you; and thus, together, we will all be able to grow as human beings.
https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-heart-and-science-of-kindness-2019041816447 https://www.bustle.com/p/how-kindness-changes-your-brain-according-to-new-research-12079120 https://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2013/03/27/how-happiness-affects-your-health/ https://psychcentral.com/blog/5-strategies-for-self-compassion/ https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/29-ways-to-carry-out-random-acts-of-kindness-every-day.html https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness
Do you feel unable to appreciate beauty, affection, and kindness in your environment and the people around you? Are you obsessed with the things you don’t have, instead of feeling grateful for what you do have, and the people who love you? Would you like to improve the molecular structure of your brain and optimize the functioning of your mind, to be healthier and happier?
Stay with me because I am going to present seven exercises to develop your gratitude so that you can improve your social relationships, get better physical health, psychological stability, better self-esteem, and greater mental strength.
Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can improve your life in many ways. Several studies have shown that the feeling of gratitude can help us keep away depression and other negative states of mind. These findings state that it’s unlikely to feel depressed or sorry for yourself when you are focused on feeling grateful.
The Center for Consciousness and Attention Research at the University of California reports that expressing gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps gray matter working, and makes us healthier and happier. When you practice gratitude, you generate feelings of happiness, and your central nervous system responds positively, leading you to be more relaxed and less stubborn.
Several other studies around the world have shown that the practice of gratitude has real health benefits because it helps improve your mood and personal sense of well-being.
While it’s not always easy to be grateful for all the things in your life, it’s a rewarding practice that you’ll want to learn. You just need to start practicing gratitude every day. Join me as I present some simple methods you can use to get started today.
To maintain a positive attitude, start by avoiding wasting your energy on comparing yourself to other people, wishing you were someone else, had the car, clothes, or someone else’s appearance. Instead, just close your eyes and explore what you do have. Focusing on the positive will help you set aside the game of comparison and profoundly value what you possess.
Be genuinely grateful for what you have, regardless if it’s much or little; because this simple act will help you improve your mood immediately.
In a study of gratitude by psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, all participants were asked to write a few sentences each week on particular topics. One group wrote about events for which they were grateful that had happened during the week. A second group wrote about daily problems or situations they disliked. And the third group wrote about events that had affected them (without emphasizing if they were positive or negative). After ten weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer doctor visits than those who focused on the sources of suffering.
Go out to the park, sit in the sun, and take a moment of silence to appreciate what you have in life. Enjoy the present moment to the fullest, whether you’re going swimming, walking in the park, hiking, or climbing a mountain. Observing nature will make you see how impermanent your life is and how much you should appreciate all the little things our world has to offer you.
Developing a positive attitude is essential to a satisfying life. Your attitude determines how you react to the situations you face daily, which helps you to be more predisposed to maintaining positive emotions. Besides, the right attitude helps you recognize, accept, and let go of negative emotions from the moment they start to arise, so you don’t let them ruin your day.
There are many people and things that we usually take for granted and don’t realize their value. So, it’s necessary to pay more attention to all the reasons why we should be happy.
Start by thinking about the little aspects of your life that go unnoticed. For example, it’s easy to overlook basic things like having air to breathe, the feeling of the sun on a warm spring day, having food and shelter, and the sweet melody of your favorite song among thousands of other small things that make your life enjoyable.
What other elements come to your mind for which you would like to be more thankful?
Write them down in a list that you can review every day, especially when you get annoyed by trivial situations.
Add to your list the people who are by your side when you need them. Be thankful for your friends. Many people take their friends for granted. They think that those people are meant to be there, like the sofa in the living room or the tree in the garden. But that’s not the case. If you take your friends for granted and don’t show them how valuable they are to you, as time goes by, you have the risk that they will gradually get out of your life. So, every time you enjoy your friends’ company, think about how much these people mean to you, the things they have done for you, and how lucky you are to have them in your life.
Appreciate your family. In most cases, a family is one of the most powerful connections we can form in our lives. Take the time to tell your family how much they mean to you. If they don’t live near you, you can call them or write them a sincere letter expressing your appreciation.
And if you are a person, like many of us, who have suffered trauma caused by members of our own family, learn to forgive. Forgive sincerely to feel good about yourself. Keep in mind that whatever difficult situation you’ve had to face has allowed you to be the person you are now, stronger and more resilient, and that’s one more reason why you can choose to be thankful. And remember that there are friends and people close to you, who are willing to consider you as part of their family.
Be thankful for all the good acts done on your behalf. Throughout your life, picture how many people have contributed to you, so that you could get to where you are now. How many hours of hard work went into making sure you were growing up strong, healthy, and going to school. Understand that you couldn’t be where you are now if it weren’t for all these people who helped you and were present during your childhood and other critical stages of your life.
Health is something else that people often take for granted, and it’s something you have to think about the next time you find yourself complaining. Of course, you may have lost your cell phone or argued with your best friend, and those situations are very annoying, but you will overcome them and fix them sooner or later. What’s not so easy to overcome is a debilitating physical condition that can completely change the course of your life. So the next time you feel like the world hates you, be glad you have a healthy body and mind. Many people are not so lucky, and they manage to be grateful anyway.
Value how privileged you are for having the opportunity to go to school, go to work, hang out with friends, or because you have the financial means to buy that new jacket that you love so much. Not many have the opportunity to travel or study something they like. Chances are, there are many things you can do, that others cannot even dream about it. Think that in some countries with extreme poverty, children struggle every day to get water and food. And even in your city, there may be young people who don’t see it possible to get a pair of new shoes to wear. While it may be true that certain people have more opportunities than you, that doesn’t mean you should live in bitterness or jealousy about it. Make sure you are grateful for the few or many opportunities available to you and do what is in your hands to take advantage of them.
In a study conducted by scientists Emmons & McCullough in 2003, it was discovered that there are many benefits in keeping a gratitude journal. The study showed that people who kept a journal where they wrote specific reasons to feel grateful, reported fewer symptoms of physical pain, felt more well-being in their lives, exercised more regularly, were more optimistic, and made more progress toward achieving their goals.
To keep a gratitude journal, all you have to do is to get a notebook or create a digital document and commit to writing at least three things for which you feel grateful each day. If you find it challenging to begin writing, you can start by feeling grateful to be alive. Then you can continue writing about something you have at hand in that moment, such as the glass of water you just had, the blanket that warmed you during the night, or the shower you just took.
Identify an object or skill you possess, visualize for a moment how you would feel if you didn’t have it, and then feel thankful for it. This visualization also applies to people who are close to you; imagine what your life would be like without them, and recognize the value they provide to you.
You can achieve a positive mental attitude by paying more attention to what you have in your life and thinking less about what you don’t have. Be sure to explain how each element you write makes you feel and why you are thankful for it.
For example, write: “I am grateful for my home. My house shelters me and protects me. It gives me a sense of relief to know that there is always a comfortable place that I can go back to after a busy day.”
Your body, your food, your clothes, your home, the air you breathe, the cold water that satisfies your thirst, your ability to see, hear and feel, your ability to read, communicate, and move. There are many reasons to be thankful. Do your best to write three different things every day. So, as you strive to find new specific reasons to be grateful for, your journal will become more challenging as time goes by. You will develop greater awareness and ability for appreciation, and you will find more and more things that you took for granted or perhaps never noticed before.
You may feel very grateful for your friends, your family, your health, and the different circumstances in your life, but it’s not always easy to express it. The simplest thing is to start by being kind, open, and helpful. Write and read a thank-you letter to someone who has done something meaningful for you. Strive to communicate to people that you value them.
Another leading researcher in this field, Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of several positive psychology interventions on 411 people divided into different groups. Each participant was given one writing assignment per week, while they tracked physiological indicators related to their happiness levels. The group who wrote and read out loud personally, a thank-you letter to someone who they had never thanked before, immediately showed an enormous increase in happiness scores. This impact was higher than all other happiness-seeking strategies and also lasted the longest.
Do you realize how crucial it is to express your gratitude and appreciation to people?
Say “thank you” to strangers in certain situations. Thank the girl who serves you coffee in the morning. Thank the cashier at the grocery store. It is not only polite to say thank you to people, but it will also put you in a more positive state of mind.
Sometimes thanking strangers can be easier than saying thanks to the people you love the most. However, it’s essential for your loved ones to feel appreciated and valued.
Also, by directly expressing your gratitude to your family and friends, your close relationships will be strengthened, and you will feel happier. Write them a positive message, leave them a note, or invite them over for coffee as a sign that you are grateful for what they have done for you.
Enjoy doing favors for your friends. Ungrateful people are selfish, and they only relate to people from whom they think they can “get” something. So, turn that around and offer to do something simple for someone else, even if they haven’t asked you to.
Maybe a co-worker has had a busy day, and you can share lunch with him; maybe your friend needs help choosing a dress for a special event. Focus on the person, and you’ll see that whatever the task, helping others will give you satisfaction.
Also, when you help others, you’re making a long term investment because you never know when life might give you a setback; and in those difficult times, some of the people you helped in the past may show up for you.
Sharing your time and devoting attention to older people is an excellent opportunity to perform an act of kindness. Be kind and helpful to them. Stop thinking that visiting grandma or grandpa is just a waste of time. Listen to older people, appreciate their insight, and be aware that they won’t be here forever. Enjoy the precious time you spend with your grandparents if you’re still lucky enough to have them. If not, be kind to older family members and show them how much you appreciate their wisdom and love.
Someday, you’ll be old too. How would you feel if your grandson spent his time staring at his cell phone and counting the minutes to go out and meet his friends at the mall, instead of having a meaningful conversation with you?
Volunteering is another way to show how grateful you are for all the things the world gives you. Whether you help clean up a local park, work in a soup kitchen, or teach children and adults in your community how to read, you’ll become a more thankful person if you give your time to less fortunate people and watch their lives improve.
You should not always keep your acts of kindness to close friends or family members. You can do random acts of kindness. Help a neighbor look for a lost dog. Help the waitress clean up the spilled coffee. Help an older woman do her shopping. Sometimes these opportunities present themselves and you don’t have to go looking for them. But when they do arrive, you should be ready to act generously, and feel satisfied and grateful that you can participate and help improve the world by doing your part.
Avoid living as a victim. Ungrateful people always blame the world for their problems and think that nothing bad that happens is their fault. If you want to be a grateful person, then you have to stop thinking that the world, your teachers, your boss, your friends, or your family, are all against you. It’s better to take responsibility for your words and actions.
Remember that gratitude is about being aware of what you have, not what you don’t have. Being in the present moment can help you reflect on what is really important in your life. Too much focus on the past or future can lead to feelings of disappointment, anxiety, and even fear.
That’s why it’s a better idea to interrupt negative thoughts and think about what you have right now. Also, remember that mistakes and hard times have surely taught you something useful. Therefore, you can also be grateful for the adversities that have contributed to the person you are today.
Be thankful for the skills you possess, from the basic ones like walking, cycling, and reading, to those special talents that make you a unique person. Enjoy the activities that make you feel happy, even if you might not be an expert, such as dancing, singing, or writing. Recognize the traits that shape your personality, such as your ability to listen, to encourage people, or to share what you have. Don’t forget to celebrate each of your accomplishments, and be proud of yourself for achieving them.
Practice gratitude at the same time every day to make it a habit. Whether you write in your journal in the morning, after getting up or at night before going to bed, having a schedule will help you maintain this new habit. Try to choose a time of the day that works best for you, that allows you to meditate and give thanks for the positive moments you’ve enjoyed that day.
After writing something down in your journal, close your eyes and visualize what you have written, and experience a deep sense of gratitude. Put yourself back in the situation and express in your diary what you saw, smelled, tasted, or felt. This way, you can recreate the chemicals your brain released at that moment and thus recreate the good feelings.
Remember that several scientific studies have shown that stress, anxiety, or depression cannot be present at the same time as gratitude and acceptance. In other words, a mind full of gratitude cannot feel anxiety or depression.
Training your gratitude will help you improve your ability to handle life’s adverse experiences. Being grateful makes us stop complaining, so we can focus more on the things that make us happy.
Learn to appreciate and value the positive side of each situation. Identify your negative thoughts, accept them for what they are, just ideas, and let them go. Bring a positive attitude into your mind by appreciating all the good you have.
And if you want to go a step further, pick up the phone right now and call someone to express your gratitude sincerely. Be thankful for the most significant things the person has done for you, and describe how their actions have impacted your life for the better.
We all can develop a gratitude attitude. Having a grateful mind is one of the easiest ways to improve your life satisfaction and foster more favorable circumstances so that you can enjoy life to the fullest.
But even if you consider yourself to be a friendly person, and if you find it easy to start conversations and talk with people, growing your social skills will help you prevent conflict and be more charming.
The following seven exercises will help you improve your social skills and your interpersonal intelligence.
People who have developed their social intelligence can perceive how others feel. They intuitively know what to say in different situations, and they are confident when talking in front of a group. One might think that these people have natural charisma, but their real power is called social intelligence.
And you can also develop these skills through practice and the experience of interacting with people. You have to learn from the successes and mistakes you experience in your daily social situations.
And if you apply the following exercises, it will be easier for you to interact with others, communicate effectively, and create meaningful connections.
1. Practice active listening.
Listening is one of the most important social skills you can develop. The attention you pay to others when listening can have a significant impact on your job and school performance, and on the quality of your relationships. Besides, by becoming a better listener, you can improve your ability to influence, persuade, and negotiate with your peers; while avoiding conflict and misunderstanding.
Active listening means that you are making a conscious effort to listen, not only to the words the other person is saying but, more importantly, to the whole message they are trying to communicate to you.
The five key elements of active listening are:
a) Pay attention.
b) Show that you are listening.
c) Provide feedback.
d) Avoid judgment.
e) Respond appropriately.
For you to give your full attention to the person you are talking to, it’s necessary to set aside distractions. Avoid using your mobile phone during conversations, clear your mind of unrelated thoughts, and focus on the present moment. Avoid interrupting, or preparing a response in your mind while the other person has not yet finished speaking. And also, pay attention to the person’s gestures and non-verbal communication.
To demonstrate that you are listening and to make the other person feel they are being heard, use your body language. Smile and nod from time to time and make sure your posture is open and shows interest. You can accomplish this by keeping your hands and arms hanging naturally at your sides. Avoid intertwining your fingers in front of you or crossing your arms and encourage the other person to continue talking by making small verbal comments such as “go on…”,” please continue” and “what happened next…”
Provide feedback as the conversation progresses. Try to paraphrase what the other says to make sure you’re getting it right. Use phrases like: “What I’m getting is that…” or “Sounds like you’re saying that…”. You can also take advantage of moments of silence to ask questions or to confirm as a summary of the information that the other person has just shared with you.
Avoid judging. Sometimes our views, assumptions, or beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to try to understand what you hear by setting prejudices aside.
Respond appropriately. Active listening allows you to gain information and perspective while fostering respect and understanding. When it’s your turn to speak, be honest, open, and truthful in your response, and always express your opinions respectfully.
Have you ever been in a conversation where you wonder if the other person is listening to you at all? Does this make you wonder if it’s worth talking to them? Well, that’s why active listening is crucial.
Active listening allows us to achieve openness in different situations to give an appropriate response. These positive interactions avoid arguments, strengthen interpersonal relationships, and create a space to address any potential conflict constructively.
Most people like to talk about themselves, which allows you to practice active listening every day. Encourage others to tell you about their careers, hobbies, or life plans. In an environment surrounded by distractions, devoting a little of your time and attention is the best gift you can give to someone else.
2. Exercise your attention and social awareness.
Social awareness is the ability to understand and interact appropriately in different life situations. This skill implies being attentive to your environment and the human beings around you.
People who have social intelligence are excellent observers. They are often considerate of the needs and feelings of others. They take responsibility for their mistakes. They are humble about their strengths. They reflect on what they are going to say before speaking, and they are aware of how their words and actions affect others.
Start by paying close attention to what is going on around you. Be aware of the messages you convey through your posture, eye contact, and facial expression. Remember that visual connection and a genuine smile are universal gestures that demonstrate openness and kindness, which make others feel comfortable.
It is common for distracted and judgmental people to allow their minds to wander during conversations. Others may perceive this behavior as disrespectful or self-centered.
It is better that you develop your ability to remain attentive to the present moment so that you can show authenticity. Being present will allow you to focus entirely on the experiences, words, and interactions you are having at that precise moment. The people with whom you interact will perceive that you are engaged and will identify this as a sign of authenticity.
Having this level of awareness, presence, and understanding will allow you to generate empathy. You will also know how to respond appropriately and naturally to any social situation you might find yourself.
A common mistake made by people who are distracted is that they forget other people’s names. It may seem insignificant, and many can justify themselves by saying they have problems with remembering names. But by forgetting a name, what the other person perceives, is that you have no interest in them. Remembering a person’s name is an excellent way to show them that they are important to you, which allows you to generate charisma.
A simple way to improve your ability to remember names is to repeat the person’s name several times during the conversation, from the moment people introduce themselves. You can say something like, “Nice to meet you, George,” and then, “What do you do for a living, George?”
3. Smile, be authentic, and friendly.
An authentic person expresses what he thinks, and shows how he feels in front of others genuinely. Be yourself all the time instead of showing a different face to different people or in diverse situations. Personal authenticity is the daily expression of your beliefs, values, and convictions. To be authentic, you need to accept yourself for who you are and treat yourself and others with respect.
When interacting with someone, try to understand the other person’s feelings and appreciate their point of view. Many times people don’t say how they feel. They will tell you that they feel good, even when deep inside, they’re not. However, just because they don’t say what they feel, it doesn’t mean they don’t give any clues.
Usually, facial expressions and non-verbal communication would let us know how a person is feeling. Body language will tell you what mood they are in and how you should interact with them. We often associate charisma with specific skills, such as telling good stories or making people laugh, but charisma is more about knowing what kind of things to say (or not to say), to the right person, at the right time.
Many people think that to be more charismatic, they need to use humor in every conversation. But this tactic can be a double-edged sword. Making inappropriate jokes at the wrong time can make you seem very desperate for acceptance. So, if you have doubts about whether a joke is appropriate, or if it’s a good time to say it, it’s better to stay quiet.
A simple way to be more charismatic with those around you is to have a proper posture. Sit up straight and keep your head as high as possible. Believe it or not, having the right pose makes you feel confident, which makes you more willing to engage in a conversation. And when you’re more willing to engage in conversations, people will perceive you like a more charismatic and approachable person.
Another aspect that you should take into account if you want to be more charismatic is to learn when physical contact is appropriate. You should be able to identify when people feel comfortable with physical contact, and you should always be very selective and respectful of it. For example, if a friend is very sad or very upset, putting a hand on his shoulder, under the right conditions, is appropriate. Sometimes physical contact is even more appropriate than mere words. But you must be very careful and recognize non-verbal signals as well as words. Physical contact, especially with sensitive people, could easily create some conflict.
As you have seen, having charisma is not about you, but how you make the other person feel, by showing an authentic and friendly attitude.
Most of the time, people who talk to you are not seeking advice; they just want to talk to someone who listens to their problems to release some tension and feel better.
People love to talk about their interests, and charismatic people know this. That’s why a charismatic person will spend as little time as possible, talking about himself. They often ask the right questions to keep the conversation focused on the other. And this brings us to the next point.
4. Improve your conversational skills.
If you feel uncomfortable at social events or find it hard to engage in conversation because you are shy, this can impact your social life and your career.
The first aspect you need to focus on, to improve your conversational skills, is to recognize the right time and place to have a conversation. Trying to chat with someone busy, distracted, or not interested will most likely lead to a bad experience.
Once you identify the right time, find the best way to start a conversation. You can open by saying something that is generally or universally true, rather than giving some personal opinion that may seem offensive. You can comment on the weather, or perhaps a current event you’ve heard in the news. You can also compliment someone on what they’re wearing or the way they’ve made their hair.
It’s not always easy to know what to say to start a conversation. It’s a better idea to relax, take a breath, and pay more attention to what’s going on around you. With a little practice and common sense, the right words will come to you naturally. Don’t push yourself too hard, and your ideas will flow.
It’s a good idea to plan and practice what you’re going to say before addressing someone, especially when you are going to share some specific information. This way, you can get your message delivered more accurately and fluently. Efficient communication not only helps others understand you, but it also makes you look like a person who is polite and respectful of others’ time.
When you are interacting with someone, keep eye contact. Looking into other person’s eyes is the best way to let them know you are paying attention. Although eye contact sometimes feels uncomfortable, you should strive to achieve it. If it is challenging for you to maintain eye contact with another person, you can look at the point between their eyebrows, which will allow you to make a connection with them, without feeling too intimidated.
Don’t try to control the conversation by thinking you’re the only one who has a lot to say. Learn to take turns. Be aware of the amount of information you are bringing to a conversation and compare it to what the other person is contributing. If you tend to encounter conversations in which you provide 80% of the information, perhaps you should remain quiet and listen more, so that you give the other person a chance to speak. It may seem very obvious, but many people are not aware that they talk for too long. They do not realize that this can cause others to avoid talking to them.
An excellent way to keep a pleasant and enjoyable conversation flowing is to ask questions. Just remember to avoid personal questions that might make the other person feel like they are being interviewed. Ask casual, open-ended questions that don’t look for a simple “yes or no” answer. Keep your questions aimed at exploring people’s tastes and lifestyles respectfully, inviting them to continue the conversation. Open-ended questions lead people to reflect on their answers and to provide much more information, allowing you to explore deeper into an exciting subject that the two of you might have in common.
Once people give you their answer, remember that you can use follow-up questions, such as: “What makes you say that?”, “Why do you think that?” or “Why do you think that’s a better option?”. Follow-up questions allow the person to explain the situation in more detail.
When you ask your question, let the person take their time to give a full answer. Listen to what the other person is saying and use it to redirect the topic to the next question. You can do this during a natural pause to avoid interrupting because interrupting could make people feel that you don’t have a genuine interest in what they are saying. It’s better to nod your head to show that you are assimilating the idea they are trying to communicate, even if you don’t agree one hundred percent with what they are saying.
Have you noticed that some people ask you questions, not to listen to your answer, but to have the opportunity to express their opinion on the subject selfishly?
Use the power of silence. Learn to feel comfortable by asking a question and then waiting for the answer. Pay attention while you are listening and then wait a little longer before interacting. Most likely, the other person has more information to share and will continue to present the subject, as long as you give them time. Breaks are an essential part of nonverbal communication, and using them correctly can help you have better conversations.
When it’s your turn to speak, you can contribute ideas and information directly related to what the other person has just shared with you, avoiding falling into self-centeredness. Use a volume and tone of voice that are easy to understand, and that convey trust and courtesy. If you mention any news or fact, make sure you have verified the data before in different reliable sources of information.
Avoid arguments. Someone with social intelligence understands that arguing or trying to prove a point by making the other person feel bad is not the way to go. Avoid openly rejecting someone else’s ideas. Listen with an open mind, even when you disagree. If the talk begins to get out of control, try to direct it toward common ground. Mention a point on which you both agree to close the argument more positively.
Stay away from sensitive issues, especially when you don’t know the other person very well. In general, it is a good idea to avoid discussing controversial topics such as sports, money, religion, and politics. To get out of controversial conversations, show courtesy rather than cutting off the person abruptly and walking away. Politely mention that you have to say goodbye, giving the impression that you have enjoyed the interaction. Try to conclude with positive statements such as: “I have to go. It was nice talking to you.”
In general, when it’s time to end a conversation, you can interrupt by showing courtesy, saying something like, “Well, it’s been nice talking to you, but I have to go now. Do you mind if we continue the conversation some other time?”
Do your best to become a better speaker and conversationalist. There are organizations like Toastmasters that can help you develop your communication skills. These support groups help people who feel shy, uncomfortable, or extremely anxious in social situations and encourage them to learn and practice new social skills, public speaking, and leadership.
5. Meet new people and make good friends.
As you talk more with others and meet people you like, you can try to deepen those friendships. You probably have coworkers you’re friendly with, but you haven’t taken the time to get to know them better. One of the keys to fostering friendships at work is to make the relationship more personal gradually. That is, you can gradually share more of yourself with the people with whom you feel comfortable talking to, which in turn invites them to share more about themselves.
In addition to your workplace, you can find other places where you feel comfortable starting conversations. Coffee shops, sporting events, and community centers are proper places to chat casually with new people.
If you’re interested in meeting new people, the best option is to join a social group related to an activity that catches your interest. The easiest thing to do could be to sign up for classes in dance, languages, cooking, or music. Or you can also sign up for any other hobby you might have. Joining a sport, speech, or reading club can be a perfect option as well. You can also search online for groups of people who have a common interest and meet every week to talk or practice group activities.
Become a bit more sociable by paying attention to the small details. Ask the waiter how his day is going, say hello to your neighbor, thank the person who delivers your mail. Talk to more people. Your social skills will improve with practice. The more you communicate and interact with others, the more confidence you can develop.
Try not to let negative interactions discourage you. You can achieve constant improvement in any skill through positive and negative experiences. If the encounter was good, take note of what you did well and try to repeat it. If things didn’t go well, evaluate the situation to determine exactly what didn’t work and how you can avoid it in the future.
6. Confront social anxiety.
We can experience certain anxiety when we leave home, and we are among other people. Symptoms range from a little nervousness and excitement, for example, knowing you’re meeting a friend you haven’t seen for a while, to excessive fear of meeting new people, or you might even be suffering a social disorder that needs special treatment.
If you want to meet people and make new friends, but social interactions seem intimidating to you, you can start with small steps. You have to decide to behave in a more friendly way, even if you don’t feel like it at first.
When you go out to buy something or order a drink, say “thank you” and be kind to the person who is taking care of you. And if the situation allows it, you can start a short, casual conversation with that person. This small interaction can represent a great achievement for you.
Try to talk to new people and start conversations every day, even when you’re feeling nervous. In time, it will get easier.
Learn to recognize your triggers. Different people with social anxiety have different situations that trigger their fears. By knowing what causes you to react with anxiety, you can begin to process these experiences in a positive way. For example:
Do you feel anxious when you walk into a classroom? Is it the same for math as it is for the art class?
Do certain people, such as your boss or coworkers, cause you to feel anxiety as you interact with them? Is it a particular person or everyone?
Do you feel anxiety in social situations? Is it the same for a restaurant as it is for a concert? Is a group of close friends different from strangers?
These specific questions can give you relevant clues about which are the critical situations you have to improve more.
Many people who suffer from social anxiety tend to avoid their fears rather than confront them. While this can help release some social anxiety in the short term, it can worsen it in the long term.
Be prepared to face your fears during social situations. You can read interesting articles so that you have some general topics that you can share with people. Prepare a non-controversial comment that you can use during a meeting, or have a casual topic to discuss during lunch. If you have to stand up and talk in front of a large group of people to give a presentation or a speech, prepare with enough anticipation so that you feel more confident.
Use relaxation techniques. Learn different techniques such as taking deep breaths, adopting power poses, and other uplifting strategies. If you feel muscle tension, you can try this. Tense your entire body for three seconds (including your hands, feet, jaw, and neck) and then release. Do this once or twice and feel how the tension comes out of your body.
Decrease your self-focus. Observe people and the different words and actions they use. Concentrate on listening to what is being said and what is happening around you. When you notice that you are concentrating on your thoughts or on what other people may be thinking about you, take your attention away from yourself. Breathe deeply, accept these thoughts for what they are, just thoughts, let them go, and enjoy the interaction you are having. Ask questions, listen carefully, and follow this advice to focus your attention on other people and not in yourself.
Much of the anxiety, we feel, comes from the fear that we have of being judged. Other people may not always agree with you or respond positively to you, but this does not reflect your reality as a person or your abilities. We all experience social interactions where we don’t feel comfortable with some people, but it’s part of life, and it has nothing to do with how nice or capable you are. Give yourself credit for facing the challenge of interacting better with more people, because that is what matters the most. You have to recognize and celebrate your small victories.
However, if you suspect that social anxiety is interfering with your daily life, even after you’ve already followed all the advice we’re giving you here, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a certified therapist who specializes in social anxiety disorder.
7. Increase your social confidence and interpersonal skills.
Practice courtesy. Good manners, as it is known in Mexico, or courtesy in general, are a series of behaviors that parents, teachers, and other adults in society teach us from an early age. Greeting others, smiling, saying “thank you,” and “please” are some of the most common and straightforward behaviors that can help you increase your social confidence.
Civility and politeness guide us to behave in a gentle way towards other people, during different social gatherings. It’s these same rules that motivate us to behave differently at a funeral, compared to the way you would at a party. And this attribute is something that you can learn.
Also, remember that you can make an extra effort to be polite by being very careful with what you say. You should always think carefully before you speak your mind.
Compliments are very effective tools when used properly. It’s a good idea to offer a sincere compliment to a different person every day. Compliments show others that you are friendly, and help you prevent thinking about yourself too much. Giving a compliment allows you to focus on something positive about the other person. If we all compliment each other daily, it could become a viral event that reaches a lot of people, and strangers everywhere will smile at each other. Imagine a world where all the people around you would focus on the positive. It would be a very positive change for everyone. The truth is that every person who walks on this planet has a desire to be recognized. And when someone else notices the positive in our words or actions, we feel happy and satisfied. The more we contribute positively to the lives of others, the more we add to our very own wellbeing.
Using proper non-verbal communication will also help you feel more comfortable and confident when interacting with people. Pay attention to your facial expressions, your body posture, and your tone of voice, as well as how you express your emotions. When talking to someone, maintain a firm, natural, open, relaxed, and positive attitude.
Make the time to take care of your appearance before you leave for school or work. It doesn’t mean that you should wear designer clothes or spend all your money on expensive shoes or accessories to be fashionable. We’re talking about you making a conscious effort to be neat, combed and wearing proper clothes and shoes. If your clothes are clean and ironed, you’ll feel more confident about your appearance. This personal care will make people perceive the acceptance you have for yourself and will reduce the chances of rejection. Remember that looking the best you can, not only improves your self-confidence, but it also makes you naturally, more sociable.
What exciting experiences have you had interacting with other people at different social events?
As you can see, improving your social skills will give you a significant boost in your personal development, your relationships, and your professional goals.
Social skills are essential for effective communication and healthy coexistence in our society.
Just remember that everything takes time. To develop your social skills, you need to put this information into practice whenever you have the opportunity to interact with other people.
Commit to start socializing in a more conscious and positive way, by using the tips that you just learned. By doing so, you will achieve a healthy and fulfilling social life that will make you contribute to a better world.
Albert Einstein said: “I have no special talent. I’m just passionately curious.”
Curiosity represents our desire to learn, to understand new things, and to know how they work. Curiosity helps you improve your problem-solving skills, interact better with people, and bring in exciting and innovative ideas.
Stay with me, because I’m going to share nine steps that will help you increase your curiosity through critical thinking.
I will also tell you how you can listen with an open mind and apply active learning while exploring new opportunities to boost your personal growth, your relationships, your professional career, and your business.
VIDEO AND LINK
This rare motivation to explore our world beyond what we need to survive has taken us to the moon, has expanded our mastery of medical science, and has given us a better understanding of our genes. And while we still don’t fully understand the origin of curiosity, several scientific studies have linked curiosity with psychological, emotional, social, and even physical and mental health benefits.
Curiosity is the innate desire that we human beings have for learning and mastering new facts, knowledge, and skills. This knowledge and skills, help us expand our minds to explore new and different outlines, points of view, and lifestyles.
Most of us were given this instinct naturally when we were children, when curiosity ran through our bodies and allowed us to explore new experiences enthusiastically. However, as we grow, this sense of novelty and exploration tends to decrease. We prefer certainty, safety, and practical choices.
But it is when we become adults that our brains develop enough to process discoveries into concrete ideas and strategies. We need to observe, explore, ask questions, and again venture into the unknown.
However, the dark side of curiosity can lead us astray, to meddle in people’s personal lives, to spend too much time on social media, and to watch the news that is full of violent content. Curiosity, when it is misdirected, can even encourage us to engage in inappropriate or dangerous situations that may put our lives at risk.
Because of that, in this program, we are going to focus on the benefits of curiosity, applied in a positive, intentional way. And I want to encourage you to connect it to your ideals, principles, and values. In this way, you will be able to use your curiosity to develop the knowledge and the skills that will allow you to improve your life and accomplish your goals.
Increasing your curiosity is a crucial element to discover new opportunities in your professional life. Curiosity will allow you to successfully perform in any job because by asking the right questions, you have a better chance of meeting expectations about your activities. Also, by challenging mediocre and inefficient processes, you will have the opportunity to explore and suggest improvements, which will lead you to outstand in any work environment.
Companies are increasingly taking into account curiosity traits when hiring. Gone are the days when discreet and obedient workers who will not question indications were required. Now, an employee who doesn’t ask enough questions is more likely to make mistakes by not clearly understanding what is being asked or by not visualizing the full picture of the project in which he is involved.
Also, if you’re the kind of person who likes to explore new topics and learn, you’re most likely very good at using your creativity to solve problems that help improve the company’s processes and systems.
But why is curiosity so important?
Curiosity allows your mind to be active rather than passive: which makes it eager to know and understand. This quality enables you to develop your creativity, learn more quickly, and stay attentive to new ideas and possibilities.
When curious people fail, they have an exceptional ability to analyze their mistakes. Their mind is eager to know the reasons that led them to fail so that they can learn from them and perform better the next time; which increases their chances of success.
Several scientific studies have revealed that curiosity leads to higher enjoyment and participation in school and more significant academic success, as well as to better learning, commitment, and performance at work. It may sound like common sense, but when we are more curious and interested in what we are doing, it is easier to commit, work hard, and do it well.
But curiosity can help you move forward in your personal life as well. It has been shown that curiosity is associated with higher levels of positive emotions, lower levels of anxiety, higher satisfaction in life, and greater psychological well-being.
Curiosity protects you from boredom and keeps your mind sharp, alert, and in good shape. By learning new things, finding proven solutions to your problems, getting inspiration from the books you read or podcasts you listen to, and having hobbies that help you keep the flame of curiosity alive, you’ll be more successful and happier.
2. Keep an open mind.
A child’s mind is curious because it is naturally eager to learn and open to new ideas. It is not tied to biases or prior information. We, as adults, also have the option of approaching the situations we face daily with a fresh mentality. Strive to see things as if you are seeing them for the first time. Set aside the ideas you take for granted and continuously ask questions.
In certain societies, people are taught to be afraid to ask certain questions, as they may shake their beliefs and their faith. This fear of finding answers and seeking the truth causes many people to lack openness to new discoveries, ideas, and opinions. Besides, having a closed mind makes us more judgmental and less tolerant of those who don’t share our views and opinions. Have you noticed how often we tend to judge people rather than having a genuine curiosity about who they really are? We draw conclusions, even before giving ourselves the opportunity to listen to them, to know them, and to understand them.
It is true that you will not always agree with everyone who goes through your life, but it’s a good idea that you give yourself a chance to understand the other person’s point of view. People behave the way they do and have certain beliefs because of their education and environment. Try to understand where they come from.
For example, if a new foreign person moves into your neighborhood, you may not understand their culture or habits at first. They might dress differently, speak a language you don’t understand, and eat food you don’t eat. Still, this is an excellent opportunity to practice your curiosity. Talk to him respectfully. Find out how he lives, learn about his culture, make an effort to understand and appreciate his manners. You may find that you have more in common with him than you think.
You can also read a book about a topic you don’t agree with. This choice is the best way to develop compassion and understanding for others who do not necessarily agree with your beliefs and opinions. Gathering as much information as possible before you form an opinion about something or someone will help you keep an open mind.
There are many ways to learn about other cultures and subjects; you can listen to podcasts or audiobooks, watch videos, go to museums, galleries; make trips, be friendly and meet people outside of your social circle.
Writer and journalist Malcolm Gladwell said: “It is your responsibility as a human being to update your views constantly. If you don’t contradict yourself from time to time, maybe you’re not thinking.”
3. Enjoy the feeling of learning.
Studying is an unpleasant task for some people. Some students put off preparing for an exam until the last minute and stay up all night the day before the exam. And some people that call themselves “professionals” avoid updating their knowledge and educating themselves to keep up with the new discoveries and technology recently added to their careers. However, if you train yourself to enjoy the learning process, you will open your mind to a world full of opportunities, not only at school and work but in life.
Those who genuinely enjoy learning new things can explore new hobbies, accelerate their careers, and develop more confidence and satisfaction in both their professional and their family lives.
Curiosity makes learning a more effective and enjoyable process. We can see this in most young children who are full of interest and enjoy learning new things every day. Curious minds ask questions and actively seek answers.
A neurological study conducted by researchers at the University of California in 2014 has shown that curiosity makes our brains more receptive to learning and promo us to enjoy more the feeling of learning new things.
In this study, a series of experiments were conducted to discover what happens in the brain when our curiosity is stimulated. For the study, the researchers had the participants rate their curiosity to know the answers to more than 100 trivial questions, such as “What was the Beatles’ song that lasted the longest on the hit lists, 19 weeks?” or “What does the term ‘dinosaur’ really mean?”
The researchers found out that once the participants’ curiosity was aroused using the right question, they were able to learn and remember better, even unrelated information. Curiosity puts our brain in a state that allows it to learn and retain any information, as well as making learning a more rewarding experience.
When participants’ curiosity was aroused, not only increased activity was detected in the hippocampus, which is the region of the brain involved in creating memories, but also in the ventral tegmental area, related to reward and pleasure. This area is the same one that is activated when we enjoy ice cream or chocolate. Therefore, arousing curiosity will not only help you remember lessons that would otherwise enter one ear to exit the other but it can also make the learning experience as pleasant as eating ice cream or chocolate.
So how can you enjoy more the learning process?
Arouse your curiosity about some subject that you naturally want to learn about. Find a way to create a connection between what you are learning and what you like. Fostering these connections will help you cultivate greater interest in obtaining knowledge. And you will be better prepared to discover things that you would normally find boring or difficult.
4. Use active learning.
According to a learning styles study, students learn more when they actively participate in the learning process. Active learning involves discussion, practice, review, or application. This kind of education includes solving problems and exploring new concepts, individually or in groups.
Active learning stimulates cognitive and sensory networks in the brain, which helps process and store new information.
These kind of activities involve students in deep rather than superficial learning and allow them to apply and transfer knowledge better.
How can you implement active learning?
Build your lab with experimental tools, like your sandbox to play or try new things; enjoy the mistakes and failures. Play as you learn, experiment, sketch, paint, draw random ideas. You can also try to create your own music, videos, photos, or inventions. Disassemble things to find out how they work and reassemble them.
Imagine how it would improve your motivation for new knowledge if you drew a mind map with colorful drawings where you include each of the subjects you want to learn. As you immerse yourself in each topic, you can mark and color it, as if it were a map of the territories you have conquered in your journey for knowledge.
5. Ask questions, listen, and observe.
Conformity is the enemy of curiosity. We don’t have to adjust to social pressure or the expectations of others.
Curiosity involves continuously asking questions and looking for answers, which includes testing assumptions and convictions to explore unusual solutions.
Don’t let shyness or fear keep you from asking questions. Ask questions even when you think you know everything you need to know.
What kind of questions should you ask?
Questions that allow you to probe for valuable and comprehensive information, rather than simple answers.
Ask questions that lead you to more questions rather than yes or no answers. For example, what else do I need to know? How does this relate to the above?
Also, ask questions that help you expand a conversation constructively, rather than blaming or complaining. For example, how can we solve this? What do you suggest? What are the alternatives?
Show your genuine desire to be open to other points of view. When asking questions, take the time and attention necessary to listen actively. During a conversation, you can ask the other person to share more about themselves, their ideas, and their opinions. Listen to their point of view, even during heated discussions. Instead of being defensive, listen to what they want to say, observe their body language, and strive to understand.
What is it? Why is it done that way? When was it done? Who invented it? Where does it come from? How does the system work? Why, when, who, where, and how, are the words that will help you expand your curiosity.
Ask questions to learn about other people’s opinions, perspectives, and approaches. Everyone does things a little differently, and there are new answers and potential solutions to problems hidden in other people’s minds. Deepening and understanding the context will help you discover the origin and history of everything around you.
Don’t take things for granted. Do not accept the world as it is. Observe and try to dig deeper beneath the surface of your surroundings, and you will discover a more fulfilled life, full of adventures and surprises.
6. Try something new or different.
One of the most common enemies of curiosity is fear because we risk failing when we venture into new territories. Curiosity is an impulse that takes us out of our comfort zone, and fear is like an agent that keeps us within our safe limits.
But remember that successful people have learned to see mistakes as learning experiences. We live in the digital age, where learning has become accessible to almost everyone. Nowadays, knowledge is very affordable or even free. If you search on Youtube, you can find comprehensive tutorials on how to use computer programs, specific apps, or advanced technology. Also, many academic websites offer free classes, and some platforms offer professionally produced courses at university level for a low cost.
And if you are busy, there are mobile applications that you can use to read or listen to book summaries, podcasts or audiobooks, that provide tons of knowledge and information. You can visit our website TopPersonalGrowth.com, where you will find more practical topics you can watch, read or listen in your way to work.
Making some changes to help you get out of your routine and add variety to your life is also recommended. You can start by going to a museum to explore paintings and sculptures of great artists. You can explore a new route to drive to work. You can try a new dish, explore a place in your city that you haven’t visited, or explore a new city. When possible, take the opportunity to travel and expand your knowledge about other countries and cultures.
Try to learn a different skill or develop a new hobby. Have you ever taken a cooking or dancing class? Is there a hobby you’d like to try?
It is a good idea to combine different hobbies related to different areas, such as some practical knowledge, some art, a hobby related to music and some sport suitable for you.
It is also an excellent idea to learn a new language, as it gives you new opportunities to expand your projects, your work, your business, and your culture in general. Besides, “se ha realizado bastante investigación sobre los beneficios de aprender y hablar varios idiomas. Las personas que aprenden a hablar un idioma extranjero tienen un incremento significativo en sus habilidades cognitivas, así como una mayor memoria y concentración, que aquellos que sólo hablan su idioma nativo.”
Remember than you can find this and all our other topics in Spanish also. Just go to CrecimientoPersonalPractico.com
You can also learn public speaking, join a debate group, or spend time in the library researching exciting topics. Be aware of changes, new events, and anything unusual or unknown that happens around you.
Become an observer and learner; explore information from other disciplines. Learn from experts, entrepreneurs, business leaders, celebrities, athletes, and others who are improving the world.
Take a few hours a week to learn something new and open your mind to new ideas, interests, experiences, and adventures. You may be surprised to discover how far your curiosity can take you. You may also find something new about yourself.
7. Use curiosity to generate empathy.
Develop the ability to understand those with different lives, experiences, and views. You can create empathy by listening with attention, respect, and interest to what the other person has to share. Try to have conversations with the persons around you on a more personal level.
This kind of curiosity and empathy will help you strengthen your relationships. One study asked a group of strangers to elaborate and answer personal questions to each other; a process scientists call “self-disclosure reciprocity.” In this experiment, they found out that persons were considered friendlier and more attractive if they showed real curiosity in this exchange of personal information. This finding means that showing genuine interest in someone is a great way to build rapport with that person.
As adults, we tend to label things, situations, and people. But what if you practice being open to other points of view, valuing differences of opinion and listening even when you disagree.
Avoid preconceptions, prejudice, stereotypes, and anticipatory judgments. Challenge yourself to have real conversations with friends and strangers. Connect with them on a more meaningful level. Build multicultural relationships, develop empathy, compassion, and tolerance, while exploring different perspectives on life.
Strive to understand others by asking questions that allow you to assimilate their history and circumstances. For example, “How did you feel when that happened?” “What led you to behave in that way?” “What is the lesson you have obtained from that situation?”
When interacting with someone, try to keep the attention on the other person, rather than on yourself, to understand what is important to them. This way, you can build deep and quality relationships, showing a sincere and genuine interest in the people around you.
8. Combine general and specific curiosity.
General curiosity leads us to enjoy learning about a wide variety of novel and independent subjects. On the other hand, specific curiosity allows us to explore more in-depth into some particular knowledge.
Combined, both types of curiosity are useful. Specific curiosity can help you solve a particular puzzle or find out precisely how a complicated machine works. But if you narrow your attention too much, you might miss the opportunity to think outside the box, find less obvious solutions, and connect seemingly unrelated concepts to produce more original ideas.
Also, when you’re learning something new, it’s recommended that you define the goal you’re pursuing and find a purpose. Ask yourself: How is this knowledge useful to me? You might need to set aside information that is not related to your long-term goals, so you can incorporate strategies and ideas that are practical and allow you to move forward.
9. Develop critical thinking and creativity.
When you need to find a solution or come up with a new idea using your creativity, you must take the time to explore the situation and gather all the necessary information. Listen carefully and strive to understand what is said, what you read, and what you observe. By doing this, you will have at hand resources, practical information, and useful strategies for the area in which you are looking for innovation.
But having the right information is not enough. You also need to use critical thinking to develop a proper understanding of the context, the problem, and possible solutions.
When you have spent enough time analyzing the situation at hand, you may come up with surprising ideas in unexpected ways. These creative experiences sometimes happen while you’re in the shower, when you’re on vacation, or when you’re taking a relaxing walk. When you take a break, your subconscious mind can find solutions to the problems you’ve been thinking about without causing you more stress.
Try to create a balance between the creativity you are developing and a sense of realism and well-supported honesty, while you keep connected to the present moment. This measure of reality will allow you to set a firm terrain on which you can build in the long term. This ability to balance critical thinking and creativity should not stop you from imagining and finding unusual solutions to problems. A person who combines realism and creativity usually refers to himself as a realistic optimist.
You can develop critical thinking and creativity if you practice enough. Just commit to being a lifelong student. Learn from each of your experiences and use those learnings to help you think more strategically.
Get involved in activities that stimulate your curiosity. Read a book, attend events, travel, hike, or explore the outdoors. Meditate so you can see what’s in your mind. Keep a journal so you can clear out irrelevant thoughts and free up some free space that fosters the production of creative problem-solving ideas.
Also, remember that a leader does not need to know everything. Our world is continuously changing, and what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. But as an authentic leader, you have to be curious, cultivate the art of listening carefully, and ask the right questions. Curiosity leads to humility. Humble people know that they don’t need to have all the answers if they continuously keep learning.
I encourage you to be the scientist in your own life. Be an inquisitive child, develop an open mind, and exercise your ability to wonder. If you cultivate your curiosity and create a love for learning, you will change your life, you will improve your environment, and you will have the power to transform the world.
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