We love to receive compliments, especially when we’re having a bad day or struggling with something. A simple compliment can instantly change the mood we’re in.
The challenge people face is knowing what to say on a regular basis so that giving compliments becomes a habit. As one of the laws of the universe states that in order to receive, we must be willing to give first.
People respond differently to compliments so it’s important to know when a compliment is appropriate and when it’s not. One of my mentors often says people are walking around with a sticker on their foreheads that says, “Please appreciate me.”
The best compliments are often the ones least expected and expressed with authenticity. I remember many years ago, I was enrolled in a Business Management course, and one of the activities the students had to complete was to create a business plan based on the products and services they offered.
As I was still very new to business, I didn’t really know what I would be offering, so I created a matrix of products and services based on what I wanted to offer in the future, some of them many years down the track. At that time, I didn’t really know any better.
As we are living much busier lives now, we often find ourselves hurrying more, which generates high amounts of pressure or stress.
The pressure we experience trying to do the things we want can leave us feeling drained of energy and also cause us to behave in ways that are out of character. Being able to remain poised, calm and cool under high stress can be developed with consistent practice.
The calmer we’re able to remain when dealing with high pressure situations, the better we’ll be able to navigate through them by making intelligent decisions and still achieve the outcomes we want.
I remember hearing about the “Miracle on the Hudson” on January 15, 2009, when US Airways Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, glided his disabled plane onto the waters of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew onboard.
Had the Captain panicked and not remained calm while dealing with the kind of pressure most of us will never have to deal with, the outcome could have resulted in lives being lost in the plane and on land. The fact that the Captain had the calmness of mind to decide to land the plane in the Hudson River, rather than trying an emergency landing on land, is a testament to his presence, training and his experience.
While we may not deal with life and death situations when experiencing high levels of pressure, it helps to know what we can do to remain calm.
Whenever we have excessive clutter in our external environment, it will have an effect on all aspects of our lives, most times, in a negative way.
Clutter is a sign we’re not in a healthy mental state and if we continue to ignore the signs, it can lead to:
- Distraction and lack of focus.
- Feelings of overwhelm and despair.
- Lower levels of motivation.
- Lack of efficiency and effectiveness.
- Higher levels of stress or anxiety.
If we continue to tolerate clutter, we’ll use up units of mental energy, which will make it more difficult to consciously design our environments the way we want. The more clutter we can eliminate, the better our chances of creating the results and the life we want.
We all have days where we’d rather curl up and stay in bed, or rewind the clock and start the day all over again.
Sometimes things can happen that are unexpected or beyond our control, which can affect our mental and emotional state. The more things we have in our toolbox to deal with bad days, the quicker we will be able to change how we are feeling and start experiencing joy again.
In recent times, it seems like the world is going through a period of high levels of pessimism, negativity and a lack of acceptance or tolerance for different values, beliefs, rights or points of views. On news or social media, there are stories of terrorism, gun violence, domestic violence, misuse of political power, etc., and it can be easy to feel angry, upset, sad or depressed.
While we may not always be able to impact things going on in the world, we’re always in control of our attitude and how we choose to respond to events happening in our lives. One of the best things we can do is to try and cheer ourselves up and experience joy in any given moment.
In the past two decades, thanks to neuroscience, we have learned more about how the human brain operates than we have in the previous hundred years or so.
More awareness is now being placed on the importance of brain health because if our brain is functioning optimally, all other areas of our lives from our mental, emotional and physical well-being, will also be working well.
Even though our brain is a small organ, making up approximately 2% of our body’s weight, it uses up to 30% of the calories we consume, around 20% of the oxygen we breathe and about 25% of the blood flow in our bodies. It’s quite astonishing to know that our brain is almost 85% water.
The brain is a complex electrical system and the better we take care of it, the better it will work for us.
At a recent seminar I attended, one of the guest speakers was Dr Daniel Amen, a neuroscientist and founder of Amen Clinics. Having scanned thousands of human brains, Dr Amen focuses on educating people on the importance of brain health.
A couple of things he mentioned during his talk that resonated with me were:
- We won’t know exactly how healthy our brain is unless we look. Dr Amen does that by conducting highly specialised brain scans.
- Learning how to take care of our brain is the first and most important step to success, in anything we want do. When our brain is working right, we also work right.
The digital age we live in is making it more difficult to stay focused on what we want and what really matters.
According to a study done in 2016, the average American adult spends 2 hours, 51 minutes on their smartphone every day. That’s almost 86 hours a month! That figure does not include time spent on tablet devices or on laptops or desktop computers surfing the internet.
With so many social media platforms, video streaming services and news outlets available to us, our ability to stay focused on what matters most in our lives is becoming increasingly difficult. Our attention span, which is linked to our ability to focus, has reduced greatly in recent years.
The choices available to us will only continue to increase as more services or new technologies are introduced. It’s predicted that in a few years time, most of the content we consume will be via videos, so it will be even easier to be distracted.
Today, being able to stay focused is closely tied to our ability to eliminate distractions. This is why knowing how to eliminate distractions and stay more focused is going to be critical if we want to make progress faster and get things done that really matter.
Have you ever met anyone who is unclear about what they really want in life?
Common responses when people are asked what they want in life include:
- Have more money.
- Be happy.
- Spend more time with their families.
- Get a better job.
- Have a successful career.
Most times, the responses people give are not what they really want but what they feel obligated or responsible to do. Going through life not knowing what we really want will very rarely lead to a meaningful and fulfilling life.
The challenge is those who are not clear on what they want have not given themselves the opportunity to discover what they really want. One of my mentors often says, “Most people are tiptoeing through life hoping to make their way to death safely.”
It’s often said that in order to become better at solving problems or be more creative, we have to be willing to think outside the box.
What this means is sometimes our usual way of thinking may not get us to the result or solution we are looking for, so we have to do things we don’t normally do.
Thinking “inside the box” refers to a predictable way of evaluating things. When we are thinking inside the box, it can stifle our creativity, delay the completion of tasks or projects, and fail to generate new ideas.
On the other hand, thinking outside the box can:
- Lead to new innovative ideas or solutions.
- Generate new levels of excitement or enthusiasm.
- Accelerate the achievement of goals.
- Develop higher levels of confidence.
- Help us become better problem solvers.
If thinking outside the box has many advantages, how do we it?
We make many decisions every day and our criteria for making them often vary depending on our current priorities.
Sometimes the decisions we need to make can be simple or obvious, whereas as other times, there many be a number of factors we have to take into account before we can make an intelligent decision.
One factor that can helps us choose our priorities better or make decisions that will serve us, both in the short and long term, is by considering opportunity costs.
What is Opportunity Cost?
Opportunity cost is also referred to as competing interests. It’s the cost of giving up an alternate activity while a person engages in a current activity. It’s the comparison of the value of one activity against another.
Using a typical everyday example, say a person has the choice of either spending two hours of an evening watching television or spending that time learning a new skill that will help them in the future. The opportunity cost of watching television may be deemed to be high by the person compared to the future benefits of acquiring a new skill.
In that case, because the opportunity cost of watching television is higher than learning the new skill, it’s very likely the person will choose to invest that time learning the new skill.
Sometimes opportunity cost is determined by a sense of loss. A person may imagine, by doing a particular activity, they may lose something else in the meantime.
Knowing how to use opportunity cost better can speed up our decision-making process and also reduce the amount of mental energy used when evaluating options prior to making decisions.
Have you ever made a decision based on what other people would think of you and your decision, instead of what you really wanted to do or have?
It’s not uncommon for us to be influenced by other people’s opinions especially if we’ve been conditioned to worry about “what the neighbours will say” or “what will they think.”
While there are times when taking advice from others who may have more knowledge or experience than us can be useful, most times, we should choose what will be best for us or move us closer to a goal we want to achieve without violating the rights of others.
Motivational speaker Les Brown often says, “Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality.”
The dangers of being concerned about other people’s opinions include:
- We’ll be easily influenced by others.
- We won’t develop our decision-making abilities.
- We’ll always be looking for approval or validation for things we want to do or have in life.
- We won’t be as self-confident as we want to be.
- We wont challenge ourselves to set lofty goals.
While everyone is entitled to their thoughts or opinions, ultimately, we’re responsible for doing what we think is best for us.