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10 Small Changes in Your Daily Routine That Can Make a Big Difference in Your Life

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Self-realization is the key to self-transformation. So, as a part of my year-long self-improvement strategy in 2018, I have tried to identify and get the most out of my inherent abilities in the past few months. I am grateful that I realized this and was able to understand a different dimension of life, which is scientifically validated, but still beyond logic.

I found the following 10 small lifestyle changes quite effective in turning my life around:

1. Practice Gratitude When You Wake Up

Gratitude is a great means to keep going even if life gets tough. You may not have it all, but you do have something to be grateful for. Most people don’t even have the basics like a roof over their heads or food on their table. So, when you wake up, try to be grateful for the things you have. Make a list of the things you feel thankful about or start writing in a gratitude journal. While expressing gratitude at any point of the day is a good thing, there is no better time for it than early in the morning when your mind is fresh and calm.

2. Do Not Check Your Phone First Thing in the Morning

The first thing I did every morning was check my phone, just like 80% of smartphone users. Not anymore though, as I realized doing so did the worst kind of damage. The moment you check your phone, your mind starts thinking about the content you have just read. Thus, staying focused on the things that really matter becomes tough and your productivity decreases even before your day has begun. So, stay away from your phone in the morning.

3. Do Not Talk to Anyone for at least an Hour

Avoid talking to anyone for at least an hour every day. It’s a great way to reconnect with your inner self and heighten concentration. However, you need to start with small periods first. Try not talking for ten minutes initially and gradually work your way up. This period shouldn’t involve any dialogue, conversations (written or verbal), or gestures. So, pick a time when no one will disturb you.

“Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn

4. Be with Yourself and Live in the Moment

The first hour after you wake up is the most energetic time of the day. So, it is the best time to be with yourself. Just sit quietly with your eyes closed and focus your complete attention on your breathing. Call it meditation if you like; I call it “Me-Time.” Try to live in the moment and keep your mind from wandering. It will improve your critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and concentration. With regular practice, you can also achieve peace of mind.

5. Do Everything with 10X the Involvement

When your body and mind are in sync, your productivity can reach its peak. One way to achieve this is to be mindful of your actions irrespective of how trivial they may seem. It’s called practicing mindfulness. Whatever it is you are doing, be there with 10X the involvement. Pay attention to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches around you and your inner senses.

6. Learn to Be Happy for No Reason

Contrary to popular belief, being happy for no reason is quite natural because happiness is a state of mind. If you are waiting for someone or something to make you happy, you are missing the point of life. Inherent happiness can last longer and lift your spirit instantly. This is why when you feel happy, you can enjoy even a cold and tasteless meal. Just be happy for 30 minutes every day for no reason.

7. Don’t Accumulate Random Content

We are what we read and experience. So, be very careful about the information you collect and the way it affects your routine. I found these useful:

  • Choose Google over social media so that you search what you really need instead of coming across random content.
  • Similarly, choose Netflix or YouTube instead of TV to watch what you like.
  • Rather than listening to the radio, listen to podcasts to hear what you like.
  • Stop reading newspapers and start following trending news on Twitter instead.

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

8. Uninstall Social Media Apps and Turn Off Phone Notifications

Deleting all social media apps from my phone and turning off notifications has been the smartest decision I have made so far this year. An average person spends nearly two hours on social media daily amounting to five years and four months of their lifetime. However, it also leads to overthinking. Plus, a constantly buzzing phone is a distraction. Your phone shouldn’t govern your life.

9. Learn Not to Complain

Life is a series of obstacles, however, complaining about your problems is rarely helpful. If anything, it is counterproductive. Unless you want to feel depressed, stressed, and alone, you should learn not to complain. It isn’t easy, but, if you spend just a day without complaining, you will realize how enriching your life can be. You will have more time to think about the things that genuinely matter.

10. Moving from “I Know” to “I Don’t Know”

Having an “I-know-everything” attitude means you don’t have the eagerness to learn and explore new possibilities. However, shifting your mindset to “I don’t know” opens up new opportunities to shape your life. I have learned that the later attitude is also a conversation starter. Every conversation can result in knowing something new or getting to know an interesting person. Sometimes, I pretend to know nothing just to strike a conversation. Usually, I end up learning something interesting anyway.

What are some new habits that you’ve picked up along the way? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Manish Dudharejia is curiously passionate about learning everything about life and human beings. By passion, he is a student of Yogic Science, Yoga & Meditation practitioner, and a disciple of Sadhguru. By profession, he is an entrepreneur and founder of E2M Solutions Inc. When he is not working, he loves spending time with his darling daughter and seeking wisdom from industry veterans as well as by reading/listening/watching epic historical events/stories.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Hiren Modi

    Aug 6, 2018 at 4:00 am

    All the points are well written, experimental as well as very important, apart from those #7 and #8 are very very important and I am really focusing on those now a days.

    I have heard that Social Media rehab center opened in Bengaluru. I think it’s a first of it’s type in India. It’s red signal about how this hidden addiction is spreading all over the world.

    Nice experimental article.

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Life

5 Simple Hacks to Help You Develop the Habit That Will Transform Your Life

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It’s excruciating when we know what’s killing us but we can’t do anything about it because as you know, it is not easy to pull the brake on a high way. According to Napoleon Hill, “remember this always – the best (and one might say the only) way in which old habits may be removed is to form new habits to counteract and replace the undesirable ones”. (more…)

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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The Problem Is Not Actually the Problem: Here’s Why

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With my understanding of the Three Principles, which is deepening month-by-month, I’m becoming more curious about whether the ‘problem’ that we think we have, is really a problem. Not for one second am I dismissing a persons’ experience; I’m human after all and I encounter challenges and what I think are ‘problems’ just like the next person. (more…)

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5 Things You Can Do to Fend off Boredom and Stay Focused

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Curiosity is human nature and it’s only natural that humans will lose interest in a topic after a while. This has been a topic that has been extensively explored among children, teenagers and adults by a psychologist with similar results being reported from each of the categories. Human’s minds are therefore prone to boredom, making it important for each professional to spend some time to understand the factors that drive boredom and strategies the individuals needs to use to overcome boredom and focus on their profession and development. (more…)

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