Understanding what makes you happy is a skill everybody should want and take the time to master. One of the best ways to learn a new skill such as this is through reading books that are backed up with scientific evidence, stories, and personal experience.
This post will outline the lessons that you need to become happier in your life and start inspiring other people. The author of The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor, does a great job at simplifying complex lessons about our psychology, and turning them into bite-sized lessons that we can take action on straight away.
Here are 15 exhilarating lessons from The Happiness Advantage Book:
1. Success orbits around happiness (not the other way round)
Start thinking of your life as the universe. The sun is your happiness, and the Earth is your success that orbits around it. When you focus your life on being happy first and foremost, this creates the foundation you need to grow from. Just like a bamboo tree, all the growth happens underground, until one day, the bamboo grows very tall.
The book demonstrates that the outdated model of the world is that we become super successful, and then we get to experience happiness; this has proven to be wrong, it’s the other way round.
2. Happiness is the cause of good health, not the result
We’ve all worked in companies that are full of people that get sick every three months.
The Happiness Advantage teaches us that by being happy, we will statistically take less sick days, and be better at fighting viruses like the flu. (I hope that’s why I haven’t personally had the flu in three years!)
3. Happiness amplifies our ability to learn
Positive emotions that come from happiness allow us to get the best chemicals known to humankind such as dopamine and serotonin, which make us feel awesome. This doesn’t come as a shock but what will take you by surprise is that increased happiness increases the learning parts of our brain.
When this occurs, our brains are able to sort through new information better, hold onto the information longer, and be able to access information with speed. The result of these Superman like skills is that we can think far quicker on the spot, and our ideas are more creative.
These faster, more advanced tools that we get the benefit of because of happiness allow us to complete more complex tasks and solve bigger problems. For us entrepreneurs, being able to solve bigger and more complex problems should be at the top of our list. I’m hooked like an addict already.
4. Meditation rewires the brains happiness levels
Everywhere you go, people are talking about meditation. Don’t let the word bamboozle you. The easiest form of meditation as described in the book is to close your eyes, breathe in and out, and concentrate on your stomach going up and down.
By doing this for 5 minutes a day it’s shown to increase your happiness, and you will experience feelings of calmness and contentment. Your level of awareness and empathy towards others will also increase. If you meditate regularly, it can even permanently rewire your brain so you’ll be happier.
5. Future events can make you happy in the now
While reading the book, I was looking for a quick happiness hack that I had forgotten about which I could use instantly. The happiness hack I chose, which you should try, is to use future events to make you happy in the present.
This is not a brand new concept, but it’s one that is quickly forgotten. For me, I am using my upcoming USA holiday as a way to increase my happiness right now. According to the book, just thinking about a favorite activity you love can raise your endorphin levels by 27% (geeeeeez).
The book reminded me that the most enjoyable part of an activity is actually the anticipation of what is going to occur, and not the event itself. What can you be happy about right now that hasn’t happened yet, and that you’re pumped about?
6. Break up your day with a short burst of time outdoors
Rather than being stuck in front of a computer in an office all day you should try using twenty minutes of the time you have blocked out for lunch to go outdoors. A startup that promotes this daily task will find employees having a more positive mood, broader thinking, and an ability to retain information better.
Plus, why would you not want to go outside anyway? It’s a great way to escape your paradigm and get a fresh look at your day. It could be the inspiration you need to make the next significant change in your life that you have been putting off. The smallest of things can trigger you to be happy and change the way you think.
7. Adjust your fulcrum and lever
Human potential is explained in The Happiness Advantage through a brilliantly simple model of the world.
If you think of your potential as being adjusted by the lever and the way to adjust it is determined by how much power and possibility you have, and if you think of the position of the fulcrum as being your mindset which generates your power, you have a brand new way to look at life.
Now all of a sudden a growth mindset has an exact formula in which you can use to increase your rate of success and the potential you have. This concept alone makes the entire book worth reading.
8. Turn tedious moments into your own objective
We’ve all sat through tedious events like a movie we don’t like and often thought that we would never get those two hours back. The book introduced me to the idea of turning these seemingly wasted moments into your own gamified objective.
What if while you were being forced to watch that zombie movie that your best friend loves so much, you made it a must to learn three new things? If the dialogue is meaningless, you could start to look at vocal pronunciation, sports ability, or even posture. Maybe the zombies posture will teach you to always sit up straight otherwise you might just begin to look like them.
“Turning negative or boring events into empowering stories is how a growth mindset can help you win at life” – Tim Denning
9. Develop a growth mindset
The phrase “growth mindset” has become a common saying in the corporate world but many don’t understand the meaning or practice it’s intent regularly. In the book, a growth mindset is the understanding that all of us have very different skills, talents, and interests. However, everyone can change and grow through application and experience.
Going through businesses that haven’t worked out, I have applied a growth mindset to overcome the fear and doubt that somehow things could have been different. A growth mindset has caused me to see these events as part of the journey to unlocking my full potential.
A growth mindset is heavily linked to the stories you tell yourself about a situation that occurs. Try to look at every negative event with a growth mindset and be mindful of other people’s interpretations. Always look for the lessons and how you can do better next time. Believe that you can be better and that there is more of you to unlock.
“You can have the best job in the world, but if you can’t find the meaning in it, you won’t enjoy it, whether you are a movie maker or an NFL playmaker”
10. Interrupt the pattern or suffer “The Tetris Effect”
The way we see the word around us has a lot to do with the wiring of the brain. Our brain can be wired to produce negative outcomes if we unconsciously practice negative patterns. The book describes a study where gamers played Tetris repeatedly and then when the test subjects went back into the real world they couldn’t stop seeing shapes falling from the sky.
These gamers also began to think of real world objects as Tetris pieces from the game. The Tetris effect in this scenario has a negative effect, but quite simply, you could use the same strategy to ingrain positive mental patterns, so you automatically perform tasks that increase your human potential as well as your value.
This whole idea gave me the feeling that our brains really are computers and we can insert our own programs into them once we understand the techniques. Have you got an old MS-Dos program of the world that needs replacing?
11. Create a positive Tetris Effect
An easy hack that you will learn in the book is to form a habit of scanning the world for everything that is positive. Make this task into a game if need be. When you play this game as described, you will experience advantages in your life such as happiness, gratitude, and optimism.
As these positive outcomes continue to occur on a frequent basis, you’ll begin to automatically expect these positive outcomes to continue because this entire habit has created this pattern by default. What a great way to increase your happiness!
12. Journal or blog to create happiness
A tool for increasing your happiness is to journal or blog on a weekly basis. This practice will make you fall into a Positive Tetris Effect. Your writing must contain references to positive thoughts or events and should focus on things you’re grateful for.
As the poster boy for this whole blogging and happiness experiment, I can gladly tell you it works more than you think it would. My entire life is now in a continuous paradigm of looking for the positive in everything so that I can share it with all of you. Try it for yourself or even just do the exercise by writing shorts posts on Twitter and Facebook.
13. Hard work increases our belief
There is one new belief the book recommends we adopt, and it’s as follows: our actions determine our fate, and this can only encourage us to work harder. As the hard work starts to show us the fruits of our labor, our belief in ourselves increases at the same time.
This positive new pattern then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and leads us to even greater success. The book then points out that the more we do something, and the harder we work at it, the more connections we form between the corresponding neurons.
Essentially, this means that the stronger the link becomes in our brain, the faster the messages can travel down the neural pathway. This process is what makes certain actions in your life become second nature, like driving a car.
I’m still flabbergasted at how basic this idea is, yet how incredibly valuable it is to our success. Give this new belief a shot!
14. Lower the activation energy for positive habits
Every task you attempt to complete requires a certain amount of energy to activate it. If you want to read more then rather than hide the book you want to read on a bookshelf, leave it somewhere like on the couch where there is no energy required to find it or start reading,
Likewise, increase the activation energy on tasks such as waking up early to an alarm clock going off. If the alarm clock is right next to you, then you are likely to hit snooze, as it requires no effort. If the alarm clock is on the other side of the room, then there is a fair amount of activation energy required to get up, walk over, and turn it off. This will allow you to wake up early.
15. Bring on the drugs (the positive ones)
The best drug you can give yourself is a hit of oxytocin. What you probably didn’t know until now is that when you make positive social connections the hormone oxytocin is released into your body. The positive effects of this hormone are incredibly beneficial. You will experience reduced anxiety, improved concentration, and many other health benefits.
So, if you’re feeling unhappy, lonely, or any other negative state, go out and make some new social connections and let the people around you feed your happiness with their ability to induce the oxytocin drug.
“Relationships are the greatest predictor of both happiness and high performance”
What lesson did you learn from The Happiness Advantage? Let me know in the comments section below or on my website timdenning.net and my Facebook.
4 Life-Changing Benefits of Having a Purpose
Do you know where you’re going? And do you have a plan to get there? If you don’t, you’re likely to be forever drifting from one thing to another – without making any genuine progress in your life. A purpose is what you need! It is something for you to aim towards and something for you to be genuinely excited about. Having a definite purpose in your life will bring you some amazing benefits, four of which I’ll talk about right now.
Benefit #1: You’ll Feel Stronger and Braver
One of the biggest causes of fear is not knowing what’s going to happen next in our lives. This fear can be so paralyzing that it can literally stop us in our tracks. This is where having a definite purpose can really help.
Once you’ve worked out what you want, you can plan your route to get there. And not only will this set you up for achievement and success in your life – but it’ll also eliminate the unknown and unleash a hidden strength.
You’ll have drive, you’ll feel confident and you’ll feel brave. These are all traits that you’re unlikely to have if you’re currently drifting through life. You might at this point be wondering…What exactly IS a purpose?
Some people refer to a life purpose as a ‘calling’. But, whatever you choose to name it, your purpose should contribute positively to society in some way, while at the same time bringing satisfaction and a sense of achievement to yourself.
Your purpose will also provide meaning to your life. And, this will give you the mental tools you need to face the ups and downs in life that you’ll inevitably encounter on the way to reaching your goals. When you’re able to find meaning and purpose in your life, your fears will dissipate. That’s the power of knowing where you’re going and what you’re aiming for.
“Activity without purpose is the drain of your life.” – Tony Robbins
Benefit #2: A Purpose Will Boost Your Health
You may be surprised to know that finding and following your purpose will give your physical health and mental well-being a positive boost. This was confirmed in a recent study published in The Lancet, which looked at how our attitude to life affects our happiness, health and longevity.
The eight and a half year study of people with an average age of 65, found that those with the highest well-being were 30% less likely to die over the study period, living on average two years longer than those in the lowest well-being group.
Professor Andrew Steptoe, Director of the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, who led the study, said: “We have previously found that happiness is associated with a lower risk of death. These analyses show that the meaningfulness and sense of purpose that older people have in their lives are also related to survival. There are several biological mechanisms that may link well-being to improved health, for example through hormonal changes or reduced blood pressure. Further research is now needed to see if such changes might contribute to the links between well-being and life expectancy in older people.”
The study also found some unexpected health benefits of having a purpose, such as an increase in walking speed over time. This effect was the equivalent to the purpose-driven participants being 2.5 years younger. Imagine that.
While more research is needed, it’s clear that having a sense of meaning and purpose cannot only boost your health – but it might help you live longer too.
Benefit #3: A Purpose Will Improve Your Time Management
Another key benefit of having a purpose is the effect it’ll have on the management of your time. Let me demonstrate this through an example: Imagine for a moment that you’ve discovered your calling – to be a school teacher. You could class this calling as your major goal. But to get there, you’re going to have to accomplish several smaller goals. These would be things such as:
- Finding a college course to enroll in
- Finding the funding to pay for your course
- Ending your current work/study commitments
- Starting your course
- Gaining work experience
- Passing your course
- Looking for work
- Starting your first job
Look at that list again. It’s an ideal roadmap to accomplish your major goal of becoming a teacher. It also naturally breaks down the necessary steps into bite-sized chunks, making it straightforward and time-efficient to achieve each of them. It’s important to remember that time isn’t an infinite resource for us.
Which is why a definite purpose scores highly in this area, as it will drive you to take specific steps at specific times. Compared to someone drifting aimlessly through life, you’ll use time to your advantage and you’ll inevitably reap the rewards of your efforts.
“Clarify your purpose. What is the why behind everything you do? When we know this in life, it is very empowering and the path is clear.” – Jack Canfield
Benefit #4: A Purpose Will Help You Gain a Sense of Accomplishment
Think for a moment about the major things you’ve achieved in your life so far… graduating school, learning a new language, getting promoted, losing weight, becoming a parent, etc. These achievements will have given you a greater sense of purpose in your life, as well as boosting your confidence, health and happiness.
Now imagine that you’ve discovered your major life purpose, and you’ve plotted a route to get there. This will put a rocket booster under your confidence and drive. You’ll feel super-energized to progress towards your goal – as it something that means the world to you.
And, as you travel along the road to your purpose, you’ll begin to understand how failure and mistakes are all part of the road trip! No one is perfect, and no journey in life can be without the occasional hiccups and setbacks. But you don’t need to worry about these. As your inner drive to achieve your purpose will overcome any and all difficulties that you face.
Coming back to gaining a sense of accomplishment, you can magnify this by celebrating the successful achievement of all your minor goals as you work your way to the BIG ONE.
So now you know some of the great benefits of pursuing a purpose, and I hope you feel inspired to find and follow yours.
Conquering Inner Battles: Tyson Fury Outside of the Boxing Ring
Tyson Fury was born seven weeks premature. He weighed 1 pound and was born the size of his father’s hand. Doctors gave him little chance of survival, but Tyson’s father, John had other ideas. John predicted that one day Tyson would be Heavyweight World Champion and at the hospital, named his son after boxing legend Mike Tyson.
Growing up in Manchester, England, Tyson Fury doesn’t remember a life before boxing. He started boxing at a young age because of the constant bullying and torment others gave him; the many reasons why individuals take up boxing. As the years progressed, Tyson reached a height of 6 ft 9 and became one of the most dangerous heavyweight boxers in the world.
This article highlights the importance of conquering our inner battles through Tyson Fury’s actions and delves into what it takes to overcome mental battles to find a purpose and achieve what we all strive for; happiness.
“Exterior assets mean nothing if you can’t control what’s going on inside.” – Tyson Fury
The Empty Feeling Of Achievement
In 2015, Tyson was training and preparing for the biggest fight of his career against Wladimir Klitschko. It was revealed after the fight, Tyson had been struggling mentally and didn’t know how to overcome his battles. Even though he won, there was no sense of achievement. The belts, money, and success meant nothing to Tyson. He knew he would feel this way before even stepping into that ring.
Before the fight, Tyson said to his father “If I win this fight, I’ll probably never box again”. Even before the fight, there was no flame and Tyson still didn’t want to box. He had had enough. He expected more in life and wanted boxing to feel different. The value and achievement were gone.
After beating Klitschko, a rematch was on offer and it appeared the two would fight again. In a lead-up media conference, Tyson said, “I can do my best and that’s it. Win, lose or draw I put on my best fight. And if Wladimir beats me then good luck to him and I shake his hand and say he’s the better man. And obviously, if I beat him I’m in the same position. Still as sick as ever, still as depressed as life can be and still don’t really care for dying any second of the moment. That’s the way I live my life.”
Not long after the press conference, Tyson had tested positive to cocaine and had his boxing license suspended, unable to compete. It was from then, Tysons life spiralled and he pushed away everyone close to him. He was out of boxing for 2 and a half years.
Tyson faced confronting battles that could at any moment end his life. He drove his Ferrari 190mph towards a bridge to end his life, tried to drink himself to death and ate and drank his way to obesity, ballooning out to 175kg (385 lbs). His wife and kids were the only thing that saved him before he was able to come to terms with overcoming his mental battles.
Here are 4 Ways To Conquer Our Inner Battles:
1. Reflection & Mindset
What we can all learn is that reflecting on the past and changing your mindset can be a good thing. By building a habit of introspection in our lives, we uncover more about ourselves, our values and our mindset starts to change about what’s important to us. It helps bring control and decision making back to within ourselves. The moment Tyson Fury decided to change his mindset was after being in a dark place, understanding his family was the most important thing to him. It helped him gain back control and his mind started to change.
It’s scientifically proven that showing gratitude makes you happier. Gratitude is appreciating something we have as opposed to reaching something new in the hope it will make us happier. When we use gratitude regularly, our mental state grows. Ways to show gratitude can be; write a thank you note, pay it forward, offer support, meditate or share your skills. Tyson shows gratitude by counting his blessings, donating to charity and being thankful. This has helped him become much more of a mentally strong individual. At the end of his fights, he uses his platform to express gratitude to all those who have helped him.
3. Change Your Routine
Routine can have negative connotations to it. We can think of them as tedious, boring and unfulfilled. By changing our mindset, we can establish a routine as a positive force and become happier because of it. If you’re finding yourself unhappy, change up your routine. Try different things. Whether it’s exercising, nurturing relationships or eating healthy, the smallest changes make the biggest difference.
In an interview with GQ magazine, Tyson Fury mentioned he found solace in ‘training, eating, sleeping and repeating’. He said, “I’m fantastic at the moment. I stress this a lot: It’s all got to do with routine, giving yourself short-term goals”. When it comes to your routine, try something you enjoy doing and repeat. You’ll find yourself a happier and more mentally strong person because of it.
4. Have A Purpose
Human beings desire purpose. A Purpose is a fundamental component of living a satisfied life. When you have a purpose, you never wake up wondering what you’re going to do or what’s in store for the day. You become naturally less stressed and life becomes less complicated.
“Instead of consciously thinking about your purpose, you can try an indirect approach. Just realise that your purpose is inside of you, it’s just afraid to expose itself. You must trust that someday it will seemingly appear out of nowhere. When that day comes, make a happy dance, celebrate, whatever, but the next day, wake up and start working on your purpose” – Darius Foroux
After the Klitschko fight, Tyson felt he didn’t have a purpose. He had achieved everything in becoming the heavyweight champion. When the boxing was gone, there was nowhere he felt he could go. He tried golf, clay pigeon shooting, off-road driving but nothing interested him. Tyson also wasn’t training, which was something he had done every day since he was a child.
Eventually, he found purpose In relationships and faith. He turned his life around by understanding what drove him to happiness. Putting his purpose to action was how he became a healthier, more mentally strong person. It’s how he conquered his inner battles.
The Influence On Society
The influence on society is apparent. Tyson receives thousands of messages daily on social media with personal stories of individuals giving thanks on overcoming their inner battles. He’s an official ambassador for mental health in sport, does public speaking and is extremely open about struggles he has faced.
The man who thought he would be dead and the man everyone thought would never box again, has overcome the mental mindset that was derailing him. He is still recognised as one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of this generation and uses his struggles to help others.
This 5 Minute Test Will Instantly Change Your Life
Twelve months is too small for a life plan. The moment you understand this, the new year celebrations become a cliché. Success in life is always a build-up of several years of consistent “little” progress. The new year celebration is for gratitude, not for life planning.
People often overestimate what they can achieve in a year. But they greatly underestimate what they can achieve in 10 years. I discovered a whole new way of making progress in life quite recently. It was from the story of how a friend of mine made her most profound life progress yet. It began with a simple test that can change your life.
My friend was working in a small non-governmental organization that year. She was unsure of how to go forward in life. Life was looking scary and she was getting confused. Then, she attended a conference and took a simple test that helped her change her life.
Here are the 5 questions you must answer in the next 5 minutes:
1. What do you want to be doing (as work) 10 years from now?
Forget about today. Forget about next year. Let us go a bit further into the future. This question is not asking what you think you will be doing in 10 years. The question is asking what you would like to be doing in 10 years.
Saying that you want to be traveling around the world doesn’t count. Even if you plan to retire by then, you still have to be doing something to be responsible. To be doing nothing is to have no reason to be alive. Other people must feel your impact in some way. So, add 10 to your age and write down what you would like to be doing then.
My friend wanted to be working with top international organizations like the UN. She wants to be winning grants and handling big projects in her field. What is yours?
“Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho
2. Who is doing what you want to be doing in 10 years?
Believe it or not, there are people that are already living at least a similar version of your dream today. Do you know them? If you think there aren’t any, I challenge you to get on the internet and find out now.
Try as much as possible to find at least five names. Write only people whose life conforms to your answer in question 1. For my friend, she realized most of those she knew who had this life were in professors in academia. Go out and find your potential mentors today!
3. Identify (from the people you listed) who you need to become to get to your dream
It became clear to my friend that she ought to aim at becoming a university professor. Interestingly, she had always wanted this but never gave it attention. There is a person you’ll need to become to make your dream a reality. Until you identify who you need to be to have the life you want, your life will be without focus or direction. Who have you identified you need to be?
4. What job, work or responsibility will put you on a straight path to becoming who you’ve identified in question 3?
For my friend, she instantly knew she should be seeking a job opportunity at a University. It was the straight path to rise through the ranks to become the person she desired to be. Now, it is not about money or the pressure of getting something worthwhile to do. She had a clear target.
Becoming who you need to be will require that you have some experience credentials. You will get that experience by working somewhere. This is about handling a particular responsibility where you grow and develop. You need that job or responsibility that will put you in line to become who you need to become. So, what is that job for you?
“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” – Oprah
5. What is the training that will qualify you for the job in question 4?
My friend already had the training and qualifications she needed, so she took off with finding the job she had identified. It took about 3 months of researching job opportunities and taking very bold steps prior to landing the job she wanted at a university.
Most people need some amount of training to land the job they have identified. Work training has become easy today because of the internet. There are myriads of training opportunities that exist in any field you can think of. If you can’t afford the ones you are seeking, I can assure you that there is a free one somewhere that can get you started.
In the professional line, many schools around the world now offer online degrees. In the gig economy also, there are lots of training by experts in various spheres. There is no way you won’t find an online course that is right for you.
Is a particular training coming to mind right now? Take action on it immediately! The training gets you the job. The job makes you into the expert. Search out the training you need and take action immediately!
Once you identify the training and start it, you begin working your way from question number 5 to question 1. From the training, you get the job. From the job, you grow to become an expert or authority in the field. From becoming an expert, you will be free to live the way you want.
For some people, this can indeed take 10 years. But for most, it takes less than that to get to question 1.
My friend is now transitioning from the job to the expert. She made new changes after reevaluating her goals with another test. She recently quit her job at the university to get a more ambitious job in a bigger city. And yes, it is with an international organization.
Now you know what to do, what are you waiting for? Share with us your dream job you’d like to have!
How 8 Minutes of Meditation Can Give You the Productivity Boost You Need
Of all the productivity hacks I’ve tried over the years, none has had as much of a positive impact relative to the time I put in than meditation. Just 8 minutes per day to be precise. Meditation is a practice that has been around for centuries. Once primarily used by practitioners of Buddhism to reach a higher level of consciousness, science has since shown it has a lot of more earthly benefits as well.
As Healthline reports, meditation improves concentration, reduces fatigue and stress, brings a sense of relaxation and improves sleep patterns, among other benefits. All the above reasons explain why some of the most successful people rely on meditation to thrive in their professions. Jeff Weiner, former Yahoo executive and the current CEO of Linkedin says that meditation has made a huge positive impact on his productivity. Similarly, Ray Dalio, who is the founder of Bridgewater Associates, attributes a big part of his success to meditation.
5 Ways Meditation Helps with Productivity
Before I get to my own meditation routine that takes just 8 minutes of my time daily, let me first go over in general how meditation can give you a huge leg up in your career and business, backed by studies.
1. Improves Your Attention Span
There are tons of factors that improve productivity, but one that plays a very important role is the ability to focus. Being attentive enough to complete the task at hand means you’ll finish your work with higher accuracy and better efficiency.
According to Pubmed, several studies have shown the efficacy of meditation in reversing parts of the brain that cause mind wandering and the inability to concentrate. Russell Simmons, the CEO of Rush Communications, says that meditation is one of the things that has helped him focus the most.
2. Increases Neuroplasticity
For a long time, scientists believed that brain development only happened during childhood and then ceased. But recent discovery regarding the neuroplastic nature of the brain concludes that our brains actually continue to change and adapt through experiences. In other words, the brain is continually reorganizing itself by creating new neurons and new connections.
Meditation is one practice capable of changing your brain’s structure and functions. In fact, Harvard Researchers at MGH have shown that meditation increases grey matter volume in your brain. What this means is that it causes more neurons to accumulate in one space.
Another theory that explains how meditation boosts neuroplasticity is that it increases cerebral blood flow (CBF). By placing you in a state of relaxation, blood is able to flow more freely leading to better oxygenation and nourishment in your brain. With increased neuroplasticity, your ability to acquire new skills and positive habits increase.
3. Sharpens Your Memory
A major benefit of mediation is that it boosts one’s working memory capacity. The working memory determines how much information the central nervous system can hold and process at any time. It’s like the Random Access Memory in a computer.
A study was done to investigate the effect of active meditation on individuals’ working memory capacities. Researchers had the participants take part in a 45-minute meditation exercise twice per week. After a couple of weeks, they recorded the results and discovered that the respondents’ working memory capacities had increased by more than 30%. Put simply; they could hold and process 30% more information than the average person.
The study proved that meditating increases the working memory capacity. With a larger working memory, you can take on more sophisticated tasks and handle them efficiently.
4. Improves Cognitive Thinking
As you age, your cognitive functioning deteriorates gradually. The resulting deficit weakens your ability to reason, remember and process information. All these are factors that can make you less productive at work and in other areas of your life. Good news is, practising meditation and mindfulness can help with that.
To examine the impact of meditation on cognitive function, researchers from the University of California at Santa Barbara conducted a study. They asked 48 undergraduate students to attend one of two classes: a nutrition class or a mindfulness class. The result? Those who attended the mindfulness class saw marked improvements in their exams afterwards, while the nutrition group saw no statistically significant improvements.
One factor that can explain this outcome is that meditation improves the balance of the left and right sides of the brain. Synchronizing both brain hemispheres allows for greater processing power and neural communication.
5. Reduces Stress
Stress is something that people experience on a daily basis, and more so at work. According to the American Institute of Stress, work-induced stress is the most common form of stress. Based on a recent survey they did, at least 80% of Americans experienced stress at work, hampering productivity and leading to mistakes.
Thankfully, having a meditation practice as part of your routine can lower stress and make you more productive. It goes beyond just stress reduction, however. According to the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, meditation has been shown to reduce the symptoms of social anxiety, paranoid thoughts, obsessive-compulsive behaviors and panic attacks.
How 8 Minutes of Meditation Daily Has Changed My Life
My personal journey with meditation has been nothing short of life changing. What if I told you there was a productivity hack that only required 8 minutes of your day, and as a consequence, will double your attention span, mental stamina, and ability to function under stress? What if I told you, thanks to just 8 minutes a day, a once self diagnosed ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) sufferer now frequently loses track of time as he ticks off one item after the next on his daily to-do lists? Yes, that’s what meditation has done for me, and I believe it can do that for anyone.
The meditation routine I follow is based on the best selling book “8 Minute Meditation” by Victor Davich. As a meditation guru, Victor sought out to devise a meditation program that fits in with the ultra busy lifestyles of Westerners while still delivering the main benefits the practice at its fullest provides.
Here is the gist of the “8 minute meditation” that I practice every day right before I go to bed:
- Set a timer for 8 minutes.
- Find a comfortable sitting pose. This could be in a cozy meditation chair or sitting with your legs crossed on a yoga mat
- Close your eyes slowly as if you were planning to sleep. Avoid squeezing them or shutting them involuntarily.
- Next, start taking slow, deep breaths.
- With every inhale, envision that you are breathing in light. Follow the light as it enters your body.
- With every exhale, imagine breathing out all the tension and negativity that you have been harbouring. Relax every muscle from those on your face, chest, back, legs all the way to the tips of your toes.
- As you breathe in and out, your mind will most likely start to wonder. Do not get upset. Just slowly bring your awareness back to your breathing. Imagine catching a fish and just letting it go.
- Continue this until the timer goes off. Then, slowly open your eyes again..
A big part of the magic happens in meditation when you do it consistently. For me, with every day of practice, my ability to stay focused on my breathing and stay present increased during those critical 8 minutes. And as my ability to do those seemingly simple things improved, that’s when I started to notice all the tangible benefits of meditation I mentioned earlier.
Meditation is not a new concept. And it doesn’t require you to invest anything that you don’t already have. This is one of the greatest benefits of meditating; it doesn’t require any special equipment or registration for training. Essentially, you have nothing to lose but so much to gain. To me, meditation dare i say is the greatest productivity hack of all time.
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