Are you looking for the best way to tackle your fears and live your most desired dreams? Then grab a map and start planning your next travel destination. Traveling is the best way to expand your mind beyond what you already know and tap into the potential that is within you.
I left all of my doubts and fears at the door when I decided to travel around the world on a 6-month international performance and service tour with Up with People. I traveled to cities in the USA, Mexico, Bermuda, and Europe, where I had the chance to network with influential leaders from all over the world and deliver over 100 hours of service by volunteering at schools and community organizations.
What surprised me the most was the courage and commitment that I witnessed from world travelers under the age of 30, who were fired up about their future and willing to do what it took to pursue and share this traveling opportunity.
Here are inspirational thoughts from 30 world travelers under 30 who took the leap to live their travel dreams and use their gifts to impact the world:
1. Seize the opportunities. Not just the ones that are in your face and those that are presented to you in a nicely wrapped bow, but watch out for the smaller opportunities that are hiding in between each moment. – Tess Zondervan, Netherlands
2. No matter what your aspirations or interests are, perspective is your most valuable asset. You have to pursue that, regardless of fear or anxiety, because you can’t know the things that are on the other side of them. Step out on faith and travel the world. –Cameron Wright, USA
3. You need to get over your fear of failure if you want to travel. I think ANYONE can travel. It doesn’t have to be scary or a huge commitment. The worst thing that can happen is that you quit your job and have to start over. People make things so serious when they don’t have to be. –Katie Walter, Sweden
4. Prepare yourself for your next adventure by practicing spontaneity. Let’s keep that kid within us who isn’t afraid to try something new. Your inner child is waiting on you to say YES to all the things that your conditioned mind thinks are too irrational. –Charles-Guerin Valtille, France/Belgium
5. The hardest part about trying something new is that you question everything you do before you do it. Stop wondering if you are making the wrong decision and start acknowledging everything that is right in that moment. Be present. –Vicky He, China
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
6. If you want to travel, don’t look at all the roadblocks. Clearly set your intentions, and you will get everything you asked for. You will be better qualified for what you want to do next, and you’ll discover things you didn’t know you were interested in. –Melanie Jean, USA
7. Be very clear about what type of life that you want to live. If you want to experience a different type of life and meet people outside of your social circle, you have to be willing to step beyond what you know now so that you can gain something better later. Traveling around the world is a great way to experience a new type of life. –Ou Lu, China
8. When you surround yourself with the same people, it’s hard to find something new. Stepping beyond your comfort zone allows you to meet people who inspire you in a different way. –Pepa Ul, Germany
9. Don’t get so hung up on hypothetical situations before you execute your plans. You don’t need to overthink everything. Just do it! Traveling can bring you something more than you expected. I think people need to travel in order to find themselves. –Mike Johnsen, USA
10. If you are seeking a career as a credible business professional, you have to be open to new cultures and new ways of operating in order to remain relevant and maintain a sustainable enterprise. Traveling allows you to enhance these relationship-building skills that are crucial to your success. –Jialu Pang, China
11. If you are not finding the answers to what you want to do in life, travel the world! Traveling opens your mind to new experiences. You start to think about things that you would have never thought about before. –Marie Englebert, Belgium
12. Whether you meet individuals who are 10 or 100, everyone has a different experience that can teach you something. When you are traveling, you have a unique opportunity to encounter a teacher everywhere you go. –Sophia Berntzen, Norway
13. Nothing can boost your confidence faster than doing something that you didn’t think you could do. Taking the leap to travel is truly empowering. You can gain back your self-confidence by increasing your understanding of the people around you, becoming a world citizen, and stepping outside of your safe zone. –Paulina Ramos, Mexico
14. If you have a little bit of urge to do something, don’t second-guess yourself. Just do it! Don’t fixate on the money. Your experiences may connect you to the passion and power that is within you, and that discovery is priceless. –Chelsea Henak, USA
15. When you learn about new places and cultures, you learn more about yourself. This is one of the best investments you can make. Most people only invest in education and things that bring temporary satisfaction. Invest in experiences, and you will receive rewards that will enrich you as a person. –Jennifer Brown, Sweden
16. We have been conditioned to follow the rules of society. Now it’s time to follow our hearts. We need to find what sets our soul on fire and pursue that. Amazing things only happen outside of your comfort zone. –Lenize Dos Santos, Cape Verde
17. Don’t be afraid of the challenge zone. Enjoy the challenge zone! Traveling allows you to take on experiences that expand your capacity to stretch yourself beyond what you think you are capable of. If there were no challenges, life would be boring. –Glenn De Kemel, Belgium
18. So often we learn the grammar rules of a foreign language at school, but we are hesitant to use what we learned in real life. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. People will be inspired by your willingness to learn another language, and you may inspire someone else to learn something new. –Margaux de Boeck, Belgium
19. If you think something is impossible, you are just limiting yourself to your safe zone. You have to be willing to invest in yourself outside of a classroom. Traveling exposes you to so many opportunities that will help you learn more about yourself and the world around you. –Timo Bossema, Netherlands
20. You will be surprised by how much you can learn while traveling. You can start learning a different language in one week! Immerse yourself in the language by taking advantage of cultural activities, host-family living, language buddies, and cell-phone apps in order to accelerate your learning. –Roxane Blondel, Belgium
“Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be.” – Unknown
21. Traveling can help you become a global instrument. The more you discover about yourself, the more in-touch you are with those around you. You learn how to be the best person that you can by embarking upon different cultural experiences.–Nikki Smith, Philippines
22. If you have a dream, traveling won’t make that dream go away. In fact, the insights you receive while traveling will only magnify your dream if that is something that you truly want to do. –Alexandra Bungum, Denmark
23. Business students often wonder if they should take advantage of more internships or study-abroad opportunities. I think that you should travel as often as you can, whenever you can. The job will always be there. Traveling fosters new ideas and allows you to expand your mind in ways that will heighten your impact in the job market. –Tiki Shou, China
24. Don’t have doubts. Just jump in. It’s not as bad as you think. Traveling is the path to freedom and independence, because it’s up to you to figure out how to manage your money, allocate your time, and develop relationships. If you want to gain the confidence you need to follow your own path in life, travel to a new place alone. –Lauren Reed, USA
25. The more you get out there and just do stuff, the more your comfort zone expands. You will feel like you can do anything. That is the best feeling. Traveling allows you to tap into this feeling and will move you in ways that you never imagined. –Violette Defourt, Belgium
26. Sometimes you think you have to gain access to a certain key in order to gain happiness. When you travel, you realize that happiness is not a key but a puzzle. Each key is a part of the puzzle. Every experience may not give you exactly what you wanted, but it gives you exactly what you needed in order to complete your puzzle. –Xavier Rosales, Mexico
27. Take advantage of opportunities that allow you to do things you have never done before. Every new experience that you take on can be used to propel your future goals. Whether it’s singing or dancing or acting, you need to see the full picture and how everything comes together — that’s with anything in life. –Caity Cecio, USA
28. You have to tap into your creative bones when you travel in order to make the most of situations that come your way. Traveling teaches you how to use your gifts more intentionally in order to achieve certain results and connect with people from all walks of life. –Raymond Mulangu Gieskes, Netherlands
29. Things will work out the way they are supposed to be. Be vulnerable to everything that comes your way. Through vulnerability, you can fall easily, but through vulnerability, you can fall softer. Traveling experiences will show you how to jump in and be vulnerable. –Andrew Erusha, USA
30. Every day you have to choose to say yes to what you are doing, because it may be your last day. What you are doing now may not be your dream job, but look at it as a way of prepping you for something else. Traveling opens your mind to being flexible in your career and taking advantage of the NOW. –Alicen Schade, USA
What do you need in order to make the leap towards your dreams? Have you learned any new skills while traveling? Let me know in the comments section below!
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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