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4 Ways Mindfulness Can Improve The Quality of Your Life

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what are the benefits of practicing mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice which involves concentrating on the here and now without judging the present moment. Rather it encourages acceptance of whatever is happening while we avoid going over the past or worrying about what might happen in the future.

This technique, which sounds quite simple, but which actually requires a continuous commitment to develop can actually improve your quality of life over time. That sounds like a pretty big statement, but there is much scientific evidence to back it up.

Here are 4 ways mindfulness can improve your life:

1. Encourages peace of mind

Many studies have shown scientific evidence that mindfulness decreases stress, perhaps the biggest impediment to quality of life in the western world today. The process of focusing the mind on the present moment reduces one’s ability to enter into the stressful way of thinking that we are used to.

It can be difficult to train yourself to be mindful but with practice, it becomes an easier, more natural mode of being than our default stress-ridden state.

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

2. Assists in letting go

If you are prone to brooding over things you might have said or done then mindfulness can probably help you. Whether it is a small concern, such as Baby from Dirty Dancing regretting telling heart-throb Johnny that she ’carried a watermelon’ or something more serious such as worrying that a decision you made at work was warranted, ruminating the process of running events over and over in your mind never helps us to get any closer to a sense of closure on the topic.

In fact, it does the exact opposite, drawing us further and further into self-criticism. The practice of mindfulness meditation can involve placing all of your attention on a constant phenomenon, such as the breath. When you do this you have to let all other thoughts go, in doing so, over time you become adept at letting the little stressors go. 

 

3. Aids focus & concentration

As mentioned above, mindfulness meditation involves focusing on one particular thing and letting all other thoughts pass you by almost like a leaf being carried along on a river. While you let those thoughts pass you by, some of which may be extremely engaging, your power of focus is increased as you place all your attention on the breath or whatever focus point you are using.

Luckily, this benefit of mindfulness extends to the rest of our daily lives. Research has found that those who practice mindfulness have better focus and concentration levels. This comes in very handy in the late afternoon when we start to get tired and our minds start to wander.

“The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it is the door to all moments.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

4. Improves decision making ability

If you are not stressed, have a clear, focused mind then surely decision making becomes easier.  Mindfulness can increase self-awareness as you notice more and more what thoughts draw you into negative thought patterns. We also learn to understand in greater detail how we respond to stressors.

Armed with this information and an ability to look at situations from a remove without getting caught up in the heat of the moment we can stand back and make the best decision for us without being negatively influenced by negative thought processes.

Do you practice mindfulness? What benefits have you noticed? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

David Grover is a Communications Manager at Timeo, a useful tool for businesses in the UK. He’s also a freelance career coach, who’s always eager to share his experience. In his free time, he enjoys traveling.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Tim Denning

    Jun 21, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    David thank you for your article. I have found mindfulness and meditation to be very challenging. I find myself getting into a regular practice and then some event stops me for a few weeks then i get back on track again. I have also found some sessions really hard to focus. Having said that I am determined to get the four benefits you mentioned and I am going to keep trying.

  2. Shawn

    Jun 21, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    I have been trying to practice mindfulness meditation.
    However, I feel sleepy after doing it in the morning.
    I tried to do it in the morning after I got up.
    Is this the right effect and should I continue with it?

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Life

How to Prevent Social Media From Stunting Your Personal Growth

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social media addiction
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

Over the years, social media has taken over our lives. Our society has become so addicted to social media to where we’re not only missing out on enjoying some of life’s most precious moments, but we’re also losing valuable interpersonal skills. The introverts have become more introverted, and the extroverts are becoming more recluse.

Social media has made “Netflix & Chill” the ideal date night, replacing the traditional “dinner and a movie” where you’re getting to know each other amongst others. If people were to go out, they have a constant need to document their every move on social media instead of being truly present and enjoying themselves. What’s also worse is that I see this social media dynamic being passed on to the younger generation. More and more kids are becoming hooked on social media, causing them to place their own personal value in the hands of strangers through a “like”.

Luckily, we don’t have to allow social media to ruin our lives. Despite how addicting social media is, we have complete control on how it’s used. Here’s how I prevent social media from stunting my own personal growth.

1. Limit Your Time On Social Media

Scrolling your timeline is like diving into a black hole. Once you start scrolling on Instagram, Facebook, or even Twitter, it’s hard to stop. Even for me, I struggle putting my phone down, thus getting sucked into the “social media matrix”.

What I found to be extremely helpful is limiting my time on social media. I literally allow myself a certain amount of minutes of “scroll time” before I put my phone away to focus on something else. Because my business revolves around social media, I check my phone approximately 4 times a day, for 15 minutes at a time. During those short periods, I’m responding to any comments or DMs, and engaging with other people’s posts to keep my own personal engagement high on my profile.

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

2. Find New Hobbies

There was a period of time where I was very conscious of when and why I randomly start scrolling social media. What I discovered was that I was more prone to fall into the black hole of social media when I was bored.

I’m a part of the last generation to have experienced life without the internet and social media. I recall days being spent reading, wrestling with my dad, walking or riding bikes at the local park, playing sports outside with the neighborhood kids, or building small LEGO communities (remember those?). There was never a dull moment because our days were filled with hobbies.

If you let the demands of being an adult consume you, don’t be afraid to re-introduce your old hobbies back into your life.

3. Unplug With Family & Friends

There are more and more people who are spending time on social media in the company of their family and friends. Family dinners and time spent with your friends are now being interrupted by social media. As I mentioned earlier, this is typically a sign of boredom that comes across as rude to those in your presence. By not being in the moment, you could be missing out on valuable information and vital conversations that could strengthen your personal growth and interpersonal skills.

One thing I found to be helpful when in the presence of your friends and family is to designate one spot where everyone can dump their phones so that everyone is now forced to be in the moment and enjoy the company of those around them. At family dinner, I make everyone leave their phones in their room, and when my friends get together, I make them turn their phones off and place them in a small bag that I bring. It’s imperative that we unplug. You’ll find that the time spent was much more enjoyable when you’re focused on being mentally present.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde

4. Don’t Go To Bed With Your Phone

We’re all guilty of going to bed and falling asleep with our phones in our hand. There were times where I literally fell asleep looking at my phone in the air, and it dropped and popped me in the face. That was a “wake-up call”, literally, that I needed to change my ways. Not to mention, I also noticed that I was experiencing weird dreams and sometimes nightmares because of what I was consuming before I went to sleep. All of which is not good for your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Rather than charge my phone overnight using a power outlet close to the bed, I now charge my phone overnight on the other side of the room. The first few days of doing this was rough. I was so used to falling asleep scrolling social media that it was hard to fall asleep without it. Now, I lie down and meditate until I fall asleep. After a week of light meditation prior to sleep, I noticed that I woke up feeling energized and well rested. My mind wasn’t mentally fatigued like before, and my days were much more productive. As a result, I highly recommend everyone to go to bed without their phone by their side.

Conclusion

Moderation is key when it comes to social media consumption. Social media is not bad however, like anything, too much of something can have a reverse effect. Social media is a very valuable tool, one that allowed me to connect with people of all walks of life across the world and earn a living. We don’t have to let social media take over and ruin our lives. What we can do is find balance.

How do you stay balanced? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Life

5 Mindset Shifts You Can Steal From the Movies to Have Blockbuster Success

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blockbuster success
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If only our clients had the passion of Potterheads. Remember the midnight premiers? Potterheads lined up for hours, dressed in full costume, wands a-blazin’. When the doors finally opened, they couldn’t throw their money at the ticket booth fast enough. How do you create that kind of enthusiasm for your own business?

I’m going to share five mindset shifts straight out of the movie business that you can use to fuel lifelong fanatics. Some of it is going to be tough love, but hey, nobody said getting your own fan club was easy.

1. Stay humble, stay hungry

Working actors audition an average of 67 times before booking a gig. 67 times! And that’s working actors—people who earn their entire livelihood from acting. Most entrepreneurs will hear this stat and say, “I get it. I need to accept failure 66 times.” But this isn’t about that. It’s about showing up 67.

Accepting failure is passive. You can accept failure from your couch. Showing up and trying, however, is active. When you show up, you commit to taking a step forward. And 66 times, you’ll get knocked down. It’s humbling. But on attempt 67, that step forward might finally stick.

Mindset shift: You have an insatiable appetite for success. You know that every failure is one failure down and that, soon, you’ll knock it out of the park.

“Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” – Robert Kiyosaki

2. Treat your audience as kings

The box office doesn’t care what the director’s intentions were, how cool the writer is, or if the lead actor was featured in some fancy magazine, it cares about people in seats. And when thematic costumes clothe them (ala Potterheads), there are more of them.

In movies and entrepreneurship, your most critical metrics depend on your audience’s choices. So, the sooner you start treating your audience as kings and making everything about them, the sooner your metrics will start climbing.

How does the Harry Potter franchise treat Potterheads as kings? Movie premiers are 100% about the fans. They get to feel cool in costume, show off to friends, be among the first, hang out with other super-fans, and more. No matter what, putting your audience’s desire ahead of your own will always pay off in the long run.

Mindset shifts: Other entrepreneurs pursue immediate recognition. But you know that the more special you make your audience feel, the more success you’ll have down the road.

3. Depict compelling transformations

Humans have a fundamental desire for transformation. We love watching movies about redemption, growing up, settling down, overcoming adversity, underdogs, and more. Harry Potter is full of that stuff. Heck, the series even allowed a generation of readers to transform into adults alongside Harry.

This is why Before and After pictures are so incredibly persuasive. They help us to visualize the change we crave. And every single product or service on the market offers some form of transformation. All you have to do is call it out.  

Mindset shift: Bad entrepreneurs sell products. Good entrepreneurs sell solutions. Entrepreneurs who create rabid fans sell transformation.

4. Trust the fundamentals

When I took my first screenwriting class, the number of hyper-specific rules shocked me. Did you know that about 20 minutes into every movie, something dramatic changes in the protagonist’s life and propels them into a new world?

Don’t believe me? Time it. Unsurprisingly, one kid in my class completely ignored the rules. Even more unsurprisingly, his scripts sucked. When my professor called him out, the kid blubbered, “But Tarantino—” To which my professor replied, “Are you Tarantino?” No. No, he was not Tarantino.

The difference between you, me, that kid, and Tarantino is that Tarantino paid his dues. It’s extremely rare to find someone who became successful by completely ignoring the conventions of their craft. And the same is true for entrepreneurship.

Mindset shift: Nobody is “above” learning the fundamentals. You know that by appreciating the current structures and systems, you will be better poised to disrupt them in the future.

“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” – Steve Jobs

5. Kill your darlings

Once upon a time, an animation studio was four years into creating a film about the ocean. They had sunk thousands of hours, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into the project. Then, the unthinkable happened… Finding Nemo. You know what the studio did with their ocean movie? They scrapped it.

As entrepreneurs, once we invest a lot of time and energy into something, we’re afraid to abandon it—even if the circumstances that made it worth pursuing in the first place don’t exist anymore. It’s the sunk cost fallacy. It’s important to remember that regardless of if you keep chugging along, the investment you made is unrecoverable. On the flip side, the gains you made are still valuable. The only choice you have is how you move forward—and sometimes, that means changing course.

Mindset shift: No effort goes to waste, even if the resulting work becomes irrelevant. Instead of letting your ego rule your decisions, you choose the best course of action and move on.

Building enthusiasm for your business is a slow but crucial process. What techniques have you pulled from other fields to help connect with your audience?

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Life

How Stress Can Actually Improve the Quality of Your Life

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Naturally, those of us who experience less stress in our lives are more likely to succeed. So, it’s important that you learn how to reduce your daily level of stress, right? Maybe not. Recent research has shown the common wisdom about stress might be dangerously inaccurate. Psychologists tracked the health of 30,000 adults in the United States over an 8-year period. Participants were asked two important questions:

1.    “How much stress have you experienced in the last year?”
2.    “Do you believe stress is harmful to your health?”

The researchers found that people who experienced high levels of stress were 43% more likely to die in the study’s 8-year period. Doesn’t that prove stress is in fact bad for your health? Not exactly, stress was only harmful to the people who believed stress was harmful.

Those people who experienced high amounts of stress but didn’t believe it was harmful to their health were less likely to die than all other groups in the study. They were even less likely to die than the people who experienced low levels of stress (but believed stress is harmful.)

Put simply, people who believe that stress is not harmful live longer lives than those who believe it is. This study showed that it might not be stress that damages our health, but our beliefs about stress that damages our health.

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” – Elbert Hubbard

Breakthroughs In Stress Research

At first, this might be hard to believe. Kelly McGonigal elegantly explains this phenomenon in The Upside of Stress, “Stress mindsets are powerful because they affect not just how you think but also how you act. When you view stress as harmful, it is something to be avoided. Feeling stressed becomes a signal to try to escape or reduce the stress. And indeed, people who endorse a stress-is-harmful mindset are more likely to say that they cope with stress by trying to avoid it.”

People who believe stress is negative are more likely to avoid it by smoking, binge-eating, or watching too much TV. Afterwards, their physical health pays the price. Fortunately, research has shown that your beliefs about stress can be changed – and changing them has powerful benefits.

A study by Jeremy Jameson and colleagues had people endure a grueling social stress test. Participants were asked to give a 5-minute impromptu speech about their personal weaknesses to a panel of judges. To make this situation even more stressful, the judges were instructed to give negative feedback to the participant giving the speech. This study wasn’t just about sadistically putting people through social pressure, it was testing whether a mindset intervention could change how people react to stress.

Before giving the impromptu speech, participants were shown one of two videos:

  • The first video opened with the message, “Most people think that stress is negative… but research shows that stress is even more debilitating than you expect.”
  • The second video opened with, “Most people think that stress is negative… but actually research shows that it is enhancing.”

Participants who were shown the video that gave examples of how stress can be enhancing were less stressed out during the interview, felt more confident while speaking, and gave better interviews (as rated both by themselves and the judges). Even more impressively, although normally a stress response causes a person’s blood vessels to constrict, the blood vessels of participants who saw the pro-stress video remained relaxed.

“Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.” – David Allen

The Power Of Your Stress Mindset

So, a 3-minute video was able to change the way people responded to a stressful situation, not just psychologically, but physiologically. When we think stress is something we must avoid, stress becomes a negative feedback loop. We experience stress, we think it’s a bad thing, and then our stress makes us even more stressed (and on and on).

But, when we think stress is just a natural part of life, or even a good thing, we are able to embrace it instead of being controlled by it. This not only allows us to perform better in stressful situations, it also enables us to make healthier decisions (because we won’t attempt to avoid stress with unhealthy coping behaviors).

How do you handle stress? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Life

One Piece Of Simple Advice That Changed My Life.

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“Stay positive no matter what happens.”

That’s one simple piece of advice that changed my life.

I learned the importance of this advice the hard way when my life was traveling along just nicely. I had a high paying job, a booming blogging career, a partner who loved me, and enough money to live and enjoy a few simple pleasures.

I got to travel overseas to exotic locations and work even allowed me to have some pretty unique experiences like sleeping on a yacht and going surfing with a crazy bunch of entrepreneurs.

I thought I had it all.

People looked at my life and thought it was spectacular.


Deep inside of me, I knew something was not quite right.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Something about this so-called perfect life felt wrong.

Before I knew it, I broke up with my girlfriend, lost all of my work colleagues to competitors and found myself staring into a glass half full of instant coffee.

When I hit challenges, I found myself getting pissed off. I’d say to myself “Why me?” and “Get out of my way idiot, you’re blocking the path in front of me.”

How could an internet proclaimed self-help blogger have these crazy, messed up thoughts?

What was wrong was I’d forgotten how to stay positive. I thought that I was past the point of having to deal with challenges and I’d reached a level that I could never go back from.

“Personal development and inspirational content can make you feel invincible — especially when you’re the one creating it”

Sometimes the very thing you preach can be the one thing that is your own downfall.

As I analyzed the situation, I saw that I’d forgotten how to practice positivity.


How does one practice positivity?

By deciding to. Positivity is a choice.

Positivity is like going on an adventure and forcing yourself to see at least one good thing about the journey.

One little hack I used was writing down three things each day I was grateful for. I forced myself to do it at work and locked it into my diary for 9 am every morning.

During the career challenges I mentioned earlier, the lady that sits a few desks away from me described my situation as like being on the Titanic. She called my business unit the “Sinking Ship.”

Outside forces are going to have an effect on you if you let them. I chose to see positivity in what she was saying. I wrote down notes of how this could be positive.

It took a while, but eventually, I got the answer: The Titanic she described was a forced career change into something I liked even more. I’d become comfortable and that was the issue.

At that moment, I realized that I had the power within me to always see positivity if I wanted to.


It’s not about getting rid of negative thoughts necessarily.

It takes a lot of energy to remove or block negative thoughts. Choosing positivity is a much easier process to go through and it takes less energy.

Committing to yourself that there is at least one good outcome from every situation, forces your mind into positivity. It can be done.

You’re supposed to have negative thoughts. They keep you alive. Having zero negative thoughts is impossible. What helped me was balancing my thoughts to be more of the positive variety.


Gossiping and complaining breeds the opposite outcome.

Trying to stay positive no matter what is extremely difficult when you’re in conversations with people who are egging you on to complain, or gossip about someone or something.

The temptation is huge because whether we like it or not, it feels good.

The trouble with complaining or gossiping is that it only breeds more negativity.

You’re asking your brain to dish up negative possibilities and recall negative situations. The other person’s reaction to your negativity only rewards your brain for its hard work.

You can’t focus on being positive if you deliberately hijack your brain every time with gossip talk and picking faults with your co-workers.

People stuff up; they have different beliefs to you; they have other priorities.

Gossiping and complaining doesn’t make anyone else wrong. It does make you practice negativity though and that’s not going to change your life.


Take a long hard look at yourself.

Are you being positive most of the time? When I asked myself this question, I could see clearly that I was not.

I’d fallen into bad habits and allowed outside forces to manipulate my thoughts and turn them toxic.

My life started to change when I acknowledged what was going on and took ownership for it.

“It’s damn hard to admit as a self-help blogger that you’re being extremely negative and ruining your own success. It’s somewhat counter-intuitive. Either way, this reality was my truth and I owned it!”

Ignoring the problem is not going to make it magically disappear.

So, what did I do?

  • Stayed clear of the people who were fuelling my negativity
  • Focused on the positivity that already existed in my life like blogging, love and family
  • Chose a new career path that was closer to what I loved
  • Spent more time with other bloggers to learn how they dealt with negativity
  • Took accountability and stopped focusing on outside interference
  • Doubled down on my blogging so I could spread more positivity
  • Spent lots of time watching videos on a Facebook page called Human Kindness

Above all else, one thing that helped was being more kind.

When you’re kind to everyone you encounter, positivity comes at you a hundred miles an hour.

People will make you feel positive when you are kind towards them. You don’t have to hand out millions of dollars in donations or build an orphanage either.

Simple acts of kindness like holding the door open, complimenting someone, or letting a driver into your lane is all it takes.


Tragedy will strike everyone.

That’s not something to be sad about it’s just a fact of life. When you can go through any event and always find a way to be positive, you’re able to recover much quicker. This allows you to support others during these tough times.


Positivity can make you see another way.

By seeing positivity, you’ll discover other options that those around you can’t see.

“Positivity is closely linked to creativity”

Seeing hidden opportunities doesn’t happen when you’re pissed off and want to kill your neighbor because of their dog that always barks when you’re sleeping.

Positivity sparks possibility and that’s where your next opportunity will come from.


Final thought.

Positivity really is the simple advice that will change your life. We can all use more of it and it’s missing in so many souls around the world. Find another way to move forward and don’t be afraid to take a step back once in a while.

Choose positivity in every situation and your life will change. You’ll see a brighter future, and better yet, you’ll create that future for yourself.

You deserve to be fulfilled and do what you love. Let positivity get you there faster.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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The Three P’s You Need to Master to Become a Better Leader

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Leadership
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I have been a fan and a student of Steve Jobs, Ray Kroc and Jack Welsh for many years. It is very valuable to find similar traits in these great leaders and aggregate them, basically come up with some common denominators of their leadership success. By doing so, we can then begin to reflect their great skills into our own leadership profile. My goal here is to give you some very quick and applicable tools to modify your behavior for greater leadership skills. (more…)

Biagio Sciacca, known to his friends as Bill, was a lifelong resident of Pittston, PA. He is the owner of Intelligent Motivation, Inc. a global consulting and training firm specializing in management and leadership training as well as psychological assessment for hiring and staff development. He is the author of several books relating to goal setting, and his third book, Provocative Leadership, is publishing soon. Now residing in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, he divides his time between his international coaching and training clients, writing his next book and wandering aimlessly on the beach. Feel free to contact Bill at bill@intelligentmotivationinc.com or schedule a call with him by going to www.intelligentmotivationinc.com and clicking on the “set up a call” tab.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Tim Denning

    Jun 21, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    David thank you for your article. I have found mindfulness and meditation to be very challenging. I find myself getting into a regular practice and then some event stops me for a few weeks then i get back on track again. I have also found some sessions really hard to focus. Having said that I am determined to get the four benefits you mentioned and I am going to keep trying.

  2. Shawn

    Jun 21, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    I have been trying to practice mindfulness meditation.
    However, I feel sleepy after doing it in the morning.
    I tried to do it in the morning after I got up.
    Is this the right effect and should I continue with it?

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Life

How to Prevent Social Media From Stunting Your Personal Growth

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social media addiction
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

Over the years, social media has taken over our lives. Our society has become so addicted to social media to where we’re not only missing out on enjoying some of life’s most precious moments, but we’re also losing valuable interpersonal skills. The introverts have become more introverted, and the extroverts are becoming more recluse.

Social media has made “Netflix & Chill” the ideal date night, replacing the traditional “dinner and a movie” where you’re getting to know each other amongst others. If people were to go out, they have a constant need to document their every move on social media instead of being truly present and enjoying themselves. What’s also worse is that I see this social media dynamic being passed on to the younger generation. More and more kids are becoming hooked on social media, causing them to place their own personal value in the hands of strangers through a “like”.

Luckily, we don’t have to allow social media to ruin our lives. Despite how addicting social media is, we have complete control on how it’s used. Here’s how I prevent social media from stunting my own personal growth.

1. Limit Your Time On Social Media

Scrolling your timeline is like diving into a black hole. Once you start scrolling on Instagram, Facebook, or even Twitter, it’s hard to stop. Even for me, I struggle putting my phone down, thus getting sucked into the “social media matrix”.

What I found to be extremely helpful is limiting my time on social media. I literally allow myself a certain amount of minutes of “scroll time” before I put my phone away to focus on something else. Because my business revolves around social media, I check my phone approximately 4 times a day, for 15 minutes at a time. During those short periods, I’m responding to any comments or DMs, and engaging with other people’s posts to keep my own personal engagement high on my profile.

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

2. Find New Hobbies

There was a period of time where I was very conscious of when and why I randomly start scrolling social media. What I discovered was that I was more prone to fall into the black hole of social media when I was bored.

I’m a part of the last generation to have experienced life without the internet and social media. I recall days being spent reading, wrestling with my dad, walking or riding bikes at the local park, playing sports outside with the neighborhood kids, or building small LEGO communities (remember those?). There was never a dull moment because our days were filled with hobbies.

If you let the demands of being an adult consume you, don’t be afraid to re-introduce your old hobbies back into your life.

3. Unplug With Family & Friends

There are more and more people who are spending time on social media in the company of their family and friends. Family dinners and time spent with your friends are now being interrupted by social media. As I mentioned earlier, this is typically a sign of boredom that comes across as rude to those in your presence. By not being in the moment, you could be missing out on valuable information and vital conversations that could strengthen your personal growth and interpersonal skills.

One thing I found to be helpful when in the presence of your friends and family is to designate one spot where everyone can dump their phones so that everyone is now forced to be in the moment and enjoy the company of those around them. At family dinner, I make everyone leave their phones in their room, and when my friends get together, I make them turn their phones off and place them in a small bag that I bring. It’s imperative that we unplug. You’ll find that the time spent was much more enjoyable when you’re focused on being mentally present.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde

4. Don’t Go To Bed With Your Phone

We’re all guilty of going to bed and falling asleep with our phones in our hand. There were times where I literally fell asleep looking at my phone in the air, and it dropped and popped me in the face. That was a “wake-up call”, literally, that I needed to change my ways. Not to mention, I also noticed that I was experiencing weird dreams and sometimes nightmares because of what I was consuming before I went to sleep. All of which is not good for your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Rather than charge my phone overnight using a power outlet close to the bed, I now charge my phone overnight on the other side of the room. The first few days of doing this was rough. I was so used to falling asleep scrolling social media that it was hard to fall asleep without it. Now, I lie down and meditate until I fall asleep. After a week of light meditation prior to sleep, I noticed that I woke up feeling energized and well rested. My mind wasn’t mentally fatigued like before, and my days were much more productive. As a result, I highly recommend everyone to go to bed without their phone by their side.

Conclusion

Moderation is key when it comes to social media consumption. Social media is not bad however, like anything, too much of something can have a reverse effect. Social media is a very valuable tool, one that allowed me to connect with people of all walks of life across the world and earn a living. We don’t have to let social media take over and ruin our lives. What we can do is find balance.

How do you stay balanced? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Life

5 Mindset Shifts You Can Steal From the Movies to Have Blockbuster Success

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blockbuster success
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If only our clients had the passion of Potterheads. Remember the midnight premiers? Potterheads lined up for hours, dressed in full costume, wands a-blazin’. When the doors finally opened, they couldn’t throw their money at the ticket booth fast enough. How do you create that kind of enthusiasm for your own business?

I’m going to share five mindset shifts straight out of the movie business that you can use to fuel lifelong fanatics. Some of it is going to be tough love, but hey, nobody said getting your own fan club was easy.

1. Stay humble, stay hungry

Working actors audition an average of 67 times before booking a gig. 67 times! And that’s working actors—people who earn their entire livelihood from acting. Most entrepreneurs will hear this stat and say, “I get it. I need to accept failure 66 times.” But this isn’t about that. It’s about showing up 67.

Accepting failure is passive. You can accept failure from your couch. Showing up and trying, however, is active. When you show up, you commit to taking a step forward. And 66 times, you’ll get knocked down. It’s humbling. But on attempt 67, that step forward might finally stick.

Mindset shift: You have an insatiable appetite for success. You know that every failure is one failure down and that, soon, you’ll knock it out of the park.

“Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” – Robert Kiyosaki

2. Treat your audience as kings

The box office doesn’t care what the director’s intentions were, how cool the writer is, or if the lead actor was featured in some fancy magazine, it cares about people in seats. And when thematic costumes clothe them (ala Potterheads), there are more of them.

In movies and entrepreneurship, your most critical metrics depend on your audience’s choices. So, the sooner you start treating your audience as kings and making everything about them, the sooner your metrics will start climbing.

How does the Harry Potter franchise treat Potterheads as kings? Movie premiers are 100% about the fans. They get to feel cool in costume, show off to friends, be among the first, hang out with other super-fans, and more. No matter what, putting your audience’s desire ahead of your own will always pay off in the long run.

Mindset shifts: Other entrepreneurs pursue immediate recognition. But you know that the more special you make your audience feel, the more success you’ll have down the road.

3. Depict compelling transformations

Humans have a fundamental desire for transformation. We love watching movies about redemption, growing up, settling down, overcoming adversity, underdogs, and more. Harry Potter is full of that stuff. Heck, the series even allowed a generation of readers to transform into adults alongside Harry.

This is why Before and After pictures are so incredibly persuasive. They help us to visualize the change we crave. And every single product or service on the market offers some form of transformation. All you have to do is call it out.  

Mindset shift: Bad entrepreneurs sell products. Good entrepreneurs sell solutions. Entrepreneurs who create rabid fans sell transformation.

4. Trust the fundamentals

When I took my first screenwriting class, the number of hyper-specific rules shocked me. Did you know that about 20 minutes into every movie, something dramatic changes in the protagonist’s life and propels them into a new world?

Don’t believe me? Time it. Unsurprisingly, one kid in my class completely ignored the rules. Even more unsurprisingly, his scripts sucked. When my professor called him out, the kid blubbered, “But Tarantino—” To which my professor replied, “Are you Tarantino?” No. No, he was not Tarantino.

The difference between you, me, that kid, and Tarantino is that Tarantino paid his dues. It’s extremely rare to find someone who became successful by completely ignoring the conventions of their craft. And the same is true for entrepreneurship.

Mindset shift: Nobody is “above” learning the fundamentals. You know that by appreciating the current structures and systems, you will be better poised to disrupt them in the future.

“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” – Steve Jobs

5. Kill your darlings

Once upon a time, an animation studio was four years into creating a film about the ocean. They had sunk thousands of hours, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into the project. Then, the unthinkable happened… Finding Nemo. You know what the studio did with their ocean movie? They scrapped it.

As entrepreneurs, once we invest a lot of time and energy into something, we’re afraid to abandon it—even if the circumstances that made it worth pursuing in the first place don’t exist anymore. It’s the sunk cost fallacy. It’s important to remember that regardless of if you keep chugging along, the investment you made is unrecoverable. On the flip side, the gains you made are still valuable. The only choice you have is how you move forward—and sometimes, that means changing course.

Mindset shift: No effort goes to waste, even if the resulting work becomes irrelevant. Instead of letting your ego rule your decisions, you choose the best course of action and move on.

Building enthusiasm for your business is a slow but crucial process. What techniques have you pulled from other fields to help connect with your audience?

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Life

How Stress Can Actually Improve the Quality of Your Life

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Naturally, those of us who experience less stress in our lives are more likely to succeed. So, it’s important that you learn how to reduce your daily level of stress, right? Maybe not. Recent research has shown the common wisdom about stress might be dangerously inaccurate. Psychologists tracked the health of 30,000 adults in the United States over an 8-year period. Participants were asked two important questions:

1.    “How much stress have you experienced in the last year?”
2.    “Do you believe stress is harmful to your health?”

The researchers found that people who experienced high levels of stress were 43% more likely to die in the study’s 8-year period. Doesn’t that prove stress is in fact bad for your health? Not exactly, stress was only harmful to the people who believed stress was harmful.

Those people who experienced high amounts of stress but didn’t believe it was harmful to their health were less likely to die than all other groups in the study. They were even less likely to die than the people who experienced low levels of stress (but believed stress is harmful.)

Put simply, people who believe that stress is not harmful live longer lives than those who believe it is. This study showed that it might not be stress that damages our health, but our beliefs about stress that damages our health.

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” – Elbert Hubbard

Breakthroughs In Stress Research

At first, this might be hard to believe. Kelly McGonigal elegantly explains this phenomenon in The Upside of Stress, “Stress mindsets are powerful because they affect not just how you think but also how you act. When you view stress as harmful, it is something to be avoided. Feeling stressed becomes a signal to try to escape or reduce the stress. And indeed, people who endorse a stress-is-harmful mindset are more likely to say that they cope with stress by trying to avoid it.”

People who believe stress is negative are more likely to avoid it by smoking, binge-eating, or watching too much TV. Afterwards, their physical health pays the price. Fortunately, research has shown that your beliefs about stress can be changed – and changing them has powerful benefits.

A study by Jeremy Jameson and colleagues had people endure a grueling social stress test. Participants were asked to give a 5-minute impromptu speech about their personal weaknesses to a panel of judges. To make this situation even more stressful, the judges were instructed to give negative feedback to the participant giving the speech. This study wasn’t just about sadistically putting people through social pressure, it was testing whether a mindset intervention could change how people react to stress.

Before giving the impromptu speech, participants were shown one of two videos:

  • The first video opened with the message, “Most people think that stress is negative… but research shows that stress is even more debilitating than you expect.”
  • The second video opened with, “Most people think that stress is negative… but actually research shows that it is enhancing.”

Participants who were shown the video that gave examples of how stress can be enhancing were less stressed out during the interview, felt more confident while speaking, and gave better interviews (as rated both by themselves and the judges). Even more impressively, although normally a stress response causes a person’s blood vessels to constrict, the blood vessels of participants who saw the pro-stress video remained relaxed.

“Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.” – David Allen

The Power Of Your Stress Mindset

So, a 3-minute video was able to change the way people responded to a stressful situation, not just psychologically, but physiologically. When we think stress is something we must avoid, stress becomes a negative feedback loop. We experience stress, we think it’s a bad thing, and then our stress makes us even more stressed (and on and on).

But, when we think stress is just a natural part of life, or even a good thing, we are able to embrace it instead of being controlled by it. This not only allows us to perform better in stressful situations, it also enables us to make healthier decisions (because we won’t attempt to avoid stress with unhealthy coping behaviors).

How do you handle stress? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Life

One Piece Of Simple Advice That Changed My Life.

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Image Credit: Unsplash / Danilo Santos
“Stay positive no matter what happens.”

That’s one simple piece of advice that changed my life.

I learned the importance of this advice the hard way when my life was traveling along just nicely. I had a high paying job, a booming blogging career, a partner who loved me, and enough money to live and enjoy a few simple pleasures.

I got to travel overseas to exotic locations and work even allowed me to have some pretty unique experiences like sleeping on a yacht and going surfing with a crazy bunch of entrepreneurs.

I thought I had it all.

People looked at my life and thought it was spectacular.


Deep inside of me, I knew something was not quite right.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Something about this so-called perfect life felt wrong.

Before I knew it, I broke up with my girlfriend, lost all of my work colleagues to competitors and found myself staring into a glass half full of instant coffee.

When I hit challenges, I found myself getting pissed off. I’d say to myself “Why me?” and “Get out of my way idiot, you’re blocking the path in front of me.”

How could an internet proclaimed self-help blogger have these crazy, messed up thoughts?

What was wrong was I’d forgotten how to stay positive. I thought that I was past the point of having to deal with challenges and I’d reached a level that I could never go back from.

“Personal development and inspirational content can make you feel invincible — especially when you’re the one creating it”

Sometimes the very thing you preach can be the one thing that is your own downfall.

As I analyzed the situation, I saw that I’d forgotten how to practice positivity.


How does one practice positivity?

By deciding to. Positivity is a choice.

Positivity is like going on an adventure and forcing yourself to see at least one good thing about the journey.

One little hack I used was writing down three things each day I was grateful for. I forced myself to do it at work and locked it into my diary for 9 am every morning.

During the career challenges I mentioned earlier, the lady that sits a few desks away from me described my situation as like being on the Titanic. She called my business unit the “Sinking Ship.”

Outside forces are going to have an effect on you if you let them. I chose to see positivity in what she was saying. I wrote down notes of how this could be positive.

It took a while, but eventually, I got the answer: The Titanic she described was a forced career change into something I liked even more. I’d become comfortable and that was the issue.

At that moment, I realized that I had the power within me to always see positivity if I wanted to.


It’s not about getting rid of negative thoughts necessarily.

It takes a lot of energy to remove or block negative thoughts. Choosing positivity is a much easier process to go through and it takes less energy.

Committing to yourself that there is at least one good outcome from every situation, forces your mind into positivity. It can be done.

You’re supposed to have negative thoughts. They keep you alive. Having zero negative thoughts is impossible. What helped me was balancing my thoughts to be more of the positive variety.


Gossiping and complaining breeds the opposite outcome.

Trying to stay positive no matter what is extremely difficult when you’re in conversations with people who are egging you on to complain, or gossip about someone or something.

The temptation is huge because whether we like it or not, it feels good.

The trouble with complaining or gossiping is that it only breeds more negativity.

You’re asking your brain to dish up negative possibilities and recall negative situations. The other person’s reaction to your negativity only rewards your brain for its hard work.

You can’t focus on being positive if you deliberately hijack your brain every time with gossip talk and picking faults with your co-workers.

People stuff up; they have different beliefs to you; they have other priorities.

Gossiping and complaining doesn’t make anyone else wrong. It does make you practice negativity though and that’s not going to change your life.


Take a long hard look at yourself.

Are you being positive most of the time? When I asked myself this question, I could see clearly that I was not.

I’d fallen into bad habits and allowed outside forces to manipulate my thoughts and turn them toxic.

My life started to change when I acknowledged what was going on and took ownership for it.

“It’s damn hard to admit as a self-help blogger that you’re being extremely negative and ruining your own success. It’s somewhat counter-intuitive. Either way, this reality was my truth and I owned it!”

Ignoring the problem is not going to make it magically disappear.

So, what did I do?

  • Stayed clear of the people who were fuelling my negativity
  • Focused on the positivity that already existed in my life like blogging, love and family
  • Chose a new career path that was closer to what I loved
  • Spent more time with other bloggers to learn how they dealt with negativity
  • Took accountability and stopped focusing on outside interference
  • Doubled down on my blogging so I could spread more positivity
  • Spent lots of time watching videos on a Facebook page called Human Kindness

Above all else, one thing that helped was being more kind.

When you’re kind to everyone you encounter, positivity comes at you a hundred miles an hour.

People will make you feel positive when you are kind towards them. You don’t have to hand out millions of dollars in donations or build an orphanage either.

Simple acts of kindness like holding the door open, complimenting someone, or letting a driver into your lane is all it takes.


Tragedy will strike everyone.

That’s not something to be sad about it’s just a fact of life. When you can go through any event and always find a way to be positive, you’re able to recover much quicker. This allows you to support others during these tough times.


Positivity can make you see another way.

By seeing positivity, you’ll discover other options that those around you can’t see.

“Positivity is closely linked to creativity”

Seeing hidden opportunities doesn’t happen when you’re pissed off and want to kill your neighbor because of their dog that always barks when you’re sleeping.

Positivity sparks possibility and that’s where your next opportunity will come from.


Final thought.

Positivity really is the simple advice that will change your life. We can all use more of it and it’s missing in so many souls around the world. Find another way to move forward and don’t be afraid to take a step back once in a while.

Choose positivity in every situation and your life will change. You’ll see a brighter future, and better yet, you’ll create that future for yourself.

You deserve to be fulfilled and do what you love. Let positivity get you there faster.

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If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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