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Reading Before Bed – A Self Care Guide for a Calmer, Healthier, More Successful You

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I recently reintroduced the habit of reading before bed and it has had such a calming and positive effect on my life. When I was younger I was an avid reader, easily devouring five to six books a week. Sometimes even staying up until the middle of the night because I just couldn’t put a certain book down.

This was all prior to the era of smartphones. Once those became ubiquitous, my daily reading was replaced with quick fixes of random internet articles, and way too much Candy Crush. The constant presence of my smartphone coupled with increasing demands on my time as I have gotten older, has resulted in reading fewer books just for the pleasure of it.

Reading before bed is not just a way for me to recapture some of the easier, quieter times of my childhood but a concerted effort to reduce stress while improving my health and happiness.

Reading before bed has many health benefits

Initially you may tell yourself that you can’t possibly add another thing to your already busy schedule, especially when all you want to do is collapse in bed at the end of the day and get some much needed sleep. I hear you. The thing is, if you are living the kind of life where even some light reading in the evening seems like a huge imposition on your time, then cultivating this new habit is even more imperative because you stand to benefit the most from the additional stress relief.

According to research by the University of Sussex, reading can reduce stress levels by 68 percent. In fact, it is the best way to decrease cortisol levels compared to other relaxing activities such as listening to music or drinking hot tea. Immersing yourself in another world, even for a few minutes provides a much needed mental break, while engaging you in a different way that can promote empathy, and greater peace of mind.

“Knowing you have something good to read before sleep is amongst the most pleasurable things of sensations.” – Vladimir Nabokov

If you still aren’t convinced, and start feeling withdrawal symptoms at the mere mention of substituting your smartphone in the evening for good ol’ bound paper and ink, then realize just how much you stand to gain in cognitive functioning by making nightly reading a priority, rather than indulging the smartphone before bed habit.

It is well known that avid readers outperform those who don’t regularly read in a variety of cognitive tests, the benefits of which last well into advanced age. If you are in a cognitively demanding job, which is the case for many of us in knowledge fields, reading is a magic bullet of sorts that helps to decrease stress, improve cognition and help you sleep better.

You can find more time to read before bed by making simple tradeoffs

Daily reading before bed is incredibly beneficial so even if you just manage to do so a few times a week for as little as 15–20 minutes, you will be better off than before. It can become second nature, an integral part of your evening routine. One way I nudged myself towards my new habit was by making some simple tradeoffs.

I watch less TV now and stopped checking email earlier in the evening so that I could have additional time to read. Once you make the commitment, the next step is to stash plenty of books that you actually want to read. I am one of those rare people that still checks out books at the library, so that is my major go-to for reading material.

“Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.” – William Blake

Used bookstores, garage sales, thrift stores, your friends bookshelves, and of course the internet, will provide you with more reading material than you will ever know what to do with. So there is really no excuse for not having a new book around on a regular basis. The more you read, the more you will find new sources of inspiration for new books to read.

I keep a list in my phone of every book I hear about that sounds interesting, so I am never without reading material. One final tip is to remember that reading should be pleasurable. This is not 10th grade, where you had to get through The Crucible regardless of whether you liked it or not.

If you do not find yourself connecting with a particular author, or the story is just moving way too slow for your taste, then ditch the book. Life is too short to read things that you’re not absolutely thrilled about. Indulge in a good book and your mind and body will thank you.

What books are you going to start reading tonight? Please leave your thoughts below!

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Monica Lannom is a PHD candidate in Biology.  When she is not doing research or chasing after her dogs she writes about careers, productivity and balanced living on her website www.fullerlifemakeover.com. Follow her on Twitter @life_fuller.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Ain

    May 4, 2017 at 3:07 am

    I am gonna continue reading The Maze Runner. I’m always tied up with my work until I forgot to allocate some time to actually read a book. So I think tonight is the night for me to start reading the novel back again. Thank you for such a good article.

    • Monica

      Jun 1, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      Thanks so much, I hope you enjoy the Maze Runner!

  2. Anjali Papreja

    May 3, 2017 at 8:25 am

    I am going to read “The Secret” today !!

  3. Nicah Caramba

    May 2, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Hey, Monica!
    I don’t limit myself to printed books or articles before bed. I also listen to audio books, which have the same relaxing effect. I wake up feeling fresh and much more confident to take on the world. For some reason, I absorb more when reading before bed and then waking up much more motivated to apply what I’ve learned the following day.
    Right now I’m reading some of Brian Tracy’s materials and some of his audiobooks. 🙂

    • Monica

      Jun 1, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      I’m totally on board with the awesomeness of audiobooks. I especially love to listen to them as I’m driving into work, and sometimes when I’m just sitting at the computer, doing data analysis. I find them very soothing.

  4. Mitch Ferguson

    May 1, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    I completely agree. Reading a real paper book is good for you in many ways. It’s becoming a lost habit that we need to re-establish. As is good sleep. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Monica

      Jun 1, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      You’re welcome Mitch, reading is one of my favorite things. I’m glad you love it it too.

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Life

How to Fight Off Burnout With a Workout

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A lot of entrepreneurs complain about burnout and its buddies; migraines, lack of sleep, uneasiness, anxiety, and clouded thinking. When we are under stress and fatigue, almost to a point when we would just like to fall into a deep sleep and skip work for 48 hours, our mind does not function properly. In fact, here’s an experiment – think about your latest bad decisions in business, and think about your last friction with a co-worker, employee, or a boss.

Don’t you credit that experience to “a bad day”? And most likely, you were really tired or stressed that day, right? Now, it doesn’t matter if we only slept two hours that day or we woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning, some days are just bad. You feel tired, you don’t have time for self-reflection, there’s just so many things that need to be done.

However, what if there’s a little hack you can do so that you can increase the probability of a good work day? Would you do it? Well, here it is – get moving. You’re tired? Go hit the pool. Stressed out? Book a yoga class. Need a break from the concrete jungle? Invite your friends for a round of beach volleyball this weekend. The thing is, for you to beat burnout and exhaustion, you can tap into your reserve energy, and use it to produce more. Sound counterintuitive? We don’t blame you for thinking that, but several studies have proven that this works.

Tackling the science

A study done at the University of British Columbia found that cardio exercises like aerobics, dance, or martial arts boosts your hippocampus size. This is the part of the brain that facilitates knowledge transfer, memory, and emotional regulation. So whatever it is that you do for work or whatever business you’re in, exercise will absolutely improve your mind’s disposition while you’re doing it.

Regular exercise also encourages better sleep, which leads to a clearer mind and a healthier disposition. As you know, when you’re sleep deprived, you are prone to mistakes, bad judgment, and overly sensitive feelings. Reduced stress and anxiety have also been reported to be a positive effect of regular exercise and good sleep.

“Strength does not come from the physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Ghandi

Real life business action stars weigh in

Richard Branson, a known entrepreneur, enjoys a wide range of activities for his daily exercise. From kitesurfing, to tennis, to yoga, he makes sure he inserts ample exercise hours to his days. He varies his daily activities and claims that it adds hours of productivity to him.

Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Twitter and Square, admits to following a tight schedule for exercise. He clocks in gym time, runs at least five kilometers daily, and also practices yoga. He believes it’s integral to how he does business and how he can function as a high performance entrepreneur. And since he owns two high – profile tech businesses, we can only imagine how busy his days get, yet, there’s really no excuse to not get active!

Where you can start

According to experts, the key here is to pick a physical activity that you actually enjoy. Something that you will look forward to doing. The first few days of your new lifestyle will be dedicated to building the habit rather than trying to lose weight or build muscle.

Another easy technique is including your loved ones or your colleagues in these activities. Since you are also looking forward to spending time with them and helping them become healthier, this is a good plus.

“Strive for progress, not perfection.”

Lastly, record and chart your experience. Keep track of the time you spend exercising; how soon you feel tired at work, whether you still get migraines, difficulty of sleeping, or find yourself bingeing…whatever your bad habits are before, see how exercise can change a lot of things for you.

Then, also keep a separate record or diary for how it helped your business. Did you see a drastic jump in productivity? Better time management? Better mood? Better decision making? Monitor it so you can appreciate it better. This way, you feel motivated to keep the habit and can even share your experience to your fellow entrepreneurs!

To many people, exercise is a way to get the body they want so they can look good and feel good at the same time. The thing is, constant correct physical activity, is just another way for you to reward yourself for building positive habits. Plus, now that you know it’s also a key factor to being successful in business, we’re pretty sure you’re never second-guessing this anymore. Now, are you ready to build a real empire? Then build the strength to create it first.

How do you cool off after a stressful experience? Comment below!

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Life

6 Positive Side Effects of Being Grateful

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Unless you’ve been living on a remote tropical island (and during recent turbulent times you may have been tempted to escape there), you have seen the growing evidence about the huge positive impact gratitude has on your health. As little as five minutes a day of focused gratitude, the no-cost quality of life booster, contributes to impressive improvements not only in emotional health, but also in physical, social, and spiritual health.

Some may ask, “what is gratitude?” Gratitude is a different emotion from happiness because it is most often a reaction to another individual’s generosity. The trigger, according to science, is to receive a message from someone else, interpret it as beneficial to yourself, and experience thankfulness.

Repeatedly, studies have shown that performing simple gratitude exercises, like keeping a gratitude diary or writing letters of thanks, can produce a range of impressive health benefits that often continue well after the expressions of gratitude are finished.

Ready to boost all your dimensions with some thank you’s? Here are 6 positive side effects of being grateful:

1. Physical Benefits

People who experience and express gratitude report feeling healthier than other people and report fewer aches and pains. This positive attitude creates a generous snowball of good health since thankful people are also more likely to exercise more often and visit their doctor regularly, which is likely to contribute to further longevity. The health benefits of a daily gratitude journal have been proven to decrease depression and anxiety, as well as improve cardiovascular function in heart patients.

A free health booster for us all? Grab a pen before bed and spend a mere 15 minutes jotting down what you are grateful for that day, and odds are you will sleep better and longer. That increases not only your quality but also potentially the quantity of your life.

2. Adds To Your Emotional Bank Account Balance

The math of your emotional bank account is pretty simple: positive emotions contribute, negative emotions withdraw. More positive + less negative = Higher emotional balance. Research shows that when it comes to your emotional bank account, gratitude is like a generous grandma who just can’t stop giving, and defends her sweet one against all negative withdrawals.

The simple act of writing a thank-you note to someone who has blessed you produces profound good feelings, empathy, and optimism. Remembering the moment that inspired the thank you card, in turn, produces even more positive emotions, a sort of cascading happiness effect.

Not only does gratitude increase well-being and happiness, it also shuts down emotional withdrawals by decreasing toxic emotions such as envy, resentment, frustration, guilt, and regret. No wonder small daily deposits of gratitude can have a compounding effect on your emotional bank account. So, go write grandma that thank you note you’ve been meaning to send. She’s earned your interest!

“Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” – Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

3. Builds Stronger Relationships

Grateful people appear warm and responsive, which increases their trust in others and influences them to approach and bond with their benefactors. Researchers refer to this as the “broaden-and-build theory” of positive emotions, where positive feelings encourage us to seek out new experiences, people, and activities. This comfort zone expansion increases the odds of finding high-quality relationship partners.

Expressions of thanks can also reinforce the bonds of current relationships, through the give-and-take of mutual gratitude. This immediate effect of greater joy contributes to long-term social success, so much that the person receiving gratitude reaps rewards in personal well-being and relationship satisfaction up to six months after the deliberate gratitude expression. That’s a powerful social benefit!

4. Better Work Environment

The impact of gratitude can even improve your work environment. A simple daily practice of reflecting on the parts of your job you are grateful for has been proven to positively impact your productivity, goal achievement, decision-making and networking skills.

Not only can being thankful help you manage your job responsibilities more effectively, but it also reduces job-related stress and burnout. Knowing this, it’s not hard to see how small doses of thankfulness could result in increased job satisfaction, but also a potential promotion, when you play your thank you cards right!

5. Fills Your Spirit

The spiritual blessings of counting your blessings are profound. Being grateful for what you have improves your self-esteem, which is an essential component to optimal performance and achieving your life purpose.

Recent research on types of gratitude have important significance for not only individuals but society as a whole. Study participants who had reflected on and expressed gratitude for experiences rather than material purchases, were significantly more generous to others and kept less for themselves than did those in the group who reflected on possessions.

One explanation, according to scientists, is that when people feel closer to other humans, they might treat others better. By structuring community experiences and events that promote social and spiritual connection, organizers can encourage more future altruistic behavior, which benefits us all.

“It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment.” – Naomi Williams

6. Brain Power

Still skeptical? Even brain scans, hard scientific data, are confirming the astonishing impact of gratitude in 3 fascinating ways. A brain experiencing gratitude toward a specific person is flooded with feel-good hormones which makes you more inclined to desire that feeling again and make you feel attached to others at the same time.

Brain scans show gratitude also does something quite peculiar: it activates the hypothalamus.  Being thankful actually makes our metabolism, hunger and other natural bodily functions work more efficiently.

Perhaps most significantly during this high-stress era, gratitude increases mental strength. Remembering all you have to be thankful for, even during the most tragic times of your life, creates resilience and reduces Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

So, there you have it. That “Attitude of Gratitude” isn’t a platitude…it’s a health booster of highest magnitude!

What are you most grateful for today? Let us know in the comments below!

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Life

6 Proven Methods to Help You Take Back Your Daily Power

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Everyday, you wake up ready to take on the world. In your mind, you’re prepared for anything that comes your way, however  there are distractions that come along throughout the day. Each distraction takes away a little bit of your daily power, and eventually, you become numb to your intention of proactively having an awesome day. You’re simply out of mental energy because little negative distractions started to add up and your day goes down the drain by noon.

To stay focused on making your goals happen, here are 6 solutions to help you stop giving away your daily power:

1. Take your attention away from the distraction

It’s not a distraction if you don’t pay attention to it. Normally, when something happens, you automatically turn your focus to what’s going on. You’re now caught up in it and you want to see it through to the end. After 15 minutes, you then realize, “Where did the time go?” If you let daily distractions get the best of you, it will snowball into an unproductive day.

2. Keep moving forward

This is the rule for everything. No matter what happens or what gets in your way, keep moving forward. Your goal is to get things done and it won’t get done if you stop and complain about it. It’s so easy to give away your daily power to something that doesn’t even matter so don’t allow little things to stop you from making big moves. If it’s not helping you with your work, it’s not worth stopping to discuss and criticize. Keep moving forward.

“You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action.” – Tony Robbins

3. Leave the arguments to other people

People who argue waste a ton of time. Unless it’s your job to find others to argue with, it’s useless. You build up your emotions, trying to prove you’re right to someone who probably doesn’t really care. After you’re into your feelings, it’s hard to come back down and concentrate on what you were doing.

There are some people out there who literally argue for sport. They will pick an argument just to see the other person get worked up. Again, this is a real time waster and can mentally drain you. You could be using that energy towards making more important moves and decisions. Learn to bypass the arguments.

4. Just say no

When you’re doing your work, you will find that people will stop by and start a conversation. It’s like there’s a sign on your head that says, “I’m really deep into what I’m doing – please interrupt me.” Kindly tell that person that you can talk with them later, just not right now.

Also, if you’re invited to a party or a get-together that you really don’t want to go to, just say no. You may have more important things to accomplish and you honestly need that time to focus. Don’t feel like you’re obligated to go, just because they asked. An invitation allows you to say yes or no. Tell them you’ll make it next time.

“Learn to say no without explaining yourself.”

5. Stop worrying about what you can’t control

Things happen out of our control, yet that doesn’t mean you should take the time to complain about it. It means you should figure out a way to get around it and proceed with what you were doing in the first place. Accept the fact that it happened.

Unless you can change what happened, leave it alone and move on with your life. Some people get stuck on what happened and they don’t know how to get over it and move on. Focus your time and energy on what you can control. Make that happen.

6. Get over your emotions

Your emotions can take away a tremendous amount of your daily power. It sounds mean, but there should be a scheduled time when you put your emotions aside in order to work. You will not work effectively if you are emotional. Unless you’re a songwriter and you just broke up with your girlfriend, then it’s fine. That’s actually part of your work, because you’ll end up writing a hit song.

It’s the opposite for just about everything else. It’s not the right time to deal with emotions when your finger is on the red button and your cat just died. Devote some time to it, but not when you’re in the process of saving the world.

There are many ways small things can take away your daily power, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You are in control of your mind and your thoughts. If you are conscious enough to recognize when it’s happening, you can do something about it. Your day will be more productive and your daily power will be infinite.

How do you stay productive throughout the day? Let us know your advice in the comments below!

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Life

10 Simple Ways You Can Bounce Back in Life After Failure

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You’ve just failed to achieve something that you have aspired for. Maybe it’s a test, or a job, or even love. You’re now at a juncture, with two paths for you to consider: Sit and moan about it, but do nothing to change or bounce back. The reason you are reading this itself indicates that you are part of the latter category.

Here are 10 simple ways to bounce back in life no matter the situation:

1. I can do it and I will

This is, beyond doubt, the first thing you need to tell yourself every single day. Maybe even the first thing every single morning. Waking up reinvigorated, reinforce yourself ,“It’s a brand new day. There is so much for me to do, and now is the time. I can neither change my past, nor my future, but I shall act today and shape my future.”

2. Chalk out your plan

For anything that you want to achieve, be it a skill, passing a test, getting a job, losing weight or learning to drive, you need a plan. Chalking out this plan is your next step. It has to be based on your goal. Talk to experts, refer to relevant resources and read books about the goals that you want to accomplish. Come up with a plan as per your timeline and goals, the resources that you possess, and most importantly, your strengths.

“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” – Colin Powell

3. Modularise your goal

Breaking down a significant task into smaller chunks always helps. It fosters self-belief and keeps the next goal in sight. Keep up your plan for a week and then break it down further to a daily level. Let’s say your goal is running a 5K marathon in the next month. Then your plan could look something like this:

  • 1st week – run 3 times a week.
  • 2nd week – run every day with short water breaks after every 8 /10 minutes.
  • 3rd week – Work on managing my breath.
  • 4th week – Practice and more practice (there’s no substitute for dedication).
  • D Day – Achieve what you’ve worked so hard for!

4. Keep track of your goal

The biggest mistake you could make is to think you have time. Before you realize it, all your time is gone. Unfortunately, time is the one resource we cannot conserve. Procrastination is addictive, and you will get better at it with each day that passes. Your backlog of tasks will keep growing each day, and to such an extent that one day, it seems unachievable and you have to abandon it. Bhagavad Geeta (an ancient scripture on how to live life) says – “your soul is your greatest friend as well as your biggest enemy. The real doer is your mind. Make it a habit to work to finish your target for the day. This becomes the base of building your confidence and belief in self.”

5. Celebrate your small wins

Reward yourself for sticking to your plan and achieving progress day by day. Getting yourself on the track is easier than keeping yourself there. Check your progress on a periodic basis. You may not be exactly where you planned yourself to be but, as long as you are within 10% of your planned progress, you’re good. Rewarding yourself for the progress made gives you the confidence and assurance to say, “I have made it till here and I have been consistent in my progress. I will make it.”

6. Be that deaf frog

Many of you would have heard about the story of the frog which climbed to the treetop while most of the other frogs kept shouting that it was impossible to reach the tree top. The reason it was able to reach the top was that it was deaf. So it couldn’t listen to all the negative comments, it was only focused on reaching its goal.

This applies to anyone, keeping one’s mind clean and positive is very important. If you keep listening to what people around you say and seek their approval, then you will never be able to progress. Our mind uses the sense organs to receive information and process it.

What we see, hear and whom we choose to be around is a major contributor to our thoughts. Hence, observing who you spend time with, is very important to keep you on your path. It’s always good to have friends whose company keeps you motivated.

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

7. Avoid distractions, keep your eyes set on the goal

The formula for success in this age is the ability to focus and cut down on distractions, since all of us are force fed information every minute via social media and all the other channels. However, the authenticity and relevance of all this information are a huge question mark. All the media have very catchy or sensational titles to grab your attention.

This reduces our attention and memory span hugely. Continuing from the previous point, what you take inside determines your thoughts. Keep a watch on how you are spending your extra time. Keeping one limited on social media and Whatsapp is essential for success. Better not to be there at all, but the next best option is to limit yourself.

The question then arises, how else do I relax? Go for a walk, talk to your friends, or even go play outdoors. Do something that gives you happiness. You may feel left out, not knowing what’s happening in the world outside during the initial days, but there is nothing worth knowing that appears exclusively on social media. Eventually, you will get to know what’s important to you.

8. Don’t compare yourself to others

Your life is yours and you can never swap it with anyone else. Remember, the best of resources may not necessarily bring the best results, it’s the ones with the best attitude, and motivated minds that come up with the best results. You are the master of your life and no one else can make it better other than you.

9. Work on your weaknesses don’t run away from them

Everyone is unique and has their own set of strengths. Some may know how to portray their strengths in a better way, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any strengths. See what you are good at and leverage on that. Work on your weak areas with more dedication to improve it. Running away from the problem will only make it bigger, and it is better to confront it and deal with it once and for all.

10. Reflect on where you started and how far have you come

Finally, reflect on where you started and how far you have come. It’s amazing to see what hurdles you have crossed to get where you are today. It’s by your determination and dedicated effort you have come here, and it doesn’t happen by luck or accident. Waiting for things to happen hasn’t brought you here, your efforts have. Ultimately, you will achieve your goal and your dream will become a positive reality. There is no better day than today to start your journey. Stay happy and positive, that’s a great vitamin for your mind.

How do you best recover from failure? Comment below!

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Motivation

5 Daily Habits to Remain Highly Motivated

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While some of us can naturally maintain a relatively high constant level of motivation, others find it more difficult. This is actually a normal fact of life. After all, the beauty and richness of life is in our attempt to reconcile and manage our different states. (more…)

My name is Bachir Bastien. Being the sparkle that will ignite the fire of possibilities in as many people as possible is how I define myself. I was born and raised in Haiti by my mother. My life has been a struggle since conception. I decided that I was going to use my stories to empower others. These experiences may have been lemons, but I can use them to make sweet lemonade. This is what I have decided to do. That became my life purpose. My first name Bachir means messenger of good news in Arabic; I have been doing just that for the past two years here in Taiwan through articles, workshops, seminars and speeches. I have seen students changing behaviors, increase in confidence, watched students conquer stage fright, etc. This in turn gives me the unwavering certitude that I can empower more people.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Ain

    May 4, 2017 at 3:07 am

    I am gonna continue reading The Maze Runner. I’m always tied up with my work until I forgot to allocate some time to actually read a book. So I think tonight is the night for me to start reading the novel back again. Thank you for such a good article.

    • Monica

      Jun 1, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      Thanks so much, I hope you enjoy the Maze Runner!

  2. Anjali Papreja

    May 3, 2017 at 8:25 am

    I am going to read “The Secret” today !!

  3. Nicah Caramba

    May 2, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Hey, Monica!
    I don’t limit myself to printed books or articles before bed. I also listen to audio books, which have the same relaxing effect. I wake up feeling fresh and much more confident to take on the world. For some reason, I absorb more when reading before bed and then waking up much more motivated to apply what I’ve learned the following day.
    Right now I’m reading some of Brian Tracy’s materials and some of his audiobooks. 🙂

    • Monica

      Jun 1, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      I’m totally on board with the awesomeness of audiobooks. I especially love to listen to them as I’m driving into work, and sometimes when I’m just sitting at the computer, doing data analysis. I find them very soothing.

  4. Mitch Ferguson

    May 1, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    I completely agree. Reading a real paper book is good for you in many ways. It’s becoming a lost habit that we need to re-establish. As is good sleep. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Monica

      Jun 1, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      You’re welcome Mitch, reading is one of my favorite things. I’m glad you love it it too.

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Life

How to Fight Off Burnout With a Workout

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working out
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

A lot of entrepreneurs complain about burnout and its buddies; migraines, lack of sleep, uneasiness, anxiety, and clouded thinking. When we are under stress and fatigue, almost to a point when we would just like to fall into a deep sleep and skip work for 48 hours, our mind does not function properly. In fact, here’s an experiment – think about your latest bad decisions in business, and think about your last friction with a co-worker, employee, or a boss.

Don’t you credit that experience to “a bad day”? And most likely, you were really tired or stressed that day, right? Now, it doesn’t matter if we only slept two hours that day or we woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning, some days are just bad. You feel tired, you don’t have time for self-reflection, there’s just so many things that need to be done.

However, what if there’s a little hack you can do so that you can increase the probability of a good work day? Would you do it? Well, here it is – get moving. You’re tired? Go hit the pool. Stressed out? Book a yoga class. Need a break from the concrete jungle? Invite your friends for a round of beach volleyball this weekend. The thing is, for you to beat burnout and exhaustion, you can tap into your reserve energy, and use it to produce more. Sound counterintuitive? We don’t blame you for thinking that, but several studies have proven that this works.

Tackling the science

A study done at the University of British Columbia found that cardio exercises like aerobics, dance, or martial arts boosts your hippocampus size. This is the part of the brain that facilitates knowledge transfer, memory, and emotional regulation. So whatever it is that you do for work or whatever business you’re in, exercise will absolutely improve your mind’s disposition while you’re doing it.

Regular exercise also encourages better sleep, which leads to a clearer mind and a healthier disposition. As you know, when you’re sleep deprived, you are prone to mistakes, bad judgment, and overly sensitive feelings. Reduced stress and anxiety have also been reported to be a positive effect of regular exercise and good sleep.

“Strength does not come from the physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Ghandi

Real life business action stars weigh in

Richard Branson, a known entrepreneur, enjoys a wide range of activities for his daily exercise. From kitesurfing, to tennis, to yoga, he makes sure he inserts ample exercise hours to his days. He varies his daily activities and claims that it adds hours of productivity to him.

Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Twitter and Square, admits to following a tight schedule for exercise. He clocks in gym time, runs at least five kilometers daily, and also practices yoga. He believes it’s integral to how he does business and how he can function as a high performance entrepreneur. And since he owns two high – profile tech businesses, we can only imagine how busy his days get, yet, there’s really no excuse to not get active!

Where you can start

According to experts, the key here is to pick a physical activity that you actually enjoy. Something that you will look forward to doing. The first few days of your new lifestyle will be dedicated to building the habit rather than trying to lose weight or build muscle.

Another easy technique is including your loved ones or your colleagues in these activities. Since you are also looking forward to spending time with them and helping them become healthier, this is a good plus.

“Strive for progress, not perfection.”

Lastly, record and chart your experience. Keep track of the time you spend exercising; how soon you feel tired at work, whether you still get migraines, difficulty of sleeping, or find yourself bingeing…whatever your bad habits are before, see how exercise can change a lot of things for you.

Then, also keep a separate record or diary for how it helped your business. Did you see a drastic jump in productivity? Better time management? Better mood? Better decision making? Monitor it so you can appreciate it better. This way, you feel motivated to keep the habit and can even share your experience to your fellow entrepreneurs!

To many people, exercise is a way to get the body they want so they can look good and feel good at the same time. The thing is, constant correct physical activity, is just another way for you to reward yourself for building positive habits. Plus, now that you know it’s also a key factor to being successful in business, we’re pretty sure you’re never second-guessing this anymore. Now, are you ready to build a real empire? Then build the strength to create it first.

How do you cool off after a stressful experience? Comment below!

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Life

6 Positive Side Effects of Being Grateful

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Unless you’ve been living on a remote tropical island (and during recent turbulent times you may have been tempted to escape there), you have seen the growing evidence about the huge positive impact gratitude has on your health. As little as five minutes a day of focused gratitude, the no-cost quality of life booster, contributes to impressive improvements not only in emotional health, but also in physical, social, and spiritual health.

Some may ask, “what is gratitude?” Gratitude is a different emotion from happiness because it is most often a reaction to another individual’s generosity. The trigger, according to science, is to receive a message from someone else, interpret it as beneficial to yourself, and experience thankfulness.

Repeatedly, studies have shown that performing simple gratitude exercises, like keeping a gratitude diary or writing letters of thanks, can produce a range of impressive health benefits that often continue well after the expressions of gratitude are finished.

Ready to boost all your dimensions with some thank you’s? Here are 6 positive side effects of being grateful:

1. Physical Benefits

People who experience and express gratitude report feeling healthier than other people and report fewer aches and pains. This positive attitude creates a generous snowball of good health since thankful people are also more likely to exercise more often and visit their doctor regularly, which is likely to contribute to further longevity. The health benefits of a daily gratitude journal have been proven to decrease depression and anxiety, as well as improve cardiovascular function in heart patients.

A free health booster for us all? Grab a pen before bed and spend a mere 15 minutes jotting down what you are grateful for that day, and odds are you will sleep better and longer. That increases not only your quality but also potentially the quantity of your life.

2. Adds To Your Emotional Bank Account Balance

The math of your emotional bank account is pretty simple: positive emotions contribute, negative emotions withdraw. More positive + less negative = Higher emotional balance. Research shows that when it comes to your emotional bank account, gratitude is like a generous grandma who just can’t stop giving, and defends her sweet one against all negative withdrawals.

The simple act of writing a thank-you note to someone who has blessed you produces profound good feelings, empathy, and optimism. Remembering the moment that inspired the thank you card, in turn, produces even more positive emotions, a sort of cascading happiness effect.

Not only does gratitude increase well-being and happiness, it also shuts down emotional withdrawals by decreasing toxic emotions such as envy, resentment, frustration, guilt, and regret. No wonder small daily deposits of gratitude can have a compounding effect on your emotional bank account. So, go write grandma that thank you note you’ve been meaning to send. She’s earned your interest!

“Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” – Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

3. Builds Stronger Relationships

Grateful people appear warm and responsive, which increases their trust in others and influences them to approach and bond with their benefactors. Researchers refer to this as the “broaden-and-build theory” of positive emotions, where positive feelings encourage us to seek out new experiences, people, and activities. This comfort zone expansion increases the odds of finding high-quality relationship partners.

Expressions of thanks can also reinforce the bonds of current relationships, through the give-and-take of mutual gratitude. This immediate effect of greater joy contributes to long-term social success, so much that the person receiving gratitude reaps rewards in personal well-being and relationship satisfaction up to six months after the deliberate gratitude expression. That’s a powerful social benefit!

4. Better Work Environment

The impact of gratitude can even improve your work environment. A simple daily practice of reflecting on the parts of your job you are grateful for has been proven to positively impact your productivity, goal achievement, decision-making and networking skills.

Not only can being thankful help you manage your job responsibilities more effectively, but it also reduces job-related stress and burnout. Knowing this, it’s not hard to see how small doses of thankfulness could result in increased job satisfaction, but also a potential promotion, when you play your thank you cards right!

5. Fills Your Spirit

The spiritual blessings of counting your blessings are profound. Being grateful for what you have improves your self-esteem, which is an essential component to optimal performance and achieving your life purpose.

Recent research on types of gratitude have important significance for not only individuals but society as a whole. Study participants who had reflected on and expressed gratitude for experiences rather than material purchases, were significantly more generous to others and kept less for themselves than did those in the group who reflected on possessions.

One explanation, according to scientists, is that when people feel closer to other humans, they might treat others better. By structuring community experiences and events that promote social and spiritual connection, organizers can encourage more future altruistic behavior, which benefits us all.

“It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment.” – Naomi Williams

6. Brain Power

Still skeptical? Even brain scans, hard scientific data, are confirming the astonishing impact of gratitude in 3 fascinating ways. A brain experiencing gratitude toward a specific person is flooded with feel-good hormones which makes you more inclined to desire that feeling again and make you feel attached to others at the same time.

Brain scans show gratitude also does something quite peculiar: it activates the hypothalamus.  Being thankful actually makes our metabolism, hunger and other natural bodily functions work more efficiently.

Perhaps most significantly during this high-stress era, gratitude increases mental strength. Remembering all you have to be thankful for, even during the most tragic times of your life, creates resilience and reduces Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

So, there you have it. That “Attitude of Gratitude” isn’t a platitude…it’s a health booster of highest magnitude!

What are you most grateful for today? Let us know in the comments below!

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Life

6 Proven Methods to Help You Take Back Your Daily Power

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Everyday, you wake up ready to take on the world. In your mind, you’re prepared for anything that comes your way, however  there are distractions that come along throughout the day. Each distraction takes away a little bit of your daily power, and eventually, you become numb to your intention of proactively having an awesome day. You’re simply out of mental energy because little negative distractions started to add up and your day goes down the drain by noon.

To stay focused on making your goals happen, here are 6 solutions to help you stop giving away your daily power:

1. Take your attention away from the distraction

It’s not a distraction if you don’t pay attention to it. Normally, when something happens, you automatically turn your focus to what’s going on. You’re now caught up in it and you want to see it through to the end. After 15 minutes, you then realize, “Where did the time go?” If you let daily distractions get the best of you, it will snowball into an unproductive day.

2. Keep moving forward

This is the rule for everything. No matter what happens or what gets in your way, keep moving forward. Your goal is to get things done and it won’t get done if you stop and complain about it. It’s so easy to give away your daily power to something that doesn’t even matter so don’t allow little things to stop you from making big moves. If it’s not helping you with your work, it’s not worth stopping to discuss and criticize. Keep moving forward.

“You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action.” – Tony Robbins

3. Leave the arguments to other people

People who argue waste a ton of time. Unless it’s your job to find others to argue with, it’s useless. You build up your emotions, trying to prove you’re right to someone who probably doesn’t really care. After you’re into your feelings, it’s hard to come back down and concentrate on what you were doing.

There are some people out there who literally argue for sport. They will pick an argument just to see the other person get worked up. Again, this is a real time waster and can mentally drain you. You could be using that energy towards making more important moves and decisions. Learn to bypass the arguments.

4. Just say no

When you’re doing your work, you will find that people will stop by and start a conversation. It’s like there’s a sign on your head that says, “I’m really deep into what I’m doing – please interrupt me.” Kindly tell that person that you can talk with them later, just not right now.

Also, if you’re invited to a party or a get-together that you really don’t want to go to, just say no. You may have more important things to accomplish and you honestly need that time to focus. Don’t feel like you’re obligated to go, just because they asked. An invitation allows you to say yes or no. Tell them you’ll make it next time.

“Learn to say no without explaining yourself.”

5. Stop worrying about what you can’t control

Things happen out of our control, yet that doesn’t mean you should take the time to complain about it. It means you should figure out a way to get around it and proceed with what you were doing in the first place. Accept the fact that it happened.

Unless you can change what happened, leave it alone and move on with your life. Some people get stuck on what happened and they don’t know how to get over it and move on. Focus your time and energy on what you can control. Make that happen.

6. Get over your emotions

Your emotions can take away a tremendous amount of your daily power. It sounds mean, but there should be a scheduled time when you put your emotions aside in order to work. You will not work effectively if you are emotional. Unless you’re a songwriter and you just broke up with your girlfriend, then it’s fine. That’s actually part of your work, because you’ll end up writing a hit song.

It’s the opposite for just about everything else. It’s not the right time to deal with emotions when your finger is on the red button and your cat just died. Devote some time to it, but not when you’re in the process of saving the world.

There are many ways small things can take away your daily power, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You are in control of your mind and your thoughts. If you are conscious enough to recognize when it’s happening, you can do something about it. Your day will be more productive and your daily power will be infinite.

How do you stay productive throughout the day? Let us know your advice in the comments below!

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10 Simple Ways You Can Bounce Back in Life After Failure

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You’ve just failed to achieve something that you have aspired for. Maybe it’s a test, or a job, or even love. You’re now at a juncture, with two paths for you to consider: Sit and moan about it, but do nothing to change or bounce back. The reason you are reading this itself indicates that you are part of the latter category.

Here are 10 simple ways to bounce back in life no matter the situation:

1. I can do it and I will

This is, beyond doubt, the first thing you need to tell yourself every single day. Maybe even the first thing every single morning. Waking up reinvigorated, reinforce yourself ,“It’s a brand new day. There is so much for me to do, and now is the time. I can neither change my past, nor my future, but I shall act today and shape my future.”

2. Chalk out your plan

For anything that you want to achieve, be it a skill, passing a test, getting a job, losing weight or learning to drive, you need a plan. Chalking out this plan is your next step. It has to be based on your goal. Talk to experts, refer to relevant resources and read books about the goals that you want to accomplish. Come up with a plan as per your timeline and goals, the resources that you possess, and most importantly, your strengths.

“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” – Colin Powell

3. Modularise your goal

Breaking down a significant task into smaller chunks always helps. It fosters self-belief and keeps the next goal in sight. Keep up your plan for a week and then break it down further to a daily level. Let’s say your goal is running a 5K marathon in the next month. Then your plan could look something like this:

  • 1st week – run 3 times a week.
  • 2nd week – run every day with short water breaks after every 8 /10 minutes.
  • 3rd week – Work on managing my breath.
  • 4th week – Practice and more practice (there’s no substitute for dedication).
  • D Day – Achieve what you’ve worked so hard for!

4. Keep track of your goal

The biggest mistake you could make is to think you have time. Before you realize it, all your time is gone. Unfortunately, time is the one resource we cannot conserve. Procrastination is addictive, and you will get better at it with each day that passes. Your backlog of tasks will keep growing each day, and to such an extent that one day, it seems unachievable and you have to abandon it. Bhagavad Geeta (an ancient scripture on how to live life) says – “your soul is your greatest friend as well as your biggest enemy. The real doer is your mind. Make it a habit to work to finish your target for the day. This becomes the base of building your confidence and belief in self.”

5. Celebrate your small wins

Reward yourself for sticking to your plan and achieving progress day by day. Getting yourself on the track is easier than keeping yourself there. Check your progress on a periodic basis. You may not be exactly where you planned yourself to be but, as long as you are within 10% of your planned progress, you’re good. Rewarding yourself for the progress made gives you the confidence and assurance to say, “I have made it till here and I have been consistent in my progress. I will make it.”

6. Be that deaf frog

Many of you would have heard about the story of the frog which climbed to the treetop while most of the other frogs kept shouting that it was impossible to reach the tree top. The reason it was able to reach the top was that it was deaf. So it couldn’t listen to all the negative comments, it was only focused on reaching its goal.

This applies to anyone, keeping one’s mind clean and positive is very important. If you keep listening to what people around you say and seek their approval, then you will never be able to progress. Our mind uses the sense organs to receive information and process it.

What we see, hear and whom we choose to be around is a major contributor to our thoughts. Hence, observing who you spend time with, is very important to keep you on your path. It’s always good to have friends whose company keeps you motivated.

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

7. Avoid distractions, keep your eyes set on the goal

The formula for success in this age is the ability to focus and cut down on distractions, since all of us are force fed information every minute via social media and all the other channels. However, the authenticity and relevance of all this information are a huge question mark. All the media have very catchy or sensational titles to grab your attention.

This reduces our attention and memory span hugely. Continuing from the previous point, what you take inside determines your thoughts. Keep a watch on how you are spending your extra time. Keeping one limited on social media and Whatsapp is essential for success. Better not to be there at all, but the next best option is to limit yourself.

The question then arises, how else do I relax? Go for a walk, talk to your friends, or even go play outdoors. Do something that gives you happiness. You may feel left out, not knowing what’s happening in the world outside during the initial days, but there is nothing worth knowing that appears exclusively on social media. Eventually, you will get to know what’s important to you.

8. Don’t compare yourself to others

Your life is yours and you can never swap it with anyone else. Remember, the best of resources may not necessarily bring the best results, it’s the ones with the best attitude, and motivated minds that come up with the best results. You are the master of your life and no one else can make it better other than you.

9. Work on your weaknesses don’t run away from them

Everyone is unique and has their own set of strengths. Some may know how to portray their strengths in a better way, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any strengths. See what you are good at and leverage on that. Work on your weak areas with more dedication to improve it. Running away from the problem will only make it bigger, and it is better to confront it and deal with it once and for all.

10. Reflect on where you started and how far have you come

Finally, reflect on where you started and how far you have come. It’s amazing to see what hurdles you have crossed to get where you are today. It’s by your determination and dedicated effort you have come here, and it doesn’t happen by luck or accident. Waiting for things to happen hasn’t brought you here, your efforts have. Ultimately, you will achieve your goal and your dream will become a positive reality. There is no better day than today to start your journey. Stay happy and positive, that’s a great vitamin for your mind.

How do you best recover from failure? Comment below!

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