I sit here completely broken yet so perfect at the same time.
Another year of my life has passed and another birthday has arrived. With each birthday, life becomes clearer. My mission becomes clearer.
At least this year I know why I was put on this planet (to inspire). I’ve been blessed with some major highs that have shown me just what is possible if I believe in myself. Now, it’s not just me that believes. That belief has reached well beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
It wouldn’t be honest of me to only give you the high’s since my last birthday. If the truth be told, I’ve had the biggest year of low’s in my entire adult life. These lows have defined my comeback.
I’m no longer going to hide from what I really think. This last year has taught me many lessons.
Here are a few lessons you must use in your own life:
1. We can’t be inspirational all the time
Part of being a blogger is that I’m expected to always be inspiring. The truth is some days I don’t feel like being inspiring, and that’s okay. You can’t always be on. Some days you will be off. You’ll hate yourself, you’ll be lonely, you’ll be unmotivated and that’s okay.
2. Give to yourself once in a while
You can’t only give all of your talents to the world and never leave anything left for yourself. Sometimes you need to give yourself the following:
– Forgiveness. Messing up is guaranteed. Don’t be too hard on yourself
– Time. Low points in your life take time to get over. Give yourself that time.
– Knowledge. Break the mould once in a while and learn a new skill. Do something that scares the hell out of you.
3. Make new friends
Perhaps your current friends are what are holding you back. Maybe it’s time to make some new friends and get access to new experiences. One thing that has always helped me develop is to surround myself with people who think the same as me but do life differently.
My definition of success always looked a certain way until I met people who had a totally different view of success. Our lives are often made up of ideas and goals we borrowed from other people. The more people you have around you that are positive, the more ideas you have to borrow.
4. Wear your heart on your sleeve
I’ve always believed you should do the opposite of the majority. That’s why I believe you should wear your heart on your sleeve. Say what you think and communicate how you feel. You’ll be surprised how much people appreciate this compared to the fakery that goes on day to day.
5. Success is seriously messed up
I’ve met a bunch of people this year that are obsessed with success. Normally I would love this but what I realized is that this so-called phenomenon has gone wrong for many people. Success is not about achieving all the time and being selfishly always about you.
As you mature, you realize that we have to go beyond ourselves. We have to care for other people. We have to contribute something meaningful to the world. After a while, being obsessed with a pursuit such as business can become overwhelmingly unfulfilling.
“Being successful is about having people who care about you, having someone to love and being dedicated to a mission that is far greater than you. All the money, sexual partners, fancy parties, degrees and nice clothes can’t do this for you”
Invest in the stock market
Invest in yourself
Invest in business, personal and romantic relationships
7. It’s okay not to be okay
There are going to be times in your life where it feels like you are walking through Antarctica in your freaking undies. You are going to have times when you are not okay even if you are mega successful. It’s okay not to be okay.
Nobody is on cloud nine all the time even though we are often tricked into comparing our lives to others.
8. The people you admire can often be in a dark place
I’ve been lucky enough to lift the curtain on some of the people I admire. What I learned this year is that many of them are not as they seem. Many of them have either come from a dark place or are in a dark place right now. As humans, we’re fantastic actors.
We act out what we want others to believe about us because to be vulnerable and ask for help hurts our ego. Someone like Robin Williams made us all laugh for so many years. You’d never know that he was actually living in a very dark place.
Focus on spending your time living your life and growing each day. Forget about comparing yourself to everyone else because chances are many of those people you think you admire are not who you think they are. People live in dark places all the time and you’ll never truly know who they really are.
At the same time, ensure you don’t go to that dark place yourself. Step into the light even during the hardest times in your life. Try to make sense of the events that happen to you which hurt like hell.
“Know that there is an empowering meaning for everything even if you can’t see it right now”
9. Your happiness starts with you
We’re all chasing the happy drug (even me). What I’ve learned over the last year is that happiness starts with me. I have to stop having so many rules and expectation that make it impossible for me to be happy.
Think about your own happiness. Are you trying to reach some crazy definition of happiness that can’t possibly be fulfilled? Strip away the layers just like an onion. Try and simplify what you define as happiness. You’re in control of the ship and you can be happy with you if you let yourself.
10. Focus is the winning formula
Our attention is being brought and sold at every second. The moment we try and do anything, chances are, we have to use a device connected to the internet. As soon as we turn to our phone or tablet, there are a hundred distractions right in front of us.
By watching successful people, I’ve seen that focusing on one thing is the winning formula. Our lives are already complicated enough and if you can’t find a way to divert your attention into the handful of things that matter to you, you’re unlikely ever to do anything that can be defined as success.
11. Ideas come from the weirdest places
To fuel your life, you need ideas. Ideas can come from everywhere and so you have to be consistently doing the following:
– Listening to podcasts
– Watching documentaries
– Being curious
– Going to new places
– Attending events
Some of my best ideas have come from these well-known activities. Open your mind and get out there and do stuff. If you don’t know what to do with your life or what your mission is, the answer is you need ideas. Then, you obviously need to take action on a few of them.
12. We’ll all find love
It may take time, but we will all find love at some point in our life. The key is not to give up and try and be patient. Having said that being patient is hard (I should know as a single man). When the time is right you’ll find what you have always dreamt of and all the waiting will be worth it.
Don’t close your heart or tell yourself that love doesn’t exist for you. It does. Loves exists for everyone and you are worthy.
“Keep doing the reps towards your love goal just like you would in the gym”
13. Try not to judge
I find myself judging people without even knowing it. Not because I’m judgemental, but because people around me are and that influences me to do the same. Rather than judge people, help them. While judging people may make you feel good and help you to escape your own issues, it’s not an act that is going to help you live an inspired life.
Judging is taking away some of the power you have within you that could be used towards far better things such as your purpose. Watch how much you are judging and try and rein it in a little.
14. Don’t fall too in love with yourself
Especially once you have had a bit of success it’s easy to become obsessed with how good you are. Lighten up a bit and put your ego to the side. It’s nice that you can achieve some cool stuff, but don’t let it consume you.
You’re another human being just like me and while you are special in your own way, we’re all kind of the same in the end. Spread your success around rather than become focused on how good you are. No one likes a person who is over the top about their own success.
If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net
How 8 Minutes of Meditation Can Give You the Productivity Boost You Need
Of all the productivity hacks I’ve tried over the years, none has had as much of a positive impact relative to the time I put in than meditation. Just 8 minutes per day to be precise. Meditation is a practice that has been around for centuries. Once primarily used by practitioners of Buddhism to reach a higher level of consciousness, science has since shown it has a lot of more earthly benefits as well.
As Healthline reports, meditation improves concentration, reduces fatigue and stress, brings a sense of relaxation and improves sleep patterns, among other benefits. All the above reasons explain why some of the most successful people rely on meditation to thrive in their professions. Jeff Weiner, former Yahoo executive and the current CEO of Linkedin says that meditation has made a huge positive impact on his productivity. Similarly, Ray Dalio, who is the founder of Bridgewater Associates, attributes a big part of his success to meditation.
5 Ways Meditation Helps with Productivity
Before I get to my own meditation routine that takes just 8 minutes of my time daily, let me first go over in general how meditation can give you a huge leg up in your career and business, backed by studies.
1. Improves Your Attention Span
There are tons of factors that improve productivity, but one that plays a very important role is the ability to focus. Being attentive enough to complete the task at hand means you’ll finish your work with higher accuracy and better efficiency.
According to Pubmed, several studies have shown the efficacy of meditation in reversing parts of the brain that cause mind wandering and the inability to concentrate. Russell Simmons, the CEO of Rush Communications, says that meditation is one of the things that has helped him focus the most.
2. Increases Neuroplasticity
For a long time, scientists believed that brain development only happened during childhood and then ceased. But recent discovery regarding the neuroplastic nature of the brain concludes that our brains actually continue to change and adapt through experiences. In other words, the brain is continually reorganizing itself by creating new neurons and new connections.
Meditation is one practice capable of changing your brain’s structure and functions. In fact, Harvard Researchers at MGH have shown that meditation increases grey matter volume in your brain. What this means is that it causes more neurons to accumulate in one space.
Another theory that explains how meditation boosts neuroplasticity is that it increases cerebral blood flow (CBF). By placing you in a state of relaxation, blood is able to flow more freely leading to better oxygenation and nourishment in your brain. With increased neuroplasticity, your ability to acquire new skills and positive habits increase.
3. Sharpens Your Memory
A major benefit of mediation is that it boosts one’s working memory capacity. The working memory determines how much information the central nervous system can hold and process at any time. It’s like the Random Access Memory in a computer.
A study was done to investigate the effect of active meditation on individuals’ working memory capacities. Researchers had the participants take part in a 45-minute meditation exercise twice per week. After a couple of weeks, they recorded the results and discovered that the respondents’ working memory capacities had increased by more than 30%. Put simply; they could hold and process 30% more information than the average person.
The study proved that meditating increases the working memory capacity. With a larger working memory, you can take on more sophisticated tasks and handle them efficiently.
4. Improves Cognitive Thinking
As you age, your cognitive functioning deteriorates gradually. The resulting deficit weakens your ability to reason, remember and process information. All these are factors that can make you less productive at work and in other areas of your life. Good news is, practising meditation and mindfulness can help with that.
To examine the impact of meditation on cognitive function, researchers from the University of California at Santa Barbara conducted a study. They asked 48 undergraduate students to attend one of two classes: a nutrition class or a mindfulness class. The result? Those who attended the mindfulness class saw marked improvements in their exams afterwards, while the nutrition group saw no statistically significant improvements.
One factor that can explain this outcome is that meditation improves the balance of the left and right sides of the brain. Synchronizing both brain hemispheres allows for greater processing power and neural communication.
5. Reduces Stress
Stress is something that people experience on a daily basis, and more so at work. According to the American Institute of Stress, work-induced stress is the most common form of stress. Based on a recent survey they did, at least 80% of Americans experienced stress at work, hampering productivity and leading to mistakes.
Thankfully, having a meditation practice as part of your routine can lower stress and make you more productive. It goes beyond just stress reduction, however. According to the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, meditation has been shown to reduce the symptoms of social anxiety, paranoid thoughts, obsessive-compulsive behaviors and panic attacks.
How 8 Minutes of Meditation Daily Has Changed My Life
My personal journey with meditation has been nothing short of life changing. What if I told you there was a productivity hack that only required 8 minutes of your day, and as a consequence, will double your attention span, mental stamina, and ability to function under stress? What if I told you, thanks to just 8 minutes a day, a once self diagnosed ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) sufferer now frequently loses track of time as he ticks off one item after the next on his daily to-do lists? Yes, that’s what meditation has done for me, and I believe it can do that for anyone.
The meditation routine I follow is based on the best selling book “8 Minute Meditation” by Victor Davich. As a meditation guru, Victor sought out to devise a meditation program that fits in with the ultra busy lifestyles of Westerners while still delivering the main benefits the practice at its fullest provides.
Here is the gist of the “8 minute meditation” that I practice every day right before I go to bed:
- Set a timer for 8 minutes.
- Find a comfortable sitting pose. This could be in a cozy meditation chair or sitting with your legs crossed on a yoga mat
- Close your eyes slowly as if you were planning to sleep. Avoid squeezing them or shutting them involuntarily.
- Next, start taking slow, deep breaths.
- With every inhale, envision that you are breathing in light. Follow the light as it enters your body.
- With every exhale, imagine breathing out all the tension and negativity that you have been harbouring. Relax every muscle from those on your face, chest, back, legs all the way to the tips of your toes.
- As you breathe in and out, your mind will most likely start to wonder. Do not get upset. Just slowly bring your awareness back to your breathing. Imagine catching a fish and just letting it go.
- Continue this until the timer goes off. Then, slowly open your eyes again..
A big part of the magic happens in meditation when you do it consistently. For me, with every day of practice, my ability to stay focused on my breathing and stay present increased during those critical 8 minutes. And as my ability to do those seemingly simple things improved, that’s when I started to notice all the tangible benefits of meditation I mentioned earlier.
Meditation is not a new concept. And it doesn’t require you to invest anything that you don’t already have. This is one of the greatest benefits of meditating; it doesn’t require any special equipment or registration for training. Essentially, you have nothing to lose but so much to gain. To me, meditation dare i say is the greatest productivity hack of all time.
5 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Hitting Rock Bottom
At one time, the term rock bottom was completely foreign to me. I can remember feeling really bad for anyone who claimed to have ‘hit rock bottom.’ What devastation they must feel. Their whole world must have just collapsed. How will they go on? I was soon to find out.
My journey to rock bottom
I’m not gonna say I had it all but for the most part, my world was pretty good. It wasn’t perfect and I’ll admit, I was sailing through on a song and a prayer. I lived in a nice house in a posh neighbourhood with my partner and in 2010 I purchased my first business, a hair salon.
I belonged to an amazing networking group of successful women. I was well respected in the community and had lots of friends. You could say my life was pretty good. However, this didn’t last for long.
Three years after the purchase of the salon I closed the doors and declared bankruptcy. Six months after bankruptcy, I walked out of my abusive relationship with nothing to my name.
I was a shell of a person. I had nothing and in my eyes, I was a complete and utter failure. At 52 years old, my whole world came crashing down on me and I for the first time in my life, was absolutely terrified.
I walked around in a daze for months. I was completely empty inside, both emotionally and mentally. I had no desire to rebuild my life. There was little life left in me to work on. I secured my old job at the salon I was at prior to my business purchase. Every day I had to face people who I’m sure were disappointed in me and most likely laughing at me behind my back.
I was a loser. They knew it and so did I. When you hit rock bottom, any and all self respect and self confidence you ever had goes right out the window. You’re constantly embarrassed and feel worthless all the time. However, one day something snaps when you look in the mirror and can’t stand to look at the person looking back at you. This is without a shadow of a doubt the moment some confidence and hope arises to change.
I looked in the mirror one day and I didn’t recognize the person staring back. She was sad, empty, blank and lifeless. This wasn’t Iva and I so desperately wanted her back. I missed the optimistic, bubbly and outgoing girl that used to stare back at me in the mirror. And I was determined to get her back.
I had reached a point where I was tired of crying and feeling sorry for myself. I was tired of telling myself I was a loser and a failure and that I would never amount to anything. But I was mostly tired of just existing with no purpose or passion.
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” – J.K. Rowling
I started devouring self help books and reading any and all blogs I could on how to get your life back on track and how to find self love and self worth again. I read inspirational quotes and listened to motivational YouTube videos day in and day out. I journaled and cried and prayed and meditated. All the things I have never done in my life, I was doing daily without fail.
Slowly, Iva was emerging but she was so much different this time around. She had hope, faith and determination and nothing was going to stop her or stand in her way of rebuilding her life. My journey out of rock bottom took almost a full year to complete but in that time, I learned so much about myself, people and life.
Here are the 5 life lessons I learned from hitting rock bottom:
1. Failure isn’t real
There’s no such thing as failure. I’m not even sure why this word exists. You had an idea or a plan, tried it, and it didn’t work. You learn lessons from this and you move on. Always remember one very important thing: you tried. Most people don’t even bother. Believe in yourself.
2. You’re not stuck anywhere
If something isn’t working or isn’t good for you, leave it. I was terrified to leave my abusive relationship because I knew it meant I would lose everything. And I did. When I finally took the plunge and left, everything in my life changed for the better. Have faith!
3. Change is fun and scary, but do it anyway
Although change is terrifying, it’s necessary. We don’t grow in our comfort zone or in our misery. Sometimes you have to do things that will scare the daylights out of you..do them anyway. This is where you learn and grow. You meet people and you experience things you never would have if you stayed in your comfort zone. Take the leap.
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill
4. Everything is temporary
The good and the bad. Nothing is forever. No matter how horrible your situation is, it won’t last. It will eventually go away or maybe even turn out great! Embrace all the good life has to offer you and learn the lessons the bad will give you. Have patience.
I was determined to change my life any way I had to. I did whatever I had to do to turn my life around. Was it easy? No. Is it impossible? No. I knew I had the power to change and it was up to me, and only me, to do that. No one could do it for me.
No matter where you are in your life right now, if things aren’t working out the way you expected, don’t worry. Things will always get better if you try to make them better. You can do anything you want. All you have to do is find the power that’s in you and unleash it.
Have you ever hit rock bottom? What advice do you have for someone who’s there? Share your ideas and advice below!
9 Personal Growth Lessons I Learned From Being Bullied
Wherever I went, bullying seemed to follow me. Whether it was school, work or even family, I could never seem to find any kind of escape. For years, I was stuck in the victim mindset, constantly asking myself what I did to deserve this kind of behaviour towards me. I decided to turn my struggle into a personal growth strategy to help others who might be silently struggling with what I did.
Here are some of the key personal growth lessons I learnt from my harrowing experiences:
1. Be the victim
Be the victim but put an early as possible expiration date on this. Realise that it is okay to feel sorry for yourself; it is okay to validate yourself by reinforcing the fact that you didn’t deserve what happened to you. This will help you give yourself the compassion that you need in that moment. Recognition of the hurt and validation are the first steps towards starting the healing process, but the key is not to hang around there for too long otherwise you will be stuck with a victim mentality.
This is a question that is often asked – why did this happen to me? Were the stars misaligned or is this karma for sneaking the last doughnut from the party? Rather than getting bogged down analysing why you went through the harrowing experience, focus on what you learnt from the experience. Sometimes, it can be something as simple as finding your voice and setting boundaries. Every difficult situation offers an opportunity to learn.
3. Focus on the lesson, not on the pain
Whenever faced with a tough situation, ask yourself, “What am I learning from this?” Often, when drowning in dire circumstances, we cannot see light and we fear that any light might be an oncoming train. The best way to deal with this fear and overwhelm is to refocus your thoughts. Oftentimes, the lesson falls under one of the following categories: perseverance, patience, consistency and my personal favourite – staying true to who you are.
4. Control the controllable
Within every difficult situation, there are always factors you can control: your responses, your disposition and your actions. Using what you can control, redirect your energy on what you CAN do instead of what you can’t do. Sometimes, what you can do is simply getting through your day and giving everything you can. This helps in building self-confidence and self-esteem.
“Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.” – Steve Maraboli
5. You do you
It is a normal human desire to be liked by those around us. Avoid trying to change who you are based on what others say about you. It is very tempting to do this because we all want to feel accepted and want to feel that we belong. The more you do you, the more you will attract people who love you for the “real” you.
6. It is not about you
When people criticize you incessantly, recognise that they are battling their own demons and they are easily triggered. You are not the real reason for their hurtful behaviour, they are filled with fear, anger and hurt which they vent out to others. You can only give what you have and if fear, anger and hurt is all you have, it is the only place from which you will function.
7. You have the power to choose
It is easy to forget that we always have the power of our choices and decisions, while our circumstances may be overwhelming, we can still make wise choices so as not to become victims of our circumstances. We should never forget this power as this is what keeps us afloat and breathing when caught in a flood of difficulties.
8. Revenge is not the answer
While it is perfectly normal and human to wish revenge on those who have hurt us, it is crucial to note that what we wish upon others, mirrors back to us. Wishing your culprits to battle incessant sneezing while stuck in traffic controlling explosive diarrhea might give a moment of satisfaction, but is this something you are willing to risk mirroring back to you? I certainly am not. Put quite simply – negativity breeds negativity while positivity breeds positivity. Remember, you have the power to choose.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer
Don’t gasp so loudly. Yes, forgive those who have hurt you. Why? It definitely doesn’t absolve them of the hurt they caused you, but it releases you from the chains of negativity that are binding and rooting you in place preventing you from moving on. How do you forgive? Ask whatever higher power you believe in to filter those who have hurt you out of your life, sending them blessings and healing wherever they may need it in their lives while also blessing over positive outcomes for all of you.
I have used this technique personally and I swear by it. Sending blessings and healing while asking for positive outcomes, results in all these wonderful things happening to you as well. Giving what you have mirrors back to you. You have the power to forgive, let go and move on. This is a choice that you also happen to have the power to choose.
The next time you feel stuck and overwhelmed by your circumstances, revisit these personal growth lessons and apply them to your unique situation. You will be glad that you did.
6 Reasons Why You Should Never Glorify Failure After You’ve Failed
Many people are ashamed of failure. If they so much as smell a whiff of failure, they quit instantly because the public notices it quickly. But you shouldn’t be ashamed of failure. A lot of people have failed. I’ve failed over and over again in my career, business, relationships and more. Yet, I keep trying because failure isn’t the final verdict. (more…)
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