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6 Steps To Tap Into Your ‘Flow’

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tap into your flow to be happy and successful

Have you ever been so focused and engaged in a task that it feels like an out of body experience? You’ve got the midas touch- everything you do is done with ease, you completely lose track of time, no such thing as hunger or weariness, your ego just disappears from consciousness.

It’s called ‘flow.’

Athletes break records when they are in flow, musicians write hit songs because of flow, entrepreneurs seal deals when possessed by flow.

When it comes to understanding this incredible state that is available to all humans, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the expert credited with identifying this incredible peak experience he refers to as flow. Your nervous system is only capable of processing about 110 bits of information per second, having a conversation with one person takes about 60 bits per second- the reason you struggle to listen to two people at the same time. When you enter into a state of flow however, every bit of your processing power is directed to the task. You become blissfully possessed by the work that you are doing.

Everything else disappears.

The key to human happiness and success, according to Mihaly, is the ability to tap into your state of flow.

 

Here are the 6 steps to tap into your flow:

 

1. Set the stage

Whatever task or work you are engaged in, create the optimum environment for flow to happen with an organised and tidy area free from ANY distractions. Some of the world’s greatest writers have a special room or space where they will only engage in writing- that becomes the place they enter into their flow state.

Where is your flow space? It could be in your attic, basement, or the quiet corner of your favourite coffee shop.

 

2. Intrinsic Motivation

Flow happens when what you are doing becomes worth it for its own sake. You need to value and enjoy your work ultimately and above anyone else; regardless of how others may profit or be affected from what you do.

Here is a great flow question: if you never received any recognition for what you’re doing, would you still love doing it?

 

3. A Trigger

This is where physiology meets psychology; a physical trigger to set off an emotional peak state. Tony Robbins is known for jumping up and down on an exercise trampoline and clapping his hands before walking out to a conference. A great technique is to squeeze your middle finger and thumb together and then think of an ecstatic flow experience in the past- a previous victory, accomplishment, or pinch-yourself moment. Then release and bring your mind back to an everyday mundane experience. Practicing stepping in and out of a heightened state.

From now on, every time you squeeze your fingers together your mind will immediate be taken to a flow experience.

 

4. No Destination

Once you have your mind primed and in flow, engage in the task at hand. A crucial key for being in flow is to cast away any expectations. Flow cannot be put into a box. Don’t cut flow off by only getting a certain amount of work done, and don’t try and force flow by continuing to engage when the state is over.

 

5. Too Deep, Too Shallow

Flow is the perfect balance between skill and challenge. If your skill level is too high for the task, then you don’t have enough of a challenge to be in flow. You fall into a state of “comfort.”  On the other hand, if the challenge is too high, you go into a state of “arousal.” This leads to frustration because you don’t have the skill to accomplish your task.

Whatever work you engage in, make sure that you are not over-qualified, nor under-qualified. The challenge should be just a little beyond your skill- to stretch you, but not break you!

 

6. Time-Out

The stages of getting into flow can be broken down into: Struggle – Relaxation – Flow – Consolidation. The final stage of consolidation is crucial for your brain to absorb and remember the new skills it was able to learn. The temptation will always be to chase after that next flow state. But you need to take a break and let your nervous system recover from the immersed experience.

Lastly, flow states must be incorporated in a holistic manner. You do not want to become dependant on a flow state to function regularly. Flow addiction can be very detrimental. This is what turns a person into an unhealthy workaholic- continually chasing the flow experience. Be engaged in a number of different creative tasks. This will allow you to enjoy the flow state without becoming dependant upon a single one that dominates your life.

 

The perfect moment picture quote

A refugee from Vietnam, raised in Australia, with a BA from Texas, Thai writes for many publications including The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, and Addicted2Success. A professional chef, international kickboxer, and spiritual teacher, Thai is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves. Signup for his free weekly Infographics at TheUtopianLife.com | Connect @ThaiWins | On Facebook 

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Marsha

    Jun 20, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    I like some of these strategies and will practice them. Thanks!

  2. Sid

    Mar 30, 2014 at 3:02 am

    One of the biggest problems in life was not living in the moment. I always had thought of what I’d do later.. Whether it came to a definite goal or pursuing a desire.. But when the time came to execute i never did.. Instead I rationalized that I’d do it later by making another plan.. I dint realise i wasn’t living in the moment! This opened my eyes

    • Thai Nguyen

      Apr 10, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      Very true Sid. Flow is much being being immersed in the moment. All the best to you.

  3. Thai Nguyen

    Mar 27, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Thanks Joel, I’ll have to check out Pirsig’s work- thanks for the referral. Definitely, as writers, being in flow is crucial!! All the best to you mate.

  4. Joel

    Mar 19, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Great post Thai. Much of what you’re saying resonates with Pirsig’s idea of the pursuit of quality in ‘Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance’, a fantastic book. As a writer, I find entering this mental state helps enormously with productivity, and most of all, creativity. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  5. Thai Nguyen

    Mar 16, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Thanks Hristiqn,

    There really isn’t much that can stand in the way of passion, absolutely agree. Wishing you all the best mate.

  6. Thai Nguyen

    Mar 16, 2014 at 7:06 am

    There is definitely a mix of early birds and night owls when it comes to flow! Part of the fun is figuring it out.

  7. Jeremy

    Mar 14, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    I think I tend to get this flow late into the night… I can work from midnight until 8 in the morning and I’ll be very pumped up and inspired while at work. Unfortunately it’s good for my health I think.

  8. Thai Nguyen

    Mar 14, 2014 at 6:12 am

    Hi Naomi,

    Definitely some interesting debates going on about multi-tasking. You are right that there comes a point when it does get out of control. We all need that reminder reassess and refocus.

    All the best,

    Thai.

  9. Naomi@business start ups

    Mar 12, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Hi Thai,

    I’m a multi-tasking queen. I’ve spend my life juggling several tasks at once and persistently attempted to achieve the art of NOT just getting many tasks done at once – But getting them done well.

    As my task list grows I’m starting to realize sometimes I need to be in the moment and submerged within one single activity. Your post is a great reminder for me.

    Thanks, Naomi

  10. JALAL KHAN

    Mar 12, 2014 at 2:56 am

    I learn everyday something new, which are worth implementing in the work place. Keep this good work going. Any time you are coming to Chicago side,please do inform us.

    • Thai Nguyen

      Mar 12, 2014 at 4:53 am

      Learning something new everyday is a great habit! Thanks Jalal!

  11. Emily Filloramo

    Mar 11, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Thai,

    Great reminders about the points of this groundbreaking book.

    I have find flow an “easier” state to get into since I have found my life’s calling. When I finally realized what the Universe has put me on this earth for, then it’s an obligation to do what I need to do to make a difference. This motivation helps me to tackle the challenging things I need to do to take my life to the next level.

    • Thai Nguyen

      Mar 12, 2014 at 4:52 am

      Well said Emily. I think it is very much a two-way street- finding your flow can help you understand your calling, and knowing your life’s calling makes it easier to find your flow. Wishing you all the best!

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

Success Advice

Stop Denying Your Negative Thoughts and Start Embracing Them

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Over the years, many of the talking heads and pundits in the personal development and success science industry have talked about the immediate replacement of negative thoughts with positive thoughts. The logic behind that particular behavioral strategy seems to make sense on the surface. Think about it, when a negative thought rears its ugly head, we should immediately dive into the repository of positive thoughts that we have available to us so that we could immediately begin to dwell on it.

Even further, some gurus of the genre suggest removing any chance of having a negative thought by the constant repetition of affirmations. Again, tried-and-true motivational technology that is very workable and still useful. I would suggest, however, that you view the above behaviors as tactics more than strategies.

I will further suggest to you that you do not abhor your negative thoughts but rather embrace them, examine them, and place them under a spotlight. My reasoning behind this goes back over 100 years into psychology with stimulus/response, that is, the cause and effect of certain behaviors. Many individuals look at a negative thought as a causative driver. The negative thought exists as a cause, and our behavior toward that cause will determine the effect.

So, following this logic, if an individual has a negative thought which makes them feel sad, and that sadness causes them to binge drink, by removing the negative thought you’ll have removed the motivation for binge drinking. Doesn’t that sound kind of silly? The suggestion here is to turn off the negative thought so that it will turn off the consumption of alcohol.

Of course, this makes sense if we view the negative thought as a primal force in behavior. So, what if we started to think of the negative thought more as the result of something else? It means that the “something else” must change first. What if we took a different approach? What if we looked at a negative thought as an effect of some larger causal factor?

“You’re going to go through tough times – that’s life. But I say, ‘Nothing happens to you, it happens for you.’ See the positive in negative events.” – Joel Osteen

By reversing the cause-and-effect motion of negative thinking (saying that the negative thought is an effect), we now can ask a deeper, more penetrative question: Why are we thinking that negative thought? What is the underlying cause of that specific train of thinking? By reversing the cause-and-effect relationship of negative thinking, it allows the negative thinker to assume the role of diagnostician!

Below is a three-step process you can use to examine your negative thoughts, the role of it in your life, and how you can get rid of them:

1. Simply acknowledge the negative thought

Recognize the fact that there’s a negative thought in your mind instead of trying to go through a process of emotionally overlaying positive thoughts on top of it. Can you see how this exacerbates the issue? You have a negative thought, you immediately recognize that it must be changed, and you frantically scurry through the museum of your mind to find a positive thought to replace it.

In the meantime, while you are trying to find that positive thought, you’re feeling anxious, nervous, and guilty! When you finally find a positive thought to replace that negative thought, the normal process is to squash it. But you can’t! It’s like trying to get rid of weeds by covering them with rocks.

They will always find another way around the rock. It is the same with negative thoughts. Consequently, try acknowledging the negative thought.

2. Affirm the negative thought

It is a part of you. Instead of denying its existence, accept that it is there in front of you and that you are now willing to deal with it. If any of you reading this are dog lovers, you will know that the best way to get a dog next to you is by attempting to push it away from you. Every time you push the dog away it gets closer. This is the same with negative thinking because the harder you push the closer it gets.

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” – Michael Jordan

3. Acquit the thought

Give it permission to leave you. Thank it for its past importance in your life and allow it to be on its way! At this point feel free to replace the negative thought with a positive thought. What will begin to happen when you place the negative thought under the spotlight is that you will see how insignificantly small it actually is.

This is a process I’ve been using for quite some time, and it works! Oh sure, I still use affirmations on a daily basis; as a matter fact I have them right here in front of me. I find that affirmations are a tremendous way to stay positive because it doesn’t allow any room for bad things to grow. But since the average person thinks 60,000 to 65,000 thoughts per day, let’s face it, a few negative thoughts have to squeak in there!

The best advice that I can give is to not freak out over a negative thought. Acknowledge it, affirm it, and acquit it! This is magic. Watch what happens!

How do you handle negative thoughts? Let us know your tips below!

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Success Advice

One Thing I Can Teach You About Life That Will Help You Forever.

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I used to be a very anxious person.

I was embarrassed by what I couldn’t do and every day was a struggle. From the moment I would wake up to the moment I’d go to bed, everything felt impossibly overwhelming. It’s a battle I’ve dealt with most of my life.

This daily struggle with mental illness taught me that the satisfaction didn’t lie in beating it; the satisfaction was in helping other people beat mental illness through my success in fighting it.


Recently, I was at work. It was a pretty standard day — nothing too exciting. I then had a catch up with one of the leaders I worked with.

She said something that got my attention: “One of our colleagues is battling a mental illness.”

I really wanted to help. My eyes lit up. There was no need to uncover my plan with anyone else. I knew that staying discrete was fundamental.

I approached the person in question and asked for a few minutes of their time.

I didn’t ask them to admit their mental illness struggle; I just shared my story.

I talked about the anxiety stopping me from having a normal life, eating the right foods, going on dates with girls, having the career I wanted and traveling the world.

I wasn’t sure if any of it was sinking in or even helping. I felt compelled to go on. One thing I knew was that he was paying attention. I could see it in his eyes.

I then went on to talk about how I beat mental illness. Strategies such as:

  • Creating fear lists
  • Seeking professional help
  • Working on myself
  • Books I read
  • Events I attended

Out of nowhere, he started opening up about his own struggle. I was shocked.
It wasn’t pretty. He had an extreme case of mental illness that I certainly couldn’t diagnose or give professional advice on.

All I could do was show him through my own story that there was hope

I offered him access to all the resources I had. I told him that he had my full support and I’d be happy to help in any way I could. He then said:

“What was your psychologist’s name?”

I told him I’d look it up and send it to him. I didn’t have the answer in front of me, but I was determined when I got home to find it.

At the end of the catch-up, he smiled. I don’t think he’d smiled like that in a very long time.

That smile gave me so much satisfaction. It made my own struggle with mental illness worth it. All those sleepless nights, times spent vomiting into the toilet and dark days where I didn’t want to go on made sense.


“It took more than seven years for me to understand that my own battle with mental illness actually had a benefit”

That benefit was the satisfaction in seeing someone beat their mental illness because I was able to defeat mine.

It’s probably the greatest satisfaction of my entire life.

That’s one thing I can teach you about life that will help you forever.

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Success Advice

5 Productivity Shifts You Need to Make to Make 2019 Your Best Year Yet

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Everyone wants more time, that is something almost all of us share. Time is the most valuable resource and when you learn how to make your time work for you and how to get the most out of it – you experience life differently.  

Improving how you manage your time is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself – it’s a real game changer in your business and personal life. There are many ways that you can get more productive and get the right things done sooner; but not all of them are obvious or bring the same results.

Here are 5 productivity shifts you want to make if you are trying to make the most out of 2019:

1. Ditch your to do list

Productive people don’t keep to-do lists, they schedule everything they need to do in their calendar and work directly from their calendar!  To-Do lists are just ineffective and they are impeding your productivity. A never ending list of items only leaves you overwhelmed and with a false sense of ‘productivity’.  

If you schedule your To Do’s directly into your calendar at a time to get them done, you commit to it and you are more likely to get it done. Less is more – you don’t need a separate list to remind you what you need to do.

“Productivity is less about what you do with your time and more about how you run your mind.” – Robin Sharma

2. Give up on motivation

Productive people don’t always have to be motivated before starting something. They balance discipline with motivation and do what they need to do, regardless of motivation. When we come up with resistance to take action on what we have planned, we might tell ourselves that we are not motivated and we believe that we need to be motivated to complete any task.

If you want to increase your productivity, you need to challenge yourself more in the moment to take action and give up on motivation sometimes. Do what you need to in order to get the results you want in the future. Don’t make decisions based on how you feel now, make them based on what result you are really after.

3. Master your mornings

Wake up early and get yourself into the productive mindset with your routine and diet! Productive people start the day with some sort of routine, whether it’s meditation, exercise or visualization, etc. AND they have a healthy breakfast to fuel them for the day. Your health is everything when it comes to productivity, what you eat directly affects your productivity.

We can just no longer ignore the direct connection any more. Get in the right mindset to start your day and fuel your mind and body to get the most out of it. Starting your day off in any other way undermines your success – there is no doubt.

4. Schedule according to energy

Productive people know their energy cycles and they plan tasks around their energy levels. Why plan something at a time when you know it will be hard to rise to the challenge? Schedule tasks that require focus and concentration for those times of day that you feel the best and you will find it’s easier to follow through and you will be at your best to perform. Identify your filler tasks and complete those when your energy drops. Be more realistic when scheduling your tasks and set yourself up for wins.

“Productivity is never an accident it’s the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning & focused effort.” – Paul Meyer

5. Working backwards

Productive people always focus on those activities that will take them to the next level. They plan backwards, they look at their goals, then identify the tasks they need to do to support those goals. Those tasks get broken down into weekly actions. That’s how they plan.

Don’t only plan on tasks that come in or those which you ‘feel’ or ‘think’ you should be doing. Your day needs to consist of at least one activity that directly supports your longer term objectives, your big project. What sounds like common sense is definitely not common practice.

Create the right habits to achieve your goals, work on adopting easy tips and techniques so you can manage your time and yourself better to get things done.

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Success Advice

You Need to Grow Your Memory in Order to Grow Your Life

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We all have access to the most powerful computer ever created in the universe…our brain. Unfortunately, few of us have ever been taught how to use our minds efficiently, and even fewer have learned how to develop a fabulous memory. Thankfully, like any skill, memorising can be learned and using the correct strategies, your memory can be improved in only days.

One of the best coaches on memory is Dominic O’Brien the eight-time world memory champion. Self-taught after watching Creighton Carvello memorise a pack of cards on the BBC’s Record Breakers programme. Dominic, through his work on memory, has given us many tools and techniques for improving memory.

Below are 5 rules that will help you develop a better memory:

1. The Rule of Five

Probably seen as one of the most significant contributions to the body of knowledge on memory is O’Brien’s Rule of Five. This rule details how to remember things using a strategy of regular staged repetition.

These stages are as follows:

  • First Review:Immediately
  • Second Review:Twenty-four hours later
  • Third Review:One week later
  • Fourth Review:One month later
  • Fifth Review:Three months later

Utilising stage repetition at these intervals ingrains the memory for the long term.

2. The Dominic System

The Dominic System is a system for remembering numbers. The system is a Person Action system where the association between two sets of paired numbers is the person with the action of the next person.

1139 would become Andre Agassi doing a roundhouse kick which is the action of Chuck Norris. This system combined with the journey method allows for long random numbers to be easily recalled without error. The fantastic thing about this system is that you get to customise for yourself with memorable people and unique actions which when combined really make it easy for you to recall numbers. The table below associates each number to a letter.

Number     0     1    2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9
Letter     O     A     B     C     D    E     S     G     H     N

Creating a simple document with pairs of numbers in one column, the letter pairs in the next and an action column will help you learn this system quickly.

“Nothing can substitute for just plain hard work. I had to put in the time to get back. And it was a grind. It meant training and sweating every day. But I was completely committed to working out to prove to myself that I still could do it.” – Andre Agassi

3. The Link Method

This method relies on two essential elements of memory, association and exaggeration. Utilising these two elements, it is possible to link together unrelated objects to allow you to remember them.

Trying to remember a list of five separate words such as: balloon, papaya, gold, football and hat, might go something like this. You imagine seeing a giant balloon and inside the balloon you can see a small papaya, in bursting the balloon the papaya falls out and as it hits the floor a gold football bounces into a large sombrero.

4. The Journey Method

Using location has been a fundamental part of mnemonics almost since time began. Before humans, writing elders would pass knowledge to others using stories of journeys, with each piece of knowledge being associated with a location on the journey.

O’Brien’s system utilises journeys that you would undertake on a daily basis, like your commute to work or train stations on well-known line. Items are then associated and exaggerated along the journey, so for instance if you were trying to remember a list of ten random things you would associate each piece along with a unique ten stop journey and utilise exaggeration to make the items more memorable.

“You are well equipped with an incredible potential for absorbing knowledge…Anything’s possible.” – Dominic O’Brien

5. The Story Method

To remember groups of information, create a story that links them together. Remembering the planets of the solar system and their position relative to the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Imagine that Mercury was hitting the nineties as Venus tossed the tennis ball into the air, striking the ball it soared over the net striking the earth and bouncing high into the air, knocking the mars bar out of Jupiter’s hand, and so on.

Developing a good memory will assist markedly in all of your personal development goals as well as assisting greatly in your daily life. The methods above are tried and tested by one of the leading memory champions. Whether you want to become the next World Memory Champion or just improve your recall, the techniques outlined above will assist greatly.

Combining the various elements will create an exponential improvement in your memory that you will find hard to believe, and you will be kicking yourself for not applying them sooner. The best part about using these methods is that they are fun, so enjoy using them.

Which one of these memorizing methods sounds most interesting to you? Share with us below!

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10 Small Startups That You Can Build on Your Own Right Now

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Having a business of our own is a dream that is very obvious and common all throughout. With the rise in startups and funding options, the market is blooming with successful entrepreneurs. And rightly so! But many ambitious people are seen dropping out of their dream of building a business only because of the funds involved in setting up one! We forget to acknowledge that the idea if planned and executed well, is strong enough to pull in all the investments. (more…)

Bronte Price is Australia’s First Certified Gay Wedding Celebrant. He stands strongly for marriage equality and takes immense pleasure in marrying any couples in love. He has also co-founded The Equality Network to help wedding suppliers create a better wedding experience for LGBTI couples. He is a regular volunteer newsreader at Joy 94.9, and a member of GLOBE (Gay and Lesbian Organization for Business and Enterprise). Beyond this you will find him either in his organic backyard vegetable garden or taking walks with his fiancée Clint and their four legged fur baby – Bingo.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Marsha

    Jun 20, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    I like some of these strategies and will practice them. Thanks!

  2. Sid

    Mar 30, 2014 at 3:02 am

    One of the biggest problems in life was not living in the moment. I always had thought of what I’d do later.. Whether it came to a definite goal or pursuing a desire.. But when the time came to execute i never did.. Instead I rationalized that I’d do it later by making another plan.. I dint realise i wasn’t living in the moment! This opened my eyes

    • Thai Nguyen

      Apr 10, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      Very true Sid. Flow is much being being immersed in the moment. All the best to you.

  3. Thai Nguyen

    Mar 27, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Thanks Joel, I’ll have to check out Pirsig’s work- thanks for the referral. Definitely, as writers, being in flow is crucial!! All the best to you mate.

  4. Joel

    Mar 19, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Great post Thai. Much of what you’re saying resonates with Pirsig’s idea of the pursuit of quality in ‘Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance’, a fantastic book. As a writer, I find entering this mental state helps enormously with productivity, and most of all, creativity. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  5. Thai Nguyen

    Mar 16, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Thanks Hristiqn,

    There really isn’t much that can stand in the way of passion, absolutely agree. Wishing you all the best mate.

  6. Thai Nguyen

    Mar 16, 2014 at 7:06 am

    There is definitely a mix of early birds and night owls when it comes to flow! Part of the fun is figuring it out.

  7. Jeremy

    Mar 14, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    I think I tend to get this flow late into the night… I can work from midnight until 8 in the morning and I’ll be very pumped up and inspired while at work. Unfortunately it’s good for my health I think.

  8. Thai Nguyen

    Mar 14, 2014 at 6:12 am

    Hi Naomi,

    Definitely some interesting debates going on about multi-tasking. You are right that there comes a point when it does get out of control. We all need that reminder reassess and refocus.

    All the best,

    Thai.

  9. Naomi@business start ups

    Mar 12, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Hi Thai,

    I’m a multi-tasking queen. I’ve spend my life juggling several tasks at once and persistently attempted to achieve the art of NOT just getting many tasks done at once – But getting them done well.

    As my task list grows I’m starting to realize sometimes I need to be in the moment and submerged within one single activity. Your post is a great reminder for me.

    Thanks, Naomi

  10. JALAL KHAN

    Mar 12, 2014 at 2:56 am

    I learn everyday something new, which are worth implementing in the work place. Keep this good work going. Any time you are coming to Chicago side,please do inform us.

    • Thai Nguyen

      Mar 12, 2014 at 4:53 am

      Learning something new everyday is a great habit! Thanks Jalal!

  11. Emily Filloramo

    Mar 11, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Thai,

    Great reminders about the points of this groundbreaking book.

    I have find flow an “easier” state to get into since I have found my life’s calling. When I finally realized what the Universe has put me on this earth for, then it’s an obligation to do what I need to do to make a difference. This motivation helps me to tackle the challenging things I need to do to take my life to the next level.

    • Thai Nguyen

      Mar 12, 2014 at 4:52 am

      Well said Emily. I think it is very much a two-way street- finding your flow can help you understand your calling, and knowing your life’s calling makes it easier to find your flow. Wishing you all the best!

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Success Advice

Stop Denying Your Negative Thoughts and Start Embracing Them

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negative thoughts
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

Over the years, many of the talking heads and pundits in the personal development and success science industry have talked about the immediate replacement of negative thoughts with positive thoughts. The logic behind that particular behavioral strategy seems to make sense on the surface. Think about it, when a negative thought rears its ugly head, we should immediately dive into the repository of positive thoughts that we have available to us so that we could immediately begin to dwell on it.

Even further, some gurus of the genre suggest removing any chance of having a negative thought by the constant repetition of affirmations. Again, tried-and-true motivational technology that is very workable and still useful. I would suggest, however, that you view the above behaviors as tactics more than strategies.

I will further suggest to you that you do not abhor your negative thoughts but rather embrace them, examine them, and place them under a spotlight. My reasoning behind this goes back over 100 years into psychology with stimulus/response, that is, the cause and effect of certain behaviors. Many individuals look at a negative thought as a causative driver. The negative thought exists as a cause, and our behavior toward that cause will determine the effect.

So, following this logic, if an individual has a negative thought which makes them feel sad, and that sadness causes them to binge drink, by removing the negative thought you’ll have removed the motivation for binge drinking. Doesn’t that sound kind of silly? The suggestion here is to turn off the negative thought so that it will turn off the consumption of alcohol.

Of course, this makes sense if we view the negative thought as a primal force in behavior. So, what if we started to think of the negative thought more as the result of something else? It means that the “something else” must change first. What if we took a different approach? What if we looked at a negative thought as an effect of some larger causal factor?

“You’re going to go through tough times – that’s life. But I say, ‘Nothing happens to you, it happens for you.’ See the positive in negative events.” – Joel Osteen

By reversing the cause-and-effect motion of negative thinking (saying that the negative thought is an effect), we now can ask a deeper, more penetrative question: Why are we thinking that negative thought? What is the underlying cause of that specific train of thinking? By reversing the cause-and-effect relationship of negative thinking, it allows the negative thinker to assume the role of diagnostician!

Below is a three-step process you can use to examine your negative thoughts, the role of it in your life, and how you can get rid of them:

1. Simply acknowledge the negative thought

Recognize the fact that there’s a negative thought in your mind instead of trying to go through a process of emotionally overlaying positive thoughts on top of it. Can you see how this exacerbates the issue? You have a negative thought, you immediately recognize that it must be changed, and you frantically scurry through the museum of your mind to find a positive thought to replace it.

In the meantime, while you are trying to find that positive thought, you’re feeling anxious, nervous, and guilty! When you finally find a positive thought to replace that negative thought, the normal process is to squash it. But you can’t! It’s like trying to get rid of weeds by covering them with rocks.

They will always find another way around the rock. It is the same with negative thoughts. Consequently, try acknowledging the negative thought.

2. Affirm the negative thought

It is a part of you. Instead of denying its existence, accept that it is there in front of you and that you are now willing to deal with it. If any of you reading this are dog lovers, you will know that the best way to get a dog next to you is by attempting to push it away from you. Every time you push the dog away it gets closer. This is the same with negative thinking because the harder you push the closer it gets.

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” – Michael Jordan

3. Acquit the thought

Give it permission to leave you. Thank it for its past importance in your life and allow it to be on its way! At this point feel free to replace the negative thought with a positive thought. What will begin to happen when you place the negative thought under the spotlight is that you will see how insignificantly small it actually is.

This is a process I’ve been using for quite some time, and it works! Oh sure, I still use affirmations on a daily basis; as a matter fact I have them right here in front of me. I find that affirmations are a tremendous way to stay positive because it doesn’t allow any room for bad things to grow. But since the average person thinks 60,000 to 65,000 thoughts per day, let’s face it, a few negative thoughts have to squeak in there!

The best advice that I can give is to not freak out over a negative thought. Acknowledge it, affirm it, and acquit it! This is magic. Watch what happens!

How do you handle negative thoughts? Let us know your tips below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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One Thing I Can Teach You About Life That Will Help You Forever.

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I used to be a very anxious person.

I was embarrassed by what I couldn’t do and every day was a struggle. From the moment I would wake up to the moment I’d go to bed, everything felt impossibly overwhelming. It’s a battle I’ve dealt with most of my life.

This daily struggle with mental illness taught me that the satisfaction didn’t lie in beating it; the satisfaction was in helping other people beat mental illness through my success in fighting it.


Recently, I was at work. It was a pretty standard day — nothing too exciting. I then had a catch up with one of the leaders I worked with.

She said something that got my attention: “One of our colleagues is battling a mental illness.”

I really wanted to help. My eyes lit up. There was no need to uncover my plan with anyone else. I knew that staying discrete was fundamental.

I approached the person in question and asked for a few minutes of their time.

I didn’t ask them to admit their mental illness struggle; I just shared my story.

I talked about the anxiety stopping me from having a normal life, eating the right foods, going on dates with girls, having the career I wanted and traveling the world.

I wasn’t sure if any of it was sinking in or even helping. I felt compelled to go on. One thing I knew was that he was paying attention. I could see it in his eyes.

I then went on to talk about how I beat mental illness. Strategies such as:

  • Creating fear lists
  • Seeking professional help
  • Working on myself
  • Books I read
  • Events I attended

Out of nowhere, he started opening up about his own struggle. I was shocked.
It wasn’t pretty. He had an extreme case of mental illness that I certainly couldn’t diagnose or give professional advice on.

All I could do was show him through my own story that there was hope

I offered him access to all the resources I had. I told him that he had my full support and I’d be happy to help in any way I could. He then said:

“What was your psychologist’s name?”

I told him I’d look it up and send it to him. I didn’t have the answer in front of me, but I was determined when I got home to find it.

At the end of the catch-up, he smiled. I don’t think he’d smiled like that in a very long time.

That smile gave me so much satisfaction. It made my own struggle with mental illness worth it. All those sleepless nights, times spent vomiting into the toilet and dark days where I didn’t want to go on made sense.


“It took more than seven years for me to understand that my own battle with mental illness actually had a benefit”

That benefit was the satisfaction in seeing someone beat their mental illness because I was able to defeat mine.

It’s probably the greatest satisfaction of my entire life.

That’s one thing I can teach you about life that will help you forever.

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5 Productivity Shifts You Need to Make to Make 2019 Your Best Year Yet

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Everyone wants more time, that is something almost all of us share. Time is the most valuable resource and when you learn how to make your time work for you and how to get the most out of it – you experience life differently.  

Improving how you manage your time is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself – it’s a real game changer in your business and personal life. There are many ways that you can get more productive and get the right things done sooner; but not all of them are obvious or bring the same results.

Here are 5 productivity shifts you want to make if you are trying to make the most out of 2019:

1. Ditch your to do list

Productive people don’t keep to-do lists, they schedule everything they need to do in their calendar and work directly from their calendar!  To-Do lists are just ineffective and they are impeding your productivity. A never ending list of items only leaves you overwhelmed and with a false sense of ‘productivity’.  

If you schedule your To Do’s directly into your calendar at a time to get them done, you commit to it and you are more likely to get it done. Less is more – you don’t need a separate list to remind you what you need to do.

“Productivity is less about what you do with your time and more about how you run your mind.” – Robin Sharma

2. Give up on motivation

Productive people don’t always have to be motivated before starting something. They balance discipline with motivation and do what they need to do, regardless of motivation. When we come up with resistance to take action on what we have planned, we might tell ourselves that we are not motivated and we believe that we need to be motivated to complete any task.

If you want to increase your productivity, you need to challenge yourself more in the moment to take action and give up on motivation sometimes. Do what you need to in order to get the results you want in the future. Don’t make decisions based on how you feel now, make them based on what result you are really after.

3. Master your mornings

Wake up early and get yourself into the productive mindset with your routine and diet! Productive people start the day with some sort of routine, whether it’s meditation, exercise or visualization, etc. AND they have a healthy breakfast to fuel them for the day. Your health is everything when it comes to productivity, what you eat directly affects your productivity.

We can just no longer ignore the direct connection any more. Get in the right mindset to start your day and fuel your mind and body to get the most out of it. Starting your day off in any other way undermines your success – there is no doubt.

4. Schedule according to energy

Productive people know their energy cycles and they plan tasks around their energy levels. Why plan something at a time when you know it will be hard to rise to the challenge? Schedule tasks that require focus and concentration for those times of day that you feel the best and you will find it’s easier to follow through and you will be at your best to perform. Identify your filler tasks and complete those when your energy drops. Be more realistic when scheduling your tasks and set yourself up for wins.

“Productivity is never an accident it’s the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning & focused effort.” – Paul Meyer

5. Working backwards

Productive people always focus on those activities that will take them to the next level. They plan backwards, they look at their goals, then identify the tasks they need to do to support those goals. Those tasks get broken down into weekly actions. That’s how they plan.

Don’t only plan on tasks that come in or those which you ‘feel’ or ‘think’ you should be doing. Your day needs to consist of at least one activity that directly supports your longer term objectives, your big project. What sounds like common sense is definitely not common practice.

Create the right habits to achieve your goals, work on adopting easy tips and techniques so you can manage your time and yourself better to get things done.

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You Need to Grow Your Memory in Order to Grow Your Life

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We all have access to the most powerful computer ever created in the universe…our brain. Unfortunately, few of us have ever been taught how to use our minds efficiently, and even fewer have learned how to develop a fabulous memory. Thankfully, like any skill, memorising can be learned and using the correct strategies, your memory can be improved in only days.

One of the best coaches on memory is Dominic O’Brien the eight-time world memory champion. Self-taught after watching Creighton Carvello memorise a pack of cards on the BBC’s Record Breakers programme. Dominic, through his work on memory, has given us many tools and techniques for improving memory.

Below are 5 rules that will help you develop a better memory:

1. The Rule of Five

Probably seen as one of the most significant contributions to the body of knowledge on memory is O’Brien’s Rule of Five. This rule details how to remember things using a strategy of regular staged repetition.

These stages are as follows:

  • First Review:Immediately
  • Second Review:Twenty-four hours later
  • Third Review:One week later
  • Fourth Review:One month later
  • Fifth Review:Three months later

Utilising stage repetition at these intervals ingrains the memory for the long term.

2. The Dominic System

The Dominic System is a system for remembering numbers. The system is a Person Action system where the association between two sets of paired numbers is the person with the action of the next person.

1139 would become Andre Agassi doing a roundhouse kick which is the action of Chuck Norris. This system combined with the journey method allows for long random numbers to be easily recalled without error. The fantastic thing about this system is that you get to customise for yourself with memorable people and unique actions which when combined really make it easy for you to recall numbers. The table below associates each number to a letter.

Number     0     1    2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9
Letter     O     A     B     C     D    E     S     G     H     N

Creating a simple document with pairs of numbers in one column, the letter pairs in the next and an action column will help you learn this system quickly.

“Nothing can substitute for just plain hard work. I had to put in the time to get back. And it was a grind. It meant training and sweating every day. But I was completely committed to working out to prove to myself that I still could do it.” – Andre Agassi

3. The Link Method

This method relies on two essential elements of memory, association and exaggeration. Utilising these two elements, it is possible to link together unrelated objects to allow you to remember them.

Trying to remember a list of five separate words such as: balloon, papaya, gold, football and hat, might go something like this. You imagine seeing a giant balloon and inside the balloon you can see a small papaya, in bursting the balloon the papaya falls out and as it hits the floor a gold football bounces into a large sombrero.

4. The Journey Method

Using location has been a fundamental part of mnemonics almost since time began. Before humans, writing elders would pass knowledge to others using stories of journeys, with each piece of knowledge being associated with a location on the journey.

O’Brien’s system utilises journeys that you would undertake on a daily basis, like your commute to work or train stations on well-known line. Items are then associated and exaggerated along the journey, so for instance if you were trying to remember a list of ten random things you would associate each piece along with a unique ten stop journey and utilise exaggeration to make the items more memorable.

“You are well equipped with an incredible potential for absorbing knowledge…Anything’s possible.” – Dominic O’Brien

5. The Story Method

To remember groups of information, create a story that links them together. Remembering the planets of the solar system and their position relative to the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Imagine that Mercury was hitting the nineties as Venus tossed the tennis ball into the air, striking the ball it soared over the net striking the earth and bouncing high into the air, knocking the mars bar out of Jupiter’s hand, and so on.

Developing a good memory will assist markedly in all of your personal development goals as well as assisting greatly in your daily life. The methods above are tried and tested by one of the leading memory champions. Whether you want to become the next World Memory Champion or just improve your recall, the techniques outlined above will assist greatly.

Combining the various elements will create an exponential improvement in your memory that you will find hard to believe, and you will be kicking yourself for not applying them sooner. The best part about using these methods is that they are fun, so enjoy using them.

Which one of these memorizing methods sounds most interesting to you? Share with us below!

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