What is the relationship between exercise, learning, and neurogenesis?

When it comes to the the relationship between exercise, learning, and neurogenesis, there are three things that I’m aware of:

  1. Neuromuscular training and muscle recruitment. Your brain is responsible for everything that your body does that has a nerve ending. Nearly every move you make is controlled by your brain. Aerobic activity engages and requires coordination on a quick scale of large parts of your body. For running, for example, your brain is coordinating leg movements (upper leg, lower leg, feet), with core movements and stability, with arm movements, all while regulating your breathing and an increased heart rate. All of that activity triggers neurogenesis (creation of new nerve cells) in the hippocampus, one of the parts of your brain responsible for locomotion. It’s also in charge of memory and stress management.
  2. Oxygen and blood. Aerobic activity gets your heart pumping and your lungs breathing harder. This happens because aerobic activity increases your body’s immediate energy needs. Because of this, your heart circulates blood faster to get nutrients to your cells and your lungs pull in new oxygen (and get rid of spent CO2) to power the energy conversion process from sugar to ATP. This means that your brain also gets a heavy dose of increased blood flow and oxygen. When this happens your body recognizes a need for more bandwidth in the blood system and more capillaries will form over time. This happens all over your body, particularly in your muscles from aerobic activity, but it does happen in your brain as well allowing your brain to get more energy creating oxygen to all its cells easier.
  3. Hormones. Aerobic activity also causes your brain to release endorphins, which have a stress reduction effect. Chronic stress can cause neurological issues.

While it’s always best to remove the cause of the stress, exercising can help get your brain in a good gear to take care of the stresses of your life at the same time.

Author--Bart Loews

A Little Story

The businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.  The businessman complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while.

The businessman then asked why he didn't stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs. The businessman then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time? The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a full and busy life, señor."

The businessman scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor and eventually open your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But señor, how long will this all take?" To which the businessman replied, "15-20 years." "But what then, señor?" The businessman laughed and said, "That's the best part! When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich.  You would make millions." "Millions, señor? Then what?" The businessman said,  "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife,  stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, "Isn't that what I'm doing right now?"

-Author Unknown

What to Do When Fear is Holding You Back in Life: 6 Powerful Solutions

by HENRIK EDBERG

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fear.

It’s so easy to get stuck in it. To let it hold you back.

I have been there many times in my life.

The fear has, for example, held me back from:

  • Trying new things. It has held me back from trying something new for lunch or a new hobby because I feared I would have a bad experience or fail. And so I stuck to my usual routine and choices.
  • Asking someone out for a date. Because I didn’t want to risk being rejected or looking like a fool in eyes of other people.
  • Living my life like I deep down wanted to. The fear has held me in its grip and calmly explained to me that it would be best and most comfortable for me to stay where I am and to do nothing new. And many times I have sadly believed the fear and gotten myself stuck in a place where I honestly deep down didn’t want to be.

 

The fears we have are based in how we think about things. Destructive thought habits can create a lot of fear that is really unnecessary and damaging.

But there are also ways to handle these habits when they pop up and to – over time – replace them with healthier habits.

So today I’d like to share 6 destructive and fear-inducing thought habits and what to do instead of letting them roam free in your head.

1. You keep the fear foggy and undefined.

As long as your fear of doing something is foggy and undefined and just floating around in your head it will hold you back and often grow stronger with time.

What to do instead:

Ask yourself this question: what is the worst that could realistically happen?

And don’t just take a second or two to answer it.

Sit down with a pen and piece of paper. Take time to really think about it and to write out the realistic worst-case scenario.

This will:

  • Bring a lot of clarity to what you truly fear.
  • Defuse quite a bit of fuzzy fears or disaster scenarios that may have been bouncing around in your mind.
  • Help you to realize that you can often bounce back pretty quickly even if the worst-case scenario somehow becomes reality.

2. You keep the fear to yourself.

When you keep the fear to yourself then in my experience it can easily take charge of your imagination and build a horrific and paralyzing nightmare in your mind.

Just being alone with the fear makes it is easy to lose touch with reality.

What to do instead:

Writing it out as mentioned above can certainly help. Another step you can take is to share your fear with someone else.

By sharing and getting some level-headed input from a friend or family member that nightmare can often be quickly deflated and seen for what it really is.

And just talking about it to someone who truly listens will release a lot of your inner tensions.

3. You focus on aspects that will keep you stuck.

If you just focus on the negative things that could happen if you face your fear then it will be very hard to start moving forward.

What to do instead:

A change in perspective is needed.

You can get it by talking to your friend or family member and by exchanging ideas and experiences about what opportunities lie ahead if you move forward.

You do it by focusing on the positive and on why you want to move towards what you fear.

A few questions that have helped me to find the more constructive and positive perspective when I have faced a fear are:

  • What are the potential upsides that I want and can have by taking these actions?
  • What are the potential upsides in one year if I start moving on this path? And in five years?
  • And how will my life be in five years if I continue on the fearful path that I am on today?

Talk these questions over with someone. Or take out a piece of paper and write down the answers. Or do both.

4. You misinterpret the often little information you have.

It is easy to take very few experiences – maybe just one – and start seeing them as evidence of something permanent and frightening in your life.

What to do instead:

Question your fears and what they are based upon.

Again, sit down with that pen and a piece of paper. Think back to what evidence you have in your memories for a fear and a belief of yours.

Try to see the situation(s) that created your fear with fresh eyes today. Instead of the way you may usually see them.

Doing this helped me to for example reduce my fear of social rejection.

I looked back at a few situations from my past that formed and fueled that fear.

And I realized that:

  • Honestly, I may have just misinterpreted being rejected in some of those situations.
  • I often wasn’t rejected because it was something wrong with what I did but simply because we weren’t realistically a good match for each other. Or because the other person had a bad day or because he or she simply wanted to push me down to feel better about himself or herself in that moment.

This was an eye-opening experience and also helped me to understand that everything is not about me and what I do. And that our memories can often be pretty inaccurate and unhelpful if not reexamined later on.

And that our minds love to create patterns and conclusions based on very little evidence or few experiences.

5. You try to push the fear away.

When you try to deny a fear in your life, when you try to push it away or not think about it then it can often grow stronger.

What to do instead:

I have found in recent years that pushing the fear away can certainly work and help you to not be paralyzed from taking action. But I have also discovered that it can sometimes be more helpful to accept the fear.

To accept that it is there instead of for example trying to tell yourself to focus on the positive like a laser-beam.

That may sound a bit vague so here’s how I do it.

  • Breathe. Take a few breaths and focus only on the air going in and out to calm and center yourself a bit.
  • Tell yourself something like: “Yes, the fear is here. It simply is at this point in time.”
  • Take that feeling of fear in and just let it be there in your body and mind. It will be uncomfortable. But just for short while.

Because if you do then after a while – often just after a few minutes of discomfort in my experience – the fear starts to lose steam. It becomes a lot smaller or just seems to float away.

And it becomes a lot easier to think clear and constructive thoughts again.

6. You make it harder than it needs to be to take action.

If you think that you have to take action in a big, heroic and risky leap to overcome your fear then that may often lead to more fear and to not taking any action at all.

What to do instead:

A more helpful way to go about things is to not go all in at once. But to instead just dip your toes in. To take a small step forward but to do it today or as soon as you can.

And to take that first step slowly if you like.

The most important thing is that you start moving. That you start building momentum forward so that you can take more small and perhaps slow steps forward.

Doing things this way will not only build momentum but also self-confidence and expand your comfort zone. And all of this will make it a lot easier to take a bit bigger steps later on too if you’d like to.

Calvin and Hobbes’ Top 5 Tips for a Happy Life

by HENRIK EDBERG

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”

One the best things when I was a kid was to go down to the local used books store with my weekly allowance in hand.

I’d buy all kinds of things. Among them my favorite monthly comic book that collected all these odd and hilarious comics from all around the world.

And one of them was Calvin and Hobbes. I didn’t always understand it, Calvin and Hobbes had strange and serious thoughts mixed in with the crazy and imaginative adventures of the small boy and his best friend.

I still return to their adventures from time to time.

And the things I didn’t quite understand back then make more sense today.

So this week I’d like to share 5 of my favorite thought-provoking, witty and happifying tips from Calvin and Hobbes.

 

1. Look around you and appreciate your life as it is right now.

“We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.”

Take a few minutes to look at the next thing you need to do. A goal or dream you are focused on.

But then switch your attention to what is now. And spend most of your time in the present moment. Work and play there fully and not with your thoughts elsewhere.

And sometimes just pause during your day and be still. Take those pauses toappreciate the wonderful things around you.

The people and the moments with them, the food and a roof over your head during a rainy day.

All the big but also small and good things you may sometimes take for granted in your life.

2. Everyone has bad days.

“Some days even my lucky rocketship underpants won’t help.”

No matter what you do there will be bad days.

Sometimes you can turn them around by for example getting an energy kick and releasing some stress through exercise.

And sometimes, when such a thing won’t work, you can’t do more than accept that this is how things are right now.

And that can actually help.

Because:

  • When you accept and you stop feeding the issues of that day with more energy – the energy you use when you so intensely want to control and fix the issues – I have found that many of the negative feelings and thoughts in my mind tend to weaken, fall away and disappear. It becomes easier to think more clearly again and you feel better.
  • A bad day can be fuel for creativity and learning. A bad day when things don’t go so well often wind up being one of my more creative days in retrospect. I rethink things on such days. I learn from mistakes and temporary failures. I get new ideas.
  • It reminds you of how life actually is. You can also see such a day as a reminder of how life will not always bend to your will and be perfect. This is very helpful to reduce the stress and pressure you put upon yourself and to live a happier life.

3. Take the time to do nothing much at all.

“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”

Life isn’t just what can be captured on a to-do list. It is not achievement upon achievement.

To me life is also about spending some time with just lazying around in pajama bottoms on the weekend. It’s about time in the afternoons just watching the summer clouds go by from my sun-chair. And about hanging out with family and friends and sometimes doing nothing much at all.

Because there is much happiness and relaxation to find in doing the nothing you want to do. And because you can in my experience often find new ideas, directions and appreciation for your life when you take the time for these things.

4. Open up and let a friend help.

“Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend.”

If you feel scared or worried about something then that thing tends to become bigger and more frightening the longer you hold onto it alone and in your mind.

So instead, let a friend help you.

Let what you are scared or worried about out. Talk to your friend about the issue. Just being able to vent and to get someone else’s perspective on things can make a world of difference. It can make you see things in a less scary light.

And maybe the two of you can even find a first practical step you can take to start resolving the situation.

5. Do what YOU want to do.

“What fun is it being cool if you can’t wear a sombrero?”

It can be hard to do what you truly want to do. Or be who you want to be.

You may think: how will people react? what will they think or say?

To just fit in is most often – in the short run at least – easier.

But the cost can in the long run become a life where you are almost always holding back. A life of sinking self-esteem.

Here are two tips that can help if that’s the case:

  • Focus on the small action you CAN take. So maybe you cannot do what you want all the time. There are consequences and responsibilities and at least temporary limitations in a regular life. But do what you can with what have right now. Take one small step outside of your comfort zone towards what you want to do or be. Then another small one. And as you move forward you’ll build your self-esteem and confidence in yourself.
  • Don’t focus too much on how people may react. My own experience is that in most cases they will be somewhat or very supportive or pretty indifferent. The truth is that the world does not revolve around me or you. People rarely have very much time or energy to spare for thinking much about what you do anyway. They’re too busy with their own lives and challenges.

Mark Twain’s Top 9 Tips for Living a Kick-Ass Life

by HENRIK EDBERG

“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”

“Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

“When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it’s a sure sign you’re getting old.”

You may know Mark Twain for some of his very popular books like Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He was a writer and also a humorist, satirist and lecturer.

Twain is known for his many – and often funny – quotes. Here are a few of my favourite tips from him.

1. Approve of yourself.

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

If you don’t approve of yourself, of your behaviour and actions then you’ll probably walk around most of the day with a sort of uncomfortable feeling. If you, on the other hand, approve of yourself then you tend to become relaxed and gain inner freedom to do more of what you really want.

This can, in a related way, be a big obstacle in personal growth. You may have all the right tools to grow in some way but you feel an inner resistance. You can’t get there.

What you may be bumping into there are success barriers. You are putting up barriers in your own mind of what you may or may not deserve. Or barriers that tell you what you are capable of. They might tell you that you aren’t really that kind of person that could this thing that you’re attempting.

Or if you make some headway in the direction you want to go you may start to sabotage for yourself. To keep yourself in a place that is familiar for you.

So you need give yourself approval and allow yourself to be who you want to be. Not look for the approval from others. But from yourself. To dissolve that inner barrier or let go of that self-sabotaging tendency. This is no easy task and it can take time.

2. Your limitations may just be in your mind.

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

So many limitations are mostly in our minds. We may for instance think that people will disapprove because we are too tall, too old or balding. But these things mostly matter when you think they matter. Because you become self-conscious and worried about what people may think.

And people pick up on that and may react in negative ways. Or you may interpret anything they do as a negative reaction because you are so fearful of a bad reaction and so focused inward on yourself.

If you, on the other hand, don’t mind then people tend to not mind that much either. And if you don’t mind then you won’t let that part of yourself become a self-imposed roadblock in your life.

It is, for instance, seldom too late to do what you want to do.

3. Lighten up and have some fun.

“Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.”

“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

Humor and laughter are amazing tools. They can turn any serious situation into something to laugh about. They can lighten the mood just about anywhere.

And a lighter mood is often a better space to work in because now your body and mind isn’t filled to the brim with negative emotions. When you are more light-hearted and relaxed then the solution to a situation is often easier to both come up with and implement. Have a look at Lighten Up! for more on this topic.

4. Let go of anger.

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

Anger is most of the time pretty pointless. It can cause situations to get out of hand. And from a selfish perspective it often more hurtful for the one being angry then the person s/he’s angry at.

So even if you feel angry at someone for days recognize that you are mostly just hurting yourself. The other person may not even be aware that you are angry at him or her. So either talking to the person and resolving the conflict or letting go of anger as quickly as possible are pretty good tips to make your life more pleasurable.

5. Release yourself from entitlement.

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”

When you are young your mom and dad may give a lot of things. As you grow older you may have a sort of entitlement. You may feel like the world should just give you what you want or that it owes you something.

This belief can cause a lot of anger and frustration in your life. Because the world may not give you what expect it to. On the other hand, this can be liberating too. You realize that it is up to you to shape your own life and for you to work towards what you want. You are not a kid anymore, waiting for your parents or the world to give you something.

You are in the driver’s seat now. And you can go pretty much wherever you want.

6. If you’re taking a different path, prepare for reactions.

“A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

I think this has quite a bit of relevance to self-improvement.

If you start to change or do something different than you usually do then people may react in different ways. Some may be happy for you. Some may be indifferent. Some may be puzzled or react in negative and discouraging ways.

Much of these reactions are probably not so much about you but about the person who said it and his/her life. How they feel about themselves is coming through in the words they use and judgements they make.

And that’s OK. I think it’s pretty likely that they won’t react as negatively as you may imagine. Or they will probably at least go back to focusing on their own challenges pretty soon.

So what other people may say and think and letting that hold you back is probably just fantasy and barrier you build in your mind.

You may find that when you finally cross that inner threshold you created then people around you may not shun you or go chasing after you with pitchforks.  They might just go: “OK”.

7. Keep your focus steadily on what you want.

“Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.”

What you focus your mind on greatly determines how things play out. You can focus on your problems and dwell in suffering and a victim mentality. Or you can focus on the positive in situation, what you can learn from that situation or just focus your mind on something entirely else.

It may be “normal” to dwell on problems and swim around in a sea of negativity. But that is a choice. And a thought habit. You may reflexively start to dwell on problems instead of refocusing your mind on something more useful. But you can also start to build a habit of learning to gain more and more control of where you put your focus.

8. Don’t focus so much on making yourself feel good.

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”

This may be a bit of a counter-intuitive tip. But as I wrote yesterday, one of the best ways to feel good about yourself is to make someone else feel good or to help them in some way.

This is a great way to look at things to create an upward spiral of positivity and exchange of value between people. You help someone and both of you feel good. The person you helped feels inclined to give you a hand later on since people tend to want to reciprocate. And so the both of you are feeling good and helping each other.

Those positive feelings are contagious to other people and so you may end up making them feel good too. And the help you received from your friend may inspire you to go and help another friend. And so the upward spiral grows and continues.

9. Do what you want to do.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Awesome quote. And I really don’t have much to add to that one. Well, maybe to write it down and keep it as a daily reminder – on your fridge or bathroom door – of what you can actually do with your life.

10 Small Ways to Make this the Least Stressful Summer of Your Life

by HENRIK EDBERG

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”
Sydney J. Harris

“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.”
Bruce Lee

Summer is here after – what at least in Sweden was a long and dreary – winter and spring.

And for many it’s a time of vacation and of recharging the batteries for the rest of the year.

So today I’d like to simply share 10 of my favorite habits that help me to do just that and I know will help me this summer too.

 

  1. Say no to the shoulds of summer. These sneaky and self-esteem deflating thoughts can make a vacation filled with things you “ought to do before the summer is over” into burdensome work and leave you more tired than you were before your time off even started.
    So question those tasks by asking yourself: Will this matter 5 years from now? Or even 5 weeks from now? Zooming out like this it makes it easier to simply relax. And to say no to doing something because you may realize that it isn’t that important anyway.
  2. Go slow. You’ll be less stressed. And you’ll enjoy all the people, sights and experiences so much more because you’ll naturally take the time to appreciate them.
  3. Do one thing at a time. No matter what thing. Multi-tasking tends to lead to stress, confusion and to not doing as good a job as you may imagine. Single-tasking just about anything on the other hand makes it easier, more enjoyable and you’ll be more focused.
  4. Cycle plenty of rest in the grass with your summer projects. Don’t forget to wind down and just relax in the grass or hammock with a nap, a good book or watching the summer clouds slowly pass by.
  5. Don’t make mountains out of plain molehills. One of the best ways to make your summer and whole life easier and lighter is to not build mountains out of molehills. To not create extra drama or a problem out of something that doesn’t matter very much. Or just out of plain air. Deflate that imaginary mountain by using the question from tip #1 whenever you catch yourself starting to build one.
  6. Change things up and take a break from the internet. I don’t work much online these days really. I usually create blog posts like this one and new course material early in the day before I even connect to the internet. During the summer I’ll be even less online and instead read more books, travel more and do other offline stuff. I find it very relaxing to keep my internet usage as effective as I can.
  7. Get one thing that is bothering you all the way to done. Unfinished things can cause a lot of low-level stress and gnaw at the back of your mind. Find one such task in your life. One that may have been there for a while. Get started with it and then to done by taking small steps, like just working 1-10 minutes at a time on it. It will feel like a relief to finally have it out of your life and mind.
  8. Don’t guess. Ask. Trying to read minds usually don’t go so well. So instead, just ask. It may be a bit uncomfortable at times but, in my experience, by doing so you promote openness and communication in your relationships and it will help you to minimize unnecessary conflicts, misunderstandings and waste of energy and time. And that feels just great.
  9. Take two minutes a day to close your eyes and just focus on your breathing. This brief and daily meditation break that I have been playing with myself in the past month lets tensions fall off of you and clears your mind. And those 2 minutes can quickly become some of the most powerful of your day.
  10. Just be here and appreciate the summer. The sunshine and the warmth. The people and the experiences. It won’t be here forever. So don’t get lost in plans for the future or memories of the past. Do a bit of planning of course and learn from what has happened.
    But decide to be fully here most of the time during these months to savor the small moments like a melting ice-cream in the sun but also the bigger ones with the people closest to you.

Don’t Compare Your Life to Someone’s High-Light Reel

by HENRIK EDBERG

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”
Lao Tzu

Today I’d like to focus on a negative habit that creates insecurity within, erodes self-esteem and can make you feel quite unhappy with your own life .

It’s something that has sprung up as we have moved a part of our lives on to the internet and social media.

And that habit is to compare yourself and your life to other people’s high-light reels.

What do I mean by that?

That it’s so easy to start comparing your life to the lives of friends, old classmates or celebrities of all sizes as you each day see how perfect their homes, kids, love lives are and how filled their lives are with wonderful moments.

But is that their whole lives that is shared on Facebook and Instagram?

 

Usually not.

It’s just the high-light reel of that person’s life.

The positive moments. And it’s natural thing really, to want to share such moments or days with your friends or followers.

Now, for some people this may develop into something destructive. Into a way of creating a more perfect image of one’s life to get that hit of instant gratification as people add positivity via comments, likes and upvotes.

But everyone has problems at times. They fail. Get sick. Have flaws, bad days or negative habits. No matter who you are or what you look like or do.

I have those issues too. Just like anyone else. I still stumble and fall on some days. Doubt myself or am pessimistic from time to time. That’s human.

So don’t strive for being perfect or measuring yourself against someone else’s high-light reel.

Here are three healthier steps you can take instead:

  • Step 1: Compare in smarter way. There will always be people who have more or nicer things than you. Or are better than you at something. No matter what you do.
    So if you want to compare then do it in a way that won’t make you feel envious and inferior. Do it by comparing yourself to yourself. See how far you have come. Look back at the obstacles you have overcome, what you have learned and how you have grown.
  • Step 2: Spend your energy and time on what matters the most. Step by step spend the hours in your day and week on building habits that will make you a better person and a happier one too.
    For example, aim at being optimistic 70% of the time if you have been it maybe 50% in the past month. Or go out running for just 5 minutes for starters tonight instead of checking those social media accounts one more time.
  • Step 3: Let go of what drags you down. If necessary unsubscribe or remove social media accounts from your flow if you feel they are dragging you down and lowering your self-esteem. Even if those things might also be entertaining right now.

Life isn’t just a high-light reel no matter who shares it.

So look beyond that, remember that everyone is human and stop comparing yourself to that limited view of someone.

In the long run you’ll be happy that you did.

15 Simple Ways to Spread Kindness in Your World Starting Today

by HENRIK EDBERG

“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”
Albert Schweitzer

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”
Henry James

Kindness is often a pretty simple thing to spread in the world.

But we sometimes forget about it. Or don’t remember how it can help us all.

Three things that I like to keep in mind and that help me to try to be a kinder person are these:

  • I get what I give. Yep, some people will be ungrateful, miserable and not reciprocating no matter what you may do. But most people will over time treat you as you treat them.
  • By being kinder to others I am more likely to be kinder to myself.It may sound a bit odd but my experience is that when I am kinder towards others then my self-esteem goes up and I think more highly about myself.
  • It creates a happier place to live in. Being kinder simply makes my own little world a nicer and happier place to live in.

So how can you start spreading the kindness in your daily life?

Here are 15 simple ways to do it.

 

Pick one of the them that resonates with you and start spreading the kindness today.

1. Express your gratitude. 

Think about what you can be grateful for about someone in your life. Maybe that he is a good listener, that he often is quick to help out or that he always adds great songs to a Spotify playlist. Or simply that he held up the door for you.

Then express that gratitude in a simple “thank you!” or in a sincere sentence or two.

2. Replace the judgments. 

No one likes to be judged. And the more you judge other people the more you tend to judge yourself. So despite the temporary benefit of deriving pleasure from the judgments it is not a good or smart long-term habit.

When you feel the urge to judge ask yourself: what is one kind thing I can think or do in this situation instead?

3. Replace the unconstructive criticism. 

Try encouragement instead of excessive criticism. It helps people to both raise their self-esteem and to do a better job.

And it will make things more fun and more light-hearted in the long run.

4. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. 

It is quite easy to resort to unkindness when you see things just from your perspective. Two questions that help me to see and to better understand other viewpoints are:

  • How would I think and feel it if I were in his or her shoes?
  • What parts of this person can I see in myself?

5. Recall how people’s kindness made you feel.

Just sit down for a few minutes and try to recall one time or a few times when other people’s kindness really touched you and helped you out.

Then think about how you can do those very same things for someone in your life.

6. Express kindness for something you may often take for granted.

It is easy to remember and to feel motivated to express kindness when someone is having a rough time or have just finished an important project.

But also remember to express kindness for how someone continues to put so much love into the dinners you eat. Or for being on time every day and doing their job well and keeping deadlines.

7. Hide a surprising and kind note.

Leave a small note with a loving or encouraging sentence in your partner’s or child’s lunchbox, hat, tea-container or book that he or she is reading right now.

That minute of your time will put a smile on her face and joy and motivation in her heart.

8. Just be there.

Listen – without thinking about something else – when someone needs to vent.

Just be there fully with your attention. Or have a conversation and help someone find his or her way out of fear and to a more constructive and grounded perspective.

9. Remember the small acts of kindness too.

Let someone into your lane while driving. Let someone skip ahead of you in a line if he’s in a real hurry. Hold up the door for someone or ask if they need help when you see them standing around with a map and a confused look.

10. Give someone an uplifting gift.

Someone in your life may have a bit of a tough time right now. Then send him or her an inspirational book or movie. Or simply send an email with a link to something inspiring or funny that you have found like a blog, article or acomic.

11. Help someone out practically.

Give them a hand when moving or with making dinner or arrangements before a party. If they need information, then help out by googling it or by asking knowledgeable people that you know.

12. Help the people in your life see how they make a difference in their lives.

When you talk to someone about his or her day or what has been going on lately then make sure to point out how he or she also has spread kindness and given value. People are often unaware of the positive things they do or they minimize them in their own minds.

So help them to see themselves in a more positive light and to improve their own self-esteem.

13. Remember the 3 reasons for kindness at the start of this article.

It will help you to be kinder even when you may not always feel much like it. If you like, write those reasons down on a piece of paper and put that note where you can see it every day.

14. Pay it forward.

When someone does something kind for you – no matter how big or small – then try to pay that forward by being kind to someone else as soon as you can.

15. Be kinder towards yourself.

Then you will naturally treat other people with more kindness too. It is truly a win-win habit.

A simple way to start being kinder toward yourself is to each evening write down 3 things you appreciate about yourself and about what you have done that day in a journal.

How to Improve Your Mood Right Now: 3 Simple Habits

by HENRIK EDBERG

I often write about how a good start to your day often leads to having a good day in general.

A social, an energetic or a productive start sets the context for your day.

But on some days you may not get a good start for some reason.

Maybe you slept badly. Or the maybe grey skies and cold spring rain is dragging your energy down.

Or you might have lost that positive momentum during a hard first part of the day and after lunch you feel tired, low or lost in a somewhat sad or uninspired funk.

What to do then? Is that day lost and should you just aim for a better day tomorrow?

Well, today is not over yet.

Maybe you can still make something good out it.

Here’s how I do that by breaking the negative mood and getting a new start.

1. Appreciate what you have.

The simplest of my most commonly used pick-me-ups.

I take about 2 minutes and sit in silence.

I tell myself: OK, I might not feel so good right now, but what can I be grateful for and appreciate in my life?

I usually come up with one simple thing like:

  • My tasty food.
  • My health.
  • That I have a roof.

That one thing opens up my mind. It redirects my thoughts from the negativity.

Then I build upon that one thing. I make mental jumps from the roof, to the warmth in our home, to the fluffy cat sitting beside me on the sofa, to that I can work from home as the rain pours outside.

I make those small mental leaps by just moving my attention around in the room I am in. Like skipping from stone to stone over a stream. And I take the time to slowly appreciate all those things.

This changes my mood to a happier, warmer and more open one.

2. Act as you would like to feel.

Emotions work backwards too. So if I want to become more positive or enthusiastic then I act in the manner of a person who is positive or enthusiastic.

I might not feel like it. But I do it as best as I can anyway. I may for example:

  • Think of the task I have in front of me as something exciting and fun.
  • Answer some emails or talk to someone in a positive and enthusiastic manner.
  • Assume rapport if I feel unmotivated, negative or nervous before some kind of meeting (assuming rapport is to I think to myself that I am meeting one of my best friends just before the meeting and that puts me in the right mood and headspace).

3. Think for a minute and give someone a genuine compliment.

Here’s a fun one I use quite often and that will not only lift my own mood.

Spend one minute coming up with something you really and genuinely appreciate about someone in your life that is in the same room as you at some point during the day. Then tell him or her the genuine compliment you have come up with.

She or he will be happy. You’ll feel good about yourself and get positive feelings too from the now smiling, happy and complimented person. And so the mood for the both of you is changed for the better.

5 Quick Steps to Unclutter Your Life Starting Today

by HENRIK EDBERG

“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.”
Bruce Lee

I love uncluttering.

Why?

Because a life with less clutter makes it easier to:

  • Reduce the daily stress and find inner peace.
  • Focus and to do a better job (and often do it quicker too).
  • Keep your attention steadily on what is most important and meaningful in life.

Clutter creates distraction. It can create stress and confusion that you may not be aware that it’s creating.

But after you have uncluttered there is usually a sensation of feeling calmer and lighter, a bit more upbeat and being able to think more clearly.

Decluttering a drawer, shelf or some kind of space in your life can be an unexpectedly positive experience not just practically. But for you as a person both emotionally and mentally too.

This is the most important reason why I declutter.

 

But it, of course, also frees up space. It can help you to sometimes earn a bit of extra money. It can make someone else happier by giving them something you have no use for anymore.

If you have just 5 or 10 minutes to spare today and want to take a first step to simplify your outer and inner life then I recommend uncluttering just one small space in your house.

Here’s how I declutter in five quick steps.

  1. Pick a drawer or a shelf. Empty it out and clean it out. Put everything that was in that space in one big pile.
  2. Make choices about those items, one at a time. For each item in that pile ask yourself this: have I used this in the past year? If not, then it is often pretty safe to say that you won’t be using it in the future either.
  3. Give it away or trash it? If you are not keeping it then you may want to give it to someone you know that you think could make good use of it. Or you can give it away to your local charity.  If that is the case put it in a box or bag for that purpose. And if you just want to trash it then put it then put it in a bag where you’ll collect the trash items during this brief uncluttering session.
  4. If you are keeping it, then find a home for it. It could be at one of the front corners of your drawer or to the right in the top shelf of your bookcase. Having a home for each item where you put it back each time after using it will reduce the weekly clutter in your home and you will always be able to easily find the item.
  5. If you are unsure about the item then put it in a 6-month box. Put that box away somewhere where you can easily access it – a closet for example – if you need something from it. On the outside of the box write the date when you put the stuff in it. 6 months later get the box and see what is still in it. If you haven’t used those things in the past 6 months then you have no need for them and you can safely give them away or throw them out.

And that’s it.

By taking small 5-10 minute steps when you have some time to spare you can declutter a whole lot over a few weeks or months.

Or that first small step may lead you to uncluttering a whole room at once.

12 Powerful Ways to Reduce Your Anxiety

by HENRIK EDBERG

 

If you’re anything like me you have been there many times.

You’re sitting in a waiting room. Or just waiting somewhere.

Soon it will begin.

Your leg is starting to shake nervously. Your hands are starting to sweat and maybe your mouth feels a bit dry. Your thoughts are becoming jumbled, it is hard to focus and to think as clearly as you usually do.

Maybe you have an important test in school. A job interview. An appointment with your doctor or dentist. A date that you are looking forward to but at the same time you are scared to make a fool of yourself on.

Whatever it may be it is making you anxious.

Today I’d like to share 12 things that have helped me to reduce anxiety in such situations.

These tips are for low or medium levels of anxiety. They are not intended for anxiety attacks or anything that serious. I know nothing about such things and would recommend that you seek professional help in such situations.

 

1. Breathe.

Sit down, in a quiet place if possible. Breathe a little deeper than usual and do it with your belly and not with your chest. For just a minute or two focus on only the air going in and out of your nostrils. Nothing else.

This will calm your mind and body down. And it will bring your attention back to the present moment instead of it being lost in scary, future scenarios or bad memories from the past.

2. Get good knowledge.

Dispel the clouds of uncertainty and vague fears by researching what you have anxiety about. By talking to people who have done what you are about to do or want to do – or by reading what they have written – you can build a more realistic blueprint with both positives and negatives of how things are likely to go.

And learn how to improve in the area that gives you anxiety. Do research on the best ways to become better at and less nervous when – for instance – doing public speaking, job interviews or presentations at work or in school.

3. Do a quick workout.

I like to lift heavy weights for about 15-20 minutes when I feel worried, stressed or anxious. It makes me feel stronger both in mind and body. It releases inner tensions and relaxes me.

Others go out for a quick run, walk or bike ride when they feel anxious. Find a way to exercise that fits you and lets you reap these benefits and counteract anxiety.

4. Focus on something else.

Sometimes it is more helpful to simply redirect your mind instead of thinking about what creates your current anxiety. Especially if you have no control over the situation that causes the anxiety like for example an upcoming doctor’s visit or appointment with the dentist.

So focus your attention somewhere else for a while and recharge it with something positive.

Watch a couple of episodes of your favorite sit-com or TV-series. Read your favorite online forum. Have relaxing or upbeat night out with friends.

Do something that takes your mind off the situation that causes anxiety, even if it is just for a few hours. After that recharge you will not only likely feel better but you will also be in a better headspace and at a higher energy level to handle the anxious situation.

5. Don’t forget to eat.

When I forget to eat because I am stressed and anxious then that only tends to worsen my state of mind. It becomes harder to think clearly and negative scenarios more easily pop up in my mind.

So even if you do not feel that hungry keep an eye on the time and if you may be running low on fuel.

6. Change your focus to what you can do right now.

When you ask yourself questions that make you feel powerless or like things will only get worse and worse then you take away your personal power.

Empower yourself by instead asking yourself:

What is one small thing I can do to improve upon this situation today?

Write down that question and brainstorm answers for a few minutes. Then take action on one of the answers you find. It doesn’t have to be a big action, just one small step forward. And when you are done with it then take another one.

This direction forward will make you feel like you are starting to regain control over your life again, it will make you feel at least a bit more confident and it, in my experience, tends to reduce the anxiety.

7. Question your worries and anxiety.

Look to your own past and ask yourself:

How many situations that I have been anxious about in the past have turned out to be exaggerations or making a mountain out of a molehill in my mind?

Question your anxiety and worries instead of letting them roam freely.

8. Remember: You have handled tough situations in the past.

When you are standing in the middle of anxiety and fear bubbling up within then it is easy to get dragged down with it. To lose faith in yourself and your abilities.

When that happens focus on your breathing first to calm and clear your mind. Then look to the past for a bit of strength and confidence in what you can do.

Doing this helps me to go from feeling powerless to feeling like I am standing on firmer ground again.

9. Let the feeling in to let it go.

Sometimes an anxious feeling can feel sticky and vague. You don’t know exactly where it is coming from or what is causing it. It can be hard to get rid of.

A bit of an odd solution that has worked well for me in such situations is this:

When you feel a negative feeling then allow and accept that feeling. Don’t try to keep it out. Don’t try to fight it. Even though many of us have learned to do those two things to negative feelings throughout life.

Instead, this time, just let it in and observe the feeling in your mind and body without judging it.

If you let it in and just observe it for a couple of minutes something wonderful happens. First it may feel uncomfortable and more intense. But then the feeling loses power. It weakens. Often to the point that it just vanishes.

Because when you accept the feeling and let it in you stop feeding it with more energy (as you would when you tried your hardest to keep it out or to fight it).

10. Let it out into the light.

When you keep something inside of you then your head can become an echo chamber that magnifies and doubles the anxiety and fear in a situation.

So let it out instead. Talk to someone close to you about the situation at hand. Just venting to someone who will listen can help you to get a more grounded view on what’s happening.

Or the two of you can discuss it and help you to reclaim your power by making a small, intial plan for how you can reduce the anxiety about this situation by taking some kind of action.

11. Stay in the present moment.

Anxiety is often a fear of something you think will happen in future.

One way to reduce that anxiety is to simply stay with your attention in the present moment as much as you can. Perhaps you make a small plan in advance to help you out but you choose to deal with the anxiety-creating situation when it will happen. Instead of spending hours each day with imagining and fearing the future and creating monsters in your mind.

The breathing technique at the start of this article is one of the best techniques I have found for returning to the present moment when you get lost in the future. Another one of my favorites you can try is this one:

Take 1-2 minutes and focus only on what’s right in front of you.

Or around you and on you. Look at what’s right in front of you. Listen to the sounds around you. Feel the fabric of your clothes. Feel the warmth of the spring sun on your skin.

12. Remember: There is a brand new day tomorrow.

This reminder helps me when today or the last week may not have gone so well.

Because there will be a brand new day tomorrow. A day when you can begin again.

A day when you can take a new step to move towards what you want, likely having a bit more luck and when it will be easier to see that this difficult time is only temporary and not permanent (even if it might feel that way right now and create anxiety about the future).

51 Inspiring Love Quotes

by HENRIK EDBERG

Today I would like to share thoughts about love from the people who have walked this earth before us (and from a few who are still here).

Timeless thoughts written down and spread throughout the decades, centuries and, yes, even millenias.

Thoughts not only about happy, romantic love but of love in other forms and stages too.

This is 51 of the most inspiring, touching and helpful quotes on love.

 

  1. “Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”
     James Baldwin
  2. “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
    —  Lucille Ball
  3. “Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.”
     Rainer Maria Rilke
  4. “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”
     Morrie Schwartz
  5. “If I know what love is, it is because of you.”
    — Herman Hesse
  6. “I love you not because of who you are, but because of who I am when I am with you.”
    — Roy Croft
  7. “Love is a friendship set to music.”
    —  Joseph Campbell
  8. “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”
    — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  9. “When we are in love we seem to ourselves quite different from what we were before.”
    — Blaise Pascal
  10. “The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.”
    — Gilbert K. Chesterton
  11. “It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death.”
    — Eleanor Roosevelt
  12. “Don’t brood. Get on with living and loving. You don’t have forever.”
    — Leo Buscaglia
  13. “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
    — Rumi
  14. “Love is of all passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart and the senses.”
    — Lao Tzu
  15. “You know it’s love when all you want is that person to be happy, even if you’re not part of their happiness.”
    — Julia Roberts
  16. “At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.”
    — Plato
  17. “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you… I could walk through my garden forever.”
    — Alfred Tennyson
  18. “The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.” 
    — Helen Keller
  19. “Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.”
    — Oscar Wilde
  20. “The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love.”
    — Henry Miller
  21. “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”
    — Oprah Winfrey
  22. “You know you’re in love when you don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
    — Dr. Seuss
  23. “Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit.”
    — Khalil Gibran
  24. “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
    — Alfred Lord Tennyson
  25. “Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.”
    — Vincent Van Gogh
  26. “The art of love is largely the art of persistence.”
    — Albert Ellis
  27. “If you would be loved, love, and be loveable.”
    — Benjamin Franklin
  28. “Love does not dominate; it cultivates.”
    — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  29. “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
    — Martin Luther King, Jr.
  30. “We are most alive when we’re in love.”
    — John Updike
  31. “The love we give away is the only love we keep.”
    — Elbert Hubbard
  32. “The giving of love is an education in itself.”
    — Eleanor Roosevelt
  33. “The more one judges, the less one loves.”
    — Honore de Balzac
  34. “A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.”
    — Ingrid Bergman
  35. “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
    — Lao Tzu
  36. “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see in truth that you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
    — Kahlil Gibran
  37. “Love is when you meet someone who tells you something new about yourself.”
    — Andre Breton
  38. “Love is a better teacher than duty.”
    — Albert Einstein
  39. “True love comes quietly, without banners or flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked.”
    — Erich Segal
  40. “Every person has to love at least one bad partner in their lives to be truly thankful for the right one.”
    — Unknown
  41. “Love is what you’ve been through with somebody.”
    — James Thurber
  42. “The best proof of love is trust.”
    — Joyce Brothers
  43. “A woman knows the face of the man she loves as a sailor knows the open sea.”
    — Honore de Balzac
  44. “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”
    — Carl Sagan
  45. “Fortune and love favor the brave.”
    — Ovid
  46. “Love is not only something you feel, it is something you do.”
    — David Wilkerson
  47. “Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.”
    — Wayne Dyer
  48. “Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”
    — Anaïs Nin
  49. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
    — Martin Luther King Jr.
  50. “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”
    — A. A. Milne
  51. “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
    — Charles Schulz

3 Simple Daily Habits That Will Help You to Stay Optimistic

by HENRIK EDBERG

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Winston Churchill

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
Maria Robinson

One of the most common questions people ask me via email is how to become more of an optimist.

So today I would simply like to share three habits that I use just about every day and that help me to stay optimistic in pretty much any situation.

It may sometimes take a while before I find an optimistic thread of thought but these three habits usually help me to do it.

 

1. Ask yourself questions that let you see the optimistic viewpoint.

When I’m in what seems like a negative situation my most common way of making something better out of that is to ask myself questions that promote optimism and helps me to find solutions.

Questions like:

  • What is one thing that is positive or good about this situation?
  • What is one thing I can learn from this situation?
  • What is one opportunity within this situation?

These questions are not something that I can always use right away. Sometimes I need some time to process and accept the feelings and thoughts that arise.

But after a bit of time, when those thoughts and feelings have mostly passed, I ask myself one or more of these questions.

2. Get optimistic support from the world around you.

One the most important factors for being able to stay optimistic are the influences around you. Optimism is – just like enthusiasm – contagious.
So find ways to create an environment that supports you.

  • The people in your life. Try to spend more time with optimistic peopleand less time with people who seem to always be negative about things. Positive people will support you, add upbeat energy and can help you to find a constructive change in perspective when you have a situation that is bringing you down and when you are just making a mountain out of a molehill.
  • The information you let into your mind. One of the simplest things you can do to create and support your own optimism is simply to regularly read blogs and books and listen to or watch recordings created by optimistic people.

3. Start your day in an optimism creating way.

The way you start your day often sets the tone for the rest of it.

A stress-free morning leads to less stress and better focus during your day.

A work out early in your day leads to more energy throughout the day.

And optimism while you are eating your cereal or traveling to work or school can help you to stay positive and constructive as you go through the ups and downs of your day.

Practical ways to get this good start is to read, watch or listen to something optimistic. Or to have an uplifting and/or motivating conversation over breakfast or early in your day.

Daily Simplicity: 13 Habits That Will Make Your Life Lighter and Happier

by HENRIK EDBERG

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
Confucius

I love to keep things simple.

Why?

One simple reason and one the most important ones for me is that simplicity reduces the heaviness in life.

It makes it lighter and not so stressful or energy draining as it once might have been.

So today I would like to share 13 daily habits that make my life simpler, lighter and happier. I hope you’ll find something useful for your own life among these habits.

 

  1. Use a minimalistic workspace. My work space is just a laptop on a small black desk made out of wood. I use a comfy chair and there is room for my glass of water beside the computer. That’s it. There are no distractions here. This makes it easier to write and to keep a clear mind.
  2. Cook more food than you’ll eat. We usually make 4-10 servings of what we are about to eat. This cuts down on time that you spend on cooking and you’ll have to do less washing up in general. Plus, you’ll have lunch for the day after. And sometimes a couple of portions to put in the freezer. And that really comes in handy on those evenings when you don’t feel like cooking.
  3. Write shorter emails. I tend to write emails containing only a few sentences, usually between one and five. In some cases I write more of course. But keeping this guideline in mind cuts down on the time and energy that is spent on processing emails.
  4. Be 10 or 5 minutes early for meetings and appointments. This will help you to make your time of travel into a sort of break and a time of relaxation. Instead of it being another thing that ramps up the stress.
  5. Spend only 20% of your time on dwelling on a problem. And 80% of your time focusing on a solution. Instead of the other way around. It is not always easy to do but keeping this thought in mind makes it easier to not fall into the trap of feeling like a victim or going down a spiral of perceived powerlessness.
  6. Stop trying to do things perfectly. Go for good enough instead and when you are there you are done. Get things all the way to done this way and then move on to the next thing. Setting this more human bar for yourself not only leads to more things actually being finished but also helps withkeeping your self-esteem on a healthy level. Perfectionism makes it pretty impossible to find or maintain high self-esteem.
  7. Stop trying to please everyone. Because no matter what you do there will always be people who you don’t get along with. That you don’t have good chemistry with. Or that do not like you for some reason that may often be about them and something that you have no control over.
  8. Eat slower. Make your lunch time a time of relaxation rather than a time to just add to the stress of your morning. One thing that works well to slow down when eating is to put down the fork between bites.
  9. Enjoy the simple pleasures. A pear. Fresh and clean bed sheets. A hug and kiss. Holding hands. A laugh with friends. The sun and blossoming nature after a long and cold winter.
  10. Give each item a home. Then you’ll know where to put the item when you have used it and easily find it again when you need it. Plus, you’ll reduce the clutter in your workspace or at home.
  11. Write everything down. Pretty much everyone’s memory is leaky. So help yourself. Write down what you need to do or shop for today. Write down your ideas before they fly away. Write down the one habit or area you are focusing on right now in your life and put that note where you can see it every day. Like on your bedside table or bathroom mirror.
  12. Avoid making mountains out of molehills. When stressed about something ask yourself: will this matter 5 years from now? Or even 5 weeks from now?
  13. Breathe. When you are lost in overwhelm, a problem or the past or future in your mind breathe with your belly for a minute or two and just focus on the air going in and out of your nostrils. This will calm your body down and bring your mind back into the present moment again. And it is actually sometimes enough to just do this for 20-30 seconds to create a remarkable effect inside of yourself.

How to Stop Overthinking Everything: 9 Simple Habits

by HENRIK EDBERG

What is holding people back from the life that they truly want to live?

I’d say that one very common and destructive thing is that they think too much.

They overthink every little problem until it becomes bigger and scarier and it actually is. Overthink positive things until they don’t look so positive anymore.

Or overanalyze and deconstruct things and so the happiness that comes from just enjoying something in the moment disappears.

Now, thinking things through can be a great thing of course. But being an overthinker can result in becoming someone who stands still in life. In becoming someone who self-sabotages the good things that happen in life.

 

I know. I used to overthink things a lot and it held me back in ways that weren’t fun at all.

But in the past 8 years or so I have learned how to make this issue so small that it very rarely pops up anymore. And if it does then I know what to do then to overcome it.

In this article I would like to share 9 habits that have helped me in a big, big way to become a simpler and smarter thinker and to live a happier and less fearful life.

1. Put things into a wider perspective.

It is very easy to fall into the trap of overthinking minor things in life.

So when you are thinking and thinking about something ask yourself:

Will this matter in 5 years? Or even in 5 weeks?

I have found that widening the perspective by using this simple question can snap me quickly out of overthinking and help me to let that situation go and focus my time and energy on something that actually does matter to me.

2. Set short time-limits for decisions.

If you do not have a time-limit for when you must make a decision and take action then you can just keep turning your thoughts around and around and view them from all angles in your mind for a very long time.

So learn to become better at making decisions and to spring into action by setting deadlines in your daily life. No matter if it is a small or bigger decision.

Here’s what have worked for me.

  • For small decisions like if should go and do the dishes, respond to an email or work out I usually give myself 30 seconds or less to make a decision.
  • For somewhat larger decisions that would have taken me days or weeks to think through in the past I use a deadline for 30 minutes or for the end of the workday.

3. Become a person of action.

When you know how to get started with taking action consistently each day then you’ll procrastinate less by overthinking.

Setting deadlines is one thing that have helped me to become much more of person of action.

Taking small steps forward and only focusing on getting one small step done at a time is another habit that have worked really well.

It works so well because you do not feel overwhelmed and so you do not want flee into procrastination. And even though you may be afraid, taking just a step is such a small thing that you do not get paralyzed in fear.

4. Realize that you cannot control everything.

Trying to think things through 50 times can be a way to try to control everything. To cover every eventuality so you do not risk making a mistake, fail or looking like a fool.

But those things are a part of living a life where you truly stretch your comfort zone. Everyone who you may admire and have lived a life that inspires you has failed. They have made mistakes.

But in most cases they have also seen these things as valuable feedback to learn from. Those things that may look negative have taught them a lot and have been invaluable to help them to grow.

So stop trying to control everything. Trying to do so simply doesn’t work because no one can see all possible scenarios in advance.

This is of course easier said than done. So do it in small steps if you like.

5. Say stop in situation where you know you cannot think straight.

Sometimes when I am hungry or when I am lying in bed and are about to go to sleep negative thoughts start buzzing around in my mind.

In the past they could do quite a bit of damage. Nowadays I have become good at catching them quickly and to say to myself:

No, no, we are not going to think about this now.

I know that when I am hungry or sleepy then my mind sometimes tend to be vulnerable to not thinking clearly and to negativity.

So I follow up my “no, no…” phrase and I say to myself that I will think this situation or issue through when I know that my mind will work much better.

For example, after I have eaten something or in the morning after I have gotten my hours of sleep.

It took a bit of practice to get this to work but I have gotten pretty good at postponing thinking in this way. And I know from experience that when I revisit a situation with some level-headed thinking then in 80% of the cases the issue is very small to nonexistent.

And if there is a real issue then my mind is prepared to deal with it in much better and more constructive way.

6. Do not get lost in vague fears.

Another trap that I have fallen into many times that have spurred on overthinking is that I have gotten lost in vague fears about a situation in my life. And so my mind running wild has created disaster scenarios about what could happen if I do something.

So I have learned to ask myself: honestly, what is the worst that could happen?

And when I have figured out what the worst that could happen actually is then I can also spend a little time to think about what I can do if that often pretty unlikely thing happens.

I have found that the worst that could realistically happen is usually something that is not as scary as what my mind running wild with vague fear could produce.

Finding clarity in this way usually only takes a few minutes of time and bit of energy and it can save you a lot of time and suffering.

7. Work out.

This might sound a bit odd.

But in my experience working out – especially with lifting weights – can help me to let go of inner tensions and worries.

It most often makes me feel more decisive and when I was more of an overthinker then it was often my go-to method of changing the headspace I was in to a more constructive one.

8. Spend more of your time in the present moment.

By being in the present moment in your everyday life rather than in the past or a possible future in your mind you can replace more and more of the time you usually spend on overthinking things with just being here right now instead.

Three ways that I often use to reconnect with the present moment are:

  • Slow down. Slow down how you do whatever you are doing right now. Move slower, talk slower or ride your bicycle more slowly for example. By doing so you become more aware of how you use your body and what is happening all around you right now.
  • Tell yourself: Now I am… I often tell myself this: Now I am X. And X could be brushing my teeth. Taking a walk in the woods. Or doing the dishes. This simple reminder helps my mind to stop wandering and brings my focus back to what is happening in this moment.
  • Disrupt and reconnect. If you feel you are getting lost in overthinking then disrupt that thought by – in your mind – shouting this to yourself : STOP! Then reconnect with the present moment by taking just 1-2 minutes to focus fully on what is going on around you. Take it all in with all your senses. Feel it, hear it, smell it, see it and sense it on your skin.

9. Spend more of your time with people who do not overthink things.

Your social environment plays a big part. And not just the people and groups close to you in real life. But also what you read, listen to and watch. The blogs, books, forums, movies, podcasts and music in your life.

So think about if there are any sources in your life – close by or further away – that encourages and tends create more overthinking in your mind. And think about what people or sources that has the opposite effect on you.

Find ways to spend more of your time and attention with the people and sources that have a positive effect on your thinking and less on the influences that tends to strengthen your overthinking habit.

Bruce Lee’s Top 7 Fundamentals for Getting Your Life in Shape

by HENRIK EDBERG

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last 30 years I’m pretty sure you know who Bruce Lee was. 

If you have, then you may be interested to know that Lee was a very famous martial artist and actor who sparked the first big interest of Chinese martial arts in the West in the 60’s and 70’s.

But besides being an awesome fighter and iconic figure Lee also had some very useful things to say about life.

Here are 7 of my favourite fundamentals from Bruce Lee.

1. What are you really thinking about today?

“As you think, so shall you become.”

Perhaps the most basic statement of how we work. Think about what you are thinking today. What do those thoughts say about you? About your life? And how well do they really match your plans for your life and your image of yourself?

It’s easy to forget about this simple statement in everyday life. It’s easy to be quite incongruent with what you think on an ordinary day compared to how you view yourself and your goals. A simple external reminder such as a post-it with this quote can be helpful to keep you and your thoughts on the right track. An brilliant and beautiful expansion on this thought can be found in James Allen’s As a man thinketh (that can be downloaded for free here).

2. Simplify.

“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

If you want to improve your life then it’s tempting to want to add more. One problem with this may be that you don’t really have the time or energy to do more though. And so your efforts to improve become short-lived.

Adding more and more just creates more stress and anxiety. Removing clutter and activities, tasks and thoughts that are not so important frees up time and energy for you to do more of what you really want to do. And as the clutter in your outer world decreases the clutter in your inner world also has a tendency to decrease. This has the added benefit of making it easier to actually enjoy whatever you are doing even more while you are doing it.

Adding more thoughts and thinking things over for the 111:th time may create a sense of security. It’s also a good way to procrastinate and to avoid taking that leap you know you should take. And the more you think, the harder it gets to act. Perhaps because you want to keep that comforting sense of security and avoid the risk of wrecking that feeling.

Thinking has its place. It can help you plan a somewhat realistic route to your goal and help you avoid future pitfalls. Overthinking is however just a habit that will help you waste a lot of time. It’s more useful to replace that habit with the habit of just doing it.

3. Learn about yourself in interactions.

“To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person.”

The one person that is the hardest to get to really know may be yourself. Studying yourself while you are alone may result in some insights. But it’s also likely to produce a lot of made up thought loops and doubts in your mind. A good way to really learn more about yourself is study yourself in interactions with other people. How people react and act in these interaction can over time teach you a lot. And what you think and how you react can perhaps teach you even more.

What you see, feel and hear in other people may be a reflection of you. The things you learn by thinking this way may not always be pleasant, but they can be enlightening. They help you to see yourself and also how you may be fooling yourself. And these powerful insights can be very valuable for your personal growth. So, in interactions with others, try asking yourself: what is reflected?

4. Do not divide.

“Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against.”

This is a very useful and powerful thought. It is also one that obviously is hard to live by. Why? I believe it’s because the ego loves to divide and find ways to “add more” to itself. It want’s to feel better than someone else. Or more clever. Or prettier. Or cooler. Or wiser.

How can you overcome this way of thinking and feeling?

To me it seems to boil down to not identifying so much with your thoughts or feelings. That doesn’t mean that you stop thinking or feeling. It just means that you realize – and remember in your everyday life – that the thoughts and emotions are just things flowing through you.

You are not them though.

You are the consciousness observing them.

When you realize and remember this it enables you to control the thoughts and feelings instead of the other way around. It also enables you to not take your thoughts too seriously and actually laugh at them or ignore them when you feel that your ego is acting out. When you are not being so identified these things you become more inclined to include things, thoughts and people instead of excluding them. This creates a lot of inner and outer freedom and stillness. Instead of fear, a need to divide your world and a search for conflicts.

To learn more about this I would recommend Eckhart Tolle’s books andsigning up for the 10 free and excellent webcasts – available both in video and audio form – that he’s doing with Oprah right now.

5. Avoid a dependency on validation from others.

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”

“Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory.”

The ego wants to add because it thinks it’s not enough. One way of doing that is by craving validation from others. We want to feel smart, pretty, successful and so on. And the validation makes you feel good for a while. But soon you need a new fix.

And the problem with being dependent on validation from other people is thatyou let other people control how you feel. This creates a rollercoaster of emotion in your life.

To find more emotional stability and to take control of how you feel you need to get your validation from to a more consistent source. Yourself. You can replace the expectations and validation of others by setting your own expectations and by validating yourself.

And so you validate yourself by thinking about how awesome you are. You don’t sell yourself short. You appreciate how far you have come and the positive things you have done. You appreciate your own value in the world. You set goals and you achieve those goals. This builds confidence in yourself and in your abilities. These things will help you to build a habit of inner validation.

Now, showing off. Why do we do that? To get validation from others. However, this need for validation often shines through and that is why a thing like bragging seldom works. Instead of seeing the cool and successful person you are trying to project people just see the insecure and needy person looking for validation. And your bragging falls flat.

6. Be proactive.

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”

It’s easy to get locked into a reactive mindset. You just follow along with whatever is happening. You do what the people around you do. You react to whatever is going on.

And so you get lost in your circumstances. This way of thinking doesn’t feel too good. You tend to feel powerless and like you are just drifting along.

A more useful and pleasurable way of living is to be proactive. As Bruce says: to create opportunities despite the circumstances around you. This feels better and provides better results. But on the other hand it’s also more difficult. It’s easier to just drift along in the reactive stream of life. And if you want to be proactive then you may have to take the lead quite often. And that can be scary.

Still, living proactively is so much more rewarding and exciting.

7. Be you.

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”

Just being yourself is a hard thing to do. You may do it sometimes. And other times you may forget or fall back into old thought patterns. Or you may imitate someone else.

And that comes through too. And it may work.

But I believe that being the real you will work better. Because there the genuine you is shining through. Without incongruency, mixed messages or perhaps a sort of phoniness. It’s you to 100%. It’s you with not only your words but you with your voice tonality and body language – which some say is over 90% of communication – on the same wavelength as your words. It’s you coming through on all channels of communication.

So I’m not saying: “yeah man, you should just be yourself because it’s the right thing to do etc.” I’m saying that I think being your authentic self – the one where you do little dividing, the one that needs little validation from others, the one where your ego is not running the show and trying to get something from someone – will give you better results and more satisfaction in your day to day life because you are in alignment with yourself. And because people really like genuine and people really like authenticity.

Do You Make These 10 Mistakes in a Conversation?

by HENRIK EDBERG

Can you improve your conversation skills? Certainly.

It might take a while to change the conversation habits that’s been ingrained throughout your life, but it is very possible.

To not make this article longer than necessary let’s just skip right to some common mistakes many of us have made in conversations and a couple of solutions. 

And if you want more in-depth training then join us in my 12-week, step-by-step Smart Social Skills Course where I share the very best things I have learned in the past 8 years about improving social skills and relationship habits.

Not listening
Ernest Hemingway once said:

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”

Don’t be like most people. Don’t just wait eagerly for your turn to talk. Put your own ego on hold. Learn to really listen to what people actually are saying.

When you start to really listen, you’ll pick up on loads of potential paths in the conversation. But avoid yes or no type of questions as they will not give you much information. If someone mentions that they went fishing with a couple of friends last weekend you can for instance ask:

  • Where did you go fishing?
  • What do you like most about fishing?
  • What did you do there besides fishing?

The person will delve deeper into the subject giving you more information to work with and more paths for you choose from.

If they say something like: “Oh, I don’t know” at first, don’t give up. Prod a little further. Ask again. They do know, they just have to think about a bit more. And as they start to open up the conversation becomes more interesting because it’s not on auto-pilot anymore.

Asking too many questions
If you ask too many questions the conversation can feel like a bit of an interrogation. Or like you don’t have that much too contribute. One alternative is to mix questions with statements. Continuing the conversation above you could skip the question and say:

  • Yeah, it’s great to just get out with your friends and relax over the weekend. We like to take a six-pack out to the park and play some Frisbee golf.
  • Nice. We went out in my friend’s boat last month and I tried these new lures from Sakamura. The blue ones were really great.

And then the conversation can flow on from there. And you can discuss Frisbee golf, the advantages/disadvantages of different lures or your favourite beer.

Tightening up
When in conversation with someone you just meet or when the usual few topics are exhausted an awkward silence or mood might appear. Or you might just become nervous not knowing exactly why.

  • Leil Lowndesonce said: “Never leave home without reading the newspaper”. If you’re running out of things to say, you can always start talking about the current news. It’s also good to stay updated on current water cooler-topics. Like what happened on the latest episode of Lost.
  • Comment on the aquarium at the party, or that one girl’s cool Halloween-costume or the host’s mp3-playlist. You can always start new conversations about something in your surroundings.
  • Assume rapport. If you feel nervous or weird when meeting someone for the first time assume rapport. What that means is that you imagine how you feel when you meet one of your best friends. And pretend that this new acquaintance is one of your best friends. Don’t overdo it though, you might not want to hug and kiss right away. But if you imagine this you’ll go into a positive emotional state. And you’ll greet and start talking to this new person with a smile and a friendly and relaxed attitude. Because that’s how you talk to your friends. It might sound a bit loopy or too simple. But it really works.

Poor delivery
One of the most important things in a conversation is not what you say, but how you say it. A change in these habits can make a big difference since your voice and body language is a vital part of communication. Some things to think about:

  • Slowing down. When you get excited about something it’s easy to start talking faster and faster. Try and slow down. It will make it much easier for people to listen and for you actually get what you are saying across to them.
  • Speaking up. Don’t be afraid to talk as loud as you need to for people to hear you.
  • Speaking clearly. Don’t mumble.
  • Speak with emotion. No one listens for that long if you speak with a monotone voice. Let your feelings be reflected in your voice.
  • Using pauses. Slowing down your talking plus adding a small pause between thoughts or sentences creates a bit of tension and anticipation. People will start to listen more attentively to what you’re saying. Listen to one of Brian Tracys cds or Steve Pavlina’s podcasts. Listen to how using small pauses makes what they are saying seem even more interesting.
  • Learn a bit about improving your body language as it can make your delivery a lot more effective. Read about laughter, posture and how to hold your drink in 18 ways to improve your body language.

Hogging the spot-light
I’ve been guilty of this one on more occasions than I wish to remember. Everyone involved in a conversation should get their time in the spotlight. Don’t interrupt someone when they are telling some anecdote or their view on what you are discussing to divert the attention back to yourself. Don’t hijack their story about skiing before it’s finished to share your best skiing-anecdote. Find a balance between listening and talking.

Having to be right
Avoid arguing and having to being right about every topic. Often a conversation is not really a discussion. It’s a more of a way to keep a good mood going. No one will be that impressed if you “win” every conversation. Instead just sit back, relax and help keep the good feelings going.

Talking about a weird or negative topic
If you’re at a party or somewhere were you are just getting to know some people you might want to avoid some topics. Talking about your bad health or relationships, your crappy job or boss, serial killers, technical lingo that only you and some other guy understands or anything that sucks the positive energy out of the conversation are topics to steer clear from. You might also want to save religion and politics for conversations with your friends.

Being boring
Don’t prattle on about your new car for 10 minutes oblivious to your surroundings. Always be prepared to drop a subject when you start to bore people. Or when everyone is getting bored and the topic is starting to run out of steam.

One good way to have something interesting to say is simply to lead an interesting life. And to focus on the positive stuff. Don’t start to whine about your boss or your job, people don’t want to hear that. Instead, talk about your last trip somewhere, some funny anecdote that happened while you where buying clothes, your plans for New Years Eve or something funny or exciting.

Another way is just to be genuinely interested. As Dale Carnegiesaid:

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. Which is just another way of saying that the way to make a friend is to be one.”

Knowing a little about many things or at least being open to talk about them instead of trying to steer the conversation back to your favourite subject is a nice quality.

Meaning: talking for what seems like hours about one topic. Topics may include work, favourite rock-band, TV-show and more work.

Opening up a bit and not clinging desperately to one topic will make the conversation feel more relaxed and open. You will come across like a person who can talk about many things with ease. As you’ve probably experienced with other people; this quality is something you appreciate in a conversation and makes you feel like you can connect to that person easily.

Not reciprocating
Open up and say what you think, share how you feel. If someone shares an experience, open up too and share one of your experiences. Don’t just stand there nodding and answer with short sentences. If someone is investing in the conversation they’d like you to invest too.

Like in so many areas in life, you can’t always wait for the other party to make the first move. When needed, be proactive and be the first one to open up and invest in the conversation. One way is by replacing some questions with statements. It makes you less passive and makes take a sort of stand.

Not contributing much
You might feel that you don’t have much to contribute to a conversation. But try anyway. Really listen and be interested in what the others are saying. Ask questions. Make relating statements.

Open your eyes too. Develop your observational skills to pick up interesting stuff in your surroundings to talk about. Develop your personal knowledge-bank by expanding your view of interesting things in the world. Read the newspapers and keep an eye on new water cooler-topics.

Work on your body language, how you talk and try assuming rapport to improve your communication skills.

But take it easy. Don’t do it all at once. You’ll just feel confused and overwhelmed. Instead, pick out the three most important things that you feel needs improving. Work on them every day for 3-4 weeks. Notice the difference and keep at it. Soon your new habits will start to pop up spontaneously when you are in a conversation.

Awesome Quotes on Life

by HENRIK EDBERG

Life can be complicated. It can be simple. It can be happy or sad.

Today as it was thousands of years ago.

Now, the human experience has in some ways changed but in many ways it has stayed pretty much the same.

I have shared many wonderful, insightful and awesome quotes here on The Positivity Blog over the years because of that reason. Because I think there are many things we can learn and apply to our lives from the wisest people who have been here before us.

In this article I have collected all those articles in case you have missed some of them over the years.

I hope you will find many useful and inspiring thoughts among all these quotes that will help you to live a more awesome life.

101 Inspiring Happiness Quotes

This is the biggest collection of quotes I put together so far on one of my absolute favorite topics.

53 Inspiring Self-Esteem and Self-Love Quotes

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Buddha

22 Inspirational Quotes on Fear

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

51 Inspiring Love Quotes

“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you… I could walk through my garden forever.”
Alfred Tennyson

10 Inspirational Quotes on Forgiveness

“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.”
Robert Muller

25 Great Quotes on Leadership

“To lead people, walk beside them … As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate … When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!”
Lao-Tsu

17 Inspirational Quotes on People Skills

“The people with whom you work reflect your own attitude. If you are suspicious, unfriendly and condescending, you will find these unlovely traits echoed all about you. But if you are on your best behavior, you will bring out the best in the persons with whom you are going to spend most of your working hours.”
Beatrice Vincent

10 Inspirational Quotes on Relationships

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
Anais Nin

9 Great Quotes on Criticism

“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.”
Frank A. Clark

21 Inspirational Quotes on Education

“You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.”
Clay P. Bedford

14 Inspirational Quotes on Courage

“Trust the still, small voice that says, “this might work and I’ll try it.”
Diane Mariechild

20 Inspirational Quotes on Happiness

“If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day — go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.”
Chinese Proverb

14 Inspirational Quotes on Understanding

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.”
Kahlil Gibran

25 Inspirational Quotes on Wealth and Money

“Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.”
James W. Frick

14 Inspirational Quotes on Simplifying Your Life

“The sculptor produces the beautiful statue by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed – it is a process of elimination.”
Elbert Hubbard

5 Powerful Steps to Help You to Let Go and Feel Less Pain

by HENRIK EDBERG

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.”
Herman Hesse

“One problem with gazing too frequently into the past is that we may turn around to find the future has run out on us.”
Michael Cibenko

I often write about finding lightness in life.

It can come from an unhurried but effective day at work.

It can come from uncluttering and simplifying both your home and life.

Or from letting go of distractions or huge mental burdens (that can also become physical as stress and worries pile up).

Learning to let go of something in your past, of something that is just an unimportant distraction or of trying to control what you cannot control can free up huge amounts of the energy and the time you have to use for something better and more fulfilling.

It is not always easy. But it can be life-changing.

In this article you can find five steps that have made it easier for me to let go over the years.

I hope they will help you too.

 

Step 1: Know the benefits of not letting go.

Why is it sometimes hard to let go of something?

Well, to be honest, there are advantages and benefits to not letting go. At least for instant gratification and in the short run.

  • You get to keep feeling like you are right. And like the other person is wrong. And that can be a pleasant feeling and way to look at the situation at hand.
  • You can assume the victim role. And get attention, support and comfort from other people.
  • You don’t have to go out into the scary unknown. You can cling to what you know instead, to what is familiar and safe even if it’s now just a dream of what you once had.

I have not let go of things in the past because of these reasons. I still sometimes delay letting go of things because of those benefits above.

But I am also conscious of the fact that they are something I get out of not letting go. And I know that in the end they are not worth it.

Because…

  • What will the long-term consequences be in my life if I do not let go?
  • How will it affect the next 5 years in my life and the relationships I have with other people and with myself?

The mix of knowing how those benefits will hurt me in the long run and of knowing that there are even bigger benefits that I can get from letting go become a powerful motivator that pushes me on to let go for my own sake and happiness.

Step 2: Accept what is, then let go.

When you accept what is, that this has happened then it becomes easier to let go.

Why?

Because when you’re still struggling in your mind against what has happened then you feed that memory or situation with more energy. You make what someone said or did even bigger and more powerful in your mind than it might have been in reality.

By accepting that it simply has happened and letting it in instead of trying to push it away something odd happens after a while.

The issue or your memory of the situation becomes less powerful in your mind. You don’t feel as upset or sad about it as you did before. You become less emotionally attached it.

And so it becomes easier to let go and for you to move on with your life.

Step 3: Forgive.

If someone wrongs you then it will probably cause you pain for a while.

But after that you have a choice. You can refuse to let go of what happened. And instead let it interfere with your relationship and replay what happened over and over in your mind.

Or you can choose to forgive.

First accepting what happened can be helpful to make it easier to forgive.

Another thing you can do is not to focus on forgiving because it is “something you’re supposed to do”.

Instead, if you like, find the motivation to forgive for you own sake. Do it for your own well-being, happiness and for the time you have left in your life.

Because, as Catherine Ponder says:

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”

And just because you forgive does not mean that you have to stay passive towards your future. You may for example choose to forgive but also to spend less time or no time in the future with someone who has hurt you.

Step 4: Focus on what you CAN influence in your life.

By reliving what happened over and over in your mind you aren’t really changing anything. Unless you have a time-machine you don’t have any control over the past.

And being distracted or worried by things that you cannot control in your life in any way right now is a waste of energy.

So ask yourself:

  • What CAN I focus my time and energy on instead to actually make positive progress or a change in my life?
  • And what is one small step I can take today to get started with that?

My experience has been that by switching my focus from what I cannot influence to what I actually have influence over and by doing that over and over again – by using questions like the ones above – it becomes easier and easier to stop worrying and to let go of what has happened or what I cannot control.

Step 5: Let go again (if necessary).

If you let go of something that happened or some distraction in your life then that might not be the end of it.

Life is not always that neat. The issue or distraction might pop up again.

Then let it go once more.

I have found that each time I let something go it pops up less and less frequently and it has less power over me.

Plus, this extra practice will make it easier to let go in the future. Letting go is something you’ll get better at over time just like for example keeping an optimistic mindset during tough times.

101 Inspiring Happiness Quotes

by HENRIK EDBERG

 

The written word is truly an amazing thing.

With the help of it we can record out innermost thoughts and spread them if we like.

With the help of the written word we can look far, far back into time, through the decades, the centuries and, yes, even the millennias.

Today I would like to look back into the past and see what the wise people who have walked on this earth can tell us about happiness and how to uncover it. No matter if you live today or lived two thousand years ago.

 

This is 101 of the most inspiring, touching and helpful thoughts from the past on happiness.

  1. “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
    Buddha
  2. “Happiness is the art of never holding in your mind the memory of any unpleasant thing that has passed.”
    Unknown
  3. “To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.”
    Albert Camus
  4. “If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap.’
    If you want happiness for a day — go fishing.
    If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune.
    If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.”
    Chinese Proverb
  5. “The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.”
    Ashley Montagu
  6. “Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness and self-worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can’t love and respect yourself – no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are – completely; the good and the bad – and make changes as YOU see fit – not because you think someone else wants you to be different.”
    Stacey Charter
  7. “It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.”
    Dale Carnegie
  8. “It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.”
    Lucille Ball
  9. “Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
    Winnie the Pooh
  10. “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”
    Epictetus
  11. “We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
    Frederick Keonig
  12. “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
    Thich Nhat Hanh
  13. “Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.”
    Eskimo Proverb
  14. “To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness.”
    Mary Stuart
  15. “There are more things to alarm us than to harm us, and we suffer more often in apprehension than reality.”
    Seneca
  16. “Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”
    Robert A. Heinlein
  17. “Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.”
    Dennis Waitley
  18. “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
    Mahatma Gandhi
  19. “The only joy in the world is to begin.”
    Cesare Pavese
  20. “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go”
    Oscar Wilde
  21. “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
    Marthe Troly-Curtin
  22. “Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon”
    Winnie the Pooh
  23. “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
    Herman Cain
  24. “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”
    Confucius
  25. “There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them.”
    Anthony de Mello
  26. “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”
    Dalai Lama
  27. “When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”
    Helen Keller
  28. “Happiness depends upon ourselves.”
    Aristotle
  29. “It is more fitting for a man to laugh at life than to lament over it.”
    Seneca
  30. “The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.”
    Marcel Pagnol
  31. “If men would consider not so much wherein they differ, as wherein they agree, there would be far less of uncharitableness and angry feeling in the world.”
    Joseph Addison
  32. “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”
    George Burns
  33. “Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”
    Franklin D. Roosevelt
  34. “The pleasure which we most rarely experience gives us greatest delight.”
    Epictetus
  35. “It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”
    L.M. Montgomery
  36. “Happiness is acceptance.”
    Unknown
  37. “The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one does.”
    James M. Barrie
  38. “We begin from the recognition that all beings cherish happiness and do not want suffering. It then becomes both morally wrong and pragmatically unwise to pursue only one’s own happiness oblivious to the feelings and aspirations of all others who surround us as members of the same human family. The wiser course is to think of others when pursuing our own happiness.”
    Dalai Lama
  39. “Most people would rather be certain they’re miserable, than risk being happy.”
    Dr. Robert Anthony
  40. “The unhappy derive comfort from the misfortunes of others.”
    Aesop
  41. “For many men, the acquisition of wealth does not end their troubles, it only changes them.”
    Seneca
  42. “A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?”
    Albert Einstein
  43. “Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.”
    Bertrand Russell
  44. “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
    Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
  45. “Happiness is a myth we seek,
    If manifested surely irks;
    Like river speeding to the plain,
    On its arrival slows and murks.
    For man is happy only in
    His aspiration to the heights;
    When he attains his goal, he cools
    And longs for other distant flights.”
    Kahlil Gibran
  46. “Happiness is a state of activity.”
    Aristotle
  47. “This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”
    Douglas Adams
  48. “Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.”
    Eleanor Roosevelt
  49. “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
    Confucius
  50. “The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.”
    Arthur Schopenhauer
  51. “Men spend their lives in anticipations, in determining to be vastly happy at some period when they have time. But the present time has one advantage over every other – it is our own. Past opportunities are gone, future have not come. We may lay in a stock of pleasures, as we would lay in a stock of wine; but if we defer the tasting of them too long, we shall find that both are soured by age.”
    Charles Caleb Colton
  52. “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”
    Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
  53. “Happy he who learns to bear what he cannot change.”
    Friedrich Schiller
  54. “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
    Winston Churchill
  55. “I’d far rather be happy than right any day.”
    Douglas Adams
  56. “Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.”
    Andy Rooney
  57. “The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet.”
    James Oppenheim
  58. “Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.”
    Benjamin Disraeli
  59. “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.”
    Martha Washington
  60. “Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.”
    Albert Schweitzer
  61. “Our envy always lasts longer than the happiness of those we envy.”
    Heraclitus
  62. “Happiness is a how; not a what. A talent, not an object.”
    Herman Hesse
  63. “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
    Aesop
  64. “Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  65. “Happiness is something that comes into our lives through doors we don’t even remember leaving open.”
    Rose Lane
  66. “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.”
    Albert Ellis
  67. “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”
    Groucho Marx
  68. “Just because it didn’t last forever, doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth your while.”
    Unknown
  69. “Your work is discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.”
    Buddha
  70. “That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.”
    Henry David Thoreau
  71. “Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is.”
    Maxim Gorky
  72. “A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.”
    Leo Tolstoy
  73. “It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.”
    F. Scott Fitzgerald
  74. “If thou wilt make a man happy, add not unto his riches but take away from his desires.”
    Epicurus
  75. “Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.”
    William Feather
  76. “Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.”
    John Henry Jowett
  77. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
    Eleanor Roosevelt
  78. “And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”
    Confucius
  79. “If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy.”
    Proverb
  80. “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature…. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
    Helen Keller
  81. “For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his/her happiness on major events like a great job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time.
    If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.”
    Andy Rooney
  82. “Learn to let go. That is the key to happiness.”
    Buddha
  83. “The first recipe for happiness is: avoid too lengthy meditation on the past.”
    Andre Maurois
  84. “The grass is always greener where you water it.”
    Unknown
  85. “Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.”
    Marquis de Condorcet
  86. “On a deeper level you are already complete. When you realize that, there is a playful, joyous energy behind what you do.”
    Eckhart Tolle
  87. “The happiest people in the world are those who feel absolutely terrific about themselves, and this is the natural outgrowth of accepting total responsibility for every part of their life.”
    Brian Tracy
  88. “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
    Marcel Proust
  89. “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
    George Bernard Shaw
  90. “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow. It only saps today of its joy.”
    Leo Buscaglia
  91. “A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.”
    William Arthur Ward
  92. “Optimism is a happiness magnet. If you stay positive, good things and good people will be drawn to you.”
    Mary Lou Retton
  93. “I believe compassion to be one of the few things we can practice that will bring immediate and long-term happiness to our lives.”
    Dalai Lama
  94. “Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
    Joseph Campbell
  95. “Happiness consists of living each day as if it were the first day of your honeymoon and the last day of your vacation.”
    Leo Tolstoy
  96. “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
    Abraham Lincoln
  97. “Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”
    Unknown
  98. “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
    When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see in truth that you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
    Kahlil Gibran
  99. “If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine.”
    Morris West
  100. “Life will bring you pain all by itself. Your responsibility is to create joy.”
    Milton Erickson
  101. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
    Mark Twain

What is your favorite quote on happiness? Feel free to share the best one(s) you have found in this article or in your life in the comments section below.