Your thoughts are like a dog on a leash

Your thoughts are like a dog on a leash

It’s 10:10 pm, and I’m winding down to go to bed. I’ve implemented meditation into my life. You can read more about that here. Or here.

I made a decision to meditate before I go to bed.

Why? I noticed that I sleep better on nights where I meditate right before bed.

Am I supposed­­ to medita­te right before bed? Some experts say no. But I don’t care because I feel better doing it.

A few minutes go by as I’m sitting in my chair, trying to go through my mindfulness meditation routine. I have some light music playing in the background, and I’m really trying to focus on my breath.

“What should I have for breakfast?” pops into my head. Shoot. That brought me out of my focused, peaceful state of conciousness.

I take a few deep breaths and focus on my breath and body.

“How am I going to get all of that stuff done at work tomorrow? There’s no way I can do it. I’m so sick of all this…” Arg! I did it again.

Okay, for real this time. I close my eyes and focus on my breaths. I count to three breaths.

“I forgot to schedule my dentist appointment again! I need to make a note of this.” I grab my phone and make a quick note to remind myself to schedule an appointment tomorrow.

“Well that ruined any chance of meditating tonight.”

How many times has this happened to you?

It seems to be happening to me more often lately than I would like.

I sit down to meditate. Then my thoughts explode.

All of the things that I forget about during the day magically appear in my conscious mind. All those thoughts, worries, stresses, appointments, meetings, and so forth.

You name it, and I’m thinking about it, when I least want to.

What could I do to fix this?

A wise friend once gave me some advice when it comes to meditating. They told me my mind is a dog.

“Okay…what?” I asked.

“Just hear me out,” said wise person.

“Imagine your mind as a dog on a leash. Every time you meditate and have a thought, your mind suddenly wants to chase after it.”

“It’s like when a dog sees a car or a ball or another dog. They start going after it and trying to get it.”

“During the day, your mind is an unleashed dog. It chases whatever it wants and goes wherever it wants.”

“But when you meditate, you want to put the dog on a leash. Put your mind on a leash.”

“Your mind is going to chase thoughts for no reason.”

Like when I started to think about breakfast, work, and appointments for no apparent reason.

“So what you need to do is let your mind pursue those thoughts to an extent. And once they’ve gone too far, pull them back in. Just like you would do to a dog on a leash.”

“It’s okay to let your mind pursue different thoughts to a degree. But if you let them go too far, you are defeating the purpose of the meditation.”

“Let your mind wander very slightly, and once it’s gone far enough, pull it back in.”

My wise friend may also be a little crazy. But he has a good point.

So I’m going to try this out next time I meditate. I’ll let my thoughts go a little bit, but then I will pull them back in. Just like a dog on a leash.

Maybe this analogy will help me focus better with my mindfulness meditation. Or maybe it’s just crazy talk. Whatever the case may be, I’m going to test it out tonight and see how it goes.

But I don’t want to work 50 hours a week

But I don’t want to work 50 hours a week

I haven’t had the chance to write a post in almost two months. And it sucks.

On January 13, 2016 at 10:34 am I got the call from my supervisor.

“Our projects across the company are behind. We are requiring everyone to put in 50 hours workweeks at a minimum until further notice.”

“So we need to work 10 hours per day?” I asked.

“If you don’t want to do that, you could come in on the weekend. Just as long as you get in your 50 hours.”

“Fuck that.” I thought to myself.

I know many people work more hours than that. But they also make more money than me.

Broken Promise?

I chose to come to this company because it promised 40 hour work weeks and a work life balance. In return I make less money than those who chose to go to bigger companies.

It’s been a struggle.

Some days I work from 7 am to 5:30 pm (lunch is unpaid).

A couple of days last week I worked 7:45 am to 8:30 pm. All just so I could leave just a little earlier on Friday.

I place a lot of value on my free time. I am not a workaholic. I never have been and never will be.

I prefer to participate in leisurely activities to fill up my time outside of work. I play basketball and tennis. I try to read a new book every couple of weeks. And I enjoy writing on this blog.

But I haven’t been able to do that lately. Work has filled up my time. It’s made me stressed out and unhealthy.

Learning to Cope

I’ve been learning how to cope with the long work hours. The first week I didn’t get enough sleep.

The second week I binge drank on the weekend to escape from my worries. (Note to self: don’t do this.)

The third week I struggled but was able to get back into a routine and working out and reading (albeit much less than usual).

The fourth week I remembered about the power of meditation and yoga.

It hasn’t been an easy journey.

Why Do So Many Others Choose this Path?

My question is this: why do people choose to work so many hours? Are people looking to escape from their lives through work?

Maybe I’m being selfish. Maybe I should just suck it up and accept it for what it is.

Or maybe I’m not.

I don’t know the answer.

I’m still working 50 hours. Hopefully it will end soon. But who knows?

Have you had experience working long (50+ per week) hours? How did you cope with it? Did your personal life suffer?

 

I hated my job. That all changed when I did this.

I hated my job. That all changed when I did this.

It was Tuesday evening and I was driving home from work. I was overwhelmed and miserable. I tried to cry, but there were no tears.

My life was over. I lost all motivation and excitement for everything.

My life was one boring routine. I was wasting away. Or so I thought.

These were my feelings when I started working my job two years ago. I hated my job. I was bored. I felt as though I wasted five years working on a degree that I didn’t want anymore.

I was miserable, but didn’t have any reason to be. I had a great boss and supportive co-workers. However, the actual work left much to be desired.

Two years later, and I’m still here.

I’m still not fulfilled by my job. I’m a little unhappy. But I cope with my situation.

I’ve changed a lot in two years. I’m more mature. I have a completely different outlook on life.

Selfishness

When I graduated I was selfish. I didn’t want to work hard. I wanted an easy way out. An easy way to make money that would only require a few hours of work per week.

I didn’t have focus or drive. Not like I do today.

How did I overcome that initial resistance? How did I make this job manageable, even sometimes enjoyable? And how have I managed to get more out of life?

That’s what I want to share with you.

If you’re working a job you hate, this article is for you. I’m going to pass on my experience working a job I hated. Maybe you’ll get some value from it.

Become present

When you work a job you hate, you think about every other place that you’d rather be.

I was working at a remote audit site an hour from home. I remember looking out the window thinking of where I would rather be.

I wanted to be outside enjoying the warm summer air.

I wanted to be working another job.

I wanted to be researching stocks.

I wanted to be playing basketball.

I was living an imaginary existence. I was living in the past thinking of how things were. I longed for a time machine so I could change the past.

I was stressing about the future and what I wanted to be doing instead what I was doing. I was stressed about how far away and out of reach that future seemed to me.

I was living everywhere except for the present

While staring out that window, I had a moment of clarity. I forced myself to live fully in the moment and not worry about the past or the future.

I realized the mind clouds present moment with thoughts of the past or the future.

“The mind, to ensure that it remains in control, seeks continuously covering up the present moment with past and future, and so, as the vitality and infinite creative potential of Being, which is inseparable from Now, becomes covered up by time, your true nature becomes obscured by the mind. An increasingly heavy burden of time has been accumulating in the human mind.” – Eckhard Tolle, The Power of Now

I can’t go back and change the past. And I can’t run faster towards the future. So why waste brain power and energy thinking about these things?

All I can control is what I do today right now.

How has living presently changed things?

I stress less about the future and I don’t concern myself with the past. I’m happier and enjoy the little things in life.

Living present makes time go faster and makes work go faster.

When I focus on the work on hand, I’m more engaged. As long as I focus on doing one thing right now, time seems moves quicker.

This happens because you get into flow states of focus and concentration. Flow state, also known as “the zone” was coined by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, a Hungarian psychologist.

In this mental state you perform an activity in which you are fully immersed in “a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”

However, you can’t get into flow if you are thinking about the past or the future. As a matter of fact, Jeanne Nakamura and Csíkszentmihályi identified six factors that encompass flow states, and number one on their list is “intense and focused concentration on the present moment.”

I find that the work day goes by quicker and I’m more engaged. As a result, I get more out of the day feel prouder about myself. That’s the power of living presently and engaging in one single task at a time.

If you interested about flow, check out Csíkszentmihályi’s Ted Talk on this topic. Also, Steven Kotler recently wrote a great book, The Rise of Superman, which goes in depth on flow, which I highly recommend!

Don’t focus on what you hate doing

When I started working, I thought about was how much I hated my job. I hated being cooped up in an office all day. I hated auditing people. I felt like people hated me.

My life was filled with negativity and bad energy. This brought my mood down, making me extremely pessimistic.

Instead of feeding my brain positive thought patterns, I dwelled on the negative. This made work harder and the job unbearable.

I needed a shift in thinking. So I decided to stop focusing on the negative.

But I didn’t shift into the “positive thinking” mindset. I’ve tried this before and it doesn’t work.

In the past, I would tell myself I was happy, I loved my job and there wasn’t anything else I would rather do. Instead, this actually made me more discontent. I was lying to myself. Telling these lies caused cognitive dissonance.

If you don’t focus on positive thinking, what do you focus on?

I focus on a learning and growth mindset. This can apply to any job. For me, it’s about focusing on learning as much as I can from everyone surrounding me.

My goal is to learn as much on each project I work on. I learn as much as I can from my co-workers and other individuals I come in contact with.

I commit to learning as much as I can and have a mastery outlook with what I do. If you can focus on learning one thing each day from one person around you, your life will become more productive.

If you work in retail, learn as much about your customers as possible. Do you have repeat customers? What do they tend to buy? Do people buy certain things together?

Learn as much as you can about your superiors. How did they get into the position they are in? What skills do they have that you would like to have? What faults do they have that you want to learn from?

Also, learn as much about your company as you can. Figure out why you do things the way you do. Learn about its history. Find out what makes it tick and what makes it successful.

When I shifted away from the “I hate doing…” to “I have to work 8 hours today, so what is one thing I can learn today?” my perspective of work changed. I get more out of each day because I strive to pick up skills that I can apply to other areas of my life, not just work.

Stay busy outside of work.

On that day I was driving home from work, completely miserable, I made a commitment to make the most of my time away from work.

I knew there would be many days where I would make myself miserable and unhappy if I wasn’t working towards something bigger and towards a brighter future for myself.

I started a personal finance blog. I had visions of it growing. I believed I would become the next popular personal finance blogger. But I didn’t. I failed.

I shifted gears and decided to write eBooks about personal finance. I had visions of creating a passive income stream through these books. My goal was to make $10,000 a month from eBooks. But I didn’t. I failed.

Even though I failed in both of these areas, I pursued something that I enjoyed. I pursued activities that I looked forward to at the end of the every day. I lived for the challenge of coming up with blog posts and chapters for books.

I didn’t want to come home every day, plop down in front of the TV and waste away my hours away from work.

I pursued things that interested me. I continue to pursue things that interest me. Without this drive and desire to make the most of my free time, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I lost interest in my personal finance blog and eBooks. But those activities made me a much better writer. Better than I’ve ever been at any point in my life.

I’m pursing an ecommerce business on the side. This is my next project I’m working on to become financially free.

I look forward to this every day. It serves as a reminder that my job is only temporary.

If I knew I had 30 to 40 years left working at my current job I would be miserable. But I’m not, because I know that I won’t be here forever.

I’m constantly reading, listening to podcasts, talking to people, and focusing on improving myself every day. I strive to learn as much about business and entrepreneurship every day.

What if you don’t want to be an entrepreneur? What could you do instead?

Anything!

Do you like sports? Take it up after work. Join a local rec league. Volunteer to coach your local high school team. Join a gym.

You could also volunteer. Network and meet new people. Join Toastmasters. Research other career opportunities and take the first step to getting out of your current situation.

Be productive and make the most of your time. Work towards something meaningful in your free time if you don’t derive meaning from your job. Give yourself something to look forward to.

Your situation isn’t permanent. You have options and choices in the world. You just might have to stick it out at your current job a little longer.

If you are in a volatile situation, these tips may not work for you. You may need to get out. But if you’re like me and you’re working a job to pay the bills, try out some of the tips above. I don’t know if they will work. But they work for me. Here I am today, happy and excited about the possibilities in my future.

How to improve your listening skills so that others open up to you

How to improve your listening skills so that others open up to you

Last month I was working on a project with my coworker, Mike, when I came across something that I thought was unusual.

It was something I’ve never seen before, and I wanted Mike’s opinion on what we should do.

I wanted to talk it out and get an explanation of some sort. About two sentences into my speech, Mike cut me off.

“Don’t worry about that. It’s not important,” He said.

That was it.

No explanation of why it wasn’t important.

Mike cut me off before I had a chance to explain. His short, abrupt response didn’t help me whatsoever.

I’m trying to learn and figure something out. And all he could say was that it wasn’t important.

His half assed response infuriated me.

I didn’t have any resolution. He made my job harder because not only did I not know why this didn’t matter, but I had to figure out on my own why it wasn’t important and document my reasoning.

Mike pissed me off. Why didn’t he listen to me? He could’ve given me an explanation and let me go on my way. Instead I completely wasted my time trying to figure out things on my own.

Mike’s not the best listener. But he’s not alone.

When people fail to listen, problems sprout up like weeds. It makes jobs harder. It leads to miscommunication. And it wastes time.

I’ve Resolved to Become a Good Listener

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to value good listening.

Growing up as a middle child, I felt like no one ever listened to me. Maybe I’m self-conscious about it.

Regardless, I made a promise not to make others feel like they are being ignored. I’m not perfect. I have moments where my attention dwindles.

Benefits of Listening

People have a tendency to tell me more information when I shut my mouth and listen to what they say.

By showing an ability to listen, people appreciate your patience and listening skills. They are also more likely to open up to you and tell you their deep, dark secrets.

If I were an evil person, I could use this to my advantage. But I’m not. I have, however, found this skill to be quite useful in my personal life and my work life.

You better understand people’s quirks and attitudes better. From there, you can adapt your behavior to their little quirks which is huge to help avoid any confrontation or animosity.

Great Leaders Listen

According to Sir Richard Branson, if you want to stand out as a leader, start by listening. Listening is a skill that helps you throughout your career. It helps you gather information on how to move things along by paying attention to what employees are saying.

Branson says “Leaders who are great listeners are often terrific at uncovering and putting in place strategies and plans that have a big impact.”

“We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.” – Diogenes

We listen for a variety of reasons: to obtain info, decipher it, learn, and for pure enjoyment. However, research shows we only remember about 25 to 50 percent of what we hear.

Many employers say listening is one of the top skills they look for in employees.

If you’re a business owner or employee, listening increases customer satisfaction, leads to greater productivity, fewer mistakes, and an increase in information shared among individuals.

How Can We Become Better Listeners?

1. Have an Open Mind

Start by having an open mind to what your speaker is saying. Listen without judging or criticizing.

Occasionally when I talk to someone with a different opinion from me, I can tell if they are tuning out what I say. What ends up happening is I don’t listen to what they say in retaliation. We are both stubborn, and all communication breaks down.

Hold back your thoughts, and listen without judging or criticizing. Don’t interrupt someone else when they are trying to finish their sentences.

2. Actively Listen

Pay complete attention to your speaker. Be mindful of what they are saying. Put away books, papers, your cell phone, and any other distractions that will detract from their message.

Sometimes I get bored when I hear someone else talking. I remind myself to repeat what they say in my head as they say it. This turns listening into an active activity instead of passive.

3. Make Eye Contact

Have you ever talked to someone while their eyes dart around the room? It’s kind of distracting.

Look at the speaker directly. Don’t become distracted by those things around you. Maintain eye contact with your subject.

4. Connect Emotionally

Listen to not only the words that the person is saying, but listen to the emotion behind those words. Are they excited or sad or angry?

Emotion drives a lot of our communication. Emotional awareness will lead to greater comprehension and understanding in your communication.

5. Pay Attention to Nonverbal Clues

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said” -Peter Drucker

Nonverbal communication makes up a majority of our communication.

Some say that 93 percent of our communication is nonverbal, others say 55 percent. The numbers don’t matter. At the end of the day, more than half of our communication with one another is nonverbal.

Pay attention to how someone is behaving. Are the fidgeting? Are they avoiding eye contact? Do they seem closed off?

These nonverbal clues can give you a peek into their mind and give you an idea of how they’re really feeling.

6. Acknowledge the Other Person

Nod your head and say “uh huh” or “yeah” to reassure the person that really are listening.

Not only that, but respond to the speaker in a way that encourages them to continue speaking. Be sure to recap what they say every so often. You can do this by saying, “So what you’re saying is…” or “So you think…”

This helps you understand better what they are saying, forces you to recall what you’re saying, and reinforces to the speaker that you are actually listening to their concerns.

7. Encourage Further Communication

Once you develop an understanding, ask open ended questions that encourage them to talk further and expand upon what they were saying.

You want to respond in a way that encourages your speaker to continue speaking. This way you can extract more information that you can utilize down the road. Ask open ended questions that allow for further explanation.

That’s It

I’m not the best listener, that’s why I wrote this post. Sometimes I need to remind myself why listening is important and how to listen better.

Would you consider yourself a good listener? What would you recommend in order to become a better listener?

How you can discover your passion and purpose in life

How you can discover your passion and purpose in life

I don’t have a passion.

I work as an auditor. I chose a safe major in school which led to a safe career path. I’m good at what I do, but it doesn’t make me feel alive.

Every day I feel a little more anxious because I haven’t found my passion. Four or five nights a week I wake up, without fail, apprehensive and scared.

I worry that I’ll never find my calling. I want to follow my passion, but I don’t know what that is.

What am I doing wrong?

Teachers, leaders, mentors, and family members encourage us to do what we love. The message is everywhere. On television. At Harvard commencement speeches. In Ted Talks. “Do what makes you come alive,” they say.

What if nothing comes to mind?

I don’t have a passion. There isn’t one thing that make me come alive. At least not in the way those public speakers make it sound.

I have a wide variety of interests. I love sports. I enjoy learning and helping others. I find psychology and entrepreneurship fascinating. But I wouldn’t say I’m passionate about any one of those things.

The problem with finding your passions

The educational system

The education system don’t foster students’ passions.

The educational model is the same system that popped up during the industrial revolution. Kids spend the six or seven hours per day in a class room, performing academic drills in math, science, and English.

As a result of this model, we don’t foster children’s natural creativity.

Sir Ken Robinson talked about this in his popular Ted Talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” Robinson believes that we are all born with “immense, natural, creative abilities” which “slip away as we get older.”

Instead of nurturing creative abilities, we devote equal time to specific academic areas every day.

Robinson believes that the educational system is too standardized. He’s right. Everyone learns differently, but school doesn’t foster to these individual differences.

Standardized testing overrules creative activities. Teachers are evaluated based on how many students they can get to pass a test.

Administrators don’t nurture creativity. You can’t measure creativity. You can’t put a number on it. You can’t rank students and pay teachers based on the creative ability of their students.

Students are steered away from their passions

According to Robinson, students are steered away from their passions and interests in the current educational system.

The educational system is a factory learning environment. You plug students into the system, teach them up, and send them on their way. This one size fits all system kills passions.

If an 8 year old kid loves science, they aren’t encouraged to spend more time on science. Instead, they have to take the same classes in equal parts for over a decade of their life.

Then they go to college and focus on what their passionate about (if they haven’t developed a distain for education yet). But they still have to go through 2 years of prerequisites so that they are “well-rounded” citizens.

As a result, children and driven away from their passions by taking a decade and a half of the same classes instead of focusing on what they love.

Dreams Crushed at a Young Age

“You can’t make a living doing that.”

“No one will pay you to paint or play music.”

“There’s too much competition.”

“Be realistic.”

Parents who do this stunt, and even destroy, a child’s growth. It discourages natural curiosity and tells people not to follow their passions because they’re not realistic.

This leads to the wrong focus. Get a safe job so that you can pay the bills. Get a job that is well-paying and well-respected. Parents push their kids to go to medical or law school so that they can have a successful life.

That’s what happened to Eric Reed. Eric was a successful lawyer who had everything you could imagine. He had a fancy house, nice car, and could buy almost anything you could imagine.

But Eric was working crazy hours. I’m talking 12 to 14 hours a day. When Eric wasn’t sleeping he was working. He hardly saw his family and was unfulfilled with life.

Eric did everything that you’re supposed to do. He got a respected job. He could buy anything he wanted. But he still wasn’t happy.

Eric isn’t alone. Many people face this same struggle. I know because I’m facing that struggle. I picked a job that was safe and pays well. But I don’t love it.

Eric broke free from his shackles. He followed his passion and became a travel writer. Now if only I could do that…

Misconception of Passion

Passion is a strong term. For me, starting with passion isn’t a good place to begin. I don’t feel passionate about anything in particular.

I think maybe the word itself is the cause for a lot of anxiety.

So what do I do since I don’t feel like I have a passion?

Pick One Thing and Move in That Direction

What interests you today? For me, it’s writing, entrepreneurship, and psychology. These are areas that I pursue a little every day.

I don’t expect to make money from these interests right now, and that’s okay. Because I enjoy these things already, I don’t need to make money.

Dive Deep in What You Like

What area do you really like? What are you interested in at the moment? Dive deep into that area.

Discover everything you can about that area. Read about it. Talk to people who work in it. Study it. And finally, become that area.

Take music for example. If I become really passionate about music, I would first start to play an instrument and understand music theory.

I would talk to other musicians and get their advice. I would hire a coach or teacher to help me become better. And I would practice every single day.

What if I lose interest?

I talk to other musicians and take lessons for six months. But don’t feel as interested in music as I did before. Now what?

Naturally, I would move on. It’s a simple as that! It’s okay to quit something that you thought you were more interested in at one point in time.

You are searching for your passion (or something like it). Don’t pursue something that you don’t want to do anymore. It isn’t a life sentence. Don’t be afraid to quit.

Move on to the next thing

Move on to whatever interests you next. Pursue this thing until you lose interest. Or continue to pursue it as long as you enjoy it.

It’s okay to quit what you are doing and move on to the next thing. One of two things will happen: you will find what brings you to life or you will add tools to the toolbox for the future.

When you pursue diverse interests, you become proficient in different areas.

Let’s say I’m interested in music for a few months but eventually get bored. I become interested in psychology and marketing. Then I become extremely interested in computers.

After becoming proficient in those areas, I could take all of this knowledge and combine it into one new idea. After all, that’s how many of the great careers or products began.

Doing many things before finding “the one”

One person who’s done a number of things before finding his true calling is Robert Greene.

Robert Greene is the bestselling author of the 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, and Mastery. But he didn’t become a best seller overnight.

Greene said that he worked 80 jobs before becoming a best-selling author. He previously worked as a construction worker, screenwriter, and hotel receptionist.

He learned a lot from those jobs. He worked many crappy jobs with crappy people and was able to take everything he learned and make something out of it. This ultimately led to him writing The 48 Laws of Power and The Art of Seduction.

That’s what I strive to do

I follow my interests in my free time, working on them a little bit here and there as I can. I pick a path and go down that path as far I want. There will be detours along the way. There already have been. And that’s okay with me.

I don’t get paid for what I’m pursuing right now, and that’s fine.

I don’t make money from writing, but I do it because I enjoy it. I enjoy the challenge of researching and writing and expressing my thoughts.

I don’t have a passion. But lately I haven’t been waking up in the middle of the week worrying.

I pursue what interests me in my free time. If these interests amount to something down the road, great! If not, at least I’m doing something I enjoy in my free time and staying productive.

What do you think? Have you found your passion? What did your journey look like?

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How Meditation Improved My Monday

How Meditation Improved My Monday

I couldn’t sleep. I was tossing and turning in bed. I was stressed from work. I was anxious about life.

I called up my girlfriend who was out of town. I talked to her and explained my problem.

She has taken an interest in yoga and meditation recently. She loves doing them and finds that it lifts her spirits.

She suggested I start doing yoga and meditation to help with my anxiety. She sent me a couple of guided meditation videos to help me get started.

“Just give it a chance,” she said.

Naturally I resisted. I knew meditation had many benefits. But for some reason I could never bring myself to do it.

I’ve experimented with meditation in the past. I’ll admit, I liked the way I felt. But for some reason I resisted.

I didn’t think it would help in this situation. Besides, some of those videos were just too far out there. It was too touchy, feely for me. You know, the kind of stuff where you have to “find” yourself.

“I’ll do it later” I said.

“Okay, your loss.”

She was right. It was my loss.

I Finally Had Enough

Last Monday I got home from work feeling exhausted. I had eye strain and a headache thanks to staring at the computer all day long.

My back hurt. I was tired and grumpy. I felt lousy.

“Enough. Let me try meditating” I told myself.

I downloaded the Headspace app from Google Play and got to work.

I did the first 10 minute guided meditation session from the app. Afterwards I felt amazing.

I was relaxed throughout my body. I was awake and alert for the first time that day. I was more aware of my body and mind. I felt more present and in the moment.

My sour mood evaporated. I was no longer grumpy. I felt as if I had woken up from a blissful sleep.

I thought to myself, “I could get used to this!”

Could I Replicate This Feeling?

The next day I meditated during my lunch break. The result was the same.

I felt more productive and focused throughout the afternoon. I was energized, but relaxed, if that makes any sense. And I was more aware and mindful of what was going on.

“Why have I put this off for so long?”

Maybe you’re like me. You’ve put off meditating because it’s too touchy feely, or “woo-woo” type stuff. Trust me when I say, it has completly shifted my thinking.

When you mediate, your analytical, reasoning mind shuts down and you have an increased sense of awareness. This state of mind has been described as “Satori,” “Zanshin,” or “enlightenment” in martial arts.

Meditation Has Powerful Physiological Effects

Studies show that people who meditate recover from stressful situations quicker than those who don’t.

Science shows that skin resistance decreases in states of anxiety and stress, and increases when we are relaxed.

Researchers have found that mediators have a large skin resistance, thus allowing them to recover from stressful situations more quickly and better cope with stress.

Your Brain on Meditation

Your brain has various different brain waves, depending on your situation.

When you meditate, you encourage an increase in alpha brain waves. These wave are conducive to creativity and the assimilation of new concepts.

Some practitioners are able to achieve a more relaxed state of mind, which encourage theta brain waves. These types of brain waves are associated with deeper insights and intuition.

Not only that, but those who practice meditation consistently continue to exhibit alpha and theta brain waves after meditation sessions.

This increases relaxation, creativity, and emotional connection for a time period after meditating.

Getting into the “Right” Brain

We have a tendency to use the left hemisphere of our brains. Practicing meditation allows us to “turn off” this verbal, linear, analytic style of information and processes.

This means we become more right brained. Our sense of time and logic no longer dominate our conscious thoughts when we meditate.

Instead we become more holistic, receptive, and think beyond language and logic.

Meditation and Psychology

Finally, research literature suggests that meditation produces feelings of self-transcendence, increased meaning in the world, and more connection with the world.

Other research shows that people are more confident, have better self-control, more empathy, and become self-actualized during meditation as a result of meditation. Finally, people report a decrease in anger and better ability to control their attention thanks to meditation.

Do You Want to Give Meditation a Shot?

I started off by using the Headspace app. You can also find guided meditation videos on YouTube. Here are a few to get started:

Can’t sleep, Meditation For Insomnia, Guided Voice, Gentle Music For Sleepless Nights, Relaxation

The Five Minute Miracle – Daily Guided Meditation

10 Minute Guided Meditation to ease Anxiety, Worry, and Urgency

The benefits of meditation cannot be denied. I was ignorant and held off meditating for so long. Being a bit of a skeptic (and slightly ignorant), I can say that I was completely wrong. Don’t wait so long like I did, try out meditation for yourself and let me know how it goes.

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Delayed Gratification Doesn’t Mean Delaying Your Happiness

Delayed Gratification Doesn’t Mean Delaying Your Happiness

Imagine that you’re four years old again. You’re in some strange building that you’ve never seen before.

A researcher leads you down a long hall. Finally, you reach a door, and the researchers sits you down. In front of you is a table with a plate on it. On that plate is a single marshmallow.

The researcher looks at you and says, “I’m going to give you one marshmallow right now and leave for a few minutes. If you don’t eat that marshmallow by the time I get back, I’ll give you a second marshmallow. If you do eat that marshmallow before I get back, you won’t get a second one. Do you understand?”

You nod your head.

What would four year old you do? Would you eat the marshmallow immediately or would you wait until the researcher got back?

Stanford Marshmallow Experiment

In 1970 Walter Mischel and Ebbe B. Ebbesen of Stanford University conducted their now famous marshmallow test. The purpose of this study was to understand how and when children develop and control deferred gratification.

In order to conduct their experiment, they studied children from ages 4 to 6. One by one, researchers led these young children into the testing room and offered them a single marshmallow, with a caveat: if they waited, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow.

Some children were unable to resist the urge and popped the marshmallow in their mouths immediately. Other children attempted to control themselves, but gave into their temptations after just a few minutes. A few children showed remarkable constraint and resisted the urge of eating the first marshmallow.

Some kids would cover their eyes with their hands. Others turned around so they couldn’t see the marshmallow staring back at them. One kicked the desk in an effort of self-control. One kid gently stroked the marshmallow, but didn’t eat it, and was rewarded for his patience.

After an excruciating 15 minutes, researchers came back and rewarded the children with a second marshmallow. Roughly one-third of the children studied were able to delay gratification long enough to receive their reward.

At the time the experiment wasn’t revolutionary. The study simply showed that some kids had a preference for delayed gratification. It wasn’t until years later that researchers really understood the circumstances of their study.

In follow-up studies, researchers found that those children who deferred eating the marshmallow ended up with better life outcomes. Using SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index, and other measures as a benchmark, researchers found that those who delayed gratification ended up being more successful 20 years later.

Is Delayed Gratification a Good Thing?

This study implies that delayed gratification is a good thing. It shows that those with patience are ultimately rewarded in the end. But I believe there are some flaws.

I am going to argue against delayed gratification. I don’t believe it’s the “great thing” that some make it out to be. As a matter of fact, I believe delayed gratification is actually a bad thing.

I have become aware that my peers, millennials, are putting off happiness today so they can achieve more success later in life. All this in an attempt to attain higher job status and receive a higher income.

What if we are only chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

We’re told at a young age to do well in school so we can get into a good college. That way we can get a respected degree which will help us land a well-paying, prestigious job. Then we can marry our soulmate, buy a home, have 2.5 children, and live the American dream.

Only after we do all of that will we feel fulfilled and have a great life. Except this isn’t true. This dream is only an illusion we’ve been fed most of our young adult lives. And many of us are only now figuring this out.

Chasing a False Dream

My friends are going to school longer and getting more degrees in order to fulfill this false dream. They’re caught chasing the carrot of finding a job they love that will (hopefully) land them a fat paycheck.

But this isn’t what happens. Here’s the truth: we’ll go to school, then we’ll get a job in our respectful fields. We’ll become unhappy with that job, so we’ll go back to school. We’ll hope that our new job pays better and is more respectable. Then maybe, just maybe, we’ll be happy.

When we finally achieve all this, we realize we aren’t any happier than we were before. As a matter of fact, we’re more stressed and unhappy.

We’ve been told that delaying gratification is going to make us happy. We’re going to make more money so we can buy a bigger home and send our kids to the best schools. But once we reach these predetermined goals, we’re going to find that we’re still waiting on that promised feeling of happiness and accomplishment.

The Vicious Cycle of “Success”

Many people hate their jobs or have horrible bosses. Their work doesn’t fulfill them. They’re not respected. They’re not rich and powerful like they thought they would be. They haven’t changed the world yet.

Many people try to escape this rut. How do they do this? By chasing more degrees, getting advanced certifications, and clawing for promotions at work.

Too often we end up chasing the next level of success. Nothing ends up being good enough. We become so fixated on trying to reach the next level in hopes it will bring us satisfaction.

We sacrifice today for hopes of a brighter tomorrow. We forget to take a moment to live in the here and now because we are always fixated on the future, striving for more.

Let’s look at college students. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of American, 80% of college students frequently or sometimes experience daily stress. 34% of students had felt depressed at some point in the past 3 months.

In addition to the stress, millennials don’t get away from work. 9 out of 10 millennials can access work info at any time. 73% are expected to be contactable by their employer at any point.

Our elders are telling us to work hard to achieve happiness. We’ve been taught that to be successful you must live out the prescribed dream, and to do so you must always be future-focused.

What happened to enjoying the ride of life? We’re pushed by our parents to do this, be that, and get this. Our parents have the best intentions, but the results are undesirable.

Students are stressed from school and finals. They are trying to get into the best medical schools or the best MBA programs. We have this drive to be the best and to make a difference. Then when we don’t make that huge impact on the world, we feel insignificant. We come to the realization that a longer journey awaits with more stress and anxiety.

What’s the solution? How do we solve this problem? If we’re constantly chasing the carrot, and happiness is always out of our reach, what should we do?

The answer is nothing novel. We need to be happy now with where and who we are.

What Really Matters?

If you were to die tomorrow, would your degrees matter? Would your job title matter? Of course not.

If you’re trying to live out some fantasy, and you’re hoping to find the light at the end of the tunnel, is it really worth it?

Quit racing to be the success that everyone wants you to be. Don’t stress yourself out on a daily basis trying to achieve a dream that somebody else planned for you.

Learn how to be happy today and enjoy the progress that you’re making. Hang on for a ride.

Continue to strive and reach for the stars. But don’t put your happiness and sanity on the line today in hopes that you’ll end up being happy tomorrow.

Learn because you enjoy learning. Don’t learn just so you can get a piece of paper that tells everyone the knowledge you’ve gained.

Don’t wait until tomorrow to try and make a difference in the world. Help someone out today. Go out of your way to be nice to others.

You don’t need to be rich to help people. You don’t need to be rich to be happy.

Live in the present. Become more mindful and conscious of what’s going on around you.

Continue to move forward and grow and make progress. Work hard and make a difference in somebody’s life, starting with your own.

Stop trying to chase the elusive dream of making a big paycheck and having your happiness hinge on your wealth and income.

You can still be successful with this new mindset. Quit delaying your life for tomorrow and enjoy today. It could be your last.

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If You Want to Live a More Fulfilling Life, Check This Out

If You Want to Live a More Fulfilling Life, Check This Out

As a kid I never knew what to say. I was always a bit self-conscious. I felt like what I had to say was pointless, irrelevant, and boring. So I didn’t say anything.

I kept my mouth shut and was always the quiet kid. This attitude followed me through high school and even extended into my college life.

We are all like this

In my opinion, most of us millennials are like this. We don’t want to stir things up. We have become accustom to letting the adults handle everything while we sit on the sidelines.

But now it’s our turn. We’re out in the world. We are finishing school. Starting jobs. And changing the way the world operates.

I was lost

When I graduated from college a little over two years ago, I felt like everything was over. I was prepared to go into the black hole known as work.

I just finished majoring in accounting, which I wasn’t really thrilled about. I chose that major because it was the safe path. It’s a stable career. But it also has its downsides. Like it’s not very exciting. At all.

So when I started work I was really depressed. I hated my job. And I was worried that I would become like everyone else. That I would just go to work, come home, watch TV, then go to bed and wake up the next day and do it all over again.

Not only that, but I was studying for the CPA exam after work every day. I had no free time and no direction for what I wanted to do next in my life. Life had lost all purpose.

Sometimes I look back a see how stupid I was

Just because college was over and I was working didn’t mean it was all over. However, at the time I thought it was.

But like most people my age, I was blowing things way out of proportion. I made a decision to recommit myself.

In high school I had some thoughts about entrepreneurship. I knew a few people’s parents who had owned businesses and I was drawn to the idea. But I never really thought I was cut out for it. Once I started work, I knew I wanted to become an entrepreneur. I wanted to be my own boss.

So I committed myself to learning how to be an entrepreneur. I’m still not an entrepreneur today, but I have learned so much in the past two years. I feel like a completely different person today than I was back then.

I committed to change

I committed to learning as much as I could about, not only becoming an entrepreneur, but also about becoming better person. I read a ton of nonfiction books.

I first started reading books related to entrepreneurship and making money. Then I started a personal finance blog, since this is an area that I was extremely interested in. I self-published 5 books on Amazon. I was (and still am) so driven on generating income on the side. While my side income hasn’t grown, I have.

What’s the point of this blog?

The reason I am starting this blog is because I want to get away from personal finance. I’ve hit a plateau with that blog. Not only that, but I have so many other ideas not related to personal finance that I want to write about. But I don’t think that is the appropriate place for those posts.

Truthfully, I am a little burned out with the personal finance niche. I am still busting my ass trying to reach financial freedom. But I need to talk less and do more if I hope to reach that goal. Currently I am exploring an ecommerce business, but that’s not relevant right now.

A place to express myself without holding back

This blog will be a place for me to express my thoughts. I am constantly reading and listening to podcast interviews of some of the most fascinating people on earth. As a result, I have so many thoughts of my own that I want to put out there into the world.

Truth is, I really enjoy writing even though it brings me stress at times. But I need to get my thoughts out into the world. I can’t contain it anymore! I’ve been sharing these thoughts with my girlfriend and family, but I want to share them with you now!

That’s why I’m here

I want to talk about lifestyle design. I want to talk about getting everything you want out of life. Most importantly, I want to talk about living a life you love and loving the life you live.

If this doesn’t interest you, don’t follow this blog. If you do want to live a more fulfilling life, hit the follow button and introduce yourself in the comments below!

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