What Motivates You In Life? The 6 Common Factors That Drive People.

Have you ever posed this question to yourself, “What motivates me in life?”

So what motivates you and what makes you wake up each morning? What drives you and why do you go through life each day?

If you are just like every other ordinary people, you have no idea what motivates you. You do not know why you want to wake up each morning, and you do not know what you want to do with your life.

Ordinary people wake up each morning because they have to go to work. And the reason they get to work is that they want to get paid. They want to pay their bills and expenses.

In other words, they are working for the money. This is why when they have a choice; they choose to run away from their work. They will choose to sleep longer and sleep later when they do not have to report to the office.

Most people spend a minimum of 8 hours a day into their work. And if you work because you want to make money to pay your bills, but you are not fulfilling your calling, you will never have the motivation in life.

You will feel motivated when you chase your dreams and are fulfilling your destiny, not when you chase money.

Money is the means to an end. Most people thought that all they want is money, but money is not the end product that they want.

In fact, what we truly want are feelings. People want to drive a bigger and better car because they want to feel good and prestige. They want to look good, and they want to feel the sense of accomplishment.

So what they want is not the money. They only need the money to buy the car that they desire.

Therefore, if you chase money blindly, you may end up rich, but you may not feel fulfilled deep within.

This is why Stephen Covey said, “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”

You do not want to end up wasting your life chasing for things that you don’t want. What you truly want should be deep within you.

Here’s another quote from Stephen Covey:

Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.”

So motivation should come from within, not from outside. It is not the physical things or money that will motivate you; it is the feeling of ownership, the feeling of proud and the sense of accomplishment that drive you.

The Desire to Avoid Pain and Gain Pleasure

Previously, in my article, I have mentioned and talked about the desire to avoid pain and to gain pleasure.

Why do you do what you do in life? You do something because you want to gain pleasure or to avoid pain.

Think about it, why do you read this right now? Maybe you want to avoid the pain you feel while working or you feel bored; that’s why you read this.

Or perhaps you feel pleasurable reading this right now. You feel pleasurable and motivated when you read articles like this.

Everything we do, we do because of these two forces, pain, and pleasure.

When you see a beautiful lady, and you would like to make friends with her, what would you do? Would you dare to approach her? Or would you just do nothing?

When the pleasure of getting to know someone is greater than the pain of getting rejected, you will go ahead and approach the lady.

On the other hand, if the pain of being rejected is greater than the pleasure to know her, you will never approach her.

That means, if you are not working on your dreams or taking action on your goals, it is simply because working on what you want is painful to you.

If it is pleasurable, you would have done it already.

People love to watch movies and surf Facebook; they feel pleasurable doing it, and that’s why they are doing it all the time.

When you are not acting on your goals, and you procrastinate on your dreams, it is either the pain for taking action is greater than the pleasure of achieving them, or the pain of not achieving your goals is just not strong enough.

A lot of people put off working on their goals. They feel pain taking action, and they feel pleasurable doing something else like watching TV.

However, after some time, their pain of not accomplishing their goals will become greater, and that forces them into taking action.

You know why some people put things off until the last minute now?

Now that you know pain and pleasure are the two forces that make you do what you do. So how can you use it to motivate you in life?

Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.” – Napoleon Hill

At this point, we already knew that what we truly want to accomplish in life always have something to do with our inner self.

However, let’s just look at things in the big picture what motivates people in life as of now…

6 Common Factors that Motivate People in Life.

1. Money and Rewards

Do I need to say more? As I have explained above, most people thought that what they want in life are monies and the next shiny objects, but what they never realized is that the physical things that they want are just the means to an end.

What they truly after is the feeling of owning the items.

Thus, if you are chasing for money and the rewards, think twice. What do you truly want? Is it the money? Or is it the feeling?

When you understand what you truly after, you will value the journey more. You will appreciate the progress and process more because those are what truly counts, not the end result.

This is why people said that success is a journey, not a destination.

It is your hard work and the effort that you poured in that make you who you are today. It is the journey that shapes you into the person you want to be, not the physical items.

Money is just the reward you get when you win the game, but what makes you win the game is the progress.

So focus on the progress and not the end result. What you have gone through is more important than what you have achieved in the end.

2. Desire to be The Best

Some people just cannot accept to be number two in their lives. They fight hard and they work hard because they hate to lose.

People such as Donald Trump and Usain Bold are good examples. They just hate losing.

Why do you think Muhammad Ali works so hard? This is because he desires to be the champion.

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” – Muhammad Ali

And because their desire to be the best is so strong that they are willing to go all out and give all their best to achieve the number one status.

They sacrifice their time and work hard every single day to become the best. Are you willing to do that?

Are you willing to sacrifice your weekend or your nighttime to work on your dreams? Are you willing to wake up at 5am each morning so that you can have a head-start than others?

3. Helping the Others

Some people are motivated by helping others. They want to see changes in people’s lives and they want to fight for a better future for the world.

These are philanthropists, and they are willing to give up a huge portion of their wealth to make the world a better place.

In 2010, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett announced the Giving Pledge campaign to recruit and inspire wealthy people of the world to give a majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

When they first launched the campaign, there are as much as 40 people joined the campaign and have pledged $125 billion for charity purposes. As of March 2016, the campaign has recruited 142 members.

These are the people who are motivated and driven to help others and to make the world a better place. They are inspired to change other people’s lives.

While not everyone is driven to help others, but if you are, it is good.

You just need to understand what motivates you in life so that you can channel your energy through the right platform and achieve greater success in life.

4. Power and Fame

There is another group of people who are motivated by power and fame. Politicians are a great example here.

These are the people who inspired to become the leader and they are driven to achieve greater power and fame in life.

They want to lead and bring their company, their people and their nation to a greater height.

What about you? Do you chase for power and fame? Do you start your business to achieve what you want or because you feel good in leading your team?

You have to know what you truly desire deep within yourself.

5. Recognition

Recognition is another factor that makes certain people motivated. They want to prove that either they are right or someone is wrong.

They want the recognition from themselves or others. Do you know how Lee Iacocca achieved his recognition through reviving Chrysler in the 80s?

It is said that Ford Motors fired Lee and he felt so angry that he wanted to build a company to rival Ford. As a result, he joined Chrysler, which was in trouble at that time.

Lee then leads Chrysler to become a great automobile company again. Although Chrysler went bankrupt in 2009, it has truly shown that Lee Iacocca’s drive for recognition and to prove himself was a strong force to achieving success in life.

There was another similar story about Thomas Watson, who used to work for a company called NCR. Tom Watson was fired there and he wanted to prove his ex-company was wrong.

After that, Tom Watson joined a smaller company called CTR and grew it to become what was known as IBM today. He has led IBM for 40 years and has turned it into one of the leading technology companies.

So are you desire to be recognized? Do you want to prove yourself or prove that someone is wrong?

6. The Passion

The final factor that motivates most people in lives is passion. Why do you think all the successful people do what they do? Why do you think they are willing to wake up early and work harder than ordinary people? The answer is that they are passionate about what they do.

Think about it, there are times when you feel so motivated for something that you are willing to sacrifice your leisure time for it.

Maybe it is your favorite sport? Maybe it is when you got the chance to travel somewhere you love?

Whatever the reason, I believe that you understand the power of passion. When you are so passionate about something, you will think about it all the time. You will be willing to wake up early and sacrifice your sleep for it.

This is why passion is important because it can drive you each day to achieve what you want in life.

Sadly, most people never develop their passion in their work. They work like a zombie without feeling any passion. They make sure they are not the first one to reach the office and not the last one to leave.

No wonder most people are just plain ordinary. You are reading this because you want to be extraordinary and you want to accomplish great things in your life.

Always stay motivated

Steve Jobs used to have a portrait of Albert Einstein in his house. He wanted to remind himself of his vision and to use technology and design to change the world. Thus, whenever he saw the portrait and recalled his vision, he directs himself to the right path.

You can do the same by creating the intention of what motivates you.

Conclusion

What motivates you in life is something you need to discover if you want to achieve remarkable success.

This is why Zig Ziglar said that motivation is like bathing, you have to do it every day. Without motivation, you will never have the drive to take action. And without action, you can never reach your goals and live your dreams.

Articles by: shawn lim.

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21 Secret Of Capricorn Personality.

Have you ever wondered what it is exactly that makes those of us born under the Capricorn sign such… well… Capricorns!?

Sometimes Capricorn can cop a lot of flack for being an ‘obsessive control freak’ type but the truth is there is a whole lot more to this zodiac sign than often meets the eye.

So today lets dive right into this often misunderstood sign and take a look at some of the distinct personality traits and characteristics that make Capricorn so unique.

1. Capricorn is incredibly practical and resourceful.

Capricorn has a practical mind that allows them to tackle and solve complex problems that leave others completely stumped.

They have a talent for for finding ‘real world’ solutions that actually work even when they have little help and few resources at their disposal.

2. Capricorn is patient and disciplined as hell.

Capricorn knows that nothing truly great comes easily or quickly and their traits and characteristics of patience and discipline allow them to stick things out for the long run.

When others get bored and start to slack off the Capricorn will keeping pushing forward until they reach success.

3. Capricorn can often get a read on a person within a matter of seconds.

Capricorns have incredible instincts about people and their ability to read a persons thoughts can be almost unreal sometimes.

They’re able to instinctively pick up on a people’s true motivations and intentions within moments of meeting them… and more often than not they turn out to be right on the money.

4. When Capricorn is pissed off they can be brutal with their words.

Angry Yelling

For the most part Capricorn is calm and level-headed but if you really push their buttons and piss them right off they can become extremely vicious with their words.

They don’t need to resort to physical violence to put someone in their place. They just use their extensive vocabulary.

5. Capricorn is fiercely ambitious and deeply driven to succeed.

The Capricorn Ambition

Very few can match the hustle and determination that the Capricorn possesses and they’re always working in one way or another towards a better and more prosperous future.

They don’t like to just sit around all day merely talking about their dreams… they prefer to go out and make shit happen.

6. Capricorn is dependable and good for their word.

Dependable

There aren’t many people in the world that are quite as reliable and dependable as the Capricorn and when they say that they are going to do you can bet your ass that they will do it.

They often do well in the business world due to their determination to make good on every deal.

7. Capricorn looks for facts and evidence before rushing to conclusions.

Capricorn Seeks Facts

The Capricorn is a born skeptic who is notoriously hard to fool.

They prefer facts over hearsay and if you’re trying to convince them of something that sounds totally crazy… well you better have some actual evidence to back it up.

They have no interest in rumors and care only about the truth.

8. Capricorn doesn’t like to be kept waiting!

Kept Waiting

Capricorn is incredibly efficient and extremely organized. They have no time to sit around waiting for your butt all day just because you can’t get your shit together.

They’ve got places to go and people to see and can get quite irritated when people constantly waste their time.

9. When Capricorn is betrayed they are notquick to forgive or forget.

Holding A Grudge

The Capricorn isn’t generally the type of person to just let gross acts of betrayal ‘slide’.

They tend to have long memories and when someone abuses their trust or screws them over in a serious way they may even expel them from their life altogether and never look back.

10. Capricorn has high standards… for everything.

High Standards

Sometimes Capricorn can be called ‘fussy’ or ‘picky’ but to the Capricorn it’s simply a matter of having high standards.

Whether it’s their career, love life or pretty much anything else for that matter… they will settle for nothing but the very best.

11. Capricorn is clever and extremely calculated.

Capricorn Is Clever

Never underestimate the intelligence of a Capricorn… they’re extremely ‘switched on’ and always thinking several steps ahead of their competition.

They tend to be extremely calculated when making important life decisions and they prefer to weigh up every pro and con rather than making a stupid decision that they will later regret.

12. Capricorn gives seriously good advice.

Capricorn Gives Good Advice

The Capricorn is constantly finding themself dispensing advice to friends and loved ones and they’re pretty damn good at doing it too.

Their practical and problem solving nature allows them to assess a situation objectively and give out ridiculously useful advice about what should (and shouldn’t) be done about it.

13. When Capricorn gets knocked down they just get the hell back up and keep going.

Capricorn Wont Give Up

When the Capricorn encounters turbulence in life they don’t allow it to keep them down for very long. Instead of whining and complaining about it they just get the hell back up and keep moving forward.

The traits and characteristics of resiliance downright determination are extremely strong in the Capricorn personality and as a result they will wont allow a few measly setbacks to get in the way of what they want.

14. When Capricorn is hurting they can bottle things up and refuse to talk about it.

Hiding Weakness

Sometimes Capricorn can be such strong willed and independent creature that they have a hard time opening up when they are down or in trouble.

They can be so stubborn and determined to be self-reliant that they allow themselves to struggle in silence rather than reaching out for help.

15. Capricorn can be reserved and takes time to open up to new people.

Reserved Capricorn

Capricorn can be cautious about who they allow into their circle and can take time before they feel comfortable enough around someone to truly open up.

Once their trust and friendship has been earned however they can be quite outspoken and they make for extremely loyal friends.

16. Capricorn is fluent in the language of sarcasm.

Capricorn Is Fluent In Sarcasm

The Capricorn sense of humor tends to be extremely dry and brutally sarcastic.

Some can find their jokes a bit weird but those who ‘get’ their sense of humor often find them to be downright hilarious.

17. Capricorn is an extremely loyal lover.

Loyal Lovers

When Capricorn commits to someone they take that commitment seriously as a result they are some of the most faithful and loyal lovers in all of the zodiac.

They are willing to fight through the tough times of a relationship and wont just give up on someone at the first sight of trouble.

18. Capricorn has a baaaad habit of overthinking things.

Over-thinking Capricorn

Sometimes Capricorn can find themselves overthinking and overanalyzing things that are totally out of their control and to the point of driving themself nuts with stress.

They can put a lot of pressure on themselves to always perform at their best and can second guess their decisions worrying that they’ve made some kind of big mistake.

19. Capricorn has a crazy and fun side that comes out around friends.

Capricorn's Fun And Crazy Side

Sometimes people may label Capricorn as boring but those people probably don’t know them very well because around friends they can get quite crazy and wild indeed.

Just because Capricorn has their shit together… doesn’t mean they don’t know how to let their hair down and have a good time.

20. Capricorn is attracted to confidence and assertiveness.

Confident Lovers

If there’s one trait that Capricorn finds hard to resist in a potential partner it’s someone with some confidence who is willing to go after what they want in life.

If you want to really attract their attention then you shouldn’t be a pushover!

21. Capricorn has no problem being alone… in fact they kind of love it.

Focus

Capricorn has got a lot of love for their friends and family but they also have a loner quality to them that loves to be by themself.

Sometimes they just need to get away from everyone and everything to take a break from the hecticness of life.

source : zodiac fire

How to Help People With Anxiety

If you know someone with anxiety, you may know that it can be a crippling disorder of emotion that can leave the nervous individual feeling exhausted and powerless. Fortunately, a lot can be done to help individuals cope with and treat anxiety.

1.

Learn about the causes of anxiety.

Read up on the causes of anxiety. This will help you understand the other person’s perspective and give you some sense of when to offer help. You might ask about a difficult past, a medical condition, or just if there’s anything to talk about.

Although the exact cause of anxiety disorders isn’t fully understood, certain factors such as painful or traumatic life experiences and certain genetic traits increase the likelihood of having anxiety.

Other times, anxious individuals have an underlying medical condition such as irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, asthma, premenstrual syndrome, or thyroid problems

2.

Learn about different types of anxiety.

There are several different kinds of anxiety disorders that have different underlying triggers. Try to get a sense of what kind of anxiety your contact might be suffering from so you can form a more specific response:

Agoraphobia: anxiety about being in places where you could become trapped or lose control.

Anxiety caused by an underlying medical condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, or thyroid problems. You might be able to reduce the anxiety if you can help with treatment for the underlying medical condition (for example, by reminding them to take medication).

Generalized anxiety disorder. This type of anxiety describes individuals who are excessively anxious about the day-to-day events in life.

Anxiety related to substance abuse or withdrawal. Suggest a visit to a medical professional to help get clean or manage withdrawal symptoms.

Panic disorder: very intense feelings of anxiety and/or fear, lasting up to several minutes. These can involve difficulty breathing, heart fluttering (palpitations), and a sense of danger or incoming doom.

Social anxiety disorder: an excessive fear of social interactions. The anxious person may be excessively self-conscious, become embarrassed very easily, or fear screwing up in social situations.

3.

Remember what anxiety feels like.

Anxiety is not a fun experience. One way to help is by understanding what the anxious person is going through so you can provide comfort in specific ways related to the individual’s symptoms. Anxiety symptoms include:

  • Feeling nervous.
  • Feeling powerless.
  • Feeling a sense of incoming danger.
  • Feeling weak.
  • Feeling tired.
  • Difficulty concentrating.

4.

Listen carefully.

Different people may require different kinds of aid. Perhaps the best way to find out how you can help is to ask. There are a number of things you can do to be a good listener:

  • Keep your expressions neutral. For example, say things like “I see”, or “uh huh”.
  • Match your expressions with the emotional tone of the conversation. For example, if your friend is very upset, try to make your “I see” sound empathic or reassuring rather than either emotionally cold sounding or excited (both of these contrast with the other person’s mood).
  • Ask a lot of open-ended questions. If you want to find out more about how you can help, rather than asking “are you anxious?” use an open-ended question such as “what kinds of things or situations generally make you anxious?”
  • Pay close attention by doing your best to clear your mind of your own worries and keep track only of the other person’s thoughts and feelings.

5.

Practice empathy.

Empathy refers to the ability to sense others’ emotions and imagine what they might be thinking or feeling. There are some ways to be empathetic towards those with anxiety:

  • Focus your attention on the anxious person.
  • Keep in mind shared human values and the shared human experience. Remember that we all have a lot of the same pains, fears, and worries; this can make it easier to understand another perspective.
  • Temporarily suspend your own judgments.
  • Share relatable experiences but do so sparingly so as not to take over the conversation. The key is to demonstrate that you can relate to the anxious person’s experiences.

6. Observe the anxious individual.

Learn to look for outward signs of anxiety, so you can get a sense of when they are anxious. This lets you provide help or comfort in times of distress. Signs of anxiety include:

  • Nervousness.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Sweating.
  • Trembling.

7.

Keep costs and benefits in mind.

Try to remember that if you don’t get much benefit out of an activity but it causes your friend or partner significant anxiety; it may be best to stop.

  • That said, avoid over-accommodating the anxious person’s anxiety, as it provides little incentive to change.

Source : Wiki.com.

How to Stop Overthinking Everything: 9 Simple Habits

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.

Source :positivityblog

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9 Ways Successful People Deal With Stress

Anxiety. Depression. Heart disease. Sleeping problems. Weight gain. Memory impairment.

A sorry list of symptoms, to be sure, and it’s a list that quite quickly explains why you need an effective approach to stress. (More stress can mean more of the above nasties.)

In this post, I’ll combine loads of research with tangible tips on what you can do to manage stress in your life. Some of the answers–particularly my last point–may surprise you. Surprise or not, I hope they’ll help you.

But before you get to work on stress, let’s look (briefly) at how stress works on you.

How Does Stress Happen

(Feel free to jump down to point #1 below if you want to get right to the actionable advice.)

Prolonged, chronic stress ratchets up your risk for those problems I listed at the top of this post, according to the Mayo Clinic. The people at Mayo also explain how stress works: When you’re threatened, a pair of glands on top of your kidneys dump out a slew of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol (the main stress hormone).

These hormones up your heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar. And, since stress is your body’s way of kicking into fight-or-flight mode, the hormones dim the lights on the digestive, reproductive, and immune systems.

This is fantastic.

Why? Stress helps you respond to threats, directing your energy to the fight-or-flight response. Then, once a threat goes bye-bye, adrenaline and cortisol taper off, letting you relax.

If, however, you feel buffeted by stress that never lets up, you might never feel relief — a situation that keeps your blood pressure sky-high and your bodily systems suppressed. Such uncontrolled stress increases your chance of winning the nasty health problems lottery I started the post with.

So, it helps motivate us to do things. The ideal level of stress lies somewhere between the boredom of “too little” and the insanity of “too much.”

Goldilocks would be proud:

You want enough stress that you’re motivated, but not so much that you’re ripped apart.
The problem is that a lot of us are way over the peak of that mountain, into high-stress territory. In this post, I’ll give you nine ways to hike back where you belong–a place where stress no longer weighs you down.

How To Deal With Stress?

1. Strike a Power Pose

Power pose — does that sound silly? I don’t care, because it works. Sitting or standing in certain ways, ways that exude confidence, can relieve stress and help you feel in control.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… a high-power pose conducive to stress management! (Image of Superman via Heroes Wikia)
I’m not BSing you. Researchers from Columbia and Harvard put out a study in the journal Psychological Science, where they looked at a simple question: Can open, expansive postures that express power actually cause power?

The experiment wasn’t complicated. Researchers brought participants into a room and moved their arms and legs into the right position, either a high-power or low-power pose. Here are the poses they used:

The study looked at a few cool things, but I want to focus on the bits relevant to stress. The researchers swiped samples of the participants’ spit before and after the test. This let them measure how much of the stress hormone cortisol each participant had before and after striking their poses.

The result? High-power poses meant less cortisol, and thus less stress:

You only have to hold the pose for a minute or two. That’s all the participants did, and their cortisol levels fell in around 15 minutes.

are.” She’s one of the authors of the study.
Read the study itself. It’s only six pages, and it’s pretty easy as far as academic writing goes.
This article from the Wall Street Journal investigates some other pros of power posing. It’s a light yet informative read.

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2. Get Perspective and Look at the Big Picture

I know this one is a cliche–look at the big picture and let your stress wash away–but I want to take a closer look. There are more pixels to this image than you’d think.

What do I mean by getting perspective on stressful events? TIME Magazine puts it well:

“Research shows that reminding yourself how unimportant the event is in the big scheme of things is a better tactic.”
Let’s glance at some of the research on this. There’s some punch behind the cliche.

A 2006 study by scientists at Yale and the University of Colorado peered into how being aware of your overarching values can beat down barriers. In the experiment, they asked students in a classroom to write about things that they valued–religion, talent, family, etc.–before working on a class assignment. This exercise boosted achievement for many students.

A similar experiment singled out women in a college physics course. At the beginning of a semester-long class, women in the experimental group were told to write about their values. As a result, the study says, the average grade for this group rose from the C range to the B range.

In both of these studies, participants consciously considered their big picture values, which helped put minor stresses into perspective.

Thinking about what you value is one practical way to see the big picture.

Writing at Tiny Buddha, Francis Tapon explains two other tactics, which together form what he calls the “Pilgrim’s Perspective” (I encourage you to read his full post when you have time):

Perspective of Space: When stressed, imagine that you’re filming yourself. Then pull back the camera to see an ever-bigger view: the whole room, the whole building, the whole street, the whole city, the whole country, the whole planet, the moon and Earth, our solar system, even the entire Milky Way Galaxy.
Perspective of Time: When stressed, close your eyes and fast-forward in time, in ever-bigger increments, to see how little harm this supposed stress will cause you in the long term.
Ruminating on how stressed you feel just sets you up for more stress, which is why perspective helps. I like what comedian Mindy Kaling has to say:

Going on and on in detail about how stressed out I am isn’t conversation. It’ll never lead anywhere. No one is going to say, “Wow, Mindy, you really have it especially bad. I have heard some stories of stress, but this just takes the cake.”

3. Laugh

When stress claws at me, I sometimes have to chuckle.

There are times when I stand by my desk, muscles clenched and head pounding, feeling assaulted by the demands of life as I rush to crank out a blog post or feature article. Then I realize how ridiculous the whole situation is, and I laugh.

Research says that I should keep laughing. The Mayo Clinic writes that laughter can “stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.”

I’ve got more proof. A group of professors at Western Kentucky University wanted to see how laughter played with stress. The divvied their study participants into two groups: one half watched a comedy video, while the other half served as a control group and watched a video about tourism.

The people who watched the comedy video were less stressed.

But the power of humor doesn’t end there. Among those who saw the funny video, the study’s authors write, “increased mirthful laughter, as measured on the [Humor Response Scale], correlated with decreased stress scores.”

It’s true that correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. But it’s an interesting addition to the piles of stress-comedy research.

Here’s an a la carte line of studies looking at how comedy pops the stress balloon:

A meta-analysis of 49 studies in the Journal of Managerial Psychology found that (respectful) humor in the workplace puts a dent in burnout and stress.
Researchers at the State University of New York told 80 participants to watch a stressful silent film (the video showcased three nasty sawmill accidents, so it was no Sunday picnic). They also had the participants narrate the film: half were supposed to deliver a serious monologue, while half were told to say humorous stuff. Those told to be funny were less tense afterward.
The American Journal of the Medical Sciences reports that study participants who watched a comedy video has lower levels of the stress hormones ACTH and cortisol than a control group.
Humor that helps you put things in perspective helps you recover from stress, according to a pair of studies published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.
A little study out of Miami University interviewed women confronting the challenge of caring for both young children and chronically ill parents. “Participants revealed that using humor and laughter, they could gain a fresh perspective on an otherwise very stressful situation,” the study says.
A 2011 study from Psychology in Spain found that participants’ anxiety went down if they watched a funny video.
Whether you giggle or guffaw, get a way to get a laugh. Comedy helps you cope with stress, and, even if all of these researchers are wrong, the worst case scenario is that you spend some time watching reruns of The Colbert Report.

So go ahead. Laugh your way to a low-stress life, starting with this bit from Louis CK:

4. Watch Videos of Cute Animals

Your front line stress war soldiers can be fluffy little mammals on YouTube.

It makes sense, right? Cute animals create a warm and fuzzy feeling. It’s hard to be stressed when there’s a teeny little puppy with big floppy ears rolling around on the carpet.

I swear I’m not making this up. Many universities spend money on therapy dogs to help students deal with stress. Especially amid the strain of finals week, furry friends help people loosen up.

And some campuses don’t confine themselves to dogs. One school has a fluffy chicken with its own Twitter account:

How could you possibly feel stressed after palling around with Woodstock the Therapy Chicken?
You can guess what’s next: the science, the research, the proof. One paper from Frontiers in Psychology reviewed 69 studies and concluded that interacting with animals lowers fear and anxiety for people. Part of the reason for this lies in oxytocin, a hormone that, among its other jobs, reduces stress. Interaction with animals pumps more oxytocin to your brain.

It even goes both ways: contact with humans helps dogs lower their stress.

Not everyone has a puppy (or a chicken), though. But that’s fine: you don’t even need to interact with an animal to get these benefits.

That’s the word from Queen’s University Professor Deborah L. Wells. She ran an experiment where she showed participants videos of animals, including birds, fish, and primates (two control groups watched videos of humans or a blank screen). Wells found that, when confronted with a stressful activity, the animal-watchers dealt with it better:

“[T]he video recordings of the animals appeared to buffer the participants from the stressor. Thus, individuals exposed to the videotapes of birds, fish and primates, showed significantly lower levels of heart rate and blood pressure … the results from this investigation show that visual stimulation can by itself buffer people from cognitive challenges.”
Isn’t that just happy? Next time you’re stressed, find a video of a cute animal, watch it, and let the good feels roll.

You can start with my new Internet pal, Flex the Yorkie. The video is just 30 seconds:

5. Meditate

Mindfulness meditation can quell your qualms. A longtime practice in Eastern spiritual traditions like Hinduism, Daoism, and Buddhism, meditation has become more popular in the Western world. While it has a range of health benefits, I want to focus on the stress management aspects.

Perspectives on Psychological Science defines mindfulness:

“In current research contexts, mindfulness is typically defined as nonjudgmental attention to experiences in the present moment.”
I find that taking several deep breaths can help me refocus and keep stress under control. That’s a small instance of mindfulness.

When you meditate mindfully, the goal is to exist in the present, without brooding about the past or worrying about the future. I think a lot of stress stems from those things, so it makes sense that cultivating mindfulness helps people deal with stress.

A 2013 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that mindfulness meditation lowers anxiety. A 2007 study discovered that mindfulness-based stress reduction, a mindfulness program created by a University of Massachusetts professor, reduces levels of cortisol and reported stress.

A 2014 meta-analysis of 47 studies came to the conclusion that mindfulness meditation lowers anxiety and stress.

Image credit: created with graphics from Aenne Brielmann, Tina Abi Hackem, and Juan Pablo Bravo.
Several companies see its benefits and offer ways for workers to meditate, including EBay, Google, Twitter, and the Huffington Post. (Arianna Huffington herself raves about meditation — learn more in our July 2014 issue of Foundr Magazine.)

The authors of a 2004 meta-analysis that looked at 20 of the best studies write:

“Our findings suggest the usefulness of [mindfulness-based stress reduction] as an intervention for a broad range of chronic disorders and problems. In fact, the consistent and relatively strong level of effect sizes across very different types of sample indicates that mindfulness training might enhance general features of coping with distress and disability in everyday life, as well as under more extraordinary conditions of serious disorder or stress.”
Mindfulness meditation is a powerful antidote to worry and distress. I’ve assembled a short list of links that can help you get started:

App: Headspace, an app for iOS and Android, guides you through meditations.
Article: The Mayo Clinic has a quick list of mindfulness exercises.
Module: The University of Minnesota offers a free mini-course on meditation. This is great if you have a little more time to spend learning and practicing. You don’t have to do it all in one sitting.

6. Smile

Simply smiling helps stress simmer down. I know that this sounds too simple, too cliche. But like high-power poses and laughter, smiles work.

Psychologists at the University of Kansas ran an experiment where they had some participants smile and others hold a neutral expression. Then the subjects had to run through two stressful tasks: One involved tracing a star with their non-dominant hand while only being able to see a mirror image of the star. In the other, participants had to plunge their non-dominant hand into a bucket of frigid ice water and hold it there.

The scientists measured the participants’ cardiovascular activity and found that those who smiled during the star-tracing-and-ice-water routine had lower heart rates than those who hadn’t smiled.

Lower heart rates generally mean you’re less stressed, so it seems that smiling can help you deal with stress.

Here’s one more interesting bit from that study. Among the participants who smiled, those who smiled with muscles around both their mouth and eyes–a full-face, Duchenne smile–had heart rates that were even lower than those who just smiled with their self

Another study saw scientists inject Botox into depressed participants to stop them from frowning. After several weeks, researchers compared the Botox group to a control group that hadn’t been prevented from frowning. In the control group, 7% of people had begun to recover from their depression. But for the Botox group, that number was 27%.

There are two takeaways from this second study:

Avoid frowning.
Facial expressions are powerful. This lends some more credence to the study on smiling.
A simple smile can move the mountains of stress aside, letting you glide through.

Bottom line: more smiles, less stress.

7. Exercise

This one’s a gimme. You’ve likely heard over and over again that exercise reduces stress. Still, let’s look closer.

I know the point about animals has come and gone, but let’s briefly bring our furry friends back: a 2011 study found that running reduces stress for mice.

Jerry is human enough, so running must also reduce stress in humans, right? Right?
It’s not a uniquely mousey thing, either. Exercise can work for you, tail or no tail. The Week writes:

“When you’re feeling stressed, going on a long run is perhaps one of the best things you can do to soothe frayed nerves.”
But why does exercise reduce stress? There are a few potential explanations:

Endorphins. The Mayo Clinic says that when you exercise, your brain makes lots of endorphins, chemicals that make you feel good, good, good.
Norepinephrine. Well, that word is a mouthful–thank you science. You can also thank science for investigating the relationship between this brain-made chemical and exercise: it seems that working out releases more of the chemical, which helps you deal with stress.
Practice. Exercise gives your body an opportunity to practice responding to stress, which makes it more efficient at doing so, according to the American Psychological Association.
To exercise is to move your body. There are so many ways to do it. The Stress Management Society says that you should keep two things in mind:

Do something fun. Find a sport or exercise t.
Don’t rush beyond your limits. To stay safe when exercising, take things slowly at first.
The Internet is full of exercise resources. Here are a few articles that may interest you:

Running Tips for Beginners
Strength Training 101: Where Do I Start?
10 Fun Sports that Burn Calories
How to Start Exercising When You’re Already Overweight

8. Unplug from Technology

Technology is amazing. Email lets us write back and forth instantly to communicate across distances where mailing a letter was once the only option, one that took days or weeks. Cellphones do that and more, having become small computers in this age of the smartphone. The Internet as a whole lets us communicate faster and in more ways than ever before.

But we all know that this constant communication can stress us out. That’s not flawed intuition–it’s proven fact.

The Journal of Occupational Health Psychology explains that relaxation reduces job-related stress. An important part of relaxing is having control over your leisure time, but that control can be undermined by incessant demands from a digital device.

A study of working couples demonstrated that cellphones make anxieties about work more likely to spill over to home. CBS explains:

“The results, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, showed that increasing use of cell phones and pagers was linked to a decrease in family satisfaction and increased stress over a two-year period.”
Cell phones left people chained to work, and it’s not hard to see how this idea extends to other situations. Let’s say you run your own business, and work is at home. You still need leisure time to relax, but if you’re hitched to your phone, you’ll likely get the same stressful spillover effect.

Another study found that young people who use cell phones a lot have more stress.

Here’s the actionable advice: to lower stress, find times of the day when you can turn your phone off.

You might not even have to go that far. I’ve found that I often have my phone sitting next to me when I write, which can stress me out. But just moving it to a table a short ways away relieves the stress. Is that silly? Maybe. But it works.

Of course, what’s true of cell phones holds true about that bane of productivity, that reviled void of stress: email.

Over 195 billion emails are sent and received across the globe each day. That’s a deluge that can stress people out, and it’s only going to grow:

This graph shows how many emails business users send/receive each day. As that number grows, it become ever more important to take time to unplug.
One paper details an experiment in which a group of workers went email-free for a week, with the predictable result that their stress levels fell.

Sure, that’s not realistic. But you can limit your email use. In another experiment, appropriately titled “Checking email less frequently reduces stress,” employees were told to check their email no more than three times per day. This, too, helped them relax.

To reduce stress, limit how many times per day you check your email.

9. Change Your Perspective on Stress and See it as Your Friend

Entrepreneurs often pivot, changing their business strategy in light of new information to meet their goals. You need to do the same with your personal strategy, because most of what you think about stress is wrong.

Throughout this article, I’ve mentioned reducing or lowering stress, but that kind of rhetoric isn’t quite right. Stress isn’t necessarily bad.

The best explanation of this that I have ever seen comes from Kelly McGonigal in her TED Talk, “How to make stress your friend.” You should watch it.

I’m serious–watch this talk. It’s only 14 minutes and 28 seconds, and it will change your life (I don’t say that often).

No, really. I see you, sly skim-and-scroll blog reader, and I see what you just did (well, what most of the people reading this post just did). Scroll back up and watch the TED Talk. My writing will stay right where it is, and McGonigal reveals something more important than anything I have to say. I can wait. I promise.

Done watching it? Awesome!

McGongial argues that stress itself isn’t bad. If you shift your mindset to see stress as a helpful force–your body gearing up to seize the day–then stress no longer harms your health. I love how she explains it:

“I no longer want to get rid of your stress. I want to make you better at stress … Hopefully the next time your heart is pounding from stress, you’re going to remember this talk and you’re going to think to yourself, this is my body helping me rise to this challenge. And when you view stress in that way, your body believes you, and your stress response becomes healthier.”
She wants you to get better at stress. Spot on.

Think of stress like food. Too much stress will put metaphorical weight on your shoulders, and too much food will put literal weight on your body. There’s an optimal amount of both food and stress. Beyond that quantitative view, however, there’s a qualitative component. In the same way you need the right kinds of food to stay healthy and feel good, you need the right approach to stress: be friends with it.

Stress, then, is a neutral force. You can use it for good or bad, productivity or pain.

Stress is a means to an end. You have to decide whether that end will be motivation or anguish.

What McGonigal talks about has to do with the two kinds of stress (yes, there are tow kinds): eustress and distress.

Eustress: Good stress. It motivates you to get work done.
Distress: Bad stress. It saddles you with worry and frustration.
I want to direct your attention back to a graph I included near the beginning of this post:

Eustress (the good kind–think euphoria) builds us up, boosting our performance to bring us to the optimal zone of stress. But when distress hits, you topple and tumble forward down the line to the right side of the graph–into a land of high stress and low performance.

All of the so-called “stress-reducing” techniques I talked about in this post are really just effective way to reduce distress. Use them to get to optimal stress.

Stress is a gift. It gears you up for the challenges of life. Just make sure you’re not getting too much of a good thing.

Dealing With Stress

I hope you found this post helpful! I aimed to get you up to speed (and give you loads of research) on some of the best ways that you can deal with stress to improve your life and be more successful:

Strike a high-power pose.
Look at the big picture: your values and the grand scheme of time and space.
Laugh.
Watch videos of cute animals. Seriously.
Meditate.
Smile.
Exercise.
Take time to disconnect from technology.
If you found the post helpful, then it would be awesome if you shared it. That way, your friends can see the same evidence-based advice for finally dealing with stress.

Categories: Lifehacks

5 Five Mindset Hacks To Get Things Done.

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Eighty percent of your capacity to get sh#t done is in the mind, 20 percent is skill, organization and know-how. So, that’s why to get up, get dressed and show up to smashing your success starts with tweaking that mental attitude to taking on the day. The mind is so incredibly powerful and therefore so are you — right now.

From my own personal journey and from studying and working with literally hundreds of leaders globally, I have found some mental exercises key to getting traction in life, work and business. Your success is through developing your mental capacity to smash the glass ceilings that are holding you back and get things done.

#1. Be Present

It’s all good to plan. It’s all good to learn from past mistakes. But when you are constantly putting yourself mentally in the future, or you are mentally living in past traumas or past glories to the extent that you are not living in the now, you are setting yourself up to fail. Both living in the future and past can freeze and numb you. You need to be a) nimble, b) quick, and c) take action. You can only be that by … being present to today.

Your action: Ask yourself in the morning, ‘What is one thing I can do to move my ______ (business, initiative, work, whatever goal) forward today?’ Did you get that? One thing. Just today.That means chewing off what you can mentally handle.

#2. Trust the Process

Did you notice the second part to the above question — the asking? You are asking for help. First, in so doing, you are opening to possibilities that may not be evident to you immediately. Trust that they’ll come. And, they will come. Second, you mentally allow yourself to not need to figure it all out by trusting that there is a process and you are one element to that process — a co-creator.

Your action: Look for the answers as the day unfolds. Be open to possibilitiesand expect guidance, solutions, answers, insights … and act on them.

# 3. Sweep House

Sweeping is about clearing: mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. Your mind is directly connected to all areas of your being and life. When you’re sitting in a cluttered office, that scene — with it’s stagnant energy, fills your mind with mental noise. When you’re physically tired, hungry or less fit, your mind goes on strike. Dealing with emotional pain? Feeling spiritually low?

Your action: Take on the day with sweeping house, even if a little (including the body that houses your mind/brain). Open space for your mind to start ticking. Seek help if you need. The key is to raise your energetic vibe by acknowledging and working with what is holding you back.

# 4. Take Time Out

Following on from sweeping house, it will be key to maintain breathing space. Numerous scientific studies show that diversions from a task can dramatically improve your ability to focus on that task for a prolonged period.

A big one for me is shifting gears by playing, chatting or whatever comes up with my kids. I get back to my day’s objectives after exercising a different part of my brain. So, I’m ready to not only keep going but perhaps even see a different path or way to getting it done. I gain fresh and critical perspective.

Your action: Take time out. Schedule it if you have to. But make taking time outto breathe, sleep, get sun, play, get grounded and work other parts of the brain a priority.

# 5. Just Do It

I know, it’s cliche. But in that saying is so much. It’s a mental attitude of overcoming the mind chatter and naysayers by determining to just doing it, regardless. Does it matter to you? Will it matter to those you care for? Your business, organization, having the impact you desire? If it’s a YES …

Take action: Just. do. it! Don’t wait half an hour. Not even five minutes. The moment you get inspiration, an idea, thought, whatever it is that emerges for you in your day, do one tiny thing asap in the direction of its fulfillment.

Wanda Krause, PhD

Wanda Krause, PhDMother, ski enthusiast, change strategist, faculty School of Leadership RRU, http://wandakrause.com
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