How We’ve Been Learning Wrong

What is learning, really? At the heart of it, do you approach learning something as truly consuming it, letting it ruminate and understanding it before applying what you know? Or do you simply memorize information that’s being fed to you and consider that “knowledge”? If it’s the latter, you may be using learning as an excuse to avoid putting in effort.

I know I have been guilty of simply memorizing information for an exam or paper and realizing I couldn’t recall any of the facts afterward. In school I never saw this as a problem. After all, I was acing tests! But now in my adult life, I realize there are certain things I truly learned, as I have retained them all these years. But there are plenty of things I remember being taught but have no recollection of beyond that.

Attending lessons doesn’t equal learning

Have you ever thought about how bizarre it is that we wake up five days a week and go to a building filled with desks, only to sit there counting down the minutes until the bell rings and we go home to do homework before starting it all over again the next day? If you feel like you aren’t actually learning anything, this can seem like a huge waste of mind-numbing time.

You’ve probably heard people say they learn best by doing. I know I do. But what if we all do? Think about it: you could watch someone build a car all day long on Youtube, but if you were then given all the parts, would you truly know how to put it together it? You would know how it should look in the end, and you may even have a general idea of where things belong. But the odds of you putting together a working car just from seeing someone do it are slim. Until you apply the knowledge you’re witnessing to your life, you haven’t truly learned it; you’ve just seen it.

Knowledge is more accurately 30% consumption and 70% creation

First things first, knowledge does not equal 100% consumption. You cannot simply read about something all day and call yourself an expert. It takes time and application. Think of consuming knowledge the same way you consume healthy foods on a new diet. Eating nothing but raw veggies and lean protein for one full day will not instantly transform your health or body. But doing it for a long time and making it a part of your life will lead to the results you want. Just like learning something, applying it to your life, working with it and adjusting what you really know will give you true knowledge over time, too.

Knowledge is more accurately 30% consumption and 70% creation. When you learn about something, you’re consuming it and allowing some ideas to take shape in your mind. When you are learning to do something, you’re using motor skills and memory to truly understand concepts and grasp facts. That’s when knowledge becomes real and powerful.

You learn the most by failing

It’s never fun to fail at something. In fact, in certain scenarios it can be embarrassing and upsetting. But with every failure comes a lesson. If you can use that lesson in your next attempt, you may still fail, but you’ll be closer to getting it right. I remember when I was taking Spanish in High School and later French in College. Both languages required dedication and study, but I didn’t figure out how to communicate in either of them by simply reading about what words translated to what and hearing someone tell me about conjugation.

I learned through trying to speak and occasionally messing up. In fact, I was on a study abroad trip in Ireland with an exchange student from France. He was incredibly handsome and I was the only one who could speak any French. Of course I seized the opportunity and would strike up a conversation at every opportunity. One morning, I tried to tell him I liked his sweater (le pull) but instead told him I liked his chicken (poulet)!! Thankfully he found it hilarious and not absurd, but I was mortified! But you can bet I never forgot the word after that. It took failure (and humiliation in my case) for me to actually learn the word rather than assume I knew it.

Stop using learning as a method of procrastination

When you accept sitting in a desk and hearing about something as the equivalent to knowledge you’re cheating yourself out of success. You’re procrastinating by sitting there and pretending you’re an expert simply because you wrote a paper about something.

In order to truly be successful and master a subject or idea, you will still have to research and study. The idea is to truly implement the things you’re learning – even through something as simple as having a conversation about it with someone – in your every day life.

My friends and family all know I am a wealth of random facts and “worthless information,” but it’s because I heard things that sparked my interest, researched them, told people about the things I had learned and applied them to my life when/if possible. I’m sure I would be great at math if I had a passion or career that required me to excel at it. I’d be a phenomenal scientist if I had ever truly cared about the experiments we did in my chem class. But I didn’t put forth the effort. Instead, I watched, I listened and I forgot.

So think about your daily life and your career or aspirations. What could you be doing differently that would help you apply the things you’re learning about in order to truly know them? What areas of study do you have difficulty in? Are these the subjects you don’t care about and often cram for the night before an exam? Take that into consideration and realize what that could be a sign of.

Featured photo credit: Krzysztof Puszcyzynski via stocksnap.io

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What Is Your Personal Chronotype And How It Tells When is Your Best Time To Drink Coffee?

Chronotypes

Ah, coffee. Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you I cannot function (nor do I want to) until I’ve had my coffee. While most people agree with this mindset, for me it has nothing to do with my energy level. In fact, coffee/caffeine doesn’t seem to do much for me as far as that is concerned. In fact, I had three cups of coffee yesterday and was still able to take a nap. Then I woke up and had more! Most people would have been bouncing off the walls, but not me. To be honest, I envy people who have a cup of coffee and are as hyper as a toddler who just ate an entire cake. So how come some people drink coffee and experience productivity and the feeling of being alert, and others are just as tired and irritable after a cup (or three) as before they had any? It turns out it might not be the coffee or the type of caffeine, but rather when you’re enjoying that java.

I’ve heard before that having a cup of coffee right before a nap is the best way to get that boost of energy because the nap gives your body enough time to really take in the caffeine. Therefore, when you wake up, you’re energetic and ready to face the rest of your day. It never really made a ton of sense to me, but after learning more about chronotypes, it seems there may be something to that advice after all.

Chronotypes and You

A chronoytype refers to the behavior you exhibit due to your circadian rhythm. It essentially determines when you need to sleep at any given time in a 24-hour period. [1] I took this quiz to figure out my chronotype and it was eye-opening. As chronotypes go, I’m a lion. I’m up early, energetic and sharpest in the morning. I don’t take big risks and I focus more on getting goals accomplished. Completing tasks gives me a huge sense of accomplishment. Just like a real lion, I do my best work earlier in the day (between 10 and 12) and I should snack around 9am and wait to eat lunch until after 12. While often times online quizzes can seem a little off, this one is right on the money.

Michael J. Breus, Ph.D. and clinical psychologist specializes in sleep disorders. His book, The Power of When, breaks down the four different chronotypes (Dolphin, Lion, Bear, Wolf) based on morning and evening preferences. The book helps readers understand when they should do everything from running a mile to asking for a raise.

Now real Lions may not drink coffee, but as far as chronotypes go, I should enjoy my cup of joe around 8am to 10am and my afternoon cup around 2 or 4. Dr. Breus, the creator of the Chronotype system says, “If you wake up and put coffee, which is a diuretic, in your system, it will just make you more dehydrated. Plus, when you wake up, your level of cortisol is naturally very high. So essentially you’re just putting a not-so-effective stimulant on top of a very effective one. You want to save your coffee for when you start to slow down. [2]

Coffee and Chronotypes explained

We discussed how lions should enjoy their coffee earlier, but what about the other three types? Dr. Breus’ book goes into extreme detail, but the following can give you an idea of how each type is different.

When it comes to getting caffeinated, Breus says the worst time to have coffee is within two hours of waking and within six hours of bedtime. When you’re sleeping, you breathe out the equivalent of a liter of water. No matter which Chronotype you are, the first beverage you should reach for is H20. And speaking of waking up, there’s an ideal time for that as well.

Dolphins should enjoy their coffee between 8:30-11am or 1-2pm and wake up at 6:30am.

Bears should pour their cup from 9:30-11:30 or 1:30-3:30 and wake up at 7am.

Wolves can sip on their coffee of choice between 12pm and 2pm only and should start their day at 7:30am sharp.

And of course, us lions can drink coffee from 8-10am and 2-4pm. We get the earliest starts to the day at 5:30-6am.

Some of you may be calculating how early you’re going to have to go to bed now if you’re supposed to get up at that time and wait for coffee. But don’t worry, Breus has figured out when you should go to sleep, too!

“The eight-hour rule is a myth. Most people can get by fine on seven hours of sleep, while dolphins can function with six. What’s most important is consistency and making sure you start mentally preparing for bed (by turning off all screens, winding down, relaxing) a full hour before actually climbing into bed. You shouldn’t get into bed for any reason except for sleep and sex. That will help your mind associate ‘bed’ with ‘sleep.’”

Dolphins should sleep as close to 11:30pm as possible, while lions need to hit the hay at 10pm. Wolves get to stay up until midnight and bears need to start snoozing at 11.

Coffee overload is still dangerous

If you’re like me, you’re feeling inspired to start some new routines with this knowledge, but remember to listen to your body. If you have certain health conditions or medications that make caffeine intake dangerous, don’t go against your doctor’s knowledge because of your chronotype. Instead, adjust your habits accordingly. Maybe you can’t have coffee, or as much as you’d like, but you can still change what time you go to bed and when you wake up. The book is filled with when to do just about everything, so feel free to grab a copy if you’re feeling inspired!

Share your chronotype with us. In the meantime, I’m off to get a cappuccino!

The effects coffee has on your health

Coffee is delicious, helpful and depending on where you purchase it, an art form! But what is it doing for your body aside from hopefully energizing it?

Coffee Fights Cancer

At one point in time, coffee had a bad reputation for potentially being a carcinogenic. Thankfully, this myth has been busted. In fact, the World Health Organization has determined there’s a 15% reduced risk of liver cancer for each cup of coffee consumed per day. [3]

Coffee can reverse liver-damage

I love a craft cocktail as much as I love a beautifully crafted cup of coffee. Thankfully, drinking coffee may reduce the kind of liver damage over-indulging in alcohol can cause. A recent study found that drinking two additional cups of coffee a day lowered the risk of liver cirrhosis by about 44%!

Coffee burns fat

Remember, we’re talking about real coffee here, not a thousand calorie frappucino from your favorite coffee chain! A 2013 study found that drinking coffee before physical activity like a workout helps your body burn more fat.

Coffee helps your recover faster, post-gym

Feeling sore after a workout can provide a great sense of accomplishment. But when you’re so sore you can barely get out of bed, it’s time for coffee! Another 2013 study found that muscle soreness was lessened by ingesting coffee an hour before working out.

Coffee boosts your endurance

Multiple studies have shown that coffee consumption can help you work out for longer periods of time with better results!

Coffee improves memory

A 2014 study proved that coffee can help you recall details more easily and even enhance the brain’s ability to create long-term memories! Just one strong cup a day can help your memory retention.

Coffee can boost your mood

Drinking coffee may be just as good as drinking an anti-depressant! A 2013 study found that coffee drinkers were less likely to commit suicide or have suicidal tendencies.

Featured photo credit: Chevanon via stocksnap.io

Reference

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How Not to Give up at the Most Difficult Time

Think back to the last time you looked for a job. Chances are, you were on the hunt because the job you were currently in wasn’t fulfilling. You made the choice to start putting in applications, even though you knew you would face some rejection. With every “thank you for your application, but we’ve hired someone who better matches the skills required” letter you receive, it gets harder and harder to submit applications without self-deprecating. You may even contemplate staying miserable in the job you have because “at least it’s a job” rather than continuing to look for something better and more worthy of your time.

Whenever we face a difficult challenge or choice on the way to achieving something we want, it feels easier to give up than to carry on. This happens because we feel like we can’t do anything to make things easier. But once we get through it, we look back and realize it wasn’t as bad as we thought. In fact, we usually stress ourselves out far more than is necessary.

It’s only a moment of frustration, don’t give up.

When we feel like we are losing any and all motivation we had to begin with, it can be nearly impossible to get it back.

In keeping with the example of looking for a new job while stuck in a difficult one, it’s sad to think so many of us would allow our emotions to drown out our optimism. We were not born to go to work, pay bills and die. If you spend a majority of your time at work instead of at home, why in the world would you settle for a career that makes you miserable? Yes, there are risks and hardships included any time you try to achieve a goal, each stressor is worth it in the end. But it can be so challenging to remember that when you’re going through it.

When we face a really difficult challenge – like constant rejection from companies – we can develop tunnel vision and lose sight of the optimism all around us. All we see is the failure and heartache of not succeeding. We completely disregard the notion that this will one day be a memory and we could be recalling the memory from a corner office!

So how are we supposed to take those blinders off and push through, even when we feel anything but motivated? Let’s explore it in the next section.

If we give up, the same problem will come back again.

The thing we tend to forget when all we want to do is give up is that failure doesn’t fix anything. If you allow the rejection to stop you from finding a job you’re happy with, all you’ve done is indefinitely prolonged your suffering. Maybe for a moment you’ll feel relief because you no longer have to send out applications, but that satisfaction will be fleeting. That misery you were experiencing will be back, one way or another.

See, the real challenge you’re experiencing in that moment is your own weakness manifesting in a physical form. When you accept that you aren’t worthy or good enough, that’s the mind set you will keep. No matter what challenge your facing (be it work or play) you will struggle with maintaining your optimism, dedication and will power because you haven’t addressed the real issue: yourself.

Imagine the Great Challenge as a big rock in front of you. If you choose to give up, you work around the stone just to go around it. Yet the fastest way to get over it is to break this big rock and go right through it.

It’s the same with your weaknesses. You could continue to adjust your life to fit your fears (i.e. no longer job-hunting because you’ve accepted you will always fail), or you could keep sending out applications and calling to follow up and schedule interviews.

No matter how great the challenge is, breaking it down is a must.

In order to truly stay motivated, no matter how great the challenge is, you’ve got to learn to break the Great Challenge down.

Remember that big rock? How can you break it down into smaller pieces and deal with the small stones piece by piece in order to truly overcome? The tips below can help you take those first steps in keeping your chin up and truly facing the difficult choices in your life.

Yes, right now it may seem impossible. It may seem like this is the hardest thing you will ever go through. But remember how often your threshold changes. I remember when I used to think the hardest thing I would ever face was not getting tickets to see The Spice Girls. I remember later in life thinking I would never love anyone like I loved my first boyfriend. It’s laughable how much things change. One day you’ll look back and realize this wasn’t as bad as you thought.

Figure out what you lack.

No matter what the challenge you’re facing may be, there’s a reason it’s challenging to you. If it’s a job, why is it you aren’t getting hired? Go back through the job listings and skills required and find the common thread your resume doesn’t have. Is it not listed because you don’t have it? If so, work on doing something to give you that skill. Be it an online course or a volunteer project, do something to help push you closer to the “perfect candidate.”

Be patient with yourself.

No one becomes a CEO overnight. If you have big dreams, you’re going to have to do big work to accomplish them. It’s okay to take time figuring out the best way to proceed, but it’s not okay to walk away because it’s challenging.

Be proud of yourself for every small win.

Have you ever noticed how a small mistake can weigh on you for days? Whether or not you categorize yourself as a dramatic person doesn’t matter when it comes to the guilt we so often put upon ourselves. But when we make small strides in achieving our goal(s), we never seem to give ourselves much respect. When we fail to pat ourselves on the back for little victories, it decreases our motivation and makes it much harder to achieve big goals.[1]

Remember that you aren’t the first to feel this way.

When we face difficult choices or events in our lives, we often forget that we are not the first/only/last to experience this. Everyone faces hard decisions – be it deciding to end a relationship, changing careers, moving to a different place and leaving friends behind…we all go through it. So don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends or family for a sounding board. In some cases, they may even be able to offer you advice you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

Know that you will grow as a person just from going through it.

Another thing we forget when overwhelmed with a challenging situation? That we build character through those hard times. The old cliche, “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” is true. When you go through something challenging, you learn from it, regardless of the outcome. Recognize the opportunities for learning and personal development.[2]

Remember that you have choices.

No matter how hard the challenge you’re facing may be, one of the best things you can focus on is that you have choices. Only you can decide how you handle something and the steps you take. More so, only you can decide how you take the next step. You have the power to stand in your own way and to get out of it. Allow yourself to stay motivated by choosing to be stay motivated.

You’ve SO got this.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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How Fake Friendships on the Social Media Get in Your Way of Real Friendships

I created my Facebook account about 8 years ago. At that time, I have accepted (and rejected) plenty of friend requests. But I still had thousands of friends. For the first time since creating my account, I logged in last week and deleted hundreds of them. Why? Because I didn’t have a friendship with any of them.

I love that social media allows us to stay in contact with people we care about, no matter where we live or what time zone we are in. But I don’t love the fake connection it can sometimes create. Just because I know someone went on a family vacation last week doesn’t mean I would have cared about it if I hadn’t seen their pictures in my timeline.

It felt good to purge my friend list of people I didn’t truly have relationships with, but then it got a little weird…a few friends texted me asking why my friend list number had dropped. And a few of the people I deleted actually reached out asking what they had done to upset me. I was shocked; why was anyone paying attention to this? I hadn’t spoken to the people I deleted in years. And yet, people were noticing. This isn’t because I’m some famous internet blogger who the world wants to befriend, but rather a common phenomenon regarding social media: The average person has about double the amount of friends online as they do in real life.[1] But how is that a friendship? And why do we feel connected/important to these strangers?

We unfriend, unfollow and even block people online, but to their faces, we would act like nothing in the world was wrong. So it got me thinking: perhaps we love the illusion of social media friendships because we can act as we would if (in reality) we were not afraid to confront or interact with people honestly.

We don’t know anyone online. No, we really don’t.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: your best friend (in real life) has just gotten off the phone with you. The two of you chatted in depth about how torn she is about her relationship and that she may want to break up with her longtime boyfriend. She’s crying and it’s emotional and you know she’s overwhelmed. But when you hang up with her and check Facebook out of habit, you see she just posted a #TBT to a vacation the two of them took together. All the comments are about how cute they are and how happy people are for your friend’s relationship to be going so well. She “likes” and replies to all the comments with “Awwww, thank you!” and “Yup, he’s pretty amazing!” and you are left feeling utterly confused.

But it makes total sense! We portray the versions of ourselves that we want people to see online. While I will say I’ve had some social media friends clog my timeline with melodrama, for the most part it’s all sunshine and butterflies. While you may know your best friend is actually checking her notifications while crying her eyes out, the rest of her friend list sees a girl who is head over heels in love.

Social media causes us to have this false feeling of intimacy and closeness with people that we actually know nothing about. Scrolling through our friend’s list, we all think we know the person we are connected to online, but would that person call you if something tragic happened? Would you be on the list of phone calls at all? If I was being honest, even with my new, cleaned-up friends list, the answer would still be no.[2]

Beware the false sense of intimacy.

Social media wouldn’t be half as fun if we knew every intimate detail about the people on our friend’s list. But it is important to know who you are actually connected to, vs. who you are virtually connected to.

Think about the celebrities you follow. Maybe it’s your favorite musician and you have been obsessed since before they were even popular. Following them on a social media platform can make you feel close to that person. You know where they love to eat and what their order is because you’ve seen it on Instagram. You know that their grandparent recently passed away, and although you had never met that person, you grieved as if you had lost a relative. We gain a sense of knowing and closeness even though we don’t know one intimate detail.[3]

Weed out the fake friends to salvage relationships with the real ones.

One of my best friends has asked me a few time in the last year, “Am I still your best friend?” This question always surprises me because it doesn’t seem like an insecurity an adult would have. But this question is usually prompted by something I have posted about another friend of mine on social media. It’s caused me to think of the word “friend” and how casually I use it.

We’re conditioned to refer to virtual friends as such because it’s in the name: Friend list. But we’ve already established most of those people are not truly friends. Not to me anyway. If you’re my friend, I want to trust you, confide in you, hang out with you (in real life) and hear your voice-not just see your comments. And if I have made the mistake of getting too caught up in meaningless friendships and putting my real ones on the back burner, that’s a problem.

Delete your friends, not your Facebook.

Social media, in my opinion, is a necessary evil. It’s fun, it’s convenient and it’s a great time fill when you’re bored or waiting in line at a restaurant. But it should not consume you. Nor should it eliminate true relationships. You don’t need to delete all social media accounts (unless of course you want to!), but you should sit down and weed out your friend list. Think of it like tossing out clothes you don’t wear anymore. Have you had a real, off-line conversation with that person in 6 months? A year? If not, delete.

Don’t overthink it.

After I deleted hundreds of people, only a couple actually realized and messaged me apologizing for whatever they had done. Even my case is a rarity! Don’t think you will hurt someone by deleting them. If you truly aren’t close (and you aren’t), there’s a good chance they won’t even notice.

You aren’t going to miss out by missing posts.

When you weed out the fake friends on social media, you may have a momentary fear of missing out. But you won’t. If the people you are deleting were important enough to you to keep up with, you wouldn’t need to delete them! Don’t worry about missing those vacation posts or sappy tags to their significant other. Trust me, you’re better off without that junk on your timeline!

You may get closer to your real friends by deleting the fakes.

Jolie Choi, an editor at Lifehack deleted about half her friend list. And you know what happened for her? She gained clarity. Not just into her own values, but into the lives of people she really did care about. Without all the people she wasn’t even close to spamming her timeline, she was able to catch updates from her actual friends she didn’t see as often as she would like. It no doubt gave her opportunity to reach out and catch up. Her friends list may have shrunk, but her relationships grew stronger. And isn’t that so much cooler than boasting about how many “friends” you have online?

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Master This One Key Mental Concept You Need For Better Relationships, Work and Life.

A friend of mine shares a terrible habit with me: shopping addiction. When either of us are upset or stressed or just generally too overwhelmed to do anything, we turn to our favorite stores. Buying something new is an instant way to feel better. The satisfaction is this feeling of “yay, new stuff!” and it seems to temporarily replace all the bad stuff going on in our lives. But it’s short-lived gratification. After all, none of us are so wealthy that we don’t experience buyer’s remorse now and then.

The two of us had an “ah-ha!” moment when we were told our brains are coping with our mishandling of money by doing all that shopping. See, the money we are spending on quick fixes could have just as easily gone into savings or an investment account. But that doesn’t feel like a realistic goal. It’s so far away! It’s easy to understand instant-gratification-when I buy something, I have it in my hands immediately. I love that! How am I supposed to get excited about a large savings account if I won’t be able to see that it’s large for years?

Sound familiar? Probably so.

Delay-gratification seems wholly dissatisfying at first. But if we could accept the concept and start living by it, imagine how much stress would melt off our shoulders. Money is relatable, but you can take it a step further, too. Think about your last bad relationship. Did you stay in it so you wouldn’t have to be alone? This happens all the time. It’s “easier” to stay in a relationship and know you have a partner than to be single and not know if you’ll wind up with someone.

Instant Gratification is Just pleasure, Not Happiness!

When I blow all my hard earned money so I can quickly feel better about my life, do I feel better? Sure, for about five minutes. Then I’m overwhelmed all over again and stressed about how much money I just spent!

And what about that bad relationship you stayed in. Were you happy? Of course not! So why do we settle for unhappiness just to avoid practicing patience? The root of the problem comes down to how badly we want to get everything we desire instantly. No waiting required. Personally, I can’t recall a switch being flipped in my brain that suddenly made me this way; I feel like I’ve always wanted instant gratification. With shopping, with success, with my love life…everything. But there are habits in my life that could be making things worse.

Social Media Could Be Forcing You to Settle When It Comes to Happiness.

Unfortunately, your obsession with social media could be partially to blame for instant gratification over happiness.

“We gain instant feedback from our devices, because we’re constantly plugged in and turned on. Social media gives us the ability to upload videos, photos and status updates…Because our devices are ubiquitous, our connectedness is constant. There’s very little patience required. We even expect business growth — phenomenon long considered to be gradual — to happen overnight. Like the viral explosion of a YouTube video, we want to hack business growth for viral expansion. The pursuit is admirable, even if the results aren’t always what we desire” – Neil Patel [1].

How To Sustain Your Motives To Wait?

1. Be more aware to your actions

The next time you find yourself habitually reaching for your phone to scroll through Facebook or see how many new likes you have on Instagram, stop and take a breath. If you’re a visual person, keep a tally sheet and mark a line for every time you resist an urge [2].

2. Feeling uncomfortable is just temporary

When you find yourself seeking that instant fix, count to ten and try to understand why you’re so anxious to get something done instantly. Maybe you won’t know at first. That’s okay. But maybe you will realize you just feel uncomfortable without something to do or focus on.

3. How would you feel 10 minutes after taking actions?

You know when you’re binge-watching Netflix and realize you’ve eaten a whole bag of chips or sweets? You weren’t even hungry, and yet you ate all that junk while your brain was on auto-pilot. Practice some presence today and every day. Do things in a way of awareness and thoughtfulness.

4. Be patient with your own progress

Guess what – you didn’t develop the need for instant gratification overnight. So why in the world would you expect to break that habit overnight? You won’t and it’s okay! When you give in to that disappointing instant-gratification over delay-gratification, allow yourself to be disappointed in yourself and frustrated. Then make a conscious effort to do better.

5. You don’t ALWAYS need to be too hard on yourself!

If you would be truly happy by giving in to the instant-gratification like urge of eating a donut, awesome-do it! But if you know you would feel guilt afterward, opt for something else. Either way, applaud your conscious effort and realize how nice it feels to do something for happiness and not just the need to get something done quickly.

How delaying your enjoyments can benefits different parts of our lives?

Whether you realize it or not, your day-to-day actions are filled with choices made in an effort to achieve instant-gratification. We don’t have to wait to travel anymore thanks to Uber. We don’t have to worry about stopping what we’re doing to get food thanks to UberEats, PostMates, Seamless, etc. We don’t even have to get groceries ourselves anymore with grocery stores delivering or third party services like InstaCart.

So why would we expect our brain or heart to function any differently? We expect everything to happen instantly, and often without much effort. Yet even with this happens, we feel unfulfilled with the results. We are so disconnected with our own selves that we have trouble recognizing when we are settling vs. when we are ready to try delay gratification. Imagine how incredible it would be (for yourself, for your relationships, for your career) if you could make choices based on long-term happiness and satisfaction and not just instant-gratification and a quick-fix.

  • Work: When you make professional choices for instant gratification, you often wind up cutting corners and making more work for yourself in the long run. In order to achieve less procrastination, more willingness to practice and do hard work, you have to master delay-gratification and know that even though it may not be until the end of your business quarter, you’re going to be so proud of your success and accomplishments.
  • Relationships: It takes time to get to know a person before falling for them. While it may feel nice to accept a date from the first person who asks, imagine how much better it would feel to wait for a date with someone you truly have interest in. And if you’re already in a happy and committed relationship, practice awareness when it comes to communication. Sometimes it can feel like torture to sit down and talk about the other person’s day when you could be checking social media or sending out important emails, you’ll have a better relationship in the long run.
  • Health: This is an obvious for so many of us. Do we take the time to prep meals for a week and eat well and feel better, or do we rush through a fast food restaurant on our lunch break and grab an unhealthy meal in a short amount of time? If you practice delay-gratification with your food habits, you can have less binge eating and even a more passionate relationship with exercise and health.
  • Happiness: Do you ever feel like you have to work really hard to be happy? If you focus more on the last four points, you won’t have to put in that effort because the happiness will be an automatic result! You won’t have to chase for it, and you can feel it more deeply and in everyday life. You are less likely to become defeated because you know accumulated failure and lessons learned contribute to greater happiness later.

I don’t know about you, but life-long happiness sounds a lot better than a quick-fix. So what do you say? Are you ready to start delaying your gratification?

Reference

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How to Always Be Listened to and Understood

Sometimes it can be challenging to put my phone away when I’m spending time with friends. We all know how addicting social media can be, but it doesn’t make it any less rude to the person sitting across from me telling me about a problem they’re facing. Even saying, “I’m just replying to this email, but I swear I’m listening,” is a barrier to effective communication.

There have been times when, even without my phone, I realize I’m only half-listening to someone. It’s a distracting world, and sometimes it can be hard to compartmentalize all the things on your mental to-do list and just be present. But, that doesn’t justify listening with one ear. Is sending a perfectly timed gif as a response to a text really worth losing a friendship over? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Everyone talks, but very few of us listen to understand.

An inability to fully grasp what someone is telling us hinders productive and successful communication even when we’re paying attention. Aside from all the distractions and confusion the world, in general, presents us with, we still have differences that make it challenging to hear someone and understand them.

In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to work with someone to understand their point of view. It doesn’t mean we have to agree, but we should give the same respect we want when seeking a meaningful discussion. With more arguments than ever over gender and culture, how do we improve ourselves?

Voicing an opinion can sometimes feel like walking on eggshells. You don’t want to risk losing a friendship or relationship because you couldn’t see eye-to-eye, but knowing what barriers you may inadvertently be creating is important.

These are the six most common barriers we face in communication:

Even if you are the ideal friend, when it comes to leaving your phone behind and being fully present when someone needs you, you’re not immune to communication barriers. I don’t just mean the common language barrier though it’s certainly a valid one. In fact, there is a whole list of barriers that prevent us from communicating concisely. The following is a list of 6 barriers we should all make a point to focus on for effective communication:

Perceptual barriers: different viewpoints, bias and stereotypes

Perceptual barriers are internal. If you go into a situation thinking the person you are talking to isn’t going to understand or take interest in what you have to say, you may end up subconsciously sabotaging your effort to make your point. You will employ language that is sarcastic, dismissive, or even obtuse, thereby alienating your conversational partner.[1]

Attitudinal barriers: lack of interest or relevance

Attitudinal barriers to communication may result from personality conflicts, poor management, resistance to change, or a lack of motivation. Effective receivers of messages should attempt to overcome their own attitudinal barriers to facilitate effective communication.[2]

Attitudes are usually formed by an individual’s opinion and can be difficult to change. When this barrier overrides the focus on professionalism in the workplace, it can be next to impossible to work together.

This barrier is not an easy one to break down. It’s important to be aware of your attitude, and try to understand the root of it. It will be a slow-going process, but allowing yourself to change your attitude will be worth it in the end.

Language barriers: jargon and word choice

Even when communicating in the same language, the terminology used may act as a barrier if not fully understood by the receiver. For example, a message that includes a lot of specialist jargon and abbreviations will not be understood by a receiver who is not familiar with the terminology used.

Aim to translate all relevent documents, use an interpreter when necessary, talk to your company about providing language classes and try to se visual methods of communication as often as possible.

Emotional barriers: bottling emotions out of refusal to express emotion

We are often taught to fear the words coming out of our mouths, as in the phrase “anything you say can and will be used against you.” Overcoming this fear is difficult, but necessary. The trick is having full confidence in what you are saying and your qualifications in saying it. People often pick up on insecurity.

By believing in yourself and what you have to say, you will be able to communicate clearly without becoming overly involved in your emotions.

Cultural barriers: values and beliefs.

Different cultures, whether they be a geographical culture or simply the work culture of a company, can hinder developed communication. Specifically, if the two cultures clash. There are even subtypes of cultural barriers such as generational and status.

Generational barriers involve different age groups having different approaches to work, which leads to conflicts when older workers think younger workers are slackers. It is especially prevalent today with the negative view of “millennials.”

Status barriers are about people acclimating to workplaces where seniority and status are emphasized. Often they have difficulty adapting to fluid work environments where job titles are not emphasized, and production methods do not always follow a predetermined set of guidelines.

In these cases, it’s important to find common ground.

Gender barriers: different experiences of men and women

Even where men and women share equal stature, knowledge, and experience, differing communication styles may prevent them from working together effectively. Gender barriers are inherent and related to gender stereotypes, or the ways that men and women are taught to behave as children.

To overcome gender barriers within the workplace, educate your team about gender bias. Bias is often embedded in stereotypes and can be hard to detect. Once found, there are possibilities for change.

It is also important to create safe “Identity Workspaces.” Companies should encourage women to build communities in which similarly positioned women can discuss their feedback, compare notes and emotionally support one another’s learning. Support will prevent feeling vulnerable and help women want to share willingly without fear of judgment.

Let’s take a look at a real life example…

In the U.S., 2016 was an election year. This meant, as a nation, we were faced with trying to overcome all six of these barriers on a daily basis, especially since the two main candidates where opposing genders.

The unfunny joke here is that each barrier has a snowball affect.

Think about it: the frustration resulting from struggling with one barrier is enough to create a solid attitudinal barrier once you’ve decided you don’t care what anyone else has to say.

Once you’ve created an attitudinal barrier and stopped caring what someone has to say, you, in turn, cause a perceptual barrier and potentially a cultural barrier. You’ve just stereotyped yourself into a state of mind that is too self-centered and prejudice to listen to what anyone has to say if it doesn’t directly line up with what you think.

If the person you’re refusing to listen to happens to be a different gender than you, you’ve just built a divisive gender barrier wall. It trickles down and gets worse depending on the situation.

As a result, you’re left with people who have given up on trying to speak to you. This will lead to a language barrier with the frustrated party using sarcasm and other linguistic techniques to get out of the conversation.

All of this can lead to emotional barriers as you or the other party may feel that what you said should have been kept to yourself.

The first step to overcoming communication barriers is to recognize the barriers you have.

We are all guilty of creating barriers. Even if you never text at dinner or engage in political conversations. If you’re being honest with yourself, you can come up with an example of one of the six barriers and how it affected a relationship negatively.

Communication is not easy, and this article is not out to lie about that. Communication is also not a one-way street. It takes work, real effort, to effectively communicate with someone, no matter what the topic.

Try to recognize when the six barriers creep into your day-to-day conversations. It’s important to reflect and understand what triggered the barriers. Did your loved one say something you didn’t agree with? Did you scoff because you found it sexist or hurtful to your personal beliefs?

Rather than putting up a barrier, communicate how it made you feel. And don’t be afraid to use “I” statements. For example, if someone makes a joke that is hurtful to you culturally, tell that person, “I know you’re making a joke, but I feel hurt when you say those things because I am a part of that culture and I feel like you’re laughing at me.”

It doesn’t ensure the person will suddenly turn around and apologize for their ways, but it is a step in the right direction. Guaranteed the next time they go to make a joke like that, they’ll at least hesitate and remember how their words made you feel.

Communication and overcoming the barriers that can get in its way is all about confidence in knowing that your opinion matters, but everyone else thinks their opinion matters, too. Don’t attack someone for an opposing view, but don’t walk away from the conversation either. Break down a new barrier every day, and always be a part of the conversation.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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How to Be a Leader That Everyone Respects, Not Fears

When it comes to discussing today’s job force and environment, people tend to focus on Millennials and the different ways in which they work. There is much conversation regarding work ethic, entitlement, and general opinions. But the truth is that the job force has undergone plenty of changes, one of which surrounds the idea of “The Boss.”

No longer is the man in charge an illusive figure-head in the corner office. In fact, the boss isn’t always a man. More so, the idea of giving orders and simply being the one who delegates has been replaced by a more collaborative approach – the idea of a Leader, rather than a Boss.

A true leader opens up communication with their members.

The idea of being able to collaborate with a leader and feel they truly have an “open door policy” is not just a hip thought, it’s a helpful one. Studies show that when employees voice their concerns freely, organizations see increased retention and stronger performance.[1]

Unfortunately though, if people are working beneath a leader who induces fear of speaking out or working together, employees become afraid to speak up and instead find ways to justify their silence. This only makes things worse. Sure, HR exists to help employees speak up when they feel like they can’t, but if you’re encouraged to make suggestions anonymously, doesn’t that just enforce the idea that it isn’t safe to speak up openly?

If you happen to be the leader, you may be thinking you don’t fall into this category of scary bosses because your employees come to you; you are already serving as a cooperative leader and not a dictator. But the truth is that despite the issues your employees may come to you with, there may still be a handful they don’t feel comfortable bringing to you.

Instead of becoming the leader you want to be, be what your team needs.

Thankfully, there are ways to change your habits when it comes to being the leader your team needs you to be. And if you aren’t a manager or a boss, you can still try to find ways to incorporate these things into your daily actions to inspire your boss to follow suite.

“Very few managers are leaders [2]. The difference between the two? A manager is someone who has people reporting to him. A leader is someone who people will follow, even if they don’t report to him. What separates the two is the trust and respect of his people.” – Ekaterina Walter

The following sections will highlight the behaviors needed to display to your team that you are truly a leader who wants to stand beside your team, not just give the commands.

Show your team you’re human.

It’s 100% okay to make mistakes. You’re only human. It’s 110% okay to admit to those mistakes when you realize them. When you admit you were wrong or that you are not satisfied with something you did, it doesn’t make you look weak, or like you aren’t worthy of your position in the company. In fact, it shows your team how strong you are and how much you trust them.

“Build a team around you that complements you – and each other – in knowledge, skill sets, and capabilities. Don’t try to do everything. Let your team members drive certain projects and outcomes. That will make them feel valued and will make you look good. But always have their back when something doesn’t go according to plan.” – Ekaterina Walter [3]

Utilize each team member’s talent.

You hired everyone on your team because you knew they were the right fit for the job. This meant you accepted that they were capable and willing. If you want your team to trust you, then you need to trust them. When you’re trying to be one with your team, it can become difficult to delegate, because you don’t want them to think you’re being too bossy…but you are the boss.

Being a leader just means you have leadership traits and you’re respected and followed. It doesn’t mean you have to be the “cool boss” [4] who does all the work and lets the employees slack off.

Be fair to everyone no matter what.

Every company has policy and procedures, and there’s a reason they are rules, not suggestions. Working as a team and respecting each other also means the employees respect the rules. Again, if you are leading by example, this will most likely not be an issue. But if you do notice someone foregoing the dress code or not arriving to work on time, don’t allow it to become a habit.

Separate friendship and professionalism.

When you are a leader rather than a boss, you may find yourself having casual conversations with your team. While this is excellent and helps to build trust, it’s important to know when to separate friendship and professionalism. If an employee does something wrong or something which negatively impacts the businesses, don’t assume you can approach them in front of the team simply because you all get along. Know when to have conversations behind closed doors.

Remember, your team needs you and you need your team too.

Even if you feel you already do everything you can to be respected and appreciated, sit back and truly reflect on whether that’s true. There is always room for improvement. After all, if you were perfect, you wouldn’t need that team of yours.

Reference

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