Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You End up Being Unhappy

Ah, Happiness. It’s a feeling we have all felt (hopefully), but it’s certainly not a permanent state of mind.

Here’s the thing, we only know how to try to focus on something happy because we’ve experienced sadness. And vice versa.

It’s like your favorite food. Let’s assume you love cookie dough ice cream and whenever you eat it you’re happy. But if you constantly have a freezer stocked with that ice cream, someone gifting you with another one wouldn’t necessarily make you happier. Contrarily, if your freezer stopped running and all your ice cream melted and you’d had to go without that ice cream for weeks, you would be elated if someone showed up with a brand new carton for you.

If you were always happy and care free, then experiencing something pleasant wouldn’t necessarily make you even happier, it just wouldn’t make you any less happy. If you were always at the same level of satisfaction, that could be a drag.

Assuming others are always happy is the biggest misunderstanding of happiness.

The funny thing is, most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time. Blame it on all the fairy tales we were read at bedtime as children, but it seems somewhere along the line we forgot that there are not actually princesses who find a prince and live happily-ever-after while peasants and witches stew in their unhappiness nearby.

In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

No one has a perfect life. I think you hear it a lot growing up, that you shouldn’t judge those around you because you don’t know what their life is life behind closed doors. But as we grow and mature and no longer get advice like that from our elders, we tend to forget.

Happiness, at it’s very definition, is a state of contentment. Notice the word, ‘state.’ It’s not a “lifelong, permanent experience,” it’s a state. Temporary and/or fleeting.

When we feel sad, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve. This is usually enforced by our well-meaning friends who say things like, “this is a blessing in disguise,” or “this will soon be a memory; this too shall pass.” They’re right, and we usually know they’re right, but in the moment it can be difficult to see past our negativity. Do you remember your very first breakup? It felt like the world would never be okay again, didn’t it? But weeks, months and eventually years passed and so many other relationships came and went. Of course you moved on, but in that intense sad moment of time, you were unable to see that there was a future.

What we don’t see is the extended version of this curve. In keeping with the breakup example, the extended version of the curve would be your eventual life-partner or your realization that you were completely happy as a single person. But at the time, there was no future. Only darkness and loneliness (oh to be so young and melodramatic again!).

What we fail to see is how important Sadness is to Joy. Remember earlier when I said we only know what happiness is because we’ve experienced sadness? If you can really think about what that means, it’s pretty powerful. It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

Stop trying to be happy. Just be.

Yes, we should all want to be happy as often as possible, but it would be miserable to pretend day in and day out that you are 100% satisfied.

If you’ve experienced a time when you were able to offer your best friend amazing advice because you had experienced a similar, you would understand that yoursad situation? If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize. And that would get old to the people around you.

To be happy realistically, stop aiming for consistent happiness. But do remain optimistic and true to yourself. Accept that there will be ups and downs throughout time. Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positivity and negativity

Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment right now, flash back your memory to when you had or didn’t have something. I like to think about my career for this example. When I didn’t have a career I was happy with and passionate about, I was upset. I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me. But when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was so happy, even before I realized I would be successful!

Remember that gratitude is the key because we only appreciate a moment when we can compare it with moments of disappointments

Realistic happiness is attached with sadness.

What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy, incredible, wow-inducing moments. Happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories. But your life will also be filled with rainy, mucky storms that don’t ever seem to pass when you’re going through them.

But whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of that beautiful ebb and flow of life. Relish in the happy moments and power through the sad ones. Know you aren’t alone in experiencing either, and don’t be afraid to admit when you are hurting.

Pretending to be happy won’t make you happy. But being unconditionally honest with yourself about how you feel and why … that’s how you learn to love yourself and your life, good times and bad.

Featured photo credit: InsideOut via facebook.com

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Envy Is a Chronic Poison That Secretly Kills Our Motivation Every Day

Do you ever fall into the wormhole that is Instagram-stalking? You know what I’m talking about: you see a photo (perhaps someone you know, perhaps something on the popular page) and you tap it. Before you know it, you’ve been stalking this person for hours, trying to better understand their life. They have a great body, a cute significant other. They take pictures in front of gorgeous scenery (maybe because they travel a lot) and they have selfies from glamorous corner offices.

What started as a fun time-killing photo binge turns into a sad ego-killing hour or so that ends in you resenting your body, your less-than-glamorous job and maybe even your single relationship status. How did you get here? Weren’t you just having a perfectly happy day? A small voice in your head tells you those people only post the pretty-seeming aspects of their life, but they leave out all the bad days and embarrassing moments. But the louder voice tells you that you don’t measure up to this person inside your phone.

Envy — the Demon and the Angel

Envy. We know it as one of the 7 deadly sins, but what is it really? Jealousy in itself is a biting emotion that makes us feel bitter and even hateful toward a person (whether we know them or not). Envy has to do with feeling unhappy about someone else’s happiness. Be it professional success or personal, when you see their achievements, you instantly start comparing them to yours.

Interestingly, envy helped us evolve as a species. It’s all about the competition and social comparison that forces us to self-evaluate. In a healthy scenario, we would see someone’s success and find motivation to match their achievements. But when it comes to envy, we instead want what that person has and we desire it so much that we feel unhappy and even angry about it.[1]

Even if you don’t think you’re guilty of the social media envy I mentioned earlier, there’s a high probability you’ve still envied someone recently. Maybe you found yourself envious of the coworker who got a raise? Perhaps you scoffed at the announcement, knowing they slack off most of the day. Or maybe you envied your friend’s weight loss success, even though she worked hard for months and you haven’t been to the gym in a year. Sometimes we feel we have the right to be jealous or upset, but other times, we can’t exactly justify our feelings.

How Envy Is Slowly Killing You

So we’re all guilty of envying others. Fine. But here’s the thing: when you allow that feeling to permeate all of your thoughts or emotions toward that individual or yourself, you lose sight of your own reality. See, when you can only focus on what those other people are doing on their greener grass, you fail to realize yours only looks darker because you’re standing under a rain cloud.[2]

You only have one life, yours. And if you waste it comparing yourself to other people and feeling envious about all the things they have that you want, you won’t have room for motivation because you’ll be so consumed with all that negativity.

How to Stop Envy From Taking Your Life

You don’t have to experience envy on such a negative level. There are ways to see things people are doing and view it as a motivator rather than a murderer.

First, take a moment to realize how you react.

When you see a close friend achieve something great, do you cringe because you’re envious, or celebrate their victories? Alternatively, if something bad happens, like a job loss or failed test, do you commiserate with them, or celebrate that your life is better than theirs?

Delete your Facebook.

Okay, fine. You don’t have to delete it. But you should limit your time with it and be hyper-aware of how you use it. If it’s a time killer while you’re standing in line at Starbucks or a way to share pictures with that one distant aunt that feels like you two are closer than you are…then fine! But if you spend an excessive amount of time on the site envying your acquaintances new job or baby or boyfriend…then you might need to take a step back.

Remember you’re impressionable (sorry, but you are).

If you spend most of your time with people who value materialistic items and social status, then it won’t be long before you share the same values. This spirals into a constant need to have the most and the best amongst those people and anyone else you encounter. It’s exhausting, unrealistic and not to mention expensive! There are so many important things to care about in this life. Don’t get caught up in the false idols.[3]

Instead of comparing with others, compare with your past self.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the illusion that everyone seems to have it better than you. They’re thinner, prettier, more successful, happier…but you don’t know any of that for sure. Instead of getting so wrapped up in the idea that you are lesser, compare yourself to something tangible: your past self. I know I look back at photos of me, old articles I wrote, clothes I wore…and I realize how far I’ve come. My weight has gone up and down, but I’m more driven now than I ever have been to get healthy and stay healthy instead of sitting around and feeling sorry for myself.

I look at the group of friends I have and I’m so grateful I got rid of the toxic “friends” I once cared so much about. And of course, I dress much better! The point is to recognize the aspects of you that are better now than they were before. Keep the comparison healthy and personal, not fantastical and bitter. When you are comparing present-day-you with your own self, you see the progress you’ve made and you gain the satisfaction. No envy, just happy!

Put yourself into the others’ shoes (the people that you envy).

There’s a saying that I’ll paraphrase here: Don’t ever envy someone. You don’t know anything about their journey.

The idea of the saying is simple: someone may appear to have it all, but behind closed doors, they could be broken and struggling. Though you can never truly know what someone may be going through in secret, you can still try to imagine what it would be like to switch places with them. If you were to become the person you envy, imagine what it would be like (the good and the bad).

To make this example generic, let’s pretend I’m super envious of Lady Gaga. If I were to be her, I would have fame through music (pro), an attractive lover (pro), constant body shaming (con), no personal space because of all the paparazzi (con), a struggle to make the music I want vs. what my label demands (con). While this is obviously a fictionalized take on her life, it could very well be accurate. And really, I don’t think I’d want to switch places with her.

When you can imagine both the upside and downside of something, you’ll stop envying people you may not actually know anything about and start to appreciate what you have more and more.

Practice gratitude.

Recently I found myself guilty of envy and some negativity in general. I was too “in my head” about things and it was resulting in a lot of unhealthy stress. I love to journal, so I decided to devote one page to gratitude. The premise is simple: when I think of things that make me grateful, happy, joyful, I write them down. And it’s not an intimidating list at all (think: cold brew, rainy days, sleeping in before a big brunch date), so when I say you can practice gratitude right now, I mean it.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: Envy: The Emotion Kept Secret
[2] StartUpBros: Killing the 7 Motivation Murderers
[3] Becoming Minimalist: A Helpful Guide to Overcoming Envy

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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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