4 Smart, Effective Ways to Shift Your Perspective on Negativity

Our perceptions of our experiences as negative can affect our lives on every level. Labeling our experiences as negative has the power to ruin relationships, decrease work performance, and increase stress levels. The good news is that you can balance your negativity bias by shifting your mindset!

Not sure where to start? Check out these smart, effective ways to shift your perception of your experiences as negative:

#1: Don’t Take It Personally A fantastic book that I always recommend to clients is Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements”. He lists not taking things personally as a necessary agreement to make with yourSELF. This idea is rooted in the understanding that most people act in a certain way based on their previous experiences and current circumstances. For example, perhaps someone took credit for your colleague’s work in the past, so now he doesn’t trust his team anymore. That doesn’t mean he has something against you, he simply doesn’t trust people in general. We’re all operating based on what we’ve learned from experiences, which means that how someone interacts with you is dependent on a great many factors, including their past experiences.

So, stop taking things personally. If someone is misjudging you, prove to them through your word and deed that they are wrong. Always try to be kind and authentic rather than stressing over it.

#2: Set Boundaries No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be able to please everyone, if only because what pleases us is so subjective. Couple that with demands on time and energy — friends, family, etc will always come up with new demands, and if you feel you’re unable to meet those demands it can undermine your self-esteem and keep you from focusing on your priorities.

To balance this feeling of pressure on your time and energy, you must learn to say no and set clear boundaries. If someone reacts negatively or tries to hurt you, see step 1, and go a step further by extending compassion to those pushing at your boundaries. There are reasons why we do what we do, and them feeling their needs must be met is completely human and natural.

You have the power to say no, use it.

#3: Adopt a Positive Mindset Sometimes it can be hard to be grateful for what we have when we’re dealing with an experience that’s causing us stress. However, research shows that cultivating gratitude can deepen and expand our experiences, serving as a buffer against negative thoughts.

Start with a gratitude journal and write a few things everyday that you’re grateful for. It can be as big and grand as having a child or as small as your morning cup of coffee or tea being just right. Practicing gratitude in this way reinforces positive thinking patterns and reduces negativity.

As a bonus, your positive attitude will also inspire others and strengthen your professional and personal relationships. The UnIverse has a funny way of giving us more of what we focus on, so the more you focus on being grateful for the good in your life, the more you will see opportunities arise.

#4: Find Solutions, Not Problems Our negativity bias means that we tend to focus on the problems we’re are facing at any given moment instead of actively seeking solutions. And, if we’re being one hundred percent honest, sometimes it feels good to “wallow in our sorrows”; to be sad if we’re sad or angry if we’re angry, deflecting any suggestions as to how we change or “solve” our problem. Unfortunately, this can compound already existing feelings of guilt, frustration and dissatisfaction.

The solution is that whenever you have a problem, take the steps needed to solve it. Don’t wait or hide, thinking it will go away. It might, but then again, depending on the size of the problem, it very well may not.

To do this, shift and reframe your perspective of the problem from a “problem” to a lesson, and ask yourSELF what the situation is trying to teach you. This can change it from a “problem” to a challenge, and you overcome challenges every day, now don’t you?

In conclusion, a good rule of thumb is to check your energy and see how you feel in specific circumstances or around certain people. Some people energize you while others drain you, choose to surround yourSELF as much as you can with positivity, i.e. the people, places, things and experiences that make you feel good. Build relationships with people who encourage you, support you, and cheer for you.

*Disclaimer: This article in no way acts as a substitute for clinically diagnosed depression or anxiety.

Reflecting on Ghanaian Independence Day 2019

Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong. — N. R. Narayana Murthy

This time last year, I was celebrating Ghanaian Independence Day with my family, exploding with joy and relief for my mother, who had recently been released from the hospital after receiving a life-saving kidney transplant from one of the most altruistic humans I’ve ever encountered, Maura Cronin-Lopez. There was no way for me to know that I was about to embark on the hardest, most difficult year I have ever experienced. I had stars in my eyes from all the childhood dreams I planned to manifest, and excited butterflies in my stomach in anticipation of all the new people I would meet around the world. I planned to achieve so many goals, but what I didn’t plan for were the excruciating emotional, financial, professional, and personal lessons and setbacks I continue to experience since embarking on #AtlasArcher.

In the past 365 days, I have met thousands of incredible humans from around the globe, many of whom don’t speak any of the languages I do, but oral language isn’t important when your hearts beat to the same rhythms. The person I’ve been most excited to meet, however, is Me. Despite living in this body for 39 years, I had no idea the strength AND the softness I possess. The peaks have been in the stratosphere, and the valleys have taken me to hell. Yet, no matter how many times life kicks me in the face, I get up, not worse for wear, but somehow even prettier than before. I have become more compassionate, while simultaneously running out of fucks to give. Now, I recognize much more quickly when I’ve had enough, and when it’s time to walk away. “No.” has empowered me in more ways than I can count, and external validation now means so much less than maintaining my personal integrity.

“No.” has empowered me in more ways than I can count, and eternal validation now means so much less than maintaining my personal integrity.

As this journey around the globe comes to an end and the 62nd year of freedom begins for Ghana, it feels like the dawn of the best of the rest of my life. Life ‘round here ain’t roses and rainbows, but I’m finally starting to see the resilience and independence everyone else has seen in me (and so many have tried to beat down), my whole life. I’m learning to ask for help, which may not seem like much, but only one year ago, I would have rather literally starved, than to reach out for assistance. My opinions are withering away as convictions take their place. My thirst for knowledge is insatiable, and I have made it my life’s work to help other people realize their power- I really am my ancestors’ wildest dreams. Happy Independence Day, Ghana. Thank you for making me. I hope I make you proud.

Your Purpose Is Right In Front Of You

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way

— Viktor Frankl

For the longest time, I believed that there was only one purpose of life: to be successful.

Right?! I mean why else would I be going through all of this trouble to achieve career success. Working extra hours, always focused on the goal, the mission.

How I first looked and failed to find purpose

As many young people coming out of high school do I chose a major that my parents and all of the adults in my life thought would lead to a respectable profession: engineering. It was fine with me since I liked math and physics and felt like I fit in as a nerd.

I enjoyed my four years at university, for the most part. I worked and learned a lot and set myself up for a pretty stable career. Of course I felt like I was doing pretty well since I was on my way to what a lot of people were calling a “successful career”: something I’d get paid well for and a title that people respect.

Yet as time went on, I was working at the same time as doing my Master’s degree, I felt that something was missing: I still didn’t feel happy. I had a drive to work and achieve, to push towards what people call “success”, but there was still this void. Something just wasn’t there.

Was this it? Was this all there was? Frankly I expected more to life than just this. There wasn’t anything that really genuinely excited me. I couldn’t honestly say that I loved my work.

I wanted more. I had seen people on TV and YouTube that were what society would call “successful”: aka had lots of money, and I guess you could say some of them seemed pretty happy. But there were also others that had money and didn’t seem to be doing too well: celebrities with sex scandals, power hungry executives, and drug addicted athletes. Plus I wasn’t really all that interested in being a rich play boy. I wanted financial stability but also a family, interesting career, flexibility, and some time to just explore and adventure and learn things. A lot of that can clearly get taken away from you once you’re famous, especially the flexibility part.

OK, so money might help but can come with some of those major down sides.

I also started to do a bit of self-observation asking myself: when do I feel truly happy? Most of them didn’t have much to do with money at all: hanging out and just chatting with my family, going out with my girlfriend, working out, reading, achieving some big goal I had set, and eating some delicious food!

You’ll notice like I did that those things don’t have much to do with money. Sure a gym membership costs money, but not as much as the exotic sports cars and endless sex people usually imagine when day dreaming about finding their purpose and becoming successful. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place.

Man’s Search for Meaning

So I was out of ideas for finding my purpose; it was time to look elsewhere. I loved to read and had already learned so much from books so I figured what the hell, I’ll look there.

I first heard about Man’s Search for Meaning from an unlikely source, a YouTube channel called strengthcamp. The channel was mostly about lifting weights, but also had a good batch of videos with general advice about career, confidence, and life. A few days later, I picked up the book from the local library.

Man’s Search for Meaning was written by Viktor Frankl, a survivor of the horrific World War II Holocaust. It chronicles his experiences while he was a prisoner in the concentration camps, and how he found purpose through it. The main, beautiful question that Frankl tries to answer is: how can one find purpose, even in the darkest of places?

Frankl goes on to talk about three psychological reactions experienced by all inmates throughout their arrival, prisonership, and freedom from the camp:

(1) Shock and denial during their initial admission to the camp

(2) Acceptance during the camp stay

(3) If they survive through to liberation, loss of moral and disillusionment

The first stage begins even before a prisoner arrives, during the transportation to the camp. They have hope that this will only be temporary, that it’ll all be over soon, like a bad dream. Yet within the first few days the prisoners are broken. They realise that there is no dream, just despair.

In the second stage, Frankl observed that most prisoners fall in to an acceptance their fate. They accept the camp as life itself and choose one of two paths: (1) that of forfeit, in which they forfeit their hope of survival and give up (2) that of hope, in which they hang on to something: a lover that awaits them, children, or some happy thing they can’t give up on.

Frankl describes the third stage as the most difficult. For prisoners who survive until liberation, many feel that the hope and happiness they held on to for all the horrid time in the camp was in vain. Their families are lost, careers are destroyed. They no longer feel happiness or freedom: they are foreign things.

But Viktor Frankl saw something special during his captivity, something that helped him survive: the men who held on to their hope were the ones who survived. He described instances of his friends falling into despair, and no matter how much he or others would plead with them, they would insist that they were going to die. Some would even purposefully make themselves sick out of desperation.

But there were others who held on to things despite the grimmest of circumstances. There were inmates who still spoke of seeing their families again or continuing on with their professions when they become free; those men survived. They were able to find, perhaps not happiness, but a sense of meaning. Their bodies were captive, but their minds were free.

Inmates would find meaning in whatever they could. A fellow inmate who had fallen into despair, whom they felt they had a chance to save. A family on the outside who he had to survive for, because they needed him. Something, anything, to hold on to.

Purpose lies in everything you do

Frankl observed that those who had a positive mindset had survived the camp and those who did not had perished. That positive mindset came from finding a meaning to their lives, a purpose.

You can find purpose everywhere and everyday in your life.

That purpose can be anything:

  • A dog that needs walking to feel loved
  • A task at work that needs to be done, if not for the customers whom it will serve then for your family’s well-being that your salary provides
  • Your Mom who need’s a hand around the house
  • Pouring your full passion and effort into a dinner meal you’re cooking for your family
  • That waitress who’d feel better about herself if you said thank you
  • A smile you can share with everyone you meet, to make the world just a little bit brighter

It doesn’t have to be a fancy career, an amazing achievement, or becoming famous. You don’t need any of those external things. All you need is to feel like you are making some positive impact on the world, no matter how small.

Define who you want to be as a person. Discard all of the influences and expectations of society. Throw away all of the external labels. How can you be the absolute best version of yourself? Don’t think, feel.

Then do your best to be that person every single day.

Prisoners in the camp who saved positive didn’t have their career. They didn’t have good food. They didn’t have their hobbies that they enjoyed. They didn’t even have their families.

But they did have themselves. They had their own lives and minds and hearts. They did their best with what they had, no matter how little it was.

Do your best. With whatever you have, with whatever life gives you. Do your best to learn from it, smile, and make a positive impact in any way you can.

That’s purpose.

Ever Felt The Need to Offer Affection?

Eden, my sister (14 y/o), Me (26 y/o) and my Grandma (85 y/o) — offering affection.

So, just to get some context, I’ve been in a long-term relationship for seven years, since high-school. It ended at the beginning of 2017 and it totally got me on my knees emotionally, although I was the one who kinda started the break-up.

It’s not that I didn’t foresee that it would hurt a lot, I did, but I also knew it would’ve hurt even more if I wasn’t going to take action “now”.

The first days were absolutely crazy: I felt like my life had no meaning at all, “our” house was empty, and my phone seemed useless — because although I could scroll Facebook and post pictures on Instagram, it would never ring or get messages from the person I was using it to talk to most of the time.

Anyway, days went by, weeks went by, months went by and I discovered, deep inside myself, the hidden need of offering affection.

What I mean by “offering affection” starts with the simple need of saying “Good morning”, of saying “Good night”, or even a random “I was thinking about you”, or “Hey, you ok?”.

Did you ever send random texts saying “I love you!”? Ever wondered why you were sending them? Of course, because that’s what you felt … but … why send that specific text?

What I mean by “offering affection” continues with “the need” of cooking and offering breakfast, giving a massage and even giving a really-really tiny kiss on the forehead.

But by affection I don’t necessarily mean “love”. Affection can be offered to anyone and received from anyone, even animals. And that’s awesome, cuz it explains how people with dogs are usually really emotionally-stable people.

Love is actually “a strong feeling of affection”. But it seems that offering and receiving affection from just one person — “the loved one” — is not what we really feel the need for.

At least that’s what I discovered when I “woke up all alone”.

Me and some strangers I’ve been totally sharing affection with, while traveling.

And that’s what I still feel, now, being single: Not the need of receiving affection, but the need of offering affection.

I feel the urge of letting people know, just random people, that “I’m there for them” and I want to send them “positive vibes”. Most of the time it happens through a text message, sometimes a Facebook message, sometimes a real phone call. The tools I use to do this, actually, don’t even matter.

Sure, we could now argue that I feel this need of offering affection simply because I’m in need of affection. And what better way to receive affection if not by offering affection? In giving you receive — that’s a “fact” I decided some years ago to live by.

But, if that’s the case, and it may very well be, then it just proves what I’ve known for some years now: altruism is a form of egoism.

I’ve been doing this for a while now, learning to have more affectionate relationships with people around me, starting with acquaintances and moving on to friends, but also totally random people and … damn, my everyday mood is skyrocketing!

I’ve always thought of myself as an open person, happy person, the kind of guy who would enter a room and help it light up. I wouldn’t be “the one” lighting it up, but I’d say I am usually “part of the light”. But, till now I wasn’t offering affection at all.

Having a long-term relationship, I never felt the need of offering affection to anyone else besides my partner. Not even to my family or close friends. I was taught to be “a man”, and men shouldn’t really show affection, right?

It’s not like anyone ever told me that offering affection is bad, but it’s part of my informal education. No one ever told me offering affection is good either. And, also, partners can get jealous and that’s not cool, so it’s kinda obvious where all of my affection went to till now.

Of course, sometimes in relationships “affection” doesn’t work. Simply because one of us is in a mood, or maybe both of us are in a mood. And that’s when and how I believe sometimes relationships get destroyed.

Now I see myself as a “sun”, everyday. It’s a choice I made, I want to be able to offer people around me a good vibe, let them know I care about them, let them know I think of them, no matter who they are, whoever they are, because I also decided to see everyone of us, as people, being part of a bigger picture, of a huge “living-organism”.

I now understand that in order for me to feel well, cared of, loved, thought of, I need to care, I need to offer…

What’s even more fascinating is that it all started with what seemed to be a need. The need of offering affection. And “affection” can be anything. A word, a touch, a nod, a glimpse into someone’s eyes…

Oh, one more thing: a few weeks ago I decided to hug people as a greeting. And it’s working like a charm.

So, did you ever feel the need to offer affection? I bet you did! Why not do it? Why overthink it? Why limit it to just the loved one, just family? Imagine a hug. If you read this, imagine a hug from me. And take care. 🙂

What made you believe that most people hate Donald Trump?

Loathe Trump?

But now, he’s at the helm. What can you do?

Remember the days before the 2016 elections?

We witnessed an apocalypse of hateful articles about the man who likes to “grab ’em by the pussy.” Our social media feeds were filled with them.

He part-took in numerous adverse events to weaken his candidature. His speeches were full of errors and racial undertones.

The only great aspect of Trump?

His communication skills (yeah, he’s a great salesman).

Donald Trump is a terrific salesman. Here’s a Nerdwriter analysis of how he answers a question.

Now let me tell you a weird thing about the internet –

If you are a hardcore Trump hater, then you might not have come across a single article in his favor.

That’s not because everyone hates him (as you’d want).

It’s because social media algorithms feed you what you want to hear.

Facebook wants you to spend more time on its platform. It can’t afford to turn you off with a pro-Trump article. So it will only show stories that conform to your ideologies.

The cognitive bias you’re made to fall into is called the confirmation bias.

Indeed, this bias is the reason that you:

  • hang out with peeps that like the same kind of shit as you,
  • visit websites that conform to your thinking and perspectives.

So when will this bias appear as a significant stumbling block for you?

It gets triggered during discussions around your core beliefs, life philosophies, and political affiliations. Even when it’s a discussion on your favorite movie.

Sensible counter facts and rational arguments won’t matter.

It’s difficult to accept the limitations, weaknesses, and loopholes around your lovelies (they are fuckin’ close to your heart).

But wait a second…

Why does our brain behave in such a weird way? Doesn’t it limit our thinking?

What’s surprising is that these cognitive biases are meant to safeguard our brain.

So how do these mental shortcuts affect your everyday behavior?

Well, they can lead you astray. They prevent you from acting in your own best interest or even have intelligent conversations.

Now let me throw in two similar biases (to confirmation bias) that prevent you from making accurate judgments —

The in-group bias and the conservatism bias

Did you overestimate the abilities and values of your team? Maybe, you also deem people outside your team as less competent.

That’s in-group bias — when you favor the people who are a part of your group over people that you don’t know.

Remember how our scholars in middle ages had problems dealing with the fact that earth isn’t flat?

Okay, I get it. You’re a new-age, intelligent fellow.

Let me give another example.

Suppose you’re a trader, working in a swanky office at Wall Street. Trading XYZ company shares made you a goddamn millionaire.

The next month’s forecast of XYZ’s earnings showed great signs — so you put more money on the table.

Then, a new report negatively contradicts the information. It’s likely that the company will lose money.

Given your attachment to XYZ, you can’t digest the latest report findings, and hold on to the earlier report.

You, my friend, are breeding conservatism bias.

Put plainly:

It is when you under-appreciate new information (that contradicts your present world-view) and hold onto your old beliefs.

I’ll share a few more biases in the coming biases.

Meanwhile, beware of Trump.

No, he isn’t an everyday problem.

Your social media feeds definitely are. Keep a check of the content they feed you.

Read the entire article on cognitive biases at Chintanzalani.com.

If you liked the article, you should check out my 5-lesson email masterclass to break conventions. It’s FREE!

For more ass-rollicking content, you can visit ChintanZalani.com.

I also share cool stuff on social media — follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Hey sweetfuck, one last request. You can click on the 👏 up to 50 times — it will spread the content across Medium, and let more fuckers enjoy it.

The Single Most Useful Book I’ve Read

The first time I read one of the most useful books of my life, I’m ashamed to admit that I read it for free online in a scanned PDF.

I’m not quite sure how I found it — whether it was a referral from another personal finance blogger or it made a ‘must read’ list for personal finance beginners like myself.

Either way, I remember the feeling of my world slowly being turned upside down as I scrolled through each page of the Millionaire Next Door by Dr. T. J. Stanley.

At the time, I was horrible with money. I was making more than I had ever made, and I was spending more than I had ever spent before. I thought I ‘deserved’ to spend frivolously because I was a newly minted lawyer.

Thankfully, I stumbled upon this book right at the moment I needed it.

Here are five key lessons that I learned from reading The Millionaire Next Door.

[1] Most millionaires are self-made. I used to think that the majority of millionaires in the U.S. inherited their wealth. I mean, how can one accumulate so much in a lifetime? Not true, says Dr. Stanley. It’s possible to be a teacher, nurse, or someone working in a blue-collar trade, and still generate enough wealth to pass the threshold of six zeroes in their net worth.

[2] Most millionaires did not provide economic outpatient care (EOC). In other words, most millionaires did not receive money from their families after high school. Dr. Stanley explains that adults who rely on or wait for their parents to give them cash gifts or subsidize some of their living expenses are generally not very productive. Usually, this money gets allocated towards consumption and supports an inflated lifestyle that cannot be sustained should the EOC be withdrawn.

[3] Millionaires allocate their time, energy and money in ways that is conducive to wealth building. Millionaires do not care about spending time on negotiating to get a $1,000 discount when purchasing a depreciating asset, such as a car. They do, however, care about spending time and money on selecting knowledgeable financial and legal advisors, especially when it relates to handling their business affairs and growing other appreciating assets. Millionaires dedicate their resources to learning about areas of potential growth.

[4] Most millionaires do not flaunt their wealth or have expensive tastes. Surprisingly, most millionaires purchase American-made cars. Those, however, who choose to buy foreign-made cars predominantly purchase Toyotas and Hondas, and not Mercedes, BMWs, or Audis.

In terms of living arrangements, most millionaires do not live in upscale neighbourhoods, but rather live in nondescript communities where the cost of living is affordable. Dr. Stanley insists that one of the biggest destroyers of wealth is living in a high-cost area, in which you are living among households who earn substantially more than you. Instead, he urges, to live in an area where your household is among the highest earners. He explains that these neighbourhoods tend to be populated by small business owners, blue-collar workers and middle managers and/or executives, rather than lawyers, doctors and c-suite executives.

Millionaires, especially self-made ones, play great defence rather than offence, which means that they believe in maintaining a frugal lifestyle, receiving joy through non-material possessions and avoiding the trap of being ‘house rich and cash poor.’ Dr. Stanley insists that you would not recognize most millionaires when you meet them because they do not have expensive tastes.

[5] It’s entirely possible to become a millionaire in your lifetime. This is the biggest takeaway from Dr. Stanley’s book. If you refrain from frivolous spending, live within your means and invest early and consistently, you can become a millionaire without a six-figure salary.

The biggest misconception when it comes to millionaires is that you need a six-figure salary in order to accumulate a seven-figure net worth. I understand now that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

I couldn’t be more grateful for Dr. Stanley writing The Millionaire Next Door because it made me realize that the pursuit of money is not really the purpose of life (as it was evident from the millionaires featured in the book), but at the same time can be attainable if you just have the patience and persistence to play the long game.

If you enjoyed this story, you should check out www.jenonmoney.com where I write about personal finance, progressive economics, going against the grain, and tons more. — Jen

This originally appeared on Quora.

Why Attitude Matters

It’s accepted wisdom that Why is a powerful driving force. We’d rather do things for a reason and not because we are told to do them. Simon Sinek has earned a good living telling us to start with the Why. It’s the Why that gets us up in the morning. Why does an organisation exist? Why explains purpose. In old-school business-speak, Why in essence means mission.

But is Sinek right and does Why explain the whole piece? Or is Why too cognitive…too aware…too rational? It might appeal to emotion but it’s not the same thing as emotion.

But let me start with a true story:

Mario Capecchi was born to an unmarried, single mother in Italy in 1937 — on the eve of the Second World War. His mother was a poet who became known for her anti-fascist views and writings. In the spring of 1941 she was arrested by the Gestapo and shipped off to Dachau concentration camp. Soon, Mario, aged four, was left to roam the streets of northern Italy and fend for himself. He was shot in the leg by an American plane, strafing peasants in a field for no good reason. For over four years he survived by begging and stealing.

Mario, suffering from malnutrition and lying in a hospital bed, was miraculously reunited with his mother on his ninth birthday. They moved to the US where he became fascinated by mathematics, physics and chemistry. He did well at school and earned a Ph.D. in biophysics at Harvard in 1967. Dr Mario R. Capecchi won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 2007.

There is perhaps one thing that is more important than Why for achieving our goals; it is attitude. Attitude is the invisible driving force behind the way we live our lives. Attitude lies behind our thought patterns. It determines how we view our world, what we think, what we do, what do not do, what we pay attention to and what we choose to ignore.

Attitude determines whether our purpose is forward-looking, positive and growth oriented or backward-looking, defensive, suspicious and negative. Our attitude leaks out in subtle ways through our words, voice tonality, physiology and general mood. Our attitude determines how other people respond to us and whether we are happy or unhappy, successful or unsuccessful. As our mind and bodies form a single neurological system, our attitude will even determine our state of mental and physical health.

Attitude is a direction in which we lean. An attitude is similar to a belief but it is at a higher level of abstraction. Our attitude provides a template for our behaviour and our beliefs; it provides us with our values and a moral compass. An attitude will override a belief; an attitude is more of an emotion or feeling, whereas a belief is more cognitive. An attitude determines general direction whereas a belief is more specific.

If the attitude of a person is that all change is a bad thing, then all change will be a bad thing, and the person will never be able to believe in any kind of change, regardless of how noble the purpose may be.

Attitude tells us that a situation or a person or our self is OK or not OK. We do not always choose the situations in which we find ourselves, but we can choose our attitude towards these situations. We do not make ourselves; our parents, caretakers, genes and early environment do; we cannot change our history, but we can decide to change our attitude to it. Does a tough upbringing make us tough, or does it make us defeatist? Do poor experiences with change make us more determined to be successful next time around and provide a learning experience, or do they make us give up?

Of his early years Dr Capecci says “It is not clear whether those early childhood experiences contributed to whatever successes I have enjoyed or whether those achievements were attained in spite of those experiences.”[i]

Do you see problems in every opportunity or opportunity in every problem? Do you see adversity in challenge or challenge in adversity? Do you accept that change is part of the human condition and strive to embrace it, or resist it and hang onto the status quo? Life and business is all about change and the sooner we accept that fact the easier change becomes.

In the same sense that our bodies become what we put into them as nourishment, our attitude becomes what we put into it as encouragement. Our attitude reflects its inputs just as our bodies reflect their inputs. Managing our inputs is therefore as important for a healthy attitude as the food that you eat is for a healthy body.

Our attitude is fed by our thoughts and our thoughts are fed by our attitude — so we have a spiral that we influence positively or negatively. What is important is to consistently and positively turn the dial of your attitude towards the attitude you want to have. This means catching yourself in the act of doing good and congratulating and encouraging yourself to keep it up.

When you catch yourself with the right attitude, turn up the volume, go over the top in enjoying the moment, use hyperbole to tell yourself how great your attitude is — the subconscious has the communicative ability of a seven-year old, so enthuse your communication with positive words. Is the moment good or is it great? Is it fantastic or absolutely stupendous? Do you feel comfortable with it or enormously thrilled? Are you involved or totally committed? Are you having an OK day, or is it amazing or good and getting better? Or living the dream? We don’t have to lie about how we’re feeling, but we can turn up the emotional volume and thereby program ourselves, and others, with the right (or better) attitude.

In organizations, the right attitude is to have a healthy respect for all the elements of the business — people, profits, customers, suppliers, society and the environment — and to maintain a balance in all these things. If we want an organization that is a great place to work, we must hire people with the right attitude and invite people with the wrong attitude to change, or talk to HR about an alternative career path outside the organization. This may sound harsh, but people with the wrong attitude can negatively affect those around them — colleagues, suppliers, partners and, most importantly, customers.

The great thing about the right attitude is that it is contagious. The energetic business leader will energise people. The passionate teacher will impassion students to learn and achieve. The enthusiastic salesperson will win enthusiastic customers.

That’s what I think…what do you think?

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[i] Based on The Kyoto Prize Lecture given by Dr M. Capecchi in 1996. Quote used by kind permission of Dr Capecchi.

How to Tackle To-Do List Clutter

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

As I'm thinking about how to structure my calendar and planner for the coming year, I've been reflecting a lot on clutter of a different sort — to-do list clutter.

Every day, y to-do list starts at about 10 items and grows fom there.

It's gotten to the point now where if it's only 3–5 items long, I feel weird, like I'm forgetting something.

But having a 10–20 item to-do list is just setting myself up for failure, especially because that's my home to-do list, and doesn't include my work items.

My work to-do lists are routinely 20+ items, including meetings, which are excellent at keeping me from accomplishing anything.

At the end of each day, I find myself with a list of undone tasks that carryover to the next day.

It's daunting and a little depressing.

So I've made a plan to keep my to-do list to a manageable level each day. I'll give this technique a shot in 2018 and see if it works. Here's what I plan to do:

Keep a master list

Project lists

I'll try to break them down into every single little step I can think of. That way I can at least make some progress on them each day, and I'll get the satisfaction of crossing something off.

Weekly Lists

This is where my use of GTD comes in. I usually do this on two facing pages. The left side has the calendar for the week with appointments, birthdays and other day-specific items. The right side has tasks broken down by "context," which is GTD speak for where you'll do the task. My contexts are home, computer, phone and town, which includes errands and things I need to do away from home.

To populate the weekly lists, I'll go through the master and project lists to determine what I can get done. I'll try to assign one project item to each day, and then a couple items from the master list.

Daily Lists

Realistically, my to-do list will probably be a lot longer, but I will consciously not start out with 10; 10 will be my not-to-exceed number.

The Habit List

Now this is where the progress toward my goals happens.

These items will be high-value tasks like exercising, meditating and writing. They will be on my habit list, and will make an appearance on the weekly calendar and on the daily list.

I will also make a tracker so I can se at a glance which ones I'm making progress on, and which ones I've been neglecting.

So, I have a plan. I'm really hoping that all my good intentions come to something this year, and that I am able to execute my habits and make progress toward my goals.

The trick is not to let the little things get in the way.

Wish me luck.

How will you make progress toward your goals this year?

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Discomfort is a compass

Having lunch alone at work. Waiting on a diagnosis after a doctor’s appointment. Networking at events.

I no longer fear having to do these. (Okay, I’m a little afraid of seeing my doctor.) They’re all part of being a functional adult.

But they’re only the start of a long list of things that make me feel uncomfortable. I do all I can to put them off, even if they’re good for me.

In her TED talk, Priya Parker talks about building your resistance towards discomfort. When we’re in public, our first instinct is to reach for the phone and blending in with everyone else. It’s easy. What’s hard is drawing attention to yourself and being okay with it.

Parker suggests singing — not too loudly — but loud enough to be heard. Your heart will start to pound as people zero in on you. Training yourself to get used to this feeling will build your discomfort muscles. Luckily, you don’t even have to sing in Tesco to try this experiment.

“It’s he or she who’s willing to be the most uncomfortable can rise strong.”
— Brené Brown

Discomfort is a compass. It helps you navigate why you deliberately or subconsciously avoid something.

  • Why do I get nervous at networking events? I take a long time to warm up to people and it might get awkward.
  • Why do I take so long to be myself around new people? I don’t spend much time talking to people at events.
  • Why do I want to meet other local artists and designers if it makes me nervous? I want to learn from them.

By shifting the focus towards leaning into discomfort, you stop relying on motivation.

I’m always nervous around new people, so I prepare for the possibility of awkward moments. I speak up whenever I’m curious. Even if I all I do is ask people about themselves, I can learn a lot by listening. And it ends up being fun.

My New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work — What I’m Doing In 2018 Instead

December 31, 2017 by Mike Carreon

My Personal Standard

For as long as I can remember, the new year has always been about the new and improved version of me. However, I make it until about February or early March before I stop trying to achieve any of my resolutions and then I feel like a failure — hiding in shame the rest of the year. Sound familiar?

I realize that the reason I fail is because of my old friend, self-sabotage.

I’ve found that it’s easier (or safer) to self-sabotage myself than actually giving it all and finding out that it’s not enough. Because then that would mean…dun dun duuuunnnn….that I’m not enough.

*high pitched scream*

So knowing that’s how I look at resolutions, I’ve been scrambling my head trying to decide how to proceed. Do I pick one and prioritize it? Two? Do I break all of them down into smaller goals and develop a 3/5-year holistic plan? Yeah, I could do all of those and probably should’ve done all of those, but instead, I did something else.

I decided to write a personal standard — 8 tentpole ideas that I’ll think about as I’m going through life — helping me steer the ship. These ideas will most likely change as I do, but for now, they mean something to me.

To sum it up, I decided that I will stop prioritizing what I achieve and focus more on how I achieve it. Some would say this is the same as caring more about the journey than the destination or ends/means vs. means/ends, and they’d be right. Same thing, just saying it in a way that works for me. Let me know if this resonates with you or if you think I’m crazy for trying something different.

Originally published at www.mikecarreon.com on December 31, 2017.