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6 Science-Based Hacks To Grow A Stronger Mind

6 Science-Based Hacks To Grow A Stronger Mind

Mentally strong people know that the only things we can control in life are our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and that everything else is outside of their control. Therefore, they focus on learning about and improving their thought, feeling, and behavior patterns. They know that success in life will follow.

I wish I was taught that in school! It  I was a real go-getter, trying to get ahead in life. Yet I was putting in so much unneeded effort because I was working hard, not smart. Worse than that, I was sabotaging myself, as I wasn’t listening to my own emotions and what I really needed in life. While I was doing alright in my career, internally I was anxious and depressed, and didn’t know how to fix it.

The solution came from finding out about science-based strategies for growing mentally stronger. I learned to be aware of and improve the only things I can control in life – my thought, feeling, and behavior patterns. I grew much happier and mentally healthier, and gained much more success in my career than I had previously. I also became passionate about sharing these science-based strategies, and hope you can benefit from learning about them.

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Be intentional

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    Knowledge is power! Be intentional and figure out the truth about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. I remember how I journaled about all aspects of myself, a science-based strategy for self-understanding. It wasn’t easy, and I noticed myself flinching away from certain aspects of the truth about myself. However I knew that the things I tried to flinch away from, the truths I didn’t want to acknowledge to myself, were most likely to be the ones that sabotaged my ability to control my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in the long run. It was so worth it, as I discovered so many aspects of myself I didn’t know I had! This self-understanding was the key to gaining control over my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and I continue to journal daily in order to keep on learning about and improving them.

    Understand Your Emotional Self

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    Autopilot vs Intentional System: Elephant and Rider

      Intuitively, we feel our mind to be a cohesive whole, and perceive ourselves as intentional and rational thinkers. Yet research shows that in reality, the intentional part of our mind is like a little rider on top of a huge elephant of emotions. The emotional self is the most important one to explore, as it shapes our thoughts and behaviors in ways we don’t realize. For example, I learned that I had a strong anxiety response when people don’t respond to my emails quickly, and my mind started to spin in circles, figuring out what was wrong. By learning about that unhealthy pattern, I managed to start to notice and control it, and now am much better with emails.

      Self-Empathy, Self-Love, and Self-Care

      what is self esteem

        Mentally strong people take the time for self-empathy and self-care. They listen to their emotional self, and make it feel heard, validated, and loved, thus providing themselves with self-empathy and self-love. They also take the time for appropriate self-care, knowing that if they take care of themselves, they will have capacity to control their thought, feeling, and behavior patterns, and thus succeed in life. This was a particularly tough area for me, as my emotional self does not intuitively place a high importance on myself. I had to convince myself that by taking good care of myself, I can take better care of others in my life, just like in airplanes, you need to put your own mask on first before taking care of others.

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        Be Authentic

        women-walking-throug-door-200x300

          Be authentic in who you are! Mentally strong people let people in their lives know about themselves and their needs, goals, and challenges. When I came out of the closet about my mental illness to people around me, I lost some relationships. However, I was much better off overall, as it would not have been good for me in the long term to keep relationships with people who did not support me. In return, I had much better support from the large majority of people who remained close to me because they knew about my challenges. I also gained new friends who were proud of and admired my decision to be authentic about who I am.

          Life the Life You Want

          Young businesswoman walking along a cobbled street in front of a white wall.
            Young businesswoman walking along a cobbled street in front of a white wall.

            To grow mentally stronger, be confident that you know best what is good for your life. Listen to advice from others, consider their perspectives, and then make your own choices. I had a tough time making a choice about my career, as I got pushback from my parents about my decision. They wanted me to pursue a career that would make money, but I wanted to pursue my passion. Well, I’m so glad that I made the choice that was right for me, and did not follow their advice. I would have been miserable, as I am really not suited for a traditional nine-to-five track.

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            Commit to Growing Mentally Stronger

            Growing Mentally Stronger T-shirt

              Perhaps most important of all, mentally strong people are committed always to growing mentally stronger. They use research-based strategies such as making a plan to improve their thinking, feeling, and behavior patterns and set physical reminders for themselves, such as t-shirts that say “Growing Mentally Stronger.” I got that t-shirt, and made a plan. I now devote more than ten percent of my weekly activities to growing mentally stronger, such as by doing meditation, journaling, reading Lifehack and Less Wrong, and attending a Rationality Dojo.

              I hope these science-based hacks help you grow mentally stronger!

              Photo Credit: Understand Your Emotional Self, Commit to Growing Mentally StrongerBe intentional,Self-EmpathyBe Authentic, Life the Life You Want

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              Dr. Gleb Tsipursky

              Cognitive neuroscientist and behavioral economist; CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts; multiple best-selling author

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              Last Updated on May 28, 2020

              10 Success Principles for Living Your Dream Life

              10 Success Principles for Living Your Dream Life

              Are you stressed out and overwhelmed, wishing you had more time to do the things that really matter? Are you ready to do something better, something special in your life or your career?

              You were born with a gift that no one else in the world can express like you. When you dance to your own music, you naturally develop your innate abilities and excel in work and life. You are a total rock star. But when you live someone else’s idea of who you should be, it throws off your groove.

              Many people—maybe you—stopped following their dreams way too early in life because their talents were ignored, minimized, or shamed. They didn’t have the chops to win an American Idol competition or nab an Olympic gold medal, so they stopped expressing their inborn gifts altogether.

              You don’t need to be an award winner to rock your life. Living your dream life is about discovering your superpowers and feeling vibrant and joyful when you use them. It’s about owning what makes you unique and finding like-minded people to support you.

              Here are 10 success principles to help you live a rich and rewarding life on your terms that have worked with thousands of people in my workshops and will work for you, too.

              1. Get a Hobby to Move Closer to Your Dreams

              If you never became a professional dancer or a world-renowned author, it does NOT mean you should stop dancing or writing! These activities make you come alive, even if you “only” do them as favorite pastimes.

              Engaging in a hobby is one of the most important success principles you can follow to move closer to your dreams.

              When you try something creative for the first time or in a long while, you begin to see opportunities at work and in life that you were unaware of before. You also feel happier and more energized, according to a recent study from New Zealand.[1]

              Some of my most burned-out executive clients reinvigorated their careers by discovering a creative outlet that refueled them after the workday ended. Research at San Francisco State University shows that having a hobby lowers stress and helps you succeed at work.[2]

              So, give yourself permission to try new things and revisit old passions you gave up long ago. Setting aside just one hour a week for personal exploration can significantly change your life.

              Who knows? Your creative outlet could transform into a thriving business or lead to a new profession down the road.

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              2. Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

              Did you know that you are more likely to succeed when you develop your natural strengths rather than work on your weaknesses? The problem is that you probably don’t know where your true talents lie.

              Here are a few options to help you discover your unique strengths. You can:

              • Take the VIA Character Strengths Survey[3]
              • Try Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment[4]
              • Answer a few Superpower Questions

              Once you understand what makes you tick, you can use these skills at work and your personal life to get more done in less time. If you boost your unique abilities through practice and study, you can accelerate your career and become a leader in a field that matters to you. It’s worth investing in yourself this way.

              3. Jumping off a Cliff is NOT Required

              Here’s the deal: most people are too afraid to change. When participants first come to my workshops, they tell me they have mouths to feed, bills to pay, and fear that if they follow their dreams, someone will get hurt.

              The old saying “leap and the net shall appear” does not comfort them. Because they are hesitant to plunge into the unknown, they believe their only option is to stay put where they are in life. Can you relate?

              You do not have to sacrifice the life you have now to start a new one. I was a psychology professor by day and singer by night for years before I transitioned into a full-time music career.

              Just take a little time out each week to do what enlivens you through a hobby, volunteer work, etc. Get a feel for it.

              Is it what you really want? If so, increase the time you spend doing it and make the transition when the time feels right.

              4. Give Your Inner Critic Some Love

              The main culprit that keeps you from stepping outside your comfort zone and getting the life of your dreams is KCRP or K-CRAP – the radio station that plays 24/7 in your head. The moment you try to do something interesting with your life it slaps you down with such chart-topping killer hooks as “Who do you think you are?” and “You’ll never be good enough!”.

              Have you ever noticed that KCRP’s mean-spirited DJ sounds like your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures who shut you down creatively? These folks don’t need to stifle you any longer (although they often still do) because your inner critic does it for them. That keeps you stuck in a rut.

              To break free, try thinking of this DJ as a gruff old grandfather who gives you crap to keep you safe. Remember, this grumpy grandpa is woefully out of touch with the times. So, his stern opinions don’t really matter much, do they? Give him a pat on the back for his good intentions, and put your focus back on what makes you come alive.

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              This success principle will give you the courage to venture into the unknown where you can dance to the beat of your own drummer.

              5. Embrace Your Inner Weirdo

              Many of us don’t go after our dreams because we’re afraid folks will find out how odd or strange we are. But our little eccentricities often turn out to be our greatest strengths. Yes, it’s good to be quirky.

              Odds are, you lost track of your true passions and talents before you were even old enough to know you were getting off-track. You became slowly “adulterated” by learning to:

              • Take on family roles that don’t match who you really are.
              • Spit back what teachers taught you in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original.
              • Hide parts of yourself that don’t seem acceptable to certain social groups.

              The price for fitting in is that you may wind up leading a life that doesn’t fit you all that well. Your true calling becomes clear when you embrace what makes you different from others and allow yourself to stand out from the crowd, even if it feels awkward.

              Often, the very qualities you view as your flaws are your greatest gifts.

              6. See the Bigger Picture to Find Your True Calling

              I cannot stress the importance of this success principle enough. Your true calling is right in front of you. But you may miss it because you’re looking for it in the wrong place.

              To “see” it clearly, try widening your point of view.

              Case in point: Maria felt she needed to retire early from being a police detective, so she could travel abroad. I encouraged Maria to think of ways that she could continue to serve as a law enforcer (a career she loved) and travel overseas at the same time.

              A few months later, Maria landed a job with the United Nations in Bosnia training the local police force to understand and embrace human rights procedures.

              Like Maria, you are an everyday rock star capable of accomplishing greater things than you can imagine. Is what you’re looking for right in front of you, too? Do you have an inkling of what it may be?

              Look beyond your day-to-day activities, your current job, and even the town you live in. View your life from an eagle’s perspective and be open to new possibilities.

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              7. Try a Little Wish-List Magic

              Pretend I’m your fairy godmother and I give you permission right now to be your most magnificent self. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy. Write it down on a wish list.

              Get quiet. Be honest. Think big.

              What would you like your career, your relationships, your health, your finances, and your spiritual life to be like? Jot down enough details so that your wishes seem tangible to you. Then, look at this list every morning before you start your day and every night before you go to sleep.

              Sounds silly? It’s not. It works! Permitting yourself to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to manifesting it.

              8. Take Breaks to Get Clues About Your Ideal Future

              Did you know that working straight through to a deadline leads to diminishing returns? Research shows that taking a break for 15 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes can help you recharge, refresh your focus, and get more done in less time.[5]

              Wait, it gets better! A Stanford study shows that walking increases your creative output increases by 60 percent. Doing repetitive activities such as walking, running, riding your bike, swimming, and sweeping allow solutions to problems to pop into your mind out of nowhere.[6]

              What does this success principle have to do with creating your dream life?

              These mini-breaks allow you to get vital clues for what to do next to attain your ideal future. Plus, you won’t waste precious time and energy getting lost in other people’s agendas.

              9. Take Action on Your Inspired Ideas

              Once an inspired thought pops into your mind, take action.

              This is one of the most powerful success principles for turning your dreams into reality; the sooner the better. Whatever it is—from calling an old friend to taking a new route home—be sure to do it!

              Pay attention to your oddball hunches. You need to go after what you want, not just dream about it. As comedian Jim Carrey warns,

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              “You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”

              10. Count Your Rockstar Moments

              Still not sure you have what it takes to get your dream life? This final success principle is guaranteed to help.

              Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished. As you read back through it, put a star next to each item, and let it sink in.

              You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good you’ll feel about yourself afterward. You’ll also see how effective you’ve been in the past at getting what you want. You’ve succeeded before, you can succeed again.

              You already rock. You just need to own it. Trust me, you’ve got this!

              Final Thoughts

              Eleanor Roosevelt said,

              “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

              Following these success principles will help you find the time and energy to do the things that really matter and live with clear intention.

              By spending just one hour a week doing something you love, focusing on your strengths and achievements, embracing what makes you different, and acting on inspired ideas, you can create a life that is a perfect fit for you, step-by-step.

              If you don’t have a clue about what your dream life could look like yet, don’t worry. Your heart knows. It has been “talking” to you for a long time. It’s just being muffled by KCRP, buried under a lot of “shoulds” and fear.

              This article can also help you figure out the life you truly want to live: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up.

              Stand still, get quiet, and listen. It’s constantly telling you what you need to do to realize your own rockstar potential. It may be just a whisper now, but the more you pay attention to it, the louder it will get, and the easier it will be to follow.

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              Featured photo credit: Rahul Dey via unsplash.com

              Reference

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