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31 Magic Tricks to Simplify Your Life

31 Magic Tricks to Simplify Your Life

How many times has life overwhelmed you? It’s okay. It happens to everyone. The world moves at breathtaking speed. You have a hundred times the choices and ten times the work. Blink your eyes, and everything has changed. Where do you start, and when will it end?

Take a breath. Relax. You have permission. You don’t have to drop out or quit to simplify. More importantly, you don’t have to sacrifice your sanity and life’s simple pleasures to get what you want. All you need are these 31 magic tricks.

1. Choose to be happy.

At a young age we’re taught there are winners and losers. Life becomes a game to earn the most points, often measured in dollars and trinkets. Along the way, we lose our soul. I’m not saying don’t set goals, just the opposite. It’s the why that’s important. Goals should be born from your passions and the desire to grow and learn, not to achieve trophies for self-validation.

This requires a decision to be happy, to live in the now. In other words, be grateful for what you have. Appreciate what’s in front of you. When you can do that, it will be easier to achieve the impossible. If you’re stuck on the how, read The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky.

2. Change your mindset.

Mindset expert Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, explains that people have either a fixed or a growth mindset. Those with fixed mindsets need constant validation. They see success, talent, and fate as predetermined by genetics or your last name.

Those with growth mindsets see challenges in the world as opportunities to learn and grow. They understand no one is perfect, and that the process and failures along the way creates growth, fulfillment, and achievement. If you want to simplify, embrace the growth mindset and release the baggage of everything else.

3. Imagine it’s the last day on Earth.

Imagine the world is about to end. What would you do, and who would you do it with? Would you quit your job, kiss the girl (or boy), or spend the rest of the day with your family? Or, would your reflection on the time you’ve squandered paralyze you?

Life is too short to waste being miserable. Decide what’s important, and let go of the rest.

4. Forgive.

Choose to be a victim or forge your own destiny. People may inflict harm but forgive them anyway. While you’re at it, forgive yourself. Don’t let the baggage of what other people have done keep you down. You can’t change events, but you can change your reaction to those events. It’s the sum of your reactions that determines the course of your life.

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5. Think about what you would do if you lost everything.

Imagine you are in a building, a tower right after a plane hits. The lights go out. The room turns black. Soot fills your lungs. You’re halfway down the stairs when the stairwell buckles from the collapse of the tower next door. You survive, but just barely. You escape with your life and nothing else. Your job is gone, and so are your friends and coworkers.

That’s the story of what happened to thousands of people after 9/11, and the lessons you can learn from them are many. The simple truth is that life is what matters. No one can take away what’s in your mind, the experiences you’ve had, or the wisdom you’ve gained. Everything else is just window dressing.

6. Reflect on those who have nothing.

Millions of people lack the basics most of us take for granted, things like running water and a bed. If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re not one of those people, so what right do you have to complain?

If you want to simplify your life, strip down what’s dragging you down. Don’t worry about what you don’t have. Quit keeping up appearances and complicating your life with unnecessary stuff and the stress that goes with it. Let it go. Focus on what you really want, not what other people expect you to have.

7. Rediscover your childhood dreams.

As a teacher, I hate when other parents, coaches, and teachers tell students to be realistic. Will Smith said, “Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.” Yet, many of us believe the sick twisted lie that we should be realistic. We’re told to set “achievable” goals so we don’t set ourselves up for failure. The irony is that it’s the failures that teach what is required to live a fulfilled life.

Jeff Olson in The Slight Edge explained how he read an article which stated only ten people cry at the average funeral and only one-third of the people who are supposed to go actually show up. The question this raised for him was: Why waste your time worrying about what the rest of the world thinks when they don’t even bother to show up at your funeral?

It’s true you won’t always achieve your ultimate dreams, but it’s not about the dream. It’s about the ride. The one thing that is true, is that you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t try. Don’t listen to those who’ve given up or allowed fear to paralyze them. Don’t waste your time cluttering up your life with other people’s expectations. Discover your passion, stay the course, and I promise you won’t live a life of regret.

8. Discover who adds value to your life.

Your parents were right. Don’t hang around bad people. By bad people, I’m referring to those who don’t add value to your life and who are a net negative.

It’s been said you become like the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If you spend time with people who tear you down, you’ll be torn down. Choose wisely and let go of the dead weight.

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9. Change your inputs.

Stress, misery, confusion, indecision, and frustration are perceptions reinforced by thoughts. Strong evidence supports the belief those perceptions are reversible if you change the words you tell yourself. Many of us don’t realize it, but we frequently tell ourselves self-defeating things that reinforce negative beliefs. If you want to change those beliefs, elevate your self-talk.

Don’t stop at self-talk, change your other inputs. Listen to or read constructive books, audiobooks or podcasts. Take half an hour a day on your commute or from your entertainment time to listen to something constructive. Remove the clutter of your mind and replace it with clarity and direction.

10. Reflect daily.

Take stock of your day and reflect on your accomplishments. Write them down. Write down what went wrong, when time was wasted, and which irrelevant tasks kept you busy instead of effective.

11. Exercise.

You don’t have to spend hours at the gym to benefit from the mental clarity and rush of endorphins that comes from physical exertion. Spend five to fifteen minutes a day in your home or outside to boost your energy level, improve your overall health, and allow your mind the chance to decompress. Spend more if you like, but start somewhere.

12. Unplug.

We have more free time than ever, so why do we feel like life is moving at ever increasing speeds? The answer is information is exploding, and so are devices used to access it. Each notification breaks our focus. We lose time in the shuffle, and our day flutters away.

It’s easy to chase the white rabbit of information down the internet hole. Limit the time you spend on your devices, and take the time to completely unplug and free your mind. Allow yourself time to think. You’ll be surprised at your amazing insights.

13. Meditate.

Many highly successful entrepreneurs meditate. They do it for one simple reason: It keeps them focused amongst the chaos. I encourage you to try mindfulness meditation. Scientific evidence points to many benefits including improved memory, focus, and reduced stress.

14. Take a nap.

Fifteen to twenty-five minutes a day may be all you need get back on your A-game and regroup midway. I stack my habits of meditation and napping each day once I get home from work. You may do it at lunch. Napping will increase your energy and focus. In the process, you will feel less stressed and overwhelmed.

15. Get enough sleep.

Don’t try to be superman. You can achieve your goals and still get the required seven to eight hours of sleep needed to function at peak performance. If you get enough sleep, you’re more effective with your time, and your body will thank you. If you don’t have enough time, it means you need to let go of what’s keeping you busy instead of effective. There will always be more stuff you can do. Force yourself to stop. Create a daily deadline, and stick to it.

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16. Take a few weeks off.

Great epiphanies in life will often come when you’ve removed yourself from the day-to-day clutter and routine. It’s also a great way to enjoy life and recuperate from life’s demands. A few innovative companies are catching on and reaping the rewards. Take advantage of the time you have, and don’t be afraid to ask for it.

17. Make a bucket list.

Create a long list of things you want to do, regardless of how absurd they sound. Shape your list around things you want to do, not accomplishments you hope will impress others. When the opportunity presents itself, do those things. It’s your life. Step out of your comfort zone. Take a risk, and simplify your life by doing what excites you.

18. Pretend to go on vacation.

You don’t actually have to take  a vacation to benefit from one. Just think about what you would do if and when you have the time. If the things you would do can be done where you live, start doing them. Save time normally wasted on meaningless tasks and use it to do what’s important.

19. Pretend that you have only five minutes to prepare.

If you truly want to declutter, imagine you only have five minutes to pack. Now imagine the vacation is permanent. You’ll quickly realize most of the stuff in your life you don’t need. If you want more suggestions, Tim Ferriss has some great tips in The Four-Hour Workweek.

20. Simplify your calendar.

If your to-do list never ends and keeps getting longer, it’s time to put your items on a calendar. Scheduling may seem like the opposite of simplifying, but when done properly, it actually makes you feel less overwhelmed and increases your effectiveness.

Evidence shows only eleven percent of people complete their to-do list. When you put your items on a calendar, you commit to completing it, but you also have a clearer perspective of the time available and enhanced judgment about what can be completed in a given day.

21. Schedule buffers.

Create buffers during your day to regroup and decompress. Schedule them on a calendar, and be religious about avoiding appointments and other work during that time. It will improve your focus.

22. Organize.

I’ve read the reports that creative minds are more cluttered. That may be true, but if you organize your home and your life, it’s easier to see what you need, what you want, and what is simply trash. A cluttered home is a cluttered mind.

23. Simplify your life.

One powerful way to simplify your life is to systemize it with a master document. I prefer Google Drive because I can access it wherever I go. The document contains clickable links to other Google Docs that focus on specific areas of my life.

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In business, systemization is necessary to scale up effectively. In life, it’s easy to forget what you’ve learned and what works if you don’t write it down. A master document can also include your action plan, goals, and habits. It’s a shockingly powerful way to simplify your life and accomplish more with minimal effort.

24. Be flexible.

A master document may sound rigid, but it’s actually easy to change. In life, if you’re stubborn, you create unnecessary headaches for yourself. Be willing to go with the flow when things take an unexpected direction, and listen to different opinions. You don’t always have to agree, but if you refuse to move, it will only be a matter of time before your life’s branches break.

25. Simplify your errands.

Group similar tasks. Don’t waste time switching back and forth between things. Quit checking your email every time you get a notification. Doing so reduces productivity and increases stress. Shut off your notifications. Instead, do those tasks all at once. Apply the same principle to other actions. When you do, you’ll feel less busy and have more time to do other things.

26. Supercharge your focus.

Quite wasting time on the eighty percent of things that have minimal impact on moving you forward. Use the Pareto Principle and focus on the twenty percent that matters. This requires that you first take inventory of your time.

27. Give yourself the slight edge.

Think like the tortoise instead of the hare. If you produce small but consistent action towards your goals, you’ll progress more than the person who gets excited, overworks and burns out. It’s the slight edge over time that makes all the difference.

28. Use the Pomodoro Technique.

Drop the multitasking and focus on what needs to be done using the Pomodoro Technique. Set a timer for a desired length of time, and shut out all other distractions while you work on the task. Reward yourself when complete. You’ll be more productive, and you’ll start looking forward to completing the tasks on your calendar.

29. Say No.

Don’t spend time doing things you don’t want to do. Learn the art of saying no and allow yourself the opportunity to say yes to the things that truly matter.

30. Simplify your priorities.

Your daily calendar shouldn’t be littered with too many things. Pick the three things that will help you be most effective at your current life priorities and do them as early as possible or at times that work best for you.

31. Simplify your goals.

Goals are great, but supercharge your life-plan with a singular focus. Take the advice of entrepreneur expert, John Lee Dumas, and elevate one goal to the top of your list with a completion deadline. Break that goal into smaller milestones and achieve them with the magic of your daily three priorities. When you focus on one goal at a time, it will be easier to accomplish more without feeling overwhelmed.

Now that you know the 31 secrets, apply that knowledge. You have the tools needed to break the cycle of stress and distraction, but you won’t realize the benefits if you don’t take action, so do something about it, and do it now.

Featured photo credit: Steven Businger via soest.hawaii.edu

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Roy Huff

Author, Scientist, Teacher

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How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

His motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • He riles up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

Becoming the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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