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The Randomness of Life: 3 Steps to Take Back Control

The Randomness of Life: 3 Steps to Take Back Control

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    My wife and I had a wonderful lunch on Saturday, just the two of us, at an outdoor Mexican cafe. The sun was bright but not hot. The wind was a soft, cool breeze. Our lunch was one of the most peaceful and relaxing times I can remember, it was perfect.

    And then out of the blue, a small car comes roaring off the highway and right in front of the restaurant side swipes another driver then slams on the brakes, makes a sharp turn to the right, and drives off even faster.

    A brief, loud, dangerous, completely random moment.

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    It is not the accident itself that has me thinking, it’s the randomness of it. The driver that was hit, where were they going? What were they hoping to achieve that day? How was their life altered by that single random moment? Most importantly, will this knock them off course? Will it change them and alter the direction in which their lives were headed?

    The answer is actually pretty simple: Only if they let it.

    A single car accident may not have a great impact on our lives, but what about a random event at work? You have been working day in and day out on your career, you have a goal, you can see it, and then a random event happens that could through you far off course.

    The truth is that random events happen in our lives everyday. Some are small, others are huge. There is no way to predict or anticipate them. The only control we have is how we react to them. We cannot control events but we can control our reaction. We are in complete control of what comes next, and therein lies one of the greatest freedoms we will ever know.

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    “Why is the human need to be in control relevant to a discussion of random patterns? Because if events are random, we are not in control, and if we are in control of events, they are not random, there is therefore a fundamental clash between our need to feel we are in control and our ability to recognize randomness.” – Leonard Mlodinow

    Mlodinow is right. We cannot control random events, but with hard work and a whole lot of patience we can control our reaction to the randomness of the world we live in. Try these three steps to take back your control:

    1. Slow Everything Down

    slow-down

      Nothing can be gained from reacting quickly and impulsively to an event, whether it is a car accident, a breakup, or burning your toast in the morning. Our first in the moment reaction will usually just make the situation worse. Humans are generally not very rational, at least not at first. Think about what your first reaction would be if someone hit your car or you burnt your morning toast. Two very different events. One large, one small. But our first reaction is what? Anger? Depression? How will either of these two help you?

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      They won’t. Slow everything down, get past the anger and the depression and ask yourself “How can I gain from this?” or at least remind yourself that this is a random event and it will not deter you from your goal.

      2. Remind Yourself of Your Goal

      personal-statement-4

        When these challenges come you way, and they will, the idea is not to run from them. Do not let them have power over you. Remind yourself of exactly what it is you are looking for in life. Thinking about your goal will help you to recenter your thoughts. Get your thoughts away from the negative emotion of the event and toward the positive action that you can take.

        3. Take Action!

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        action-changes-things

          When life pushes you sometimes the best thing to do…..is to push back!

          After you have taken a pause and let go of any anger or resentment you may have, and after you have reminded yourself of your goal and just what it is you are hoping to achieve, then it becomes time to act.

          In this life we can choose to define our goals. We can choose to be slowed by randomness or to not let it stop us. This choice is a willful action, the greatest power we can claim, and the fuel that successful people use to achieve their dreams. Act! Fight back! Or simply put one foot in front of the other. Choose to keep moving and to keep pushing to achieve more.

          We cannot control what life throws our way. Man has never had that gift. But what we do have is the unique ability to choose our reaction. Once you give yourself this freedom, you will never look back.

          More by this author

          Glenn Killey

          Author, Motivational Speaker, Mindset Coach

          What Is Your Defining Mental Picture? What My Teenage Daughter Taught Me About Simplicity What An 86 Year Old Man Can Teach Us About Procrastination The Randomness of Life: 3 Steps to Take Back Control The Law of Reversed Effort

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          Last Updated on September 18, 2020

          How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways

          How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways

          Memory plays an integral role in our lives, both in the short and long term. If you’re wondering how to improve memory, I’m here to tell you that there are natural and effective ways to do so.

          Despite what you might think, improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it.

          Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve memory efficiently and reduce the risk of memory loss.

          1. Meditate

          We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts, and figures into our conscious minds.

          Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder, then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

          Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. Research suggests that the more information and distractions you receive, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory[1].

          Fortunately, meditation can help.

          Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which, in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

          While any amount of meditation will do something to help your memory, one study pointed out that “8 but not 4 weeks of brief, daily meditation decreased negative mood state and enhanced attention, working memory, and recognition memory as well as decreased state anxiety scores”[2].

          Therefore, if you’re looking for the most benefits, try sticking with a meditation practice for at least 8 weeks.

          However, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

          2. Get Plenty of Sleep

          If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then it’s likely that you’re not able to remember well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

          If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities, including your memory.

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          If you want to learn how to improve memory, how much sleep should you be getting?

          Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation[3], you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things[4].

          If you want to improve memory, get plenty of sleep.

            Maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!), but if you care about improving your long and short term memory, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

            Try these three things to naturally improve your sleep cycle:

            • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
            • Don’t eat too late
            • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

            Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

            However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory.

            3. Challenge Your Brain

            When was the last time you challenged your brain?

            I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or under-sleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and memory games.

            To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

            Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-solving ability, and memory.

            There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

            • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
            • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
            • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

            If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

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            Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it; try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

            4. Take More Breaks

            When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctly remember working all the hours under the sun—and many under the moon, too!

            At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat, and tears.

            However, if you want to know how to improve memory, taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative, and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

            Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

            One 2011 study from the University of Illinois concluded that “the brain is built to detect and respond to change…and prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance”[5].

            This is based on something called the “vigilance decrement.” This can be applied to many things. For example, we often don’t notice the feeling of clothing touch our bodies because our brain becomes accustomed to the sensation. However, if you change clothes, you’ll likely notice the difference in texture and temperature for a few minutes.

            When you take a break from memorizing information, it refocuses your attention and energy, leading to increased focus overall.

            It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart, and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

            Basically, make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

            5. Learn a New Skill

            I love this quote, as it’s 100% true but frequently overlooked:

            “Learning never exhausts the mind.” -Leonardo da Vinci

            From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

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            Let me give you an example of this:

            Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day, many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

            Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

            The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you rather than letting you work in your own way.

            Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction into learning a new skill (computer coding).

            It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career, and the ongoing learning made the call center job much more bearable.

            Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus, and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking out new information. When learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly becomes a habit, too.

            If you want to know how to learn something new every day, check out this article.

            6. Start Working out

            If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

            Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory[6].

            Regular physical activities increase blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. A well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

            Even if you don’t have much time, research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines[7].

            Interested in getting started?

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            Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

            • Join a gym
            • Join a sports team
            • Buy a bike
            • Take up hiking
            • Dance to your favorite music

            7. Eat Healthier Foods

            I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

            This applies to your brain, too.

            The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health, as well.

            Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery, and dark chocolate. But any fruits, vegetables, or foods high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory. Here’re some ideas: 15 Brain Foods That Will Super Boost Your Brain Power

            Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain, leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

            If you want to improve your mental health, eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

            • Turmeric – Helps new brain cells grown
            • Broccoli – Protects the brain against damage
            • Nuts – Improves memory
            • Green tea – Enhances brain performance, memory and focus[8]
            • Fish oilFish oil supplements can increase your brain power

            Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

            Also, remember that your brain is about 75% water, so dehydration can have a huge effect on the way your brain functions. Stay hydrated if you really want to improve memory!

            Final Thoughts

            I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be helpful for you.

            You don’t need to implement them all, but you can try out the ones that appeal to you.

            But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory and avoiding cognitive decline, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested.

            More on How to Improve Memory

            Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

            Reference

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