“WORDS ARE POWERFUL. THEY HAVE THE ABILITY TO CREATE A MOMENT AND THE STRENGTH TO DESTROY IT.”
– SUSAN GALE.
Words have the power to attract, love, and to hate. By listening to the right words we can see the things we have not seen before. Words can make that much of a difference. They can transform your life or somebody else’s.
There were times in my life when I wanted to give up, but then I would put on motivational video or listen to TED Talks about never giving up. It was because of their motivational speeches that I would feel inspired and motivated again. By listening to the powerful words, not only has my life changed, but I have also learned what a big difference someone can make to the lives of others, simply by saying something that resonates.
If you are unfamiliar with Reddit, it is an online social media community where users vote on content. Some Reddit users submit links to online content and vote on which links are important. In my opinion, one of the greatest aspects of Reddit is the AskReddit.
It is essentially a forum where a member of Reddit can post a question and the entire community can join in and give their opinion on the matter. Some are interesting, some are funny, and some are incredibly inspiring, like the one that you are going to read about in this article.
Some Redditors were asked the question, “What is something someone said that forever changed your way of thinking?”
Here are some of the top answers:
“When I was 38, I contemplated beginning a two-year Associates Degree in Radiography. I was talking to a friend and had almost talked myself out of doing it. I said ‘I’m too old to start that. I’ll be 40 when I get my degree.’ My friend said, ‘If you don’t do it, you’ll still be 40, but without the degree.’ I’m nearly 60 now, and that degree has been the difference between making a decent living, and struggling to get by.
“When I was young and having what I thought was a serious relationship talk with my first real SO, I told her that I just wanted to find the right person. Without missing a beat she said, ‘Everybody is looking for the right person, and nobody is trying to be the right person.’
That stopped me in my tracks.”
“My mom was dying. A friend told me, ‘You have your whole life to freak out about this– don’t do it in front of her.'”
“I was 13 years old, trying to teach my 6-year-old sister how to dive into a swimming pool from the side of the pool. It was taking quite a while as my sister was really nervous about it. We were at a big, public pool, and nearby there was a woman, about 75 years old, slowly swimming laps. Occasionally, she would stop and watch us. Finally, she swam over to us just when I was really putting the pressure on, trying to get my sister to try the dive, and my sister was shouting, ‘But I’m afraid!! I’m so afraid!!’ The old woman looked at my sister, raised her fist defiantly in the air, and said, ‘So be afraid! And then do it anyway!'”
“’It’s only embarrassing if you’re embarrassed.’ Changed my life forever.”
“I met a person who was in a wheelchair. He related a story about how a person once asked if it was difficult to be confined to a wheelchair. He responded, ‘I’m not confined to my wheelchair – I am liberated by it. If it wasn’t for my wheelchair, I would be bed-bound and never able to leave my room or house.'”
“’The person that you will spend the most time within your life is yourself, so try to make yourself as interesting as possible.’”
“Paraphrasing what another Redditor told someone, but it was basically, ‘Don’t be a dick to your dog. He’s a few years of your life, but you are all of his.'”
“‘Everyone you meet knows something you don’t.’ My grandfather told me this, and it’s been a good reminder that I am surrounded by teachers.”
“A good friend once told me, ‘You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.'”
“’I’m not afraid of death. It’s the stake one puts up in order to play the game of life. – Jean Girraudoux.’ It is the only thing I’ve ever read that helped me deal with my own mortality.”
“‘People won’t remember the words you say, but how it made them feel.”
“’Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but, when we look back everything is different… – C.S Lewis’.”
“‘Education is expensive, but no education is more expensive.’ Definitely took school more seriously after someone said that to me.”
“‘Next year, you’ll wish you had started today.'”
“In an episode of Louie, he tells one of his daughters, ‘The only time you should look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure he has enough.’ I’m sure Louis CK didn’t invent that on his own, but it was the first time I’d heard it, and it’s stuck with me.”
“’Do it to do it, not to have done it.’”
“’You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.'”
“I rather live a life of ‘oh wells’ than ‘what ifs?’”
“A small thing, but vastly more important than it sounds:
I was sitting on a bus once, and we came to the railroad tracks. There were some cars sitting in between us and the next red light, so if a train came, we’d be stuck until it had passed. That was always a couple of annoying minutes.
Then the light turned green, and the bus went across the train tracks without having to wait for a train. Phew, crisis averted. Then, behind me, a mother said to her small child: ‘That was too bad, we didn’t get to see the train today.’
That was the perfect way to frame that. Why not enjoy what you get?”
Featured photo credit: First Descents via firstdescents.org
Last Updated on October 22, 2019
How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity
We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.
With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.
So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?
1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices
Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.
So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.
You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.
If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.
Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.
2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App
Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.
Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.
Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.
Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.
3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate
If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.
This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.
Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.
When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.
If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.
Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.
4. Get up and Move
We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.
When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.
If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.
Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.
It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.
Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.
The Bottom Line
It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.
Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.
More Resources About Boosting Focus and Productivity
- Can’t Focus? Why You’ve Been Doing It Wrong and How to Focus Better
- 17 Ways Deep Work Will Help Wipe Out Modern Distractions and Refocus
- Easily Distracted and Hard to Focus? Try Doing This
- How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive
Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com