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Why the More Threats We Fight Every Day, the More Successful We Become

Why the More Threats We Fight Every Day, the More Successful We Become

Your boss has asked you to speak at your company’s annual employee conference. In fact, he’s penciled you in to talk for 15 minutes in front of an expected crowd of 800 people. There’s just one problem… you’re terrified of public speaking!

Instead of relishing the chance to shine in front of your colleagues – you’re consumed by trying to find a way to get out of doing the speech.

Fear of public speaking is common. However, instead of allowing fears such as this to hold you hostage, you can turn them into powerful springboards to success.

Before I reveal how to do this, let’s first take a look at some common threats, and our typical responses to them.

Are You Struggling to Cope with Threatening Situations?

Imagine for a moment that time travel is real.

You decide to go back thousands of years to see how our early ancestors lived. Once you arrive at your chosen destination, you quickly discover that life at that time was riddled with dangers. There’s physical fighting between different communities, animal predators to avoid, and a constant threat of starvation.

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It was during these tough and treacherous times that early humans developed something called the ‘fight or flight’ response. This response can be described as a physiological reaction to a threat or attack that causes the body to immediately release a hormonal cascade. This hormonal release shifts the body into extreme physical alertness, allowing either a defense to be mounted, or alternatively – a quick getaway! (Spend some time watching cats and dogs, and you’ll frequently see this fight or flight response in action.)

While the fight or flight response is obviously helpful in life-or-death situations, it can be a negative thing when triggered by less serious events. For example, you may feel that a subordinate colleague is plotting to take your job. If you allow this situation to trigger a fight or flight response, you’re likely to either engage in a physical confrontation with your colleague – or if you choose to flee, then you may end up handing in your notice.

Neither of the above reactions are rational. In truth, either one of them will leave you out of a job. Instead, you’d be much better off thinking of positive ways to deal with the situation. For example, you could develop your skills and experience to keep you ahead of your colleague, or you could speak directly to them to ascertain what their specific career goals were.

It’s vital that you’re able to clearly distinguish between life-threatening or highly-dangerous situations, and everyday threats such as family arguments and work pressures. The latter situations should not trigger a fight or flight response in you. As we’ve seen, this is likely to cause these situations to become even more negative. Instead, seek for non-aggressive and harmonious resolutions to your conflicts.

These 2 Simple Insights Will Help Boost Your Personal Growth

Is self-improvement important to you?

If yes, then you’re in the right place, as I’m going to give you two powerful insights that could definitely change your life for the better.

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1. Everyday threats offer you the chance to push and develop yourself.

Picture for a moment that you’ve just graduated from university. You’re excited by what you’ve learned and by the high grades you’ve achieved. However, after a few weeks of applying for relevant jobs, you discover that you’re not even making it to the interview stage.

As a new graduate, you may have anticipated that finding a job would be plain sailing. However, this expectation hasn’t been matched by reality. You now feel stressed and despondent.

What’s the problem? Is there a solution? Or should you just give up?

The answer to this dilemma is to find out where you’re going wrong. To do this, you should perform a personal SWOT analysis (SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).[1] You can complete this analysis by spending time thinking about your personal strengths and weaknesses, what opportunities are open to you, and what external threats you may face.

Once you’ve completed your SWOT analysis, you should be able to clearly identify key positives and negatives. To come back to the job-seeking example above, your SWOT analysis will most likely indicate that a principal weakness of yours is a lack of work experience. To counter this, you could offer to work for free for a few weeks, or perhaps accept an entry-level role to help get your career started.

Everyday threats should be seen for what they are: opportunities for you to advance in life.

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2. Your comfort zone can be defeated when you embrace threats.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the term comfort zone. However, in case you’re not, I’ll give you a brief explanation.

Your comfort zone is the place where you feel mentally and emotionally at ease and free from pain.

For instance, if you’re single, you may have difficulty asking people out on a date. However much you like a prospective partner – something inside holds you back. You’re embarrassed to ask them out, and you’d feel much more comfortable with them asking YOU out.

The problem with comfort zones is that we have a tendency to get stuck within them.

Once this happens, our ambition and drive wanes, and our thought processes start to deteriorate. For these reasons, the term comfort zone can also be rendered as mindless zone!

Fortunately, you can use threats to help you break out of your mindless zone.

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As an example for you, think of a time when you’ve had a problem with a neighbor. It might have been that they were constantly making noise late at night, or their car was regularly blocking your driveway. For most of us, our comfort zone would prevent us from speaking directly to our neighbor about these problems. However, by embracing the issue, you could choose to use it as an opportunity to increase your confidence and boldness. By doing this, you would be stepping outside of your mindless zone – and at the same time, you’d hopefully be resolving the issue with your neighbor.

Other ways to smash through your mindless zone include:

  • Facing your fears.
  • Trying something new.
  • Moving towards a goal.
  • Changing your mindset.
  • Doing everyday things differently.

The secret to all these techniques is to start with small things – and then work your way up to bigger things. By doing this, you’ll also build a habit of continually stretching your beliefs and goals.

Threats are everywhere. But that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. By embracing threats, and learning from them, you can fast-track your personal development.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

More by this author

Craig J Todd

Freelance Writer helping businesses and people to thrive.

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Last Updated on October 17, 2018

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

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. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

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.

If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

And don’t forget, 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 I’m guessing you’re not remembering 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.

How much sleep should you be getting?

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Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, 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.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, 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 short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

Yes, there are.

Try these three things:

  • 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 undersleeping. 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-thinking 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!

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.

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4. Take more breaks

When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively 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, I was wrong.

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.

Let me explain.

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.

Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

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.

It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

What’s the answer?

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.)

If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

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.

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 in to 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 centre 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 our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

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.

Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

Not a problem.

A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

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 too.

Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

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.

Want to be mentally healthy? Then 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[3]
  • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

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