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Published on April 2, 2020

15 Life Lessons Everyone Should Learn for a Good Mindset

15 Life Lessons Everyone Should Learn for a Good Mindset

Life is filled with lessons. Some of them can be learned through experience. Some of them must be learned the hard way. But many of them can be learned from others. Here’s a great list of life lessons that can help you grow into a better version of yourself, day by day.

1. Live a Life True to Yourself

The single most common thing people regret when they near the end of their lives is this: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

When I look back on my life, I want to look back and be grateful for having honored my dreams. I don’t want to look back on a long list of unfulfilled dreams, thinking about how I should’ve/would’ve/could’ve — but never did.

Most people don’t even honor half their dreams, let alone all of them, and they end up going to their death-bed knowing that it was their own decisions (or indecisions) that determined a destiny bursting at the seams with unfulfilled dreams.

You are the author of your destiny, so write the story you want to live, regardless of how fictional it may or may not sound to someone else. Lead a life that’s true to you. Dream big, and don’t settle for less than you’re capable of.

2. Express Your Emotions

I’m not afraid to let myself cry. You shouldn’t be either. It’s okay to let yourself feel your feelings, rather than pretend like they don’t exist. It’s possible to let life’s moments touch you without allowing them to hurt you.

It’s also important to express your emotions to others rather than suppress them in order to avoid ruffling anyone’s feathers, or to keep them inside for fear of embarrassing yourself.

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3. Better Done Than Perfect

My favorite excuse for my lack of action and initiative used to be perfectionism. I’d puff up my chest and say, “I’m a perfectionist, that’s why I haven’t launched XYZ-thing yet.” But in reality, “I’m a perfectionist” really means “I’m a coward.” Don’t hide behind this cloak of comfort known as perfectionism. Call it what it is: fear. Then, launch and learn. The first iPhone was a touch-screen brick full of glitches. Today, it’s thinner than ever and keeps getting better.

4. Settle for More

The only difference between you and someone you envy is that they decided to settle for more in life than you did.

5. Find Something in Life That Pulls You

You can only “push yourself” for so long before your body, mind, and spirit toss their hands in the air and say, “F-this, I’m out.” When you keep pushing yourself to do something, it feels like something you have to do. But when you’re pulled by something, it feels like something you get to do.

Me? I’m pulled by my obsession with learning about personal development, success, and motivation — and then sharing what I learn to inspire people around the world to live up to their highest potential on a daily basis. This is one of the things in life that juices me up and gives me purpose.

6. Go for Walks

Not as inspiring as the first few, I know. But a brisk morning walk has been one of the most eye-opening habits I’ve ever decided to develop. No joke. Every morning, I go on a 15-20 minute walk outside. For the first half of the walk, I think about what I’m grateful for and envision how I’d like my day to play out. For the second half of the walk, I just walk — and that’s it.

It’s the second half of my morning walk during which I’ve had some of my best ideas and all-out epiphanies of my life. There’s something about being outside in nature — without any specific intentions other than enjoying a nice walk and observing nature’s boundless beauty — that re-energizes me and gets the good vibes flowing. Give it a try.

You can learn more about the benefits of walking in nature from this article.

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7. Happiness Comes From Solving Problems

It’s not the suffering of the problems that leads to happiness. It’s the solving of the suffering. Happiness is also a choice (which we’ll talking about in more detail in the final life lesson). We can choose happiness every day of our lives, rather than imagining that we will eventually, someday, be happy. Stop saying, “Someday I’ll be happy when I can get X or do Y.” Instead, start choosing to be happy right now — on a moment to moment basis — regardless of what’s going on in your life.

8. Develop a Growth Mindset

The essence of this life lesson — developing a growth mindset — for me means this: Hard work trumps talent every day of the week. The growth minded swimmer who works hard, day in and day out, will surmount his naturally talented opponents.

People that constantly complain, blame, and refuse to take responsibility for their lives do not have a growth mindset. Growth-oriented people don’t blame the economy for their lack of wealth; they pick up a book so they can learn how to create their own. Growth oriented people don’t allow their failures to define their identity; they learn from them and come back stronger as a result.

If you want to develop a growth mindset, focus only on that which is within your control. Let go of everything else.

9. Develop Selected Disciplines Into Habits

No list of life lessons would be complete without mentioning words like “discipline” and “habit.” Though seperate in meaning, disciplines and habits ultimately intersect with one another to form the foundation for achievement — regularly working at something until it regularly works for you.

When you discipline yourself, you’re essentially training yourself to act in a specific way. Stay with this long enough and it becomes a habit. In other words, when you see people that seem like they’re super disciplined, what you’re really observing is people who conditioned a handful of habits into their lives.

Bottom line? Success is in actuality a short race — a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over. So here’s the trick if you want to create a habit — you’ll need to use your will-power/discipline juice in the beginning. This is hard. But keep at it.

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According to research, it takes, on average, 66 days to develop a discipline into a habit. This number might vary for you depending on your situation, but remember that it’s not something that you can do overnight. But it is possible. And once you turn a discipline into a habit, you become better at it and it becomes easier to execute.

10. Be “Regular and Orderly”

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

The quote above was written by a French novelist named Gustave Flaubert, and the reason I love it is because it so elegantly (and violently?) explains how putting certain systems in place can free up tons of bandwidth and energy that you can put into doing deep work, or whatever else you care about. Put the important stuff in your life on autopilot so that you don’t have to think about it when it’s time to do them.

For example: there’s no use bantering back and forth with yourself every morning about whether you should get up at 6 am and hit the gym, or whether you should skip your workout and sleep in for an hour. This is wasted energy you could be putting into your most important work. Just decide ahead of time whether you’re going to do it or not — and then do it!

Use the power of habit (see life lesson #9) to get yourself moving in the right direction. Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.

11. Be Present

Presence is power. I’d rather be fully present with my wife (or whoever) for five minutes than be partially present for fifty minutes. Full presence means being fully there, locked-in. Not looking at my phone. Not thinking about what I’m going to say when she’s done talking. Just full, total presence. It’s powerful.

In a similar vein, it’s just as important to be present when we’re with ourselves. Try noticing the things you’re not used to noticing: the way you’re stomach rises when you breathe, how nice it feels when the cool wind touches your cheek, that annoying feeling you get when your foot falls asleep, etc.

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12. Communication Is Your #1 Skill

The ability to clearly communicate your ideas to other people is the most valuable skill you can ever develop. Learn to communicate your ideas orally as well as in written form. Also, learn as many techniques as possible: how to write with brevity (short-form), how to write long-form, how to use gesticulation, articulation, tonality, etc.

13. Combine Short-Term Pessimism + Long-Term Optimism

Becoming a short-term pessimist and a long-term optimist means you understand that most of what you try (over the short-term) will not work. But that’s okay, because eventually (over the long-term), you’ll find something that does.

14. Write It Down, Make It Happen

Write down your goals every day. Just take out your journal, and write down what you want. Two big reasons this is helpful:

  1. Awareness: It keeps your mind aware of what you want;
  2. Self-motivation: Writing down your goals everyday helps you hold yourself accountable towards making them happen.

15. Read Every Day

The greatest way to get the greatest ideas is to read, read, read. There’s this great quote that goes like this:

“Books are the hardbound drug of my choice.”

Plus, the only side effect of reading is a positive one — the more you read, the more ideas you get. Read something every day to expand your mind, even if it’s just for 20 minutes.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. Hopefully these life lessons have inspired you in some way, shape, or form to better yourself because at the end of the day, we’ve all got room for improvement.

Featured photo credit: Elle Cartier via unsplash.com

More by this author

Dean Bokhari

Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

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Last Updated on June 2, 2020

10 Ways to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough

10 Ways to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough

Whenever you hit a rough patch in life, it can seem like the problems you’re confronting are unique to you and that the whole world is closing in. It might be that you are struggling to find a way out and just can’t see the light of hope anywhere when the going gets tough.

Thankfully, although you might not see it, there is always hope. Nothing lasts forever—not even bad times—and doing things like remembering why you started in the first place and practicing using your courage muscle are just a couple of things that can shorten the difficult times.

If you could find a way to not only survive but thrive when the going gets tough, how would your life change for the better?

Here are ten ways you can do to make that happen today.

1. Realize How Far You Have Come

Whenever you get discouraged on the path to wherever you want to go, it is usually because you are only looking forward, not around you or behind you. Your journey through life will last until your final day, so it is no wonder that you still see a long and sometimes daunting path ahead.

To keep going despite this, it’s important to take a moment or two to look around. Look at where you are standing now compared to when you first started. Look at how far you have come since you first began. Look at how many obstacles and challenges are behind you that you managed to overcome successfully.

The benefits of reflective practice are also extensive, and it is little wonder why.[1]

Looking back at how far you have come is usually the fire you need to keep on burning brightly into the future.

2. Remember Why You Started

When the going gets tough, you need something to cling to in order to keep your grit and remind yourself why you started doing something in the first place. Without this all-important “why, you will be quick to wander from your path.

Whenever things are at their worst, your number one reason for doing the thing is going to be what pulls you through.

As ex-Navy Seal and motivation master David Goggins puts it:

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“‘Why am I here?’ If you know that moment is coming and have your answer ready, you will be equipped to make the split-second decision to ignore your weakened mind and keep moving. Know why you’re in the fight to stay in the fight!”

Sometimes, life can be a bit of a fight, especially within yourself. So, having your reasons for continuing will always help pull you out when times are tough. Try writing these down and posting them in places you look at every day to help them have even more impact.

3. Make It a Habit to Move Forward

Habits are some of the strongest behavioral predictors that we have. Most of our habits happen in our subconscious and are triggered by external or internal cues.

The great thing about habits is that they can be formed through conscious, repeated behaviors, and when practiced enough, they can eventually take their place in the subconscious and guide your life.

Of course, you want good habits to be guiding your life in the background, not bad ones. That’s why it’s a good idea to make it a habit to always move forward.

Contrary to what most people say, moving forward doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be better every single day for the rest of your life. There are going to be slip-ups, bad days, and circumstances that blow you off course.

Moving forward is all about getting back on track as fast as possible. If you can make that a habit, you can always get closer to where you want to go.

4. Use ‘If-Then’ Planning

When the going gets tough in your life, one of the most effective frameworks that you can put into place is called the ‘if-then’ planning.

This is the simplified version of something called Implementation Intention, a concept created by psychologist Peter Gollwitzer in the mid-’90s.[2] It helps you to make sense of confusing situations and to be able to take action when you are really struggling.

The simplified process is as follows:

“If x happens, I will do y.”

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For example:

“If I start to have negative thoughts, I will take ten seconds to just breathe.”

“If I feel extremely stressed for three days in a row, I will take the fourth day off to recover and reset.”

If-then planning puts a strategy in place for when times are tough. It takes away the element of thinking, planning, and worrying as you already know exactly what you need to do in each situation.

The beauty of using if-then is that you can change the if and then for different situations based on whatever works best for you at any given moment.

5. Find Some Mentors

With the internet becoming more expansive and accessible as it has ever been, there are so many ways to get a peek into the world’s top minds and see what they do in their own lives when the going gets tough.

Most successful people have had to overcome some serious struggles to get to where they are. Do a simple search online, and you will no doubt find out about all of the challenges that your favorite people have had to overcome.

Because of this, you should try to take inspiration from these people and find your own mentors. It’s worth recognizing that nobody trying to live their best life can ever get through it without their fair share of challenges to overcome. That’s just part of the hero’s journey.

6. Get out of Your Head

Sometimes, all of the reasoning, thinking, planning, and ruminating in the world doesn’t get you anywhere. In fact, for the serial thinkers and problem-solvers out there, it is oftentimes that too much time in your head results in even more struggle rather than a release of it.

Yes, some things can be solved by thinking. But when the going gets really tough, it is usually just pure heart, emotion, and grit that are going to carry you through. Your mind can become a tyrant, and it is worth being aware of this.

When you feel your own thoughts weighing you down and can’t stop the incessant thinking and worrying about the past, present, and/or future, it is time to step out of your mind for a little while and get into your body. Lift some weights, go for a run, or take a pleasant walk.

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The mind and body are much more connected than most people think—especially when it comes to emotions and fears and doing something beneficial for the body often benefits the unsettled mind as well.[3]

7. Ruthlessly Forgive Yourself

One of the worst things you can do when the going gets tough is to come down hard on yourself. Everyone has these external and internal struggles, and the harder you are on yourself for having them, the more difficult and traumatic the episodes will be when you inevitably slip up.

A lot of people are far harder on themselves than they are on other people, and to keep going in tough times, you need to be just as empathetic with yourself as you would be with your best friend.

Made a mistake? Forgive. Are you still giving yourself a hard time? Forgive. Are you still getting angry over small things “even though we talked about this”? Forgive.

The hard times are much easier to get through when you are at peace with yourself. You will be astonished by how much less pressure you feel when this happens.

8. Take Smaller Steps

It is common for people to stumble in life because they are simply taking on too much at once. Whether it be too much ambition, unrealistic expectations of themselves or others, or some extra curveballs, big steps can sometimes be too much to take.

The truth about big steps is that they are rare, disruptive, and difficult to keep up without crumbling. The big steps—the real life-changing goals and dreams that you have—can often be broken into much smaller steps that are more manageable and that will get you to the same place.

If the going is getting particularly tough, it might be the case that you are simply trying to do too much at once. Try taking smaller, more manageable steps, and see if obstacles and difficulties become easier to navigate.

9. Use Twenty Seconds of Insane Courage

Everyone will agree that the courage we have stored within ourselves is often finite and difficult to sustain for long periods. We tend to think that making a big change in our life and getting out of a rut requires courage for long periods that we simply cannot manage.

The good news is that this isn’t true. Most of the pivotal moments of change in your life—including pulling yourself out of a hole when the going gets tough—come from small, courageous decisions in short, precise moments.

Quite often, using twenty seconds of insane courage when it is needed is enough to completely change the trajectory of our lives. Whether it be asking for that promotion, deciding to go to the gym for the first time in months, or having the courage to break through your insecurities and ask someone out, most of these only require a few seconds of insane courage.

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Standing up and walking into your boss’s office, getting the gym kit on, picking up the phone or sending the text—you only have to be courageous in these few moments, and then you can relax and let life unfold.

Twenty seconds? You can do that, easily.

10. Accept That Your Motivation Will Wane

One of the main reasons that people get discouraged and struggle to keep going in hard times is that they never expected their motivation to dip.

When we start a project or enter a relationship or take something new and exciting on in our lives, our motivation is high, and we are in a mindset of excitement. We start thinking about all of the positives that could come from these things.

However, as time wears on, motivation levels inevitably drop, and you start to focus on the negatives of what’s happening or the added responsibility that you forgot to consider.

When this happens, you have two choices:

  1. You can put on your rose-colored glasses of the past and falsely remember how perfect everything was;
  2. Or you can put on your realistic glasses, face the difficulties, and keep moving forward into something better.

The true test of character comes when you hit a dip, motivation wanes, and you just don’t feel like doing stuff anymore. The secret is to realize that all of this is temporary and that you don’t need motivation to act.

It’s nice to have motivation, but the true test of character comes when motivation inevitably wanes. In those moments, will you keep going?

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. Each of these ten ideas for how to keep going when the going gets tough is versatile enough to be applied to almost any difficult situation that you find yourself in.

Life is going to present many difficulties. This isn’t something to fear but something to embrace. With these steps, you can navigate these stormy waters a little easier.

More Inspirations to Help You Stay Strong

Featured photo credit: Gaelle Marcel via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: What Is Self-Reflection and Why It Matters For Wellness
[2] American Psychologist: Implementation Intentions: Strong Effects of Simple Plans
[3] The International Journal of Psychoanalysis: Emotional Processing: The Mind-Body Connection

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