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When Times Are Rough, This Will Add Perspective

When Times Are Rough, This Will Add Perspective

It has often been said that it isn’t what happens to us that causes distress, rather it is our interpretation of the event that evokes emotional reactions – good or bad. Our thoughts have far more influence over the quality of our lives than many of us realize. I know this from talking to many clients who perceive life as happening to them, rather than them having control over their lives. There are many things in life that thwart our efforts and many events are beyond our control… so it makes sense to focus on what we can control – our thoughts. When times are rough, seeing the good in people, being optimistic and adopting an appreciative attitude towards what is good in your life is the first, and most crucial step to enjoying life more.

Now for a little perspective. When times are rough and all seems lost, it can help to remind yourself of a few facts:

1. When you’re stuck in traffic on the way to work

Think about those barefoot African children walking an average six miles per day just to get water. There’s no comfy car to sit in or an interesting news story to listen to on the radio. Life is reduced to basic survival.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/unitednationsdevelopmentprogramme/9262297987/in/photostream/

    2. If you dislike your job

    Give a thought to those working in shocking conditions in sweat shops around the world. In developing countries, an estimated 250 million children ages 5 to 14 are forced to work and every cent they earn goes towards feeding their families. Many don’t have a life outside of work.

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    https://www.flickr.com/photos/ereikaion/129764558/in/photolist-dbAvHf-bzNZGh-aJmH2M-4tNFnv-aJmGY2-291Zg-ct5tY-291YM-dbAtWt-7Jd4AR-69WAgV-dbAvD1-dbAu6F-dc227e-5FVgdd-dCYwH6-88yZe7-dbAvXG-dbAu2a-dbAvSy-5PWq5D-nfQtbt-22TSgz-dbAuax-bbh9wg-8cBdxe-2AWej-5RdC3p-bm6Vcw-5w2BSd-aWQqLe-aWQqWV-aWQr8g-4iA1Kz-594KJm-594KSL-bz1NWe-dbAu4k-9xvCsw-9xvCsA-5kfGWa-23NBAw-23J5kc-23NeJ3-5ct184-bz1NTe-bm6V4Y-5ct1eH-5cxhrC-5cxhdw/

      3. When you haven’t got much spare money at the end of the month

      Remind yourself of all those who don’t get a choice between spending money on a new pair of shoes, a cinema ticket, or using their credit card as back-up. More than 842 million people – or one in eight people in the world – do not have enough to eat. Sixty-six million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.

      Somalia Suffers from Worst Drought in Century
        4. When you feel trapped in your marriage and feel you are going through a rough patch

        Be thankful that you are not one of the estimated 51 million girls younger than 18 that are child brides – forced into marriage with a stranger. Over the next decade, another 100 million girls will become child brides. Their lives are, in many cases, pre-determined. 

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          5. If you resent having to go to school or having to attend professional development seminars for work

          Think of the recent story about the Nigerian girls who were kidnapped from their school. All they wanted was to get an education against the odds and to build a better future for themselves. This basic right is being denied.

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            6. If you or your partner’s lack of libido is causing problems in your relationship

            Imagine the life for those that get forced into the sex trade. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking). It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Of that number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries. Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. alone each year. Love and desire are not part of the equation.

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              7. When you’re having an ‘ugly day’ or a ‘bad hair day’

              Spare a thought for those victims of acid attacks. Many victims survive the initial attack and spend the rest of their lives dealing with the psychological, physical and emotional aftermath. They also suffer from social isolation from which there is little escape. These, mostly female victims have no choice but to focus on their inner beauty and detach from their physical appearance. 

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                8. Even when life seems at an all time low

                There is still control over your experiences of the world around you, what you tell yourself and your inner mind. Viktor Frankl wrote a book about his experience as a concentration camp victim in Auschwitz. Despite the bleak surroundings, he understood that his captors could not take his spirit, his memories and his ability to choose his thoughts about the situation. (Viktor Frankl’s – Man’s Search for Meaning) 

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                  You become the person you think you are. If you think you’re someone who will never amount to anything… guess what? You’re right. What would your life look like if there were no rules and you couldn’t fail? The way that you interpret your life experience creates your identity and determines the quality of your life. Make your thinking work for you, not against you.

                  No one can ever take away your right to interpret life in a way that works for you. I say – do what works! Being a pessimist never works and nurturing an optimistic attitude will serve you well. Focus on what is good and working well in your life. Write a gratitude journal once a day listing things that make you happy – even the smallest experience such as the sun shining or birds singing.

                  No one escapes life’s challenges – we all have our ‘cross to bear.’ Priming yourself to think more positively trains your brain to use different neurological pathways, so the more you practice gratitude, the more natural this outlook will become.

                  “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” James Allen

                  Featured photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/moriza/176374054/in/photostream/ via flickr.com

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                  Mandy Kloppers

                  Mandy is a Psychologist/CBT therapist who believes getting through life is easier with a robust sense of humour.

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                  Last Updated on September 28, 2020

                  How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

                  How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

                  The brain is a tangled web of information. We don’t remember single facts, but instead we interlink everything by association. Anytime we experience a new event, our brains tie the sights, smells, sounds and our own impressions together into a new relationship.

                  Our brain remembers things by repetition, association, visual imagery, and all five senses. By knowing a bit about how the brain works, we can become better learners, absorbing new information faster than ever.

                  Here are some study tips to help get you started:

                  1. Use Flashcards

                  Our brains create engrained memories through repetition. The more times we hear, see, or repeat something to ourselves, the more likely we are to remember it.

                  Flashcards can help you learn new subjects quickly and efficiently. Flashcards allow you to study anywhere at any time. Their portable nature lends them to quick study sessions on the bus, in traffic, at lunch, or in the doctor’s office. You can always whip out your flashcards for a quick 2 to 3 minute study session.

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                  To create effective flashcards, you need to put one point on each flashcard. Don’t load up the entire card with information. That’s just overload. Instead, you should dedicate one concept to each card.

                  One of the best ways to make flashcards is to put 1 question on the front and one answer on the back. This way, you can repeatedly quiz yourself into you have mastered any topic of your choice.

                  Commit to reading through your flash cards at least 3 times a day and you will be amazed at how quickly you pick up new information.

                  As Tony Robbins says,

                  “Repetition is the mother of skill”.

                  2. Create the Right Environment

                  Often times, where you study can be just as important as how you study. For an optimum learning environment, you’ll want to find a nice spot that is fairly peaceful. Some people can’t stand a deafening silence, but you certainly don’t want to study near constant distractions.

                  Find a spot that you can call your own, with plenty of room to spread out your stuff. Go there each time you study and you will find yourself adapting to a productive study schedule. When you study in the same place each time, you become more productive in that spot because you associate it with studying.

                  3. Use Acronyms to Remember Information

                  In your quest for knowledge, you may have once heard of an odd term called “mnemonics”. However, even if you haven’t heard of this word, you have certainly heard of its many applications. One of the most popular mnemonic examples is “Every Good Boy Does Fine”. This is an acronym used to help musicians and students to remember the notes on a treble clef stave.

                  An acronym is simply an abbreviation formed using the intial letters of a word. These types of memory aids can help you to learn large quantities of information in a short period of time.

                  4. Listen to Music

                  Research has long shown that certain types of music help you to recall information. Information learned while listening to a particular song can often be remembered simply by “playing” the songs mentally in your head.

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                  5. Rewrite Your Notes

                  This can be done by hand or on the computer. However, you should keep in mind that writing by hand can often stimulate more neural activity than when writing on the computer.

                  Everyone should study their notes at home but often times, simply re-reading them is too passive. Re-reading your notes can cause you to become disengaged and distracted.

                  To get the most out of your study time, make sure that it is active. Rewriting your notes turns a passive study time into an active and engaging learning tool. You can begin using this technique by buying two notebooks for each of your classes. Dedicate one of the notebooks for making notes during each class. Dedicate the other notebook to rewriting your notes outside of class.

                  6. Engage Your Emotions

                  Emotions play a very important part in your memory. Think about it. The last time you went to a party, which people did you remember? The lady who made you laugh, the man who hurt your feelings, and the kid who went screaming through the halls are the ones you will remember. They are the ones who had an emotional impact.

                  Fortunately, you can use the power of emotion in your own study sessions. Enhance your memory by using your five senses. Don’t just memorize facts. Don’t just see and hear the words in your mind. Create a vivid visual picture of what you are trying to learn.

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                  For example, if you are trying to learn the many parts of a human cell, begin physically rotating the cell in your minds eye. Imagine what each part might feel like. Begin to take the cell apart piece by piece and then reconstruct it. Paint the human cell with vivid colors. Enlarge the cell in your mind’s eye so that it is now six feet tall and putting on your own personal comedy show. This visual and emotional mind play will help deeply encode information into your memory.

                  7. Make Associations

                  One of the best ways to learn new things is to relate what you want to learn with something you already know. This is known as association, and it is the mental glue that drives your brain.

                  Have you ever listened to a song and been flooded by memories that were connected to it? Have you ever seen an old friend that triggered memories from childhood? This is the power of association.

                  To maximize our mental powers, we must constantly be looking for ways to relate new information with old ideas and concepts that we are already familiar with.

                  You can do this with the use of mindmapping. A mind map is used to diagram words, pictures, thoughts, and ideas into a an interconnected web of information. This simple practice will help you to connect everything you learn into a global network of knowledge that can be pulled from at any moment.

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                  Learn more about mindmapping here: How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

                  Featured photo credit: Alissa De Leva via unsplash.com

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