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The Highest Leverage Activities That Are Best for Ensuring That You Have a Good Life

The Highest Leverage Activities That Are Best for Ensuring That You Have a Good Life

There must be a way to optimize what activities we perform that have the highest impact on our lives in a positive way. This answer in Quora by Visakan Veerasamy points out 5 main activities that provide the most highest value to ensure that that you have a good life.

The highest leverage activities in my life have been:

1. READING

I believe that any advantage I might appear to have in computational ability, imagination, perceptiveness and expressiveness- ALL OF IT is a consequence of the vast amounts of reading I did as a child. Reading expands your mind. It gives you new and interesting perspectives to work with. Reading exercises the mind, it gives you new possibilities, it allows you to learn from the minds of others.

I believe that the benefits of reading have compounded effects- when you have had your mind expanded, you approach the rest of life with a more open mind, you’re more perceptive to little details, you pay more attention, you get more out of every subsequent experience. This compounding never truly goes away.

Read a chapter a day (any book!) for a great life.

2. EXERCISE

Physical fitness is vastly underrated by anybody who isn’t physically fit. There are very strong links between the body and the mind. Sometimes you can get upset, lethargic and frustrated simply because you’ve been too much of a slob too long.

The long term health benefits of exercise cannot be ignored. I know some old people who are haggard, frail and struggle to walk. I know others who are springy, fit and independent, with sparkles in their eyes. The difference? Usually exercise.

This point is meant to focus on the physical, but there are all sorts of other exercises to consider. Reading is a mental exercise. Compassion is an emotional exercise. Whatever it is that you care about, use it or lose it. Play chess, play guitar, play. Exercise.

Exercise for 20 minutes every day for a great life.

3. INVESTING IN RELATIONSHIPS

We can’t make it on our own. We are inherently incapable of fully understanding ourselves without the valuable perspectives and insights of others. We can try to be as independent as we possibly can, but we will still always need shoulders to lean and cry on, people to nourish and motivate us, to teach us.

My new favourite soul-enriching thing to do is to Private Message(PM) people on Facebook. We can post on their walls, sure, but there’s something very public about that in a way that forces superficial interactions. PM them, ask them how they’re doing, ask them how they’ve been feeling. Sometimes me and my wife send each other lengthy emails even though we see each other all the time, because quiet moments of introspection and thoughtfulness yield different (and, in my opinion, superior) interactions.

Of course, there is no substitute for human contact. I try to have coffee with my mates at least once a week, and it is enriching beyond measure.

By the way, don’t neglect yourself. You are the one person you can neither leave nor escape, so invest in your relationship with yourself. Take yourself out for coffee, sit yourself down and get to know yourself. What do you care about, what are your dreams, what sort of novel would you write? How are you doing, how have you been feeling? These are important questions.

Spend a few minutes a day with your friends and loved ones (including yourself) for a great life.

4. SLEEP.

Whenever I sleep well, life is awesome. I’m  bright and clear. I make good calls, and sometimes I even come up with interesting and creative solutions to everyday problems, in startlingly quick time! I get my reading done, I get my exercise done, I enjoy my conversations more. I pay better attention and I speak more lucidly, with clearer thoughts.

Whenever I neglect my sleep, I notice myself making worse decisions, being more lazy, lethargic, passive, irritable and less cognizant, less in-control. I complain more. I am more susceptible to spending too much money on unnecessary things, more susceptible to losing my temper and generally behaving in ways in which I do not deem fit.

Sleep well every night for a great life.

5. MINDFULNESS/CONVERSATION.

I define conversation as the meaningful clashing of ideas and perspectives. You don’t need to be talking to someone else- you could explore your own mind, or the natural world, and that would be a form of conversation- anything that leads to insight and understanding. Mindfulness.

Exercise can be a kind of conversation you have with your body- if you’re not listening, you could get injured.

Reading is, ideally, a conversation with other human minds, past and present.

Your relationships grow the most in moments where you are paying the most attention to one another.

Passive, thoughtless routines will not do in this pursuit. Pay attention. Give a damn. Care. Listen. You can differentiate all great experiences and mediocre ones by assessing the mindfulness/thoughtfulness present in a process. Steve Jobs was a mindful, thoughtful guy with regards to his work. Buddha was a mindful, thoughtful guy. So was Jesus. All good artists, all great anything- be mindful, pay attention, have a great conversation- with yourself, with each other, with the world. Devote yourself to learning and understanding new points of view, so that you better understand your own.

Pay attention and be engaged for a great life.

 

Featured photo credit:  group of young people having a good time outdoors via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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