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How to Discover Who You Are And Then How To Behave Like It

How to Discover Who You Are And Then How To Behave Like It

I know you’ve had a night at the house with your homeboys or homegirls, maybe partaking in a glass of wine or two or some other adult beverage and rattling off philosophical ideas and theories about broad subjects including life, love, health, and wealth.  There’s nothing like a good back and forth with some good friends, am I right or what?

A lot of those discussions were most likely rooted in happiness. How to get more of it, how to keep it, and what to do with it once you’ve found it.

I’ve mentioned it in posts before but it bears a little repeating.

Happiness is like currency. It is the essence of life.

Somedays you have more of it, other days you don’t, you’re willing to trade or buy things for it and you probably have even given it up in exchange for something else. Usually that something else is thought to bring you even more happiness.

You may eat certain foods because they make you happy, buy certain items because you’re convinced they’ll make you happier, get into relationships because that’s what you need right now in order to become happier, and chase the green because if you only had more of it you could finally do all of the things you’ve wanted to do that will make you happier.

But all of those things are a means to an end. They provide you with brief spurts of happiness and in reality all of us need those little jolts of mojo from time to time, but in the long run that’s not what’s going to get it done.

All this leads us to is the bigger is better cycle with no consistency or clarity on what it is that actually provides us with consistent and long lasting positive emotions.

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Virtue is the true path to happiness.

Great Justin, but what the heck is virtue?

Old school wisdom spitter Aristotle has said that, “A good life is one where you develop your strengths, realize your potential, and become what it is in your nature to become.” ~ Jonathan Haidt from The Happiness Hypothesis

Blaine Flower, author of Virtue and Psychology calls Virtues character strengths such as; generosity, loyalty, and honesty; that make it possible for people to pursue worthwhile goals.

I’ve talked about the integrity gap on this site before but finding virtue is in closing that integrity gap as much as possible.

Just as a refresher that gap is the distance between what you do and what you know to be true. It’s your ability to align your behaviors with your strengths and the things that are most important to you and then finding a way to do them consistently.

About a year ago I participated in Brain Johnson’s Optimal Living 101 course and one of the activities I was asked to do was to find my strengths.

I took the signature strengths test created by Martin Seligman and other researchers over at the authentic happiness site (I highly suggest you do the same) and discovered the following personal strengths.

  • Creativity
  • Persistance
  • Self-control
  • Vitality
  • Bravery
  • Optimism

Because these were my greatest strengths I wanted to know how I could live these as often as possible. How could I display these characteristics in the areas of life that were most important to me.

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Shoot, now I had to figure out what is most important to me?

A few weeks ago I was at an event with James Franco and he was discussing the importance of defining the different roles you play in life. I had remembered hearing this somewhere before but I couldn’t place my finger on it.

I went home that night and shuffled through some notes of mine and found the life plan I had created based on Michael Hyatt’s life plan template.

The things that were most important to me were the current roles I was playing in my life.

You may play some if not all of the following:

  • Brother
  • Sister
  • Student
  • Father
  • Mother
  • Friend
  • Lover
  • Husband
  • Wife
  • Daughter
  • Son
  • Yourself (this is not selfish. If you can’t take care of yourself it will be damn hard to take care of others.)

I’m sure I am missing some as I bet there a few that are unique to you.

After you have become clear on the current roles you play it’s important to prioritize them in order of importance to you.

Before you automatically put yourself on the bottom of this list consider this for a second. If you play the role of a husband how are you going to be the best husband you can be if your own health is deteriorating? You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else.

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  1. Purpose statement: What is your purpose for each role? I also like to find a powerful quote that goes well with how I define my purpose in each roles.
  2. The future as you see it: This is where you envision the best possible scenario of yourself in that role.
  3. Reality: Check in time. Where are you currently at in each of these roles? What gets measured gets managed and you have to have some sort of sense of where you are in order to know where and how far you have to go to get to that ideal visions of you in that role.
  4. What do you need to do: What are some commitments (behaviors) you need to start making TODAY that will help you bridge the gap between your current reality and the future as you see it?

How to display your strengths in your roles more often

1. Move away from having goals to being goals: Having goals are the desire to see a specific outcome. To lose so many pounds, to make so much money, to be with the love of your life. They don’t require you to do anything, there’s no action associated with them. With having goals you simply state them and hope that they come true. Their more likes wishes.

Being goals establish action. They force you to actually do something. In order to active your weight goals what do you have to do? You have to exercise consistently and eat more real food. In order to create more wealth what do you have to do? In order to find love you have to love more.

What areas in your life can you give more?

That’s where the next step comes in.

2. Create morning rituals surrounding your signature strengths: As the day progresses your willpower will drain and make it less likely that you do those behaviors that lead to the outcomes that you desire.

Your best course of action is to do the toughest things first. Setting aside time every morning to build consistency around your signature strengths is one way that you can build the habit of displaying those strengths everyday.

If you’re the creative type spending a few minutes writing, practicing your art, doing something creative for your spouse or coming up with unique and unusual ways to solve problems at work might be something you want to spend time doing when you first get up.

3. Discover the things that are working not what you think you should be doing: There is a movement happening that is really picking up steam lately. It’s called the quantified self movement in which you incorporate technology to acquire data about various aspects of your daily life.

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  • Food consumed
  • Exercise
  • Daily activity
  • Mood
  • Sleep

And a host of other lifestyle variables. Some of the tracking can be done through wearing sensors like Fitbit, Jawbone, or using apps like Sleep Cycle and Moody Me.

What gets measured gets managed and if you are aware of what you are doing everyday you’ll have the ability to decipher if it is working for you or not. After that, you’ll have the ability and knowledge to make changes as necessary.

4. Start with the easiest first: When you establish changes that need to be made go with the easiest first in order to build momentum, confidence, and the habit.

If you are looking to be more active but have been sitting on the couch for the past three years walking may be easier then running. If you are trying to reduce stress taking a hot bath daily might be easier then starting a meditation habit.

And if all else fails

Simplify the heck out of everything. What is one big thing that you can start doing today that will have the most positive influence on the roles that you play? What is one big thing you can stop doing that creates the most stress, anxiety, and confusion?

It’s easy to get lost in this self discovery and constantly trying to figure yourself out. I’d say most of us already know who we are. We’re husbands, fathers, mothers, daughters, lovers, friends, caretakers, artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, and the list goes on.

I think most of us already know who we are. Now it’s just a matter of acting like it.

With gratitude.

More by this author

Justin Miller

Healthy Lifestyle Architect

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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