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Lifehack.org Readers Respond: What’s Your Inspiration

Lifehack.org Readers Respond: What’s Your Inspiration
What Inspires You?

Last week, I asked lifehack.org readers:

Lots of people are starting to think about the New Year and what they’d like to accomplish. What they could use is a bit of inspiration, so what that in mind: What inspires you?

As always, your answers were insightful and thought-provoking, and pushed a little bit beyond what I had thought I was asking — forcing me to rethink my own answer.

When I wrote the question, I intended to reply by describing some of the everyday things that spur new ideas for me. For instance, I read a lot of blogs,magazines, and books about writing, and while I rarely find any advice I can use directly, what I get out of them is the energy and drive to sit down and write. I suppose they make me feel like a writer, which in turn makes me act like a writer, by writing.

Some of you shared this source of inspiration, or something much like it. Ryan, for isntance, wrote:

My source of inspiration comes from creating a positive environment around myself by frequently reading books on topics like business success, wealth creation, inspiration, self improvement, browsing sites like lifehack.org, putting up inspirational posters around the house and office, and listening to motivational podcasts! I believe that surrounding myself with such materials keeps me motivated and inspired to achieve my goals!

Chris also found inspiration in books, particularly Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick (which I am also a big fan of):

This book explores why some ideas we remember and other ones we forget and then tries to teach how to communicate more effectively so that what we say sticks.

I am trying to figure out how to apply it to the group I manage at work, in my podcast, in my blogs, etc.

A couple of readers found their inspiration in the words of the greats. Gadget Badger says:

Especially those I admire the most, like Gandhi (”you must be the change you wish to see in the world”), and B Franklin(”Observe all men; thy self most”).

Andrew’s even put up a page full of motivational quotes.

A few of you looked into the question al little deeper and pulled out a human element I wasn’t thinking of when I wrote it. For example, Salawi says “What inspires me are the real success stories that I hear every day.” Pelf, too, wrote of being inspired by others’ successes:

I am a grad student, and whenever I spend time getting to know a lecturer or a Professor, I am inspired by their success stories, and I tell myself that I want to be like them one day.

This reminds me of something my father used to say to me (and that I used to blow off, which is maybe why he stopped saying it…). He’d tell me that to be successful, the most important thing is to surround yourself with successful people. I’m pretty sure he meant that the best thing to do is to learn from people who are already successful, but now I think there’s something else: the success others enjoy motivates and inspires us — especially when we see how very little divides us in all out humble humanity from the successful people, in all their humble humanity.

Rebecca finds her inspiration not from others’ successes but from setting up her own, using the idea of SMART goals (see the first tip):

My resolutions are based on a measurable, achievable and near-term (6 months in this case) goal that is a step on the path to something larger.

I used to make resolutions about losing weight or getting in shape, but frankly they would fall apart every year. This year my resolutions are in support of a bigger goal, but broken down into reasonable chunks that let me see clearly what I am working toward and what the world will be like when I get there.

But what really got me were the people who reached deep inside and found their inspiration in the goals and purpose that shape their lives. For example, Steve Nguyen finds inspiration in helping others, and in doing it well enough to build his career and life around:

My inspiration is my desire to want to help people become better in their lives and in their jobs, in particular, those in the academic fields (e.g., teachers/professors). My inspiration also comes from my pursuit of the freedom to one day be my own boss – to be able to run my very own consulting business.

What gets me up everyday is loving my job and loving the idea that I get paid to work to help others & to help guide them through the challenges in life. That, for me, is so satisfying on so many levels.

That’s a quote I’d hang on my wall!

And Phil describes a process of self-examination similar to one I worked through myself this year (and that ultimately led me to start writing for lifehack.org):

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I had a bit of a career setback earlier this year and spent some time over summer thinking about what I really wanted to do with my life. I drew up a list of the things I most enjoyed doing at work, and those I least enjoyed. Then I decided to try to earn my living from doing those I most enjoy, whilst either eliminating or better managing those on the other list.

For me, writing came out top, closely followed by education and coaching. The upshot was that I’ve started work on co-authoring a website dealing with happiness in the workplace.

Inspired by Steve and Phil, I want to talk reconsider my own answer. For me, inspiration comes from the lives I touch — and hopefully help to make a little bit better. As a teacher, it comes from the students who look to me for answers — whether to academic questions or just the questions young people have about life. As a step-parent, it comes from the children who look to me for guidance, acceptance, and love. As a writer, both here and in my academic work, it comes from the readers who find a way to deal with a problem. As a partner, it comes from the woman whose life I share. It’s not so much that these people count on me, but that they have, for a variety of reasons, chosen to involve me in their lives, and to work with me in creating our shared humanity.

And that’s pretty inspiring.

So inspiring, in fact, that I’m going to do a favor for Kevin, the commenter who said he found his inspiration in proof-reading, pointing out a spelling error in the question as it was first published. For his inspiration, I’ve corrected that error in this post — but purposely left a new spelling error!

Hope it helps!

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

More About Boosting Memory

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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