Advertising
Advertising

Your Happiness Plan

Your Happiness Plan

Blue sign points the way to happiness

    A Quick Survey

    Before we get under way with today’s briefer-than-normal chat, I want to conduct a little research on the run. Put up your hand if happiness is one of your aims in life. And no, participation is not optional at Stepcase Lifehack today. Yep, even you scaredy cats. Okay, keep ‘em up so I can count… 1001, 1002, 1003… yep; that’s all of you. Guessed as much. So it seems that despite the fact that we’re all different people, in different situations, inhabiting different parts of the globe… we have one common goal; happiness.

    Who’da thought?

    But do we Need a Happiness Plan?

    Advertising

      We create plans to build wealth. And plans to lose weight. Plans for our dream home. Future plans. Travel plans. We plan the academic path that will lead to our ideal career. Or so we think. We plan our wedding (well, some do). Our marriage. Our family (2.3 kids and a Golden Retriever). It seems we have a plan for pretty much anything that’s remotely important in our lives, so why wouldn’t we have a plan for the thing which drives us all: a desire to be happy? Perhaps we think we’ll find it in all our other plans? That is, happiness will be the net result of all the other.. stuff.

      Blaah Central

      If happiness is such a universal pursuit, why does it prove to be so elusive to so many? Dare I say, to the majority? Perhaps not in your (personal) world, but step back a little and take a peek beyond your fence. Take a look around. And not a cursory glance, a proper look. Examine the faces, the body language, the posture. Listen to the conversations, the words, the tone. So much of it reeks of… blaah. So much of it seems to be devoid of happiness.

      Why the Long Face?

      Walk around your city and look people in the eye (don’t get beaten up in the process) and what do you see most? Fear? Uncertainty? Stress? Self-doubt? Frustration? Apathy? If you had to label it, what would you say the dominant emotion is these days? Would it be closer to the positive or negative end of the emotional scale? To be honest, I’m not seeing a whole lot of joy out there lately. Why all the long faces? Why all the busy therapists? Why all the affairs? And body-modifying surgery? And substance abuse? And other addictions? And why all the accumulation of stuff we don’t need with money we don’t have?

      Advertising

      Could it be that when it comes to the universal goal, we’re missing something crucial? Something massive perhaps? Like the whole point? Could it be we’re looking where happiness ain’t? Perhaps we’re chasing the wrong things? Perhaps we shouldn’t chase at all?

      Could it be that happiness is not to be found in the chasing but rather, in the choosing?

      The Accumulation Lie

      Maybe happiness doesn’t live in places or things? Maybe our happiness methodology and mentality is all wrong? Could it be that we don’t really understand it? Or maybe we don’t recognise it because we’re not sure what it looks like. Perhaps we already have it and don’t know? Perhaps we unknowingly and unintentionally make happiness an impossibility? Perhaps that’s it over there, hiding behind our insecurity, fear and self-doubt? Maybe it’s in the second drawer underneath all our issues? Perhaps it’s obscured by the crap. The cerebral crap. The emotional crap. The human crap. The crap we hold on to. The crap we believe. Perhaps we don’t see it because, like the masses, we have somehow bought into the lie of the ego; the accumulation lie. The when we get enough stuff we’ll be happy paradigm. You know the one. And if we’re not happy, it’s obviously because we need more stuff. Or new stuff. Or different stuff. Or best of all: stuff nobody else has.

      Advertising

      Bingo.

      Perhaps happiness is not to be found in the chasing, the acquiring, the accumulating or even the planning; perhaps we’ll find it in the letting go. That’s where I find it.

      I’s love to hear your thoughts on happiness. It’s such a universally relevant issue — it might make for some interesting group discussion. Feel free to be as deep, philosophical and/or spiritual as you like. What has your journey taught you? What do you have to teach the rest of us? Could we (the collective mindset) possibly have it wrong? Has your thinking (about happiness) changed over time? If so, how? What have you had to un-learn along the way? Can happiness be a permanent state or will it always be transient? Is happiness a matter of perspective? Is it different things for different people? Is happiness.. joy? Is it contentment? Is it the absence of fear? Or perhaps the absence of pain? What do you think?

      Advertising

      As always, we’re not about “right or wrong” here at Stepcase Lifehack, we’re all about the respectful sharing of ideas, lessons and experiences. And yes, we’d love to hear from you Newbies and Lurkers too. We don’t bite.

      More by this author

      Craig Harper

      Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

      Do You Make These 10 Common Mistakes Before Weighing Yourself? If your Childhood Sucked – It’s Time to Stop Blaming Your Parents! Exploring Relationships with the Single Weirdo Education Should be More than Academic Basics How to Stop Being an Over-Thinker

      Trending in Featured

      1 What Is Speed Reading and How to Successfully Learn It 2 The Science of Setting Goals (And Its Effect on Your Brain) 3 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 4 How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic 5 Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on February 13, 2020

      What Is Speed Reading and How to Successfully Learn It

      What Is Speed Reading and How to Successfully Learn It

      Too much to read, too little time! Don’t you wish you could read faster without compromising your knowledge intake? This is where a valuable learning technique comes to the rescue: speed reading.

      Speed reading is the top skill to learn in 2020. Read on to find out all about this amazing technique!

      What Is Speed Reading?

      On average, an adult can read somewhere between 200 to 300 words per minute. With speed reading, you can read around 1500 words per minute.[1] Yes, that sounds impossible, but it is true.

      In order to understand how this skill works, you first need to know how the reading process works inside a human’s brain.

      The Reading Process

      The first step is for the eyes to look at a word. This “fixation” on every word takes around 0.25 seconds.

      Next, the eye moves on to the following word. It takes 0.1 seconds for the brain to move from one word to the next. This is called “saccade.”

      Usually, a person reads 4 to 5 words or a sentence at once. After all the fixations and saccades, the brain goes over the entire phrase again in order to process the meaning. This takes around half a second.

      All in all, this allows the average person to read 200 to 300 words in a minute.

      Speeding up the Process

      The concept of speed reading is to speed up this process at least 5 times. Since the saccade period cannot be shortened any further, speed reading emphasizes quicker fixations.

      To accomplish this, scientists recommend that the reader skips the subvocalization: when the readers actually say the word in their mind, even when reading silently.

      Basically, speed reading is the technique of only seeing the words instead of speaking them silently.

      Do not confuse this with skimming. When a reader skims through a text, they skip the parts that their brain considers to be unnecessary.

      You may skip important information in this process. Moreover, skimming does not allow the brain to retain what has been read.

      Why Speed Read?

      Speed reading is not just quick, but also effective. This skill saves a lot of of time without sacrificing information.

      Advertising

      Also, it has been proven to improve memory. The brain’s performance improves during speed reading, which allows the reader to remember more information than before.

      Since speed reading stabilizes the brain, the information is processed faster and more efficiently.

      Believe it or not, this technique leads to improved focus, too. As the brain receives a lot of information during speed reading, there is far less chance of distraction. The brain focuses solely on the job at hand.

      Since the brain is, after all, a muscle, the process of speed reading acts as an exercise. Just like the rest of your muscles, your brain needs exercise to grow stronger, too.

      A focused brain means improved logical thinking. As your brain gets used to receiving and organizing so much information so quickly, your thinking process will become faster.

      As soon as a problem is thrown at you, your brain will quickly put two and two together. You will be able to retrieve stored information, figure out correlations, and come up with new solutions, all within seconds!

      Still not convinced? Read 10 Reasons Why You Should Learn Speed Reading

      Greater Benefits

      With a healthier brain, you can expect better things in other parts of your life, too. A boost in self-esteem is just one of them.

      As you begin to understand information at a faster pace, you will also begin to figure out more opportunities all around you.

      With the ability to deeply understand information in a shorter period of time, your confidence levels will quickly grow higher.

      Moreover, all the aforementioned benefits will relieve you of stress. You will manage your readings in lesser time, your brain will be healthier, and you will feel so much better about yourself.

      With all these advantages, your emotional well-being will be healthier than ever. You’ll feel less stress since your brain will learn to tackle problems efficiently. Speed reading will lead to a relaxed, tension-free lifestyle!

      How to Learn to Speed Read

      Speed reading is a superpower. Fortunately, unlike other superpowers, this one can be learned!

      There are different techniques that can be used to master this skill. Opt for the one that best suits your learning style.

      Advertising

      1. The Pointer Method

      The person who is credited for popularizing speed reading, Evelyn Wood, came up with the pointer method. It is a simple technique in which the reader uses their index finger to slide across the text that they’re reading.

      As the finger moves, the brain coherently moves along with it. It is an effective technique to keep the eyes focused where the finger goes without causing any distraction.

      Readers have a tendency to back-skip. The pointer method prevents this from happening, thereby saving at least half the reading time.

      2. The Scanning Method

      In this technique, the reader’s eyes move along one part of the page only. This can be the left or right side of the text but is usually the center since that is the most convenient.

      Instead of pacing through the entire text from left to right, the vision shifts from top to bottom.

      This method involves fixation on keywords such as names, figures, or other specific terms. By doing so, the saccade time is minimized.

      3. Perceptual Expansion

      Generally, a reader focuses on one word at a time. This technique, on the other hand, encourages the brain to read a chunk of words together. In doing so, this method increases the reader’s peripheral vision.

      Here’s the thing: even though the fixation time remains the same with perceptual expansion, the number of words that the eyes fixate on increases.

      So basically, the brain receives 5 times more information within the same amount of time.

      This technique is the hardest to master and takes the most time to learn. You’ll need help from speed reading tools in order to practice the perceptual expansion method.

      However, once you master it, this technique will offer you the fastest reading pace with the maximum knowledge intake.

      The Best Speed Reading Apps

      The easiest tool to aid any process in any part of life these days is your smartphone.

      You can use mobile applications to learn speed reading on the go. It has been proven that regularly practicing speed reading is the fastest way to learn this skill. [2]

      Here are a few great options to look into:

      Advertising

      1. Reedy

      If you own an Android smartphone, you can download Reedy to your mobile. Otherwise, get the chrome extension on your laptop to enjoy speed reading with Reedy.

      This app trains readers to read faster by displaying words one by one on the screen. Instead of having to go through lines or long texts, Reedy prepares the user to focus on one word at a time.

      Although this isn’t an effective method to learn speed reading long texts, it is a great way to start.

      Once your brain gets used to the idea, you can shift to another app to train speed reading sentences or longer texts.

      2. ReadMe!

      Whether you’re an android or iOS user, you can take advantage of the ReadMe! application. This app even comes with some e-book options to practice speed reading on.

      Start by choosing your desired font size, color, layout, etc. Other than that, there are different reading modes for the user to choose from.

      If you want to practice reading sentence by sentence or in short paragraphs, you can choose the focused reading mode.

      The beeline reader mode changes the color of the text to guide the eye to read from the beginning to the end at a certain pace.

      Lastly, there is the spritz mode in which the app focuses on chunks of words at once. This controls the reader’s peripheral vision. However, this mode is not fully available in the free version of the app.

      3. Spreeder

      Spreeder is available on both iOS and Android. However, users may also gain benefits from Spreeder’s website. This application lets the reader paste in any text that they would like to speed read.

      Starting off at a rather low speed, the app flashes words one by one. Gradually, as the user becomes more comfortable, the speed increases.

      Slowly, the user is trained to speed read without having to skip any words.

      This app is different from the rest because it tracks the user’s reading improvements, recording the overall reading time and speed.

      The progress and improvement are tracked in order to motivate the user to perform even better.

      Advertising

      Adjustable settings, such as the speed of the text, background color, etc. are in the control of the user.

      The Controversy Surrounding Speed Reading

      Truthfully, speed reading does sound too good to be true. It’s hard to believe that it is humanly possible to attain such a fast pace in reading without compromising the quality of information you receive.

      Perhaps as a result, there are people who do not trust the process of speed reading. They believe that when you read through a text at such a high speed, you cannot comprehend the information successfully.

      According to these people, your brain is unable to process information at the speed that you’re reading, and so, they regard speed reading as problematic.

      It is true that speed reading will be of no use if you do not understand the text you’re reading, no matter how quickly you did it.

      Similarly, if you were to read slowly and still not retain or understand the information you read, that would be useless, too.

      However, there a few factors to consider here. When reading at a normal pace, there is enough time in between every step of the process for the brain to get distracted.

      Conversely, speed reading leaves behind no time for the brain to focus on something else. It is unlike skimming. No part of the text is skipped, which means that the brain receives every single bit of information.

      Conclusion

      Keeping all of this in mind, speed reading cannot be labeled a hoax or a failure. Science has backed up this technique, and numerous readers have been using this skill to improve their learning ability.

      At the end of the day, it is your decision whether or not you want to trust this process.

      However, if you decide to take advantage of the opportunities speed reading provides, you will find a world of possibilities opening up to you.

      We live in a fast-paced world. Consuming information faster will help you keep up with that pace and find further success.

      Speed Read Like a Pro!

      Featured photo credit: Blaz Photo via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next