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10 Unusual Things That Can Actually Make You Happy

10 Unusual Things That Can Actually Make You Happy

I’m currently doing #100happydays and that’s what prompted this article. All the below things, at some point, have made me unhappy. However, being happy is a much more fun alternative. Bearing that in mind, I thought I’d explore how some things that seemed overwhelmingly and unequivocally negative could actually be positive. Here we go:

1. Traffic

Could you look at it as annoying? Sure. An inconvenience? Absolutely. But, yes, this has made me happy. And no, I’m not insane (okay, debatable). I love listening to music in my car and singing and rapping along, and traffic gives me time to listen to more songs. I’ve been in traffic on roads that have beautiful views either side. I looked outside and just appreciated it. The more standstill the traffic, the better. I can switch off from driving for a bit and chill. How often have I gotten angry over traffic? A fair few times. Being happy about it is more fun. Trust me.

2. When it rains

The weather seems to have a real effect on people’s happiness even though it’s out of our control. When it rains, I can sit inside and read. Watch Netflix. Catch up on my group chats. Spend time with my parents. And, one of my favourites, write articles.

3. When people complain

I used to find this so annoying. And I still do, to an extent. The more I hear it, the more I cringe. I just can’t believe how negative some people are. They can’t be enjoying life. They just can’t. To jump straight to the negative like that is unhealthy. And just plain boring.

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However, it does make me realise how grateful and happy I am. I would love to be able to help everyone whose first reaction is to complain (and maybe one day I’ll find a way), but, for now, I’ll just let it help me be even happier.

4. Spraining my ankle (while playing basketball)

Every athlete is thinking I’m an idiot right now. Let me explain. Every time I’ve been injured it’s forced me to sit on the sidelines. To watch the game. To study our team. Where are we going wrong? What do we do well? How can I make everyone better? It’s helped me be a more intellectual player. A calmer player. A more effective player. In my first game back from my last injury I was relentlessly assertive. I was fired up. I wanted to make up for lost time. I just played brilliantly. It was, arguably, my best game of the season and we demolished the other team.

See, all you athletes, I was going somewhere with this.

5. Girls rejecting me

This is something I used to be really embarrassed by, and I’m sure most people can relate. Rejection doesn’t feel particularly great. You put yourself out there and you get shot down, for lack of a better cliché. I remember walking up to girls, being really nervous, and then having those nerves justified by her being totally uninterested. Awesome. What I didn’t see coming was that this made being rejected easier, not harder. I started thinking that if I was rejected then she probably wasn’t worth my time anyway. And it actually became kind of fun. I started to realise that it’s a part of life, much as I was trying to deny that, so I might as well just enjoy it and be happy that I had the courage to approach her in the first place. And, surprisingly (or perhaps not), I’ve had more success since.

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6. When I ruin a song

This can definitely be one of the most annoying things. But this happened to me the other day, and I smiled when I realised what I’d done. I was confused at first. Why was I smiling? Then it hit me. It was a song I used to always, always listen to with my friend. I’ve no idea how many times we played it, but if I had to guess, I’d say around 32,593. It just made me think of those memories and how much fun we used to have. It really took me by surprise. In a good way, though.

7. Getting locked out and playing I spy

When we first realised we were locked out, I was pissed off. It was late. It was raining. My friend’s mum wasn’t going to be home for a while. We’d bought snacks to have while watching a film. The best laid plans of mice and men were going awry. At least we had the car to retreat to. Usually we would’ve all taken our phones out and started checking our “social” media. However, my friend’s wife didn’t have her phone, and she didn’t want to feel left out. My friend suggested we play I spy. At first, because I was annoyed about being locked out, I wasn’t massively enthusiastic. He said he’d go first. “I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with … S.” Then, it was like we were children again. “Satellite dish!” “Streetlight!” “Storm!” It was awesome. Even at the time I didn’t appreciate how fun it was. Looking back, it really was. I can’t even remember what the thing beginning with S was. Details never seem to matter in end.

8. When my phone has no signal

Again, initially, this is annoying. I need to go on the internet! I need to check all my group chats! I need to Snapchat back! I’ve only recently realised how easy it is for me to let my phone dictate to me. To grab my attention whenever it wants. To be in charge, if you will. (I know. Bad pun. Not sorry.)

Recently, I didn’t (couldn’t) check my phone for a few hours. And you know what? Nothing happened. Nothing. And it was then that I thought that so much of what I do on my phone is unnecessary and just out of habit. Reply on WhatsApp, scroll on Twitter, check Facebook … it just doesn’t matter. Most of it’s just boring. It felt good to get away from the noise. From the clutter. I switched off my mind from social media and felt relaxed. Does your phone control you? What would happen if you switched it off?

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9. Saying goodbye to my best friend

My best friend lives in China. He came to visit England recently and we had a fun old time. Clearly, there’s the inevitable moment where we have to say goodbye to each other. What made things worse this time around was that his wife started crying. We were fine (kind of). But that almost got me.

When I got in the car to drive off, something strange happened. After my sadness subsided (which didn’t take long), I felt genuinely happy and started smiling. It was a bit weird, initially, but then I realised that, yes, we had to say goodbye for now, but I was going to see him again. Of course I was. We see each other less than once a year, but every time we do it’s as if we’re roommates in college again, blowing off assignments, not going to class, and playing video games until 2 a.m. This happened often. Sorry Mum and Dad. All those memories flooded to my brain, as well as all the more recent ones – his wedding in China, for example – and I was just happy. Another cool surprise.

10. Getting complimented

Getting a compliment feels amazing. The person didn’t have to say it. They could’ve stayed quiet and I would’ve probably been none the wiser. But, out of all the things they could’ve chosen to do, they chose to compliment me. They chose to notice something about me, make me feel significant, help me be happy for that moment. It’s such a selfless thing to do.

You might be wondering why I’ve put this on here. You might not think it’s unusual. It is. It’s really unusual. Don’t believe me? Give a few people a compliment today and notice how many of them try to brush it off. Try to ignore it. Almost try desperately to not let themselves believe it. Why? My (somewhat educated) guess is that they don’t feel they deserve it. They don’t feel worthy of it. That’s really sad to me. If you don’t think you’re “good enough”, it’s really difficult for other people to see that you are. When someone compliments me, I say thank you. They’ve selflessly given me a compliment, and hell yeah, I deserve to be complimented. I know there’ll be some of you reading this who’ll think I’m arrogant for thinking that. That’s cool. Would you advocate that I start thinking that I don’t deserve to be complimented? Don’t deserve to be liked, or loved?

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To finish …

It’s all about how you think, and why you think that way. We all think things are positive and negative as a gut reaction, but get hold of this reaction. Don’t just mindlessly believe it. Why do you see it as negative? Because society told you to? Because your parents told you to? Is it actually what you really think? If you could look at the world in any way, how would you look at it? Would you see positive instead of negative? Fun instead of boredom? Opportunities instead of problems? What view would make you happy? What view of the world would you tell your kids to have? One that suffocates them? Or one that sets them free?

Featured photo credit: jessicahtam via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

2. Use the Pareto Principle

Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

3. Make Stakes

Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

4. Record Yourself

Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

5. Join a Group

There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

6. Time Travel

Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

7. Be a Chameleon

When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

“Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

8. Focus

Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

9. Visualize

The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

10. Find a Mentor

Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

11. Sleep on It

Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

Check out his video to find out more:

13. Learn by Doing

It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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14. Complete Short Sprints

Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

15. Ditch the Distractions

Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

16. Use Nootropics

Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

17. Celebrate

For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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The Bottom Line

Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

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