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7 Tiny Changes That Can Drastically Improve Your Life

7 Tiny Changes That Can Drastically Improve Your Life

Change affects all. But change is complicated. Some people claim that extending an otherwise small habit and consuming it quickly produces the most effective change. They might have a point. After all, there are success stories of people who quit cold turkey. So it’s definitely true that change works differently for different people. But the kind of change that uplifts you is accessible without the choking that comes with drastic introductions. It’s called adding tiny changes. Add one tiny change each day, and they’ll accumulate over time, eventually resulting in a better you. So if you’re ready to improve life. Here are seven to try.

1. Change the self-talk you wake up with

The thoughts that enter into our just awoken minds are often the same ones that drift to sleep with us. Now, I know it might be a bummer when you wake up and don’t feel well or you glance at the window and it’s gloomy out. You obviously can’t control either of them. But rather than directing attention to uncontrollable things, seek out the inner thoughts that can deeply affect the rest of your day. Our inner self-talk is one legendary component. Sometimes I wake up, and pessimistic thoughts pummel me. One useful trick I use is to repeat a couple short mantras or affirmations before I get out bed. Think of how amazing it is that you’re changing into something, and able to choose so much!

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2. Change one thing you listen to while commuting

You’ll manage just fine, even if there is a loud, misbehaving child on the bus to work or another driver just cut you off. Podcasts are great audible entertainment paired with educational information. You can download them from a digital media store and then store them in an mp3 player or smartphone. Devour at least one on the drive or commute to work and the time is almost guaranteed to go by quicker. You’ll also emerge to your destination with a little more readiness to aid you in just about any situation.

3. Change what you drink first thing in the morning

What’s the first thing you drink in the morning? A tall glass of milk? How about a mug of warm coffee? They aren’t bad drinks in themselves, but maybe the best alternative is water. Water is a power team of hydration, nutrition, and customizable taste. Throw in a fresh citrus slice for an all-natural sweetener. Drink one glass of water before anything else, and you’ll likely feel refreshed and hydrated before reaching for something more sugary and dehydrating.

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4. Change your relationship to the universe

As night breaks, your routine might consist of curling in front of the television or surfing on the web. By all means, you don’t have to break your television or internet, just spend a minute or two taking advantage of the shortening of the days and embrace the night sky. If that doesn’t suit you, spend a few minutes a day on an astronomy site and look up pictures of space. It’s humbling to think that you’re here, and everything else is so distant. You might feel overwhelmed and even a little depressed, but keep looking and think of intertwining yourself with the universe in harmony. Comparing human anxieties and problems to cosmological spectacles is like comparing a child’s toy to a planet.

5. Change the method you use to debate

Named after the iconoclastic Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, the Socratic Method can rip apart ingrained beliefs. The instructions are simple. Identify a declarative statement in an argument or in a belief. Respond with a question predicated on a contradiction to the original statement, and take the altered statement into account. Ask a new question. So if someone argued that all people like ice cream, think of a question that doesn’t necessarily make it true. Do people with lactose intolerance like ice cream? Your opponent will probably respond and declare that people with lactose intolerance only like certain types of ice cream. Then introduce a new statement, so it includes the alternative answer. So people with lactose intolerance only like certain types of ice cream. Finally, ask a new question. What makes lactose intolerant people like certain types of ice cream and so forth? Use this on one argument of your own or on another person’s argument.

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6. Change how you confront anxiety

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, has helped countless people with their psychological problems. The ABC method is one little charm that can highlight your most harmful behaviors. To trace a damaging behavior back into its inception, first label the event (A), the beliefs you may have held about it at the time (B), and then the pattern of behavior or emotions that followed (C). Let’s say your best friend didn’t greet you this morning. You believed that they wanted to terminate your friendship with them, and so you felt angry and glared at them. Try keeping a journal and using the ABC method to interpret behavior a little better.

7. Change how you praise yourself

Most of us crave compliments. Compliments are actually tools used to remind us of all the good things we are and deserve. Unfortunately, compliments are often forgotten and washed away into downtrodden seas. Counter that by starting a compliment file and putting one in today. Use whatever digital or physical material you prefer, and observe the compliments people or yourself praise you with. Once you got one, write the compliment down and detail the compliment if you can. So if someone insisted your cooking is amazing, you could write that down and the meal you made for them. You could even take a picture of them eating the food (if they agree of course), and clip it below the details for a hands-on sensory experience. Highlight or tag the ones that echo most true to you and read it whenever you need a quick pick-me-up. Regardless if some of the compliments are genuine or not, you’ll feel better knowing that you’re paying more attention to them.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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