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Think Like A Genius: How Cleverness Can Save Your Life

Think Like A Genius: How Cleverness Can Save Your Life

You may be the type to constantly push yourself to stay on the cutting edge. You work out your mind and body everyday so you can get more from life and stay in the zone. But, with everything you do there’s still a little something missing. You may not know exactly know what “it” is, but you can feel it: The spark, the zest, the quick wit.

You probably know people who can flip the script of life on a moments notice. Now it’s time to cultivate these skills for yourself.

To some, cleverness means manipulation. Instead, we’re gonna reframe that expired meaning to mental flexibility and gut instinct.

The little known story of Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa was a musical genius and constant innovator of his craft. A little known trait of his, however, was his quick, intuitive thinking.

One day a stranger showed up on Frank’s doorstep, waving a revolver and a bloody bag. As Frank reached for the bag, the man aimed a revolver at his chest.

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Without hesitation, and fueled by a brilliant impulse, he rallied everyone in the house to head outside to the lake, including the armed stranger. When they were all standing by the shore, he suggested that everyone start throwing things into the lake. The stranger threw his gun.

The secret to his success was his lightening-fast mental reflex; a muscle he had built up over many years.

A deeper dive into his mental life

Zappa’s success had to do with the way he perceived the world. As a naturally creative mind, he allowed his creative processing to seep into his life. Most people would see this situation and immediately react, either cowering in fear or reacting with anger; instead, Zappa saw the situation from multiple angles. Disarming the stranger would be his ultimate goal.

Through building your own creative muscle you can learn to process the world in this open ended manner. It takes time, but the exercises are simple and can potentially save your life.

Zappa also had a unique bond with his gut instinct that many of us take for granted. Granted as an innovative musician he had built up the ability to trust his gut, leading him towards new musical avenues. This connection with his intuition proved vital. It allowed him to turn his creative thinking into reality with lightening speed, bringing the situation under his control and saving his life.

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When you build a connection to your own intuitive muscle it might feel strange. After all you’re simply trusting in a feeling or a hunch, but over time you’ll become a master. Couple this intuitive trust with creative thinking and you’ll have lightening fast mental control over your life.

The Zappa Equation: Intuition + Creative Vision

To infuse your life with cleverness two elements need to be present:

1. Creative Vision

Having a creative view of the world is the ability to perceive multiple realities in one situation. It’s easier if you prep ahead of time, so you’re ready when life deals you a tough hand. To cultivate this gift try the following exercise:

Whenever an event just happened in your life, pause for reflection: maybe it’s a conversation with your boss, or a decision to take a trip to Europe. Use your imagination to come up with alternative ways it could have gone. Use the golden phrase “what if”. Get playful with it, this should be fun. You’re awakening your imagination with your creative juices.

By playing with different realities of a situation your brain will become used to applying this kind of daydream like thinking to everyday situations.

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For some it helps to keep a journal with you so you can jot down events and how they could have gone differently. After a while you’ll start to program your mind to see the world this way.

2. Intuition

A lot of us have an unhappy relationship with our intuition. Either it’s weakened to the point of decay or we confuse the feelings of our gut with anxiety or indigestion. We need to cultivate this bond with our inner guidance system so it can steer us in the right direction.

Imagine trying to navigate your way through a dense forest with a broken compass—you probably wont get very far.

Let’s get your compass in working order. Give this exercise a go:

Any time you walk into a room try and sense the overall feeling. Ask yourself: is there any negativity present? What about positivity?

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Give yourself permission to try and feel out the room with your intuition. It should only take a few seconds. After a couple of times you’ll have a better sense about the world around you and have the ability to feel into situations before they happen.

When can I use this?

All this is great but how does this translate to your daily life?

Your life is made up of moments. The greater mastery you have over these moments the more beauty you can inject into your life.

You’ll be like the artist at her canvas, using your cleverness as a brush to paint the life of your dreams. By experimenting with these simple cleverness practices you’ll develop a river of cleverness throughout your life. A set of tools that can be used on moments notice.

The tools are simple, and the results are profound.

More by this author

Kevin Wood

Poet and Writer

How to Find Purpose in Life and Make Yourself a Better Person 7 Ways To Open Your Heart to The World 5 Simple Tips to Meditate Like a Monk The Minimalist Guide to Creativity Think Like A Genius: How Cleverness Can Save Your Life

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Published on March 19, 2019

How Your Attitude Determines Your Success

How Your Attitude Determines Your Success


Do you remember the last time you faced a major setback–when you felt so low, that nothing seemed to make you happy? No matter how hard you tried, you just felt like the world was against you. Perhaps it was a bad relationship, or the loss of a loved one… maybe something bad happened at work? Whatever it may be, could you recall how your attitude was towards that situation?

Often when we’re caught in an unhappy situation, we feel limited and sometimes trapped. We want to get out of it as quickly as we can, but it’s never quite that simple.

Unfortunately, some people can remain in that terrible situation for weeks, months or even years; while others may come out strong and ready to start over–or continue from where they left off–fairly quickly.

So what sets these two groups apart?

The answer is their attitude.

Attitude is everything when it comes to achieving a goal, and tackling a setback or problem. 

When you’re able to have a positive mindset, you’ll be able to break free of your limitations that are holding you back.

A positive attitude also goes a long way in ensuring you come out victorious from whatever limitations that were holding you back before. It transforms not just your mental state, but your physical and emotional well being. It is the key to lasting total transformation.

Positive Attitude Brings About Positive Health 

When you’re stuck in a rut, often the first thoughts that run through your head are negative, thus your outlook likely becomes pessimistic. But, if you can transform those thoughts into more positive ones, then you’re on your way to talking yourself out of that rut, which allows you to move forward.

Of course, positive thinking doesn’t mean ignoring all the bad or unpleasant feelings altogether. It just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way–instead of taking everything as a victim to negative circumstances, you see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Be aware of self talk!

These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self talk comes from logic and reason, while other self talk may arise from misconceptions that you create. Others could come from external sources such as negative people around you, or messages from the media.

The key is to surround yourself with positive influences that can help turn those negative thoughts into positive, more productive actions.You’ll not only feel better about the situation, but in the long run, positive thinking can lower your levels of distress and depression and give you better coping skills during hardships.

Researchers studying the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health have also found that positive thinking may provide increased life span, better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and even greater resistance to the common cold!

It’s unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits, but one theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.

It’s also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess.

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Suffering is Inevitable, So It’s Best to Accept It 

Now, one thing that everyone goes through at some point, is suffering. It’s a harsh reality, yet you can’t actually avoid it. We experience suffering as the result of unhappiness, fear, anger, loss or frustration. In fact, it would be hard to even imagine the feeling of happiness if we never experienced suffering! How would we ever compare it?

So instead of wallowing in sorrow about the suffering you have endured, take the suffering as an opportunity for change. Did you get laid off from your job? Perhaps this would be a good time to re-assess your career goals.

Rather than feeling negative and stuck, use your time and energy to find opportunities which will put you ahead. With the right attitude, anything can seem possible.

This may sound crazy, but suffering is the secret to being successful! 

Here’s what I mean. It’s impossible to think of new ideas or understand new experiences without stepping outside of your comfort zone. Anyone who has met great successes has also faced many failures, as nobody wins on every try.

To propel you toward success, find a way to track your progress and to set and celebrate small benchmarks. It may be helpful to conduct a weekly review to assess where you are and acknowledge all of the small wins of the week. Every accomplishment, no matter how small, is an achievement; so, be sure to take note of them.

Tracking your progress is also a great way to find and mitigate triggers and hindrances that impede your progress. The point is, you’re making progress; even if it feels like suffering, you can see that it’s leading you to joy.

Remember, don’t compare yourself to others. Only compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Each step you make towards progress is making you a better version of you.

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Gratitude Goes a Long Way in Shaping Attitude 

Now, this may seem difficult to do when you’re already feeling down, but having gratitude is a very useful when you’re trying to navigate your way out of a setback. Being grateful for existing accomplishments and the supports in your life will help you see them more clearly, build your own confidence, and give you a better overall outlook on what your limitations really are and what you have to do to overcome them.

With a grateful attitude, you limit the damage of negative influences, and strengthen the impact of positive ones.

Being grateful, even during the toughest of times, steers your attitude towards a more positive one, allowing you to get back on your feet much more quickly. Many studies done on gratitude have shown positive results for people who practice regularly, such as improvement in relationships and in mental health. There’s even studies that show higher motivation in work settings due to a simple ‘thank you’ from managers to their subordinates.

Believe in Yourself and Your Truth

This is often easier said than done, but is also the most empowering truth to overcoming your setbacks and limitations in life.

Many people find it hard to keep a positive attitude during tough times because they lack inner confidence. They doubt their abilities because of the ‘failure’ that they’re experiencing, and don’t think that they can rise above again.

But, confidence doesn’t just come from talent, luck or easy opportunity. Confidence comes from overcoming difficulties and facing your fears head on. 

Confidence is a result of getting out of your comfort zone. The more you do this, the more confident you’ll be, and the more positive your attitude will be. Confidence will help you see your goals more clearly, find your strengths within, reach your goals and overcome your limitations much more quickly.

Here’s a quick story about my own struggles helping me get ahead:

When I first started Lifehack, it took a long time to gain a solid readership. Just getting 100 visitors was a challenge and took a good bit of time. I had great ambitions for this site, yet it seemed like I was doomed to fail. I received plenty of criticism, too. Some people thought that the world didn’t need yet another self help site, others offered the opinion that there was something wrong with the idea itself and I was making a mistake.

It was hard for me not to listen to them and, at some times, agree. But, persistence is key, and in the end I chose to believe in my truth.

I worked tirelessly changing the site layout, restructuring articles, and making the site more user friendly. Slowly, I expanded to a team with the hiring of some extremely dynamic and talented people. With each determined effort, the site grew in popularity, and a few years later, we had influenced millions–and continue to do so.

Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and facing every challenge head on were the greatest contributing factors to increasing my confidence. So welcome the challenges that come; don’t avoid them, as they’re all opportunities in disguise to feed your growth.

Your Attitude Sets the Tone for Success 

Do you see the importance of having a positive attitude? It is so much more than a mindset or state of mind. Your attitude sets the tone for every action and behavior that follows after, and that will determine how long it takes for you to break free from your current circumstance.

So if you’re currently in an unhappy situation, why not give it a try and look at things from a more positive outlook? As mentioned, not only does having a positive attitude bring about favorable outcomes, it also brings about positive health in the long run.

Embracing hardship as it is, and using it as a learning experience to grow, will also make you stronger. And, whether you’re going through good or bad times, practicing gratitude will no doubt help to limit the damage of negative influences, and strengthen the impact of positive ones.

Lastly, in any circumstance, you are your greatest barrier to success, which is why it’s important to always believe in yourself!

You will always have the power to be in control of your situation because your attitude is determined by you. So start harnessing all that positive thinking to turn those limitations into strengths!

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Featured photo credit: Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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