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How To Live A Happy Life Starting Today

Being happy

Is being happy a basic human right?

No. Although, it would be fantastic if we were all inherently happy by nature, and could live happily ever after in our pineapples under the sea. But unfortunately (and fortunately) happiness is something to be earned, much like anything worth having. So where does the ‘fortunately’ part come into it? Good question. We are fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to earn our happiness. Some people have greater opportunity to achieve a state of relatively steady happiness, whereas others may have to work much harder to find this…

So, how do I find my happiness?

Another great question. It is easy to dwell on the aspects of your life that you may deem to be unfair. It is also easy to consider the trials and tribulations you’ve had to face as a result of being born in the time, place and environment that you have found yourself in. Naturally, we tend to compare our situation to that of others who are quite privileged and well-off. A much harder thing to do though, is to be grateful for the opportunities that we have been given. If you choose to focus on this, then you’ll be one step closer to earning that relatively steady happiness that we mentioned earlier.

Okay, so to be happy, I need to be grateful… Then what?

When we choose to focus on the opportunities that are accessible to us, we begin to realise just how vast the possibilities are. What is it that you want? And don’t say money. Woops, you already said money, didn’t you? Okay, let’s back track then… What is it that you need? If you’re accessing the internet to read this article, then it’s likely your primary needs as a human being have already been met. Fantastic! That is definitely something to be happy about. So now lets pretend that all you have is the bare minimum to survive. Food, water, shelter. What is the next thing that you want? (Probably some clothes) But as you start to acquire more of the things that we as human beings want, rather than need, your priorities begin to change. And so, your list of wants becomes greater… Now lets throw the internet into the mix. All of a sudden, you can Google P-Diddy’s yacht party or some exotic travel destination, or every other amazing thing in the world that you don’t have/haven’t done. What a disaster! Now you have become an absolute beast of wants with an insatiable appetite for more, and the happiness that was waiting just around the corner seems miles away. What you need readers, is a reference point to gauge your happiness. These reference points are more commonly referred to as goals.

You need to set goals and have clear priorities.

How you choose to do this is entirely up to you. You can write them down (recommended) or you can simply verbalise them. Your goals can relate to any aspect of your life, so try not to focus solely on financial goals. Perhaps friendship is an area of importance to you? Maybe you would like to spend more time with your family? These may be your priorities, and a specific goal may be to visit your grandparents every week for dinner. Our relationships with those we love are a good place to start. This is something we have direct access to, to make a positive impact right away. The next step is to separate your goals into two categories; short and long term. For example, if your goal is to be a rockstar, then you might be sorely disappointed at the end of the year, when you are still blogging about rockstars in your parents’ basement (we do not blog in anyone’s parents’ basement). So instead, it is a good idea to have smaller goals like ‘become proficient on the guitar‘. Now you have the ‘what‘, so all you need is the ‘how‘. Using our guitar proficiency as an example goal again, we might break it down into tasks like ‘learn the major scale‘ and ‘practice fingering exercises‘. These tasks are realistic, yet challenging. They will provide the motivation needed to progress towards the ultimate goal of becoming a rockstar.

When should I begin my quest for happiness?

Today! Happiness is waiting just around the corner for those who choose to get out there and earn it. That is to say, happiness is a choice. Your friends will probably tell you that you deserve to be happy, and you might want to believe them. But if you’re not willing to take action, despite the vast opportunities that you have been gifted, do you really deserve to be happy? Don’t answer that question. Instead, start building your happiness now, brick by brick…

As always, thanks for reading. If you have any comments about this article, we’d love to hear your say in the comments section below.

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How To Stop Gaming Addiction

Gaming Addiction The Short Advice

It’s 8-bit of a Problem…

According to the World Health Organisation gaming addiction, or ‘gaming disorder’, is actually a disease. Open for debate perhaps, but it’s obviously attracted the attention of a few medical professionals. Whilst it does only affect a small portion of individuals who play video games, it has raised some interesting points about gaming habits. In particular, how gaming addiction can potentially draw attention from important life experiences and responsibilities. So, whatever your game of choice, it might pay to check out some of our points below to ensure you don’t fall into the trap of gaming addiction…

… But It’s Not All Bad!

Contrary to the popular belief of an ageing population who didn’t have video games ‘back in my day…’ (- Your Grandpa), video games can have an upside. Whilst navigating your way through all of those crazy sci-fi plot lines, you can develop some valuable life skills too. One study suggests that video game players might actually make for handy unmanned aircraft operators! Provided gaming addiction is not present, could the realism of modern gaming actually be preparing gamers for real-world tasks? An interesting thought, although as it usually does, the solution often rests in the hands of our first point…

1. Aim for Balance

Gaming addiction, like any other addiction, is an imbalance. When you’re delving into a virtual reality, you’re going to be missing out on your actual reality for a period of time. But of course, one could argue the same for films, books or other leisure activities. They obviously have their benefits, but too much of anything is generally a bad idea. So enjoy your games – learn, relax, be entertained. But don’t over do it. If you serve your immediate wants too frequently, you won’t be serving anybody else’s needs, including your own. Balance is the key to achieving sustainable happiness…

2. Solo to Social

Don’t fall into the trap of becoming a binge-gamer (a level of gaming addiction). It’s easy to shut yourself off to the world and get stuck into the latest release, but try not to let it keep you from being social. So, instead of getting in front of the screen yourself, perhaps try making your gaming experiences social ones. Not just online with friends, but physically with friends. Positive relationships are a major part of being a happy and healthy individual, so perhaps gaming with real friends might be a great way to kill two birds with one stone…

3. Re-Engage

If you know you’ve been spending too much time wrapped up in an animated reality, perhaps its time to reconnect with the wonders of your own world. Challenge yourself, set goals, find something interesting and pursue it as relentlessly as you’ve pursued your animated character’s interests. It’s easy to take it all for granted and forget about some of the amazing opportunities that you’ve been gifted – the world is full of them. If you really commit to the idea, your desire to spend hours in front of a screen might start to fade as you re-engage with the real world. Gaming addiction gone.

4. Take a Break

Abstinence has been recorded as a possible effective treatment method for gaming addiction. Going cold turkey on the console for a little while might help you to realise whether or not you do have a gaming problem. This could be a good method to identify the issue, and allow you to take steps in order to combat it. Taking a break from the screen will also provide health benefits, particularly ocular ones. Eyestrain and irritation can be caused by prolonged gaming, due to a lack of blinking and harmful blue light from screens.

5. Seek Professional Advice

Gaming addiction may be a hard pill to swallow for many, but addiction is often more about the individual and their personality than the subject matter itself. Impulsivity, the need to seek the most immediate reward, has been found to be a predetermining factor of addiction in adolescents. Seeking the advice of a mental health specialist may help to shed some light on addictive patterns of behaviour in other areas of your life and help you to understand more about the decisions you make. The holistic benefits of such an experience may be invaluable to your personal development.

Final Note on Gaming Addiction

Call it what you will. Gaming addiction, laziness, impulsivity, the need for immediate reward… Whether you choose to believe it is a disorder or not, there is clearly an issue. So, if you or somebody you care about is spending too much time gaming, address it! Don’t let the virtual world develop into a real life problem. Follow some of our simple steps above, and re-engage with your fellow earthlings. Level up!

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How To Change Your Job: 5-Point Check

Change Your Job Sunset

So You Want to Change Your Job…

The sun is setting on your current job. Maybe you’ve been working in the same role, and in the same industry for ten years. Maybe you feel trapped in your role, and need to make a change. Well, there’s good and bad news for you… Change is very possible – that’s the good news. The bad? Well, change is often very difficult, too. So the most important variable to consider now, is how bad you want it, and how hard you are prepared to work in order to create sustainable change. If you really want to change your job, and make it work, there are a few important points to consider before you jump ship…

The 5-Point Check List to Change Your Job.

Leaving your job can be an incredibly difficult thought, especially when you’ve worked tirelessly to develop a good reputation for yourself within your workplace and industry. If you’ve been in your job long enough, you may even have ‘climbed the ladder’ somewhat, and be earning decent money. So, how do you give it all up and start again? This is what makes change so challenging…

1. The ‘Want/Need’ Variable

How bad do you want to change your job? Do you want it so bad that you need it? Maybe your role is actually so physically demanding that your body can only manage for so long in your current field of employment, and thus, this is change that is sorely needed. Or perhaps the mental strain is so much so that it is affecting life outside of work too. Is it time and repetition that has got you down? That can happen in any job. The point here, is that there are degrees of want and need. It can help to write down a pros and cons list of both staying in your job, and seeking out a new one. Write down your reasons for wanting to change your job. Are these reasons exclusive to your career choice, or could they arise in any future position? Understand your motives, and make an informed decision.

2. Goals and Systems

A much discussed topic on this blog, and rightly so. Now that you’ve understood the reasons for, and degree that you ‘want/need’ to change your job, it’s time to plan for the future. Goal-setting is a great way to track your progress and motivate yourself towards achieving your desired career outcome. You might have one long-term goal, preceded by a series of short term goals, or ‘stepping stones’, to keep you on track. These short-term goals will be the product of your ‘systems’, which are the things that you do regularly like studying, exercising, and learning, in order to continue achieving your goals. Sometimes, the systems you employ to be successful are even more important than the goals themselves. Goals may change as your interests do, but it doesn’t mean that you’ve given up, nor does it make your systems redundant.

3. Time Commitment

Now that you have created some goals and thought about the process, you need to think about time. How long will this change take to be in affect? Is it a matter of simply applying for a new role until you get one? Or will it take training and learning new skills in order to be competent? Consider both the duration of the entire process and the weekly time commitment. It is unaffordable for most people to quit their job and then look for another one without any source of income. So it is likely that you would have to take on a greater workload, on top of your already trying working week. You may have to sacrifice some activities that you enjoy for a period of time. Are these all things that you are willing to do? Short-term pain, long-term gain.

4. Work Ethic

An important attribute that is valued in every workplace. Job satisfaction has been known to have a positive relationship with work ethic, creating increased productivity. But does it work the other way around? Consider a scenario where a strong work ethic generates recognition for an employee amongst their superiors. This could lead to promotions, bonuses, and increased job satisfaction. Here, hard work is the independent variable, and job satisfaction the dependent. Now it’s time to reflect on your current situation… Have you become lost in the monotony of your job and dropped the ball? It might pay to become a social scientist of sorts, and test the hypothesis that an increased work ethic could increase job satisfaction. Because if this is a factor that you could improve, it may still be one after you change your job…

5. Happiness

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again… Life is too short to be unhappy. Especially from something as trivial as your job (in the big scheme of things). Work can feel like it is consuming your life, when really it is supposed to be enriching it. In a perfect world, your employment should be meaningful and full of purpose. But the reality is that we don’t all get to fulfil our childhood dreams. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find a work environment with good people and prospects. Overcome the fear of failure, and make a positive change if you believe it is right for you. Go through your checklist, exhaust your options at your current job and leave no stone unturned. If you still decide that you need to change your job, then do it! Allow yourself a life of happiness now, because time is the most valuable currency – not money.

Final Note

Nothing is ever easy! But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. The challenge of starting again after you change your job can seem daunting. But the rewarding feeling of overcoming your fears and inhibitions might drive you to continue growing into the person that you want to become. Keep trying, keep pushing, don’t settle until you’ve found your own piece of sustainable happiness. Invest in yourself, and create the world that you want to live in. Thanks for reading, and good luck in your new career path!

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How To Achieve Your New Years Resolution

New Years Resolution The Short Advice

Whats Your New Years Resolution?

The new year brings hope, but simply hoping does not get things done. Without action, hopes and dreams would forever stay hopes and dreams. This new year, don’t just make empty promises to yourself. It’s too easy to let life get in the way, and repeat the cycle of previous years. So, what is the fantastic new years resolution that you’ve been working on and how will you achieve it? We’ve got a few tips below to help answer that question…

1. Be SMART-R

SMART goals are a major consideration of the planning process. They are specific in defining exactly what you want to achieve, and when you want to achieve it. They encourage you to consider the relevance that the goal has in your life, and to assess just how realistic it is for you to achieve. If your new years resolution meets each point of the ‘SMART’ acronym, being specific, measurable, achievable (attainable), relevant and time-based, you’re already giving yourself a leg up! The SMART process encourages you to plan for success, before you embark on the road to success.

2. Implement Systems

If your new years resolution is the ‘what’, then systems are the ‘how’. Author Scott Adams even argues that they can replace goals altogether. You’ve already defined and justified exactly what your new years resolution is, but what do you need to do in order to achieve it? What time will you wake up? How will you fuel your body and mind? What regular activities can you do to prepare you for the inevitable challenges that you will face? Systems are the regular daily/weekly tasks, rather than the smaller milestones or short-term goals. They’re the good habits that will steer you in the direction of success, and the achievement of your new years resolution.

3. Tell Your Friends

“But if I tell my friends then I will feel pressured to achieve my new years resolution!” Exactly. A degree of pressure can be a good motivator to keep you on track when your motivation is wavering. You might also find a few friends who are interested in achieving a similar goal. This is a great way to encourage accountability, and to share the milestones and frustrations that you’ll no doubt experience on your way to success. In addition, the challenge of achieving a goal together may even strengthen the friendship bond, and offer opportunities for you to be a good friend… Satisfying in itself!

4. Acknowledge Your Progress

Remember to stay positive. It’s easy to beat yourself up every time you make an error, or deviate from the plan. A gentle reminder to stay on track is fine of course, you do need to be disciplined. But celebrating your progress is equally as important. Give yourself a pat on the back from time to time when you’ve earned it, and recognise all of the hard work it has taken. Marvel at the changes in your life, and reflect on how you’re feeling as a result. Hopefully your new years resolution is turning into reality…

5. Have Fun

If you’re not interested in what you’re doing, then it’s going to be that much harder to realise your new years resolution. Maybe you don’t enjoy the process as much, but the feeling of joy you get after putting in the work is just reward – that’s cool too! Finding internal happiness is something that we all long for. It’s something that we have to work towards, but it’s not the gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s the entire rainbow too! That is to say (warning: cliché), the journey is just as important as the destination. 

Final Note

Your new years resolution doesn’t have to become a casualty of the festive season! You’ll probably come out of the gates pretty fast, on track to achieve your dreams, but without a plan you might not get very far. Set a goal, implement some systems that keep you focused and ready, find accountability in a friend. Don’t just do one thing to make it work, do many – as much as you can even! Give yourself every chance to stick to your new years resolution, and the hope of the new year will roll into the next one. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your new years resolution!

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How To Learn Speed Reading Effectively

How to learn speed reading

About the Author

Jimmy from myspeedreading.com has agreed to share some helpful tips to start you on your reading journey – speed reading that is! It’s a great way to acquire new knowledge in an efficient and time effective manner. So, if you’re someone who struggles with time management, then perhaps speed reading is for you! Today we hear from a speed reading pro, so be sure to read slowly, and take it all in ;).

The Benefits of Reading

In any age, information will always be the key element of understanding for every human being. Through information one gains knowledge. And, to acquire information, we must read. There is an almost-infinite amount of information in the world, which can be acquired through regular reading. If a person is not reading, he/she is missing out on current events and a vast array of knowledge on different subjects.

Much like exercise for your brain, reading increases concentration, thinking ability and creativity. It is said that a book can change a person. So, if one book can do that, imagine what will happen if you read a wide variety of books! Now that we know how important reading is, we need to understand how we can read all types of books in a shorter amount of time.

Speed Reading

There are a variety of wonderful books out there and so much information in the world to absorb. How would we absorb all this information in a limited amount of time? We are a busy bunch of people, working 9-5 and looking after our families. So, when we get a chance to read a book, we should make the most out of the time we have. Now, how do we do that? We must resort to reading at a faster pace than we normally do. An average person can read around 200 to 250 words per minute. With practice however, we can train ourselves to read at least 400 to 800 words per minute. When you’re reading information that requires you to absorb and remember facts and figures, you may need to slow down on your reading. Take the time to process and memorize information. 

1. Time your reading speed

There are websites and reading apps that can track your reading speed. Download these apps and get a feel for your reading speed and comprehension. You can also do it yourself by simply reading a page and keeping time manually. The next day, read a paragraph or page more than the previous day in the same amount of time. Repeat this exercise every day by increasing the number of paragraphs or pages, in the same amount of time. This exercise requires a lot of patience and effort in order to speed read, and comprehend what you’re reading. Initially, you may stumble, but don’t give up on practicing.

2. Train your eyes

Sight is the most important sense that you require for reading. You’ll need to train your eyes to read without going back and forth, which our eyes have a natural tendency to do. This is difficult to overcome, but nothing is impossible if we practice. To train your eyes, just focus on one sentence or line at a time. Make a conscious effort to avoid going back to read the same sentence or words again. Initially, take it slow. Read a sentence and then slowly go to the next sentence and then the next. Make sure that you don’t let your eyes go back and forth to read the sentences again. 

3. Sub-vocalization

When reading, we tend to pronounce every word in our heads. This is called sub-vocalization. If you observe yourself, your lips will be moving even though you’re not reading aloud. When you say every word in your head, your reading will slow down. Now, stopping your subconscious mind from reading every word is not easy. You must practice and make an effort to stop sub-vocalizing. One simple tip is to keep a finger on your lips or chew gum to avoid reading in your head. Make a conscious effort to just run your eyes through what you’re reading. Have patience and keep practicing, and you will see the results. 

4. Pointer Method

When we read, we tend to lose track of the sentence we are reading. At times, we might end up re-reading the same line again or even miss a line. To manoeuvre from one line to the next, keep a finger or pen below the line you’re reading and just follow your eyes from left to right. Keep moving the finger or pen to the next line. This will increase your concentration on what you’re reading and your eyes will not go back and forth to read the words or sentences again. This method is easier than the other techniques to practice and will help tremendously in increasing your reading speed.

5. Skimming and Scanning

Not every word in a sentence is as important as the next. So, scan the sentence and just read the important words. For example: If I read this sentence – “this rose is red”. I am reading 4 words. I can ignore “this” and “is” and if I just read “rose red”, I will be reading 2 words. Yet, I will understand the meaning of the sentence even though I have skipped some words. If you read a lesser number of words and read only the important ones, you will see the difference in speed. This technique requires a lot of practice.

Once you acquire the skill of skimming through a sentence, you can skim through a paragraph as well. Read the first and the second line, and then read the last line of the paragraph. Then scan through the important words in between the paragraph and you will gauge what the paragraph is about. Train yourself regularly and eventually, you will be good at skimming through pages without even realising you’re doing it!

Final Note

These 5 techniques are important methods to acquire the skill of speed reading. But, they can only be mastered through practice. Initially you’ll need to have a lot of patience. So don’t be too hard on yourself, and remember, failure is but a stepping stone on the road to success! Also, remind yourself that reading is a wonderful habit. Consider how much knowledge you can gain through reading different books and articles. Reading without understanding however is a total waste of time. It’s only effective when balanced with pace and comprehension. So, while practicing speed reading, don’t compromise on comprehension. As you start to enjoy reading, you will be a good judge of balancing your reading speed. Practice makes perfect, so get over to myspeedreading.com today and begin your speed reading journey!

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Thoughtful Christmas Gifts: A How-To Guide

Thoughtful Christmas Gifts The Short Advice

Thoughtful Christmas Gifts Don’t Grow on Trees

Yet another year has flown by, and you’re faced with the challenging task of finding thoughtful Christmas gifts for your friends and family (again). The good news is, there is any easier way than leaving it all to Christmas Eve, jumping over the crowds of shoppers, and pulling your hair out. If you’re reading this at 11:59am on the 24th of December though, skip straight to point 5, and then checkout our time management tips… Thoughtful Christmas gifts are personalised, and reflective of the unique relationship between ‘gift-er’ and ‘gift-ee’. By putting just a little bit of extra time and thought into a gift idea, you can create a lasting memory of happiness, and really make someone’s day. So, checkout our 5 tips below to make sure your thoughtful Christmas gifts tick all of the boxes this season!

1. Time, Not Money

Don’t be fooled! It’s not all about how much cash you can splash. Thoughtful Christmas gifts require time and effort, not just a Santa-sack full of money. Besides, if you work, study or do a combination of the two, your time is probably limited. And thus, valuable. You can show your loved ones just how much they mean to you, by dedicating the time to create something beautiful for them. Or, if you’re not that way inclined, you can organise a customised gift too. Either way, your time and effort will always be appreciated. After all, true friendship is something that money simply cannot buy.

2. Reflect on the Relationship

What makes your relationship with this person so special? What jokes and experiences have you shared? Think about all of the great things about your friend/family member and build an equally great gift idea. Perhaps they’ve had a rough year, and you’d like to let them know that you’re on their side… Find a gift that represents when you met, and another that represents your relationship now. Remind them that you were there then, you’re here now, and you’ll still be there later. “You can’t get rid of me” – You.

3. Get Them Talking

Finding thoughtful Christmas gifts sometimes involves a healthy and necessary level of deception… If you’re struggling to come up with something, you can try tricking someone into spilling what they want for Christmas! Talk about some of the best gifts you ever received, and some of the things you’d like to receive. Try doing it in front of a group, so as not to raise suspicion… Get them talking about what they really want for Christmas, and then surprise them on the day with everything they ever wanted! A sneaky means to an ends, that might not work two years in a row…

4. Make the Card Count

Cards are an important part of any thoughtful Christmas gift. Pick a card that speaks to the nature of your relationship, but more importantly, write with humour and sincerity! Again, reflect on the relationship. Reference the year passed and congratulate them on any obstacles they overcame that they might have forgotten to acknowledge themselves. Let them know why you appreciated them again this year, and be specific when you can. If humour isn’t your thing, sincerity works equally as well. Make them laugh, make them cry… The art of Christmas card writing – don’t underestimate it!

5. Amazon Gift Finder

If you’re still out of ideas (or time), you can use Amazon’s gift finder tool to browse through a collection of items, filtered by gender, age group and interests. You might just stumble across a whole bunch of thoughtful Christmas gifts in the process! Theres a pretty impressive variety of categories, and you can checkout whats been trending too. This is particularly handy if you’re buying for a child, who’s interests are dependent on channels that you are just not tuned in to anymore!

Final Note

In the true spirit of Christmas, everyone should just be happy that you’ve thought about them. But, if you really want to leave an impression, you can find all of the thoughtful Christmas gifts you need using the tips above. Also, don’t forget to checkout our store too! Our road to success goal map is a great gift idea to help people plan for success in the new year. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your Christmas shopping! Merry Christmas all!

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Positive Thinking: How To Be More Optimistic

Positive Thinking The Short Advice

The Benefits of Positive Thinking

Positive thinking is contagious, the same way negativity is. However, negativity is born with the upper hand… The human brain tends to have a negative bias, and so we need to work particularly hard to overcome this bias and be positive. Introducing positive thinking into our lives must be a focus if we are to overcome our natural relationship with negativity. So, how can you start being more positive? And why should you start being more positive?? The why, is that positivity breeds positivity, and the how has been outlined for you below…

Use Positive Language

It has been suggested that positive language actually has the ability to change the way you think, modifying brain functions and increasing motivational activity. In contrast, negative words may inhibit your ability to manage stress. Positive self-talk is one particular strategy that refers to the language you use, both in thought and verbally, to speak to yourself. Using positive phrases like “I can”, and “I will” can in time increase self-esteem and decrease negative thinking. So, next time you’ve made a mistake, let yourself know that you’re in it together with some positive self-reassurance!

Focus on Positivity

Placing a greater focus on your most positive attributes can in-fact produce improved results. A 1982 study required bowlers to rate their performance, with one group focusing solely on what they did well, and the other group focusing on not making the same mistakes twice. The first group showed significantly greater improvement. The conclusion, is that positivity can be a greater motivator towards success and improvement than negativity, but you probably guessed that already… If positive thinking and reflection will drive you to improve, why not try it?

Dance Your Way to Positivity

Movement and exercise has been linked to happiness, known to release endorphins that can make us feel great. Dr Peter Lovatt, or ‘Dr Dance’, suggests that one can ‘dance themselves happy’, which follows the above principal and builds on the relationship between exercise and positivity. Maybe you’re not a dancer, and that’s fine. The message really is to move, and generate positivity through action. Exercise has a number of other benefits that can contribute to one’s ability to be positive, like building confidence and resilience.

Balance Your Emotions

Negative emotions can’t be ignored if you expect to live with sustained positive thinking and optimism. Whilst there is a fine line between realism and pessimism, it is important to understand the purpose of negativity in order to create an acceptable balance. Our emotions all serve a purpose that can generally be linked to survival and pro-creation (which ultimately is the survival of our species). Fear can stop us from hurting ourselves, guilt can stop us from repeating poor behaviour and love can keep our families safe. So, positive thinking doesn’t mean you should ignore negativity altogether, but rather create a better balance between the two.

Reinforce Positivity

Challenge yourself and achieve a goal by applying an optimistic outlook to your situation. Fear and negativity are the greatest barrier in the way of achieving your goals on the road to success. Incorporate the positive thinking strategies outlined above, and put a plan into place. After all, one of the best ways to reinforce learning is through experience. Reflect on past situations, and consider the different outcomes and level of satisfaction you have achieved through positive thinking, as opposed to a negative bias.

Final Note

With our brains naturally inclined to lean towards negativity as a protective mechanism, it’s any wonder that positive thinking is a challenge. It’s sort of like having great posture. You have to actively think about it. When it leaves the forefront of your mind however, you might start to slouch. But, if you make a conscious effort to pull your shoulders back and stand up straight… Well, it just might become habit. Apply this principle to positive thought, and habitually engage in positive thinking – without even thinking about it! If you’ve got anything to add, please feel free to leave a comment below… Hopefully a positive one ;). As always, thanks for reading.

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How To Be More Assertive At Work: 5 Assertive Actions

More Assertive in The Workplace The Short Advice

Assertive VS Rude

There is a difference. A big difference in fact. But too many people are unwilling to explore this difference, and end up becoming the victim of unmanageable workloads, and sometimes even workplace bullying. From a managerial perspective, it can mean giving instructions firmly, fairly and confidently. Being more assertive isn’t quite jumping on your desk and booting the computer across the room (as pictured above). But then again, your boss probably isn’t a Yeti… Rather, assertiveness is the ability to be heard with confidence and conviction. It’s standing up for yourself, and it’s getting things done that need to be done. In contrast, throwing insults around the workplace when you’re not getting your way would of course be rude!

Why You Need to be More Assertive in the Workplace

The workplace can be a stressful environment, and part of managing this stress is being more assertive. You have a workload to manage, same as the rest of your colleagues. But the reality is that some people manage this better than others. A manager needs to be assertive when giving instruction and ensuring deadlines are met, and protocols are followed. A team member needs to be assertive when their manager and colleagues are trying to handball their unwanted workloads off to somebody else. Whatever your role, it pays to stand up for yourself. Our 5 points below will help you to better understand just what that looks like…

1. Say ‘No’

We’ve started with this for a reason. Too many people feel rude saying ‘no’, when really, they’re helping themselves and others in the long run. If you bear the load of others too frequently, it might not be sustainable. It could cause you to be highly stressed over time, and even lead to burnout. Of course, we all want to help people. But, we need to put ourselves in a position of strength and power in order to be most effective for those we wish to help. Be more assertive, and empower yourself with the ability to say ‘no’ when appropriate, but do it politely. You’ll still be an effective team member, perhaps even more effective now that you’ve got the time to complete all of your tasks to the best of your ability.

2. Know Your Role

Job titles can be quite ambiguous, so it’s worth understanding exactly what roles and responsibilities your title comes with. From a managerial perspective, it’s also worth being explicit when providing these details, so that each team member is aware of the requirements of their role. Simply knowing your role will help you to be more assertive, as you can make better judgements on where you should focus your energy, and when you need to say ‘no’. It will also help you to justify ‘no’ as an appropriate response, when your more pressing responsibilities are clearly outlined for you.

3. Anticipate Problems

This refers to being aware of your environment, and the pressures and issues that can arise. In other words, you shouldn’t be surprised that other people will try to take advantage of the ‘yes’ man as frequently as possible. Sometimes they themselves are so unassertive that their stress and workload has them asking others for help so often. Being aware of this destructiveness will help you to identify it, and rise above it. You don’t want to find yourself stuck in either situation, so have your assertive actions prepared in advance.

4. Value Your Time

If you don’t, nor will anybody else. This is actually a great supporting argument when it comes to saying ‘no’ more often. If you are seen as the ‘yes’ man, people may perceive you to have an exorbitant amount of time on your hands, and respect your time less. Little do they know, your mountain of work is piling up. If however you place value on your time, and agree to help only when you are ‘able’ to, people will respect your time more, and tend to ask for favours less frequently. By placing greater value on your time, you are supporting your ability to be more assertive. If the mountain of work continues piling up however, maybe it’s time to checkout our time management tips!

5. Manage Expectations

If you are doing the right thing at work, and working hard towards your targets, then you have nothing to hide. You produce a high level of output, and are efficient in your duties, although your manager’s deadlines are still near-impossible to meet. In this case, questions need to be asked about your role and responsibilities, realistic deadlines, and breakdown of hours for a given task. If the expectation is that you slave away, take work home, get in early and stay late, and are underpaid, is this an expectation you’d like to continue supporting? Probably not. Being more assertive means negotiating more reasonable and realistic expectations for a sustainable/happier workplace environment. Stand up for yourself!

Final Note

There are many ways in which you can be more assertive and they are all a far-cry from being rude. Assertiveness can help you to be more helpful, manage your time more effectively, and even increase job (and life) satisfaction. Approach situations confidently, knowing you are prepared for the pressures of your environment, and become a more effective member of your organisation in doing so. With the above assertive actions, you’ll be free to get on with your own work. As always, thanks for reading!

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How To Be A Critical Thinker: 5 Critical Thinking Questions

Critical Thinker Critical Thinking The Short Advice

Being a Critical Thinker

Being a critical thinker is less about being right or wrong, and more about deciding what is right and wrong. It’s a skill that is becoming increasingly more important, as more and more fake news and unverified information is being published to the internet every minute. A critical thinker has the ability to form their own views and opinions, and does not blindly follow others. So, next time you’re being fed some new info, consider how likely it is to be true before accepting it as the truth. Sometimes it pays to be skeptical…

Approaching a Theory With Critical Thinking

There are a multitude of conflicting views and opinions in the world. Contradicting evidence and research being used to prove one theory and exclude another makes it very difficult to know what is true, and what isn’t. That’s why we’ve compiled this short list of 5 questions to help you become a critical thinker and better decision-maker. So, give it a try next time you need to approach a situation with critical thinking!

1. What am I being asked to believe?

First, make sure you understand exactly what the person/source is telling you. Build your understanding with further research into the theory and try to decide whether it makes sense to you or not. Sometimes the use of language and vocabulary can make it difficult to understand exactly what is being communicated, so it might be worth finding out if there is another source that is supporting this same theory. This might help you get a better understanding of the theory, or even help you make a decision on whether or not your original source knows what they’re talking about!

2. Who is asking me to believe it?

Considering the source of the information you are analysing is a major part of being a critical thinker. This point raises further questions like ‘why do they want me to believe this theory?’, and ‘what is in it for them?’. This brings us to the point of potential bias. Sometimes, a person/source might stand to benefit from having people believe their theory. Depending on who is telling the story, the presence of bias might exist in persuasive language. Then again, a person can be both persuasive and truthful, no? This is another reason to research other sources who are offering the same/similar information. Is there any variation between different versions of the same theory/information. Has something been lost in translation? Do your research.

3. Is there evidence to support this theory?

Speaking of research, is the source claiming to present evidence-based information? Where and how have they collected their research? The various methods of collecting data can present many challenges in itself, and make way for serious bias. Now it’s time to research the research. If the source of information is claiming to have supporting evidence, you should review this evidence, and decide if you believe it is relevant. There’s always a chance that it’s completely invalid, or that the results of the research have simply been misinterpreted by the source of information. With too many variables that can cause an error in the information offered, it pays to do some independent research of your own.

4. What are the alternatives?

For almost every theory offered, there are conflicting/contradicting ones to match. Some people might still believe that the earth is flat, for example. No matter how certain you may be, it’s likely somebody, somewhere is certain of something else. This doesn’t mean that you’re wrong of course, but in some cases, it might mean that exploring the alternative theories offered is a good idea. You might agree with parts of one theory, and parts of another, forming your own views as a critical thinker. Fill yourself with knowledge, keep on learning, and foster independent thought.

5. What is the most reasonable conclusion?

‘Based on my knowledge, understanding and research, what makes the most sense to me?’ Once you’ve answered all of the above questions, it’s time to draw some conclusions. How reliable is the source? Could the information/data be biased? Does this theory actually make sense to you? A combination of your research, and your opinion based on experience should be considered. Rationality can be used to form theories and opinions, although it does need to be supported by research and experience/observation.

Final Note

The ability to be a competent critical thinker is something that we all need to develop. Critical thinking will help you to make sense of the world, forming your own views and opinions. Don’t blindly accept the truth, and don’t mistake rationalism for certainty. Always do your research, and you’ll be better equipped to start developing some theories of your own… Once again, thanks for reading! If you’ve got a critical thinking question you’d like to add, you can leave it in the comments section below.

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How To Be A Good Leader: 7 Effective Leadership Traits

Effective Leadership Traits

Effective Leadership Traits

The ability to motivate and inspire comes to mind, upon reflecting on some of the world’s current leaders. Pivotal, of course, but unfortunately this alone does not qualify as effective leadership. We’ve seen many leaders capture the attention of the masses, because they have the charisma and language to do so. Their communication skills may be strong, but are they self-aware, and willing to listen and learn? Point is, there are many important traits that are required in order to be an effective leader. Below, we’ve listed 7 of these effective leadership traits, although the list could certainly go on…

Strong Communication Skills

Know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. And sometimes, it doesn’t even need to be said. Communication doesn’t refer solely to spoken or written language either. The ability to articulate your thoughts is great, but more important is the thought itself. Some leaders may be able to get their message across with a look, or touch. Whatever the mode of communication, it’s about getting the message across. Any action that sends a message can be considered a form of communication. Expectations surrounding work ethic and commitment, might be communicated in the leader’s daily activities, as well as being written and verbalised. Taking this into consideration, strong communication skills are the most important of our 7 effective leadership traits. Also to be considered as part of this point is emotional intelligence.

Understanding People/Behaviours

Understanding people and their behaviours in general is important. When it comes to a team environment, understanding your people is even more important. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What motivates them? How can you inspire their true potential? As individuals, each team member has different wants and needs. A good leader will create an environment that meets these needs, leveraging the strengths of each team member. Having a better understanding of your people will also help to build a rapport with team members, building trust, commitment and respect.

Self-Awareness

As well as understanding those around you, you also need to understand yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you need to be operating at your optimal level? This involves the ability to critically reflect on past experiences, and learning to recognise particular behaviours that you need to be wary of. Being self-aware will ultimately help you to develop your strengths, and counter your weaknesses. In doing this, a leader is able to further develop and refine their effective leadership traits. They’re also likely to experience positive development on a personal level too. If you can’t lead your own improvement, how can you be expected to help others do the same?

The Ability to Adapt

Change can be difficult, and thats why the ability to adapt to changing environments made our list of effective leadership traits. Challenging circumstances and obstacles to success are inevitable. A team’s ability to manage these changes depends greatly on leadership. A good leader will be task-focused in the face of change/challenges, rationalising the best process, rather than being overcome by emotion. The ability to face a situation rationally, calmly, and with the best intentions of the team at heart exemplifies a good leader. It also encourages the rest of the team to take a similar approach to change/challenges, which brings us to our next point; lead by example.

Lead By Example

If my leader won’t do it, why should I? Demonstrating exemplary behaviour is one of the most important effective leadership traits. If you require a certain level of commitment and work ethic from your team, then you need to show them what that looks like. The same applies to effective communication, responding to challenges, being accountable, and virtually every other leadership trait you can think of. A good leader understands and embraces the fact that they are always being watched, and that they must hold themselves to a very high standard. The way they act will set the guidelines for the rest of their team/organisation, and communicates their expectations and their values.

The Will to Listen/Learn

A good leader understands that they are imperfect. Mistakes are inevitable, and are seen as valuable tools for learning. Opinions and advice are always considered, before decisions are executed with confidence. Involving team members in the decision-making process when necessary instils trust and responsibility. It also shows that team members are valued, and their experience and expertise are a regularly exercised resource. Creating an environment that values and supports people to be their best, in turn produces the best results. With open ears and an open mind, a good leader can become a great one.

Responsibility/Accountability

The successes and failures of a team/organisation rest in the hands of leadership. When something goes wrong, or a mistake has been made, a good leader assumes responsibility. This does not mean distributing blame equally amongst the team, but rather accepting that mistakes were made under their leadership, for which they are accountable. By accepting this responsibility, they are then able to plan for success and improve the current situation. If they choose not to accept responsibility, then they forgo control and are powerless to exact change. If the mistake is not theirs, how can they fix it, or avoid it next time?

Final Note

There are many important effective leadership traits that are required to make a great leader. The list above are just some of the important qualities that need to be considered when you find yourself in a leadership position. They can be applied to any leadership position, from a corporate environment, to a sporting team, or even a family. Wherever teamwork can exist, so too can a great leader. Once again, thanks for reading, and we invite you to add to our effective leadership traits list in the comments section below.