7 Benefits of Meditation Backed By Science




There are so many amazing benefits of meditation. Not only does it make you feel good in the moment while meditating, but it also actually changes the way your brain operates, and scientific research has proven it.

You’ve probably heard about all of the elite athletes, business leaders, and other successful people talking about the power of meditation. Here are 7 benefits, backed by science, to help you better understand how a daily meditation practice can improve your life.

 

1. Lowers Stress

“Meditation has been proven to decrease mood disturbances and stress symptoms in both male and female patients…” Read the entire study here

2. Reduces pain

“After four-days of mindfulness meditation training, meditating in the presence of noxious stimulation significantly reduced pain-unpleasantness by 57% and pain-intensity ratings by 40% when compared to rest.” Read the entire study here

 




3. Increases brain grey matter (which helps process information)

“Meditation practice has been shown not only to benefit higher-order cognitive functions but also to alter brain activity. ” Read the entire study here

 

4. Improves happiness

“A short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways.” Read the entire study here



 

5. Improves body awareness

“Results indicated a linear relationship in coherence, with meditators having highest levels… We conclude that the coherence between subjective and cardiac aspects of emotion is greater in those who have specialized training that promotes greater body awareness.” Read entire study here

 




6. Enhanced focus and attention

“Brief mindfulness training significantly improved visuo-spatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning. Our findings suggest that 4 days of meditation training can enhance the ability to sustain attention; benefits that have previously been reported with long-term meditators.” Read the entire study here

 

7. Improves handling of difficult emotions

“Meditation may be associated with structural changes in areas of the brain that are important for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing. The data further suggest that meditation may impact aggregated declines in cortical structure.” Read entire study here

Break Your Bad Mood With These Quick Tips

Nobody likes to be in a bad mood, but sometimes we inevitably slip into one and it negatively impacts our entire outlook for the day. The good news is that there are simple ways that we can get ourselves out of the bad mood funk and into a more positive mindset!

The first key is to recognize that you are in a bad mood, then you are primed and can follow these 8 tips to get yourself out of it!

 

Listen to music


We all have those songs that remind us of a happy time every time we listen to them. Turn it on, soak it in, and let the music put you back into a positive mindset.


 

Get outside

Nature has a way of calming us and letting us step back from ourselves and into the bigger picture of life. Science has shown that being in nature can help lower blood pressure and your heart rate, a great way to offset a bad mood and turn into a good one!


 

Have a good laugh


Laughter will not only cheer you up instantly, but can also decrease any anxiety you may be having (often a driver to put us in a bad mood). Pull up your favorite funny clip on Youtube, think about a funny memory, or phone a friend that always makes you laugh.


 

Meditate


Taking even just a few minutes to sit in silence while focusing on the breath can quickly take you out of your bad mood funk. Deep diaphragmatic breaths have a way of calming us and can help you lower anxiety.



 

Play with a pet


They don’t call dogs “man’s best friend” for nothing. Pets won’t judge you for being in a bad mood, and at the same time can help you instantly feel happier.


 

Express gratitude

Thinking about the things that you are thankful for in life is an amazing way to flip your mood. Even better, write them down as a “gratitude list” then revisit whenever you’re in a bad mood.


 

Get present

Bad moods can often be attributed to worry about the future and stress about the past. By bringing yourself to the present moment (the time that really only matters anyway) you can “hack” your mind into a more positive state.



Move around


The body and mind are intimately connected, so use that to your advantage. When your mind is failing you with a bad mood, move around your body (jumping jacks, jog in place, shadow box, etc) to release those positive endorphins and put you into a good one!

Social Norms That Are Blocking Your Success

Social norms are designed to keep you…well….normal. Let me be the first to say, those people that succeed in life and especially those in business, those people that you probably look up to as an embodiment of success, are definitely NOT normal. They have carved their own path and have decided that being normal was too easy and in their one life, they wanted to do something bigger.

If you too are looking to achieve great things in life (my guess is that you are if you’re here reading this), then you’ll want to avoid these 5 social norms and instead do the opposite:

 

1. Social Norm: Do what everyone else is doing

Ok I admit, this seems obvious…But, it’s so easy in our lives to just fall in line and do what those before us have done. Whether it’s following a similar career path of our bosses, or dating someone your “supposed to date” – doing what everyone else is doing is going to give you the same results they had, nothing special. However, if you do have one friend or someone that you look up to that carved their own path and succeeded, do ask them for advice, but don’t try and replicate how they reached success – every person and every journey is different.

 

2. Social Norm: Fitting in

Sadly, this social norm starts at a very early age. You probably remember back in grade school when the last thing you wanted to do was stand out from your classmates. You probably also remember thinking that those few kids that did stand were quite weird (for lack of better terms). When it comes to succeeding in adulthood, standing out is exactly what you want to do. This is blatantly obvious in corporate culture where a “good” middle manager type may be stuck there for 20+ years, never getting that promotion they think they deserve. But really what their boss and bosses boss are looking for is someone that stands out with different ideas, not someone who just falls in line (often referred to as “yes men” or “yes women”).

 

3. Social Norm: Upgrading often

When you get that big raise, fat bonus, new higher paying job, etc. – it’s most common in today’s society to start upgrading. You get that bigger house (and bigger mortgage payment), nicer car (and higher car payment), etc.- showing off to society (especially your neighbors) that you’ve “made it”. But really all you are doing is increasing your liabilities and putting even more pressure on yourself to get that paycheck. Not to mention, upgrades never stop. Maybe for a few months you’re happy with that new car, but then you realize there is another level up and you inherently want that. Stop upgrading material things! Upgrade your skills instead.

 

4. Social Norm: Taking advice from those close to you

Though they may be coming from a “good place”, those family and friends closest to you actually want what is best for them and their relationship with you. Instead of taking advice from those closest to you, try and find someone who can give you an honest and objective opinion.

 

5. Social Norm: Take the “safe” route

Safe is…well, easy. It’s predictable and has a much lower downside then doing something risky – like starting a business. But there is one major flaw to the “safe” route – it has a very limited upside. The upside is where real success and fulfillment comes into our lives. It’s what helps us grow by pushing us out of our comfort zone. Next time you find yourself taking the safe route, take a step back and see what gains you’re missing out on – those will never exist when just trying to limit your downside risk.

 

 

The 5 Steps to Finding Your Big Ideas




Looking at the great creators in history – Steve Jobs / Elon Musk / Thomas Edison – to name a few, they all not only came up with big ideas, but truly executed them at scale. What sets them apart from others was their ability to combine their skills and passions to create big things in this world. You too have both skills and passions, so follow these 5 steps to start creating your own big ideas today!

 

1. Ideate

You need to first create the space and time to just think and let your ideas flow freely. It’s no coincidence that some of our best thoughts happen while in the shower – that’s because there is nothing in your environment to distract you from just letting your ideas flow. Whether you think most clearly in the morning, before bed, or mid-day when out walking – you know when you are primed to think big. Plan accordingly.




2. Document

An idea is nothing if you forget it. We’ve all been there when an epiphany hits us, then 10 minutes later we can’t remember it. So write down your ideas – yes, all of them! I like to put a date on my ideas and then revisit them in the future. Some ideas won’t make sense for you to pursue in the present, but may makes sense months or even years later.




3. Refine

Review your ideas for the day / week / month or whatever timeframe best suits you and start to build them out. The initial idea that pops into our head is RAW and needs refinement to actually turn into something great. What often happens during this phase is that one or a few of your ideas start to combine / evolve into one really big idea.




4. Choose

The key here is to try and find the combination of where your INTERESTS and SKILLS intersect. These ideas will be the ones that you are passionate about and also have the skills to tackle. If only one of the two areas is satisfied, you’ll likely find yourself bored or frustrated with the idea in the future and won’t bring it to fruition.




 

5. Pursue

Take action on one idea – “single-tasking” truly is a super power that the great creators of this world know all too well. The thing is, a lot of people get to steps 1-4, but never actually pursue anything. These people I like to refer to as “idea people” – you know them…always talking about their big ideas, but never delivering anything. Don’t be an idea person, be a creator!



10 Things Mindful People Do Daily




With all of the distraction and anxiety in our world today, it’s those people that walk around above it all and smiling throughout their day that have it right. Those people are often living a life full of mindfulness…

To help you reach that amazing state, below are the 10 things that mindful people incorporate into their daily life to stay calm, focused, and centered throughout their day.

 

1. They are aware of their breathing

By checking in on your breath you have a direct line into your overall state. Short breaths in your upper chest area may indicate anxiety or stress, while deep diaphragmatic breaths show off a sense of calm and relaxation. Calm breath equals a calm mind.



 

2. They focus on the task at hand

While the popular belief is that multi-tasking is the way to go, mindful people know that focusing on a single task and doing it great is the best use of their attention. Multi-tasking can lead to anxiety as our brain is running all over the place and never focused and calm.



 

3. They embrace nature

Getting outside and “bathing” in nature is one of the simplest ways to improve your headspace. Research has shown that being outdoors can even boost your energy and relieve stress.



4. They meditate daily

Having a consistent meditation practice has been shown to boost your well-being, improve focus, and reduce stress. Whether it’s in the morning before you start your day, during lunch break, or when you have time in the evening, finding even just 5 minutes a day to meditate will prove to be incredibly beneficial in helping you become more mindful.

*Try MeditateBot in Messenger for free meditations*



5. They pay attention to their eating

Often referred to as “mindful eating”, the art of paying attention to what you are eating during meals and savoring each bite. Listening to your body while you eat is an amazing way to tell if you are full and avoid overeating.




6. They laugh at themselves

Being able to take a step back from a situation you may be stressing over and laughing at how caught up you are in it is an amazing super power! Life presents ups and downs, but being able to take in situations and just laugh and be cheerful will take you a long way.



 

7. They free their minds

Knowing when to let your mind run free and be creative is an important part of being mindful. The funny thing about becoming mindful and being able to harness your attention at will, is that you have the power to turn your focus on and off whenever you want!



 

8. They turn simple tasks into mindful moments

By paying attention to daily activities, you can bring mindfulness into the even smallest of daily tasks. From brushing your teeth to unloading the dishwasher, mindfulness opportunities are presented in many forms, not just meditation.




9. They use social media proactively

With all of the angst against how social media distracts us, mindful people know that it can be also used to be beneficial to our lives. Whether it’s checking in on an old friend, following a mindfulness quotes account, or reading a blog post on positivity, there are many ways that social media can make you more mindful.



10. They control their reactions

We understand that we can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we react. The most mindful people can take a step back, assess, then choose the best path forward.




 

12 Positive Affirmations for Success




Positive affirmations help to change your thinking and beliefs, in order to drive real change and positive results. It’s all about the mindset!

How to use them:
1. Take a deep breath
2. Speak or think your affirmation
3. Visualize yourself applying it to your life

Here are 12 of our favorite positive affirmations for success, enjoy!

 

1. “I live a positive life and only bring the best into my life.”




2. “Today, and every day, I choose to be happy.”




3. “My life overflows with happiness and love.”




4. “Today is full of opportunity and I open my heart to receive it.”




5. “Today, and every day, I choose to be confident.”




6. “I am completely in charge of my life.”




7. “I act daily with courage and confidence.”




8. “I open my life to the world and the world gives me love in return.”




9. “I act, think, and communicate like a true leader.”




10. “I inspire others to be their very best self.”




11. “Today, I choose to leave my old bad habits behind and take up new, more positive ones.”




12. “Everything that is happening to me now is happening for my greater good.”





 

How to Deal With Difficult People

 

No matter how you cut it, at some point throughout your days on earth you are going to come across a difficult person in which you’ll have to deal with. Even the most centered and mindful people run across these folks – truthfully,  it’s almost impossible to avoid them (hint: they’re everywhere – from the DMV to your workplace).

Below are some of our favorite techniques you can use to deal with difficult co-workers, customers, contractors, family members, and so on. Of course, you may know some of these difficult people better than others and know what tactics will work best on them – the key is to know that each of these are at your disposal (think of them like your toolkit).

 

1. Listen more than you talk

Let them vent and get out whatever it is they are angry about. Keep eye contact and nod your head to display that you are truly “hearing” what they are saying. This works two-fold – first, it demonstrates to them that you are attempting to see things from their perspective – second, it gives you time and all of the necessary information from them to respond methodically.

 

2. Don’t get defensive

I know this is a hard one because of course you want to defend where you are coming from. The key is to separate yourself from the situation and understand that it likely is not about you. Difficult people have their own issues that they are struggling with and are simply projecting them upon you in this situation. Try your best to not take it personally.

 

3. Stay calm

It’s a total waste of time to fight anger with anger. All that will do is put you two against one another and escalate the situation further. Instead, try to breathe deep into the stomach while listening to them – this will send calming signals from your brain throughout your entire body.

 

 

4. Find common ground

Ironically, the common ground you find with each other doesn’t have to have anything to do with the difficult situation at all. If you both have kids, talk about that. When we see someone we have similarities with it makes it easier to put ourselves in their shoes and see things from their perspective. You’ll find the more you demonstrate how you are similar, the quicker you’ll reach a mutually beneficially solution.

 

5. Look for win-wins

Offer up solutions that both parties will be happy with. When you work together to do this it makes it extremely difficult to argue. If everyone is cool and collected, that’s the absolute best way to deal with a difficult person – not through anger.

 

6. Try not to smile

I know this may sound odd, but if someone is exposing anger towards you and you’re just smiling back, you’re going to get them even more angry. Now, if you know the person well enough to know they enjoy humor, go ahead and try to inject some light into the conversation, but be careful and don’t always expect a smile in return.

 

7. Avoid demands

Giving a difficult person an ultimatum is fuel for their fire. You have to understand that these people often have some serious issues going on below the surface and by trying to force their hand to comply you’ll likely anger them even more. Instead of demands, try and find a mutually beneficial solution. This may mean you have to give a little, but that’s ok. Just finding a solution with a difficult person will feel like a win!

 

8. Treat yourself

Successfully handling a difficult person is one of life’s hardest tasks. So give yourself some praise (and even a treat!) when you accomplish this goal. Training the brain to know that after you deal with a difficult person or situation you’ll get a reward is a great hack to set you up for success the next time you cross one (which you inevitably will).

 

 

How to Quiet Your Monkey Mind

Do you constantly feel like you have a voice in your head (feeding you negative thoughts!)? Well the good news is that this doesn’t make you crazy, it’s actually built into our DNA to have this pesky sidekick living alongside us. This mostly unwanted friend is often referred to as our “Monkey Mind” and like any monkey – it needs to be properly tamed. If the monkey mind is not properly tamed and we attach ourselves to it, that’s when serious problems begin to arise in our lives.

Here are 6 ways that you can quiet your monkey mind and start living more in the moment…

1. Recognize that it’s there

The minute you begin to notice the thoughts arising from the monkey mind and detach yourself from them, that’s when it will begin to disappear. The monkey needs to know that you are paying attention and believing its thoughts. Starve the monkey by not paying attention to them – even laugh at them (this shouldn’t be hard because many are outrageous if you really stop to think about them).

 

2. Start journaling

Take notes on what the monkey mind is trying to tell you. Whether it’s a physical notebook or on your phone, begin to document what the monkey mind is saying and when it’s saying it. You should start to notice two patterns in – 1. What it’s saying 2. When it’s saying it (i.e. When you’re all alone). Both of these are equally important and will help you silence it over time. Additionally, take the time to write down what you are grateful for in your life (see #5) – I recommend starting each day with a 10 minute gratitude practice. 

 

3. Accept your past

The monkey mind loves bringing up the past over and over again. It likes to tell you that because something went wrong that ONE TIME, that it’s going to always happen. This is a lie that the monkey mind feeds off of and is something that will bring you down to its level. Take the time to accept that your past happened (the good and the bad) and know that it has little to no bearing on the present (and future).

 

4. Focus on your breathing

When you start to notice negative thoughts from the monkey mind intruding on your brain, divert those thoughts by instead focusing on your breathing. Take deep belly breathes in from your nose and out your mouth until those thoughts run away. If you want to take this to the next level or have never been “taught” breathing techniques, I recommend exploring yoga – you’ll begin to understand and control your breathe (along with many other benefits). 

 

5. Practice gratitude

By taking the time to think through what you are grateful for in life your monkey mind’s negative thoughts are not able to creep in. Gratitude focuses on the positive aspects of your life, which begins to rewire your brain to think more positively over time. Take 10 minutes at the start of every morning (wake up early if you say you don’t have the time) and write down 3 things that you are grateful for. That’s all. You’ll start to see the benefits on your attitude for the day almost immediately. 

 

6. Meditate 

Probably the #1 way to calm the chatter of the monkey mind is to start meditating daily. By practicing meditation, you’re telling your mind to be still – only accepting thoughts when you ask for them to come in and join. You can use this skill to counteract a negative monkey mind thought as it comes in. 

Do These Things Instead of Playing Devil’s Advocate





We’re all likely guilty of playing the counter-side to other people’s big ideas, most often referred to as “playing devil’s advocate”. We think we are helping our friends by telling them all of the reasons why their idea / plan is wrong and how it won’t work. But we are actually becoming a barrier to them reaching their dreams.

Instead of playing devil’s advocate, here are 6 things you can do to actually help them:

1. Encourage them

It sounds so simple, but just being there to encourage them can have lasting benefits. Trust me, their mind is there to think through the negatives, they likely don’t need any help with that (as I’m sure we can relate to with our own mind).




2. Offer help

Whether it’s providing an introduction to a contact of yours, or maybe there is a way to physically help them with their big idea – just offer to help. Knowing that they have you in their support system is a invaluable as they look to achieve their goals.




3. Be a sounding board

Just listen. More likely than not they haven’t fully thought through there ideas when they bring them up to discuss with you. Instead of telling them all of the ways that their idea won’t work, just let them talk it through. They’ll bring up the negatives along the way, help them think through those – here is where it’s ok to talk through the negatives (only if they bring them up). 




 

4. Dream with them

Help them think through what success could look like. As you both paint the picture of the future, they will start to see all angles of what an outcome may look like. This is far more encouraging than hampering on all of the negatives.




 

5. Share YOUR big ideas

Having them know that you also have some far reaching goals is a great way to bond and help each other achieve success. Creating this “safe space” where you can both dream and talk through ideas together will prove to be invaluable throughout both of your journeys.




6. Follow up

Check in from time to time on their goals. This will create accountability as well as foster a relationship of encouragement between you both. Hopefully they’ll return the favor and follow up with you as you’ve also gone ahead and shared your goals (#5 above).

 





 

6 Ways to Turn a Failure into a Success

 

You’ve probably heard the story about Michael Jordan being cut from his freshmen basketball team or the one about how Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times before finally inventing the light bulb. The truth is, there are millions of stories like this in everyday life – people that took a perceived “failure” and used that as motivation to reach their own success.

I like to refer to these failures as “perceived failures” because in reality, they were not failures at all – they were the catalyst that ultimately led to success. It could be argued that many successes would not exist at all without failing first.

Here are 6 ways to turn your next failure into a success.

 

 

1. Celebrate your failures

This celebration of failure is becoming more and more common in the top workplaces of today (think innovative tech companies). They encourage their employees to openly share their failures and some actually reward them for taking the risk in the first place. If you don’t reward yourself for failing, you won’t allow yourself to get outside your comfort zone – where the real growth happens.

 

 

2. Identify failure as a stepping stone

The common belief is that failure should be avoided at all costs, this is dangerous. Instead of always trying to avoid it, reframe your mindset to make failure your direct path to ultimately reaching your success. You have to tell yourself that failure and success are not opposites, but are two points on the way to reaching our goals.

 

 

3. Get consistent

There is a good chance that if you are doing something new or challenging you’re going to fail at first. Think about the first time you tried to ride a bike or ice skate…most certainly you failed time and time again before eventually succeeding at it. We can learn a lot by applying that same child-like consistency to our goals. Yes, you will fail, but the more and more you practice and persist on, the more success you’ll achieve.

 

 

4. Team up

Find a friend, family member, co-worker, etc. that may be interested in reaching the same goal as you. Having a partner who is going through the same failures as you will help bring both of you to success. If you can’t find someone who wants to achieve with you, instead look for a coach / mentor that can help you get there.

 

 

5. Focus on the present

I know it’s easy to just sit and think about how you’ve continued to fail and all of the things you did wrong. It’s ok to analyze your failures, but only as a way to learn from them – do not hang on to your failures as a way to become negative about what you are doing. The past is a great tool to learn from, but is the antithesis to living in the present moment (where the success actually happens).

 

 

6. Develop a “growth mindset”

Opposed to living with a fixed mindset, where you can’t learn and grow from your mistakes, growth mindset “people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” – Carol Dweck (Check out her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”). Living life with a growth mindset is a competitive advantage compared to most people that think people just “get lucky” or are “born with certain talents”.

 

 

6 Ways To Stay Positive When Life Gets Hard




Sometimes life is hard. Whether it’s dealing with family issues, a tough work situation, or any other of life’s little challenges – we all face difficulties. Just because you are going through a difficult moment in your life, that doesn’t mean you still can’t maintain your positive outlook – it just means you need to try a little harder and have it top of mind. Here are 6 ways to stay positive when life gets tough.

 

1. Talk it out

Find someone you trust and talk through your worries. We tend to bottle things up and only see things from our own perspective. By talking it through with a friend or family member you can gain a new perspective and hopefully put you back in a positive direction.




 

2. Listen to music

Putting on music that you know you’ll enjoy is a simple hack to get yourself out of your own head and into a positive mindset. Instead of focusing on the potential negative outcomes, you’ll have endorphins flowing through your body and settling you into positivity.




 

3. Show gratitude

Write down 3 things that you are grateful for every morning before you start your day. After a few days (maybe sooner) you’ll realize all of the positive aspects of your life. Once in a positive mindset, you’ll be better primed to tackle your current life challenges. 




 

4. Fear set

Fear-setting, a technique often attributed to Stoic philosophy, has you think through all of the possible “bad scenarios” that could come as a result of your challenges. By doing this, you’ll realize that the worst case really isn’t that bad at all. This will also help you face the challenges head on and be more prepared for different scenarios as they arise. 




 

5. Accept what you can’t change

Radical acceptance is a practice of accepting the things that you can’t change, even if you don’t agree with them. By doing so, you’ll hack your mind to stop thinking about those things in a negative light – thus not feeding your brain with an infinite negative feedback loop!




 

6. Control what you can

Don’t waste your time worrying about the things that you can’t control, instead take that energy and put it into the areas that you can control. Being proactive as you face life’s challenges will put you into a positive mindset and guide you away from the feeling of helplessness – something we feel when life’s difficulties overwhelm us.




7 Ways to Better Deal With Change




Change, well it’s inevitable in life. In fact, it’s one of the most constant things that we can count on happening in our day to day lives. Most people fear change and not only that, worry about it before it even happens. Instead of worrying about change, here are 7 ways to better deal with it and come out on the positive side:

 

1. Acknowledge the change

Simply acknowledging that a change is happening in your life is much better than constantly fighting it. Denial may make you feel good for a short period of time, but the change is inevitable and will make for a much larger problem when you are forced to address it.




 

2. Eat healthy

Change often leads to stress – which then can lead to stress eating. Normally when we stress eat it’s not healthy foods, but instead heavy carbs and sugars, which only make us feel good for a short period of time. Try and eat healthy in order to keep your mind and body feeling good throughout the change.




 

3. Find the positive

Our instinct is to find all of the problems with an ensuing change, but there are likely positive attributes if we go looking for them. The old adage “when one door closes, another opens” has held true for centuries!




 

4. Be proactive

We feel helpless when we are in a “reactive” state, it almost feels like things are out of our control. But if we can take a “proactive” approach to change, we’ll feel in charge and ready to deal!




 

5. Get out of your head

Our brains love running through scenarios about all of the bad that could happen with change. Take time to get out of your head and take a step back from the situation. A great way to do this is through daily meditation (try MeditateBot – free).




 

6. Remember your past successes

This isn’t the first time that you’ve dealt with change in your life – so think back to those big changes that you’ve already gone through and how much stronger you are on the other end of them.




 

7. Find the humor

Laughter has been shown to help many of life’s little ailments, and change is no different. You know what makes you laugh (a funny video, book, movie, etc.) so take the time to have a good laugh. Once you are back in that happy mood, then you can take that positive energy and inject it into dealing with the change at hand.