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15 Simple Ways to Improve Brain Function

brain function

The human brain is the most complex piece of hardware in the known universe.

It’s an immensely powerful tool.

The brain is also the device through which we decode and perceive reality. So to say that it’s important to optimize brain function is a severe understatement. I think we can all unanimously agree that it would be a good thing to improve brain function, right?

Instead of rambling on with more poetic descriptions of the brain, let’s just get straight to the applicable information.

15 Simple Ways to Improve Brain Function

1. Regular Practice – The brain, like everything else, is like a muscle. To strengthen it, it must be exercised regularly. Learn something new every day. Test your memory regularly. The more practice, the stronger it gets.

2. Variety – While regular practice is the foundation, it’s also important to switch things up. Do new things. Engage in unique experiences. This keeps you on your toes, highly adaptive, thinking spontaneously and builds the skill of learning how to learn.

3. Limit Sugar – Reduce your sugar intake (and processed, refined foods in general). Sugar is highly addictive and keeps you in the wired-then-tired trap of what I call “the insulin roller coaster.”

Limiting sugar will help you have healthy gut flora as well, which is intrinsically linked with brain health.

The brain can run on sugar (glucose) or fat (ketones). In both my experience and that of many other people, the brain operates optimally on fats.

4. Eat More Healthy Fats – Some of the best healthy fats are fish/krill oil, avocado, coconut oil, butter, olive oil…etc. Coconut oil, for example, appears to be an ideal brain food.

Here’s a challenge: Instead of starting your day with a carb-heavy breakfast, start with a cup of coffee (or tea) with a teaspoon of coconut oil in it. I call this combination “steroids for your brain.” Yes, it works. Try it out and feel the effects.

5. Intermittent Fasting – “Human and non-human animal studies have shown that IER (Intermittent Energy Restriction) increases synaptic plasticity (a biological marker of learning and memory), enhances performance on memory tests in the elderly, leads to the growth of new neurons, promotes recovery after stroke or traumatic brain injury, decreases risk for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and may improve quality of life and cognitive function for those already diagnosed with these diseases. IER has also been shown to play a preventative and therapeutic role in mood disorders like anxiety and depression.” (Stanford)

Want to try fasting? The best introduction I’ve come across regarding intermittent fasting is Eat Stop Eat. It does a great job of explaining the benefits of fasting and gives you a stupid simple protocol that gets amazing results. I’m actually doing a variation of Eat Stop Eat right now.

6. Brain Boosting Herbs – Brain boosting herbs include Gotu Kola (which I personally take every day), Brahmi, Ginseng and Ginkgo Biloba. There’s a lot more too. Do a little research and see which one is best for you.

7. Learn a New Language – Learning a new language literally opens up a new world to us. When we expand our horizons, neuroplasticity kicks in and we form more neural connections.

8. Sleep – Sleep is the ultimate recharge for our bodies and our brain is no exception to this. Everyone knows that their brain works better on 8 hours of sleep as opposed to 4. Prioritize sleep and reap the brain benefits.

9. Focus – Limit distractions and cultivate focus. Being scatterbrained severely inhibits mental capabilities. Focus is the precursor to learning and problem-solving.

Tip: When you need to focus, set a timer for a specific amount of time and only work on the task at hand for that block of time.

10. A Morning Routine – Starting the day off on the right foot greatly helps with how our brains function. Having a peaceful, enjoyable morning routine gets us in a clear headspace, which allows us to operate with focus for the rest of the day.

For more on morning routines, read my article The ‘Carpe Diem’ Morning Ritual

11. ExerciseExercise improves memory and thinking skills. It also boosts mood and reduces stress and anxiety.

12. Walking – “Walking at one’s own pace for 40 minutes three times a week can enhance the connectivity of important brain circuits and combat declines in brain function associated with aging and increase performance on cognitive tasks.” – (Live Science)

Walking also helps with creativity and generating ideas, especially when done outside.

13. Positive Thinking – Stress and anxiety kill brain function. Research has shown that positive thinking, particularly in the future tense, speeds up the creation of brain cells and dramatically reduces stress and anxiety.

Also, when you’re in a state of fear, it activates the amygdala and shuts off higher brain function (like logic and reasoning). So positive thinking really does make us smarter.

14. Reading – This one is so obvious. We learn by reading nonfiction and expand our imagination by reading fiction. And sometimes we learn by reading fiction and expand our imagination by reading nonfiction. Reading also improves vocabulary, memory, concentration and helps hone visualization abilities.

15. Meditation – There are so many benefits to meditation, it’s ridiculous. A regular meditation practice reduces stress, improves memory, combats anxiety, improves concentration, helps kick addictions and increases productivity (along with a lot of other things).

Meditation helps cultivate awareness of our thoughts and gives us the choice to indulge in positive thinking instead of energy-sapping, negative thinking.

Meditation also has the absolutely crucial benefit of mindfulness. If you’re unaware of what’s going on in your brain, you’re unconscious and living in reaction-mode. This results in you being a slave to your brain, instead of the master of it. The brain is a powerful tool. It is in your best interest to learn how to use the tool without the tool using you. This is why meditation is so important.

Learn more about meditation here: Introduction to Meditation

Time to Apply

Try incorporating some of these into your daily life. If you want to pick just one to start with, I’d strongly recommend meditation. Meditation is the habit that all other habits build off of, the skill which enhances every other skill and the practice that gets you in touch with the essence of existence.

Want to start meditating? As soon as you wake up, hit the snooze button on your alarm clock and use that time for meditation. Sit upright, close your eyes, take some deep breaths into your belly and simply observe your thoughts without judgment. Do this every morning.

With most of this list, it’s common sense that these things improve brain function. But knowing and applying are two different things. Most people don’t apply what they know on a daily basis. Take action and commit to a daily practice.

Your brain is a miraculous tool. Treat it well and use it wisely.

Much love.

– Stevie P!

Which of these do you apply on a daily basis? Did you learn anything new? Which ones do you want to start applying? Leave a comment below.
 

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6 Simple Ways to Improve Your Focus

focus

Today’s world is an endless, omnipresent circus of distraction.

We’re in the process of learning how to integrate all of this new technology into our lives. It’s trial and error on a gigantic scale. Because ubiquitous technology is so new to our species, we’re overwhelmed; bombarded with emails, Facebook notifications, text messages and unlimited information at all times. Perhaps the biggest casualty of this has been our ability to focus.

Technology isn’t going anywhere, so we must learn how to master it as opposed to being a slave to it. So instead of passively letting our world of distraction deteriorate our focus, we must proactive maintain mental mastery or suffer from scatterbrained madness.

Training yourself to consciously focus on one thing at a time is transformative and freeing. The ability to focus brings you into the present moment, allowing to peacefully and deeply engage in whatever you’re doing without being assaulted by the daunting worries of the past and future. A focused mind is far more relaxed, clearer, and sharper than a wandering, distracted mind that wastes energy on minutiae.

Life becomes simpler when you’re focusing on what you’re doing in the present moment. Life is chaotic and overwhelming when you’re worrying about everything at once.

Here’s a little secret too. If you consciously focus on one thing at a time, you’ll get a lot more done without any of the paralyzing anxiety, worry, regret, fear…etc. This state of conscious focus is what Buddhists call the one pointed mind.

Think about the situations in your life where you were fully immersed in whatever you were doing, completely undistracted and in the zone. Didn’t it feel great? It’s like you freed yourself from the heavy burdens of the past/future and dipped into the peaceful ocean of the present moment. In addition to the serenity is a sense of clarity and sharpness that is far beyond the murky and turbulent waters of a distracted mind.

There’s no need to believe that focus consists of grinding effort either. Focus simply means that your point of attention is being consciously directed towards something. Focus should ideally be effortless, a natural byproduct of a clear mind.

Everything is a muscle that can be strengthened through practice. Here’s how to build your focus muscles.

6 Simple Ways to Improve Your Focus

1. Gazing Meditation (Trataka) – Sit and gaze at a specific object (most people use a candle) for a certain amount of time. Then close your eyes and visualize the object in as much detail as possible. The practice of gazing meditation hones your powers of concentration and visualization. It is the ultimate one pointed mind builder.

Really, any meditation practice helps with focus, but gazing meditation is the most effective if your goal is specifically to improve your focus.

2. Set blocks of time for specific tasks – Choose a specific task, set a timer and only focus on that task for the allotted time. This is essentially an agreement with yourself, a commitment to focusing on only one thing. Close your email, turn off your phone and all other distractions while doing this. Start with a small chunk of time, like 15-20 minutes, but no longer than 50 minutes.

I set myself blocks of time to write and it has produced amazing results. I get deeper in the zone (flow state) and produce many more words per minute (and better quality writing) than I did before using this technique.

3. Read more books – Remember those things called books? Start reading them again. While reading a book, you focus on that book and that book only for significant amounts of time. This greatly hones your focus.

If all you do is read click-bait listicles online, watch silly cat videos, read tweets and creep on people’s Facebook photos, your ability to focus is going to be pretty pathetic and you’ll be relegated to the mediocre purgatory of ceaseless, unfulfilling distraction.

4. Practice presence – Practice being present in everyday situations. If you’re with someone, or eating dinner, or going for a hike, or playing with kids or your dog, turn your phone off and put it away. Be completely present in the moment. This will teach you to focus on what you’re doing and deepen your experience of the present moment (which is all we ever have).

5. Listen to music – When you listen to music, just listen to music! Don’t do anything else. Listen mindfully and hear the subtleties that you’re usually oblivious to. This is an easy and enjoyable way to hone your focus.

6. Make sure your body is healthy – A healthy body makes everything easier. It also optimizes your mood and cognitive function, which will naturally enhance your ability to focus.

Eat well and exercise regularly. Eat real food and healthy fats for brain function, walk a lot, hike, do yoga, resistance training, HIIT workouts, kettlebell training (my personal favorite)…etc. A healthy diet (like this one) combined with exercise allows your mind to function at its highest capacity. If you’re eating fast food and sitting all day, your mind isn’t going to work nearly as well as it could.

Now focus on applying those.

Much love.

– Stevie P!
 

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The Paradox of Personal Freedom: How Positive Constraints Can Enhance Your Life

the path to freedom

As humans, we have an insatiable desire for freedom.

It’s only natural. Freedom is our essential state and we feel this in the innermost depths of our being. When freedom is blatantly denied, it is an excruciating hindrance and not tolerated for long.

However, every great truth is paradoxical from the perspective of the mind and through the filter of language. The idea of freedom is no different. You would think that total, complete freedom would mean total, complete happiness, right? But that’s not the case (in this reality, at least). Absolute freedom does not necessarily equate to absolute happiness.

Infinite options equals ultimate prison, in many circumstances. You end up with this paradox of choice issue. It’s like standing in front of shelving at a Safeway with 300 brands of toothpaste and just wasting 15 minutes of your life trying to pick a toothpaste. You don’t need that kind of cognitive burden and decision fatigue.
~ Tim Ferriss

 
Focused perspective allows for desired experiences to come to fruition, as a specific choice concentrates your reality based upon our intention. This focused perspective, or in other words, constraints on experienced reality, is the foundation for learning and evolution as humans. Limitation fosters creative solutions, resistance catalyzes growth and darkness is needed to truly appreciate light.

If you think about it, absolute freedom means sitting in infinite possibility without choosing a possibility. So in a way, you’ve chosen to compromise complete freedom just by participating in the 3D human experience.

Ok, metaphysical musings aside; what I’m getting at is this… In order to have a highly rewarding, fulfilling and purposeful life, you need to consciously apply the power of positive constraints.

You’re always making choices and assumptions (in every moment) that are condensing the light of your freedom/possibility to a focused area. And the key question is: Are you consciously aware of the choices and assumptions you’re making?

What are Positive Constraints?

Positive constraints are constraints that you consciously place upon yourself in order to direct your life in a desired direction.

For example, if you know that writing a book is something that will add immeasurable value to your life, you’re going to have to sacrifice other activities in favor of a regular writing habit. And you’re going to have to write even when you don’t feel like it. But as a result of this positive constraint, your life will be more fulfilling and you’ll create more freedom for yourself long-term.

Why Are Positive Constraints Useful?

Discipline and freedom are not mutually exclusive but mutually dependent because otherwise, you’d sink into chaos.
~ Paulo Coelho

 
Positive constraints focus your experiences towards what you want to prioritize in life.

They actually create more freedom in many cases. If you want the freedom to travel the world, you have to make sacrifices to get there. You have to save money (though not as much as most people think), quit your job (or work for yourself and do it remotely) and decide where you want to go. All of those things are positive constraints to bring you to a place of freedom to travel.

Being an entrepreneur epitomizes attaining freedom through positive constraints. In order to work for yourself, make your own decisions and have freedom of time and location, sacrifices must be made to get there. A lot of groundwork is required to get any business or entrepreneurial project off the ground, yet once the ball is rolling, it can create long-term freedom in many aspects of life.

The Freedom to Choose to Concede Freedom

Having the freedom to choose your own constraints is what makes life fulfilling and worthwhile. If you’re forced to do something, that’s a blatant form of slavery. If you’re programmed into thinking you don’t have a choice, that’s a subtle form of slavery. Both are extremely disharmonious and antithetical to human happiness.

Ultimately, everything you do is a constraint on freedom. The Latin root of the word decision means “to cut off.” By making a decision, you’re literally cutting off all other possibilities. So it’s important to be mindful of your decisions in every moment, because you’re always making decisions whether you’re aware of them or not. It is choice (decision) that collapses the wave-form of all possibility and gives us a specific experience. Without choice, there would be no experience. Having free will without making a choice is to not have an experience.

The key is being conscious of the choices you’re making and being aware of what you’re keeping and what you’re “cutting off” by making a decision.

Family and Oneness

One of the most gratifying positive constraints is choosing to start a family. By starting a family, you are choosing to give up some freedom, but the rewards of caring for others, giving and sharing can greatly outweigh the emptiness that comes from just sitting on the prospect of possibilities. Plus, taking care of someone besides yourself can be immeasurably rewarding if you already have some degree of self-mastery to build upon.

Creating a family is unique in the sense that it imprints and amplifies your impact on other people (particularly children). If you haven’t released your own demons, you’re going to infect your family with your dysfunction. This is why families tend to repeat the same patterns generation after generation, unless someone becomes very conscious and grounded in their own power. On the other hand, if you’re harmonious within yourself, you’re going to spread the light of your love even more and that’s a snowball effect too. So from this higher perspective, you have the potential to create more freedom and happiness for the whole (which we’re all a part of) by choosing the positive constraint of starting a family.

How to Apply Positive Constraints

1. Decide what you want – This is the decision that cuts off other possibility and focuses your reality. Make sure you’re consciously focusing your reality and being mindful of where your intentionality is being directed.

On a larger scale, figure out your purpose. Find what you want to prioritize in life and cast aside the things that aren’t in alignment with it. Also, you don’t have to have a fixed purpose for the rest of your life. Your purpose can change and evolve as you change and evolve.

For a clearer vision of your purpose, read my article: Reveal Your Life’s Purpose by Asking These 15 Questions

2. Implement habits to get there – Once you decide on what you want, action must be taken. Form daily habits to bring you in your desired direction.

Decide on 1-3 habits that are your “big wins” for the day and set aside blocks of time to do them, no matter what. With me, I set aside a 50 minute block for writing every morning and I record a video as well. Those have become things that I just do. Because I’ve built the habit, there is no decision to be made or questioning myself, they’re just what I do.

Don’t forget about the first hour of your day either. Your morning routine is the foundation for your day. Make your morning routine the leverage point from which you build positive momentum for the rest of the day. Ideally, it should consist of drinking a lot of water (re-hydration and cleansing), meditation and some form of stretching/mobility exercises/yoga to prime your body for the day.

More on morning routines:
How to Own Your Day: Tim Ferriss Shares His 5 Morning Rituals
The ‘Carpe Diem’ Morning Ritual

That’s it. Applying positive constraints is essentially just focusing and following through.

Enjoy your journey and much love to ya.

– Stevie P!

 

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Are You Overlooking This Deceptively Simple Anxiety Remedy?

If you haven’t heard yet, my online course Annihilate Anxiety is launching soon! (Click here to find out more)

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The most effective solutions to anxiety are hiding in plain sight.

Among the most overlooked remedies is one that’s deceptively familiar. It’s an indispensable part of many people’s everyday life. And it surprisingly holds a potent cure for anxiety. What is it?

Writing to do lists.

When I say to do list, I specifically mean a daily list of everything you have to do for that day. It should also be updated every single day.

Writing a to do list cultivates mental clarity and a deep-seated sense of serenity. It externalizes your list of responsibilities, which therefore unburdens your mind.

Like deep breathing, to do lists are so simple, yet ridiculously effective in annihilating anxiety.

The Magic of Writing Things Down

The mere act of having things written out alleviates anxiety. Dr. Peter Attia (in this podcast) says that when he writes down everything he needs to do, he’s no longer anxious or worried. He also suggests that people become anxious, not regarding what they have to do, but by fearing that they will forget about what they need to do. So keeping a to do list eliminates that nagging fear of forgetting things.

Another benefit of writing things down is it makes them more likely to come to fruition. The very act of writing bridges the gap between the ethereal and the material realms.

Tips for Keeping a To Do List

  • Everything you have to do should be on the list. Don’t keep anything in the back of your mind. This is crucial in reducing anxiety!
  • Every task should be small enough to be accomplished that day (chunk big tasks into smaller, bite-sized tasks). For example: If you want to write a novel, your daily to do list should include something like “Write two paragraphs for my novel.”
  • Place the most important items at the top of the list.
  • No matter what, accomplish the single most important item each day. If you focus on your most important task every day, your achievements over time will be astounding.

What I Personally Do
I keep a to do list as a note on the app Evernote. When something is accomplished, that item gets removed from the list. I update my to do list on a daily (or even hourly) basis, depending on the day. Evernote is so effective because I can include links and pictures along with text. I’m always referring to external sources so this is incredibly useful for me.

Always having a to do list keeps me focused on my most important tasks each day. It gives me an actionable plan, so I’m able to achieve my goals instead of wasting time mindlessly lurking on Facebook all day.

Action Item
You guessed it! Keep a daily to do list. Create it right now. Maintain your to do list somewhere where you will refer to it every day. This could be in a notebook, a note on your phone, Evernote or whatever medium works best for you.

Externalize your responsibilities and free your mind.

Have fun and get ‘er done.

– Stevie P!

And remember to keep an eye out for Annihilate Anxiety, coming soon!
 

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7 Easy Ways to Ground Yourself

feet

Spring is in the air.

With the influx of warm, gorgeous weather, it’s natural to be really giddy. It’s easy to get engulfed by the fair weather frenzy and feel utterly ungrounded.

In addition to the shift of seasons, there was a full moon and a powerful solar flare this week as well; both of which are known for their mysterious and peculiar influences on human consciousness.

Side note: Without going off on a big tangent, just know that we’re essentially blind to the spectrum of forces that are affecting us. What we perceive and measure is based upon the observation of three-dimensional reality with our five (quite limited) senses. We process an infinitesimally small sliver of “reality” through these human mind-body computers. Everything is fundamentally an interaction of energy, frequency and vibration (ourselves included). But it really comes down to this… Be aware of your state of being and act out of that place of awareness. That’s what this article is all about.

Now back to the topic at hand…

Being grounded is one of those terms that is tossed around a lot in so-called “spiritual” circles. And everyone has a slightly different definition for it. To me, being grounded means having full-body awareness (not being too “in your head” or “woo woo” or “floating in the clouds”) and being connected with nature.

If you’re still a little unsure of what I’m talking about, here are some signs of being ungrounded:
You feel spacey or even a little dizzy.
You find it hard to finish tasks.
You can’t concentrate.
You find it hard to make yourself understood.
You find it hard to understand others.
You get distracted or your mind wanders.
You lose track of time.
(source)

Everyone has experienced at least some of those symptoms from time-to-time. Here’s what to do about it…

“I tell them there’s no problem, only solutions.” – John Lennon

The Solution (7 Easy Ways to Ground Yourself)

1. Spend some time barefoot on the Earth – Even if you can’t get out in nature, just walking barefoot on a patch of grass will do the trick. It sounds so simple, but it’s incredibly effective and feels amazing. Watch the documentary Grounded for an in depth look at this.

2. Deep breathing – When isn’t this a solution?

3. Working out (resistance training) – Leg workouts are especially grounding. This “grounds” you both into your body and the Earth.

4. Turn off the technology – Too much tech will throw your hormones out of whack, make you dazed, robotic and too “in your head.” Take periodic breaks from technology and connect with your inner self and mother nature.

5. Eat grounding food – Anything with roots and anything that resonates with the root chakra is grounding. These include root vegetables, animal proteins (preferably grass-fed and organic) and red-colored foods. Minerals help with grounding as well (so don’t shy away from sprinkling some Himalayan pink salt on everythang). Also, make sure you’re eating enough food, as caloric restriction is ungrounding.

6. Watch the sunrise or sunset – The awe, the wonder, the captivating beauty. Something about the times of dawn and dusk are simply magical. And watching the sunrise or sunset will sync you up with the natural cycles of the Earth.

7. Go hiking – Getting out in nature is the absolute best thing you can do to ground yourself. Do not underestimate how powerful this is for your overall well-being.

My Personal Experience

Earlier this week, I found myself unable to concentrate or focus on anything. I noticed it on Monday, but on Tuesday there was no getting around it. I had the attention span of a goldfish. I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t concentrate on the simplest of tasks at work. And the act of writing seemed as insurmountable as catching Mewtwo with a regular pokeball. It was frustrating, to say the least.

However, I’ve recently come to the realization that it’s useless to resist the flow of life and try to swim upstream. I’ve learned that everything works out when I sail with the currents of life, not against them.

When you can’t change the direction of the wind — adjust your sails” – H. Jackson Brown

So I decided to lean into the natural cycles and embrace my need for groundedness, as opposed to forcing myself to focus on digits on a computer screen.

What I did to reverse feeling ungrounded within 24 hours of noticing it:
1. I gave up on trying to accomplish anything. I acknowledged my state of being without resisting it.
2. I worked out (heavy deadlifts have quite the grounding effect).
3. I went on a sunset hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with good company (see the picture below).
4. After the hike, I ate… A lot. (Hooray for Carb Backloading)

Then before I knew it, I found myself more productive at work and effortlessly writing this post. No rigid forcefulness required.

Grow powerful wings to fly. But also grow powerful talons for when you need to perch upon the Earth.

Be as liberated and limitless as a mythical dragon, yet as deeply rooted as a mighty tree.

Stay free. Stay balanced. Stay rooted.

Keep feelin’ good, feelin’ great.

– Stevie P!

Sunset me

 

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Use This Strategy To Accomplish Anything (Part 1)

In this two part series, I’m going to share with you two techniques that greatly helped in completing my latest eBook, The Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

Most people struggle with attaining goals, often coasting through life without ever accomplishing what they really wanted to.

Ask any random person on the street, I guarantee they have goals. But the truth is, goals don’t have great success rates. All too often, goals become something to achieve when [insert excuse for not starting]. That’s the thing! Most people don’t even get started towards their goals, falling into comfortable complacency for the remainder of their days.

The good news is that there’s a stupid simple way to circumvent that…

Choose something to improve upon or progress in, and…

JUST DO SOMETHING, NO MATTER HOW SMALL, EVERY DAY.

I’m a big fan of systems, habits, and routines that build momentum in a desired direction. When all you have to do is accomplish something bite-sized today, it’s easy as pie (see that double food analogy?). Do this consistently, and you build confidence. Keep at it, and you’ll feel empowered and fulfilled. And before you know it, you’ll be amazed by the progress you’ve made just by doing something, no matter how small, every day. This is the foundation of success and personal development.

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Embark on your journey. One step at a time, young jedi.

I read this great article by James Clear a few months ago. And what’s funny is that for everything I’ve made significant progress in, I subconsciously created a system/routine and consistently stuck to it. And this system/routine would result in mind-boggling progression over time.

So what does a system look like?

It’s basically a habit or routine that you consciously and consistently implement. It’s doing something continuously (usually every day), to make progress in the direction you wish to move in.

Do a little bit every day, even if it’s for the smallest amount of time.

Think about how consistent work compounds over weeks, months, or even years?

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” -Bill Gates

Elliott Hulse calls it “finding your heartbeat.” Making something such an intrinsic part of your lifestyle that it becomes second nature, like your heartbeat.

Another variation of a system is Jerry Seinfeld’s “don’t break the chain” technique (described in detail here). It’s basically doing something every day, and marking a big red X on a calendar each day you did it, creating a chain. The goal is to keep doing whatever you’re doing every day and, whatever you do,  don’t break that chain.

“Consistency is what matters the most in triggering something important to your life.” -Abdul Rauf

What I did to write The Art of Not Giving a Fuck:

You guessed it… I focused on doing something every day, no matter how small. Some days I wrote pages upon pages. Other days I edited one sentence (yeah… really). I just focused on doing SOMETHING every day, and before I knew it, I had a finished product.

“…you can do what I quite often do when I am having an uninspired morning.
I get started anyway, despite the lack of motivation within.
I do so by taking a small step forward and by just focusing on taking that one step. I may for example tell myself that I will work on a new article or on editing a part of a new course for 3 minutes.”
Henrik Edberg (The Positivity Blog)

Here’s another tip for when you’re not so motivating. Just focus on the smallest thing you can do to move in the right direction. For example, when I have the motivation of a stoned sloth and it’s workout time, I just focus on warming up. “C’mon, let’s just warm-up and see how it goes.” That’s it. And as I’m warming up I’m like “Ok, this isn’t so bad.” And then I focus on doing one set. “Let’s just get through this set.” Then I focus on the next set, and so on and so forth, until (voila) I finished the workout. And if you’re wondering, yes, I do motivational self-talks. It works.

The things we can accomplish when we take action consistently is literally mindblowing. It’s almost like a superpower.

“Daily, consistent, focused, faithful expectation raises the miracle power of achieving your dreams.” -John Di Lemme

This “system approach” can be applied to anything, and works best when it’s a daily habit. The only exception I can think of is something like working out, because you simply can’t lift heavy every day. You need to recover. So in this case, the system would be to work out something like 4 days per week, and make it a lifestyle.

So…

Don’t worry about that six pack, just eat one healthy meal at a time.

Don’t worry about having a New York Times Best Seller, just focus on writing one sentence at a time.

Don’t worry about catching them all, just focus on catching one Pokemon at a time.

Don’t worry about getting as big as Ronnie Coleman, just focus on one rep at a time.

Stay consistent, and before you know it, you’ll be well on your way.

In the next part, we’ll discuss how to calibrate your system to achieve specific goals. Stay tuned…

And, of course, stay feelin’ good, feelin’ great.

-Stevie P!

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Energy Flows Where Attention Goes

I woke up from a dream the other day with this phrase embedded in my mind…

energy flows

Energy flows where attention goes. What you focus on grows.

Whatever is the focus of attention becomes more prominent.

It’s one of those “hidden in plain sight” concepts; almost too obvious for people to fully grasp and consistently apply. Your attention, your focus, is an aiming of energy. What you choose to direct your attention towards is what you choose to give power to.

Instead of going on an abstract ramble, I’ll get into some examples.

Solo activities:

~Meditation. When meditating, you focus inward. This is why meditation builds self-awareness. You become aware of your thoughts. You familiarize yourself with your intuition. You become more in tune with your entire being; mind, body and spirit.

~Prayer. Prayer (which many consider to be a form of meditation) typically focuses on certain words, phrases, or images. It’s an affirmation that gives power to whatever you focus on. And it’s usually towards a goal (ex/ praying for the health of a loved one). So the focus of the prayer is where energy flows. Whether you call an answered prayer coincidence, chance, or placebo effect (a testament to the power of the mind btw), there’s something to it. Some mysterious force that we haven’t quite wrapped our heads around that allows prayer to “work.”

~Writing. When writing, you draw inspiration from….wherever the fuck it comes from, and direct it to the page (or screen, if you’re typing).

~Working out. When doing any type of exercise, the focus is on the body. Bodily awareness is honed when you exercise correctly and consciously. Performing a pullup is a good example. The pullup works most of the upper body, with the back muscles being the primary movers. But you have to be aware of your entire body throughout the movement to ensure proper technique. You have to tighten your whole body (or else you’ll be pulling up dead weight). You also have to initiate the movement by contracting your back muscles (which is hard because most people have trouble “feeling” these muscles). Without even getting into the intricacies, you can see how an exercise as (seemingly) simple as a pullup requires a lot of bodily awareness. This is why people like yoga masters and bodybuilders are keenly aware of every part of their bodies.

Do you smell what The Rock is cookin?

Do you smell what The Rock is cookin?

Group activities:
The effect seems to be amplified in groups. This is where many people are directing their attention towards the same thing.

~Standing in a circle and talking. When people stand in a circle, the conversation becomes an entity in and of itself. Everyone takes turns giving the conversation energy, and toying with that energy.

~Anything at a table. Meals, meetings…etc. Like with what I said above, the meal/meeting becomes almost like an entity itself. Let’s take a meeting, for example. In a meeting, people come together to brainstorm and achieve something. Everyone’s focus, attention, and energy is on the same goal. And for some reason I feel like round tables work best. Maybe because everyone faces the same center point.

~Watching TV. It literally draws the viewers in. The focus (or consciousness) of everybody watching goes to the TV. Think about how completely absorbed you get while watching TV. You become completely immersed in the screen-world, and oblivious to your surroundings (aka “reality”). This is like the opposite of meditation (described above). It is transferring your awareness/consciousness away from yourself and to whatever is on TV (this is what makes watching movies so enthralling). It’s essentially externalizing your power. This is (one of the reasons) why you see so many disempowered people living vicariously through others (celebrities, athletes…etc). I’d rather be like the most interesting man in the world and live vicariously through myself. (And how ironic is it that I just referenced a TV commercial? Haha)

~Mass events. This includes any concerts, singing, dancing, chanting, group meditation/prayer, or whatever other crazy rituals people participate in behind closed doors.  With any type of group ritual, a fantastic amount of energy is generated. You can feel it when you’re involved. If you’ve ever been to a great concert, for example, you know that you can literally feel the energy. Oh and have you ever heard that Tibetan monks have been rumored to actually move objects through acoustic levitation? Yeah, crazy stuff.

What are you focusing on?

Socrates building the new

So here’s the action item from this post:

*Be conscious of what you focus on*

What are you giving energy to?

“Your thoughts are like packs of wolves. The pack you feed will grow stronger. The pack you choose to feed is up to you.”

Stay feelin’ good, feelin’ great.

-Stevie P!

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Why Meditation Is An Indispensable Tool For The Information Age

Why is meditation so necessary in this age of information saturation?

Because it’s a break. A break from absorbing. A vacation from the state of mental-overload.

You temporarily halt the assault of data input through your senses.

Metaphor #1:
Think of it like when the star of a basketball team gets a much-needed 2 minute break on the bench. All they need is a little time to catch their breath, then they jump back into the game, giving it their all until the sound of the final buzzer. Without a short break, fatigue would accumulate and his/her performance would suffer. Your mind is the star player, and meditation is the much-needed short break.

Most of us are constantly absorbing, leaving us with no “break”, let alone an opportunity to create something.

Metaphor #2:
Our minds are like a mop. A mop absorbs liquid and cleans a floor. Our minds absorb information and we act on that information. Mops periodically have to be squeegeed before they become over-saturated and lose functionality (turning the floor into a big, dirty puddle). Our minds have to be cleared before they become over-saturated and lose functionality (ie paralysis by analysis, information overload, anxiety, over-thinking…etc). We need to clear our minds regularly in order to maintain optimal functionality.

Meditation is cleaning the mind clutter.

Meditation is a break from the constant external bombardment of the information age.

And this break I’m talking about allows for 4 things:

1. Inner peace, joy, harmony, love- You know the feeling when it strikes. You just know.

2. Inspiration– It clears all of the noise (input) and allows inspiration to come through. This is when you can get great ideas. People come up with their best ideas when they’re relaxed and at ease. Meditation is the epitome of that state.

3. Self-resetting- Meditation is a reset for your entire being. Mind, body, and spirit. It’s a reset button that leaves you feeling refreshed and anew.

4. Increased focus- When you clear your mind, you allow it to function at its full capacity. The mind doesn’t function well when it’s constantly cluttered, preoccupied, and tired. It’s so much easier to focus on the task at hand when you regularly practice meditation.

meditation-6

I came across the following lil gem while writing this:
“…and if we don’t actively reset ourselves, then we miss out on the joy that is life, and we overlook the astounding beauty that lies in each moment. Life is a gift and a treasure, and the best revenge truly is living well.” -Dylan Charles

Here’s a quick guide on the basics of meditation. And remember, meditation can come in various forms. Whenever you’re in a state of no-thought, just simply being, that’s meditation.

Break and create!

Once you “free your mind” you’ll get all kinds of inspiration out of nowhere. So much that you’ll feel an insatiable urge to create. And what you create will be completely up to you.

Relax your mind. Be a creator.

Stay feelin’ good, feelin’ great.

-Stevie P