One picture is better than thousands of words, and one short and punchy video is better than 1,000 pictures. So watch this video of Michael Jr. where he not only explains, but demonstrates what a difference it makes having your “why.”
Fear seems to be a constant companion for every human being. We quickly learn to fear physical pain and almost as quickly, we start to be afraid of social pain: loneliness, ostracism or banishment.
However, 95% of our fears are not sensible. We fear them for the sake of being afraid. They serve no real purpose other than occupying our minds.
You can call the small fears worries, but it doesn’t change the mechanism. You still dwell on something that will never happen, and it robs you of your current moment. You could’ve enjoyed this moment or utilized it to create a better future for you.
Instead, you fret, worry and fear.
The Eerie Characteristic of Mind
When it comes to what can go wrong, human imagination is inexhaustible. You can fret over trivia – why your spouse looked at you with anger in the morning, or if you paid that due bill for electricity. And you can imagine the wildest scenarios, murder and mayhem, bankruptcy and starvation, all with the same serious attitude.
But when it comes to imagining positive scenarios, we are hopeless. Many people can imagine fairytales when they think about abundance: fancy summer houses, trips to exotic countries, expensive cars, wild sex, drugs & rock ‘n roll. However, all of those stories have a taste of something unattainable, something straight from a Hollywood movie that cannot really materialize in our lives.
Imagining small daily successes that will improve your daily life? It doesn’t come as naturally as vivid scenarios of even the smallest fears coming true.
So, how to avoid this default option?
1. Name Your Fears.
Admit what scares you. Make an inventory of all your fears, or simply focus on those recurring on a daily basis. Those are the funniest, by the way. If you worry about losing your work every day, but you’ve kept it for the last couple of years, doesn’t it strike you as an oddity?
The truth will set you free. Say aloud what scares you. Don’t allow it to lurk only in your subconscious mind.
2. Think Them Over.
Thinking is your best option. If you don’t take a rational action, if you don’t examine your fears, take precautions or dismiss them as unrealistic, they will bounce randomly inside your skull. When you analyze your fears, you realize how irrational most of them are.
Quite often a worst-case scenario is coming back to your mind again and again. But when you name it and actually think about the slim chances it has to become true, you stop worrying about this nonsense.
3. Write Them Down.
Keeping your fears in your head, even when trying to consciously think them over, is a losing proposition. You are on the territory of your enemy there, and you need to proceed with triple caution. Your subconscious mind can get quiet after one lost battle with reasoning, but it will keep hammering you back with its fears and repeat silly arguments about the end of your world.
Take the battle where your opponent is the weakest. Write down your fears and arguments, why you really shouldn’t have been worried about 99% of them. Write down the arguments of your subconscious mind as well. When they land on paper, they look like what they are – silly ruminations of a primitive creature. They almost never have anything to do with reason. They are a pure game of raw emotions.
Once you capture your subconscious incoherent blather on paper, its attack in your mind will be much less vicious. When anxiety appears, you will be able to state, “Oh, this is that nonsense again, I’ve already discussed that with you; there is nothing to worry about.”
4. Face Them.
Often, we fear so many abstract things that it’s downright impossible to face your fears. Those are meant to be written down and dismissed. Right now, I’m fearful of going from full-time to half-time in my day job and increasing my commitment into my business. You know, the usual stuff: failure, poverty, and my wife will dump me. Maybe I’ll even start to console my nerves with alcohol and degrade into a tramp.
I have nothing to act against this fear. First, I need to transition from full-time to half-time, which is still a couple of months ahead of me. Then, I need to fail and use up all of my funds that are dedicated for the transition period. Only after a year or so, those fears may come true. That’s why reasoning, clarity and a written action plan is a much better solution to deal with this kind of elusive terror.
However, many times it’s in your power to face your fears, but you are paralyzed. You act with timidity. You avoid actions that may confront you with your fears. Your life is controlled by fear, not by you.
In that case, you should muster some courage and face them.
A Story of Dealing with Fear
My mentor told a story of a guy who was terrorized by his mother-in-law for 16 years. His mastermind convinced him that he should face her and set some boundaries. He sat down with her and explained to her that her messing with his family is affecting them very negatively. He politely and diplomatically told her to back off.
And she backed off. Her respect to that guy grew immensely. My mentor reported the guy’s disbelief at how much better his life is nowadays and his regret that he hasn’t spoken up earlier.
Dismantling Your Fear
Consider this: your fears, almost always, are not real. When you face them, you rob them of all the power. Your chicken mind realizes that the end of the world hasn’t happened. It starts to probe other possibilities, positive scenarios that can improve your life, avenues that lead to action, not paralysis. And only action can bring you results.
You don’t need to be a hero and face your fears heads on, like the guy my mentor told me about. This is by far the most effective method, but I fully grasp that when you were immobilized by fear for a long time, it’s hard to change yourself.
You can dismantle your fears bit by bit. You can get used to overcoming them slowly and gradually.
Once upon a time, I was fearful of one-on-one interactions with strangers. I was terrified, especially when it came to interactions with attractive women. I had butterflies in my stomach, I sweated like a pig, my heart was pounding, and I couldn’t utter a word. Approaching a woman released such a strong emotional response in my body that I literally felt sick!
After many unsuccessful attempts of striking a conversation with a stranger, I decided to scale my actions way down. First, I started to notice and observe people around me. Then, I used my imagination to converse with people in my mind. Next, I started to make eye contact. After making eye contact, I started to smile at them. Within several weeks, I was able to tell strangers “Hi” or give them some minor compliment. In several months, I overcame my shyness completely.
The Greatest Grievance
The worst thing your fears do to you is not the emotional mess you become, however huge this mess can be. It wasn’t sweating, shaking and heart pounding I experienced that created the greatest disservice.
It was inaction.
Fear paralyses you into doing nothing. When you do nothing, nothing can change. You stay stuck in the exact same situation indefinitely.
Your fears rob you of action, the only means that can bring you change, improvement and progress.
It is the main reason why we don’t progress as fast as we could. Passivity is a surefire path to failure. You attempt nothing, so you don’t get anything.
However, when you take action, everything can happen.
I made a couple of new friendships thanks to my encounters with strangers. I became more self-confident to the point that I was completely relaxed on a job interview and got a much better job (the one I’m walking away from now).
Deal with your fears. Disperse them, ridicule them or face them. Stop letting them prevent you from taking action. That is your only way to a better life.
This is a guest post by Will Chou, a young man who shares many of my passions and daily disciplines as you will see in this article. Enjoy!
Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. – Dalai Lama
I was lost in a dark world. In fact, the sky was dark too. And it just so happened that the music I was listening to switched to a dark song, Imagine Dragons’s It’s Time.
Now, that probably sounds pretty dramatic and I’m not really a dramatic guy, but that was the actual environment I was in. I was walking to my university’s diner to get a late dinner after a long night of studying. I had depression.
I have about 30 daily habits, I’ll mention just three, but their effects are significant indeed.
This habit saved my life. Not in some dramatic sense; I didn’t start running marathons while 300 lbs overweight. Nope.
The habit saved my life.
Doing a series of pushups every day.
I started this discipline to lose weight.
I didn’t. In fact, I was gaining pounds each year. Nonetheless my fitness performace increased significantly and I learned the value of perseverance.
The definition of tiny habit says it’s an activity that
-you do at least once a day,
-takes you less than 30 seconds,
-requires little effort.
Tiny habits were invented by BJ Fogg from Stanford University, as a result of his study on behavioral change. They are the tool for common mortals to learn the nits and grits of the process of habits development.
I won’t go into the details of my study about the etymology of the word ‘habit,‘ but it clearly revealed that your habits define who you are.
Thus, any tiny habit in itself is life changing. If you learn how to develop habits, you and your life will never be the same. I didn’t learn the art of habit development by practicing tiny habits, but I can confirm that one’s life changes when his habits change.
99% of answers to this question don’t refer to tiny habits. Heck, the top answer is “Read books at least 30 minutes a day!” That’s 60 times greater than tiny!
Here is the really tiny habit that has not only the potential (“could”), but real power to change lives:
It has the power of setting your brain to positivity. Experiments confirmed that it’s enough to come up with three new reasons for being grateful every morning for one month to change hardcore pessimists into optimists.
Why is that important? Will those “newly created” optimists going around in blissful state with goofy smiles and saliva in the corners of their mouths? Nope. Their brains will be positive. Here what happens when your brain is positive:
“Every possible outcome we know how to test for raises dramatically.”
Cultivating gratitude is one of the easiest habits on earth. I started from jotting down 1 to 3 things about my wife in a dedicated gratitude diary.
Let it sink in. A tiny habit, less than 30 seconds a day. Every measurable output increases.
How’s that for a life change?
The above revelations are the result of scientific studies and they are right at the general level. Let me tell you a couple of stories that demonstrate the power of gratitude on individual level.
Stronger Than Death
I have a friend, let’s call her S. She had been keeping a gratitude diary for well over a year when her boyfriend died in a car accident. Can you imagine a more excruciating experience? Her whole world fell apart in a single moment. But she had a gratitude habit. Habits are not to be taken lightly. They are hardcoded in the most primal part of your brain. It’s not easy to get rid of them.
She kept her gratitude diary even throughout that dark time. It helped her to stay sane.
Today she is in a new relationship and her gratitude streak is well over 1,000 days long.
As I mentioned above, my adventure with gratitude started with a diary about my wife. As a proper tiny habit, it opened doors for more gratitude in my life. Now I am thankful for everything. I also started separate gratitude journals about my kids and about my days. I’m a fount of gratitude.
I’m deeply thankful for this first small habit however. The past three years were tough on our marriage. It was the usual story: years of marriage brought routine, boredom, over-familiarity and predictability creeping in.
I decided to turn my life around and my wife was absolutely not prepared for that. Quite often she said “I don’t recognize you.” This was obviously all “her fault,” (blaming is the easiest way in a relationship, isn’t it?), however the daily conscious effort of looking for something to be grateful for in or about her helped me to keep the right perspective.
I don’t claim that, if not for my gratitude journal, we would have been divorced or some other tragedy would have happened. It’s just that this tiny discipline made the turmoil in my life and marriage more bearable. It helped me to diminish my ego a bit.
Begin in a Tiny Way
Every morning (morning shapes your day), take a journal and note down at least one thing you are grateful for. If you can come up with 100, that’s fine, but 1 is enough. If you can elaborate why you are grateful for it, that’s fine, but focus on writing this one thing first. It should be a new thing every day.
There is no excuse for not doing this, not even the one my rebellious teenager throws at me: “I don’t know what I’m grateful for.” Everything can be a starting point: air, water, food, shelter, your body or its parts…
If S. found reasons to be grateful after her boyfriend’s death, you surely can find something too.
Turning your life around is free
You don’t need an online course for this. You don’t need a coach. You don’t need an accountability buddy. You don’t need money.
All you need to change your life is already provided for free.
You have the air
You can breathe. Without this free resource you would’ve suffocated; and a corpse obviously can’t change its life.
You have water Continue reading
While reading The Science of Getting Rich this morning I stumbled upon this quote:
“Success in life is becoming what you want to be.”
I suddenly realized: “Heck, I’m a success!”
I became what I wanted to be. I’m a writer. What is more, I beat the odds. Eighty percent of self‑published authors don’t even earn $1,000 a year. In 2015, there were several different months when I earned over $1,000.
The problem with becoming something, is that it never ends
“Patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” ― Joyce Meyer
You need enormous patience when you want to turn your life around.
Each success seems so far away that it’s almost unattainable. Each milestone gives you joy for just a brief moment, because you realize there is a lot of similar milestones ahead.
Continuous effort is needed if you want to succeed on a journey. Your heart will ache for relief, but for a long time any relief seems far beyond the horizon.
Three years ago I began to believe that I could actually achieve something significant. A lot has happened since that time. I’ve bought a house. I sold our apartment. I became a writer.
If you know me just a little bit, you know I’m a big advocate of perseverance. Of course, in order to persevere in something you need first to get started. Starting is hard, but unavoidable. Brian Tracy in his book “Earn What You Are Really Worth” illustrates the laborsaving trait of perseverance:
When you look at successful people, you find that they are very much like the plates spinners in Vaudeville acts. They get things started; They get the plates spinning. Then they keep them spinning, knowing that if a plate falls off or something comes to a halt, it’s much harder to get it restarted than it is to keep it going in the first place.
Your Brain’s Paradigm May Be Your Ally
Once you started working on your dream, keep up the hustle. The road may be long and rough, but stopping every five minutes doesn’t make it shorter or better. On the contrary, the more often you stop, the less you are inclined to start going once again.