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positive thinkingEven the most optimistic people are not immune to occasional negative thoughts. We all have to deal with moments when our problems seem too big, our pain too strong and our future too gloomy to look forward to. But the great thing is that as these moments pass and we learn that “Everything has a happy end, and if it is not happy, it is not the end”.

But until we realize that the situation that we considered the most difficult and problematic, actually turned out to be exactly the situation that changed (and improved) our life the most, we need to learn how to deal with destructive emotions on a day-to-day basis and stop the flow of negativity.

9 Practical Ways to Stop Thinking Negative Thoughts

1. Don’t Cherish Negative Thoughts

This is a strange statement – how can anyone cherish negative thoughts? Yet I bet that you know a couple people, who cling on to their problems and misfortunes and take strange satisfaction in telling everyone how miserable they are. Usually these people are not looking for solutions, only for empathy.

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what you can accomplish in 10 minutesThere are 1440 minutes in a day. I realized how long this was yesterday when I was reheating my lunch in a microwave. Two and a half minutes seemed like eternity.

This got me thinking about how much can be accomplished in just 10 little minutes: a race can be won, a business idea can be born, a satisfying meal can be cooked. The list goes on…

So here is my dilemma.

If so much can be done in a matter of 10-15 minutes and most of us stay busy all day long, why do we not feel like we have done much and go to bed hoping that we will be more productive the next day?

My guess is that we do not plan our days intelligently enough, so we let mindless activities and useless chatter suck up our precious time.

This is what happens to me. And I bet that this is what sometimes happens to you as well.

That is why I came up with the list of 10-minute activities that are fun, useful, creative, satisfying or helpful to others. If we can incorporate at least 2 or 3 of them each day, I believe that we will see huge positive changes in our daily routine.

So let’s not allow time-wasters to shorten our minutes and have our days go by without leaving their mark in our memory.

40 Things we can Achieve in 10 Minutes:

1. Take a nap.

Who cares if it is 2 p.m.? Some pretty convincing studies demonstrate that power naps are not only enjoyable, but are beneficial for some types of memory tasks.

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Sometimes, we get so caught up in a whirlpool of our daily routines, responsibilities, urgent deadlines, business meetings and snap decisions that we start living in our heads. We become too business-like, too rational, too busy to open our eyes and truly see the colors of the world.

But then we stumble on a stunning picture, an inspirational video, a genuine smile, an uplifting quote and like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold, rainy day, they spread warmth through our stomach and fill our heart with joy and gratitude.

They pull us out of our daily routines, social templates and the drama of things that are not really important. And they shift our focus onto everything that is good in this world.

We need these Reminders to stay grounded and to help us find peace, joy and warmth every day.

Here are a few Irish Blessings that you may like:

1. inspirational quotes

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time managementMany people believe that being productive at work requires a lot of discipline. For me it is taking breaks from work which takes the biggest mental effort.

Maybe you can relate to this. Do you know when you get so carried away by a task and you lose track of time? Or when you want to finish whatever project that you have started so you push yourself to work more, even when your body could use a few stretches and your eyes a little break?

I am guilty of this. Often instead of taking a 15 minute break every hour, as I know I should, I write for 4-5 hours straight, because I am afraid of losing track of a thought or because I like the topic I am writing about and I feel particularly creative.

Later I pay the consequences. By the end of the day my neck is cracking, my eyes are hurting and I feel that sort of restlessness as if I have been locked up in the same room for the whole day, which, in fact, I have.

This past month I have been especially bad about taking breaks. Planted like a geranium I have sat in front of my laptop for hours. Big mistake on my part! I instead of getting more done, like I had hoped, my productivity has actually dropped.

Who would guess that to be more productive, we have to rest more and work less? Sounds too good to be true, right?

Then keep reading, because there is some convincing evidence that taking regular 10-15 minute breaks from work is the best gift you can give to yourself, your business or your company.

Taking Breaks at Work: 12 Reasons to Do it Now

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happy relationships adviceMost relationships start so well. There are roses, smiles, fireworks and all those exciting feelings that make us feel alive, happy, lightheaded and wonderful.

Fast forward a few years and you will learn that no matter how loving and happy our relationships may seem today, this harmony can be shattered in a matter of seconds. Over a stupid fight, a simple misunderstanding or an off-hand comment or suggestion.

And suddenly the loving, understanding and caring partner of yours is no longer there. Instead you are stuck with a furious, disrespectful, read-faced creature who is shouting accusations and hurtful remarks at you, being 100% sure that “you started it”.

Well, this happens to everyone. It happens to me. In fact, I am often the one assuming the role of an unkind, foul-tempered, fire-spitting creature.

Sometimes it hurts me to think that my relationship may be falling short of what it is supposed to be. But then I am often reminded that even perfect-looking couples that appear to agree all the time, finish each other sentences and have a halo of bliss surrounding them, have their ups and downs too.

It is part of being a human – we make mistakes, lose patience and have our flaws. However, what makes a difference between happy relationships and dysfunctional ones is our willingness to work things out, to suck up our pride, put our bruised ego aside and say “I’m sorry”.

There is no doubt in my mind that in spite of the baggage of negative past experiences so many of us carry, it is possible to build and maintain happy relationships through years and years to come.

What can save us from many arguments is the knowledge of the common pitfalls and costly relationships mistakes that most couples are faced with and that cause 90% of relationship hiccups.

5 Obstacles to Happy Relationships that every couple should know about

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 Not only do qualities associated with high EQ (such as self-awareness, inner motivation, empathy and ability to recognize and manage our own feelings and those of others) account for about 90% of our professional effectiveness, they also enhance our intellectual performance – i.e. we work smarter, not harder!Here is a conspiracy theory for you – some very intelligent people are here amongst us. Their IQ is described as “Artificial Intelligence” and like “walking Wikipedias” they always have an answer ready for everything. And from the look on their face you know that they are probably right. “How can they retain so much information?” you ask yourself.

Have they spent their teenage years locked up in their rooms reading? Do they flip over a few pages from scientific research papers before going to bed as a past time? Could it be that they have a direct connection to some unknown source of Universal knowledge?

I do not know about you, but in the past an encounter with such highly intelligent people would always leave me feeling two contradictory emotions: excitement, because I have learned something new and a slight sense of inadequacy, because I have never felt an urge to read the “Wall Street Journal” or wrap my mind around “Schrödinger’s cat” paradox.

It turns out that the latter emotion was unjustified, as recent studies in psychology confirm that our IQ has very little to do with accomplishing success in life.

What makes a big difference is our Emotional Intelligence, the concept that has been described by Daniel Goleman. Not only do qualities associated with high EQ (such as self-awareness, inner motivation, empathy and ability to recognize and manage our own feelings and those of others) account for about 90% of our professional effectiveness, they also enhance our intellectual performance – i.e. we work smarter, not harder!

Really great news is that, unlike IQ, which is set and almost unchangeable from childhood on, emotional intelligence can be developed and improved!

21 Strategies to Improve Emotional Intelligence

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self helpMany people are looking for definite answers to complicated and often empty questions that will have very little impact on their happiness and well-being.

Sometimes, I get myself all worked up doing this too…

Then there are different kinds of questions! Questions that do not have a right or wrong answer. Questions that free the mind and keep you focused on the right things. Questions that when asked in the right moment, can transform our life more than any enlightening answer we will ever receive.

Here is a list of 30 such Self-Help Questions that are important to ask yourself at least once in a while (especially when you feel like your mind is filled with worries and mundane problems):

1. If you could offer your child only one piece of advice, what would it be?

2. If you could move to any country in the world, where would you go and why?

3. If you didn’t know your age, how old would you say you are?

4. If you are yourself 1 year in the future, what advice would you give yourself today?

5. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like?

6. And why do we like so many things we don’t do?

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When I was little, my mom got me a strange book. It was a collection of short funny poems by Grigorii Oster called “Harmful Advice”.

The preface read:

Scientists have recently discovered that there are some misbehaved children in the world, who are set on doing exactly the opposite of what they are told. You tell them to wash their face in the morning – and they make it their resolution to go around face-unwashed. You tell them to greet other people – and they immediately stop saying “Hello”…

The idea behind the book was pretty simple and very original – to give bad advice and make disobedient children do the opposite – i.e. behave themselves! Talk about reverse psychology used by sneaky parents to morph their little monsters into composed, soft-spoken angels.

Today I met a person who could have probably used a few Harmful Advices when he was little. He seemed to have a rare gift of instantly turning people off. Well, not instantly. But as soon as he started talking…

The sad thing is that deep down he might be a great, interesting, and kind-hearted guy. He just does not let his nicer side show.

This got me thinking, what if I was to give “Harmful Advice” to adults? Maybe for the sheer pleasure of doing something in spite of what they are told, some people would actually stop making negative comments about those around them and bring their own positive qualities to the light?

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positive psychologyDon’t you wish that instead learning about Ancient Mesopotamia and the speed of electrons at school, they had taught us something more practical – for example, how to be happy.

In fact, this subject is taught. Just not at high school but at Harvard University. The course is called Positive Psychology and its underlying premise is that we can learn to be happier, just as we can learn to drive a car or to speak a foreign language.

For everyone, who does not plan on applying to Harvard in the near future, below are

10 Happiness Tips from Harvard’s very-sought-after lecturer Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar:

1. Become conscious of things that make you happy

There is a great little technique to do this. Take a piece of paper and complete the following sentence: “To bring 5% more happiness into my life…

Think of experiences, not things. It is not a million dollars that will make you happy. It is the opportunity to spend more time with your family, to travel around the world, to gain financial stability. But Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, suggest that we start with the smaller blessings.
If you feel that you have run out of ideas, here are some things from my list.

2. Combine pleasure and meaning

Aristotle had a great concept called “golden mean”. He believed that we should look for a desirable middle between two extremes. This makes a lot of sense, but when it comes to making everyday life choices, we often forget to follow his sage advice.

Let’s take food for example…

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creativity rulesI have a great idea. In fact, I have more than one great idea. What about you?

Even if you do not consider yourself a creative person, I bet that you have had a few great business ideas, tens of interesting ideas for a book or a movie and thousands of creative ideas of various kinds and sizes.

The fact is that ideas happen all the time. They flow freely – interrupting serious business meetings, lurking around while we are taking a shower, changing our daily plans and challenging the way we do things.

But there are the times, when we desperately try to come up with something original and it does not work! Our mind simply refuses to be creatively-productive. It happens to me once in a while (for example, when I am trying to think of a topic for the next post).

I found that when I feel stuck and uninventive I usually follow what I call “10 Un-Rules of Creativity” and they help me overcome a mental form of creative paralysis. These are actually the guidelines that many graphic designers, architects and writers already use. But I believe that whether you are trying to come up with a new marketing strategy, write a piece of software or think of fun things to do for the weekend – you can benefit from applying them in your life.

1. Give yourself permission to be creative.

Many people who start learning about self development mistakenly believe that they lack creativity. Well, it turns out that you do not have to be a special kind of person to be creative.

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