The Only 3 Great Exercises You Need

I’ve been going to the gym 3 days a week for the last 6 months, and I’m in the best shape of my life. I’ve never given the gym a chance before, but I have a great personal trainer who has shown me the key exercises to build muscle fast. I notice a huge difference in how I feel. My self-confidence is through the roof, and I can feel muscles in my body that I never even paid attention to before. So without further ado, here are the top three exercises I recommend that anyone can do whether they have access to a gym or not.

1. Squats

This is one of the best possible exercises you can do to strengthen your core. I always do three sets of five with as much weight as I can handle for building muscle, and I go as low as I can keeping my weight on my heels. You can also do more reps with less weight if you’re going for burning calories. As a variation, you can do dead-lifts instead if you have access to a barbell.

2. Push-ups

Doing three sets of as many push-ups as you can handle will get your arms in shape fast. Keep dong them until you can’t push yourself up anymore. Wait 2-3 minutes, then do it again. Remember, if you feel any unusual pain don’t force yourself to keep going.

3. Pull-ups

Find a stable bar and do three sets of as many pull-ups as you can handle. Spread your hands further apart to target your back muscles more. This will make a huge difference if you keep it up. I went from barely being able to do 5 the first set to now being able to do about 11 in just six months.

 In Conclusion

These three exercises will give you a toned and muscular body relatively quickly if you keep your goal in mind and do them consistently. Like I said, I work-out with variations of these three exercises 3 days a week, and it only takes about 20-30 minutes. No matter how bad I might feel before hand, I always feel so much better afterward from all the endorphins that are released. It’s truly amazing!


Disclaimer: Consult your doctor to make sure exercise is right for you. 😉

Top 10 Brain Health Tips by Dr. Michael S. Trayford

While there are many “Top 10” lists out there, this is a list I have compiled based on years of literature review and firsthand experience in clinical neurological practice.  While no list is ever complete and priorities and orders of importance change with the literature and time; these are, in my opinion, the top 10 ways you can help your brain perform at its maximum potential…in no particular order.  While we offer many advanced applications for boosting brain performance, these are tools that every one of us has at our disposal and can begin to implement immediately.

1) Get plenty of sleep – While there is no definitive number of hours proven to be the best for humans, it is suggested by most experts that a minimum of 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep be observed by most.  Care should be taken to remove any barriers to achieving and maintaining sleep from the bedroom (i.e. TVs, computers, excess light, poor quality/old beds, etc.).  Among other things, memories are formed when we sleep and improved quality and duration of sleep can stave off cognitive decline due to aging.  Click here for a New York Times article on impaired sleep and memory decline.

2) Manage your stress – Stress, namely the long-term continuous stressors many of us face on a day to day basis (e.g. jobs, relationships, traffic, finances, etc.), and the ill-effects it brings on are touted as the root cause of the majority of chronic diseases of our modern society.  There are countless techniques available to us to help us manage stress including meditation, journaling, counseling, prayer, yoga, NLP, Tai Chi, etc., and they all have their distinct advantages with regard to helping our brains perform better.  The majority of the research on stress reduction and the brain has been done in the area of meditation.  Click here for a link to a great book written on meditation and its amazing impact on brain function.

3) Exercise – We all know we should do it and we need to ‘Make the Time’ instead of trying to ‘Find the Time’.  The evidence is irrefutable; exercise makes your brain work better…period!  From increased blood flow carrying oxygen and nutrients to our ‘Greedy Master’, to production of chemicals that help us connect nerve cells and even grow new ones; we all need to exercise.  Click here for a link to my blog post on a phenomenal book that will teach you everything you want to know about this subject.

4) Drink plenty of WATER – Notice the word water is capitalized!  While the occasional naturally flavored drink of your choice is fine, water should be your main source of hydration as it will eliminate intake of sugars, sugar substitutes, artificial flavors/colors, etc. that can all be harmful to your brain.  Our bodies are made up of roughly 60% water content and our brains are even higher at upwards of 70-80%.  General recommendations for intake are currently accepted by many to be 1/2 of your body weight in oz. of water per day (e.g. 140 lbs = 70 oz.).

5) Eat the right kind of fat – Another area where our brain requires more, and the right kind of, raw materials is fat consumption.  Under normal circumstances our bodies are comprised 20-25% fat and our brains approximately 60%.  While I am unable to get into the biochemistry of fats in this limited space, adhering to a few simple rules can help get you off to a good start.  Avoid at all costs processed, man-made fats that fall under the general heading of ‘Trans Fats’.  These are dangerous for our brains and bodies in so many ways, many of which we do not even know yet.  Also, minimizing saturated fat intake is advisable for most (e.g. red meats, butters, etc.).  Poly and monounsaturated fats found in whole food sources (nuts, vegetable oils, greens, etc.) and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and other whole food sources are desirable for a better brain.  Click here for a recent article on fats and your brain.

6) Learn something new – Exercise for your brain!  Learning new subjects, skills and hobbies can help to preserve and build your brain’s resources to ensure it functions at its highest ability as we move through this journey of life.  Novel stimulation has been shown to enhance brain activity immeasurably; whereas routine, monotonous type behaviors will likely ensure a slow, steady decline in cognitive function over time.  Google ‘Learning and the Brain’ and sift through the 132 million results for some light reading to begin the process of learning and remember…We are NEVER too old to learn!

7)  Eat your fruits and veggies – The benefits of REAL/WHOLE foods in our diets is endless, especially fruits and vegetables.  They are low-calorie and loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, good sugars and fiber; which are all good for our brain.  So many of our foods are far from their original source, so begin to learn (which is also good for your brain) about the dangers of processed and genetically modified foods and you will begin to develop an appreciation for fresh, whole foods that power your brain much more efficiently!

8) Be social – Much to my dismay this tip is often left off of many “Top 10” brain health lists and could quite possibly be one of the most important factors for a brain to be able to survive and thrive!  Numerous studies over the past 100 years have shown how social isolation can cause significant psychological and neurological impairment, and even death in extreme cases.  Social isolation disrupts myelin production, which is critical for nerve signaling and transmission.  Volunteer, join a book club or service organization, take a class, walk the neighborhood and talk to your neighbors…put yourself out there – your brain will thank you!  Click here to read more on social isolation and decreased myelin production.

9) Eliminate bad habits – Drinking, smoking, laziness, poor diet, worry, anger, sedentary behavior, dangerous physical activities, etc…Need I say more?

10) Set goals and move towards them – Our brain’s ‘reward system’ is intimately linked to our older emotional (limbic) brain on one end, and our newer cognitive (cortical) brain on the other.  That said, to help balance and improve function in either of these regions, exercising our reward system is a critical step in the process.  Further, the neurotransmitter dopamine is a key player in this system and it is increased with repetitive utilization of this system (this is the same neurotransmitter in short supply in conditions like Parkinson’s!).  Goals must be realistic and attainable, but also strong enough to stretch our mental capacities for optimal benefit!

~Please enjoy, feel free to comment, share with others; and, most importantly, put these to good use!~

Dr. Michael S. Trayford

The Power of Reframing

Ever hear the saying, “Don’t cry over spilled milk?” It means a lot more than may be initially apparent. Often times, people beat themselves up over insignificant mistakes or shortcomings. Sometimes people have a single seemingly negative experience that causes them to form a limiting belief about themselves or the world which hinders their success.  These people often appear bitter, jaded or insecure. All it takes is a small shift in thinking to transform their lives. One might tell themselves, “I’m so clumsy! I can’t do anything right.” or they can simply clean the mess and have more positive self-talk like, “It’s okay. That milk was probably going sour anyway.”

In each moment, we are perceiving reality through the lens of our senses, and the way we choose to interpret it is completely unique to who we are and what we believe from past experiences. If you’re speaking and some dude walks out of the room, you might take it personally and think, “He must be bored by what I’m saying. I must be boring,” or you can have a more optimistic outlook and think, “He must really have to pee, because what I’m saying is awesome.”

Focus on becoming aware of any negative belief patterns that surface in various situations, and take time to remember the earliest event that triggered you to think that way. Then, you can look for evidence to disprove the negative beliefs. For example, if you think you’re too fat to get a girlfriend, look for examples of fat men who have girlfriends. The more you prove to yourself that your fears are irrational, the easier it will be to switch to a more confident mindset.

Ever since the movie “The Secret” came out, the idea that you create your reality has been spreading like wildfire, and whether you believe in the law of attraction or not, hopefully now you can at least see how you create your experience of reality which dramatically affects your actions and results. If you don’t believe something is possible for you, the motivation to strive for it will be nonexistent. Keep an open mind, and practice seeing things from different perspectives. If someone is feeling upset, see if you can say something that reframes what’s bothering them and shines a more positive light. Find ways of seeing your supposed weaknesses as strengths. If you feel awkward approaching people in social situations, and think you might be viewed as an annoyance, you might reframe it by flipping the script and thinking something like, “I’m awesome, and all these people want me to approach them.”

Joe asked God, “How much is a penny worth in Heaven?”

God replied, “$1 million.”

Joe asked, “How long is a minute in Heaven?”

God said, “1 million years.”

Joe asked for a penny.

God said, “Sure, in a minute.”

“Aaron T. Beck developed cognitive therapy in the 1960s. Beck worked with patients that had been diagnosed with depression, and found that negative thoughts would come into minds of these patients. Beck helped his patients recognize the impact of their negative thoughts, and aided them in shifting their mindset to think more positively—eventually lessening or even getting rid of the patient’s depression. This process was termed cognitive restructuring – the main goal of which was to rethink negative thoughts and turn them into positive thoughts

11 Things to Do If You’re Bored

“Only those who want everything done for them are bored.”
– Billy Graham

Are you bored?  What’s the matter?  No sex, drugs or rock n roll? Do you feel like the world owes you something?  No, we’re not just here for your entertainment.  Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands and entertain yourself.  Better yet, why not go out of your way to entertain someone else.  Become interested in the world around you.  See beyond the surface level mundane reality, and you will never be bored.  Are you really bored, or do you have too much free time or not enough appreciation?

Here are 11 suggestions of ways to cure boredom:

  1. Meditation
    There’s nothing like some meditation to make you feel your connection to the earth, the moment, and your true self.  If you’re bored, perhaps it’s because you’re not really in touch with who you are or what you want.
  2. Cleaning
    If you’re bored from lack of anything to do then there’s no more excuse.  You have the free time required to get some long procrastinated chores out of the way.  You might even consider helping others.
  3. Artwork
    Creating art is a great way to forget about the troubles of the day or give them an outlet of expression.  If you’re bored, creating art may help to get you back in the mindset of contributing to the world around you instead of feeling entitled to entertainment.
  4. Cooking
    Everyone has to eat.  If you have time to be bored then you have time to make something healthful.  Eating foods full of life force energy leads to a healthier mind and body resulting in more inspiration and happiness.  If you eat junk food then you will most likely have less energy and concede to boredom.
  5. Walking
    Get out and breathe some fresh air, and get some exercise.  The better you feel, the less bored you’ll be, and walking boosts endorphins which will surely brighten your mood.
  6. Reading
    Pick up a book and read.  In this age of information we are flooded with videos, images, articles etc.  Sometimes it’s best to just unplug from electronics and get back to the basics.  Reading affirmations can also help to alleviate boredom.
  7. Writing
    Grab a pen, and just start writing anything that’s on your mind.  Start noticing the patterns, and you can rewrite your story to be however you want it to be.
  8. Visualization
    Take a few minutes to imagine the kind of life you’d like to live.  See yourself smiling and enjoying the life of your dreams.  Once you’re done, see if there are any steps you can take to move towards actualizing them.
  9. Self Reflection
    When you’re alone, it’s a good to review your thoughts and feelings.  See if you can find the blessings in situations that may be challenging, consider ways to improve yourself, contemplate what you’re grateful for.
  10. Yoga
    Are you bored or lazy?  Get off your ass and stretch!
  11. Socialize
    Practice talking to people even if it feels awkward.  It will get easier the more you do it.


Share your thoughts in the comments.   What makes people bored?  What’s your cure for boredom?

Boycott Walmart This Black Friday

“Walmart made $17 billion dollars last year. They can well afford to pay us over the poverty line.”
– Givens Thomas1

Boycott Walmart and other corporate giants.  They are planning to open on Thanksgiving Day this year including Kmart, Target, Macy’s, JcPenny’s, Sears, Kohl’s, Staples, Whole Foods, and Best Buy1.  Many of them for the first time ever.

It’s astonishing the amount of greed and lack of family values these companies have.  They don’t seem to care about their workers’ low wages.  It’s all about keeping their stocks up. Walmart full-time employees are pushing for a minimum of $25,000 a year which is just above the poverty line1.  Walmart is actually having a food drive to feed its under paid employees1.  All they care about is making as much money as possible.  People are outraged, and it’s all over twitter:


The 6 Walton heirs own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans2.   Of course they could afford to pay their employees a little more.  If you work full-time then you shouldn’t be living in poverty.  We need to raise the minimum wage in this country.  Walmart even takes out insurance on their own employees to make money off their deaths.  Walmart buys merchandise super cheap from China and puts local Americans out of business with their low prices and slave wages4.

Every dollar we spend is a vote for the kind of world we want to live in, and many people are tired of living in a world controlled by corporate greed.  It’s time to start putting our money where it counts, because without consumers these companies are worthless.  Stay informed about where your money is going, and buy local whenever possible.

Time and time again, when Walmart workers have come together to call on the company to address low wages, erratic schedules, paltry benefits, and unacceptable working conditions, the company has attempted to silence or outright fire them. In fact, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently announced it’s pursuing a rare national complaint against Walmart for retaliating against and threatening more than 100 workers.

As Black Friday approaches, chinks in the company’s armor are starting to mount. We need to stand together and make our voices heard so that Walmart obeys the law and does right by its employees. Will you join me in demanding that Walmart comply with federal law and stop intimidating workers?5

“It’s like Scrooge posing as Mother Teresa.”
– Robert Reich (U.C. Berkeley Professor3)



  1. Thanksgiving Shopping Boycotts: Blowback Against Walmark, Target, Kmart, Macy’s for Earlier Black Friday Deals | International Business Times
  2. Bernie Sanders says Walmart heirs own more wealth than bottom 40 percent of Americans | Politifact
  3. Nationwide Walmart Boycott to Start Black Friday | KTVU
  4. Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices
  5. Walmart Is Not Above the Law




Ben Affleck and Miley Cyrus Trending Over Syria News

Ben Affleck is the new Batman? Miley Cyrus twerking? Is this really what’s trending? Is this what motivates people? The coverage of these celebrity incidences is clearly excessive. It seems as though people are gossiping more about television, pop culture and sexual exploitation than the chemical attacks killing hundreds of people and the Obama Administration preparing to attack Syria. Isn’t the possibility of a world war 3 just a bit more important than who is being glorified in front of the camera?

If the celebrity announcements were designed to be a distraction, then making Ben Affleck the new Batman sure got a lot of people’s attention.  Did they choose Ben Affleck for the part specifically to drive all the geeks crazy?  And for others, Miley Cyrus’ twerking seems to be working to get their thoughts, words, and actions away from what really matters and focused on useless trivia.

Google Trends shows far more searches for Ben Affleck and Miley Cyrus than Syria News.

Miley Cyrus Twerking

Top 10 Ways to Increase Motivation

1.  Finding a Purpose and Setting Intention

Studies have shown that having a purpose gives us intrinsic motivation.  As opposed to extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation makes one think and behalf more creatively instead of simply going from point A to B with little or no meaning or consideration of the why.  Having a purpose creates the spark of passion that is the fuel of success.

When we set an intention, we give ourselves direction, create a framework or blueprint, and it also sets unseen forces in motion.  It programs our subconscious to recognize new patterns and make new choices.  It also creates a vibrational vacuum that pulls into it the intended result by the Law of Attraction.

“The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, or gives you a sense of meaning, joy, or passion.”

-Terry Orlick

2.  Dreaming Big and Making Wishes

Setting goals is a great way to increase motivation.  Some people have resistance to actually doing it though, so one way to overcome that is by changing the way you think of the process.  We can start by dreaming and visualizing life as we would like it to be.  Making wishes is another way to make goal setting more fun and easy.

Most people have believed that being accountable to others makes you more likely to achieve your goals, although some recent research by psychologists has indicated that telling others about our goals makes us less likely to achieve them, because we feel as though we’ve already done it leading to a decrease in motivation.

Remember to write your goals down.  Once something is in a tangible form instead of only a thought in the mind, it holds space in physical reality, and radiates and attracts like energy.  It’s also good to be reminded of our goals regularly, so having something to look back on for reference is essential.  Another benefit of writing them down is being able to track your progress which leads to my next point.

“In my lifetime, I’ve come to realize that you can’t depend upon other people for what you want. You can’t be scared to go out and get it. You have to dream big, wish hard & chase after your goals, because no one is going to do it for you.”

-Cee Lo Green

3.  Rewarding Yourself for a Job Well Done

We can dream, wish, set goals, and talk about what we’re going to do all we want, but we won’t see much result until we start doing the work required.  When we find ourselves procrastinating doing the work required to achieve our goals, we can simply make a promise to do something fun and reward ourselves once we’ve completed the task at hand.  Whether it be relaxing, eating something delicious, gifting ourselves a present, making more time for our hobbies, or going on adventures.  When we do this, we create extrinsic motivation by finding healthy ways to treat ourselves for accomplishing what we set out to do and being the awesome human beings that we are.  Follow-through is everything.


“You get what you reward. Be clear about what you want to get and systematically reward it.”

-Bob Nelson

4.  Facing and Embracing Your Fears

Fear can increase our motivation, although it can also decrease it depending on what we’re afraid of.  Getting in touch with our fears is a great way to release blockages and limiting beliefs that may be holding us back.  Instead of lying to ourselves and denying our fears exist, let’s face them head on, and embrace them with love and understanding.  One way is to make a list of everything we’re afraid of, and get to know and accept ourselves as we are.  Let us not judge our feelings as wrong or something to be gotten rid of.  Everything is there for a reason.  Instead of labeling them as wrong or bad, let’s see the value that they offer, and let them go when they no longer serve us.  The more we learn to know ourselves including our shadows or apparent weaknesses, the more they become our strengths.

“You can only come to the morning through the shadows.”

-J.R.R. Tolkien

5.  Nutrition and Exercise

Proper nourishment and getting regular exercise are key ingredients to happiness.  When we have a clear head from eating nutrient rich/plant based foods, inspiration and motivation will come naturally.  If we’re loaded up with unhealthy fast foods, processed foods, high levels of sugar, and harmful fats then we will feel sluggish and depressed which will affect our motivation.  Getting exercise raises the endorphin levels and produces a natural state of well-being.  From this place, we are more connected to our source, and expressing ourselves creatively and enjoying life to the fullest becomes effortless.

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”

-John F. Kennedy

6.  Love and Gratitude

Make lists about all the things you love and give thanks for.  The more we stay in a state of love and appreciation, the easier it will be to think positively and keep moving in the right direction throughout our day and life.  It only takes a few negative thoughts in a row to trigger a fight-or-flight response thus pumping our bodies full of stress chemicals.  Stress has be proven to inhibit digestion, sex drive, and other body functions.  The good news is that we can train our minds to break the cycle of negativity.  We can choose not to sweat the small stuff.  The more we stay in the space of love and gratitude, the more we are training not only our minds but also our feelings to respond to the situations in our lives differently.  Being loving and grateful is one of the best things we can do to stay on purpose and increase motivation.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”


7.  Mind Mapping and Vision Boarding

Having your dreams and goals represented visually can help you stay focused on achieving them.

Mind mapping is simply the process of creating branches with nodes that each contain one word or concept.  It works the same way our brains do by association and imagery.  Use colors, curved lines, and images to make your mind map more appealing to the eye.  Mind mapping can be used for many things. It’s a great tool for expanding on your ideas and becoming more organized.

Vision boarding is a similar idea in that it’s a visual representation, although it’s done by gathering images of things we’d like to be, do, or have and creating a collage out of them.  Look at the vision board regularly, and visualize it as already accomplished.  The results can be miraculous.

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

-Jack Welch

8.  Writing and Creative Expression

By making a commitment to write out our thoughts even if they’re negative, we allow yourself to vent.  Noticing the patterns that we see can be an invaluable aid in releasing blockages. Sometimes just by writing down our objections, we solve our own problems.  Try making a list of everything negative, and reading it back in the positive.  We don’t have to believe it, but over time it will retrain our minds to avoid going into fight-or-flight response.

Writing about our goals can be very helpful too.  The more clear we get on what they are, the easier it is to move toward them.  If we don’t know what we want then how are we ever going to get it?  Write it down.  Break your larger goals down into smaller steps you can take for the day.  Be as specific as possible, and then let it go.

Creative expression is another way to get in the flow.  Being creative and doing what we love is a big part of following our purpose. We need to make time to do what we enjoy whether it be playing music, preparing food, painting, yoga, or dancing.  Following our passions not only makes us more interesting, but it also makes life more fulfilling.  As the saying goes,

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”


9.  Learning New Skills

Sometimes we can feel like we’re just stuck in a routine, the the truth is that we are.  Make time to learn new things.  Without new tools to use in our lives, we are limited to where we’re at. Growing, learning, discovering new information, and improving ourselves, we can gain new insights to achieve our goals and live an inspired life.  Listen to speakers, read books, research online, watch movies, take classes, go out and get real life experience.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
-Albert Einstein

10.  Getting Out Into Nature

We weren’t meant to live our lives in little boxes looking at brightly lit screens all the time while putting garbage in our mouths.  Nature is an excellent healer.  By breathing fresh air, putting our bare feet on the earth, walking, running, absorbing sunshine, swimming, and listening to the birds, we can reduce stress and unlock latent potential. Living closely with nature will bring joy, health, creativity, and help us to see the abundance that is all around us.  Sometimes taking a break is the best way to get motivated and inspired.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

-Lao Tzu

Mind Mapping for Motivation and Success

Mind MapA Mind Map is a thinking tool that works much the way our brains do using images and association.  You basically start with a central word and draw branches with related word nodes expanding out indefinitely.  You can add color and images to make it more fun and impactful.

Humans remember by visualization and association, so this is a great tool for programming the sub-conscious mind.  It’s also a great way to set goals which are proven to aid in motivation and success.  Much like a vision board, you can use it as a visual representation of what you’d like to manifest in your life.  This method can help clarify what you want and don’t want, set clear goals, create action steps, and clear limiting beliefs allowing your wishes to come true by the law of attraction, or assisting in achieving your goals by simply bringing clarity and organization.

The idea of creating diagrams connecting ideas with branches and nodes has been around for centuries under various names including thought bubbles, spider diagrams, spidergraphs,  mind webs, and idea sun-bursting.  The term, “Mind Map,” was coined by Tony Buzan.  He says the idea was inspired by Alfred Korzybski’s general semantics.  Tony Buzan recommends using one word per node to keep it more open and free.

You can use colored pencils, magic markers, paint, or Mind Mapping software to create your own.  Find what works for you.  This is a powerful tool for motivation, inspiration, organization and having fun.

iMindMap Basic Mind Mapping: Why Do It?

  • Self Discovery
  • Goal Setting
  • Team Building
  • Organization
  • Brainstorming
  • Manifestation
  • Clarifying
  • Get Ideas Out
  • Development
  • Improving Memory
  • Finding Relations
  • It’s Fun!


20 Steps to Effective Living

By Marisa Singhnarinaath

1. Eradicate negative mental attitude. Try to always be positive. Being positive makes it easier for you to search for solution to any problem you are facing. Being positive also makes you happier.

2. Avoid undue stress. Stress is the number one cause of tons of diseases. Stress weakens your immune system. If you want to be healthy you have to find ways of dealing with stress effectively.

3. Stop worrying. Ask yourself this question: Will the situation that you are facing change or get better if you worry? Worrying will only make things worse. Usually things that you worry about never happen.

4. Eliminate feeling of inferiority. Remember that you are created in the image of God. How can you ever be inferior?

5. Develop a pleasant disposition. This will improve your relationship with everyone. It is always better to have more friends than enemies.

6. Enjoy your work. Since you have to work why not try to enjoy it? If no matter how hard you tried, you still can’t enjoy your work, then it’s time to consider new career. Since you spend a great chunk of your time on your job, you might as well be doing something that you enjoy. If you enjoy your work, you will be happier.

7. Be grateful. Gratitude is the best attitude. Try it and you will find that the more grateful you are, the more you will have to be grateful for.

8. Forgive yourself and others. Life is short. Don’t bear grudges. “We achieve inner health only through forgiveness-the forgiveness not only of others but also of ourselves.” (Joshu Loth Liebman)

9. Have faith in the Higher power. “A man with a grain of faith in God never loses hope because he ever believes in the ultimate triumph of Truth.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

10. Have a sense of humor. Sense of humor will help to improve almost every relationship. “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership,of getting along with people, of getting things done.” (Dwight David Eisenhower)

11. Let go of the Ego.

“To serve your ego is to worship a false identity created by yourself. It is like someone suffering from amnesia reinventing herself because she has forgotten who she is.”

(Tao Te Ching)

12. Live in the present moment. If you live in the present moment you will find that you enjoy your life more. All your mental anguish come from either remembering passed experiences or fretting over future outcome. Living in the present moment is one of the best ways to make yourself happier.

13. Believe in abundance. Believing in abundance will help you to be abundant. “Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.”(Wayne Dyer)

14. Be kind and generous. It is good for the soul. “When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” (Dalai Lama)

15. Dwell on the good things in life. The more you dwell on the good things in life, the more good things will come into your life.

16. Meditate. Spend at least half an hour everyday meditating. You will feel refresh and more centered. Meditation helps to relax your body, thus removing stress from your body. Meditation helps you to focus better and help to heighten your awareness. Meditation help quieten the mind, thus making you happier.

17. Pray for others as well as yourself.

18. Laugh as much as often. Remember, laughter is the best medicine.

19. Help others. When you help others to get what they want, the universe will be quick to give you what you want.

20. Follow your heart’s desire. If you follow your heart’s desire, you will be unstoppable and you will finally be happy.

Marisa Singhnarinaath

I run a site that review self improvement products.

To get a free copy of “The Science of Getting Rich”, subscribe to my newsletter.

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Understanding Motivation, Debunking the Motivation Myth

By Tao De Haas

Motivation comes from the word ‘move’ and means ‘to move’. Motivation literally means; that which moves a person to a course of action. Motivation indicates a movement that is initiated by a reason or purpose. This is an important point to understand; having a reason and purpose will activate motivation. For example, it is hard to move towards something if you can’t see any reason or purpose. In other words you need a motif or good reason as to why you would put in the effort and to create some momentum and move from where you currently are. If you are keen to do something you are more likely to be motivated; you don’t have to try, you will just want do it. Remember also that you might have a reason and purpose to NOT be motivated; in that case you won’t to ‘move’.

Move away or towards?

At the core we humans are very simple creatures. We either move away from something or towards something courtesy of the brain. The brain is designed to move towards reward or pleasure and move away from pain. Like any other living creature we move away from pain and towards pleasure (survival). In order to be motivated (to move) you need to have a good reason; either a reward or benefit, or a move away from discomfort, dislike or danger.

To be or not to be motivated…that is the question

There are many questions about personal motivation – or lack of it – as well as motivation in others. People often wonder why they themselves or someone else is not motivated.

Managers often ask the question ‘How can I motivate my team?’ The problem is they look for a simple solution like a team building day, expecting it to work like magic. They think that somehow by waving a magic wand they will become motivated. Even if you get the world’s most respected motivational speaker, it’s unlikely to achieve anything more than a short term high. It generally does not result in the team being more motivated to work together. Why…because if there is not a clear reason, a motif for the individuals in that team, nothing much will move them. The same goes for personal motivation. Many people go searching for the magic motivation formula instead of just being clear about their purpose or reason.

WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?)

We generally are only motivated if the most fundamental questions are addressed: What is the point? Why should I be doing this? What’s in it for me? Why is this relevant to me?

In order to be motivated there needs to be something in it for you. Even if you are motivated to help others, it makes you feel good; it gives you satisfaction, a purpose. You need to create and have a good reason to put in continuous effort. Why else would you put in the effort and generally give up doing something else that you might otherwise enjoy?

Did you ever wonder why you had to do certain subjects at school that did not particularly interest you? The answer probably was ‘because it is part of the curriculum’. Did this motivate and inspire you to do well? While you probably complied – as not doing so probably had negative consequences – you certainly did not undertake the task feeling motivated, eager and excited.

But I am trying

How well does it work when you feel you ‘should’ give up smoking, ‘should’ lose weight, ‘should’ drink less or ‘should’ exercise more, when you don’t really want to? Have you ever met someone who has been trying to give up smoking? Answer one question: Do they or don’t they smoke? The problem is with the implication of the word trying.

The word trying says you are not really motivated or committed but you are attempting something, having a go. Only when you see a compelling reason and decide to do something will you be motivated enough to change your habits and achieve what it is you want to achieve. Without a decision and a compelling reason you can try as hard as you like, but you are unlikely to succeed. No amount of teambuilding, motivational speakers or programs can do this for you. No rewards will help you to become motivated beyond compliance if you don’t personally see a motif or a good reason why.

The more motifs, the more motivation

As a general rule, the more reasons you have to do something – the more benefits there are for you – the more motivated you are likely to be. No matter how many reasons other people might give you or how much they try to persuade or influence you, until it resonates with what is important to you, in other words with what you value, you just cannot and will not be motivated.

You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Ultimately no-one else can motivate you other than you. The more your activities and goals are aligned with what you value, the more motivated you will be. You are unlikely to be motivated by what you ‘should’ do rather then what you would love to do. Of course we are also motivated by what I call ‘secondary motivation.’

Secondary motivation is being motivated to do something because if you don’t it will have negative consequences.

If you don’t lose weight and look after your body you might get sick, if you don’t do your tax return, pay your mortgage, earn money etc. there will be costs, discomfort…in other words pain.

The more compelling reasons you can find to do something, the more motivated you will be and the easier things will become. If there is a lack of motivation it is because there is no clear primary or secondary benefit. When you are not motivated in areas of your life that are important to you, examine the ‘pay off’, the reason or benefit of staying stuck. By the way, you can’t make the horse drink but you can make it very thirsty!

Am I being lazy?

Many people confuse lack of motivation with being lazy. Ultimately there is no such thing as being lazy. But there certainly can be an absence of motivation due to a lack of motive.

If you want test this theory ask a teenager to tidy up their room and see their response. You might have (wrongly) judged the absence of enthusiasm as being lazy. Now ask the teenager to leave the room. Hide money in their room in different places and invite them to find as much as they can within two minutes. What do you think might happen to the ‘lazy’ teenager? You got it…MOTIVATION!

Get up, get out and make it happen….or not

Motivation is what will make things happen. It is what helps you get out of that chair, stop putting toxins into your body and move towards what you really want in life. So from now on don’t waste your time by calling yourself lazy or making half hearted attempts by ‘trying’. Instead spend time uncovering your motivation. You will find that there are certain things that motivate you and other things that don’t. No one can tell you what should or should not motivate you. Different people are motivated by different things.

If you feel motivated to keep overeating, smoking, drinking etc. that’s okay. You know the consequences and if you chose to accept them, then that is entirely your choice. So make it! The important thing is don’t kid yourself. The fact is you are motivated and committed to these things otherwise you would not be doing it. So if you want to overeat, smoke, drink, stay sitting in your chair watching lots of TV, then don’t waste your time trying to give up or by making excuses. Stop boring yourself and others with the word ‘should’ or ‘I should give up’. Either give up or don’t! The choice is yours. But before you decide ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this really what I want to do?
  • Why am I doing what I am doing? What is my real motif, reason or purpose? Am I sure?
  • How does this serve me now and in the future?
  • Does what I do really align with my values or is it merely a lack of impulse control?

The motivation myth

We now know that motivation is the key to getting things done; for achieving goals and desires. We also know that aligning our motif with our values is important.

People often say: ‘I know it is important to me but I am just not that motivated’. These people rarely start or change anything because they are waiting to be motivated first. They somehow think that the only way they can move towards something (or away from something) is to be motivated. Wrong! They somehow expect that motivation will appear out of thin air and this will magically hurdle them into action towards their goal. Don’t sit around waiting for motivation to magically appear…it doesn’t and it won’t! The motivation bus will never arrive no matter how long you wait for it.

What follows is a most important statement.

DON’T wait to feel, or to get, motivated

If what you want to achieve is important to you and you don’t feel motivated, just do it anyway without feeling motivated! Make the decision to do it. Yes this might take an act of will, discipline and determination. Yes it might be unpleasant, require a commitment and you might even have to give up something else. Yet you do it because you know the end result, your goal and that is more important than whether you feel motivated or not. The problem is that most people focus on what they have to give up rather than focussing on the long term gain.

Do you really think elite swimmers look forward to getting up every morning at 4:30am day after day? Rather than begrudging their early morning starts, they are completely focused on the end result; their goal. That is what keeps them going, that is what motivates them.

What is important to you?

When you want to achieve something that is important to you, just start the ball rolling. Start pushing that motivation ball until it creates its own momentum…and it will, and then it might even be hard to stop. As the famous Nike motto says ‘Just Do It!’ Or as the famous quote attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe says: ‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it’.

Just like starting to exercise again after you haven’t for a while or perhaps never. It is highly unlikely that you will jump out of bed one morning full of motivation and start exercising. You might not feel like it, but because you know it is important, you will feel better and healthier in the long term, you get going even though you don’t want to. At first it is a real effort and you might have to fight that little voice in your head that will offer you all kinds of good reasons and temptations not to do it.

Here is an important fact. The more you do it, the more motivated you will become! The more the ball gets pushed, the more the ball will create its own momentum. It’s just like pushing a rock up hill. When you push a rock up on one side of a hill, it gets harder and harder the closer you get to the top.

** Important note: Most people give up just before the critical moment of breakthrough. But when you push that rock over the edge it creates its own momentum and it will roll down faster and faster as it builds up more momentum.

So remember. You won’t always be motivated to do the things that are important to you. Don’t wait for motivation to come along. Make a decision to do it anyway and start creating momentum. Soon you will find that the momentum will continue all on its own and it might even pull you along with it.

Why is it so difficult to maintain the momentum?

Now you might say ‘But I have tried to do things differently may times but I have not succeeded’. There is a really good reason for this and guess what it’s not your fault. It all has to do with your brain. There are three major reasons.

The latest research in neuroscience tells us that when you want to make changes in your life the brain will not necessarily be on your side and might actually hinder you in achieving what you want. Let’s explore this further:

1. Don’t take it personally

Many people resist change. Even when people’s lives are threatened, through smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor eating habits etc., changing the habit often seems near impossible. Have you ever wondered why so few weight loss programs work? Here is the answer. It all has to do with habits and conditioning.

Neuroscience has found that the part of the brain that deals with habits and what is familiar requires little energy. When something is a habit or routine it does not require much attention and you do things automatically. Because of this no matter how damaging it is to you, your behavior or habit is familiar and therefore feels normal and ‘comfortable’. You don’t have to think about lighting up that cigarette or putting junk food in your mouth, it just comes naturally to you.

This automatic response frees up the more conscious or thinking part of the brain to deal with more complex tasks such as processing new information. This part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex or the executive part of the brain, is not as energy efficient and requires more energy.

Just think about driving your car. You no longer have to consciously think about driving it, do you? Most of it is automatic until you are confronted with an unusual situation. Now imagine driving your car in another country where they drive on the other side of the road. Do you think your driving would be less automatic? Probably yes. You now have to consciously think about what you are doing and you feel uncomfortable and less confident. Until you get use to it, you would rather go back to driving on the other side of the road because that is what you are used to.

Before you get use to this new way of driving it feels strange and even wrong to you and you might even wonder why these people drive on ‘the wrong’ side of the road. Something might appear wrong because it is not what you are used to. It requires more focus, energy and effort from you. Given half a chance you would probably like to revert back to what is comfortable and familiar. It takes the brain some time to get use to a new situation…but before it does something else happens. It’s essential that you know this if you want to make important and lasting changes in your life.

2. The brain resists change

Your brain actually resists the change; not because it is trying to make things hard for you, but it does so for a very good reason. Your brain’s basic function is to keep you safe. Its main interest is your survival.

In order to keep you safe your brain is designed to be alert and detect if there is something different in your environment; something unusual or unfamiliar. If there is something out of the ordinary it could mean there is a threat to you. The limbic part of the brain – where our emotions and fight/flight system (the amygdala) resides, has a very fast, effective and efficient reference library. It will constantly and instantly compare all incoming information to see if it matches. Of course you are not consciously aware of this as it runs ‘in the background’. The limbic part of the brain will determine if what is happening is different from your experience, expectations and assumptions. When it detects a mismatch – just like an error code – it will activate the alarm center (the amygdale) in the brain. Your brain will send a powerful and urgent message that there is something amiss.

When the alarm is sounded the fear circuitry, the primitive part of your brain, gets triggered and you become unsettled or worse, you become stressed and anxious. This is what is supposed to happen as without this you would not survive.

When the error message shows up your ‘animal’ instincts take over and the most primitive and instinctual part of your brain gets activated and you become fully alert and ready to fight or run away. When the amygdale, gets activated you tend to become more emotional, act impulsively and it’s difficult to think logically. Your capacity for higher thought (reason) immediately decreases. Rather than you consciously overriding the error message you tend to automatically retreat to what is familiar. Just like any primitive creature you retreat to your familiar habitat, your ‘home’ or default position.

Are you getting the picture? Change leads to an error message; feeling unsafe, wanting to retreat to safety or to what is familiar, which is…you guessed it, whatever you are used to doing; whether it is food, cigarettes, alcohol or any other habit you may have.

So comparing information and alerting us to a mismatch is great for survival but not so good when it comes to making positive changes in our life. As far as the brain is concerned, change is a pain in the…..brain!

3. Focusing on the loss and not the gain

Another reason that change is so difficult is because of the way we drive our brain. There is a technique that racing car drivers use; don’t look were you don’t want to go. In other words look where you do want to go. As I mentioned, most people fail to make changes in their life because they focus on what they are giving up rather than on what they are gaining. For example, they look longingly at that cigarette they have just given up. When the brain perceives a loss it interprets it as giving up part of its security. ‘You want to give up something that is familiar? Not if I have my way! I am here to protect you. You want to give up the familiar neuro pathway and create a different one? No thanks, I’d rather we stick to well trodden and familiar ones’ says the brain.

When you focus on the loss rather than the gain it is hard for the brain to get excited and support you. Giving up something trusted and familiar is not the way to do it. Your brain needs a better and more compelling reason in order to start making changes.

What you need to do to make positive and lasting changes in your life?

Get your brain on board and get it to support you. And here is how you can do it:

    1. Align what you are moving towards (what you want) as much as possible to what you value (what is important to you). This is a very important motivator.
    2. Remember if the brain’s error code and therefore its alarm system get activated by making a change, this does not mean the change is wrong or you are in danger.
    3. Recognize that the brain’s protective mechanism is reactive, impulse based and prone to overreaction.
    4. Override the rather primitive alarm system with reasoning and logic and understand that it is mostly a false alarm.
    5. Understand that the data processing system, the limbic part of the brain, is very fast, automatic and very fuel efficient and the logical and reasoning part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex is much slower and very fuel consuming. This part of the brain rather than being automatic needs to be activated deliberately and consciously.
    6. Accept that it takes the brain time to get use to a new situation.
    7. Be aware the error code will keep popping up for a while until a new neuro pathway is established and the new behavior becomes a habit.
    8. Realize that it takes between 30-60 days for a new behavior or habit to become engrained and automatic. Remember also that withdrawal is a necessary part – and positive symptom – of the change process.
    9. Remember that if you regress during that time you often have to start from the beginning. That is where discipline and determination come in.
    10. Understand that when under stress you need to be extra vigilant so you don’t regress to old and ineffective behavior or habits. For example people will often revert back to smoking, drinking or over eating during times of stress, hence the saying; during stress we often regress.
    11. Focus on the gain not the pain. Focus and get excited about reaching your goal, the end result and the solution rather than the loss of what you are giving up. For example, replace ‘I have to give up cigarettes’ with something like: ‘I am looking after my health and everyday my health is improving’.
    12. Visualize what you want to change or achieve and imagine that you have already achieved your goal. See the end in mind and get excited about how it feels to have already achieved your goal. Studies have found that your brain will already start to create new neuro pathways just by visualizing and feeling excited about what you want.
    13. Be aware that the unconscious part of the brain does not know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. Imagination works. (Think about drinking a glass of vinegar or hearing the sound of someone scratching a blackboard with their nails).
    14. Understand that you are in charge of your brain and therefore your thinking. Let it serve you not the other way around.
    15. Mind your mind. In other words be aware of what you think about. Just as with your body, don’t pollute your brain with rubbish and junk thoughts or thoughts that don’t serve you.
    16. Understand the power of language. You command your brain by the words you use. Your brain will accepts and believe what you tell it. So be careful what you say to yourself. Thoughts like: I can’t do it, I am lazy, I am not clever, I have no will power, I can’t stick to things etc. instruct your brain to produce that result.
    17. Tell your brain what you want rather than what you don’t want and use positive language in the present tense. I am successful, rather than I am not going to fail. I am wealthy, rather than I want to be free of debt. I am a non-smoker rather than I am trying to give up smoking.
    18. Know that your brain can’t reverse. Try not to think of a pink elephant. See!
    19. Be very specific about what you would like to change and develop an action plan.
    20. Be solution orientated, remember that solutions are uplifting and problems will weigh you down.
    21. Step up! Learn to become more resilient, be your own best ally and supporter.
    22. Accept your humanness and don’t beat yourself up, it is bad for your brain!
    23. Remain focused and committed. It is easy to give up and unfortunately most people do.
    24. Create a vision board (a collage of inspiring pictures, images and affirmations that represent what you want).
    25. Know that the brain takes itself very seriously. Make sure you lighten it up by having lots of laughs.

Numerous studies have shown that people who set goals consistently achieve more in life than those who do not. Yet there is so much more to goal setting than most people think. Not only do people need to be clear about what they want, they need to create an environment for success and achievement; an environment that guides and supports them, keeps them focused and on the right track.

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