To Do List

Lists appeal to our innate tendency to categorize information, as well as help us feel less stressed, writes Maria Konnikova in The New Yorker.

Seeing information as a list makes you feel less overwhelmed by a task so it’s easier to complete, which in turn makes you happier, says Konnikova, New York Times bestselling author of “The Confidence Game.”

Here are 26 list ideas to get you started.

1. Recipes you want to try: Pull this out the next time you’re stuck on what to make for dinner for instant inspiration.

2. Movies you want to see: You’ll never have to sit through the “I don’t care, what to do you want to watch?” scenario again.

3. Books you want to read: Next time you’re reaching for another predictable beach read, look up that acclaimed novel-of-the-year, Oprah-recommended one instead.

4. TV shows you want to watch: You’ll be prepared for when you binge-watch your way through “Stranger Things” and need a new addiction now.

5. Restaurants you want to try: Keep a running list of all the places you want to try and you’ll never be left without a suggestion when deciding where to eat tonight. Bonus points if you organize it by type of cuisine.

6. Places to see: Maybe you’ve always wanted to visit the Great Wall of China, or even just the Statue of Liberty. Once you have a list, you’ll be motivated to plan a trip.

7. Cities and countries you want to visit: Perhaps there’s not a specific landmark you’re dying to see, but you’ve always wanted to eat pasta in Italy or drink wine in France. Your list will remind of which trips you really need to take.

8. Places to visit in your hometown: It’s not as exciting as jet-setting across the globe, but you’ll have plenty of things to do instead of vegging out on your couch next Saturday.

9. Passwords: Never forget if your Amazon password is SoccerStar12 or Socc3rStar again.

10. Daily to-do list: Keep track of everything that’s on your plate for the day. Plus, nothing feels better than crossing something off.

11. Done list: Looking back at your daily accomplishments will help you learn how to be more productive — and provides an automatic ego boost.

12. Bucket list: Everything you want to do before you die, from big things such as getting married or climbing Mt. Everest, down to small things such as baking the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

13. Short-term goals: What do you want to accomplish this month?

14. Long-term goals: What do you hope to accomplish in the next five to 10 years?

15. Professional accomplishments: Keep a list of all of those projects executed and compliments given. Aside from making you feel good when you’re having an off-day, this list will be invaluable when it comes time to update your resume.

16. Criteria for your next job: The more hours, days, and years you spend at work, the more you know what you do and don’t need to be your most effective, most productive self in both this position and the next.

17. DIY projects: Pinterest might be a great aspirational site, but this will help you keep track of the projects you actually want to complete, like organizing your old photos or painting the furniture in the guest room.

18. Home improvement projects: Writing down everything that needs to be done will allow you to prioritize what you should tackle first.

19. Grocery list: Knowing exactly what you need to buy — and sticking to it — will not only save you money, it will help you resist that box of cookies you know you don’t need.

20. Drugstore list: We’ve all gone into Target for toothpaste and come out with $100 worth of items before. Keep a running list of the things you need, so you

can avoid the inevitable $20 drug store “cover charge.”

21. Wardrobe updates: Whether it’s a necessity, like a new winter coat, or something fun, like trendy sneakers, having an idea of which items you’re hunting for before you go shopping will help you avoid impulse buys, ultimately saving you money.

22. Important dates: Everyone loves when you remember their birthday or anniversary, so keep a list of your loved ones’ significant dates and you’ll never miss a chance to make their day.

23. Due dates: If you’re even the slightest bit forgetful, writing down when you need to return that shirt by or when those frozen chicken breasts expire can save you stress in the long run.

24. Favorite quotes: You’ll feel inspired all over again every time you read through your list. If you’re still looking for a favorite, here are a few great quotes from Albert Einstein and Richard Branson to get you started.

25. Things you’re thankful for: Revisit this on your toughest days to remind yourself how great your life is.

26. Things that make you happy: Whenever you’re sad, you’ll automatically give yourself several reasons to smile.

Teken from:
By myspaek

Six Simple Habits That Defeat Anxiety


Six Simple Habits That Defeat Anxiety

Deanne Repich, Director: National Institute of Anxiety and Stress

If you’re like most anxiety sufferers, you probably spend much of your day wrestling with physical symptoms, feeling afraid, or even hiding your anxious feelings from others. When stressors arise your racing heart, trembling, dizziness, obsessive thoughts and other symptoms take over.

Anxiety can keep you feeling trapped — and once you feel this way, it’s difficult to know how or if you can ever feel better.

If you suffer from anxiety, take heart. Studies show that simple anxiety-reducing habits can go a long way toward improving how you feel.

Here are six simple habits you can use to defeat anxiety and take back control of your life.

1) Acknowledge your Anxiety.

When you hide your anxious feelings for months or years, you perpetuate your anxiety by assuming it’s your fault. Anxiety is not your fault. There is nothing inherently wrong with who you are. You are a good, valuable, uniquely special person. You simply suffer from anxiety.

Acknowledge your anxious feelings. Share how you’re feeling with a trustworthy friend, partner, or relative. Talk to your doctor. Go to an online support group and talk with others about what you’re going through.

When you acknowledge your anxious feelings, you take an important step toward feeling better. Facing the truth can be very empowering because once you name the problem you can go about solving it. You open the door to learning how to feel better.

2) Learn Strategies to Immediately Deal with Anxiety Symptoms.

Educate yourself by learning strategies to immediately deal with anxiety symptoms. The National Institute of Anxiety and Stress has just made available free information that can help you reduce anxiety symptoms quickly, easily, and effectively.

This free information contains audio and workbook exercises that show you:

  • how to stop intense anxiety using a simple three-step formula
  • how to deal with anxiety symptoms quickly
  • what to do when you’re having a panic attack
  • These easy-to-follow strategies are freely available to anyone wishing to download them at:

3) Use “Power” Language.

Mind-body research shows that the words you use can have a powerful effect on how you feel. Most anxiety sufferers use negative words that destroy their self-esteem and promote a sense of loss of control. These are “victim” words. A few victim words include: can’t, always, never, and should.

Victim words perpetuate your anxiety and fear. They create a negative self-fulfilling prophecy that results in anxious thoughts and physical symptoms.

You can learn to defeat anxiety by replacing victim words with “power” language. Power language means using words that promote your feelings of self-worth and personal power.

When you use power language, the statement: “I can’t control my anxiety” becomes “I can control my anxiety, and I’m learning skills to conquer it.” The statement: “Why do I always feel so anxious?” becomes “I often feel anxious, but not all of the time.” The statement: “I shouldn’t be late for dinner” becomes “I may be late for dinner. It’s unfortunate, but it’s OK.”

4) Tone your Inner Power Daily.

Think of your inner power as a muscle just like any other muscle. The more you use it, the more toned it becomes and the more you are able to accomplish. Every time you practice a healthy life strategy, you actually increase your ability to conquer your anxiety. What you couldn’t do yesterday, you can do today. With practice, your new skills will become automatic. This is how you create lasting freedom from anxiety.

In the words of Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

5) Set Small, Achievable Goals.

Anxiety sufferers tend to set unrealistically high expectations for themselves. To counteract this tendency, set goals that you can easily accomplish. This builds your confidence and your sense of accomplishment.

When you are learning skills to handle stress and reduce your anxiety, small steps work best. For example, if your goal is to integrate deep breathing into your life, start by practicing for one-minute intervals three or four times a day instead of for an hour all at once.

Setting small, achievable goals will help will take you farther than you can imagine over time. It will help you reach your final destination: a happier, low-anxiety life.

6) Realize that Now is the Perfect Time to Start Feeling Better.

And finally, realize that your anxiety and fear will not go away until you stop waiting and start learning. There are many resources available to you to help you overcome your anxiety — books, courses, doctors, counselors, support groups, and more.

Some of you have been waiting for the “perfect” time to conquer your anxiety. You may be saying to yourself…”I can’t tackle my anxiety right now. I’ll wait until my symptoms aren’t so strong to make changes in my life.” Or …“I’ll start making changes when my life is less hectic.” The list goes on and on.

Here’s what I’ve discovered: You’ll be waiting a lifetime for these things to happen. Because when you wait for something else to happen to improve your life, you’re giving away your power. You feed your anxiety and feelings of loss of control.

The only perfect time to conquer your anxiety is right now…this moment. You do not need to feel symptom-free or confident or energetic, or anything else to begin. All you need to do is take the first step.

Practice these six habits daily, and you’ll see your skills improve as you take back your power from anxiety.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deanne Repich is the Director of the National Institute of Anxiety and Stress, a teacher and learning expert, and a former anxiety sufferer. Deanne created the Conquer Your Anxiety Success Program, a simple, action-oriented “how-to” course that brings results. She also conducts seminars, writes articles, and publishes the FREE “Anxiety Tips” newsletter.

– See more at:

By myspaek

15 Easy Ways to Beat Anxiety Now

Original Article at:


10 Unexpected Stressors That Are Wrecking Your Health READ

I’m halfway out the door in the morning with a heavy bag in one hand and a mug of coffee in the other. Then I wonder:Where did I put my keys? And so begins the 20-minute panicked reconnaissance mission for the keys I sworewere on the coffee table. I start to feel flustered and irritable as I frantically search. My memory gets foggy as my heart starts to pound and my palms sweat. It’s another anxious morning.

Anxiety Alert—The Need-to-Know

Technically, anxiety is apprehension over an upcoming event. We anticipate the future with sometimes scary predictions that don’t necessarily have any basis in truth. In everyday life, anxiety’sphysical and emotional symptoms can mean an increased heart rate, poor concentration at work and school, sleeping problems, and just being a total Crankasaurus Rex to family, friends, and co-workers.

Anxiety and stress are physical and emotional responses toperceived dangers (that aren’t always real). And since most of us aren’t running from tigers or hunting and gathering in the woods, it’s often the little things that put us over the edge: an over-loaded email inbox, morning rush hour, or losing those keys before running out the door. Luckily, it’s easy to beat this kind of stress with just a few easy changes added throughout the day.

Note: If you feel like you might be dealing with a serious anxiety disorder, please talk to a medical professional about treatment. There are lots of options available to manage your symptoms. But if you’re looking to reduce daily anxiety, these 15 tips will get you on your way to being calm and collected in no time.

Cool as a Cucumber—Your Action Plan

1. Get enough sleep. Inconsistent sleep can have some serious consequences. Not only does it affect our physical health, but lack of sleep can also contribute to overall anxiety and stress. And sometimes it turns into a vicious cycle, since anxiety often leads todisruptions in sleep . Especially when feeling anxious, try to schedule a full seven to nine hours of snooze time and see what a few nights of sweet slumber do for those anxiety levels throughout the day.

2. Smile. When work has got us down, it’s a good idea to take a quick break to get some giggles on. Research suggests that laughter can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, so consider checking out a funny YouTube clip to calm those jittery nerves .

3. De-clutter the brain. Physical clutter = mental clutter. A messy workspace can make it more difficult to relax and make it seem like our work is never-ending. So take 15 minutes or so to tidy up the living space or work area, and then make a habit of keeping things clean and anxiety-free. It’ll help us think rationally, and there won’t be as much room for anxiety.

4. Express gratitude. Studies have found expressing gratitude helps reduce anxiety, especially when we’re well-rested . Start a gratitude journal to get in the mindset of appreciation, and out of the mindset of being overwhelmed.

5. Eat right. Anxiety can throw our bodies totally out of whack: Ourappetite might change, or we might crave certain foods. But to give the body the support it needs, try eating more of foods that contain nutrients such as vitamin B and omega-3s, plus some healthy whole-grain carbohydrates. Studies have linked vitamin B with good mental health, and omega-3s may help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety . Whole-grain carbs help regulate levels ofserotonin, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter that helps us remain calm. And even though our cravings might be telling us otherwise, research suggests that eating sugary and processed foods can increase symptoms of anxiety .

6. Learn to breathe. A useful tool to prevent panic attacks, the breath is also a great marker of where your anxiety level is at throughout the day. Short, shallow breaths signify stress and anxiety in the brain and body. On the flip side, consciously breathing, plus lengthening and strengthening the breath helps send signals to the brain that it’s okay to relax .

7. Meditate. By now most of us have heard that meditation is relaxing, but what scientists are also discovering is that meditation actually increases the amount of grey matter in the brain, essentially rewiring the body to stress less. A number of recent studies highlight the positive effects of meditation on anxiety, mood, and stress symptoms . Meditation is also a way to observe the brain, letting us figure out how our mind generates anxiety-provoking thoughts. And understanding the brain’s thought patterns can help create distance from those thoughts.

8. Create a vision board. If the future seems big and scary, try changing the thoughts about what lies ahead. Sometimes the mere act of setting concrete goals can take the edge off anxiety about future unknowns. Take an hour to produce a vision board that creates excitement about projects and possibilities to come. And for those who aren’t the crafty type, try making an e-vision board using Pinterest for some Pinspiration. While making the board, try using the T.H.I.N.K. tool: Is my thought true, helpful, inspirational, necessary and kind? If not, dump the thought.

9. Play around. Kids and animals seem to have an innate ability to play, without stressing about their overflowing inboxes. Until business offices give us recess breaks, we’ll have to take responsibility for our own playtime. Offer to take a friend’s dog out for a walk, or babysit for an afternoon to get out of your head and let the careless creatures lead by example.

10. Be silent. Plan for a time when you can completely disconnect. Start with increments of time that seem sustainable and doable for you, even if it’s just five minutes. That means phone off, no emails, no TV, no news, nothing. Let other people know they won’t be able to reach you so you can veg worry free. There’s some evidence thattoo much noise can boost our stress levels, so schedule some sacred silent time among all the ruckus of daily life.

11. Worry. Yes, we can cause ourselves to freak out, but only for a certain amount of time. When something weighs heavily on your mind, or you believe something terrible is most definitely going to occur, commit to only creating that worry for 20 minutes. Think of all the possible outcomes of the scenario, figure out some game plans, and then quit thinking about it after 20 minutes go by. Have a friend call after the allotted time has passed to avoid the temptation of going over the time limit. Or schedule some of that playtime right afterward.

12. Plan ahead. Fight anxious thoughts in advance by preparing for the day ahead. Try making a schedule or a to-do list and develop habits that increase productivity. So instead of spending 10 extra minutes every morning frantically looking for those keys, make a habit of always putting them in the same place when you come home. Lay out clothes the night before, pack a gym bag and leave it by the door, or make lunch ahead of time. Focus on how to “un-think” the anxiety-producing beliefs by prepping before they pop up.

13. Visualize anything positive. When confronted with anxious thoughts, take a moment to visualize yourself handling the situation with calm, ease, and clarity. Try not to pay attention to the current mental state; just focus on the feeling of smooth-sailing through the storm. The technique is called “guided imagery” or “guided visualization” and can help reduce feelings of stress .

14. Smell something relaxing. Try sniffing some calming oils. Basil, anise, and chamomile are great choices; they reduce tension in the body and help increase mental clarity.

15. Hang out. People who have lots of social support tend to reactless negatively to stress than those who fly solo. That’s probably because socializing stimulates the production of the hormone oxytocin, which has an anxiety-reducing effect . So the next time a freak-out appears on the horizon, grab some pals and go for a walk or just have a quick chat.

The Takeaway

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t come up with thoughts that produce stress or anxiety. But we’re human and inevitably worry about things. So when we do start to freak, there are lots of little steps we can take to change our thoughts, calm the brain, relax the body, and get back in the game. And, as always, be sure to check with a psychotherapist if these tips don’t cut it and you need a little extra help tackling a more significant anxiety issue!

By myspaek

Street Foods Of India


21 Lip-Smacking Street Foods That Will Make You Run For A Bite

3 March 2016

1. Vada Pav- This Dish Suits Every Pocket & Palate


If you haven’t tasted this favourite snack from Mumbai then you have no right to say anything about it. Spicy potato fritters in a bun, sold almost everywhere in Mumbai. HolidayIQ Traveller Kaberi shares: “The street food is world famous and you can relish them at Chowpatty. Try poha, upma, surali wadi, vada pav, pav bhaji, thalipeeth, zunka bhakar, sabudana khichdi and Kolhapuri misal. Mumbai has a variety of non- veg and veg food. Try vegetarian food at BBT and Shiv Sagar.”

How to reach | Where to stay

33757 Ratings | 21858 Reviews | 744 Sightseeings | 825 Photos

2. Varanasi’s Favourite, Kachori Sabzi – A Spur Of Flavours


Have this dish at any time of the day! This traditional brunch snack is made by filling small dough balls with a spicy potato mash. HIQ reviewer Anshuman Mukherjee shares: “We had a good breakfast of kachori with sabzi.”

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5618 Ratings | 3468 Reviews | 118 Sightseeings | 276 Photos

3. The Spicy & Tangy – Pyaaz Kachoris From Rajasthan


Your trip to Rajasthan is incomplete if you haven’t had this scrumptious dish. A variation of kachori, pyaaz kachori is a filling of onions, potatoes and spices. This puffy pastry is a sell out at every namkeen shop in Rajasthan. This breakfast snack is best enjoyed with sweet and sour tamarind chutney.  “The kachoris are famous in Jaipur. Try going to Chokhi Dhani for dinner,” says HolidayIQ Traveller Hardesh Verma.

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37771 Ratings | 22789 Reviews | 272 Sightseeings | 1022 Photos

4. The Most Delectable, Doodh- Jalebi

source: flickr- KulwantSingh Janjue

Is it doodh? Is it Jalebi? Is it both? Oh yes it is DoodhJalebi the most delectable Rajasthani dessert. HolidayIQ Traveller Vivek Malpani shares: “We had little snacks i.e. Ghewer and some Feeni with milk. This is a very famous Marwari dish, full of carbohydrates.” A must have!

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6458 Ratings | 3777 Reviews | 29 Sightseeings | 422 Photos

5. Banarasi Chuda Matar

source: pinimg width=”630px”.com

If you are in Banaras, a must visit place is Luxa Road for the city’s most famous chaat bhandaar, Dina Chaat. The most unique and a must eat is the ‘tamatar chaat’. This chaat is served in kulhads, a mixture of thick tomato gravy , chhole, peas, onions, an array of spices with different chutneys and a squeeze of lime. Other dishes that are a must try are chuda matar, spinach papdi chaat, aloo tikki, dahi puri and gulab jamuns. HolidayIQ Traveller Arnab Chatterjee shares, “A short walk will take you to the Dina Chat Bhandar which serves some of the most delicious chaats.”

How to reach | Where to stay

5618 Ratings | 3468 Reviews | 118 Sightseeings | 276 Photos

6. This One Needs No Introduction! Pani-Puri!

source: bele_harshad- flickr

Pani Puri! These words come with a stir of nostalgia, craving and contentment. You are truly missing out if you haven’t had pani puris. HolidayIQ Traveller Deeps shares: “You can spot various bollywood celebrities at Juhu beach. Try out the local street food offered at food stalls and snack joints set up at the beach. Street food, such as ‘pani puri’, ‘bhel puri’ and ‘pav bhaji’ are just awesome.”

How to reach | Where to stay

33757 Ratings | 21858 Reviews | 744 Sightseeings | 825 Photos

7. World’s Tastiest Vegetarian Dish- Misal Pav


The tastiest vegetarian dish in the world indeed! One of the most famous of Maharashtrian recipes, Misal is a scrumptious cocktail of savouries and sprouts! Gypsy Corner at Dadar Shivaji Park serves one of the best Misal Pav’s in Mumbai. HolidayIQ Traveller Kaberi Das shares: “Misal pav is a must try when in Mumbai. The thought of it leaves me drooling.”

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13721 Ratings | 9750 Reviews | 403 Sightseeings | 374 Photos

8. The Traditional Yet Tasty- Idli-Vada


Enjoy a vada for breakfast as an accomplishment to the traditional idli and sambar or just without it. Hot idlis dipped in sambar with a dash of ghee is sure to make you crave for more. HolidayIQ Traveller Ek shares, “Chennai is where you get the cuisine you want. You name it, you get it! But for sure you must taste the tasty south indian breakfast (Idli sambar and multi colored chutneys).”

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26049 Ratings | 16329 Reviews | 501 Sightseeings | 408 Photos

9. Worth Every Calorie- Patrathas From Delhi


This street food of Delhi is worth every calorie! This most preferred breakfast of Delhi can be eaten at any time. A healthy splash of butter and generous stuffing in the paratha makes it a best street food in Delhi. The egg and pizza paratha and not to forget the deep fried paratha at Parathe Wali Gali is a must. Reviewer Babita Goyal suggests: “The best places to have paratha are Green Park, Moolchand, AIIMS, Sector 58.”

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17202 Ratings | 10671 Reviews | 1 Sightseeings | 739 Photos

10. This Syrupy Goodness- Falooda Kulfi


This syrupy goodness is worth all the calorie intake! Relish the famous kulfi faluda at chandni chowk at Giani’s or try Roshan di Kulfi at Karol Bagh. HolidayIQ Traveller Vipin Rishiraj recommends, “You have to have kulfi faluda at Roshan.”

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17202 Ratings | 10671 Reviews | 1 Sightseeings | 739 Photos

11. Mumbai’s Favourite- Grilled Sandwich


You definitely do not need an introduction to this snack. Do you? The roadside sandwiches in Mumbai have a story of their own. There are unlimited variations of sandwich: butter, mayonnaise, cheese, schezwan, toasted, grilled, egg, vegetable, oh, the possibilities! Baba Sandwich stall near Mithibai college is one of the must visit sandwich joints.

How to reach | Where to stay

33757 Ratings | 21858 Reviews | 744 Sightseeings | 825 Photos

12. The Humble Litti Chkha From Bihar


Litti up your food! This lip-smacking dish is a famous street food from Bihar. HolidayIQ Traveller Kunal shares: “The litti chokha aroma at Shankar Litti Bhandar!” Drooling already? If you are a Bihari living away from your hometown, look no further. The Jharkhand Food Stall at Dilli Haat is where you can enjoy scrumptious litti chokha in Delhi.

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440 Ratings | 200 Reviews | 380 Photos

13. Sweet & Sour- Yumm! Poha- Jalebi


Indore is very popular for the wide range of namkeens, samosa, chaats, lapsi and the best one bafla. Poha-Jalebi is the best street food and the specialty of Indore served with sev & nukti and with jalebi.

By myspaek


good article from yahoo


When money is tight, you have two main options – spend less or make more. Of course, the third option is the best: do both.


You can cut costs many ways. To make more you can ask for a raise, get a better paying job or take on side work. But if you find yourself constantly making less than your peers, even when you both have the same experience and qualifications, you may be an underearner. Here are five traits of underearners with some tips to turn it around.

1. You Undervalue Your Worth

This one may seem obvious. If you believe you’re not worth much, you’ll accept less. Underearners will accept a lower salary and sometimes even work for free. There’s nothing wrong with offering to work pro bono to establish yourself or give back. But if you find you’re always using your skills and never being rewarded, that’s a problem. Make sure you are getting something every time you use your skills. This doesn’t have to mean money. But if you are writing an article for free, get the byline so you can create a portfolio. Then you can use that to get paid opportunities.

2. You’re Oblivious

Underearners aren’t always aware of their financial situation. They may not realize they’re being undervalued because they don’t realize how much it costs to maintain their lifestyle. A simple budget can put it in perspective. You need to make sure that you’re not working and working but falling into debt. Also, underearners often don’t take a long term view of their finances. Factor in retirement and unexpected disruptions like a furlough, layoff or emergency. Having a complete picture of your own finances can help put your contribution and how you should be compensated into perspective. (If you want to get a glimpse of your debt profile, has a free tool called the Credit Report Card that can tell you how your debt is impacting your credit scores.)

3. You Don’t Care

It may sound noble to say you don’t care about money. But studies show underearners actually think about (and even obsess about) money, or the lack of it, more than others. So while you can value other things over it, you can’t ignore money. Perhaps you think giving back is more important than having lots of money. But if you are properly compensated for your work, you can make more money and give more to charity.

4. You Work Hard, But Not Smart

Underearners tend to work a lot but are less productive than others. They log long hours but don’t seem to get anywhere. A great way to combat this problem is to be more organized. Create a list of what needs to get done and prioritize those items. If you find you’re spending a lot of time on the least important things, stop.

5. You Don’t Negotiate

Asking for more can be tough. But if you don’t ask, you’ll never get it. When starting a job or taking on a project, make sure you understand what it will take to get done. Then be able to clearly outline that to your employer. Being able to explain what you will be providing can help you ask for the correct compensation. Skipping the negotiation can lead to bitterness and unhappiness later. Negotiating may be unpleasant but it’s worth it in the end.


From yahoo

By myspaek

Positive Thinking

  • P
  • S

Tips, tricks, and downloads for getting things done.



How Positive Thoughts Build Skills, Boost Health, and Improve Work

How Positive Thoughts Build Skills, Boost Health, and Improve WorkSEXPAND


Positive thinking sounds useful on the surface. (Most of us would prefer to be positive rather than negative.) But “positive thinking” is also a soft and fluffy term that’s easy to dismiss. In the real world, it rarely carries the same weight as words like “work ethic” or “persistence.” But those views may be changing.P

Research is beginning to reveal that positive thinking is about much more than just being happy or displaying an upbeat attitude. Positive thoughts can actually create real value in your life and help you build skills that last much longer than a smile. The impact of positive thinking on your work, your health, and your life is being studied by people who are much smarter than me. One of these people is Barbara Fredrickson.P

Fredrickson is a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina and she published a landmark paper that provides surprising insights about positive thinking and it’s impact on your skills. Her work is among the most referenced and cited in her field and it is surprisingly useful in everyday life. Let’s talk about Fredrickson’s discovery and what it means for you…P

What Negative Thoughts Do to Your BrainP

Play along with me for a moment. Let’s say that you’re walking through the forest and suddenly a tiger steps onto the path ahead of you. When this happens, your brain registers a negative emotion—in this case, fear. Researchers have long known that negative emotions program your brain to do a specific action. When that tiger crosses your path, for example, you run. The rest of the world doesn’t matter. You are focused entirely on the tiger, the fear it creates, and how you can get away from it.P

In other words, negative emotions narrow your mind and focus your thoughts. At that same moment, you might have the option to climb a tree, pick up a leaf, or grab a stick—but your brain ignores all of those options because they seem irrelevant when a tiger is standing in front of you. This is a useful instinct if you’re trying to save life and limb, but in our modern society we don’t have to worry about stumbling across tigers in the wilderness. The problem is that your brain is still programmed to respond to negative emotions in the same way—by shutting off the outside world and limiting the options you see around you.P

For example, when you’re in a fight with someone, your anger and emotion might consume you to the point where you can’t think about anything else. Or, when you are stressed out about everything you have to get done today, you may find it hard to actual start anything because you’re paralyzed by how long your to–do list has become. Or, if you feel bad about not exercising or not eating healthy, all you think about is how little willpower you have, how you’re lazy, and how you don’t have any motivation.P

In each case, your brain closes off from the outside world and focuses on the negative emotions of fear, anger, and stress—just like it did with the tiger. Negative emotions prevent your brain from seeing the other options and choices that surround you. It’s your survival instinct.P

Now, let’s compare this to what positive emotions do to your brain. This is where Barbara Fredrickson returns to the story.P

What Positive Thoughts Do to Your BrainP

Fredrickson tested the impact of positive emotions on the brain by setting up a little experiment. During this experiment, she divided her research subjects into 5 groups and showed each group different film clips. The first two groups were shown clips that created positive emotions. Group 1 saw images that created feelings of joy. Group 2 saw images that created feelings of contentment. Group 3 was the control group. They saw images that were neutral and produced no significant emotion. The last two groups were shown clips that created negative emotions. Group 4 saw images that created feelings of fear. Group 5 saw images that created feelings of anger.P

Afterward, each participant was asked to imagine themselves in a situation where similar feelings would arise and to write down what they would do. Each participant was handed a piece of paper with 20 blank lines that started with the phrase, “I would like to…” Participants who saw images of fear and anger wrote down the fewest responses. Meanwhile, the participants who saw images of joy and contentment, wrote down a significantly higher number of actions that they would take, even when compared to the neutral group.P

In other words, when you are experiencing positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, you will see more possibilities in your life. These findings were among the first that proved that positive emotions broaden your sense of possibility and open your mind up to more options. But that was just the beginning. The really interesting impact of positive thinking happens later…P

How Positive Thinking Builds Your Skill SetP

The benefits of positive emotions don’t stop after a few minutes of good feelings subside. In fact, the biggest benefit that positive emotions provide is an enhanced ability to build skills and develop resources for use later in life. Let’s consider a real world example.P

A child who runs around outside, swinging on branches and playing with friends, develops the ability to move athletically (physical skills), the ability to play with others and communicate with a team (social skills), and the ability to explore and examine the world around them (creative skills). In this way, the positive emotions of play and joy prompt the child to build skills that are useful and valuable in everyday life.P

These skills last much longer than the emotions that initiated them. Years later, that foundation of athletic movement might develop into a scholarship as a college athlete or the communication skills may blossom into a job offer as a business manager. The happiness that promoted the exploration and creation of new skills has long since ended, but the skills themselves live on. Fredrickson refers to this as the “broaden and build” theory because positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind, which in turn allows you to build new skills and resources that can provide value in other areas of your life.P

As we discussed earlier, negative emotions do the opposite. Why? Because building skills for future use is irrelevant when there is immediate threat or danger (like the tiger on the path). All of this research begs the most important question of all: if positive thinking is so useful for developing valuable skills and appreciating the Big Picture of life, how do you actually get yourself to be positive?P

How to Increase Positive Thinking in Your LifeP

What you can do to increase positive emotions and take advantage of the “broaden and build” theory in your life? Well, anything that sparks feelings of joy, contentment, and love will do the trick. You probably know what things work well for you. Maybe it’s playing the guitar. Maybe it’s spending time with a certain person. Maybe it’s carving tiny wooden lawn gnomes.P

That said, here are three ideas for you to consider…P

1. Meditation: Recent research by Fredrickson and her colleagues has revealed that people who meditate daily display more positive emotions that those who do not. As expected, people who meditated also built valuable long–term skills. For example, three months after the experiment was over, the people who meditated daily continued to display increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, and decreased illness symptoms.P

Note: If you’re looking for an easy way to start meditation, here is a 10–minute guided meditationthat was recently sent to me. Just close your eyes, breathe, and follow along.P

2. Writing: This study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, examined a group of 90 undergraduate students who were split into two groups. The first group wrote about an intensely positive experience each day for three consecutive days. The second group wrote about a control topic. Three months later, the students who wrote about positive experiences had better mood levels, fewer visits to the health center, and experienced fewer illnesses. (This blew me away. Better health after just three days of writing about positive things!)P

Note: I used to be very erratic in my writing, but now I publish a new article every Monday and Thursday. I’ve written more about my writing process and how you can stick to your goals in this article and this article.P

3. Play: Schedule time to play into your life. We schedule meetings, conference calls, weekly events, and other responsibilities into our daily calendars… why not schedule time to play?P

When was the last time you blocked out an hour on your calendar just to explore and experiment? When was the last time you intentionally carved out time to have fun? You can’t tell me that being happy is less important than your Wednesday meeting, and yet, we act like it is because we never give it a time and space to live on our calendars. Give yourself permission to smile and enjoy the benefits of positive emotion. Schedule time for play and adventure so that you can experience contentment and joy, and explore and build new skills.P

Happiness vs. Success: Which Comes First?P

There’s no doubt that happiness is the result of achievement. Winning a championship, landing a better job, finding someone you love — these things will bring joy and contentment to your life. But so often, we wrongly assume that this means happiness always follows success.P

How often have you thought, “If I just get ___, then I’ll be set.”P

Or, “Once I achieve ___, I’ll be satisfied.”P

I know I’m guilty of putting off happiness until I achieve some arbitrary goal. But as Fredrickson’s “broaden and build” theory proves, happiness is essential to building the skills that allow for success. In other words, happiness is both the precursor to success and the result of it.P

In fact, researchers have often noticed a compounding effect or an “upward spiral” that occurs with happy people. They are happy, so they develop new skills, those skills lead to new success, which results in more happiness, and the process repeats itself.P

Where to Go From HereP

Positive thinking isn’t just a soft and fluffy feel–good term. Yes, it’s great to simply “be happy,” but those moments of happiness are also critical for opening your mind to explore and build the skills that become so valuable in other areas of your life. Finding ways to build happiness and positive emotions into your life—whether it is through meditation, writing, playing a pickup basketball game, or anything else—provides more than just a momentary decrease in stress and a few smiles.P

Periods of positive emotion and unhindered exploration are when you see the possibilities for how your past experiences fit into your future life, when you begin to develop skills that blossom into useful talents later on, and when you spark the urge for further exploration and adventure. To put it simply: seek joy, play often, and pursue adventure. Your brain will do the rest.P

The Science of Positive Thinking: How Positive Thoughts Build Skills, Boost Health, and Improve Work | James ClearP

James Clear writes at, where he uses behavior science to help you master your habits and improve your health. For useful ideas on improving your mental and physical performance, join his free newsletter. Or, download his 38-page guide on Transforming Your Habits.

Want to see your work on Lifehacker? Email Tessa.P


kabuki4774UJames Clear



Positive thinking is so powerful in my opinion. There is so much uncertanty in every decision and in my personal experience simply thinking positively about the uncertain things in life has not only put my mind at ease and kept my stress levels down, but has also strengthened my faith in just letting things take there course. A small example of this has to do with searching for summer jobs. My friends and I have searched high and low, majority of my friends were pessimistic about the search seeing as we have no real experience in anything just yet, I on the other hand kept my head high. We all applied to the same jobs, and yet by some strange happenstance I was offered jobs at almost every job where as they were not getting any bites… Call this luck or whatever you may, all I can say is I think my positive thinking went a long way.As a final note I have also noticed that when not so fortunate events do happen in my life I find myself sulking over it and working because close to impossible because of it.. However once I manage to ‘convince myself’ that things will work out for the best, the distracting thoughts lose their grip on my conscience and all work to actually take place.

Every event that befalls me is absolutely the best possible event that could occur. -from Zen The Art of Happiness

6/28/13 6:24am


ApheXNinjAUJames Clear



Great article James — I really enjoyed the read.

Once you learn to put a positive spin on everything in your life — your life seems to be brighter in every way. You can take control of any situation and make it into something positive — even if that situation turns out to be bad — your frame of mind can really play a huge part in mitigating that impact. 

I’m constantly amazed at how much better off I’ve been since I turned a lot around in my life a few years ago. I took a very, very negative situation and turned it into the best learning experience of my life. From that, I’ve now gained a career, have an amazing girlfriend, and I’m in the works of buying my dream car.

All I can say is, be happy in who you are and what you do — for we have a very short time on this planet, and worrying about anything other than yours and others happiness is an exercise in frustration and futility.6/28/13 10:18am


ProductivePalUJames Clear



Meditation is a great tool to increase positive and productive thinking.

I use mindfulness to focus on the present moment and become more productive in my day to day activities. I find my self awareness practice to be very effective in staying ‘on purpose’ and not panicking about the growing list of things to do6/28/13 4:17pm


doodledeveloperUJames Clear



I’d love to talk to the person that thinks running away from a wild tiger is a good idea, after they’ve successfully run away from it.

Tiger sees a big meat bag running away from it, instinct response is tiger chases, pins & eats said meat bag. Granted, if I happen across a tiger in the wild, I’d be scared sh*tless – but running wouldn’t be my first option. Neither would climbing a tree (because tigers can climb – probably far better than I can). I’d personally opt for the largest stick/rock I could comfortably wield, and backing away slowly, without turning my back on the tiger, and with the backup plan of shoving said stone/stick down said tigers throat with a loud “eat that you f**ker!”

Fear triggers fight or flight – dead people chose the flight option with the tiger, badly mauled people chose the fight option. But the point of the article that some emotions limit opportunities stands – sensible, alive, non-mauled people chose not to go walking in the African plain in the first place, probably opting to stay in the 4×4, with the biggest zoom lens money can buy – just so they can claim to their friends that they got out of the 4×4 & walked with the tigers.7/22/13 8:55am

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By myspaek


20 Things I Should Have Known at 20

1. The world is trying to keep you stupid. From bank fees to interest rates to miracle diets, people who are not educated are easier to get money from and easier to lead. Educate yourself as much as possible for wealth, independence, and happiness.

2. Do not have faith in institutions to educate you. By the time they build the curriculum, it’s likely that the system is outdated– sometimes utterly broken. You both learn and get respect from people worth getting it from by leading and doing, not by following.

3. Read as much as you can. Learn to speed read with high retention.Emerson Spartz taught me this while I was at a Summit Series event. If he reads 2-3 books a week, you can read one.

4. Connect with everyone, all the time. Be genuine about it. Learn to find something you like in each person, and then speak to that thing.

5. Don’t waste time being shy. Shyness is the belief that your emotions should be the arbitrators of your decision making process when the opposite is actually true.

6. If you feel weird about something during a relationship, that’s usually what you end up breaking up over.

7. Have as much contact as possible with older people. Personally, I met people at Podcamps. My friend Greg, at the age of 13, met his first future employer sitting next to him on a plane. The reason this is so valuable is because people your age don’t usually have the decision-making ability to help you very much. Also they know almost everything you will learn later, so ask them.

8. Find people that are cooler than you and hang out with them too. This and the corollary are both important: “don’t attempt to be average inside your group. Continuously attempt to be cooler than them (by doing cooler things, being more laid back, accepting, ambitious, etc.).”

9. You will become more conservative over time. This is just a fact. Those you surround yourself with create a kind of “bubble” that pushes you to support the status quo. For this reason, you need to do your craziest stuff NOW. Later on, you’ll become too afraid. Trust me.

10. Reduce all expenses as much as possible. I mean it. This creates a safety net that will allow you to do the crazier shit I mentioned above.

11. Instead of getting status through objects (which provide only temporary boosts), do it through experiences. In other words, a trip to Paris is a better choice than a new wardrobe. Studies show this also boosts happiness.

12. While you are living on the cheap, solve the money problem. Use the internet, because it’s like a cool little machine that helps you do your bidding. If you are currently living paycheck to paycheck, extend that to three weeks instead of two. Then, as you get better, you can think a month ahead, then three months, then six, and finally a year ahead. (The goal is to get to a point where you are thinking 5 years ahead.)

13. Learn to program.

14. Get a six-pack (or get thin, whatever your goal is) while you are young. Your hormones are in a better place to help you do this at a younger age. Don’t waste this opportunity, trust me.

15. Learn to cook. This will make everything much easier and it turns food from a chore + expensive habit into a pleasant + frugal one. I’m a big Jamie Oliver fan, but whatever you like is fine.

16. Sleep well. This and cooking will help with the six pack. If you think “I can sleep when I’m dead” or “I have too much to do to sleep,” I have news for you: you are INEFFICIENT, and sleep deprivation isn’t helping.

17. Get a reminder app for everything. Do not trust your own brain for your memory. Do not trust it for what you “feel like” you should be doing. Trust only the reminder app. I use RE.minder and Action Method.

18. Choose something huge to do, as well as allowing the waves of opportunity to help you along. If you don’t set goals, some stuff may happen, but if you do choose, lots more will.

19. Get known for one thing. Spend like 5 years doing it instead of flopping around all over the place. If you want to shift afterwards, go ahead. Like I said, choose something.

20. Don’t try to “fix” anyone. Instead, look for someone who isn’t broken.

(This post was inspired by an email question from Daniel. Photo by Tambako the Jaguar.)


* Filed by Julien at 1:22 pm under tips

By myspaek


“Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference. Don’t allow the phone to interrupt important moments. It’s there for your convenience, not the callers. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is. Don’t burn bridges. You’ll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river. Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated. Don’t major in minor things. Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Learn to say no politely and quickly. Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved. Don’t waste time grieving over past mistakes Learn from them and move on. Every person needs to have their moment in the sun, when they raise their arms in victory, knowing that on this day, at his hour, they were at their very best. Get your priorities straight. No one ever said on his death bed, ‘Gee, if I’d only spent more time at the office’. Give people a second chance, but not a third. Judge your success by the degree that you’re enjoying peace, health and love. Learn to listen. Opportunity sometimes knocks very softly. Leave everything a little better than you found it. Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation. Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life and death matters, nothing is as important as it first seems. Never cut what can be untied. Never overestimate your power to change others. Never underestimate your power to change yourself. Remember that overnight success usually takes about fifteen years. Remember that winners do what losers don’t want to do. Seek opportunity, not security. A boat in harbor is safe, but in time its bottom will rot out. Spend less time worrying who’s right, more time deciding what’s right. Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life. Success is getting what you want. Happiness is liking what you get. The importance of winning is not what we get from it, but what we become because of it. When facing a difficult task, act as though it’s impossible to fail.”

— Jackson Brown Jr.

By myspaek