This blog will hopefully inspire you, warm your heart, make you smile and feel positive.

Stay Active All the Time

  1. Work on your balance by walking along curbs.
  2. Test your balance by riding the train or bus in a standing position without bracing yourself or using your hands to hold on to anything. Take a wide stance and make sudden balance adjustments to make up for turns, stops, and accelerations.
  3. While waiting in line or for a bus, practice shifting the weight onto different balance points of the foot. Try to see how well you can balance on a dime-sized point only on your heel, little toe joint, big toe joint, etc. Feel how many places there are on the foot that will support your balance. See what happens when you move your limbs around while doing this.
  4. Develop ambidexterity by doing every day tasks with your weak hand.
  5. Grab a bar, the bottom of stairs, a door frame, or something else and hang as long as you can from one or two hands.
  6. Identify two points in front of you. Estimate how many steps it will take to go from A to B. Vary the distances from 5 steps to 50+ steps.
  7. Skip the elevator for the stairs. Always take the stairs rather than escalator or elevator.
  8. Carry grocery baskets rather than pushing a grocery cart.
  9. Park far away from store entrances.
  10. Run instead of walking. Run to nearby destinations instead of driving.
  11. When navigating through a crowd, try moving quickly while being as minimally disruptive as possible. Try not to brush or bump up against anyone with any part of your body. Be as aware of your surroundings as possible, and watch for gaps and passages through the crowd.
  12. When walking somewhere walk with a semi-fast yet relaxed pace. Overcome obstacles, rails, and walls without running, just keep the same walking pace. Try not to stutter your feet, and keep the momentum as you go. Keep your body relaxed and try not to use much energy or breathe heavily. It will help you find what muscles to use to conserve energy and keep you fresh.
  13. Have a punishment for using swear words – for example 10 push ups or 10 squats.
  14. Practice moving and landing as silently as possible. Find situations where you can sneak by people without them hearing you. You can also practice silent precision, where you try to keep the take off and landing as silent as possible.
  15. Make rules for yourself relating to every day tasks. Like if you want to eat something, do 10 push ups first. Or if you want to play video games, do 10 sit ups first.
  16. Do quadrupedal movement in your house. When walking towards a couch or a bed, jump, vault, or flip over it.
  17. Train yourself to endure uncomfortable conditions. Take cold showers, sleep on the floor, or drive through a blizzard with the windows rolled down. When you can endure these conditions, other things in life won’t seem as bad.
  18. Stretch while reading, watching TV, or studying. Just get on the floor and stretch! Many stretches can be done discreetly and without being socially awkward.

– Original published in September 2012

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15 Hard Truths About Life

  1. People change – some for better, some for worse.
  2. Your loved ones won’t stay beside you forever, even if they really want to.
  3. Things you can control are limited, even if you’ve tried your best.
  4. Time flies, even if you really want to pause the moments.
  5. Everyone is unimportant, when you compare yourself to the vast universe.
  6. People are selfish, though they try hard not to be like that.
  7. Life is hard, but it’s also beautiful.
  8. No one will ever be able to make you feel loved, unless you love yourself.
  9. We will all eventually become old and unattractive.
  10. You can’t always get what or who you want.
  11. You can’t change others.
  12. The person who cares less has the most power in a relationship.
  13. When in love, everyone becomes an idiot.
  14. The more you try to impress someone, the less they will like you.
  15. The only constant is change.

Bad News

Earthquake. Plane crash. Terrorist attack. Murder. Celebrity separates from his girlfriend. President talks nonsense. Do we really need to know all these things? We are incredibly well informed, but at the same time, we know incredibly little. Why?

First, our brains react disproportionately to different types of information. Scandalous, shocking, people-based, loud, fast-changing details all stimulate us, whereas abstract, complex, and unprocessed information sedates us. News producers capitalize on this. Gripping stories, garish images and sensational “facts” capture our attention. Everything subtle, complex, abstract and profound must be filtered out, even though they are much more relevant to our lives and to our understanding of the world.

Second, news is irrelevant. In the past 12 months, you have probably consumed about 10,000 news snippets – perhaps as many as 30 per day. Be honest: Can you name one of them that helped you to make a better decision – for your life, your career, or your business? News organizations assert that their information gives us a competitive advantage. But in reality, news consumption represents a competitive disadvantage. Otherwise, journalists will get the top pay. But they aren’t.

Third, news is a waste of time. An average human being squanders half a day each week on reading about current affairs. In global terms, this is an immense loss of productivity. Instead, read long background articles and books. Yes, nothing beats books for understanding the world.

Eclectic Wisdom

The universe is one great kindergarten for man. Everything that exists has brought with it its own peculiar lesson.

The mountain teaches stability and grandeur; the ocean immensity and change.

Forests, lakes, and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes – every form of animate or inanimate existence, leaves its impress upon the soul of man.

Even the bee and ant have brought their little lessons of industry and economy.

– Originally published in September 2012

Distract Yourself

It happens – you have the project plan and the passion to execute it, yet somewhere along the line the entire project went south. You invest both efforts and resources and despite your hard work, everything is made null and void. When you fail, never abandon your plan and your idea completely. Closely scrutinize your situation, isolate the mistakes, retrace your steps, and avoid making the same mistakes in the future. If you are looking for something that will be successful on a first attempt, you are looking for a miracle.

Most of us will work hard and try to solve the problems at hand, but successful people take some time off to attain clarity. If your hard works yields little positive results, maybe you are not going in the right direction. You cannot re-examine the steps adequately if you are constantly focused on your work. This is why you need to take some time off, and even if you are not constantly thinking about your work, a solution may appear to you out of the blue. This is not a miracle, it’s how our brains work. Honestly, I usually get that spark of idea during my shower.

When we face a dead end while trying to find a solution to a particular problem, the best thing to do is focus on something else. It gives our brains time to engage the subconscious to work on the problem. Think about it, how many times did you have trouble remembering something, regardless of how hard you tried, yet simply after doing something completely unrelated, the answer dawned on you. The truth is that if you are too eager to find the answer, the likelihood of that happening actually decreases.

Illusion of Skill

Image result for Daniel Kahneman

In his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, Daniel Kahneman described his visit to an asset management company. To brief him, they sent him a spreadsheet showing the performance of each investment adviser over the past 8 years. From this, a ranking was assigned to each: 1, 2, 3, and so on in descending order. This was compiled every year.

Daniel quickly calculated the relationship between the years’ rankings. Specifically, he calculated the correlation of the rankings between year 1 and year 2, between year 1 and year 3, year 1 and year 4, up until year 7 and year 8. The result: pure coincidence. Sometimes the adviser was at the very top and sometimes the very bottom. If an adviser had a great year, this was neither bolstered by previous years nor carried into subsequent years. The correlation was zero. And yet the consultants pocketed bonuses for their performance. In other words, the company was rewarding luck rather than skill.

Luck plays a bigger role than skill does. No businessperson likes to hear this. When people first heard about the illusion of skill, their reaction was: “What, my success was a fluke?” At first, it sounds a little offensive, especially if you worked hard to get there. Let’s take a sober look at business success: How much of it comes down to luck, and how much is the fruit of hard work and distinct talent? The question is easily misunderstood. Of course, little is achieved without talent, and nothing is achieved without hard work. Unfortunately, neither skills nor hard work are the key criteria for success. They are necessary – but not sufficient.

How do we know this? There is a very simple test: When a person is successful for a long time – more than that, when they enjoy more success in the long run compared to less qualified people – only then is talent the essential element. This is not the case with company founders; otherwise, the majority of successful entrepreneurs would, after the first achievement, continue to found and grow second, third, and fourth start-ups. Most founders sell their shares within 10 years and stop founding further start-ups. Of course, there are Steve Jobs and Richard Branson, but they represent a tiny minority.

Why did “50 Shades of Grey” become such a huge commercial success? Luck! Proper timing, a topic that many ladies were secretly curious about and a bit of momentum have all turned a product that doesn’t really stand out in one of the biggest hits of the respective year. Ask yourself, are you in a meaningful relationship because of the things you’ve done or because you’ve met the right person at the right time? If circumstances were different, chances are that the story would have had a different ending.

Everything in life is characterized by uncertainty and ambiguity. Even if you have the power to control some of the variables, there’s a lot that you simply can’t predict. So instead of fighting hard, we should simply embrace uncertainty. Very often, great accomplishments are the result of pure luck. This doesn’t mean you should simply give up and wait for life to throw something your way. It’s simply important to refrain from attempting to control everything. Once you accept the fact that you aren’t in charge of every aspect of your life, you’ll end up being happier and grateful for the opportunities that you’ve gotten.

Certain people make a living from their abilities, such as pilots, plumbers, and lawyers. In other areas, skill is necessary but not critical, as with entrepreneurs and leaders. Chance is the deciding factor in a number of fields, such as in financial markets. Here, the illusion of skill pervades. So, give plumbers due respect and chuckle at successful financial jesters.

Overcome Setbacks in Life

  1. Try and keep the circumstances or situation in perspective. Will this be as big an issue in 10 years as it is today?
  2. Evaluate the situation in light of your entire life.
  3. Focus on what you have, not what you lost. This isn’t any easy step when you are deep in pain, sorrow or grief, but continuing to focus on what is no longer tends to keep you locked in the past and a state of ‘no positive action’.
  4. Do something, anything to re-focus your thoughts, energy or activities in a positive or healthier direction.
  5. If it is a loss of a relationship or loved one, remember all that you had with them that was good and positive.
  6. Remember you can’t change what has happened, but you can change the future. You change your future in your present moments. You also create all of your positive or negative memories in your present moments.
  7. Keep in mind the concept that you don’t always get to determine what comes into your life, but you always get the choice of how to react or respond to it.

These are not easy steps. Loss and adversity of any kind are painful and difficult as long as you continue to remain focused on the loss or the problem. To use adversity as a positive teacher that has come lovingly into your life to help you overcome shortcomings, character defaults or poor judgment is a sign of emotional maturity.

Life isn’t fair, and it isn’t unfair. It’s just neutral. It brings each person unique opportunities to learn and grow as a result of the events or circumstances that cross their path. Everyone is a student in life. Everyone has inner battles they are fighting. Everyone is on their own personal path through life.

So what kind of a student are you as you pass through the classes in life? Are you a willing learner or are you resisting the teaching, and the opportunity for personal growth?

– Originally published in August 2012