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Habits

Why You Should Take Control of Your Life

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Why You Should Take Control of Your Life

“The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand.”

-Irene C. Kassorla

What we often forget is that we are the author of our lives. Not only that, but we are also the main character of our story. So we might as well write the chapters ahead instead of waiting for someone else to write an epic turn of events. 

If you aren’t happy with your life, it might be a sign that it is time to take the pen from whoever is holding it and start writing the next chapters in the book called life.

Incredible changes will come about your life when you decide that you have had enough of being a passive rider and would rather take control of what you have power over. There’s no point in dwelling over things you don’t have control over when you can put the things you can control to work.

If you don’t like the situation you are in, then the most logical thing to do is to work toward changing it rather than complaining. Once you realize that you are in control of your own life, it becomes easier to bring change to your life. The first step in taking any kind of control, over anything, is to realize that you can actually take control.

“You only have control over three things in your life – the thoughts you think, the images you visualize, and the actions you take.”

-Jack Canfield

Why You Should Take Control of Your Life

There’s this saying that all of us have heard – “Grass is greener on the other side.” Why do you think the majority of us are familiar with this saying? It is because we have been conditioned to constantly compare ourselves with everyone around us. It is supposed to motivate us in trying to improve ourselves.

What usually ends up happening is that we become demotivated. When we observe things from afar, it is easy to be blinded by the shine and not see all the polishing that was needed to bring about the shine. We compare it to the polishing we can see on our side and no shine whatsoever. 

The reality is that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, it’s just us who keep comparing ourselves to others and what we have to what others have. This makes us feel sorry for ourselves and pity our situation. Most of us are insecure and unsatisfied with our current conditions and that tends to demotivate us from working toward change. We start to slip instead of trying to better our situation.

When we want what others have or what others think we should have, we give them the power to control our lives. We lose our individuality – trying to fit in – trying to shape ourselves to suit others idea of what we are supposed to be. We start wanting what we don’t have instead of appreciating what we do have.

At times like this, we should remind ourselves that there will always be something better that we’re missing. We will always think other people have it better. The irony here is that the people on the other side are most probably thinking that your grass is greener! 

What this shows us is that instead of worrying about other people’s grass, we need to spend time tending to our own and trying to keep it as green as possible. Watering it, fertilizing it, and weeding the useless dead grass out.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

-Buddha

We are so used to someone else holding our hand while we learn to navigate through life, that we often forget that eventually, we will need to learn to walk on our own. Unless we do that, we will never be able to decide the direction we want to take. We will always have to follow the person holding our hand. 

Why You Should Take Control of Your Life

The first step you take toward independent decision making will make you realize that no one has power over you unless you give it to them. As you start deciding the course of your journey, you will see that you are in control of your life and your choices decide your own fate. Blaming others was never an answer and now you know why.

You will learn that no one is in control of your happiness but you. No one owes you a thing and you don’t owe anything to anyone. Therefore, you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change – it is your life, you don’t have to let others tell you how to live it.

“Don’t let someone else control what you do in life. It’s your decisions, your outcomes, your life.”

-Anonymous

We are so conditioned to follow societal norms that we don’t even question it even though it isn’t making us happy. It is totally okay to choose a path that isn’t conventional. Sometimes you need to do what is best for you because YOU are the one who knows what is best for your life better than anyone else. You are not obliged to do what is best for everyone else, your biggest obligation is to yourself.

Do not mould yourself to what the world dictates, instead make your own unique mould that fits you. Breathe, meditate, and connect with yourself – it will help you be true to yourself. Because it isn’t always you against the world, most of the times it is YOU against YOURSELF. Do not compare your journey with others but only yourself.

Why You Should Take Control of Your Life

Learn to recognize your talent and your capability – hone them and use them. Don’t chase perfection because nobody is perfect and chasing perfection is a futile activity. Every person who walks this planet has flaws. The best you can do is be true to your imperfections.

“You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”

-Napoleon Hill

You have to understand that if you don’t take control over your life,  your life will take control over you. You have to decide to be in control because as Willie Nelson said – “Freedom is control in your own life.”

Although it isn’t possible to have complete control over life, you certainly can shape and influence it. One of the ways is to take control of your habits. Your habits help you shape your future. You become what you are because of all the choices you have made till date and the choices you will continue to make – both conscious and subconscious. 

While you do not have complete control over your life, you do have complete control over your attitude and your effort – these two things hold a lot of power when it comes to taking lead and paving the path.

“Control your thoughts. Decide about that which you will think and concentrate upon. You are in charge of your life to the degree you take charge of your thoughts.”

-Earl Nightingale

To make any kind of change in your life, to make any significant decision, you need to be in tune with your mind. Whatever consumes your mind and your thoughts will control your life. Don’t let negativity make a home in your mind – take control of your consistent emotions, your emotional wellbeing, and your dominating emotional state. Because the emotion that dominates your mind – whether positive or negative – will consciously and deliberately reshape your life, both in the long term and in terms of your daily experiences.

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Habits

Why Too Many Self Help Books are Bad for You

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Self Help

Since you’re reading this article on this blog, you probably have a keen interest in self-betterment. You’re the kind of person who has a constant hunger to grow, develop personality and achieve great things. You probably have a full shelf of self-help books at home, and reach for a new one in airport book stores. 

Let’s take a moment to congratulate yourself on this. Not many people, definitely not the vast majority of people are genuinely interested in self-growth. However, like any good thing in life, there is a flip-side to immersing yourself in self-help content. It can severely impact the way you see yourself, and the world around you; sometimes for the worse.

The Heroes

It’s fairly common to read a self-help book and start valorising the writer. The requisite to write a self-help book or a how-to guide is often being successful first so that you then have the ‘right’ to preach to other people. That’s why many “successful people” write memoirs or how-to guides to spill their secrets and let others know how they made it. 

A byproduct of this is the audience begins to automatically consume everything that the writer tells them as the gospel truth. We don’t doubt the credibility of someone who’s made it big. We don’t ask for much scientific backing when these successful persons tell us their life story: one anecdote is enough. 

Of course, in any field of scientific research, a single anecdote is never considered to be scientific evidence alone. This is simply because one person can never be an unbiased narrator of their own experiences. We can’t weigh their words against those of others; verify their methods with a control group. 

This is not to suggest that all writers of self-help books are getting away with lying or false information just because no one’s cross-checking (although that could be the occasional case). 

The few people who are successful in their fields and occupy positions in the public sphere undoubtedly have more experience than you and me. However, even they cannot hundred per cent explain the reasons for their success. It is generally a number of factors that act together, right connections, right timing, right pre-dispositions combined with the person’s efforts that bring them success. 

For example, if a successful entrepreneur writes about how he built his own business empire, he could give you 10 methods, or tips and tricks that he followed to stay motivated and increase his productivity. What he cannot guarantee is that this will work for everyone. He also cannot guarantee that those 10 exact methods are what caused his success.

There are many self-help books that are abundant with real-life examples, scientific studies, and academic research. These are also, coincidentally the type of books where the author relies less on his own experience as the source of his advice. These are not just more useful books to read, they also are much more informative and entertaining than their monologue counterparts. 

Survivorship Bias

One of the other side effects of surrounding yourself with lots of self-help content is that you become prey to the survivorship bias. This means that you continually consume stories and experiences of many people that have succeeded. Once we start following ‘successes’, we begin to see them everywhere. 

Social media has a hand to play in this as well. Popular social media platforms have algorithms that create echo-chambers where you only see the kind of content that you like. So if you’re only reading about positive and uplifting self-betterment content, chances are you never come across stories about failures. 

This can make you feel that there is an enormous amount of people that are succeeding and doing what you want to do. The spotlight is on the 1%, while ignoring the other 99% in the shadow. 

You might wonder why this is a problem. Isn’t focusing on the positive success stories making it more likely that you will also be successful yourself?

Surprisingly, it’s not. It can be the real reason why it’s so hard to succeed, because you can follow all the hacks, tips and tricks, and methods that you read in self-help books and still have unique challenges to overcome. This is because you’re ignoring the data from the vast masses of people that tried the very same methods and failed. 

You must be thinking: well, I should be focusing on failure stories? That’s depressing!

No, you don’t! For one, they are difficult to find. Simply knowing the information about how often someone succeeds to the level that you want to can be your tool. 

For example, if you want to become a best-selling author, you should know that simply getting published has a 1% success rate while a best-selling author is probably closer to 0.001%.

This is not to discourage you from chasing your dreams, but only to help you bring a dose of reality into your pursuit of success. 

Final Words

Knowing that the advice you read in a self-help book is from a person part of the 1% rather than the 99% can stop you from being frustrated. Many people follow the methods and techniques suggested in these books and then expect instant success. 

So if you’re waking up at 5 AM for three months in a row now, and wondering why you’re not a millionaire yet: the story was never that simple! 

Congratulations to your brand new good habit, and pursuit of self-betterment, but know that there is a long way to go before we discover a complete formula for success

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Habits

The Science Behind Forming Habits that Last

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If you’ve ever tried to form a habit, someone’s probably given you the advice that it takes only 21 days to do so. 

The 21-day rule claims that one must only perform an activity every day, for 21 days, until it automatically becomes a habit and the person no longer has to put in the effort to do the activity.

And, if you’ve ever tried to test out this rule: you likely found that it doesn’t really work. 

Unfortunately, there are many more factors that come into play when considering why some habit formation happens in less time than others. 

I was told by a school teacher that it takes 21 days to form a habit and 90 days for it to become a lifestyle. During the lockdown, I tried to make it a practice to meditate every day for 10 minutes to meditate. I eagerly awaited the 21-day mark, expecting some kind of magical transformation to take place as soon as I awoke. 

There was nothing different about the 21st day (or the 3 months after that), and I didn’t experience any time-bound results. 

Where the 21-Day Rule Comes from

Interestingly, the 21-Day Rule isn’t so much a rule as it’s a misinterpreted observation. A plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz wrote a well-acclaimed book about human behavior. 

In his career, he noticed that it always took a minimum of 21 days for one of his patients to mentally adjust to the physical change in their body. He proposed that any sort of mental image adjustment requires a minimum of 21 days from this data. 

Now while this could be useful data for mental image adjustments, habit formation encompasses many more factors than that. 

Here are scientifically-backed factors that influence how strong your newly formed habit is and how long it will last.

How Big or Small it is

If your habit is something challenging to do, it will take a lot of willpower for you to drastically change your everyday routine to accommodate it. 

For example, if you work a 10hour shift and still want to workout at the gym for an hour a day, knowing it sacrifices your recreation time: chances are that this habit will be really difficult to form and sustain.

A small habit like making your bed, washing the dishes before you go to bed at night, or even self-affirmations in the morning: are all habits that can fit into a schedule without you having to sacrifice much. 

Starting with small habits makes it easier since you don’t need a lot of motivation to perform them. 

How Important the Habit is to your Self Image

Some habits we’re trying to form are more important to us than others. If you strongly believe that this habit will help you become the person you’re destined to be, you’re going to attach more value to carrying it out every day!

How Many Days you Skip

We’re often under the impression that all your progress will come crashing down if you skip a day. Thankfully, it’s been proven that even if you miss a day, there are no long-term effects on the habit formation itself. But it’s recommended that you never skip more than one day at a time.

How You Remind Yourself

When reminding yourself to perform the activity you’re trying to convert to a habit, it’s critical to piggyback off other existing habits. That means if you already have a habit of doing yoga and want to get into a habit of meditating, make sure that you meditate right after your yoga practice. One habit helps the other.

How Sustainable Your Pace is

If you’re working on forming a habit that needs to be built up over time, you need to make sure this pace is feasible for your current lifestyle. You know your life best, and if you know you’re going to have a significant life event and get busier soon, don’t have unrealistic expectations from your new habit!

Good luck!

40% of our day-to-day life is made out of habits. Forming a new habit can very realistically transform your entire life. I’m glad you’re on this journey to maximize your potential, and I’m sure you can do it!

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Habits

How Reading can impact your Day to Day Life?

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book read

Reading is a healthy habit, which, if practiced daily, can change your entire life around. Do you want to know why? Through Reading, one can not only gain knowledge but also stay acquainted with the outside as well as the inside world. The best thing about reading daily is to have an isolated place for yourself in your mind, where you can run off to. Most people don’t have the patience or intention to read, and that too, daily. Though this is a habit that takes time to settle in but trust me, once it does, you would never regret it. So, here is a list of reasons why you should read daily?

Why should you read daily?

  • To gain knowledge

Once you start reading daily, and by Reading, it can be anything – you can read few pages of a novel, or a magazine, or newspaper, or even poetry – you would notice within weeks how much your knowledge regarding the outer world has improved. Through Reading, one can have clear information regarding the current affairs, and hence, stay updated.

  • To improve your vocabulary

Through Reading, you can definitely learn new words and hence, improve your vocabulary. Most people make it a habit to learn a new word from the dictionary every day, but if you read daily, you are bound to get new words and make a list of them on a notebook with their meanings, which is definitely going to be helpful for you.

  • To have a make-believe world

The most beautiful consequence of Reading is having one’s own imaginary world, where one can live a life full of magic. This is the extraordinary superpower one acquires while reading. In this busy daily life of ours, we all look for a secluded place where we can feel the essence of peace. Reading can fly you off to the imaginary land of sunflowers, daisies, and cats who can indeed talk.

  • To become more attentive

Most people lack patience nowadays. Being impatient and restless has become a severe problem in today’s world. Here, Reading can help you calm your mind and improve your observation skills. It works like meditation. In no time, you would find your mind focusing on details and becoming more attentive to events, which used to go unnoticed.

  • To reduce stress

Reading is similar to meditation, and hence, it definitely helps to reduce your stress. Books always have a calming effect on one’s mind. It takes you away from daily problems and stressful situations and helps your mind to gain stability. Not only it helps in reducing stress, but it also helps to decrease the anxiety levels of a person. 

Everyone should make reading a daily habit. One should switch off the mobile phones, turn off the television and take some time out to read. It works wonders on one’s day-to-day life and changes one person’s entire personality. Though it can be hard at first, with time, you would cherish the moments alone, reading in a corner while your mind is flying off to Narnia.

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