Insanely practical way to reduce stress

What if I told you that just describing how you’re feeling can help you feel better? That’s exactly what neuroscience confirms. fMRI scans showed brain activity/response to various positive or negative feelings evoked by images. When the volunteers were asked to describe what they were feeling, the emotional part of their brains (the amygdala) immediately quieted.

In plain English, that means that simply saying “I feel annoyed” makes us feel measurably less annoyed. The Buddhists use the term “noting”, to describe this phenomenon. Of course, it won’t make a problem go away. But much more important than the problem itself is our reaction.

If a simple inner dialogue can reduce your stress, why not give it a try? (Note: this is why it’s important that we teach children how to properly articulate their feelings. This stress-reduction hack works with humans of all ages.)

Are you someone that can learn from mistakes?

Having a victim mentality makes it unlikely you’ll be able to learn from mistakes. Victims seek (and find) all the ways in which they’ve been preyed upon rather than pursuing ways to avoid similar outcomes or circumstances in the future.

One question helps expose whether you are capable of learning from mistakes: How often do you feel you have been wronged, versus how often you have been wrong.

As the old adage goes, when the student is ready the teacher appears. And willing students are the only ones capable of learning.

Benefits of short-term pain

It’s obvious to me that any long-term physical or emotional pain I’ve endured was caused by my own unwillingness to endure short-term inconvenience or discomfort.

Discomfort could manifest in obvious ways like sacrificing long-term health through a lack of proper fitness, neglecting nutrition; or less obvious ways like avoiding uncomfortable but necessary conversations.

Being negligent and making excuses for what you know you should do today just make tomorrow more difficult. The opposite is also true. Slight inconvenience today, more gratifying tomorrow.

What is this for?

People often spend hours nitpicking slide designs, the exact wording, and the perfect animated transition for a PowerPoint presentation. It’s rare to find someone in creation mode asking whether the presentation itself should instead be a memo or email.

Frequently reevaluating exactly what you’re trying to accomplish can save hours of wasted effort. It’s not enough to work hard. It matters what you’re hard at work on.

You should definitely labor over the exact specs of a screen door. But if you’re fitting it for a submarine you might want to start asking better questions. 

Why we fight so hard for certain beliefs

Many people become angry and double-down on their opinions, even when presented with contrary evidence.  This doesn’t happen with all beliefs – only our most deeply held convictions. The non-negotiable ones.

Neuroscience teaches us that our nervous system prompts the same “fight or flight” mechanism when these beliefs are challenged.  Think about that for a moment.  Telling me I’m wrong about something I feel strongly about produces the same physiological reaction as me being in urgent, life-threatening danger.

Next time you’re in a war of ideas with someone who refuses to be sane and rational (by agreeing with you), just remember that you also hold many beliefs.  Some of them, if challenged, may cause you to become similarly insane and irrational.

A healthy way to obsess

The RAS is the tiny portion of your brain that notices yellow cars the moment you consider buying one.

One way to use modern technology to activate the RAS and force multiple “exposures” is to save a relevant image to the lock screen on your smartphone, which research shows the average person sees 110 times per day (perhaps the subject of a separate discussion).

If your focus is on money, save an image of a pile of cash as your default lock-screen photo.  You’ll see it multiple times per day, which may unconsciously open your mind to opportunities you may not have seen otherwise.

Simple advice for business email communication

  • Make your subject line an obvious statement of your intent (e.g. Request for documents)
  • Let recipients know what you want them to do in each email
  • Avoid back and forth by using if/then (e.g. If you’re available at 1pm please confirm. If not, then please give me three alternatives that work for you.)
  • Always have your name and contact info in the signature line of every email (I have seen emails from sales people asking me to call them but don’t have their TB number listed anywhere)
  • Give your phone number in an easy to read format 5555631910 is lazy and harder to see than 555-563-1910
  • Name files based on the recipient’s perspective. For example, if your customer is Apple, don’t send an invoice with the file name “Apple Invoice.” That person ONLY receives invoices for Apple. Instead name the file something they can easily find later, like: “MYcompany-June2021-Invoice”

Rules to live by

Some of the rules I learned from people smarter than me:

IN EVERYDAY LIFE
– Don’t take anything personally – most things that seem malicious are better explained by ignorance or self-hatred/anger having nothing to do with you
– Recognize that where you are now is just where you are now. History does not equal destiny. Your present state is just a snapshot, a balance sheet of today
– Avoid negative, toxic people, and complainers. You are the average of the 5 people  you surround yourself with

IN CRISIS OR DIFFICULT SITUATIONS:
– Acknowledge reality –> Make a decision –> Take action
– Ask  “what’s good about this?”
– Always do the best you can, with what you have, from where you are

Skate to where the puck is going

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky famously said that he doesn’t skate to the puck, he skates to where the puck is going. This seems like a useful analogy.

Communicate, behave, and dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Consume macronutrients in the amount that your ideal body and not your current one requires. Proactively look for business and tech trends to anticipate outcomes and look for what’s next, as opposed to what’s hot right now. The smartest and most forward-thinking world changers are living where the puck will be in five years from now.

Yet another useful cliche that prompts you to move in the direction of achievement. Whatever that means to you.