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3 memory techniques for permanently memorising hundreds of pieces of information in little time.

Unless we remember we cannot understandEdward Morgan Forster

memorise quicklyA good memory can make the difference in many contexts; at school,  university or work. Whether we want it or not, knowing how to memorise often keeps us out of trouble. How would you feel if you could prepare for an exam in just a few days? Memorise a work report in a handful of minutes? Remember the names of everyone you meet? (and you know how much this counts for interpersonal relationships).

How to memorise?

If you learned how to speed read, now it is time to improve your memory. There are 3 memory techniques for remembering more information in less time and forever.

Memory 2.0

Our brain is programmed to memorise millions of pieces of information every day, without us even realising it. This memorisation is immediate (around a millisecond) and permanent. But why can’t we remember small pieces of information?

Improving your own memory means being able to better access memories you already have.

Think of web 2.0: what was one of the most efficient techniques for cataloguing and organising millions of files uploaded by web users? Tags. Small keywords to associate to an image, an article or a video to identify them in the internet ocean.

There is a memorisation technique that uses so-called “mental tags”. This is how it works.

Every time you have to remember names, dates, numbers, facts or concepts, follow this strategy:

  1. Create a tag in your mind to identify the origin of the information you have to remember. For example: “Prof. Smith’s lesson”.
  2. Create a tag to identify the object of the information you have to remember. If it’s an economics lesson on the causes of a recession, use the tag “recession”
  3. Create a funny image to associate the origin tag to the object tag. In our example, you could think of Prof. Smith who is beginning to sing a “memorable” song on stage about stock exchange indexes and recession. The funny image will stimulate the so-called emotional memory, particularly useful for quickly remembering information.
  4. Finally, create an image for identifying key concepts to remember. In our little story, you could use the members of a band, associating each of them with a keyword: the guitarist John Inflation, the drummer Frank Liquidity, etc. I think you get the point.
    And now try to forget Prof. Smith’s lesson on recessions, if you can!

Immediate memory

Sometimes you do not have enough time available to study or memorise. Maybe you have to prepare for an exam in a few days, or you have to remember important information without being able to write it down or… you simply want to remember the number of a girl you met at the club and your phone is dead!!!

In these cases you can use a technique called “immediate memory”. Here are the 5 stages to apply it:

  1. Believe. Convince yourself that you will remember the material (it’s a bit like pressing the red REC button).
  2. Want. Desire remember the information (this will reinforce your mnemonic abilities).
  3. Visualise. Mentally look at or repeat the information once, in a clear way.
  4. Command. Order your brain to remember the material (feel like a stupid idiot doing this? Great: the stronger the emotion you associate with the memory, the easier to is to remember).
  5. Review. Look at the material one final time.

Permanent memory

Your grandfather remembers a poem learned in primary school and you discovered yesterday on Facebook the name of your classmate in secondary school? Remembering information for years is not so difficult, you just have to apply a simple technique of mental revision. It’s great if you want to learn how to study for A-level exams, university exams, or any other test that you will have in life:

  1. Every 20 minutes studying, make a list of points that you want to remember and go over them for 5 minutes.
  2. At the end of the day (before going to sleep), revise the list of key points for 5 minutes.
  3. After 3 days, revise the list of key points for the last time for 5 minutes.

These techniques were part of my university studying method; I’m certain that, if you know how to apply them with dedication, you will also attain surprising results.

An article on personal growth and change for… skeptics.

Four factors of Personal GrowthWanting to grow means admitting your weaknesses.
Wanting to grow means leaving your backyard and putting your beliefs in doubt.
Wanting to grow means confronting and clashing with those who remain lower on the ladder of personal growth.

After all, thinking that personal growth is just a jumble of stupid things makes our “place on the ladder” more… comfortable. But is it possible that life is only a constant search for security and comfort? If you are not convinced either, these four factors will enable you to have a look at the panorama that you can see from the next rung up on the ladder.

1. Awareness. There is no growth without awareness. You cannot decide to climb until you realize that there is a ladder in front of you and you are at the lowest rung. To be aware of our positions, sometimes we have to stop and get off the high-speed train of our lives, and assess the situation. What did I dream of doing as a child? And is that what I am doing? Am I deciding my life or is it my life that is deciding? How is my physical health? Am I in shape? There are not extravagant techniques for becoming aware: stop, ask some questions and respond honestly. That’s it.

2. Change. If you have honestly answered your questions, probably now you will be aware of at least two or three aspects that are not going well in your life. Perhaps you should stop smoking, lose a bit of weight, or you want to learn to be more organized. For every aspect of your life you want to improve, to begin change you must decide to want to change, you must desire to want to change, you must be obsessed with the idea of change. When an oil rig catches fire, there is no alternative: you must escape, you must change… Quick! Create this sense of urgency in your life; make change the one walkable street. Do you want to stop smoking? Download photos of smokers’ lungs from the Internet, read books about stopping smoking, talk with an oncologist: fear and suffering are two motivators, not really new-agey ;-), but very effective.

3. Correction. Once you have created this sense of urgency in your life, the next step is correction. To begin correcting something not going well in your life, the one effective strategy is that of little steps. Experts of change management call it “Quick Wins”: to give the right rhythm to correction, you must identify small goals to reach quickly. Creating a chain of one goal after another, you will sustain high levels of motivation and make change… fun. If your next “rung” is reaching a healthy weight, fix on realistic goals and try to reach them in a fun way: buy a Wii Fit or go running with your friends. Also, if the term “correction” reminds you of those red marks from your teacher, remind yourself that improvement should not be suffering or sacrifice.

4. Growth. Being able to step up to the next rung should not be enough: the need to grow should be a constant in your life. Changing when things go badly is a necessity; changing when things go well is an opportunity.

 

Happiness is not a utopia, but an emotion that we can live every day, applying methods that have been scientifically demonstrated to be effective.

There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.Wayne Dyer

Six scientific ways to find true happinessFor decades, the gurus of personal growth have promised to reveal the formula for happiness. But in the last few years, as well as books, both more and less serious, about the techniques and strategies for being happy, we also have scientific studies. If The University of Pennsylvania has established a degree course on happiness, The University of Edinburgh has gone further: the scholars A. Weiss and T. C. Bates, in their treatise “Happiness Is a Personal(ity) Thing”, have identified the factors that determine our happiness.

Happiness depends on:

  • 50% – our genes. Thus, choose your parents carefully!
  • 8-10% – external factors, such as money, social status, physical appearance etc.
  • the other 40%… (drum roll)… YOU.

That’s right, 40% of your happiness depends on the way in which you think about and face life. Unfortunately we cannot change our genes, and in this article I do not want to talk about how to improve your finances or become a master of interpersonal relationships; instead, I want to propose to you six scientific ways to make the most of that 40% of happiness that depends only on yourself:

1. Find a purpose in life

In Ancient Greece the concept of happiness was expressed by the term “eudaimonia” that can be literally translated as “being with a good demon”.* Mind you, the term “demon” (daimon) means a spirit guide, a destiny or… a purpose.

Doctor Martin Seligman, founder of Positive Psychology – a new branch of psychology that studies how to help people be accomplished, purposeful and happy – has recently stated that the one way to find true and lasting happiness is just that: identify our points of strength, our abilities, and use them to reach ambitious objectives. In my own small way I have formed a pretty clear idea about how to find purpose in my life.

2. Rediscover the simple pleasures of life

To find true happiness, you do not have to wait to reach your goals: you can have them every day.

One of the practical exercises used by scholars of Positive Psychology is the method of “redesigning the day”. This experiment requires that participants describe in detail the activities of their day. The following day, looking back over their diaries, the participants had to give a score to individual activities. At this point, the method of “redesigning the day” required that the participants replaced at least one hour of unpleasant activities with one hour dedicated to the small pleasures of life. The results of the study group demonstrated that this small change in everyday routine can have a notable impact on overall levels of happiness.

3. “Go with the flow”

I have taken advantage of the title of one of the most beautiful compositions by Giovanni Allevi, to tell you about the third scientific method for finding true happiness. The term “flow” was coined by the American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi for describing that state in which you are completely absorbed in the activities you are doing, so much so that you lose all sense of time.

Reaching such a state of total immersion can happen… singing, reading a book that you are passionate about, or working on a project that is important to you. Our happiness is directly connected to the capacity to more frequently experience these moments of complete immersion and the one way to do this is to identify what we are passionate about and place it at the center of our lives.

4. Choose your reactions

Doctor Tal Ben-Shahar is one of the greatest experts of Positive Psychology. One of his courses at Harvard University is dedicated to “reactions”. From his studies, it emerges that it is not external events that determine the state of wellness in individuals, but rather their capacity to react in the right way to such events.

In fact, if it is true that life is governed by causality and you cannot choose the events that happen to you, it is also true that you always have control of your reaction.

5. Learn to give

An interesting experiment at Harvard Business School has demonstrated that spending money on others makes us happier than spending it on ourselves. During the study at HBS, the group of participants were sub-divided into two categories: the first was asked to spend an amount of their own choice, on themselves; the second, on the other hand, was asked to spend an amount of their choice on another person. All the individuals in the second category recorded higher levels of happiness than the participants in the first category; furthermore, the individuals who had given more to others, also demonstrated more happiness.

Giving to others… and I am not talking only about money, but also time, commitment and love, is one of the most immediate gestures for being happy.

6. Stop saying, “If only…”

Do you keep saying that you would be happy if only… you got that promotion, won the lottery, met your true love etc? Okay… you have just condemned yourself to eternal unhappiness! Tying your happiness to future events creates dissatisfaction and is a mistake for at least two reasons: a) we tend to overestimate the impact of events on our lives; b) once a much-desired event has occurred, after a brief period of euphoria, our happiness levels will return to normal; it is the so-called “hedonistic adaptation” effect.

Many (and I include myself) think that they will be happy when they have more money. But scientific studies show clearly that this is a false belief. There is a big difference between having no money at all and being able to satisfy basic needs. However, it is equally true that the rate of happiness remains practically unchanged if we earn $50,000 or $500,000 per year. Simply… over a minimum level of income, money has no impact on our happiness.

Try this little practical experiment: change “I will be happy if only…” into “I am happy now because…”.

And now you have no more excuses: you have to be happy… it is science!

Five lessons for learning to reach your goals, ignoring the unexpected.

Chance never helps those who do not help themselves.Sophocles

Causality and determinism or, how to reach your goals… regardless of bad luckCausality means the circumstance in which someone finds him/herself powerless to foresee the occurrence or development of a phenomenon or event. To put it more simply: bad luck.

Determinism is the philosophical doctrine according to which everything that exists or happens (an event), comprised of human knowledge and actions, is determined in caUSal (not caSUal!) ways by an uninterrupted chain of events that have happened before. Basically: cause and effect.

Every time that you choose a goal, you should consider causality and determinism: in the route towards your goal, you should put in place a series of actions to produce determined effects (determinism), and at the same time, you should face up to a series of unexpected events that could accelerate or slow down the true path to your objectives (causality).

Over the years, I have dealt with determinism and causality in the route towards my goals, and I have learned that five fundamental lessons exist for reaching your goals… regardless of luck:

1. Rethink your goals. “I want to win $50 million in the lottery within the next week.” I would say that this goal is rather well-constructed: it is specific ($50 million); it has a deadline (within the next week); and it is positively formulated (I want to win…). In summary, it has everything in good order, but there is just one little problem… it is not a goal! It is missing a fundamental ingredient: your role. When you choose a goal, it is important to define what your role will be in reaching it. What habits do you intend to change or establish to reach your goal? What sacrifices are you willing to make? Chance cannot be the only component in the game; you must take responsibility for your goals.

2. Concentrate on “why” not on “how”. When we choose goals, sometimes it happens that we tend to plan too much, trying to define every single action (the “how”). This approach makes us inflexible, and when we have to confront an unexpected event (causality), we shrug our shoulders and give up, telling ourselves that the goal is impossible. A pilot never chooses his/her route meter by meter, but makes continual adjustments in response to external conditions (wind, storms, delays etc.). When you choose a goal, define an overall plan, but do not take too much time planning every detail; concentrate rather on “why”. Take a piece of paper and make a list of 10 reasons for wanting to reach your goal: if the “why” is strong enough, when you are presented with the unexpected, you will find the “how”.

3. Be determined. On the path to your goals, the unexpected is a certainty. Do not ask yourself if you will meet obstacles; ask yourself if you are determined enough to overcome them. Determination is in fact the tool that enables you to bring causality and determinism closer together. Success is a stochastic event, the higher the number of attempts that we make to reach it, the greater its probability is. Do not let momentary defeats make you give up. As Dicky Fox would say: “Roll with the punches, tomorrow is another day.”

4. Choose your reaction. There is a space between the occurrence of an event and our reaction: you cannot choose if the event happens or not, but you can always choose how you react. Where many see a problem, some notice an opportunity. When you find yourself confronting the unexpected, try to imagine some improbable positive consequences of that event: do not limit your imagination. The first times perhaps nothing will come to your mind, but with time you will surprise yourself with how many opportunities are hiding within an apparent disaster.

5. Rethink your goals. Look at what I have already said! Sometimes it is not enough to choose objectives in a different way; sometimes it is necessary to understand that you need to choose different goals. The line that separates determination and stupidity is very fine. Insisting on continuing defeats, when the train has already left the station, is not determination: it is stupidity.

What role have determinism and causality played in your successes? Have you planned your success or was it just due to luck? Let me know in the comments. Thank you.

Five lessons for learning to be a true leader (of yourself and others), inspired by famous dialog from “The Godfather” saga.

“True leaders are ordinary people, with extraordinary determination.”
– Anonymous

The GodfatherWhat does it really mean to be a leader? What are the essential characteristics and how can Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” teach you about leadership?

The Godfather’s first lesson of leadership

“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
– Don Vito Corleone, “The Godfather” (Part I)

A leader always knows how to create consent. Bernard Bass, in his manual on leadership, identifies 11 types of leadership. One of these is leadership in the art of inducing consent. The leader, thanks to his/her charisma, is able to smooth out internal conflicts within a group, aligning all in a common objective.

The Godfather’s second lesson of leadership

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”
– Michael Corleone, “The Godfather Part II”

A leader knows how to develop interpersonal relationships. I’ve already mentioned, in previous articles, how important it is for personal growth to know how to treat others and win friends.

Unless you have won the lottery, your success, in both your private and professional life, will always depend on your capacity to develop human relationships. And often, knowing how to develop human relationships means knowing those around you, understanding their motivations and the objectives to which they aspire: whether they are friends or enemies.

The Godfather’s third lesson of leadership

“Give this job to Clemenza. I want reliable people, people who aren’t going to be carried away. I mean, we’re not murderers, in spite of what this undertaker thinks…”
– Don Vito Corleone, “The Godfather”

A leader knows how to delegate. As it is engagingly described in this cartoon from tibilog, delegating does not mean: “I command, you obey.” Knowing how to delegate means recognizing the qualities of those around you and putting faith in them, giving them responsibility and authority. To delegate successfully you must: a) choose the right people to whom to delegate; b) give them responsibility for the results you expect, but also give them c) the means to achieve the agreed aims.

Furthermore, knowing how to delegate in the right way, not only allows you to be recognized as a true leader, but also gives you the possibility to better develop your time: delegating the right activities restores control to your days.

The Godfather’s fourth lesson of leadership

“A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”
– Don Vito Corleone, “The Godfather”

A leader knows how to choose priorities. But to know how to lead, you need to know the right direction. If you want to be a leader, you must know the path to take when you are at a crossroads and the only street-signs you have are your own priorities.

The Godfather’s fifth lesson of leadership

“Real power can’t be given. It must be taken.”
– Tagline, “The Godfather Part III”

A leader is determined. As I wrote in the initial quotation, it is not position, rank or education that makes a person a leader: a leader is an ordinary person with extraordinary determination.

If you want to take the lead in your life, if you want to courageously confront and overcome your challenges, in summary, if you want to be a real leader, of yourself… and others:

  • you should have your objectives clear in your mind and be prepared to pursue them on the good days, and also on the bad ones;
  • you should think of your dreams as goals already achieved, not allowing fear of failure to slow you down;
  • and finally, the most important thing: you should not wait to be given something, but should go out and take it.

A short story and three practical applications for learning to put the important things in life first.

The Mayonnaise JarA teacher stood in front of his philosophy class and with some objects in front of him. When the class had quietened down, he took a large empty mayonnaise jar and began to fill it with golf balls.

Then he asked the students if the jar was full and they replied that it was.

The teacher then took a jar of gravel and upturned its contents into the mayonnaise jar. He shook it slowly and the little stones positioned themselves in the empty spaces between the golf balls.

Again, he asked the students if the jar was full and they all agreed that it was.

So the teacher took a box of sand and upturned it, adding into the jar; obviously the sand spread throughout the jar.

He asked the students one more time if the jar was full and the students, laughing, responded with a unanimous ‘yes’.

‘Now,’ said the teacher, just as soon as the laughter had subsided, ‘I want you to consider this jar like your lives. The golf balls are the important things: your families, your children, your health, your friends and your passions. The things that, if all else was lost and only those remained, your life would continue to be full. The gravel are the other things that have importance, such as your job, home, car… The sand is all the rest: the little things.

‘If you put the sand in the jar first, there will be no space for the gravel and the golf balls. The same is true in life: if you spend all your time and energies on the little things, you will have no space left for the things that are important to you.

‘Pay attention to the things that are indispensable for your happiness: play with your children; enjoy your family and parents while they are there; take your partner out to dinner… and not only on special occasions! Dedicate yourself to what you love and to your passions; there will always be time for cleaning the house or arranging appointments. Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really count. Choose your priorities… The rest is only sand.’

I hope that you enjoyed this story. If you liked it, if it made you smile with awareness, try to go a little step further: apply it to your life. Not tomorrow, not at the start of the New Year: now.

Practical applications

To make the message of this story a reality in everyday life, try to follow these three points:

Identify your priorities. To understand what the golf balls are in your life, ask yourself a simple question: which things that I do during the day will have a significant impact on my life in five years’ time? Depending on your age, the answer might be: study; giving the most to your job; bringing about a business idea; educating your children; and so on. Take a piece of paper or use a text file to pour out what you think are the 10 priorities in your life. Now look for the three priorities without which your life would be meaningless. You have found your golf balls.

Eliminate the superfluous. Learn to simplify your life. Avoid the sand that enters into your days and obstructs the gears of your activities. You know very well what I’m talking about: aimlessly browsing the Internet for hours; watching idiotic programs on TV; playing nonstop on games consoles; and so on. Identify the useless activities that suck your time, and systematically eliminate them, freeing precious minutes for your priorities.

Learn to organize your days. The trick is the order in which you do things. The overwhelming majority of people begin their day with activities that make them feel good and busy: checking email; looking at the statistics for their blogs (ahem…); taking a stroll through Facebook; a little detour on news sites and… it is 11.00AM and they have done f*** all. Beginning your day with these activities means beginning to fill the mayonnaise jar with sand: there will be no space left for the golf balls! For one week try to break this vicious circle: start your days applying the secret of the first hour.

What do you think? Is is worth a try? Please share your experiences in the comments.

 

5 Techniques For Staying Focused On Your GoalsOur lives are always full of distractions. Think about it, try to count how many times in one day your work or your leisure time are interrupted by the screen, TV, social networks, SMS, Whatsapp messages … Faced with our freelance commitments with deadlines looming, these deviations, distractions and time losses have a big negative impact on our actual ability to concentrate.

If all this leaves us with a lack of sleep, or a decrease in interest, staying focused on your ultimate goal can be very difficult. Fortunately for us, there are some simple techniques that can come to the rescue, small lifestyle changes that can make concentrating more easily achievable.

Always keep the objective in mind

Faced with a large project, it is easy to lose sight of the ultimate goal. It is important to keep reminding yourself that every piece of work planned has to be accomplished. Never let up in the face of a possible bug, never forget your ultimate goal. Whether it’s a personal project or a project for a client, it is important to write up a general picture of the situation, developing each point step-by-step.

Find rhythm

The really hard part is finding and maintaining concentration. Most of the time, it lives within your own state of mind. A small lifestyle change that you can test is trying to work early in the morning, with less distractions and a fresh mind. If this test is effective, try to carve out time for the most important steps at this time of day. If it isn’t the morning, try other times where you can combine these operations with your life, and most of the time you’ll have to compromise. This will create positive psychological routines, in order to focus the objectives that await us better.

Don’t take on too much work

Proper time management is a crucial step for staying focused on tasks. A heavy work load can discourage us before we start, and this daunting prospect is certainly not a good incentive to be productive. It is good to allocate the most important steps of a project to periods of time where you can make sure (or at least vaguely) = dedicate the right mental focus to it. To ensure that work is done properly and in order to give correct deadlines, it is good to draw up a series of deadlines by dividing up the steps of your project.

Take breaks

It might seem like a contradiction, but it is only by taking breaks that you will be able to maintain the right level of concentration. Every hour that passes in front of the video, you can and should take a 5 or 10 minute break, since it is necessary to rest and unwind. It is hard to stay focused for hours at a time and the quality of your work will always suffer. The mistake that we web workers often make is letting ourselves lazily surf the internet for a few minutes, thinking we will disconnect by visiting each social network or sports results websites. These are not real breaks, get up and leave the desk cyclically, look for a coffee or a healthy newspaper to read, even go outdoors.

Like Spaniards, have a “siesta”

Short breaks are designed to maintain high concentration all day, but it is advisable to define how longer breaks are different from others to avoid becoming automatons attached to the keyboard. Set aside a time of about 20 minutes in the middle of the day to have a healthy nap or simply lie down. These “half-asleep” activities can sometimes help you see issues from different perspectives, perhaps by finding the key to the problem right in the middle of your nap.

Even the most prepared and determined people can suffer from a certain lack of concentration. You may feel completely lost in front of a lack of inspiration or simply when you are unable to focus on a problem that needs to be solved. Some small good habits can make a difference, helping to encourage higher concentration thus bringing a higher level of quality to your projects and your own gratification.

 

Life is choices. We make some good ones, and we make some bad ones. But that is life. We all want to be happy and some people always are happy. What do they do to achieve that happiness?

How To Be Happy With Your LifeMake a Choice To Be Happy

A choice of being happy can very often be a difficult choice. When we have those unhappy circumstances, we often will look to other people or events to assign blame. We can ignore these instigators and engage in choosing to be happy. It is not always easy. But with discipline and selection, you will find many happy days where you are playing a part in your own destiny. It is up to you to find that path and it doesn’t matter what is occurring in your immediate world. Your happiness level is yours and nothing can rob you of that.

Put Negativity Out of Your Life.

In order to have a happy life, you will need to make changes like removing all negativity including people who are always gloomy. This in itself is not easy, but a true necessity if you are going to make headway to positive days. This will also include avoiding choices that give you a negative feeling or cause you to go backward in your outlook on life. So make a list of those negative factors and work toward making choices that are good for you. Be brave. Discuss why you are eliminating those negative relationships. It won’t matter to that negative person! They are always in that mode anyway.

Look for What Is Good In Your Life

Some people make lemonade out of lemons. That is what you need to do. There is good in everything. But it is a cause of reflection and self-examination. Looking hard is sometimes difficult. Remember they are all learning experiences.

You can learn something new every day. If you are challenged to make that decision, just jump in with two feet and do it. Just look at the moment and evaluate. It may take a day or so to see it but you will.

Strengthen your Positivity

If you want something to become a discipline, you need to practice it. You have to keep at it in order for it to become a part of your life. Positivity takes hold of your being so strengthen yourself and work at it. If you have a self-esteem issue, work on it. That can play into how you feel about your life. You may not like everything having to do with you, but you don’t have to accept it either. You might need to get some counseling, money well spent. Love yourself. If you need help, get it. Put affirmations on the mirror in the bathroom so you see them first thing when you charge into a new day.

Being positive and choosing that life will put pep into your step!

Setting a daily goal to reach can help you feel good. So how can you start?

From the results of a study conducted at The University of Hertfordshire, it emerges that 78% of people give up on achieving their New Year’s resolutions. One of the reasons for this is resolutions that are too vague or generic, such as a diet or change of job, more likely to defeat than help. An authentic change is done with small goals; here is how to start.

A daily goal small steps to finding happiness

LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS – Losing twenty pounds, promising yourself to start doing sport or change your life is not so simple. Once the initial enthusiasm has faded, it is easy to fall back into normal habits, so it can be helpful to reduce goals and think of desires that are really in agreement with our hearts. You want to lose weight? Clear your mind; often the numbers cause anxiety and increase frustration. Think of all the situations in which you feel in shape. From a walk on a good morning to repainting the walls or other DIY, there are a multitude of situations in which we burn energy.

FEED YOUR INSPIRATION – So many colors and cut-outs telling the story of yourself and cultivating enthusiasm: according to experts, keeping a scrapbook is therapeutic, helping with mental clarity and stimulating commitment. Seeing the progress made month after month will be invigorating. Give 15 minutes of time every day for browsing the newspaper or websites of interest. Reading enables you to find new connections and fuels your interests. No to gossip and people who complain; use the web for cultivating rapport and positive friendships.

THINK OF YOURSELF – How much time in a day do you dedicate to what you love? The true challenge is managing to find brief moments in which to break the routine. You can learn this with mindfulness meditation. Here is an exercise to repeat in any moment: stop! What do you feel? Listen to your deep sensations, breathe, free your mind, following the rhythm of your heart. When you are in the city, or in a meeting with colleagues, waiting for your children outside school: in any context you can decide to create a vacuum and give space to yourself, to what you feel. It will help you avoid anxiety.

GIVE VALUE TO TIME – There are always more hours to spend on the Internet. Use your awareness and begin to choose things that really interest you. Traps that rob time from the day are everywhere, from online games to chat. Create good habits that manage to bring a smile to your day and a way of living more intensely. The value of sincere friendships, the flavor of a coffee enjoyed with calm, half an hour just for yourself, a walk in the open air: happiness is made in everyday moments.

 

Learn to live better and to optimize your energies, without surrendering to nervousness or agitation

Stress? We begin to know it as babies, though resisting it is not impossible. Certainly, the difficulties of everyday life are many and you cannot eliminate them, but we can learn to confront them without giving way to a spiral of frenzy, and, indeed, stress.

Anti-stress ideas to put into practice every dayThe word stress, strictly speaking, simply means the way in which we adapt to external stimuli. Naturally, to adapt to a situation, it is necessary to put some strategies into action and these can be more or less successful. For example, if you are very cold, you can cover yourself or turn up the heating. When a negative stimulus persists, despite all our attempts to resist it, it ends up feeling overwhelming: at this point that state of discomfort that we all know well arises and, if protracted over time, becomes that which scientists call distress, or pathological stress.

To live well it is not necessary to eliminate every source of stress, as, among other things, this is almost impossible, but it is sufficient to put into action a series of strategies able to protect us and to confront difficult situations with the right tools. Here are some counter-measures to put into practice in everyday life.

Give up trying to do everything – Multitasking is a myth and by now this is recognized by science: make a list of your priorities, focusing on the most important, really indispensable things and leave the rest aside. Learn to live without continually running: get into the habit of making a list of things that you should do (in your opinion), then dismiss at least two and include in the list something enjoyable or a moment just for you. Learn to delegate: and if things are not as perfect as if you had done them yourself, notice that the world keeps on turning.

Choose your friends with care – Give priority to meeting with positive people who know how to confront life with a smile on their faces, and escape those who always see the darker side and seek to dismantle your enthusiasm.

Learn to breathe – It seems like nonsense, but your well-being can really depend on this simple action. Learn to breathe using the diaphragm, that is the low part of the thorax. If you cannot manage it, lie down on your bed and relax as if you are going to sleep: you will note that, as every breath starts, your belly rises and your shoulders stay still. This is correct breathing: learn to sustain it throughout the day. In moments of stress, for example in a traffic jam or in a busy city street, puff to expel all the air, then inhale deeply, as if about to yawn. Feel your belly swell and observe your surroundings as if you were outside your body: this is the first stage of meditation.

Indulge in a little sport or a dynamic hobby – Go to the gym or pool, or at least take an evening walk. Stretch your body and move as much as you can. Dedicate yourself to gardening or to another anti-stress hobby, or book a massage or a spa day. All this will help you to create a physical and mental space in which to forget everything and recover energy.

Choose anti-stress food and drinks – Discover the calming power of herbal/fruit tea and herbal medicines. If you prefer, you can also take them in supplement form. As well as chamomile and valerian, try hawthorn, passionflower and griffonia that, as well as regulating sleep, help to combat attacks of emotional eating, typical of stressful moments. Eat healthily, prioritizing fruit and vegetables, and limiting alcohol and smoking as much as possible.

Prevent stress – Ask yourself which situations you consider most stressful and seek to eliminate at least some of them. Faced with an uncomfortable situation, you are not forced to suffer, but can find a solution. If you find yourself trapped in traffic that makes you crazy, leave the car at home and take the bus, at least for some of the way, or join up with a colleague you like, sharing a means of transport: the journey will seem shorter.

Learn to express what you feel – Give yourself the space to free your emotions: it is unhelpful and counter-productive to repress everything, like a pressure-cooker. Although a certain dose of self-control and diplomacy when communicating our thoughts is indispensable, expressing our opinions is vital for our health. It is enough to do so with a little tact and without hurting others.

Learn to say NO – It is unhelpful always to tolerate everything at any cost. Do not blame yourself if you cannot satisfy everyone. (And read back over the first point of this article).