Category Archives: Self Improvement Tips

Daily Changes to Boost Your Self-Confidence

By Dr. Jennifer Guttman

You’re reading Daily Changes to Boost Your Self-Confidence, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

It is important to know that self-confidence and self-esteem are very similar to each other. So, when you’re doing tasks to improve your self-confidence, your self-esteem will build as well. You don’t need to engage in separate tasks to build your self-confidence and self-esteem. They can be similar tasks to organically build both at the same time.

In my practice, lack of self-confidence is a significant issue. A lot of people come to me because they have low self-confidence and are disappointed with themselves and their behavior. If a lack of self-confidence is something you struggle with, I want to give you some tasks that should help reduce your feelings of low self-confidence.

1. Complete the tasks you start.

One of the things I feel is common among most people is that they are pervasively disappointed with themselves when they don’t finish the tasks that they start in several venues of their lives.

People are usually better about closing tasks at work because they feel if they don’t close the task at work, somebody is going to hold them accountable for it. However, they’re not as good at closing tasks at home, paying bills to completion, filing things or following through on things that they say they’re going to do for their children or a friend. This can cause them to feel chronically disappointed with themselves.

In order to be more effective, the first step is to understand the importance of closing the tasks that you start. One thing you can do is place reminders on your phone about what you’ve said you’re going to do and take them off the list as you complete them. Don’t dismiss the reminders on your phone until you’ve closed the task. When people think others are disappointed in them, they’re much more disappointed in themselves. Not completing tasks is one of the most common actions that can cause disappointment.

2. Make your own decisions.

The second change you

can make is to start making your own decisions rather than just delegating those decisions to someone else to make. A lot of people feel guilty when they delegate their decisions. They do this because they don’t want the responsibility for a negative outcome from a decision to come back to them. When people make a decision and stand by that decision, regardless of the outcome, they have a sense of self-confidence because they learn that they can cope with whatever the outcome is.

3. Face your fears.

The third thing that can help you build self-confidence is to face your fears. It is important to do this every day. Try waking up in the morning and asking, “What fear am I going to face today?” When you do that, it helps you build a sense of competency over tasks that you didn’t think that you could do, even if it’s facing a small fear. No matter the size, facing your fears can help build your self-confidence. Each day, remind yourself to engage in all of the closing behaviors, to make your own decisions and to face your fears.

I hope these tips will help you to be more successful in building your self-confidence. If they don’t help immediately, over time you should be more successful. Practice patience when you commit to making major changes in your life because it won’t happen overnight.

A Path to Sustainable Life Satisfaction

I invite you to view my new YouTube channel, “A Path To Sustainable Life Satisfaction Special” which features all six of my empowering techniques and web series episodes I created to help people master and achieve sustainable satisfaction in their lives.


Dr. Jennifer Guttman, PsyD is a leading a clinical psychologist and cognitive-behaviorist, with over 20 years of experience in the field of mental health. She has built thriving practices in New York City and Westport, Connecticut that provide services to over 120 clients. She treats a variety of mental health illnesses as well as transient and developmental life issues with clients from all walks of life sexual identities, ages 17-55 years old. Dr. Guttman reinforces her brand concept, “A Path To Sustainable Satisfaction”, by utilizing a number of techniques and strategies including starting is easy, closing is hard, decision-making, facing fears, reducing people-pleasing behaviors, avoiding assumptions and active self-reinforcement. Published in the area of cognitive-behavior therapy and anger control for adolescents, Dr. Guttman has been quoted in the New York Times and has appeared as a guest on both radio and TV shows. She has lectured around the country on effective cognitive-behavioral techniques for treating mental health issues, and also mentors students in the doctoral program at Long Island University.

You’ve read Daily Changes to Boost Your Self-Confidence, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

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How eating breakfast helps you lose weight

By malloryar86

You’re reading How eating breakfast helps you lose weight, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

Have you ever been in the middle of that amazing dream where you just won the lottery and you’re about to go on a shopping spree, and then you wake up suddenly to the annoying sound of BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP? Oh yeah, you know what that sound is, it’s the sound of death, the alarm clock! Of course, you hit the snooze button enough times that by the time you actually get out of bed, your rushing around like a chicken with its head cut off just to get to work, school, appointment, etc. on time. I’m pretty sure we have all experienced this at least once in our life unless you’ve been in the military since you were about five years old. When you are rushing around to get ready, most of the time you will not eat breakfast because you simply “do not have enough time to.” You dart out the door with a coffee, snacks, hit up the drive-thru, Starbucks, gas station food, or even worse, NOTHING. By the time afternoon hits, your body crashes and you feel exhausted. Why does this happen?

As a personal trainer, I get asked often about nutrition advice. I have been working out and eating healthy for years now so I have lots of knowledge in this area. I used to just go to the gym and eat whatever I wanted to whenever I wanted to and I wondered why I wasn’t losing weight or getting results. Now, genetics play a role and there will always be those lucky individuals that can eat whatever they want and look great. I personally hate those people. Just kidding. Seriously though, food is a serious part, if not the most important part of your fitness results. Diet alone makes up around roughly 90% of your fitness results. Have you ever heard the saying, “you are what you eat?” This is actually a very true statement. So, back to the question, why do you crash by afternoon if you did not eat breakfast or you ate garbage for breakfast?

There are many reasons why this happens, but I am going to name a few that I find to be very important:

  1. Not eating all three macronutrients at breakfast (protein, natural dietary fat, and slow burning, low starch carbohydrates)
  2. Waiting too long in between meals to eat (for example: not eating breakfast)
  3. Not eating enough or too much
  4. Eating too much sugar

Changing even these four bad habits from above at breakfast time can significantly change how you feel by noon, on top of helping you lose weight and maintain it.

I want to talk a little more about “how eating breakfast can help you lose weight.” Breakfast should reign over your day like a King in a palace. Seriously, it’s that important! When someone comes to me and says they have been doing EVERYTHING, and still cannot lose weight but admits to not eating breakfast, I literally want to walk away and cry for them. Losing weight and skipping breakfast is like oil and water, they do not mix. Have you ever been told by a parent or grandparent that you need to eat breakfast so you can focus at school? Well, this is very true and it plays an important role in weight as well. So, exactly how does eating breakfast help you to lose weight?

BOOSTS METABOLISM

Your body uses energy for everything you do, including eating. You need the energy to store the food in your stomach and to move it along to your small intestine, absorb it into the bloodstream, and digest it. Technically speaking, this is called “diet-induced thermogenesis.” This will determine your daily calorie intake. When you’re burning more calories than your consuming, you lose weight. Try researching “diet-induced thermogenesis,” you will learn much more about this process. By eating breakfast, you activate the thermogenesis process which in turn, stimulates your metabolism. Studies have shown that eating a meal in the morning boosts your metabolism more than eating the exact meal at night.

KEEPS TOTAL CALORIE INTAKE LOWER

without a wholesome breakfast, you will more than likely go after higher calorie foods during the day. People tend to eat more for lunch because they are hungrier. Basically, by eating a well-balanced breakfast, you won’t feel near as hungry by lunch, which will make it easier to make healthy choices and consume less.

These are the top two ways that eating breakfast helps one lose or maintain their weight, but one must remember that the breakfast MUST be a well-balanced and nutritious one or you’re defeating the purpose of this entire article. You cannot eat doughnuts and drink coffee every day for breakfast and expect to lose weight. Remember, you want to consume all three macronutrients, stay away from sugar, not eat too much or too little, and don’t wait too long in between meals. Doing these steps together will lead to weight loss or maintenance. I am going to end this with a few examples of some good quality breakfast foods that would be perfect to eat daily.

  1. Eggs
  2. Greek Yogurt
  3. Oatmeal (steel cut oats are best)
  4. Chia seeds, nuts, almonds
  5. Berries
  6. Green Tea
  7. Protein Shake
  8. Water
  9. Fruit
  10. Whole wheat toast
  11. Veggies
  12. Lean meats

There’s no magic potion to losing weight but there are good habits you can form that can certainly help assist you in meeting your fitness and health goals. If your just getting started on your weight loss journey and feel overwhelmed by all the information that is being thrown at you all at once, then just start by changing your breakfast habits. Take baby steps and do it one day at a time. Remember, never give up no matter what. Anything can be done, where there is a will, there is a way.

You’ve read How eating breakfast helps you lose weight, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

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Death is not a Dirty Word: Living with Grief

By Debbie Augenthaler, LMHC, NCC

You’re reading Death is not a Dirty Word: Living with Grief, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

After my husband died, I remember all the awkward moments when people avoided me – at my office, on the street and even friends who were uncomfortable talking about it. At times I felt like I had a disease, and in a sense I did – I had been impacted by death and my world had been blown apart. If anyone got too close to me, death and all its sorrow might rub against them, too.

It’s true we live in a grief-phobic society. This means we often don’t talk about death and grief until our own world breaks apart with the loss of someone we love. It’s something that happens to other people—until it happens to you.

If you’ve never experienced a shattering loss, you have no mental imprint for how to put the pieces back together. We aren’t born with this skill—it’s has to be learned and developed. So it’s understandable why we can become child-like in our grief. We feel overwhelmed, frightened, and unable to cope, much less be comforted.

I’m a psychotherapist who’s worked with many grievers. I know when faced with overwhelming grief, many people feel like they’re alone in what they’re experiencing. They often feel like they’re going crazy. That’s how I felt when my husband Jim died suddenly, in my arms, when I was only 36 years-old. Through my own devastating loss, and my professional experience, I’ve learned some essentials for any griever to know as they navigate the labyrinth of grief and loss.

Let People Help You:

Surround yourself with friends and family who will listen and be supportive. If someone offers to help, let them. If it’s an option, seek the services of a qualified therapist. It may take a few therapists to find the right fit for you, like any relationship. My therapist was crucial to my healing.

Suspended in The Fog:

Have you ever tried to drive through a thick fog on winding road? When we experience any kind of traumatic loss it feels like we’re in an alternate reality. Our bodies are in survival mode and the thinking part of our brain (the prefrontal cortex) shuts down. Our nervous system is hyper-aroused, we experience anxiety or panic attacks, our hearts race, and looping thoughts fill our minds as we try to integrate what has happened. It’s difficult to speak, to “see” through the fog induced by psychological shock.

Many times I walked into a room to do something and completely forgot why I was there. I started writing things down, because it felt like my brain couldn’t hold a thought longer than a minute. It’s hard to concentrate and think clearly. This feeling of being shrouded by heavy fog, of your head being filled with thick cotton, is normal. Your body is doing what it needs to do to help you survive. Your brain and body need time to catch up to reality. Give yourself the time you need.

Our Bodies Grieve Too:

When Jim died, I couldn’t eat for days, and then the only thing that appealed to me was cinnamon toast. When we experience a shock or traumatic event, our instinctive survival responses take over: the fight, flight, freeze response. This is why, in the midst of a crisis, we are unable to eat, or swallow, or we throw up. When our brains perceive danger it instructs the body to rid itself of anything not needed to survive. All energy is directed solely to survival—digestion slows down or stops and we even stop producing saliva.

It’s Okay to Be a Griever:

A client told me the story of picking up her friend’s mother from the airport who had travelled across country for the funeral of her adult daughter. It took them an hour to get her from the gate to her car because the mother, in deep grief, kept collapsing on the ground in the terminal.

There’s an expectation in our society to keep it together—to not make a scene, to keep the messiness private. I call this the “unwritten rules of grief.” These rules are to help others feel more comfortable with YOUR grief. But grief is messy. It’s okay to cry, and let it out. Don’t feel like you have to “be stoic” for others. Do what you need to do for you.

Grief Doesn’t Understand Time:

Many of us are familiar with the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It’s important to remember that grief is not linear, and these phases, as I call them, are not an orderly progression. There is no timetable. We all grieve in our own way, in our own time. I went back and forth through these phases for years. Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve.

It’s Not You, It’s Them:

Children will often do or say inappropriate or hurtful things because they haven’t learned etiquette yet. But adults will often do the same when responding to grief. It’s because they don’t know what to say and/or are uncomfortable with grief. They may even avoid you. Just remember, it’s about them, not you. If someone can’t be there for you in the way you need them to be, find someone who can.

Be Open to Signs From Your Loved One:

I have a friend whose father loved ladybugs. When she was in a photography session before her wedding, hundreds of ladybugs covered her white dress. She saw this as a beautiful sign from her deceased father—a way he told her he was there for her on her life journey. Everyone gets signs in a different way. Spirit lives on. The connected bond of love doesn’t end. Be open to signs though dreams, songs, scents, and in nature. Let small miracles help guide and comfort you as you adjust to a new reality. Beginning to heal and adjust to your new life doesn’t mean having to let go of the person you love.

The Importance of Rituals:

After Jim died, I kept all the cards and notes he’d given me in a blue box. When I was missing him, I would take this box down from the closet and read his words, feeling connected to his love. For a while, it became my ritual. Rituals offer comfort and a path to healing. Find whatever helps you feel connected to your loved one—be it visiting the cemetery, lighting a special candle, listening to music you both loved, carrying something special that reminds you of them.

Nature Heals:

Being in nature can remind us the importance that all living things are connected, and this feeling can help reduce anxiety. It can be soothing to simply get outside and breathe. Meditation helps calm your nervous system. Go for a walk in the park, on a trail, near a river or ocean if possible. If you can’t find a natural water source where you live, or you don’t want to leave the house, take a warm bath.

You’re Not Always Going to Feel This Way:

Remember that grieving doesn’t make you imperfect. It makes you human. As hard as it might be for you to believe right now, I want you to know: You will heal. You will not only survive, but you can thrive and find joy and meaning in your new life. This may not be the life you had before—but it is still your life to live—fully.


About Debbie Augenthaler, LMHC, NCC

Debbie is a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City, where she has specialized in trauma, grief, and loss. Her husband, Jim, died suddenly in her arms when she was only 36 years old. He had been healthy and vibrant – the doctors compared the probability of his death by heart attack to being struck by lightning. That lightning strike ended her life as she knew it and thus began the “baptism by fire” that brought her to her new future.

Debbie’s book, You Are Not Alone: A Heartfelt Guide for Grief, Healing, and Hope, is the book she wishes she’d had when she was grieving, and wishes she had now to offer clients experiencing life-altering losses. With the connection of a shared experience, Debbie guides the reader through grief to transformation and a new beginning.

Debbie has as Master’s Degree in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness from New York University. She has completed a two year post graduate Advanced Trauma Studies program from the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy and is trained in various modalities that inform a holistically based practice including EMDR, Internal Family Systems, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Energy Psychology, and Hypnosis. In 2012 she received the NYU Steinhardt Award for Outstanding Clinical Service.

For more information, please visit http://www.debbieaugenthaler.com/book/ and follow Debbie on Facebook and Twitter.

You’ve read Death is not a Dirty Word: Living with Grief, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

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Toxins In The Home: What You Don’t Know Might Kill You

By David Haas

You’re reading Toxins In The Home: What You Don’t Know Might Kill You, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

Poisoning is the number one cause of injury-related deaths in the United States, and 91% of incidents occur in our very own homes. Unintentional poisoning can occur in a number of ways, potentially harming our health as well as our loved ones. In an effort to reduce the number of households affected, it’s important to understand where common toxic products might be lurking and how to create a safe and healthy space for your family.

In Your Air

Many households depend on pesticides to protect their property from unwanted vermin without realizing the consequences that can unfold. Harsh chemicals like these can be life-threatening when people are exposed to them for long periods of time, but you can avoid them by simply maintaining a clean home. Oftentimes, it’s as easy as taking a moment to seal and store open containers, clean your dishes, regularly empty the trash, and avoid leaving pet food out for more than a few hours.

Another effective solution is to repair any cracks or damages in your home’s foundation. Not only will pests have a harder time getting into your basement and home, dangerous toxins like radon will be kept out too.

In Your House

Asbestos was a common deadly mineral found in thousands of building materials. Some of the most notorious products included floor tiles, adhesives, insulation, cement, siding, roofing material, caulking, and more. If your home was built before 1980, these harmful materials could be found in garages, basements, and attics. Attics have become a particular concern because of vermiculite insulation, some of which was contaminated with asbestos and is being discovered in homes across the nation.

In addition, older garages have a history of using asbestos-cement and roofing materials for stability and longevity. The problem is that when storms or harsh weather conditions occur they can damage the materials and release asbestos fibers into the air, creating not only a dangerous home, but a public health hazard. If people inhale loose asbestos fibers, symptoms can take years to show and may cause mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that primarily affects the lungs. If you do decide to start a renovation project, always be aware of the health risks you may encounter through toxic dust and building supplies.

On Your Walls

Home improvement projects create a lot of dust and could contain any number of toxins, including the possibility of lead, a heavy metal capable of causing severe damage when we’re exposed to it. Lead-based paint has been banned since 1978, but can still be found in approximately four million homes today. The toxic paint might be hidden under newer paint jobs and is similar to asbestos in that it does not become a health risk unless it has begun to deteriorate or wear away. This often happens near window sills, door frames, railings, and any other surface that gets a lot of wear and tear, so keep an eye on these areas to ensure the paint is in good shape.

Don’t forget to regularly dust your home. Lead-tainted paint dust is a primary source of indoor exposure, as well as exposed gasoline, and industrial pollution. This toxin can harm almost every system in the body and is especially dangerous for children in their developmental years. If you think your home contains lead, it’s important to set up a blood test for your family to be sure your health is not at risk.

In Your Cabinets

Cleaning products often contain harmful chemicals and are the second leading cause of poisoning children. The biggest concern is that we’re choosing to purchase and support products that may eventually pose a serious health risk for ourselves and our families.

Bleach is an extremely common household cleaner, but it also reportedly poisoned more than 15,000 children nationwide in 2014. This is why it’s vital to ensure all cleaning products are out of a child’s reach and to consider child-proofing your cabinets. You should never mix different solvents together, like bleach and ammonia, which could result in producing a potentially deadly gas. Always ventilate your home and open the windows when using these products to protect your lungs.

Promoting Preventative Education

Every household deserves to be safe and healthy, which is why educating ourselves about the many avenues of exposure truly makes a difference. You can join the nationwide effort to reduce poisoning by making simple adjustments to your everyday routine, such as reading labels and maintaining a clean home. It’s important to spread the word about the power of prevention because it is one of the most effective tools we have for reducing the amount of people exposed to toxins today.

You’ve read Toxins In The Home: What You Don’t Know Might Kill You, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

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7 Minimalist Ways To Declutter Your Life

By MarnixBuijs

7 Minimalistic Ways To Declutter Your Life

You’re reading 7 Minimalist Ways To Declutter Your Life, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

There are basically two reasons why minimalism has become so popular these days.

The first reason is that a lot of people feel ‘trapped’ in the daily routine and society. Everyone works more and more to be able to buy more and more stuff that they can’t use because they don’t have the time. This means that a lot of people are overworked, underpaid and dissatisfied with their lives. To escape all this, people seek an alternative way of life: minimalism.

The second reason why minimalism is so popular is that we are now more aware than ever what we’re doing to this earth. With the melting of the ice caps and the pollution that’s going on, we see what we’re doing to this world we were gifted to live on. Everyone is questioning our future on this planet if we keep going like this. If you practice minimalism, there will be less trash thus less pollution.

Minimalism can be described in one sentence:

What Minimalism is really all about is reassessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff — the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities — that don’t bring value to your life. – Colin Wright

In this article, I will talk about 7 little ways you can declutter your life with a minimalistic approach.

Get Rid Of Your Clothes

Not all of them of course, I don’t want you to be running around naked.

But seriously.

Get rid of all the variations of clothes you have, only keep 3 (or 4) sets which should cover all categories of your life.

Examples of categories may be:

  • Casual outfit
  • Classy outfit (for business)
  • The ‘chill’ outfit, sloppy clothes that you like to wear when you’re home.
  • (Gym clothes if needed)

Donate the rest of your clothes so someone else can be happy with them.

When you have these sets of clothes, you may want to buy 3 pairs of each outfit depending on how much you wear them, so you’re not smelling like a dumpster if you’re going to wear 1 outfit throughout the week.

Eat The Same Meals

A lot of people think that eating the same meals over and over is terrible and annoying. But it’s actually just simple. By having specific meals, filled with enough nutritious value and fantastic taste, you make it easier for yourself to stick to them.

A lot of people who are successful in the health area of their life apply this principle to their life. Bodybuilders also use this principle as it makes it easier to know what is coming in on a daily basis.

You basically need 4-6 to go to meals that you can rotate through on a weekly basis. Make sure that all these meals contain the nutrition you need. Think of enough proteins, legumes, and vegetables. Carbs can either be slow carbs (non-white carbs such as carbs from nuts and legumes like lentils) or fast carbs (white carbs such as pasta and rice). Also, make sure you consume healthy fats like avocado or fish.

Do your research and shuffle a bit until you find the right fit for you, everyone is different so that will differ from person to person.

An example of a meal (breakfast) could be:

  • 2 organic whole eggs
  • 20g of black beans
  • Salsa and guacamole for the taste

As for drinks, water should be your go to, always.

Get Rid Of Debt And Start Saving

I’ve never been in debt my whole life until I decided to go to college. The way college debt works here in The Netherlands is a bit complicated than the American debt.

I don’t have to pay the debt until I earn the minimum income of a 40 hour work week (which I can determine myself because I have my own business). If I don’t make that income within a certain amount of years (not sure how many) I won’t have to pay anything, ever.

Being in debt can be a pain in the ass, as I’ve heard from others.

The goal should be to either eliminate debt out of your life or never get in debt at all.

If you’re in debt, focus on paying that off as fast as you can. Hire a financial planner or another expert to help you.

If you’re not in debt, keep it that way. Start putting aside a certain amount of money every month and put it in your emergency fund. This is your backup if everything falls down, make sure you can live at least 3 months of that (preferably 6 months).

Once you have that in place, you can start investing in your own business, stocks, real estate or whatever you want to make money with. It’s crucial to have multiple sources of income instead of just your job. This way you’ll be more financially stable.

The next steps:

  1. Get out of debt and stay out of debt.
  2. Save for an emergency fund.
  3. Put money aside to invest.

The Walk Of Trash

I’ll explain what I mean with ‘the walk of trash’ right now.

It basically means walking through your house and throwing everything unnecessary away. All the small stuff you never use but think you’ll use ‘somewhere in the future’. Do you even believe yourself? If you’re not using it now, you’re never going to. And if you want to use it later, you could just buy it when the time’s right (unless it’s one of a kind).

Step 1. Put all the (really) important stuff at the same place or in the same drawer or even room.

Step 2. Pick up a trash bin or a trash bag.

Step 3. Walk around the house and throw everything away you don’t use on a daily basis.

Step 4. Look into your trash bin and trash bags to see if you can sell or donate some of the stuff, so it doesn’t get wasted.

Step 5. Feel free

The most important thing here is that you only keep the bare minimum, everything that you’re definitely using, like a knife to cut your food with or glasses to drink out of. Something like old shoes is not worth keeping.

Throw Your TV Out The Window

I’m serious, you know how much time a person spends watching TV on a weekly basis? According to statista, the average time spent watching TV per week by people living in the US was 24 hours and 24 minutes in 2017. The number for 2018 is currently forecasted to be 22 hours and 30 minutes per week. This still means that you’re having a second part-time job, watching TV.

Now, don’t think you’re an exception, you’re probably watching way more television than you think.

It’s a waste of:

  • Money, the upfront costs plus the costs of the cable and Netflix.
  • Time, imagine what you could do with 20 extra hours per week.
  • Attention, watching TV at a young age is proven to lead to attention deficiency when children grow older. Trying to multitask while watching TV also makes you less productive.
  • Awareness, if you’re watching TV, you can’t be aware of your surroundings and experience freedom in a way that you would experience in nature.
  • Relationships, if you’re watching TV on your own while you could also spend time nurturing positive relationships. Your relationships will suffer because you watch TV.
  • Creativity, if you’re watching TV, you cannot create thus your creativity will not get nurtured.

If throwing your TV straight out the window is too much for you. Try scheduling one day a week where you can watch as much TV as you want or try a whole week without TV.

“So, I can never watch TV again?” If you have a friend with a TV – which you most likely do – you can suggest watching a particular movie or programme at his place and talk about it afterward. Deepening your relationship while also watching what you wanted to watch.

So no, you CAN watch TV, just not at your place.

If you’re really serious about becoming a minimalist, check out this 21-day journey to minimalism post. It shows you the steps Joshua Fields Millburn took to become a minimalist.

Focus On Your True Needs

What are your life goals and priorities at the moment? Do you even have them?

If not, I recommend you read my post ‘Life Vision : HOW TO Create A Vision For Your Life‘ on my blog and start setting goals for your life right now!

When you’ve set your goals and priorities, you know what to focus on. Focusing only on the most critical parts of your life will help you free your mind of all the clutter.

Prioritize what’s most important in your life RIGHT NOW. For every goal you have, determine the main things you need and get rid of all the things you don’t need.

If your goal is to add 5 lbs of muscle in 6 months, you won’t have any lab material lying around your house because that wouldn’t make any sense. Minimize everything to the stuff you need to achieve or work on your goals, everything else can go.

This focus leads to less stuff lying around the house you don’t need. Believe me, this feels amazing.

Time Minimization

Minimizing time is also a way to become more of a minimalist. Time is one of the most valuable assets you have. You can get more money, but you can’t get more time. This is why you have to be very careful with what you spend your time on.

What do you spend your time on these days?

I hope you work towards a goal, nurture relationships or your peace of mind. Spending your time on low-value activities like watching TV is a waste, you could be doing much more fun stuff than that.

It’s important to know where you’re spending your time on, try to focus on the highest value activities (everything that moves you forward) in your life and minimize the time you spend on low-value activities (everything that keeps your attention from doing high-value activities).

Besides knowing what you spend your time on, it’s also important to know with whom you spend your time. Nurture the positive relationships (relationships that make you feel good) and get rid (or severely minimize) of negative relationships (relationships that are holding you back in some sort of way).

Time is of the essence here, be careful with it, before you know it it’s gone.

What Now?

Try applying at least 1 of these tips to your life right now and see how you feel.

If you’re feeling anxious, don’t be afraid, over the course of 7 days you’ll feel better and better. Believe me, you’ll feel freer than you feel right now.

Be free!


This post is written by Marnix Buijs who is a blogger, freelance content writer/marketer and online entrepreneur who helps people find their true selves on his blog. He also helps companies spread their message through their content as a freelancer.

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REVIEW: The MUSE Brain Sensing Headset

By Erin Falconer

You’re reading REVIEW: The MUSE Brain Sensing Headset, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

Although meditation and mindfulness may be getting trendier, the tangible impact meditation has on the brain still seems very removed. We read about how meditation supposedly induces structural changes in the brain and enhances your mental health, but with the modern day bombardment of health and food fallacies, meditation can come across as spiritual fluff. The dissonance many of us exhibit is that we feel incapable of reaching meditative zen, and when we do, it is difficult to sustain a healthy habit, and a healthy brain.

The MUSE headset is a new gadget developed to provide real-time feedback of what is happening to the brain while you meditate. It redefines mindfulness by adding the neurological component right at your fingertips with a bluetooth app that receives data directly from your brain’s electrical activity and relays the information to you via audiovisual cues. A helpful tutorial teaches you how to adjust the headband for both comfort and accurate brain signal reading and MUSE calibrates itself to each session by registering a snapshot of your brain in a natural state, in order to refer back to it as it processes your neuronal activity as you meditate.

The activity MUSE catches onto is electroencephalogram (EEG), an unbiased biomarker for the electrical rhythms in the brain. By tapping into your very own neuronal activity, MUSE allows for the most organic way to achieve cognitive equilibrium by triggering your Natural Relaxation Response. You can then achieve your own wellness goals by tracking progress with digestible graphs and charts that follow each session. These results are saved on a personal account and can help you monitor your wellness journey. Before you know it you will notice drastic improvements to your daily mental acuity and mood.

Prominent studies on meditation are being conducted using MUSE due to its accessibility and versatility. In one study, for example, MUSE has provided evidence that meditation evokes structural changes in the brain that make you a better leader due to refined emotional intelligence. According to world renowned psychologist Dr. Daniel Goleman, there are various competencies of emotional intelligence that make for successful leadership- empathy, self-awareness, conflict management and Emotional Self-control. Meditation tangibly hones each of these competencies, making us better leaders, and MUSE can play a key role in this journey. More broadly speaking, meditation has been scientifically shown to reduce symptoms associated with stress, depression and anxiety, and you can play a role in furthering this research as MUSE app itself allows you to share your session data with the company to further research on how effective the device is.

For most of us though, structural changes in the brain resonates very little with us. MUSE acts as a brain envoy, translating various brain waves it catches onto to rich, dynamic audio experiences. A stressed mental state corresponds to harsh sounds, whereas a calm state corresponds to peaceful sounds. Additionally, the technology tunes into your brain circuitry by rewarding you with motivational challenges. This form of neuro-feedback encourages you to build a regular habit of meditating through a phenomenon called operant conditioning. What’s more, the short, focused attention based exercises keep you alert and engaged. To me this goes to show how on par MUSE is with how our brains are wired, as research has shown that using an app and starting with brief exercises is highly effective in building a meditation practice

By catering to the diversity of brains and the stressful schedules many of us find ourselves in, MUSE promises immediate improvements to your mental health and vivacity through a dynamic neuro-feedback system. Investing in your brain is the best investment you can make, but it is difficult to decipher what does good and what does harm, as well as what is worth your time-. MUSE offers a compelling solution.

SIGN UP FOR THE 3 WEEK MEDITATION CHALLENGE HERE:

PURCHASE YOURS HERE: https://mbsy.co/m7PGd and get a 15% discount

References:

http://www.choosemuse.com/what-does-muse-measure/

https://www.medgadget.com/2017/01/muse-brain-sensing-headband-updated-product-review.html)

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The Revival of the Handwritten Love Letter

By dianaraab

You’re reading The Revival of the Handwritten Love Letter, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

The handwritten letter is romantic, poetic and sensual. It’s more permanent, purposeful, engaging, reflective, thoughtful, individualized and requires and more effort than a cold electronic email message.

In many ways, emails, texting and instant messaging have brought back some of the qualities of letter writing skills, although for many people, it has taken away the allure of the stamped letter mailed at the corner mailbox. Even though most of my day is spent at the computer composing emails, I do have a drawer totally dedicated to stationary and note paper. After all, an email is not a ‘real’ letter and in many ways receiving a stamped letter delivered by the mailman seems to hold more weight and be more credible. It is just so precious. Although we can save emails, there is nothing like saving a handwritten letter, something we have stored away, a piece of paper which reminds us of a particular person. Sometimes the paper might even hold their fragrance.

Word processors are ubiquitous now, but holding a hand-written letter elicits different feelings than a typewritten one. Writing a handwritten letter is the next best thing to showing up at someone’s door. A hand-written letter also holds the story of the letter’s journey, perhaps across many miles. It holds the spirit and energy of the person who wrote it in a very tangible way.

When each of my children were born I wrote them a letter. When my grandmother died, when I was ten, I wrote her a letter and continue to do so when I have the need to be connected with her. When my father died, twenty-five years ago, I wrote him a letter. All my children are grown and every so often I love sending them a handwritten note or card. I hope they cherish it as much as I do.

To write a handwritten letter, all you need is stationary which reflects your personality, a smooth-moving pen and sealing wax.

Here are some tips for writing love letters:

  • State purpose of your letter
  • Recall a romantic memory
  • Write what you love about the person
  • Write about how your life has changed since your meeting
  • Reaffirm your love
  • Summarize with a potent phrase, such as “I can’t wait to grow old with you.”

If you want to get inspired by wonderful letter writers, check out the following books:

de Ayala, R. (1999). Illustrated Letters: Artists and Writers Correspond. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams.

Gunwald, L, and S. J. Adler, Eds. (2005). Women’s Letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present. New York, NY: Dial Press.

Fitzpatrick, E., ed. (2010). Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Tamplin, R., Ed. (1995). Famous Love Letters: Messages of Intimacy and Passion. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest.

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Seven Ways to Become an Active Listener Using Classical Music

By George Marriner Maull

You’re reading Seven Ways to Become an Active Listener Using Classical Music, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

Music is present during virtually every activity in our daily lives. Whether you’re in an elevator, waiting in line at a drug store or shopping for new shoes, music is likely playing around you. But ask yourself this, do you really listen to this music, or do you simply hear it? Chances are, you’re doing the latter.

Why is the distinction between hearing and really listening so important? For many of us, learning to listen intently and give our undivided attention to music can benefit many areas of our lives. As I’ve observed in thirty years of teaching active listening and classical music appreciation, when people begin to really listen to music, and classical music in particular, they become better listeners and communicators in their jobs, relationships and beyond. The benefits of learning to listen intently are really endless.

Many folks think they need special training to understand classical music. I argue, while not all of us can be virtuoso musicians, we can all be virtuoso listeners. For those looking to reap the benefits of listening to classical music, I’ve outlined seven steps you can take today to help you become a better classical listener.

  1. Make a decision. The first step in active listening is to simply ask yourself: “Am I really listening?” This sounds ridiculously obvious, right? But we actually have a decision to make. We have to decide if we are we going to multi-task – which includes even just thinking about other things – or, are we going mono-focus and give the music our undivided attention.
  2. Embrace alone time. This may sound anti-social, but the truth is, even when 2,000 people are sitting in Carnegie Hall together, they are each in their own private listening world, taking in the sounds around them and having their own private reactions. So don’t think twice about sitting in front of your computer or phone by yourself with your earbuds in.
  3. Use YouTube. It’s not like the old days when the classical music-curious needed to sift through bins of LP vinyl records or CD cases with no direction on what to purchase. The entire history of classical is all there on YouTube, ready for your enjoyment – for free!
  4. Stick with the winners. You may be wondering where to start if you’re not familiar with classical. Here are eight excellent options to get your feet wet:
    1. Mozart: Overture to the Marriage of Figaro (04:30)
    2. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, Movement III (05:00)
    3. Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 21, Movement II (06:30)
    4. Brahms: Symphony No. 4, Movement III (06:00)
    5. Fauré: Pavane (orchestral version without chorus) (06:30)
    6. Beethoven: Symphony No. 5, Movement I (07:30)
    7. Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2, Movement II (11:30)
    8. Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé – Suite No.2 (16:00)
  5. Find your focus. Having made a decision to listen with all of your faculties, you might be wondering: “What do I actually focus on?” Pay attention to the rhythms, the melodies, the harmonies, the contrast of loudness and softness, the different sounds each instrument or group of instruments makes and the form. Take notice of changes and similarities. Are some melodies repeated? Are they repeated identically or altered? What other changes do you notice?
  6. Keep your focus. It’s quite normal for your mind to wander as you attempt to focus completely on the music. When that happens, simply bring your mind back to noticing the melody and the instruments that are playing. Enjoy the contrasts of loudness and softness as they occur in real time. Once you shift your attention back to the music, your internal monologue will quickly vanish.
  7. Seek out help! Still wondering what to listen for? Seek out friends of yours who listen to classical for their guidance. Don’t have anyone you can ask? You can always visit The Discovery Orchestra’s YouTube page and select from any of our short “Discovery Chats” to get started. Happy listening!

Maestro George Marriner Maull is the Artistic Director of The Discovery Orchestra, a nonprofit music education organization teaching the attentive listening skills that help people of all backgrounds better comprehend, experience and emotionally connect with classical music.

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New Research Reveals That Stress Kills More People Than A Car Accident

By Daniel Moayanda

Stress

You’re reading New Research Reveals That Stress Kills More People Than A Car Accident, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

StressDo you know that stress kills more people than car accidents? Wait! You said what??

A study reveals that seven people die from stress every two seconds, and car accident statistics show that one person dies due to a car accident every 12 minute. How incredible.

Although, a lot of people know the harmful effect of stress on human health, they rarely give consideration or take measures to prevent it. They often get engaged with their overwhelming day-to-day schedules, worrying too much concerning work issues — forgetting that only a healthy being can be productive.

Little wonder why the World Health Organization has called stress “the health epidemic of the 21st century.”

However, everything is not just about working; working in a good state of mind and health condition increases productivity and helps long life. Moreso, we all have a single life without replacement, and that’s why managing it well is important. “a single life’s worth living well.”

I, therefore, bring to you in this article, three extremely harmful effects of stress and two surefire ways to stay safeguarded.

  1. Stress reduces sex drive:

Do you know that more than 30 million men in the United State have erectile dysfunction or inability to sustain an erection to have sex?

A lot of people don’t actually consider stress as being a problem for their low sex driveability. In fact, the majority will go ahead to take erectile-pills without considering the negative effect it will cause on their health. Most people who complain about low sex drive are either doing a stressful job or working for a long period of hours.

Stress affects both body and mind and basically changes our mood to how we react to different things. The cortisol hormones are one of the hormones secreted in the body when subjected to stress. Meanwhile, medical experts say, an only small quantity of cortisol hormone is needed in the body – for short period of time. But if stress continues for a long period of time, then the body will definitely produce this hormone more than what is required, which will lower the quantity of the sex hormone in the body.

Also, chronic stress may also increase the risk of infection for male reproductive organs like prostate and testes.

  1. Stress reduces immune system:

Don’t be surprised to see that stress can lower or reduce the level of your immunity.

A study was conducted for 11 years on medicals student to know how stress weakens immunity. The researchers however discovered that the students’ immunity went down every year under the simple stress of the three-day exam period. While the test takers had fewer natural killer cells, which fight tumors and viral infections. They almost stopped producing immunity-boosting gamma interferon, and their T- cells responded only weekly to test tube stimulation.

Naturally, the main types of immune cells are white blood cells, which are lymphocytes and phagocytes. This cells can only be affected when the body is stressed beyond average and the immune system loses its ability to fight off antigens. The stress hormone, corticosteroid, can suppress the immune system of the body and allow the body to be easily susceptible to infections.

  1. Stress boost several health problems:

It’s not surprising to see that 79 percent to 90 percent of all doctor’s office visit are for stress-related ailments and complaint. Aside from the fact that stress boosts several health issues, research according to World Health Organization states that one of the results of excess stress is deformity and death.

Chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms and affect your overall well being. The body reacts to stress symptoms with physical, mental and emotional responses. More So, Stress can play a part in health problem and also contribute to long-term illness in the body, such as heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety.

Ways to overcome stress:
  • Don’t overwork yourself

Have you already being tagged as a “workaholic,” or an overachiever in your working place? when it comes to performing several activities without giving yourself a break, the effect can be a deadly one on your health – because accumulated stress can cause a sudden breakdown. Meanwhile, you can always find ways not to overwork your body system in any situation you find yourself.

Besides the 53 percent of Americans who report personal health issues as a result of stress, a whopping 80 percent of these stress is caused by long-term activities – like driving a long distance. Little wonder why experts recommend shipping your vehicle to your destination, whenever you’re planning a trip — rather than driving it.

The best way to overcome stress is by balancing the capacity of your body with the amount of work or activities you can do; a simple and reasonable practice to overcome stress and maintain good health.

  • Manage your emotions with your environment

A simple way to avoid stress is by having the ability to manage your emotions under different circumstances and pressure. Sadly, stress has really become a more chronic activity that correlates with the human mind.

However, it’s impossible for people to stop working due to stress; the only way to avoid stress at work is by using emotional intelligence. A research conducted by TalentSmart with more than a million people shows that 90 percent of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in terms of stress in order to remain calm and in control.

Conclusion

Stress can be a deadly agent to the body causing several serious health issues. But the good news is, “the earlier you start controlling stress the better your health status will become.”

You’ve read New Research Reveals That Stress Kills More People Than A Car Accident, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

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6 Amazing Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

By Marwan Jamal

Benefits of Intermittent fasting

You’re reading 6 Amazing Benefits of Intermittent Fasting, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

I started doing intermittent fasting five years ago after doctors told me to quit the gym for a year. I had injured my abs and back, and doctors advised me not to exercise, not even do cardio, till I`m fully recovered.

Things went down from there since all I was doing, besides work, was eat anything I can get my hands on (I`m a foodie, or that`s how I used to think of myself.) I gained 50 pounds in no time, and I had to find a way to control my appetite and lose the extra weight without breaking a sweat.

Thankfully, I found out about intermittent fasting in a book (God I love reading), and it`s been changing my life since then. I`ve lost all the extra weight and experienced tons of physical and mental benefits some of which I`d never gain without fasting.

So, and because I love fasting so much, here are my six reasons why intermittent fasting can be right for you.

Benefit #1: You can lose weight faster (and safer)

Sixteen weeks of intermittent fasting will make you lose weight, even if you don`t count calories, according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Cell Research. This makes sense because you only get a very limited time to consume your daily caloric intake.

It`s almost impossible that you consume 3,000 or 4,000 calories in a single meal or a 4-hour window. Even if you did it once, you won`t be able to do it regularly; thus the least you can do with fasting is keep your weight unchanged which is excellent for emotional eaters.

Scientifically, fasting reduces blood insulin and facilitates the process of breaking fat down into energy. Fasting also overrides the effect of a high-fat diet and, according to studies, it can increase metabolism by 3 to 14 percent.

Benefit #2: Addictions can be broken

I once watched a YouTube video for Will Smith saying that everybody should run every day. Not because it burns more calorie than any other cardio exercise, but because it teaches you how to defeat that voice in your head telling you to quit. And the more regularly you run, the quieter that voice will become, and the tougher you`ll get, both physically and mentally.

Fasting does the same thing to you: it gives you the opportunity to smack that quitting voice in the ass every single day. I asked four friends who`ve fasted a year or more, and all of them said they drank and procrastinated less with fasting.

Benefit #3: Fatty livers can be cured

A fatty liver takes place when fat accounts for more than 5 to 10 percent of your liver’s weight. It happens to heavy drinkers and overweight people when the body becomes unable to metabolize fat fast enough and, if left untreated, fatty liver can develop into cirrhosis.

What does fasting offer to a fatty liver?

According to a 2016 study by the German Research Centre for Environmental Health, fasting makes the liver produce a protein called GADD45b (Growth Arrest and DNA Damage-inducible) responsible for controlling the absorption of fatty acids in the liver. The increase of this GADD45b protein in your system normalizes fat content in the liver and reduces the sugar levels in your blood.

Benefit #4: You save a lot of time (and money)

Eating healthy requires a lot of meal prep which, for many people, is very time-consuming. I just watched Josh Brolin being asked about his diet for Deadpool 2 and he seemed annoyed that he had to eat every two hours.

With fasting, however, you save a lot of time and get more fun. Instead of preparing five or six meals every day, you get only to prepare one or two meals. Not only this will save you time, but you`ll also enjoy what you eat a lot more as you`ll combine your daily macros in fewer, but much bigger, meals.

Benefit #5: Increased Growth Hormone

There are very few natural ways to improve your growth hormone levels, and fasting is one of them. Enough levels of Growth Hormone (GH) means faster recovery, more strength, and better metabolism. The body also uses GH to preserve protein which makes it benefit even your hair, nails and skin.

Fortunately, not eating for long periods of time helps those hormone levels of yours get a real kick. In fact, these two studies (here and here) suggest that fasting can increase GH levels by 300 to 1,205 percent. (WOW).

Fasting makes you lose weight which automatically elevates your GH. Moreover, it also keeps your insulin levels under control so it doesn`t disrupt the production of GH.

Benefit#6: Fasting can improve your libido.

I`ll totally understand if you`re a woman who doesn`t want more testosterone in her blood. But the truth is, both women and men need testosterone in their system because of its many benefits, especially to men.

Proper T levels can make you leaner, increase your bone strength and, for men, it will improve your libido. Men with high T levels usually have high sex drive compared to men with low T who usually suffer from mood swings and, possibly, depression.

The good news? Increasing Growth Hormone usually comes with a similar increase in T levels. And since intermittent fasting improves GH levels, it will ensure your T stays at an optimal level.


Marwan Jamal is a soccer-playing, food-loving, joke-cracking New York-based wellness writer. You can say hi to me here

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