DO NOT WORRY CHALLENGE!

casual, cheerful, daylight

Have you ever thought how often you ACTUALLY worry about something? If you haven’t started to pay attention to it yet you may want to do a little experiment and write down a number (in order) every time a thought that comes to your mind can be classified as worrying about something – doesn’t matter what:

past – that you can’t change something, that you made a fool of yourself, that you should have done this or that project or task or assignment better

present – that you hadn’t time to wash your hair or do your nails and you don’t look good enough, that you have too little energy again, that you don’t have enough money

future – you don’t have anything to wear for the interview tomorrow, you won’t manage to do a task on time and the deadline is coming, you won’t ever achieve anything great because you haven’t got enough time!

We think a lot! According to science we have up to 70,000 thoughts a day! What’s interesting, many researchers agree that most of these thoughts we had the day before too and even up to 80% is negative thinking and worrying! 

The average person tends to worry A LOT about their financial situation. You probably often hear from your family members or friends, or read online that:

  • someone would have been happier if they had more money,
  • someone could pay off their debts with a higher salary and put an end to their sleepless nights,
  • someone could buy a house for their sick mother … if only they had more money.

There are hundreds of these examples that you hear about every day, proving how important money is in our lives. Now, it’s true it is important although it isn’t the most important thing, and as academic studies found – winning a lottery would improve your wellbeing levels YES but only for a few months. After the initial euphoria that may last a few weeks or months your happiness level would go back to its usual level.

We think that money is a magic pill that will solve all our problems, that this is the key to our happiness but actually we realise how wrong we were just when we lose something more important like health or family, or a best friend.

buy, cash, coins

Now, if money isn’t the key to happiness and by worrying about it all the time every day on every possible occasion we can’t magically change the amount of pounds or dollars in our wallets – why worry SO MUCH about that?

By thinking about how broke you are you won’t improve anything. Full stop. The end.

The richest people say that they don’t work for money but money works for them. What they mean is that they focus on their passions and goals and work hard for their success. They do not concentrate solely on money as this would not lead them where they are because, as studies also show, money IS NOT a strong enough motivation to ensure that we reach our goals. Some people focus so much on money and get frustrated about it that they think about it more than about the work that needs to get done to help them reach their goals! And it’s a vicious cycle as you can imagine.

Of course we don’t worry just about our money. We also worry a lot about things that are important to us, e.g. teenagers worry about their look a lot and mothers worry about their children, their health and development a great deal. You may be worried that you’ll get fired at your job and someone else may be worried about their grades at university. You may be worrying about a possible injury when taking up a new sport or about being late for a train that you should take to be at a meeting on time. We worry that it’s rainy; we worry that it’s too hot and sunny; we worry that we won’t get this new, better job; we worry when we get a good job (Will I be good enough? Will I meet their requirements? I don’t have the knowledge I should have to start this new job … What if they discover that?!); we worry when we can’t afford to travel; we worry when we travel because of various risks and so on … a never-ending story, right?

aerial, aerial view, aeroplane

Whatever it is that you worry about, if you pay attention to your thoughts on a daily basis for, let’s say, 7 days you will notice that you worry more often and about a lot more aspects in your life than you thought you did! That is why the DO NOT WORRY CHALLENGE is especially hard. A lot harder than, for instance, the 100 SQUATS A DAY FOR A MONTH CHALLENGE that I’m doing.

The DO NOT WORRY CHALLENGE is possible but as with meditation you need to practise it daily.

Try to do 24 hours of the CHALLENGE and let me know in the comments what you think about it and how it went.

I’ve done the challenge and I must say it feels great. I have to work on extending the challenge for more than just 24 hours and try to implement this way of thinking in my life. It will be a difficult task because, according to some research, changing a habit can take from a few up to … approximately 250 days depending on the person! What if I need nearly a year to make my habit work and do it automatically?! Well, I guess it’s worth trying! Surely I don’t lose anything by worrying less. Some worry is natural and perhaps even needed (to prepare well for an exam or a trip) but human beings tend to over worry often! And this drains our energy and make us negative, miserable and tired.

If you want to join the challenge remember that it is easy to forget that you are doing this! In the first weeks it’s good to have some notes as reminders around you – in your wallet, on a mirror, on your desk or fridge.

Should you try it?

WHY NOT?!

 

Good luck folks! 😉

BETTERING YOURSELF – a healthier perspective

achievement, confident, free

I have always enjoyed reading and learning about different aspects which contribute to our personal development: motivation, consistency, passion, grit, being prepared to face and learn from failures, accepting that we make mistakes, etc. I think this list can be endless as personal growth is a multifaceted, lifelong process. However, we aren’t perfect creatures and we can’t adhere to all these hundreds of rules and meet all the requirements all the time because we wish to grow successfully throughout our life. There are thousands of pieces of advice out there on the internet, TV, in magazines – each tells us something different:

– “To be able to improve yourself you MUST get up at 4am!”

– “To achieve success you HAVE TO sleep for 7-8hrs a day and be ready and prepared, ahead of your competition, all the time”

– ”To change your habit for a better one you NEED TO eat healthier/meditate and exercise more/be more confident/ work when others sleep”

There are LOTS of pieces of advice as to what we should do and what we must do, and what we definitely should not be doing, to make sure we are better human beings. BETTER … but what does it really mean?

When is the moment when you know that now you are good enough? Nobody seems to be talking about that …

Where are the boundaries to make sure that we are not getting trapped into perfectionism?

We aren’t and can’t be PERFECT but on the other hand humans have this inner drive and desire towards bettering themselves constantly.

To tackle this problem, I believe that allowing ourselves time to reflect, review and consider our values, goals and plans is crucial. Otherwise it’s easy to forget what we wanted to achieve and what we are really aiming for, and stress too much about the process and try to do more and better, and faster.

It’s important to take care of your personal development indeed, but it shouldn’t mean joining the rat race. Let others be part of it. You don’t need to be better in every single area of your life. Life is not a marathon or a competition. It’s about the journey, the process, the very moments when you are here and now. Let’s enjoy it a bit more.

How to cut out all meaningless stuff?

Yellow and White Ceramic Coffee Mug on Brown Wooden Surface With Black Eyeglasses

There are many tempting things in the world!

Every week try to cut off or limit something that doesn’t matter much to you but takes up your time—it may be complaining, Facebook, TV, gossiping or worrying about the future. Don’t feel bad though if you procrastinate a bit sometimes; according to research this is normal and everyone does it. It’s important not to feel guilty about it and make sure that it doesn’t take too much of your time and attention.

It’s easy to get into meaningless chats or meet with negative people not because we really want to but because for some reason we feel we should. When you start to say NO to some invitations you may lose some friends. But then, are they real friends if they don’t understand your need to work on something important to you so you can’t hang out with them as much as you used to?

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The average adult person who has children has for themselves only around 2 hours a day. Due to lack of energy these 2 hours are often spent in front of the TV in the evenings. Think how you can organise this time differently. Surely you need to rest a bit but, to tell the truth, TV isn’t a good method for gaining more energy. Maybe you could allow only half an hour a day for TV (and occasionally watch a film, say at weekends) and spend the remaining time on some exercises, such as yoga from a YouTube channel.

Exercise is a very effective cure for fatigue.

Way too often we spend our time also on… looking for different things. Try to be organised and dedicate a week or a whole month to de-cluttering your house. Plan what you will do each day to tidy your stuff up. A method by Marie Kondo is very popular and helpful nowadays. Have you heard of it yet?

  • Try to find a place for everything in your home and group things together. Don’t keep coins or hairpins in a lot of different places at home. One type of item = one place at your home.
  • Organising your clothes (including the ones in the laundry and in any other place at home), on the same day works wonders. Put into a bin everything you haven’t used for a few years but think that you “might use it one day’. If you didn’t need something for 4 years, do you really think you will need it now or in the near future?
  • Many of your documents, notes, and other similar things also could go in the bin. Don’t deceive yourself; some of these things you will never use or need again!

Try a meaningless stuff diet and see how well it tastes! 😉

Does money motivate people – what’s the truth?

Does money buy happiness in your opinion?

If yes, to what extent? 

If not, why not?

Many years ago, before I got into psychology, I thought that money surely can motivate people to work better, more quickly and efficiently; and no matter what your job is that money can enhance performance.

Many of us are trying not to focus on material things too much, but sometimes it may be really challenging. We know or hear about people who are driven by fame, power and money, but they don’t always seem to be happier with their life.

There are actually many rich and famous people whose lives are far from ideal, although at first they may look fabulous: they have public recognition, fans, attend parties, and are able to afford houses and fantastic trips all over the world. Then when we look at someone’s life deeper, even though it seems full of blessings, it actually may be an empty and dark place filled with anxieties, depression or drugs.

The rich and famous sometimes can’t handle the social pressure, the expectations from the public and the high standards imposed by the industries they work in.

We often think … if we were rich the bad stuff and feelings surely wouldn’t happen to us and we would certainly know how to keep sane, responsible and in charge of our lives. We may think this but life isn’t as easy as it seems, even if one has money. Even the nicest and most noble people get lost and need to fight loneliness, cancer or depression. And sometimes they lose like in the case of Robin Williams and many others…

What have academic studies recently found out about the impact of money on our happiness and motivation?

According to the Harvard Business Review, studies show that, even if employees decided how much they earn for their work, they probably wouldn’t enjoy their work more!

The link between money and motivation or performance is much more complex than we think. Tim Judge and his colleagues analysed 120 pieces of research on this topic and concluded that there is actually a very weak link between money and job satisfaction.

“Employees earning salaries in the top half of our data range reported similar levels of job satisfaction to those employees earning salaries in the bottom-half of our data range.”

What’s interesting, and no matter how ridiculous it sounds, in non-physical jobs particularly, financial rewards can actually distract and demotivate people, and some tasks can be done even more slowly and less effectively than before!

Scientists believe that we should focus on our intrinsic motivation (own satisfaction) because it is a stronger predictor of our job satisfaction and/or performance.

Of course, research findings are only average and we need to remember that everyone is different and has different motives. Financial goals motivated by the pursuit of power or boosting our confidence (using the money for cosmetic surgeries, for example) will be a lot less rewarding than seeking a bigger income to meet needs related to security or family support.some-people-are-so-poor-all-they-have-is-money

For employers, a far better prediction of an employee’s job satisfaction is their personality traits rather than income:

“The more emotionally stable, extraverted, agreeable or conscientious people are, the more they tend to like their jobs (irrespective of their salaries)… but … the biggest organisational cause of disengagement is incompetent leadership. Thus, as a manager, it’s your personality that will have a significant impact on whether your employees are engaged at work, or not.”

If you are interested to find out more about this fascinating phenomenon, have a look at the Harvard Business Review article HERE

You may be interested in this great book too: Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness by Bari Tessler available here

Can worrying be good for you?

“Values are linked to worries. Researchers distinguish two types of worries – micro worries and macro worries (Boehnke et al., 1998).

Micro worries are all about yourself and others close to you (‘Will I get an interview?’, ‘What if he leaves me?’). Not surprisingly, they lead to poor well-being. Moreover, people who have a lot of these worries usually hold power and hedonism values.

Macro worries, on the other hand, are about society, the world or universal issues (AIDS in Africa or presidential elections in the USA). People who are high on universalism and bebevolence values have these types of worries, together with a higher level of well-being (Schwartz et al., 2000).

So, worrying is actually good for you, as long as it is not self-centered.”

Positive Psychology in a Nutshell. The science of happiness. by Ilona Boniwell.

What is HYGGE and how can it improve your life and well-being?

Living-Room-Inspirations-A-Pile-of-Pillows-Helps-The-Medicine-Go-Down6

Hygge (pronounced “HUE-gah”) is a Danish word that describes a lifestyle where we consciously focus on creating joy and cosiness in everyday life, or, in other words, it’s a ritual of enjoying and celebrating life’s simple pleasures such as family, good feelings, nature and friendships.

People who implement this in their lives respect others and try to be always warm, friendly and open. Surely, the world would be a much more beautiful place and our lives easier if everyone decided to implement this approach. 😉

Snuggling up in a blanket in your most comfortable PJs, with a big cuppa of your favourite coffee, tea or hot chocolate, and working or relaxing in such a comfortable environment, is something we should aspire to once in a while if we want to maintain or boost our well-being, according to Danes. They believe that this is the best way to fight boredom and depression too.

Some people describe Hyggeias a Danish way of looking for beauty in everyday mundane life.

Hygge means that we allow more time for things that we enjoy. It means that we are okay to slow down not because some activities need to be done more carefully but because they simply give us pleasure and put us in a good mood: simple, small, everyday things like making a coffee or preparing or eating breakfast.

To some it may seem like a lovely but awfully unproductive (yet nearly impossible) way of living which active and busy people don’t have time for, but actually…  is Hygge perhaps the answer to why Denmark is often in the top 10 happiest nations in the world?

Living a very active busy lifestyle is surely draining and not really a natural way of living for human beings. Hygge can help you to relax, slow down a bit, and make your life more enjoyable.

How can you implement Hygge in your busy everyday life? 

Everyone is different, so not every activity will feel ideal for you, but if you look at the ideas below, you may find something that you will actually really enjoy and may consider trying to implement in your busy schedule once in a while …

Why should you do it?

Better to ask: why not? Why not try it if it was found to be so beneficial for people?

    • For example, you could invite friends round for a chat (rather than a movie or playing games, or sitting together and texting) and put out some simple drinks and perhaps a fruit or cheese platter for you all to enjoy together.
    • You can consider what you have always wanted to try but had various excuses for not doing, and take up a new hobby that would help you to relax (painting, swimming?).
    • You could light some candles to create a soft glow during dinner time and switch off the TV and your mobile, so you can enjoy your meal more.
    • Go out and play and enjoy spending time with your dog or children outside.
    • Have a picnic in the park with a friend.
    • Go for a bike ride

The ideas are endless really. You can find your hygge where you find your inner calm, where you feel good. It doesn’t need to be nature or snuggling in a warm blanket at home. It may be a coffee shop in the city centre where you enjoy observing others while drinking caramel mocha. It’s an individual matter as to what feels right and makes you happier.

Everyone can find hygge in a different place and situation. Try to find yours. Do more of what you love and be open to new ideas for spending your time unwinding and relaxing, especially here and now – in this super busy world that we live in…

You have only one life. Live it well! Enjoy it!

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If you’d like to learn more about Hygge, I recommend this beautiful edition in hard cover (great as a gift!): Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Tourell Søderberg. Have a look here

This is a nice read too: Hygge Habits: 42 Habits for a Happy Life through Danish Hygge that take Five Minutes or Less by Helena Olsen (more details here).

… and to end in true Hygge style here are two quotes that perfectly summarise this post… 😉

 

7 Ways to deal with depression.

Depression is a real problem nowadays. According to recent studies, one in every two people will experience depression by the age of 60… That’s half of our population!

No-one really knows what exactly causes depression but…

  • genes are believed to be one of the factors that influence about 30% of the predispositions for depression.
  • stressful life events such as childbirth, loneliness, financial difficulties or unemployment can play some role in it too.
  • people with some particular personal characteristics may be more prone to have depression than others as well.
  • it is known also that some diseases and medications can contribute to depression a great deal.

So, how exactly do you or your relative or friend feel when experiencing depression? 

Surely miserable for most of the day. To be diagnosed with depression such symptoms need to occur nearly every day for at least two weeks. If you lose interest in your usual activities, sleep poorly, notice a decrease in concentration, have less energy, lose appetite, weight and libido, then you may be diagnosed with clinical depression.

How can you improve your mental health on your own?

  1. Many studies have shown that the best method of dealing with depression is exercising! A few decades ago we used to exercise… 4 hours a day! Nowadays many of us struggle to find 30 minutes for exercising a few times a week! Professors from the University of Toronto analysed over 26 years’ worth of studies on depression and confirmed that even moderate physical activity like a short brisk walk every day is very beneficial. Studies actually shown that people who exercise for 30min 3x a week felt improvement in their well-being equally well as people who were given antidepressants but did not exercise. What’s more, these who took antidepressants were 3x more likely to feel depressed again within the next 6-12 months after finishing their treatment! Surely it’s difficult to get motivated but once we manage to start doing it we’ll quickly notice a boost in general well-being levels, an increase in confidence and greater emotional stability. 

  1. Another very important factor is to spend time with people who support you and who you can trust. If you have depression you feel like you want to stop socialising and sit on the sofa all day but this will only make things worse. Close relationships are a huge happiness booster! Unfortunately, as many as 50% of Americans report that they don’t have any close friends. Recent technology development and Internet usage leads us to social isolation. Studies shown that creating and maintaining relationships with others release hormones that are responsible for reducing stress and anxiety levels.

 

  1. Try to devote more time to your passions, things you really like and enjoy. This also has been proven in many studies as a great method for 
    improving well-being!

 

  1. Healthy eating is an obvious fact … and yet so few of us take it seriously and follow the right advice. Food and drink have such an enormous impact on our mood and well-being …

  • If you feel tired and you need to focus, eat a bit of dark chocolate, a banana or some walnuts.
  • If you feel angry, drink some green tea.
  • If you feel sad, apparently drinking some low-fat milk can make you feel better.
  • Upset? Get some bananas and oranges.
  • When you feel depressed, try  to have more fish oil (omega -3) on a daily basis.

And, of course, drink at least a few glasses of water a day – something many of us constantly need reminders about.

  1. If you feel overwhelmed and exhausted de-plugging, getting more sleep, disconnecting for a few hours, or a whole day, may be very helpful. However, withdrawing from your life for more than a day is dangerous and not helpful at all. Remember that even if it feels like the right solution, your depression symptoms will probably get worse. Get more sleep than usual if you feel like you need to, but don’t waste too much time in front of the TV avoiding people, your responsibilities and life!

  1. There are many ‘helpers’ that work but only very temporarily and you should avoid them particularly when you feel depressed: alcohol, the Internet, drugs, and medications to boost your well-being. Some people may need antidepressants but these may make you feel unwell for a while before they start to work. Of course, I’m sure I don’t need to tell anyone not to take any antidepressants on your own without speaking to your doctor about it! Try to take other steps first (such as exercising) before you and your doctor decide that you need to be on medication to cure your depression.

  1. What can also be very helpful is to plan your day to ensure that you have some structure, routine and things to look forward to; things you might enjoy doing even if you are not feeling 100% right yet. Remember to get some Me Time –  perhaps a trip to the cinema or a nice long bath with a book.

If you try these techniques and you still feel unwell, or your symptoms are deteriorating, you need to speak to your doctor. You may need antidepressants for a while. Just remember that they often take at least a few days to start to work properly, and they may make you feel a lot worse first before they actually start to work and make you feel better!