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If You Want to Read 10 Times Faster, Outread Is the App You Need

21. September 2017 - 13:00

An average adult reads about 200 words per minute (WPM). A speed reader, though, reads about 1,500 WPM. The world speed reading champion is about 4,700 WPM, but we’re not going to worry as much about that level in this article.

If you assume the average article is 500-1,000 words and the average book is 55,000-100,000 words, then an average adult reads an article in 2.5-5 minutes and reads a book in 275-500 minutes, or somewhere between 4.5 and 8 hours.

A speed reader, though, could finish three articles in 1 minute and an entire book in 36-66 minutes (so slightly over an hour at most).

Imagine if you increased your reading output at this level. The amount of information you would be able to consume over an average reader is staggering. Across a year, it looks like this:

  • 360 books vs. 30 books
  • 30,000 articles vs. 3,000 articles

Reading is a cornerstone of information-gathering and coming across as intelligent in group dynamics. If you’re operating 10-12x higher on consumption simply because of a change in your reading approach, it could be huge for your career and personal life.

The Fast Way to Speed Up Reading

The app that I want to introduce to you will guide your eyes through a reading list with the help of a highlighting marker. This improves your speed, and you can adjust the preferred speed — and the highlighter size, determining how much text you’ll be shown at once — to either scale back or push yourself.

Outread has a number of features, including a built-in eBooks directory with classic books and sync with Instapaper, Pocket, and Pinboard. A simple switch of reading mode will help you read faster and read more.

Let’s take a look at some of the key features of the app.

Create a Reading List

You start by creating a reading list, which you can do from one of the connected services like Pocket and iBooks, or pull in from stories loaded into Outread.

Adjust the Reading Speed

You can also adjust the reading speed in the top right, as seen here.

The highlighting technique teaches your eyes to move more efficiently through the text. It provides a rhythm, which lowers the number of unnecessary jumps and makes you more focused.

Start Your Training with A Preferred Reading Mode

There are two modes to train up your speed reading skill. You can pick from one of them that fits you best.

Track Your Reading Speed Progress

Outread also allows you to track daily (and other time duration) progress points.

Start your speed reading training now!

Simply install Outread here for $2.99 and you can start your speed reading training and read 10 times faster.

And hey, this article was just about shy of 500 words. So if you were already a speed reader, you’d have been done a while ago … think what you could be onto now!

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Why Empathy Is Both the Hero and the Villain in a Relationship

20. September 2017 - 14:30

Most people wouldn’t think that empathy has a downside or limits, but in our relationships it’s not always a positive tool. It’s something that can be depleted, leaving our emotional tanks empty for other family members.

Empathy is just one ingredient in the recipe for deep connections with our intimate partners. We have to look past this tool and understand its negative effects if we really want to create lasting connections.

First, some definitions are in order.

What Exactly Is Empathy

Empathy is our ability to put ourselves in the place of other people. This allows us to understand their feelings and even experience their pain. Without empathy, it’s difficult to have insights into other people’s behaviors.

Everyone has some ability to empathize thanks to mirror neurons in the brain which allow us to feel what other people feel. When we see a soccer player miss the ball only to kick another player square in the crotch, we react instantly to the perceived pain.

We feel what they feel without any effort. We can experience a wide range of emotions for situations we’ve never been in because of these neurons. We can also learn how to do things the same way.

Feeling what other people feel can alter our behaviors in a positive way. We can predict how other people might react when we leave the sink full of dishes, or place chocolates and a card on the bed for a nice surprise.

This means we can avoid certain behaviors or adopt positive ones that make our partners happy.

“Compassionate empathy “is a balance of positive cognitive and emotional empathy, which prompts us to take action, as needed.” For instance, a messy partner, who has compassionate empathy, can imagine and feel how annoying or even distressing it is for their partner to deal with their mess, so they modify their behavior and pick up after themselves, she said.”  – PsychCentral

Arguments can be diffused when we pause to understand someone’s position from their point of view, even when we don’t agree. It allows to see how someone might take a certain stance based on where they’re coming from.

The Negative Side of Empathy

Relying too much on empathy can be an emotional drain. In certain studies, people who used empathy in the workplace had less to give to their families. It’s a finite emotional reserve which can be depleted.

This leads to negative trade offs. Most people wouldn’t make these trade offs consciously if they knew there was going to be less empathy available for loved ones.

Empathy can be used for manipulation too. By understanding other people’s feelings, we can use those feelings against them. In many emotionally abusive relationships, one person may use anger as a tool because they know their partner will do as they want, and attempt to “put out the fire” to make them happy again.

“Both cognitive and emotional empathy can be used in negative ways (e.g. someone might use cognitive empathy to be manipulative; someone who takes on their partner’s emotions might become too burned out to support them).” [1]

Empathy can also be misplaced when we don’t understand context. For example, being nice is generally a good thing. We want to treat others with respect, and can anticipate the same in return. We naturally like people who treat us with some level of respect and kindness.

This can backfire in the case of the “nice guy” who wants to attract a woman. In this context, nice doesn’t equal turned on. She may like him but it will be on a platonic level. He’s putting himself into the wrong person’s shoes and won’t get the reaction he predicted empathetically.

What’s More Important Than Empathy In a Relationship

A good relationship is made up of many ingredients which can be thought of as a recipe. No single ingredient is enough on it’s own, but put everything together and you’re more likely to succeed.

  1. Mutual responsibility – Take responsibility for everything you do and never play the blame game.
  2. Shared values – Connect on shared values such as respect for life, family, success ambitions, lifestyle or any other value which is a big part of your life blueprint. Find out more about how to know your values here: Knowing My Values Has Filled up the Long-Existed Missing Gap in My Life
  3. Trust – Establish trust by being reliable. That means following through on everything you say you’re going to do.
  4. Boundaries – Create boundaries which allow for mutual respect, and let your partner know if they’re being crossed.
  5. Relationship clarity – Don’t make assumptions on the big things. Always be clear by talking about it.
  6. Emotional Intelligence – Work on your own emotional intelligence for better communication and understanding. This includes empathy. Learn from my other article How to Be More Emotionally Sensitive
  7. Shared Passions – Connect on interest which compels you. Mutual passions create deeper bonds than superficial activities. If you have a passion for the outdoors, it’s going be more powerful than watching Seinfeld reruns together (although that’s OK too).
  8. Sexual Polarity – Sameness = no chemistry. It’s important that both partners know where they stand and their roles. Although different context will call for different aspects of our personalities, both the partners trying to fulfill the same role will lead to disinterest.
Three Questions to Ask in Place of Using Empathy

Instead of trying to guess what your partner is feeling, ask him or her instead. It’s true that we can learn a lot about our partner’s emotions through observation and empathy, but don’t underestimate the power of a direct question.

“When trying to empathize, it’s generally better to talk with people about their experiences than to imagine how they might be feeling.”  – Adam Waytz [2]

That doesn’t mean you’re always going to get a complete answer though. This is where asking the right questions comes in. It also pays to ask questions that hit a few different angles so that you can have ‘big picture’ understandings.

Start with these:

  • How do you feel?
  • What do you want?
  • What do you think?

When communication is open, these questions will open up a dialogue. It’s also a lot easier than trying to guess emotions and desires, and will reduce the need for empathy. This means we can save more empathy for situations where it’s more useful without getting burnt out.

Outside of asking, pay attention to what your partner actually does. A person’s actions always speak louder than words.

Featured photo credit: Alvin Mahmudov on Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference [1] ^ PsychCentral: The Power of Empathy in Romantic Relationships & How to Enhance It [2] ^ Harvard Business Review: The Limits of Empathy function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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Why Even the Sweetest Couples End Up Breaking Up

20. September 2017 - 14:00

The first six months of a relationship are wonderful. There are flowers, candy and hundreds of emoji filled texts that are promptly read and responded to. You leave each other in the evening and video chat a few hours later.

You share your food, wipe each others mouths and walk down the street with your hands in each other’s back pocket.

You are happy and so in love with your companion. You can’t get enough of each other.

A year later you’ve broken up…

How You Start Never Matters

But you started off so well. The relationship was perfect. You were so sweet and in love with each other and somehow the passion still faded.

Statistics show that most relationships go from hot, heavy and passionate to “meh” in about 18 months.[1] The feelings people associate with being in love—the butterflies and the longing—dissipate during this time and the couple begins to wonder if they should carry on with the relationship.

New research shows that relationships are actually more vulnerable to demise far sooner than the dreaded seven year itch. The most common time for a couple to split is right around the two year mark.[2]

By then, you’ve most likely seen everything about your partner—their best and their worst physically and emotionally. You have started to get used to each other’s presence and the spark to stay passionate and playful has gradually faded in the relationship because you just no longer feel the same. Lots of couples end their relationship here.

What most couples who end their relationship there don’t realize is that this is just a phase. It’s a part of the process and happens to all couples.

The Five Stages Every Relationship Goes Through

The first mistake couples make is believing that when the “infatuated” feeling fades, it’s a sign that the love is fading as well. They think that when the butterflies are gone, it’s time to end the relationship.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

When it comes to relationships, experts agree there are five distinct stages.[3] Every relationship goes through these stages. The ones that last successfully make it through all five, but most relationships get stuck and fall apart during stage three.

Stage 1: Passion and Romance

This is the honeymoon or infatuation stage. It is filled with lots of kisses and touching each other for no particular reason. It is when you are completely taken by your mate and are blind to his or her flaws.

It is the easiest phase to endure and very intense.

Stage 2: Getting Serious

This is still within the infatuation or honeymoon stage. You are still blinded by love but have the clarity to see that this relationship has long-term potential. This is when the relationship becomes exclusive and you begin making long-term plans with your partner.

There is still lots of hand-holding, cuddling, and you give each other meaningful nicknames. You begin to share yourself more intimately with your mate.

Stage 3: Relationship Plateau

Stage three is when the relationship becomes real. The blinders are off and you see your partner for who they really are. Physical touch like hand-holding, kissing and other forms of physical intimacy may be starting to slow down a bit. The butterflies are gone and your partner doesn’t seem as cute as they once were.

The hardest part about stage three is that you both begin to question the relationship: where is the passion we used to have for each other? is our love fading away? is he/she the one I can be with for a longer time?

Stage 4: Moving Beyond Infatuation

Once you’ve chosen to move past stage three and to stick with the relationship, you develop a deep and intimate bond. This is the time when couples really begin to merge their lives. Serious discussions concerning marriage, kids and finances ensue and plans are made to move the couple forward as a unit.

This is when the relationship is solidified and the couple builds a life together. Many couples make it to this phase and experience a long, healthy and meaningful relationship.

But there is one more phase…

Stage 5: Becoming a Team

Stage five of the relationship is when the couple becomes a solid team. The relationship moves past “me and you” decision-making and the team becomes more important than the individuals.

This is the part of a relationship everyone longs for but few reach. It’s the true love phase.

It’s when the couple has the best chance of making it to “happily-ever-after.” That’s not to say that there will not be challenges, hardships and bumps in the road. But it does mean that both parties are committed to staying and making the relationship work no matter what.

It’s the phase of full acceptance and unconditional love.

Breaking Through the Honeymoon Stage

Most relationships that end do so somewhere within stage three. Other relationships can last for years and never make it out of stage three, but the relationship is not healthy and neither partner is fulfilled.

The first thing you must understand when you began to feel disillusioned is that feelings don’t sustain a relationship. Feelings are unreliable because they vary and are subject to moods and external factors.

Think of when a family celebrates the arrival of a newborn. At first, all of the attention is on the new addition and everything is sweet and cute. After a few months of dirty diapers, spit up and random crying, the initial excitement passes but that doesn’t mean the parents don’t love the baby anymore.

A romantic relationship works similarly. It’s the struggling process that helps both partners grow and this process also helps the relationship grow into something better, something that will last. Giving up at Stage 3 is like declaring the death of a patient with a beating heart.

The duration of each stage is different for every couple. For some couples, the honeymoon stage may last for years and for others a few months. The important thing to note is the length of the stage has no correlation to the viability of the relationship.

When you reach stage three, you have the power to determine how long it lasts. Getting out of stage three requires you to make a decision. You must decide that your relationship is worth it and you must chose to go all in.

Here are a few things you can do to help move your relationship out of stage 3:

Recognize that questioning your relationship is normal and necessary.

Allow yourself time to assess whether or not your concerns are simply connected to a loss of passion or if you have legitimate concerns about your partner and the relationship.

Talk about your concerns with the right person.

Make sure that you share your concerns with your partner. Saying something as simple as “I feel that our relationship is getting a bit boring these days, I think we should do something about it,” could be the juice the relationship needs. It will start a dialogue and assist you both in actively addressing your concerns.

Sharing your concerns and seeking advice from others during this time is normal and acceptable, just be careful who you listen to.

Make a decision and then put in the work.

Once you decide that the relationship is viable, do something about it. Don’t make your decision and then hope things will get better.

Actively work to move your relationship further. Try new things. Do things your partner likes to do. Be romantic on purpose.

Relationships take heaps of effort. It’s time to put in the work.

It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Journey Through

All relationships take time, energy and targeted, intentional effort.

It doesn’t matter how “lovey-dovey” cute and cuddly you are in the beginning. The honeymoon will end. And when it does you must work in order to make it last. Stage three doesn’t have to be the death of your relationship. You control whether to relationship lives or dies.

Will your relationship become a stage fiver?

Featured photo credit: Jordan Bauer on Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference [1] ^ Gurl: Wondering “When Will We Break Up?” Find Out Why And When People Break Up Most! [2] ^ Everyday Health: Is the seven-year itch real? [3] ^ The Modern Man: 5 Stages of a Relationship function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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Creativity Doesn't Appear as Flash Even for the Most Creative People

20. September 2017 - 13:30

People often talk about creativity and inspiration as if it is a thing totally distinct from them. That ideas generate themselves spontaneously, or as if it is a trait that some people are born without and can’t ever gain. These ideas are commonplace, but are totally untrue.

Some think creative works exist in a vacuum, and are, by their nature, totally original, and entirely the work of some lone visionary. This again is untrue. Nothing comes from nothing, and even some of the most creative people of all time were inspired by countless works, and everything they had ever done or seen. For example, William Shakespeare, almost all of his plays like Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet were inspired by other works, or were retellings of history. His stories have transformed our artistic landscape, and they wouldn’t have existed if he didn’t work on his creativity or inspiration.

In fact, creativity can be developed, it always is. It is useful to think of creativity like a skill, and like any skill, you can build on it, work on it, and increase it. In this way. Someone who thinks themselves as uncreative today may one day become a great creative.

These myths about creativity are damaging to our culture. It isn’t hard to imagine how these myths begin. As children, we are not taught to be creative, and those who are taught to do creative things, like painting or creative writing are taught in such a rigid way that true creativity can never blossom.

In an art class, children are taught how to draw, they may also be told to express themselves in art. Yet, as these classes tend to have set standards and aims, if their work doesn’t meet these vague standards, they may get a bad grade. This can easily lead someone to believe that they simply aren’t creative enough.

To counter the creativity myths, I have devised a framework for developing creativity. I have identified four levels of creativity that can be developed. Think of it as a ladder leading to great creative potential.

The Four Levels That All Genuine Creatives Must Go Through

With this system, you’ll be able to measure your own increasing creative ability, and by doing so, becoming more creative would stop seeming like an abstract aim, but a concrete, and attainable goal. With this model of creativity, it becomes far easier to measure your creative improvement.

It is also a great idea to consider where you would like to improve creatively and use these levels of creativity as a way to help define your path to improve your skills. If you want to improve your writing skills for example, work your way up from the basics to more advanced techniques. Get a feel for everything and work your way up.

Level 1: By-Chance Creativity

This is the most common and base form of creative ability. On this level you are still very much able to produce great creative works and think creatively. But being not too knowledgeable about creativity or your own creative ability, it is difficult to replicate any creative success you have. This of course can be improved through developing your creative ability.

Level 2: Learned Creativity

On the second level, your understanding of creativity and your own creative potential has increased. On this level you will find you are able to relate more to great creatives, you are able to learn from their experiences as well as your own. You can replicate creative success as many times as you like, but there is a sense that your works rely on the works of others too much. That you are replicating them and their success.

The above painting is by Picasso when he was 15. Picasso was a level 2 creative at the time he painted this. A great piece of work, but pretty unoriginal in style. Many people have painted pictures like this.

Level 3: Creativity Goes Wild

Here the supports are severed. Level two gave you the ability to distill creativity from others, there you learned the rules. Here, with that understanding you get to break or ignore the rules according to your preferences.

This is when you produce creative works you notice that you have a voice or style that is unique to you.

Level 4: Redefining Creativity

On this level you are operating at the highest level of creative ability. This is the level of people like Steve Jobs, Picasso, Alan Turing, and Vincent Van Gogh. These are people who know their own creative potential intricately, know all the rules, and as such are free to utterly re-invent them .

People one these level work in ways that most people can’t match or imagine. They do a lot of experiments and make a lot of creative mistakes, but are able to learn from these mistakes for the betterment of their work.

This is Weeping Woman by Picasso, here with his own distinct, and bold style, Picasso is operating at a high level of creativity. Picasso, having developed his creativity over his lifetime, has redefined the rules of the game. Nobody comes close.

Climbing the Four Levels of Creativity Ladder

If you want to work through the 4 levels, no matter what your current creative ability is, it is important to work from the bottom. You can aim for reaching level 3 first, but start with the foundation. By doing so you will be able to better measure your success.

From Level 1 to Level 2: Log Your Experiences and Knowledge

Develop a library of experiences and important influences that you can draw from. Think about what inspires you and why and think deeply about it. Study the works of creative people you admire, and read deeply about them. By doing so you should be able to work out their techniques and replicate them.

Make sure you get feedback for any creative works you produce. Pay attention to anything people say. Especially the more critical. Maintain a logbook throughout the process to measure your progress. Log everything.

From Level 2 to Level 3: Learn the Rules And Break Them

Exploit each and every opportunity to expand your knowledge. By doing so learn the rules of creativity and your trade.

Once you feel you understand the rules, consider how they can be best implemented, see if you could change and adapt them to suit your goals and intentions. Don’t break the rules for the sake of breaking them. Eventually you’ll start to see beyond the ordinary ways of doing things.

Find like-minded people, people who you can share ideas with. In retrospection and discussion your knowledge will increase further. Steve Jobs wouldn’t have been the man we celebrate today without the early collaboration of Steve Wozniak.

From Level 3 to Level 4: Experiment And Create New Rules

Every time you see a piece of creative work, either your own or someone else’s, ask yourself this question “How was this done?” “How can it be improved?”

Never stop looking for ways to increase your knowledge and understanding. If you are in a race and stop before finishing, others will overtake.

Using all of your developed knowledge and skill, try to think of ways to use what you have learned to produce works, or be creative in ways nobody has before. Originality can only come from influence, this seems like a paradox, but it is true.

Welcome failure. See your failures, and the failures of others as learning experiences. The great politician and Lawyer Robert Kennedy once said

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

Creativity Doesn’t Come as Flash, It’s a Journey

Creativity is like life, it is a quest for constant self improvement. It is a quest that can only be undertaken though, with knowing the rules, then breaking them, then re-inventing the rules.

Now you know what you need to do to boost your creativity. Follow the four levels of creativity, and work your way up to becoming a true creative person.

Featured photo credit: Gabriel Barletta on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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10 Stylish And Durable Power Banks You Can Buy for Under $50

19. September 2017 - 15:30

People have been complaining about the battery life of their phones. With heavy use, a fully charged smartphone can still hardly last a day. I’m sure you’ve experienced the trouble of having to use your phone, and being unable to as you’ve ran out of battery. As such, many have found it useful to invest in additional power banks.

One issue with this is that many of the power banks on the market are too big to be easily carried around, are ineffective, are too expensive, or simply look bad. However, there are some power banks that are so well designed, and work so well with your phone that they completely change the way you use it.

Thanks to these power banks you’ll never need to worry about running out of power again.

1. The Nifty X – Wearable Cable with Powerbank

The NiftyX is unlike any other power bank on the market. Where many power banks are cumbersome and tricky to carry around, the NiftyX couldn’t be easier. This is a power bank you wear.

From the outside it looks like a cool decorative bracelet, in actuality it’s a high functioning and dynamic power bank ideal for the use when you’re out, usable whatever the weather. With it you can charge and sync your phone, wherever you are with ease.

It’s definitely one of the better looking and more versatile power banks.

Back this project NiftyX Bracelet Cable at Kickstarter, $33 2. Lifecard – The World’s Thinnest Powerbank

In 2016, Lifecard won iPhone Life magazine’s best of the prestigious Consumer Electronics Show (CES).The Lifecard is beautifully designed. It is just the size of a credit card, brilliantly compact, fitting in your wallet with ease, plus its stainless steel finish gives it a sleek, futuristic appearance and great durability. Though extremely thin, you don’t need to worry about it breaking.

What’s more, it can charge up to 80% of an iPhone 5s and 65% of an iPhone 6.

Lifecard – The World’s Thinnest Powerbank, $42.95 3. Pearl Compact Mirror Battery Pack

This is a product that is wholly unique. It merges the two worlds of fashion, and smartphone technology in such a way that is both unexpected and extremely inventive. The Pearl Compact Mirror Battery Pack is both a makeup mirror (two of them actually) and powerful USB recharging station. As such it is the perfect companion for a night out.

As a charging station, it is effective thanks to its 3000mAh lithium polymer battery. And as a make up station, it is fantastic with two mirrors (one ordinary , and one with 3x magnification) and a ring of LED lights around the mirror enabling you to apply makeup in low lighting.

Pearl Compact Mirror USB Rechargeable Battery Pack, $17.99 4. Power Bank Compact by FREEWISE

This power bank is slightly larger than others on this list, but its built in battery powers is as huge as 10,000 mAh. This multiple times the power of many other power banks. With this huge power output, you can charge more than one device at a time.

It’s perfect if you travel with multiple devices. You won’t need to worry about running out of power at all.

Power Bank Compact by FREEWISE, $19.99 5. Ankler Power Core Slim

The Ankler Power bank is sleek and slim in design, meaning it can be carried around anywhere with ease, and is largely unnoticeable until you need it.

Despite it’s slim design, it carries a significant amount of power, enough to fully charge an iPhone 6s twice, or a Samsung Galaxy S7 fully once. So it is ideal for getting a full charge easily wherever you are.

On top of this, it is protected by a silicon shield, keeping it well protected and scratch free.

Anker PowerCore Slim 5000 Portable Charger, $29.99 6. PocketFuel Power Bank Battery With Solar Panel

This power bank has built in sensors to detect if your device is fully charged, and if so, will shut off, meaning that it doesn’t waste any power by over charging your phone.

It gets its power from a highly sensitive solar power system which can charge from your house lights or overcast weather. It is perfect for the more adventurous users who want to keep their phones charged when hiking. It is fully waterproof, extremely tough, and has a built in flashlight. It also comes with a carabiner, so can be easily carried anywhere.

PocketFuel Power Bank Battery With Solar Panel, $39.90 7. Mophie Juice Pack Wireless and Charging Base (for iPhone 6/6S)

Where virtually all power banks need cables and wires to charge your phone, the Morphie Juice Pack charges your phone wireless. All you need to do is place your device on its charging base and your phone starts to charge automatically, so you don’t need to worry about carrying extra wires with you.

The pad is magnetic and it attaches to your phone smoothly and securely, keeping itself in place as it charges.It’s surprisingly small in size so can be taken with you easily.

It also senses if your phone is charged and reacts accordingly making sure your phone isn’t over charged, or overheats.

Mophie Juice Pack Wireless and Charging Base, $28.85 8. Monteverde Powerbank Ballpoint Pen

This is like something out of a James Bond movie. As you might expect by the name, the Power Bank pen is a power bank that also functions as a ballpoint pen.

Admittedly it doesn’t pack too much power, it houses a 650 mAh battery (which is good for an emergency charge). This isn’t so much of a problem because as it is a pen too, it is good to carry around with you anyway.

Most of the power banks on this list are easy to take with you, but this is a power bank that you’ll want to carry with you.

Monteverde Power Bank 2.0 Ballpoint Pen, $40.77 9. i.Valux Unique Designed Stand Shockproof Bumper iPhone 6 Plus/7 Plus External Power Bank Charger

This power bank is small in size so it can be easily taken with you. This power bank is also magnetized, and it comfortably attaches itself to your phone (though this uses wires). It is designed in such a way that you can use your phone, headphone jack, and camera easily, even while it is charging.

It is built out of high quality plastic, so it keeps your phone protected. Even if you drop it, it won’t sustain damage.

On top of everything else, it protects your phone from over charging, overheating, short circuiting, or discharging.

i.Valux Unique Designed Stand Shockproof Bumper iPhone 6 Plus/7 Plus External Power Bank Charger, $19.49 10. Powrtabs Disposable Power Pack

This power bank is by far the most environmentally friendly. It is 100% recyclable (even the battery) and each one has been made from recycled plastic. They are great for providing a quick blast of emergency power as they charge quickly.

They are designed strictly for emergencies and are single use only. This isn’t as big a problem as it sounds though, as they are far cheaper than any other power bank on this list, and as mentioned, you’ll find no problems getting rid of it.

Powrtabs Disposable Power Pack, $9.99

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Friends Don't Have to Grow Apart as You Grow Older

19. September 2017 - 14:00

When you were young, the friends you made tend to be defined by common experience, for example living in the same neighborhood, going to the same school, having parents who are friends, riding the same bus, or participating in the same sports or extracurricular activities.

As you grow older, though, these elements change. You and your friends may move to different towns, have different works, come across different challenges in life, and may even lead a different lifestyle. Some may already get married and have their own children; some maybe traveling around all the times; some may always be busy making money.

This is when you realize your friendship with these friends has changed.

Research has shown that three main factors of developing adult friendships are proximity, repeated/unplanned interaction, and settings that encourage conversation.[1] If you’re constantly moving and working, though, these friendships can be harder to sustain.

A Shared Life Is Not Enough to Maintain A Lifelong Friendship

Too often, people focus on having a shared life with others. It’s actually less important for friends to physically be in the same life space. Friends need similar core values, which refers to subjective perspectives and beliefs on topics. You can align core values with someone who lives down the street or someone that lives 2,000 miles away.

Think about it like this: if you know someone who lives down the street (proximity), and you see them a lot at events (repeated/unplanned interactions), and it’s often in settings like bars and parties that encourage conversation, theoretically you should become friends with this person, right? Not necessarily.

If you and that person’s core values are completely misaligned, communication will be nearly impossible. Both of you may try to constantly prove the other person wrong and conflicts will be common.

Core values for humans are not easily changed, without an alignment there, it’s very hard for two people to become — and remain — friends.

Only the Values We Hold Can Build True Bondings

Humans are social animals. This is the core of the human experience. Humans came to dominate the world because we were the only species that could collaborate well, and form bonds, in large numbers.[2] We don’t seek just physical company; we seek mental company and an exchange of ideas and values.

Sharing your core values with another, and attempting to understand theirs is akin to sharing a piece of mind. This exchange of value and idea is crucial to satisfying basic human need. You can have a friend who you consistently have fun with, but if this core value exchange isn’t there, the friendship will erode when the environment changes. If you have a friend who’s fun and you’ve exchanged life values with, that friendship will remain despite the change of the environment.

Not every core value needs to overlap, it’s nearly impossible across any two people. For example, one friend can value punctuality and the other friend can constantly be late. This will make hanging out and communicating harder. But if the friend valuing punctuality is also flexible and adapts to different situations, now the timing is less relevant.

It doesn’t have to be a perfect alignment of core values between two people. But there needs to be some, and it needs to be shared.

Find out the Values of A Potential Friend

To find out whether you have shared values with another person, talk openly about your values. Of course, don’t say “What are your core values? My core values are.. blah blah blah…” This will sound awkward and the other person may feel uncomfortable about the question.

What you can do is asking “why” in conversations. “Why” leads to deeper answers and discussions then “how” — which primarily goes to process, and  “what” — which are only the basic facts. “Why” is the pathway to the thoughts and values of a potential new friend for life.

You don’t have to dig into the very deep philosophical questions at the beginning, start with something light like “what’s your hobby and why do you like doing it?” or “what’s your favorite place and why?” will be enough to get you to understand a person.

To help you have a better idea of what kind of things you can talk about, I’ve got you a list of questions to try with a potential friend:

  1. Why did you decide to move here?
  2. What’s your favorite podcast/book and why?
  3. Who’s your favorite author/artist and why?
  4. What’s your favorite movie/music and why?
  5. What do you do and why do you do what you do?
  6. Who’s your biggest inspiration, and why?
  7. What do you think about when you’re alone?
  8. Are you closer with your mom, dad, or neither? Why?
  9. What makes you happy and why?
  10. What upsets you and why?
  11. What do you like to do during weekend? Why?
  12. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever seen, and why would you say it is?
  13. What motivates you the most, and why?
  14. Are you religious, and why?
  15. Who’s your best friend and why are you guys so close?
  16. What’s the main thing you’d like to change about yourself and why?
  17. Are you proud of some accomplishments so far? If so, why?
  18. Is there anything you’re afraid of and why?
  19. Do you like traveling and why?
  20. What’s your idea of a perfect vacation and why?
  21. Do you want to get a tattoo? Why?
  22. What are most important to you and why?
  23. If money were no object, what would you do all day and why?
  24. If you were to die tomorrow, what would you do?

Save this article and take this list out when you’re trying to make a new friend. Understanding the core values of another person is the first step to a strong and lasting friendship.

Featured photo credit: Bewakoof.com Official on Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference [1] ^ The New York Times: Friends of a Certain Age [2] ^ Ted Idea: Why humans run the world function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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How to Hold on to True Freedom When It's Difficult to Find These Days

19. September 2017 - 13:00

I’d like you to imagine waking up tomorrow with no limitations whatsoever.

How would you spend your day?

Who would you spend it with?

Where in the world would you be?

How would you feel?

Over the past 6 years I have asked hundreds of people this question. And guess what? 99% of them have no idea how to answer it. They have never thought about what their perfect day looks like, let alone how to describe it in vivid detail.

Somewhere along the way, people stopped chasing their dreams. They stopped imagining what their perfect day looks like and they started handing over the reigns to society who told them what to do and how to live. I found myself in this place too, where I’d given away my freedom. And I wanted it back.

What Exactly Is Freedom

According to the Oxford Dictionary, it’s the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants. But is that really what true freedom means to you?

I shared in my TEDx talk The Surprising Truth About Freedom that I believe freedom is a right not a privilege, and it’s up to YOU to create your own freedom plan.

I personally spent the last 6 years living out of a suitcase, traveling the world to 69 countries. I did this because I wanted to explore the world and experiment with living and working from anywhere and everywhere until I designed and created my perfect freedom business that supports my ideal lifestyle. Then in early 2017, I chose to flip my life 180 degrees when I bought a beautiful house and 2.5 acres of land in New Zealand with my partner, got five chickens and an adorable puppy and put down roots.

I discovered a different type of freedom that’s based around family, friends and a sense of community, as well as a profound connection to being on nature’s doorstep for my ideal lifestyle.

Why Freedom Feels So Elusive

As I’ve already stated, your version of freedom is totally unique to you, so it’s up to you to choose.

Freedom for some people it’s sailing around the world. For others it’s living in a yurt in the forest. For others it’s the right to vote. To get married, or stay single. To have a beautiful home or to have no home at all.

When I ask people if they feel free, they almost always respond with saying that the answer depends on something out of their control. For example “when I have more money and feel financially free”. Or “when I can make my own schedule and do what I want”. Or “when I’ve quit my job and can do my own thing”. Or “when I don’t have to be stuck in one place”.

THEN I’ll be/ feel free.

Here’s the thing that most people don’t realize though:

Freedom is a state of mind rather than a specific condition of existence.

True freedom starts with your thoughts, and freeing yourself from your own inner critic, or limiting beliefs that tell you what you are and aren’t capable of. We may not have been born with the same privileges, access to education, money or political rights, but we are all given the same amount of time in a day to pursue our dreams and make them a reality. And if we can’t control our external circumstances, we can definitely control our internal ones.

Freedom is the possibility to have choice and purpose helps you choose. Freedom is the space around you, where your purpose is your compass showing you where to move in that space.

Choosing Your Version of Freedom

I’m obsessed with Freedom and the definition of it. I created the Right2Freedom survey to ask people this very question. Over 500+ responses later and there is ONE universal truth emerging.

Freedom usually is split into positive and negative freedom. “Freedom from” (absence of constraints) and “freedom to” (freedom to do what we want). There is also a third level “freedom to be”, which is also a positive freedom but on a deeper emotional level; inner freedom.

It is this inner freedom that I believe is the most important, and that we intend to research further.

Your definition of freedom may be completely different to mine, but one thing remains the same, it’s our ability to CHOOSE that makes us feel truly free. Through the answers we’ve collected so far we’ve identified four elements of freedom.

  1. Flexibility – What you want, when you want and where you want. In short this is independence and choices free from restrictions.
  2. Self-actualization – This is about fulfilling your dreams, being free to pursue your passion while being free from judgement. This is strongly linked to doing work of your choice – a career or business you love.
  3. Responsibility – Creating stability for yourself and others by having control of your own security, health and financial situation ultimately makes you feel more free.
  4. Contribution – The ability to contribute, help others and to make an impact is a feeling of freedom on a whole other level.
Going For More Freedom

How do you go for achieving more freedom? Follow these baby steps:

Step 1 – Awareness of (your) definition of freedom (what do you want)

Not many people have truly thought about the definition of freedom and what it means to them personally, but when asked, most can tell you a few things that makes them feel free. These are usually literal things they attribute to the meaning of freedom.

So ask yourself the question “What makes me feel free?” Then write down your answers, discuss them with friends and start the conversation with people who matter in your life.

Step 2 – Understanding of (your) needs and purpose of freedom (why do you want it)

Not everyone thinks about why they define freedom a certain way, but everyone does have a deeper reason for why they desire freedom.

If you understand your needs and reason for wanting those “freeing” things in life, it is easier to achieve them.

Again, write down your why. Why do you want more freedom?

Step 3 – Action: map out personal plan (how can you get it)

Mapping out a plan needs to be done on an individual level based on your needs and wants, so who is better suited to do it but you?

It starts by getting very clear on your ideal lifestyle and what that looks like to you. Let the questions at the beginning guide you to finding your answers.

For more expert guidance, you can start by picking up a copy of my book The Suitcase Entrepreneur: Create Freedom in Business and Adventure In Life. In it I talk you through the three stages of Mindset, Business and Lifestyle that have personally led me to being a Freedomist, and thousands of others.

So, what does freedom mean to you?

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

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10 Must-Have Camping Gear With Low Budget For Nature Enthusiasts

18. September 2017 - 14:00

It’s camping season! Many people want to get closer to nature and camp in the wild, but they don’t really know which essentials they need and how to find them at the right price.

Our list is for the camping lover on a budget. You don’t need to pay for luxurious products in order to fully enjoy nature. These pieces, despite their price tags, will ensure that you have a great experience in the great outdoors.

For those of you who love nature, hiking, and all things outdoors, here’s a must-have list of camping gear the Lifehack team has handpicked for you.

1. AmazonBasics Tent

This 100% polyester tent is family-size, so it accommodates up to 8 campers. This roomy tent measure 15 x 9 feet with a center height of 6 feet. Plenty of space to stand up and move around!

It also has essential features to protect against inclement weather: a rainfly for added protection, plus a cool-air port and variable venting system. With shock-corded poles, it’s easy to follow the assembly instructions.

P.S. It also comes with a 4-person size tent if you’re camping with a smaller group.

AmazonBasics Tent, $99.99 2. Portable Sleeping Bag by Abco Tech

Designed for near-freezing temperatures, this is perfect for northern climates! This waterproof, weather-resistant sleeping bag will keep you warm even at 20°F.

Light-weight and made with 210T high-quality polyester, it’s easy to travel with in its carry bag and compression sack with straps. You can machine-wash it too!

Portable Sleeping Bag by Abco Tech, $36.97 3. GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier (with filter bottle)

Ideal for global traveling, outdoor adventures, emergency preparedness, hiking, packing, camping, fishing, survival… you name it!

This water bottle is an amazing design. Fast and easy to use, you can simply fill, press, and drink. It removes 99.9999% of all viruses, disease-causing bacteria, and protozoan cysts. It also filters out sediment, chemicals, and heavy metals. Your water will have zero aftertaste, no bad odors, and will run totally clear.

GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier [ +filter] Bottle, $59.50 4. AmazonBasics Internal Frame Hiking Backpack with Rainfly

This internal-frame backpack with 55L capacity (50L + 5L extension collar) is made of durable polyester. With its many pockets, large sleeping-bag compartment, and comfy multi-directional compression straps, this backpack is ideal for hiking and camping.

It has a water-repellent exterior coating and integrated water-resistant rainfly for light rain, a waterproof cover is also included for heavier rain.

AmazonBasics Internal Frame Hiking Backpack with Rainfly, $47.36-$55.50 (depending on the size) 5. KingCamp Moon Saucer Camping Chair Steel Frame Folding Padded Round – Portable Stable with Carry Bag

Need a comfortable seat out in the wild? This camping chair is uber-comfortable and portable. It has a padded seat, a large pocket on the back of the chair, and a storage bag with shoulder strap for easy carry. It folds up in seconds and has handles on the back of the seat. Its sturdy steel frame has a weight capacity of up to 260 lbs.

KingCamp Moon Saucer Camping Chair Steel Frame Folding Padded Round – Portable Stable with Carry Bag, $45.99 6. Camping Cookware Stove Carabiner Canister Stand Tripod Folding Spork Set

This huge set of cookware will make eating while camping super convenient. This 16-piece camping cookware set includes a folding stainless steel spork/spoon, spoon, knife, mini stove with piezo ignition, anodized aluminum nonstick pot, frying pan, pan cover, and 2 BPA free bowls, BPA free soup spoon, rice ladle, loofah sponge, carabiner, and nylon bag.

All the objects in this cooking set can be stored together in a mesh bag for space saving and convenient carry.

Camping Cookware Stove Carabiner Canister Stand Tripod Folding Spork Set $26.99 7. COB LED Camping Lantern

This budget-friendly camping lantern works up to 300 lumens and is perfect for space of 30-square meters. You can expect the light to last a whopping 10000 hours. You can switch it to its emergency flashlight function if necessary – in this mode, the light is IW LED and lasts up to 10 hours.

The camping lantern is extendable. You extend it when using and collapse it to store. It is smaller when collapsed and takes little space in your backpack. It’s also built to withstand water, so you can use it even in the rain.

Its brightness and long-time working will make camping and hiking at dusk or nighttime way safer.

COB LED Camping Lantern, $7.99 8. A2S Paracord Bracelet Survival Gear Kit

You need this 5-in-1 survival tool! This kit includes a high-quality illuminated compass, a flint fire starter, a fire scrapper inside the buckle, emergency knife, and emergency whistle (which creates a sound up to 100 decibels).

Made of ultra-strong, military-grade 550 Paracord (12-ft’s worth), this has a lightweight and comfortable design. It has been tested to a breaking point of 550 lbs.

A2S Paracord Bracelet Survival Gear Kit, $7.99 9. Microfiber Travel Sports Towel (24″ X 48″) for Camping

Made of 100% microfiber, this sports towel is lightweight, soft and gentle to skin. It’s extremely quick-drying, ultra-absorbent, and antibacterial.

You can fold this towel and put it in a compact carrying bag, making it easily portable.

Microfiber Travel Sports Towel, $8.99 10. Baleaf Unisex Packable Outdoor Waterproof Rain Jacket Hooded Raincoat Poncho

This raincoat/poncho is made of 100% Nylon. It’s lightweight and totally waterproof, offering you water resistance with very little weight. The funnel hood has an adjustable drawstring and elastic cuffs to help keep your clothes dry. Plus, it has a back pocket for extra storage!

Baleaf Unisex Packable Outdoor Waterproof Rain Jacket Hooded Raincoat Poncho, $19.99

Featured photo credit: Finda via finda.photo

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A Subtle Sign of Insecurity Can Kill a Relationship Silently

18. September 2017 - 13:30

When you’re in a relationship, you can develop some funny habits with the person you’re with. It could be constant sharing of an inside joke, the expectation that they will always finish your meal at a restaurant, or something less cutesy. For instance, I have a friend who used to ask her boyfriend to say, “I love you” to her 3 times a day, in the morning, in the afternoon and before she went to sleep.

Maybe at first you’re thinking, okay? So what? But this need for validation was coming from an unhealthy place. When you’re dating someone, especially long-term, you should want to hear sweet words like that, but you should also be able to trust their feelings. Even if they don’t verbalize them frequently.

My friend had a strong desire for her partner’s love and attention. She looked to her partner to provide a sense of completeness in her life. This can also be a red flag. Your partner should absolutely add value to your life, but he/she shouldn’t define you as a whole person.

Sometimes her boyfriend would be too busy at work and forget to do it once or twice. Rather than understanding he couldn’t drop what he was doing to call or text her, she would get very upset – even angry. She felt that forgetting about her “simple request” is a sign of him neglecting her, or wanting to leave her. She has trust issues with her partner.

The relationship lasted for only a few months. It didn’t end well because my friend was very upset and her partner felt exhausted.

Insecurity in a relationship is not obvious most of the times.

While reading that example seems like a clear example of why insecurity can wreck a relationship, it’s important to realize that it’s only that obvious to us reading it. See, for my friend and her boyfriend, her insecurity caused big arguments about why he didn’t care about her, and the fact that he wouldn’t do simple things for her.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for insecurity to exist with no obvious signs. You or your partner can feel insecure without voicing, or even realizing it. It’s that sick feeling in your stomach you can’t explain when the person you’re seeing doesn’t text you back right away or show up to hang out on time.

The need for proof of love prevents a relationship from reaching the next level.

Needing to be approved, or needing to see proof of love and self-worth prevents building an authentic relationship. You know the old saying, “actions speak louder than words”? It’s especially true when it comes to creating a long-lasting romance.

When you’ve been with someone, especially for a long time, little things really show they love you and only you. Maybe they did the laundry for you because they knew you had a ton of work to get done and wouldn’t have the time. Maybe they surprised you with your favorite thing from a nearby restaurant ‘just because’. In either of these examples, they didn’t have to say, “I love you and only you and you can trust me!” But you knew it.

Behaviors caused by insecurity wreak havoc all too quickly. If you’re always asking for reassurance, dealing with jealousy, accusing, and even snooping, you’re eroding trust.

Such behaviors are not attractive, and can push a partner away.

Most people tackle insecurity in a way that makes the relationship worse.

People handle insecurity in different ways, trying to make themselves feel better in the relationship. Yet they don’t realize the way they try to fix their insecurity issues is worsening their relationship.

Some fiercely seek security.

Security in a relationship isn’t something tangible, but some people want to hold on to it. To feel secure all the times, they seek some kind of solid reassurance. In this case, a person will demand security from their partner by asking them to do something to prove their love. This tactic is not much different from peer pressure amongst teenagers.

But if you’re asking your partner to say I love you a certain number of times, or asking them to do favors constantly, things can get out of hand. And if you’re desperate enough to ask them to reply to you immediately when you text, things are going downhill fast.

When a partner is overwhelmed by ridiculous requests, he or she will be unable to perform perfectly 100% of the time. The problem of insecurity cannot be fixed this way. Actions do speak louder than words; but when they’re actions requested by the insecure party, they’re inauthentic and exhausting at best.

Some show insecurity in a subtle way.

These people tend to believe that it’s weak to admit feeling insecure, but also secretly hope to be cared by their partner. However, when the partner doesn’t pick up on what’s going on, it can cause more fights and insecurity.

They’ll give subtle signs and say things like, “I’m okay. Don’t worry,” or “Go ahead do what you want,” but then ignore their partner. While this is meant to show they are bothered by the action, it isn’t effective.

Assuming that couples should understand each other well, even without talking about things, is unrealistic. Even if you’re embarrassed about how insecure you feel, or you can’t explain the reasoning behind it, it’s still important to let it be known.

When an insecure person relies on subtle clues and actions, their partner won’t understand what they really think and take their actions personally. This causes a lot of miscommunication because one of the partners has to always be guessing what the other is thinking, and it’s not likely that they can guess it right all the time. The passive aggressive behaviors such as ignoring a partner or throwing temper-tantrums can also hurt the partner’s feelings, and even anger them.

Some act like they are secure.

Some people choose to suppress their real feelings out of fear or embarrassment. While they may intend well because they don’t want their insecurity to affect another person or affect the relationship, they are only making things worse.

It may seem to work at first because whenever they meet their significant other, the happy time together can temporary make them forget about the insecure feelings. But because of trying so hard to suppress their feelings, they may tend to take in all the sadness.

Not letting out of the negative emotions or sharing them with anyone, these people are likely to overthink (about bad things that may not happen). This prolonged sadness may even lead to anxiety or depression.

In the long-run, the relationship is not healthy. Despite how much these people try to pretend nothing is going wrong, their partner will eventually feel the negative vibe and the relationship will not last.

The only way to fix insecurity is to be vulnerable.

Being insecure is not a mistake. Having insecurity issues doesn’t make one a weak person.

Once you realize you feel insecure, reflect and determine where these feelings are coming from. It could be from past experience. Maybe you lacked attention or gained too much attention from your parents when you were small? Maybe you were in a relationship with an insecure partner? Maybe you lack confidence in yourself? Shift the focus from blaming your partner to digging into your inner thoughts.

After you have found out why you are feeling what you’re feeling, share it with your partner. Talk about the emotions you feel. Tell him/her how you feel when he/she does something, and why you feel such way. Share with him/her the reason why you think these things trigger you those feelings.

Figure out together with your partner what to do to make both people stay aware of the issue. Both partners need to work on certain aspects to minimize and fix insecurity together. For instance, if you ask your partner to text you immediately, take baby steps to stop that. Maybe he/she can agree to text you when he/she gets to work and let you know he/she’s going to have a busy day and may not be able to reach out until his/her lunch break.

No matter how you two agree to take steps to resolve the issue, it’s vital you have the discussion. Otherwise, things will never get better. Whether it’s nightly conversations about how you felt that day or something more personal like journalling, you have to make an effort to realize the issue and resolve it. Remember to be patient with yourself and your partner. It takes two people to make a relationship work, especially when overcoming a challenge.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Feeling Stuck Is Not Fun, This Is How I Never Get Stuck In Life Again

18. September 2017 - 12:30

The statistics are dismal. A recent study has found that 69% of people feel trapped in the same old routine, and only 3 out of 10 people are happy with their lives.[1] People are feeling stuck.

Some are feeling stuck in their careers, feeling like they’re too far along one path to make a change. Some are feeling stuck in their personal lives. The toll of the daily grind sucks most of their time and energy, and their relationships, self-care, and personal goals get lost in the shuffle of the treadmill existence.

When people come across these challenges of feeling stuck, the feeling sometimes doesn’t go away. It often intensifies as time goes on. As the stuck feeling intensifies, some people choose to settle. Subconsciously, without even realizing it, they end up pushing their dreams and goals further and further down.

Others, if the feeling of being stuck intensifies to an unbearable point, choose to make changes. They may choose to pivot in their careers, even after years at a successful job. They may end up making big changes in their relationships, or start putting their fitness at a higher priority. They may make drastic changes to finally feel free. These changes can be incredibly difficult to make, especially if a person has lived many years in a certain lifestyle.

Feeling stuck is NOT fun. I’ve been there. I get it.

People Feel Stuck Once in a While

There are many causes of feeling stuck. Many people work toward goals that don’t actually align with who they are at the core or what they truly desire. I call these “False Objectives”.

Living a life of False Objectives can cause people to feel very stuck and frustrated. People can build lives that are very “successful” according to society, but if you’ve built your life based on False Objectives, you’re not going to feel fulfilled. You’ll end up feeling stuck.

Another cause of feeling stuck is not knowing who you are. If you don’t understand how you’re innately wired – your strengths, your gifts, your talents, your passions – it’s tough to make decisions that enable you to maximize those. It’s tough to reach your full potential if you don’t know who you are.

You can feel stuck if you’re doing work that doesn’t allow you to maximize your innate strengths. If you’re doing work that doesn’t bring out the best in who you are at the core, you’ll likely feel some dissatisfaction and you won’t reach your full potential.

Other people feel stuck because they haven’t surrounded themselves with mentors or peers who have achieved what they want to achieve, so they stay in certain routines while craving to do life differently. As Jim Rohn says,

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

If your goal is to run a marathon and you’re spending most evenings and weekends drinking beer with your coworkers, you’re probably not going to run that marathon. If your goal is to live a location-independent lifestyle and work anytime from anywhere, and everyone in your social circle is at traditional jobs, it’ll be tough to break free from the 9-5 mentality.

Feeling Stuck Screws Up People’s Lives

The consequences of feeling stuck can range from mild to severe. People may feel a mild discontentment with life and end up succumbing to the idea that life is “okay,” and settle. Read about why “Okay”, is the favorite word of average people. They may never reach their full potential, may never reach their highest levels of happiness and satisfaction, and not make the impact on the world that they could make, and have a looming sense that there could be “more” to life.

Often, though, the feeling of being stuck comes with much larger consequences. Feeling stuck can hinder career growth. Feeling stuck can contribute to disrupted marriages. It can lead to huge midlife crises. The feeling can (and frequently does) increase as the years go on, leading to significant regrets about unfulfilled dreams. In fact, the number one regret of the dying, according to Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse, is, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” She writes,

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Many people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”

Approach Life Differently

Thankfully, some highly effective strategies can prevent you from feeling stuck. Using these strategies can help you avoid significant problems in your life. It’s different than conventional living, and it works.

Commonly, people live with many set routines. While certain routines are helpful, becoming stuck in the daily grind routine can get frustrating. Many people eat roughly the same foods each week, go to the same place each day, talk to the same people, keep the same commitments, and end up living life on autopilot.

It’s tough to feel like you’re progressing forward when each day is spent doing the same uninspiring routine. In order to avoid feeling stuck, it’s important to live intentionally. It’s crucial to live in the driver’s seat of your life and get out of autopilot mode.

First, ditch the False Objectives. Just because everyone in your family are doctors doesn’t mean that’s the best path for you. Just because all your friends are married with a big house, a white picket fence, and 2 kids doesn’t mean that’s the best path for you. Just because everyone you know works 9-5 doesn’t mean that’s the best path for you. It’s not easy to design your life intentionally, but it’s critical in order to avoid feeling stuck.

Remember, the majority of people feel stuck. So, if you’re doing things like the majority of people, you’ll likely feel stuck, too. You’ll need to think differently and create your life differently.

Two Questions to Ask Yourself Every Day

In order to intentionally design your life, avoid falling prey to False Objectives, and prevent feeling stuck, there are questions to ask yourself every day. These questions can help you stay focused on what matters most to you, help you avoid feeling stuck and frustrated, and create the best life possible.

1. Why am I going to do what I’m going to do today?

If you’re showing up to work each day, and giving your years to your job, it’s important that your “why” is deeper than “to pay the bills.” Knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing can help you make choices that inspire and motivate you.

By asking yourself why you’re going to do what you’re going to do today, you will be living intentionally. In today’s incredibly busy, easily distracted world, living intentionally and focusing every day on what matters most is unique. When you choose to ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing every day, it will help you stay focused on what’s truly important to you, which can prevent you from getting stuck.

2. What would future want me to do today?

Imagine yourself, in the future, as the best version of you. What would that version of you want you to do today? Making decisions from the viewpoint of the future you can help you move forward today and prevent the stuck and frustrated feeling.

When you make decisions from the viewpoint of future you, you will develop perseverance and reap the benefits of delayed gratification. Today’s society is very focused on instant gratification, but a lot of great things in life take time and effort. Learning to take small steps forward by making decisions from the future you standpoint can help you make massive progress forward toward your biggest goals and dreams.

Getting Unstuck

After asking yourself the two questions, work on the plan to get unstuck. I’ve personally tried these strategies and they work for me.

Choose goals you truly desire to accomplish.

This might sound obvious but we all get sucked into False Objectives at times. When you’re setting goals in your career and your personal life, make sure they are goals that matter to you. Working hard toward big achievements that don’t align with your values, your priorities, and who you are at the core is a fast-track toward feeling stuck.

Learn about your strengths, your gifts, and your passions. Choose goals that align with who you are the core, and work toward goals that align with your innate strengths and gifts. This will help you maximize your potential and minimize the stuck and frustrated feelings.

Watch your mindset.

Often, we think we’re stuck, but the problem is our mindset. Being mindful of our mindset and self-talk is important to living a life of freedom and fulfillment. Work on rephrasing your self-talk in order to improve your mindset. For example, if you tell yourself, “I could never start a business,” rephrase it to, “I don’t know how to start a business YET, but I can learn.” If you find yourself saying, “I don’t have enough money to travel,” tell yourself, “I don’t have the money right now, but I can make a plan to save money to travel. Rephrasing your self-talk can help you see opportunities and possibilities instead of feeling stuck.

Occasionally, even the most driven people have days where they feel unmotivated. Check out this article for tips to get motivated when you feel like doing nothing. Those strategies can help you break free from the rut.

Get out of your comfort zone and add some excitement to your day.

Shaking up your daily routine and adding some excitement to your days can help you get unstuck. While breaking out of your daily routine can be uncomfortable, it can be a great way to invigorate your life. You can start by getting out of your comfort zone in small ways. Here are 7 simple ways to get out of your comfort zone that you can start doing today. As Brian Tracy says,

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”

Getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing growth can help you to continue to move forward and prevent you from getting stuck.

Surround yourself with people who have done what you aspire to do.

It’s easy to get stuck if you’re trying to accomplish something and you’re struggling to believe it’s possible to accomplish it. Instead of letting yourself be isolated and stuck, commit to learning from people who have done what you aspire to do. This can help you believe it’s possible to achieve the same goals, and can help you be inspired to progress forward instead of staying in stuck-land.

You can seek out a mentor, or even read books or listen to podcasts by the people who have achieved your biggest goals and dreams.

It’s frustrating to feel stuck. Hopefully these strategies help you as much as they have helped me.

Featured photo credit: Nina Uhlíková/www.pexels.com via pexels.com

Reference [1] ^ Telegraph: Just three in 10 people feel happy with their lives function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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How to Read Books You Aren't Interested in but Are Useful for You

15. September 2017 - 14:00

Successful people read a lot. But they don’t just read anything and everything. They read specifically for self-improvement, education and success.

If you don’t believe me, just take a look at these stats:[1]

  • Warren Buffett reads between 600 and 1,000 pages per day.
  • Bill Gates reads about 50 books per year.
  • Mark Cuban reads for more than three hours every day.
  • Mark Zuckerberg read a book every two weeks throughout 2015.

As I’ve already stated, these hugely-successful people don’t just read anything, instead they self-educate and self-motivate through reading high-quality content.[2]

Fiction Books Have Stolen the Spotlight

People like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are prolific readers of books that help them to improve their skills, knowledge and understanding. But the average person appears to have little interest in reading self-improvement books.

If you look back at decades of book sales, you’ll see that fiction books tend to be much more popular than self-improvement books. 70% of the Amazon Best Sellers in 2016 are fictions including Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2, Special Rehearsal Edition ScriptA Man Called Ove, and The Girl on the Train.[3]

Fiction books are designed and written in such a way as to impel you to continue reading them. There’s a hook or cliffhanger in every chapter that keeps you focused on reading until the last page, so that you can find out what happens next – and what happens at the end.

On the other hand, non-fiction books in the self-improvement field are intended to help you solve a problem or reach a specific goal. In most cases, these types of books are not written in story form (one exception is The Social Animal), rendering them less attractive to the majority of readers.

A lack of storytelling in self-improvement books leads many people to believe that the books are dull or difficult to read and understand.

Do you recognize yourself in the last sentence?

If you do, then the good news is that you’ve most likely being picking the wrong type of self-improvement books for you. For example, if you’re fascinated by space exploration, but choose to read a technical-heavy, scientific book on the subject – you’ll quickly lose interest. However, if you chose a book that is easier to understand, say an autobiography of a NASA astronaut, you’ll probably love the book – and boost your interest in space exploration.

You could also think of it this way, you’ve just stated to learn piano, but someone’s given you an advanced piano music sheet. Not only will you struggle with the sheet but it may put you off piano playing for life.

It’s All About Picking the Right Self-Improvement Books

So, what’s the secret to choosing the right level of non-fiction book?

Firstly, you need to have some context. That could be a problem you want to solve – or a goal you want to achieve. For instance, if you’re not planning on being an entrepreneur, then you’re unlikely to understand or enjoy the context of a book like High Output Management – even though it’s a highly-recommended self-improvement book.

Get the context right, and you’ll find an ocean of self-improvement books to help you learn and grow. The best of these books will give you clear advice and recommendations for bettering your life.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Fiction books and novels can be enjoyable, and often encourage imagination and creativity. However, they’re a less direct way of improving your daily life.

It’s worth repeating. Failing to pick the most suitable non-fiction books can discourage you from becoming a regular non-fiction reader. This could directly impact your chances of developing and growing.

Picking the Right Self-Improvement Books Starts with A Purpose

If you want to be highly-successful in life, then you must take advantage of the countless wisdom and knowledge available through self-improvement books.

The secret to choosing the most suitable self-improvement book for you is to understand your current situation – and to have a clear vision of what you hope to achieve in the future.

The ideal self-improvement book will be one that fits your current needs, and will be easy and enjoyable for you to read from start to finish.

Let’s say you’re interested in becoming a graphic designer. If the first book you read is aimed at qualified, professional graphic designers, then it’s unlikely to be the book for you. Instead, if you choose a book such as The Non-Designer’s Design Book, you’ll probably find the book a fun and fascinating read. And it’s likely to whet your appetite to read more books on graphic design. Perhaps this time, books that are slightly more advanced.

Picking the wrong book will instantly discourage you from reading and learning more. Picking the right book, however, will spark your interest – and help you find constant opportunities to grow and improve.

Good Self-Improvement Books Will Capture Your Attention – and Boost Your Knowledge

If you haven’t yet started and finished a self-improvement book, then ask yourself what is stopping you delving into the genre? Is it fear of the unknown, or a lack of understanding what self-improvement books can offer?

From my own experience, I can tell you that if you choose a non-fiction that meets a desire or need that you have, you’ll be hooked by the content. And you’ll likely finish the book in rapid time – even though the book doesn’t have a storyline like novels do.

If your purpose of reading is to look for an answer you want, then this will inspire sufficient curiosity to keep you avidly reading until the last word of the book.

The right book will also be easy to understand, and will effortlessly keep your interest and attention.

Self-improvement books can open up all kinds of future opportunities for you. You’ll learn new things, be inspired, and develop a deep love of practical knowledge and wisdom. And the most exciting thing? You’ll be able to apply the ideas and advice that you learn to your daily life. And once you do this, you’ll be likely to see a trend towards positive results.

You and I are wired to seek progress and results, and when we achieve these things through the help of self-improvement books, then we’ll be naturally encouraged to explore more self-improvement content.

3 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Self-Improvement Book

Hopefully, I’ve boosted your interest in becoming a reader of self-improvement books. And I want to finish this article by giving you some specific advice on choosing the perfect book for you.

1. Begin your search by analyzing your problems

Take a good look at yourself and your life, and identify any problems you’re facing. Perhaps you’re unsatisfied with some areas of your life, such as health, relationship or work issues?

2. Picture the answer you seek

Once you’ve identified a problem (or problems), try to figure out the causes behind the problems. For example, if you suffer from a lack of self-confidence, was this caused by overly-dominant parents or teachers? If you believe that to be so, then keep the problem and cause in mind when you come to choose a book.

Here’s an effective way to help you find out the root cause of a problem: How To Make the Invisible Cause Visible

3. Keep the kind of answer you want in your mind as pick the book

A keyword search of an online bookseller’s listing (such as Amazon), will usually throw up dozens or even hundreds of results. However, you can narrow these results down by:

  • Reading the foreword – but understanding that this is designed to hook you in to purchase the book.
  • Looking at comments, both the best and the worst reviews of the book. Here’s a smart way to read comments: The Ugly Truth About Comments and Reviews That No One Knows
  • Viewing a sample of the book’s content. (This will give you a feel for the style and substance.)
  • Considering whether the book can give you the answer(s) you need.

The whole process may take you some time but it will be worth it.

After picking the right book, keep your desired answer in mind as you read. Skim through the chapters to see if there’s anything important you should read first.

Some people find that they don’t need to follow the order set in the book, but in most cases, I suggest you try to stick to the original order. The majority of writers will build on their advice, and to jump out of the intended order, can lead to confusion and loss of context.

Having said that, if your problem is urgent, you might want to skip sections in order to quickly find your desired answer. However, if you do this, make sure you have a complete understanding of the answer, even though you haven’t read every single page or word of the book.

Perhaps after finishing your first self-improvement book, you’ll come up with a new problem and seek another answer. This is how you will keep reading (and finishing) self-improvement books – something you had zero interest in before.

Featured photo credit: Stock Snap via pixabay.com

Reference [1] ^ HuffPost: The Reading Habits of Ultra-Successful People [2] ^ Business Insider: A self-made millionaire who studied 1,200 wealthy people found they all have one — free — pastime in common [3] ^ Amazon: Amazon Best Sellers in 2016 function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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How to Make Difficult Problems Easier to Solve with Systems Thinking

15. September 2017 - 13:00

Everything and every time we think, we are projecting our own view on reality. [1] Revolutionary Systems Thinker and professor at Cornell University Derek Cabrera remarked,

“When we understand the world as being the result of systems of relationships, we better approximate reality.”

I recently came across Derek’s book Systems Thinking Made Simple: New Hope for Solving Wicked Problems and I was hooked! I was immediately converted to the field of Systems Thinking. In fact, I plan on using Systems Thinking as my new algorithm for everything I do.

After speaking with Derek, I decided to write an article that was similar to a book review, yet also a how-to. This article will focus on Derek’s new version of Systems Thinking (v2.0), how to use it, and some tools to use with it. So, let’s take a look at what Systems Thinking v2.0 is.

The Best Way to Solve Wicked Problems

If you had to think of the problem that underlies all other problems, what would you say it is? Derek informs us that it is the way we think and until we change the way we think, we will find it extremely difficult to tackle wicked problems. In fact, Albert Einstein would have probably agreed. Einstein once remarked,

“Without changing our patterns of thought, we will not be able to solve the problems created with our current pattern of thought.”

So, what are wicked problems?

“Wicked problems result from a mismatch with how things work and how we think or perceive they work.” – Derek Cabrera

Why Systems Thinking Is the Best Way To Innovate

Personally, Systems Thinking is my “aha” or epiphany generator. It is the best way to innovate. In fact, there are three ways to innovate.

  1. Invent something new.
  2. Make an existing product better.
  3. Combine two existing things into something new.

Systems Thinking is also perfect for learning something in one domain and transferring it to another. Along with his wife Laura, Derek discusses how Systems Thinking uses what is called a Far Transfer. This is learning something in one domain and transferring it to another in order to teach yourself 5-20 additional things.

Derek and Laura discovered Systems Thinking v2.0 after developing an equation. Yet, it was his wife Laura who helped him translate this into the real world. Laura is an expert in the field of Translational Research, which helps bring the abstract into reality. They then developed Systems Thinking v2.0 through four simple rules. However, let’s look at a couple of key concepts to understand before we discuss the four rules.

The Foundation of Systems Thinking Mental Model

“All mental models are wrong; the practical question is how wrong do they have to be to not be useful.” – George E.P. Boy

This is the foundation of Systems Thinking. Derek informs us that a Mental Model is an explanation of someone’s thought process about how something works in the real world. Think back to our discussion on wicked problems. Wicked problems are present when our mental models are complex.

Derek provides the following equation for Mental Models.

Information + Structure = Mental Models

  • Information includes all material, information, or data of any kind that contribute to meaning.
  • Structure includes hidden contextual structure that contributes to meaning.
Complex Adaptive System

Complexity theory draws research from science that examines uncertainty and non-linearity. It emphasizes interactions and feedback loops that are continuously changing. This is why Systems Thinking must be a Complex Adaptive System (CAS). This provide us an understanding of a system and the system’s behavior.

The Four Simple Rules of Systems Thinking

Let’s now discuss the four simple rules of Systems Thinking v2.0. These rules are known as DSRP, which represents four cognitive functions that we must have to form new ideas:

  • Distinctions
  • Systems
  • Relationships
  • Perspectives
Distinctions

Simply put, every idea starts with a distinct thing or idea. Let’s see how Derek describes Distinctions.

  • They are the key to solving wicked problems.
  • They identify what a thing or even a problem IS and what it IS NOT.
  • They serve as the boundary that define an idea.
  • The things we see and think about derive meaning from other proximate things or ideas.
  • Essentially, words mean what we want them to mean.
  • Key words: compare, contrast, define, differentiate.
Systems

“A change in the way an idea is organized leads to a change in the meaning of the idea.” – Derek Cabrera

Similar to distinctions, every idea or thing is a system containing parts. Let’s take a look at how Derek describes Systems.

  • Any idea or thing can be split into parts (deconstruction).
  • Any idea or thing can be lumped into a whole (construction).
  • A person who can do both (split and lump) is called a “Slumper”.
  • Slumper’s are people who have the ability to both construct or synthesize ideas; additionally, they can deconstruct ideas to further our understanding.
  • Key words: part-whole, chunking, grouping, organizing.

“What makes something a part is that it belongs to a whole. What makes something a whole is that it has a part. Every whole has the potential to also be a part. Your mind needs to do the work to see this. In the real world, whatever you are looking at has parts.” – Derek Cabrera

Relationships

Relationships consist of an action and reaction. Here is how Derek defines Relationships.

  • We cannot understand much about a thing or idea without understanding the relationship between or among the ideas or systems.
  • All types of relationships require that we consider two underlying elements: action and reaction.
  • Key words: connect, interconnection, interaction, link, cause, effect, feedback.
Perspectives

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Derek Cabrera

Let’s now take a look at the last rule – Perspectives. We typically identify perspectives when we are able to identify the boundaries of a system and determine the relationships in a system. Derek defines Perspectives by the following.

  • Sometimes perspectives are so basic and so unconscious to us, we are unaware of them but they are always aware of us.
  • Perspectives are made up of two related elements: a Point from which we are Viewing and the thing or things that are in View (Point-of-View).
  • Being aware of the perspectives we take and do not take is paramount to deeply understanding ourselves and the world around us.
  • Shift perspectives and we transform distinctions, relationships, and systems we do and do not see.
  • Different perspectives result from changing the Point, the View, or Both.

“Perspectives can be used to make us expand our thinking and include more options (i.e. divergent thinking). It can also be used to restrict our thinking and cause greater focus (i.e. convergent thinking).” – Derek Cabrera

Fill in Gaps Through Systems Thinking

“Systems Thinking requires little more than practice in building cognitive building blocks. It is no different than building with different types of Legos, or the four different nucleotides in DNA.” – Derek Cabrera

Let’s look at how to use some of the tools in Systems Thinking v2.0. The first technique we will look at is called a Cognitive Jig. This is a powerful technique, one in which Derek informs us,

“Will increase our speed of thought.”

Types of Cognitive Jigs

  • Analogy. An analogy is the comparison of two things demonstrating similarities. Derek informs us,

“The genius behind the invention of analogies was that they gave us a mental model of a common way we understand things (i.e. by comparison to a known thing).”

  • Metaphor. A metaphor is used when we need to make a comparison between two things that are not alike, yet have something in common.
New Cognitive Jigs

  • Perspective Circles (P-Circle). P-Circles change the point (a) or the view (b) which changes the perspective. Another way to look at it is from an idea (b) from the perspective of an idea (a).
  • Part-Parties. They demonstrate a whole made up of parts. The basic idea is: 1) Break an idea or thing into parts; 2) Relate the parts. These can then be extended further by including perspective.
  • Barbells. You can look at Barbells as two ideas or things and the relationship between them. Expanded further, we find what is called an RDS Barbell, where: R = Relate; D = Distinguish; and S = Systematize. Derek calls these “algorithms for innovation.” He uses RDS Barbells in solving wicked problems as complexity is hidden in the interrelationship between ideas.
Tools to Help You Adapt Systems Thinking

Lastly, let’s take a brief look at some of the tools Derek and Laura have created to assist us in understanding and using Systems Thinking v2.0.

MetaMap. This platform was created to help us understand exactly how to map our thinking process using DSRP. You can even use it to map an outline to an essay! Best of all, this platform is free to use, you can try it out here: MetaMap

ThinkBlocks. These are 3D dry erase blocks that anyone of any age can use.

ThinkQuiry. This website uses what Derek refers to as “MadLib” style DSRP questions. These can be useful in helping us use the structure of DSRP to discover new ideas. It utilizes the Socratic Method and focuses on the questions more than the answers. Start to discover new ideas on ThinkQuiry.

If you can’t tell already, I highly recommend purchasing Systems Thinking Made Simple: New Hope for Solving Wicked Problems. Derek provides us a way to literally generate new and amazing ideas. There are an infinite number of thoughts in our mind, and an infinite number of systems we can use to explore our thoughts. Systems Thinking v2.0 provides us a powerful way to explore our thoughts.

Furthermore, Derek places everyone on a Consciousness and Competence Continuum. He describes the continuum as:

  1. We begin at the unconscious incompetence stage (we don’t know what we don’t know).
  2. If we are lucky, someone wakes us up and causes us to search for something more. We then move into the conscious incompetence stage, where we realize we have something we need to learn.
  3. Once we develop some competence, we then move into the unconscious competence stage. Here we practice a skill without being fully aware of the skill. There is some cognition, just not metacognition (thinking about thinking or cognition about cognition).
  4. When we finally move into the conscious-competence stage, we become aware of what we are doing so that we can adapt to where we need to be.

Successfully progressing along the continuum means we have an increase in our metacognitive awareness, which is extremely important as everything we experience is an ever-changing mental model.

Derek’s vision for Systems Thinking v2.0 is to develop 7 Billion Systems Thinkers! Let me end this article with three questions. These are the same questions Derek used to develop his vision and you can use it to develop yours.

  • Question #1: What pisses you off the most?
  • Question #2: What do you see today?
  • Question #3: What should you see tomorrow?

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference [1] ^ Derek Cabrera: Systems Thinking Made Simple function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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Hidden Lower Back Pain Causes that Make People Suffer

14. September 2017 - 13:00

I’ve recently trained a guy that is complaining about back problems. This person is completely young, muscular and mentally fit.

He is not working on a desk the whole time. He works in a job where he’s required to stand up. He’s even going to the gym frequently for years. What he truly lacks though is awareness of his own body.

What Really Causes Lower Back Pain

There are multiple causes that could lead to your pain. Your back pain could be caused for example by stress, diet, sitting or lack of physical activity to name a few. But the root cause is often simply a faulty proprioception. People are not aware about their position of their back.

Speaking of the guy in the gym, whenever I told him he should keep a straight back he couldn’t do it on his own. I was asking him if his back was straight while doing a certain movement and he told me that he thought it was. But it wasn’t.

This person wasn’t aware of his own body movements. This may sound strange but this phenomena is all too common. I once spoke with a Salsa dancer, that told me that the teachers struggle a lot to teach their students certain dance movements because the students are basically not aware of themselves.

This faulty self awareness can lead to a constant bending of your back, without you even realizing it. This is extremely damaging for your spine in the long-term. especially if you’re training in the gym and lifting a lot of heavy weights with a bended back. You’re damaging your spine over and over again. As said in my previous article, back pain is a cumulative trauma disorder. Back pain develops over time.

I suffered from back pain too. The reason why I’m not suffering from back pain anymore, is definitely partly because of bettering my self awareness.

I realized that every time I’d work out and do the back squats I would go so deep that my lower back would be slightly bended. I would wake up the next day after my training and would feel pain in my spine. I thought this was a normal part of my leg day routine. I was wrong.

Only later did I realize, during my Certification program, that I’m doing that exercise wrong. When a prof came up to me and asked me if I’m feeling any pain in my lower back, I was embarrassed but I had to agree.

How To Check Yourself

The only way to resolve a problem is to first realize that there is a problem. You could tell an alcoholic every day that he should drink less, but if he himself doesn’t realize that he has a problem, your suggestions are worthless.

I recommend people to talk to a certified Fitness Coach whenever they’re trying to minimize their back pain. Simply ask your coach that he should take a look at you while you’re sitting down and standing up from a chair. Also he should take a look at your workout routine. If he realize that your back is bending constantly, he should show you how to keep your back straight the whole time. A bended back is a warning sign and should be resolved immediately.

If you realize that you’re lacking self awareness, don’t beat yourself up over it. Move on. It can be fixed if you work on it.

I didn’t even realize that my lower back was bending at a certain point. I didn’t have enough self awareness to realize that. Few of us have. That is why it’s so crucial to have another person literally watching your back.

The young person that I’ve talked about in the beginning made a very important decision. He signed up to a gym and hired a fitness coach that took a look at his daily movement habits. This is crucial, I’m glad to say that he’s already improving. You could simply ask your spouse or a friend, but remember that the advice will not be as professional.

Are you bending your back while you’re doing daily tasks? Like lifting up a pen? If yes, try to fix them as fast as possible. Once you’ve fixed them and you’ve bettered your self awareness, focus on the other tasks.

What’s Next After Realizing the Problem

We start with fixing our self awareness because it’s usually the part that deals the most damage to your spine. It’s also the part that is the hardest one to change. Change your proprioception first and all the other habit changes will be easy. Like getting your diet in order, stop sitting, start stretching and exercising properly.

If you’re looking for ways to relieve your back pain, check out my other articles:

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Simple Stretching for Lower Back Pain that You Can Do At Home

13. September 2017 - 14:30

Stretching for lower back pain is a very common practice. Most people do it straight in the morning, right after waking up and are often implementing a far too rigorous stretching routine.

This is not the best way to do it. Stretching can be a great tool in improving your lower back health. But what if I tell you that the way you’re stretching could actually cause more trouble instead of preventing it in the long-term?

The Golden Rules Of Stretching For Lower Back Pain

‘Primum non nocere.’ / EN: ‘First, do no harm.’ – Key principle in medicine.

If you have lower back pain, stretching is generally a good idea. But remember to keep certain principles in mind. You don’t want to harm yourself. You want to effectively ease your pain.

  • Always stretch warmed up. Remember, you’re damaging your muscles when you’re stretching. Make sure your muscles are warmed up so they’re able to deal with stress better. To warm up, simply go walking in fast pace for 10 minutes before you start to stretch.
  • Stretching in the morning is a complete No-Go. Your discs of your spine get soaked up over night. They’re increasing in volume. That’s why you’re few centimeters taller in the morning. Being tall might be great, but due to this circumstance there’s also more pressure on your vertebraes during those first 1-2 hours. This is the time that your discs spend in that soaked up state. Don’t stretch during that time frame. Your spine could be damaged more easily.
  • Don’t stretch every day if you’re a beginner and don’t stretch too hard. Remember that stretching puts stress on your muscles and joints. In the beginning your body needs time to adapt to the damage. Start with 2-3 times a week for the best results. Also don’t stretch when your muscles are sore.
  • Don’t focus entirely on your lower back. Yes you might feel pain in the lower back region, but this doesn’t mean that the pain stems from there. Everything is connected in your body. You have to think of your body as a system. Lower back pain could stem from tension in your upper back or even your heels. Don’t just do lower back stretches, make sure your organism is healthy overall.
  • Keep a straight back. I see people trying to stretch their hamstrings with a completely round back. Don’t do that. You’re hurting your spine more than you’re helping it. Keep a straight back – or better – choose a position where having a rounded back is impossible. Such as in the stretching exercises that are following.

The Stretching Exercises

The exercises following are divided into two different categories:

  1. Removing pressure from your spine
  2. Stretching the muscles in your body to remove damages during the day.

Impaired flexibility is seldom the root cause for lower back pain. Yes you might feel some pain relief doing it short term, but this is simply because of the increased blood flow to the damaged tissue. Most lower back pain stem from problems of your joints and bones, things that stretching only has a minimal effect over. Nonetheless stretching adequately and regularly can reduce the pressure on your spine in the short and long-term.

3 Ways To Remove Pressure From Your Spine

Hold these stretches for approximately 20 seconds until you feel less pressure on your spine. At best do them after sitting for a long work day. This can be truly energizing.

Elongating Your Spine – No Equipment Needed

With this stretching technique you’re elongating your spine and stretching your chest muscles. Try to make your spine as long as possible. Just make sure to not overextend it in the other direction. Have good posture during the entire stretching.

Elongating Your Spine – Ball Technique

This stretching method is also taking away pressure from your spine. This is a little bit more difficult than the previous exercise, as you have to deal with instability. Make sure your belly button is the highest point of your body in this movement. Training on this exercise ball is also a great way to train the stabilizing muscles of your back.

Elongating Your Spine – Inversion Table

This is the most advanced and in my eyes most effective version of taking away pressure. You’re basically turning yourself upside down on an inversion table and hold for a couple of seconds. This takes the effect of gravity away. Your discs can recharge. Inversion Tables start at about 100$.

3 Ways To Stretch Spine Healthy Muscles

Hold the tension in these muscles for about 1 -2 minutes. Aim for two sets in the beginning.

Chest Stretch – Bat As Equipment

This is an easy stretch of your chest muscles. Performed with a bat. You can easily do this exercise by having the palms of your slightly bended arm pressed against a wall. Stretching the chest muscles will improve your posture and therefore dampen the long-term damage a bad posture has on your spine.

Hamstrings Stretch – No Equipment Needed

Most hamstring stretching technique only work if you keep your back bended. This is a great alternative. By laying on the ground you make sure you always have good posture. Grab your leg just under the knee cap, then slowly bring it into a fully stretched position.

Hamstrings Stretch – Towel Or Band

This is the same hamstring stretch as before. But here you’re using a towel or a band to increase the stretching effect. This is my personal favourite. Tip: For Beginners, put the towel or the band around your achilles tendon, not around your foot. This will ease the pain.

Stretching is a great way to improve your lower back health. By following my advice and stretching exercises suggested above, you will ease your lower back pain and experience a healthier back.

If you want to find out more ways on relieving lower back pain, check out my other article What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

Featured photo credit: http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Legs-Yoga-Sports-Girl-1146277 via maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com

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The CEO's Secret To Moving Up the Corporate Career Ladder

13. September 2017 - 13:30

Let’s face it, many try to climb the career ladder, but few succeed.

As the CEO of Lifehack, I’ve seen a lot of employees trying to rise higher in their career, but unfortunately, the majority of them fail.

What causes people to fail? In my experience, many of the people failing acted too aggressively – putting the bulk of their emphasis only on opportunities where they believed they could get promoted. On the other hand, some failures were too passive. They just did their jobs, while secretly hoping that they would get promoted one day. It rarely works like this.

After many years watching the winners and losers, it’s clear to me that putting exclusive focus on climbing up the career ladder leads to failure. When a person’s eyes are on the ultimate result only (to be at the ‘highest point’ in their career), they tend to neglect important things like: personal growth, skills development and cooperation with other people. Not only do they neglect these things, but they fail to realize that these things are actually essentials for rising high and attaining recognition.

The Five Essentials for Climbing the Ladder

I’ve spent considerable time thinking about the fundamentals of career success, and it’s my belief that you must practice the five steps below if you’re to make your way up the career ladder.

1. Start with a blueprint in your mind.

Do you know what your goals are? If not, you must take some time to identify them. Only once you precisely know what your goals are will you be able to see what it takes to get there.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the size of your goals, but instead, set milestones and deadlines to motivate you to get things done. If necessary, break down big goals into small components.

By doing the above, you’ll have a blueprint in your mind that will allow you to stay focused and motivated.

As an example, if your goal is to be a professional musician, then you should devise a plan to reach that goal. It could look something like this:

  • Enrol in a full-time, professional music course.
  • Learn everything you can about music and your chosen instrument.
  • Spent a large chunk of your spare time in practising your chosen instrument.
  • Collaborate with others to build your skills and confidence.
  • Seek ways to make your playing, appearance and personality stand out from the crowd.

A blueprint is a vital component for success – helping you to plan ahead, and keep track of your achievements.

2. Based on the blueprint, work hard and work smart.

To achieve your goals, you’ll need to work hard. However, that doesn’t have to mean working long hours. You should seek to work hard – but work smart too. This means putting effort, determination and focus into your work.

In other words, make every hour you work count. Everything you do should help the company and yourself grow.

You should also seek to contribute more, because this opens you up to additional learning opportunities – which will help you to grow.

How to work smarter? Take a look at the time most people waste going through their emails. It can be hours a day. You can work smarter in this area by utilizing folders, color-coding and auto-responses. By implementing these functions, you can cut down on the amount of emails you receive, easily prioritize your emails, and make searching for old emails much simpler. All of this saves you time to get on with your real work!

3. Initiate more, don’t just execute.

Do you go beyond what’s expected from your role? If not, you definitely should.

For starters, make sure that you think often about what you can do to improve your work. Don’t just act according to what’s assigned to you. You should also provide feedback, opinions and ideas that will stimulate others.

Don’t overestimate your own abilities, but do ensure that you go beyond your duties when you can. However, by doing this, you must be prepared to open yourself up to more possibilities for failures and mistakes. To counterbalance this, you will also have more lessons to learn from.

Think of it this way, if all you do is the work given to you – then you will fail to impress your management team. For senior roles, managers will want go-getters who know how to take calculated risks and use their initiative.

4. Align your efforts with your company’s goals.

Your company’s strategies and goals may change once in a while, so it’s important that you keep up-to-date with them. Try to align your effort with these goals, or ask your company about how you can align your work with the direction in which the company is traveling.

At Lifehack, team members constantly review their tasks and priorities to ensure that they are aligned with the company’s current strategies and goals.

When your goals are aligned with your company’s goals – your efforts will directly contribute to the company’s direction, and the results will be stronger and more effective.

5. Become an expert at something.

Your skills and knowledge should be valuable resources to others. To help increase this, besides job-related skills, build skills that are outside the remit of your job. By doing this, you’ll open yourself up to more opportunities, including, mentoring possibilities and advancement.

For instance, imagine that you work as an office administrator. The job mostly involves paperwork such as spreadsheets and letter writing. As you are determined to climb the career ladder, you choose to enroll in your own time in a course in office management. Here you learn vital skills such as health and safety rules, supplier coordination and people management. With the extra skills, you find yourself ideally-placed to snap up any office management vacancies that come your way – either within your company, or within a different company.

The Four Pillars of Success

I’ve covered the five essentials for climbing the career ladder, but now I want to add some more tips to help you succeed.

1. Be a good team player.

Besides working on tasks, work on your relationships. This means supporting your co-workers, and mentoring them if necessary.

If you can learn to work well with others, then you’ll quickly find that your work relationships become stronger and more positive. An unexpected benefit of this, is that with better relationships, you’ll find it easier to influence others. (This is a required trait if you’re to be successful in your chosen career.)

A further benefit of harmonious relationships and teamwork, is that more work will get done – and it will be of a higher standard. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “Two heads are better than one.” In most cases this is absolutely true. For example, if you need to come up with ideas for your company’s annual staff conference, don’t try to do it all by yourself. Instead, ask a colleague or two for their input. You’ll most likely be amazed at what they come up with!

2. Be generous.

To be the best employee you can be, stay honest and communicate openly. You should also face challenges with others together – and celebrate good results with others too.

Share tough works, and share credits. This is how you build good relationships with people you have to work with every day.

I remember watching a colleague of mine (some years ago) being extremely generous with his time and knowledge when we had several apprentices in the office. He was super-passionate about wanting the apprentices to learn as much as possible, and to help them prepare for their working life. He must have done something right, as one of the apprentices ended up working for us!

3. Network wisely.

There is a basic truth in the world of business. The more people you know, and who know you (and like you) – the more opportunities you will encounter.

So, to help you succeed in your career, get out and about and meet people. Of course, make sure that you’re meeting the right ones – people who inspire you to grow, and people who you can exchange ideas with.

Let’s say you work as a freelance graphic designer. Your workload is okay – but could be better. One way to potentially increase the amount of work offers you receive, is to join a local business networking club. Often these are an informal breakfast gathering of local business owners. As you chat over your coffee and croissant, you’ll be putting yourself and your services directly in front of people who may want to hire you. Try it and see!

4. Keep a record of your own achievements.

When you don’t keep your accomplishments in a paper or digital file, you may forget them.

Your achievements should be measurable and quantifiable results that help to keep you focused and on track towards your major goals.

Another benefit of keeping a record of your achievements, is that you can present this to your current (or future) boss, enabling them to easily and clearly see what you have accomplished.

While pen and paper may be all you need, I personally recommend you take a look at some of the dedicated goal tracking apps, such as: GoalsOnTrack and Lifetick.

Put the Principles into Practice

If anyone tells you that there is a super-fast way to get to the top of the career ladder – it’s a lie.

Growth is the foundation for climbing higher; and growth takes time. That “super-fast way” doesn’t allow for growth in a person. However, while it takes time to grow, there are ways to accelerate growth. How? By practicing the principles I’ve discussed above.

Whatever your chosen career, keep learning and putting in effort to everything that aligns with your goals. In time, you’ll reap the rewards.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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The Fallout of Not Facing the Toxic Behaviors of a Selfish Friend

12. September 2017 - 14:00

Back in high school, my best friend and I would hang out all the time. We were in the same grade, we lived pretty close to each other, and we shared a lot of interests – tennis, the piano, and reading. We spent hours and hours talking about everything. She was smart and easy to talk to. But the problem was, she only seemed to care about herself. So when I wanted to share problems or successes in my own life, she was totally uninterested. Hanging out with her only left me feeling sad and lonely.

It can be hard to identify toxic aspects of any relationship. But just because you see your friends often doesn’t mean you’re not lonely. Toxic behaviors turn your good intentions into vain acts. Selfish friends will focus far more on their own needs, neglecting yours. While hanging out will be fun for a while, they will consistently drain your energy and leave you feeling abandoned.

The Flawed Ways to Handle a Selfish Friend

Imagine a friend who is constantly minimizing your own life stresses and always talking about troubles in his own love life. You have a deadline coming up when he calls you one evening. You explain the situation to him and ask if you can talk another time. Outraged, he yells and gives you an ultimatum. He doesn’t want to hear from you again.

You have a lot of ways you might respond to him. These are some common ways people use to deal with such relationship.

1. Take In Everything

Many people simply accept the toxic behaviors by staying silent and sometimes even enabling them. You might call your friend back, apologize, and give him some time to talk about his latest disastrous date.

This is the path of least resistance, so it’s easy to fall into this kind of pattern.

But this isn’t a real solution. By accepting your friend’s toxic behaviors, you hurt your own ego, feel sad and more stressed in your personal life, and overall feel like your friendship is extremely turbulent. Sacrificing your own needs won’t fix anything. Gradually it will start to take a toll on your mental health and make you feel depressed.

2. Cast Shadow Upon Others

Another option is to steer into the skid: mimicking the friend’s selfish behavior when you hang out. It feels better to do this than to be victimized. But by doing this, even unconsciously, you become the toxic friend in other relationships. It’s harmful to you as well as the friendship.

Imagine that, in response to your friend’s selfish behaviors, you also start behaving this way to everyone in your life. Instead of giving your friends space when they need it, you demand all of their time for your problems. You feel like you’re always forced to take your friend’s bad behaviors, so you take it out on your friends, family, and your significant other. This vicious circle will harm everyone in your life and only spread the selfishness onward like a communicable virus.

3. Cut Ties Sharply

Finally, some people sharply cut ties with their toxic friends. While this will get rid of your problems, it doesn’t really fix them. What’s more, your selfish (ex-)friend may not understand your motivations or actions and return with passive-aggressive behaviors.

If your selfish friend suddenly can’t get in touch with you for weeks upon weeks, they will feel totally confused and abandoned. Think about how they might react — not just with confusion, but anger. They may lash out at you in other ways, perhaps talking to mutual friends about how selfish you are, or trying to get in touch with you even more aggressively. This too can take a mental and emotional toll on you. Avoidance isn’t the answer.

Real Solutions to Save the Friendship

Lots of people want to fix toxic relationships with band-aid fixes, but band-aids don’t fix relationships. To deal with feelings and relationships, it takes time and effort. These are the real solutions to deal with a selfish friend and genuinely fix your friendship.

Openly talk about your feelings with your friend.

Let them know how their actions have been harming you personally. Be specific but kind here. It’s important to communicate that you want honesty and that you’re committed to sustaining and improving the friendship.

Share your personal boundaries.

Explain what exactly it is that you need from your friend in order to make the relationship feel equal. For example, you might tell your friend that you can’t always talk on the phone late at night when you have deadlines. Don’t tell them that you can’t ever talk on the phone late at night, but explain that you need them to give you space when you are stressed or busy.

Listen openly and be willing to compromise.

Be open to hearing their honest feelings and reactions to what you are saying. It’s possible that their actions might be related to your behaviors too. Be honest with yourself and with your friend, and you are likeliest to have the best results.

Finally, if your friend simply refuses to listen to your feelings and clearly has no interest in engaging in an honest conversation, admit defeat. If you can’t fix the relationship, then that’s that. Leave it be, move on, and focus on building and maintaining your healthy friendships.

But oftentimes, a friendship is worth salvaging and you never know how wonderful a friendship can be if you never try. Many friends don’t realize that they are behaving selfishly, and talking with them honestly can really turn things around.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

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How Discipline Makes Children More out of Control

12. September 2017 - 13:00

A 7 year old boy was lost and never found in the woods of Nannae, Hokkaido in May of 2016. The bear infested area was scoured by local authorities, but heart-breakingly, the little boy never turned up.

What was a 7 year old boy doing alone in the forest to begin with? According to his parents, little Yamato Tanooka was left there as a form of “punishment” for throwing stones at cars driving by. Shortly returning after the fact, they realized they had made a grim mistake. Their son was nowhere to be found.[1]

The fate of little Yamato will remain a horrifyingly tragic mystery. But what about his parents? It can be assumed that they had good intentions. They were trying to instill discipline in their son and showed him that there were consequences to his actions.

But they had to learn a difficult lesson: there were even worse consequences to their disciplinary tactics.

How Parental Discipline Goes Rotten

Parents set guidelines and boundaries for their children to ensure their safety, as well as the safety of others.

Effective disciplinary action will for the most part keep children out of trouble. If they know there will be consequences to their actions, they are less likely to break the rules. But as sentient beings, they are able to think for themselves and will test the boundaries. It’s normal for children to act out and be a bit naughty from time to time.

The older the children get, the more gifted they become in thinking for themselves. As they reach the teenage years, they begin to question the boundaries that were set before them. At this point they’ve developed their own sense of right and wrong and begin to reject rules that they think are unfair or unnecessary.

As the growing children begins to rebel, parents sometimes feel that they need to tighten the reigns in order to regain control. But all this really does is cause a rift between the children and their parents.

The Sequel of Strict Parenting

At the early stage, children are too young to make the distinction between right and wrong, so they need that discipline to protect them.

For example: You may put your child in “time out” because they tried to turn on the stove. You’re not trying to crush their ambition to cook or be cruel, you just don’t want them to burn themselves.

But as children grow up, they are able to start making that distinction for themselves. Although the child is growing and changing, parents keep their disciplinary tactics the same. Some children will push back because they start to think independently. Other children will remain submissive, but only because they are afraid of being punished.

Good Children Gone Bad

For those who refuse to accept their parents tyrannical influence, there are one of two routes they will take.

Some will become more sneaky. They will improve their deceitful lying skills to avoid conflict with their parents and still follow their own rules. These children can grow up to be very manipulative and dishonest.

The other outcome is an outwardly rebellious child. They refuse to accept their parents’ discipline, so they act out. Believing that their parents still view them as children, they will try to prove them wrong by partaking in adult activities like staying out with friends, having sex, partying, or worse still they may be influenced by bad people and get addicted to bad things like drugs and alcohol. The more the children act out, the stricter the parents become in order to regain control. It’s a vicious, toxic cycle that doesn’t benefit anyone involved.

Disciplined Children Gone Narrow-minded

The children who remain submissive will ultimately suffer too. Although they always manage to appease their parents, their constant willingness to please can be extremely detrimental to their growth. People who mindlessly follow instructions lack critical thinking skills and struggle to analyze what would be best for them.

These children only know how to follow rules and cannot function without some form of direction. They’ll never rise up into leadership roles because they just don’t possess the skills. In a sense, parents who practice strict disciplinary action are unintentionally setting up their children for failure in the future.

How to Turn Things Around

If parents feel like losing control of their children no matter how hard they try, maybe it’s time to back off a bit. Parents should realize that their once tiny, naïve child is becoming a blinking, thinking adult; and they deserve recognition for this. The harder parents push, the farther they will flee. The only way to bring the children back to the parents is by proving that they don’t just view them as a child. They view them as a human being.

Parents need to be clear about the reasons behind their rules. “Because I said so” just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Speak to the children as equals. Not only will this strengthen the bond between parents and children, but it will also teach the children the concept of respect. As the children grow and change, so should the parenting style.

Rules and punishments don’t make good communication.

No matter how hard parents try, their children will make mistakes. They are only human. Parents need to understand this concept as the child dishes out their punishment.

Explain to the children why they are being punished. Talk to them calmly. Parents should never slam the children with unreasonable consequences because they are angry. The children can see right through it and ultimately respect their parents less.

Give the children the opportunity to make choices. To make mistakes. They will choose the right path simply because they were given the freedom to choose.

Discipline Is the Last Resort, Always

Don’t rely solely on punishment to develop a child into a well rounded individual. They have a voice, allow them to use it. If they talk back, listen. Explain your reasons to them, and allow them to explain theirs. When you reach a common ground, they will be more likely to stand with you.

Featured photo credit: Pexel via pexels.com

Reference [1] ^ Parent Herald: Parental Discipline Gone Wrong: 7-Year-Old Boy Missing After Parents Left Him In Bear-Infested Area As Punishment function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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Understanding Your Partner's Desire Can Lead To A Healthier Sex Experience

11. September 2017 - 21:45

He wants sex all the time. She is never in the mood. He wants to have sex to feel close. She needs to feel emotionally close to want to have sex. He wants physical gratification. She wants to cuddle and feel loved.

These are just a few stereotypes that can be used to describe heterosexual relationships. And while these statements may ring true for some couples, far too often we fall back on cliches which highlight the pervasive belief that men are sex-crazed while women could take or leave sex.

But are we really so different?

Maybe not. Increasingly, sex researchers are concluding that men and women’s sexual desires may be more alike than we previously thought. In fact, it seems that not only are many of the stereotypes I described above just plain wrong, but holding onto them actually can get in the way of good sex and true authentic connection with our romantic partners.

While there are plenty of ways that men and women’s desires are more similar than different, there are three myths that have a particularly negative impact on our intimate relationships:

Myth 1: Men Have Higher Sex Drives Than Women

Many people, if asked who they believe has more sexual desire – men or women – would likely respond men. And that’s because the notion that men are more interested in sex than women is something we learn in our teenage years throughout our adult lives. Plus, we don’t only learn that men have more desire than women, we learn that men should have more desire than women. In fact, many of us assume that if the man in a heterosexual relationship has lower interest in sex than his female partner (or the woman has more interest in sex than her male partner) something is wrong. With him. With her. With their sex life – and maybe even their relationship.

But study after study is finding that women want to have sex as much as men do – and that many women want to have more sex than their male partner. Studies on desire discrepancy in couples (a clinical term for when one partner wants more sex than their partner) have consistently found about a 50/50 split in terms of men and women reporting higher levels of sexual desire. In other words, women are equally likely to have the higher sexual drive in a heterosexual relationship. And most recently a UK study found that as many as 59% of heterosexual women reported having higher desire than their male partner. So the thought that men want more sex than women is simply not supported by sex research.

Myth 2: Feeling Desired is Only Important to Women

Wanting to feel wanted is a huge component of women’s sexual desire. Most women tend to like when their partner tells them they look good, or flirts with them, or makes the first move. It makes us feel wanted and, as long as the desiring is coming from someone we are interested in (or love) it tends to feel great. But a lot of women don’t necessarily pause to think about whether that’s something their male partner would like in return.

However, in my own research I interviewed men about what turns them on, and one of the most common things that men described as a facilitator of their interest in having sex was feeling desired by their female partner. How do men feel desired, exactly? Men described the positive impact of receiving compliments (about their appearance or personality), having his female partner initiate sex and her showing excitement and presence during sex, all of which made him feel sexually wanted. Yet despite wanting to feel desired, most men I interviewed said that their female partner either did not know this was important to them, or simply did not do those things to make him feel wanted.

Myth 3: Women are Touchy-Feely – Men Just Want Sex

The third big thing that many of us assume differentiates the genders is the notion that women like to cuddle and embrace nonsexual intimacy while men just want the physical gratification from sex. But the thing is, both men and women want intimacy that goes far beyond “getting off” during sex.

In my research, I interviewed men about their sexual desire and men often referred to the importance of feeling connected to their partner through many avenues that had nothing to do with sex. Specifically, men described the importance of intimate communication, spending quality time with their partner, watching movies and going on walks, just to name a few. And it wasn’t uncommon for men to say that they wanted these experiences over and above having sex. Yet despite this many men still feel that the assumption that they want sex first and foremost continues to dominate.

So these stereotypes are wrong. Why are they so bad? And what can I do about them?

The reason these gender stereotypes get in the way of good sex is because it pigeon holes both men and women into certain roles that may not be accurate of their true sexual experiences. For example, women who have more desire than their partners may feel they need to “tone it down” or may get upset with their male partner for not wanting to have sex when they do. The other side of the coin is that men are short changed as being sex-crazed and may feel the need to feign desire to meet those expectations. And not being true to ourselves is a sure sign of decreased authenticity and connection to our sexual partner, in and out of the bedroom.

The good news is that increased awareness of the changing norms about men and women’s sexual desire is the first step to changing your sexual interactions with your partner. If you notice that you or your partner may be holding onto any of the gendered stereotypes I described above – ask yourself whether you can make space in your relationship to question and gently challenge those norms.

For example, if you’re a man with a lower desire than your female partner consider whether your lack of interest is just normal human variation instead of spending endless hours trying to determine a root cause of the “problem.” If you’re a woman with a male partner who always initiates sex or compliments you, consider whether you could try initiating flirting here and there to make him feel good too. And regardless of your gender, enjoy and embrace cuddling knowing your partner most likely enjoys it too (and sometimes prefers it to sex!)

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How to Set a Fitness Goal That Will Last?

11. September 2017 - 15:00

Setting a fitness goal is important to keep you on track and keep your eyes forward to what you want to accomplish. The best acronym to help you figure out how to set your goals is the SMART principle. First, you want a specific goal that is clear that you can understand. Second, a measurable goal that you will know when you have accomplished it. Third this goal could be attainable for you.

I will discuss the could part below. Fourth, it should be relevant to you. Thus, you are motivated to do it. Lastly this goal should be set with some sort of time frame in mind. Especially for older adults it is important to continue setting goals to improve or maintain your fitness level. I will use an example of planning to go on a trip to hike the Grand Canyon to drive home how this way of setting goals that will last can work for you.

The More Specific Your Goal Is, The Clearer Your Know Where You Are Heading To

Making a goal to go on a hike somewhere or for a walk is not specific enough. Pick a specific place. The goal of hiking the Grand Canyon is specific. This is a specific place that you can research on how to best prepare hiking at. How many days would you hike it? How much mileage would you want to cover? You don’t to start mapping out the specific routes, a general target can work. Possibly adding that you want to do two moderate difficulty trails and two easy ones can assist you and one of difficult level can help you make the goal even more specific.

Make Sure Your Goal is Measurable, So You Can Recognise Your Progression and Achievements

The goal has to be more than go check out the Grand Canyon for a couple days. When it is set to hike specific difficulty trails of a certain number you have a goal to meet. You will know after hiking those trails that you can check off that goal. Also knowing the number of trails you want to hike and the difficulty you can decide how to decide which trails you hike on a given day. Possibly you would do the one of most difficulty on its own day. Then the following day you can do two easy trails and maybe one of moderate difficulty. Be strategic!

Even before you hit the trails you will be able to track your progress how you are training for that trip. Your cardiovascular endurance to be able to walk a longer distance will improve. Your practicing hiking trails with walking poles will increase your fitness level and also your confidence in navigating uneven terrain.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up! Goals Need To Be Attainable To Be Motivating 

Perhaps there are some mobility problems or you are recovering from a knee replacement right now. Hiking the Grand Canyon may not be attainable in a month. However, setting a goal to enjoy five of the trails of easy difficulty 9 months from now could be attainable. Make that goal high. There is an argument that the goal should be within your reach enough that you have to stretch to get it – but not so high that it is not within your reach. On the other hand if you set your goal out of reach, even if you didn’t reach it you will raise the bar! If you need to improve your balance, then give yourself an attainable date to improve it by. Set yourself up for the success of enjoying that trip and not having to focus on your feet instead of the gorgeous scenery.

Your Reason Is Your Ultimate Motivation

Finding your “why” as to why you want to achieve a goal is important. A why for this amazing hike is to improve your fitness level. Perhaps you are not motivated to just workout at home every week. You see training for this hike as a good way to spark the fire. This goal will motivate you to be more in touch with your body and raise your fitness level!

You Cannot Stay With One Goal Forever

You want to set a deadline or a date for the goal. This time aspect in this instance would largely depend upon not only your schedule but also the weather. Make sure that you are honest with yourself about how long it will take to get in the physical shape to hike all of the trails that you want to hike. You may need to make investments to assist you. Working with a Functional Aging Specialist such as myself can help you improve your balance, agility and mobility for that trip.

Also, that professional has the perspective of useful tools such as proper shoes or hiking poles that can be make the hike less painful for your knees or hips. Lastly, he or she can help you with your plan, keep you on a consistent plan and be your personal cheering section!

When SMART fitness goals don’t work

If a fitness goal is set that is solely based on numbers it can set you up for failure. For instance, the goal is to lose 10 pounds in 2 months. During this time, the focus is entirely on that magic number. That focus on weight loses the big picture of the importance of moving better. I would challenge you that the byproduct of setting a goal of finishing a 5K or hiking the Grand Canyon will still facilitate fat loss when you are sticking to it. In addition, let’s say your goal is the lift 200 pounds. You have succeeded in lifting that amount but your upper body is so tight that your posture is affected. Thus, be careful with making numbers as your goal. You don’t want to have other aspects of your health suffer to meet that number. Think of the big picture.

With that in mind when you set your fitness goals – make it a goal of a kind of test that will show how far you have physically come. Between day one and when you plan to reach your goal you have to line up the aspects of your health, wellness and fitness and make sure that your address each of them.

Your goals are yours – don’t take someone else’s. If yours is to be able to get up from the floor to standing is your goal that is a great goal. Think about the work that it would take to make that happen. As always add consulting your doctor as you are thinking about your goal or after you have decided it. Reach out to Functional Aging Specialists that understand how to work with the older population to help them train f

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10 Revolutionary Products that Make Parenting Smart And Fun

11. September 2017 - 15:00

Most people who have ever lived, have, at one time found themselves fulfilling the role of a parent. You, reading this now may be a parent or will soon be one (otherwise this article might not be super interesting). Every single one of your ancestors, dating back to the beginnings of humanity has been a parent.
Yet, despite this being a parent can be incredibly difficult at times. There are countless little stresses that can make parenthood needlessly daunting and complicated.

Thankfully, there are a number of parenting products out there designed to make being a parent as stress free, smart and as fun, as possible. Here are ten handpicked by Lifehack team members who are parents too.

1. The Lalabu Dad Shirt

The Lalabu Dad shirt makes carrying your baby around town much easier and safer. Traditional baby pouches, whilst secure can be uncomfortable for both you and your baby, and needs significant adjustment as your baby grows.

This is not the case with the Lalabu shirt, it is made from comfortable, breathable fabric that adjusts to the size of your baby. Maximizing comfort and stability. Think of it like the human equivalent of the Kangaroo pouch.

On top of everything else, the shirts themselves are quite stylish, so you can dress well, and safe, at the same time.

Lalabu Dad Shirt, $75 2. Hatch Babygrow Smart Changing Pad and Scale

This smart changing pad will totally affect, and improve the way you change your baby, and keep track of their health. With it, you can get accurate and reliable information on your baby’s weight and how much it is consuming at every feeding. On top of this you can sync the data to the Hatch Baby App for your smart phone to help record this data (and keep track of your baby’s sleep patterns, nursing sessions, and more). As such, in a matter of moments you will be able to tell how well your baby is developing.

It also works as a comfortable, and easy to clean changing pad for your baby.

Hatch Babygrow Smart Changing Pad, $129.99 3. The Aspen Traveler Smart Diaper Bag

The Smart Diaper Bag is both a mobile changing station, and storage unit for your baby’s clothes, socks, and diapers. The bag is easily adaptable, and can function both as a backpack and messenger bag, ensuring that it will always be easy to carry with you.

With this bag, travelling with your baby becomes far less complicated and stressful, allowing you to focus on enjoying your time with your child.

The bag isn’t currently available but you can pre-order your own in Kickstarter now.

Smart Diaper Bag 4. Blooming Bath Lotus – Baby Bath

Bathing your baby can be a very complicated procedure. Though it is commonplace to wash your baby in a sink, they are poorly designed for the job. You have to be extremely careful to do it safely. It can also be difficult and stressful for your baby too.

The Blooming Bath Lotus changes this, by turning your sink into the perfect bathtub for your baby. Its Lotus Flower appearance is both eye-catching, and clever, each petal of the flower can be adjusted to fit your sink whatever its shape or size. Once it has been fit into your sink, it provides a comfortable and soft surface for your baby to lie on, making their bath time both fun and comfortable for them, and stress-free for you.

Blooming Bath Lotus, $39.99 5. Swaive Intelligent Ear Thermometer Baby Thermometer

The Swaive Ear Thermometer, like the previously mentioned Smart Changing Pad, can be synced to a related app allowing you to readily get accurate information about the health of your baby. Also, you can share the app and the information easily with other carers or doctors in order to make sure the health of your baby is being correctly observed.

As it is an FDA approved medical device, you can be safely assured of the accuracy and reliability of your Swaive Thermometer.

Swaive Intelligent Ear Thermometer Baby Thermometer, $19.85 6. Bloom Coco Go 3-in-1 Baby Lounger

With this product, your baby can lounge, bounce around, or rock in the seat in the highest comfort. The lounger has a vibration function, meaning your baby can have a fun time with it, without you necessarily having to be there. Your baby can be entertained for hours and later sleep soundly without moving, or having to be moved. In this sense, though it is a single item, it can function as three.

Bloom Coco Go 3-in-1 Baby Lounger, $125.00 7. Lullaby Sleep Guardian

One of the most difficult aspects of being a parent is being woken up, sometimes many times a night by your crying baby. It is extremely commonplace. On top of being an irritation, it can affect your health and your ability to be the great parent you are.

The Lullaby Sleep Guardian can help you with this, by providing a source of comfort for your baby when it experiences nightmares or night terrors. This has been proven to be one of the most effective, non medication ways to help your baby with night terrors.

It is simple in design, once you have filled in data about your baby’s sleep patterns, it will vibrate at the perfect moment to comfort your baby when it suffers. As such after only a handful of weeks, your baby, and you, will be happier, and better rested. Many pediatricians have recommended its use too.

Lully Sleep Guardian 2, $229.00 8. Flyebaby Airplane Baby Comfort System

Flying with your baby can be a very stressful experience, not just for your baby, but for you, and other passengers. You may once have flown in a plane with a loud crying baby, it is a common occurrence.

Thankfully, with the Flyebaby Airplane Baby Comfort System, this experience may become a thing of the past. It is the ideal travel companion for you and your baby, making sure your baby’s flight is as comfortable as possible from takeoff to landing.

It easily attaches to the seat in front of you on the plane and around your waist, functioning as a hammock for your baby. As such you will be able to interact face to face with your baby, giving your baby extra comfort by knowing his or her parent is close by.

It is fully FAA approved. Your baby, (and all other passengers) will thank you for it!

Flyebaby Airplane Baby Comfort System, $39.95 9. Piggyback Rider SCOUT

If you are a lover of the outdoors, and enjoy a good hike. You might think having a baby will make hiking impossible. Let’s face it, baby harnesses don’t seem to be designed to to suit the outdoors lifestyle and you certainly can’t take a stroller into the woods or mountains. But this isn’t the case with the Piggyback Rider SCOUT model.

Even if you don’t hike, carrying a baby in a harness for long periods of time can be damaging to your back, or can be really uncomfortable.

The Piggyback Rider SCOUT model is incredibly light weight, and is designed to comfortably transfer the weight of your baby to your shoulders. Therefore encouraging a healthier, and more natural posture as well as taking the pressure off your back. With it, you will be able to carry your baby on your back for however long you like, whatever the terrain in comfort.

Piggyback Rider SCOUT, $109.98 10. The Doodle Pillowcase

You may have found that your child, if they are particularly artistic, may have started drawing on walls or clothes. This can be damaging, and potentially ruinous to whatever they decide to draw on. With this pillowcase, your little one (and you!) will be able to draw, doodle, and write to their heart’s content.

Even if your child doesn’t draw on surfaces, this pillowcase can provide entertainment for you and your child as a fun, artistic activity you two can share, something that has practical use too.

They are 100% cotton, and totally machine washable. So you will be able to use it again and again.

Doodle Pillowcase,  $19.95

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