My #1 life hack.

Straight up: it’s exercise. Done deal. I’ve mentioned it countless times already but realised I have never dedicated a full post to it, so here we go. It is my greatest life hack.

First, a little backstory, to understand why exercise is so important to me and why I advocate it so. So get comfy kids, it’s story time!

Over the years I’ve had my ups and downs when it comes to being physically active and healthy. From a young age my dad encouraged me to play sports and I tried quite a few. The ones that appealed most were badminton, basketball and football. (Although the latter was mostly high school peer pressure). I was never really athletic in any way and lacked a real sportsman’s spirit, yet I enjoyed it somehow and kept at it. At some point during high school I simply got better at sports. I was never the best but had no aspiration to be the best either. I started getting good grades and most importantly, I started to really enjoy it. Luckily, that development stuck with me.

For a long while the reason I played sports and exercised was because I hated it when people called me ‘skinny’. I wanted to build muscles, hoping that in turn I’d become more confident as well. A common problem among young guys I’m sure, and while there is nothing demonstrably wrong with the motive, it wasn’t the right one for me. It didn’t motivate me enough to keep  at it. The only motivation I ever found to work for me was to enjoy it. As soon as I really started enjoying working on my body and becoming more healthy and fit, motivation was no longer a question. Looking more fit became a bonus, not the goal.

The end.

There’s more! Through being active I realised the importance of it all. I had heard all the stereotypical statements and quotes from people before and have heard them countless times since. It’s so true though.. Exercising is good for you, period.

“Take care of your body, you’re going to need it.”
– Tim Minchin

I don’t mean you have to pump iron or to go for a run every day, you have to decide for yourself how you are going to stay healthy and fit. I am merely talking about the benefits of it all and how I experienced it. Like with all posts on this blog, it’s what you do with the information that’s important. The decision to become more active, get in shape and to take care of my body has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. That’s why I call it the #1 life hack, it has given me nothing but confidence and joy. Back then I had no idea of the benefits and how much positive energy it would bring me. Furthermore, it enables you to face and deal with stress, setbacks and adversities more. You can take on the world.

On a more scientific note, working out releases endorphins. Maybe you’ve ever been on a run or you’ve done a heavy exercise and at some point the physical exhaustion  got to you, but it made you feel great and euphoric nonetheless. This is due to your body’s endorphins. It’s a chemical with just one goal: masking physical pain. You feel great because of the other chemicals that have been released and because endorphins make sure you don’t feel the pain. This also happens when you laugh so much it hurts, your body simply runs out of endorphins. (Without endorphins in our bodies, laughter would always hurt).

If you’re having trouble keeping up with exercising schedules or simply can’t be bothered most of the time, here’s the tip: find a sport/exercise that you love to do. As soon as you start liking it, the question is no longer ‘if you work out’ but ‘when you do the next one’. If running is not for you, don’t feel like you need to run anyway. There’s plenty of alternatives. Exercise is supposed to be exciting, not just another obligation on your to do list. Whatever your goal is, make enjoying it your priority and the goal will become the bonus.

What could help for some people is having an accountability buddy (or a group of people like in team sports). Go do sports/workouts together and push each other forward. If someone else knows your goal they’ll hold you accountable if you don’t show up or don’t do the work. Another way that could help is having a goal you want to work towards, sign up for a running competition or football tournament three months from now, and know you have to work hard to perform well. Again, it’s simply a way to get you moving and active, you’ll start liking it after a while. That hurdle is the first and biggest one. Might not work with the first thing you try, but have a go anyway. I’ve heard countless stories of people who eventually cleared (or literally jumped) that hurdle and none of them regret it.

I prefer working out alone, got my own tempo, music and reasons, and I love it. Also, I haven’t really played a team sport since the Spice Girls broke up so it’s hard to compare the two. But now that I’m more fit, I’d be more up to try something, because I’m confident I could bring something to a team or sport.

So there you go. If you need me, I’ll just be over by the phone waiting for Wenger to call ;-).

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Be your own expert and the power of yet

Everyone’s an expert on something. If you can’t think of one topic, you might be an expert on many. It often depends on your hobbies, interests and what kind of work you do. I live in a house with six people, and with different interests we are all an expert on something. Personally, I’ve got some things I know plenty about but I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an expert on any of them. However, changing the frame of reference to just yourself and the people who could benefit from the knowledge makes you an expert just like that *snaps fingers*.

For instance, I know a thing or two about the English language and friends sometimes ask me for help. However, I’d have a hard time explaining the perfect tense to sixth-graders. I’m not an ‘expert’ in the dictionary sense of the word, but can use my expertise to help others nonetheless.

Point is, take pride in what you know a lot about. Know that those are the things that make you unique, it makes you tick and it makes you worth more to yourself and others. Someone else would love to know the things you know, and vice versa. Also remember: what knowledge you feel you lack now is out there ready for you to learn.

First and foremost: become an expert on yourself. Know yourself. This is the journey of personal development. If you get the basics right and truly know yourself, the rest will come more naturally. Know your strengths and weaknesses and accept them. Realise that you can work on improving all of them. Which leads me to the ‘power of yet’.

A high school in Chicago gave students who didn’t pass a ‘not yet’ grade, instead of a ‘fail’. You can guess the outcome.

Carol Dweck mentioned the above in her Ted Talk: ‘the power of believing you can improve’ in which she talks about the power of yet and how it was used in education. This was well received by the students and can be equally useful for many things in our lives. I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful. It is not necessarily about your grades or achievements, it is the mindset. If you change your mindset into a more ‘not yet’ one, you will find that your own bars will be lower and you will be able to perform more and more. Hard work is still hard work, learning a new skill still takes time. There is hardly a way around this. Nevertheless, your view on what you can do will change when you’ve realised not the things you can not do, but the things you can not yet do.

I feel there are two ways of looking at it, small and big picture:

1) There is a skill or ability that I can’t yet perform, but I’m going to work on it.
2) With the amount of years we have in our lives, how can we exclude so many things from our potential skill set or abilities?

We tend to put unnecessary limitations on ourselves. Or make excuses for why we can’t do a certain thing (yet), some are valid, some are simply for a lack of proper trying. I for one, suck at playing the guitar, no skill whatsoever. I can blame it on my anti-dexterous fingers all I want, truth is, I’ve never really tried. At the moment I don’t really have the aspiration to learn it, but I’m comforted knowing that someday I will be able to play more than the first 10 seconds of ‘Nothing Else Matters’. I’m looking forward to it because I haven’t excluded it from my future skill set.

It’s up to everyone what they want to learn or not. That should be obvious, right? However, knowing your skill set was chosen by you and that you are open to learning more is a lot nicer than believing you have an internal list of things you inherently can or can’t do. The new world has little room for absolutes. You have the power to change it.

I can’t play the guitar and will probably never be an expert. I’m OK with that. Someday l’ll look for an expert to teach me. 🙂

Meet Henrik:

Meet Henrik Edberg from Sweden, his ‘Positivity Blog‘ is simple, inspiring and right up my alley. In many ways he beat me to the punch. Luckily, in the world of people sharing their positivity and excitement for personal development and happiness, there are no competitors.

Henrik writes “practical articles and newsletters each week about simplifying life, reducing stress, social skills, self-esteem and improving your happiness and awesomeness.” Sign up for his newsletter in order to receive the same updates I do. They’re generally short and concise. Sometimes one has a major impact, sometimes it’s just the little pick-me-up you need.

Today Henrik shared the following post: 21 small ways to make life simpler.

The reason I want to share it here is because I recognise a lot of the steps, from personal experience and reading/hearing about it elsewhere. Timothy Ferriss (from the New Rich) also recommends some of the steps in his work. For instance their take on emails and time management are similar in a lot of ways, and rightly so.

It’s a short read, so read it carefully, take in the information and use what you feel is useful to you. (and more)

As our mutual friend Seneca once said:

“Philosophy calls for simple living, not for doing penance, and the simple way of life need not be a crude one.”

Beam yourself up Scotty!

I’ve learned that when you’re happy, it’s good to show that you’re happy. Beam! Showing your happiness only strengthens the feeling. Other people react to you more positively if you’re happy and you are more fun to be around. What’s there to lose? You can make/allow the tiniest happy thought to build up into a most wonderful feeling, putting a smile on your face and making you feel better altogether. Even when you’re in a neutral or bad mood, take those opportunities and turn them into something great. It’s not always easy, mind you, in fact sometimes you just want to feel shit for a bit. That’s alright. As long as you know you have that happy feeling to fall back on, if you try.

You know that moment when you’re Continue reading

Find your edge

Try something new. Find your edge. Challenge yourself.

I am not an innate competitive man, nor do I think I ever will be. I have one main challenger in everything I do, and that is myself. Of all the challenge(r)s in my life, I am the strict one. I had to learn to push myself, to go beyond what I thought I was capable of. Everyone has to, on any level. I’ve heard a friend talking about climbing Everest as a goal, but another friend who took a class in painting nude models just to experience something new. Both challenges but on different levels. In theory, you could do it all.

Challenging myself is where it started. To go further, to learn, to grow and to try new things is a constant exciting battle which I enjoy every day. Continue reading

Rule #32: Enjoy the little things

If you’ve seen Zombieland you’ll get the title reference, if you haven’t; Zombieland is  a gory comedy zombie flick that follows a small group of apocalypse survivors trying to find a life worth living. The main character has a list of ‘rules for surviving Zombieland’, and rule #32 is: Enjoy the little things. (Like finding a Twinkie)

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While we don’t have the undead trying to eat us here in modern day Humanland, we should enjoy the little things nonetheless. Continue reading

Give the 100%

“Find something you really want to do, and give it 100%.”

That was the advice a friend of mine gave me once, it struck me instantly, I realized I had never committed that much to anything. I feel I have now. In the past year I have committed myself to certain things, and it taught me a great deal about myself. Testing your own resolve and finding your ‘edge’ makes it possible to see where you can go, and how much you can push yourself (beyond that). This works both physically and mentally, depending on what activity you choose to give 100% of your effort. Continue reading

Confidently complementing confidence

“Hey there awesome person! You look great today!”

Confidence brings positivity, and vice versa. If you have the confidence to pay someone a compliment, whether a friend or a stranger, you radiate positivity. We all have that friend who is super positive most of the time and is overall generous in his or her praise. If you read that and didn’t relate it to yourself, do so. You can be that friend to others just as that person is to you. That person is generally likeable, and people feed off on that. It is an upward spiral of positivity, and I suggest you take steps toward it.

Some people are naturally confident, others have to work on it and perhaps learn it from others. No biggie, that’s just the way people are built. I had to work on it a lot as well, and both my peers and myself now consider me a confident person. Couple of years ago I never thought I could be as confident as I am today, yet here I am. It can be a long road, but it is oh so worth it.

Now, there are many ways to improve your confidence, Continue reading

Your life purpose.

If you’ve started developing yourself you’ve probably heard of finding your purpose or passion. I hope you have, in any case, I’ve been wanting to write a piece about it myself. I’ll keep it short and use several sources, in the end, you are the one who has to find your purpose. I believe it is a vital step in personal development, as it gives you a guide to discovering who you are truly about, what you value and what you want to do in life.

I have used several ways to discover mine. Some methods worked better than others, and with a few I felt more of a connection to the result than I had before. I suggest you try a combination of several methods. Below I’ll link a few ways to do so. Continue reading

Find your real currency

When reading that title you probably think of it in financial terms, this is not a good or bad thing, it is simply how we’ve got to know it in today’s societal terms. And let’s face it, there is no way around money. It is required in our every day lives. Personally, making a lot of money or becoming a millionaire has never been an ambition of mine. I work to live, not live to work. I used to have a sort of ‘disliking’ towards money, and while I still believe it is something that is focused too much on, I realised there is no point actively disliking something you cannot do anything against. We will always need money in our lifetime, and there will be no alternative for our probable future. If money is your passion, so be it, enjoy it. Personally, I see it as means to an end, nothing more.

What I would like to pursue with this topic though, is a more personal kind of currency. The currency that you value in life and what you would like to earn loads of. Continue reading