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How to Change Your Mindset and Turn Lions Into Kittens

It is not just our bodies that are a result of evolution. Likewise, it is also our minds and our psychology that have been shaped by the world that we evolved in and that is where a lot of our most unusual behaviors come from.

When we were evolving, we were in far more dangerous scenarios than we were now and we could never afford to take risks. Only the psychological traits that made us most likely to survive were passed on from one person to another and that means that they’re the only ones that matter.
This is why we are risk averse by nature and it is also – unfortunately – why we spend a lot of our time experiencing chronic stress.

The Danger of Ambiguity

Imagine that you were in the wild, looking at the silhouette of some kind of animal sitting on the horizon. You don’t know if that silhouette is of a lion or some kind of kitten… what do you do?
The most pertinent solution in order to survive is to assume the worst. Assume it’s a lion and either freeze or run. The people who take chances would be the most likely to get eaten and thus not pass on their personality traits!

But the problem is that we don’t see lions any more. This is not the biggest threat to your life right now. Instead, the biggest stressors are things like debt, illness, relationship problems and career issues. These are the threats we face that are the stand-ins for the lions and that we now must try and overcome if we’re going to be successful in life.
And unfortunately, we still have that tendency to assume the worst!

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It’s All About Perspective

But here’s the thing: it’s actually all about perspective and it’s all about mindset when it comes to our reaction to threats. If we think it’s a kitten, then we will be able to remain cool, calm and happy even if it is a metaphorical lion.
In other words, it pays for us to reassess our situations and to take control of our anxiety and our stress. When we can do that, then we can remove the chronic anxiety that makes us perform worse and feel worse.

How do you turn your situations into kittens? Simple: you assess exactly why you’re afraid and whether or not there really is a good reason for you to be. Likewise, you can look at contingency plans and coping mechanisms.
 Remember: it’s all just perspective. Change your mindset and you change the reality!

How to Turn Everything Into a Game and Get Better at It

Have you ever wondered why it is that we enjoy games so much? And have you ever wondered why it is that you dislike your job so much? What is the difference between pressing buttons on an Xbox and pressing buttons on keyboards?

The answer may surprise you: it actually comes down to your effort and how much you care.
You care about games and you make the effort because you want to get better at them and because there’s constant variety and plot progression to keep things interesting. This makes you try harder in order to progress and that in turn gives you the feeling of reward that makes the gameplay satisfying.
From a neurochemical perspective, this essentially boils down to the release of dopamine.

Each time you attempt a level or challenge, you first visualize it happening in your mind’s eye. When you then attempt it for real and this then goes to plan just as you visualized it, this will in turn result in you getting a release of the reward hormone dopamine. This is actually highly addictive and that can be enough to make you want to try again – which is why it’s so hard to put down that game of Angry Birds!
That release of dopamine and serotonin will also help to reinforce the neural connections required to perform the task again. This strengthens your likelihood of doing the same thing again in future with perfect technique and generally improves your technique and ability.

When we don’t care about the outcome though, we don’t have this trial/reward loop and as a result, it can end up feeling like a dull slog. To change this then, all you need to do is to start taking things more seriously and actually focus on what you’re doing.

The Most Basic

Let’s say that you have to write something by hand. This is a mundane task and something most of us won’t pay much attention to.

So instead of simply doing it absent-mindedly then, you should instead try to really focus on doing it as perfectly as possible. Try to let the pen flow perfectly as you write and to write with the most perfect handwriting you can muster. Visualize it happening as you do.

Simply paying attention to your writing in this way and making it perfect will then be enough to ensure that you are more engaged and that you get the release of dopamine when it goes well. You’ve turned the mundane into a game. Why? Because the brain loves learning and improving.

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How to Fuel Your Brain With Energy

What is your fitness philosophy?
In other words: why do you train and exercise? What is it that you hope to achieve by being physically active?
Many of us train because we want to look better. Some of us train because we want to be healthier and stave off disease. Others train because they want to perform better at a particular sport or activity they enjoy.
But I have a different reason for training: I train because I want to change the way I feel and because I want to change my mindset. And this is also one of the driving factors behind my diet choices.

Tiredness

One of the biggest limiting factors in most of our lives – one of the things that most prevents us from achieving all that we want to achieve – is tiredness. You wake up in the morning and instead of leaping out of bed filled with enthusiasm, you instead struggle to drag yourself up and to actually start being productive. Then you get home and instead of doing something fun, interesting or productive, you instead just crash on the sofa and watch day time TV. Sound familiar?

Everything you do is less enjoyable when you’re tired. All of your decisions are worse. All of your challenges are harder. And I’m not talking about physical tiredness – I’m talking about mental tiredness. And that’s what you can actually fix with the right training program and diet, unbeknownst to many.

How to Increase Brain Energy

So how can you increase energy in your brain? One method is to increase the strength of your heart. If you do this, then you’ll be able to pump more blood, oxygen and nutrients to your brain, thus allowing it to perform more optimally. How do we do this? With steady state cardio This means the kind of cardiovascular exercise that involves long durations of exercise. A good example is running a few miles twice a week, which can help to enlarge the left ventricle in your heart. This also reduces stress by helping you to lower your resting heartrate and thus produce less cortisol.

Also important is to increase the efficiency of mitochondria. These are the parts of the cells that turn glucose into usable energy and the more you have and better they function, the less tired you will feel. You can increase these with a combination of HIIT training and foods/supplements that are known to support them such as CoQ10, PQQ, l-carnitine and others.

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How to Build a Gratitude Attitude and be Free Right Now

If there is one place where we should be completely free, then it is in our own mind. We might have limitations in terms of what our bodies are capable of and what we’re allowed to do – but our minds should be free to roam wherever we want them to.

Unfortunately, this is not the reality most of us live in. Instead, our thoughts are dictated by our circumstances and those circumstances are largely out of our control. This is why we will often find ourselves feeling dissatisfied and constantly wanting to push forward, rather than stopping to enjoy life and smell the roses.

And without meaning to get political or philosophical, our capitalist lifestyles only reinforce this nature and try to push us faster.

Are You Happy?

Most of us are constantly in a position of slight dissatisfaction. We feel as though there’s ‘one thing’ that could make our lives better and help us to be happier. Maybe we wish we had just a little bit more money, or maybe we wish we had a bigger house. Maybe we want a better job?
Partly this will be encouraged by the media and by the material goods that we want. We want more money so we can play the latest game, wear the latest clothes and post pictures of ourselves on holiday to show to friends.

And we keep working harder and stressing more to try and accomplish these things – in turn keeping the cogs of society spinning.

Making a Change

But now take a think about that game you find yourself wanting. Aren’t there computer games on your shelf right now that you haven’t played yet? Aren’t there free games you could download today and have just as much fun with? Isn’t it just marketing that is pushing you towards that next game and that next expense?

Likewise, ask yourself if having more money would really make you happier. You can travel very cheaply right now – the problem is probably more with leaving work. More responsibility isn’t going to help that!

So how do you make a change and start to be freer and happier right now? The answer is that you change your focus. Instead of fixating on what you don’t have and on what you want, instead start to fixate on what you already have and what you’re grateful for. This is called a ‘gratitude attitude’ and it’s the fastest route to having a satisfying and happy life.

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Have a Vision, Not a Goal!

If you want to accomplish as much as you possibly can, the most important thing to get right is the vision or goal you have to begin with. This is essentially the same as setting your trajectory and without a trajectory, you don’t stand much chance of getting to your destination. Unfortunately, many people don’t know how to correctly write goals and this can end up preventing them from standing any chance of success in their chosen field.

And actually, if you’re setting off to write a goal then you’re starting out with the wrong intent to begin with. Because ‘goals’ aren’t really as useful as visions – which is what we’re going to explore here.

The Difference Between a Goal and a Vision

So what’s the difference between a goal and a vision? Essentially, a goal is something that you write down and that is very concrete and simple. A goal may for example be to ‘lose 10lbs in two months’. That’s a goal but it’s also not as effective as a vision designed to the same end.
This same ambition posed as a vision rather than a goal would instead be more the idea of being in shape. You might visualize yourself looking ripped and feeling healthy. You might imagine yourself going for jogs on the beach with your top off in summer and feeling great about yourself. That’s your vision.

A vision can also be an image of yourself standing in an office block and looking out over the world, knowing that you’re in a position of great importance and power.
This is a much more abstract concept that nevertheless helps you to get a picture of what you want and what the emotion behind that goal is.

Why Visions Work Better Than Goals

So why are visions more successful than goals?
For one, goals are not nearly flexible enough. If you have a goal, then this gives you one thing you’re trying accomplish and only one idea of how to get there. If it doesn’t go to plan then you have the freedom to change the steps you’re going to take to get there, or to bend them to fit your current lifestyle, plans and free time.

Another reason visions work better is because they have more emotional content. When you visualize something, the same regions fire in your brain as though it was actually happening. This in turn means that you can actually trigger the emotion as though it were happening. And it’s this emotion we can use to motivate ourselves to go through with plans!

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