Our Brains Are Predisposed to Misery, But That Doesn’t Mean You Have to Be Miserable

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Do you know any of those beautiful people with supermodel looks who could not stop talking about how devastating it was that they had gained a half-pound or how ugly they look and feel at certain times?

I always wondered how they could look at themselves in the mirror and see only the flaws. Why can’t they focus on the positives? I also wondered what would happen to them if something major occurred — illness, loss of loved ones, etc. — in their lives. Would they be able to survive?

As human beings, we are wired to focus on the negative and give all of the failures, problems and hardships in our lives more attention than all of the good and beauty that surrounds us. It’s just like those beautiful people who will go to extreme lengths to point out the bad while totally forgetting that they are incredibly blessed with good looks.

I have talked a lot about the importance of reconditioning your mind and taking control of your thoughts every day over the years, but I never realized that we were physically hardwired to be negative until I started conducting some research.

Researchers, in a laboratory setting, showed participants identified pictures of angry faces much faster than happy ones. “We have a sixth sense for misery,” as Cracked put it.

So when you fail or something doesn’t go as planned, it’s natural that you begin to think negatively and let those diminishing thoughts take over.

Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, Ph.D., author of Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm and Confidence, states that research in neuroscience is showing that we’re all hardwired to register and remember negative events more quickly and deeply than positive ones.

Have you noticed that you often focus on the negative? Have you ever wondered if you’re just a negative person or if society and the media downloaded so much negativity into the world and ultimately into our brains, that it has become a natural part of us?

“Evidence does suggest that agitation, anger and fear are easier for most of us to access and sustain than peace, happiness and fulfillment, and that a genuinely happy life doesn’t happen without deliberate effort,” writes psychotherapist Tom Moon.

Before you get depressed about all this, remember that you can change your emotions and feelings.

“What this means in practice is that if we are serious about striving for happiness, we need a sustained intention to take the actions necessary to produce it, and we also have to devote regular attention to the positive events in our lives,” Moon writes.

What we think about every minute is a whole lot more important than what most people think it is. Even when they’re the little thoughts that you believe have no meaning at all, they certainly do. Those little thoughts of negativity will add up to big thoughts, which will eventually take over if you’re not attentive to them. Get intentional about experiencing the very best that life has to offer.

Focus on your wins for the day, not the losses. Live in a space of gratitude and constantly give thanks for all of the blessings in your life. Be sure to engage in positive and uplifting conversations with family and friends. In all that you do, make sure to feed the positives in your life. As I stated above, we are wired to be negative and concentrate on all of the misfortunes in our lives, and the media doesn’t add any solutions to that problem.

From this moment on, don’t wait for anyone else or for a certain event in your life to bring you the happiness that you desire. It’s a choice that needs to be made from within, and only you can make that decision for yourself. The power of intention is extraordinary when practiced and harnessed every day of our lives.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

5 Ways to Improve Your Life for Tomorrow

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The one thing we should always do, as long as we are breathing, is to look for ways to grow and maximize our potential.

Here are five ways to improve your life for tomorrow.

1. Get connected with your why.

Connecting with your why will help you to increase your energy levels, think more clearly and be able to overcome adversity and setbacks. Your why is the reason you do what you do on a daily basis. It excites you so you can barely sit still. When you discover your life’s purpose, your why, your life will never be the same again. There is no greater advantage than getting connected with your why.

2. Take your health and fitness to the next level.

One of the biggest mistakes is putting your health and fitness at the bottom of your priority list. I see it all of the time. People will put making money and getting the promotion ahead of taking care of the one body they will ever carry throughout their lifetimes. Little do they know, working on your health and fitness actually helps you to achieve all of those things and more.

Stop with the made-up story of not having enough time or how it doesn’t matter. Your mindset, emotional health, productivity levels and well-being all are boosted when you take your health and fitness to the next level.

3. Take a gratitude walk.

I first heard about the gratitude walk from bestselling author Deepak Chopra. This simple daily practice incorporated into your everyday routine can drastically change your mental and emotional state in an instant.

Whether first thing in the morning, during your lunch break or in the evening, set aside 20 minutes and walk in your neighborhood, through a park or somewhere in beautiful mother nature. As you begin your walk, start to think about all of the things that you are grateful for in your life. Take a deep breath after each acknowledgement and feel the air that is making your life possible at that moment.

It doesn’t matter how big or small, just pay attention to all that you are grateful for while you are on your walk. This is an extremely powerful way to shift your mood and improve your overall quality of life.

 

4. Get started on your one game-changer goal.

When I travel the world, speaking to organizations of all sizes, I encourage audience members to pick one goal that is going to be a complete game changer both personally and professionally — the goal that will completely change the trajectory of their lives when they achieve it.

When you have this goal set and know exactly what you have to do to reach your mark, you will wake up with a burning desire to be better than you were the day before and maximize your output. Most people may have goals, but very few sit down to take the time to think about their game-changer goal.

5. Read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck.

This is a phenomenal book by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck. It provides decades worth of research on how powerful our minds truly are and what separates those that achieve greatness and those that don’t. It has nothing to do with talent. From children to business leaders, I encourage everyone to read this book and rediscover the power of your mind and how to make it work to your advantage.

Our goal every day should be to improve and enhance the quality of our lives. It’s my hope that these five things will help you do just that.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Characteristics of High-Performing Teams

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When it comes to the best teams in the world, whether on the football field or in the corporate arena, they all possess similar characteristics that make them special and different than just the average or good teams that rarely make that jump to greatness.

Here are three characteristics that all high-performing teams instill within their organizations and never lose sight of.

1. High-performing teams are unselfish.

You will never find a championship-caliber team at any level that doesn’t model unselfishness in everything that its members do. Even though the star running back wants to break all the records and the employee wants to earn the big promotions, they put the team first in everything that they do. They fully understand that when the team is better, they will grow and become better as individuals.

Amazing things begin to happen when you have a group of unselfish people that all come together for the betterment of the team. But a team that is completely unselfish is very rare these days because of the individualistic world that we live in. It’s all about glitz, glamor, status and money for most. However, the thriving teams that year after year continually dominate know that those things will eventually come to them if they perform better as a team.

2. High-performing teams operate like a strong family.

Mike Krzyzewski, in my humble opinion one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, once said, “When your organization operates like a strong family, you can’t be knocked out by one punch.”

Walk down the halls of a sports franchise such as the New England Patriots and companies such as Apple and it won’t take you long to figure out that they operate out of love in all they do. These institutions truly love their employees. The employees believe in and absolutely love the organization they work for.

Operating as a strong family and truly loving and appreciating your teammates builds a healthy and thriving culture. Even if employees and teammates don’t hang out much outside of the workplace, they understand that putting the team first and appreciating each other is an absolute must.

3. High-performing teams listen.

An underrated characteristic, but an absolutely crucial one when referring to building strong and powerful teams is the power of listening: Leadership willing to listen to employees within the organization, employees having constant communication with other team members, and listening to the marketplace and current customers on where the company can grow and become better.

Being willing to listen shows that you care. One of the more powerful things that a leader can do to create an exceptional and healthy culture is to let everyone know that there is an open line of communication and he or she is willing to listen. All high-performing teams not only communicate better than most teams, but they are willing to listen more than most teams.

There are so many different qualities and characteristics that make the top teams tick, but the above three cannot be ignored when looking to build a stronger organization and team. Just like anything worthwhile, the above characteristics are not easy and will take some time to successfully implement, but the long-term results and the culture that will be built will be well worth it.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

The Best Thing to Do When You Get Knocked Down Flat on Your Face

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Imagine reaching the top of your profession after dreaming about it since you were a child, then all of a sudden have it completely taken away from you in an instant.

That’s exactly what happened to me when I got hurt in my first game as an NFL player for the Chicago Bears. I was depressed and didn’t talk to any friends or family members for at least two weeks. My life changed forever though when I reluctantly agreed to speak at a leadership event after I received the news that I was going to be out for nine months and reached an injury settlement with the Bears.

That night, I learned a valuable lesson. When failure knocks you down and you are depressed and feeling unworthy, as if there is no way out, you absolutely must get up and get moving! Throughout the years I have had the great privilege to train and work with some of the most amazing sales organizations in the world, and to me, sales is one of the best examples of the importance of increasing action when adversity strikes.

As a salesperson, you are going to get told “no” more than you are going to get told “yes.” For most people, this is tough to deal with. Let’s face it, nobody likes rejection. The average salesperson hates how they feel when they are told “no” so they end up making less calls, visiting less prospects and doing enough to just get by and keep their jobs.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t just apply to salespeople, as ordinary folks from all walks of life have adopted that philosophy for when the going gets tough.

On the other side of the spectrum you have the salesperson who continues to make more and more money regardless of how bad the economy is. The value they bring to both the marketplace and their companies is astonishing. Everyone asks them how they do it, looking for some magical answer or secret, but in reality they aren’t doing anything else except constantly taking massive action, even when the going gets tough.

The best salespeople understand that if they made 30 calls the previous day and received 30 no’s, then they have to make 60 calls the following day to possibly get that one yes. Increasing your action when adversity hits can be a complete game changer for you. It will bring far more results than taking the easy way out. What happens when you increase action is you increase the chance of opportunities coming your way.

It’s nearly impossible to defeat the person who is willing to get back up and keep fighting. Regardless of how devastating your failure is or how much it has you in the gutter, if you are willing to promise to never get complacent and settle, failure and the hard times of life will never be able to place you in the box of mediocrity that paralyzes so many people and prevents them from tapping their inner greatness.

Some of the world’s greatest achievers weren’t necessarily more talented, they just never gave up when they got knocked down on their faces. Whatever it is, just get moving. The whole moral behind increasing your action is to take complete charge of what’s to come.

Most of the time when someone experiences a major failure, they just sit back and wait for life to happen. Over time you will quickly learn that this way of living serves no purpose.

I didn’t know that speaking at the leadership event after I got injured would introduce me to my purpose or help me look at failure in a different light, but it did. It’s all because I made the decision to get out of bed, stop feeling sorry for myself and get moving.

One thing that you need more of when failure knocks you down is self-confidence. Taking massive action does exactly that. Failure in itself becomes a graveyard for so many. The fear of failure grows so strong that any chance of getting started is beyond a long shot. The likelihood of pursuing a dream or passion in life is slim to none.

Failure combined with inaction is extremely deadly and will completely rob you of doing any meaningful work. One of the best things you can do for yourself right now is to decide that you won’t wait for things to be perfect, because things will never be perfect. One of the most surefire ways to change how you feel is to get moving!

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

When Faced With Adversity, Focus on Solutions, Not More Problems

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All too often, the first thing we do when adversity appears is focus on the negatives and all of the problems in our lives. Failure and adversity are only present in our lives to help us, not hurt us. It’s extremely important to never lose sight of this truth.

To turn failure into a gift and grow through the tough times instead of just casually going through them, you must begin to start focusing on ways to actually resolve the situation. Many people let their minds wander toward the negative, which then prompts them to focus on more problems instead of searching for ways to resolve the situation and grow from it.

The individuals and companies that are able to get through tremendous setbacks and actually grow because of them are the ones who focus on solutions, not more problems. Look at Thomas Edison for a quick example. His persistence in continually searching for solutions after facing one failure after another is a prime example of the utter importance of focusing on ways to advance.

Failure is never a final end result unless you make it so. Edison used every experience to get one step closer to where he was trying to go all along. This is the same type of mindset that we need to apply to our own lives and businesses when failure and adversity strikes.

Taking the time to fully analyze your situation in solitude, while focusing on solutions instead of problems, can revitalize your mind and help you focus on where you are headed, how you feel, and more important, how you view failure from that moment on.

If you do what’s easy, your life will be hard. If you do what’s hard, your life will be easy.

This applies to basically everything that we do. What’s easy is to focus on the negative when tough times occur. What’s easy is to focus on the problems in our lives instead of directing every bit of our energy towards the solutions.

We have to remember that what we focus on expands. If we focus on problems, we will get more problems. If we focus on solutions, we will get more solutions.

The next time failure, adversity or a setback knocks you down, make a list of possible solutions for the problem at hand. You don’t have to know the ins and outs of every single thing, but right when a solution of some sort comes to mind, immediately write it down.

The essence of capturing solutions and then putting them to paper activates our brains. We start to think of more ways to overcome our current hardships and how we can grow from the situation at hand. Once we have a list of 20 to 30 solutions, the next objective is to decide which solution is best and getting to work on putting that solution into play.

If you think long and hard enough, regardless of how bad your situation may be, the solutions are there. This type of thinking can be a total game changer for you and your business.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Don’t Fool Yourself: Your Best Work Is Still to Come

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It’d be tragic to think that your life’s best work is behind you.

The people that think their best work has already been completed and that nothing greater lies ahead for them stop dreaming, creating and ultimately thriving. A permanent barrier is cast over their lives that will forever limit them from reaching their full potential.

Trust me, I know how hard it can be to actually come to the realization that there is something greater in store for you when you are struggling to even keep your head above water and simply survive.

Whether your business is failing and you are beginning to lose all self-confidence or something occured in your personal life that is carrying over and negatively effecting you in every other area of your life, you have to remind yourself that your life’s best work is still in front of you.

There are also those who have already achieved a great deal of success but feel that their run is coming to an end. Maybe they successfully ran a business for a decade but things are really starting to take a hit and they instantly start to think their best days are long gone. This way of thinking then paralyzes their everyday work. They shut off their ability to tap into their creative sides, they lose sight of why they started their businesses in the first place and ultimately just coast along blindly not knowing where they are headed.

One of the major causes for someone to think that their best is behind them is the excuse, “I am too old.” It’s unbelievable how many men and women just completely stop dreaming and working towards building something bigger just because of their age. Age is just a number and the only limit that number has over your life and potential is the limit that you set in your mind.

Winston Churchill was 65 years old when he became Britain’s prime minister.

Nelson Mandela was 71 years old when he was released from prison. Four years later he was elected president of South Africa.

Frank Lloyd Wright was 91 years old when he completed his work on the Guggenheim Museum.

Henry Ford was 50 years old when he started his first manufacturing assembly line.

Don’t let a number dictate that your best work and life is in the past. Whether you are 20 or 70 years old, the rest of your life is ahead of you, not in back of you. We can’t change one bit of the past, but what we can do is create the future and build something extraordinary. Don’t let what has happened in your past, whether it’s pain, misery or even at one point massive success dictate what’s in store for the future or what you are capable of.

Understanding this simple concept that the rest of your life is in front of you will have you stretching, growing and expanding to new heights of success and happiness as time goes on. Knowing that your life’s best work is still to come is such an amazing feeling. Your future is bigger than your past.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Don’t Let Those Closest to You Degrade Your Potential

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

“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”

Whether you believe in those sayings or not, an absolute truth that entrepreneurs and business owners can never lose sight of is that it really does matter who we spend our time and engage in conversation with.

I believe in those two sayings, and here’s why: I have lived it. I especially believe in the latter one, because when I was a complete mess and living in a dark, depraved world of drugs and low achievers when I was 16, that’s exactly who my friends were. Then, when I was fortunately able to get myself out and hang around those who wanted to achieve greatness and not mediocrity, my life was never the same.

I now make it a point to hang around those who are more successful than me, doing bigger things than me and have just as big of a vision as I do. This simple shift in how I approach friendship and who I choose to spend my precious time with has been extremely beneficial to the growth and success of my business.

According to research by Harvard University social psychologist Dr. David McCleland, the people that we speak with every day and hang out with on a continual basis determine as much as 95 percent of our success or lack of it. Think about that for a second — 95 percent!

Whether you are wondering if the percentage in that study is correct or not, that’s not the point. The point is who we chose to spend our time with. One of the first things I say to people when they come to me expressing how disappointed they are in life or how big of a rut they are in is to check their inner circles. This certainly isn’t the case all of the time, but more often than not, it’s a leak within an inner circle that has been sabotaging success and the opportunity to get to that next level of achievement.

The sad thing about all of this is that some of the most negative and energy-draining people in our inner circles are family or close friends. I have a very close friend who is on the brink of major breakthroughs in his professional life but hasn’t been able to get over some hurdles that have been limiting his potential. He has come to the realization that this barrier has been his mother and father.

I’m not telling you to immediately get rid of your close friends or cut off ties with beloved family members. However, I am hoping that you start to take a really long look and analyze the members of your inner circle. Are they helping you become the best version of yourself, build your dream life and allow you to live in a positive and healthy way? If the answer is no to any of those key questions, I strongly encourage you to start looking to make some changes.

Your life is too precious to leave any bit of your talent and ability unused due to any negative people in your life.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Simple Ways to Feel Happy

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Let’s face it, we all have those days when we don’t feel happy. Sure, circumstances and certain events in your life can change emotions for the worse in an instant, but the outcome of whether you are miserable or happy all comes down to you.

The power of choice is one of the most extraordinary things that human beings have. We have the choice whether to be happy or sad, and that choice is in front of us to make every single minute of every day.

I learned the power of choice when I was recently walking in downtown Chicago. As I came around a corner, I saw a homeless man lying on the side of the street with a huge smile on his face. What was different about this man is that he wasn’t asking for money or even food. He was just smiling.

As I began talking to him, he said that people think he is crazy, not because he is homeless and has no shoes on his feet, but because he always has a huge smile on his face. He then went on to explain that he has a choice to either be happy or miserable, and he promised himself that he will always choose to smile and be happy no matter how tough his life may be.

This short story leads me to three ways to instantly increase your happiness levels:

1. Choose to be happy.

It sounds so easy and cliché, but as I stated before, the power of choice is extraordinary. A lot of us take it for granted. I wanted to share the above story to give you a clear example of a man who has nothing but still chooses to be happy.

I have seen hundreds of examples of men and women who don’t have as much success, materialistic possessions or status as others but still manage to be incredibly happy. How is this so? The power of choice. They choose to be happy and not let their circumstances or another person dictate whether they are going to be happy or not.

First, you must choose to be happy before you can ever be happy. It’s not an event or level of achievement that brings real and lasting happiness — it’s a choice that does.

2. Live in a constant state of gratitude.

One of the most efficient and easiest ways to increase your happiness levels is to constantly think, express and write down all that you are grateful for. I know your next statement may be, “I don’t have much to be grateful for in my life right now.” I beg to differ.

Every single one of us that is alive and breathing right now has a whole lot to be thankful for. It can be some of the most simplest things that you take for granted every single day, like having the chance to take your child to school, the beauty of mother nature or to just be alive and experience life.

It’s impossible to be stressed, miserable and unhappy when you are constantly paying attention to all that you are grateful for, and nothing is ever too small to be grateful for.

3. Get in tune with your long-range goals and vision.

This is very important because most people’s unhappiness comes from short-term disappointments. This is why creating a grand vision for your life and having not only short-term goals but long-range and lifetime goals is vitally important.

When I experience short-term disappointments, I don’t let them bother me as much because I quickly get in tune with my long-range vision. That excites me and helps me to realize that, hey, this outcome that has me down right now won’t last. I have something way bigger in store for me in the future.

The next time that you are feeling down, get in tune with your long-range goals and vision. If that doesn’t change your state in an instant, they’re not big enough.

Every single one of us wants to be happy. I hope these three easy-to-implement steps can help increase your happiness levels the next time you are feeling down.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

 

3 Guidelines for Creating a Support Group That Will Push You to the Next Level

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A mastermind group with the right people can do incredible things for your personal and professional lives.

You can have a mastermind for every area of your life. There are masterminds where business owners and CEOs get together quarterly or yearly to discuss their current challenges and ways they can enhance their companies’ growth. Then you have personal masterminds, where people get together to help them become better in their marriages and with their families or help each other achieve personal goals and be a voice of support.

I have a mastermind of five close friends who are all doing exceptional things and looking to get to the next level. We reflect with one another, laugh together and support each other. The type of impact this mastermind has had on my life is something that is very hard to put into words.

There have been several times where something didn’t go as planned or failure unexpectedly came knocking on the door and the collective input and support I received from those in the mastermind led me to see things in a different light. That’s what masterminds are for — not only to talk about your goals and find ways to become more successful, but to reflect and be honest about what is going on in your life so the group can come together to create solutions.

I strongly encourage you to gather four to six people that you trust and share your drive to be great. Here are three guidelines to think about when you are in the process of creating your own mastermind group.

1. Find out what the overall objective is.

This is important especially in the beginning stages of creating a mastermind. For example, is your group going to be focused on the personal or professional side of things? Is there a specific theme for the mastermind?

 

These are just a few questions to help get the ball rolling for you, but finding out the overall objective is a mandatory process to get things moving in the right direction.

2. Choose carefully.

Be extra picky with the potential candidates for your mastermind. You want the other people in your group to be positive, motivated and hard-working individuals who really do want to take their lives to the next level.

Imagine getting your mastermind set up, and when you come together you have someone who is constantly being a Debbie downer about everything. Even worse is someone who tries to belittle a goal or dream of yours that you share with the group.

3. Meet regularly.

It’s one thing to create a mastermind, but it’s a whole other thing to actually meet on a regular basis. It does you no good to meet every other year or hardly ever talk to one another. Whether you meet quarterly, monthly or have weekly conference sessions, just make sure to meet regularly.

My mastermind consists of people who don’t live in the same city as me, but we don’t let that stop us from meeting regularly. If you have to, conference calls as a group can work as well. The bottom line is to make sure you and everyone involved in the group does whatever it takes to meet on a regular basis, even if that means going virtual every now and then.

These are just three ways to help you get started when you are pondering where to start getting your mastermind up and running. Creating a mastermind can do exceptional things for your life. It can provide new perspectives. Don’t wait any longer to discover the phenomenal benefits of having a group of your own.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com