Category Archives: success

7 Ways to Spark Your Creativity

Instant inspiration, courtesy of designer Anna Rabinowicz


1. Read Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis

A rabbit sits in a cardboard box and uses his imagination to transform it into a racecar, a mountain, a robot. The lesson? “Anything can be anything,” Anna says.

2. Go outside

Nature informs most of Anna’s designs: “A pinecone, a caterpillar, some gnarled gourds from a pumpkin patch—the natural world is full of bizarre, beautiful stuff.”

3. Start a collection Continue reading

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Creativity Boost: How to Tap into Right-Brain Thinking

We’ve all heard that we need to tap into our creative right brains.

But how? Martha Beck offers a few fruitful ways to branch out.

by Martha Beck


This morning I sat down to write about how we can all learn to better use the right hemispheres of our brains. For 30 minutes, I tapped restlessly at a laptop. Nothing much happened, idea-wise. Flat beer.

Finally I resorted to a strategy I call the Kitchen Sink. I read bits of eight books: four accounts of brain research, one novel about India, one study of bat behavior, one biography of Theodore Roosevelt, and one memoir of motherhood. Next I drove to my favorite Rollerblading location, listening en route to a stand-up comic, a mystery novel, and an Eckhart Tolle lecture. I yanked on my Rollerblades and skated around, squinting slack-jawed into the middle distance. After a while, a tiny light bulb went on. “Well,” I thought, “I could write about this.”

Duh.

The Kitchen Sink, you see, is one way to activate your brain’s creative right hemisphere. Every writer I’ve ever met uses some version of it, as do Web designers, cartoonists, TV producers—all “content creators” who regularly face the terrifying thought, “Well, I’ve gotta come up with something.”

If you’re not a content creator, wait a while. The 21st century is to content creators what the Industrial Revolution was to factory workers: In a world where information is superabundant, unique and creative ideas are hot-ticket advantages both personally and professionally. More and more people are finding more and more ways to parent, make money, find friends, and generally live well by relying on creativity. I’ve seen this shift among my life-coaching clients. For instance: Michaela develops financial-planning strategies for stay-at-home moms. Mary runs a long-distance mother’s support group via Skype. Alyssa’s innovative T-shirt designs keep selling, recession or no recession. The demand for creative thinking is both a challenge and an opportunity. It requires us to use more than the logical left-brain skills we learned in school. These days, we all need to get back into our right minds. Continue reading

5 Scientific Ways to Build Habits That Stick

by Gregory Ciottiy


Illustration: Jenn Kwon

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Sobering words from Aristotle, and an astute reminder that success doesn’t come overnight. On the contrary, it’s discipline that gets you from Point A to the often elusive Point B.

In our day-to-day lives, habits can often be tough to build, as there are plenty of distractions that can lead us off the “straight and narrow” and right back to our old ways. To alleviate some of those troubles we can examine some academic research on motivation, discipline, and habit building, and break down their findings into actionable steps that any aspiring habit-builder can put into place. Continue reading

Motivation Lessons from the Man Who Ran for 5 Days (with No Sleep)

By Jarie Bolander


photo by David Heger
http://www.photoheger.com

Cliff Young is the most famous runner you have never heard of.

Cliff is a legend among endurance athletes. He made his mark in 1983 when – a sheep farmer by trade – he showed up in overalls and work boots to compete in the Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Ultra Marathon.

Yes, you heard me right. Overalls and work boots.

The Westfield is an 875 km (544 m) running race from Sydney to Melbourne. In 1983 most professional endurance athletes were finishing in about 8 days.

The typical technique for this race was to run 17 hours a day and then sleep for 7 hours. Sort of a ‘big leap then rest’ approach. Cliff’s technique was a little different.

He just ran straight – with no sleep – all the way to Melbourne.

His technique allowed him to not only win but set a new course record of 5 days, 15 hours, and 4 minutes – smashing the existing record by 2 days. These days, almost all ultra-distance runners use Cliff’s ‘no sleep’ method and his unique running style – called the ‘Young Shuffle’.

Cliff’s success was based on the incremental – pushing yourself along, one small step at a time – not fleeting leaps like his competitors.

Now, you may not plan to run 875 km in your work clothes, but when you commit to achieving big things with your life, there will be plenty of times when you need a little extra motivation to keep going – and Cliff is the perfect example to draw on for inspiration. Continue reading

What’s Holding You Back?

If traditional methods aren’t working for you, change your perception.

I noticed the training wheels on my son’s bike were no longer touching the ground. He was riding without them. “Let’s take those off,” I said.

“No Daddy, I’m not ready.”

“Sure you are; let’s give it a try.”

After I removed them, he got on the bike, but couldn’t get enough momentum to stay up and fell right over.

“See Daddy, I can’t do it. Put them back on.”

“Let’s try it again, this time I’ll push.” I grabbed the back of the seat and started pushing him. He was pedaling and riding perfectly, and I was having to run as fast as I could to continue holding the seat. “You’re doing it!” I cried. “I’m going to let go now.”

“No Daddy, don’t let go. I can’t do it.”

I let go, and he stopped pedaling. The bike rolled a few more feet, began to wobble, then fell over.

“I can’t do it. Daddy, please put the training wheels back on.”

He couldn’t see what I saw: that he was already riding without them. He was like a circus elephant tied to a stake in the ground. That elephant is strong enough to push over a tree, yet because she was tied to a stake as a baby – when she wasn’t strong enough to pull it up – she continues to believe it can’t be done. Continue reading

The Shadow Effect

by Debbie Ford


photograph by Richard Brocken

You can view his work…

http://www.saatchionline.com/richardbrocken

Whether you want to believe it or not, you have a dark side. When you start to ignore it or push it aside, it begins to make decisions for you and strips you of your conscious choices. Maybe for you it’s the foods you eat or the mean words you speak, but it’s there. In The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self, co-authors Debbie Ford, Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson shed light on your shadow issues to help you deal with them with compassion, instead of fear.

The conflict between who we are and who we want to be is at the core of the human struggle. Duality, in fact, lies at the very center of the human experience. Life and death, good and evil, hope and resignation coexist in every person and exert their force in every facet of our lives. If we know courage, it is because we have also experienced fear; if we can recognize honesty, it is because we have encountered deceit. And yet most of us deny or ignore our dualistic nature. Continue reading

How to Unleash Your Creativity

Not everyone is the creative type, right? Wrong. Peggy Orenstein uncovers the roots of imaginative thinking.

By Peggy Orenstein

My daughter, Daisy, was thrilled last fall when she was placed in a second-grade class with a special concentration on science and math. I pasted on my best Enthusiastic Mom smile as she chattered about baking-soda volcanoes and lemon-powered batteries, but inside I was roiling. Math? Science? What about her love of writing, drawing, composing music? That school was going to suck the creativity right out of her! They’d turn her into one of those people who talks in a monotone about things no one else can understand! Or worse: They’d somehow turn her into me.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been haunted by the conviction that I am not a creative person. True, I’m a writer, but not the kind who relies on her boundless imagination to make things up. I’m the knitter who’s lost without a pattern, the longtime piano student who was never able to improvise. I can’t even doodle without hyperventilating; I fear drawing the way other people fear heights. Creativity, like red hair, always seemed to be one of those things you either had or you didn’t. Clearly I didn’t.

Maybe you know what I mean. According to James C. Kaufman, an associate professor of psychology at California State University at San Bernardino and author of Creativity 101, a majority of Americans don’t consider themselves the creative “type.” This wouldn’t be a big deal if the self-assessment didn’t tend to become self-fulfilling, but it does: We think we’re not creative, so we don’t cultivate our creative potential and—voilà!—we’re not creative. In recent years, that cycle seems to have become a spiral: Americans’ scores on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, a 90-minute series of visual and verbal tasks administered by a psychologist, have plummeted since 1990.

No one can fully explain the decline; too much TV, texting, googling? Whatever the culprit, experts in the emerging field of creativity studies—a broad array of psychologists, educators, and neuroscientists—would like us to chuck the have-it-or-don’t mentality and start recognizing creativity as basic to human development, as elemental as reading or counting. Creativity can be squelched, these experts say, but if we take the time to better understand what it is and how it works, it can also be fostered and enhanced. Scholars define creativity as the production of something both novel and appropriate. (That latter condition is important from a research perspective: “If anything new qualifies as creative, then the term loses its meaning,” Kaufman says. “Suppose the person you hired to repave your driveway covered it with salami—that would be original, surely, but inappropriate.” Similarly, an innovative design for a bridge would not pass muster if, once constructed, it collapsed.)

By this definition, almost any human endeavor has the potential to be creative. Which brings us to step one in claiming our creativity: becoming more expansive in our own definition of the term.

So many people operate under the default assumption that creativity is the sole province of the arts. I, it appears, am one of those people. Intellectually, I know it’s wrong to think this way. I’m well aware of Einstein, Curie, Gates—not to mention Temple Grandin, James (Mr. vacuum cleaner) Dyson, and the creatively self-amputating guy James Franco played in 127 Hours. Heck, there’s even Daisy and her baking-soda volcanoes.

In my defense, it’s only recently—in the last century or so—that anyone acknowledged creativity extending beyond the arts. The Victorians applied the term primarily to painting; the ancient Greeks, to poetry. For all we know, future generations may consider our own parameters equally quaint. In the decade since advances in imaging technology have allowed researchers to precisely track the way our brains process creative tasks, it’s become clear, for example, that we were mistaken in thinking creativity resides in a single area of the brain. Brain scans of people engaged in different types of creative tasks—visual and verbal problem-solving, artistic performance involving music—reveal that many brain areas are involved. Moreover, domains such as the arts, science, and leadership appear to harness various types of creativity, each drawing on different sets of mental abilities. “It’s a very optimistic finding,” says Oshin Vartanian, PhD, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Toronto, “because we now see that creativity can be exhibited in many different ways.” Continue reading

There’s No Such Thing As An Uneventful Day…

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“Not one day in anyone’s life is an uneventful day, no day without profound meaning, no matter how dull and boring it might seem, no matter whether you are a seamstress or a queen, a shoeshine boy, or a movie star, a renowned philosopher or a Down’s-syndrome child. Because in every day of your life, there are opportunities to perform little kin

dnesses for others, both by conscious acts of will and unconscious example. Each smallest act of kindness—even just words of hope when they are needed, the remembrance of a birthday, a compliment that engenders a smile—reverberates across great distances and spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of this good echo, because kindness is passed on and grows each time it’s passed, until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage years later and far away. Likewise, each small meanness, each thoughtless expression of hatred, each envious and bitter act, regardless of how petty, can inspire others, and is therefore the seed that ultimately produces evil fruit, poisoning people whom you have never met and never will. All human lives are so profoundly and intricately entwined—those dead, those living, those generations yet to come—that the fate of all is the fate of each, and the hope of humanity rests in every heart and in every pair of hands. Therefore, after every failure, we are obliged to strive again for success, and when faced with the end of one thing, we must build something new and better in the ashes, just as from pain and grief, we must weave hope, for each of us is a thread critical to the strength—to the very survival of the human tapestry. Every hour in every life contains such often-unrecognized potential to affect the world that the great days and thrilling possibilities are combined always in this momentous day.”
― Dean Koontz, From the Corner of His Eye

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31 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise from Zen Habits…

From zenhabits.com

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“80 percent of success is showing up.” – Woody Allen

Post written by Leo Babauta. .

How do you find motivation to exercise when you just don’t feel like getting off your butt? I ask myself this question every now and then, and I have the feeling I’m not the only one.

A few weeks ago, I wrote 4 Simple Steps to Start the Exercise Habit … and the fourth and final step was to add motivation as needed until the habit sticks. This post is to help you with that fourth step.

There are a million ways to motivate yourself to exercise, actually, but these are a few that have worked for me. And trust me, I’ve had days when I’ve struggled with exercise. Most recently, the things that have helped include finding a workout partner (one of the best motivators!), logging my exercise, reading magazines, books and websites, and rewarding myself.

Continue reading

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