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How to Think Like Elon Musk: First Principles Thinking

By Christian Staal

Most people make judgements and decisions based on conventional wisdom. First principles thinking means discarding everything you think you know, and reasoning up from fundamental truths. This is hard and time-consuming, but sometimes it’s the only way to achieve the ‘impossible’.

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Action Cures Fear

By Christian Staal

Many people are afraid of public speaking, but typically the fear goes away once you start speaking. It’s the same whether you’re afraid of heights, talking to someone you find attractive, or something else. Taking action dissolves your fear.

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The Magic of Thinking Big (chapter 3) by David J. Schwartz

You Are Your Calendar

By Christian Staal

Your calendar defines who you are. What you value should be reflected in how you spend your time. If you say you want to get in shape or start a business, but spend each day on the couch, you are lying to yourself. The calendar, on the other hand, never lies.

More:

You Are Your Calendar (YouTube video) by Tom Peters 

Death Clock (extension for Google Chrome) – Every time you open a new tab in Google Chrome, this extension reminds you how much time you have left (based on your age and the current life expectancy stats)

100 Blocks a Day + Your Life in Weeks (articles) by Tim Urban

Replacing Negativity With Gratitude

By Christian Staal

When something annoys you, find something to be grateful for. If you have an argument with your partner, be grateful for the relationship itself. If something frustrates you at work, be grateful that you have a job. Too often, we get upset by small things. Gratitude gives us perspective.

More:

James Altucher on CreativeLive (interview) by Chase Jarvis

The Power of Gratitude (puzzle.blog post) 

The Power of Gratitude

By Christian Staal

It often feels like happiness is waiting right around the corner (“If only I get that promotion”). However, if you can’t be happy with what you have, you won’t be happy with what you get. Gratitude can boost your happiness. Here’s a scientifically proven exercise you might enjoy: The next few weeks, pick a day, and write down three things you’re grateful for (aim for new things every week).

More:

The How of Happiness (book) Sonja Lyubomirsky, p. 88-91.

Academic articles:

  • R.A. Emmons og M.E. McCullough, “Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well- Being,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2003, 84, 377–389.
  • M.E. McCullough, S.D. Kilpatrick, R.A. Emmons, og D.B. Larson, “Is Gratitude a Moral Affect?” Psychological Bulletin, 2001, 127, 249–266
  • R.A. Emmons og C.A. Crumpler, “Gratitude as a Human Strength: Appraising the Evi- dence,” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 2000, 19, 56–69

Emotions are contagious

By Christian Staal

When you see a happy person, some of the neurons in your brain react, as if you are experiencing happiness yourself. These are called mirror neurons, because they mirror the emotions of people around you. This is why yawning is contagious – as are feelings such as anger, joy and motivation. Who you spend your time with, influences who you become.

More:
Mirror neuron (Wikipedia)

How to Change a Habit

By Christian Staal

Habits consist of three elements:

  1. There’s a cue (for example, you feel hungry)
  2. You do a routine (you eat a cookie)
  3. You get a reward (you feel great)

The easiest way to change a habit, is to let the cue and reward stay the same – and find a new routine to connect them.

More:

The Power of Habit (book) by Charles Duhigg. This book explores the idea deeply.

Good Life Project: Charles Duhigg – Power of Habit (video interview) by Jonathan Fields

What do you carry?

By Christian Staal

Two Zen monks, Tanzan and Ekido, were walking, and saw a woman who was trying to cross a road. The road was muddy, and about to ruin the woman’s silk kimono. Tanzan picked her up, and carried her to the other side. The monks continued, and after five hours, Ekido asked “Why did you carry her across the road? We monks are not supposed to do things like that.” Tanzan smiled, “I put the woman down hours ago. Are you still carrying her?”

Do you still carry something from your past, which you ought to let go?

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Adapted from A New Earth (book, p. 139) by Eckhart Tolle

Let It Go (song) from Disney’s Frozen

The Subtle Power of Words

By Christian Staal

 

Words create emotions, which in turn influence behaviour. Let’s say you want to be more productive. Telling yourself I can’t watch TV all day long” makes you feel like you aren’t allowed to do what you really want. On the other hand, “I don’t watch TV all day long” frames it as part of who you want to be.

More:

I Have to Do It or I Want to Do It? (article, psychologytoday.com) by Timothy A. Pychyl

Why you should say “I don’t” instead of “I can’t.” (video) by Daniel Pink

Sharpen the Saw

By Christian Staal

Imagine a lumberjack who is cutting down a tree with a dull saw. “Sharpen the saw,” you tell him. “I’m too busy,” he says. Many people make the same mistake, when we fail to invest time in activities that increase our ability to be effective.

More:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (book) by Stephen Covey

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