Mindset over toolset – Happiness hacks for success in every aspect of your life

This blog post is very personal and has taken me a while to write. I am a self-confessed introvert and use social media to air my thoughts, feelings and experiences. I tend to keep my opinions to myself and ‘people please’ where possible. I have moved continents; changed careers; experienced volatile relationships; struggled with my relationship with food, and, even worse…struggled with my relationship with myself. I have been there where I hated myself – loathed what I saw and how I felt; not wanting to get out of bed and spending vast proportions of my day in tears. Sadly, I don’t think I am in the minority here. In fact, I think the majority of people will struggle with their relationship with food over their lifetime and I think lots of people also go through phases of self-loathing. I do think, though, that the only person who can change that mindset is you. I am not saying it is easy, nor I am saying it can be done overnight ( in fact, I would argue, if you do accomplish it overnight, then it will purely be a monentary relief in your misery). But, I promise you, if you want to be happy, you will get there. In a year, I have transformed my life. There are still aspects that have gaping holes in it – I miss my British friends and family more than I can express – but I am infinitely happier. Instead of focusing on aspects of myself that I don’t like, and wallowing in them, I set myself goals to improve them. I am very goal-oriented and self-aware, two qualities which I think only benefit all aspects of life. My motto: You can only grow your toolset with the right mindset.

1. Learn to be self-aware. When you say something or do something, you often do so with intention, that is, you intend your action to come across in a particular way. Unfortunately, it is not always understood in the way you intended – it is interpreted by other people, sometimes favourably, other times, less so. After receiving feedback at work on a presentation gave, I started recording myself speaking. I was shocked when I noticed some of my mannerisms and facial cues. For example, when I fumbled over my words, I noticed I speak out of the corner of my mouth, something which makes me look shy and incompetent. By recording yourself speaking, you get a visual representation of how you present yourself and you can begin to address what you don’t like!

2. Practice the ‘doorway drill’. This is something I heard on the Tony Robbins podcast, but I think it such a good life hack! Since first impressions are both made incredibly quickly and hard to shake off, it is vital to make a great one! This doorway drill is simple – every time you walk through any doorway, you pretend you are walking into a job interview. You straighten your posture, slap a friendly smile on your face and walk through the doorway confidently. To start with, it takes a lot of remembering to execute, but soon it becomes a natural habit that you practice without thinking.

3. Don’t do things sometimes. Doing something sometimes, I think, is infinitely harder than doing something all the time. Just doing something sometimes requires you to make a conscious effort to remember to do it, including accommodating time within your daily routine. But, if you do something all the time, it become automatic and you just accept it is part of your life. This is why people who start on aggressive exercise or nutrition plans don’t stick to them, they lose momentum over time. Instead, focus on implementing small changes into your life. Focusing on these changes becoming part of your everyday routine will be the factors that help you change and will also alleviate the stress of remembering to do things sometimes.

4. Set weekly goals. I am a big advocate of weekly goals. Everyone wants progress and they want it yesterday. Having big goals is awesome, I love passion and ambition in people. Big goals, though, can require months, or even years, to achieve. I like to break down my big goals into smaller ones, often tiny goals. Some examples of some of my weekly goals include; reducing drinking diet soda to weekends only; adding 1 rep to every set on my squat; to even ordering a new watch strap on Amazon. My weekly goals encompass every part of my life, from the mundane chores to improving health to optimizing gym performance. It is so satisfying the following weekend to scratch off the prior week’s achievements and set new goals for the week ahead. If I don’t achieve one of my goals, I either keep that goal for the week after, or I evaluate whether it is realistic, sometimes breaking the goal down further into an even smaller target.

5. Plan. Having been an elementary school teacher for four years, I can testify that the biggest cause for children misbehaving is lack of routine, or change of routine. Uncertainty is the worst thing, no-one likes an unpredicted outcome. I plan, often meticulously, most parts of my life. I schedule work and personal appointments on a digital calendar that syncs both parts of my life. I set aside Sunday morning to cook the majority of my food for the week so that my weekday evenings I can use to have a lengthy workout and socialize with my family. I use my lunch break for social media and personal emails and tend to post content on social media and browse social media at completely different times.

6. Get comfortable at dealing with uncertainty. Sort of ironic that this follows the previous point, but some uncertainty is inevitable. You are not always going to know what the affect of a word or action is. You are not going to be able to predict every outcome. Learning to deal with uncertainty is a difficult skill; a skill, I would argue, that no-one ever completely masters. I have worked so hard at my ability to feel more relaxed at uncertainty. It can help to write down all the possible outcomes of a stressful situation; it can help to take the dog for a walk; it can help to blast music and sing at the top of your lungs! (I won’t judge!) In fact, there are many things you can do to take your mind off uncertainty. What I have found the most helpful, though, is to be more open and honest with my feelings to a very select few people, notably my immediate family and my very close friends in the UK. To them, I confess exactly how I am feeling, but I do so in a measured, calm way. To everyone else, I adopt a ‘fake it til you make it’ attitude. I communicate my concerns if it is relevant, otherwise, I leave that stressful aspect at home and put on a smile, a cheery ‘hello’ and ask them about their day. The more questions I ask them, the more I have to make sure I am listening and responding and, the less I think about my stresses! I also end up feeling better and often learn something new! Plus, they don’t think I am miserable to be around!

7. Focus on your ‘why’, not the ‘why’ of social media. Simply, focus on what your reasons are for doing what you do. Ask yourself, ‘why am I doing this?’ Anything you can’t, or don’t answer, stop doing them! You don’t have to do anything that doesn’t add to your life and contribute to you being successful and happy. Just because it may seem like everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean it is right, or necessary for you. As silly as it sounds, one of my examples of this is me no longer eating mashed avocado. I really am not a big avocado fan, but seeing everyone on social media doing it, I thought that it was necessary for me to eat for me to be ‘into fitness’. I know, ridiculous, right?! Occasionally, when I fancy eating avocado, I do. I definitely don’t eat it regularly and eradicating this ‘need’ has also eradicated a very unnecessary and very silly self-imposed burden.

So think of these as the 7 deadly sins’ nemesis and, to quote Gretchin Rubin, I hope they make your life a little happier!

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

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