According to the British philosopher, Alain de Botton, “Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.”
How different is your life, right now, from where you were 12 months ago?
If it’s quite similar, then you haven’t been learning very much. To learn, by nature, is to change and evolve.
In order to change and evolve, you need to regularly create peak experiences — those moments which create deep awe, gratitude, and a shift in how you see yourself and the world.
When was your last peak experience?
What was the last time you flexed your courage muscles?
You get to decide what you’re going to do. You get to decide how you’re going to live.
Look around … No one is stopping you. Want to make a shift?
Here are 30 behaviors to get you started:
1. Wake up earlier
“You’re more likely to act yourself into feeling, than feeling yourself into action.” — Dr. Jerome Bruner
Dr. Stephen Covey once presided over hundreds of service missionaries as their leader. One of them was struggling intensely in his relationship with others. Rather than having the missionary focus on his relationships, Covey told the missionary to start waking up earlier, consistently.
“Private victory always precedes public victory,” Covey told the missionary.
If he could just start waking up a little earlier, and put first things first, then his interactions with others would change.
But the missionary lacked the confidence that he could wake up early, consistently, for 30 days. Like most people, this young man was really good at lying to himself and hadn’t witnessed himself living in alignment with his own goals and words.
“Start with seven days,” Covey told him. “Can you do that?”
“Yes, I can do seven days.”
Seven days later, the missionary looked like a different person.
Confidence is the byproduct of prior performance. It doesn’t take much to reset how you feel about yourself.
Start waking up a little earlier.
Then do this:
2. Drink more water
As soon as you wake up in the morning, drink a HUGE glass of water. Drinking water first thing in the morning actually makes you more alert and wakes you up. So, if you wake up and immediately drink like 20+ ounces of water, your morning sleepiness won’t last long.
Having water on an empty stomach helps to cleanse the colon, which in turn increases the efficiency of the intestine to absorb nutrients. It also helps in flushing out toxins from your body.
As we drink healthy amounts of water, we have smaller waistlines, healthier skin, and better functioning brains.
3. Write your goals down, every single morning
“Assume the feeling of your wish fulfilled and observe the route that your attention follows.” — Neville Goddard
After you pull yourself out of bed and drink a huge glass of water, find a spot to pull open your journal.
Write your goals down.
Do this every day.
Do this first thing in the morning, every single day, and your life will change.
Your orientation toward your day reflects how you approach your day.
Most people allow their environment and bodily addictions to trigger themselves into unhealthy subconscious patterns, which are then played-out every single day.
First thing in the morning, they are sucked back into their smartphone.
Then they go through their day, and not much different happens from the day before.
This isn’t very creative, nor is it imaginative.
But what happens when you start your day by writing down your goals and dreams for the future?
How do you think this behavior would influence your imagination and creativity?
Former United States President, Abraham Lincoln, once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
The best way to CREATE your day is to start in a creative mode. In order to wake up in a creative mode, you must give yourself space for reflection.
Writing your goals down on paper doesn’t need to take more than 2 minutes. If you’re serious about your future, it could and should take longer (like 10+).
As you write your goals down, you shift your subconscious patterns. You train your brain to begin LOOKING for what you want. As Dan Sullivan has said, “Your eyes can only see what your brain is looking for.”
Most people’s brains have been trained to be lazy. They haven’t proactively set their brain on a search for what they want. As a result, incredible opportunities pass them by every day unawares.
But there’s more.
When you visualize your future in the form of writing goals, you literally re-wire your brain and memory. While writing your goals, get yourself into an aroused emotional state. Imagine and feel what it would be like to have those goals.
The more emotional the writing, the more subconsciously shifting the experience.
The more emotionally arousing, the more your brain will create new neural connections.
As your brain makes new neural connections, your memories, and perspective of the world changes.
This is how you create a “peak-state” every morning. A peak-state is simply feeling incredibly good about where you currently are, and having complete confidence and clarity in where you’re going.
A peak-state is similar to a “peak experience,” wherein you feel immense awe and gratitude for life. Your mind and brain are expanded and changed, daily.
What would happen if your mind and brain changed, daily, to reflect the person you intend to become and the future you intend to inhabit?
It’d be pretty amazing, right?
Well, then get yourself some peak-states and experiences every morning.
Within a short period of time, you’ll begin to see the world from the perspective of your goals. You won’t see the world from the perspective of your current circumstances.
You’ll only see your goals and possibilities. They’ll be more real to you than your present circumstances. Your brain will see the world differently.
Your behavior will be different.
Your mindset and emotions will be different.
You’ll feel far greater gratitude and awe for life.
You’ll feel a deeper connection to yourself, God, and others. You’ll love other people more. You’ll love yourself more. You’ll love life more.
Because you feel a greater connection, you’ll feel safer about life. Because you feel safer, you’ll be more imaginative and creative — and thus more willing to take risks and embrace adventure.
You’ll learn stuff that is outside your comfort zone.
You’ll be willing to set wildly “unrealistic” goals.
Every morning, you’ll have 15–30 minutes of complete creative fun in the cave of your journal.
Your morning journal then becomes the doorway to a new universe where anything is possible.
You’ll write with greater and greater intensity and joy. You stop inhibiting yourself with your conscious mind and allow your subconscious mind to take-over — stream-of-consciousness writing.
You stop editing yourself.
You just write.
And as you write, you’ll see CRAZY and AMAZING things go from your hand to your pen to your paper to your head… all from your heart.
“Wow! Did I really just write that?” says your conscious mind.
“Absolutely,” echoes your increasingly confident subconscious.
4. Put your phone on airplane mode more often
“Efforts to deepen your focus will struggle if you don’t simultaneously wean your mind from a dependence on distraction.” — Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
Time is the ultimate currency in life.
But in a world of constant connection to screens, a more accurate currency is time spent not looking at screens.
The amount of time you spend not looking at a screen reflects the quality of your actual life.
You can use screens to entertain yourself and produce amazing work. But that work, although interesting and important, should produce a better quality of life in the real world for you.
How much time do you spend away from screens on a daily basis?
Perhaps more importantly, how much time do you spend staring at screens during prime-time, which is in the evenings and morning?
How present are you to the world and those around you?
How much time and genuine attention do you give your loved ones?
How much do they feel your love?
As someone who is the parent of children from a rough background, I have learned that children need to know you love them. They need to feel protected, like they matter. Research shows that parent’s habits around cellphones directly influences the emotional well-being and future habits of their children.
Which means that given most people’s habits around technology, the rising generation is basically doomed to digital addiction and distraction.
It doesn’t need to be this way.
Children need to be taught how to control their emotions and impulses. They need to know they matter. They need to feel your love.
This isn’t just true of children. It’s true of spouses and, really, all relationships.
How good is your relationship with others? The answer to that question is a pretty accurate indicator of your level of happiness and purpose in life. Thomas Monson said, “Never let a goal to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” Sadly, in the case of the world today, people not only put their goals above their loved ones, but they put mindless time-wasters and screen scrolling above their loved ones.
5. Go on walks A.M.A.P (as much as possible)
Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, was known for his walking meetings. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has also been seen holding meetings on foot. A recent study by Stanford researchers further explains why walking enhances creativity and insights.
The study found that walking indoors or outdoors similarly boosted creative inspiration. Across the board, creativity levels were consistently and significantly higher for those walking compared to those sitting.
“Many people anecdotally claim they do their best thinking when walking. We finally may be taking a step, or two, toward discovering why,” Dr. Oppezzo and Dr. Schwartz wrote in the study published this week in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition.
Whether you walk in the morning, afternoon, or evening, you’ll be stunned by the creative insights and clarity that come as you give yourself space to walk.
Lately, I’ve been walking between 3 and 6 miles per day in the mornings while listening to audiobooks. Wow! The amount of inspiration and insights I get during these walks often leads me to start running, so I can get back to my car and start putting all of the inspiration to work.
Start walking. Your life will change, as will your health.
6. Clearly prioritize your life
“If you have more than three priorities in your life, you have none.” — Jim Collins
Your priorities are more important than your values and goals because quite literally, your priorities are where these things become real.
Your priorities reflect your priorities and goals.
If you are not doing something in your life, like exercise, for example, it’s not because you don’t have time. Rather, it’s because it is not a priority to you.
Anything you are not currently doing on a regular basis IS NOT A PRIORITY TO YOU.
If you say spirituality is a priority to you, but you rarely engage in it, then you are lying to yourself.
If you say investing in your future is a priority to you, but you spend most of your time distracted on the internet, then you are lying to yourself.
Your daily behaviors are a mirror — an honest assessment of your priorities in life.
Your priorities reflect to both yourself and the world what you value and what you aspire towards.
7. Eliminate all non-priorities (your life is a product of your standards)
Writing your goals in your journal every morning helps your brain create the outcomes you’re striving to create. Writing your priorities in your journal regularly helps ensure you’re pursuing the right goals.
As you hone and clarify your priorities, have the courage to eliminate all the things in your life that don’t match.
No one is perfect at this. For all of us, there is a mismatch between our daily behaviors and what we want our priorities to be.
It is your responsibility to spend the majority of your time on your core priorities. Only then will they actually be priorities.
If you don’t think you can do this, then your subconscious hasn’t been expanded enough yet. Once you expand your subconscious, your life will reflect your priorities (more on this below).
The first step is courageously eliminating everything that isn’t what you believe in or want for yourself. This act, in itself, is a profound message to yourself and others that you are serious about something.
8. Become more playful and imaginative
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” — Albert Einstein
Life is meant to be a joy, not a grind.
You get to be creative and playful about how you design and live your life. In fact, you are a creator. If man is made in the “image of god,” then man is, by nature, a creator.
Even if you don’t believe in God, research clearly shows that imagination is linked to learning and emotional wellbeing. Moreover, the opposite is also true: the less emotionally mature a person is, the less likely they are to be imaginative and creative about themselves and their lives.
Dr. Carol Dweck has produced some of the most important research in psychology in the past 50 years. The essence of her work is that many people have a “fixed” mindset about themselves, wherein they believe they can’t learn, change, and develop. Others have a “growth” mindset, wherein they believe they can change, grow, and evolve.
If you have a fixed mindset, then imagination probably isn’t a big part of your life.
Having imagination means you’re mentally and emotionally flexible. In order to be mentally and emotionally flexible, you need to feel protected in your relationships — particularly with your parents, your higher power if you have one, and other key people in your life.
In order to be imaginative, you have to see beyond what is currently in front of you. You need to be willing to see things that may or may not be “real” or “true,” but could be.
Imagination is about playing and creating — without respect to the outcome. Being imaginative about your future means you believe you can do and be things that others can’t see.
You’re not interested in odds or statistics. Instead, you’re driven by curiosity and play. You’re motivated by your WHY and what’s possible.
You don’t care if other people can’t see the future you can see. You’re a creator. You know you can learn and transform. You’ve done it in the past, and you’ll do it again.
9. Create more peak experiences
“Peak experiences as rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences that generate an advanced form of perceiving reality, and are even mystic and magical in their effect upon the experimenter.” — Abraham Maslow
Maslow said that, in order to become self-actualized as a person, you need to have a multitude of “peak-experiences.”
Peak experiences are those moments where your soul is stretched such that it cannot go back to its prior dimensions.
Peak experiences, by nature, are novel and new. They involve experiencing or seeing the world in a new way.
In order for you to have a peak experience, you need to be open to new experiences. You need to be humble.
Peak experiences are more likely to happen outside of your comfort zone. They generally involve “experiential” learning.
10. Deepen your relationship with your parents
“The parent-child connection is the most powerful mental health intervention known to mankind.” — Bessel van der Kolk
In the important book, The Body Keeps The Score, Bessel van der Kolk M.D. explains that suppressed emotions and trauma lead people to unhealthy and addictive cycles.
One of the most fundamental components of making a positive change in your life is developing a healthy relationship with your parents — whether they are alive or not.
Your relationship with your parents is a powerful indicator of your emotional well-being as a person. It doesn’t matter how “successful” you appear on the outside, if you don’t have this key relationship established, then chances are you are an emotional wreck.
Oftentimes, people have “toxic” or unhealthy parents. These parents should be viewed and treated with love and forgiveness, not spite and disdain. As you improve your own life and deepen the relationship with your parents, you often give them permission to expand and evolve themselves.
They need you just as much as you need them.