A Practical Hack To Combat Negative Thoughts In 2 Minutes Or Less

According to National Science Foundation, an average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive thoughts.

If we repeat those negative thoughts, we think negative way more than we think positive thoughts.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapists have a term for it — ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts).

All negative thoughts are not bad. Being alert can help you survive but most negative thoughts are useless. They only create imaginary drama in your mind.

Let’s break this pattern. Do an exercise with me.

Step 1

Take out a piece of paper or open a writing software on your computer or mobile.

Step 2

List every negative thought you have. Once you’ve listed everything down, don’t stop. Dig deeper and write more thoughts about:

  • Your fears
  • Your insecurities
  • Your losses
  • Things that stress you out regularly
  • Things that irritate you about other people

Step 3

Make another column or a separate list.

Now, for every negative thought, write at least one positive thought.

  • If you fear failure, write one instance when failure helped you to learn a lesson.
  • If you’re insecure about your skills, write how much you’ve improved since you started.
  • If you’ve lost a relationship in the past, write about the beautiful time you spent with each other.
  • If you stress about work, write how your work is serving other people.
  • If you don’t like your coworker’s behavior, write about one positive thing about that person.

Shifting perspective sounds easy. But it’s not.

It takes practice.

This is why I want you to do this exercise right now. Once you do this exercise, your mind will remember it.

It will become part of your thinking process. Whenever you think of a negative thought, counter it with a positive one

Nervous about giving a speech in public? Think of the positive impact you will make.

Lost money? Think of one thing you have remain.

Feeling jealous? Appreciate one thing about yourself.

Make it a habit. Give yourself a one day challenge to balance your thoughts.

The aim is to make this habit part of your subconscious. Once it has become part of your thinking process, you will shift your perspective like Tony Robbins does.

Tony says we live in either of the two mental states — A beautiful state or a suffering state.

A beautiful state is when you feel love, joy, gratitude, awe, playfulness, ease, creativity, drive, caring, growth, curiosity or appreciation.

A suffering state is when you feel stressed out, worried, frustrated, angry, depressed, irritable, overwhelmed, resentful or fearful.

“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Tony was not born optimistic. He practiced it. He put in the effort.

You can do the same.

Your thoughts are the roots of your destiny. Your next action results from your next thought. You owe it to yourself to improve the quality of your thoughts.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” — Lao Tzu

Take action

Do the exercise and give yourself a one day challenge to get started.

It takes a cue, routine and a reward to form a habit. The cue here is an automatic negative thought (ANT), the routine is a positive thought to balance it out, and the reward is how you feel.

Repeat until it becomes part of your thought process.

Comment below and let me know how it goes.

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How I dealt with burnout and felt alive again in just one day

I woke up late. Very late.

I was stressed. My cortisol level was high. I had work to do early morning.

I pulled out my journal. I quickly wrote about the things I was grateful for, my focus for the day and an affirmation.

I sat down to work. But something didn’t feel right.

I was feeling overwhelmed. I was exhausted due to work and some people in my life. I felt it was time to hit the pause button.

So, I did it. I dumped all the plans for the day. I postponed my to-dos to other days, and I plugged off from work.

I decided to take a super tiny vacation.

I call it as “Solitude Holiday”.

For the full day, I spent time by myself.

It was the day of rehabilitation and rejuvenation.

I got up and went outside. On a normal day, I would listen to a podcast or audio while walking. But this time, I engaged all my senses and went on a walk.

I noticed the small things I would take for granted. I noticed the trees shedding off its old leaves, the chirping of the birds, the carefree playfulness of a child, and the sunshine hitting my eyes and skin.

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I came home and instead of weight training, I did a stretching session while listening to podcasts.

I made myself tea and paid attention to my thoughts.

I decided to think one thought at a time. It’s hard to do so in the world of internet and social media where we switch from thought to thought so easily. Every notification, social media page, headline, discount coupon and what not, make us quickly shift our attention.

I actively meditated and observed my thoughts without judgment. I noticed that most of my thoughts were useless. And that’s okay.

It becomes a problem when we give a useless thought the attention it does not deserve. Such thoughts try to fool our mind and pretend to be important but they’re not.

Then, I made myself a nutritious breakfast after fasting for twenty hours. After eating, I did some digital declutter, watched informative videos and read for a while.

In the evening, I watched some comedy videos and a nature documentary before going to the final part of my day.

While listening to relaxing music, I did a value and direction check in my journal. I checked if I was living a life true to myself. I checked if I was actively creating my future.

With that, I finished the day and went to bed under a warm and cozy blanket. I smiled, felt grateful and drifted off to sleep.

The next day, I was fully recharged. The cycle of creating, serving, learning, reflecting and recovering was back on.


So often we forget to hit the pause button. If you want to consciously design your life in the right direction, you have to listen to your mind and body.

For me, “Solitude holiday” works wonderfully. Every vacation does not have to be weeks or months long. Find out what works for you and make it happen when you need it.

When you feel out of focus or out of sync with life, hit the pause button. You’ll come back stronger and smarter.

“People seek retreats for themselves in the country, by the sea, or in the mountains. You are very much in the habit of yearning for those same things. But this is entirely the trait of a base person, when you can, at any moment, find such a retreat in yourself. For nowhere can you find a more peaceful and less busy retreat than in your own soul — especially if on close inspection it is filled with ease, which I say is nothing more than being well-ordered. Treat yourself often to this retreat and be renewed.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.

How I read self-improvement articles for real personal growth without wasting my time

There are three kinds of people in the world:

  1. Those who read self-help and take action to make their lives or themselves better.
  2. Those who jump from one article to another making no changes in their lives.
  3. Those who don’t give a damn about self-improvement. They have no urge to click on clickbait self-help titles. Even if they somehow stumble upon such articles, they would read as if it is written in an alien language for an alien population.

This post is for people who are either in the first or second category. I used to be in the second category until I applied methods mentioned in the post. I’ve previously written about how to do things that successful people do.

In this post, I cover how I read and retain most important information in self-help materials (audio, video, text) and then how I make a system to apply what I learn.

Step 1: Hunting the articles

I have a system for finding the best article to read. For that, I have unsubscribed and stopped reading from the places which are not making much impact in my life.

There are millions of articles published every day. The fear of missing out stays there but I have learned to let it go.

If I want to read every single post of a blog, then I subscribe to the newsletters to never miss an update. For the blogs that I like but don’t have space in my inbox, I use news feeds like RSS and feedly.

When I use websites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Medium, etc., I teach them my preference. These websites show me more content of what I follow, like, read, watch, share and comment on. So I make sure not to follow or engage in content that I don’t want to see often. This improves my feed and I get the most relevant content.

Lastly, I have limited my content consumption time. I avoid the trap of endlessly consuming content with no output.

Tim Ferriss talks about “Low Information Diet” and suggests that we should consume less and apply more. Another concept is called as “Just-in-time learning” which means learning what we need to learn in life at the moment.

In his TED talk, David Ryan uses the term “Mental Obesity”. The idea behind it is that because we have an unlimited supply of information, we struggle to convert it into knowledge or wisdom.

Most of us get so busy consuming the information that we rarely convert it into wisdom.

From an evolutionary point of view, we are wired to gather information because it was the difference between life and death.

Like food, information was scarce. If the food was still scarce, we would not need to jump on a treadmill to burn off extra calories. For this reason, we have portion sizes and recommendations for daily dosage.

Information has to be treated the same way if we want to utilize it for best use. We cannot endlessly consume information and hope for the best.

If there’s a piece of content that I would like to learn about in future, I organize it and store it using web bookmarks, Google docs, etc.

“If [more] information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.”
— Derek Sivers

Step 2: Reading the articles

When I was in school, I used to reread the text many times before I could comprehend and remember the details. The school conditioned me to pay careful attention to every word because I had to remember the minor details.

Unless I’m reading something that requires you to remember every detail, I don’t have to read that way.

Due to my lack of interest, I used to lose focus and reread the material several times. This led me to believe that I was a poor reader until I decided to become a good reader.

Speed reading has become popular as the supply of information has increased.

Before jumping into reading methods, keep in mind that reading comprehension is more important than reading speed. If I’m not comprehending, it is equivalent to not reading at all.

Here’s how I usually read:

Pre-reading or Scanning

Before diving in, I scroll through the article and check the length to prepare my mind. I make sure there are no distractions in that time period. Then, I look for titles, subheadings, bold text, images, or any other information that is standing out from the rest of the text.

If there are no such markers, I read the first and last sentence of each paragraph to scan the text.

Deciding reading method

Once I get an idea about the content, I decide how I will read it.
If the pre-reading does not evoke interest in me, I close the article without wasting my time.

If I think there is some information that is worth my attention then I speed read most of the text. I may stop and read at a slower pace where I find new or thought-provoking information.

If I think that the information is gold and I should invest my time into the article, then I forget about the techniques and I read at whatever pace I want. I still usually speed read but the goal is not to worry about time in such cases. The goal is to immerse myself into the text give it my full attention.

Speed reading

Speed reading is a skill. It is developed over time. I’m not an expert speed reader but here’s what has worked for me:

1) Optimize eye movement

We are conditioned to read while moving our eyes from one word to the next one. This is not the best approach for speed reading.

You can read much more efficiently by moving your eyes in saccades and skipping a few words in between. Practice this technique by using the image below. Jump from letter to letter to train your eye movement.

1

2) Improve peripheral vision

Focus on the middle letter of each line and try to read the letters beside it without moving your eyes. If you practice this often, your peripheral vision will improve and you won’t have to focus your eyes on each word.

2

If you work on improving your peripheral vision and fix your eye movement, you will broaden your fixation points and read more in less time.

3) Reset comfort zone of reading

Sometimes, read at a speed you’re not comfortable at to reset your default reading speed. Do not re-read any line to force yourself to pay attention.

You can also use your finger or pointer to keep reading at a constant pace without stopping. Alternatively, you can hide the text above with another book maintain stop the habit of re-reading.

4) Enhance reading experience

Lastly, use reading apps such as Mercury Reader or Just Read to make the text more readable. Safari has a build in reading mode which can be activated by clicking on the button at left side of the address bar.

Sometimes, when I have low mental energy and I want to read something, I use TTSReaderX In-Page Text to Speech to listen while reading. It not only makes reading fast and easy to follow, it helps improve comprehension as I engage two senses at the same time (reading and hearing).

Speed consuming also applies for audios or videos. YouTube videos and most podcasts apps let you alter the speed. I don’t speed up videos when I’m watching it for entertainment purpose but while watching TED talks or other informational videos, I usually x2 the speed.

For dense audios such as audiobooks, I listen at x1.25 or x1.5 to comprehend well. For podcasts, I listen at x1.5 or x2 because usually, it’s a flowing conversation which is still easy to comprehend at a fast rate.

Step 3: Remembering and applying the information

Memory training is an art. There are mental athletes whose job is to train to improve their memory for competition. They use techniques like mind mapping, memory palaces, mnemonics, etc.

Look into these techniques if you want to improve your memory but for reading self-improvement articles, you rarely need these techniques.

Our goal is not to remember for the sake of remembering. We want to remember the information until we learn to apply it in our lives.

Before reading anything, I make sure my mind is well rested and focused. If I read with a distracted mind, I end up wasting my time and energy.

Meditation, exercise and good nutrition have helped me improve my focus and attention span.

When I read an article for the first time, I don’t focus on remembering. I  let the text flow through my mind like a waterfall flowing through a stream.

After I finish reading, I scroll up and scan the article in reverse order. I capture the main points I want to remember.

I try using my senses to remember information.

I imagine the important details in my mind. I may use absurd pictures or analogies that surprise me or make me laugh.

I remember what I feel, not what I read.

I think about how I could have done something better in the past with the new information. Or I think how I can apply the information in the present moment or future situations.

If I can apply the information in shortly after reading, I do it as soon as possible.

If I know when to apply the information in future, I put it on my calendar or to-do list.

If I don’t know when I’ll need to apply the information in future, I either put it in “someday” section of my to-do list or I set up reminders. You may use traditional methods for reminders like using a board or sticky notes.

Spaced repetition helps the mind transfer the information to your subconscious mind. Once I’ve applied the information enough times, I replace the reminder with the next action I want to implement in my life.

Sometimes, I find articles that are jam-packed with useful information. In such cases, either I take notes or I save the article and revise it enough times. It works best when I revise the information right before applying the information.

Lastly, I boost my learning from jam-packed articles by reflecting on them. I switch between the following ways to reflect upon my learning:

1) Writing ideas

James Altucher suggests writing 10 ideas every day to exercises the “creativity muscle”. I’ve been doing it for almost a year and I’ve seen significant changes in my life as it helps me become an “idea machine”.
So, if I can use my creativity for the new information, I write 10 ideas related to the topic.

2) Journalling

I think on paper. No journalling app works as good as pen and paper for reflecting. If I read a thought-provoking material which is not necessarily action-oriented, I usually reflect on it in my journal to transfer the thoughts in my subconscious.

Journalling also acts as a personal accountability. Every day after waking up, I set my intentions for the day in which I write actions I want to implement in my life. Then before bed, I check if I did what I intended to do.

3) Writing or Teaching

Sometimes, instead of only writing my learnings in the journal, I write a post about it or teach someone what I learned so I strengthen my understanding. It also makes me research the topic in more depth.


Finding, reading and applying information is getting harder due to unlimited supply and access to information. But with little effort, you can create a system for personal growth with smart content consumption.

If you find any tips helpful, start using the tips with this article and let me know how it goes in the comments.

Turn your life into a game

Life is an adventure.

Sadly, many of us don’t treat it that way.

Think of your life as a game. Games are designed to be an adventure.

Your life can be an adventure too if you treat it that way. Does it mean that you’ll always have a good time? No. There are times of struggle and setbacks but we keep on playing those games because that’s what we like about games.

Games have taught me many lessons on how to live a life.

1. Addiction

Games are addictive.

Addiction does not have to be bad all the time. In fact, each one of us is addicted to one thing or another. Writers are addicted to writing. Singers are addicted to singing and so on.

Addiction in itself is not a bad thing. If you’re obsessed with something and you don’t let it destroy you or control you then I would call it a healthy addiction.

On the other hand, if we let out job or business destroy other parts of our life like health, relationships, etc. or we let it control us, it can turn into an unhealthy addiction.

 

2. Objective

Every game has a mission or at least a hidden objective behind it. Without it, there will be no purpose of the game.

In the same way, we all need to have missions in our life. The missions may change or develop as life passes by.

Weak objectives will result into boring or unfulfilled life whereas strong objectives will make our life purpose driven.

There are side quests in life too but it’s up to us if we want to pursue them or not. These side quests are a representation of all the things we want to do in life. The important part is to remember that whether we complete our side quests or not, it should not affect our main objective(s) in life.

 

3. Challenge

Most games are designed to be challenging. If a game is too easy, it won’t be too long before the player quits the game.

If there are no obstacles or enemies, there is nothing to master in the game. Gamers keep on playing a game because they fall in love with the grind.

We need challenges in life. Growth only happens when there are obstacles to overcome. Life will become too boring if we get everything we wanted without any effort. Embrace the challenges.

4. Failure

Our education system has conditioned us into believing that failure is bad. Thanks to games that teach us that failure is okay. All you have to do is retry.

Life is like a game. Sure, there are opportunities in life that can be missed but there is no dead end. No matter how much we fail, there is always a way to move forward in life.

Every time we fail in defeating a level, boss or enemy – we learn new tactics that we can use next time.

Gamers who succeed are the ones who persevere during the hard times. Life is exactly the same. You fail. You learn. You experiment. You repeat until success.

5. Rewards

Every time we overcome an obstacle, games reward us in some way. These rewards give us a morale boost or resources to continue our journey.

Life is no different. If you’re getting paid for your job, then you’re getting resources to live your life.

However, we need to claim some rewards. Gratitude and celebration are the rewards that we need to give ourselves for our efforts or results. These rewards feed our soul.

Progress is one of the core motivation of life. If we don’t track or see our progress, our soul will get drained of energy. Reward yourself and feed your soul.

6. Avatar

Many games allow us to customize our character. We can change their attributes, upgrade their skills, provide accessories or dress them however we want to.

We can treat ourselves as an avatar too. Imagine a greater representation of yourself which is your avatar. What skills does it have? What values does it hold?

The best part is that we can even customize our goals. Games have their own objective while your objective in your life is up to you.

Define your avatar and work towards upgrading your avatar every single day.

7. Hacks

A lot of gamers fall into the trap of using hacks and cheat codes to complete their objectives in the game.

Hacks are like shining objects that you think will make your life better but in reality, they make you worse.

In life, seeking a shortcut to success is a hack. They might get you the end result but you won’t get the skills needed to achieve those results.

When you work on your skills and take the full journey, it’s not just the success that you get in the end. You transform yourself. Your character changes. Confidence becomes part of who you are.

When success becomes a habit, you’re able to repeat the process and thrive in every journey of your life.

My number one priority in life as a 22-year-old.

On 23rd of June 2017, I turned 22 years old.

In the past 4 years, I’ve learned more things about life than rest of the 18 years of my life.

About 4 years ago, I stepped outside my house and started living in a hostel after enrolling in a college. I was away from my parents for the first time in my life.

I was free. I had full control of how I wanted to spend my time and who I wanted to surround myself with.

At first, I wanted to be cool college kid because I was shy at school. I had only a few close friends. I wanted to change my identity and become a famous guy whom everyone loved. Now that I look back, I was insecure. I wanted to be accepted by as many people as possible.

After 1 year of a hardcore trail and error, I was back to myself.

I eventually ended up with few close friends again. But I was happy. I formed great friendships with few people who inspired me in one way or another. For example, I learned to be carefree, have self-discipline, find humor and many other traits that I learned from different friends.

Most of all, I became friends with myself. I gave myself permission to be me. I started my journey to follow the path of personal growth and become a better version of myself.

I started following people on the internet who played the role of virtual mentors for me. I started reading self-help books, I started training my body. I learned the principles of living a life of purpose, growth, and fulfillment.

Soon enough, I was a different person. In essence, I was the same person but I was becoming a better version of myself every day.

As I got closer to my graduation, I started to think about career and wealth. By the end of 2016, I took a pledge to consume less and create more. I started learning about online business and bringing value to other people’s life.

Out of all the things that I learned in the past 4 years about health, wealth, business, relationships, and life; there is one thing that stood out the most. I’ve set my number priority in life based on that.

The number one priority of my life is not my goals. It’s not my career, not my business, it’s not even my freedom.

The number one priority of my life is the person who I am becoming.

At any given moment, I could lose anything. I could fail at reaching my goals, I could lose my arm, I could be robbed, I could go broke, I could be locked up in a prison, I could become sick, I could lose my strength and muscles that I’ve trained hard for.

One thing that no one can take away from me is the person that I have become. My values and my character traits will stay with me.

In the end, my values will determine my story and the quality of my life regardless of the life circumstances. I trust my ability to figure things out and make the best out of any situation.