If you think about it, life is incredibly compassionate and benevolent towards us. No matter how difficult of a situation we may be facing, it always gives us the opportunity to redeem ourselves in the very “next moment”: in fact, according to Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman, on average our brain experiences 20.000 moments in a day. Clearly a lot of opportunity there!
The difference, ultimately, lies in how we choose to live those moments and in the way we succeed in moving forward from one moment to the next. Events will inevitably happen, it’s our ability to interact and not just react to them that determines the quality of life we are able to experience. With that in mind, I thought I would share with you 3 powerful techniques I have learned and that I try to apply in my life to train my brain to better deal with adversity and challenging situations. By applying these techniques in your day, you will be able to develop greater emotional intelligence, resilience and analytical thinking. How about that for a tasty skill mix?
1)Looking at the other side of the coin.
Emotions, emotions, emotions…don’t we all get carried away at times? They undoubtably have the ability to make us feel like we are on a rollercoaster. We experience them continuously throughout the day whether it is feeling excited about a potential business lead or stressed about having to confront a family member.
Emotions are simply put a feedback mechanism of how we are experiencing a particular event. There is no right or wrong, it’s just how we choose to perceive things! Emotions are the result of a subjective and temporary state of mind and therefore it’s important to become aware of them in order to understand what’s most useful to us. In this process of self awareness it’s key to learn how to take a step back and not over indulge in our emotions as they can often lead to poor decision making.
So the next time you feel worried, stressed, frustrated about a particular activity or task, take a moment and ask yourself: What can this event teach me? How can it make me better? What is there that I may not be seeing that could actually serve me? How can I be greatful for what is happening to me?
Ask yourself these powerful questions when feeling those limiting emotions crippling inside you and see how your perception of the event can instantly change.
Sometimes we are faced with scenarios or choices that might not be ideal and may require us to put up with something in the short term in order to gain in the long run. Yet in that moment that compromise can feel like a ton over our shoulders: welcome to the power of inertia, one of the great laws of nature.
Meet Paul. Its 5 pm of a Friday and he is about to finish work. He has 2 options. Option 1 is to scroll on his social media to see what his friends have been up to and call it a day. Option 2 is to finalise that important report on how to improve the customer experience so that on Monday he can start working on his new deadline. Which option is he going for? The report right???
“Of course not, are you kidding me!? You really think I am going to spend the last 30 minutes of my work week doing something so intence? I’ll do that on Monday”.
Understandable. But is it really what is most useful for his growth?
The point here is not to discuss whether his choice is right or wrong but rather if that choice is the most useful.
So the challenge here is to fight your inner inertia. Next time you find youself after dinner and have the choice between bindging on 3 episodes of your favourite tv series or reading an inspiring book that can help you grow simply ask yourself: What is most useful? What is the “cost” (or if you prefer opportunity!) for my growth of taking the simple option vs the difficult one?
Nobody is perfect and we might not able able to always resist temptation however just marginally improving our inner inertia “score” can go a long way. In fact, delaying instant gratification has been shown to be one of the highest predictors or personal and professional success.
3)The power of WHY
The beauty of life or at least what makes it interesting lies on the fact that you might not always get things going your way(let’s be positive here!). At times, our life can feel like a massive puzzle full of problems to solve requiring lots of effort from our end.
We all know that during our time at work we can easily get cought up in daily problems and challenges. Our inability to deal with them effectively can make us feel overwhelmed or confused which ultimately impacts our ability to see things with clarity and get to the root cause of our problem. Specifically, when we try to come to terms with a particular result that we did not expect, we tend to get frustrated and look at things superficially.
That is where asking WHY can become a powerful “insight unlocker”. Not just once as that can barely scratch the surface but multiple times as it can lead to powerful discoveries. This approach, also known as the 5 WHYs, was made famous by people at Toyota who used it to solve a production issue. What’s beautiful about this approach is that if forces you to be honest with yourself and dig deeper on every answer you give yourself and while it can feel frustrating at first, it’s a great way to strenghten your reasoning.
So the next time you experience an undesired outcome, go down by the 5 WHY method to get to the root cause of the problem. Don’t stop until you have found a satisfying answer(sometimes it can be less than 5). You will be pleasantly surprised!
There is no doubt that our days may not always be filled with magical and smooth moments, but as Charles R. Swindol said “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”.
Filippo di Lenardo
A passionate entrepreneur with a relentless aspiration to empower people to live by their full potential, Filippo di Lenardo is the co-founder of 3SSENTIA, the next generation day planner inspired by the science of well being that helps professionals manage their day with more balance, focus and purpose.
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