Tag Archives: growth

BE HAPPY BY BEING CONTENT

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

-Hebrews 13:5

I know you want to be happy. I have not found anyone who doesn’t. But the irony is: many pursue happiness only to find it elusive. When it seems like they are close to getting it, then poof! It disappears from their gaze.

The Key

The key to a happy life is contentment- a state of being satisfied with what you have. It is only a grateful heart that can be contented. Those who need to compare themselves with others to be happy are on a wild goose chase. They will never be satisfied or happy. Doing so will only breed envy. And envy will make anyone miserable.

The Balance

Many fear that being contented will breed apathy and mediocrity. I understand with you. I once feared as much until I gained understanding. Hopefully you too will.

The Bible advocates a very strong work ethics. It speaks clearly against laziness. For example, Proverbs 10:4 says the lazy person, the slothful person, will become poor. And in the parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:24-30), the servant who buried the one talent he was given was condemned because his discontentment infected him with a spirit of apathy. He became lazy and made no increase with his talent. However, the one with the two talent did not envy the first servant who was given more. He was contented but not complacent. He improved on what he was given and doubled his talents. In the end he was justly commended by his lord. This passage clearly illustrates the delicate tension between contentment and complacency.

Furthermore, though we are commanded to be contented, we are not to be contented with injustices. When others are being treated unfairly, we are not stand back and let it continue. We should employ our efforts and resources to help and better the lot of our fellow humans. To do otherwise is to be wicked.

The Sure Way

God wants you to be happy. He cares about you so much that He sent His only Son to die for your sins. And because He loved you, He gave you the Bible so that you can read and know His plan for your life. Jesus is the way- the sure way to happiness (John 14:6). Quit looking for happiness in drugs, sex, alcohol, money, etc. You will not find it there. You will find happiness only in Jesus.

I invite to surrender your life to Jesus by:

  1. Confessing your sins to Him. Tell Him that you have gone far away from Him.
  2. In your own words, invite Him, tell Him, you need Him. Ask Him to come into your life. Say: “Lord Jesus, I believe you died for me, was buried and resurrected on the third day. Come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. Amen.”
  3. Congratulations! Jesus has responded to your invitation. To know more about your new life, fellowship with a Bible-believing church.
  4. Send me a mail at happylimits@gmail.com. I’d like to hear from you. Or, post your comments.

Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog. You will receive my free eBook “Become A Superachiever”.

Further reading:

  1. Contentment versus Laziness: http://www.discipleshipnetwork.com/contentment-versus-laziness/
  2. Contentment: https://www.gracegems.org/31/contentment.htm

IT IS BETTER TO LIGHT ONE SMALL CANDLE THAN TO CURSE THE DARKNESS

Today’s title is a quote by Confucius, the Chinese philosopher. It is a quote that holds lessons about change.

There is hardly anyone that does not want a better life. We want a life that is full and complete. But the better life we desire calls to embrace change. (And for my Nigerian folks, this is even more important in this era of Change, the slogan of the Buhari regime). But one thing: we need to learn how to go about that change.

In his highly acclaimed book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, among other things he harped on, highlights two key things we need to put into consideration in seeking for change:

  1. Circle of Concern
  2. Circle of Influence

Understanding these two things will help us know where to focus our energies in trying to create changes for the life we desire.

Circle of Concern

The Circle of Concern is much larger circle, bigger than than the Circle of Influence. It represents all that bothers us; those things that are of concern to us, e.g. our health, national security (For Nigerians, perhaps the Boko Haram threat), our finances, our kids, parents, etc. They include everything that gives you a cause for concern as an individual.

Circle of Influence

The Circle of Influence is a smaller circle—a subset of the Circle of Concern. It represents those things that gives us concern—but that we have control over. We don’t need a lifetime of experience and experimentation to realize that there are things that are beyond our control. But people who will be successful at creating changes focus on their circle of influence—on the things that that are within their control. They would rather seek to light one small candle (that which they can do) rather than curse the darkness (by whining and complaining). Complaining never solves a problem—only practical, proactive and pragmatic steps in the right direction will.

I once had this desire for someone to change. I badly wanted the person to change because I was emotionally uncomfortable by this person’s action. But this person wouldn’t see any reason for change. I was bitter and frustrated for a long time. But then I was reading Covey’s book one day when I received this eye-opener. I realized that I might not be able to change this person but I could choose my response, my attitude to this person’s weakness. It was liberating when I changed my focus.

You too might have a circumstance, a person, a past mistake or whatever that you have been wishing to be different. And like me, you are becoming frustrated and angry and bitter. The thing is: you have the freedom to change your response. The key thing here is yourself. You are choosing not to give anything external the right to determine your happiness.

And another thing: the more you exercise your freedom in the area of your Circle of Influence, the more it expands. You might soon realize that as you focus on what you can control; that as you focus on changing yourself, the change you want in that person or that circumstance just comes easily.

Today, make the decision to light your small candle and quit the fruitless cursing of the darkness!

Have a great day ahead.

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ENTER FLOW STATE: HOW TO BECOME MORE PRODUCTIVE IN 2018

Flow State: What is it?

Have you ever engaged in an activity and wondered at the end of it how the time flew? Or ever being engaged in an activity that you lost consciousness of time? I’m sure you have had these kinds of experience even if once in a while. At that time, you were thoroughly enjoying yourself so that time stood at attention for your sake- or so it seems. During those times you are in mental state termed by psychologists as the flow state.

According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi who coined the term in 1975, he defined flow state as an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.” Flow state is also described as ‘being in the zone’.

When you are in the flow state, you lose consciousness of time, environment and all else except the work you are on. You are fully immersed, totally absorbed, paying attention fully- nothing else matters. You could have performed that activity for the whole day except that your mom or dad or someone else interrupted you. Don’t you wish every task was like that? You wish your coursework in school will engage your attention like that.

Typically, people enter flow state when they are pursuing an activity that is meaningful to them; when they are intrinsically motivated and not coerced by some external force. And often these activities that put people in flow state are usually low-priority activities, the ones that do not contribute to personal development or future prospects. Take for example, the teenager who plays video game all day to the neglect of his schoolwork. Or the employee who gets distracted from his work and finds himself chatting on Facebook.

How can one transfer this misplaced flow state to really important things? What if one could enter flow state in what really matters? Is this possible? Sure. Though flow state is desirable, we seem to enter it in rare moments. By learning the principles undergirding it, we can hack our brains to get into the flow state.

Motivation and Purpose

Psychologists have conducted extensive research and found out that humans are more intrinsically motivated in doing what what they do than by extrinsic means. Psychologist Edward Deci (quoted in Daniel Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us) says, human beings have an “inherent tendency to seek out novelty and challenges, to extend and exercise their capacities, to explore and to learn.”

That is, the employee who enjoys his job and gives his best at it is not doing so primarily because of the large paycheck or job security but because his job satisfies a deeper inner need like: the enjoyment of the job itself, a sense of making a contribution to the good of the society or growing personally.

Internal drives or desires are really the motive for giving one’s best to a task and ultimately being a flow state. Thus, being intrinsically motivated about a task or activity is key achieving and maintaining flow state.

To become intrinsically motivated, one must discover the reason for being. Call it vocation or life’s work or purpose. You must discover what you are going to spend the rest of your life doing or living for. This is what you must discover for yourself–not something to be externally imposed. The student forced by his parents to read law finds he has no interest in his coursework. He reads to get by and to please his parent. He hopes for the day when he will be released from his prison to do what his heart is really after.

Your purpose can be found in what your heart craves to do- the longing that will not go long after everything crowding your heart goes. What is that thing you want to do with and for the rest of your life? What is that will wake you in the morning and keep you late at night? What do you dream of? In 1962, Clare Boothe Luce, one of the first women to serve in the U.S. Congress offered some advice to President John F. Kennedy. “A great man,” she told him, “is one sentence.” Abraham Lincoln’s sentence was: “He preserved the union and freed the slaves.”  Daniel Pink recommends asking yourself the big question: “What’s your sentence?” Let me put it for you: “What is the one sentence that will be said of you? What do you want to be remembered for?”

Getting Better

Discovering your sentence- your purpose is one thing. And pursuing purpose is another. Pursuing purpose is a daily thing. You set goals daily and seek to achieve them. And this where ‘flow’ come in. Entering the flow state requires that you are constantly challenging yourself. You desire to improve and do better than yesterday.

The brain seeks novelty , unpredictably and complexity. The yearning to grow, to be better is innate. And we must pay attention and do something about it. When we lapse into routine, when work is no longer providing stimulus for growth, we enter into a state of tedium. Our minds flitter from one thing to the other, we are enter into a self-reflection and our work and productivity suffers. We are distracted because we are bored.

The key thing here is to constantly raise the bar on your performance; to keep getting better and better at what you do- in the thing that is in line with your purpose. Strive to improve a little each day. In other words, seek mastery. Read my blog post: Go For Goals and Grow for further understanding on goal-setting.

Daniel Pink recommends five steps in becoming better and achieving mastery which I digest here for you:
1.Remember that deliberate practice has one objective: to improve performance. Anders Ericsson has said: “Deliberate practice is about changing your performance, setting new goals and straining yourself to reach a bit higher each time.”
2.Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repetition matters. Great athlete repeat to perfection.
3.Seek constant, critical feedback.
4.Focus ruthlessly on where you need help. That is, work on your weaknesses rather than on your strength only.
5.Prepare for the process to be mentally and physically exhausting. This might sound contradictory to the idea of flow state but on closer look, it is not. An activity that is mentally and physically demanding becomes more easier and enjoying as you persist it. Ask how great players like Serena Williams keep on with hard practice to stay on top of their game. They enjoy hard practice!

Finding Your Flow Times

And, there are certain times of the day when we are more easily able to enter the flow state. All times of the day are not alike for everyone. Some do better in the mornings, others in the afternoons or evenings. Monitor yourselves and find out what times of the day you perform optimally. Schedule high priority activities during those times. For me, my best times are very early in the morning. Find out yours.

In summary, flow state or ‘being in the zone’ guarantees optimal performance. So this year 2018, make it a business to enter your flow state.

Please post your comments below and let me know what you think. Please subscribe to have my posts emailed directly to you.  Have a great day.

Further Reading:

1.Flow State: What it is https://www.huffingtonpost.com/alayna-kennedy/flow-state-what-it-is-and_b_9607084.html

2.Hack Into Your Flow State And Quintuple Your Productivity. https://www.fastcompany.com/3031052/how-to-hack-into-your-flow-state-and-quintuple-your-productivity

GO FOR GOALS AND GROW

I believe you have dreams. Everyone has dreams. Because we are designed to dream. Like I have read somewhere, dream is cheap. Everyone is free to dream because it is free. But what distinguishes a serious, successful person from a mere dreamer is the willingness to take steps, that is, incremental steps towards achieving what dreams he has in mind. As humans we want to grow. We want to believe that we are capable of greater things than we have seen ourselves do, that there is more to us that we realize. We truly want to believe that. And it is not far-fetched. Because? It’s true. We all have capacity for great things. We are capable of more than we realize. But to realize what we are capable of, we not only have to dream, we need a very important ingredient: G-O-A-L-S! Goals. It is one thing that separate the overachiever from the underachiever. The underachiever is content with mere flights of fancy; the overachiever maps out his way to bring into concrete reality his flights of fancy. A goal is simply a plan of action to reach your dream. It is, put another way, your strategy. Your dream needs a strategy. Like Rick Pitino wrote in his book, Success Is A Choice, dreams are where we want to end up. Goals are how we get there.

It is always tempting (at least, I know from personal experience) to dream and set out bringing it to reality without mapping out a plan of action. But what military general doesn’t map out a plan of attack to win a battle? We think it is too cumbersome taking time to plan and set goals. We’d rather want to get on with it; to begin work immediately. We think time spent planning and setting goals is time wasted. But only when we begin to hit obstacles that we could have navigated around, do we begin to know that something is not right. Something is not right. But it might not be with your dream itself but with your approach. Like someone said, “time spent planning is not wasted time.” You have probably made some New Year resolutions at the beginning of this year like most do. That’s good. But have you thought about the necessary steps to achieve your resolutions, your dreams, at the end of the year 2018? If your dreams means anything to you, you must establish plan of actions that involves what you must do DAILY to reach your dreams. Your long-term success will depend on your daily routine. John C. Maxwell wrote, in his book, Put Your Dream To The Test, “The secret to your success is found in your daily agenda.” Your daily successes link up together to make your dreams come true. So figure out how to make everyday count. Eliminate the irrelevancies that will not contribute to the achievement of your dreams. Stay focused on the steps to your dreams.

Here are some facts to note about goals:

  1. Goals helps us to be disciplined. They establish priorities and makes us organized.
  2. Break down your dreams into as many components as possible.
  3. Write down the steps needed to achieve each component. Writing down goals helps us to face reality. Goals should be written down and followed.
  4. Setting and attaining short-term goals will fuel the desire for more achievement. So it is best to set short-term goals for what we want to achieve long-term. The evidence of little successes will bolster our confidence and motivation.
  5. Establish a daily routine to achieve your dreams. Consistency is more important than intermittent bursts of activity.
  6. When you have achieved a goal, raise the bar a little higher each time. After all, you are not interested in what you can already do, but in what more you can do. The goal is be a little better each time.
  7. Celebrate small successes. You are improving and that’s worth celebrating. Reward yourself but don’t indulge yourself. You are to celebrate success, leave it behind and go create another.

I recommend reading the blog post ‘Personal Growth Principle’ by Donald Latumahina at www.lifeoptimzer.org

You can read yesterday’s post Failure Is A Situation, Never A Person by clicking on the link.

Please post your comments below and let me know what you think. Have a great day.

FAILURE IS A SITUATION, NEVER A PERSON

Somebody out there is about to give up. But don’t. You can get up and try one more time.

Failure is a situation, never a person. (I took that line from John Mason’s book, Know Your Limits Then Ignore Them this morning). We tend to unconsciously link failure with our self-esteem. Our self-talk goes something like: “If I failed, then I must be a failure.” But such conclusion is all wrong. All wrong! Such belief will only hamper your ability to succeed in life. We must disconnect failure from our  self-worth. It might not be that easy but we can do it. Many a great man made many attempts before finally succeeding. While it is great to expect success, it is realistic to expect some failures along the way. In fact, great men are those who have gone through failure after failure without giving up. The famous story of Thomas Edison comes to mind. When asked about his failure at inventing a light bulb 1,000 times, he replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Every mistake you have made so far, every failure you have experience so far, can be a step forward-if you learn from them and refuse to quit.

It is said that Albert Einstein failed math as a student (I am not encouraging you to be a math-hater though), but he never gave up. And today, his name is synonymous with physics. There are many such stories of success after repeated failures that could be told to fill a tome.

I had the privilege of having an elderly man speak to me some heartfelt words yesterday. The words still linger in my mind. He said something that I will want to keep with me for the rest of my life. Here is what he said: “Defeat never comes to a man until he admits it.” That is, a man is not a failure, until he admits that he is one. A man may fail at a venture many times but that does not make him a failure.

The theme of this blog is about balance- balance in every sphere of life. Nature creates balance. Life creates balance. When balance is upset, problems result. For example, in high school biology, where there is an imbalance between the producers and consumers in a ecosystem, problems arise. Same thing too in life. You need a balance of successes and failures. Every successful person will have a fair share of failures or mistakes. After all, we are only imperfect humans in an imperfect world. In fact, the Bible says it so in Ecclesiastes 7:14:

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other…”

Here are some facts and lessons about failure that I have gleaned from my reading and experiences so far:

  1. It is better to fail than not try at all. Making mistakes or failing is proof that you are taking a step forward.
  2. Failure is feedback. Failure is an opportunity to learn and continue. Many successes were built from previous failures.
  3. Failure is a situation, never a person. Stop linking your failures without your self-worth. It keeps you down. Yes, failure can be emotionally devastating but you can get over those emotions by proper self-talk.
  4. It is not over until you give up. Get up and try again and again until you get it right.
  5. You can learn from the mistakes of others. You will not have the whole time in life to make all the mistakes you can make. Learn from the mistakes of others and minimize yours. A fool refuses to learn from the mistakes and failures of others. In fact, I keep my ears and eyes open to learn from the mistakes of others. Sometimes, I put myself in the shoes of another who has failed to see what I could have done differently. The great thing is that I learn not only for myself in so doing but for others as well.

Find a way to keep yourself motivated despite the failures you experience. In my own way, I read something motivational each day very early in the morning (say, 4 am) when my mind is still fresh and not yet filled with the clutter of the day’s activities. This year start a habit of encouraging yourself in the midst of life’s challenges. You might want to have a favorite motivational quote hung somewhere on the wall of your room where you can see it. Such small actions can make a very big difference in your motivation level.

In closing, I would like to quote Winston Churchill on this matter.

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

Try again. I believe you will succeed. It is your right to succeed.

Have a happy day.

Please post your comments below. Let me know what you think.