Why you should never be afraid of defeat

Failure.

It’s the ghost that haunts the minds of everyone who has a dream. Before you see it, you don’t even want to believe it can happen. But once you’ve seen it, you only hope that you never have to face it again.

It’s not that way for everybody though. People who learn the importance of their failure learn to overcome it and are no longer afraid of it.

But how is this possible? How can someone defeat their fears? It begins with identifying the fears which raise legitimate concerns, and those that are only distracting us from achieving our goals.

Let me give an example.

Say you are afraid of getting in a car accident. In this case, you wouldn’t take the risk of leaving your seatbelt off just to overcome that fear. That would be reckless (and against the law). This is a loose example, but it gets the point across.

Another fear could be applying for a certain job. Maybe you think you’re not qualified and somebody else would do better in the position. But this fear is simply holding you back from acquiring something you want, something you’ve worked for.

Fear assumptions

For the example above, I would say this.

Have you met all of the candidates? Have you interviewed each one and evaluated them for the qualities the company wants in their employees? Probably not. So just go for it!

This is what I call a fear assumption. It involves accepting the outcome of a certain action before even taking it. We come to conclusions that we couldn’t methodically come to with the information we have. In the end, we are basically claiming to know the future and that is incredibly ignorant.

Opportunity often disguises itself in fear, when in reality there is nothing to be afraid of. Watch out that you don’t make silly fear assumptions, and you will start to find opportunity you had no idea was there.

Progress

I always like to say that if you are afraid to do something — like in the situation I described above — it just might be exactly what you need to do.

Here’s a little bit of truth for you.

Everybody fails. Everybody.

If I speak to someone who says they rarely fail, then I would feel sorry for them.

Because either they are lying or they’re not even trying.

In order to succeed, you must fail — sometimes over and over again. Ask Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg, Thomas Edison, Oprah, etc. People who have achieved much success in this world are at the top for a reason.

We may make fun of them or critique them for things that they do, but in the end, they are not much different from you.

Many times the only distinction is the amount of times they have failed. Be real with yourself for a moment. If you had millions of eyes on you 24/7, how hard would it be to live a spotless life?

The point where their life path deviates from your life path is when they are faced with a challenge.

They don’t give into their fear because that would mean compromising the ultimate goal, the prize they have worked for, strived for, and failed for. They realize the real failure happens upon refusing to get up and try again.

It’s a mindset. Every time something goes wrong and defeat is knocking on the door, it’s back to the drawing board. But this time with something more — another piece of the puzzle that will eventually bring them to their goal.

Maybe you decide to go for that job. Completely prepared and more qualified than any other candidate, but you still don’t get the job.

Don’t worry.

You still have a dream and a vision. Other people can’t always see future value in you and that is OK.

But you can. In fact, you are likely the only person in your life that can see yourself 10 years down the line. You could be the next Bill Gates, but nobody else knows it.

Acknowledge failure

I think we can agree that hiding from reality is essentially pointless. Eventually, it will find us and impose on us whatever implications we deserve — good or bad.

It’s similar with defeat. By simply ignoring it, we are doing ourselves no good in the long run. Perhaps it helps us cope with our failure and move on, but if we get nothing out of it then what was the point anyway?

When you learned to ride a bike, you probably fell many times(maybe not). Afterward, you would contemplate trying again — is it worth it? Won’t I just fall yet another time?

Well if you try again without learning a little bit more about how to do it, you’ll surely fall again.

So don’t simply try to forget fear. Use it. Learn from it so you do better the next time around. Harness it to thrust you on into the future you know is inevitable — and one day — you will get there.

 

What do you think about this subject? Have you seen this play out in your own life? Leave your thoughts below.

 

How do you define success?

What is a life that has been completed? What is a future that has been fulfilled? I could sail across the world and see all that has been built. But when my life begins to wither and my legacy start to melt, I wonder as I look to heaven “Will I even last myself”?

I live in America. The land of opportunity and home to the fearless.

Or is it the land of the greedy and home to the narcissist? I think that is for all of us to decide ourselves.

Either way, this is a capitalist society where the ultimate goal, the “American Dream” as we call it is financial prosperity. This society revolves completely around money. We look for any and every way to get it because we love it that much.

But consider this.

Prosperity corrupts good character. The love of money makes a humble person greedy, and the possession of money makes a trustworthy person untrustworthy. Opportunity turns to greed and freedom turns to slavery.

This is the cycle. The sad thing is so many get trapped in it and so little find their way out. Is there even a way out?

Well, allow me to suggest something else.

The American Dream is wrong(or simply misinterpreted). The way we view prosperity is wrong.  Money is not the end goal on the road to success.

No, I believe success to be something very different. Something you cannot hold in your hand or use to get ice cream on a summer afternoon.

The byproducts of success should not be your own satisfaction and prosperity, but the joy and love you show to others. Because if you are truly succeeding, you won’t be the only one impacted.

Do you want to lead a meaningful life? Do you wish to be successful? Well first, you must know how success is measured. It is not calculated by the amount of dollars you give away, or even the amount of hours you spend doing humanitarian work.

No, it is defined by the way you love.

Let me explain.

Love is not the feeling a player has toward his sport. If it were, he would expect no salary.  People who say they love their cars do not really love their cars. Because if it stopped running one day, they would simply find other means of travel.

What is the one thing that doesn’t envy? Love

What is the one thing that expects absolutely nothing in return? Love

What is the one thing that will outlast every single one of us? Love

When a family member gets sick, do you give up on them? Of course not! You join their fight and encourage them until the day their time is up.

That is love.

And what can fill the void that loved one left? Nothing really.

Because love is unique. It provides a satisfaction that nothing else can. Not money. Not fame. Not your legacy.

Imagine this. You have a bag of apples but only one is left. After this, you will never be able to eat anything ever again. You look up and see a man who is alone and obviously hungry, so you decide to approach this man and give him your apple to eat. That is love.

But what makes love different?

It’s simple. Love has an eternal award.

I will leave you with these words.

 One day when you find yourself with one last breath, just a few seconds left, I guarantee your wish won’t be one last dollar to spend. It’ll be one last evening with your family and friends or one more apple to give to that man. Then your fear of death will fade away as you remember the words they used to say, “there is no fear in love, my death won’t be in vain.”

How to drop your fear of heights for good

We’ve all dealt with fear of heights at one point or another. Looking down at what looks like a mile high drop (even if it’s only 10 ft) and feeling paralyzed at the thought of falling.

But that isn’t necessarily fear of heights. We all possess an instinct that makes us wary of steep heights. After all, death can be imminent if we fall from high enough, so this instinct is normal and even necessary.

The fear it produces in us is simply the exhibition of that instinct and our natural reaction to keep us safe.

A phobia of heights (acrophobia) is an irrational fear of heights, even when one is not very high up. These tips are aimed toward those who deal with a rational fear of heights, but those with a phobia can certainly benefit as well.

 

Get up high

It might seem a bit counterintuitive to some, but getting up in high places is the number one way to combat the fear of heights. Why?

Let’s take a scientific approach.

The amygdala is the part of your brain which holds fear memories. It initiates a fight or flight response when you enter certain situations. However, if a new memory were to be created which contradicts the fear, that memory can override the amygdala and form a new response to the fear.

Therefore, steps to overcome the fear of heights are as follows. Go up to a moderately high (and safe) place, and let yourself be fully aware of how high you are. Once you realize you are not in danger, go up to an even higher place. Continue doing this — within reason —  until you are no longer afraid of being up high. The new memory in your brain — the one that says being up high isn’t so bad — will begin to override your amygdala response and calm you down.

Of course, I don’t condone being reckless and going up to dangerously high places just to recondition your brain. Likely instead you will become more afraid of heights this way.

The best practical way to fight your fear of heights is rock climbing.

It’s a completely safe(mostly) way to get up high and face the fear head on. You climb up a vertical wall (maybe steeper) sometimes 20 to 30 feet above the ground with the intention of getting as high as you can or reaching the top.

You are basically running straight at your fear and drop-kicking it in the face.

For some this will work wonders, but for others it may cause greater fear. If you’re thinking about doing this, do yourself a favor and ease into it slowly.

 

Baby steps

Like any fear, small but meaningful steps are very important when overcoming it.

When executing the steps above, do not simply jump to the last step. Don’t go up as high as you possibly can the first time. That big of a step will cause your amygdala to initiate your fight or flight response and you probably won’t want to try it again.

Here is another example of using baby steps to overcome fear.

When I was a kid, my family would always go to the shooting range. Growing up in the semi-rural south, this was a common pastime and hobby for many people.

I didn’t hate it, but I sure was scared of it at first. A 10-pound rifle that could knock my 80-pound butt to the ground at my own command — sounds like a nightmare.

That’s why I started on something smaller. Something I could handle. A little 20 gauge shotgun and a few pistols were much less intimidating to shoot — so I started there. Not long after, I began to realize that these big pieces of metal weren’t going to hurt me as long as I did it correctly. I was in control and once I became accustomed to that, my fear faded.

Before long, I had worked my way up to much more powerful weapons. I knew that — if I had started with these stronger guns — I probably would never have shot again.

Baby steps can go a long way over time.

Why I drink 2 liters of water a day

You know that guy who is always carrying around a Nalgene or water bottle around wherever he goes? The guy who drinks gallons of water each day and goes to the bathroom 500 times a day?

That guy is me.

Now, I used to think that guy was some pompous dweeb who needed everyone to know that he was healthy. But then my mom started doing it. When I asked her why she gave me a few very good reasons and suggested I drink more water too.  I was curious. Her reasons were logical but there weren’t enough of them to sway me. Nonetheless, I trusted her and decided to undertake the drinking of (almost) 2 liters of water per day. On days where I don’t get to 2 liters, I drink at least 8 cups (8 oz each). That’s my cut-off point; I won’t go under that. Back then — and even now — this was an unreal amount of water. (It was more of a pride thing at the beginning).

Fast forward a few years and I continue to drink 2 liters a day. Along the way, I discovered numerous other health advantages to drinking more water in which I had previously been unaware. And it turns out these advantages far outweigh the inconvenience of carrying around water all day — at least for me.

I am going to lay out the major ones for you here, and who knows, maybe it’ll convince you to become that guy/girl too:)

No more headaches

According to the World Health Organization, 9 out of 10 adults get headaches and 1 in 20 adults get a headache every single day. I fell into the latter category of headache patients as most people do.  It is important to note that headaches are generally harmless — the only thing to really worry about is the pain. That being said, taking headache medicine usually knocks out the pain, but a more natural approach to pain relief is always more attractive to me.

Why? There is something called a rebound headache — essentially it’s a headache caused by consistently taking too many pain relievers. Case and point — taking excess pain relievers can cause you more health issues, but you are unlikely to have side effects from drinking too much water — besides peeing more.

2 liters of water a day

Contrary to what I thought before, dehydration headaches are quite common.  Before I began consistently drinking a ton of water I suffered from headaches all the time. I’d have a few throbbing headaches a week. Little did I know it was being caused largely by dehydration. After a few weeks on my 2 liters a day water regiment, I noticed my annoying head pain had mostly faded — and all I had to do was drink more water.

The body requires an appropriate balance between the amount of water it takes in and the amount it excretes — in order to function properly. Water is lost through sweating, urinating, and simply being active, but then replenished again through drinking and eating foods with plenty of fluids. Dehydration happens when the body excretes fluid quicker than it’s replenished.  As a result of this dearth in fluid intake, the brain begins to shrink and retract from the inner skull and cause pain in the head.  This is known as a dehydration headache.

Self-diagnose for a dehydration headache using the list of symptoms below:

  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • sunken eyes
  • dry mouth
  • increased heart rate
  • confusion
  • lack of sweating

The most common causes of dehydration headaches are sickness and working out.  Say you come down with a nasty stomach bug that keeps you over the toilet for hours. All that vomit is going to rid your body of a good percentage of its fluids. If you don’t drink enough water to balance it out, you’re at great risk for a dehydration headache. The second most common cause is from excess sweating — usually when working out. Putting in an hour long workout and sweating buckets is great for your health, but if you don’t replenish your body accordingly, you could quickly find yourself dehydrated. It typically won’t be very noticeable at first — you will just feel a bit thirsty. But after a while, your body will begin to give you a head’s up on your lack of water through — you guessed it — headaches.

By constantly rehydrating yourself even when it seems unneeded, you will be sure to avoid these kinds of headaches.

It’s a metabolism boost

By far the most widely known advantage to a metabolism boost is increased weight loss. A study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism discovered that drinking water increases metabolic rate by 30% in healthy men and women. The metabolic boost lasted for an average of 10 minutes after drinking but in some cases lasted up to 30-40 minutes. The metabolism is like the body’s very own calorie burner. It burns calories by performing what is known as the body’s “hidden functions”.

These are simply the basic processes which your body performs such as breathing, adjusting hormone levels, circulating the blood, and repairing damaged cells. Factors that do the most in determining your metabolic rate are age, gender, and average consumption. This is why more often older people tend to suffer weight problems at the hands of their metabolism. Similarly, larger people tend to have a faster metabolic rate to compensate for their size and consumption. Fortunately, uncontrollable factors don’t 100% decide our metabolism’s speed. I personally never struggled with my weight, and I am certain that is partly due to my love for drinking water. Drinking more water boosts your metabolism and increases your body’s ability to burn excess fat!

 

In addition, metabolism boosts can lead to further health improvements. These benefits include:

  • increased blood circulation
  • more energy
  • better mood
  • effective immune system
  • better looking skin

Metabolism boost(continued)

There are several studies linking an unhealthy metabolism to a series of mental illnesses including depression. Since diet is a huge factor in regulating the metabolism, drinking water will help you attain the optimal metabolic speed — which will boost your mood and increase your daily happiness and motivation. In the same way, an increase in your metabolism can act as an energy boost that lasts throughout the entire day.

More water also decreases stress. Studies have linked dehydration to higher cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. By keeping up with your water intake, you will have an easier time dealing with everyday issues.

The increase in oxygen and blood circulation — along with flushing out harmful toxins — will cause your skin to heal quicker and look younger.

A better working metabolism also helps your central nervous system regulate the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve’s more effectively. In simpler terms, you will have less stress. On the other hand, the same study cited above noted that a lack of water intake slows metabolic rate up to 3%.

And all this because you started drinking more water. Who knew.

It wakes me up and keeps me awake

2 liters of water a day

The typical morning routine for a textbook millennial starts with a cup of coffee.

I’m different.

Instead, I start off with a nice cold cup of water(usually 8 oz). Why do I do this? The same reason people put fake sugar in their coffee. Does the job without the side effects. It’s like a natural substitute for coffee. You can use it to wake up in the morning but not feel jittery or doze off when afternoon hits.

You probably think I’m lying though. “If water can wake me up so well, why haven’t I heard this already?”  Well first off, I’d be surprised if I’m the first one you’ve heard this from. More likely than not, you’ve heard about water as a substitute for coffee from a few others before me. But I’m going to be the one that proves it to you.

Water does a superb job at waking up blood cells and major organs. Drink 2 glasses and make sure they’re at least 8 ounces of icy cold water each for optimal effectiveness. Your body needs water to live, so jumpstarting the day with a glass of water is ideal for getting your body moving. Plus, it does a much better job of keeping you awake than other substances like caffeine.  Have you ever heard of a water crash? No, because it doesn’t exist. You get a crash from coffee, red bull, and monster because of all the caffeine.  Drinking water won’t make you crash.

Extra tip

But drinking water isn’t the only way I use it to wake up.

I will share with you the other way I use it even though it doesn’t have to do with drinking. Do you take a shower in the morning? The majority of people do. The majority of people also take these showers with hot water. Now think, what if someone came while you were sleeping and splashed a bucket of freezing water on you. What would you do?

Well, first you’d wake up. Then you would get really angry.

The point is cold showers can do wonders in waking people up. Here is a common trick people use to wake up with a morning shower.

  1. Do your normal shower routine
  2. Turn the water as cold as it gets and stand under it for 30 seconds.
  3. Turn the water as hot as it gets (or close) and stand under it for 30 seconds.
  4. Do this one more time with cold water for 30 seconds
  5. You’re done.

When you turn the water up hot, you open the capillaries in your blood vessels and create a great sense of stimulation. Then on the last cycle, you decrease your body temperature with the cold water. When you get out of the shower, your body has to adjust to room temperature which causes your body to work extra hard. In turn, this wakes you up and makes you alert.

Avoid and alleviate sickness

If you know me (or if you knew me a few years ago) you would know that I get sick frequently — or at least I did. The majority of times I was sick it would just be a cold, but it was still miserable. Water has important benefits when sick such as replacing body fluid’s lost through fever or vomiting. It’s very important to note that when you’re already sick, you only need to drink the amount of water that will satisfy your thirst. Your organs will already be working overtime to fight the sickness — you don’t need to give it more to process.

One way I use water to assuage my sickly body is hot tea. Obviously, tea is mostly water so it holds the same benefits. Hot tea performs a few different purposes. First, the steam loosens up mucus in your nose which aids airflow to my lungs. The better I can breathe, the more comfortable I’ll be while sick and the quicker I’ll recover.  Second, the warm water does wonders in relaxing my body and helping me sleep. When sick, one of the most important things to get is sleep. More quality rest means a quicker recovery and hot tea helps that happen.

2 liters of water a day

Drinking enough water to avoid sickness is ideal. The first line of defense in stopping harmful bacteria from entering your body is the mucous membrane in your nose. If this wall is not moist, it won’t do well in trapping dust and dirt. How do you keep this membrane moist and ready to catch foreign invaders?

Drink water.

It’s super simple and remarkably decreases your chances of contracting the flu.  In general, staying hydrated considerably lowers your chances of getting sick from something like a cold because non-mutated bacteria won’t be able to get past your healthy and well-functioning immune system.

 

Avoid a heart attack

It is estimated that over 17 million people die of a cardiovascular disease every year.  That’s roughly 1 out of every 411 people. This number is far too significant to ignore.

2 liters of water a day

I’ve got good news though. A study from the American Journal of Epidemiology discovered that drinking more water reduces the risk of heart attack significantly. Specifically, they found that guys who drink more than 5 glasses (8 oz each) of water a day literally cut their risk in half. Women who drink more than 5 glasses — as opposed to two or fewer glasses — reduce their risk from 147% to only 59%. This result remained invariable in other tests with dynamic factors such as age, education, smoking, body mass index(BMI), and hypertension.

If you took my recommendation to drink 2 liters of water per day —  about 7 glasses — that would be plenty to cut your risk for heart disease.

Helps digestion

When I was a kid, I would get the occasional stomach ache while eating lunch at school. But this wasn’t any old stomach ache. No, these made me keel over in pain and moan for hours. Eventually, they would go away, but I never really thought about why I had them. I figured it had to do with the speed I ate food — which was probably part of it. This continued into high school and as long as it went away eventually, I didn’t think anything of it.  But when I began drinking a ton of water every day, they stopped. It took me a while to notice but I had virtually no digestion issues anymore.

 

2 liters of water a dayIt turns out that by drinking (at least) 1 cup of water a half hour before eating significantly improves digestion.  If you’re suffering from digestion issues, I strongly recommend your give this a shot.

Note: Healthy water has a pH of about 7.4. That is slightly acidic. If you’re water taste a bit sour, you might want to check the pH level. Water that is too basic or acidic can have detrimental health effects.

 

Save money

I don’t think it will take much to drive this point home. There are over 326 trillion gallons of water on the planet (although only about 3% of that is freshwater). Because of the abundance of water on our planet, water will always be less expensive than any other drink out there. You can typically buy a bottle of water at a vending

machine for a dollar, but if you’re really trying to save money here’s what you do.

 

2 liters of water a day

Go to any store — Wal-Mart, Target, etc — and find the packs of 40 water bottles for $20. That’s 50 cents per bottle and sometimes they have sales where you can get them cheaper. On top of that, most restaurants serve water free of charge. There is no need to spend money on more expensive drinks. Water is cheap. Water has a ton of health benefits. Water is a catch bro.

Mental performance (and physical)

Recent studies have shown how drinking water can actually help you think more clearly. In fact, drinking 10 cups of water they found can increase intellectual performance by up to 30%. The oxygen that water provides to your brain improves cognitive function and your ability to problem solve. The brain comprises roughly 1/50 of the entire body weight, but it uses an estimated 1/20 of the blood supply.

Water also has meaningful effects on physical performance. The more water a person drinks (to an extent) the healthier spine they maintain. The spinal discs need water to keep them pressurized and moveable. Water also helps lubricate the cartilage in your joints for more resilient knees and elbows. Beyond that, you know if you were ever in a sport that drinking plenty of water the night before a big game was important. It got your body hydrated by game time so you wouldn’t collapse on the field/court/track.

How to conveniently up your H20 intake.

My biggest concern when I started this was “How can 8 cups of water a day be practical”? Many of you probably share this same concern.

Never fear. I’m going to take you through some tips that will have you drinking water all day without even thinking about it

1. Have a drink every time you eat.

How often do you eat? 3 times a day usually? Maybe you throw a little snack in there at some point right? Well if you drink just one glass of water each time you eat, that is already 4 glasses. Half of what you need for the day! Or if you are like some people, you can drink 2-3 cups of water with every meal and reach your daily goal easily.

2. Add some flavor to your water

The number one complaint I get about water is this.

“I don’t like the taste”.

It makes me laugh every time because water has no taste. But I understand their point. The lack of taste makes it very boring to drink especially after 8 cups. Luckily I have a simple solution. I do this every time I start getting sick of drinking tasteless liquid.

Take a lemon and squeeze it in.  Easy.

The lemon makes it sweet and enjoyable to drink with very little effort. You can even use a lime, orange, or any other fruit that changes up the taste. I wouldn’t recommend those packets of powder that you mix in though. They have very high sugar content which then makes drinking the water a bit counterintuitive. Stick with something healthy — like fruit — to sweeten it up.

3. Eat more H20-rich foods

It’s estimated that about 20% of our water intake comes from food. Of course, there are some foods that contain more than others and can really help hydrate you.

My favorite? Fruits and vegetables.

2 liters of water a day

Watermelon and strawberries have a 92% water volume which make them some of the best for getting hydrated. Have some on the side for lunch or in a bowl for breakfast. Some of my other favorite fruits would be grapefruit — with 91% water volume — and banana’s with 74%.

Vegetables are also great for water content. Cucumbers and lettuce are a 96%, and celery is a 95%. The rest of vegetables are very high up there as well, but these are some of my favorites. There are thousands of ways to incorporate vegetables into a meal. If you can find some ways to slip them in, it will improve your water intake!

4. Carry water everywhere you go

This takes some discipline. You’ve got to remember to fill and refill your water constantly, which can get annoying sometimes. The best way to do it is to buy a BPA free water bottle that can be reused over and over again.

But if you’re cheap and you don’t want to invest $10 into a reusable water bottle, then do what I do. Every time I go to a fast food restaurant, i.e. McDonald’s, chick-fil-a, Whataburger, take your drink cup home with you. Use it for the rest of the day, refilling with more and more water. If you hate using a straw more than once, grab a few extra straws at the restaurant and take them home as well. Sometimes I will carry a single cup around all day and use it for 10 cups of water. Most fast food cups are larger than 8 ounces so I won’t have to refill them as often. And the best part is that whenever I’m done using it, I can throw it away anywhere and I don’t have to wash it.

Win-win-win-win.

 

Conclusion

Did you know that 37% of Americans mix up thirst with hunger because their thirst glands are so depraved. Dehydration doesn’t only manifest itself in thirst. Headaches, body aches, and lack of sweating are also indicators that you’re running low on liquids. You might be depriving yourself without even knowing it. I didn’t even know how dehydrated I was until I began drinking more water and noticing health improvements. Just don’t knock it before you try it. The best things in life are always sitting plainly in front of us.

 

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The cure to insomnia is sitting in the sky

 

Modern times have ushered forth some new and very exciting prizes. Camera’s, iPhones, digital music, online payment, TV’s, microwaves, etc. But one thing modern times has not unlocked is the cure to insomnia. Yes, there are chemical supplements available to knock you out whenever you wish, but these aren’t always very reliable.

Let’s take melatonin for example. I’ll take melatonin before bed every night for a month. The first night I fall right asleep and stay asleep all night. But by day 30, my body has become accustomed to the drug and it no longer has the same effectiveness.

Then I try a new drug, and then another one, and another one. Not only is this ineffective but it’s also incredibly frustrating. If only I could gaze into the sky and find an arrant solution to my problem.

Oh, wait.

For all who have come here searching for the end to your sleep problems, I will tell you that your answer could indeed be in the stars. It seems absurd that the cure for your nighttime sleeping problems is only available during the day, but hear me out.

Biological clock

Also called the circadian clock, this bodily instrument tells your body when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to sleep. Exposure to sunlight early in the morning (between 6:30 and 8:30 am) will work to reset your clock so you wake up and go to sleep at strict intervals. By lying in bed restless every night, you are losing a lot of sleep you might not be able to get back. Most people have to get up for jobs in the morning which help set their circadian clock. It’s not that easy though. Many behaviors contribute to how our clock is functioning. For example, how late do you stay up on the weekends?

If the answer is 2 or 3 am, you could be messing up your body clock for during the week.

By going to sleep late every night — or getting up late, you cause your body to undergo what is called “drift”. To counter this drift, you need to expose yourself to as much natural sunlight as possible in the morning. Artificial lights(any light that is not the sun) will not have the same effect.

Let me give you an example from my own experience.

Experiment

For two years I worked in an office with no windows — aka no natural sunlight. Many nights I would stay up late — mostly doing homework — but my body clock would not reset when I awoke in the morning. Over that time, I began to experience restlessness whilst trying to sleep which eventually progressed into habitual sleeplessness (aka insomnia). One summer, I took a trip to a country where I was outside in the sun all the time.  For two weeks, I spent very little time indoors and absorbed more vitamin D than I did in months back home. I slept very well those two weeks, and I attributed that to the weariness I experienced from being in the sun all day. However, when I got back I noticed how much quicker and easier I would fall asleep.

Now fast forward to now — I still fall asleep quite easily. But why is that? Certainly two weeks in another country didn’t magically cure me.

Upon returning, I naturally began settling back into my old routine. And over those next few weeks, I noticed that same restlessness starting to creep back in before I went to sleep. With an idea of what might be causing it, I decided to do a little experiment.

Every day upon waking up I would go outside and sit in the sun. This happened before anything else in my entire day — even before I ate breakfast. I had to work it into my schedule to wake up a bit earlier for this, but the results made it worthwhile. I’d relax outside for 15-30 minutes each time and then go about my day like normal.  If it was a cloudy day, I would take a short walk for the same amount of time. The objective was to get as much direct sunlight as possible in the morning, resetting my circadian clock to compensate for my late bedtime. After a week of this experiment, there were obvious improvements in my dozing off-speed as well as my quality of sleep through the night. And the best thing was — I stopped waking up absolutely exhausted. It was an awesome feeling.

My conclusion is we are meant to get up with the sun and go back to sleep when the sun disappears. This experiment is clear biological evidence of that.

If you’re hassled by sleeplessness, think in terms of how your circadian clock is working. Determine how much you are sleeping, how well, and when. Then try this experiment for yourself and watch your clock correct itself using the most natural approach to insomnia there is.

Feel free to attempt this experiment yourself and comment your results!

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5 tips to fall asleep on a plane

Falling asleep on a plane

Traveling out of the country is one of the most exciting things that 66 million Americans do every year. Unfortunately, traveling abroad often times requires long and excruciating plane rides.  They are hours of boredom during a time that you planned on living it up with beach days and lattes. The best way to pass the time though is just to sleep through it.

And thus we have our problem.

If you’ve ever tried to sleep on a plane before, you know the struggle. The turbulence makes you feel like someone is shaking you endlessly, and altitude changes can feel like a punch to the stomach.

But there are ways to overcome these difficulties. Here are 5 of my favorites!

Get a window seat

Window seats are always nice because you can enjoy the great view while flying. But they also have some somnolent advantages.

Place your pillow between you and the side of the plane and rest up against the window. This way you won’t need to sit upright the entire time, which we all know is a difficult position to sleep in.

Sleeping during a daytime flight can be especially difficult because all the open windows will bring a ton of light into the cabin. Having a window seat allows you to control the light intensity in your immediate proximity. If everyone around you has their windows open, a simple sleep mask will solve that problem.

A bonus to the window seat is that it will help with motion sickness!

Don’t look at your phone

As if there aren’t enough distractions while flying, we like to look at our phones in the middle of trying to sleep. If you want good quality sleep, stow away any electronic devices. The blue light emitted from phones and tablets, similar to sunlight, reduce melatonin levels — making it much more difficult to sleep.

On many international flights, there are TV’s on the back of every seat for in-flight entertainment. They are actually very tempting because they’ve got many of the newest movies and some really fun games on there. But the same goes for these. Don’t mess with them unless you’re not trying to sleep.

 

Stretch before boarding

I tried this one out for myself on a recent trip to Europe. Before I left for the airport, I stretched profusely until I felt really loose. After getting off the 9-hour flight, I felt just about good enough to do it again!

I also took measures during the flight to reduce any pain afterward. Sitting without twisting my body too much, keeping my legs straight with a slight bend at the knee,  relaxing my arms by my side, and leaning my seat back all helped to decrease any uncomfortability.

On the way back, I didn’t stretch at all — and I certainly felt the difference. Aches in my back and legs were bothering me during and a few hours after the flight.

Sleep on the pullout tray

This is another alternative to sleeping while sitting straight up. While it might be tough for some to bend down enough to rest on the pullout tray, if you’re short then it will work. You can bring a pillow to put on it, or simply flip around your neck pillow and use it that way. It’s very similar to laying your head on a desk when you sleep in class.

By the way, I’m not advocating sleeping in class, nor am I saying that I’ve ever done it.

But it’s a lot like that.

I also tried this one on my recent trip and it seems that simply getting horizontal after sitting vertically for so long will help you doze off easier.

 

Listen to soothing music

once you get up in the air, you’ll quickly notice that the sound of the engine stays very loud and annoying. It’s tough to sleep with that constant noise unless for some reason it soothes you. This was the case for my friend who enjoyed the white noise type buzzing sound of the engine. Myself and many others I’ve spoken to do not find it soothing and would rather pop in headphones to drown it out. If you’re trying to sleep, listen to something with a soft slow beat. This will mix with the engine sound in the background to create a soothing white noise.

Don’t forget, these aren’t the only things you can do. Many people have personal preferences when it comes to getting comfortable on a plane. For example, I like to wear a hoodie and tie the hood closed around my head.

I may look weird but I don’t care because I’m asleep.

Don’t ignore the troubles that come along with an extensive plane ride. Take these tips into account and make your travel as comfortable as possible.

Also, let me know how these work for you and if there is a good one I left out!

5 healthy foods that you can stress eat without consequences

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably stress eaten something in your life and paid the annoying consequences. Ever eaten a whole tub of ice cream in one sitting?

Ya, me too.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Usually, stress eating is associated with weight gain because we are prone to eat super unhealthy foods when we’re stressed out. But what will happen if we begin to stress eat foods that taste good, are healthy, and lower our stress levels?

Good things. Good things will happen.

1. Asparagus

Studies have linked depression to a deficiency in folic acid, which is a form of Vitamin B-9. Guess what has a ton of this folic acid. That’s right, asparagus. Eat just two cups of this stuff and you’ll have your entire daily value plus some.

For those who are gagging right now because they don’t like asparagus, never fear. There are many ways to cook asparagus.

Most people eat it sautéed and dipped in their favorite dressing. This is my favorite method because it tastes less like a vegetable this way. If you don’t like that, you can fry it, chop it up, and put it in an omelet. Instead of trying to choke it down alone, it adds flavor to an already tasty omelet.

2. Blueberries

What? Blueberries? But I LOVE blueberries?!

Yes, yes you do.

And they also contain a horde of antioxidants and vitamin c which help reduces stress. Eat them with your lunch or spread blueberry jam on your toast. If I know the day is going to be a killer, I’ll throw a bunch of blueberries in my morning oatmeal to help me out.

3. Almonds

Ok. I LOVE almonds. Not only do they contain a ton of Vitamin B2 and E, but simply chomping on them is a stress reliever in itself. I can eat them completely plain because I like them so much, but most people can only do the salted ones. That’s okay too.

You can put them in your yogurt, eat them alone, or put almond butter on toast and eat it that way. All around a good choice.

4. Orange Juice

Have you ever gone to brunch and ordered anything other than orange juice?!

You probably have.

But I haven’t because I esteem orange juice that highly.

Yet another item packed with vitamin c, oranges can reduce stress by reducing your cortisol levels. I talk more about the hormone cortisol here. There are millions of ways to eat oranges. Keep it simple, and just have an orange on the side of your lunch, or — the best and most common way — drink orange juice with your breakfast.

5. Greek Yogurt

I’ll admit, I didn’t like Greek yogurt at first.

Although, that was probably because I first had it while sitting on the floor of a dorm room.

A number of great brands have popped up over the years. I like Chobani, personally, although it might drain your wallet if you’re not careful. Go with a cheaper brand if you’re low on dough.

I love yogurt because you can eat it for breakfast in the morning or for a late night snack. The high in protein yogurt stimulates neurotransmitters in your brain like dopamine. High levels of these transmitters make you more alertness and reduce stress.

 

Every food included here I see as a win-win. It tastes great and keeps my stress from skyrocketing. Find one here that you like, and if you hate all of these, try another high in protein foods like eggs or fish!

It turns out you can stress eat without the consequences, and even with some benefits:)

Let me know in the comments how you like these!

 

3 ways journaling can help your social anxiety

A few years ago I would never have tried journaling. I assumed it was just a girly or feminine way of talking to yourself. I wasn’t about to jeopardize my masculinity so I could write some lame feelings down in a diary. What could I possibly benefit from that?

Fast forward a few years, and now I’m a huge advocate for journaling.

Why?

Because I learned how much it can help with my social anxiety.

 

If you know me, you know I don’t talk much. There are many people who are the same, and it’s not from a lack of intelligence or spite towards people around them. Sometimes when presented with a social situation, a surfeit of emotion overwhelms me and I lose my words. All the sudden I have no idea how to interact with the other person. It’s frustrating. What journaling does is help me articulate my communication confidently, and in a way that is appropriate and effective for whatever situation I’m in. For example, you may want to say hello to a random passerby, but be too nervous about a number of things. Am I going to say hello correctly?(this sounds silly but it’s true) Should I keep walking after the hello? Should it be a hello, or more of a hey there? These are real concerns for many people. Thankfully, I’m going to show you some tips for how journaling can help alleviate this kind of discomfort.

1. Prioritize fears and problems

Whilst writing down things about your day, don’t shy away from discussing the negatives. Some fears and problems can often times be resolved by simply thinking about them. Journaling forces you to think about the problem enough to get it down on a piece of paper. We are all dealing with multiple problems at any given time. But some of them need more attention than others. For example, the fact that I am failing a class would be more important than the stain I need to get out of my shirt. When you’ve identified an important problem — my example is failing a class, make a list of things that can help you solve that problem! My list would look something like this.

  • Make more time to study
  • Go in for tutoring
  • Ask more questions in class

Again, you may not need to write everything down, but doing so forces your mind to work it out — and that is the goal.

2. Identify negative behaviors and promote positive ones

Sometimes in the mess of life, it is difficult to always be self-aware. Sometimes we will do things that hurt other people– and not even notice it. Writing down events from our day will help us identify negative and positive behaviors. But it doesn’t stop there. After you categorize your actions, make a point to focus on doing the positive things, and dropping the negative ones. By becoming more self-aware, you — in turn — become more confident in the actions that you do take.

Here is an example using the situation of the passerby.

You feel anxious greeting people as you guys walk by each other. In the journal, you can write something down like — ‘greeting people with a smile and a simple hello is a positive behavior’. Then as time goes on, you can make an effort to do this with everyone you pass by. This might sound odd, but eventually, you’ll get to the point where it won’t be so routine. You’ll be confident enough in your ‘social abilities’ to say whatever you want when you see a specific person. But the journal helps you identify some of these things so you can focus on them.

3. Reduce stress

This is the one you’ve probably heard of before. When I fought with my brothers, my parents would tell us to write down our feelings. Needless to say, I thought it was really dumb. The reason for this was because writing something down allows us to really think about it. Why am I feeling this way? How am I making this other person feel?

It’s sort of like self-awareness training. And it helps with social anxiety.

After realizing the issue — and writing it down — we create a stress-free mind that is able to process it with much more clarity.

If you tend to stress about many things, write them down.

All of them.

It might take a while, but you’ll quickly realize that things you once worried so intensely about now seem insignificant.

I would love to hear how these tips work for you. Let me know in the comments!

 

This technique is designed to help you fall asleep in 100 seconds

Falling asleep quickly is all about clearing your thoughts enough to let your body drift into the subconscious. In a life that is always moving at 100 mph, it seems we — as a society — have lost this art. But I’m going to show you how — with a little practice — you can learn it and use it whenever you wish.

There are multiple ways to do this actually.

You can get up at 4 am every morning and do manual labor for 15 hours. I guarantee you will fall asleep right away. But if you’re doing that already, you probably don’t have an issue falling asleep quickly.

The way I’m going to show you doesn’t require that kind of commitment — although it does require dedication nonetheless. You will need to take the time to train your brain in order for this method to be fully effective.

 

Read before moving on

If you’re a coffee drinker, seriously consider cutting it out if you want to see this work. Coffee — and other types of caffeine — are stimulants which will keep you awake even if you only drink a little bit in the morning. I strongly propose getting off coffee for at least a week before you try this. After you have successfully learned this method, you can phase it back into your diet. Check out my other post on How Coffee Affects Sleep to learn more about that.

This method focuses on training your mind to sleep, even when it may not want to. There are many factors that contribute to how quickly one can fall asleep. For this method, we are going to assume that you have proper sleeping conditions every time you train. That means a dark, quiet room, still, with a temperature that you find comfortable. Please note this is not some quick melatonin pill that will knock you out whenever you want. You must learn this. The technique takes practice, so do not be discouraged if you can’t get it right away. It may take weeks, months, or even years to do it well. You may be able to do it in less, but it will still take much practice.

Typically, I can fall asleep in under 30 seconds — sometimes 1 minute. If I have a lot on my mind at the time, it may take longer. Normally, I won’t be able to force myself asleep if I’m 100% awake. I need to be at least somewhat sleepy in order for the practice to really count.

If you do this training for a while, you will start seeing improvements on how quickly you can drift off. Eventually, you won’t even think about it because it will be automatic. Don’t worry if it seems to be taking forever though — consistency is key.

The Reasoning

Your brain knows what it is like to fall asleep quickly. You’ve done it before at some point in your life. Whether it was right after lunch on Sunday, or while watching a movie late at night. You have the ability to enter sleep mode quicker than you think. You’re just out of practice.  Take this to heart as you train — convince your mind that it does, in fact, know how to do this. At all times, your brain is performing a dozen different processes. It is thinking about multiple things all at once.  In order to fall asleep on command, you must train your brain to block out all activity and transition into sleep. This is — at the core — exactly what you are doing every night when you go to sleep. When you lie in bed trying to sleep, you’re waiting on your brain to switch modes of consciousness.   The brain can take a long time to make this transition, which is why you sometimes just lie there with your thoughts running everywhere. People are different as well. Some might learn this method easily and be falling asleep in under a minute very soon.

And some will take months to learn it. That’s how it was with me.

It’s also important to note that diet always plays a significant role in the success of any sleep changes. A healthy, more balanced diet will assist you in adapting easier. If you eat a lot of processed, fatty foods, you may find yourself having a ton of difficulty. Avoid this beforehand by improving your diet for at least a week before starting to train.

Whatever the difficulty, don’t give up on yourself. You can do this.

The subconscious mind is in charge of switching to sleep mode. Without efficient control of it, sleep will not come easily — even if your conscious mind is demanding it. The method I’ll show you will train your subconscious to listen to the commands of your conscious mind without hesitation.

The Method

Ok so here is the part you’ve been waiting for. If you skipped down to this point, I’d encourage you to read the above sections.

The method includes frequent, timed naps in order to teach yourself to fall asleep quicker. If you have time during the day, start to take short naps each day. Get a timer — it can be on your phone or elsewhere — and set it for 10 – 20 minutes, depending on how much time you have. Most people don’t have 20 minutes in the middle of the day, but if you can find the time anywhere in your schedule, take it. Try to choose a time during the day when you are a bit sleepy. For me, this is usually around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. You want to make sure you are at least a little bit tired, or else you’ll be training your brain to sleep when it doesn’t need to.

Set the timer, lie down, and attempt to fall asleep like you normally would. Try to think about nothing. Have your mind be absent of focus so that it drifts out of consciousness. When your timer runs out, get up and resume your day like usual. Do not hesitate to get up and do not continue trying to sleep, no matter how much longer your schedule will allow you to lay there. This is critical. It’s not easy to do especially if you were just about to fall asleep. But it is important that you obey the timer and move on with your day. While the goal is to fall asleep during this short nap time, don’t worry if you end up just lying there for the whole time. You must train your brain to obey whether you tell it to sleep or get up. It’s okay to do this in the evening too. A good time would be after dinner(6 or 7) — just make sure you don’t accidentally sleep through the night.\

The Method(continued)

The next part involves training your body to get up at the same time each morning. Set your alarm clock for the same time — say 7 am — and get up right when it goes off. No pressing snooze; no laying there until you feel like getting up. You want to make your brain associate being awake with being active. Correspondingly, you want your brain to associate lying down and closing your eyes with sleeping. Go to sleep at the same time every night too, whether that is 8 pm, 11 pm, or 2 am. Make sure you get enough sleep to keep your body rested.

The point is to take out any transition time that often comes along with sleeping or waking up. Condition your brain to recognize sleep as a limited thing. Not something you can just make up whenever. By not wasting time with these transitions, you train the brain to do the same.

Don’t try to compensate a lack of sleep by going to bed earlier. Stay faithful to your schedule even if it’s difficult.

And DO NOT sleep in. At least until you have become good at falling asleep on command.

I know that sounds horrible. But trust me, if you stick to it you will appreciate your newfound skill much more than sleeping in. Personally, I used to rely on Saturday morning to catch up on sleep. Now I don’t even need to.

Needless to say, I have much more productive Saturdays now.

You’re probably thinking — wow this is really strict. And you’re right. It is that way because your brain needs to see this adaptation as a  necessity. Allowing your brain to slack off will only result in more difficulty.

After a while — or however long it takes — you can drop the alarms and sleep whenever you want. If you’ve truly taught your brain to do this, it will stay with you after you stop. The most important thing to remember is to not revert your brain back by falling into old habits. Playing on your phone for an hour, or lying in bed and thinking will only cause your brain to adapt back. You don’t have to be as strict as you were during the training, but still be aware of these things.

Now go. Put this into practice and make the quality of your life better 🙂

 

5 tips to remember your dreams tonight

Dreams are such a mystery. They come and go, night after night, with little to no recollection of their contents or significance. Everyone dreams, but not everyone remembers what their dreams were about. What would happen if we started to remember the things we dream about? What experiences would we have? Would we learn more about ourselves, or would we simply open up another door to an exceedingly vast sphere of mystery? I guess you never know unless you try.

Here are 5 tips to remember your dreams more clearly tonight:

1. Sleep More

This may sound obvious, but there is research that backs it. On average, we dream 4-6 times each night. The y can be long or short, detailed or dull. The goal of dream recall is to remember more of the details to even the dull dreams.

 

After 8 hours of sleep, we often experience up to 45 minutes of dreaming. That’s why we often have long and detailed dreams right before we wake up. Our minds are most likely to have dreams when we enter REM(rapid eye movement sleep). In the last minutes before we wake up, our body has entered a very deep REM cycle that prompts some awesome dreams.

Most people don’t get 8 hours of sleep every night. I don’t either. But if you want to have more REM cycles, you need to sleep more. It’s that simple.

 

2. Wake up in the middle of the night

Set an alarm for 5 hours after you go to sleep. You’re first REM cycle typically starts 4.5 hours after you actually fall asleep — so you should have gotten a solid 30 minutes of quality dreaming in. When you wake up, immediately start recalling what you remember. Take note of images, colors, sounds — and especially dialogue. The more you intentionally recall your dream details, the better you train your brain to do it naturally. Researchers suggest it’s easier to remember a dream when we wake up directly from it. This means that more often than not, you’ll be waking up in the middle of the night.

I know what you’re thinking — that sounds achingly unattractive. Who wants to disrupt a good night sleep halfway through? I understand.

But if you are serious about digging into your subconscious and remembering your dreams, you’re going to have to get a little uncomfortable.

3. Write it down

I’m sure you’ve heard of a dream journal. Many people do it simply because they love journaling, and their dreams give them something to journal about. But the main purpose of writing down your dreams is so that you can refer back to it later. Referring back to past dreams could help produce some reoccurring ones. Dreams that replay over and over again — or have a recurring aspect — are easily identified by the dreamer, making them a key piece in recalling dreams.

Keep pen and paper next to your bed. When you wake up from a dream — either in the middle of the night or in the morning — write down everything you remember about that dream. And I mean EVERYTHING. Where were you? What were you doing? Who was there? Try to recall specifics and rebuild the dream again in your head and on paper.  You can even take it a step further and write down specific things from your dreams on your bathroom mirror, in your car, or on the ceiling above your bed.

If you want, you can work on your memory recalling skills by remembering things you did in the waking day. Write down what you ate for breakfast or what color your best friends lunchbox was. Recreate real-life situations on paper, and you will learn to do the same thing with your dreams.

 

4. Instruct your brain to remember your dreams

When you lie in bed at night, your brain is playing a slideshow of the day’s activities. It makes a note of everything you’ve gotten done during the day and puts more things on the to-do list. What you want to do is put ‘remember my dreams’ on the night’s to-do list.

It turns out that our subconscious minds are highly suggestive. While you are drifting off, repeat something like “I remember all my dreams” over and over again. Use the present tense — instead of saying something like “I recalled my dream yesterday” — because you’re trying to convince your mind to think a certain way.

What this does is send a command to your brain instructing it to remember the dreams you have. And while you won’t be consciously remembering, your subconscious will hear the command too and act accordingly. It sounds quite elementary, I know, but it works!

 

5. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine before sleep

As you can guess, these depressants — or stimulants — restrain your body from entering REM sleep, the type of sleep where dreams occur most frequently. Alcohol can also suppress your memory which will obviously affect your dream recall. If you can avoid coffee or alcohol for the entire day, that would be ideal. But if you can’t go without and still want to remember some dreams, just make sure it’s been 8 or so hours since the last sip. For more on how coffee affects your dreams, check out my other post: How does caffeine affect dreams?

Remembering your dreams isn’t an easy task. That’s probably why you looked up how.

Try using all of these tips collectively and watch the dreams start flooding in like the Mill River:)

Also, make sure to comment and tell me how they worked for you!