14 Simple Ways To Live A Sensational Life

14 Simple Ways To Live A Sensational LifeBill smelled. I’m not being nasty when I say that. He just did.

His friend Jack, who he met every month, would agree with me. But he was too polite to say.

One month though, Bill raised it himself. He said “I smell, don’t I?”

Jack agreed.

“What can I do about it?” said Bill.

Jack thought about it and asked, “Do you ever have a bath? Or a shower?”

Bill never did.

“Well do that” said Jack. “Have a bath and wash yourself with soap. Then you won’t smell.”

So that’s what Bill did. He got home and ran himself a bath. He soaked in it for a good half hour, washing himself with soap as instructed.

When he emerged, he didn’t smell at all. Or rather, he did smell, but he smelled pleasant.

This delighted him.

A month later, Bill met up with his friend Jack.

Bill wasn’t happy at all. Bill smelled.

“It doesn’t work” said Bill. “I tried it, and it worked at first. But look at me now. I smell just like before.”

“But you have to keep doing it” said Jack. “You can’t just have one bath. You have to do it every day.”

I tell this story, because in many ways I’m just like Bill.

I bathe, don’t get me wrong. But I find things that work, then stop doing them.

Sometimes I stop doing them BECAUSE they work. I tell myself that everything is okay again now, so I don’t need to do it anymore.

Yet everything was okay because I was doing it.

I’m reminded of this as I browse through my old blog posts. I notice that I’ve discovered or invented lots of wonderful techniques to make my life better.

Yet many of them I’ve since forgotten about, never mind stopped using.

So I’ve decided to bring them together in one compendium. It will remind me of all the great tools at our disposal to help us live a happier life.

1. “I did. I am. So therefore…”

Optimism beats fear. The more optimistic we are, the more we expect good outcomes. One way to learn optimism is to apply hopeful narratives to our successes. We can do this by following the formula “I did, I am, so therefore.”

“I did” claims the credit to you and your own actions. “I am” helps you think of those qualities as something permanent about you. “So therefore” helps you view it as something beneficial to your life generally.

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2. Compare everything to zero

We tend to compare upwards rather than down. That makes us miserable. The alternative to what you have is not having better. It is to have nothing. Compare everything you have to no longer having anything. It will cultivate a feeling of gratitude. Many studies prove the link between gratitude and happiness.

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3. What is your need that is not currently being met?

Marshall Rosenberg taught that our strongest negative emotions are the result of unmet needs. We think the cause of our anger or hurt is another person’s behaviour. But that is just the stimulus. The real cause is that we have needs that are currently not being met. Once we identify those needs, we can make requests of ourself and others to get them met.

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And check out this podcast episode

4. Does this add value or take up space?

This was initially a question posed to email marketers. It also applies to household clutter. Yet it is more profound when applied to life. Think of the tasks you do, the friendships you have, and the way you spend your time. Does it add value, or is it just taking up space?

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5. Empathy Is Everything

Learn how to relate to people only in terms of their feelings and needs. If they bring a problem, don’t fix it. Just guess at their feeling and then guess at their need. “Are you feeling upset because you have a need for consideration?” It doesn’t matter if you guess wrong. They’ll tell you. There is no better way to strengthen your releationships with other people.

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6. From “have to” to “choose to”

We don’t “have to” do anything. We are always making a series of choices. So drop the phrase “have to” from your vocabulary. Some of the choices aren’t appealing ones, that’s true. But we still make choices nonetheless.

I don’t have to do what the police officer says. I choose to because I don’t want to go to jail. By identifying the true reasons behind our actions, it empowers us. We either feel happier with why we are doing it. Or we notice that our lives are driven by values we are not happy with, and change.

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7. Find your point of no return

When you have a goal like jogging, don’t focus on the thing itself. Your goal in this instance is not the jog. Find the smaller thing before that which is your point of no return. Once I’m out the door, I always do the jog. So getting out the door is my focus, not the run.

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8. Simplify it

There’s many different ways of getting to the same result. Here’s a question from Tim Ferriss that has helped me tons. “What would this look like if it was easy?” I’ve redesigned a lot of projects based on asking myself that question.

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9. Have multiple strategies

Many people face a problem with only one strategy. But psychological resilience involves having many ways of facing down a problem. They are: Avoid, Resist, Adapt, Challenge, and Convert. Five strategies beats one. I’ve used this technique for sleep and other things in my life. It works.

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10. The Fast Forward Test

It’s easy to drift into a life that is not enriching. Here’s a test to apply to every task you do. If you could fast forward your life so the task was done, would you? It will help you identify the things in life that are truly you. Because they are the things you wouldn’t fast forward even if you could.

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11. Smile And Be Happy

Don’t wait to feel good before you smile. Smiling will trigger happy feelings. Try practising deliberate smiling for prolonged periods of time. Like a car journey. It’s accessible and effective.

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12. Make your Facebook photo smiley

Seeing computer versions of yourself doing things will program you to be that thing. This works with exercise, and it works with happiness. Change your Facebook photo to one of you wearing a huge smile. Every time you use Facebook, you smiling is what you will see. It will program you to be that person for real.

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13. Live In The Now

This moment is your gift from the Universe. You’re meant to enjoy it. You’re not meant to have a rubbish now in the hope of a better one tomorrow. Ironically, research shows that focusing on end goals makes them less likely to happen. By enjoying this moment, you get a double benefit. You’ll enjoy your life as it happens, while inadvertently building a better future.

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14. Start small if big feels scary

We can stay frozen to the spot by the prospect of change. Change can feel big and discouraging. But there’s always some kind of change that feels small enough for us to try. The Japanese call it Kaizen. Aiming too high can stop us in our tracks. Yet just starting often leads us somewhere big. It’s true in life, and true in business. This is why if you want to earn £20,000 a year without a job, a great way to begin is by making just £20 per week.

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Alun Parry is Director of The Liverpool Psychotherapy Practice

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