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10 Ways to Chill and Achieve Success and Happiness in 2019

Life-changing tips to increase your productivity and joy in the New Year.

We all know that achieving success and happiness depends on having proper balance between work and personal time. But in today’s hectic world, where you must do more in less time and with fewer resources, that goal can seem impossible to attain. When you frame your priorities and cultivate mindfulness in daily life, you realign and relearn what truly matters so you can still excel at your goals without sacrificing your joy. Here are 10 ways to chill and achieve personal success and happiness in 2019.

Photo by Alan King on Unsplash
Source: Photo by Alan King on Unsplash

1. Amp up your self-care.

When overdoing outweighs self-care, it’s time to invest in your own well-being. Chances are, you were taught that self-sacrifice is a virtue, that putting yourself last is a character strength.

But hold on.

Always putting yourself at the end of the line is a grave disservice that actually works against you. Self-care makes your use of time more sustainable. It’s important to avoid gobble, gulp, and go. Healthy eating, rest, and regular exercise give you the stamina to withstand any challenge a fast-paced life throws at you. Take good care of yourself first, and you have more to give to others and to your personal goals.

2. Indulge yourself.

When was the last time you soaked in a hot bath or indulged in a restorative activity that rejuvenates your mind and body and restores your success juices? Italians practice something called “il dolce far niente” — roughly translated “the sweetness of doing nothing.” Doing nothing is like the integral pauses to a beautiful piece of music. Without absences of sound, music would be just noise. It’s counter-intuitive, but doing nothing provides an incubation period for important decisions, giving you more clarity to put into your personal goals. Make a 15 or 20-minute appointment with yourself, and schedule personal time — a hobby, hot bath, manicure, yoga, facial, reading, sport, massage, or meditation.

3. Chill your faultfinder.

To achieve success in the New Year, you must be for yourself, not against others, but for yourself. If not, then who will be for you? That sounds simple enough, but you might not be used to being for yourself. Your relentless faultfinder — everybody has one — is too quick to judge you, minimize your accomplishments, or demote you to an underdog. Stepping back and observing your faultfinder with an impartial eye keeps you from clobbering yourself. It becomes obvious that the faultfinder doesn’t tell the truth, whittles you down to a stub, and undermines your success.

Start to recognize when your faultfinder pops up, kicking you around, keeping you stuck in self-sabotage. Think of it as a part of you — not all of you. Don’t believe the booming, eviscerating voice that attacks you with, “You don’t have what it takes.” To offset the faultfinder from getting in the way of your personal goals and stopping you in your tracks, replace it with a “favor-finder.” When you stumble, put down your gavel and pump up your kind favor-finder to offset your faultfinder’s critical voice. Then notice the difference in your ability to scale the obstacles to your goals. Chill your relentless faultfinder so it doesn’t dominate your thinking; maintain separation from it, and give more weight to your favor-finder, so you can persevere in anything you attempt.

4. Stack your optimistic deck.

Scientists say we’re hardwired with a negativity bias to keep us out of harm’s way. Because negativity has a longer shelf life, you overestimate threats and underestimate your ability to overcome them. It takes three positive thoughts to offset one negative thought. Although negativity hardwires you for safety, it limits your ability to see possibilities and keeps you from believing in yourself. But you don’t have to let your wiring dictate your actions. You can get into the habit of underestimating threats and overestimating your ability to overcome them. Here’s how:

Avoid blowing disappointments out of proportion; look for the upside of a downside situation; underscore positive feedback instead of letting it roll over your head; focus on the solution instead of the problem; pinpoint the opportunity in a challenge; refuse to let one bad outcome rule your future outlook; take chances instead of letting your survival fears hold the cards. Deal yourself an optimistic card on a regular basis to chill your mind, build your success mojo, and offset stress juices that could bring you to a screeching halt when you’re overwhelmed.

5. Give yourself regular doses of self-compassion.

We all need a shoulder to cry on when faced with rejection and heartbreak. But sometimes the only shoulder close by is your own. In an effort to cope, do you kick yourself for shortcomings, thinking this mistreatment can help your improve your success?

Not so fast.

Scientists say it’s the other way around. A direct link exists between self-compassion and success. Coming down hard on yourself after a setback dilutes your chances of rebounding. Self-compassion, on the other hand, is like a best friend that talks you off the ledge, bounces you back when you’re disheartened, and propels you closer to your goals. When you’re going through a letdown, instead of kicking yourself when you’re down, try a heavy dose of self-compassion. There’s nothing more soothing than a pep talk, affirmation, or an arm around the shoulder. I don’t mean someone else’s arm. I mean your own supportive arm can be a huge Rx for setbacks and delays. When you self-soothe through letdowns — instead of turning on yourself — you are happier and more successful. When daily obstacles leave you downhearted, take time out to chill. Enjoy your own company, be your own best friend, and do for yourself what you would do for those you love most.

6. H-A-L-T.

The acronym H-A-L-T stands for “hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.” When stress overtakes you and pulls you out of your life, this alert signal can bring you back into balance. If one or a combination of the four states is present, HALT is a gentle reminder for you to stop or slow down.

It’s a memory device for when you’re drowning in defeat and reminds you to take a few breaths and chill. First, take a deep abdominal breath through your nose. Hold it while you count to six. Then purse your lips and exhale slowly through them. Act intentionally to take care of yourself: Eat when hungry, let out your anger in a constructive way, call someone if you’re lonely, and rest when tired.

7. Send self-doubt packing.

Raise your hand if you’ve never had self-doubts. I thought so. I don’t see any hands in the air. Chances are, there are days when self-doubt takes up residence in your head. It tells you that you’re defeated before you begin. When doubt precedes your path, you’re already halfway down, and you haven’t even started the journey. It keeps you from taking the necessary risks to grow. If you look for defeat, you’ll find it. If you look for success, you’ll find success. What a relief to admit that you have self-doubt! Everyone does, but you don’t have to let it rent space in your head.

Doubt is a shadow over truth. Unless you recognize it, doubt overshadows the truth about who you are. Each time you step out of doubt’s shadow, you learn more self-truths. If you have a self-defeating outlook blocking your success, replace it with a positive outlook, and take steps to make the positive thought a reality. Send self-doubt packing, and move in self-confidence. As you chill, you will discover the real truth about yourself, one positive thought and one deadline at a time.

8. Cultivate a growth mindset.

Only the diligent survive the ups and downs of defeat. Statistics show that more of us have the stamina to continue to take safety risks after a car crash than to continue after a series of psychological defeats. Some people are more successful than others, because they have what is known as a growth mindset, basically a winning frame of mind. Michael Phelps had it in swimming, Serena Williams in tennis, Meryl Streep in acting, and Tom Brady in football.

How do you stack up?

If you have a growth mindset, you think of success and rejection as a package deal. You accept defeat and success equally and view obstacles, disappointments, and setbacks as opportunities from which to grow. You welcome rejections — no matter how painful, frustrating, big, or small — and envision mistakes as lessons from which to learn. You adopt the perspective that setbacks happen for you, not to you. Instead of throwing in the towel, you ask, “What can I manage or overcome here?” or “How can I turn a roadblock into a steppingstone?” You are a creative risk taker, unafraid to stretch beyond customary bounds, a master of self-correction, a good problem solver focused on solutions and skilled in following what you believe. When you live from a growth mindset on a daily basis, you discover that the power within you is greater than the challenges that lay before you. Just as grass grows through concrete, you can face defeat with a growth mindset by taking the towel you want to throw in and using it to wipe the sweat off your face, chilling, then hopping back into the saddle of success.

9. Set lifelines instead of deadlines.

There’s a reason why we call them deadlines. Chances are, you set the bar so high you require yourself to change tires going 80 miles an hour. Out-of-reach deadlines can be toxic. They can make you sick, debilitate — even kill you. And if you’re dead, you can’t achieve success. So consider lifelines that slow you down, help you chill, and paradoxically make you more productive and effective.

When you set lifelines, you don’t over-schedule. You put time cushions — time to breathe, eat a snack, go to the bathroom, or just look out the window — between tasks. When you have lifelines instead of deadlines, you’re less likely to hear that whooshing sound as deadlines go by or feel that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach for “always” being behind. Your days become less hurried and harried, and you enjoy them more. What about it? Do you hear that whooshing sound? Or not?

10. Be a good will hunter.

You’ve heard the old adage that it’s better to give than receive. It might sound odd, but helping others has a boomerang effect. Commonly known as the helper’s high, dispensing good will can boost your mood and help you chill and reach success.

According to scientists, brain scans of benevolent and generous people show stronger immune systems, calmer dispositions, and better emotional health. The more you spread good will and help colleagues, friends and neighbors, the more it helps you. Reaching out and supporting others gives you a break from your own stressors. It makes your life worthwhile and gives you a sense of purpose, and meaning. Performing kind acts — no matter how small or brief — connects you to people in a deeply meaningful and humane way. By taking good care of others, you take good care of yourself. You’re able to chill and more likely to realize the personal happiness and success you’ve been seeking.

More from Bryan E. Robinson Ph.D.
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