These habits that you’re about to discover, you in fact already know of.
The answer to your life’s struggles has been under your nose the entire time. Only the reason you’ve never noticed is because it’s not been made apparent just how powerful these habits can be. So my aim is to really drill home and dismantle the common objections to instilling these two habits in to your life.
Forget everything else. If you were to just focus on these two habits, you will dramatically change the course of your life. I can promise you that.
What are these habits?
That’s it. That is literally the secret. That’s how you get ahead, that’s how you improve any aspect of your life.
But if it was merely just a case of implementing these habits, then why do we not hear about it?
Why instead, is there noise about routine, having a clear life vision, eating a certain way, cold showers, or whatever else the self-help industry spurs you to consume, thinking that this is the missing puzzle you need.
Forget it all for a moment.
Less is more – Focus on less, and you’ll get more out of it. Because it’s reading and meditating daily, that will lay the very strong foundations in which you will operate from.
Why should you read?
The power of reading only becomes apparent once you actually begin to apply the lessons and knowledge acquired from reading.
Reading copious books – especially self-help – is often criticised because you’re merely just jumping from book to book, in a form of ‘mental-masturbation’ from feeling like you’re learning but not actually crucially applying it.
In a nutshell, reading will give you the following:
1. Ability to deeply focus that also carries over to other aspects.
It’s said that reading for the mind is what exercise is for the body.
Neuroscientists have now developed terms for us to greater understand the effects of reading on the brain.
One of the effects is a reduction in ‘Attention Residue’. A term discussed by Author Cal Newport in his book ‘Deep work’.
Attention residue occurs when we switch from one task to another, leaving a mental ‘residue’ of attention on the task we temporally unattended.
What does this have to do with reading?
Reading strengthens your ability to focus for long deep bouts of time. Cal Newport believes that deep work is necessary if we want to create significate meaningful work, and that training our mind to deeply focus will allow us to do this. Reading therefore, is a great way to begin to train your mind to focus.
2. A more interesting person and a better conversationalist.
Small talk is necessary, but if you want to do both yourself and the person you speaking to a favour, it helps to have topics to discuss that you can:
- Find commonality in.
- Sharing facts, topics or knowledge that many will undoubtedly find interesting. The conversation will be more memorable and enjoyable – Invaluable if you’re wanting to give a good impression.
3. More compassionate and empathetic.
This is especially applicable when reading fiction. Since fiction often requires you to get inside the protagonist’s head. The descriptive writing of fiction allows you to do this. This carries over in to real-life making you empathic – A trait we that seems to be becoming more rare nowadays as social media continues to dominate a large majority for many.
One study concluded that Life-time exposure to fictional texts is associated with the trait of cognitive empathy.
4. Knowledge is literally power.
Think about it. Every single idea that has ever been and ever will be, begins in the mind.
The jet-engine that propels you off the runway at 200mph was once an idea. It was only culminated through thousands of trial & error that were predicated on the knowledge from those before us. Passing down their knowledge through predominantly what? Books.
If knowledge is power, then librarians are arm dealers.
‘Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.’― Dale Carnegie
Objection: I don’t have time. I’m too busy with my job, kids and other responsibilities.’
There is no such thing as time, only priorities.
Take responsibly when you say you don’t have time to read. What you actually mean is your priority is your job, your kids, that’s fine. But what about the accumulative hours of time spent scrolling on your phone?
Everybody at least has 10 minutes to themselves throughout the day, no matter how ‘busy’ you think you are.
The next time you’re on the toilet, have a book ready besides you. That right there, is an easy 2-5 pages… Although if you want to go longer, be prepared for that dreaded dead-leg feeling – Take that as your cue to know it’s time to finish shitting.
Objection: ‘I’ve tried reading, it’s just not for me; I just can’t read.
Truth: You can’t read because you don’t read.
Reading is a skill. Like any skill, you have to do deliberate practice to get better. Even on the days you don’t feel like it. Over time, the power of compound will begin to reveal itself in your ability to focus and read for longer periods of time.
Start now, even just 2 pages a day.
It’s no coincidence, that the average CEO reads 52 books a year, compared to the average person of only 12.
If you read a book a week – That’s 52 books a year.
Assuming you store and apply the knowledge you’ve learned over the course of 10 years, do you think you’ll be the same person if you hadn’t of read hundreds of books filled with life lessons from those around us and before us?
I know It’s not always enjoyable to read. But there’s always definite satisfaction in having read.
If you really want to make things stick if yo really want to supercharge your life with change, you need to compound it with Meditation.
The Power of Meditating
When was the last you just sat and did nothing?
Endless scrolling, always consuming, always on and never we do stop and check-in with our thoughts. As a result, we begin to identify with those thoughts. And when that happens, anxiety creeps in, self-esteem issues arise. Our ability to focus, to deal with our emotions, and make better decisions both personal and in business is negatively effected.
The results are in and the benefits of meditation are real and substantial. The only caveat, is it’s incredibility difficult to do. At least in the beginning.
But if you persist, you will reap the benefits:
Master this and everything from your job, relationships and sense of satisfaction will improve immensely. When you practice mediation, you practice mindfulness. And being mindful means being present to the current moment – This the key to a happy life. Let me explain.
Ruminating on the past causes depression, living in the future cause anxiety, but living in the present, the moment in which you’re reading this sentence, is all that there is and ever will be.
And yet, we worry about the future, we dwell on past mistakes, which takes us out of the present moment. This serves us no purpose but to rob us from enjoying the present moment – Be that the free time you have, being fully present with friends & family or just watching a good movie.
Mindfulness is the key. Meditation is the foundational exercise to improve mindfulness.
2. Self control and Self-awareness.
Reality is neutral. It’s only our perception that gives things meaning. No matter the situation, be that job-loss, missing the train or even losing a loved one. We always have control over how we respond to a situation.
If we allow the world to effect our thoughts, our mind become complicit in the provocation. We have allowed external events to effect our internal nature.
This is not to say you are not allowed to feel emotion, but instead, you’re capable of directing it and thus taking back the reigns that govern the thought.
Practicing meditations allows us to do this by observing the locust of thoughts between our ears. We learn to not identify with our thoughts, to create space and it’s within this space that we can operate in that separates us from animals – Our ability to reason and not just react to the outside world.
This sets the forefront for better decision making, reduced anxiety, frustrations and just overall improved sense of well-being.
A common objection
Objection: I can’t meditate, it’s just not for more me.
Truth: You can’t meditate because you don’t meditate.
How do you expect to be good at something when your environment does not compliment practice of it?
We’re lazy creatures by nature. We almost always take the path of least resistance. This was an evolutionary edge hundreds of thousands of years ago. But in today’s world we are constantly bombarded with distraction, easy pleasure and so it’s no wonder we can’t meditate, it’s like expecting a kid to pick broccoli in a candy store.
What you can do to become someone who meditates
You will struggle with this. Your brain will come up with every excuse not to do it – ‘It doesn’t benefit me’, ‘I can’t meditate’, ‘I don’t have time’.
It personally took me a good year of failed consistent practice until I made it non-negotiable so I could truly find if the benefits were real.
Remember, anything worth having doesn’t come easy. For results occur, you need to work at it. You need to do things that you don’t necessary always want to do. You don’t meditate because you enjoy every single session, but similar to reading – You enjoy having read, jus as you will enjoyed having meditated.
Start with just 10 minutes a day. Try that for just 1 week.
You won’t feel any signifant beneifts yet, so keep your expecations low.
Aim for 30 consecutive days, but don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or even several. Just get right back to it.
Eventually, you will begin to notice the benefits in the subtilties throughout your day.
I can’t quite explain the overall feeling, but it’s like having forgotten to brush your teeth in the morning – When you leave the house, you suddenly become very conscious of forgetting to brush your teeth. You feel horrible. Not prepared for the rest of the day.
Once you’ve got to stage of making meditation a natural habit, it’s hard to go back. It feels as though you’re navigating the world less sharp, less grounded.
If I could go back and give my younger self non-negotiable habits to ingrain for the rest of my life, it would be daily meditation and reading.
The return on investment is too good to miss out on. Reading and meditating is literally changing who I am as a person – my interests, sense of gratitude, my ability to formulate arguments and articulate myself, in business, decision-making, dealing with negative thoughts. On and on the list of benefits continue.
I’m not going back and neither should you once you start.