Do you feel stuck in your life—inhibited, frustrated, or defeated? If so, there are definite steps you can take to live with guts and confidence and achieve your goals. In my fascinating interview with behavioral science expert, Amy Alkon, we delved into the scientific secrets of living successfully and joyfully.
Here are some of the tips you can incorporate to improve your life based on scientific research:
*Go for Small Wins: Instead of overwhelming yourself with big goals, start with small successes—what psychology calls “approximation to the goal.” If, for example, you want to solve a big problem (world hunger), begin by helping in small ways—give a sandwich and pair of socks to a homeless person. If you want to find your soul mate and are shy, talk to several appealing people; regardless of how they react; you secure a small win just by attempting to make contact.
*Have a Funeral for the Loser You: In the presence of a friend, take an old picture of you and tear it up (or burn it if it’s not a fire hazard)—as a symbolic gesture that you are leaving the old negativity in your life behind. You are on your way to becoming the new person you want to be. Rituals like this have power because they combine new thought with action, and help you leave old negative patterns behind.
*Be Inauthentic to Your False “Shitty” Self: If you’re authentic to your self-defeating negative self (“I’m not good enough), then you will get more of your old self-defeating thoughts, habits, and actions. Instead, choose a set of values for the type of person you want to be; for example, someone kind, confident, loving, respectful, and self-compassionate. When you select the guidelines for who you want to be—and live by those precepts—you will gain a significant amount of confidence and well-being in the process.
*Limit Your Choices for More Freedom: Research shows that we have a certain amount of daily energy for making decisions and exerting willpower. If we waste it on trying to make small choices, we won’t have enough leftover energy for the big decisions and issues in life. A good approach is to automate and pre-select certain things in your life. For example, choose beforehand what you’re going to eat or wear for the week ahead. If you have your own business, establish a consistent pattern of where you will work (home, office, coffeeshop, etc.), and at what time you will work, so you don’t have to think about it. In this way, you conserve your brainpower and have leftover cognitive capacity to decide on the important matters of the day.
*Recognize that Fear is Not Just the Problem, It’s the Solution: Instead of running from your fears, expose yourself to the fears. You will see that most of your fears are not realistic (they don’t have a high probability of occurring). If you’re shy about meeting people, expose yourself to more social situations in which you break the ice with others. If you’re hesitant about starting a new career, job, or business opportunity, expose yourself to the financial or business world; learn as much as you can; make friends with people who are already succeeding in the field. The more you expose yourself to what you fear, the less fear you will have.
It is possible to live confidently and joyfully, no matter how much you have suffered in the past, regardless of how many failures you have endured. You can change your self-talk and develop a more positive mindset by following some of the scientific principles we’ve been discussing. The aim is to get out of your own way and tap into the inner power and love you already possess.