The First Thing You Need to Do If You Want to Change Your Life

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” ~Eckhart Tolle

There are two ways to live life.

One is a more reactive approach, where you fight back when you encounter challenges in your personal or professional life. The other is a more proactive one where you are mindful of the trends within you and around you and ready with your surfboard whenever a big wave hits!

The only difference between the two is awareness.

Awareness empowers you to make conscious choices based on an understanding of yourself and the situation, to notice what your choice created, and to then choose again. This is why awareness is powerful. By becoming aware, you are snatching control back.

Merely observing your thoughts and behavior can spur positive action.

Big words. How am I so sure?

Just by tracking my sleep, I was able to gain insights into what aids my sleep and what disrupts it.

When I started tracking my food, I realized calories don’t matter but macros do. I then changed how I consumed food.

Journaling allowed me to observe my mental chatter and learn from it. It made me aware that most of my anger and frustration stems from lack of sleep, food, or water.

Tracking my finances made it easier to make tough calls with my spending.

I didn’t make these changes overnight. They took days and months of being aware before the changes actually happened.

Awareness is knowledge. Knowledge gives you power. Power makes it easier to change.

In the absence of awareness, you react mindlessly to your surroundings because all you have is the movement of thought. Your reaction will then depend on your past experiences and conditioning.

If in the past, you dealt with stress by eating, you are going to reach for your favorite snack. If your past experience taught you to raise your voice to get heard, you will easily shout when you are being ignored.

You start to believe what you are experiencing is reality when actually you are experiencing the narrative your mind created as a reaction to what is going on around you. Without awareness, you confuse what is happening in your mind with reality. You are at the mercy of the conditioned mind.

“Awareness is all about restoring your freedom to choose what you want instead of what your past imposes on you.” ~Deepak Chopra

Most of us are clueless about why we do what we do, how we present ourselves, and how others perceive us. And we get stuck in negative patterns as a result.

Here are some ways you can improve your awareness so you can improve your life.

Practice self-reflection.

This allows you to take a step back and ask probing questions of yourself. As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Ask yourself: Why did I react this way? Why is this making me sad? Why am I so against this viewpoint? Where did this belief come from? 

Doing this will allow you to make stronger connections. It will make your convictions stronger and give you the fuel to argue your viewpoint in a civil manner. It will also make you aware of your bad habits and thought patterns.

For instance, self-reflection has taught me that I have a tendency to eat unhealthy food when I haven’t gotten enough sleep. I also have a tendency to shut myself off from people when I am angry instead of talking to them calmly. Knowing this about myself, I am able to catch these unhealthy habits and choose healthier responses.

Journal.

Journaling is a great tool for self-reflection, since it helps you understand and challenge your thoughts and beliefs, and it’s also an stress reliever. It acts as a brain dump. Think of this as a parking lot for your thoughts. Just like your back feels lighter when you take off your heavy backpack, your mind will feel lighter and less stressful once you dump your thoughts on a piece of paper.

You can do this once a week, once a day, or even once every fortnight. All you need is a diary and a pen to get going. Trust me, nobody is so busy that they cannot take five minutes in a day to journal.

Take personality and psychometric tests.

Whereas a personality test can give you insight into why you do the things you do, a psychometric test can help you asses your skills, knowledge, abilities, and characteristics. I am not a big fan of these, but there are scores of free tests available online. You might find yourself agreeing or disagreeing with the results, but they will give you some food for thought.

Since they’re all based on some sort of questionnaire that you answer, I would recommend taking more than one to get a broader understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, and behavior patterns.

Ask for feedback.

There is a catch to this one. You need to be willing to take the feedback someone gives you without being offended or getting into an argument. If you can ask probing questions from them to dig deeper, even better!

If you are uncomfortable with people pointing out your mistakes and shortcomings to your face, you can ask through email. This way you have time to digest what people write before responding and will be less likely to react defensively.

Step out of your comfort zone.

Once you become aware of your limitations, the next step is to push them and face your fears.

I used to hate talking to large crowds or presenting in front of people. Nothing made me sweat faster!

Since I was aware, I decided to tackle this by joining a student organization in college where my role was to go to different classes and present about the organization in efforts to recruit more students. It wasn’t easy, but within a year, I wasn’t sweating anymore!

For you, this might mean setting a boundary with someone after recognizing your habit of letting people take advantage of you or applying for a job you’ve been interested in after recognizing that you usually hold yourself back with fears of not being good enough.

This is how awareness changes your life: when you not only recognize what you’re doing and why but consciously choose to do something different.

Awareness makes you stronger. With awareness, you are able to bounce back faster after adversity. You are conscious of your insecurities and shortcomings. You have gone through the cycle enough times to understand what triggers them and how you can recover from them.

For example, in my case, when I am feeling sad and depressed, I know I can recover if I take a nap or go workout. It helps me shake off the bad mojo.

Awareness allows you to empathize with people. You can relate to the other person because you know the signs, having experienced them yourself. It becomes very easy to step into the other person’s shoes instead of judging them. In fact, it will come naturally after a while.

Your agility increases because of your awareness. You can pluck yourself in and out of any situation when you want and are able to adapt and pivot as needed on much shorter notice. In other words, you are able to move, think, or act quickly.

The pursuit of self-awareness also leads you to your blind spots. It uncovers the unknown and makes it known, so at least you are aware of it, even if you are not able to act on it right away.

When I look back, I have been blessed to have experienced many moments of awareness discovering things either by myself or because someone in my trusted circle caught it. I am pretty sure when you look back, you will also be able to spot those moments where your transformation first began because of the awareness bringing it to light.

The wheels of change begin to move with the first sign of awareness.

10 Inspiring Quotes on Innovation

Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.

10 Inspiring Quotes on Innovation

You know the saying, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” Well if nothing changes, we stay the same. We don’t grow. We don’t evolve. We don’t get better. And that’s not going to work—not for you, and not for the world. We need positive change. We need new ideas. We need progress. Read these quotes on innovation to inspire your next big idea and contribute to yourself and the greater good.

quotes on innovation

“The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.” –Arthur C. Clarke

“What is now proved was once only imagined.” –William Blake

quotes on innovation

“I want to put a ding in the universe.” –Steve Jobs
“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” –J.K. Rowling

quotes on innovation

“You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” –Albert Einstein
“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” –Peter F. Drucker

quotes on innovation

“If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.” –Charles Kettering
“Innovation is seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” –Dr. Albert, Szent- Györgyi
quotes on innovation
“There’s a way to do it better – find it.” –Thomas A. Edison
“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” –William Pollard

The 25 best cities to move to if you want to be happy

Would you be happier if you lived somewhere else?

According to a new survey of a half-million people across the nation, those who call Boulder, Colorado home reported being the happiest in the country — based on 15 different categories ranging from physical activity and healthy eating to vacation time and financial stability.

The list of the 25 Happiest Places in the United States, produced by National Geographic in connection with author Dan Buettner — whose book Blue Zones of Happiness shares advice from happy people around the globe — and national polling organization Gallup, lays out the top places where you can be surrounded by chipper, cheerful people.

Here are the 25 happiest places in the country

Boulder, Colorado

“Bolstered by a sense of community, access to nature, sustainable urban development and preservation policies, and perhaps even that clean mountain air, Boulderites overwhelmingly feel ‘active and productive every day,’” National Geographic concluded. “Per capita, more people walk to work in Boulder than in any other city in the U.S. Low rates of smoking and obesity, and high rates of exercise, contribute to the satisfaction locals feel.”

Santa Cruz-Watsonville

With the nation’s oldest amusement park and extensive coastal access, Santa Cruz is a paradise for surfers and beach-goers. It’s also a short distance from the area’s breathtaking redwood forests.

Charlottesville, Virginia

 

 

Recent controversial protests notwithstanding, Charlottesville ranked high on the National Geographic/Gallup poll in terms of overall happiness — both for its educational outposts of the University of Virginia as well as its access to the picturesque and hike-friendly Blue Ridge Mountains.

Fort Collins, Colorado

Fort Collins has a wealth of natural beauty, including Arapaho national forest, the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, with waterfalls, and abundant hiking, biking and water sport activities. In addition, according to National Geographic, Fort Collins’ Old Town storefronts inspired the creators of Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A.

San Luis Obispo, California

With endless hiking trails, artists studios and outdoor markets — as well as a famous Bubblegum Alley where the walls are covered with, you guessed it, chewed bubblegum — San Luis Obispo is a hub of happiness.

San Jose, California

The epicenter of Silicon Valley, San Jose features a host of outdoor recreational facilities as well as the legendary Winchester mystery house, wildlife habitats and museums.

Provo, Utah

Provo boasts access to picturesque mountains, waterfalls and ample hiking, as well as museums and dining options.

Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut

This metro area is just 40 miles from NYC, has plentiful public transportation, and features the highest concentration of corporations in the nation, according to National Geographic.

Barnstable Town, Massachusetts

Located on Cape Cod, Barnstable Town is a recreational paradise where residents and visitors can whale watch, boat, golf, check out wildlife sanctuaries and visit museums and historical sites

Anchorage, Alaska

In addition to being one of the happiest cities, Anchorage also was recently named one of the most hard working cities in the nation.

Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida

This coastal town is known as much for its high-end real estate as for its pristine beaches, not to mention its upscale shopping. It also features botanical gardens, zoos and state parks.

Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California

The coastal town is flanked by the Santa Ynez mountains, features architecture dating back to its former Spanish inhabitants and has a stretch of beaches and quick proximity to a host of California wine tours.

Salinas, California

Located just south of the Bay area, Salinas was home to author John Steinbeck and boasts a museum in his honor, along with a number of parks, zoos and gardens.

North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida

Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu’s reputation as a paradise is borne out by its white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, as well as by abundant natural treasures including volcanoes, parks and hiking.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan and a collection of museums, botanical gardens and arboretums.

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California

The picturesque west coast city — which has been the set of countless movies and TV shows — offers abundant recreational options for those who love the outdoors as well as rich culinary and cultural offerings.

Colorado Springs, Colorado

The stunning natural beauty of Colorado comes through again in Colorado Springs, located at the base of the Rockies and near the glacier-carved Pikes Peak. The town also boasts the Garden of the Gods, a park with red sandstone rock formations.

Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire

The riverfront town is home to The Currier Museum of Art, which lays claim to original Picasso and Georgia O’Keefe works, a Frank Lloyd Wright–designed building, and historic sites tracing the town’s history as a manufacturing and textile hub.

Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California

This coastal town has beaches for sunning, surfing and windsurfing and an historic main street with churches that dates back to 1809. You can also take an easy day trip to Channel Islands National Park, where wildlife including seals, foxes and birds await along with caves to explore.

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, District of Columbia/Virginia

While its role as the seat of government gets all the attention, the greater Washington D.C.-Virginia area is a walkable city with many hiking, biking and walking trails and access to nightlife and dining. Locals are surrounded by museums, historical sites and public transportation

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota/Wisconsin

Home to the Mall of America, the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington area also includes a sea life aquarium, football, hockey and cultural hotspots including the Walker Art Center sculpture garden.

San Diego-Carlsbad, California

The coastal city is home to a collection of surfing beaches, gorgeous flower fields with acres of seasonal wildflowers, and a Legoland California theme park.

Portland, Maine

The port city is a hub of culture, history and natural treasures, from a host of parks and water activities including kayaking and boating to easy access to skiing and beaches.

Austin, Texas

Rounding out the list is Austin, where the annual South by Southwest festival has catapulted the southern town into the forefront of music, art, film, food and tech. Homegrown artist and Boyhood writer/director Richard Linklater has set up his production shop Detour Filmproduction in town and University of Texas-Austin keeps a steady flow of young students cycling through the city.

The Gift

 

Winter snow is falling down
Children laughing all around
Lights are turning on
Like a fairy tale come true

Sittin’ by the fire we made
You’re the answer when I prayed
I would find someone
And, baby, I found you

And all I want is to hold you forever
All I need is you more everyday
You saved my heart from being broken apart
You gave your love away and I’m thankful everyday, for
the gift

Watching as you softly sleep
What I’d give if I could keep
Just this moment
If only time stood still

But the colors fade away
And the years will make us gray
But, baby, in my eyes
You’ll still be beautiful

And all I want is to hold you forever
All I need is you more everyday
You saved my heart from being broken apart
You gave your love away and I’m thankful everyday, for the gift

And all I want is to hold you forever
All I need is you more everyday
You saved my heart from being broken apart
You gave your love away
I can’t find the words to say
And I’m thankful everyday, for the gift