How To Double Your Energy! (Physical & Mental)

These 5 things will make you 200% more energetic! Today I want to talk about how we can influence our levels of energy, that have a direct effect on how we experience our life and on our productivity.

I’m sure you can relate: Sometimes you have a lot of work to finish. You have a deadline ahead, or you need to go out and get something done but: You feel super lethargic. You feel like all energy has drained from your body, you don’t have any motivation and you would rather just go to bed and sleep or do something like watching a movie or surfing on the internet and on facebook. You’d rather do something where you can relax momentarily and shut off. Many years ago when I went to school: each time I would come home from school I would be so tired and exhausted, that I would just drop into bed. I would sleep for half an hour, one hour, sometimes for two hours. Even after that I wouldn’t feel energized. Furthermore I would have terrible sleeping habits in the evening and this would affect my sleeping schedule. It was a very bad cycle.

Over the years I have learned how to actually change my level of energy. I’ve learned this by doing a lot of meditation and releasing layers of stress from my mind. I also learned a lot from Anthony Robbins, when I was at one of his seminars. He really inspired me with his amazing amounts of energy. It seemed like he was on drugs. But he is just very disciplined and follows a clear strategy to maximize his energy levels – a strategy which he shared at his seminar. I subsequently experienced for myself that if I follow certain guidelines, I can really increase the level of energy I have and this has had a huge impact on all areas of my life.

Let’s get started:

1. Purpose.

I want to start off with what I think is the most important thing in this equation of energy. If you don’t have purpose for what you are doing and why you are getting up in the morning, there is no reason for your body to provide you with energy. If there is something that is urgent and that needs to be done, you are convinced that you can do it and you actually want to do it because you see a favourable future for yourself and want to achieve that goal – then you are motivated. As a consequence your body will give you the energy necessary to move towards that goal. But if there is no motivation in the first place, if there is no purpose in the first place – that’s not going to happen. I remember when I was coming home from school, I was just relieved that school was over. I didn’t have a purpose or reason to do anything. I would just play computer games and zone out. This would keep my energy levels very low because there was nothing drawing me. There was no purpose to my life. There was no purpose in my mind and in my body. If you have a purpose, that is going to give you a lot of energy. Even if you have a sub-optimal nutrition, don’t get enough exercise or are under a lot of stress. Even if you have a bad sleeping cycle! Only this one thing: having a purpose, having a worthwhile goal and believing in yourself that you can achieve that goal: This will give you a lot of energy. So the first key for having more energy is getting clear on your purpose. Write it down in great detail like I talk about in my article and video called Nurturing Your Vision, where I talk about journaling about your vision each day. This way you can clarify it more and more and strengthen it each day. This is going to give you more energy!

2. Stress-Management

What is stress-management? Many people have a high level of stress in their life. You can see it in their bodies. They hold a lot of tension in their face, neck and shoulders. Sometimes their bodies are bent with tension and they don’t even know they are doing it, because it is outside of their awareness. I recently did an article and video on how we can improve our poste and grounding where I show you how to practically work with your body called Grounding And Posture. In there I also talk about how we can relax unnecessary tension. I walk you through an exercise where you imagine a strong string that is holding up your body, where you can relax all unnecessary tensions. This is one way you can do it with your body. There is various forms of meditation to help you with the mental aspect of stress. This way you can strengthen your awareness for your thoughts. This is important because what is connected with stress is: Negative Self-Talk. This is a big common cause of stress. If you can reduce negative self-talk and be more positive with yourself then you are going to have less stress. You can try a very simple practice like Smiling Meditation. If you practice meditation then you are going to have more awareness over your mind and you can more easily discard and release unnecessary stress that is building from your thoughts. This mental stress if it is left unchecked will manifest in the body sooner or later. If this is interesting to you or you feel like you are having too much stress: check out Reduce Stress By Eliminating Causes to find out how you can easily decrease the levels of stress in your life quickly. Effective stress-management is extremely important for increasing productivity and living a happier life! An example from my personal life: Many years ago when I would be under a lot of people, like in a public place or the public transport, I would immediately feel stressed, afraid and tense. I just couldn’t feel comfortable. Now over the years I’ve been able to recondition myself and now I am working at a job where I’m standing at railway stations. I’m under a lot of people. People are coming from all sides, it’s very crowded and sometimes cramped around me. But now it no longer bothers me. I actually feel relaxed like I would be in my living room! Because I conditioned my body and mind for that. I continuously relaxed tensions, staying very aware of my thoughts. I also practice what I teach in my other material. I work on my posture, so that I’m standing in structural alignment. I’m smiling and practicing a positive attitude towards myself and also towards others. This reflects in physical relaxation. So I’m feeling very comfortable and relaxed and as a consequence of this I have a lot more energy!

3. Sleep

If you don’t have a good quality of sleep or you are constantly getting too little sleep and you actually need more, then you are not going to have so much energy… You are actually harming your system and not getting the necessary rest. When you are having a lot of stress and don’t have strategies for managing stress properly, then you might not be able to fall asleep in the evening or have a bad quality of sleep at night. You may be lying in bed, tossing around, being stressed or afraid about this and that. My motto is: If you can solve a problem when it arises (during the day), by releasing unnecessary tensions in both mind and body, then you are going to sleep better in the evening. Of course sometimes things are bothering me in the evening, especially during stressful times. But overall I go to bed, lie down and I fall asleep. This happens when you can keep your mind at a healthy level of relaxation by doing proper stress-management. How you spend your day and your attitude during the day (like if you are having a lot of negative self-talk) – that’s going to reflect in how you feel in the evening and how you fall asleep and the quality of your sleep. When you can maintain a healthy, natural mental state within yourself throughout the day, or at least get back to it quickly when you have fallen off, then you don’t need to purposely relax yourself so much when going to bed. But that being said I am a big fan of a “winding-down-ritual”. I have rituals for both the morning and evening time. I usually meditate and do some QiGong in the evening and that helps me to calm down if the day was stressful. Another thing that is really useful is: When you go to bed you can affirm to yourself and set an intention that you are going to have proper sleep, the amount of sleep is going to be enough and that you are going to be well-rested. You imagine getting up in the morning feeling fresh, smiling and happy and determined. If you you do that before falling asleep this is going to help your sleep quality as well because you’re building a positive expectation and replacing possible negative visualisation and affirmation (that you might not even be aware of) with positive.

I recommend this short affirmation, which is from the book “The Miracle Morning“, by Hal Elrod: “Thank you for giving me these # hours of sleep tonight. # hours is exactly what I need to feel rested and energized in the morning. My body is capable of miraculous things, the least of which is generating an abundance of energy from # restful hours of sleep. I believe that I create my experience of reality, and I choose to create waking up tomorrow feeling energized and excited to take on my day, and I am grateful for that.”

Proper sleep is going to affect your body and you are going to have a stronger body, but also your mind is going to be more effective. For me it’s mostly about sleep quality. I know many people sleep 8 hours, for me 6 hours usually is enough and that’s the minimum I shoot for. You’ve got to find what’s your ideal amount of sleep. What helped me was to calculate in 1.5 hour-increments (that is supposedly how long one full sleep cycle lasts, be sure to add sometime for falling asleep). Maybe thats 8 hours or 5 hours, but: You’ve got to watch the quality of your sleep and see if you feel well-rested in the morning and if not then maybe it’s an issue with stress or maybe you shouldn’t eat that much in the evening or even try not eating in the evening. Often I left out dinner in the evening and lately I stopped having a meal in the evening altogether because I feel clearer and sleep better and also because of the many health benefits of “Intermittent Fasting“.

4. Food

When I was younger I didn’t mind so much what I was eating. I was eating stuff that wasn’t too healthy for my body and not paying too much attention to the quality of the food I was eating. The food you eat has a strong effect on you. If you’re younger then your body is more resilient but as you get older it becomes even more important to eat food that really nourishes your body and mind (see top 10 brain foods by Jim Kwik). I’m not going to say which foods are healthy or not – you’ve just got to find out for yourself. What I am going to say however is that I gravitate towards natural food and away from obvious bad food choices like processed food and an overconsumption of grains and sugar. Anthony Robbins had a great quote at his seminar that I really liked: “The longer the shelf life, the shorter your life”. Just think about a banana and how quickly it starts to get brown and deteriorate. If food can lie around for one or even two years and not undergo any substantial changes then you can be pretty sure it is dead food.

One very helpful guideline I use when I look at food is to have two categories of “good food”: There is food that is good because it is fresh, high-quality food. Food that actually nourishes the body, that has grown naturally AND then there is “good” food. It tastes really good but it is “good” in a different way. Like chips, sweets, a burger. This “good” food is very entertaining to the body and your taste buds, but it doesn’t really have good nutritional value. I make it a must for me to focus on eating foods that are good instead of foods that are “good”.

I want to have this balance where I mostly eat food that is healthy for my body and mind because I want to maximise energy and long-term well-being. This is also something I learned from Anthony Robbins. When I was at his seminar, he was having amazing energy and was in a great flow. You could see that his body and mind were at a peak state and that he was used to this. He talked about this mindset of “eating for energy instead of mere pleasure” and how this helps him to maintain this state of high energy in his body most of the time. His primary goal when eating is to maximize his energy. So I took this lesson from him and when I make a food decision I ask myself: “Is this food going to nourish me and give me energy – or is it going to drain energy?” Is it something that would give ma a short-term high, where it feels and tastes “good” and entertains my taste buds, or is it something where I am going to have the energy in the afternoon or evening to do what I need to get done and to feel great in my body. Is this food going to make me feel good for a few seconds or is it going to make me feel good for the rest of the day and for the next day and the following weeks to come? This is a decision you’ve got to make every time you are in front of some food or when you are going shopping. I am well aware of the pleasure that “good” food brings (and believe me I sometimes look at tasty foods and feel desire for them) but I prioritize energy and well-being over it. If you start applying this then you will experience a big shift.

Also considering diet I suggest that you experiment for yourself what foods you like most and what gives you the most energy. There are many diet options and people are likewise convinced of starkly contrasting viewpoints. The real answer can only lie in personal experience and in trying things out for ourselves. I’m personally still experimenting with my diet. What is really important here is that you make a decision for yourself. That is – you don’t let your decisions be dictated from outside influences (advertisement, food choices offered, your peers) but instead you use your own mind and willpower, you think and reflect: “How does this food make me feel?”, “Does this food support my highest aspirations and goals for my body and life?” and then next time you can make an informed and well-reflected decision. You may think: “Last time when I ate this food I didn’t feel so good afterwards. I wasn’t productive. I was super-drowsy.” So then you can avoid it. You can say: “No. I’m going to make a decision that is more sustainable, where I’m going to have more energy and be able to get more things done and I’m happier over the long term in my life.” Also remember that this is a step-by-step process and that Change Happens Gradually – especially when changing old habits. Be patient and kind with yourself! Even a small step and improvement is a great success!

The issue of food has affected my life greatly. I know people who say: “Oh, but I want to enjoy food.” You can definitely enjoy food. There is food that is really good and healthy and once you are getting away from foods that are “super-entertaining” (and manufactured to be that way), then you are going to start enjoying wholesome and healthier foods that are actually good for you. These foods are entertaining in their own way – it’s a more subtle entertainment which you have to learn to really appreciate though.

5. Exercise

You can substantially increase your energy if you are moving and using your body intensely and regularly. That can be a minimum of walking each day (there’s this thing with 10.000 steps, which is a little controversial as brisk walking is different than very slow walking for example). Still even slow walking (outdoors!) is better than just sitting all day and will increase your energy levels – and it’s a great and simple place to start incorporating more movement into your days! I suggest doing 4 minutes of Tabata exercises in the morning (like suggested on Impact Theory with Shawn Stevenson who is a nutritionist and sleep expert). This helps to reset your cortisol-levels and leads to lower cortisol-levels in the evening (which translates to better sleep). But this not only helps with improving sleep quality but you also get a minimum of exercise done right in the morning. Another thing I do is when I am going to or coming from work I always jog. I like to make exercise a useful part of my day so I use it for routes I would have to cover anyways (it’ about a 5 minute jog each time). I also do some QiGong each day (this is great for joint flexibility and de-stressing) to mobilize the body. I also usually exercise for 20 minutes each day (I’ve been doing only the 4 minutes of Tabatas in the morning recently as I have been fasting). Using your body gives you a lot of energy! I don’t know how exactly it works but exercise energizes – Movement matters!

Let’s go through the steps again and see if you can remember. The first one we talked about was…

1. If you have a clear P…… then you are going to have more energy and you are going to feel more inspired. Your body is going to give you energy, because there is a reason for summoning up that energy within you. Then you are going to get more things done and you are also going to be happier – because there is meaning to your life.

2. The second thing that is really important, if there is a lot of stuff going in in your life is… It’s S….-M………. If you manage your stress very well and if you can decrease stress and let go of unnecessary tension then you are going to have a lot more energy and you are going to be more effective in your life. Also in the evening your levels of stress are going to affect how well you are able to fall asleep. It’s good to solve that problem of stress when it arises (by having proper Stress-Management) – during the day, so that you can enjoy a relaxed evening and refreshing sleep. Your self-talk, especially your n……. Self-Talk is going to have a big influence on your stress levels as well as sleep. If you can have positive self-talk then you are going to be much more relaxed. When you practice having self-awareness via Meditation then you can recognise unnecessary tensions earlier, even before they manifest in your body. If you have good body awareness and you practice improving and aligning your posture, like I explain here, or do some other type of body exercises, then you can also release unnecessary stresses and you are going to have more energy!

Remember: Excess tension is like a cage for energy. The energy is there but it is locked within the tension in your body. You can imagine that once you let go of the tension, the energy becomes free and it can flow through your body. It can flow into the things you want to accomplish in your life. It is a much more pleasant experience this way.

3. The next thing that is kind of the bridge between mind and body (what you do when your eyes are getting heavy) is S….. The quality of your sleep is affected by reducing negative and nourishing positive self talk and a healthy attitude. Also what you can do in the evening before going to bed is to set an I……… You plan clearly in your mind’s eye that you are going to sleep well and maximize the time you are sleeping, whatever the amount of time you have. You set the intention: “Okay. These X hours are going to be enough, my body is going be well-rested and refreshed from these X hours of sleep. There is going to be sufficient energy and I am going to wake up in the morning feeling motivated, happy and smiling. I’m going to be full of purpose, I know why I am getting up in the morning.” You can also visualise the first steps in the morning like: getting up, doing your morning routine (if you have one), or you can visualise eating or having your coffee in a relaxed way and then leaving the house motivated and energized. Setting an intention before bed is going to increase your energy because you are going to be sleeping better (positive attitude) and you are going to strengthen your purpose. Of course you can also use this for your days! By doing positive visualisation and affirmations you are actually shielding yourself from negative, unconstructive self talk because you have set a clear direction. If you do this intention setting in the evening there is going to be much less resistance and negative self-talk in the morning because you have primed (pre-programmed) yourself. If you keep up with this you can really change your habits in a deep way. This is going to help you a lot!

4. Now we are at the body level. The most important thing that we put into our body is our F…. This has a huge impact. What I learned from Anthony Robbins is to use food where you are maximizing your energy levels and not your (momentary) entertainment and enjoyment. You can have enjoyment as well from food that tastes good and that is nourishing and healthy, not from “good” foods (at least largely) and this is going to be an “honest” kind of good. It’s going to be more subtle than very entertaining food. The quality of the food is h… and if the quality of the food is high then your body is going to give you much more energy. It’s not going to be just a short-term burst, where you’ll be happy for a few minutes, but if you eat really healthy and good food then you’ll have long-term well-being. Now you have to discover for yourself what foods suit you, besides just going for natural wholesome foods that have naturally grown and to remember that the longer the shelf life, the shorter your life. It is imperative that you make decisions by y……. Because of you let other people (or advertisements) make decisions for you then these decisions are not going to be in your best interest (but in other people’s interest). It’s really worth it to invest the energy in informing yourself because proper food is so important. You’re going to move so much more in a direction that you are truly enjoying than when you just resign to what your environments dictates out of laziness or habit. When you are eating food that has very high q……, then you are going to have more e….. in your body and you will feel happy not for 5 minutes, but for the rest of the day, for the next day and for many days. You’ll also feel proud of yourself for taking charge of this area of your life!

Another thing regarding food that i also recommend is to experiment with reducing or leaving out your evening meal or to read about Intermittent Fasting. Especially not eating heavy foods late in the evening. I’ve found for myself that is a good thing for me. Also I usually don’t snack throughout the day – this removes many unhealthy food choices. This is an example of utilizing a Bright Line decision (4:35 video, very important concept for changing habits effectively). This has helped me a lot in changing habits (even if other people sometimes call me extreme, it simply works!) If you want to go a little more in-depth on eating then I also recommend this (16:21 long video). So by avoiding snacking overall I have more discipline and am less distracted when working This is easier if you are not used to eating a lot of sugar throughout the day, if you are, plus are not happy with that, then you might have to take a look at other things first. Its very important though that what you do feels right to you and suits you. These are merely suggestions, but I can say from personal experience that it is really rewarding to experiment – even if it’s difficult or uncomfortable at times! Remember to take small steps if you want to make sustainable changes.

5. The last thing is E……. If you move your body then your body can detox because the lymph fluid in your body will circulate. Your body is designed for movement. It is said the brain’s foremost function is motor control – movement! So when you are using your body and especially when exercising or doing sports you are not only training your body but also your mind. You are increasing your brain’s performance. What helps too is the increased amount of oxygen – especially when you are moving outside. I like to combine things to make it more efficient – so I jog when I go to work or when I go shopping. Another thing I really like is doing exercise in the early morning, at least 4 minutes of high intensity (where your pulse actually rises and that feels streneous). This way you are going to have a positive benefit throughout the day. Again listen to yourself – if mornings are too difficult for you then it’s better to do it later in the day or even in the evening than not doing it at all. This helps a lot to increase your levels of energy!

Now looking at these steps, if you make a critical assessment: judge your own level of energy, look at these areas that I’ve talked about and find one area where you feel there is going to be the most leverage. Where you feel: “I really have to look at this area”. Then start systematically improving this area (you’ve got to begin simple). You can write down WHY you want to improve this area of your life (both positive and negative consequences) and HOW you could go about doing it. Then commit to at least 1 small action (it’s best when you can take that action immediately like right now after planning to get the ball rolling. That can be a simple 2-5 minute action like throwing away junk food from your kitchen or creating a meal plan.

When you apply this information then you will feel a great increase in your levels of energy! You will have more motivation (because you’re going to feel that you are living your life with P……) and if you do that you are going to have a much better experience and higher productivity. I can say from my own experience: It’s very worthwhile! I love doing it. I love keeping my energy high, by taking care of my Purpose and Attitude, my Sleep, my Stress-Management, eating healthy Foods and Exercise and this has helped me greatly. I can only recommend it. I hope you enjoyed this article and I look forward to talking to you next time!

Grounding & Posture

Today I want to speak about Grounding and Posture. About tension and how tension tires. Many people think that when they’re tensing up they are being tough but actually, if you are tense then you become like a toad. You become inflexible and lethargic. In relaxation and letting go of tension there is a lot of power. There is a lot of flow, energy and efficiency to be re-discovered.

Now why is posture so important? I remember back when I was learning how to meet women and talking to a lot of girls. At one point I made a big shift in my communication. I learned about the meaning of leaning in too much with your body when talking to girls or other people. I was leaning in a lot. I was always thinking: “I want to meet a nice girl, I want to have this girl in my life. I want this person to like me”. I was communicating overinterest with my body and it didn’t feel good. Once I stopped doing that and I changed my attitude I was surprised at the big change that came from this small shift in the body made in my communications. Suddenly women responded much more positively. Just because I was being more relaxed and staying more centered with myself. With our posture and being grounded it’s not only about our communication with other people (there is a saying “You cannot not communicate”). It is at the same time communcation with ourself. Our subconscious mind is always eavesdropping. This is on the level of our thoughts, our self-talk, the things we say out loud and also how we hold and use our body. How we use our body is a statement. If you see people dancing, or even express themselves with music: there are many ways we can communicate our ideas and feelings. Our body language is a very direct way to communicate with ourself and with other people. Today I want to talk about a few simple things that we can do, that can really improve our grounding and help with being more relaxed. Before writing at length about it, I want to invite you to listen to the short session I recorded (~15 minutes). In there I will guide you through a few simple exercises for feeling your grounding, finding structural alignment and letting go of tensions. You can connect with your body and this will allow you to experience a deeper state of balance, leading to better performance in work and in your communcations. It’s also fun and pleasant and afterwards you’ll feel refreshed and energized. You can find the recording HERE.

Closing off I want to cover the important main points:

  1. Connection with yourself. That you connect with your own body and emotions. That you take the time to, maybe even close your eyes if it’s possible, feel your body and connect with yourself. This gets you out of your head and connected with your body. This brings you in contact with your emotions and your creativity. Feeling yourself lets you also feel what you actually want in a certain situation.
  2. A twofold balance. The first kind of balance is the balance between tension and relaxation. Over the last years I’ve done many different things. I’ve done a lot of formal sitting meditation. I’ve done seminars where there was a lot of bodily movement and activity. I did a seminar with Anthony Robbins (there is a lot of shouting and moving your body), which is kind of the opposite of a stillness retreat. What I learned is that it’s really about the delicate balance of having the necessary tension, activity, strength and power and at the same time relaxation wherever possible. The second balance is our actual “balance” (proper structural alignment) within our body. Here I talked about imagining a string that helps our head rise to the top and our spine to expand. Then in the next step we imagined this solid string was holding our body, allowing us to relax all unnecessary tension around what actually supports our posture (which is our spine and the muscles in our spine). We are held up and supported by our bone structure, not primarily by our muscles. This twofold balance brings us to a level of functioning that is optimal and that is also the most pleasant and comfortable.
  3. Repetition and gradual progress. You might notice that you’ll feel really good after doing this, but then ten minutes later you realise: “Oh, again I am slouching or tensing up in various areas of my body”. That’s completely natural. We all have our habitual ways of using our body in general but also of holding tension and certain places where we usually tense up. If we want to really change things then we have to apply effort and practice the new behaviour again and again until things begin to shift. So it’s really good if we can do this often. We may find a fixed time to do it like each time we are commuting (here we can align our spine and relax excess tension with the imagination exercise of the string, or practice simply feeling our feet and relaxing tension in our feet which helps with our grounding). For many years I had a routine I was doing every morning (these days I practice some form of “Qigong” which is also similar and helps me feel the body, get grounded and relax). Grounding, feeling the body, getting in contact with the floor. Paying attention to my structural alignment, standing upright, letting go of unnecessary tensions. Over the time it acccumulates. The more you do it the quicker and more change you can achieve for yourself.
  4. At last we have to recognise that our state of mind, our attitude, reflects in our body as well. If we do a lot of negative self-talk – at some point our shoulders will be drooping. But it works both ways. If we bring our body in alignment and relax unnecessary tensions and get grounded, this will also facilitate positive emotional and mental states. This then promotes a healthy and positive body language. This has a big effect on ourself as well as on our communcation with other people.

I’m excited about you trying this and hearing from you what this does for you. For me it has brought many big changes to my life over the years. It is a wonderful thing to pay attention to your body and to take the time to take great care of yourself and make yourself more effective, efficient and happy. I hope I was able to help you in this regard. See you next time!

Getting Things Done

…even if you don’t feel like doing it. Many times in our life there is something we know we have to do, but we don’t feel like doing it. I remember the time back when I was in school. I thought that the best possible situation, my real goal would be if I had no more stress. If there were no more things which I had to do. I thought that: “When there is nothing I have to do, then I am going to be free”. Over the years I realised that this was an illusion, it is not true. I discovered that what actually matters is is that our have to’s and must’s are such, that we ourselves decide on them. They are things where we make a conscious decision, from our own volition and say: “I want to achieve this goal, I want to do this, this is important to me. It is a must for me to do what is necessary to get there”. Once we take control and are no longer a victim, like I did back when I went to school: “The outside is pressuring me, why do I have to work and study, why do I have to do this… I don’t want to do this”. There is a lot of resistance with that attitude.
On the other hand we can take charge and say: “I’m here now. I want to do the best with my life. I want to have a good quality of life. I want to take care of my family and the people that are important to me. I want to impact the lives of other people positively and… in order to do that, there are certain things which I have got to do. I am going to do them. I am committed to doing them. I make them a must”.

For me a must is getting up early in the morning. I usually get up before 6 o’clock and on many days before 5 o’clock. Why? Because I simply want to use that quiet time in the morning to meditate, contemplate, exercise, read or to work. Once my son wakes up at about 7 o’clock then it is not so quiet anymore. If I am taking care of him that morning I have to get him ready and get him to his daycare mother. There is no other opportunity have time for myself or work on a project because there are other things which I have to take care of. I have to go to work or do various chores. I am aware that I need that time. I am aware that if I don’t get up in the morning at the designated time then I’m not going to have the time to meditate. I’m not going to have the time to do those things that are important to me. Some days when I wake up in the morning, I lie in bed and think to myself: “I don’t really want to get up..”. But then I just go over it in my head: “If I don’t get up then I won’t be able to meditate this hour today, I’m not going to be able to work on this project today, I’m not going to be able to read this thing that is really important to me today”. Then I just get up. I decide that it is important and I get up. It’s not so much that I am thinking about all of these things in the morning, spinning around in thoughts. It’s more like a recognition: “If I don’t get up now, I’m not going to be able to do that”. I get up because doing those things is important to me.

When I started recording the video on this topic, I really didn’t feel like it. I recorded a first take and I felt like it was really bad. I thought: “I don’t want to do it. Actually I’d like to go home”. But then I just continued doing it, because I felt that it is important to me and that I want to do this video. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to conveniently record it at another time this week, because there were many other things on my schedule. I realised: “Now is the time. I’ve got to do it. Now I’ll just follow through”. What is super-important to recognise is that: While it may not be easy to follow through with things when we don’t feel like doing them – it becomes easier with time”. This is because each time you do something, you follow your inner compass, you act in alignment with your vision and goals for your life – you are strengthening an identity within yourself that says: “I do what is good for myself, I keep my word, I follow through on things, I am someone who works towards the realisation of my goals and I achieve them”. The more you do it – the easier it gets. I really want to encourage you to have a look at your own life and see where you could strengthen your discipline and follow through on things, just by being aware of:

  1. What are the negative consequences if you don’t do it? Get clear about it.
  2. What are the positive consequences if you do follow through on it.

Honestly, for me it’s mostly the negative consequences that give me the “kick”, the motivation, where a switch is turned in my mind. Once I start doing what I have to do, most of the time I start to actually enjoy doing it. Many times when I don’t feel like moving my body (for example in the morning) and then I start doing it, then it becomes good to do it. Many times when I start recording, it’s really cold these days and I don’t feel like recording or I feel uneasy and insecure. But once I start doing it then it gets very easy, joyful and fun. So get started, just follow through, keep your own word – because it builds an identity where you just know: I am someone who achieves his/her goals, who follows through and keeps his/her word, who does not need to feel like doing something in order to get it done. Then you will see yourself achieving more and more of the results that you actually desire and move the areas of your life that you want to improve towards that vision you are holding.

Feel free to take advantage of the worksheet I created for this post.

Close Your Eyes For Productivity

Let’s talk about how to quickly and effectively relax. Many people forget to actually relax and take time off during their day. If our life is very busy and there are many things on our mind then we can get lost in trying to achieve something. We get stuck trying to meet our own or other people’s demands or fighting circumstances. This way we can end up being locked into a state of mental or physical stress (mental stress always manifests in the body).

In addition states of stress tend to self-amplify and can lead to a stress-cycle. This is because when we are under stress it becomes more difficult to actually feel our body and have awareness for what’s happening in our mind. Thus we may not be able to recognize where we are holding on to something either with our mind – in a way where we tense up, or where we are literally “holding” something with our muscles (unnecessary tension) with our body. So how can we quickly get out of such stress-cycles and reset our body and mind to return to optimal functionality and also take a fresh perspective on things? How do we take a break?

A very good solution for dealing with stress is having a meditation practice, but what works very well is: Closing your eyes. Simply sitting down somewhere, taking a few moments (5-10 minutes), closing your eyes and entering the space of your “internal world”: feeling your body, emotions and noticing your thoughts. I recorded a short meditation (7:20′) for this that guides you through this process of closing your eyes and exploring that space on the inside. A space with sufficient room and time so that you can recognize what is present in your body, emotions and mind and to allow for the possibility of effortless relaxation of unnecessary tensions. As the stress dissolves you can experience how you can quickly return to a much higher state of functioning and harmony within yourself and the world. You can then see for yourself how simple relaxation and self-awareness unleashes your natural capabilities and intelligence.

I hope you enjoy the short meditation I recorded for you. It’s about 7 minutes long. Have a listen and see what it does for you. If you really want to benefit from this then I encourage you to consciously take time to relax as often and regularly as you can. Starting with once a day is good. Choose a time where you could use a break, like in the middle of the day or when you are commuting and have a fixed time where you will be undisturbed. Feel free to use the meditation I recorded or just take it as inspiration and experiment for yourself. Once you get into the habit of doing this it will become second nature. In the beginning you might have to make a little effort to get started. By doing this you can actually change your mental and physical set-point. Not only will you be more relaxed and productive after you took some eyes-closed-time, but it will be affecting your whole day. Even better: the effect is cumulative. As you develop more self-awareness and learn to effectively relax excess tensions in your mind and body your stress-management is just going to keep improving: You can reach a new set-point in your overall stress-level and thus your performance.

Another thing you can combine with this is to practice visualisation. Picture in your mind’s eye a result you want to achieve. You can also use words or a short phrase. This can be how you want to optimally spend your day or week. You can also visualise a goal that is important to you. It is important to focus on the result ie. see yourself already having achieved it. Try to give it as much detail as you can and really feel it. Now why would you do that? I love the story of Roger Bannister who was the first person to run a mile under four minutes. At his time everybody believed that it was physically impossible to do so. But he kept believing that it was (and visualising himself achieving it). It is said that he would visualise himself crossing the finish line, the time being announced as 3 minutes and with the crowd cheering. This is exactly what happened. Believing that it was possible for him allowed him to actually do it (apparently he only trained for 30 minutes a day). After he had shown that it was doable other athletes followed and his record was broken just 46 days later.

If we want to do something we haven’t done before or thing is impossible, then we have to condition ourselves to believe that it is possible. This can be done using visualisation. It also helps to align your behaviour with your values. You begin to expect the desired result and your behaviour moves along with that. It’s very useful and even one minute or two minutes of visualisation here and there can have a positive impact. I hope you enjoy the meditation I recorded, and I see you next time.

The Power Of Kindness

Today I’d like to share a story, something that happened to me yesterday that really touched me. I was working at my current job which is for a railway company, so I was at a railway station, handing out information and talking to customers. When I work I’m always trying to meditate, trying to stay with Loving Kindness (Mettā). My aim is to contribute something to the atmosphere there. I know that many people are stressed, so I like to be there, just relax and just smile at people. I want to uplift them and contribute something. At some point a homeless man came up to me. He had two shopping bags with his stuff and he looked a bit rugged. Then he asked me something, but I had difficulty understanding him. But then he mentioned the name of a shop and I pointed him towards it. He thanked me and went off. I didn’t think much of it. But about 10 minutes later he came back and again he stopped. He put down his bags and looked at me. He was smiling at me and said something I couldn’t understand, as he didn’t speak german. He seemed to be emotionally touched and he was giving me a thumbs up and signaling me that he wanted to appreciate something about what I was doing. I didn’t really understand at first. Then he put his hand into his pocket and took out a few coins, which he had probably gotten from begging. He signaled me and then gave them into my hand. He gave me the money. He was really happy doing that. He gestured me that I should buy something to eat with the money. I had the thought of not accepting it, because clearly he didn’t have much. But then I felt that I really wanted to accept that gift from him. So I bowed down and thanked him. That really touched me. On one side there is this guy who has nothing, who basically has two shopping bags with his stuff. Then on the other me, being dressed in somewhat new clothes and it’s clear that I’m not suffering from poverty. Yet still he was so generous and wanted to give me that money. That really touched me and made me think about the power of kindness. How much power there is in that. When we can stay happy with ourself and then be be compassionate and kind with other people as well. To be really  kind to them and smile at them. Because when he first came up to me I was smiling at him, I was feeling a loving feeling and welcoming him. He probably often gets judged by people, and I wasn’t doing that. I was just seeing him and being kind and that really seems to have touched him. This is so beautiful. When we can touch people… Many of us live in a city and there is a wall between people. We don’t really communicate. If you can break through that wall and actually reach people and touch people’s heart. That’s a totally beautiful thing to do that. I had to cry a little bit after that incident. I just couldn’t believe it. Why would a homeless person who basically has nothing give me something – give me money. He probably didn’t have enough to eat and still he was doing that.

For many years I thought that kindness is something that we do to other people. “You should be kind, you should be nice.” But what I learned is that being kind is actually something that you feel in your own heart and you carry it with you all the time. If you’re angry or judgemental then likewise you are carrying that in your own heart. It is you who is going to feel the effect of that primarily. Other people are going to feel it for sure. But you are the first “victim” of your anger, of your judgement and your hatred. On the other hand you are also the first benefactor of your loving, kind and compassionate attitude that you’re having. This is so powerful. I remember back when I went to school. In the mornings I always was in a mode of resistance. I thought: “School is so bad. I don’t want to see anyone. I don’t like my life.” I carried this resistance in my heart. So I was feeling it all the time. When school was over, I still felt the aftereffect of that resistance. Now, as I’m cultivating more positive states and thoughts, where I’m cultivating acceptance and loving-kindness, practicing Mettā meditation that’s so different to back then. I carry that attitude with me all the time. It’s a gift for me, and it’s also something I can share with other people. It’s so beautiful when you can see that you can pierce through that wall, that often seperates people, and that you can reach someone. That you can touch another person. Like this guy who is living on the street. Just touching him. I could see his eyes alight. His heart opened. And that is so beautiful when you can do that.

What is connected with this is the concept of Re-Actions. I view most of the things we are doing as reactions to our environment. Many people think they are “acting”, but most of the time we are reacting. Something happens, we interpret it in a certain way and then we respond in the way we usually respond in this situation. We respond with anger, maybe with judgement. Maybe we respond by tensing up thinking: “Oh, there’s a problem.” or “I did something wrong, I failed”. These are patterns and this is when we are reacting. We are acting once we choose our response. Once we choose a wholesome response that is actually good for us and others. This is where the power with meditation lies. To recognise which things actually are (or create) a problem for us and where we should react differently. So what we can do is:

  1. We can take a look at our thoughts that are coming up. These thoughts are triggered by external events or even just by other thoughts we are spinning in our head or as a response to a memory. Then we see if the thoughts which are coming up are actually negative and harmful, positive or neutral. We check for their nature. Then:
  2. We can notice our reactions to these thoughts. This reaction can also be negative and harmful, positive or neutral. Because when we have thoughts, we usually react to them with different thoughts. The external event that prompted the initial response might long be over. At the point of reaction is where we can really change our character. Reactions to things in the outside, to our own thoughts and to our emotions. These reactions we are doing are moving (in increasing strength) as thoughts, internal self talk, external talk and finally actions with our body (of course if we are really angry we might skip straight to insulting someone and might not notice the thought-component at all in that moment.

Now regarding the consequences: I like to view this like a music record or tilling a field. It’s like you’re recording all the time what you are doing. What reactions you are having and at the end of the day you are going to feel (hear) the sum total of what you recorded during the day. Then on the next days, months and years that follow. That’s the conditioning that you put into your mind. You’re either putting in good seeds or bad seeds. Now if you put in seeds of kindness, love and compassion that is going to give you a corresponding “harvest”. It’s going to make you feel completely different than before. It’s also going to affect other people. It also makes your mind function much better. If your mind is not stuck in tension, resistance and you’re not fighting with yourself or things in the outside. If you’re not doing things where you’d get a bad conscience then: Your mind is calm. You’re at peace and you can actually do something that you find meaningful with your life. You can contribute to other people’s lives or you can fulfill your own goals and what you want to do in your life.

I really wanted to share this story of that homeless person that came up to me and that started resonating with that loving kindness which I was beaming at him. Where I noticed his heart opening and that he even wanted to give something although he had so little… and that made him so happy. It really touched me. I want to encourage you to also pierce through this wall, to not be afraid to smile at people and be kind and to touch people. To really make a connection with people. You don’t have to talk much, it can be only a smile and a nice and loving attitude in your mind. That makes all the difference.

How To Nurture Your Vision

A few days ago I had a great chat with a good friend of mine. We talked about how each of us is feeling and what challenges we are currently going through. We hat a really beautiful exchange. We also talked about the things that help each of us in our life, to make our life better. I told him about one thing that I was doing, which I hadn’t thought so much about. Yet he was quite inspired and said: “That’s really cool what you are doing. It’s great this is giving you results!” This got me thinking… On second thought I realised it is a really powerful strategy which I want to share with you today.

It’s very simple. I have a little notebook (hand-sized) and I take three minutes on my commute to work in the morning to write down the following things. On the top I write the current date and then I write: “I am so happy and grateful, now that…” And then I begin describing goals in my life as if I had already achieved them. I describe in present tense the fulfillment of my goals in the areas that are most important to me. Especially in areas where I am struggling at the moment.
Most people do have goals in their life. It is also common knowledge that writing down your goals makes you more likely to achieve them. Many people have written down their goals at some point, or they are writing New Years Resolutions. But if we do this and then put that vision for our life in a drawer, we are actually missing the biggest benefit clarifying our goals can give us! What is really going to help you is: if you keep repeating and clarifying the vision you hold for your life. This does a lot of things at once:

  1. If you keep repeating it you can move your goals from the realm of “impossible” to the realm of “possible”. Most of the goals that really inspire us seem quite “out there” when we set them. That’s exactly why they are inspiring to us. If you keep writing and clarifying your goal every day: you write it in the present tense, you feel how actually achieving your goal feels- this slowly moves it from the realm of “impossible” to the realm of “possible”. As you write it down it the specifics of what you want also will become clearer and this helps you to achieve it.
  2. “If you can hold it in your mind – you can hold it in your hand.” You do this by again and again clarifying and repeating your vision to yourself. Thus the vision you are having of your life stays active in your mind. You are going to start breathing and living that vision. It is going to be with you throughout your days. If you write your goals down once a year and then put them aside, your resolve is going to get lost in the external demands of your life as well as your old habits. You are going to eventually forget about it. But if you repeat it every day again and again and again you are going to develop an inner compass. You are going to feel if an action you are about to take is leading you in the direction of your goals or not. If you don’t have an inner compass then you are most likely going to live reactively – deciding on the spur of the moment. If your goal and direction is clear then you will be able to confidently engage in activities that are challenging, out of your comfort zone. You will know that they are the “right thing” to do and will move you closer to eventually realising your goal. You are living “from the inside out” instead of “from the outside in”. It will be easier to drop activities that offer immediate gratification, yet might not be leading you anywhere or offer you any long-term benefit. Writing down your goals every day really strengthens this compass and you will find yourself acting more and more in alignment with your goals, which moves you closer to their realisation.
  3. It is extremely motivating and inspiring to write down your goals in the present tense, clarify them and feel into how it feels to actually accomplish them. This is especially important if you are going through a difficult time in your life. I’ve done this exercise especially during times in my life when I have been feeling down or one area of my life felt like a complete disaster. I would sit down and I would write the vision for how I want this area of my life to be. That is really inspiring! If you are going through a fog all day and you are feeling like your life is totally not where you want it to be in some area. Or you feel discouraged and don’t know how to improve things and then you may even stop thinking about what you actually want, because of being discouraged and focused on the negative. When you start writing and you make an effort to write down what you actually want then you start getting new ideas and you can actually see a glimpse of how your life could be in that area. This is going to inspire and uplift you greatly. Especially during difficult times in your life.

This totally helped me and continues doing so. I really want to encourage you to do this. It’s only three minutes. But remember that the power with this exercise lies with the consistency. So if you decide to do it for 30 days for example, I suggest you take a calendar and mark each completed day. You can also simply draw 20 or 30 little boxes on a piece of paper and tick them off. Measuring it helps you to get a streak going and will motivate you. If you do this exercise consistently then it is going to give you results. If you only do it here and there then it’s going to be like a New Years  Resolution. You’re not going to get the full benefit you get from doing it consistently. 30 days times three minutes – that’s 90 minutes for a whole month. That’s almost nothing. A lot of people spend a lot more time watching TV or doing other things that don’t really yield a substantial long-term benefit. I think that there are things in our life that are absolutely meaningful, that can have a huge impact on our life and on the lives of people that we touch. There are things that are pleasant, that might bring joy and make us happy for the moment, but they don’t have that much of an impact (or even none). I love to focus on the things that really have an impact and that bring us closer to our vision of how we actually want our life to be.

This exercise is an exercise that can give you a lot of inspiration and motivation in the short term, but even more importantly: it is going to get you closer to your vision and have a long-term impact. You can take the goals in your life from the impossible to the possible, develop a compass for what actions lead you towards your goals and which don’t – thus you will increasingly act in alignment with your goals. You’re going to continually clarify them and feel inspired and motivated doing this. By doing these things you will move closer and closer and finally achieve your goals.


Edit on March 24th 2019

After writing out my goals for about three months every day in the way I outlined above I noticed that certain themes were repeating over and over. So in order to save time, but also keep conditioning and reminding myself of what matters most to me I recorded these statements (it’s about 4 minutes long). I now listen to these every morning as part of my morning routine. Now if there are things I want to work on currently I still write them down in a similar way. I can absolutely recommend this. Hearing your own voice talking about your top priorities and reminding yourself of them every day is very helpful in staying on track. This whole process has been very helpful in gaining more clarity regarding my goals and how I want to spend my life over the last months.

Staying Motivated

I spent about an hour recording takes for this video, but I wasn’t really happy with any of them. So this reminded me of a few years ago when I was trying to meet new people. I was going out with friends, or on my own chatting to a lot of people on the street, on the subway and in many different places. I was really trying to improve my social skills, to communicate honestly and become more confident. I wanted to get in contact with what I feel and learn how to honestly communicate that to others and see if there is resonance. Many times, even if I would go out and talk to many people I felt very discouraged. I had big goals and it was almost impossible for me to meet my expectations. Many times there just wasn’t a connection with anyone and sometimes I wasn’t even having very pleasant interactions. Thinking back I was trying to control variables that clearly were not in my control, and this was making me feel very discouraged and disempowered.

Then I learned a simple lessonthat really helped me. It was from a guy who was teaching social skills. His advice was simple: “If you want to get better at meeting new people – make the only requirement for your success that you are taking action.” So I made that a rule for myself. If I was not taking action then I was failing, but If I was taking action – then I was succeeding. By doing this I was beginning to focus on what I could control, instead of what I could not. This meant that if I was leaving the house, even though I felt shy, that was a success. If I saw someone that I found interesting or sympathic and I wanted to talk to them – and I got up the courage and did it – Success! No matter if that person liked me or didn’t, because that was ultimately out of my control. So my internal rule of success – taking action was fulfilled and this really motivated me. It put me back in the driver’s seat. It’s taking control of a process that I call “Success Cycle“. This basically means the fours steps Anthony Robbins defines as the definition, and the method for success. The four steps are:

  1. Clearly know what you want
  2. Take massive action
  3. Notice what’s working and what isn’t
  4. If it’s not working: Keep changing your approach until it does

Maybe you noticed that there is no “what if things don’t work out”. Because you keep at it until it does work. This is the cycle that gets you to your goal. You know where you are going, you are taking concrete steps, you are aware of what is getting you closer and what isn’t and: you stay flexible and adapt until you find a way. But this process only works if we are motivated! Our brain is designed to conserve energy. When it seems like we are not making any progress in something and our efforts feel futile for too long, then we can lose motivation altogether. Our brain says: “Hey, this is a waste of time! Let’s do something else..” But if we have a clear and achievable definition of what is success – then we can stay motivated. Even if we are on a plateau, a situation we are bound to face with more complex projects and goals. A plateau is a period of apparent stagnation (like a flat line). There is no visible progress at that moment. At these times things in the outside may simply have to align. Often there is a lot of crucial learning happening in these periods, which at the moment we don’t recognize because we are so focused on moving ahead. Using this rule of “Taking Acion Equals Success” is extremely valuable in maintaining your motivation, so we can continue to take action and take in feedback and learn. In my own life, once I changed this I went from going out thinking: “Oh.. now I have to chat to people.. and then somebody has to like me.. and then I have to meet somebody really cool… and then I have to master this area of my life” to “I’m leaving the house – it’s a success! Done… If I chat up people – that is a success.” I felt really motivated and this kept me going and I made much more progress than before.

The second thing that is helpful for staying in a “Cycle of Success” is managing comparisons. If we compare ourself with other people, sometimes it can be inspiring, but many times it is harmful for two reasons:

  1. Comparing ourself with others who are a lot better in a chosen area can feel daunting
  2. By looking at the “gap” we are not honoring the progress we have made so far

Maybe over the last two years you have made amazing progress in something. But if we just compare ourself with the outside then we are not honoring that. We only look at what is “still to be done” and fail to see what we have already achieved. What we can do instead is: We begin comparing ourself – with ourself. So we say: “Okay. Right now I’m not where I want to be in this area of my life. But: What about half a year ago? What about one year ago? What about two years ago?”. And you’ll look back and many times you’ll be surprised. You’ll think to yourself: “Wow. I really made progress in that area!”. You’ll feel proud of yourself. You can even pat yourself on the shoulder and say to yourself: “Great. Well done!”. This motivates you and really strengthens your self-confidence and motivation to keep going in the “Success Cycle”. Through the four steps of: Knowing what you want, taking action, noticing what’s working and what isn’t and changing your approach if things are not working, until you succeed. While taking action and learning you can encourage yourself by having clear and achievable standards for what is progress and what isn’t. You can condition yourself that: Taking action always equals success. This will motivate you greatly. It will give you power over your intrinsic motivation, instead of giving the power away to external circumstances or other people. Sometimes things just don’t align and we’re struggling. It’s important that we stay motivated through these periods of apparent stagnation (which is actually a period of learning), through the plateau, and then we actually achieve our goal. The breakthrough is coming right after the plateau! So if we stick in then we can also experience the breakthrough.

Coming back to the beginning of this video I apply the same process. Even after the last take I felt like none of the videos were perfect but: I planned the content, I’ve made the effort and went outside and recorded the videos. That’s a success. I pat myself on the shoulder. The second thing is that I compare myself with myself. Two years ago I remember that it was a big struggle to make a video. I felt so uncomfortable. I was trying to really “make it good” and act “proper” in front of the camera. I really couldn’t get myself across. These days I feel much more comfortable and I enjoy speaking to the camera. I made a lot of progress in that area. Of course there are other people who are doing things much better. But what helps me to keep going through this “Success Cycle” is to encourage myself and to motivate myself. This way I’ll be motivated again to record another video, to keep learning and taking action. And this way my skill-set and the results I can deliver improve. I definitely encourage you to try this in your own life. To see where you can clearly define what is success and what isn’t. “Taking action equals success” is a super-helpful mindset. It helped me so much. The second thing is comparing yourself with yourself so that you can honor the progress you have made so far. Staying aware that these two things help you to stay in this cycle of success of: Knowing what you want, taking action, noticing what’s working and what isn’t and to keep changing your approach, if things are not working, until they do work. This way you honor your progress so far and keep honoring the small steps you are taking. If you keep repeating this then you will get through the plateu and what comes after the plateau is the breakthrough.