How To Escape the Trap of Survival Mode

If you learn this one simple truth, you will move from Survival mode to “Thrival” mode. Survival mode will be something in your past, not your present or your future. You can finally start living your life the way you’ve always wanted but just didn’t have the tools to change. The secret to changing from Survival mode to “Thrival” mode is found in understanding your brain and the incredible power of small decisions. 

What Is Survival Mode?

For most of my life I’ve lived in survival mode and I never understood why. I felt like most people were against me and not for me. The only time they were for me is when they wanted something from me. And inevitably, someone would screw me over and my greatest fears would be confirmed. Then, the cycle would repeat itself.

Relationships weren’t the only areas where survival mode flourished. I was in survival mode in my job, with investments, and with my wife and children. I feared there wouldn’t be enough money to pay the bills, not enough time to spend together, at the end of the day I didn’t do enough to get my work done. There was never enough. I was always short-changed. In fact, if I was honest, I felt like I wasn’t enough and might never be.

BUT WHY WAS THIS HAPPENING?!

I finally discovered the truth: Our brains aren’t built to help us be happy or fulfilled, they are built to help us SURVIVE. That skill may work great for a hunter-gatherer, but it wasn’t helping me in the here and now.

The Two Parts of Your Brain

There are two parts to your brain: First, is the flight or fight response. The second is the part of the brain which understands how to help you THRIVE. It happens when you feel love, joy, connection, inspiration, hope, peace, or wonder.

No one enjoys feeling angry, stressed, frustrated, self-pity, fear, and a host of other negative emotions. But we’ve all learned to live with them. In fact, we’ve lived with them so long that when negativity isn’t a part of our lives, we feel like something is wrong. So, we go right back into flight or flight mode and the cycle continues creating more fear, stress, and anxiety.

Whenever we feel any kind of pain or emotional distress – whether it’s self-pity, for example, or guilt, or shame – we’re thrown, operationally, into a state of survival mode according to a Psychology Today article.

“Most people live this way since it’s the path of least resistance. They make unconscious decisions, based on habit and conditioning, and are at the mercy of their own minds. They assume that it’s just an inevitable part of life to get frustrated, stressed, sad, and angry—in other words, to live in a suffering state.” – Tony Robbins

So how do we CHANGE?

It’s time to kick Survival Mode out of 0ur lives and it comes down to taking control and making 4 different decisions:

  1. Commit that you will choose to be happy no matter what happens to you. This means that no matter the circumstance, you will choose to find the good in it. You will change your focus from fear and suffering to hope and prosperity. This means you will commit to enjoying life even when things don’t go your way. You have to become a master of spinning negativity into positivity.
  1. Fill your life with POSITIVITY not negativity. This has been a huge game changer for me. Did you know that 80% of the information you take in everyday is negative? This fuels the survival mode of your brain. It tells you there is a threat around every corner. There’s suspicion in every relationship and conspiracy in every decision you don’t like. DON’T GIVE NEGATIVITY POWER. Make a commitment to not let any negativity into your brain. Inevitably some will sneak in, but being vigilant and focused on positivity with immediately change how you feel and how you see the world.
  1. Make a MASSIVE investment in yourself. Start living a proactive life focused on being happy, positive, and the best version of yourself. Buy motivating books, enroll in an inspiring leadership course, get into a mastermind group. Set your focus on learning and growing in the areas that help you move to a place of health. Don’t settle for being a reactive, passive, negative human being. You have every resource within yourself to begin making change now.
  1. Remove yourself from toxic people and toxic environments. Sometimes we just need to learn how to put an end to things in our life that need to die. Reduce or eliminate your time from people that make you feel worse when you’re around them. If your stuck in a rut, you may need to make a massive change. Move across town, change the city you live in, or find different social circles.

Survival mode is only a temporary way of life. You arrived there because of specific decisions you have made that got you there and kept you there.

Thrival mode is about creating a thriving lifestyle filled with the positive things you want in life. They don’t come by accident, they come by intentions. As you begin to implement these simple changes, life moves out of the black and white into a beautiful explosion of color that changes who you are and what you see.

“Drop all the doubt, worry, stress, and anxiety that has been causing you to lose sleep at night. Decide to life your life looking forward, no backwards.” ~ Les Brown

1% Change Proves that Results are about Thinking Small not Big

 

Leadership gurus say to live the kind of life you’ve always dreamed about, you have to make massive changes. THAT’S JUST NOT TRUE. The best way to make personal improvement is to create small wins, or 1% marginal gains. Finding tiny improvement in several areas of your life will yield big results that lead to sustained change and science proves it. photo_dandelion_small_wins

The first time I heard about 1% incremental change was the story about Sir David Brailsford and the British Cycling Team. The team couldn’t produce a rider able to win the Tour De France in its entire history. Brailsford felt that by improving small areas by 1%, Team Sky could produce a British cycler who could win the Tour de France in 5 years. He was wrong. In only 2 ½ years Sir Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France in 2012 and British riders have won the completion 3 times in the last 4 years. They’ve also accumulated a total of 16 gold medals in the last 2 Olympics.

How Did They Do It?

They made 1% improvements in areas you would think of such as nutrition, aerodynamics of the bike, and comfort of the seat. But what’s incredible about this story is that Brailsford produced 1% gains in areas others didn’t think about. Through research they found a pillow that provided 1% better sleep and traveled with it. They discovered the correct sleeping posture which produced another 1% sleeping gain. Then, someone found a massage gel that worked 1% more effectively, and a sanitizer that was 1% better at killing bacteria and preventing sickness. When you take all of these 1% gains and add them up, they deliver maximized benefits.

The simple idea of marginal gains is this: by making small incremental changes in your life, you can benefit from huge gains over time. The people who have discovered this hidden truth and applied it, are some of the most successful people in the world. You can be too.

The reason most people fail at achieving their goals is because they aren’t able to be consistent over time. They start with big plans and giant goals but they give up way too soon. This is why health clubs are filled with people in January and empty in March.

I learned an incredible truth from Robin Sharma, “Intention is the mother of mastery.” What you do everyday is more important than what you do once a month or once a year. Over time, you experience huge benefits and the compound effect begins to reward you.

Take a look at what you do everyday. Your actions dictate what is most important to you. Sure, you may say that you want to get into shape but when it comes right down to it, the bed is more comfortable than the run and the unhealthy food tastes better than the salad. What you do today is simply your life in miniature. Change your daily decisions and you will change your life.

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” –Jim Rohn

This is exactly why I have created a habit called, “Begin Well, End Well.” What you do the first 5 minutes of the day and the last 5 minutes of the day can create gigantic gains in your life when you stay consistent. Creating the kind of life you desire is a gradual process of improvement rather than knee-jerk, radical changes.

Creating 1% Marginal Gains Immediately

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Why Negative Thoughts Create Discouragement and a Lack of Motivation

We are all faced with 1,000’s of opportunities each day to be positive or negative. Sadly, over 80% of people choose negative thoughts over positive ones. This is often responsible for why you feel bad, why you get discouraged, and why you might feel depressed, discouraged and lack motivation. photo_red_love_heart_alone-copy

One of the greatest things I’ve learned in the past few years is that there are chemicals behind my feelings. There are reasons I feel the way I do. Look at them as, “happy chemicals,” and “unhappy chemicals.” They are controlled by simple little thoughts. Studies show that over 80% of these thoughts are negative.

Most people have little concern over these thoughts that go into their brains. They listen to negative people, watch negative news, read negative Facebook feeds, and tell themselves negative stories about their self-worth and abilities. It’s constant. And they wonder why they feel bad?!

Why You Feel Bad

Every one of these negative thoughts releases negative chemicals in our bodies. It’s part of the biological process. One of the main reasons this happens is because of synapses in our brains. This is one of the first things students of neuroscience learn. There is a space between synapses called, “the synaptic cleft.” Think of it as empty space waiting to be filled and waiting to be reinforced.

Here’s how it works. You have a thought, and a chemical shoots across that space. This builds a bridge over that space and releases a chemical in your body. The next time you have a similar thought, it fires again making that connection closer and closer to decrease the distance of the electrical charge. It becomes easier the next time. On a side note, this is also how habits are formed. Soon, you don’t even think about how you actually drive a car because everything is automatic. That electrical charge has occurred so many times, you act without even thinking about it. If you’re a science nerd this is a great video on the topic: Science video.

The Power of Happy Chemicals

Simply put, if you want to build strong, positive habits, then focus on positive things. Hang out with positive people, read positive (more…)

Stop Short Changing Yourself and Create a Meaningful Life

5 things to do that make life beautiful

I’m wondering if you’re like many people I speak with who don’t have the kind of life they really want? What does it take to create a meaningful life? How do you focus on doing things that are important and meaningful to you?

According to a recent survey, only 33% of Americans feel happy, content and satisfied. I’m sure results are similar in Canada, Europe and other parts of the world.

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People feel trapped inside jobs they don’t like, too much time is spent on things they don’t care about, they aren’t living for what matters most, and they have almost lost hope that it will ever be any different. In short, they’ve thrown in the towel and have come to terms with being a ‘spoke in the wheel.’

Have you ever felt this way? First, I understand those thoughts can seem very real. But they are what I call, “victim speak.” Saying these kinds of words over and over is what gives negativity power in your life and makes you feel discouraged and hopeless. Victim speak occurs whenever you believe that someone or something is responsible for your unhappy state of affairs. For example, “I’m stuck in this awful job because I can’t get anyone else to hire me,” or, “I can never get ahead because I can barely bring in enough money to pay my bills,” “I can’t succeed because of the bad economy.”

There’s only 1 way to defeat this kind of negativity. Take your power back! Whenever you allow these thoughts into your mind, you give them power over your life and circumstances. Power to control what you think and who you are becoming. Taking your power back is acknowledging that although you may feel this way now, your have the power to reject those statements and do something IN THE PRESENT to create a more meaningful life. The kind of life that matters most to you.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned from the most successful people I know on how to create change NOW and have more meaning in your life:

(1) Cast a HUGE vision for your life and do 1 thing everyday that gets you closer to it. (more…)

You’re Failing Because of the Negative Coach in Your Brain

Why do you wake up some days and feel inspired, engaged and connected while other days you feel like every ounce of focus and determination has been drained from your body in your sleep? Is it just a mood swing or are their deeper things happening you are not aware of? You may even be listening to a negative coach in your mind you don’t even know exists. I’m going to show you how one simple change can drastically increase your self-belief and motivation levels every single day. photo_happy_chemicals

I started studying positivity and negativity after watching many years of youth sports. Here is what I discovered. There are some coaches who are amazing at getting the best out of their teams. They say the right things and motivate their players with purpose and positive affirmations. These types of coaches get incredible performance out of their teams. They win many games they should lose.

Then there are coaches who have very talented teams that should be winning most of their games. But they lose more than they should. Much of the time it’s not because of the talent of the players. It’s because of the negativity of the coach. They yell and say condemning things, and create stress and anxiety in their players. The result? The players shut down, they are unmotivated and even humiliated. Biologically, they can’t optimally perform at this point even if they wanted to.

The Negative Coach in Our Minds

This is very similar to what happens to each of us in life. Too many times, the negative coach in our minds is the predominant voice we hear and it wrecks our ability to stay motivated and engaged.

You need to pay very close attention to this if: (1) You are struggling with your vision and your life call, (2) You find it difficult to stay inspired and motivated (3) You really want to be a better leader, friend, spouse or parent but can’t seem to be consistent with your words and your love for others or (4) You are often fighting negative thoughts and emotions.

We need to get to the bottom of these issues if we want to change. You have to find the root and pull it out. The good news is that if you can change this one thing, you will see up to a 10X growth in many areas of your life. (more…)

Can the Bible Help Me Be More Positive?

 

Fear and negativity have become as common today as barbecues and movie theaters. Our world is steeped in it. These feelings and emotions are in direct contradiction to a life filled with wholeheartedness and purpose which are promises of a positive lifestyle. In the midst of our disappointment our challenge is to keep ourselves filled with hope and to have a strong, positive mindset. But how can we live that way? Can the Bible help us be more positive? Does it have anything to say about overcoming fear and living a life filled with good things? Photo_Bible_IICor

I chose to pursue a Masters in Theology and a Doctorate in Leadership because I wanted answers to the deeper questions in life such as these. I was also hamstrung with negativity and a terrible mindset. I saw problems with most everyone and everything around me. I thought life was a cruel joke and people were not to be trusted. The truths below have literally changed my life and help me live my values and the things in life that are important to me. They are simple yet powerful. I hope they impact you too.

3 Promises to Help You Live a Positive Life

 Romans 8:28“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

This is one of my personal favorite passages on hope and staying positive. NO matter what happens in our lives, God is actively working on our behalf to turn all things into good things. This means that in the middle of our darkest struggles we are not alone. We are not forgotten. And we are not orphaned. In no way does this mean God causes evil and calamity, but he inevitably brings good through everything that happens in life.  (more…)

How to Increase Creativity in Anything You Do

 

Creativity is the key to great writing, meaningful work, deep relationships and inspiring leadership. The key to knowing how to be more creative lies in understanding how our brains work. It’s more simple than you might think.

Everyday our brains are scanning the horizon of our circumstances in order to know what to do. Every email we read, each Facebook post we scan, and every conversation we engage, tells our brains what to do next and engages the appropriate behavior. photo_lightbulb copy

Our brains are built to function in one of two ways: (1) Threat or (2) Reward. Everyday we are constantly trying to avoid threat and embrace reward. The more we condition our brains to see less threat and more reward, the more creative we will be.

There is a simple reason for this. Stress and threat release hormones that shut down our creativity called adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol. These hormones are good for you when you are fighting or running for your life. But, they don’t work in your favor if you are trying to be creative.

When we see the world through a reward based framework, our brains release “happy chemicals,” such as dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin. These chemicals help us to feel more creative and motivated. We are more likely to accomplish our goals such as, coming up with a brilliant idea, finish writing the next chapter of a book, excel at your next athletic event, or just simply having an incredible day with your family. (more…)

Why You Need the Michelangelo Phenomenon to be the Real You

Just under the surface of your life is a person able to fulfill your deepest longings and dreams. Someone incredible who is filled with love, peace and joy. It’s who you really want to be when you are completely honest with yourself. This is who you really are deep down inside. But it is difficult to let that person emerge from their shell so they can be fully seen. This is called, ‘the authentic me.’ Michelangelo knew how this felt.photo_artist_paint_copy

Understanding this truth, helped him become one of the greatest artists in the world and he applied this principle to specific sculpture he called, “David.” He is known as the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance and among his other works are the Sistine Chapel frescoes in Rome, Vatican city and Pietà which depicts the Virgin Mary grieving over the body of Jesus who is lying on her lap after the Crucifixion.

The realization of what Michelangelo discovered became known as The Michelangelo Phenomenon.

David was sculpted out of a block of marble that became one of history’s most famous masterpieces. What’s interesting is that this same block of marble was twice rejected by other artists and sat 40 years waiting for the hands of Michelangelo. Like many of us, people lied about its potential and kept in the shadows of false pretenses and unworthiness.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

Everyone of us is like that block of stone, there’s greatness inside, but it has to be released. It has to be carved out through hard work. It has to be sculpted by the individual who can perceive their own greatness. You must recognise it in yourself, but you can’t do it alone. You have to enlist the love and care of others.

Bringing out the Best of Yourself

The Michelangelo phenomenon is about others bringing out the very best of what inside you, in order for you to reach your fullest potential. You are the block of marble containing greatness inside. But you need the people who are in your life to chip away the excess and help shape the beauty within.

The world tells you the lies. You can’t reach your dreams, you are a failure, you cannot be the person you deeply desire to become. The list is endless. These lies are there to greet all of us around each corner of life’s road and they steal the hopes and passions of who we want to become. (more…)

You Are Ruining Your Life If You Ignore This

We’ve all heard the line, ‘Ignorance is Bliss,’ but that’s an absolute lie. Allowing ignorance in your life is destroying your energy, your potential and your dreams. You are ruining your life by your ignorance.

What am I talking about? The negative flow of thoughts, people and events that bombard you almost every moment of your life – have tremendous power. Dr. Caroline Leaf says that 75% to 95% of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life. We all need to pay attention to more research and what it shows is that ‘fear alone, triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormones as stated in the book,’ ENERGIZE, by Gina Oldenburgphoto_sad_girl_rain2

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

Henry David Thoreau

Where did we get the idea that information and events we allow into our lives don’t matter? Why do we stand by and watch as we are flooded with the poisons of bad news, negativity and toxic relationships? These things have a PROFOUND effect on how we think and feel. There is no escaping, Listen to me, if you are not vigilant about what you allow into your life you will become the next victim in line who will never accomplish your potential because you stood there and did nothing.

Here’s some research you need to understand – our thoughts spark emotion-driven action. There is no way around it. Once you begin a thought, it triggers a vast array of signals and chemicals in your brain that literally control almost every aspect of how you feel and how you create the next thought. (more…)

Does God Want Me To Be Happy?

How Positive Psychology Can Help Strengthen Your Faith

For most of my life I have struggled with negativity. I wanted to be positive and life-giving, but kept falling into negative traps I had set for myself – traps I didn’t even realize were there. I grew up in a broken home and my life was tumultuous as a child and teenager. I concluded that the world was full of idiots and most people were not to be trusted. And that view carried into much of my adult life. It was terribly destructive to me and those I cared about.

I wanted to change, but to do so, I had to come to a place where I took personal responsibility for my life – every aspect of it. As I press into becoming the person God wants me to be, I have to remember that I’m a work in progress. And one of the first things I had to do was accept that God might want me to be happy.

photo_KIKHW5NC6Y copyWhen you think about your faith, have you ever wondered if God wants you to be happy? Does our happiness matter? And what is happiness anyway?  When questioned about the greatest commandment, Jesus said, 

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Is that passage showing us the key and giving us permission to be happy? It speaks to the wholeness of a person – heart, soul, and mind. It follows with a perfect definition of healthy relationships and self-regard. It also describes the happiest people I know . 

Let’s dig deeper. Much of our “happiness” deals with two main issues in our lives (more…)