The Holstee Manifesto

>> Saturday

Click here to watch a YouTube video version of the Holstee Manifesto (2 minutes and 37 seconds long).

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Inside the Mind of Diana Nyad

>> Monday

My wife, Klassy, is reading Find a Way by Diana Nyad, who was the first person to successfully swim from Cuba to Florida. In her 20s Nyad attempted the swim but failed. Then she didn't swim at all for 30 years. But she knew in her heart she could do it, and she did — in 53 hours of non-stop swimming, at the age of 64.

Because swimming long distances is so challenging and requires so much dedication, what the swimmer does in her mind makes all the difference. And in much of the book, Nyad describes what she does mentally.

Klassy has been gaining a lot of value from these descriptions, and I've been gaining a lot from Klassy sharing it with me. Three principles in particular have been very useful for both of us, and I'd like to share them with you here.

1. Engagement or escape. That's all there is. This simple distinction has clarified so many things. Where you are alive is where you are engaged. If you want to feel alive, if you want to solve a problem, if you want to achieve a goal, engagement is what you're after. What gets in your way is escape.

2. Exercise your willpower, just like you would a muscle. Willpower is not binary. It's not on or off. You can have degrees of it, and you can improve it. When you look at the chocolate in the cupboard and you want to have some, you don't only have a choice between having it or not having it. Another choice is to exercise a little willpower to make yourself stronger. See if you can put off having the chocolate for five minutes. You'll be surprised at how little effort it takes to exercise your willpower, and how good it feels to do it. And it strengthens you for the next challenge. Exercising your will this way doesn't require force. It's more like a question or an experiment.

3. If your heart isn't in it, don't bother. This is always a question to ask and to answer honestly. Find a way to either find out that you really want something, or find a way to do something else instead. Nyad lives by a quote from Mary Wilder: "What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" It's easy to forget that life is short and if you're going to do something, you'd better get at it and make it count. In the end, heart is all that matters.

Adam Khan is the author of Self-Help Stuff That Works and Cultivating Fire: How to Keep Your Motivation White Hot.

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How to Gain a New Perspective

When you say, "Thanks, that gave me a new perspective," it's usually because something was causing you stress, someone gave you a different way to look at the problem, and it made you feel better.

If you're like most of us, you usually gain a new perspective because someone you know gives you some good counsel. But you can gain a new perspective deliberately on your own, and it will change your mood (and the way you handle the problem) just as well. Here are three ways to gain a new perspective:

1. Make a comparison reframe. My wife and I were in line at a grocery store, commenting on how busy it was, and grumbling about waiting in line. The man in front of us got to talking with us, and in the course of the conversation, he said he wished his wife were alive. My wife and I both made the same comparison reframe in our minds. All of a sudden waiting in a long line seemed so insignificant! Comparison reframes can give you a sudden and dramatic change in perspective. Find out how.

2. In your imagination, look at it from someone else's point of view. Who do you think might have a good perspective on your situation? It could be someone you know, or someone from history. Think of someone you admire. How do you think that person would look at this setback? How about Abraham Lincoln? Or Gandhi? Of course, you don't really know, but you can imagine it. This five-minute process can often completely change your perspective.

3. Set a goal that will change your perspective. For example, I once lost my job. The company went out of business. At first I was stunned, but my wife and I talked about it and decided we'd make sure we were glad this happened, which meant the next job had to be significantly better that the old job. I sat down and listed all the things I liked in the old job, all the things I didn't like, and all the things I wanted in my next job. Then I went after a job that would fit all those criteria. This goal changed my perspective on my new (and potentially stressful) circumstances. I found the job I was looking for. And we did, in fact, become genuinely glad the other company went out of business. A goal can change your perspective dramatically.

When you gain a new perspective, you feel better. And you respond differently to your circumstances because your response depends on how you're looking at it. Because of your lack of distress or panic, you'll make better decisions.

You can change a perspective right now. Think of something stressing you out, choose one of the three techniques above, and use it today. Mastery of perspective is an important skill in your ultimate goal of feeling good more often.

Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of Viewfinder: How to Change the Way You Look at Things.

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Metaphors Can Make You Happy

>> Saturday

In an article in the Positive Psychology News Daily, David Pollay interviewed Clara Font, a 107 year-old woman with a great attitude. During the interview, Clara says two things in passing, but she says them as statements of fact. They are metaphors she lives by:

1. Life is a gift.
2. Every day is an opportunity.

Each one of these ways of looking at life are comparison reframes. Life is a gift compared to dying or suffering the horror of someone you love dying, for example. But life doesn't feel like a gift if you compare your life to some ideal like being a millionaire with no problems.

If you looked at your own life with the perspective (through the frame) of those two statements, you would find it raises your mood. Try it.

In other words, say to yourself, "Life is a gift." And then answer the question, "In what ways is life a gift?" Once you start thinking about it, the answers are numerous and they all stem from comparing your situation to something worse. Situations worse than yours are easy to come up with.

Several times today, say one of those statements to yourself and think about how it is true.

You are alive. You might as well enjoy that fact, and using Clara's two metaphors can help.

Read more here:
Comparisons
Are You The One?

Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of Viewfinder: How to Change the Way You Look at Things.

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