Healthy people are more productive, creative and mentally sharp. 

Face it. We don't always take care of ourselves as well as we should. It’s hard, because life gets in the way—doubly so if we have a busy and productive work life. And when faced with the choice between hard work and convenience, guess which one wins out most of the time?
But whether it’s convenient or not, maintaining our health should come first, before our daily to-do’s, before our work. Why? Because if we aren’t healthy, we can’t be successful, either—at home or at work.

Let’s cover the basics—food, sleep, exercise—and why you can’t ignore them:

1. Food

It's lunch time. You've been working since six o'clock in the morning. When those hunger pangs strike, the most appealing option seems to be greasy, ultra-convenient fast food. The last thing you want is a paltry little meal like a salad. But what are those excessive calories found in burgers and fries actually doing to your post-lunch productivity? 
Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Ron Friedman lays out the facts about how different foods affect work performance. He cites a study where participants reported "food consumption, mood and behaviors over a period of 13 days." The participants who ate less high-fat meals and more fruits and vegetables were "happier, more engaged and more creative" than those who opted for high-fat, high-calorie lunches.

We tend to think simplistically about food. Those of us who face a daily barrage of emails, reports and mounds of work like to think of it as "fuel.” That analogy is a little misleading, however. As Friedman points out, you can expect a certain level of consistency with fuel. Food, on the other hand, is less predictable. What you eat affects your productivity in different ways, so eat smart.

2. Sleep

When your work life is demanding, you keep weird hours. You get to the office early, before the sun’s up, and you leave late, after dark. At home, you take out your laptop to “finish up a few things.” Three hours later, you crawl into bed. And then you wake up before the sun does to do it all again—constantly in a fog.

Maybe it just kind of comes with the job. Even if you play the role of night owl and early bird, there are still steps you can take to ensure you're getting adequate rest. But first, why is it so important?

Sleep depravity has been linked to higher levels of stress, higher blood pressure levels and lower brain function. It's safe to say your performance will suffer if you aren't catching enough ZZZs.

So, how does one combat chronic sleeplessness? Creating (and sticking to) a regular schedule certainly helps. If you work primarily from home, create definitive work hours, making sure you give yourself enough time to unwind after finishing work. If work is still on your mind when you hit the sack, you'll probably find yourself lying awake for a while. And when your alarm clock goes off, get up no matter what. Resist the temptation to oversleep and screw up your sleep cycle.

3. Exercise

Stress can get the best of us at times, and what could be better for you than melting your problems (and fat) away with every rep, stride or lift at the gym? Not much. Working out is a great outlet for relieving stress, to distract you from daily pressures—and to get fit at the same time. Regular exercise wards off depression and a host of other mental blocks that make success hard to achieve.

Of course, we could talk about exercising more until we're blue in the face. The important thing is that we actually get out and do it. Schedule 30 minutes to an hour of workout time into your day. Don't promise yourself you'll do it at lunch or when you get home. Nine times out of 10, the drain of the day prevents us from lifting a finger when we get back to the house. Instead, treat your workout as an essential aspect of your success. It's not just something you should do; it's something you must do.

As much as the idea of "falling on your sword" seems romantic, we can't expect to kill ourselves with work and get very far. Self-maintenance is critical to your success because it allows you to go further, get more done and most importantly, be happy doing it.

10 Simple Steps to Make Life Much Happier

Follow these 10 steps—an easy acronym, GREAT DREAM—to sprinkle some happy into your life and the lives of others.


Do things for others.
Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do, but it also makes us happier and healthier, too. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. And it’s not all about money—we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good!
What are your most important goals?


Connect with people.
Relationships are the most important overall contributor to happiness. People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning and support, and increase our feelings of self-worth. Broader networks bring a sense of belonging. So taking action to strengthen our relationships and create new connections is essential for happiness.
Who matters most to you?


Take care of your body.
Our body and our mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression. We don’t all need to run marathons; there are simple things we can all do to be more active each day. We can also boost our well-being by unplugging from technology, getting outside and making sure we get enough sleep!
How do you stay active and healthy?


Notice the world around you.
Ever felt that there must be more to life? Well, good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice. Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life—like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, so we get more out of the day-to-day.
When do you stop and take notice?


Keep learning new things.
Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things—not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more.
What new things have you tried recently?


Have goals to look forward to.
Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us, and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable. If we try to attempt the impossible, it brings unnecessary stress. Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them.
What are your most important goals?


Find ways to bounce back.
All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well-being. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. In practice it’s not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned.
How do you bounce back in tough times?


Take a positive approach.
Positive emotions—such as joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration and pride—are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an “upward spiral,” helping to build our resources. So although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation—the glass half-full rather than the glass half-empty.
What are you feeling good about?


Be comfortable with who you are.
No one’s perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people’s outsides. Dwelling on our flaws—what we’re not rather than what we’ve got—makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are.
What is the real you like?


Be part of something bigger.
People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find “meaning and purpose”? It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us, but they all involve being connected to something bigger than  ourselves

If You Want to Change Your Results, You Have to Change Your Thinking First

Ask yourself these 9 questions to trigger thought and action.

Here’s a simple assessment that will trigger thought and action. Rate yourself 1 to 10 on each question below (1 is low; 10 is high). Then take a few minutes to write down what actions you want to change in response to your answers.
1. How is my life working out?
2. How’s my daily attitude; how happy am I?
3. How are my relationships with my family, friends, co-workers, coaches and mentors?
4. How’s my health (weight, overall wellness, self-esteem, stress levels, etc.)?
5. How effectively am I feeding my mind? (How many books have I read in the last six months? What do I wish to become? Am I studying productively?)
6. How do I rate my lifestyle (my satisfaction with activities such as travel, exploring, attending fun events, etc.)?
7. Where is my income in comparison to where I want it to be?
8. How often do I give back to others?
9. How is my goal-setting? How satisfied am I with how my goals have manifested in my life?

Instead of Complaining, Remember These 10 Things

A faint but discernible dividing line separates achievers from dreamers. What makes the difference?
Attitude. Achievers have a can-do attitude that sets them apart from mere dreamers. Achievers are sold out to success—no matter the obstacles—and they are willing to put forth the effort and pay the price of success.

Here are 10 tips to reveal your own can-do attitude:

1. Disown your helplessness.

Can-do people aggressively pursue solutions, and, in the process, uncover creative solutions others never even try to find. Rather than wallowing in helplessness, can-do leaders search diligently to overcome the obstacles in front of them.

2. Take the bull by the horns.

Can-do people are fearless. They go straight to the source of their solution. Their very effort commands attention as they wrestle a problem to the ground with expediency. They don’t wait; they initiate.

3. Enter the no whining zone.

Can-do people abstain from complaining. They recognize its futility and guard their minds and mouths against indulging in this time-wasting activity.

4. Put on another’s pair of shoes.

Can-do people empathize with others. They attempt to see any predicament from the other person’s perspective in order to make the best decisions.

5. Nurture your passion.

Can-do people are immune to burnout. They love what they do because they’ve learned how to fuel the fire that keeps them moving. The prize is not given to the person who’s the smartest, nor to the person with the advantages in resources and position, but to the person with passion.

6. Walk the second mile.

Can-do people exceed expectations. While others settle for an acceptable solution, they aren’t satisfied until they have achieved the unimagined. They set expectations for themselves higher than what is dictated by the people or situations around them.

7. Quit stewing and start doing.

Can-do people take action. While others are crippled by worry, fear and anxiety, they have the fortitude to press forward. The perfect moment when all is safe and assured may never arrive, so why wait for it?

8. Go with the flow.

Can-do people can adjust to change. They don’t get caught griping about an unexpected curve in the road. They accept transition with an optimistic outlook.

9. Follow through to the end.

Can-do people not only initiate, they finish. They are self-starters with the capacity to close the deal.

10. Expect a return as a result of your commitment.

If you make an all-out commitment with a can-do attitude, expect a return. Passionate commitment is contagious, and resources follow resolve. Committed leaders will reap rewards and find open doors as others are drawn to the excitement and energy emanating from them.

How Negative Thinking Can Ruin Your Life

I know a woman, a full-time resident of the negative zone, who saved for years to go on her dream vacation. Once she finally got there, it rained constantly—and her vacation was ruined.
Now, it’s important to understand that residing in the negative zone means that no matter what good may come your way, you will find something wrong with it. This is what I call the Eeyore Syndrome. 
You remember A.A. Milne’s classic character Eeyore. This friend of Winnie the Pooh was a threadbare, gray donkey that was always moping around, talking to himself and awaiting his inevitable misfortune. 
Well, that’s this woman. I swear she could win $500 million in the lottery and her attitude would be, “Oh boy. I just knew this would happen. Now the government is going to take half and I’ll wind up with only $250 million. Why does everything have to happen to me?” She’s the kind of person you want to smack right in the back of the head and shout, “SNAP OUT OF IT!”
When this woman came back from her vacation, she couldn’t wait to tell me everything that went wrong. I got comfortable and let her vent her woes. 
“Oh my God, Steven,” she said despairingly. “Do you know how long we saved for this vacation? And you’ve known me long enough to know that if something bad is going to happen to anyone, chances are it will happen to me! It’s been that way ever since I was a child. Can you believe it rained every day while we were on our vacation? I should have realized something like this would happen! Why would I expect anything else? My brother went on vacation last year and he and his girlfriend had a wonderful time! My sisters just came back two weeks ago from their vacations with their families and everyone was so nice and tan. But, no, not us! The weather was horrible from the day we arrived to the day we left.” Shaking her head in sorrow, looking at me for sympathy, she said, “The rain ruined our vacation!”

Let’s get this straight. The rain didn’t ruin this woman’s vacation.  What really ruined her vacation was the constant bombardment of negative thinking that caused her to feel victimized. It was her thoughts about the bad weather that supported an overwhelmingly negative belief system and a pre-existing bad attitude that ruined her vacation.  
Yes, of course, it would have been nice if she had some sunshine on the trip. But she didn’t. And in concentrating so much of her energy on what wasn’t working, she never gave herself a chance to have a good time. It’s impossible to have a good time or a successful outcome if your thoughts are causing you to be miserable. 
When you allow outside circumstances to determine your happiness, your natural state of peace deteriorates. When this happens, inner peace is replaced with a feeling that you are being cheated. That’s how you get caught up in the Eeyore Syndrome.
Why can’t I get a break?
My life really sucks.
I should have stayed in bed.
This will never work.
Who am I kidding anyway?
This type of thinking reflects a lack of confidence in yourself and a failure to trust in the process of life. As a result, your enjoyment and appreciation of all the good stuff that life has to offer gets distorted, leaving you in a victimized state and an ultimately unhappy existence. 
Remember, thoughts don’t just happen. They are something we create and therefore we are able to direct them. When something upsetting happens, it’s your thoughts about the situation that will either minimize or magnify the effect it will have on you.
My friend allowed herself to create a thought pattern that was causing a negative emotional response and that was setting off an unhealthy physical response. You don’t need to be a doctor to know that her heart was racing, her stomach was tight and she simply wasn’t feeling right. 
Those physiological side effects were causing her to think even more negatively, which, in turn, agitated her condition, and so on and so forth. It was a vicious cycle that she was creating. In fact, the real absurdity in all this is that this woman will relive the entire ordeal of her rainy vacation every time she tells this story, multiplying her negativity far more than the actual experience ever could—a classic example of the snowball effect. And I’m willing to bet that she has an arsenal of similar “woe-is-me” stories to prove to the world and to herself that she was, and always will be, a victim. 
So instead of whining and making statements about how bad things are and how bad things have been, make every attempt to make statements that cause you to see the situation from a more positive angle. The choice is yours. You can choose to become the victim or the victor. That’s why the habit of methodically shifting your thoughts is paramount. Remember, the goal to bouncing back from any negative experience is to gradually shift your way of thinking to things that make yourself feel better.

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