Updated: Jul 2
Focus on Your Wins
Focus on your wins, but don’t forget your misses. Learning from your mistakes is important it is said that there is no better teacher than failure. This is very true. However, I would add that riding the waves of a win is just as important. When a person is successful at a task their brain releases a chemical call Serotonin Octopamine, this chemical is responsible for that confidence feeling you get when you win; specifically, a win at accomplishing a task.
People that continue to excel at things will continue to experience a flood of Serotonin Octopamine throughout their brains. This causes the brain to do tasks that will fulfill this need for more of that feeling. People that frequently “win” become emboldened by their winning streak, this causes them to pursue new challenges with confidence. It is this confidence that enables them to generate further success.
On the other hand, people who are griped with depression feel that life is never in their favor. These types of people are more risk-averse and tend to approach a task with the mindset that they have already failed. This in turn results in a lack of this chemical and reinforces their view that they do not process the confidence to be successful. So if you want to get ahead in life or break the cycle of failures, focus on easy wins and ride that wave to you change your mindset and build more confidence
Love Yourself as You Would Others
When you read the phrase “Love yourself as you would others” you may first begin to think that the saying really is “Love others as you would yourself”. That may be true; however, the truth of the matter is that most people are better at caring for others than we are for ourselves. That is because we are hyper-aware of our own flaws and this awareness can lead to self-loathing. As we dwell on all the reasons we believe ourselves to be inferior, we become convinced that we are undeserving of self-care, kindness, or positivity.
A better approach is to maintain a balanced viewpoint about ourselves, acknowledging the good and bad. We want to be careful to not dwell on the negative but counterbalance it with good qualities. It’s important that something that we may see as a bad quality could in fact be used to help us be successful. Here is an example. Let’s say a person is a natural introvert, this person sees it as a negative attribute.
The person can use this attribute to be successful in an environment that introvert thrives. Find your balance, remember not to go too far toward the dark side or too overboard in an attempt at perfection. It is impossible to be perfect and chaos is unavoidable, so don’t waste your time and energy fighting the inevitable.
It is equally important that we don’t focus only on the things that make you happy. The reason for this is because staying in your comfort zone won’t cultivate personal growth. Try to identify your life’s purpose and then make a healthy decision that will help you attain that goal.
Choose Your Friends Wisely
You are a composite of your six closest associates. This means that the things that your friends say is bond to slip into your own vocabulary or thoughts, even your personality can be affected. It is no surprise that the more time you spend around these people the more that they rub off on you. This really isn’t a concern if you choose to be around honest hard-working people, but if you notice that your friends are toxic those traits will impress upon you.
Since we often choose our friends through superficial criteria like common interest or shared sense of humor, we may be unaware of how exactly what sort of persons they may be, worst off we may be completely blind to the impact these toxic habits can have on our personal development. Negative people and bad life decisions have a way to drag successful people down. That effect can occur just as easily in the professional sphere of your life. This is the reason that one bad apple spoils the bunch.
Here is an example: suppose a manager puts an underachiever on a group project with high performers with the hope that the high performers will motivate the underachiever to do more. Emulating the high performers. However, studies show that the opposite effect is actually more likely. The end result is that the successful teammates are brought down by the negative influence.
That is why it is so vital that we surround ourselves with positive people that cultivate good habits in their lives. So remember to exercise discernment when choosing your friends. Look for qualities that will help you affect positive change. The beauty of such a partnership is that its mutually beneficial. A good friend won’t allow you to wallow in self-pity or encourage negative self-talk, and call you out if you begin to develop toxic behavior.
Seek Sacrifice Over Instant Gratification
Studies show that people that can delay instant gratification tend to be more successful in life. The reason for this has to do with understanding the long-term gains one can achieve from delaying the need to get their reward now. The psychology behind this has to do with how greedy we are. We may want to believe that we are not greedy people but the truth of the matter is we all have a threshold to how long we can resist gratification.
Chances are you’ve probably witnessed similar behavior in people around you, or maybe even in yourself. It’s like grasping on something that is in a jar but not being able to free ourselves because the mere act of holding on to that item prevents us from being free. The temptation to pursue what we want even when it will lead to negative consequences is a pretty universal human experience. The rick is understanding that giving into that desire won’t make us a better person.
Making an unhealthy choice for the desire for instant gratification really is a side-effect to despair. If we view the world as bleak and miserable we will naturally seek to alleviate our depression by pursuing any pleasure that will make our experience more bearable. This leads to us justify that something that clearly is wrong as being a viable option. We begin to believe that it can’t be wrong it makes me happy.
That type of rationalization can be a gateway to very bad decisions. So how do we combat this? The best course of action is to pursue sacrifice over instant gratification. The reasoning behind this is that sacrifice puts better things into the future by relinquishing instant pleasure in the present. It can be understood this way: we know that we would prefer to do things that we find enjoyable, but we sacrifice that to go to work and earn a living.
This type of sacrifice is only at a surface level. It really isn’t a true sacrifice because we do it to facilitate our own survival. The type of sacrifice we should pursue--the type that will help you become a better and kinder person is defined by the sacrifices we do for other people. When you concentrate on the good you can put into the world you take a break from the negative worldview and allow yourself to be driven by positive influences.
Stop Lying--Even to Yourself
Okay, so there is no way that anyone can ever never lie. That’s not what is being recommended here. The type of lying that we need to stop have to do with the ones that trick us into thinking that something that is clearly bad for us, may not be. This type of lie is self-destructive. We all tend to lie to ourselves, whether it is by telling ourselves we’re going to meet a certain goal without putting any work toward it, or in deluding ourselves about our flaws.
The psychological term for this is called “life-lies” and its define as the things we say and do to get what we think we want. The important part of this term is the “what we THINK we want”. The reason is that it acknowledges the fact that we often trick ourselves into craving things that will ultimately be bad for us. The same is true we try to convince ourselves that we already know everything we need to know.
This is the most insidious lie because if we assume we already know everything for self-improvement, we lose all willingness to learn and grow. The best thing that you can do is become self-aware of your flaws and learn to recognize when your telling yourself of these life-lies, and work to fix it.
If you follow these 5 lessons you will begin to see some dramatic improvements in your life. The lessons outline in this article were taken from Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 rules for life. If you would like to learn the other seven lessons outline in this book you can get yourself a copy on Amazon here.