How to Let Go of A Grudge – Mental Spring Cleaning

Vlad spring cleaning

by Vlad Dolezal on April 2, 2013

Back when I was a kid, my mum would always go into a cleaning frenzy around this time of year. And she would make us help her. It wasn’t exactly my favourite time of the year.

And yet about three weeks back, I caught myself doing big cleaning up – cleaning things I haven’t really touched all winter.

(What have I become!)

There’s something about the first days of spring that just makes me want to make my home nice and fresh. A new start, if you will.

And together with that, I thought it would be neat to do a bit of mental spring cleaning. To clean up the mental equivalent of a stinky pile of laundry, or a moldy potato salad in the back of your fridge.

That’s why I’ve decided to put a short series of posts together, to help you clear some old troubles from your mind that are probably weighing you down without you even realizing it.

We’ll cover:

  • How to let go of a grudge
  • Silencing your inner critic (that nagging voice inside your head that keeps berating you and bringing you down)

Let’s get started on the first point – how to let go of a grudge! [click to continue…]


The Appreciation Challenge

by Vlad Dolezal on March 18, 2013

(If you’re reading this via e-mail and can’t see the video above, click through to the blog.)

“They live in paradise, and yet they will never know it.”

– A buddhist monk upon getting off the airplane as he arrived in the US

We humans are brilliant at adapting to circumstances.

On the one hand, this is a great mechanism. It means we can keep going and struggling even when truly horrible things happen to us, instead of plunging into existential despair. Plus it’s quite handy in the world we live, since without these adaptation mechanisms, we’d spend our days staring at the world around us, gobsmacked.

On the other hand, it’s a bit of a shame how quickly we take things for granted. We lose our appreciation for all the wonderful things around us.

That’s why I’ve got a challenge for you, for this upcoming weekend. [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

Reframing explained


by Vlad Dolezal on March 11, 2013

A few years back, I wrote a detailed guide on how to change your limiting beliefs.

It’s one of the most popular posts on this blog, and I’m very proud of it. But occasionally, I get e-mails from new readers who have trouble applying the approach. And about 80% of the time, the sticking point is reframing.

That clearly means I didn’t do a good enough job explaining reframing the first time around. So I thought I’d clear that up.

Read on if you want to find out how your mind loves to overgeneralize small situations, how this gets you stuck with crippling limiting beliefs that warp your view of the world, and how to change this. [click to continue…]


What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

Yoga Vlad

by Vlad Dolezal on March 1, 2013

If you’re not familiar with yoga, you probably imagine it’s all people chanting “Oooommmmmmm” and doing headstands in a secluded monastery.

You’re not far off. Except for the secluded monastery part.

The headstand is actually a pretty simple position. It’s just a bit scary at first.

You start by getting your arms and head on the floor, then slowly walking your feet towards your head to get your upper body vertical, then start lifting your legs off the ground, and try getting into the final position.

If you overbalance forwards, there’s no problem. You land back on your feet, and try again. It’s overbalancing backwards that’s scary.

But as it turns out, it’s completely harmless too. As long as you have enough space behind you, and a reasonably soft surface (a yoga mat, or a grassy lawn), you just tuck your chin in, and roll harmlessly onto your back. It doesn’t even hurt.

In fact, when you first practice the position, it’s pretty helpful to try that a few times, just to realize that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Even the worst that could happen – overbalancing backwards – is completely harmless and you can handle it easier than a hungry dog handles bacon.

So why am I telling you all this? (Aside from encouraging you to try yoga, because it’s pretty neat.)

The same applies to facing other scary situations. Fear of the unknown is usually much stronger than fear of specific situations. [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

In 1928, Elton Mayo tried measuring the effect of lighting levels on the productivity of factory workers.

He formed three groups. One with increased lighting levels, one with decreased lighting, and a control group with unchanged lighting. As expected, the group with increased lighting experienced a measurable increase in productivity. But lo and behold… the increase in productivity was matched almost equally by the other two groups!

The single biggest factor influencing the workers’ productivity was that someone paid attention to their efforts.

This applies not only to working with others, but crazily enough, even working with yourself. [click to continue…]


Pre-Making Decisions for When You’re Tired

by Vlad Dolezal on February 18, 2013

(If you’re reading this via e-mail and can’t see the video above, click through to the website.)

On my wall, I have a sheet of paper titled “Foods of Vladdyland”.

It tells me all the foods I like to cook regularly, and what ingredients they require.

This list can be a life saver when I’m feeling tired and don’t really know what I want to cook. I can simply glance at it, imagine each of the meals as I look over them, and when my body says “Yes! Let’s eat that!”, I know what to cook. No hard thinking required.

This might sound a bit silly, but it can be quite tricky for me to figure out what to cook when I’m tired.

That’s because decision-making is one of the most mentally intensive tasks you do all day. And when you get tired, you often simply don’t have the mental energy to recall all relevant facts and make a decision.

So I decided to frontload the hard thinking at a time when I wasn’t tired, and now I have a simple list to guide me when I am!

Similarly, I’ve got a list of “work-related tasks” pinned on the wall right above my laptop screen.

Some days, I know exactly what I’ll be working on, and flow smoothly from one task to the next. Other days, I don’t have much planned. And when I start getting tired, it can be tricky to recall what else I could be doing to advance my work forward. That’s where my list comes in!

I have the work-related tasks in four categories: high-energy, modeate-energy, low-energy and no energy. (The last one contains exactly one item – napping.). That way, especially when I’m tired, I can just assess my energy levels, then skim through the list and settle on a task to do.

Before I had this list, I would sometimes deflect to procrastination, because I couldn’t remember what else to work on. But now, it’s so much easier to pick things from a list than to conjure them up from memory!

So, over to you. What decisions do you find tricky to make when you’re getting tired?

How could you pre-make them when you’re full of energy, so that when you’re tired, you can just glance at some notes you made for yourself, and then know what to do?

(The style of the video at the top of this post is inspired by Niall Doherty.)


What Have You Been Putting Off For Ages?

Post image for What Have You Been Putting Off For Ages?

by Vlad Dolezal on February 14, 2013

As you might know, I’m currently running Alive Through Action – a 6-week interactive course on taking massive action.

For the first lesson, I gave the participants a simple task – to think of two actions that they’ve been meaning to do for a while, but have always been putting off because something more urgent came up.

One of the participants enjoyed the feeling she got from completing those two tasks so much, she went on an action-taking frenzy. She probably completed that assignment ten times over, and that was great fun to listen to!

It got me inspired, and I decided to try a similar thing. I would set aside half a day each week to get all this little stuff done – these things that I might be putting off for ages, because they would be nice to get done, but they aren’t urgent.

So far, it’s been working absolutely brilliantly! (Except for that one day when there was heavy sleet, and I did not feel like biking 20 minutes into the city to run some errands.)

So I wanted to share this with you, because I think it would be fun for you to try, too! [click to continue…]


Little Personal Development Experiments

by Vlad Dolezal on February 6, 2013

For the past three weeks, I’ve been running a little personal development experiment.

I’d noticed that I always need to do laundry because I run out of clean t-shirts.

I followed this trail, and realized that my armpits are the first thing that starts to smell if I do some sports. (I bike everywhere around here, and that’s usually enough to get me sweaty.)

Being lazy and hoping to get more mileage out of my t-shirts before I have to wash them, I decided to experiment with reducing how quickly my armpits start to smell.

So, in the name of science, I shaved one of my armpits!

I experimented with all sorts of combinations, including not using any deodorant, using my usual deodorant, and even using a new anti-perspirant on my shaved armpit, which wouldn’t really work on an unshaved armpit. (Obviously I wash my armpits thoroughly.)

In the end, it turns out that the best combination is unshaved armpits and using my old deodorant. Go figure, I was already doing the best thing!

But I’m not writing this to ramble about my armpits (okay, I do take a bit of persverse pleasure in making you read about that 😉 ). It’s about the general idea. [click to continue…]


Interrupting Unwanted Snowballs

by Vlad Dolezal on January 31, 2013

At the end of last week’s post about snowballing positive changes, I asked if you would like to hear about interrupting unwanted behaviours that snowball upon themselves.

I got a couple of requests to cover that, so here we come!

Interrupting unwanted snowballs

If you’ve ever slammed your finger in a door, you might have noticed a very interesting phenomenon.

As you’re shutting the door, and you see your finger there, and you feel the door closing on it…

…there’s this teeny tiny sliver of time where you think “Oh, crap!”, and you know exactly what just happened, but the pain hasn’t started yet. And the tiny moment passes and the pain starts and you curse and life goes on.

But for that one tiny moment, time almost stands still.

A similar moment happens with pretty much every automatic behaviour you do, whether you realize it or not. You’re probably usually just not aware of it.

And while you can’t do much about the pain from slamming your finger in a door (though you might change how you react to the pain), with other behaviours, you can actively change them, or even interrupt them completely before they happen. [click to continue…]


Big Changes Made Easy – Harnessing The Snowball Effect

by Vlad Dolezal on January 25, 2013

If you’ve ever tried building a snowman, you know that you don’t just pick up snow handful by handful until you have a snowman. That takes way too long.

Instead, you first get together a couple of handfuls of snow, and make them into a ball. Then you roll the ball around on the ground, getting it to pick up more snow through its own weight. As the ball grows, it picks up more and more snow, and before you know it, you’re rolling around a huge 20-kilo snow boulder (snowlder!).

Personal development often works like that, too. Making a bit of a change makes it easier to continue making changes in the same direction. I call this the snowball effect.

And today I’ll show you how to harness the snowball effect to make big changes easy. [click to continue…]