20 Life Coaches Share Their Favorite Life Hack
In a previous post I shared my top 1-minute life hack and asked people to share theirs in the comments.
I have since grabbed 20 and put them all together in one place for you to dip in and use from time to time.
They’re not in any particular order and I’d welcome your thoughts in the comments.
1. Box Breathing
Breathe in for 4, hold for 4, out for 4, hold for 4 – so you’re breathing in the pattern of a box. Continue for several rounds.
It very quickly takes you out of sympathetic nervous system dominance i.e. stress response and into relaxation response.
Why I like it? You can do it absolutely anywhere without people even noticing that you’re doing it (it’s more subtle than super long inhales and exhales) – while waiting at a traffic light, on hold on a call, on an airplane, when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep.
2. Wonder Woman
When I feel lost, or powerless (usually when I think I don’t know what to do or feel at the mercy of my circumstances) I listen to the theme music to the new Wonder Woman film and stand in a superhero pose thinking how powerful I am and that I can always find a solution or find my way.
3. Visualization And Deep Breathing
When faced with an annoyance — bad traffic, a long line at the grocery, an email that make you want to boil over or a friend who made a snippy comment — stop and focus on deep breathing for one minute.
Really concentrate on taking in a breath all the way down into the pit of your stomach (most of the time we breath shallow only into our chest cavity).
For a few breaths really think about the air entering your lungs and traveling down to your stomach. You should feel your abs move. Hold it for 5-7 counts and then let the air out through your mouth. A
gain, concentrate and feel the air exiting your mouth. Do this several times for about one minute — you’ll be amazed at how less annoying the annoyance becomes!
This one minute breathing technique will likely keep you from a trigger reaction that would probably only escalate the annoyance. “Let it go Louie” — as my grandma used to say.
4. Gestalt Training
Mine comes for 1000 hours of psychodrama and Gestalt training.
When I get stuck, (or a client does, but for the sake of ease I will explain it through myself now), I look for a memory when things went well, and I was not stuck.
Then I change seats, and I imagine, that there is a separate part of me that was not stuck, and this half looks at the challenge from that seat.
In that unstuck role I collect all my thoughts about what I did differently when things went well. And then I go back to my “stuck” seat and see how I react to my unstuck half.
This may sound a bit weird I know, but changing perspective physically does help a lot.
Embodying our energized, creative and able self and looking at things from another position is able to give solutions to our stuck half
5. Being Ready For Tomorrow
Take one-minute at the beginning or at the end of your day and list the 3-5 most important tasks or questions you need completed/answered that day (or next day).
Then keep that list with you throughout the day to help keep you focused on those tasks/questions.
There are many apps you can use for your list – I use Evernote – or simply use electronic or paper calendars – such as Google Calendars, Outlook, or Day-Timer.
Creating my list at the end of one day for the next day not only increases my productivity, but often helps me solve a dilemma, think of new ideas or reach a decision simply by writing it down and then sleeping on it.
6. T. Rex To The Rescue
When I feel myself getting anxious because my T-Rex (lizard brain) is on a rampage because I’m meeting new people, entering a meeting, sitting down to write, or doing anything out of my comfort zone, I picture a T-Rex skipping through a field of flowers and it instantly calms me so I can move forward.
7. A Course In Miracles
My life hacking for getting through life when facing a challenge is to repeat the mantra (from A Course in Miracles), “I choose love over fear”.
Often the struggle is a source of fear and a perceived threat. When I repeat this saying I am reminded of the choice I have in switching my perception to a more empowering thought.
8. The Add Three Things Strategy
When you feel triggered by a situation or person & you need to shift your reactive feeling quickly -you say the issue that is bothering you followed by 3 other things totally unrelated & keep saying it until you break the pattern of thinking. An example:
I feel upset that my friend got angry with me and I have black shoes on, brown hair and the sky is blue. (Repeat)
What this does is scramble & break the pattern of thinking quickly! I’ve used it and so have my clients and find it works quickly.
9. Release The Endorphins
A good 30 seconds of laughter (faked or real) at various times during the day can really boost our health, well being and mood. You don’t need a reason to laugh just an intention, for example look for humour in difficult situations
Some of the benefits laughter brings:
- Laughter relaxes your entire body
- Laughter energies you
- Laughter boosts the immune system
- Laughter can block distressing emotions
- Laughter boosts our pain threshold
- Laughter helps us relax and recharge
10. An Attitude of Gratitude
I believe in the power of the “Attitude of Gratitude” and in a regular morning prayer contemplation, I remind myself of all the things I can be grateful for: my loving wife, my two bright boys, my health, our country’s quality healthcare, our jobs, our family and friends, a peaceful and economically strong country etc.
Feeling genuinely grateful for these blessings keeps me from becoming negative or dejected. It also reminds me to count my blessings, not my problems. All in all a good, positive daily morning boost to my mental state at the beginning of the day.
From Michael Wecke
11. Sufi Wisdom
When things are piling up and getting overwhelming I do one of two things; if I am in my car, I roll up the windows and have fun screaming my lungs out!
If I am at home and don’t want to alarm the neighbors, I do gibberish out loud – gibberish is actually an old Sufi Meditation technique to get you out of your head – because usually what’s going on in our head is just that – gibberish!
Once the energy has been released, THEN I can sit down and do a mindfulness meditation or mindful check in.
12. Three Life Hack’s For The Price Of One
I have more than one 1 minute life hack. I will share 3 of them. My first 1 minute life hack is to always let my loved ones know they are loved, whether it’s verbally telling them or hugging them or some other small gesture.
My second 1 minute life hack is to always smile and say hello to strangers. You never know what kind of day someone is having and something that small could have a major impact on them.
I like both of these life hacks because it takes the focus off of myself and any negativity I may be feeling at the time and puts me in s frame of mind of love, giving and thoughtfulness.
My 3rd 1 minute life hack is to take one moment before I open my mouth to respond to negativity. This gives me time to think and choose my words carefully, as opposed to just responding based on emotion.
13. Mindful Eating
As a practice I also began to leave my phone out of reach during my meals in an attempt to bring attention to, and encourage, mindful eating.
Being mindful during meals can bring awareness to our own actions, thoughts, feelings and motivations around food. I started to examine the beauty of the food such as the colours and textures.
I now notice how my body reacts to different tastes and sensations and how I actually become full before clearing my plate.
I started to notice health benefits such as weight loss, positive mood increase and built on relationships with family during meaningful conversations.
Be present and enjoy the beautiful food we are blessed with receiving.
14. Stop, Think, Do – With Critical Thinking
his is for people who feel overwhelmed and get confused by their emotions. I work a lot with high potential people who are sensitive, intelligent and can be a little neurotic (this isn’t an insult this is a facet of Five Factor personality).
Sometimes they can need a red light to get their rational mind involved when their emotions bubble up because they’re likely to get into negative thoughts about themselves in reaction to social stimuli that may have nothing to do with them.
So for instance if someone is rude to them they might just A) assume it is because they did/are something bad and B) just stand there and feel awful or react emotionally.
What I encourage them to do when something happens that starts to take them down the drain hole of feeling like they suck and other people are perhaps attacking them is to stop, switch gears to critical thinking and ask themselves a series of questions about what alternative reasons there could be for what they are perceiving.
The person they’re interacting with might have a migraine, might be busy and stressed, might just be a rude person, they might be actually being inappropriate with them, or they might be being hypersensitive because the moment reminds them of something unpleasant from their past.
Then once you’ve thought for a short period such as around one minute or so you act in accordance with the most rational explanation i.e. if the other person seems stressed let it go perhaps, if they rationally do seem to be attacking be calm and assertive.
It stops people stewing on their emotions, it also stops people who overreact quickly, so it’s good for both camps. It’s also good for self esteem as you stop taking ownership for everyone else’s actions and thinking it’s all about you in a negative sense.
And over time it brings calm to the mind, stopping you from being so reactive.
It takes some time and practice, and often people have to start writing down rational vs irrational thoughts to practice telling the difference before they can start doing it automatically, but I find once you have trained yourself to do it it sticks pretty well.
15. 30-Seconds To Defuse Anger
A hack to quick fix anger, which will take 30 seconds and you will be fine. The moment you start feeling angry and red hot and something starts boiling inside, take one sip of water in your mouth.
Move towards the washroom and rinse, telling yourself that I have thrown out all the anger. Take a deep breath and move back to the scene. Hey! Now you are reading and smiling!
16. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
Start each day with a good stretch and whatever conscious breathing exercise works for you – or vary them.
Connect with something or someone who makes you smile or laugh and then plug-in to one of your favorite guided affirmations, to direct your thoughts along productive pathways.
Repeat as often as you can until this state becomes your default program each day.
Whatever we do, it’s the consistent repetition that neuroscience has proved achieves sustainable change.
17. Accepting The Moment
For me it’s mindful breathing. It’s the “hack” I use most often. It just takes a few moments, no matter whether I’m walking the dogs or driving my car, to tune into my breath and start paying more attention to what’s going on around me.
Mindful breathing has rescued me from a panic attack the first time I went on the New York subway. It’s also helped to calm me down numerous times.
I often find myself trying to avoid certain feelings or situations. In fact, I believe avoidance is a core a core ingredient of lots of mental illness.
I try to escape the present moment by numbing myself with candy, ice cream or drugs.
But actually the best way to deal with the urge to avoid things, is to breath mindfully, allow whatever I’m feeling without judgement, and feel compassion for myself.
18. The Circle of Excellence
When we find ourselves dealing with a project or idea we just can’t seem to get our head around it is a helpful exercise to imagine a Circle of Excellence just one step in front of us.
This circle represents where we are are best selves. Where we are able to access information from our higher awareness that all answers already exist and are available to us.
When you are ready step in to the center of the circle and allow yourself to see the challenge from this higher awareness.
Of course it works great when combined with the breathing exercises mention here and with a grateful heart for the answers already coming your way.
19. None Of It Is Personal
When I Quit taking things personally, my whole life changed. I read the 2nd agreement of the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and it changed my thinking in about 1 minute flat.
Emotionally intelligent people don’t waste their time assigning meaning about what other people “do, or say.”
It is up to you to decide how your life is going to look.
If you are taking what other people do or say personally, you are probably suffering a lot of grief and dealing with a lot of unnecessary stress.
I just try and remember that what other people do and say is about them and not me (even if we think it is, it isn’t) it’s about their beliefs, values and perceptions.
It has NOTHING to do with you. Ps, we are all human and We don’t get it perfect at it all the time. I work on this thought process sometimes it’s super easy and other times it’s not so smooth. However, it works!
When you can learn to accept that when you don’t take things personally, you can become impervious to other people’s opinions, their negativity and simply accept reality the way it is and move on.
Don’t choose to suffer because of what other people do and what you “think” they are doing to you; you are going to rob yourself of the present moment and compromise your peace of mind.
A bad driver who cut you off or that person who skipped the queue at the grocery story or that snide comment that was made isn’t about you. Don’t obsess about it just say “I’m choosing not to take this personally” and move on.
20. Forgive and Forget
I notice my first 5-10 minutes meditation (HUNA) is very enlightening, it sets my day for success.
I practice the art of forgiveness and It works very well all the time.
20a The ‘As If’ Frame
O.K. here goes…My Life Hack for getting through difficult moments….BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
In your minds eye take 5 giant steps forward from the starting line. In front of you is a mirror. Look yourself in the eye and tell yourself in one sentence what you want to say about yourself at the end of your difficult moment.
Then walk back to the starting line and begin walking “AS IF”…You already know what you want to say in the end – This knowledge will order your steps aright.
What Do You Think?
I know I said there weren’t in any specific order other than that which they were left but I have to confess, I’m a massive fan of #6.
I’d like to hear what your favorite is. Maybe it isn’t even here and you have something entirely different, in which case, please share it with us in the comments.