Create Your Own Soundtrack

Movies manipulate your feelings. You can also use the techniques of the movie industry to change how you feel. One of their tricks is the soundtrack. You just know that the romantic couple is about to meet again after a long separation – the music tells you.

Think about the soundtrack you want for your life. You might create several playlists for different moods. You can have one for starting work, one for winding down after your workday, one for getting ready for bed, one to get in a romantic mood with your partner, and an extra energetic one for doing boring work around the house.

Your rational mind cannot directly affect your feelings. It doesn’t work to simply tell yourself to cheer up. But your rational self can select the right tunes and let the music do the magic.

Dress for Success

Are you wearing the right clothes today? What you wear affects your mood. You can set your day on a good track when you stand in front of your closet in the morning.

Some people claim that specific colors affect our confidence and mood in predictable ways, but it’s not that simple. What matters is how you personally feel about the clothes you wear. While one person might feel great in bright, colorful clothes, another might feel best in solid earth tones.

When you pick up an item of clothing in the morning, close your eyes and spend a few seconds to experience the feeling this item gives you today. If it matches your goals and schedule for the day – energetic, creative, or relaxed – wear that piece. If it doesn’t, pick up another one. You can reach your goals easier with the right clothes.

How a Box Will Increase Your Energy

Looking at clutter uses energy. Brain scans show that the more objects you have within your field of view, the faster you get tired and lose focus. Even though the brain is capable of filtering out all the items that are not relevant to the task at hand, it does spend energy doing so.

To increase your focus, you need to see fewer objects. But you don’t need to throw anything away (unless you want to). You simply need to group items together. Take a number of items that have some relation to each other and put them in a box. Eight pens, a pile of paperclips, a tape dispenser and a pair of scissors become one object when they go into a box.

It is important you can satisfy yourself that the items belong together. Throwing random objects into a box doesn’t trick your brain. It will look at a box it knows contains unsorted junk and continue thinking of all the items in the box. And now you have added an extra item: The box.

Get out some boxes and remove some clutter from your field of vision. You will notice increased clarity and energy. You just might get around to tasks you have been putting off for weeks.

Reach into the Future

Our lockdown is gradually lifting here in Denmark, and my friends in Israel tell me they’re getting close to normal after a massive vaccination effort. In many places around the world, vaccinations are proceeding and lockdowns are having effect.

What will you do when restrictions are lifted? Think of something you want to do and can’t do now. Close your eyes and imaging yourself involved in that activity. Some people are able to visualize the activity, others can imagine hearing the sounds or feeling the physical sensations. You can use this method to harvest energy from the future to re-energize yourself while we all wait for the things we can’t do now.

Make Time for Two Hours Outside

Were you outdoors for a walk this weekend? The research is piling up showing that spending time outside in natural surroundings is associated with lower levels of stress hormones, less anxiety, less depression and even improved cognitive ability.

A children’s hospital in the US has a question on their discharge questionnaire: Does the child have access to outdoors and green spaces? If not, they are offered to take part in a nature program. Clinical trials show that this program increases the children’s health and decreases the parents’ stress levels.

Spending two hours per week walking in nature gives a significant improvement in health and subjective well-being. If you like numbers, a study shows that the effect increases with more time outside, reaching the maximum at 5 hours outdoors per week. That half an hour on workdays and Saturday, and one two-hour walk on Sunday. For everyone without a significant mobility impairment, that is completely achievable.

Make sure you get your two hours outside every week. That gives you the energy to work on anything else you need to change in your life.

Work outside

I’ll be doing some outside work at our summer cottage this weekend. There are always things to do in preparation for winter. If you live somewhere with a yard or a garden, spend some time doing work outside this weekend. If you don’t have an outside area that is your responsibility, pick up a trash bag and clean up an area close to where you live.

Physical tasks like raking leaves, chopping firewood, or felling trees gives you a feeling of satisfaction that intellectual work on your computer doesn’t. Do something with your body this weekend to start next week with a positive feeling of accomplishment.