Life is a great teacher — but no one gets a complete set of rules they’ll need for a better life or career.
Somehow you’re just supposed to know that building better and meaningful relationships can do more for your health and help you live a happier life.
Albert Einstein once said, “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”
There are no universal truths in life but there are fundamental skills that can help every functioning adult thrive in life. Those skills can be acquires with experience and time. Success is subjective but whatever your definition of success is, these essential skills can help you achieve it faster.
When to trust your gut and when to double-check with your rational mindAlbert Einstein has been widely quoted as saying, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
Most of the time, people know what to do long before the rational mind steps in — we can just feel it. That’s intuitive thinking.
You rely on intuition when you make decisions without concrete proof, scientific facts, psychological evidence, or active reasoning.
In his book, The Power of Intuition, Gary Klein suggests that 90 percent of critical decisions we make in life are made using our intuition.
Trust your gut, but it pays to be rational. Intuitive thinking is not always right. Knowing when to engage your rational or gut brain is a critical skill in life.
Rational decision making favours logic, objectivity, and analysis over intuition. It’s conscious, deliberate and analytical.
“…intuition and rationality are not necessarily opposites. Rather it is advantageous to master both intuition and analytic skills. Let us not follow our inner voice blindly, but let us not underestimate it either,” writes Laura Kutsch, a communications psychologist.
When your choices consistently lead to negative outcomes, think about your thinking. You may be unconsciously making decisions from the wrong place or relying on past experiences that didn’t serve you well.
Mark Twain says “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
It takes work to get off your perfect decision frequency. To make better decisions, start noticing when everything starts flowing seamlessly and learn from both your gut and rational thinking process. Be present enough and aware enough in your life to rewire your decision-making habits.
In the age of unlimited distractions, self-control is a super power.
Once you’ve decided that something is important, can you fully control yourself and persist in in doing it, without letting bad habits get in the way?
We were never taught how to focus in school even though that’s all did to learn better and get good grades. Employers don’t teach new hires how to concentrate and do deep or focused work. Even though your success depends on it. It’s assumed you know what to do.
Addiction to distraction is everywhere. “Distractions are by-products of a problem,” says Kyle Cease, author of I Hope I Screw This Up: How Falling In Love With Your Fears Can Change the World.
“Something outside of you is pulling you away from yourself or a goal. But the distraction is actually on the inside, and what’s going on outside matches what’s going on inside, ” he argues.
Self-control is an inside job. It’s the ability to abstain from doing unproductive, momentarily more gratifying tasks, so you can do the things that really matter.
Most people spend most of their productive time distracting themselves. They’ve not mastered how to productive or efficient. They can’t use their insights and commitment to actually move things forward.
Ultimately it’s up to you to find ways to master your ability to focus on activities that move you forward. You’re in control. You are the only person who can ultimately choose whether or not to be distracted.
The brain is like a muscle. If you want to get better at focusing, practice — schedule your day, break tasks into sprints (30 to 45 minutes at a time with breaks in between), stop multi-tasking and be more mindful — catch those distraction impulses before they grab attention.
And finally, prepare your environment to work for you not against you (get rid of the distractions close to you before you start deep work).
How to communicate with anyone (even those who disagree with you)
"Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.” ― Roy T. Bennett
Communication is an art. The ability to communicate clearly in speech and writing ensures that everyone understands what you’re telling them.
“Effective communication is a skill. It’s something that takes practice, and requires that you invest heavily in not only understanding others but also yourself,” writes Deep Patel of Business Insider.
Words are the source of misunderstandings — if someone doesn’t understand you or you don’t pay attention enough to understand what they are trying to tell you, you will both misunderstand each other.
Through better interaction, we learn more about other people, we perform our jobs well, we connect meaningfully with others, express our opinions, improve our skills and help others.
The ability to communicate effectively is a key skill, and the better we are at it, the better our quality of life will be. Like any skill, communication skills can be developed and refined with practice.
Words have power — use your words wisely. Conversation is king — it ultimately becomes our experience.
The ability to discern or judge what is true, right or lasting
By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” ― Confucious
Wisdom is an important skill in an ever-changing world.
Wise people shape their lives, marriages, finances, relationships and careers based on better knowledge, understanding and insight.
Wisdom is investing for your future, making time for the people you care about, making every life experience, good or bad, a learning one.
Learning from past experiences is one of the best ways of acquiring wisdom — experience is how we become better functioning adults.
Wisdom is good judgement in social situations. It’s applying knowledge to your life in a way that adds meaning and promotes the common good.
Wisdom is learning from the past but never living there. “The past has no power over the present moment,” says Eckhart Tolle.
It’s putting things in perspective before jumping to conclusions — reviewing facts not assumptions when making decisions. It’s managing your emotions in difficult situations. It’s critical thinking instead of mere compliance.
True wisdom is self-knowledge and self-awareness. “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power,” says Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching.
Remember that a wise approach to your relationships, habits and work is the most effective route to a life of meaning, fulfilment and happiness.
by Thomas Oppong
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