10 Marriage Rules You Should Break

There are a lot of opinions out there about what makes a marriage work. Myths and misconceptions abound. Here are ten “rules” you should consider breaking.

1. Never go to sleep angry. Actually you probably should go to sleep angry. Things become a whole lot clearer after a good night’s sleep. Staying up and trying to convince your spouse of your perspective when you are angry makes it more likely that you will say things you will regret. Make an agreement to talk about it in the morning.

2. The kids always come first. Your relationship with your partner is the emotional foundation for your entire family. Your children count on you not only to demonstrate a healthy relationship but also to provide them with the safety and security they need to create their own healthy attachments as they get older.

3. Your partner should love unconditionally. Unconditional love does not exist beyond the parent-child relationship. We earn love from our spouse and they earn it from us. This is not to say that we always have to be perfect. Ideally we have enough in the “love bank” to weather those times where we don’t behave as we should. 

4. Fighting is a sign of a bad marriage. According to Dr. John Gottman, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, the most important predictor of the success or failure of a marriage is the ratio of positive interactions to negative interactions. According to Gottman, there must be five positive interactions for every negative one.

5. Always be 100% honest. Let’s be real. You don’t want to know if those jeans make your butt look big, or which one of your friends he would like to sleep with if he could. He shouldn’t answer those questions honestly and neither should you. It is more important to be a kind and loving spouse than to share the intimate details of a previous relationship.

6. Our partner should always be attracted to us. I got a call the other day on my radio show from a woman who was upset because her husband said that he was no longer attracted to her. When I probed further, she revealed that she had gained 100 pounds. We owe it to ourselves to live a healthy life; but we also owe it to our spouse. If you don’t love yourself enough to take care of yourself, why should he?

7. “Date night” should be a big romantic evening. Most couples think a date together has to be an elaborate expensive evening, but that misses the true intention of the event. Date night is about reconnecting and being together, not trying to impress your spouse. 

8. Your spouse should be your whole life. Somewhere between dependency and neglect lies interdependency. One person cannot fulfil your every need. We have different people in our lives to fulfil different needs—girlfriends for gossip and mum for shoe shopping, for example. Expecting your spouse to be everything to you puts unnecessary pressure on him. Have separate adventures and report back what happened during your day.

9. Couples in therapy are headed for divorce. Most couples could benefit from learning communications tools. Also, having a third party in the room can make spouses behave more calmly then they do at home, which can lead to resolution of conflicts. Marriage counselling can give you a better understanding of one another and a safe forum to work through issues you are experiencing.

10. Being unhappy in your marriage means you should leave. Marriages that last for many decades go through ups and downs. If you are lucky enough to stay married that long, you will probably fall in and out of love many times. Marriages that last do so because both spouses work hard at it and are willing to stick it out and work through difficult times.

Copyright by Dr. Jenn Mann

Dr Jenn Mann will be delivering Two x 60 Minute Sessions. Designed exclusively for Upgrade Your Life 2020!

Session 1: Learn the parenting skills needed to raise happy and confident kids.

Session 2: How to Fix a Relationship. Our hectic lifestyle is taking it’s toll on intimacy with over 20% of couples now having sex less than 10 times per year. In this practical workshop, Dr Jenn explains how dysfunction in any of the 8 areas of life can damage a relationship and how to go about fixing it through better communication, connection and intimacy. Her prescriptions will surprise you. A MUST for all couples. Find Out More >>>

Should Couples Go to Bed at the Same Time?

Ten questions couples need to consider when they have different bedtimes

Oliver and Jaymee had been together for 20 years and were the parents of two tweens. The first issue they brought up in couples therapy was a common one. Jaymee always “collapsed at 9:30 and went to bed” leaving Oliver alone in the living room. “I’m finally ready to start my evening and he’s already asleep,” Oliver complained. “I can’t help it,” Jaymee countered, “I’m just exhausted. I beg Oliver to shift his sleeping patterns but he refuses. It’s like he’s avoiding being in bed with me.” “That’s exactly how I feel!” Oliver objected.
Many couples don’t go to bed at the same time. Some people are night owls who thrive at night and some are morning larks who are most energetic in the morning, and it is those preferences that most determine a couples’ co-sleeping patterns, also known as dyadic sleep patterns.

How synced a couples’ bedtime is can have a significant impact on their relationship but contrary to common assumptions, these affects can be both negative and positive and are often a mix of both.
On the pro side of syncing sleep times, some people simply love to fall asleep while in an embrace because they find it physically comforting. To others, having the same sleep time represents their relationship being in a good place. Being in the bed alone makes them feel anxious because they associate their partner’s absence as a sign of conflict or avoidance, reflecting relationship tension. While that might be the case at times—and probably is when a partner who usually goes to bed at the same time chooses not to do so following an argument or with little explanation—feeling unsettled when our partner stays up late when there are no current tensions in the relationship can be a sign of a deeper psychological issue.
Studies

Studies have linked these kinds of anxious feelings to a person’s “attachment”—how one’s experience with caregivers in earlier life impacts our expectations regarding our adult partners’ ability to be consistently warm, nurturing, and responsive to our needs. Insecure attachment can cause us to feel anxious when our partner is present and to require more reassurance from them than the circumstances might suggest.

Attachment issues aside, for many couples separate bed times are the norm and bare no reflection of the state of their relationship. Other than a person’s circadian preferences, our sleep habits are often just that—habits we develop for a variety of different reasons. In most cases, separate sleep times are simply the result of trying to manage our sleep, such as when one member of a couple snores, has restless leg, or makes frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom, or when a person has insomnia and they find it easier to fall asleep when they are alone in the bed. And given how important sleep is for health, mental health, and general cognitive functioning, making sleep a priority is a sound and important consideration.

Having separate sleep times can have other advantages: Some people value their alone time and being up when their partner is sleeping is their only way of getting it, and couples with younger children can rotate child care in order to divide parenting responsibilities more equally.
That said, when a couple has different sleep schedules they do need to consider how it impacts their relationship and discuss ways to address any issues that might ensue from their discordant bedtimes.

10 Questions to Consider When Partners Have Different Bedtimes

Each member of the couple should note which topics they would like to discuss. Start with the topics you both chose, then take turns discussing the ones only one of you chose:

1. Do you need to find other times to talk and connect if you typically do so when you’re both in bed (and awake)?

2. Do you need to find other times to have sex if you’re used to having it before bed?

3. Should you consider spending an hour cuddling on the sofa before the lark collapses and leaves the owl by themselves?

4. Are there other ways to find alone time so that your sleep schedules can be better synced?

5. Do you need to get your kids to bed earlier so you have more time together before exhaustion takes over?

6. Do you need to find alternate times to watch your favorite shows together?

7. Should you schedule daytime naps on the weekend to allow for intimate (or sexual) relaxed time in bed together?

8. Do you need to communicate more clearly about your reasons for staying up later or going to bed earlier?

9. Does one or both of you snore and need to consult a doctor for sleep apnea?

10. Does one or both of you need to improve your sleep hygiene and go to bed at a consistent time every night and wake up at a consistent time every morning?

Differences in bedtimes can be managed but it takes communication to set mutual expectations and problem-solve issues that arise when couples are unable to both unwind and relax together before they go to bed. Set a time to talk and work together to get yourselves on the same page.

Copyright 2019 by Guy Winch

Dr Guy Winch at Upgrade Your Life 2019

Dr Guy Winch’s had all couples nodding in agreement and completely surprised by the simplicity of the ‘complain sandwich’ and small ‘bids’. As one person said at UYL2019, “If all couples spent just one hour with Dr Winch there would be no divorce in this world.” 

Avoiding and resolving the inevitable conflict in relationships. An insightful talk with practical solutions by one of the worlds leading experts and renowned TED speaker.

Re-live every moment of that talk by clicking here or the thumbnail below. 

Meet Dr Guy Winch Ph.D. In Person

As our Faculty Member of A Higher Branch, Dr Guy Winch will be returning to speak at our Upgrade Your Life, 2020. This 2-day event will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Sydney. 
Dr Winch is one of the most accomplished psychologists in the world. He has the refreshing ability to present complex principles practical way, which makes him a valuable member of the Higher Branch faculty.

The Real Reason Why We Don’t Step Outside Our Comfort Zone

Is it FEAR of Getting Hurt or is it LAZINESS?

Being adventurous does lead us into unknown territory where we may feel lost. I get it, we also fear getting hurt physically and emotionally.

Physically, we may fear getting injured or sick from trying new exercise or a new sport. We tell ourselves, “maybe I am not ready. I feel run down. I may get sick or too tired. I may get injured. My knees, shoulder, ankles or whatever may get worse….”

Emotionally, we may fear getting rejected when we initiate intimacy with our partner or make new friends, or suggest a new idea at work, or help someone we don’t know. Or we may fear failing at a new business, a new course or a new job or a new investment.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting you do anything without research and assessment. Being fearless does not mean being reckless but it is your duty to at least take the effort and conduct the risk analysis.

Risk Analysis

So, there are essentially two obstacles. Not just FEAR but ALSO taking the time and effort to conduct RISK ANALYSIS. Most people who do not take action blame it on fear, when in reality they are just too lazy to make the assessment. So the question is: Which one is letting you down? Fear or lack of risk analysis? Or both?

For example, when it comes to initiating relationships, ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen if that person rejects me?” Often the answer is ‘not much’, ie simply fear stopping you taking action. There are plenty of other people on this planet. On the other hand, when it comes to trying a new exercise, getting injured is a real risk, but the assessment needs to include risk mitigation. How can I ease into exercise? How do I warm up before exercise? How do I stop before my form is compromised due to fatigue?

Or it could be enrolling into a new course at uni. The risk is you lose interest in the course or you find out the course is not right for you. So, the ultimate risk is losing money and more importantly, losing time. The gain is knowledge you can leverage to invest in your future earning potential. How do you mitigate the risk here?

Or it could be a new job. The risk is you lose an existing job where you have gained respect and trust. The gain is you get a better job with greater opportunity for growth and earnings. How do you mitigate this risk?

In all cases, you need to answer that question for yourself because only you know the nuances and consequences in your life. Below I outline a process to help you.

Get rich or die trying?

So, change ultimately requires not just fearlessness but constant risk assessment. If you are too lazy to make that assessment daily, I get it, you may be in a stage in your life where you don’t feel like any change is warranted or necessary. Consider this however: Most people are in one of THREE states.

High State: Life is great! I wake up every day with purpose and passion. 

Low State: Life is terrible, and I am not excited about getting up in the morning.

Numb State: I am neither happy nor sad but stuck somewhere in the middle where it is not bad enough to change anything.

I am not judging here. Merely making an observation that the numb state often precedes the low state. I’ve been in all three states and the one thing that I know for certain is that I have ONLY ever achieved something in my life when I have gone out on a limb, got hurt, dusted myself off and tried something new every day. BUT only when I have LEARNED from it. Every fail is an opportunity for growth. Yes it’s a cliché but ever so remarkable.

It All Starts with new LEARNINGS 

The path to overcoming FEAR and conducting RISK ANALYSIS starts with LEARNING. Most people dive into new things recklessly because they are pumped up on motivation. The antidote to that starts with new LEARNINGS. You need to learn before AND after you step outside your comfort zone. Before: information allows you to make the right decision through proper analysis. After: if it was the wrong decision, you have to ask “What did I learn from this?” In both cases you are gathering information for future risk assessment. Ever heard of millionaires and billionaires who have been bankrupt a few times? Why are there are so many? Because the ultimate learnings come from failures and experiences. This is the zone where you should live your life. I am not saying it’s easy but it’s definitely not numb.

There are STEPS I follow daily before trying something new:

Step 1: Learn [podcasts, books, people, fails]
Step 2: Decide [risk analysis]
Step 3: Act [take action with no attachment to the outcome]
Step 4: Review and Reflect [pivot]
Step 5 Repeat Steps 1-4 [this takes courage]

As a business owner and self-confessed high-achiever, I believe that our ability to learn things fast is now our most valuable skill to living in the High State; which is why I have compiled your favourite teachers, starting with Jim Kwik, to help us upgrade. I have done this upgrade every January since the age of 17. Today all my learnings on how to live a life of not just purpose, not just fearlessness but courage to step outside my comfort zone, have culminated in an annual event we at A Higher Branch, call Upgrade Your Life. Next year’s theme is 2020-VISION. It is not just about having goals. It is about having clarity; NOT just for future goals but as a process for daily living; stepping outside your comfort zone must happen daily. I hope you can step outside your comfort zone and join us. This is a not-for-profit event organised purely out of love and compassion for our community. Click here: www.upgradeyourlife2020.com

 

The Real Reason Why Some People Can’t Get Out of Bed in the Morning

 

The real reason is because their mind and body can predict what is going to happen that day.

Most of us think that lacking drive comes from NOT having compelling goals and dreams but that is half the equation. You can still have purpose but lack passion. Why? Read on…

We experience life through our five senses and when we repeat the same things every day, we get caught in a negative feedback loop where the five senses send a message from the body to the brain and back again that “this is another mundane day”. Consequently, our energy dims. 

When our five senses experience the same thing every day, they become  too familiar with the known. People call that their comfort zone when in reality it is their ‘dead zone’. It is where their five senses go numb. But when we have variety and adventure in our life, our senses come alive. They are stimulated. We too then come alive and experience living with passion and excitement.

Remember the last time you woke up excitedly looking forward to something? An excursion. A holiday. A new job or business. It’s because you knew that something unexpected was going to happen. Why do we watch sport? Because something unexpected is going to happen. Or go on a new date? Or a concert? A new restaurant? A new movie. A new book? A new friend? A new strategy. A new software program. A new route? Or whatever gets us into new territory.

Imagine living with that sense of excitement and adventure every day. If you can’t or don’t want to imagine it? Maybe it is because you are trying to control every outcome in your life. The ‘comfort zone’ is also a zone of safety, familiarity and well, comfort.

Ultimately, we retreat into our comfort zone because we FEAR getting hurt; (more on that next week where I reveal the real reason why we don’t set outside our comfort zone).  Every time we try and control outcomes in our life we are giving up our greatness and wasting precious time on this earth. It takes fearlessness to experience ‘living’ because there is a difference between being alive and living. Being alive is an opportunity to live. It is not living.

Adventure

Living a life where we bounce out of bed everyday can only happen when we have a sense of adventure in our life. Adventure is what takes us outside our comfort zone and exposes us to new opportunities for growth. Adventure is how we practice fearlessness.

Adventure leads to living, because when we try something new we are stepping into unknown and unfamiliar territory. When that happens, our body’s five senses are stimulated. For example, when we travel to another country, our senses are stimulated by new experiences. It may be the aromas of exotic herbs and spices, seeing new sites, feasting on new food or hearing new music from another culture. Or feeling snow or sand between our fingers. Our senses crave all such experiences. But we should never wait for holidays to feel that sense of adventure. Every day is an opportunity for adventure. When you do something new in each of the 8 areas of life daily, your five senses get stimulated and you will feel alive. New sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch.

Most of us can drift aimlessly in the 8 areas of our life because we are not living consciously. We wake and hit the repeat button every day. So, my challenge to you this week is to ask yourself: WHAT new adventures can you try every day this week, using the 8 elements of life as your guide? Starting today, what new things can you do? Or what old things can you do in a new way?

How to Stop Making Excuses

 

How to Stop Making Excuses

Do you have an excuse mindset that is sabotaging your goals and growth? This article will provide you with 5 essential antidotes. It is written by Dr Guy Winch, PhD. But first, a little context.

I have lived by this daily system for over 20 years and I promise you it has been the single most important reason for my personal growth and business performance. This system does not require any motivation or willpower. Whether you are training, parenting, innovating, writing, speaking or whatever, this system prevents you from drifting aimlessly and lays the foundation for taking action in all 8 areas of your life.

What Is Holding All of Us Back?

There is NO progress without taking ACTION. BUT there is one kryptonite we ALL have that prevents us from taking action. Our FEARS! The following is priceless advice written by Dr Guy Winch, speaker at Upgrade Your Life 2020.

5 Excuses People With Fear of Failure Make

Denying your fears will sabotage your chances of success. Setting meaningful goals can be scary and anxiety-provoking. Unfortunately, our mind is likely to respond to our fear by providing us with excuses that encourage us to give up before we start, that sabotage our efforts once we do begin, or that send us into an endless cycle of procrastination.

Here are five common excuses we give ourselves when we fear failure—and what we should say to ourselves instead. The key is to acknowledge our fears, recognize the challenges, and set correct expectations, yet create an open path to success.

1. What you feel: “This goal will be very difficult to reach.”
What your mind tells you: “I’m not capable so there’s no point in trying.” 

If you believe you’re incapable, there is indeed no point in trying. But if you acknowledge the difficulty, you can begin to strategize, plan, and figure out what you will need to do to overcome the challenges—which will make you more likely to succeed once you do try.

2. What you feel: “I’m afraid to fail.”
What your mind tells you: “I don’t want to try.” 

It’s your goal, so of course you would like to try and succeed. Therefore, if your mind is telling you that you don’t even want to try, know that this is actually false and a response to the fear of failure you feel. The good news is, acknowledging fear is the first step in overcoming it. Own your fear and then confront it.

3. What you feel: “This is going to take a lot of effort and preparation.”
What your mind tells you: “It’s not worth it.”

Again, the more meaningful the goal, the more effort it might take. But meaningful goals are also the most rewarding, empowering, and life changing. So the effort is well worth it.

4. What you feel: “Setting a clear start date makes me anxious.”
What your mind tells you: “I’ll get to it when I’m ready.”

One of the most common reasons we fail to meet goals is that we fail to set a clear start date that could hold us accountable and prevent procrastination. Simply setting a start date, and putting it in your calendar to make it “official,” can give you the extra kick you need to get going.

5. What you feel: “If I try really hard and fail, I’ll be devastated.”
What your mind tells you: “I’ll give it a try but there’s only so much I can do.”

Fear of failure often manifests in making excuses upfront that can then be used to explain the failure, such as expressing pessimism about your chances of success, and using that as an excuse to limit your efforts. 

“The problem is, the excuse mindset then turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy”

By holding back your efforts, you’ve increased your chances of failure. So, acknowledge the fear, but instead of imagining what it will feel like to fail, imagine what it will feel like to succeed.

Copyright Guy Winch

Life-Hack #6: Let there be Breath

  This is the last of the 6 life-hacks, one that is easy to apply, will not take time from your day but will have a huge impact on your physical, mental and emotional health. It is the ultimate detox, the ultimate stress buster, immune booster and the best performance enhancer 2nd to sleep, but in turn impacts the quality of your sleep. It is the CONSCIOUS use of the breath (commonly known as prana or chi), associated with spirit, passion, life, power and magnetism.
It is important that you understand what is going on with the breath and its impact on the chemical and physiological activities of the body which includes the mind. Knowing this gives you ultimate control so you can put yourself in any desired state depending on what you want to achieve in the moment.
There are two types of breathing:Subconscious ‘natural’ breathing. This is controlled by what is going on in your heart and mind.• Conscious breathing where you bring your awareness to the breath. This conversely controls your heart and mind.And there are two states or outcomes from your breathing. They either step you into your:Parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) – usually associated with nose breathing

Sympathetic (fight or flight) – associated with mouth breathing

Both states serve a purpose so there is no such thing as good or bad but rather, a natural state or unnatural state. If you are running a race, engaging the sympathetic with mouth breathing is important, but the same mouth breathing sitting at a desk fretting is unnatural.

The breath is a gateway to multiple states and the purpose of this article is to teach you the different techniques so you can use the breath as a very powerful tool. Stressed? No problem you will know what to do. Needing energy? No problem again. Needing creativity? Etc….

Whatever technique you choose below, there is one powerful element that is common to all: AWARENESS! Awareness is the magic ingredient. I will now share with you the techniques I have learned over the years and read about from pioneers like Dan Brule. His book Just Breathe was life-changing.

Breathing for STRESS RELIEF OR SLEEP

This is a technique I created for myself that is a combination diaphragmatic and box breathing. It is the quickest way to interrupt the fight or flight stress response and trigger the body’s normal relaxation response. The added benefit to this technique is that it strengthens the diaphragm and trains the body to breath from the belly subconsciously.

“When the breath is shallow, the mind is unsteady but when the breath is calmed the mind is still; therefore, when you control the breath, you control your mind” – Swatmarama Hatha Yoga Pradipika

The technique: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Put one hand on your belly and the other on your heart. Breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4, out for 4 and hold for four. Your belly should rise and fall with each breath in and out. Repeat 10 times or for as long as you require to notice your body relax. You will know it. When you are in an anxious state the first 4 reps are difficult but if you persist, you will literally change your body chemistry in a few minutes. Mentally counting will help.

Breathing For DETOX

Use this technique if you feel like you are coming down with something or if you are stuck in air-conditioning all day. Do it outside in fresh air.

Did you know that 70% of detox happens by the lungs through the breath? So, if you are shallow breathing throughout the day, you are not detoxing efficiently. We typically shallow breath when we are driving, on devices or in meetings. You will get tired, get brain fog and impact your immune system. That’s why this life-hack is so important! Especially if you are an office worker like me.

The following breathing technique takes 63 seconds twice a day. That’s all. A lot of people don’t believe that something so simple will have any effect, so they will not do it. Science has proven that this simple breathing technique, will trigger the release of endorphins, stimulates the lymphatic system and expels carbon monoxide.

The Technique: Place your tongue against the ridge behind your upper teeth. Close your mouth and inhale deeply through your nose for a count of 4. Hold your breath for 7 and exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. Repeat 3 times. It may feel weird, but it will feel natural after a few goes.

Breathing for CREATIVITY

Creativity comes from the heart not the mind. The heart is where the seat of passion is. It is no co-incidence that the lungs wrap around the heart. And when you take a deep breath, the heart expands and this takes you out of the head and into your heart. Only then can you tap into your creativity. Try this simple technique to help you get creative. I do this every morning after meditation. It only takes a few minutes and makes me super sharp throughout the day.

Alternate nostril breathing: While sitting, close your right nostril with your right thumb. Exhale and then inhale through your left nostril. Release your right nostril and close your left nostril with your ring finger. Exhale and then inhale through your right nostril. And repeat for a few minutes. I do 5 minutes. You can use your left hand. Breath naturally. Once you get the hang of it, it will start to flow naturally. This technique is also popular with Aussie health researcher and ayurvedic medicine practitioner, Mark Bunn.

Breathing for PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT & DEPRESSION Relief

There are many benefits claimed to what is now known as the Wim Hoff breathing method, made famous by the endurance athlete Wim Hoff. Anything from asthma management, Lyme disease treatment, arthritis and fibromyalgia relief, boosting concentration and increasing willpower. The only well documented benefits are performance enhancement from boosting energy and significantly relieving depression. I will not list the science here because if you Google it you will find a tonne of info on this method from multiple research universities. I will also note for the sake of mention that this method is very similar to a technique invented by Leonard Orr.

The Technique: Take 30 quick and deep breaths inhaling consciously through the nose and exhaling naturally through your mouth. Don’t try and control the out-breath. Just let it go. After 30 deep breaths exhale the last breath and then hold until you are gasping to breathe in. Inhale again as deep as you can and hold it for 10 seconds. As a variation I like to drop to the floor and do as many push-ups whilst holding my breath until I am gasping to take a breath again. Repeat this as many times as you like but I find that my whole system is well oxygenated after just one set and I am pumped with energy and feeling great! I promise you will too.

The Motivation Trap

3 Things Wrong with Motivation

1. The over promotion of motivation and happiness is causing anxiety. The expectation to be “on” the whole time is unrealistic and research is now showing that this increases rumination in response to failure. [McGuirk, L., Kuppens, P., Kingston, R., & Bastian, B. (2018). Does a culture of happiness increase rumination over failure?]

2. Dumping on yourself for NOT being motivated. You start to doubt yourself and this….

3. Leads to inaction. How? If motivation becomes the prerequisite for taking action (cooking, cleaning, commuting, reading, learning, exercising, working hard, going on a date, being intimate….you know DOING LIFE) then you will put off doing something until you are motivated.

The combination of all three dysfunctional thinking, then leads you down a negative loop of Anxiety, Doubt and more Inaction, and even less ‘motivation’ because you start to feel bad about yourself. The negative talk kicks in: “I am not fit enough, I am not smart enough, I am not pretty enough, I don’t have enough time, my parents messed me up, I went to the wrong school, it’s in my genes.”

I am not saying motivation is totally bad. It is just transient, and we should not be relying on it to ‘do life’. Motivation is not what makes for progress. Even imagine if business ran on motivation and not workflow systems? There would be no consistency. Business runs on processes, systems, performance of essential tasks for customers. Business does not perform those tasks when it feels motivated.

So, we have systems for working, then why not have systems for living?

Systems For Living

Let’s hit the reset button. In fact, I suggest you STOP using the word “motivation” in sentences such as “I am not motivated to….” Or “I am waiting to get motivated….” Or “I need someone who is self-motivated…”. It serves no purpose and is a useless cliché.  

Let’s talk about what REALLY works. SYSTEMS. The theme at next years Upgrade Your Life event is 2020-VISION but what most people are not expecting is that this theme is NOT about getting pumped up on goals. Everyone has goals. Some people materialise them and yet others dont. WHY? Motivation? Definitely not. The key is CLARITY.

CLARITY not just for your VISION but for what you need TO DO on a daily basis to materialise your vision. You know, taking ACTION. WHAT type of ACTION? This is where systems come in. Rituals, habits, hacks, frameworks, tools, techniques.

The Biggest CON and MYTH: ‘Successful people run on motivation’

Successful people do NOT run on motivation. They run on systems. The moment you start appreciating this, is the time you will take all the anxiety and doubt off your shoulders. Successful people have rituals, habits and hacks that they follow every day, whether they are having a bad day or a great day, whether they feel energetic or not, whether they have had an argument or not, whether someone wronged them or not, whether they have eaten or not, whether they slept well or not, whether, whether, whether….. They show up and follow the process. Sometimes, motivation flows as a result of that, but motivation is not a prerequisite.

The Motivation Trap – Dont Become a Target

If you rely on motivation in your life, you will become addicted to positive meme’s and inspirational people/talks. You will need them like a daily drug to get you going. And you will get addicted to social media because it fuels this addiction. You will spend your energy chasing instead of doing. Please don’t. You will end up being an easy target for people trying to sell you stuff to keep you pumped. A friend recently confided in spending $10,000 on a program that did NOTHING for her. It angered me so much. Systems are FREE and there are many caring people in the wold today sharing systems that deliver. David Goggins is one of them.

Our Speakers Never Talk About Motivation

If you really listen to all our speakers who present at our Upgrade Your Life event, you will notice a common thread. None of them talk about motivation. They talk about principles, values, processes, rituals, habits, hacks and routines.

Even inspirational people like David Goggin’s snubs motivation. He talks ‘being uncommon among the uncommon’, ‘going dark’, ‘callousing the mind’, ‘the new norm’. He is sometimes labelled as motivational, but he tells people not to hero-worship him. In his book Can’t Hurt Me he tells us that if you follow your own system for living, you will become your own hero and not need anyone, or any course or any program. I share a video below of an interview he gave on London Real, which gives you an insight of the difference between motivation and ‘doing’.

BELOW the video I have included comments from people in our Higher Branch Community and how they have overcome REAL LIFE hardship and their TRANSFORMATION by following the systems that David Goggins espouses. Notice their comments say nothing about motivation! 

Click the thumbnail below or click here to watch the video >>>

 
 

Real Life Stories

“My daughter was born with Dravet Syndrome a catastrophic form of epilepsy with frequent seizures. Her condition means she has a severe intellectual disability, is non-verbal and very unsteady on her feet. She was hard work and it brought me down. So-called friends and family disappeared out of our lives and it made me depressed. I became overweight was doing the bare minimum and I felt as if the entire universe was against me. Goggins prescriptions taught me how to turn things around and use my struggles as fuel. My dire circumstances became the perfect training ground to be the best father and husband I could be. I now run almost every day I’ve lost a shitload of weight. Most important I’ve been more involved in Sarah’s life. I’ve been able to show up every day for her and do the tough stuff. Ironically life is getting easier #canthurtme.”

“My business was failing I was working long hours for nothing, all I wanted to do was quit. I worked at nights in another job to survive. I came across Goggins in an interview. What he spoke was hard, because I didn’t wanna hear reality, I didn’t wanna face me. But with every principle he talked about I wrote down and started doing without complaining, 4 months now and mind still strong. Fuck motivation. Avoid distraction. Just do. #stayhard.”

“BEFORE Goggins: I was fat, I was lazy, I wasted money and time. I was in and out of depression. I was in danger of living a life so weak. AFTER: After applying Goggin’s principles and mental tool box I felt my life start to take on a new shift in perspective and endurance in the face of my problems after. I now own my weaknesses. They don’t own me. I show up rain, hail or shine #stayhard.”

Life Hack #5: Your 6th Sense

Are You Genetically Gifted

You could possibly have a gene that gives you a competitive edge in harnessing the power of visualisation. More on that later.

Nobody ever thinks of their 5 senses as superpowers but all the science shows that it is our 5 senses that determines how we experience the world, how long we live and the quality of our living. Now science is discovering a 6th sense that can create everything we ever wanted out of life. This is mind-blowing and one that we will be covering at Upgrade Your Life 2020. For now please read on to discover the miracle of this 6th sense.

Whether you believe in creation or evolution, you have to accept that we are never given a faculty by accident. Our taste buds are there for the sense of taste and smell for avoiding toxic food, eyes for seeing and finding food and water; ears for hearing your child cry at night and as an alarm for predators; and touch for intimacy and tactile creation. Every sense serves a purpose. So why are humans the only living creatures on the planet to ALSO have creative imagination. Why do we have the ability to envision goals and dreams and hold them as emotions?

Before you dismiss this as an article on nonsense such as “The Secret” I want you to know that I have a bias for action. I believe in hard work. I believe that hope without habit is futile. I don’t believe in motivation. I believe it is our actions that define our identity and hence our future behaviours. BUT what precedes our actions? VISION & THOUGHTS. We need to have a vision and CLARITY on where we are going and WHY we are taking action.

Creative imagination is a faculty just like our 5 physical senses… BUT this 6th senses is by far the most powerful! Most people use it to imagine the worst that can happen in life (I know this all too well. As a trained lawyer I am trained to pre-empt the worst-case scenario and draft contracts to help my clients avert it). BUT for those who know how to harness the power of imagination and visualise the best things in life (a healthy body, great relationships, material abundance to name the typical) then this is a faculty you need to know how to use. Please don’t waste it. It holds the key to a whole dimension so few know hot to step into.

Imagine it. Done.

Creative imagination or “Emotional Visualisation” as I call it has helped me manifest just about everything in my life. The person I am married to, the house I live in, my body and mind, the friends I hang with, etc… this is all a manifestation of the future visual I hold deep in my emotions. If you walk into my Sydney office at MSA National where we have over 100 people and look at every detail from floor to walls to furniture to layout, the smiles on people’s faces, the culture, the innovation, that was once and remains all in my creative imagination. During meditation I visualised it so clearly and held gratitude ‘in advance’ that my heart and mind believed it to be true ahead of time.

The first ever event of Upgrade Your Life is another example of that manifestation. Watch the highlights here and note that every smile, every tear, every experience, every speaker, every aha moment, every dance, was all once in my head. People asked me after the event: did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine that the event could be so beautiful? A smile always appears on my face, because I visualised it in my heart and mind so clearly. I just had to show up every day and watch the magic of the universe reveal the path I needed to take. Sure, I did have to overcome all my doubts and fears. Who doesn’t have them??? We all do. But if you trust this “Emotional Visualisation” you can’t go wrong. I call it ‘emotional’ because you have to have that gratitude in your heart in advance. What does that mean?

A beautiful thing happens when you fall in love with your future. When you feel like your future has already happened there is a synchronisation between your energy and that potential in the quantum field. You start to draw experiences (or synchronicities) that help you manifest that visual because you are connected to that future energy. I am not proposing anything radical here. Dr Joe Dispenza recently wrote multiple books about this phenomena and his events, attracting hundreds of people, sell out within minutes of release. People have healed themselves from auto-immune diseases to arteriosclerosis using creative visualisation.

Do You Have A Genetic Competitive Edge?

I was extremely sceptical about this field of epigenetic for many years until I learned that Science had discovered a gene that is unique to ‘some’ humans that gives them the ability to tap into creative imagination at will, to manifest whatever is possible in the quantum field. This genotype known as rs4680(A;A) is in the coding region of the COMT gene. People with this genotype are associated with higher levels of dopamine in the pre-frontal cortex, a region implicated in the placebo and nocebo response. This phenomenon occurs when a person experiences a physiological response to what he or she thinks is happening. This is nothing new. People who use their creative imagination to imagine an illness have a psychosomatic response. The expectation elicits a response. Whether that response is positive or negative all depends on the individual using their imagination. People who use it to imagine the worst, end up attracting what they fear. People who know how to use it for good, usually are people who enjoy amazing success in their life.

Does this mean that people who don’t have this genotype, cannot tap into their 6th sense? No. It’s just harder. Just like you have some people who are gifted at running long distances or swimming or whatever, this does not mean you cannot do what they do; it just means you have to train harder (Exhibit A = David Goggins – he was negative buoyant and went on to complete navy seal ‘hell week’ 3 times – the most in history). So please do not give up on this faculty just because you discover you don’t have this gene.

I know this life-hack in the series is not as sexy and as easy as the usual diet and lifestyle hacks out there but just because it is a little difficult to understand it does not mean you should dismiss it. It is extremely powerful, which is why we will be teaching this superpower at Upgrade Your Life. Our faculty members from Alessandra Edwards (DNA-based performance expert), Mark Bunn (Ayurvedic Medicine teacher) and Tom Sullivan (meditation coach) will be stepping you through the system for tapping into your creative imagination at will and materialising the life you were meant to live. This is NOT a sales pitch. It’s just that this 6thsense is not as easy as the other senses to explain in one article. It needs to be taught in a workshop and practised like any other skill. But if you do master it, I promise you that your life will open up to a whole new level.

Life-Hack #4: The Power of Laughter

If you are new to growing community, this article is in a series on the 4 rituals, 5 habits and 6 hacks. All our content is free and curated with genuine love, care and respect. To catch up, please visit www.ahigherbranch.com/blog

Firstly, I need to clarify what a life-hack is. It is a lifestyle protocol that will boost your energy, help you sleep better, boost your immune system and ultimately make you live longer.

Why is laughter a life-hack that is in my top 6? Just like a body builder will focus on compounding exercises such as squats, the 6 life-hacks, including this one on laughter, all have a compounding effect on your health.  In other words there impact is far reaching inside the body.

Let me explain why laughter is so important to your health by explaining its impact on your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Physically

·         Decreases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin

·         Lowers blood pressure because it boosts nitric oxide and dilates the inner lining of blood vessels. It even increases HDL.

·         Increases the circulation of antibodies that boosts resistance to infections

·         60 seconds of hearty laughter relieves tension in your muscles for up to 45 minutes. That makes it more potent than Valium without the side-effects

·         It relieves depression

Thoughts (Mind)

·         Laughter (or even ‘humour’ without having to laugh out loud) boosts dopamine to the brain and this increases the sense of pleasure and reward.

·         It changes brain wave activity towards what’s called a “gamma frequency” and this amps up memory and recall. Jim Kwik will talk about this in more detail at Upgrade Your Life 2020. He demonstrates that laughter also boosts motivation to get things done.

Emotions (Mood or HearteartHeart)

Ultimately the combination of mind and body benefits lead your mood to greener pastures. You have peace of mind and sleep better at night. Suddenly everything seems manageable, even pain or loss or failure. You smile more. You have an air of self-confidence, and you start attracting good things and good people into your life, including customers. Most importantly it will improve your relationships with family, friends and your partner. I coached one client who said that until he learned how to laugh, his kids found him too serious and scary. When he learned to let go and laugh more he was getting more hugs at home. In fact, research shows that people who are fun, witty and smile often are voted as more attractive. Not bad for a life-hack aye? Which is why it comes in at #4 in our series.

How to Increase Laughter in Your Daily Life

·         Surround yourself with people who feel like sunshine – in other words, who make you laugh and are easy going. Physically, we do feel warmer from laughter.

·         Listen to or watch, comedy – preferably at a live comedy show. One of my nightly rituals is to listen to comedy every night before I go to sleep.

·         Read our article called “Yes But Are You Having Fun?” There are many spiritual teachers who believe that our highest purpose in life is to play, have fun and spread happiness.

Great Joke for anyone ever Caught Speeding

A police officer pulls a guy over for speeding and has the following exchange:

Officer: May I see your driver’s license?

Driver: I don’t have one. I had it suspended when I got my 5th DUI.

Officer: May I see the owner’s card for this vehicle?

Driver: It’s not my car. I stole it.

Officer: The car is stolen?

Driver: That’s right. But come to think of it, I think I saw the owner’s card in the glove box when I was putting my gun in there.

Officer: There’s a gun in the glove box?

Driver: Yes sir. That’s where I put it after I shot and killed the woman who owns this car and stuffed her in the trunk.

Officer: There’s a BODY in the TRUNK?!?!?

Driver: Yes, sir.

Hearing this the officer immediately called his captain. The car was quickly surrounded by police, and the captain approached the driver to handle the situation:

Captain: Sir, can I see your license?

Driver: Sure, Here it is.

It was valid.

Captain: Who’s car is this?

Driver: It’s mine officer, here’s the owner’ card.

The driver owned the car.

Captain: Could you slowly open your glove box so I can see if there’s a gun in it?

Driver: Yes, sir, but there’s no gun in it.

Sure enough, there was nothing in the glove box.

Captain: Would you mind opening the trunk? I was told you said there’s a body in it.

Driver: No problem.

Trunk is opened; no body.

Captain: I don’t understand it. The officer who stopped you said you told him you didn’t have a license, stole the car, had a gun in the glove box, and that there was a dead body in the trunk.

Driver: Yeah, I’ll bet the lying b*****d told you I was speeding too.

That joke was ‘borrowed’ from www.markbunn.com.au

Life-Hack #3: Oil Pulling & Your Amazing Saliva

Poor oral health has been strongly linked to heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s. In addition, certain diseases such as diabetes can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe. But that’s only part of the story. What most people don’t realise is that oral health is not just about protecting your teeth and gums, it is about protecting an important immune function performed by your saliva. I know this topic might be a little gross but it is important, which is why it made the top 6 life hacks in our 4-5-6 system for daily living.

I will share a simple preventative technique that will impact your health in a profound way, make you more attractive and boost your resistance to disease. It is an ultimate preventative super weapon.

And it is quick, easy and cheap.

But first, the science.
Saliva is also one of your body’s main defences against bacteria and viruses. It contains antibodies that attack viral pathogens, such as the common cold and even HIV. It also contains proteins called histatins, which inhibit the growth of candida. When these proteins are weakened by poor oral health and some illnesses, candida can grow out of control.

Saliva is also good for your sex life because research shows that healthy saliva has testosterone in it, which explains why kissing has been shown to be the ultimate aphrodisiac. It stands to reason that if you have poor oral health, you will reduce your libido and be less attractive, not just on the sensory level (bad breath) but on the hormonal level.

Inflammation, Heart Disease & Alzheimer’s
Oral inflammation due to bacteria (gingivitis) plays a role in clogged arteries and blood clots. Bacteria in the mouth may cause inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries of the heart and brain. It enters the bloodstream through bleeding gums. This inflammation causes the development of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, increasing your risk of a heart attack, stroke and the build-up of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain, which leads to dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Most people are taught the three main protocols to good oral hygiene.

1. Avoid sugar
2. Floss your teeth at night
3. Brush teeth morning and night

But there is a 4th protocol which is super effective at preventing the inflammatory response of poor mouth hygiene. It will protect your heart and your brain, which seem to be the most susceptible to inflammation.

Oil Pulling
This protocol has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine well before we had tooth paste and tooth brushes. The following is what you should do morning just before you perform the 4 morning rituals shared in previous articles.

• Brush teeth and tongue in the usual way
• Use a table spoon of coconut oil and sesame oil
• Put one drop of essential oils clove and oregano or thyme
• Swish the oil in your mouth for 5-20 mins. I perform this during my morning jog. It is time efficient and also forces me to breath through my nose which is much healthier than mouth breathing.
• Do NOT swallow because the oil extracts all the bacteria and other toxins from in-between gums and teeth.
• Spit out thoroughly, preferably in the garden. If you cannot do the garden then do not use coconut oil because it will harden in your drainage pipes. Just use sesame oil.

For a definitive guide on this protocol, please read this article by our faculty member and health researcher, Mark Bunn: Oil Pulling the Ayurvedic Way.
See Mark Bunn talk at Upgrade Your Life 2020 where he will share the definitive step-by-step system to healthy living.

Last Word
I am surprised at how many people I come across are obsessed with diet and exercise but give very little attention to oral hygiene, eye and hearing health. These three senses are so important to overall health and wellbeing. In fact, I will talk about hearing health and it’s newly-discovered link to Alzheimer’s in a future article, which will also feature a must-listen podcast I recorded in Boston with Dr Kirupa Suthakar, PhD.

Life-Hack #2: 14 Rules for Eating Properly and Maximising Nutritional Absorption

Today we focus on the life hack for healthy eating. First, we want to point out that “Eating healthy can be unhealthy”. We are not against healthy eating, but we are against an obsession with diets and labels. Your emotional wellbeing is much more important to your overall health than what you eat. Yes, food is medicine at the cellular physical level but sunshine, sleep, socialising and fulfillment is a much more potent medicine on the emotional level.

Furthermore, the focus on what to eat is a one-dimensional view of healthy eating. Eating is a process that starts with what food you buy, how you store, how you cook, when you eat, how much you eat and your mental state when you eat. The process can break down anywhere along this value chain. The process is only complete when you absorb what you eat.

The 3 Essential Tests

We live in an age where bio-metric testing is accessible. Don’t second guess what is healthy for your own unique cells. Get tested. Avocado is not healthy for everyone. Nor is kombucha or coffee or eggs or goji berries or whatever is the latest craze. Conversely, eating gluten or dairy or meat is not bad for everyone either. So please don’t buy into fad diets and health evangelists. By getting tested you will find out what foods should be avoided for your genetic type. You can do 3 tests to start with. Blood test, hair mineral analysis and gut microbiome. See a qualified health practitioner. And yes, some doctors are now also doing these tests. It is not only for naturopaths.

The following 14 eating rules provide the real answer to eating ‘properly’. They reflect the fact that our nutritional requirements change in a 24-hour cycle AND in an annual cycle of spring, summer, autumn, winter. So being paleo, keto or vegan is not really an accurate label to put on yourself. You need to live in tune to the natural cycles of the earth. This “Seasonal Living” is the single most important principle to healthy living. The seasons affect us at a physical and emotional level. We “feel” different in winter compared to summer. We want stillness and crave more comfort foods in winter; soups v’s salads. Summer is about relaxing in the sun. Autumn is about review, reflection and tacking stock of our lives. Spring is about growth. The more we mirror nature and adapt to these cycles, the healthier we will be.

When to Eat, How Much to Eat and How to Eat

1. Eat more protein in winter. We are generally less active in winter and so we need to eat less carbs. Eating more protein curbs your appetite for carbs.

2. Eat more carbs in summer. Nature produces fruits higher in sugar carbs in summer for a reason. We are more active in summer and therefore need more glucose for fuel.

3. Eat fruits and vegetables in season. Even meats and fish are seasonal.  Our body needs different nutrients at different times of the year depending on the change season, especially spring and autumn. Respect that. For example, it’s not always healthy to eat blueberries year round! Your body needs to create its own antioxidants sometimes and different antioxidants from other sources. Reliance from one source like blueberries can make your cells lazy.  Example two: Some seasons require citrus to ward off colds and flu.

4. Eat in a window of 8-12 hours preferably during daylight hours. You need to abstain from food the other 12-16 hours. Be careful from fasting for periods longer than this without guidance of a health practitioner because fasting can boost adrenalin and stress you out. And stress is much more harmful than not detoxing.

5. Don’t snack between meals. Allow yourself to go hungry before eating your next meal or snack. Going hungry means your body has processed the last meal. How long it takes depends on your activity level. The more active you are the quicker you will go hungry. Don’t reach for snacks simply because they are there.

6. Exercise/move before your meals. Exercise expends the glucose in your cells so they are ready to take in more glucose. If your cells are overloaded with glucose, they will store the excess as fat. In fact, I would rate this as the number one rule.

7. Eat out in sunlight/nature. The sun on your skin and eyes produces leptin cells and these are important in regulating how much you eat. They are the on/off button for your hunger.

8. Don’t eat heavy meals after the sun goes down. If you cannot sleep because you are hungry, then eat very light low-fat foods like papaya or berries.

9. If you have a stressful day and feel like you have been running on adrenalin all day, then eat more of your carbs as the last meal of the day. Make it clean, slow burning carbs from vegetables such as sweet potato, pumpkin and broccoli. Whilst eating more carbs at night may not be great for your waistline, it is better for your mental health because carbs will help you sleep. You should always trade sleep for any other fitness goal.

10. Do not overeat. There is a tipping point where the fuel you get from eating is cancelled out by the energy you burn in digesting your food. Overeating also taxes your organs and temporarily surges cholesterol and lipid proteins. Most arteriolosclerosis occurs after a big heavy fatty meal, especially at night.

11. You are not what you eat but rather what you digest. Eating in a relaxed state will help you absorb more nutrients. If you are stressed, ALL food becomes toxic in your body.

12. Relax before you eat. Exercise will generally put you in a relaxed state but if you are stressed you need to also meditate before you eat to switch on your ‘rest and digest’ parasympathetic nervous system.

13. Don’t have intense discussions when you eat. Don’t watch TV or scroll devices while you eat. You are disrupting the connection between your sense of sight, smell, sound, touch and taste. The brain sends a signal to your body to release the right enzymatic spectrum to digest the food you are eating. When you are NOT engaged with your food, you will not digest your food efficiently.

14. Rest after eating. The process of eating has not finished until the nutrients have been absorbed, so it is important that you stay relaxed and rest after a meal. That is when most of your absorption occurs.

The above is a brief summary of the most important protocols for eating hacks. Our faculty experts, Alessandra Edwards and Mark Bunn will do a deeper dive into these and other lifestyle and nutritional hacks at Upgrade Your Life 2020.

 

Life-Hack #1: Grounding & Sun Gazing

Hack #1: The Healthy Trinity: Grounding, sun gazing & deep breathing.

I cannot stress how important these three simple protocols are for your wellbeing. When practiced together they have a compounding impact not just on your physical but on your more important mental and emotional balance. They are healing at a deep level and they complement your 4 morning rituals beautifully to give you the best start and finish to the day. And they only take 1-2 minutes to perform!

(If you are new to growing community, this article is in a series on the 4 rituals, 5 habits and 6 hacks. All our content is free and curated with genuine love, care and respect.

Ground, Gaze, Breathe (GGB)

This life hack should be practiced together, preferably within 45 minutes of sunrise and 45 minutes of sunset. I do them religiously wherever I may be in the world. In fact, I am writing this from NYC and I just returned from Central Park where I performed these trio just before my jog and meditation. It got rid of my jetlag almost instantly. The protocol provides the ultimate detox, the best antioxidant and the best elixir for your gut health.

Step 1:            Go Barefoot on Grass

Step 2:            Gaze at the Sun

Step 3:            Breath Deeply

Breathe deeply in and out through the mouth for 45 seconds whilst you look towards the sun. Don’t look directly at the sun. Take in the whole picture without focusing on anything in particular. The sun early and late in the day will not hurt your eyes, especially for only 45 seconds. Have a break of 15 seconds and then repeat 2-3 times. I also suggest you do eye exercises during the 15 second break. Simply look left, right, up, down, diagonal then round to the left and right. Don’t forget to breath normally while you are doing these eye exercises.

The combination of deep breathing, sun gazing and grounding literally drains all the negative energy and replaces it with the earth’s healing energy. This is not pseudoscience. There is a lot of research showing that:

·     Grounding or “earthing” replaces positively charged ions (bad for you) with negatively charged ions. It has a dramatic antioxidant effect.

·     Breathing deeply oxygenates your cells and detox’s the body much more than any herbal detox program. Remember that 70% of our detox is done by the lungs through the breath.

·     Bathing your eyes with sunshine boosts your energy, mood and provides a direct neuropathway through the pineal gland to your gut, where it regulates the diversity of your gut bacteria. This will boost not just the happy hormone serotonin but the all-important melatonin, which is responsible in so many functions including energy production and sleep promotion. Sleep is the ultimate superfood for body and mind.

For more detailed information on all three protocols of this healthy trinity please visit our faculty expert and health researcher Mark Bunn resources. Mark will be presenting at Upgrade Your Life 2020.

Excuse My Rant

This Hack #1 in our series is much more effective  than probiotics, prebiotic, juice fasts, herbal supplements and the like. And it is free! Something the ‘wellness industry’ will not tell you because they don’t make money from the sun, earth and breath. As Australian heart surgeon, Dr Nikki Stamp recently said beautifully: 

“The Wellness industry does not care about you or your health. The only thing they want from us is our money and adoration which they take with glee. Each time we like an Instagram post….read their books or juice some vegetable, we’re lining their pockets and making very little impact on our own health.”

The wellness industry is big business…$4.2 trillion compared to a paltry $938.4 billion by big pharma. Take control of your own health and use the earths healing power to make you well. You will notice that the 4 rituals, 5 habits and the hacks I am sharing with you costs NO money. Do not outsource your health to anyone.

2 More BAD Habits You MUST Break

Today we will cover the remaining two bad habits you need to replace. I share these with you without judgement. We all drift in the direction of our bad habits, but by having a system for behavioural change, you can replace these habits with better ones. And so, I humbly share this content with you in the hope it will make a BIG difference in your life as it has in mine.

Bad Habit #4 – Doing things with haste for no apparent reason

In a fast world people are now addicted to speed. This is a destructive habit that will destroy your health and relationships. Eating, driving, working, making love, scrolling, reading, texting….everything done in haste for no apparent reason puts a lot of pressure on you and ironically makes you slow, sick and stupid. I say this with the utmost of respect. The science clearly shows that when you do things with haste the stress you put on your mind and body ironically slows you down and makes you ineffective. And the stress hormones (especially adrenalin and cortisol) surging through your system make you physically sick over time. It will impair your digestion, you will not absorb what you eat, you will have trouble sleeping, and it’s a downhill spiral from there. A lot of people use exercise as therapy to neutralise the effects of speed-induced-stress but the better method is to SLOW DOWN! There is usually no reason to speed up. Almost everything we do day-to-day can wait or be done in a slower, methodical manner. There is not one piece of research showing any benefit whatsoever from doing things quickly.

As the godfather of the slow movement, Carl Honore says, “I am not anti-speed but there is a time for doing things quickly and a time for slow living.”

How do you know you are addicted to speed?

· You get a rush from meeting self-imposed deadlines
· You find it difficult to sit and do nothing for more than 10 minutes
· You find it difficult to focus and listen to what the other person is saying
· You need alcohol to relax and constantly crave carbs/sweets
· You find it difficult to notice beauty around you. Or you are numb to it

The solution: Speed is an addiction. If you’re used to running on adrenalin, you will feel strange without it. Here are some tips to wean yourself off speed:

· Don’t do more than one thing at a time
· Don’t take call waiting – in fact you should disable this feature
· Don’t schedule too many meetings in a day
· Take at least 2 renewal breaks throughout the day to stretch, breath and meditate for 5 – 15 minutes
· Don’t take on too much work. Learn to say ‘no’
· Take a walk after work, preferably in nature. Go alone

If you’re interested in reading more about the dangers of speed I highly recommend the books: “In Praise of Slow” and “The Slow Fix”, both by Carl Honore.

Bad Habit #5 – Watching TV till late for no apparent reason

A surprising high percentage of adults get too comfortable in front of the television and mindlessly surf channels or binge. They use this to wind down and induce sleep. The problem with this is two-fold. Firstly, it delays your optimal going-to-bed sleep time, which depending on your chrono-type is between 9:30pm -11pm. (Don’t know your chronotype? Refer to my articles on sleep starting with: How to get The Best Sleep). Secondly, the artificial light from the TV may lull your eyes to get tired but it ironically delays the release of sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin; because the light tricks your body-clock into thinking it is still daytime. You need melatonin not only to get to sleep but to get deeper sleep; deep sleep is the most important part of your sleep cycle which detoxes your mind, body and emotions. It is the single most potent factor for you to look younger and live longer.

The simple solution: We set an alarm to wake up, why not set an alarm for sleep. My meditation app Headspace has a feature which prompts you with a notification to go to bed and listen to a sleep cast, which is the equivalent of a bedtime story. Don’t laugh, it works! Plug in your ear phones in bed and I guarantee you will nod off in record time!

5 BAD Habits You MUST Break

Before we continue the series I’d like to first bring your attention to the top 5 BAD HABITS you need to be aware of. Today I will cover three of them. I will cover the remaining two in upcoming blogs.

Please don’t hate me for pointing these bad habits out to you. I do it without judgement whatsoever. I sincerely wish you the best life, which is why I write these articles. I always come from a place of love and if you decide to take action I know it will make a BIG difference in your life as it has in mine.

I don’t believe there is a secret to life nor do I believe in waiting for inspiration or motivation before doing something. I do believe however in a number of incremental changes that you can make to your habits that compound over time to build a great life, brick-by-brick, day-by-day.

 

BAD Habit #1: Snacking on food all day

Your body has an intelligence where it naturally heals itself and constantly regenerates and repairs, not just when you are sleeping but also when you go hungry. If you are constantly snacking, you never allow your body to enter this state. Scientists are now discovering that our bodies are not genetically designed to continuously eat. We need to go hungry and this has been our way of life for thousands of years. We ate, we rested and then we hunted and gathered, but in between we went hungry, often. Today we call that ‘fasting’. 

We have a primal switch to consume food when it is available. The problem is that food is available everywhere at any time. Look, don’t get me wrong, I love my food experiences. I am not saying abstain from food but allow yourself to go hungry by not eating between meals. You should allow 3-5 hours between each meal depending on how large the previous meal was. Instead of setting a time period, it’s best to not eat until you actually feel the hunger in your stomach.

BAD Habit #2: Snacking on Technology/Social Media 

Having your phone on you the whole time, checking texts, emails, posts and getting constantly distracted by other notifications is an extremely poor habit that you MUST break. It has dire consequences on your cognitive performance and your relationships, especially if you have children. I have been talking about the harmful impact of pop-up notifications since 2010 but now the impact is a lot worse because it is overlaid by the highs and lows of social media ‘likes’ and the inevitable social comparisons people make. It is very damaging to your physical, mental and emotional health on so many levels. I recommend the highly acclaimed work of Georgetown University Professor Cal Newport called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distrated World.

The Solution: 

·     To do deep work you need to do a digital detox twice a day not once a year. Leave your phone behind whenever you get the chance. I do this when I am jogging, in the gym, shopping for groceries, attending meetings, cooking and in the bedroom. You need to make a point of detoxing for 20 mins twice a day, every day. And switch off your phone after 9pm at home.

·     Disable your email notifications on your laptop. In her research paper titled Why is it so hard to do my work?, Professor Leroy from University of Minnesota, found that people are less productive when they are constantly moving from one task to another instead of focusing on one thing at a time. She called it ‘attention residue’ and it is a real problem if you are trying to be effective and efficient. Otherwise you are wasting a lot of precious time trying to re-focus after the interruption and this reduces your ability to finish the task quickly and effectively. Which means you need to work longer hours for a sub-optimal result. This is time that could be spent socialising with family and friends.

BAD Habit #3: Shallow Breathing

Why is this a bad habit? Shallow breathing triggers your sympathetic nervous system because it tricks your body into thinking that you are under attack, i.e. fight or flight response. The problem with this state is that you cannot digest your food, sleep or do good work. The other problem with shallow breathing is that it builds up toxins in your body. How? Next time your naturopath talks you into a detox program of herbal tonics and juice fasts, you may want to remind them that 70% of the toxins in our body are expelled by the lungs during proper exhalation. The other 30% through sweating and elimination (number 1’s and 2’s). Breathing deeply is easy and its free!

These are the usual triggers for shallow breathing:

·     driving in traffic
·     at your laptop or pc
·     on your iPad or iPhone
·     sitting for long periods especially in meetings
·     when you are doing things in a hurry
·     when you are focusing on external things
·     whenever you are stressed
·     watching dramatic movies

The solution: It can be very difficult to catch yourself shallow breathing because you will usually do it when you are deep in thought. The next best thing is to set an alarm reminder every hour to stop, revive, survive. Revive by breathing in through the nose for 4 seconds, holding it for 5, and breathing out for 6 through your mouth. Do these 4 times every hour. It only takes 60 seconds every hour and is a whole lot cheaper than buying detox programs.

Essential Habit #5: Review & Reflection

This article is in a series of 4 rituals, 5 habits and 6 hacks that will revolutionise your life. You will find the series at A Higher Branch Blog Page.

What is Reflection and Review?

I touched on this habit in Ritual #1 on Journaling. When you develop the habit of reflecting and reviewing throughout the day, you flip any failures and rejections that inevitably happen into opportunities for LEARNING and GROWTH.

Why is this Habit Important?

Without a process for reflection and review, you will indulge in toxic thinking throughout the day. By the time the day is over and you arrive home, your feelings will be littered with negative beliefs about yourself. But when you ask yourself two simple questions in that moment you will avoid ruminating, you will feel better and you will sleep better that night ready for growth the next morning. The two simple steps/questions are:

· NOTICING: How am I feeling right now?
· LEARNING: What can I learn so I can do it differently next time?

Here are some examples of how we process rejection and failure without reflection and review and then with Reflection and Review:

Health: You did exercise and you feel rundown after it.

Without reflection and review your subconscious negative self-talk might sound like this: “I am not fit enough” or “I should wait until it gets warmer” or “I am just not cut out for exercise” or “I must be coming down with a cold”.

With reflection and review: “What can I learn from this? Did I eat too much before exercise? Do I need to get more sleep? Did I need to stretch? Did I over-train? Was I dehydrated? Should I train at a different time of day that suits my chrono-type?” What can I do differently next time?

Love & Relationships: You initiated intimacy and was rejected by your partner. Single? You initiated conversation and you were brushed.

Without Reflection and Review: “My partner does not find me attractive. My partner does not love me. I am dull and boring. I am ugly. I have nothing interesting to say.”

Now With Reflection and Review: “What can I learn from this? Did I choose the wrong timing to approach my partner/that person? Did they have a bad day? Were they feeling tired and self-conscious and not in the mood? How can I approach it differently next time?”

Work & Clients: Customer doesn’t call you back after a consultation.

Without Reflection and Review: “They don’t like me. I’m not good at my job. Others are better than me. I should try another job.”

Now with reflection and review: “What can I learn from this? Do they fear making a decision and a commitment? Was I coming on too strong? Did I listen enough in the meeting? Are they just not ready? What can I do differently next time?”

Notice from all the above examples, ALL reflection and review starts with step one: noticing and acknowledging your feelings and step 2: starting with the question: “WHAT CAN I LEARN FROM THIS?” and finishes with the question “HOW CAN I DO IT DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME?”

WHY Do We Dump on Ourselves?

If I can be honest with you, the major reason is that it is easier to indulge in negative self-talk (as much as it hurts) than to confront the pain. It gives us the excuse to fail and stop trying. It is much harder to stop, feel the pain, and reflect and review what you have learned. Why? Because your learnings require action and a lot of the time, the action requires you to pivot and step outside of your comfort zone. So review and reflection is tough. Step 1 requires you to feel the pain (you need to feel to heal). Step 2 requires you to learn, grow and do something different.

How do YOU cultivate this Habit?

To cultivate this habit, you need to practice mindfulness meditation. I know you have heard that word too many times but the truth is that mindfulness works. It helps you realise that you are not your thoughts. You need to step outside of your thoughts and notice (step 1) and take different action (step 2).

Just like Habit #2 on Situational Gratitude, this Habit #5 on Reflection and review must happen in the moment. It cannot wait until you get home and journal. By all means still do that, but for it to be most effective, it needs to be practiced right there and then, straight after the interaction that led to the sinking feeling from a fail or rejection. You need to process it on the fly. I often take moments out of my day in between meetings to do that. Now it’s a habit.

This is why this series of articles starts with the 4 rituals, including the ritual of daily meditation. It is meditation that helps you to notice your thoughts and feelings (being mindful). Without the ritual of daily meditation, you will find it difficult to develop the habit of Reflection and Review in the moment.

(Our meditation coach, Tom Sullivan, is an expert that can help you and your organisation learn the practice of mindful meditation. Please reach out to him by emailing our team on enquiries@ahigherbranch.com He coaches our team every two weeks and the results have been nothing short of remarkable.)

Essential Habit #4: The Power of Posture

Habit #4 – The Power of Posture on Your Psychology
This article is in a series on the 4 rituals, 5 habits and 6 hacks to consciously systemise your days. It will revolutionise the way you live and boost your performance, even on days where you lack motivation. You will find the series at A Higher Branch Blog Page. 

Why is Posture important?

“If eyes are the windows to the soul, then posture is a window into your emotions.” Sam Makhoul

Posture is a habit. And if your posture is not optimal it will affect your thoughts, feelings and your health. It will affect all personal and business interactions because of how others perceive you. Your clients and customers read your posture. Your children mimic your posture and mimic your body language subconsciously. What kind of posture do you want them to have? A confident one or a defeated one?

The Science

For many year’s psychologists have known that there is a feedback loop between our physiology and our psychology. How we feel is reflected in our posture and our facial expression. In turn, our posture, how we move, and our facial expression impacts how we feel. If you are in a poor emotional state, your shoulders will drop, you will look down more often, you will slouch, you will walk around like you’re tired, and you will start to feel tired. You become caught in a negative loop where your emotions drive your posture and the habit of your posture then reinforces your emotions.

You are no match for your emotions, right? Or are you? In 2010 psychologists Amy Cuddy, Dana Carney and Andy Yap pioneered the research that demonstrated that you can reverse the way you feel by posture alone. This research merely reinforced what teachers such as Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra and Norman Cousins have been saying for years. And it works. Changing your posture will change the way you feel, especially if it is compounded with Habit#1 in our series.

BUT, and it’s a BIG BUT, how do you reverse the habit of poor posture? A habit is very tough to break. It is one thing for researchers to prove something but another to provide the solution. NONE of the research tells us HOW to reverse the habit of being yourself (because your posture becomes who you are). Power posing proposed by Amy Cuddy in her famous TED talk has since been discredited as pseudoscience because it is not a realistic permanent solution.

Change Your Posture in TWO steps.

This article aims to provide the solution by addressing the real issue; that posture is a habit that is reinforced by muscle memory. And therefore to change your posture permanently you need to change muscle memory in a two step process designed by A Higher Branch in our Conscious Living program.

Step 1

Just like method actors in Hollywood or Bollywood, you need to develop the habit of being self-conscious. You need to constantly be aware of how you are standing, walking or expressing your movements. This self-awareness helps you to be more mindful of the circumstances or situations that cue your body to behave in a certain way. This will give you an insight into how you feel in that moment. Are you in a meeting where you feel uncertain about your competence? Are you in a social setting where you feel shy and introverted? Notice how your body is reflecting that emotion. Are you hunching? Are you shallow breathing? Are you shrinking and hoping to be invisible? Tell yourself that you are not your thoughts or emotions. You are the essence witnessing how you feel. That’s who you really are. You don’t have to do anything to change your posture at this stage. Just noticing it is enough, because the real solution comes in step 2. (For more information on “breaking the habit of being yourself”, refer to the guided meditations by Dr Joe Dispenza, whose book by the same name is a prescriptive masterpiece in noticing your thoughts).

Step 2

Step 2 is not a quick fix. Nothing in life is a quick fix – just ask David Goggins. Anyone that tells you otherwise is often trying to sell you something, 

Step 2 is all about doing exercises that build a great posture over time. This is where strength training, yoga and Pilates come in. There is no doubt that all three methods impact how we feel. The combination of breathing and movement dissipates anxiety and relieves depression. It does this by changing our body chemistry; the pharmacy of our physical. In fact, the benefits of exercise have been proven to be more effective than both Xanax and Prozac. 

But one other consequence of all three modalities is that they improve posture by strengthening the core. So, it not only changes your biology but also your psychology through your physiology. Your body starts to stand more upright. Your muscles become more toned and support you in a way that is reassuring and balanced. You will look taller, and therefore feel and look more confident.

So, changing your physiology and the habit of your posture starts with exercise that strengthen the core and leads to an effortless posture. A good posture is NOT one that is forced. It is not in power posing or in a military-style stiff, upright way with head up, shoulders back. A good posture should never be tiring to maintain.

It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss exercises that strengthen the core and correct the posture effortlessly, but I will say this: Yoga and Pilates in particular strengthen the core, lengthen the spine, makes you feel open, light and effortless. My new friend and yogini, Rebecca Jarvis described the importance of this on the spine as follows:  

“Posture is the framework that allows for energy or life-force to flow through the body.  The spine has an innate intelligence and energy that is inhibited when we’re tense and contracted.  We need the spine to be lengthened, to create an optimal flow of energy, and to serve as an open channel for our breathing.”

Rebecca recommends the following sequence of yoga moves for office workers who are sitting all day. It is a sequence designed by Elena Bower. Click here.

My mobility coach and good friend, Phong Thach, put it this way: “your best posture is in your next movement”. In other words, we need to keep moving. Sitting all day is the enemy of a good posture, no matter how upright you sit. 

As a strength trainer he recommends you take a few minutes twice a day to do exercises such as push-ups, lunges and holding the plank – all simple, can be done anywhere and designed to strengthen the core. And if you make it to the gym, he also recommends pull ups and anything that works the back muscles.  You need to train your core and your back muscles to a point where it is built into your muscle memory. 

The habit of a good posture is too important to ignore because it impacts so much of your psychology. And this is why it is in the top 5 habits of our Conscious Living series.

Essential Habit #3: Greetings and Goodbyes

In case you missed them, here are the links to the first 2 habits

Habit #1 – Smile on Waking
Habit #2 – Situational Gratitude

This is a series of articles on the 4 essential daily rituals, 5 essential daily habits and 6 energy boosting life hacks. We have covered the 4 daily rituals. If you would like to catch up after reading this article, please visit www.ahigherbranch.com/blog to read the series.

Why are greetings and goodbyes so important?

And why is it such an important habit to cultivate? Greetings and farewells are an important catalyst between people and situations. It sets the tone, pace and energy transfer between people. It’s an impression you leave on people that either engages them or repels them, consciously or subconsciously. This is critical socially and in business. It can be your secret weapon or your greatest weakness. And it is a relatively easy habit to implement and has the most powerful impact on all your personal and professional relationships.

In this article I will step you through how to cultivate this daily habit with your partner, your family, your friends, your colleagues and your clients; so people get to experience the real you. “But I am not charismatic or charming. In fact, I can be awkward” I hear you say.

I am not asking you to be fake. I am asking you to master the art of greetings and goodbyes in a way that attracts people to you, whether you are an introvert or an extravert, forward or awkward, cheerful or reserved, talkative or observant. Some of the most lovable people I know are introverts.

But first some science….

Psychologists have for many years confirmed that there is energy transference between humans which mean people ‘feel’ your energy first and hear what you have to say second. The ancient sears also declared there is an invisible force that connect all humans and animals, a universal consciousness. We know it as ‘spirit’, ‘Prana’ or ‘Chi’. Microbiologists are now saying there is a cellular basis for it as well. Our microbiome (gut bacteria) speak to each other and decide whether there is “chemistry” between us. So, what does it mean for greetings and goodbyes? It means how you greet and bid farewell to people is an energy transference.

How to Greet and Farewell Your Partner

As Dr Guy Winch said at Upgrade Your Life 2019, “it’s in the little gestures”. The research shows that lavish gifts are easily forgotten and mean very little compared to the compounding effect of small daily gestures. You need to get into the habit of kissing and hugging on seeing your partner and on saying goodbye. It will strengthen your relationship and builds connection at a deep level.

Rule: It does not count if you don’t look your partner in the eyes. The kiss needs to be on the lips and the hug, full body. Every time you leave and return, without fail, no exceptions, whether in a hurry or not, whether they reciprocate or not. Back it up with loving words and a smile. Make it a commitment from this day onwards and watch your relationship transform. It’s in the little things….

Your Family

The bottom line here is to greet and say goodbye to your family every time. Never ever sneak out. It sends a message to your kids that they do not matter. Greetings and goodbyes make children feel more emotionally secure.

Have a family meeting and tell your children it is important for the family to greet and say goodbye to each other. Make it a family rule. It will feel weird at first, if you have not done it in a while, but in a few days it will feel natural and reassuring. It will fill your home with joy and love. It is that powerful.

Children love big hugs– especially big family group hugs. Teenage children not so much but you can still insist on a small hug. Young children also love secret handshakes as a way of saying hello and goodbye.
Rule: Do not wait for them to come to you. If you enter the house it is your cue to announce your entry and find your family members. Be playful, fun or endearing. “How is my gorgeous family tonight?”

Your Friends

Greeting friends should be done warmly, with a smile and their name spoken out loud. People love to hear their name. It is a primal trigger for them to get closer to you. It builds instant connection, especially if you have not seen them in a while. Using phrases such as “Hey mate/buddy/beautiful” or “See ya mate/buddy/beautiful” are also terms of endearment you can use for friends you see often.

Should you kiss, touch or hug? If you know them well, then yes otherwise this should be limited to people of the same gender. More discretion should be exercised with the opposite sex whatever your heritage. An air kiss may be more suitable. You need to treat each friend individually. Some are affectionate and love a hug, others are uncomfortable and prefer their private space.

When saying goodbye to friends always leave them with a compliment that is genuine and leaves an impact on them.

Your Work Colleagues

Handshakes are usually adequate. High five’s is also okay in a team environment.

It is not appropriate to kiss colleagues unless you are long time colleagues who have become friends and you are meeting at a social function outside of work.

If you work in an office within a team, you need to make it your daily habit of greeting and saying goodbye to everyone in that team. A work environment resembles a family one. And all relationships require a sense of recognition and connection. Greeting and farewelling makes everyone feel valued.

Your Clients/Customers

The bottom line with clients and customers is to always leave an impression that you genuinely care. You need to be professional at all times. Shaking hands with eye contact and a smile is the general rule. A two cheek European kiss is not appropriate unless they are a long-time client. A warm but professional greeting captures their attention and builds instant rapport. “I was really looking to meeting you today.” A graceful and charming exit will make you unforgettable. It is how you make them feel on exit. It should never be hurried. “I enjoyed our meeting. Rest assured I will always do my best for you. This I promise you.”

Some Rules

Be present when you kiss or hug or shake hands. It never counts if you do not look the other person in the eye, warmly. Looking away is a big no-no. Never make too-personal comments, especially in cases of divorce, bereavement or illness.

If you are arriving home from work and in the wrong head space, stay in your car and do a brain dump in your diary to get your ‘to-do’ list out of your head. That way you can switch off and greet your family from the heart.

If you are at work and preoccupied when someone greets you, bring your awareness to your breath. This will bring you to the present moment where you can switch your attention to them and greet them properly and listen attentively.

Back it up with words. Whether you are greeting or saying goodbye, words in conjunction with a kiss, hug or handshake makes it more personal. “I love coming here…” applies when visiting not only family but also friends. “You always make my day…” is another example with friends and colleagues. Make it genuine and make it appropriate depending on the closeness of the relationship.

What is your trigger? Ask yourself this question. “If this is the last time you get to see this person, how do you want them to remember your last interaction. When it comes to your partner, family or close friends, even more so. You never know what happens in life. I know this is a morbid thought but knowing this helps make you memorable. It puts your greeting or goodbye into real perspective.

My Promise

I know the habit of greetings and goodbyes is simple and this article is unremarkable, but simple habits such as this need not be remarkable. The fact that it is ordinary should make it an easy habit to infuse into your days. And I promise you when you master the art of greetings and goodbyes, you will become unforgettable and bring joy to everyone around you.

Essential Habit #2: Situational Gratitude

Did you know that every time you focus on what you don’t have and take what you have for granted you enter into a state of systemic lack of gratitude that leads you down the path of unhappiness; and for some, misery and depression. DID YOU ALSO KNOW THAT, in this negative state, your mind sends a message to your physical cells to die? That’s right. This accelerates your ageing and shortens telomere length that makes you look and feel older. In this article I will provide you with the antidote. And it’s NOT gratitude as you know it.

Last week I brought you Habit #1 as part of the series in our academy’s daily system for living – featuring 4 rituals, 5 habits and 6 life-hacks. We have already covered the 4 essential Daily Rituals. (Incidentally the difference between rituals and habits is in the timing. Rituals are scheduled so you show up at the same time every day. Habits are something you do throughout the day). The link to all these prescriptive articles is on the A Higher Branch website. For now I want you to focus on what I call the battle between 1% and 99%. 99% wins hands down right?

1% vs 99%

Most people know of the power of journaling gratitude. This is where you sit at the end of the day and write down everything you are grateful for in life, blah blah blah… This way of practising gratitude is mediocre at best (I will admit however that it is better than nothing). Plus you will find it difficult to persist because you can end up writing the same thing every day and will quickly get bored.

I call it ‘mediocre’ because the rest of your day is unaccounted for. You have on average 16 waking hours. That is 960 minutes. If you practice gratitude for 10 minutes it means you have spent a miserly 1% of your day focused on being grateful. The question is: What are you focusing on the rest of your 950 minutes? The other 99% of the time? What is going on in your thoughts and feelings? What is inhabiting your heart and mind? Are you truly living in ‘a state’ of constant gratitude?

1% can never defeat 99%.

In the 21st Century, we are constantly bombarded with media and material wants designed to keep us on the hedonic treadmill. Which means we are constantly not happy with who we are or what we have. This is a sad state to be in – literally. If you are spending 99% of your day in that sad state, you are continuously sending signals to your cells to die. We call it ‘going after our goals’ or ‘progress’ or ‘winning’ or ‘achieving’, but in reality it is a discontentment with our life. When we are stuck in this cycle we cannot really be giving thanks for each and every powerful fulfilling moment. Instead, we are constantly focused on what we do NOT have and this causes us to take what we have for granted. So can 1% of gratitude override 99% of discontentment? Clearly not.

There is a rule in this universe. If you consistently take what you have for granted, it will either abandon you or be taken from you. Be it the people in your life: your family, your partner, your friends, your staff, your colleagues or your customers. Or your health, your wealth and your peace of mind.

In this 99% state you are also more inclined to be irritated throughout the day and this puts you more and more in the zone where you are constantly blaming and complaining about the state of your life and how you are “wanting change”. Pardon the cliche: Change is within.

“You will never materialise a magnificent future if you are not in love with the present”

 

Habit #2: Situational Gratitude

The Powerful Habit I learned from My Grandmother Rose

When you are in a constant state of gratitude throughout the day, you become innately happy without effort. You will not have to write anything down.

I grew up in a peaceful little village at the foothills of Mount Lebanon. As a boy I was always shadowing my grandmother as she harvested seasonal produce, milked cows and sheep, fetched eggs, cooked slow meals and baked bread. My role was to run and pick herbs for her as she stirred her old warped but deliciously coated pots that had the scent of fennel seeds, thyme and ghee. But most of the time I was listening to her speak. She was the type of person who verbalised just about everything she was thinking and feeling. So I grew up hearing her declarations of gratitude.

​What she said: “Summer has done its job and autumn will bring figs”
How it made me feel: “There is no good or bad season. Every season is exciting in its own way.”

What she said: “Enjoy these spinach pies Samuel, our precious neighbour made them with her gifted hands. Look at the perfect way she has shaped them.”
How it made me feel: “People matter. People have special talents and gifts. and I am so grateful to have them in my life.”

What she said: “Dont worry Samuel, God will make you feel better. He always takes care of you.”
How it made me feel: “Someone in this universe has my back. I cannot lose, even when I fail”

Over time I too developed the habit of being grateful for the little things that happened to me each and every day. I would give thanks quietly and inwardly, whether I am in traffic, sitting in a cafe or in a business meeting.

How to Practice Situational Gratitude

​Simply, whenever you mindfully experience something that engages one or more of your five senses.

Touch

When you touch your warm furry pet you are flooded with feelings of happiness and gratitude for their constant loyalty, playful energy and cuddles and muzzles. 

The warmth of the summer sun. The freshness of a cool winter breeze.

Taste

When you have a delicious cup of coffee or tea be grateful and give thanks to the hands that harvested the beans or leaves, the sun that ripened the plant, the water that nourished it and the 

​Give thanks to a meal that you can eat in a cafe or restaurant that has been grown by a farmer, transported by a truck driver and prepared by a cook. You can enjoy all of this at a fraction of the cost of your time.

Smell

When you inhale the scent of a bouquet of flowers, be grateful for the bees pollinating the plants, the growers, the florists who go to the markets at 3am every morning to select and then creatively arrange them;

The smell of freshly cut grass usually instantly brings happy childhood memories of playing outside and of warm weather.

Hear

When you hear a beautiful song, give thanks to the musicians who took the time to labour over the music and lyrics. For the engineer that set up the board. Not to mention the radio producer that cues the song. I know they are all getting paid for their work but that does not mean you cannot appreciate all the effort behind the scenes. All so you can enjoy it in a few minutes.

Sight

The beauty of the sunrise or sunset, the beach, the clouds, the flowers, natures art in the sky, the beauty of eyes, the design of clothes, cars, furniture, food and all things that are created by passionate creative humans. It is truly miraculous when you think about it.

Gratitude When You Have An Irritating Moment

We all experience irritating moments on any given day; sometimes multiple times a day, but when you get into the habit of slipping into gratitude in that irritating moment, you neutralise the irritation.

The practice of flipping an irritating moment is extremely powerful. It is simply practiced by reminding yourself of all the things you should be grateful for in each of the 8 areas of your life. The roof over your head, your health, your loved ones, the safe and secure country you live in, the clean air and water, the books, the courses, the people, the food, the friendships and the mere fact of being alive.

​So next time you have an irritating moment, let a smile fill your face. I say to myself: “Sam you are getting irritated, slip into gratitude.” I start to list all the things in my mind and sure enough the irritation subsides and disintegrates.

Incidentally, your high level gratitude list should be written at the very front of your journal. Click here to read all about the journaling ritual.

I hope this article has made you think of gratitude in a different way. I write with pure love and my ultimate aim is for you to sow the habits that will bring you happiness and joy.

Very soon we will be announcing our line-up of speakers for Upgrade Your Life 2020. If you have not yet secured your spot and are thinking about attending, please do so as soon as possible. What you will achieve in 2 days will revolutionise your whole year.

The 5 Powerful Daily Habits

This article is part of a series in our academy’s “4-5-6 System” – 4 rituals, 5 habits and 6 life-hacks – for daily living. Systems like this are powerful because they do not rely on motivation. Whether you wake up feeling like crap or down on something, this daily system will keep you on track. What most of us don’t realise is that everyone on the planet experiences issues, setbacks and disappointments, some are just better equipped at managing them.


We have covered the 4 daily rituals in detail in past articles. Now we swing into the 5 daily habits that will absolutely revolutionise your life. If you are new to our community and have not read the rituals it is preferable you do so. Why? Because it will be difficult for you to instil these new habits without the 4 daily rituals as your foundation.

Ritual #1 – Journaling – is the conversation you have to hold yourself accountable.
Ritual #2 – Movement – gets you out of your head and into your body where the state of pure consciousness lives.
Ritual #3 – Meditation – teaches you to be mindful and conscious of your thoughts.
Ritual #4 – Learning – helps you grow so you continuously tweak your habits and life hacks.

To read the last 4 articles on the daily rituals and the one before titled: “Is Motivation Destroying Your Identity”, please go to www.ahigherbranch.com/blog

I know, I know. That is a lot of reading. But do you remember how many hours and effort you put at school, learning Shakespeare or trigonometry? Or at university getting your degree? How much more important are you than what you do? Your identity is not defined by what you do but who you are. So please take the time to learn about yourself. The ancient sears instructed us to “know thy self”. Why is this important? In my personal experience, my life started improving dramatically when I started to learn about me. That process of self-discovery is where you will discover and unleash your talents and skills. This in turn boosts your performance in all 8 areas of your life, including your work or business.

The Power of 5 Habits

We live in an era of self-actualisation where everybody has dreams but so few work on their goals. The difference? Dreams live in the heart. They ignite passion and excitement. Goals live in the mind. Goals are what you need to work on to achieve your dreams. (Some people describe dreams as ‘end goals’).

A dream may be to finish a degree. But the daily goals are the lectures you need to attend, the texts you have to read, the assignments you need to complete and the exams you need to pass. A dream may be to have a loving intimate relationship. But the daily goals are the dates you need to schedule, the hours you need to listen and the support you need to give, the tolerance you need to show in times of stress and conflict. A dream may be to have a have a fit and sculpted body. But the daily goal is to show up to the gym or park or oval, the waking early or staying up late to train, shopping, preparing and eating an athletic-engineered diet.

I outline this because people confuse goals with dreams. Why is it important for you to know the difference? Goals are the tough stuff you need to do daily. Everybody gets pumped up on ‘the dream’ but then lose motivation on the day to day goals they need to achieve. So, they give up.

Enter habits.

Habits are much more powerful than motivation. Habits are what drives the performance of your goals. Habits are what gets you through the tough stuff. The work. The grind. The setbacks. The rejections. The disappointments. The energy dips. The sore and sick moments.

Why Do Humans Have Habits?

Habits are an automation tool of the subconscious mind. Through the repetition of an act (that yields a reward), humans are wired to delegate tasks from the conscious mind to the subconscious mind so they end up performing a task without really thinking about it. This delegation frees the conscious mind up to focus on new experiences, new ideas, creativity, and other important functions. You don’t want to use the conscious mind to tie your shoe laces or brush your teeth. Waste of attention bandwidth, right? But what if we can use habits to automate actions that are tough but good for us? Really good for us.

In this next series of 5 articles I will outline the 5 habits that will help you power through the toughest of times. They will get you to show up every time, rain hail or shine. Before I reveal the first important habit you must be wondering….

How do you cultivate a new habit?

Through repetition and reward. Neuro scientists tell us that it takes two lunar cycles to cultivate a new habit. Roughly 60-odd days. So, at first, it is tough but as you repeat an action it gets easier and easier. You need to persist and have willpower at first. But to make it easier, the habits I will be sharing with you will yield a strong emotional reward and this is a critical element that makes you more inclined to repeat it until you cross what scientists call the ‘line of automaticity’. This is the point where this new task goes from the conscious to the subconscious. From there the task (and life) gets easier, not because you do not experience issues and challenges, but because you will have the toolset to deal with them.

The first habit is…..

Habit #1: Smiling

‘Smile on waking and smile all day.
Smile as soon as you open your eyes to greet a new day.’

My family say I am dorky for making up this simple little poem. But hey, behind those words is some powerful science. So please don’t dismiss this as too simple. Please stay with me as I demonstrate why this first daily habit is so important.

Did you know that people who walk around with a ready-smile…..

· Are more attractive and charismatic.
· Have more confidence.
· Are more trusted by customers or clients.
· Are less likely to have arguments and conflicts.
· Are more persuasive and influential.
· Make better leaders.
· Have happier children and families.
· Are more productive at work.
· Are much less likely to suffer from seriousness, anxiety and depression.
· Have lower blood pressure.
· Live longer!

Smiling even boosts your immune system! [See research by Dr Murray Grossan, ENT-otolaryngologist and the science of psychoneuroimmunology – how the brain is connected to the immune system]

The science of how our physiology impacts our thoughts and feelings has been established by many researchers [notably by Harvard professor Amy Cuddy). And there is countless research specifically on the benefits of smiling (even forced smiling) but the most interesting is recent research by the University of Cardiff that showed even people who could not frown due to botox injections were happier on average than those who could frown.

Why is smiling on waking important?

The simple act of smiling on waking will set the tone for the next 16 waking hours. Science tells us that the first few seconds after we wake and the feeling we wake with stays with us all day.

How Can You Reward This Habit – so it Gets Repeated?

The benefits of smiling I listed above will be reward enough. But to make it even easier here are some powerful tips.

· Watch or listen to comedy before you go to bed – preferably before the last hour.
· Hang out with people that are fun or funny. There is a tonne of research on the ‘law of attraction’ and human mimicking behaviour. There is a tonne more showing that the majority of women prefer to marry or live with a partner who has a great sense of humour.
· Do more fun things in your day. For a detailed list of how to have fun read my blog: “Yes but are you having fun?”

How do I smile without appearing creepy?

It comes down to time and place. There is a time to be serious and a time for humour. There is a difference between child-like and childish. There is a difference between wit and just plain inappropriate conduct. And just like any other habit you create, the more you practice smiling, the more natural it will start to feel. And then you will find yourself smiling out of pure joy. It’s not about faking it until you make it, it is about faking it until you start to become it.

Coming Next: Habit #2

Essential Ritual #4: Learning

This article is in a series of articles about the ‘system’ of daily rituals, habits and hacks you that will completely transform your days. When you live by this 456 system you will find that obstacles and setbacks will not trip you up. You will find that on the days where motivation abandons you, you will still stay on track.

In case you missed the 3 previous essential daily rituals here are the links. It’s a good idea to go back and read them as a refresher anyway.

Essential Ritual #1: Journaling

Essential Ritual #2: Movement

Essential Ritual #3: Meditation

But this whole series started with this article that so many people absolutely loved: Is Motivation Destroying Your Identity

In today’s article I will share with you:

  • Why continuous learning is important to your success?
  • How and when to infuse learning into your day?
  • What books and podcasts should you learn from?
  • Who or what are the best teachers on earth?

Why Learning Is Important

Learning is how we grow personally and professionally. It is the sixth most important area in our lives and the foundation upon which A Higher Branch Success Academy has been established. It is the essence of our philosophy of ‘climbing higher’ in life and the quest for constant upgrade and improvement in all eight areas of our life.

Without learning we stagnate in those areas. We do the same things every day because we do not know any better. Learning empowers us to try new things and reach for new goals and dreams. All the latest brain research also shows that continuous learning and looking after your brain is good for our health and longevity.

The 3 mistakes we make when it comes to learning are as follows:

  1. We stop learning after we finish school and/or university.
  2. We only continue to learn about our job and subject matter expertise. True learning is a lifelong adventure where you continuously learn about each of the eight areas of life.
  3. We learn from the wrong sources. We live in an era of information overload and making sense of this information is difficult when digested in an unstructured way. The internet is also filled with information designed to promote one fad over another; one diet over another; one lifestyle over another; one product over another.

When Should You Learn Daily?

Something becomes a ritual when you do it at the same time every day or on cue. Learning should not be done as part of your morning and nightly rituals. These times are reserved for movement, meditation and journaling for the reasons previously discussed in those articles.

Welcome to Commute College. Most of us commute to and from work daily. This is the perfect time to plug in, listen and learn. I have learned to love traffic and sometimes I will arrive at work only to stay in the car for a few more minutes to listen to a riveting podcast or book. On weekends I also plug in whilst I am jogging or hiking.

Learning should be done whenever you have ‘dead’ time. Boredom should be your cue to read, listen and learn. In the car, on a plane, train or bus or whenever you having ‘nothing to do’. You need to resist the temptation to drift to mindless entertainment on radio, television, and social media. You need to be in conscious control with what you let into your brain.

This is what the highest of achievers do. Learning is their daily ritual. My first mentor and supervising partner in a law firm taught me this lesson in 1990 when he would hand me ‘cassette tapes’ to listen to in the car on the latest in property and finance law. This helped me become an expert. I simply applied this ritual to all other areas of my life. So I started to  listen to cassettes on health, fitness, relationships, and all 8 areas of my life.

What Should You Learn? Podcasts and Books…

You should be seeking books and podcasts about all 8 areas of your life and not just one area of interest (typically health). This is a problem in itself. I know some people who become obsessed about one area and start to neglect other parts of their life, especially relationships. It is important that you spread the learning equally among all areas.

 

We are so fortunate to live in an era where we have so much to read, listen and watch. We not only have so many books written by pioneering minds, but we also have Audible, we have Podcasts and we have YouTube. But we need to be discerning and distinguish between entertainment and information.

Two decades ago the challenge was the lack of information and lack of scientific research. Today the challenge is to sift through all the overwhelming and often conflicting information. These are the podcasts I recommend. They are all also on YouTube.

  1. Kwik Brain with Jim Kwik
  2. Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu
  3. The Joe Rogan Experience with Joe Rogan
  4. Found my Fitness with Dr Rhonda Patrick

I recommend these podcasts the hosts are caring, knowledgeable, authentic and share information generously with no strings attached. They rarely sell you anything. They also interview experts, researchers and actual practitioners across the 8 areas of life.

Is JIM KWIK The Best Teacher on Earth?

The standout and foremost world-renowned expert on the super power of learning is Jim Kwik. He is a world expert in memory improvement and optimal brain performance. I attended one of Jim’s workshops and implement his brain training methods and let me tell you it is unbelievably effective. It has helped me think smarter and faster in meetings. He is also one of the humblest people I have ever met. He has worked with actors on the biggest Hollywood blockbusters, top global organisations and CEO’s that includes Harvard, Virgin, Nike and GE. His personal story is also compelling.

One of the principles I learned from Jim Kwik is that your own curiosity is the best teacher on earth. If self-awareness is a great teacher of all things internal, then curiosity is the greatest teacher of all things external.

Applying Curiosity to Information

So, it is important when you read or listen to books and podcasts that you apply a curiosity mindset. Are you accepting everyday information as it is or are you adding to it or contradicting it with your curiosity? This means having your own opinion and questioning everything you learn. Do this by asking yourself: ‘Yes AND …’ or the ‘Yes BUT …’ principles. To apply these principles, we must let our curiosity break through our fear barrier. We all have this curiosity inside of us as children but over the years fear tends to keep it locked away. Trust that curiosity. Unleash it. You will find behind every curious thought is the potential to discover your own wisdom on what you read. It is that curiosity that leads to genius or a genius idea.

Applying Curiosity to People

There is also another huge area of knowledge, apart from books, where we can learn from – people. This is the fastest way to acquire knowledge. Therefore, we must master the skill of listening with undivided attention. We can never know everything in life but by listening to others we can learn from their experience and that accelerates our learning.

Listening is a dying art. Many people overindulge in constant talking that they go through life never really learning from others. I was once sitting in a café and overheard a conversation between a boss and what looked like her protégé. She said to him, ‘We have two ears and only one mouth. We must use those two faculties in that proportion. We must listen to our customers twice as much as we talk.’ Very good advice, I thought.

But my advice is that the people you must listen to first come from the 8 areas of life, in the following order:

  • Your partner who often knows you best
  • Your mother, father or grandparents. They have experience and perspective
  • Your work mentors, colleagues and customers
  • Your closest friends

But as always you need to filter any knowledge from these sources by using your own curiosity and asking the two questions above. This does not make you a contrarian. This make you progressive where you build on wisdom from others to create what’s right for you.

………….

This completes our series on the 4 Daily Rituals. Next Week we will start on the 5 Daily habits you need to program into your life.

Before I leave you, I’d like to share….

Something Personal

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of my book A Higher Branch called The Tree of Learning. It was a book that I consider my magnum opus. I have written 3 more books since then but I still consider this my finest and most instructive. It was dedicated to my grandmother Rose whose mulberry tree was the first thing I learned to climb in life and written as a guide for my 3 now grown-up children.

Epilogue to Chapter 3:

 “What the old man taught me about the Tree of Learning left a deep impression on me throughout my years as a student. It empowered me to look at school objectively, only applying the lessons that were relevant.

Just as the old man predicted, school made me think that learning was all about attaining good grades and getting a good job. I was never taught what I wanted to learn, but what the curriculum outlined. Had I been given the freedom to choose my learning, I would have embraced it. Instead, I expressed my defiance by doing the bare minimum in subjects I had no talent for or interest in.

I took the old man’s advice and taught myself about all areas of life. I studied books on health, love, family, work, friendship, wealth and charity. There were not that many at the time, but the ones I did find were insightful books by pioneering minds.

After many years of private learning I began to discover my own ideas on how to live and express my talents. It was through these ideas that I developed self-awareness. They led me to many opportunities that I seized. What I Iearned privately became the real reason for my achievements, personally and professionally. Learning to climb to a higher branch in all Eight Trees taught me to be a healthier person, a loving partner, a supportive father, a caring brother, a fun friend, an inspirational leader, a visionary entrepreneur and an empathetic, charitable member of society.”

 

Essential Ritual #3: Meditation

This article contains a very special video presentation of the meditation session presented by Tom Sullivan at our recent Upgrade Your Life 2019. Never-seen-before footage and compelling viewing! YouTube thumbnail below. But first, I would like to bring you up to speed. This article is third in a series about the 4 rituals, 5 habits and 6 life-hacks. If you have not read the first two essential rituals here are the links:

#1 Journaling
#2 Movement

All the research and my own personal experience shows that these rituals, habits and hacks work. I have been living by them, refining them and adding to them over many years.

This does not mean I have lived a perfect life. I have experienced many failures, rejections and setbacks along my life journey. But living by these protocols have helped me get back on track every single day. They have helped me greet each sunrise as the birth of a new possibility, no matter what happened the previous day.

The sceptic inside of you may tell you that these rituals, habits and life-hacks will not make a difference in your life. The cynic inside will also tell you that you can’t change. We all have those voices. But I am asking you to dismiss them because how you live your life is totally within your control. Forget about the outcome. I am asking you to own your greatness. Show courage. Be motivated by love for yourself and honour the potential you were born with.

Although this series of articles are written in what I consider to be the order of importance, the sequence in which they should be performed every morning and every night is as follows:

1. Movement
2. Meditation
3. Journaling

The 4th ritual (to be discussed in the next article) can be performed anytime throughout the day.

Why Meditate?
We are now ALL competing with a new breed of high achievers across all industries. They eat like athletes, train religiously and meditate like monks. In today’s world, success no longer belongs to the smartest or the most knowledgeable. It belongs to the most effective. And that’s what meditation delivers. Effectiveness. It’s the NEW secret weapon.

Meditation is a practice that should be infused in your day much like eating and sleeping. It is that important. So, don’t quit because you get impatient or find it irritating to sit there. You might have a bad meal or a bad night’s sleep, but you still eat and sleep, right? Meditation is not about perfect practice. It is about doing it no matter what, whether you are stressed, on business travel, on holidays or whatever.

Meditation is Like Fitness
You see, meditation is like fitness. You really do not know how physically unfit you are until you get really fit and look back on your old self. Once you practice meditation it will become your daily detox for your mind. One of the life-hacks we will talk about in this series of articles is a unique way of fasting from food, otherwise known as ‘going hungry’ by our ancestors :). Well you can think of meditation as ‘fasting from thought’. And when you fast from thought daily, you will be amazed at how fit your brain will become. You will be amazed at how much clarity and creativity you will achieve. You will be amazed at how mentally sharp you will be in your job and how attractive you will become in social gatherings.

Meditation also de-clutters the brain and gives you clarity in a world full of noise. I could ask you to cancel your social media accounts, disable notifications and stop listening to the news but you probable would not do that. So, you need meditation to quieten the mind from all these daily distractions.

What Type of Meditation?
There are two types of Meditation that we encourage at A Higher Branch: “Visualisation” Meditation in the Morning and “Relaxation” Meditation in the Evening. We find this to be a practical and realistic approach to meditation. More on that below but first we would like to share with you the power of group meditation. At Upgrade Your Life 2019, Tom Sullivan, meditation coach, rocked the room with stillness when he performed group meditation for over 200 people at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Sydney. It was incredible. See it for yourself here.

Watch this incredible group meditation at Upgrade Your Life 2019.

MORNING Power of 8 “Visualisation” Meditation
This type of meditation should be done in the morning after exercise (for the reasons stated in the last article on Ritual #2 Movement).

Visualisation meditation in the morning is all about preparing and priming you to take daily, decisive, and deliberate action in each of the 8 areas of life depicted below. It is about visualising your best day in each of the 8 areas. Humans are all born with the innate ability to visualise. This faculty known as creative imagination was not given to us by some evolutionary accident. It is there to help us materialise what we visualise. It triggers the mind’s reticular activation system (RAS), which has been described as a manifestation super power. Your mind starts seeking out the actions, solutions, and opportunities for you to achieve your goals for the day. For example, if one of your visualisations is to start a new exercise regime, you may see or hear an advert or billboard of that gym you drive or walk by every day. If another visualisation is of you and your partner on a perfect date, you might notice a lifestyle article of a new restaurant that just opened featuring your partners favourite food. In both cases your RAS serves as a prompt. You still have to take the action.

Cycling through, your morning visualisation can look like this:

Health: Visualise yourself with strong posture, smiling, and full of energy. What will you nourish your body with today? How will you feel sitting and soaking up the sun? How powerful will your body feel while exercising? How relaxed will you be for sleep tonight? Is your body soft and supple? Is your skin glowing? Is your hair shiny? Are your eyes bright? Is your heart beating calmly?

Love: Visualise smiling at your partner with love. Touching their hand. Kissing them goodbye and hello again. Cooking with them. Eating with them. Reading together. Hugging and anything else you want to visualise that brings you closer. If you are single, then imagine meeting someone with all the qualities you desire in another person. How will they look? Act? Are they affectionate? Are they witty? Imagine yourself loved and loving. Wanted. Desired.

Now continue visualising for each of the 8 areas of life.

We will soon be publishing a downloadable guided MORNING visualisation meditation pioneered by our faculty. Stay tuned for future updates including dates for meditation workshops with Tom.

EVENING “Review and Relaxation” Meditation
Your evening meditation should be performed in the same order as your morning rituals: Movement, meditation, and journaling. It is important you perform these before your dinner. All three will neutralise the impact of daily stress that builds up. All 3 will activate your parasympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as the rest and digest system. This will ensure you enjoy your food and engage with your family in a loving, calm manner.

Meditation in the PM is all about relaxation. It is about healing any rejections and failures that may have happened to you during the day. It is about the breath. It is about calm. It is about forgiveness. It is about acceptance. It is about acknowledging your humanity and reminding yourself that you will always be a work in progress.

Our meditation coach and faculty member, Tom Sullivan kindly prepared this guided audio practice for your personal use. Stay tuned for his new book, A Still Mind due out soon.

Nightly Guided Meditation

Essential Ritual #2: Movement

This is part of a series of articles relating to the 4 rituals, 5 habits and 6 hacks that systemise your life. Remember what I said in earlier articles and I emphasize in my keynotes, “Don’t rely on motivation alone. Rely on repetition and automation. Not just in your personal life but also in business.” A well drilled team will always outperform a motivated one.

In my last article I shared with you the most important daily ritual of all – Journaling. If you have not read it, here is the link: Journaling Essentials.  Now I will share with you the second most important ritual you need to do before journaling, without compromise every morning and early evening: Movement. I never skip exercise whether I am in my usual routine, traveling on business or holidays, sleep deprived and tired, working long hours, or whatever my condition. I say this because a lot of us make excuses to abandon a ritual. Don’t blame yourself too much. We are hard wired to crave food and comfort. Recognise this and let it be your cue to fight the urge for comfort and go for growth instead. Let it be your trigger for tenacity.

All the research shows that delayed gratification is the key to success in all areas of life. You study hard, you graduate. You work hard, you outperform the competition and make more money. You save and invest your money, so you can afford to have more freedom later in life. You put in the effort in your relationships, you have more intimacy and build bonds for life. You exercise, you have better health and energy as you get older. You stretch, you get more flexible and supple. You eat live unprocessed food, you build healthier cells in your entire body including your eyes and skin. You learn new things and meet new people, you get a sharper mind as you grow older and bolder. Rarely does anything good in life come easily. You need to put in conscious effort but that makes it all the sweeter.

In future articles I will be sharing 5 habits and 6 life-hacks that will make it easier to implement the 4 daily rituals. For now let’s get onto the next essential daily ritual.

Movement – AM and PM

Before you perform the first mentioned ritual (journaling), it is absolutely critical to start your day with movement. Anything from a 4 minute Tabata routine to a 30-60 minute jog/cycle/swim or whatever gets you puffing and sweating. Exercise is best in the morning when your cortisol levels are highest; but not too early in the morning. There are a lot of ‘experts’ who preach early morning exercise (before sunrise) but the science shows that this is not the most optimal time. The optimal time starts at sunrise and peaks around 7-8am. Exercise later in the day should be milder as the cortisol curve tapers off for rest and sleep.

What Type of Moving?

Moving, just like going hungry, is natural. You need to listen to your body every morning and adapt the length and intensity to suit. But there is never any excuse not to do anything. Even if I am unwell I will still muster the effort to do a brisk walk for 15-30 mins and I am always surprised by how much it lifts my mood and energy.

The best form of exercise is one that you enjoy. Think competitive sport, dancing and training with friends. The second best and most natural is walking, jogging or running. Generally, the shorter the time you have to exercise the higher the intensity should be. When I don’t have much time I do at the very minimum a 10-minute Tabata routine. My usual ritual is however to do a 30-minute jog followed by a cold shower. On weekends I might do a 60 to 90 minute hike or trail run. Or I might do a high intensity session with friends at F45. I am not sharing my routine for you to copy but to demonstrate that you can go hard or you can go slow but the main thing is to go and do whatever suits you. You may be a swimmer or a cyclist or a heavy lifter. Or love yoga or pilates. But never ever skip moving in the morning.

Why is exercise such an important morning ritual?

We live in a world where people rarely sleep straight through the night. Our mind is racing as soon as we wake. We can be confrontational and edgy in the morning and our energy crashes and burns around mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon. Exercise neutralises these abnormal afflictions.

Most people think that exercise is for the body. Its biggest impact however is on the mind. Science tells us that when you are in motion, your mind is on fire! All parts of the brain are active. This kick-starts your cognitive engine in the morning and keeps you mentally sharp throughout the day; which means you will perform tasks faster and you will get more done in less time. And that means you can spend more time with your partner, family and friends.  

Exercise also impacts your emotions in a profound way because it changes your body chemistry. It replaces adrenalin and cortisol (fight or flight) with dopamine and serotonin (inspiration and calm). These are the neurotransmitters you should be running on all day and it all starts with morning exercise. Exercise also kickstarts your metabolism and stimulates your lymphatic system (for immunity). Especially when you exercise in the sunshine without wearing sunglasses. Exercising in morning sunshine also promotes a deeper and longer sleep that same night. In fact, exercise in conjunction with sunshine and sleep has been proven to be more potent than Prozac as an antidepressant. (Sleep is the ultimate superpower for your overall health. Read the definitive guide to sleep here: How to Get the Best Sleep)

And why is it important to exercise before the three other daily rituals?

If you try to journal on waking without first moving you will have trouble calming the mind. Your mind is no match for adrenalin and cortisol. You will be edgy. You cannot sit still let alone think straight. We are wired to hunt and gather on waking, so we need to respect this natural rhythm and get moving. We need to also respect this cycle by eating low carb meals in the morning (if anything at all), moderate amounts of carbs during the day, think substantial salads and higher amounts of carbs as the last meal of the day. Think, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, broccoli (NOT pasta, pizza and bread). Carb cycling in this way promotes healthy cortisol levels.

After you move in the morning, you will find your body gets calmer and your mind clearer and these two qualities are the perfect prerequisites for journaling and the other morning rituals.  

Can some exercise be doing you more harm than good? Find out by clicking here.

Can’t Hurt Me

This is a special addendum to our last email about the essential ritual of daily movement. To help inspire you and give you the tools to persist with daily exercise, we would like to introduce you to a very special book.

In an era where there are so many fakers who tell us one thing and do something else, David Goggins shines with integrity and authenticity. His book “Can’t Hurt Me” tells a very personal story and demonstrates how strong the body really is, when you develop the right mindset. Some of us are too soft on our bodies and underestimate what we are capable of, so we use this as an excuse to skip workouts and exercise. This ultimately makes us weak, of body and mind. When listening to this book I could not help but feel that the title was also echoing the message “You Can’t Hurt You”.

David Goggins shows us that when it comes to the body you have to be ‘cruel to be kind’. The more hardship your body endures the stronger it gets and in turn the tougher your mindset becomes. This toughness translates to resilience across all areas of your life including studying and working. Parents take note. Don’t coddle your children. The stronger you make them the better they will do in life.

His message applies equally to females who have become an easy target for well-intentioned naturopaths and health practitioners who preach self-love to a point that it is fuelling narcissist behaviour, manifested on social media. In adults generally this pre-occupation with self-care is also leading to relationship breakdowns as people become self-help-aholics. It needs to stop. I say this with the utmost of respect knowing that I too have a teenage daughter. Women underestimate the physical and mental strength they possess. This book is as much a testament to the strength of David Goggins’ mother, who left an abusive relationship and lived in poverty to raise one of the fittest, toughest, strongest men alive.

Our parents’ and grandparent’s generation endured many hardships and discomforts. We recount proudly the stories of how they overcame odds and migrated to new countries. Or how they worked tirelessly to give us what we have today. Or how they fought in war to deliver our freedom. Yet we baulk at waking early to do 10-30 minutes of exercise?

The best thing we can do to honour their legacy is to endure our own pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint. In Greek this mindset is called Philotimo. It has it’s roots in the ancient philosophy of Stoicism. We need more of this in our modern-day ‘soft’ society. We need to harden up and do the tough stuff. When you set out to do a 5km run, do 7km instead. When your personal trainer tells you to do 15 reps, do 18 instead. When your boss tells you to hit a target or perform a task, exceed all expectations. Do it better. Do more than anticipated. Stress is not caused by how much you work but the mindset you bring to work.

In this book David Goggins outlines 10 challenges that are prescriptive and practical. His life story is confronting but he shares it with us NOT in a self-indulgent way. It is not only inspiring but also highly instructive.

EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS BOOK!

Here is the download link: Can’t Hurt Me 

4 Essential Daily Rituals #1: Journaling

The Foundation for Identity Change

In the last article I wrote to you about defining your identity clearly by asking yourself “WHO do I want to become in each of the 8 areas of life?”.  Here is the link: Is Motivation Destroying Your Identity? In that article I made the point that chasing outcomes and relying on motivation is a trap. (Please note that I always write to you with pure love for your potential. I can say this with hand-on-heart because I always write using my 3 grown-up children as my frame of reference. They are my North Star. My BIG why). 

Please also note that this article is longer than usual because it is prescriptive and simply cannot be achieved with a brief blog. I respect you too much to give you stuff you can Google yourself. My information is proprietary and contained in my next book.

I write to start you on the journey for identity change using 4 Rituals, 5 Habits and 6 Life-hacks we use in our Higher Branch workshops. Today I start with the first most important ritual – Journaling. I will share with you the simple techniques for journaling I use in my one-on-one coaching. There are so many journals out there for sale that make it too complicated and frankly too airy-fairy. All you need is a simple blank journal and a system for journaling that I will teach you. 

Why Change is Hard

Most people don’t realise that they spend up to 85% of their day living in their subconscious in ‘cruise-control’, thinking, doing and feeling the same way they did yesterday and the day before that; effectively living in the past. This is fine if this 85% is filled with positive stuff that serves your growth. After all, the subconscious is there as an automation tool for us to do things without thinking. This frees up the conscious mind to focus on high impact, high return, high reward activities like creativity, strategy, and meaningful connection with others. But what if that 85% is filled with a lot of unwanted behaviour that just gets repeated without thinking? Stuff like procrastinating, eating too much, binge watching TV, mindlessly scrolling through social media, shopping online for stuff you don’t need, or picking fights with your family. It is difficult to erase these behaviours, but you can REPLACE them with better behaviours that serve the identity you want to create.

Over the next few series of articles I will step you through each ritual, each habit and each hack that will ensure you live consciously with purpose. I am starting with rituals because they will become the foundation for the 5 habits and 6 life-hacks. You cannot stack the habits and hacks without mastering these 4 rituals first. The reason will become clear.

It is Difficult at First

Infusing these 4 rituals daily is difficult at first, but know this, rarely does anything good in life come easy. You will feel the need to skip them because you are just ‘too busy’. You need to stay committed to them until you cross, what scientists call ‘the line of automaticity’. This simply means that when you repeat something enough it becomes second nature and easier. Some scientists say it takes two lunar cycles to cross this line but in my experience it all depends on the difficulty of the ritual and the frequency in which you repeat it. The former is subjective for all of us. What is extremely difficult for some can be lightly challenging for others. What is difficult may take you many months. What is easy may only take you a few weeks. Either way, I will outline a method that works for me and I trust it will work for you. 

Journaling

Journaling is the most important ritual out of the 4. It is also the most difficult to stick with because it can be confronting when done right. Mainly because this ritual is all about self-ACCOUNTABILITY. Ignoring it or skipping it is a big mistake because it has been the single most important success factor in my life.

Most people don’t journal because they don’t know how, or they underestimate how beneficial it is. The other reason why people don’t journal is because they wake up late and hurry to get to work on time, so they skip this ritual and the three other rituals because they ‘don’t have time’. Know this. Time is the great leveller. We all have the same 24 hours in the day so the difference between us can only be our discipline and the systems we follow (i.e. our rituals, habits and hacks).

You may have heard the phrase “Win the morning, win your day” which is so true, but the bigger truth is that winning your morning starts the night before. Getting organised the night before is the real secret to your morning success. Getting a deep sleep is the second biggest secret to winning your morning (Read my previous article on sleep). So, ask yourself, how do you spend your nights? This is where most people (even some high performers) waste their time because they feel like they’ve earned the right to flop in front of Netflix, scroll social media and snack. When rather it should be the time to hit repeat on the 4 morning rituals and get ready for the following day, by packing your workout gear, your work bag, your lunch, turning off all technology and socialising in person with your family or by phone with a friend. Not by text.

Why is JOURNALING so important?

Journaling is important for many reasons:

·     It is a conscious conversation you have with yourself
·     It helps you notice any negative self-talk
·     It keeps you focused on your priorities
·     It helps you take stock of your life, so you don’t drift aimlessly
·     It helps you notice whether you are neglecting parts of your life
·     It holds you accountable to the promises you make to yourself 
·     It helps you process and review any negative or hurt feelings

All these reasons will become apparent when you start to journal properly.

How do You Journal Properly?

At A Higher Branch Success Academy, we developed a unique journaling technique that shows you how to become your own life architect. We do not like the idea of an accountability coach. People need to hold themselves accountable and journaling is the ultimate accountability tool. 

​The template below gives you a guide. You need to devote two pages for every day. Once you use this template a few times, you will remember it. 

Morning Journaling – ACTION page

The left page of your journal is for your morning ritual. It is for the mind. The right page is for your heart. In the morning you need to focus on your actions for the day. So, it is future-focused. It is all about visualising as you write what you need to do for the day in each of the 8 areas of life depicted in the diagram below. (If this is your first time journaling, I suggest you devote the first few pages of your journal to write your long term goals and dreams in each of the 8 areas of life. That way, the front of your journal becomes your big picture reminder to reference from time to time. 

Nothing is too trivial or too small to write. Once it is written, it can be reviewed throughout the day to see how you are tracking. I always keep my journal in my bag and check in throughout the day to see if I have forgotten to action anything. I do one final check before I leave work and do a brain dump at the end of the day. If I have missed anything I write it on the next day’s ACTION page to get it out of my head and onto paper so I can shut down when I get home.

As a guide see below a few examples of daily action items I have written in my journal in the last week. You will notice that nothing is too trivial to write. You will also notice that there is an action item for each of the 8 elements of my life. We often make the mistake of thinking that our wellbeing is fuelled solely by diet and exercise. In truth it is all 8 elements that make us whole and complete us mentally, emotionally and spiritually. And so we cannot neglect them.

Health: Do F45 today at 12 noon. Stretch for 10 minutes afterward. Book a massage for Saturday. Use the stand-up desk between 8:30am – 11:30am. Buy blue-light blocking glasses. Fast till 1pm today. Have a no-protein day today. Order more turmeric & ashwaganda. Go to bed 10pm. Rest day, do brisk walk after work. Eat out in sunshine at lunch.

Love: Book a surprise dinner date for Saturday night. Light candles tonight and read together. Go for a hike together. Go home early today and cook her favourite pasta.

Family: Play backgammon with daughter. Share Chapter 8 of David Goggins with my oldest son. Book lunch at a Lebanese restaurant on Sunday for the whole family. Check in on my nephew who is studying for HSC. Call mum.

Work: [Keep a separate diary for your work to do]

Friendship: Organise tickets to the footy this Sunday with mates. Call mates to organise run on Saturday around the bay. Have breakfast after. Help mate with his wedding prep.

Learning: Listen latest episodes of Dr Rhonda Patrick and Jim Kwik. Research whether autophagy accelerates with exercise. Research whether coffee breaks a fast. Re-listen Chapter 11 in David Goggins book, “You Can’t Hurt me”.

Wealth: Assess UBER IPO. Look into solar panels and going off the grid.

Charity: Help son with setting up his new website. Spend 9am-12 noon training new recruits. Write next article for A Higher Branch community. Write cards to my World Vision sponsored children. Give legal advice and business strategy to a friend who is starting a new business.

Journaling in this way helps you keep track of your commitment to each of the 8 areas of life otherwise you will end up focusing all of your time on work. I do a stock take on Sunday night for the week in review to see if I have neglected any area. This helps me pivot for the next week. There is so much more I can write about morning journaling.

Evening Journaling – REFLECTION Page

The right page is for your heart. It is to review and reflect on what happened during the day. So it is best done in the last hour of the day before bed.

This nightly journaling is extremely powerful and useful for 3 reasons:

1.    To heal any hurt feelings, rejections, failures, disappointments that you had during the day.
2.    To list everything that happened in the day you are grateful for.
3.    To list all your achievements for the day.

1. Processing Feelings

Processing your feelings is all about acknowledging them. The worst thing you can do with hurt feelings is to deny them and sweep them under the metaphorical carpet of your subconscious, only to manifest itself in headaches, poor sleep and irritability. You cannot hide from your feelings. If you do they will haunt you. If you confront them head-on you will neutralise them. You need to feel to heal. Did someone reject you today? How did that make you feel? You need to process it by stepping into their shoes and forgiving them. Did you make a mistake that made you feel like a failure. You need to process it by writing down what you learned from that mistake. 

2. Gratitude

If this is your first time journaling then I want you to go to the front of your journal and just like you listed your goals and dreams in each of the 8 areas of life I want you to devote some of those first few pages to list everything you are grateful for in the 8 areas of life to date.

Then every night you should write down what you should be grateful for that happened to you on that day. Simple, powerful and effective.

3. Achievements

You may have heard of the power of a gratitude but heard little about the equally powerful task of listing your achievements in the 8 areas of your life. It will surprise how much you have achieved. We live in an era of over-achievement and most of us can be too hard on ourselves and fall into the trap of feeling like we are not enough, that we do not have enough and we do not do enough. The reality is that we have achieved a lot and continue to achieve so much daily. 

Listing your achievements daily reminds you of your self-worth, builds your confidence and neutralises the anxiety that lives in the gap between where you are now in life and where you want to be.

NEXT ARTICLE: Rituals 2, 3 & 4.

Is Motivation Destroying Your Identity?

An outstanding life is NOT about littering your day with lifehacks hoping for that magical transformation to your health, relationships and bank account. Transformation is such a misused word that has somehow become synonymous with ‘instant’. The reality is that it takes much longer than that. It’s a process of becoming WHO you want to be rather than WHAT you want to achieve. This principle not only applies to you as an individual. It also applies to businesses, families, and sports teams.

For example, you will notice that the most outstanding and pioneering companies are not focused on outcomes such as optimal PE ratios or dividend yields. That’s what mediocre companies focus on. They are instead focused on what they stand for, their values and the impact they want to make on the world. Wharton Business School studied these companies and called them “Firms of Endearment”. These were businesses focused on purpose before profit. But what the team at Wharton discovered, stunned everyone. These same companies financially outperformed the S & P 500 by a ratio of 9:1 over a ten-year period. They ironically made the most profit!

This is the way we should live. It is “goal-less” thinking. It is about WHO we want to become as a process of daily refinement where there is no finish line. It is about taking daily action and following a system for conscious living without any attachment to the outcome. And letting the results take care of themselves, slowly over time.

This is certainly how I live in my eight areas of life. For example, when it comes to health, I don’t have goals that sound like this: “I want 6-pack abs” or “I want to go to the gym 3 times a week”. Such outcome-based goals and process-based goals set us up for disappointment. What happens if I don’t get 6 pack abs? What if I miss going to the gym? I end up feeling like a failure and blame myself for not having (wait for the big M word) – MOTIVATION! 

Our addiction to motivation is one of the reasons why there are so many anxiety disorders in our society. Anxiety lives in the gap of where we are in our lives right now versus where we want to be. We have a restless desire to achieve but no system for achieving. Then we start comparing ourselves to ‘successful’ people who have great lives, great businesses (and a great six pack) and say “they must have more motivation, more money, more luck, more opportunity” etc… (when in fact they just have better systems for living). This helpless way of thinking makes us ‘give-up’ and slip back into a default state of mediocrity where we wake and live by old habits, slowly drifting in the direction of our greatest weaknesses; whether that is mindlessly scrolling social media, eating too much, procrastinating, binging on TV or blaming and arguing. If we focus on becoming WHO we want, then we never give up because there is no deadline and no fixed outcome. We are a work-in-progress. When we focus on this identity change, we start to naturally focus on systems for living rather that on motivation.

 

Hope (motivation) without habit (systems) is hopeless.

Hope without habit will also cause an inevitable identity crisis as you drift from one fad to the next in search of an identity that is not really yours. Therefore, I urge you to start with WHO you want to become in all 8 areas of your life depicted above. This will spark the right kind of motivation: Identity-based motivation. Not results-based. This kind of ‘intrinsic’ motivation can be the spark that starts your quest for behavioural change. BUT to stick it, you need to implement daily systems. It is systems that lead to progress. It is systems you can count on. Bit by bit, day by day, your efforts compound and you reach a tipping point where your life just becomes so much easier. What seems like an overnight success to everybody, really began many months or years before. Just ask any founder of a great business or any athlete what their overnight success looked like. Behind every game are many hours of training. Behind every product launch is a series of workshops with trial, error, research and painstaking review.

I recall that first day in 2008 when I realised that I REALLY wanted to become a runner after ‘attempting’ the Sydney City to Surf. I loved the freedom and the meditative trance of sneakers hitting the pavement. The next week I started ‘trying’ to run. I woke every morning at the same time and walked a bit, ran a bit, puffed out, slowed down and repeated the process. I didn’t give up because I was not focused on a result and therefore no measure to live up to. I was focused on becoming a ‘runner’ and that relaxed me into a state of patience and perseverance. I committed to the process and surrendered to the outcome. That’s the beauty of asking yourself WHO you want to become and not WHAT you want to achieve. My running gaps started getting longer and rest periods shorter. Two years later I ran a half-marathon in 96 minutes, not that I am bragging about that result. It is just to demonstrate what is achievable when you keep going. The outcome is what it is. What I considered impossible two years earlier became WHO I am. Now being ‘a runner’ is part of my identity. It is one part of WHO I am. When you start a new habit that is congruent with who you are, you are more inclined to stick to it. So, don’t try and be something you are not simply because you saw a celebrity doing it or an Instagram model ‘living it’. Be true to yourself and WHO you want to become.

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In the next part 2 of this article I will share with you the brief but powerful “456 System” for living every day as the dawn of a new identity. Day by day, this system will help you build a magnificent life without the need for motivation.

How to Get the Best Sleep- Part 2

The Definitive Guide to Sleeping Longer and Deeper

In Part 1 of this article on sleep I outlined the latest stunning research which shows that sleep is more important than any other health protocol and impacts not just the body but cognitive performance and emotional wellbeing in a profound way. If you have not read Part 1, here is the link: Is Sleep the Fountain of Youth?

In an age where artificial intelligence and technology is taking over jobs, it is very clear that creativity, imagination, strategic thinking and the ability to connect with others will be the most prized qualities for any person on the planet. SLEEP is your super power in promoting all of these qualities.

In this Part 2 I will outline the scientifically proven factors that impact good quality sleep, as they relate to the four elements: duration, depth, continuity and regularity. Dysfunction in any one of these elements will compromise sleep. Knowing this will help you fix the cause. Later I will list some tips that induce sleep, but without fixing the root cause, those tips are useless.

It is very important to note at the outset that sleep is an innate quality. It will happen automatically with the protocols I am about to share. So, this article will focus on returning you to your natural rhythm, where you will find sleep to be effortless. I know this from experience because I used to find sleep difficult and a waste of time because I had so much to do. Today my respect for sleep has been deepened by the fact that sleep has transformed my performance in all 8 areas of my life.

Depth 

Depth is the most important element because, you will recall from Part 1 of this article that regeneration and repair of body and mind happens when you go into long-wave deep sleep. Depth activates the mechanism of autophagy and production of human growth hormones. The former helps you live longer, and the latter helps you look younger. 

The depth of your sleep is impacted dramatically by the following 4 factors:

1.    Not enough sunlight during the day – especially morning light. Exposure to natural light during the day is critical for the production of melatonin. This neurotransmitter gets produced naturally by the pineal gland. Melatonin has two main functions. By day, it plays an active role in energy production by your mitochondria because it is a powerful antioxidant. Secondly, it promotes deep sleep at night. The best way to get more melatonin naturally is to eat out in sunlight and get as much sun on your skin and eyes, especially in the first hour of the morning. I recommend you only wear sunglasses when absolutely necessary. I also recommend the ancient practice of sun-gazing. This is beautifully covered in the book Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health by Mark Bunn.

2.    Too Much Artificial Light at Night – especially from screens and monitors. Research shows that we now spend 93% of our time inside surrounded by artificial light. We eat in front of TV’s. We work in front of computers. We play games on screens. We browse social media on phones. This is wrecking us. It is disrupting natural processes that heal and regenerate us. It is disturbing critical neuro pathways. Exposure to artificial blue and white light at night is suppressing the release of melatonin and therefore the depth of your sleep. It also impacts the duration of sleep – see below. Here are some tips:

a.    Replace your LED’s with low lux lighting which can reduce blue/white light by up to 80%.
b.    Put dimmers on all your lights.
c.    Light candles instead.
d.    Eliminate screen time at least 1 hour before bed. Ideally 3 hours or as soon as the sun goes down. If you absolutely have to get on your devices for something urgent, then I suggest you use the Apps Flux or IRIS. Both Apps reduce blue and white light considerably, but I prefer IRIS because it also eliminates flicker on your laptop screen. This flicker has been shown to cause a stress response.

3.    Body Temperature. Getting overheated at night stops you from getting into longwave ‘delta’ deep sleep levels 3 & 4. (refer to the diagram in Part 1 of this article). You need to ensure that your room temperature is between 17-19 degrees Celsius. The best way to achieve this is to put your bedrooms on different temperature settings than the rest of the house. Secondly do not over-dress for bed or have thick bed covers. Thirdly, roll away from your partner after the initial cuddle at night 🙂

4.     EMF Interference. Electro-magnetic pollution from cordless phones, Wi-Fi routers, Bluetooth devices and all devices not in aeroplane mode will all impact your depth of sleep because these frequencies activate your sympathetic nervous system and stop you from going into long wave delta sleep. No ‘ifs or buts’, EMF is very bad for your sleep.

How do you know if you are going into deep sleep?

You can measure whether you are going into deep sleep through the use of biometric devices such as the Oura Ring but I strongly suggest you put it in aeroplane mode, especially at night, and only sync it with the App when you are not wearing it.

Duration

Duration is important because we all need 5 x 90 minute sleep cycles every night. This adds up to 7.5 hours. Every cycle serves a unique biological purpose. Duration is mainly impacted when you cannot get to sleep at the optimal time. So you end up going to bed late and reducing the duration of your sleep. It is imperative for your circadian rhythm and thyroid function to wake on or soon after sunrise. So sleeping in to make up the time only makes matters worse. (Your optimal time for sleeping and waking according to your chrono-type is discussed below under Continuity). 

Here are the factors that impact your ability to get to sleep. Staying asleep is covered under continuity below.

1.    Artificial light at night supresses the release of melatonin so it also affects duration. In fact for every 60 minutes of artificial light you get after sun down, you supress the release of melatonin by 30 minutes. This effectively delays the time for you to start feeling sleepy and ready for bed. You need to get Amish and eliminate all technology at night.

2.    Not enough movement during the day makes you feel flat and stagnant. The body needs to get tired during the day for better sleep at night. Movement is also critical to neutralise the effects of work or life stress. TIP: If you cannot play sport or have the time to workout, try minimum effective dose exercise throughout the day. Do Tabata 3 x 4 minutes a day and go for a quick walk before lunch and dinner.

3.    Stress boosts cortisol and adrenalin and keep you in a state of fight or flight. This will lead to high blood pressure and a rapid heartbeat, which prevent you from getting to sleep. And even if you do get to sleep it will affect your continuity because chances are you will wake up around 3-4am with your heart beating out of your chest. Stress also raises your body temperature which a we discussed keeps you from going into deep sleep. The best way to neutralise stress is to slow down during the day and perform your tasks at a normal pace. Research shows that it is not the amount of work we do but the speed in which do the work that is the main cause of stress. So slow down. Read the tips by Carl Honore in his book, In Praise of Slow.

4.    Too Many Thoughts. Sometimes it is not stress that keeps you up but thoughts that go around and around in your head of things to do for the next day. Getting things down in your diary, gets it out of your head. The 5-10 minutes it takes to do this will save you precious hours of lost sleep. 

5.    Feelings are bothering you. You will find it difficult to get to sleep if feelings bubbling under the surface are not acknowledged and processed. To heal you need to feel. We all experience rejections, failures, hurts, and disappointments. The best way to process them is to journal your feelings, using the Higher Branch techniques as espoused by our faculty member, Dr Guy Winch in his book, Emotional First Aid.

6.     Eating too late and too much can stop you from getting to sleep and consequently reduce your duration. Especially foods high in fat. It is best to avoid food within 3 hours of going to bed.

7.     Caffeine Consumption in the 12 hours before bedtime. Caffeine overrides the sleep-inducing effects of melatonin and keeps you awake for longer. Some people can go to sleep after drinking coffee but the research shows unequivocally that the caffeine stops them from going into deep sleep. Therefore, they never get the benefits of autophagy and HGH.

The Best Tips to Induce Sleep and Improve Duration:

·     Have a bath, steam or sauna 1 hour before bed. This helps your body temperature to drop which prepares you for sleep.

·     Sleeping meditation.

·     Listening to comedy.

·     Use an acupressure mat. I use the Shakti Mat. It is incredibly effective.

·     Socialising by talking or playing board games or cards. 

·     Essential oils of lavender for stress or rose geranium for anxiety.

·     Exercise during the day. Especially in morning.

·     Do the 4, 7, 8, breathing technique. Breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 7 and exhale for 8. Do this at least 5 times before you go to sleep. Do this during the next technique…

·     Ground yourself. Standing barefoot on green grass drains all the positive ions from your system and replaces them with the earths negative ions. The latter is healing and calming. It engages the parasympathetic nervous system.

Continuity

It is natural to wake in the last sleep cycle of the night around the 6-hour mark. But if you are waking earlier in the first 4 sleep cycles, then you have a continuity problem. Some of the factors outlined in the section above on Duration will sometimes affect continuity. For example, if your stress is high then cortisol will surge at night and wake you. Thoughts and feelings that were bothering you during the day will creep in. 

But what is it that makes you wake up to begin with and interrupt your continuity in the first 6 hours? Typically they are:

1.    Drinking too much fluids before bed.
2.    Eating too much before bed.
3.    Consuming more than one drink of alcohol within 3 hours before bed.
4.    Falling asleep in front of the TV. 

If you do wake at night, the best thing to do is roll over and keep sleeping. Do not get up and out of bed to drink or go to the toilet, unless you indulged in the list of 4 things just mentioned.

What about sleeping tablets to help you sleep and stay asleep? Research shows that sleeping tablets grossly interfere with your REM sleep, which is critical for re-setting your short-term memory. This will make you foggy during the day and make you ineffective in performing your tasks, especially tasks requiring client connection and creativity.

Regularity

Sleeping according to your chronotype can improve regularity, especially during travel and work commitments.

If you are a night person and you try to go to bed before 10:30pm, you will lay awake in bed thinking you have insomnia. If you are a morning person and go to bed too late, you will get over-tired and have trouble sleeping.

According to the research, morning people should go to bed around 9:30pm and wake at 5:30am. Night owls should go to bed around 11pm and wake at 7pm. If you are an ‘inbetweener’, then anytime between 9:30pm and 11pm for sleeping and 5:30am and 7am for waking. In all cases however it is imperative for all chronotypes to get plenty of sunlight within the hour after waking.

If there is any one factor that influences sleep and overall energy levels the most, it would be to practice light hygiene. Direct sunlight during the day will boost your energy; and elimination of artificial light at night will induce sleep. They both improve your gut health profoundly, where the majority of melatonin is produced during the daylight hours. Just think of it this way: good bacteria prefer sunshine. Bad bacteria thrive in darkness.

I wish you light and the softness of sleep.

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This article is a paraphrased excerpt from my latest book, Living Longer, Looking Younger. An eBook version of this will soon be available as a free download.

Is Sleep the Fountain of Youth? – Part 1

I really dislike this cliché “This will change your life” but, in this case, sleep will literally do so. What happens to us during sleep is truly remarkable. It is the ultimate detox for the mind and body. It is a reset button. A reboot.

In fact if there was a magic elixir or superfood that could help you live not just a longer life but a beautiful one, make you look young, boost your brain power, boost your performance, improve your relationship, make you fun and attractive to friends and family, energetic, enthusiastic…etc, you would mortgage your house for it. You would travel miles to get it.

Humans are wired to value scarcity. So, we go in search of elusive superfoods or medicinal herbs that grow in unique parts of the world. But we ignore the most potent health protocol that is available to us for free every night. SLEEP!

This article is not just about giving the usual list of tips for sleeping better. That is secondary and found all over the internet. I write this article with my lawyer hat on to convince you intellectually of the importance of sleep. Only then will you start to respect sleep. In my experience of coaching myself and clients, behavioural change will never happen unless you have complete clarity of why you are doing something. So, I will be sharing the science of sleep and how it impacts every part of your life. When you really understand what goes on at a cellular level, this will have a profound emotional impact on you and motivate you to take sleep more seriously and make the lifestyle changes I will be recommending later.

Straight up, I am not a sleep expert. But I research and retain information really well and I have studied this area for many years and read multiple papers and books by pioneering scientists, especially in the last 2 years, where there have been huge advancements. I have also tested the protocols personally and documented the impact it has had on my own health and performance (I do this with the help of my Oura Ring, which gives me all the data I need to track the results of every sleep protocol I implement. As an entrepreneur I often say that “data provides the clarity for business strategy”. That is no different in your personal life. 

All my learnings have culminated in this article which is an excerpt of a chapter from my next book, Living Longer Looking Younger. It serves as a quick reference summary. It is perhaps the most important article you will read from me this year. It is a little long, but I make no apologies for that. I respect you too much to give you a cursory summary of what I think is the most important element to your wellbeing that impacts not only your physical but also your mental and emotional health.

Sleep Basics

Sleep happens in cycles typically of 90 mins duration. So over an optimal 8 hours sleep you will get 5 cycles. During this 90 min cycle you go into 4 levels of sleep.  Level’s 3 & 4 being the deepest sleep where your brain goes into long ‘delta’ waves. Towards the end of the 90 min cycle you go back up to REM sleep (they call it Rapid Eye Movement because that is when you do your dreaming). As the night progresses and you go from cycle to cycle you have less delta sleep and more REM sleep, which is why you tend to dream more in the morning hours. Imagine it like going up and down a ladder 5 times per night. You will notice from the diagram below that most of your deep sleep happens early in the evening. Typically this peaks during the second cycle. And this is when you go into a state of autophagy (promotes longevity) and experience a surge of human growth hormones (promotes youth).

There are 4 layers to your health: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Spiritual. In this article we will discuss how sleep impacts the first ‘3 energies’.

The depthdurationcontinuity and regularity is what defines high-quality sleep. And it is the combination of all 4 elements that increases your ability to activate ‘autophagy’ and HGH. Research shows that dysfunction in any one of these four factors negatively alters sleep and accelerates ageing and disease. Depth is how deep your sleep is. Duration is the length of sleep. Continuity is how long you sleep without waking (especially important in the first 4 cycles). Regularity is how often you experience quality sleep. Every day? 5 times per week? 

How does sleep Impact Your PHYSICAL?

Long wave deep sleep is critical for activating a mechanism called ‘autophagy’. The mechanism was recently discovered in 2016 by Nobel prize winner, Yoshinori Ohsumi. It is a scientific term meaning your body goes into self-cleaning mode. It leads to the regeneration and repair of all your cells throughout the body via the lymphatic system, and the brain, via the glymphatic pathway while you sleep. Simply put, it destroys the old, damaged, and malfunctioning components of your cells – and rebuilds new and healthier ones. It’s like an overnight spring clean to replace old cells. So, autophagy is your body’s unique way of naturally rejuvenating and defending itself from disease.

Lack of good quality and quantity of sleep will cause a dysfunction with the mechanism of autophagy. The mind in particular will experience an abnormal build-up of B-Amyloid plaque on the very part of the brain which facilitates sleep – the pre-frontal cortex. Over time, this leads to even more sleep dysfunction which clogs up the brain even more, accelerates cognitive ageing, and contributes to the development of early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s. (Reference: Dr. David Rubinsztein, professor of molecular neurogenetics at the University of Cambridge).

When it comes to the body, poor quality sleep predictably leads to a multitude of physical ailments like auto-immune diseases from increased inflammation; poor thyroid function; increased insulin/glucose resistance (pre-diabetes); shortening of your telomeres (these keep you young); skin ageing; eyesight dysfunction; cardiovascular disease; and a dramatic increase in the risk of cancer. In relation to cancer, studies also show that shorter duration of sleep has been found to reduce the number of natural killer T cells by up to 30%. T cells are what fight cancer cells. Over time, chronic sleep deprivation of under 6 hours per night dramatically increases the risk of cancer, especially coupled with the lack of exposure to daylight and lack of vitamin D.

Interestingly, the research also shows that poor quality sleep tends to increase the amount of food you eat. It increases ghrelin cells which lead to an exaggerated hunger response.  High quality sleep on the other hand increases leptin cells. These cells inhibit hunger and regulate energy balance, so the body does not trigger a hunger response when it does not need energy.

Additionally, poor quality sleep increases your cravings for the wrong foods. This is because the lack of sleep impact your gut health. Poor sleep leads to an overgrowth of bad bacteria that crave the wrong type of foods, typically, high in sugar, fat and salt. In fact science is now showing that good quality sleep from a healthy circadian rhythm is more important than pre-biotics and pro-biotics in the regulation of good gut health.

If this is not bad enough, research shows that people who get 6 or less hours of sleep per night are 4 times as likely to get ill after being exposed to the flu virus.

But wait, there is more. Poor quality sleep reduces testosterone levels, which is critical for your libido (and relationship), fat metabolism, muscle strength and bone density.

Still need more evidence of the importance of sleep? Let’s move to the impact on your mental and emotional health.

How does Sleep Impact Your INTELLECTUAL?

Poor quality sleep (especially influencing depth and duration) impacts your cognitive and work performance in a profound way. As we enter this age of automation and artificial intelligence, the key skills of creativity, imagination and strategising will become super important to your success. Sleep impacts all of these 3 key skills in a profound way. In a recent study performed by the team at Berkeley University led by Professor Matthew Walker, they stunningly found that even one night’s sleep deprivation impacted cognitive performance by 40%. This is a huge impact.

They found that you need sleep to prime the brain before learning and processing new information, and you need sleep after learning to retain or store that same information you learned. So, sleep before, stores information in the short-term memory (the hippocampus part of the brain) and deep sleep after allows you to transfer that same information into your long-term memory (the cortex). This allows you to reset your short-term memory for use the next day. So, if you do not get enough deep sleep, your short-term memory does not reset efficiently and therefore impairs your ability to learn and process new information the next day, because that part of the brain has a limited storage capacity (approx. 16 hours). Think of it like a USB stick. Therefore, a good sleep of depth and duration will have the benefit of clearing your short-term memory reservoir for use the next day.

How does Sleep impact Your EMOTIONAL?

There is a strong correlation between a high EQ and personal performance. Poor quality and quantity sleep impact your emotional stability. It increases activity in the emotional part of the brain (the amygdala), which becomes 60% more reactive due to the dampening down of your rational brain (the pre-frontal cortex). This is an immediate trigger for anxiety which in turn negatively impacts your ability to sleep. This leads to a vicious cycle of sleeping less and experiencing higher anxiety.

Dr Walkers research lab shows that this negative loop eventually leads to social isolation because people who are sleep deprived show a strong tendency to distance themselves from social interaction. Moreover, it showed that the issue was compounded because they were in turn shunned by others; which caused more social isolation and inevitably depression. This is what the “R U Ok” movement is essentially trying to avoid.

Depression causes your hippocampus to shrink, which then impacts your short-term memory, which as I outlined earlier, is critical for your creativity and strategic thinking, and therefore your performance at work and in business.

Poor sleep also amplifies the stress response in a unique way. Your tolerance level drops, your irritability rises, and you are quick to anger. Hardly good qualities for optimal work performance. In fact, the negative emotions of anger, fear, anxiety and depression (even general unhappiness) will drain your physical energy and this dramatically reduces your effectiveness in all areas of life.

The Definitive Guide to Sleeping Longer and Deeper

In Part 2 of this article due out next week, I will discuss the four elements to good quality sleep. They are duration, depth, continuity and regularity. I will list the major factors that negatively impact these 4 elements. Knowing this will help you fix the root cause of poor sleep. And when you do this, you will find that sleep becomes as innate and natural as breathing and drinking water. More specifically I will outline the following:

Depth: The two MAJOR lifestyle changes that will increase the depth of your sleep and activate autophagy and trigger HGH. These protocols will work almost immediately.

Duration: The two MAJOR causes for a reduction in the duration of your sleep. And how to prevent them with two simple techniques. I will also share with you 7 techniques that will induce sleepiness so you can get to sleep on time every night.

Continuity: The three MAJOR reasons why you are having interrupted sleep and how to sleep through the 3 sleep cycles of the night where you are most prone to waking. Refer to the diagram above.

Regularity: How sleeping according to your chronotype can increase regularity, especially during travel and work commitments. I will share the exact best time to sleep and wake according to your chronotype.

The Power of WHEN

WHY ignites motivation.
WHAT clarifies outcomes.
HOW is the process.
but
WHEN is your point of difference!

There is no doubt that we should all start at WHY. WHY sparks the motivation for change that shapes your beliefs and defines your identity, which is critical for behavioural change. But in my opinion, if you do not get the WHEN right, the WHY along with your motivation will disappear behind a sea of inevitable set-backs, energy dips, failures, rejections, hurts and disappointments.

Timing is everything.

If you get your timing wrong you are more likely to fail or get rejected; whether it is the time of day you wake, eat, sleep, exercise, work, and even initiate sex with your partner. Timing is critical. You may think you are not good at something, when in fact you just did it at the wrong time of day that is not aligned with your optimal chrono-type.

Munich University pioneered the research into discovering your chrono-type with a simple quiz but if you really think about it, you would know intuitively whether you are a morning person or a night owl. The research shows that approximately 30% of people are ‘morning’ types, 30% are ‘night owls’ and 40% are in-between. Most modern work schedules favour the morning types. I know some people who have gone into business for themselves purely so they can be in control of when they eat, sleep and work. Others have asked their boss if they can work different hours that favour their chrono-type. If you don’t have the privilege of either, don’t despair. Read on….

8 Tips to Get Your timing right?

Using the Higher Branch framework, consider how you can get your timing right in the following 8 AREAS of life. These tips can make a huge difference to your energy, motivation and performance.

Health

There are three branches to your physical health. Nutrition, sleep and movement (exercise). Sleep is by far the most important factor for your cognitive performance, emotional happiness, immunity and longevity.

If you are a night owl, going to bed early may cause you to slip into self-induced insomnia as you lie awake trying to get to sleep before you are ready. You start developing a negative association with your bed and it’s a spiral into anxiety from there that causes more insomnia. If your optimal time to go to bed is 11pm and wake at 7am then stick to that and be true to your chrono-type. If you prefer to sleep at 9pm and wake at 5am then go with that.

When it comes to eating, typically morning people can’t survive without breakfast, while night owls prefer to snack at night and fast till midday the next day. Some can have one or two meals per day, others are primed for grazing throughout the day. For some, exercise first thing boosts their energy level, for others midday or late afternoon is the best time.

Don’t try and be something you are not. You need to listen to your body. And if you cannot figure out what your body is telling you then maybe it is time to have an Ayurvedic or a genetic consultation with a peak performance coach. We recommend Mark Bunn, Alessandra Edwards and Anthia Koullouros. 

Love & Intimacy

Couples can sometimes think they have relationships ‘problems’ simply because they have their timing all wrong. For example, if you try to initiate sex with your partner late at night and they are a morning person, then you are setting yourself up for rejection. So, it is important to get your timing right. How do you do that? Start with sleep. In a previous article The Sex/Sleep Connection I talked about how important sleep is to a relationship.

Family

If you are a morning person, then the best time to spend with your children is in the morning. Driving them to school is a great way to do that. Otherwise, I know some parents who wake early and go jogging or swimming with their children. If they are too young, then a playground is an awesome way to start the day. If you are a night person, then flip that around and do those things later in the day. Pick them up from school. Read to them at night. Play board games. Please don’t watch TV or have any screen time at night with your children. Artificial light at night will mess up their sleep and yours whether you are a morning person or a night person. More on the importance of your circadian rhythm in the next article.

Work

If you are a morning person you need to do your most important work in the first 90 minutes after you start work. Why only 90 mins? Research shows that after 90 minutes, your attention span and focus deteriorate, and you need a 15 min break outside in sunlight to reset. Why the first 90 mins? For a morning person, the first 90 minutes at work is the most productive. This should never be spent checking email! Or in meetings, unless the meeting is for brainstorming or decision making. The converse is true for a night person. You need to ease into the day and do your best work later in the day when your brain comes alive.

Friendships

Socialising is a critical element to our wellbeing. In fact, all the research shows that the longest living humans in the blue zones of the world all have very strong social networks that keep them happy and mentally sharp. Friendships help us have fun and bring laughter to our life. BUT only when you socialise at the right time. If you are a night person then going out at night to the footy or a bar or restaurant brings the best out of you. You will be a lot more fun and energetic. If you are a morning person, then perhaps you should avoid going out at night and choose a morning cycle and coffee or a long lunch on weekends. Timing can be the difference between being perceived as fun or boring.

Learning

At A Higher Branch we consider learning to be an essential element for growth. Our whole mission is built around sharing actionable knowledge with our community. Learning is not just about attending seminars about your subject-matter expertise. But more importantly about your personal life. Your health, how to be a better partner, friend or parent and all the 8 areas of life. And learning is no different to working. You should read, listen or watch when you are most alert. Again, this leads back to whether you identify yourself as a morning person, a night person or an in-between. The best ways to learn on the fly is during your daily commute. Some call it ‘Traffic University’. By far the most effective exponential way to learn is face-to-face at seminars and events with other like-minded people.

Wealth

Your appetite for risk varies according to the time of day. If you are a morning person, then the worst time for you to make investment decisions is later in the day when you are more emotional and prone to impulsiveness. The converse is true for night owls. The morning is your worst time to make investment or business decisions.

Charity

Helping others, whether it is the new person at work or a friend that needs someone to listen to is best when you are emotionally solid. Otherwise you are going to come across as insincere or nonchalant. It is amazing how your chrono-type can influence the way you help others. I know timing for helping others may be difficult but if you do have the choice, always choose the time of day when you are most empathetic and patient. Listening requires both.

​I hope you enjoyed this article. It is shared with care and the utmost of respect for your time.

In the next article we will be discussing the most important success factor for just about every component of your life. SLEEP. The absolute latest research reveals some stunning truths about the importance of sleep and the TWO lifestyle changes that will take away all the anxiety that can sometimes be associated with sleep.

12 Rules for Ageing Boldly

It comes to all of us in the end: that crushing moment when you suddenly feel Old.

The trigger might be a milestone birthday, an illness or an injury, a romantic snub or a missed promotion at work. For me it was discovering that – at the age of 48 – I was the oldest player at a hockey tournament.

Even though I was playing well, the questions crowded in: Do I look out of place here? Are people laughing at me? Am I the hockey equivalent of the fiftysomething guy with the twentysomething girlfriend? Maybe I should take up a more age-appropriate pastime. Bingo, perhaps?

My wobble was hardly surprising. After all, in a world in thrall to youth, being older can mean being written off everywhere from the bedroom to the boardroom. These days, the word ‘old’ is so toxic that Dame Judi Dench has banned its use in her home and ‘age’ is the first answer to come up when you type ‘I lie about my . . .’ into Google Search.

But is growing older so bad it should be a dirty secret? Is it really all downhill from 35?

Clearly, there are drawbacks to ageing. To hear time’s winged chariot hurrying near can be an existential bummer of the first order. No matter how much kale you eat or how long you spend in spin class, your body will work less well over time and your brain will lose some zip. Like most middle-agers, I need reading glasses – and hate them.

But there is another, surprising side to the story: many things can actually get better as we age.

As the years pass, we tend to become more comfortable in our own skin, worry less about what others think of us and enjoy more fulfilling relationships. Perhaps that’s why people often report the highest levels of happiness and life satisfaction after the age of 60. Even Pete Townshend confessed to feeling more cheerful in his sixties than when he wrote one of the most ageist lines in the pop music canon: ‘Hope I die before I get old.’

The human brain can also go on creating, learning, innovating and solving problems deep into later life. In Britain, the prestigious Turner Prize rewards original work by visual artists. For years you had to be under 50 to qualify, but in 2017 the age limit was scrapped. Why? Because, as the chair put it, “artists can experience a breakthrough in their work at any age”.

At any age – three little words to lift the spirits of anyone worried about being over the creative hill.

The same goes for the sciences, where Nobel winners are peaking later and later. Take John Goodenough, a poster child not only for late bloomers but for the idea that you never have to stop blooming. When he started his degree in physics at the age of 23, a professor told him he was already too old to make a mark in the field. Three decades later, Goodenough helped invent the lithium-ion rechargeable battery. And he wasn’t done there. Not long ago, in his mid-nineties, he unveiled an even better battery.

In the workplace, where brainpower trumps brawn like never before, the idea of being “finished at forty” is ripe for retirement. Productivity actually rises with age in jobs that rely on social skills, which often improve in later life. When companies set up suggestion boxes, older staff usually generate more and better ideas, with the best proposals tending to come from the over-55s.

While young guns strut and preen on The Apprentice, their parents – and grandparents – are out there smashing it in the start-up world. A recent study of new businesses in the United States reached a conclusion to gladden the heart of anybody on the ‘wrong’ side of 40: “We find no evidence to suggest that founders in their 20s are especially likely to succeed. Rather, all evidence points to founders being especially successful when starting businesses in middle age or beyond.”

By the same token, the human body can deliver fine service long after its peak. I no longer have the strength, speed or stamina of my youth but I’m just as sporty now as I was in my twenties – maybe more so. And these days I can look to a burgeoning army of role models running marathons in their seventies, climbing mountains in their eighties and cycling cross-country in their nineties. Of course, not everyone will be able – or even want – to emulate these evergreen athletes, but thanks to better nutrition, healthcare, technology and understanding of how we age, all of us can now aspire to keep on keeping on.

To do so, though, we must detoxify ageing – and that’s starting to happen. Fifteen years ago, I spotted the first signs of a cultural shift towards embracing slowness. Today, the Slow Movement influences our approach to everything from work and sex to travel and education. Maybe you’re helping fuel this shift by tuning in to one of the many Slow Radio or Slow TV broadcasts out there.

The same is now happening with ageing. With more and more of us living longer than ever before, the cult of youth is coming to look as outmoded as the cult of speed.
One way to drive this change forward is to be honest about our age. Lying gives the number a power it does not deserve – and reinforces the canard that younger is always better.

Honesty is certainly my policy these days. I’m now 51 and going grey – but not ashamed of either. On the contrary, I’m proud to have come this far and excited that good things await me in the coming years.

I’m even toying with wearing a Number 51 shirt at the next hockey tournament.

Here are my 12 Rules for Ageing Boldly!

1. Keep on learning and experimenting. The adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks isn’t even true of dogs. Novelty keeps you energised and engaged.

2. Cultivate strong relationships.

3. Draw inspiration from role models. Think Helen Mirren, David Attenborough or even Michelangelo, who rebuilt St Peter’s Basilica in his 80s.

4. Keep brain and body fit by exercising and eating right.

5. Channel Marie Kondo. If something – a job, a friendship, etc – no longer sparks joy, drop it. Streamline to make every moment count.

6. Find a purpose that puts meaning in your life and fire in your belly.

7. Be honest about your age. Lying gives the number a power it does not deserve – and reinforces the myth that younger is always better. Owning your age is the first step to making the most of it.

8. Remain flexible and open to change, growth and evolution. As Lao Tzu put it: “Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail.”

9. Ignore the doom-mongers who say sex, love and romance belong to the young: they do not. Make room for all three however you old you are, if that’s what you fancy.

10. If you think growing older will be bad, it will be bad. Be positive and focus on the upsides of ageing: feeling more at ease in your own skin; deeper relationships; more happiness, altruism, creativity, knowledge, experience.

11. Cultivate a sense of humour. Laughing boosts health and longevity. As George Bernard Shaw put it: ‘You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”

12. Think about death. Don’t dwell morbidly on it, but don’t shy away from it, either. An awareness that time is finite gives life shape and meaning – and spurs you to make the most of here and now.

Carl Honoré, is a faculty member of A Higher Branch Success Academy and was a guest speaker at our annual event Upgrade Your Life 2019. Carl will be returning to Upgrade Your Life 2020. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletters to find out what Carl’s topic will be.

Is Your Working Memory Turning Into A Leaky Bucket?

When I was ten years old, I remember my parents getting into a heated argument. It was a typical weekday morning in the household, hurrying to get out of the house to beat the rush hour and drive to work/school.

The car keys had gone AWOL and, in typical fashion, my mother blamed my dad.
Handbags were searched, cushions were scattered and drawers yanked open in the futile attempt to find the elusive item.

That day I never made it to school. My father got a taxi to work and my mother came up with a lame excuse to her boss that I wasn’t feeling well and she had to stay at home (I’m guessing it would have been too embarrassing to blame the car keys.)

The cost of a fragile working memory

My childhood recollection is not unusual.

A survey by bluetooth tracker Pixie found that, on average, we lose nearly half a working week each year looking for our TV remote, glasses, keys, wallets and shoes and spend billions of dollars yearly to replace these items.

The time cost is even more considerable with 60% of people having been late to work because of lost items, followed by 49% who’ve missed appointments and even 22% who’ve missed flights.

Clearly our working memory is letting us down.

Working memory and performance

We can think of working memory as a sticky note reminder system that allows the brain to hold onto temporary information while it works out what to do with it.

For example, when someone gives you the first three digits of a phone number to write down, your working memory holds onto those numbers while you find the pen and paper to jot them down.

A higher level of working memory has been shown to increase our capacity for learning, problem solving and even emotional control. It is correlated with a higher job performance and better leadership skills.

Unfortunately, like many good things that decline with age, working memory is also affected. This is because as we become older the neurons involved in maintaining a piece of information in our short-term memory no longer fire consistently.

Neuroscientists have worked out that as we age our working memory becomes more vulnerable to distractions. This affects our ability to be fully present in the moment and instead allows information to seep out, like water through a leaky bucket.

Don’t settle for an ageing memory

The good news is that we do not have to settle for a suboptimal working memory as we age. Research is constantly evolving and identifying new drugs, nutrients and lifestyle changes that offer protection to our brain.

For now there are several measures you can adopt to start future-proofing your brain and prevent as much decline as possible.

Top 5 interventions that have shown positive improvements in working memory

1. Exercise
Regular, moderate intensity aerobic activity (like cycling, jogging or fast walking, dancing and swimming) increases working memory even after the first session.

2. Stress reduction
Stress decreases working memory by reducing the firing of prefrontal cortex neurons. Mindfulness meditation techniques have been shown to improve working memory by protecting this mechanism.

3. Extra virgin olive oil
Research has shown that olive oil protects working memory and learning ability even when not as part of a Mediterranean style diet. Unfiltered, cloudy, cold pressed olive oil works best due to its high polyphenol content. There are several organic olive oil farmers in Australia now offering this beautifully unadulterated, premium product.

4. Dual n-back training
Currently this is the best working memory training available. You can access it free on many internet sites or download it as an app. The memory improvements it provides have been shown in some studies to transfer outside of the training.

5. Forskolin
This extract from the Ayurvedic plant Coleus forskohlii has been shown to increase levels of cyclic AMP, an important signal carrier that is associated with improved working memory.

Incidentally, my mother ended up apologising to my father that evening when she found the car keys waiting for her in the freezer, where she had placed them the night before.

This article is reproduced with permission from Alessandra Edwards and first appeared on www.alessandraedwards.com

The Biggest Relationship Mistakes Can Happen Very Early

When couples come to therapy to work on their relationship and present their problems, the therapist usually asks when these issues began. More often than not, couples can trace the seeds of the problem(s) to their earliest dating days. They might not have had big fights about the issue at that time, but it was likely a tension point that one or both of them had already noted.

The question is, why is this so? After all, if there was something problematic going on earlier in the relationship, why wasn’t it addressed or worked out at that time?

There are a number of reasons couples fail to address important issues that arise in the early stages of their relationship.

First, when we’re first falling in love, we are less likely to be bothered by certain issues than we are once the spell of infatuation wears off.

Second, once we become emotionally invested in our partner and motivated to see the relationship succeed, we may be hesitant to raise issues that might cause conflict and/or highlight differences between us.

Lastly, we often let too many bothersome things go in the initial stages of a relationship because we are unaware of a fundamental truth about relationships. Relationship dynamics are like concrete—they can be shaped when the concrete is still fresh but they quickly become rigid and hard to mold. In other words, the expectations we set early on in a relationship, the give and take, the roles we step into, the habits we accept, the rhythm of our day to day quickly set. Once they do, they become far more difficult to change.

When problematic issues arise in the earliest stages of the relationship and are not addressed, there may be an unspoken assumption that whatever has happened is acceptable to both members of the couple.

Bill and Grace, a couple I recently worked with, are a great example of this principle. Bill was 12 minutes late for their first date. He did not text Grace to give her the heads up or apologize when he arrived. Since he arrived slightly out of breath and looked as though he had rushed, Grace did not comment on the lateness. By not doing so, what she communicated to Bill was that she would accept his lateness and that he would not even have to apologize for it. Bill was then only seven minutes late to their second date, which Grace overlooked as he was “clearly improving” (Grace’s words). But that dynamic helped to create an expectation that Bill does not have to be on time.

I have worked with many couples in which lateness is an issue and in almost all cases, it reared its head very early in the relationship. When it did, the partner left waiting did not make it an issue. When I ask why they did not speak up, the answer is usually some form of, “I didn’t want to ruin the date,” or “I didn’t want to start a fight,” or “It was only a few minutes.”

While those are valid concerns, what we neglect to anticipate is that by not bringing it up we are setting ourselves up for more of the behavior we find objectionable going forward, whatever it is.

How to Set Correct Limits Early in the Relationship

In order to prevent behaviors we don’t like from becoming a common feature in our relationships, we need to notice them and address them as early as possible in a manner that brings attention to the issue without causing a conflict that might derail the budding relationship. Here are some guidelines:

1. When the behavior we don’t like is mild, we need to find casual ways to comment on it such that it doesn’t ruin the date or alienate the other person. A casual reference subtly communicates that the behavior was not one we find acceptable (e.g., asking, “Was there a lot of traffic?” when our date was late and didn’t apologize for it).

2. If the behavior is more egregious, the intensity of our messaging needs to match the level of concern that the specific behavior evokes in us. For example, if during our first argument our partner resorts to name-calling or put-downs and we don’t make it absolutely clear we will not tolerate being spoken to in that manner, name-calling and put-downs are likely to persist and even increase. Therefore, we have to be more declarative in communicating our concern about such behaviors and insist our partner find other ways to express their frustrations without dismissive, rude, or insulting comments.

3. If a behavior is a deal breaker, we not only need to communicate to the other person that we will not tolerate it again, we have to mean it. If the behavior is repeated and we do not then follow through with our warning, we are clearly communicating that the behavior is troublesome but not a deal breaker. Our messaging has to leave no room for doubt that it will be grounds for an instant breakup. Sad as it might be to exit the relationship at that point, not doing so (assuming the limit and the severity of the issue has been clearly communicated) will invite more of the behavior going forward.

In short, the early stages of dating are those in which an unspoken contract is formed about the rules and conduct of the relationship going forward. The realities we establish in the early days, weeks, and months of a romance are likely to determine the nature of the relationship going forward. Therefore, we have to be able to look beyond our excitement and enthusiasm, assess the behaviors and dynamics we are setting up, and address potential problems in their infancy. Changing behaviors and dynamics once a relationship is established is far more difficult and the degree of change we can enact at that point is usually much smaller.

The biggest mistake we can make in the early part of a relationship is to overlook problems and hope to address them later on. 

Guy Winch’s blog was first featured on the website Psychology Today.

Guy is a member of the A Higher Branch faculty and was a guest speaker at our annual event Upgrade Your Life 2019. Guy will be returning to Upgrade Your Life 2020. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletters to find out what Guy’s topic will be.

Valentines Day Do’s and Don’ts

Don’ts

  • Don’t – Buy flowers
  • Don’t – Say ‘I love you’
  • Don’t – Book a restaurant 
  • Don’t – Overspend on gifts
  • Don’t – Post a valentines day picture on social media

Do’s

·     Do – Look at old photo’s together
·     Do – Write each other a love letter of what you love about them
·     Do – Pack a picnic or re-create your first date
·     Do – Reminisce about your favourite moments & highlights reel
·     Do – Cook your favourite meal together
·     Do – Involve your children before their bedtime
·     Do – Switch off the lights and technology, light candles and get intimate

What is Love?

At A Higher Branch we are expanding the scope of Valentines day. Love is not just about romance but also about love for self, love for family (including pets :), love for friends, love for colleagues and love for humanity generally, including strangers and the customers we serve or the random person that serves us.

A simple note of appreciation in an email or kind words in person or over the telephone are unexpectedly nice and will make a person’s day. It’s that easy and yet so powerful. As Dr Guy Winch says, LOVE does not have to be grand. It’s in the little gestures and words to show people they are valued.

And remember that showing love to people who are nice is easy. Showing love to people you don’t know or who appear unfriendly is where true greatness lives. Often, they are the people who need our love the most.

Happy Valentine’s day to all of you!

 

The Difference Between Being Impatient and Impulsive- By Dr Guy Winch

Feeling restless is very different from unplanned risky behaviour.

Danny, a 43-year-old store manager, was stopped by the police for doing an illegal U-turn across a busy highway. As he explained, “Our lanes weren’t moving at all and it was going to take forever to get to the next intersection. Then this truck cut in front of me and I got pissed, so I figured I’d just cut across and go back a couple of miles so I could take a different route.” He shrugged and said, “I’m impatient.”

Danny’s wife had a different take on what happened: “I almost had a heart attack when he turned into the incoming lanes—there were cars heading right at us. One of them had to brake to avoid hitting us.” At which point Danny assured me he had plenty of time to do the turn and if the police motorcycle hadn’t happened to come by at that moment, it would have been no big deal.

But was Danny’s illegal U-turn merely a sign of impatience or was it a sign of impulsiveness? And if so, what exactly is the difference between the two? 

1. Impatience is defined as the feeling of being annoyed because you have to wait, or feeling restless because you want something to happen as soon as possible. According to a recent review in American Psychologist, impulsiveness (or impulsivity) is typically defined as acting in a rapid and unplanned way without considering the consequences. In other words…

2. Impatience refers to specific feelings (such as restlessness) or to an action that implies such feelings such as tapping ones feet, while impulsivity refers to actual actions and behaviours. This distinction between feeling and action is also why circumstance matters, as…

3. Given the right circumstance, anyone might have moments of feeling impatient (like being stuck in traffic) but impulsive actions (like doing an illegal U-turn on a busy highway) are not considered normative psychological responses. Indeed, psychologically speaking…

4. Impulsivity is considered a problematic psychological behaviour and one associated with conditions such as ADHD (emphasis on the H—hyperactivity), depression and anxiety, antisocial and borderline personality disorders, and manic episodes. The reason psychologists consider impulsivity to be pathological is because…

5. Impulsivity is significantly related to conditions such as substance abuse and personality disorders, and the actions associated with impulsive behaviour are often not just unplanned but risky or dangerous. Indeed…

6. Impulsivity is characterized by a failure to inhibit a risky thought or behaviour. We all get bad ideas, but most of us can think them through, recognize they are risky or dangerous, and then stop ourselves from doing them. The fact that impulsive people cannot is why…

7. Impulsivity is considered a problem with executive functioning—the suite of abilities that include decision making and impulse control. We sometimes see changes in executive functioning and in impulsivity when…

8. People who suffered closed head injuries or traumatic brain injuries can manifest impairments in executive functioning. Someone who had always been measured, disciplined, and risk averse can begin to exhibit impulsive behaviours. But it isn’t just a brain injury that can cause a rise in impulsivity…

9. Chronic or acute drug abuse has also been associated with changes in impulsivity. This is especially true of people who abuse multiple drugs, as opposed to those who abuse only one. There are treatments available for impulsivity…

10. Several approaches are used for treating impulsivity depending on the severity of the tendency. Mindfulness mediation has been used to slow down emotional reactivity, and certain medications have also been found to reduce impulsivity.

By Dr Guy Winch

Lies, So Many Lies

The last two centuries has seen the biggest cons perpetrated by mankind on mankind. As a result, health is deteriorating, relationships are breaking, conscious parenting is declining, time is accelerating, sleep is a luxury, socialising is erratic, anxiety and depression are skyrocketing. It makes no sense because we live in the most affluent time in human history. IT’S ALL BECAUSE OF THE LIES.

Here is a list of all the lies that are destroying our society and your personal happiness. And where to find the truth.

Lie: Men are more powerful than women: Truth: Any father with a daughter knows the truth.
Lie: The good old days were so much better. Truth: Really? Slavery? Surgery without anaesthetic? Stoning? Superstitions? No plumbing? Personal hygiene? Do I need to go on? Modern times are so much better and keep getting better.
Lie: The smartest people are the most successful. Truth: It’s the most energetic and enthusiastic.
Lie: You need a university degree to succeed. Truth: All you need is a growth mindset and a compelling vision. As Einstein famously said, “the only thing that interferes with my learning is my education”.
Lie: Study hard. Work hard. Make Money. Get Married. Buy a house. Live happily ever after. Truth: Deferring your happiness to the future will destroy your life in the present.
Lie: Wealth and ‘success’ is about having lots of money. Truth: The rich get richer but the wise get wealthier. Its time society expands its definition of wealth to health, love, friendship, growth, peace of mind, emotional resilience and inner value.
Lie: Extroverts make the best leaders. Truth: Those who grow other leaders make the best leaders.
Lie: Private schools are better than public schools. Truth: Parents have the biggest impact on child development. The apple does not fall far from the tree.
Lie: Business must grow revenue to be successful. Truth: Business must grow people to be successful.
Lie: Technology and social media is bad for you. Truth: Technology is part of our evolution. You just need to know how to use it wisely.
Lie: Diet and exercise is the key to long life. Truth: Your mental, emotional and spiritual health have a far greater impact on your wellbeing.
Lie: You must be religious to be spiritual. Truth: There are many paths to enlightenment. It’s an internal and personal odyssey.
Lie: ‘You are meant for each other’. Truth: Even ‘soul-mates’ madly in love can fail. You must put in the work to last.
Lie: Generous people come last. Truth: Generous people attract the most abundance and happiness in their life.

Find out the truth and much more at Upgrade Your Life, 2019. Learn a unique framework for living the life you deserve. Never before released to the public. Highly personalised, prescriptive and proprietary, there is nothing like it on the planet.

This event will cause an outright revolution of transformation in your personal life and work performance. Book Now.

9 New Rules For 2019 Headstart

New year resolutions are as outdated as the fax machine. And change does NOT have to be grand or radical. The biggest mistake people make on 1st January is to make unrealistic and unsustainable goals. Please don’t. Its best to make none at all. The second biggest mistake people make is they wait around for the perfect time to start. The thing is, transformation does not fall out of the sky or happen as one big epiphany.

Becoming A Better Version Of Yourself Often Only Requires Little Steps And Small Changes That Honours The Life You Have Already Built.

  1. No more diet or exercise fads! Please. You are born different to everyone else. Think about that. There is no other you on this planet. Stay true to your uniqueness by eating and exercising to your genetic type. Don’t listen to self-indulgent ‘gurus’ who preach. They are probably trying to sell you something. And what works for them may not work for you. One person’s paleo is another person’s poison. One person’s gym session is another person’s stress. Get bio-tested by an expert to work out what foods you need to stay away from, what exercise is right for you and what sleep patterns optimises your performance. Biotech is now converging with infotech and you need to stay informed. Ageing is for people who don’t know any better…
  2. Don’t Dump on Your Past. I know you want to upgrade every component of your life but don’t look back on your past with regret or sadness. You need to honour the achievements of your past that brought you to this moment. They were your building blocks. Sure you made mistakes and sure life has dealt you some blows but it is still your life to own and respect. When you really think about it, you have achieved more in your life than you give yourself credit for. To help you appreciate how awesome you are, read the next rule.
  3. Become Your Own Hero. By this time next year, you need to look back with joy on your achievements for the whole year. So please give yourself the important exercise of keeping a hero file of every email, every text, every card, every photo that somebody has sent you telling you how much they thank you or appreciate you. Start today by writing the first note to yourself listing the 8 things you love about you. Don’t think this is strange. YOU need to love YOU because ‘love goes to where love is’ – Ben Okri. You will never attract good things, good people and wealth if you do not love yourself and take the time to appreciate how much you do and how much you have.
  4. Making an impact is a better measure of your success than money.
  5. Be generous. Be polite. Be punctual. Be impeccable with your conduct and words. Words matter. Stick and stones may break bones, but the wrong words scar for a lifetime.
  6. Make time to sleep more. This is the secret weapon of the highest performers.
  7. Don’t hang out with toxic people. Life is too short to spend it with whiners, blamers and complainers. Your energy will crash along with your bank account. Sorry to be blunt but the company you keep is far more potent on your performance than the food you eat.
  8. Whilst others are distracted with utter dribble on media, focus on your growth. Listen to audio books. Attend seminars and workshops. To double your income and wealth, you need to double your investment in learning and growth. If you are always the smartest person in the room, find a new room.
  9. Never Ever Be Too Busy for Family, Friends and People in Need. Kindness, love and compassion has untold and immeasurable reward both material and spiritual. That is the way of the world.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life event to learn many more new rules for 2019.

The Butterfly Effect

Today you paid a compliment to the barista who served your morning coffee. She was depressed, suffering in silence and beginning to contemplate suicide. Your compliment inspired her to seek help, to enrol in that course, to call a family member or friend, to apologise to their partner, to give up drugs or a toxic relationship . Whatever it is, you helped her and all you did was pay a genuine compliment that made her feel valued as a human, you made her feel like she mattered. She went on to become a photographer or a dental nurse or a mother. She took better care of herself, started a business, employed people, had kids of her own and her effect on the world and touched many lives.

This ‘butterfly effect’ demonstrates the chaotic world we live in and the connectedness of each living creature on the planet where one seemingly unrelated event could impact the lives of many.

The butterfly effect shows that we are connected in a chaotic and complex web of events, sometimes cruel, sometimes beautiful but in all cases perfect in its equilibrium. It scares some into action and others into inaction because it can make you feel incredibly hopeful that chaos can work in your favour if you take action or it can make you feel like nothing you do matters. One is positive, the other negative, glass half full or half empty.

The butterfly effect means that even just one change in your life can have far-reaching effects on you and the people around you.

Many people live thinking that there is a myriad of obstacles standing between them and the life that they want, consequently they take no action and make no changes in their daily rituals. “It’s just too hard.”

What if I told you that in my 20+ years of success coaching it almost always comes down to just one obstacle.

All you have to do is go searching for that one thing that’s holding you back, sometimes the search is within you and sometimes it is external. It could be a food you need to eliminate, it could be a fear you need to face or it could be as simple as making that phone call.

A client of mine eliminated coffee and alcohol. He stopped feeling anxious during the day and depressed at night, he looked better, smelled better, felt better and smiled more. His energy shifted so much that his sales performance at work went up by over 200%! He started working out, changed his hairstyle and started buying nicer clothes. By week 8 I barely recognised him.

Another client swapped out some of his exercise routine from weight training to yoga and meditation. He was more relaxed, energetic, enthusiastic and confident and it showed in his performance at work. At home he was happier and it changed his life.

Another client merely changed the time of day she worked out, it made all the difference. She eliminated her headaches and no longer had an energy slump in the afternoon.

Another started working from home one day a week and improved his relationship with his partner by making it their ‘date night’. They were more intimate, life was better and everyone at work the next day noticed the change in his attitude.

Another started waking at 6am instead of 7am, she was in control for the rest of her day. Her kids were happier, she was more organised in her business, she gained confidence because she had more time to present herself the way she wanted to. Consequently she started winning more clients.

In all these examples the transformation was significant and immediate and it came down to the butterfly effect of that one thing. What’s the one thing that’s holding you back from greatness?

How do you discover your one thing?

By micro-managing every aspect of your life and every minute of your day. In Part 2 of my book A Higher Branch, I call this The Circle of Conscious Living, in this section I outline a five step system for living by design where you become your own ‘Life Architect’. When you live every day with planned actions, you become completely aware of your strengths and your weaknesses. Only when you live with self-awareness can you examine your life with clarity and critical analysis.

Some of my clients feel that planning every minute of their day kills spontaneity and fun, but the reality is that there is no freedom and excitement in spontaneity, it’s a trap. The common idea of spontaneity leads to most people drifting aimlessly in the direction of their greatest weaknesses.

If you waste two hours of each day, this adds up to 14 hours in a week, 728 hours in a year, 45 full days per year which is over 6 weeks! Imagine what you can achieve in that time.

The more you are in control of your daily schedule, the more the butterfly effect will work in your favour. Every dawn and dusk is in reality a birth and death experience. We wake, we go about our day and then we sleep. So, every day is a chance for each of us to start fresh. You can literally change your life overnight by deciding to do only one thing differently.

To learn more about getting the most out of your 24 hour day, join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019

Can You Eat Junk Food And Still Be ‘Healthy’?

The answer is YES.

I’d like to pose an even bolder question. Can you eat junk food, smoke and drink alcohol and still be healthier than someone who eats healthy? The answer again is yes.

You hear stories of people in France who live over 100 and yet they smoke and drink alcohol. How is that possible? The answer is very simple and seems to be lost on a lot of people who oscillate from one fad diet to the next. What most people don’t realise is that there are more important elements to your wellbeing than what you eat. Food feeds the physical part of you. But your thoughts and feelings are much more powerful than that.

So ask yourself the following more important questions:

  • How much do you eat?
  • How late do you eat?
  • Are you relaxed when you eat?
  • What do you do before or after you eat?
  • Do you play sport?
  • Do you go for walks in the bush or near the ocean?
  • Do you get lots of sun?
  • How much deep restorative sleep do you get?
  • Do you socialise and have fun with friends and family daily?
  • What is the state of your love life and relationship?
  • Are you feeling fulfilled at work?
  • Are you waking up every morning with a purpose?

You can eat healthy and still not be a “well” being. Conversely you can eat unhealthy and be full of life force and incredible performance. So the secret to a successful, long, rich life is to live a HOLISTIC one is where you not only eat healthy but also live healthy.

There are 12 experts waiting for you and your family in Sydney ready to teach you how to design a holistic life. Find out more here.

Sex, Lies and Fasting

Should we fast from sex and other pleasures?

Before I get into the science of why we should, I want to make one observation about the lies we have been fed by most sexperts who peddle the idea that if you are not having sex with your partner two to five times per week then there must be something wrong with the relationship. Trashy magazines thrive on this message as much as personal trainers thrive on the message you need to work out in one-hour intervals. Both are simply not true. Both create a state of fear and guilt. 

So much has been written in recent years about the benefits of intermittent food fasting. Research shows that fasting puts us into a state of ‘autophagy’. Put simply it means the body goes into self-cleaning mode, which boosts the immune system and slows down ageing.

It begs the question; does fasting from sex and other pleasures also have health benefits? Yes it does. In fact it is so much more powerful because fasting from pleasures impacts our mental and emotional health in a profound way.

Fasting from pleasurable things short-circuits our tendency to lose appreciation for them. Psychologists call this tendency, hedonic adaptation — the idea that no matter how good something makes us feel, over time we take it for granted and lose the thrill. We return to an emotional base line, even after the most exciting of purchases, like a new car or a new house.

The problem is that this baseline is shifting. Why? Because we live in an era of extreme affluence where money and technology are making pleasurable things so accessible. Relationships are only a swipe away, so too is our favourite restaurant. Luxury cars, fine foods, bags, shoes, computers, phones; the list of comforts and pleasures is growing year on year and yet, people are unhappier than ever.

Depression is skyrocketing. It makes no sense, right? 

Hedonic adaptation also works for us during periods of war and economic hardship because it forces us to appreciate what we have and returns us to our baseline. But during periods of affluence it works against us. We lose appreciation for everyday comforts, food, people and sex. People who stray in a relationship are a product of hedonic adaptation. They lose the thrill and go chasing it elsewhere.

People who binge on food, alcohol, gambling or even drugs are chasing to fill that same emotional gap.

Therefore, the enemy is not hedonic adaptation. It is a useful evolutionary survival mechanism, much in the same way the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism is. The enemy is hedonism itself and the lack of control we have over our appetites.

Psychologists use two tools to manage hedonic adaptation. And I will add a third one. Fasting.

The first technique involves practising gratitude, which is familiar to most; to be mindful and appreciative of all that you have. To give thanks. How does this help? I think only marginally. This might be a provocative and controversial position I am taking. You see I believe that being grateful only gives us a temporary (even fleeting) positive state before we gorge on that huge cone of chocolate ice cream or, buy that next pair of shoes that we do not need but is “oh so necessary because it is in a different shade of blue” to the one we already own. So I ask you. Is it ok to over-indulge just because we are grateful for it? Not in my books, because being mindful enough to stop and feel grateful for an over-indulgence does not make it less of an indulgence. And it does not teach self-control.

The second technique is to practice variety. Try a different routine. Eat vanilla ice cream instead of chocolate, try a new sex position or read a book together instead of watching TV, go to a different holiday destination, or try a macchiato instead of a cappuccino. It is arguable that this technique, if not practised correctly, can make matters worse by feeding our hedonistic tendencies. So, you buy a Chanel bag instead of an LV one. That’s variety for you! It is still an over-indulgence. And again, it does nothing for our self-control.  

Which brings us to fasting. This is much more effective because it directly strengthens our ability to control our appetite for all manner of desires and pleasures. It goes deeper than practising variety and forces us into a state of gratefulness. It is no coincidence that all major world religions practice some form of fasting. And not just from food.

How do you practice fasting? Simply abstain and practice moderation from all of your favourite things.

Activity: What is your list of fasting favourites? 

List all the things that you absolutely love to do. The more you love them the more you should want to protect them. Because the more you fast from them, the more you will appreciate and savour them.

If you love working, you need to practice abstention by taking regular breaks from work. My performance is off the charts when I return from holidays. Do you love dark chocolate? Indulge occasionally in small portions. You should see my face when I am savouring every molecule of chocolate after a month of abstention. My wife says it is priceless.

Some of my favourite things that I regularly fast from include: a fine dining restaurant, wine (esp. Yarra Valley Pinot Noir), Macallan scotch whisky, driving a convertible (any), Italian cheese and bread, drinking TWG teas, listening to my favourite music (currently The Weeknd), watching my favourite TV shows.

Remember that fasting is completely relative depending on what it is. So when I say that I fast from my favourite tea, it does not mean I go without for days. I simply have one cup per day in the afternoon as a special treat, instead of opting for that ‘bottomless cup’.

I’d love to hear your list of favourites and how you would fast from them.

The 10 Attributes Of Greatness

What does it take to live a life less ordinary? 

1. Ordinary people can fool anyone in the short term. Great people build trust and earn respect for the long term.

2. Ordinary people panic about deadlines and forget their priorities. Great people know that spending time with family and friends, and doing work that matters is all that counts.

3. Ordinary people spend too much time talking and complaining. Great people take action quietly and without fuss.

4. Ordinary people watch TV when they get home. Great people read/listen to books, write in their journal and meditate.

5. Ordinary people seek attention. Great people let their work and conduct speak for them.

6. Ordinary people dodge responsibility – “someone else will clean up the problem”. Great people take ownership of challenges with a smile on their face.

7. Ordinary people gossip and tear others down to get ahead. Great people take others with them on the way up.

8. Ordinary people skip class or lectures or seminars. Great people know that education and learning pays off.

9. Ordinary people pick up takeaway food on the way home. Great people pick up groceries, cook at home and make enough for lunch the next day.

10. Ordinary people react defensively to customers with gripes or demands. Great people listen patiently and show empathy.

We all can act ordinary sometimes. Great people, however, are mindful when they are being ordinary and step up to greatness every time.

How To Love Your Life

I’ve been asked time and time again, what are some of the practical things people can employ to be happier and more successful on a day-to-day basis? To begin with, focussing on the below eight areas will provide you with an excellent foundation for personal and professional success.

  1. Health – Cherish your body. Nothing else matters more. Focus on the energy you have. Eat well, exercise and relax daily. Fill your daily life with purposeful activities that give your body a reason to manifest energy.
  2. Love – Love yourself by looking after your health and guarding your mind against negative images, negative thinking and negative associations. Look your best by wearing clothes that make you feel attractive. Have the courage to show and give love to your life partner, whether or not they give it back. Tell your partner daily what you love about them – words are powerful. Work just as much on your love life as you do on your work.
  3. Family – Support your family at all times. Give them the confidence to pursue their goals and dreams. Help them overcome obstacles. Focus on their strengths and their good qualities. Remind them daily of their worth. Tell them you love them no matter what happens – whether they succeed or fail at anything. Spend time developing a relationship with all family members.
  4. Work – Choose to love your work. Always do your best. Focus on the difference that your product or service is making to society. Have empathy for your customers. Value the privilege of serving them from the heart. Be grateful that you live in a society where there is the opportunity to work. At all times be honest in the execution of your work. Master your job by constantly learning and evolving. Always ask yourself, ‘can I do this job better?’ Be impeccable in your conduct at work. Be fearless in your execution.
  5. Friendship – Let your words, laughter and charm bring a smile to others. Help your friends see the lighter side of life and not take themselves too seriously. Act with integrity and hold true to your standards and beliefs. Never compromise them to be popular. Never pre-judge others. Be open to new friendships. Always greet people with a smile and a friendly hello. How others respond is their own reality and has nothing to do with you.
  6. Learning – Commit to 45 minutes of learning daily about every aspect of your life and not just your work and wealth. Limit watching TV and other popular media. Watch uplifting talks by great thinkers on TED.com. Read books from pioneering minds. Attend courses and seminars organised by people who care and have something unique to share. Listen twice as much you talk. Discover your talents by having self-awareness for your thoughts and feelings. Live a conscious life where you decide what you want to listen to, read and watch. Develop a growth mindset.
  7. Wealth – Invest in yourself first before you invest your money. If you have a business invest in your own field of dreams first before investing with others on the stock market. Live a frugal lifestyle and reduce your dependence on money. Spend less, save more. Say no to consumerism and your addiction to buying more and more things that end up collecting dust or in land fill. Spend money on experiences. But don’t skimp on things that improve your life like better quality food or better quality education for you and your children.
  8. Charity – Learn about the plight of others in need. Don’t shut yourself out to other people’s suffering. Help others by giving your time and/or money. Charity does not have to be grand. A simple kind word of support is sometimes all that someone needs. Help a team member at work.  Share an idea that can help a friend live a better life or simply listen to them without distraction.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to upgrade each of the eight areas of your life.

5 Lifestyle Choices Of The Longest Living Humans

Starting in Sardinia, I have recently travelled the Mediterranean and spent many days visiting the renowned ‘blue zones’ where there is the highest concentration of centenarians.

What struck me about the people in these areas is the complete lack of focus on health and fitness, yet they live such a long and happy life. There isn’t a gym and green juice bar in sight. 

We in the west are obsessed with the physical and the ‘secrets’ to long life and that magic golden elixir. Is it fish oil or turmeric? Is it meditation? Is it eating paleo or eating vegan? Yes, these things do help (slightly) but they pale into insignificance in comparison to other more important ‘rules’ for living.

My sense of curiosity led me to connect and ask many questions of the locals I met. And there were many — equally curious and friendly. They always had a ready smile and welcoming demeanour. You’d be surprised how many speak English! In one city, I hung out for four days with a friend of a friend named Silvano. His grandfather is 101 years old. He was 45 but looked 30.

The following is a list of the main reasons why I think people in these blue zones live such a long life. You will notice that these rules for living have less to do with the physical and much more with the symbiotic relationship the physical has with the intellectual, emotional and spiritual. For example, eating food is not just a physical experience for them. They pray before they eat and the largest meal of the day is a daily social affair. There is music, sometimes dancing.

1. They are very social

They socialise, almost every night with a wide and close network of family and friends. They are high touch, less tech and therefore very affectionate. When they greet you with a juicy kiss on both cheeks and a hug, you really feel that they mean it. Conversations are sharp and engaging with little small talk. There is passion and sometimes debate. They play games – cards and board games.

2. They eat food with flavour

They are passionate about food with flavour and being true to heritage. They do not eat Chinese one night, followed by Indian and then Italian. They eat fruit and vegetables that are in season and from the local area. When I was there, it was peaches, apricots and cherries and nothing else. And yes they eat carbs, lots of it. Coffee, yogurt and pastry in the morning. Bread, pizza and pasta are lathered in rich olive oil, usually from an olive grove in the local area. They eat ‘protein’ only once or twice a week, usually fish in summer and meat in the colder months. Local wine and seasonal cheese almost every day. But they eat little portions with only one large meal per day.

3. They are solar powered and move for purpose 

They spend a lot of time in the sun. Especially in the summer months. They are almost always outside. They move a lot but rarely exercise. Exercise is dancing or ‘playing’ sport; you know, having fun. Mind numbing time on a treadmill seems foreign to them. “Why do that?” Francesca asked, seeming puzzled at the lack of purpose. “You are going nowhere!” she quipped.

4. They take naps

They sleep long and well and have a nap after lunch, especially during summer when it is hot.

They drink spring water and breathe clean air

The air is clean in the blue zones, really clean and it has a softness about it. Taking deep breaths seems easier on the lungs. 

Local spring water is everywhere and naturally high in minerals. I visited a public ‘watering place’ where there were numerous taps flowing constantly. There were people lined up to fill up bottles for three days’ supply. With plastic cup in hand, one man laughed and warned me, in broken English, not to drink too much from one tap as he gestured to his stomach. I knew what he meant. It was ‘fizzy’ and would clean me out. He pointed to one tap and said it had minerals to lower blood pressure.

5. They have faith

They are religious and go to church. They pray. They believe in a creator and have faith that God ‘has their back’. They are constantly aware of their mortality but not afraid of it. One man, Alessandro, told me that being aware of his mortality makes him live with with purpose without wasting a day. “I am not afraid to die because I know I would have lived a full life surrounded by family and friends…” 

I think that ultimately it is this fearlessness that makes them live longer.

How To Slow Down Time

Have you ever looked back on a day or week or month or year and thought, “Where did the time go?” You are not alone. Almost everyone is experiencing this phenomenon where time feels like it is flying by.

For some limited number of people however, they look back on the same period and feel, “Wow there was so much I did.” People in this latter category will one day lay on their death bed and think, “I lived a full long life. I am grateful for every minute.”

What is the difference between the two mindsets? We all have 24 hours in the day. For some it feels full, but most others, fast and uneventful.

In the present moment, time is the same for all of us. It has an infinite feel about it, especially if you are in a state of flow or meditation. But the passing of time is only evident upon reflection. This is where it is relative and feels different for all of us. Therefore, you cannot slow down time in the present, but you can either look back on it as if it went fast or as if it went slow.

Have you ever gone for a long road trip and noticed that it took forever to get to your destination, but on the way back, it felt so much faster? This gives you a clue into the reason for the relativity of time.

Everyone dies, not everyone lives

The answer to the conundrum of time lies in your five senses: seeing, touching, smelling, hearing and tasting.

When your five senses experience the same thing every day, they become numb. Consequently, you become too familiar with the known. Some call that their “comfort zone” when in reality it is a dead zone where you spend your seconds, minutes, hours and days living predominantly from the subconscious.

You are not really conscious of your thoughts, feelings and decisions. Consequently, you look back on your life and feel like nothing much happened and you interpret that as “time flying”.

So while everyone is pursuing a long life, the real answer is to pursue a conscious one.

The BIG question is how do you live a conscious life? What is the formula? We hear so much about being mindful, but mindfulness is very different from consciousness. The former is all about witnessing.

The latter is more about decisions and actions that help you live a purposeful life where the speed of time is in your control. The latter can only happen when you choose to live with fearlessness and adventure. This is where your five senses come alive.

I have been teaching a five-step method called the Circle of Conscious Living, which I have personally lived by from a very young age. I explain this method in great detail in my book, A Higher Branch. I apologise if this sounds like click bait but I am not asking you to buy my book – instead I want to invite you and your family to a holiday destination where you will hear from a line-up of leading global experts and learn to upgrade every aspect of your life.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life in Sydney at The Hyatt Regency, 18-20 January 2019.

This is an event like no other, curated by my team and I at A Higher Branch Success Academy. The program, parties and experiences we have organised will stimulate every one of your senses, and arm you with a new framework for living a holistic life.

This is a truly unique event not to be missed and an opportunity to join an exclusive community and network with thought leaders from all over the world. Click here for more information.

Sam Makhoul is the Chief Legal Officer and Managing Director of MSA National.

Is Exercise Doing You More Harm Than Good?

You probably are doing more harm than good. I know this sounds shocking, but it’s the truth and somebody needs to tell it. Exercise programs, personal trainers and gyms are a huge fad, and big business is cashing in on people’s insecurity, guilt and FOMO. 

What does the science say?

1.    Exercise causes inflammation. Increased oxygen utilisation causes increased oxidative stress from free radicals. This damages the heart and other organs. Arnold Schwarzenegger had to have heart surgery at the age of 49!

2.    Exercise can cause addiction to carbohydrates and cause pre-diabetes. It destroys your discipline to eat the right food because of the body’s natural craving for carbs after a workout. 

3.    Exercise causes adrenal fatigue.

4.    Exercise causes premature aging.

5.    Exercise damages the joints.

6.    Exercise lowers your immune system, and gyms are breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses. Research shows that people who work out in a gym get sick more often.

7.    Exercise can cause you to neglect relationships, much in the same way that working too much in your job does.

The Japanese believe that the heart has a finite number of beats, the back has a finite number of bends, and the cartilage has a finite number of shock absorptions, and once you’ve reached your individual quota, your body begins to fail.

Is exercise good for your body shape?

Most people think that exercise is what brings their body back to its original shape, but this is simply not true. Your body is shaped by the type of food you eat, how much you eat and when you eat. Your body does not like to be over-weight and out of shape. Your organs are primed for bringing you back to your equilibrium, so they have to work overtime to process unwanted food and inevitably store it as fat. Over the years, this takes its toll on your organs. If you eat just right, the body will naturally return to its original shape without the need to exercise. And this will also boost your immune system and your energy levels because you have taken the pressure off your organs. 

Don’t get me too wrong. I believe in physical activity, it is great for your mental and emotional health. The right type of physical activity, that is. But here’s the thing, most physical activity promoted by gyms and personal trainers is not fun. It’s a WORK-out. It is stressful, not just on the body (as listed above), but also on your mind and emotions. There is the pressure of keeping up in a class, coupled with body shape insecurities. Who wants to finish WORK and go do more WORK at a gym? It is ALL work and too much of it causes the stress hormone cortisol to surge through your body. 

Research emphatically shows that physical activity is only good for you if you are having fun doing it. Playing sport with mates is good for you because it is social. Dancing is the best exercise on the planet, which is why PLAY-outs such as Zumba is so popular. It significantly reduces cortisol and gives you a surge of feel good hormones. It’s a PLAY-out, not a WORK-out. Running around the house playing hide-and-seek with your kids is also a great play-out. Going for a power walk with a colleague at lunch time is also a good option. The main rule is how it makes you feel. If it makes you smile, it is fun. If it makes you grimace, then you know it’s a stress. It’s that simple.

Most people fall into the trap of WORKING-out because they think it’s the gateway to an awesome life. The truth is that there are other more effective strategies for living with high energy, excitement, a sharp mind, strong self-esteem, and purpose. These are:

1.    Go out, have fun and socialise more with family and friends. Want to learn the art of having fun? Read this. 

2.    Stay away from toxic people.

3.    Eat less, eat in season, eat 70 per cent green, eat slow, eat with gratitude.

4.    Stop feeling guilty. If you do indulge, at least, enjoy it emotionally. The feel-good hormones are good for you.

5.    Schedule intimacy with your partner. Never stop “dating” them.

6.    Sleep more, wake at sunrise and have naps on weekends.

7.    Get more sun on your eyes first in the morning, and on your body on weekends. It’s the best medicine for a good night’s sleep, your mood and your immune system.

8.    Keep reading, learning and developing a growth mindset.

9.    Work with people who challenge you and want the best for you.

10.    Don’t watch or read the news. It promotes a fear mindset. Trust me, you would rather be uninformed than misinformed.

11.    Make alone time to daydream or meditate or pray for what you want. Visualisation is a very powerful and underrated pastime.

In addition to his role as managing director of MSA National, Sam Makhoul is the Legal Groups Chief Wellness Officer, a Keynote Speaker and Author of A Higher Branch.

12 Tips for Mental Toughness & Emotional Resilience

Make no mistake, 2019 is going to be a tough year in business. This will put many people in a fear mindset. Your ability to compete will no longer be about how much you know and not even how fit and healthy you are. It will depend on your mental and emotional resilience. These two elements to your wellbeing are far more important to your work performance and life success.

The following tips will keep you in the right state of mind and emotions:

  1. You become who you drink coffee with. Associate only with positive, focused people who will not drain your valuable energy with complaining and uninspiring attitudes.
  2. Start every morning with 10 mins of visualisation meditation, 10mins of ‘minimum effective dose’ exercise and 10 mins of priming and journaling. Don’t know how? Email the team for further info: enquiries@ahigherbranch.com
  3. Start a ‘hero file’. Any time you receive a written compliment, a card, a great report, an award etc… file it away in an accessible location, like an App called Evernote. Refer to this hero file whenever you experience a set back or rejection and you find yourself indulging in negative self-talk.
  4. Use the power of negative thinking. When things are going bad, sit, close your eyes and imagine how much worse life can get. Now open your eyes and thank your lucky stars for what you do have. Most mental health issues come from focusing on what you do NOT have instead of what you do have.
  5. Have a laugh before bedtime. You will have a better-quality sleep and help you wake with a great attitude. Also make an effort to be humorous throughout the day. Not only is it good for your mental health but it diffuses tension in difficult circumstances and creates an excellent atmosphere wherever you are. As a consequence, people will be drawn to you.
  6. Stay Away from Food that Makes you angry. Food impacts your mood in a profound way. People talk about the gut – brain connection (i.e. thoughts and cognitive performance) but the truth is that foods bigger impact is on your emotions (feelings). Here is the list of foods.
  7. Get more sleep, more sunshine and have more fun socialising. Those three life-hacks are scientifically proven to be more effective than any drug.
  8. Work for Love Not Money. Stay on purpose, not on outcome. In other words, do the task because it is what you love to do or because it will help someone. Don’t do it for the money or the recognition. Those will come naturally. This is the way of the world.
  9. Slowdown. Science emphatically shows that doing things with speed damages your mental health by increasing your stress levels. Read here tips for slowing down.
  10. Learn to Forgive Quickly. You will never have peace of mind nor taste success and wealth if you are hanging on to grudges and regrets. Learn how to practice forgiveness.
  11. Keep a photo on your desk or phone and look at it through out the day. It could be a photo of your partner, your children or a picture of your next holiday destination.
  12. Other happiness tips: smile on waking, walk tall, breath deeper, smell flowers, hug your family, call your friends, listen to music, sing in the shower, pack a picnic, walk barefoot, visit a farm, ride a bike, spend less, save more, love unconditionally.

Is Your Food Making You Angry?

Science in the last few years has discovered that your mind is your thinking brain and your gut is your feeling brain. And we all know that your feelings are much more powerful than your thoughts. Try thinking your way out of anger or fear or anxiety? Difficult right?

Researchers have also discovered that people are getting more serious and angrier than at any time in history. The research further shows that people are quicker to get angry. That’s not surprising because we are doing everything faster than ever before, so why not anger?

The big question is, ‘what is causing all this anger?’ One answer is the pace of life. But the other answer is the food you eat. More specifically the impact food has on your ‘feeling’ gut-brain. The following is a list of foods known to make you angry because they cause an inflammatory response in your gut and this in turn inflames your emotions and makes you, well… an angry person!

Foods to be Avoided by Everyone

Oil: Foods fried in industrial vegetable oil.

Sugar: Stuff like soft drinks, fruit juices, pastries, cookies, cakes etc.

Flour: Refined starchy foods – pasta, pizza and white bread.

Anything artificial: colouring, flavouring, preservatives, nitrates and MSG.

Foods to be Avoided by Some

If you are sensitive to caffeine – Coffee, black and green tea

If you are sensitive to alcohol – beer, wine, spirits

If you are sensitive to dairy – milk, cheese, yogurt

If you are sensitive to certain psychoactive stimulants – chocolate

If you are sensitive to gluten – most grains especially wheat.

If you are sensitive to lectins – most beans, lentils, soy, corn, cashews and peanuts

If you are sensitive to the nightshade family – tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes and Goji berries.

If you are sensitive to certain foods that cause a histamine response – such as eggs, kombucha, fermented foods and avocado.

What To Do

The first list of foods is easy to identify and avoid. The more sinister list is the second one because unless you know your sensitivity you will never know what is affecting your gut and therefore your emotions. And you will never be in control of your life and your performance at work.

How do you discover your sensitivity? Two ways. One way is by having a sense of awareness and journaling how you feel after you eat certain foods in isolation. The second and quickest way is to get your gut bacteria (known as the ‘microbiome’) tested. Alessandra Edwards is one of Australia’s leading practitioners in the area of genetic-based human performance. She is speaking at Upgrade Your Life, 2019. If you would like to discover your ‘genetic type’ for eating, sleeping, exercising, working, learning and loving then you absolutely have to be in the room with Alessandra and 9 other leading global experts. This could be the revolution of transformation you are looking for in your life for 2019. FIND OUT MORE.

For more tips on nutrition download Sam Makhoul’s latest FREE EBook, GUIDE TO GREATNESS. Paperback edition is out on 12 December.

The ONE Big Mistake Parents Make When Raising Children

Using Fear and Guilt to get your children to cooperate is perhaps the most damaging mistake parents can make. Parents don’t realise they are making this mistake until it is too late and their children start experiencing disorders such as anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive behaviours. 

“Tom, get off your iPad, or you will need glasses!”

“Sally, stop eating cookies, you will get fat!” Sound familiar? Yes, being on technology too long is bad for your eyes. And yes, eating too much sugar is bad for your energy levels and weight. But do you know what’s far worse than that physical damage? The emotional guilt and fear you are dumping on your children. Fear and guilt are a deadly combination to the human spirit. They crush curiosity, creativity and zest for living a fun boundless life. Physical damage can almost always be reversed with diet and exercise, but emotional damage lasts a lifetime. It is far more debilitating. Just ask anyone that suffers from anxiety or depression.

Rather than teaching our kids to do things out of love for self we are teaching them to do things out of fear. Our own fears. We think we are educating them, when in truth we are terrifying them. As parents, we are much more experienced than our children and so we use ‘Google’ knowledge to make sure that they do not get physically hurt. But, the one thing children have over us is freedom from future fears. A pure absence of ‘consequential fear’, which is a beautiful human state. Consequential fear is simply this: ‘If you do this wrong now, you will suffer that in the future’. Children however live in the present, (where we all should live). But make no mistake, that does not make them stupid. Children from the age of 5 know how to avoid present and immediate danger.

“But I care for my child, I cannot let them eat junk food and be on technology all day, it is bad for them! I read books on the dangers of sugar. I watched this video on the dangers of social media and technology!” I get it. I am a parent too. It is difficult. I am not contemplating you sit and do nothing. But you need to decide which psychology you want to use. Positive or negative? You need to teach your children to do things out of self-love, not fear. For example, “If you eat carrots you will have super eyesight”. “If we go outside and play soccer you will get big muscles.” Positive talk like this gets them to do things out of self-love. It builds self-confidence and makes them emotionally solid for life. Sure they will make mistakes, but they are their mistakes to make and learn from. Don’t rob them of that basic human experience, even if it is painful and makes them vulnerable sometimes. What makes them vulnerable will make them beautiful as they grow older.

Dr Guy Winch will be elaborating on this IMPORTANT topic at our Upgrade Your Life. He will also discussing the two other BIG mistakes most parents make and the damage it causes children in the long run. More importantly he will be sharing with us the practical tools and techniques parents can adopt immediately to raise confident and emotionally stable children. I recently caught up with Dr Winch and he shared with me, for example, one simple trick to get your kid to stop whining. And it was something I wish I knew 10 years ago when my daughter was at whiny age. It could have bought so much stability to our home.

 No parent can afford to miss Dr Guy Winch talk at Upgrade Your Life. It could make a huge difference to your child’s future. We still have a few tickets to the event but will be sold out very soon. I urge you not to miss this opportunity and buy yourself a Christmas gift to last you and your kids a life time. It would be that defining moment you look back on and say “I am so lucky I attended that event”.

If you would like to join us please contact, Petrushka Thach on 02 8719 4057 or 0428 213 060 or send an email to enquiries@ahigherbranch.com 

Six Little-Known Hacks To Work Better & Live Longer

Just like meditation, bio-hacking is the new tool used by high achievers to boost their performance to incredible levels. Here are six I use religiously to help me do amazing things. 

  1. Always exercise before you eat. Moving before eating cranks up your metabolism. Even 5 – 10 minutes. It doesn’t matter where you are. I have even done stretches, squatsand push-ups on a plane. Embarrassing? Maybe, but no more than getting old and incapacitated.
  2. Move as much as you can through out the day, at least every 30 minutes. Standing is better than sitting but still bad for you. Moving is the best thing you can do for your health. Research shows that moving regularly throughout the day is more effective than doing a workout at the end of the day. Go for walks, do push-ups, squats, stretches etc for 2 minutes every 30 minutes. Only two minutes! And at the end of the day, do a 4 minute Tabata training when you get home.
  3. Stop Eating 3 Hours before bedtime and fast for 12-16 hours overnight. Eat your biggest meal when the sun is strongest. If you have to eat late, then eat light. A handful of nuts or seeds and low sugar fruit such as papaya or blueberries. Going to sleep with a full stomach is the quickest way to age and wake up tired.
  4. Don’t eat when you are stressed. Breath. Meditate.Whatever it takes. You are NOT what you eat. You are what you absorb. And you cannot absorb nutrients when you are in a state of fight or flight. Any food ingested during this time becomes toxic for the body, no matter how ‘healthy’ it is.
  5. Get scientific about food. Biotech testing is now accessible to everyone. I did three tests. Hair mineral analysis. Blood test. And a gut microbiome test. This helped me be more specific about what foods to avoid for my genetic type. Once I avoided these foods, I experienced an energy explosion within 7 days. One of our faculty members, Alessandra Edwards will be speaking in great detail about this at Upgrade Your Life.
  6. Get scientific about sleep. I discovered my chrono-type and optimised my sleeping patterns. We are all different. Not just when it comes to diet and exercise but also when it comes to sleep. We have unique chrono-types that is genetically wired into us from birth. When you sleep according to your type you will wake up feeling fresh and mentally alert. We will also be covering this at Upgrade Your Life.

I know that implementing new habits is tough. And I know that your work life takes a lot of your energy and leaves little for your personal life. I get it, but you need to know that there is an alternative. You just have to get outside your comfort zone and join me at Upgrade Your LifeTogether we can kick-start a new life in 2019, find out more here.

I have built a successful business and a successful personal life by doing something uniquely different. With the help of 9 international experts I will be sharing this unique framework at Upgrade Your Life, 2019 –3-day event in Sydney. If you would like to join us please contact, Petrushka Thach on 02 8719 4057 or 0428 213 060 or send an email to enquiries@ahigherbranch.com

Why You Should Avoid Social Media After A Failure – by Dr Guy Winch Ph.D

One of the things many of us do after a failure or a rejection is to distract ourselves from the disappointment, frustration, hurt, or anger we feel by surfing through social media. Mistake! Social media is known to impact our moods for the worse in certain situations, especially when we’re already feeling bad.

When Nava failed the bar exam for lawyers she was devastated. Trying to delay telling her friends and family the bad news she did what she often did to pass the time: She pulled out her phone and surfed through friends’ Facebook and Instagram feeds. She hoped seeing some of the inspirational messages her friends tended to post would cheer her up. But the more time Nava spent looking through her friends’ posts the worse her mood became. And then something happened that happens to many of us: She began to feel bad about the fact that she was feeling bad.

The question is, why did seeing friends’ Facebook and Instagram posts, many of which were inspirational and supportive in nature, make Nava feel worse about her failure? Should they not have made her feel more hopeful and optimistic?

A study recently published by the American Psychology Association looked into the impact our “culture of happiness” has on how we react to failure experiences. The researchers found that the greater emphasis a culture places on happiness, and the greater the societal pressure is to not experience negative emotions, the more poorly and less adaptively we might react to negative emotions when we have them, about failure and in general.

How to Apply these Findings

Treating the emotional wounds of failure creates requires a two-step process. In the first, we should always give ourselves time and space to experience negative emotions when we have them, especially when we’re dealing with a failure experience. This also means we should validate the distressed and negative feelings our friends and loved ones have when they experience failures or rejections. However, since our goal is to bounce back emotionally, we need to limit the time we give ourselves to feel bad so we can pivot to emotional recovery. The idea is to give ourselves (or our loved ones) enough time to acknowledge and validate the negative feelings we have but not enough time to wallow in them or allow them to become fodder for ruminative thoughts.

When our negative feelings are not validated by others, or when, like Nava and the participants in the study, we see around us messages that imply it is wrong or incorrect to have negative feelings, we are likely to experience the double whammy of feeling bad about the failure and then feeling bad about ourselves for feeling bad.

Therefore, we should give ourselves time to feel bad, seek out emotional validation for our distressed feelings (e.g., our disappointment, anger, frustration, sadness) so we do not ‘feel bad about feeling bad’, and then pivot to emotional recovery sooner and more effectively.

Dr Guy Winch, Ph.D will be speaking at the Upgrade Your Life, 2019 event in Sydney. He will be giving two talks on mental and emotional wellbeing; and couples conflict management and how to foster intimacy in a relationship.

Raising Children in A fast World

Family life is very important to our wellness and work performance. Try being effective at work if you show up with family burdens on your shoulders, if your children are sick or out of control, or if you and your partner are constantly arguing.

The biggest lie that most busy people tell themselves is that one day they will make enough money, slow down and have time for their family. The truth is that no one can ever be successful in life or business if they do not have the support and love of their family.

Have you ever noticed how the best and most successful athletes in the world always have their family in the crowd watching? Why? It’s because the unconditional love and support of our family gives us the courage to do and try anything without fearing failure and this is critical to our sense of security and order.

The challenge of modern day living has brought dysfunction into family life.
In some cases, family life has become toxic and a source of emotional stress and anxiety. Parents are struggling with pressure at work, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, financial pressure from over-consumption, and too much exposure to digital and social media. As a result parents are:

  • Feeling rushed with no time to communicate effectively.
  • Feeling confused about what parenting tools to use.
  • Over-parenting to compensate.
  • Projecting what we want onto our children instead of honouring their uniqueness.
  • Using fear and guilt to get them to cooperate. For example, did you know that “scaring” our children into eating well or making them feel guilty for eating junk food does more emotional harm than physical good?

How Do You Raise Children in a Fast World?

Carl Honoré, the man who coined the term Slow Parenting, will be speaking at our Upgrade Your Life event in January.

YOU WILL LEARN:

  1. How to keep technology in its place at home
  2. How to find time to be together as a family
  3. How to deal with pressure from school and peers
  4. How to build resilience, creativity and a growth mindset
  5. How to turn the family home into an oasis of calm and connection
  6. How to empower your children to make the right decisions in your absence
  7. How to modulate from being a parent to being a friend

The event is fast approaching and excitement is building!

Click Here for a special message from Carl Honore.

Can Meditation Help You Outperform The Competition?

We are now ALL competing with a new breed of high achievers! They eat like athletes, train like titans and meditate like monks. Why meditate? Because in today’s world, success no longer belongs to the smartest or the most knowledgeable. It belongs to the ‘energy elite’ who get more done in less time more sustainably. And that’s what meditation delivers. It’s the NEW secret weapon in business. You cannot ignore it. Its benefits include:

• High energy
• Brain power
• Reverses Ageing
• Relieves Anxiety

The Big Question is: What Type of Meditation?

In its essence, meditation is a simple practice where you put all of your awareness and attention on something that is happening in that moment, such as your breath, a flower, rustling branches or any sound. But what if there was a type of meditation that goes further? One that helps you make an instant connection with people, whether it’s a client or the person sitting across you at a bar. And one that gives you magnetic attraction. There is such a meditation technique. One that has been designed for A Higher Branch community by our founder, Sam Makhoul and our newest faculty member, Tom Sullivan. We believe it is one of the most powerful meditation practices on the planet that will boost your performance and give you a competitive edge!

Introducing Tom Sullivan

We are excited to announce that Tom Sullivan, has joined the Higher Branch faculty as our Meditation Coach. Tom is a meditation teacher based in Sydney with over 10 years’ experience, studying, practicing and teaching meditation. He brings a unique and accessible brand of meditation that is completely aligned to the holistic framework pioneered by our Academy. And he has the uncanny ability to guide beginners in a practical way that caters to any hectic lifestyle. His own experience in balancing a corporate role with a long-term meditation practice makes him the perfect fit for our community.

Join Tom Sullivan At The Upgrade Your Life Event

Tom will be holding a group meditation session at the start of each day at our annual Upgrade Your Life event. If you have never done group meditation, this will absolutely be life changing. There is something magical at group sessions that will bring stillness to your body and clarity to your mind. You will also have the opportunity to meet with Tom one-on-one throughout the event.

Tom’s New Book – A Still Mind

We are also excited to advise that A Higher Branch Academy will be publishing Tom’s new book. Stay tuned for the book launch date in March 2019. A Still Mind is truly a unique offering. You will love its simplicity and its accessibility for busy professionals.

How To Mend A Broken Heart- By Dr Guy Winch Ph.D.

The emotional pain that heartbreak evokes is excruciating. Nothing else matters, no one else matters. We can barely function, think, or move. We feel removed from everyone and alone in a haze of unreality, trapped in our shattered world. All we can see is the person who broke our heart, and all we can feel is terrible pain.
In his famous TED talk early this year which has gone viral, renowned New York Psychologist and faculty member of our Academy, Dr Guy Winch, stunned everyone when he explained that we cannot trust our mind when we have a broken heart. What we want most is for the pain to ease, to stop hurting so badly — but that is not what our mind wants. In this article he shares the 5 ways your mind tricks you after a break-up.
For those of you who prefer to watch or listen you will find the video below. For those who prefer the face-to-face multi-sensory experience, you can meet Dr Guy Winch at our Upgrade Your Life event. Details below.

5 ways your mind tricks you after a break-up.
To stop hurting, we need to reduce the amount of time we spend thinking about the person who broke our heart. We need to diminish their presence in our thoughts and our lives, slowly but surely. Our mind wants to do the opposite. Our mind wants us to think about the person all the time, to hold on to the pain and never forget who and what caused it.
Our mind wants this, because it is trying to “protect” us in the manner in which it typically does. If something causes us pain, like a hot stove, our mind’s job is to remind us not to touch that hot stove again, to make sure we remember how painful it was the first time. The more painful the experience, the more our mind will labour to make sure we don’t forget it, so we never make that “mistake” again. Given how excruciating heartbreak is, our mind will do everything it can to keep that pain fresh in our thoughts. As a result, our mind will trick us into thinking that …:

1. Our ex was the best, the one, the only one.
Our mind will try to remind us of our ex’s best qualities. Images of them at their best will pop into our head unbidden. However, this unbalanced, unrealistic, and idealized portrayal of the person who broke our heart will only make the pain we feel worse.

2. The relationship made us happy all the time.
No, it didn’t; no relationship does. There were plenty of frustrating, annoying, or hurtful moments, and we should recall those as well.

3. If we just text them or contact them, we will feel better.
The urge to text, message, call, or email will be very strong. But doing those things will only make us feel more desperate and needy, and hurt our self-esteem.

4. Talking about the breakup with all our friends will ease our pain.
No, it won’t. Talking about emotionally painful events is natural — even useful, if we do it in a problem-solving way, or if we do it to get emotional validation. But just going over the same details again and again will only make us feel worse.

5. We have to know exactly why the breakup occurred.
Having a clear understanding of why a breakup occurred is actually useful. However, few of us ever get a clear and honest explanation for such things. Trying to get into our ex’s head to understand why things didn’t work out is a rabbit hole. Better to settle on “they weren’t in love enough” or “we were not the right match.”

Watch Dr Guy Winch TED Talk

About Guy
Dr Guy Winch, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist, keynote speaker and author. His many books including latest How to Mend A Broken Heart have been translated into twenty languages, and his TED Talk Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid has been rated among the top 5 most inspirational TED Talks of all time on ted.com. He received his doctorate in clinical psychology from New York University in 1991 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in family and couples therapy at NYU Medical Centre.

The Power Of Facing East

Which direction does your office desk face? What about your bed? Do you think your work performance or sleep can be affected by whether you are facing north, south, east or west?

Recent brain research has shown how facing different directions critically affects our brain’s ability to sustain integrated cognitive functioning and maximum mental performance (Keys to business success).

That’s right. Based on the principles of correct building orientation as outlined in many traditional Eastern sciences, principally ancient Vedic science (where it’s known as ‘Vastu Shastra’), studies on peak brain function have shown that the firing patterns of neurons in the thalamus – which regulates sensory information and levels of awareness – are significantly different depending on which direction we face. Basically, cells in our nervous system detect and respond to changes in body position. Look in one direction and a specific set of neurons activate. Look in another direction and a different set activate.

So what is the best direction for optimal brain performance and work success? EAST. That’s right. From the research findings, it is strongly indicated that facing east is by far the best direction for peak work performance and all round mind-body integration. The next best is north. The early studies suggest facing east for more ‘creative thinking’ and north for more ‘clear thinking’. South and west are considered unfavourable and should be avoided where possible.

The direction we face is not only important at our desk but also when conducting business meetings, negotiations, making presentations and the like. So if you’re selling something and are perfectly clear on your pitch, you may prefer your audience faces east, so they ‘more clearly see’ the benefits. If you’re presenting at a meeting, is it more important that you present the information clearly, or that your audience can assimilate the information better? If practical (it isn’t always), you may vary the direction you and others face to suit.

So What Does the ‘Future of Workplaces’ Look Like?

Look out for …

  • Workers struggling with concentration, focus, decision-making or similar, changing their work station or desk orientation to face east (or north if east is not practical).
  • Companies restructuring office spaces to have workers facing east or north.
  • Entire new workplaces being built according to ancient sciences of correct orientation.
  • New office blocks and buildings being built to face true east and only have east or north facing entrances. (Ever wondered why many of the great structures of Egypt, Asia etc. face specific cardinal directions?)
  • Re-orientation of meeting rooms, boardrooms and seminar rooms etc. to enhance effective communication and outcomes.

Sleep Troubles?

According to Maharishi Vedic science – a modern-day restoration of ancient Vedic science, our head direction also significantly impacts the type and quality of our sleep. If you don’t sleep well see if your head while sleeping points north or west. Both of these are considered inauspicious or unfavourable. Sleeping with one’s head pointing towards the East, (the feet towards the West) is known to promote more enlightened (wakeful) sleep. For promoting deeper sleep, it is suggested one has their head to the South (feet to the North).

This article was written by Mark Bunn, faculty member of A Higher Branch Success Academy. He is the bestselling Author of ‘Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health’ and one of the most caring people on the planet. Mark will be presenting at the Upgrade Your Life event in January 2019. For a summary of what he will be talking about, Click here to check out page 14 of the Full Program.

Are You Ignoring Your Inner Instinct?

Your instinct is one of five super powers that you have to help you grow, evolve and survive. Ignore it at your peril.

We live in an age of constant distraction where mindfulness of our inner instinct is failing us. This can make us feel lost, uncertain and confused. Out of this comes indecision, which is the one of the most debilitating afflictions. We can become rudderless with no instinct at all.

Have you ever walked into a restaurant or shop and felt uncomfortable or uneasy? Did you shake aside that inner instinct as nonsense and stay, or did you listen to it and leave? If you stayed, you were probably subjected to a sensory discomfort and a feeling of being out of place. That’s because every positive has a negative, so like positive and negative charges in electricity, people and places also emit either positive (empowering) or negative (discomforting) energy.

As we are energy, we can sense it straight away but often ignore this inner instinct because we cannot explain why we are feeling that way. However, the problem with this is that if the red flags are ignored at the beginning, they can turn into problems later on. For example, if you felt uneasy when entering a shop and stayed, you may have discovered that the sales representative was ripping you off. So you’ve just spent your energy on a negative experience. Or, have you ever walked into a restaurant and felt a negative vibe, ignored it, and felt sick afterwards? Maybe your meal was over-salted, over cooked or prepared by someone who cares more for money than serving good food. This may sound silly, but I never eat in a restaurant where I sense that the focus is solely on your ‘share of wallet’ and getting you in and out quickly. When it comes to food, I like to eat at places that focus on passion before profit.

Our inner instinct also has a way of pointing us in the right direction with relationships, friendships and work. People radiate an aura of energy and we can usually instinctively sense if this aura is good, kind and empowering or toxic, negative and draining. We can either listen to this instinct or ignore it.

I would love to hear your personal experiences on this topic. Have you ever ignored your inner instinct? What was the result? Alternatively, did you ever listen to your instinct? Where did that choice lead? Please feel free to email me sam@ahigherbranch.com. This is a topic we will be covering at Upgrade Your Life 2019, along with multi-sensory accelerated learning.

For All The Kale In The World

Notwithstanding the various juggling acts we perform, nor the sensory overload we experience day to day, we are living in a time that both demands and expects us to be energised. It is no wonder that we seek to nurture and maintain our wellbeing – not only for the sake of our own health and happiness, but to keep up, thrive and prosper.

Suicide takes the highest percentage of male lives under 45 globally, while women in single digits are suffering body-body-image and eating disorders. Stress is attributed to over 90% of health issues, decreasing our vitality and immunity while increasing our anxiety. It seems that in our busy, hurried world, where looks trade like currency and priorities can easily become out of alignment with our real, heart-felt values, we are feeling more frayed, tired and alone than ever before.

We are all well accustomed to conversations about wellbeing taking standard trajectories; what we eat, how we move our bodies; how we sleep. While our diets, exercise regimes and sleep patterns are extremely important parts of our personal wellness picture, we are being invited to shift our thoughts and language around wellbeing now. We are being called to partake in higher conversations around kindness, gratitude, joy, inspiration, grace and stillness. We are being asked to practise the arts of these higher ideals, nurturing not only our personal but our collective wellness. To tend to our own needs with care and respect, and to use the important and meaningful energy we cultivate within ourselves to support, comfort and inspire each another.

Wellbeing is an integrative, all-encompassing experience. We can eat all the kale in the world, but if we are ungrateful, unkind and ungenerous people, we will not find the sparkle of wellness that we seek. We can exercise to a perfect, personalised program week to week, yet if we aren’t present in our present moments, feel perpetually anxious, or are endlessly critical of ourselves and others, we will feel inflamed and depleted. We can get eight hours of deep sleep a night, but ignore opportunities to be of loving, meaningful service to others in our waking lives. We might then wonder why we feel empty – for it is in giving that we receive.

Buddhist Monk Trich That Hanh reminds us that the way we do one thing is the way we do all things. All parts of our lives deserve our loving compassion, creativity and attention. If we are experiencing disharmony in any way, we are being asked to carefully revisit each note that we are playing in the chord of our lives. The key to regaining our harmony is attending to these notes honestly and respectfully, without guilt, shame or blame, and without diminishing all the parts of ourselves and our lives that we are indeed mastering.

All the separate but inextricably connected parts of our lives are born of our thoughts, which inform our choices and shape our worlds. Just as we have chosen so many things in our lives, we can choose to be kinder, more patient, more giving human beings. We can choose joy over suffering, gratitude over taking things for granted. We can choose compassionate listening and full presence over quick judgement and distraction. We can choose to support and elevate one another rather than compare and compete with one another. There is no positive act too small or simple when it comes to our wellness. We can begin with one grateful thought a day. One random act of kindness. One deep breath. In this very way, we begin.

Each human being has the profound capacity for inner peace, happiness, and wellness. When we tend to ourselves, each other and our lives with love and care, we come to know, and share, true health and happiness. We see at last that true wellness isn’t ‘out there’ it is within us, right now.

Meredith Gaston is a critically acclaimed and award winning author. She will be speaking at the Upgrade Your Life 2019 event about the importance of charity and contribution. Find out more.

The Sex/Sleep Connection

A lot of couples are malnourished when it comes to love, sex and intimacy. That’s one half of the problem. The other half is the guilt and the disfunction in the relationship that goes with it. Couples could get caught in a chicken and the egg negative loop. Is it the lack of sex that’s causing the relationship breakdown or is it the poor relationship that is causing the lack of sex? The positive truth is that the vast majority fall under the former and this gives a lot of couples hope. In other words, there is nothing wrong with the relationship. You simply need more sex, or maybe MORE SLEEP.

Here is where the sex/sleep connection comes in and the irony creeps in. Sleep improves sex and sex improves sleep. Another chicken and egg paradox.

Most people look for life’s answers in a new diet or a new exercise regime when in truth they simply need more sleep and often more sex. So what is the sex/sleep connection and could this be the reason why you are lacking intimacy in your relationship? Could this be the reason why you think there is something wrong with the relationship? Sleep impacts your sexual relationship in two ways:

  1. If one or both of you are not getting enough sleep then you are not going to be in the mood for sex. What is the scientific basis for this?
    1. Poor quality sleep reduces your testosterone level and this is the hormone which gets you in the mood;
    2. Not enough sleep makes you physically tired and therefore unable to perform so you give up or don’t even try;
    3. Not enough sleep makes your brain foggy and this shuts down your ability to visualise and fantasise which is an essential part of intimacy.
  2. If you and your partner are crossing sex time zones. In other words, you and your partner have opposite chrono types. If you are a morning person and your partner a night person – then your hormonal sex drives are not aligning and we all know that ‘it takes two to tango’. One of you prefers a ‘morning glory’, the other a ‘late night romp’. Is the answer an ‘afternoon delight’? That would be great if couples did not have to work or pick up the kids from school or do grocery shopping. And now you see why, in the modern era, couples are having less and less intimacy. So what is the answer???

There is also a third reason why couples may be lacking in intimacy which has everything to do with their intimacy type. We all have different things that turn us on – mentally, physically and emotionally. Some call it the Love Language Type (pioneered by  Dr Gary Chapman) and there are lots of quizzes out there on the market which help you discover what your type is and what your partner’s type is and this allows you to understand them a lot more. Yes, that could be effective, but nowhere near as effective as actual communication. You see, your love language type varies throughout the day and it varies for the time of month for females. It also varies based on your emotional needs and what is going on in your life. So trying to figure out your partner’s love language type in that moment can only happen when you communicate effectively, otherwise you will appear robotic and insincere. And that is a turn-off in any love language!

To learn more about the topic of love and intimacy, please download my free eBook GUIDE TO GREATNESS here. This is a genuine book based on the 170+ page paperback edition.

To dive even deeper into this and other topics such as discovering your chrono-type for sleep optimisation, you absolutely have to be in the room with me and 9 international speakers at Upgrade Your Life 2019, January 18-20 at The Hyatt Regency in Sydney Australia. Come meet Dr Guy Winch whose TED talks on the subject have gone viral, including his latest one How to Mend A Broken Heart.

Snap up one of the remaining seats here and start the year with a new life plan. Plus enjoy 5-star food and beverage for 3 full days and gain exclusive entry to 3 nightly events. Download the FULL PROGRAM here.

You may qualify for an industry discount. For enquiries, please contact Customer Support Manager Petrushka Thach on 0428 213 060 or 02 8719 4057.

Who Will You Be In One Year?

Humans are designed for progress. It’s what makes us happy, fulfilled and excited to be alive. Growing, learning and challenging our boundaries. When we stop progressing, we stagnate, lose clarity and can become lost, and even disillusioned with our life and the dreams we once kept in our heart.

Many believe that gratitude is the key to happiness. What some forget however is that gratitude must be coupled with progress, otherwise you will end up drifting in the direction of your greatest weaknesses; whether it is eating too much, watching too much media, working too many hours, buying things you do not need, arguing with your partner, complaining and blaming at work, wallowing in fear and worry etc…. What some people call depression is sometimes nothing more than stagnation of the human spirit through lack of progress.

For progress to be made you need to have a compelling and clear vision of WHO you want to be. Not WHAT you want to be. There is an important difference. The former is what gives us the power to stay relevant in an ever-changing world.

Who you will be in one year’s time will depend on 4 important aspects:

  • Your vision for every aspect of the 8 areas of your life and not just work.
  • What you learn and re-learn by constantly reading, watching and listening.
  • What you do and the actions you take in each of the 8 areas.
  • Who you give your time and energy to.

Ask Yourself the following important questions. It is by asking the right questions, that we find the right answers….

Health

What will your body look like? Your face? your hair? your skin?

Will you be fitter, stronger, more flexible and be able to balance just as you did when you were younger.

Will you be free from your addiction to sugar and other bad cravings?

Will you sleep more peacefully at night?

Will your mind be sharper and faster?

What about your thoughts and feelings?

Will you be more spiritual and practice love and compassion?

Will you walk around with a sense of gratitude for everything that you have in your life?

Will you be more kind and giving not only to others but to yourself?

Will you do things with less haste and learn to savour your food and the warmth of the sun?

Love

Will your relationship be stronger?

Will you have more touch, more affection and more intimacy?

Will you have more understanding and learn a smarter way of handling conflict?

Will you hold hands in public?

Will you kiss each other hello and goodbye every time?

Will you read to each other?

Will you respect and support each other’s goals and dreams?

Family

Will you love and support your family unconditionally?

Will you be an inspiration to them?

Will you guide by example and not by imposing your will?

Will you go on picnics together?

Will you turn off the TV and Wi-Fi to cook, eat and clean together?

Will you take turns telling stories and sharing goals and dreams on a Sunday night?

Work

What new skills will you have learned?

How will you pivot and upskill yourself in the new era of Ai?

Will you be an inspiration to your colleagues and stakeholders?

Will you be so valuable that every employer and client will want you?

Will you be achieving more, in less time, more sustainably?

Will you love your work and stay fulfilled even during the inevitable tough times?

Will you be fearless in the execution of your work and in coming up with new ideas?

Friendship

Who will your friends be?

What standards and beliefs will they have?

What social agenda and hobbies will you have to enjoy your friendships?

Will you surround yourself with friends make you laugh and feel good about yourself?

Learning, Wealth & Charity

What new skills would you have learned to stay up to date with a fast-changing world?

What new books would you have read or listened to that caused a shift in your thinking?

Will you be more frugal and less reliant on money for happiness?

Will you be kinder, more generous and more conscious of others in need?

Know Thy Self

Who you will be in 12 months depends on what you do each and every day. Each day is a building block of who you want to be. The key is to live consciously and know that how you live is totally within your control. What to eat? How to sleep? What to think? How to work? What to learn? How to love? And on it goes….

Most people have systems for working in their job but do not have systems for living. This is the gap left by schools and work places. At A Higher Branch Success Academy, we have designed a system for living that is unique and equips you with a powerful and proprietary framework for constantly upgrading every aspect of your life. To say that your life will pivot after attending at our annual event is an understatement. You will experience an outright revolution of transformation. For more information, click here.

If you have not yet downloaded your FREE copy of the eBook, GUIDE TO GREATNESS, please do so here. If you would like to provide the author, Sam Makhoul, with a book review, please email your thoughts to Petrushka@AHigherBranch.com

Keep Climbing Higher 🙂

Benefits of Walking Barefoot

Have you noticed how children rip off their shoes and socks whenever they can? That’s because they instinctively know the benefits of walking barefoot, especially on the natural surfaces such as grass. This practice is known as ‘earthing’ or ‘grounding’ and studies now show that standing barefoot on earth improves your health as it channels the free radicals and electric charges that we carry with us, back into the Earth. It is as important as eating foods high in anti-oxidants! This is because the Earth carries a strong negative charge and anything above the ground such as air or insulated materials such as rubber, carries a positive charge.

As our nervous system works on electrical impulses, our heart beats with an electrical charge and we are constantly surrounded by electrical radiation from technology, it is necessary to neutralise our electric charge by ‘plugging’ ourselves into the earth. Grounding is important for removing negative radiation and electric waste from our bodies, but it also has the following health benefits

  • Greater balance
  • Greater strength
  • Healthier feet
  • Greater circulation
  • Better posture
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Calms nervous system

If you’re interested in knowing more about other ancient wisdom secret life-hacks then you absolutely need to join us at Upgrade Our Life, 2019, where you will hear from internationally acclaimed speakers such as Mark Bunn and 9 other leading global experts about every aspect of your life, including your health. To say that your life will pivot after attending this event is an understatement. You will experience an outright revolution of transformation. For more information, click here.

If you have not yet downloaded your FREE copy of the eBook, GUIDE TO GREATNESSplease do so here. If you would like to provide the author, Sam Makhoul, with a book review, please email your comments to Petrushka.Thach@AHigherBranch.com. You could win two tickets to Upgrade Your Life valued at $2990.

7 ‘Fearless’ Qualities We Can Learn from Kids

Kids see the world through different eyes. Eyes that do not (or prefer not to) perceive limitation or fear. Kids tackle life with a sense of curiosity, imagination and fun.
Here are 7 pretty cool things you can learn from kids that will help you live outside the square and get noticed at work (in a good way):

7. Kids have no limits. They think BIG. Progress is only ever made when you challenge the limits. So go ahead and ask “What if we do this?” at the next meeting.

6. Kids are fearless. Get a bunch of kids in a group and ask them for ideas on anything and they will go nuts. Their eyes light up with enthusiasm and they get animated. Compare that with adults who sit there deliberating on everything they say for fear of sounding stupid.

5. Kids like to have fun, otherwise they start to yawn and get tired. Their energy does not go to waste. It is expended completely. Having fun does not mean frivolous fun at the expense of getting stuff done. Get creative about what you do. Ask yourself, “What can I do differently to grab people’s attention?”

4. Adults ask “why?” Kids ask “why not!” They don’t take no for an answer. If kids are enthusiastic about an idea, it’s hard to dissuade them.

3. Kids don’t hold back. If they don’t like something they will let you know. So speak truthfully at work. Say what’s on your mind. Do not agree with ideas just to be popular. Pull someone up who is doing the wrong thing.

2. Kids ‘get over it’ pretty quickly. They wake the next morning and don’t even remember what they did wrong or what upset them the previous day. They forgive quickly and don’t hold grudges. They are wired to say “Next!”

1. Kids love their imagination and use it to daydream. Adults learn to steer away from their imagination as they grow ‘older’ because they start to use it to imagine the worst. So it scares them. It makes them feel uneasy and they retreat from using this amazing faculty. Compare this with kids who use it to think of the ‘bestest ideas ever!’

So here’s a BIG idea. Hire more kids at heart. And remember that there is a difference between being child-like and being childish. You want the former not the latter.
Every organisation that is serious about innovation and business transformation has to have enthusiastic and imaginative people in their talent pool. More importantly they have to nurture and promote such talent to positions of influence, and not just for transient amusement or the fake appearance of being a cool company.

Your creative imagination is the most important human quality. Just like the sense of taste or smell or touch, it is there for a very good evolutionary reason. It is there so you can imagine a compelling future. Humans are the only ones in the animal kingdom to have this faculty. Why? So we can ‘materialise what we visualise’. The problem is that this ‘superpower’ did not come with a handbook. As children we could tap into it at will but as adults we do not understand it and know how to use it.

At A Higher Branch Success Academy we have developed a proprietary method for tapping into your creative imagination. Come join us at Upgrade Your Life, 2019 to learn a very unique framework for living that will lead to an outright revolution of transformation in your personal life and work performance.

Find Out More.

How to Live ‘Till 100

In the current generation Y and millennials, more and more will get the chance to live until 100. You can be one of them if you play your genetic cards right. There is no doubt that medicine also makes this goal achievable. But if you look closely at the statistics you will notice that whilst people are living longer, they are not living a quality life. The following list of lifestyle tips have been carefully researched as having the most impact on our wellbeing. They will sharpen your mind, keep your body strong, resistant to disease and help you live a long happy life without reliance on medicine.

  1. Have long-term goals.Having something to wake up to every morning is the strongest of motivations for living with vitality. There are a cocktail of healthy chemicals that give life to our creativity, our energy and our zest for living. Having a purpose in life releases these chemicals daily. It is the difference between waking up with an energetic burst or waking up with lethargy and a headache. 
  1. Socialise more with friends.Research shows that people who have a wide circle of friends and who socialise often are much healthier than people who are isolated and lonely.
  2. Stay in a good relationship.Research has shown that people who are in a loving long-term relationship are much happier and healthier than their single counterparts. 
  1. Travel regularly.Humans are nomadic by nature. When we stay in one location we stagnate. When we roam our five senses are stimulated. We feel most alive when we experience adventure. Travelling does not have to be overseas. In fact it’s healthier to travel locally. Get out and explore your own part of the world. Make a habit of going for weekend trips with my family and friends. We may drive to the mountains, visit apple orchards in autumn or go to the beach in summer. The main thing is to get out of the house. 
  1. Wake at sunrise and sleep within 2 hours of sunset.Research shows that every hour of sleep before midnight is the equivalent of two hours after midnight. Research also shows that waking at sunrise reduces our blood pressure, which is the single most dangerous factor leading to heart disease and stroke.
  1. Follow a diet that’s true to your heritage.Before air travel we did not travel long distances within hours. This meant that our bodies evolved over many years by eating essentially the same food. That’s why I think it is overly simplistic to claim that some diets followed by certain cultures are best for everyone. If you are Japanese then eat Japanese food, if you are Italian, eat Italian food. It is in your DNA.
  2. Read often.Reading not only sharpens your mind, but if you read the right material it can enlighten your view of the world and this keeps you inspired. I would also add, doing crossword puzzles and other brainteasers. Check out Lumosity
  1. Mix it up – by using your opposite hand and foot.I try and use my left hand whenever I can, especially before I have to do some creative thinking. Using the opposite hand/foot sharpens the mind and keeps both sides of your brain working. If you have a stroke in older age you have greater chance of recovery. 
  1. Have afternoon naps.The siesta was made famous in Spain, which had one of the lowest rates of depression in the world. It is a modern tragedy that the cities in Spain that have abolished the siesta now experience the highest rates of Prozac prescriptions. Having a nap may be difficult because most of us work Monday to Friday but even a 10-minute power nap is sufficient. If you are unable to do this Mon-Fri, then definitely make it a ritual on weekend afternoons. 
  1. Watch comedies and hang out with friends who are funny.We are often told to adopt the “don’t worry be happy” mantra. The easiest way to do that is to have more reasons to laugh in life. Laughter releases so many feel-good hormones that replenish our cells.
  2. Move your body – naturally.Exercising in a mechanical way on expensive equipment in gyms is not what primes your body for natural strength. Walking, running, swimming, and moving your body in natural movements does. Squatting while doing gardening is natural. Bending to clean your home is natural. Push-ups, chin-ups, squats and sit-ups are also natural movements. In fact I think the best form of exercise you can do is to join a martial arts club. You can be 8 or 80 years of age and still get the benefits. The best form I have come across is Wing Chun. 
  1. Drink filtered or spring water.One of the best investments you can make is the installation of a reverse-osmosis water filter. It gets rid of the most harmful chemicals in our water supply. In particular, fluoride in water is the cause of many ailments, which lead to premature aging. 
  1. Never eat when you’re stressed or upset.Go for a long walk or cardio the stress right out of your system. If you are going through a period of emotional stress it is better to eat very small meals. Or better still, drink vegetable juices instead.
  1. Keep your bowels clean.Nobody likes to talk about this subject but the fact is that stagnant food in the colon is the cause of much toxicity. And this is easily preventable. There are two easy lifestyle tips to follow: First, consuming lots of fruit and vegetables. Second, schedule “no. 2” toilet breaks as part of your morning and nightly ritual. A lot of people are so busy being busy that they neglect this routine. They don’t realise how much harm they are doing to their body. 
  1. Brush your gums and tongue.The link between gum disease, heart disease and stroke. Poor periodontal health causes certain oral bacteria to make the arteries sticky and inflamed. Excluding this risk factor is easy. All you have to do is floss and brush your teeth regularly – but at least at night.
  2. Do your pelvic floor exercises.Also known as Kegel exercises. This assists in preventing prostate cancer in men and avoids incontinence in both men and women, which is listed as the single most demoralising ailment for old people in nursing homes. 
  1. Listen carefully to your body.Whilst you may not experience obvious signs of intolerance to food and situations, it may be affecting you in a subtle way that undermines your energy. Often we are too distracted with life to really notice what is going on in our body. Paying attention to what drains us and what lifts us is the single most important thing that we should bring our self-awareness to. It can be the food we eat, the company we keep and our surroundings – like noise or air pollution. Just because the body gets used to something, it doesn’t mean that it’s not affected by it in a negative way. 
  1. Meditate most people do not meditate because they think it is a complex eastern philosophy. The truth is sitting quietly in a warm and comfortable spot can be meditation. Listening to the sounds of nature can be meditation (sitting at a beach or natural reserve). So too is having a warm bath. Even going for a long walk in nature is meditative. The magic happens around the 45-minute mark. Your ‘monkey mind’ will switch off and slow down. 
  2. Give yourself to charity.Why do celebrities go to Africa and put their time and energy into helping others? Because when you have all the money in the world you will realise that giving to others is the single most important way we can connect with other people. Do not underestimate the power of good wishes bestowed upon you by the people you are helping.
  3. Do a 12-15 hour fast daily.Start by not eating 3 hours before you sleep. Research overwhelmingly shows that this habit helps your body clean itself. It improves the function of all your organs, reduces insulin resistance, cleans your arteries in your heart and in your brain to prevent dementia and arteriosclerosis.
  4. Learn a new language or a musical instrument.Research shows that this is the only powerful way to promote neuro-plasticity as you age and therefore prevent old age dementia.

If you want to know your genetic type and learn three amazing bio-hacks that will help you live until 100 then you absolutely need to be in the room with me and a line-up of 10 leading global experts at Upgrade Your Life 2019, January 18-20 at The Hyatt Regency in Sydney Australia.

Numbers are limited to 200 people due to the personalised nature of the sessions and the one-on-one access to all 10 speakers. Tickets are selling fast and will sell even faster as we get closer to the event. Secure your spot now. I strongly encourage you to not defer or procrastinate and make the decision that you’ll look back on as the single most important decision in your life.

Honestly, the way I look at it, being in the room with these amazing speakers is actually priceless and is an investment that you’ll make back MANY times over.

Snap up one of the remaining seats here before they’re all gone.

With love + respect,

Sam Makhoul

Have you lost your mojo?

Attracting good things and good people to you can only happen when you learn to tap into your mojo. Your mojo is more important than you think. Its more important than what you say and do. It’s an invisible force that cannot be explained, only witnessed. We are all born with it but lose it on the way to adulthood. We may experience glimpses of it here and there by accident but it is illusive and vanishes quickly. Finding and hanging onto your mojo happens when your physical, psychological and emotional energies are aligned. Here’s how you align them…

1. Keep a ‘Hero’ File (emotional)

Treasure and file away all the cool stuff people say about you. Whether it’s an outstanding school report, a testimonial from a client or a beautifully written card from a friend or partner. We all indulge in negative self-talk. A hero file helps you snap out of it.

2. Go Fearless (psychological)

In sport and in business if you start batting on the back foot, you will stop scoring runs and eventually be bowled out. You are most successful when you work like you have nothing to lose. How do you do that? Build up enough savings that can help you get through six months of the toughest financial times. Having this safety net gives you a fearless mindset.

3. Get Out of Your Head (psychological and physical)

You will never find your mojo if you are constantly thinking and using your mind as a storage device. Do a daily ‘brain dump’ in your diary. Keep nothing in your head. This will help you sleep better and get you into the zone of creativity. The other thing you can do is exercise and meditate. Both these activities get you to focus on your breath and therefore on your body.

4. It’s NOT about Money (emotional)

Never ever make your life about making money and material things. Your primary purpose as a human being is to serve and inspire others. Your customers, your colleagues, your friends, your family …How do you do that? Listen more empathically and give more than expected. Your mojo lives in that space called compassion.

5. Go Green inside and Out (physical and emotional)

The colour green on your eyes lowers blood pressure and dissipates stress. Walk in the park daily, go for a hike on weekends. Surround yourself with plants at home. (Book: ‘Plant Style’ by Alana Langan). Drink green smoothie’s and eat at least two green salads daily. Besides being healthy, plant foods are full of life force that give you that attractive glow.

6. Look your Best (physical and psychological)

How you look impacts the way you feel. When you dress and look your best, you will simply feel more confident and ‘with it’. (Caution: you cannot eat like crap and cover it up with clothes and make-up. You still need to eat clean and stay lean). Choose clothes that is true to your personality. Stay away from fads. Get a style coach. Read, ‘Women in Clothes” by Sheila Heti. And, ‘Off the Cuff: The Guys Guide to Looking Good’ by Carson Kressley.

7. Don’t Stress About Stress (psychological)

External stress is everywhere. It only affects your mojo when it consumes you. Some people live through war and take it in stride. Others go into melt down when someone cuts them off on the road. Seriously? Stop trying to make your external surroundings perfect. Stop putting high demands on yourself and the people around you. Life will never be 100% your way. Not even 50%.

“The people who walk around with their mojo intact are the ones who accept that external discomforts are a part of living and that the only people not stressed are dead. “

8. You Gotta Have Fun (emotional)

When we were children, our whole existence was about exploring and having fun. Consequently our creativity was limitless. The few that carry this fun and playfulness into adult life went on to invent and create the most amazing of human discoveries. Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, to name a couple. So my advice is to stop feeling guilty whenever you get the urge to do nothing, or day dream or hang out with friends. Have fun whenever you get the chance. Your mojo loves to have fun.

9. Savour your Food (physical and emotional)

Your appetite for food parallels your appetite for life. Food that is full of flavour not only nourishes the body but brings passion to the surface. They call it ‘soul food’ for a reason. Enjoy the variety of foods out there but try and eat true to your cultural heritage. There is nothing more satisfying than eating food that your parents and grandparents cooked. Savour what you eat slowly, focusing on the smells, texture, colour and taste. Eat outdoors, eat with your hands, eat with friends, and above all please do NOT eat in front of the TV.

10. Change your environment, often (psychological)

New route, new destination, new friends, new experiences. These all keep your five senses engaged. When you do the same thing every day, your senses become dull. Parts of your brain consequently shut down. Scientists are now realising that Alzheimer’s and dementia is a simple case of ‘use it or lose it’ (Google ‘The Nun Study’). New perspectives, new sights, new smells, new favours, all keep your brain firing and your mojo dancing. There is a difference between being alive and living…

Find out how to get your mojo back by attending Upgrade Your Life, 2019. It’s the event of the year.

If want to learn how to get your mojo back then you absolutely need to be in the room with me and a line-up of 10 leading global experts at Upgrade Your Life 2019, January 18-20 at The Hyatt Regency in Sydney Australia.

Tickets are limited to 200 people and we are already sold 70% of our ticket allocation so I strongly encourage you to not defer or procrastinate and make the decision that you’ll look back on as the single most important decision in your life.

Honestly, the way I look at it, being in the room with these amazing speakers is actually priceless and is an investment that you’ll make back MANY times over…

Snap up one of the remaining seats here before they’re all gone.

Take action and live the life we both know you deserve.

With love + respect,

Sam Makhoul

Eat Clean – Think Clean – Dance On

Everyone is working hard and smart these days. But we are entering an era of competition where this is not enough. You need to be in top physical, mental and emotional condition. To achieve this you need to eat clean and think clean. Or dance on. Read on…

Eating Clean

Less coffee & fruit juice – more water & vege juices
Less oily fried food & more steamed or baked food
Less crackers, biscuits & cheese – more carrot, celery & fennel
Less potato, bread & pasta – more sweet potato, broccoli and pumpkin.
Less bacon and sausages – more fish.
Less chocolate – more berries.
Less nuts – more seeds.
Less salt, sugar & mayonnaise – more herbs, spices, lemon and olive oil.
Less processed – more raw
Less excuses and less “cheat days”.

Thinking Clean

Most people fail in any industry because they take rejection personally and start indulging in toxic self-talk, like “I am not good enough”, “people don’t like me”, “I should quit and get an easy secure job”.

Your thoughts affect your feelings and your feelings in turn affect your thoughts. This partnership between your head and your heart can either work for you or against you. It’s either a positive loop or a vicious circle. 

If you feel angry, you will have angry thoughts. And when you have angry thoughts, you will feel angry. And the cycle repeats. Conversely if you feel good, you start thinking clearly. Goals and creative ideas start flowing and this in turn makes you feel good. This is the circle you need to dance in.

Here are three powers and one superpower to help you “think clean”.

  1. The Power of Exercise. How you feel is much more powerful than your thoughts. Try thinking yourself out of being angry or anxious. Next to impossible, right? Your feelings release potent hormones that overpower your thoughts. So you need to change your feelings first.  The simple and best way is to exercise! Exercise releases the right ‘feel-good’ hormones.
  2. The Power of Words. We watch what we say to others but think nothing of our own self-talk. Is it inspirational and uplifting or is it demoralising? Write down the qualities that you and others most love about you. Recite them on waking and just before sleep. And most importantly when you experience a rejection or failure. It takes you out of the toxic thinking zone.
  3. The Power of Meditation. Meditation de-clutters the brain and gives you clarity in a world full of distractions. It is a daily detox for the mind. I could ask you to cancel your social media accounts, disable notifications and stop listening to the news but you probable would not do that. So you need meditation to quite the mind. Meditation is a life-long skill that takes practice. So don’t quit because you get impatient or find it irritating to sit there. The benefit is not in achieving total control. The magic is in noticing when your mind strays and you return to the breath.
  4. The Superpower of Visualisation. Your creative imagination is a gift to help you materialize the life of your dreams not your worst nightmares. The most successful people on the planet use this gift to visualise very clearly what goals they want to kick. If you are in sales imagine how you want the presentation to go beforeyou meet with your next customer. Prime yourself for the experience before you enter the room. Close your eyes if you can. All it takes is a few minutes or even just a flash of an image that makes you feel like “I’ve got this!” In quantum physics you attract what you visualise. It really is that simple. Please don’t waste this superpower.

Dance On

When all else fails, you can always dance-on. Dancing is one of the most potent antidotes to any negative human condition. It provides an ample flow of mood-enhancing chemicals that is unmatched by any other activity or drug. When was the last time you went dancing? Harvard Study on Dancing.

Join me and my team at A Higher Branch Success Academy’s annual Upgrade Your Life, 2019 event of the year and enjoy three parties by night with like-minded people and 17 sessions by day with the best thought leaders on the planet who will help you design a wellness plan for 2019. Click Here For More Information. If you belong to an industry association you may qualify for a $500 discount code. Please contact us to enquire.

Sun Gazing: Do You Do This Early Morning High Performance Ritual?

Sun Gazing – Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health & Optimal Mind_Body-Spirit Performance

Do you sun gaze or at least connect to the early morning sun as a daily practice? Are you aware of the incredible mental, physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of such a daily ritual?

Having recently been invited to speak at a Higher Branch’s ‘Upgrade your Life’ event next January around the ‘Daily Habits of Healthy High Achievers’, it got me thinking. While many of us know about high-performers morning habits such as making their bed, planning their day and exercising, connecting with early morning sunlight is not so well know.

As understood by most ancient cultures, the master regulator of all our internal health and performance cycles is the cycle of the sun. Most advanced traditional cultures throughout time have started their day greeting the sun through an ancient ritual called ‘sun gazing’. (Others, as in India along the Ganges river, do things like Yoga ‘sun salutes’ while facing East as the sun rises).

More and more high-level business performers are now understanding that our optimum human performance clock is synced to the cycles of Mother Nature. As such they make sure they get outside to reap the incredible mental, physical and emotional benefits of morning sunlight through the eyes. (Many of us today live in artificially lit homes and work in artificially lit offices and are ‘mal-illuminated’.)

Benefits of morning sunlight exposure include;

  • improved energy & immune function
  • stimulation of healthy brain chemistry
  • regulation of our entire internal body clock *A key benefit is in assisting optimal sleep at night ... as our sleep cycle regulation starts first thing in the morning!
  • optimal weight through its effects on metabolic and thyroid function
  • the ultimate mood-booster (anti-depressant) & emotional balancer.

Now, while the ancients understood that the sun will not harm the human eye in the first 45 minutes of sunrise … the first 10 degrees of arc, you don’t necessarily have to look directly at the sun – ‘sun gaze’. (If you do, this should strictly only be done in the first 30-45 minutes of sunrise and for very short periods – seconds – to begin with.) However, even indirect sunlight through the eyes will bring significant benefits. The main thing is to actively get outside for at least a few minutes early morning to sync your physiology with our planets No.1 source of life-energy, vitality and positivity.And if you can combine exercise, earthing (see my blog) &/or connection with others at the same time, all power to you.

The sun (Surya), often maligned in our modern world was traditionally understood and indeed honoured for being the central to all life and every aspect of human health. We just need to respect it and connect with it in the right way … not too much but also not too little.

The importance of early morning sunlight exposure for optimal #health and #workperformance #wellbeing Do you make a daily practice of connecting with the sun or at least getting outside in the early-morning? What do you do and what difference does it make to your life and your work performance? I’m sure others would love to hear your inspiration.

Mark Bunn will be speaking at upgrade your life, 2019. Mark is one of the most inspiring and informative people who shares with love. His book Ancient Wisdom for Modern Living is a genuine must read. It will teach you how to instil daily rituals in an effortless and intuitive way.

Find out more

Why Do People Disengage at Work?

“A staggering 87% of people worldwide are disengaged at work” (Gallup Poll)

Many organisations are experiencing a crisis and aren’t even aware of it.

There is one truth that the poll leaves out: Almost all people start a job with enthusiasm and excitement but end up on a path to disengagement. Work then becomes a chore and ‘extracts’ the health and happiness out of them. This is tragic because work consumes at least 70% of our waking hours!

Why Does Disengagement Happen?

Is it because people dislike working? On the contrary, we are all born with an innate desire to express ourselves by working and creating value, no matter the job. Work fulfils us, gives us purpose, builds confidence, makes us feel valued and this improves our health – physically, mentally and emotionally.

Is it because the workplace is not good? Not likely. Working conditions over the past two decades has improved to comfortable levels never before experienced in human history. The workplace is healthier and more comfortable than ever before. And companies are looking after their people better than ever before.

So, what is the Real Reason why so many people are disengaged at work? THE STARTLING TRUTH.

It has nothing to do with the job but everything to do with the person in the job. The sad truth is that people fail to take personal responsibility for their own engagement at work. People’s framework for living is fundamentally broken and this leads to dysfunction in their personal life, which, over time, leads to disengagement at work. In other words, people spoil their own engagement at work. Here’s why…

Human nature is such that people can grow to dislike and disengage from anything (even something they love and enjoy) if they neglect their health and wellbeing. Western society is locked into a pattern of perpetual obsession with one part of life to the exclusion of other parts. Early in adulthood we focus on education and neglect our health. Then we focus on the new lover and neglect our family and friends. Then we focus on our career and neglect our lover. Then we focus on our finances and neglect our family. Then our health suffers, our energy dips and we start to disengage at work. This intense focus on one part of our life to the exclusion of others is what leads to disengagement in all parts of our life at any given time in our life cycle. Why is this bad?

There is a symbiotic relationship between all parts of a person’s life. Neglect one and chances are you will start to fail in the others.

Think about it…

How can you perform at work if you are arguing with your partner at home?

How can you perform at work if your children are out of control?

How can you perform at work if you are not sleeping properly because of poor nutrition, lack of exercise, lack of sunshine and lack of social fun?

“If a person’s personal life is broken, so too will their work life”

In their publication “Firms of Endearment”, Wharton Business School discovered that companies who put purpose before profit ended up making the most profit. They outperformed the S & P 500 by a ratio of 9 to 1 over a period of 10 years.

What that study did not show or track is the health, wellbeing and engagement of the people that worked for these firms. How many of those people were still employed after 10 years? How many suffered from physical illness, broken relationships and mental health issues as a result of disengagement or burnout?

“There is an inadvertent and unintentional ‘burn and churn’ of people in most companies”

WHAT CAN COMPANIES DO TO HELP?

The answer lies NOT in the workplace but at home.
The answer lies NOT in the hands of companies. It lies in the hands of the individual that works in the company.
The answer lies NOT in a notion of work/life balance. That concept is as outdated as the fax machine. The answer lies in knowing HOW to live a complete life.

Businesses make the mistake of thinking that health and wellness ‘perks’ in the office makes for a ‘well’ and engaged individual; things like yoga and meditation classes, sleep pods, wellness seminars, massage etc…The reality is that such perks merely contribute to a pleasant and comfortable work environment. They do not fix the underlying cause of disengagement because they do not teach people a framework for living a complete life without neglecting any of its vital parts; like nutrition, exercise, sleep, socialising, love and intimacy, family and parenting, continuous learning and emotional wellbeing.

Would You Continue to Serve Alcohol to Somebody who is clearly drunk?

Companies can help by teaching their people a framework for living. Every business has processes and systems for working but never think about teaching their people systems for living. And for very good reason. Its personal. It’s awkward. Its overstepping the mark. Or is it?

Government and business need to appreciate that the scope of OH & S needs to be broadened. There should be, and no doubt will be in the future, an obligation on business to ensure that people are not neglecting their health and personal life. This is no different to prohibiting the service of alcohol to a person that is clearly not drinking responsibly.

Is it ethical for a company to keep serving up unsustainable workloads to their people, only to sit back and watch them burnout? Some may argue that employees have a choice to say no. And in fact, some employees may request an extra workload and should have the freedom to do so. Right? Wrong. Again, I return to the analogy of the drunk at the bar. Has that person lost their choice to be served more? A better analogy is perhaps found on the football field where a person suffers a head concussion. They plead with their coach to stay on the field. But the coach and trainers make the decision to pull them off. Should business have that same right to send their people ‘off the field’? This may open up so many arguments on so many levels and ultimately lead to an assessment of weighing-up risk, social responsibility and a business’s right to profitability.

Smart companies however should see it as an opportunity. Over the long term, healthy and happy people who live a complete and holistic life are more energetic, more creative, more confident and highly engaged at work.

The ‘Higher Branch’ Method

A Higher Branch Success Academy has developed a highly successful framework and system for living a holistic life that empowers people to become their own life architect. This helps them design and be in control of all 8 aspects of their life, including work. The framework includes a set of proprietary principles pioneered in the book ‘A Higher Branch’.

On 18-20 January 2019, our success academy is holding a 3-day event called Upgrade Your Life, in Sydney at the Hyatt Regency hotel to teach people how to live a holistic life without compromising work performance. The program is highly successful and provides an insight into what companies can do to promote a wellness plan with substance; one that empowers people to take responsibility for their own engagement at work and in life.

Is Energy More Important Than Intelligence

Person A has no plan for health and happiness but he excelled at school and university and now has a great job. The education system and his parents taught him the notion that you work hard in the early years so you can ‘have-it-all’ later on in life. So he hops on the career treadmill and neglects his social life, playing sport, reading books, eating healthy, getting sunshine, sleeping optimally, loving his partner and bonding with his children. Meditation? What’s that? Napping on weekends? Huh? The worst part is that Person A does not even think that he has disfunction in his life. He accepts his busy life as ‘normal’. That’s the problem, this has become the norm in our society.

The results for person A are predictable. Dips in energy over time. Reliance on coffee and stimulants to get through the day, maybe even sleeping tablets at night. He has to work longer hours because his results are not as they should be. Someone younger, sharper and more energetic has joined his department and is outperforming him. He feels the pressure and anxiety creeps into the pit of his stomach. This feeling starts to linger and he may even need meds or reliance on alcohol to relax. The bags under his eyes get puffier every morning. He starts getting irritable at home and descends into arguments in front of the children. Not a pretty sight.

Experts all agree that, as a person’s health deteriorates so does their cognitive and work performance. 

Person B spends just as much time on her personal life as she does on her career. She works marginally less hours than person A but uses this time to exercise, to meditate for 10 mins and prime herself for gratitude, to write in her journal for 5 mins so she can plan her day and a fun social life. She has lunch in the park where she sends her partner a cheeky diary invite scheduling intimacy later that night.

The results for person B are also predictable. She may not outperform person A in the short term at work but in the medium to long term she definitely will. She will age slower, be happier and have better relationships. She is not perfect but she aims for progress not perfection.

The difference between person A and person B is clear but what motivates them may not be. You see, person A is a victim of poor programming. Person A has a warped sense of what WEALTH is. In western society we are obsessed with having wealth and there is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong however is how we define our wealth.

This is a snapshot of how you should be defining your wealth, in order of priority:

1.     Having high energy, a strong body with great posture, a sharp mind, being emotionally solid, sleeping peacefully, the time to enjoy your food slowly and mindfully.

2.     Feeling attractive, wanted and being in an affectionate loving relationship. Deep down we all need touch by another person or even a pet.

3.     Having a great family dynamic, where you can connect uninterrupted by phones and media, and time to read, talk and play with your children (if you are a parent).

4.     Having a career or business that fulfils you emotionally and working in a comfortable uncompetitive environment that has a culture of purpose, inspiration, support, and humility.

5.     Having friends that make you laugh and support you.

6.     Growing your mind through learning, reading and networking with other like-minded people.

7.     Having the time to feel gratitude and the heart-space to want to help others and contribute to society.

Nothing on this list requires a fancy car, a big house or a Louis Vuitton bag. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against owning things, as long as they don’t own or define you. And as long as you do not go into debt to afford them. Debt is a form of slavery that forces you to work longer hours to pay for things you don’t really need or have time to enjoy, because you are too busy working to pay them off.

Next Steps?

Sit and take 5 minutes to define your wealth first. How do you do that? There is a technique that we use at A Higher Branch Success Academy. It is called “Not Negotiable”. At a very high level, the technique goes like this. What are you prepared to give up to save this part of your life? For example, would you be prepared to lose money over it? Would you give up all your assets to save your health, your marriage, your kids. Would you give up a career to make you happy? Would you let go of a client or a team member who is not aligned to your core values and standards even if it sets your business back?

What is your definition of wealth? What are your not negotiables?

Warm regards with love, respect and always with humility, thank you for reading this article. I enjoyed writing it and I hope it taught you something new or reconnected you with something your already know. Please feel free to share your own insights. It is only through sharing our ideas that we all grow together. Sam@AHigherBranch.com

If you are looking for part 1 of this article, please click here.

Is Health More Important Than Intelligence

As I sit here in my office looking through the glass partition at our MSA National team who do amazing work, it strikes me daily how little of a role intelligence plays in our success. Don’t get me wrong, our team is competent and know their stuff, as I am sure you do, but is that enough for success these days?

The message is now very clear. To dominate in your field and build your career or business you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room. Not at all. You just need to have the most energy; to move, to think, to work, to love, to parent, to socialise, to inspire, to implement and to craft a life you are in love with. This ALL depends on the physical and emotional energy you bring to your day.

The First Mistake

Most people make the mistake of thinking how much they know is their point of difference. Let me tell you, information is everywhere these days and through the use of technology, everyone on the planet is working smarter than ever before. So I ask you, what is the difference between success and mediocrity? What is the difference between those who fail and those who thrive? We all have 24 hours in the day. So the difference between us all can only be our energy levels. There is no denying that energetic people are sharper, more engaging and have an attractive air of self-confidence about them.

The Second Mistake

Most people believe that energy levels come down to diet and exercise; yes, these do help, but did you know that your emotional happiness is 5,000 times more powerful than these two physical elements? Which means that how you feel and how you think impact your energy levels in a much more profound way. This in turn impacts your success in a profound way.

I am sharing these thoughts with the greatest respect to you. I too eat healthy and exercise religiously but I have learned that these are NOT the things that make me a successful human being. How we love, how we parent, how we play, how we sleep, what we focus on, the choices we make, who we spend time with, how we work, how we forgive, how we process fear, anger, rejection or failure, ALL impact our energy and ability to live the life we crave.

I hope my sharing these questions does not overwhelm you, I highlight them to demonstrate that life is complex and it is our ability to manage all these aspects that makes the difference between a magnificent life and a mediocre one. Sorry to put it like that but I am calling it like it is.

My Invitation to You

 I wish success was as easy as listening to an uplifting YouTube viral video or a motivational meme. Our life is much more complex than that and deserves a more personalised approach and system for living; one that we were never taught at school and at work. If you want to learn how to live by a unique framework to upgrade every aspect of your life, install daily rituals, and grow your wealth, then you absolutely need to be in the room with me and a line-up of 10 leading global experts at Upgrade Your Life 2019.

Why Forgiveness Is Essential to Your Success

However you define your success and wealth, one thing is for certain, you can NEVER achieve it if you are not grateful for the present and have a clear vision for your future. A vision without current state gratitude only leads to anxiety; and gratitude without a vision for the future inevitably leads to stagnation and general apathy.

What does this have to do with forgiveness?

You cannot practice gratitude and have a beautiful vision for your future if you are hanging onto past grudges and regrets. You simply cannot. Gratitude and vision can only be effective if they are ‘felt’ in your body. If your body is filled with pain and blame there is no room to feel gratitude for the present and excitement for the future. Therefore, you need to release yourself from the prison of your past.

Symptoms

Whatever affects your emotions affects your body. Your body holds onto emotions and this is often reflected in posture and ‘tight’ areas such as the neck, jaw, back and hamstrings. Here are more insidious symptoms: 

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Quick to get angry
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor sleep
  • Lower immune function
  • Increased risk of depression
  • Significant decrease in energy levels 

When you let go and forgive something or someone (including yourself) from the past, the reversal of these symptoms can sometimes be instant.

How do you practice forgiveness?

Forgiveness does not mean showing weakness or condoning wrong doing. We can forgive someone without excusing their behaviour. Forgiveness is not the same as reconciling; reconciliation may follow forgiveness, but we can forgivewithout re-establishing the relationship. Forgiveness is not based on the other person apologising, it does not mean forgetting or pretending it didn’t happen and it doesn’t mean trust either. Trust needs to be earned.

There is one powerful practice you can learn that can completely release you from your past. It is founded on the principle that forgiveness is not about changing the past, it’s about changing the future.This practice needs to be communicated by a trained professional; it is not something you can coach remotely or on a YouTube tutorial. It is highly personal and based on your genetic propensity; your unique emotional state and what you need to let go of. In other words, forgiveness is something that needs to be practiced.

Dr Guy Winch is a New York practising psychologist who will be speaking about how to practice forgiveness at the event of the year called, Upgrade Your Life, 2019. He will also be talking about rebuilding trust in a relationship. Dr Guy Winch’s viral TED Talk, Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid, has been viewed over 6 million times and is rated among the top 5 most inspiring talks of all time on TED.com.

Join Us at Upgrade Your Life, 2019

How to Bond with Your Children

Family life is very important to our wellness and work performance. Try being effective at work if you show up with family burdens on your shoulders, if your children are sick or out of control, or if you and your partner are arguing at home.

There are unique challenges to raising a 21st century family such as:

  • Feeling rushed with no time to communicate effectively.
  • Feeling confused about what parenting tools to use.
  • Over-parenting to compensate.
  • Projecting what we want onto our children instead of honouring their uniqueness.
  • Using fear and guilt to get them to cooperate. For example, did you know that “scaring” our children into eating well or making them feel guilty for eating junk food does more emotional harm than physical good?

These challenges have brought dysfunction into families; in some cases, family life has become toxic and a source of emotional stress and anxiety. As a result the family unit is breaking down, the emotional bond between parents and children is now rare and children cannot wait to “grow up” and “leave home”.

Here are 18 practical tips you can start using today to turn your family dynamic around.

  • Remove TV from living areas.
  • Do not use technology and television to keep your kids occupied. This is tantamount to neglect, that’s the hard truth. The damage of over-exposure to technology presents more harm than smoking.
  • Put phones and tablets on charge and out of hands 90 minutes before bedtime.
  • Don’t structure their play. Structure is a prison for the creative mind; innovators of the future think in a non-linear way.
  • Teach them to swim.
  • Allow them to get messy sometimes.
  • Help them play dress-ups.
  • Read to them and let them read to you.
  • Share a hobby as they get older. This will keep you feeling connected.
  • Have one-on-one alone time with each child once a week.
  • Encourage them to ask questions. Asking questions without fear of ridicule is absolutely essential to keep their sense of curiosity.
  • Go on school excursions with them as a guest parent. They will love it and research shows that children feel more confident at school when they see their parents there.
  • Show them how to save money. This is an essential life skill that you need to lead by example; break your addiction to retail therapy.
  • Get them to do chores around the house. This gives them a sense of self-worth. Praise them for completing the task but do not accept mediocrity either. If you want a certain standard, do the chore with them and show them that standard. They will know for next time.
  • Visit grandparents and relatives together.
  • Get them to help you cook.
  • Spend time on Sunday nights and take turns to talk about what you did last week and/or what you’re going to do next week.
  • Ask them daily: “What are you happy about?” “What are you excited about?” Ask yourself the same questions!

Want to learn more practical tips? Come listen to Carl Honoré and nine other leading global experts on how to upgrade your life and your family happiness.

FIND OUT MORE

What you will learn:

  • You will learn the number one skill in parenting that can change your family dynamic instantly.
  • You will learn how to get your children to make the right decisions in your absence, such as eating healthy food and controlling their use of technology and social media.
  • You will learn to develop the concepts of “conscious parenting” and “slow parenting” and how to implement them.
  • You will learn how to project unconditional love onto your children, this helps to reduce their anxieties about the inevitable failures and rejections.
  • You will learn how and when to transition from being a parent to being a friend.
  • You will also learn how to have fun with your children. Play is the language of children. You need to learn it.

Join Us at Upgrade Your Life, 2019

Yes BUT are you having FUN?

We are all in the business of selling ourselves. What sells is not just the product or service, it is the person standing behind it. People connect with you first and if they like you they will use every justification to do business with you.

Does having fun make you successful?
The more fun you have in your life, the more attractive and successful you will become. You smile more, have more energy and you magically attract good things and good people. People are naturally attracted to the smiling, enthusiastic person in the room. Be that person and you will attract more customers. It’s that simple. Without fun, a KPI is met, a box is ticked and another dull day goes by without empathy and connection with the customer. With fun, everyone is excited to be at work, emails are written with smiley faces, phone calls are filled with laughter, and settlements are completed with purpose. Yes fun is important, at home and in business.

So why isn’t everyone having fun?
Most people have lost the ability to have fun, or worse still, have the wrong idea about what fun is.

Fun is NOT getting drunk on a Friday night.
Fun is NOT surfing TV or the internet.
Fun is NOT attracting likes on Facebook.
Fun is NOT in the next new car or pair of shoes you buy.
Fun is NOT found in walking around a shopping centre.

What kills fun?
As children, having fun came naturally and easily; making friends and being funny was a daily joy. As school, parents and even religious institutions start to influence our belief systems, we start to do things to please others and spend precious energy worrying about what they think. We stop smiling as much and take ourselves too seriously. We are told to sit still for long periods, follow orders, and conform. We are asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, instead of “How would you like to help others and contribute to society”. Then, as we become adults, we start watching the news and learning fear. We learn to complain, we start to blame, we focus on fault, we become cynical, even miserable or at best, mediocre. Most of all, we stop scheduling time to have fun as we focus more and more on the material world. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with owning things, as long as those things don’t start to own you.

Do you need to be happy to have fun?
Yes and no. Being happy makes having fun easier but having fun also makes you happy.

Being unhappy or in a bad mood is a signal from your body and mind that you need to change something in your life. You need to change your thinking, change your diet/lifestyle or even change the people you hang out with. These changes require effort and time and having fun should not wait for those changes to happen. So, the shortcut is to force yourself to do fun things so you can be happy in that moment. Most of us don’t feel like having fun when we are in a bad mood, but that is when we need it the most. So you need to force yourself to get up and get out.

So how do you have fun?
Here are 5 tips to give you a fun mindset and 18 ideas for having fun:

  1. Turn your frown upside down and change your posture. Your body language has a huge impact on your mindset (and vice versa). I make a point of laughing out loud every day. There is a lot of research on this subject but my favourite layman’s talk is by Amy Cuddy on TED, (with over 14 million views) titled “Your body language may shape who you are”.
  2. Watch and listen to comedy movies and stand-up. Scientists have shown that doing this makes you a funnier person, which puts you in the mood to have fun. It also makes you more intelligent, which is an added bonus. I personally watch a short comedy skit every night as part of my nightly routine. My favourites are Arj Barker, Kitty Flanagan, Jim Jefferies and Russell Peters.
  3. Surprise your family and friends. Be a prankster and do the unexpected. Go home at the end of the day with a bunch of balloons for the kids. Print your favourite funny family photos and stick them in unusual places. My daughter Amelia taught me this. She transposed her mum’s face on an image of the Mona Lisa and stuck it on the inside of the pantry cupboard, wardrobe, etc. You should have heard the cackles every time a door opened! This went on for days.
  4. Surprise your customers and/or staff. I have coached a few mortgage brokers on how to have fun with customers on the phone and in person – and it works! Instant rapport. Turn up to an appointment with a box of chocolates or a funny book or movie tickets – be thoughtful. Your choice depends on what info they give you over the phone before the appointment. Make sure you make the customers feel like its obligation free. It’s all in the delivery. At MSA we constantly surprise our team with fun and unexpected things. One day we filled the breakout room with delicious treats in a Willy Wonka theme and we had Adriano Zumbo deliver them. The vibe in the office was electric with smiles and selfies. We are all big kids in a candy store waiting to come out!
  5. Use Fun Emoji’s and be funny with your emails and texts. This does not make you unprofessional as long as this fun approach is coupled with displays of competence. Fun communications just makes you more human and interesting and people will be genuinely intrigued to meet you in person. With one client I coached, we simply made her voicemail message more fun and customer referrals increased significantly. She became known as the fun mortgage broker who knew her stuff! With another client, we changed his email auto-response and the rapport with customers increased dramatically! He started getting more appointments.

Here are some ways I have fun:

  1. Organize a card night with whisky, cigars or whatever makes you happy.
  2. Go on a country drive on weekends with a cavalcade of cars.
  3. Pretend you are a tourist and/or put on an accent for the day – my daughter loves this.
  4. Go to the farmers market or better still, go fruit picking at a farm.
  5. Invite your neighbours over. Especially the weird ones!
  6. Host a movie night with popcorn and ice cream.
  7. Share your bucket list with others and talk about what each means to you.
  8. Go through your old photos and relive stories. This does not mean you live in the past. Rather, it inspires future adventures.
  9. Go on a bike ride. The wind in your hair makes you smile.
  10. Go bowling or better still, play lawn bowls.
  11. Take turns cooking – boys cooking for the girls always ends in laughter.
  12. Go to the park and on the swing set with your kids.
  13. Play board games or charades.
  14. Tell or read your kids stories at bedtime.
  15. Play backyard cricket or touch footy.
  16. Attend a seminar with colleagues – yes learning should be fun.
  17. Organise a surprise party for a friend or family member.
  18. Go dancing! My wife’s favourite.

Do you notice how all of the above do not require much, if any, money? Did you also notice that all of the above is best enjoyed with friends? Life is boring without friendships.

Some measure their wealth by their bank account. I measure it by the quality of my friendships, which includes my own family and my work colleagues. How many close friends do you have? Do you hang out with people that make you laugh? These are the most important questions you should first ask yourself. Making friends with the right people is your first step to having fun.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to fill your life with fun!

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You Matter

There is a statistic that scares many businesses: 67% of customers don’t return to do business with a company because of the attitude of just one person. This scares companies with a poor culture, the ones that have no idea what to expect from their team. This statistic is an opportunity! We individually have the power to make a big difference in a customer’s life.

Maybe you think that because you don’t have a qualification or you are not a team manager or a senior staff member that you don’t matter. Think again. Here are seven things that matter that require zero qualifications:

Be on time.

Be organised.

Be nice.

Help the person next to you.

Don’t complain.

Have enthusiasm and smile a lot.

Have a strong work ethic.

Remember that working hard doesn’t kill you, its stress that does, and stress all comes down to your attitude. If you watch the clock waiting to go home, time will go slow and you will feel frustrated, but if you put your heart into each and every task you perform, you will go home feeling satisfied and happy. An example of being present is prepping documents by focusing intently, another is listening attentively to someone without distraction, whether it is a client, your colleague, or your family when you get home. Try switching off pop up notifications on technology to increase attention and focus.

To learn how to be the best version of you, join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019

Become the CEO of your own brand

Your personal brand is what makes you unique and instantly recognisable, it’s a fact that people with a positive brand are more successful.

Here are 5 tips to develop an inspirational brand.

  1. Be ridiculously good at what you do. Most people talk about how good they are but the ones who let their work do the talking develop the best personal brand. Associate with people with a strong work ethic.
  2. Know and live by your personal values and never compromise them to fit in, people will respect you for it. Some values include: honesty, humility, humour, patience, generosity, kindness, fairness, respect, and reliability. Let your words and actions reflect these values. It’s easier to live by your values if you hang out with people who share them.
  3. Wear clothes that are true to your personal style. If you’re sporty by nature – dress that way, if you’re posh – dress classy, people will start to associate you with that style. The aim is to be comfortable with who you are. Nobody likes a fake; which means ignoring trends.
  4. Keep learning and keep developing your brand by developing yourself. Every night I go home to be with Deepak Chopra, Steve Jobs, C S Lewis, Jim Rohn, Martin Seligman, Daniel Pink, Sir Ken Robinson, Anthony Robbins, Stephen Covey. I have read all of their books and each have shaped my personal brand in one way or another.
  5. Be original. Oscar Wilde once said “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” One of the great tragedies of life is that we are born into this genius, this originality, this authenticity, and yet the world beats it out of us. Our parents and teachers, well intentioned, say, “Be like everyone else, talk like everyone else, think like everyone else, don’t be a disrupter.” As we grow through life there’s this resignation into mediocrity. My advice to you is to find your hidden talents, not the talents of the person in the workstation next to you. Walk your talk, live your values and ask yourself, “How can I return to originality?”

To learn how to establish and improve your personal brand, join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019.

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5 of the Healthiest Foods for Women

The following in order of importance are especially beneficial to women’s health:

  1. Bone broth – if you want beautiful hair, skin and nails, bone broth made from organic meats is a great place to start. Many people focus on beauty by undergoing expensive treatments and applying liberal amounts of creams and serums, but effortless beauty starts on the inside and is 900% more effective than topical creams. Bone broth is packed full of nutrients like amino acids and gelatin, is easily digestible, great for your immune system and joints and can help to repair gut issues you may have from consuming too many grains and sweets over the years. It is cost effective and is so easy to make, check out this 50-second video: https://youtu.be/8F5e3nro_RA
  2. Greens are excellent for boosting folate and iron levels, which are essential for boosting energy in women – iron supplements are very difficult to digest. These nutrients are also critical in women considering pregnancy. Which greens? Salad greens like lettuce, baby spinach, kale, beet greens, broccoli, and herbs such as parsley, basil, coriander, thyme and oregano. Sage in particular is very powerful to alleviate menstrual pain.
  3. Organic eggs, especially the runny yolk is easily digestible and contains the amino acids lutein and choline, which help balance female hormones. They are also high in Vitamin D and E, which are great for the skin. The phospholipids in eggs also boost brainpower.
  4. Berries – especially blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries are very cleansing for the urinary tract. Berries are also powerful antioxidants, which prevent skin aging and sunspots. Pomegranate is not a berry, but has the same cleansing antioxidant effect. My personal favourite is blueberries because they taste great in smoothies.
  5. Flax Seed is high in fibre and essential fats, which promotes healthy skin and hair (anti-aging and hormone balancing). They are also high in a special type of antioxidant called lignans, which eliminate yeast and candida from the body. The best use of flax seed is in your morning smoothie by soaking two flat tablespoons overnight. Avoid buying and using pre-ground flax seed, ‘golden’ flax seed is the highest in lignans.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn about how what you eat can affect your lifestyle.

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7 Morning Rituals for Success

Developing a ritual for the first 30-45 minutes of your day can be the difference between a mediocre life and a motivational one.

I created a morning ritual that sets me up mentally and emotionally to tackle the day like an athlete, I follow this ritual no matter where I am in the world – workdays, weekends or on holidays. You should develop a set of rituals that work best for you.

  1. Deep Breathing. Start the morning by going outside, barefoot on the grass. Breathe in for three seconds, hold in for four seconds and out for five. Do this 5 times and set reminders to do this throughout the day to combat shallow breathing. Deep breathing oxygenates your cells and signals your mitochondria to release energy. Do it frequently with tall stretches to really feel the benefits.
  2. Morning Detox Elixir. Drink your first litre of water within the first hour of the day, dehydration means low energy. Don’t reach for a coffee when you wake up, water is cleansing and helps activate your metabolism. My morning elixir recipe has helped me to avoid cold and flu for the past 12 years: cup of warm/hot water, lemon juice, turmeric and crushed ginger. Sip this during your morning routine before you leave the house.
  3. Supercharge Your Central Nervous System. Either jog for 15 mins or do five minutes of push-ups/squat jumps, followed by a semi-cold shower or a swim. It’s cold in winter, but the effects of cold water are invigorating and much more sustainable than caffeine.
  4. Meditation Is Detox For The Mind. Spend 10-15 minutes meditating using the Headspace App. This helps you filter out any background noise and helps you zone in on what’s important. It also helps you live in the moment for the rest of the day so you can really listen to people.
  5. Journaling Is Clarity. Spend 5 minutes re-reading your goals and your bucket list and then write and visualise what you want to achieve for the day. Not just for work but in all aspects e.g. what you will eat, when you will exercise, and planning your social agenda with family and friends. You should also use the journal to reflect on how you feel if something is bothering you. It helps you witness and process your feelings. We all experience negative emotions, the key is what you do with them.
  6. Prepare And Pack. The most common reason people don’t eat well or exercise is because they are unprepared. Taking 20 minutes to prepare food and workout gear is probably the best thing you can do to set up your day. My prep includes a superfood smoothie for breakfast that I sip throughout my morning containing a combination of nutrients.
  7. Podcast Your Commute. Podcasts and audiobooks are a great way to learn and grow whilst making use of dead time like travel time. Some of my favourite podcasts are The Tim Ferris Show, TED Talks Business, TED Talks Health and Comedy Central Stand-Up. There are thousands of podcasts and audiobooks to choose from.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to design your perfect day.

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Is speed killing your life?

We live in a culture that is addicted to speed. We eat fast, talk fast, work fast as we try to cram more and more in the day. And this is having dire consequences on our lives at home and at work.

Why have we caught this disease called ‘speed’? Why are we doing everything faster in the name of good customer service? And why have we peddled the idea that speed of service is the performance criteria by which customers judge us. Has anyone stopped to ask, “Do customers really want fast service? Or do they want good, attentive, thorough service?”

If your business is running on speed, it is not sustainable. In the short term you will get results, but over the medium to long term, the bubble will burst. You and your team will get stressed and tired; absenteeism will rise. And that’s when you start seeing productivity drop AND worse still, you will start to lose good people.

9 signs you are addicted to the stress of SPEED:

Do you experience 3 or more of the following symptoms?

  1. You find it difficult to sit and do nothing for more than 10 minutes.
  2. You find it difficult to focus and listen to what the other person is saying.
  3. You eat at your desk or in your car and get indigestion.
  4. Poor concentration and irritability.
  5. You need alcohol to relax and constantly crave carbs/sweets.
  6. You rely on coffee for energy.
  7. You suffer from intermittent insomnia.
  8. You find it difficult to notice beauty around you. Or you are numb to it.
  9. Loss of creativity and passion.

Business consequences of speed:

  • Hurried consultations with no real customer connection.
  • Inability to really listen to your customer.
  • Higher error rates.
  • Irate customers from regular misunderstandings.
  • Lower performance.

12 Excellent Strategies for Slowing Down

  1. Don’t schedule in more than two meetings per day.
  2. Unless you are a mortgage broker, don’t schedule any meetings after 3pm It is the most unproductive time of day and also the time of day where most misunderstandings and conflicts occur.
  3. Don’t pick up your second line (or call waiting) when you are already on a phone call.
  4. Don’t rush your meetings or phone calls. Take your time and ensure that you understand the other person.
  5. Turn notifications and pop-ups OFF, on all your devices. They train your mind to live out of the present moment and therefore make it difficult for you connect and listen to others.
  6. Take at least 2 renewal breaks throughout the day to stretch, breath and meditate for 5 minutes.
  7. Don’t take on too much work. Learn to say ‘no’.
  8. Don’t rush individual tasks. Enjoy doing them to the best of your ability knowing and reminding yourself that the quality of your work affects the customer.
  9. Don’t accept any last minute deadlines imposed on you. Last-minute deadlines usually arise from somebody else’s inefficiency. It is somebody else’s problem. Don’t make it yours unless it is truly a rare exception requiring you to go beyond the call of duty.
  10. Take at least 45 minutes for lunch and pack from home at least three days in the week. You will get more nutrition and you will save money.
  11. Take a walk after work, preferably where there is a park or trees. Go alone.
  12. Keep a photo on your desk and look at it throughout the day. It could be a photo of your partner, your children or a picture of your next holiday destination.
  13. Sleep more.

If you’re interested in reading more about the dangers of speed I highly recommend the books,

“In Praise of Slow” and “The Slow Fix”, both by Carl Honore.

Sam Makhoul, Managing Director and Chief Wellness Officer @ MSA National.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to slow down.

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How to Find Your Blue Zone

Starting in Sardinia, I have been travelling the Mediterranean for the past 4 weeks and have spent many days visiting the renowned ‘blue zones’ where there is the highest concentration of centenarians. What struck me about the people in these areas is the complete lack of focus on health and fitness, yet they live such a long and happy life. There isn’t a gym and green juice bar in sight.

We in the west are obsessed with the physical and the ‘secrets’ to long life and that golden elixir. Is it fish oil or turmeric? Is it meditation? Is it eating paleo or eating vegan? Yes, these things do help (slightly) but they pale into insignificance in comparison to other more important ‘rules’ for living.

My sense of curiosity led me to connect and ask many questions of the locals I met. And there were many – equally curious and friendly. They always had a ready smile and welcoming demeanour. You’d be surprised how many speak English!

The following is a list of the main reasons why I think people in these blue zones live such a long life. You will notice that these rules for living have less to do with the physical and much more with the symbiotic relationship the physical has with the intellectual, emotional and spiritual. For example, eating food is not just a physical experience for them. They pray before they eat and the largest meal of the day is a daily social affair. There is music, sometimes dancing.

They are Very Social

They socialise, almost every night with a wide and close network of family and friends. They are high touch, less tech and therefore affectionate. When they greet you with a juicy kiss on both cheeks and a hug, you really feel that they mean it. Conversations are sharp and engaging with little small talk. There is passion and sometimes debate. They play games – cards and board games.

They Eat Food with Flavour

People from the Blue Zone are passionate about eating food that is flavoursome and true to their heritage. They do not eat Chinese one night, followed by Indian and then Italian. They eat fruit and vegetables that is in season and from the local area. When I was there, it was peaches, apricots and cherries and nothing else. What surprised me though is how little they eat, with only one large meal per day. And yes they eat carbs, lots of it. Coffee and pastry in the morning. Bread, pizza and pasta is lathered in cold pressed olive oil, usually from a nearby olive grove. They are not obsessed with eating protein, which is usually fish in summer and meat in the colder months. Local wine and seasonal cheese almost every day.

They are Solar Powered and Move for Purpose

They spend a lot of time in the sun. Especially in the summer months when they are almost always outside. They move a lot for work but rarely exercise. Exercise is dancing or ‘playing’ sport; you know, having fun. Mind numbing time on a treadmill seems foreign to them. “Why do that?” Francesca asked, seeming puzzled at the lack of purpose. “You are going no-where!” she joked.

They Take Naps

They sleep long and well and have a nap after lunch, especially during summer when it is hot.

They Drink Spring Water and Breath Clean Air

The air is clean in the blue zones, really clean and it has a softness about it. Taking deep breaths seems easier on the lungs.

Local spring water is everywhere and naturally high in minerals. I visited a public ‘watering place’ where there were numerous taps flowing constantly. There were people lined up to fill up bottles for home. With plastic cup in my hand, one man laughed and warned me, in broken English, not to drink too much from one tap as he gestured to his stomach. I knew what he meant. It was naturally sparkling and would clean me out. He pointed to another tap and said it had minerals to lower blood pressure. All this water came flowing down from the top of the mountain above us.

They Have Faith

They are religious and go to church. They pray. They believe in a creator and have faith that God ‘has their back’. They are constantly aware of their mortality but not afraid of it. One man, Alessandro, told me that being aware of his mortality makes him live with purpose without wasting a day. “I am not afraid to die because I know I would have lived a full life surrounded by family and friends…”

I think that ultimately it is this fearlessness that makes them live longer.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to find your personal blue zone.

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Sex, Lies & Fasting

Should we fast from sex and other pleasures? Before I get into the science of why we should, I want to make one observation about the lies we have been fed by most sexperts who peddle the idea that if you are not having sex with your partner 2-5 times per week then there must be something wrong with the relationship. Trashy magazines thrive on this message as much as personal trainers thrive on the message you need to work out in one-hour intervals. Both are simply NOT true. Both create a state of fear and guilt.

So much has been written in recent years about the benefits of intermittent food fasting. Research shows that fasting puts us into a state of ‘autophagy’. Put simply it means the body goes into self-cleaning mode, which boosts the immune system and slows down ageing.

It begs the question; does fasting from sex and other pleasures also have health benefits? Yes it does. In fact it is so much more powerful because fasting from pleasures impacts our mental and emotional health in a profound way.

Fasting from pleasurable things short-circuits our tendency to lose appreciation for them. Psychologists call this tendency, hedonic adaptation – the idea that no matter how good something makes us feel, over time we take it for granted and lose the thrill. We return to an emotional base line, even after the most exciting of purchases, like a new car or a new house.

The problem is that this baseline is shifting. Why? Because we live in an era of extreme affluence where money and technology are making pleasurable things so accessible. Relationships are only a swipe away, so too is our favourite restaurant. Luxury cars, fine foods, bags, shoes, computers, phones; the list of comforts and pleasures is growing year on year and yet, people are unhappier than ever. Depression is skyrocketing. It makes no sense, right?

Hedonic adaptation also works for us during periods of war and economic hardship because it forces us to appreciate what we have and returns us to our baseline. But during periods of affluence it works against us. We lose appreciation for everyday comforts, food, people and sex. People who stray in a relationship are a product of hedonic adaptation. They lose the thrill and go chasing it elsewhere. People who binge on food, alcohol, gambling or even drugs are chasing to fill that same emotional gap.

Therefore, the enemy is NOT hedonic adaptation. It is a useful evolutionary survival mechanism, much in the same way the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism is. The enemy is hedonism itself and the lack of control we have over our appetites.

Psychologists use two tools to manage hedonic adaptation. And I will add a third one. Fasting.

The first technique involves practicing gratefulness, which is familiar to most; to be mindful and appreciative of all that you have. To give thanks. How does this help? I think only marginally. This might be a provocative and controversial position I am taking. You see I believe that being grateful only gives us a temporary(even fleeting) positive state before we gorge on that huge cone of chocolate ice cream or, buy that next pair of shoes that we do not need but is “oh so necessary because it is in a different shade of blue” to the one we already own. So I ask you. Is it ok to over-indulge just because we are grateful for it? Not in my books, because being mindful enough to stop and feel grateful for an over-indulgence does not make it less of an indulgence. And it does not teach self-control.

The second technique is to practice variety. Try a different routine. Eat vanilla ice cream instead of chocolate, try a new sex position or read a book together instead of watching TV, go to a different holiday destination, or try a macchiato instead of a cappuccino. It is arguable that this technique, if not practiced correctly, can make matters worse by feeding our hedonistic tendencies. So, you buy a Chanel bag instead of an LV one. That’s variety for you! It is still an over-indulgence. And again, it does nothing for our self-control.

Which brings us to fasting. This is much more effective because it directly strengthens our ability to control our appetite for all manner of desires and pleasures. It is no coincidence that all major world religions practice some form of fasting. And not just from food. Fasting goes deeper than practicing variety and forces us into a state of gratefulness. It also forces us to be present and mindful when we eventually return to the experience we are fasting from, because it will feel like the ‘first time’. All your senses will be heightened. This is why traveling to new places makes you feel so alive. You are experiencing things that are normally outside of your daily routine.

How do you practice fasting? Simply by abstaining and practicing moderation from all of your favourite things. And the more you value your favourite things, the more you should want to protect them. Because the more you fast from them, the more you will appreciate and savour them.

If you love working, you need to practice abstination by taking regular breaks from work. My performance is off the charts when I return from holidays. Do you love dark chocolate? Indulge occasionally in small portions.  You should see my face when I am savouring every molecule of chocolate after a month of abstination. My wife says it is priceless.

Some of my favourite things that I regularly fast from include: a fine dining restaurant, wine (esp. Yarra Valley Pinot Noir), Macallan scotch whisky, driving a convertible (any), Italian cheese and bread, drinking TWG teas, listening to my favourite music (currently The Weeknd), watching my favourite TV shows and yes, even making out with my wife.

I’d love to hear your list of favourites and how you would fast from them.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to practice gratefulness.

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How do you slow down time?

Have you ever looked back on a day or week or month or year and thought, ‘where did the time go?’ You are not alone. Almost everyone is experiencing this phenomenon where time feels like it is flying by.

For some limited number of people however, they look back on the same period and feel ‘wow there was so much I did.’ People in this latter category will one day lay on their death bed and think, ‘I lived a full long life. I am grateful for every minute.’

What is the difference between the two mindsets? We all have 24 hours in the day. For some it feels full, but most others, fast and uneventful.

In the present moment, time is the same for all of us. It has an infinite feel about it, especially if you are in a state of flow or meditation. But the passing of time is only evident upon reflection. This is where it is relative and feels different for all of us. Therefore, you cannot slow down time in the present but you can either look back on it as if it went fast or as if it went slow.

Have you ever gone for a long road trip and noticed that it took forever to get to your destination, but on the way back, it felt so much faster? This gives you a clue into the reason for the relativity of time.

Everyone Dies, Not Everyone Lives

The answer to the conundrum of time lies in your five senses: seeing, touching, smelling, hearing, and tasting.

When your five senses experience the same thing every day, they become numb. Consequently, you become too familiar with the known. Some call that their ‘comfort zone’ when in reality it is a dead zone where you spend your seconds, minutes, hours and days living predominantly from the subconscious. You are not really conscious of your thoughts, feelings and decisions. Consequently, you look back on your life and feel like nothing much happened and you interpret that as ‘time flying’.

So, while everyone is pursuing a long life, the real answer is to pursue a conscious one.

The BIG question is how do you live a conscious life? What is the formula? We hear so much about being ‘mindful’, but mindfulness is very different to consciousness. The former is all about witnessing. The latter is more about decisions and actions that help you live a purposeful life where the speed of time is in your control. The latter can only happen when you choose to live with fearlessness and adventure. This is where your five senses come alive.

I have been teaching a 5-step method called the Circle of Conscious Living, which I have personally lived by from a very young age. I explain this method in great detail in my book, A Higher Branch. I apologise if this sounds like click bait but I am not asking you to buy my book – instead I want to invite you and your family to a holiday destination where you will hear from a line-up of leading global experts and learn to upgrade every aspect of your life.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life, 17-20 January 2019.

This is an event like no other, curated by my team and I at A Higher Branch Success Academy. The program, parties and experiences we have organised will stimulate every one of your senses, and arm you with a new framework for living consciously.

This is a truly unique event not to be missed and an opportunity to join an exclusive community and network with thought leaders from all over the world.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to live on your own time.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019

The Rich Get Richer – The Wise Get Wealthier

A dear friend of mine is slowly climbing out of a financial mess. He had invested his time, money and energy in the wrong areas and then unfortunately lost much of his savings. He put his life on hold for much of the decade. He worked tirelessly because his plan was to make enough money so he could eventually retire and spend time travelling with his wife and ‘being happy’. The following is a snapshot of what I shared with him.

Imagine if you were a tall beautiful tree with two branches. The left branch reaches high into the sky with a barren trunk and the most abundant fruit is sitting at the very top. The right branch reaches away from the left branch but then curls back towards it at the very top. This right branch has an abundance of lower lying fruit scattered throughout and is easier to climb.

This ‘money’ tree is a metaphor for creating wealth. The left branch represents investing your money in shares, bank deposits or real estate. The right branch is where you invest in yourself. I see so many people trying to climb the left branch too early in life and then fall. They lose their money and become despondent. They end up quitting on the idea of being rich. The mistake they make is this. The left branch may or may not make you rich, but it will never make you wealthy. Only the right branch can do that.

Being rich gives you money, but being wealthy gives you freedom. The irony is that most wealthy people I know have both freedom and money, and they all have one thing in common. They invest in themselves by climbing the right branch first.

What does it mean to invest in yourself? It means to spend your time, energy and money improving the following areas of your life: health, love, family, work, friendships, learning and showing charity to others.

As you invest more and more in these areas, you are climbing your way up that right branch and getting closer to the top of the left one. A funny thing happens when you actively live your best life. You put yourself in a position to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way.

When you live a complete life that makes you happy, healthy and loved, you start to develop a positive frame of mind and a warm attitude. This attracts good things and good people to you. These often come with opportunities to work and invest in new ideas that excite you and make money for you.

Then, and only then, should you invest some of your time and money on the left branch. Whether you make money or not, you will always have your wealth. No one can ever take that away from you.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to invest in yourself.

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How to Love Your Life

  1. Health – Cherish your body. Nothing else matters more. Focus on the energy you have. Eat well, exercise and relax daily. Fill your daily life with purposeful activities that give your body a reason to manifest energy.
  2. Love – Love yourself by looking after your health and guarding your mind against negative images, negative thinking and negative associations. Look your best by wearing clothes that make you feel attractive. Have the courage to show and give love to your life partner, whether or not they give it back. Tell your partner daily what you love about them – words are powerful. Work just as much on your love life as you do on your work.
  3. Family – Support your family at all times. Give them the confidence to pursue their goals and dreams. Help them overcome obstacles. Focus on their strengths and their good qualities. Remind them daily of their worth. Tell them you love them no matter what happens – whether they succeed or fail at anything. Spend time developing a relationship with all family members.
  4. Work – Choose to love your work. Always do your best. Focus on the difference that your product or service is making to society. Have empathy for your customers. Value the privilege of serving them from the heart. Be grateful that you live in a society where there is the opportunity to work. At all times be honest in the execution of your work. Master your job by constantly learning and evolving. Always ask yourself, ‘can I do this job better?’ Be impeccable in your conduct at work. Be fearless in your execution.
  5. Friendship – Let your words, laughter and charm bring a smile to others. Help your friends see the lighter side of life and not take themselves too seriously. Act with integrity and hold true to your standards and beliefs. Never compromise them to be popular. Never pre-judge others. Be open to new friendships. Always greet people with a smile and a friendly hello. How others respond is their own reality and has nothing to do with you.
  6. Learning – Commit to 45 minutes of learning daily about every aspect of your life and not just your work and wealth. Limit watching TV and other popular media. Watch uplifting talks by great thinkers on TED.com. Read books from pioneering minds. Attend courses and seminars organised by people who care and have something unique to share. Listen twice as much you talk. Discover your talents by having self-awareness for your thoughts and feelings. Live a conscious life where you decide what you want to listen to, read and watch. Develop a growth mindset.
  7. Wealth – Invest in yourself first before you invest your money. If you have a business invest in your own field of dreams first before investing with others on the stock market. Live a frugal lifestyle and reduce your dependence on money. Spend less, save more. Say no to consumerism and your addiction to buying more and more things that end up collecting dust or in land fill. Spend money on experiences. But don’t skimp on things that improve your life like better quality food or better quality education for you and your children.
  8. Charity – Learn about the plight of others in need. Don’t shut yourself out to other people’s suffering. Help others by giving your time and/or money. Charity does not have to be grand. A simple kind word of support is sometimes all that someone needs. Help a team member at work.  Share an idea that can help a friend live a better life or simply listen to them without distraction.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to upgrade each of the eight areas of your life.

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The 10 attributes of greatness

What does it take to live a life less ordinary? 

  1. Ordinary people can fool anyone in the short term. Great people build trust and earn respect for the long term.
  2. Ordinary people panic about deadlines and forget their priorities. Great people know that spending time with family and friends, and doing work that matters is all that counts.
  3. Ordinary people spend too much time talking and complaining. Great people take action quietly and without fuss.
  4. Ordinary people watch TV when they get home. Great people read/listen to books, write in their journal and meditate.
  5. Ordinary people seek attention. Great people let their work and conduct speak for them.
  6. Ordinary people dodge responsibility – “someone else will clean up the problem”. Great people take ownership of challenges with a smile on their face.
  7. Ordinary people gossip and tear others down to get ahead. Great people take others with them on the way up.
  8. Ordinary people skip class or lectures or seminars. Great people know that education and learning pays off.
  9. Ordinary people pick up takeaway food on the way home. Great people pick up groceries, cook at home and make enough for lunch the next day.
  10. Ordinary people react defensively to customers with gripes or demands. Great people listen patiently and show empathy.

We all can act ordinary sometimes. Great people, however, are mindful when they are being ordinary and step up to greatness every time.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to become extraordinary.

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Sleep More, Get Smart

Whenever I suggest getting more sleep to motivated people who are always on the go, I am often met with ‘are you insane?!’, followed by a ‘yawn’Not only because the topic bores them but also because they are sleep deprived. I’m guilty on both counts.

We might go through periods where we sleep less and for good reason. For example, when we travel to exciting destinations and are constantly on the go. Or when we work on projects that stimulate us. But there comes a tipping point where the mind and body say, ‘hey, enough is enough, you need to chill’.

Benefits of sleep:

  • You will look more attractive (that’s why they call it ‘beauty sleep’)
  • You will improve your memory
  • You will lower your stress levels
  • You will be smarter. Albert Einstein needed 10 hours sleep a night.

The best thing about sleep is that it’s free. It’s the best supplement that money can’t buy. It’s a daily detox for the mind. Some people swear by meditation to relax but research shows that sleep is far more effective.

Here are three tips that will get you the best night’s sleep:

  1. Do 30 minutes of cardio exercise after work.
  2. Get some sun around midday.
  3. Have a laugh in the last hour before you go to bed. Hang out with fun people or watch your favourite comedy.

Remember that one hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours sleep after midnight. So, get to bed early!

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to discover your chrono-type for optimal sleep performance and the myth behind the eight hour sleep cycle.

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Your patch of grass

Imagine there is a severe drought and you only have one bucket of water. You look out onto your lawn and notice that most of it is doing ok, except for one small brown patch. Will you water the green flourishing grass, or will you try and save the struggling brown patch?

In this example, water represents your time and energy, and you are the grass. The point is this: We all have limited time and energy in a day. The question is, how do we use those two precious resources? Most of us will use them doing things that we are already good at (i.e. watering the green patch) and ignore improving our weaknesses, our brown patch, because it takes time and effort.

However, the key to making progress in life is to work on our weaknesses:

  • If you are a good talker, chances are you are a poor listener. Learn to consciously listen and practice it daily.
  • If you lose concentration and make silly errors, remind yourself to ignore external distraction and cross-check your work thoroughly.
  • If you go to the gym, don’t just work out your chest, work harder on your leg and back exercises. Also, don’t just lift weights, work hard on your cardio and flexibility.

When you work on your weaknesses, you become a well-rounded person with many talents and strengths. A full and complete beautiful patch of green grass.

More importantly, when you work on your weaknesses, you will feel like you are growing and developing to be the best you can. Research shows that the key to happiness in life is to keep making progress. Every time you achieve a new goal (no matter how small), your body releases the feel-good hormone called dopamine, which is very powerful at keeping you happy for longer. It’s the ‘joy of the journey’.

Most positive psychology experts focus on being grateful to make you happy, which means appreciating your strengths. But most ignore the other more powerful way to be constantly happy and that is to push yourself and work hard on your weaknesses, daily!

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to craft a fun, fulfilling and complete life.

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How can your family boost your wellness at work?

I know what you’re thinking: how can my family possibly boost my wellness at work? They don’t work with me. They don’t know the first thing about my job. How can they help me be more productive, enthusiastic, engaging and energetic at work? The truth is, they can.

When you are successful with your family first, their support, love and energy help you become a happier person and this becomes reflected in the work you do. In the 70s and 80s, business people like you and I could neglect our family and still succeed at work. It came at a price, but we could do it. However, in the 21st Century, the new entrepreneurs are more successful with their family first and ironically these same people outperform everyone else in their work life.

Here are four tips I would like to share with you when it comes to family:

  1. Never put work ahead of your family – especially your children.

This reminds me of a friend of mine who confided in me because he was very upset that his daughter was moving out of home. He told me that she was going to university, she was moving into an apartment with some friends and she was really excited about it.

I told him “you should be very happy for her; it’s an exciting time in her life, think back to when you were starting uni?” He said “yeah, I know, but when she loaded up the suitcase in the back of her car, I just felt that she wasn’t just excited about going to her new apartment, she was more thrilled to be leaving our soul-less home.”

My friend was heartbroken because he had no bond with his daughter to keep her coming back – they had no connection. Her permanent impression of him was the father who never arrived home in time to read her a story or tuck her into bed, or was too busy to go bike riding with her.

He is a very successful person with lots of money in the bank. But let me tell you, he would give it back just to have that connection with his daughter. Money can’t buy that!

Which leads me to the next tip:

  1. Give family your time – not just your money.

Going shopping or watching TV does not count as quality time. Talking and really listening, is how you develop a bond. If you have kids, have one-on-one time with each child. Spending one-on-one time with each of your kids lets them know you value them as a person and builds a bond. If my friend had been spending quality time with his daughter over the years, do you think his daughter would have been more likely to come back and visit him?

I spend Saturday afternoons with my daughter: it’s daddy-daughter time. Do you think that when she’s older she’s not going to remember, Saturday afternoon: daddy-daughter time? It’s wired in her: I need to see my father.

One very simple thing you can do to really connect with your family is:

  1. Turn off the TV.

One thing we do in our family, instead of turning on the TV on a Sunday night and or watching a movie, is we take turns to stand up in front of each other, in the lounge room and talk about something that happened to us during the week or something we are excited about that’s coming up. It’s a chance for each of our kids to stand up, boost their confidence and engage.

  1. Turn off your phone when you get home.

A lot of people in sales fall into this trap. They feel that they must be on call 24/7. They don’t want to miss a call. But customers do not expect that. They expect to deal with someone real.

A sincere voicemail fixes that! Something along the lines of:

“You’ve called, Sam Makhoul. If my phone is off, it means I am spending time with my family or serving another customer. But rest assured when I do get your message I will call you back and give you my upmost attention.”

I guarantee that the person will leave a message because they will see that this person is real and he cares for his family, and they will respect that.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to create a personalised life plan for 2019.

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Forgiveness is always on your path to greatness

Many great people don’t realise they’re brilliant simply because they get stuck in the past. You can choose to stay angry at someone who hurt you or you can forgive them and move on to live an amazing life. You cannot do both!

Getting hurt is a reality of living and if you do not forgive a person that really hurt you, it will feel like you are carrying that person on your shoulders through life. If you fail to forgive, how can you be creative or maximise your productivity? How can you learn or teach effectively? How can you do iconic things if you are carrying the past on your shoulders the whole time? You simply can’t.

You need to forgive, here’s how!

 1. Don’t judge the person that hurt you.
Try to understand them. Remember the saying; “Don’t judge a person unless you have walked a mile in their shoes…” Maybe that person who was abrupt with you is feeling the pressure of meeting their monthly target. Or the customer who was rude to you is struggling financially. Or the person who cut you off in traffic just received a call from their doctor telling them they have cancer.

Everyone behaves according to his or her own personal reality. If someone did something to you because they thought you were not being nice to them or they thought you were being dishonest, that person has created their own story, their own reality. You just happen to fall into their perception. They were stuck on their assumptions, they were stuck in their core beliefs and they were stuck in their own pain. So, don’t judge them. Choose to understand them instead.

2. Communicate with the people that hurt you.
It takes a lot of courage to speak up and say, “When you did this, this is how I felt. You crossed a boundary that’s important to me.” Don’t judge them. Don’t attack them. Just communicate. It will get it out of your system and it will teach them how to better treat you. If they don’t get it, then maybe this person is not who you want in your life.

Remember that forgiveness isn’t only for the person who wronged you, it is a gift you give yourself.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how forgiveness plays an important part in the five step method for conscious living.

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Face-to-face Learning Beats Online

Sharing information by reading posts and watching YouTube videos is okay, but nowhere near as effective as learning and interacting with speakers and delegates in a live environment.

We live in a fast-paced world where we rarely get the chance to read and absorb all the information available online. We do not have the framework to store this information in our mind’s hard drive.

Meeting face-to-face with experts, at an off-site location, gets us fully immersed in the content. Meeting like-minded people motivates change.

At our events, you get to take a close look at your life using a unique methodology and design a highly motivating action plan for each area of your life. You will leave feeling refreshed from the fun activities we have organised for you, your family and friends. You will also make new friends, experience new and exciting holiday destinations, and go on unforgettable tours that will live with you forever.

Our annual events are amazing places to network and learn. Let the team at A Higher Branch Success Academy take you to new levels of happiness and performance.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to craft a fun, fulfilling and complete life.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019

The Power of 8

Holistically, there are eight areas of your life that define and complete you. They each make up the sum of you. In order of importance they are your health, love life, family, work, friendships, learning, wealth and charity to others.

When you devote your focus and attention and spend time and energy daily in each of these eight areas, you will automatically achieve balance and completeness in your life. It will reflect in your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual state. You will be energetic, sharp, engaging and have an air of self-confidence about you. You will look and feel attractive. You will have great relationships. People will enjoy being around you, give you that job and their business.

These eight areas of your life have a symbiotic relationship. They each complement and support the other. Neglect even just one area and you will not feel complete. Neglect more than one and you will notice your health and happiness dip even further.

The team at A Higher Branch Success Academy have coached people who suffer from chronic fatigue and depression simply because they don’t have a life. They have compromised all parts of their life to climb the corporate ladder or to build a business. They have money but no real wealth. We should all define wealth as ‘having the time, money and physical energy to express our talents for the benefit of humanity, so we may continuously grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually.’

People are becoming so obsessed with looking after their physical health, that they are forgetting about the seven other important parts of life that give our physical energy reason to manifest itself. We all need love and intimacy in our lives, it gives us passion, creativity and drive. We all need to have a close bond with our family, it gives us support to try new things without fearing failure. We all need to work, it gives us purpose purpose, fulfilment and money. We all need friendships, it gives us the opportunity to socialise and have fun. We all need continuous learning, it helps us grow and break out of self-imposed limitations. We all need wealth, it gives us freedom. We all need to be charitable, it gives us a sense of contribution and the feeling of making a difference.

If you are struggling in one or more of the eight areas of life, let the team at A Higher Branch Success Academy show you how to live a more positive, meaningful and fulfilling life.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to upgrade each of the eight areas of your life.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019

What is Wellness?

Your overall wellbeing is made up of four layers: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Many people are obsessed with the physical layer but your energy, appetite, liveliness, passion and how you feel is reliant on a symbiotic relationship between the physical and the deeper and more powerful, mental, emotional and spiritual layers. This explains why there are lots of people that eat well, exercise and relax, who still suffer from energy dips, feeling unfulfilled, general unhappiness and anxiety.

Information is everywhere. However, when this information is digested in an unstructured and isolated way, it does not give you a holistic blueprint for living. Ironically, in a time of information overload, people are more confused than ever. Their lives are a quagmire of twists and turns lacking direction and clarity. One month their performance at work is high, next month they are burned-out and rush to naturopaths for help and sign gym memberships for comfort. This aimlessness continues in a cycle.

“Why isn’t this vitamin working for me?”

“I exercise and workout, but why am I still not losing weight?”

“I make time to relax, so why do I still have trouble sleeping well and have energy dips?”

“I meditate, so why do I still feel anxious and unhappy sometimes?”

It comes down to this: most people have lost control over their life. In fact, they are just lost, period. Life management was never taught as a formal subject at school. There is no curriculum. And the worst part is that some of us often live in denial “it will never happen to me”, until something drastic happens: chronic fatigue, IBS, pre-diabetes, pre-heart disease, chronic anxiety, pre-depression, loss of a job or partner, and it starts to unravel from there. A lot of us do not realise how delicately our lives hang in the balance. Sometimes we are one thread away from total disarray.

Let the team at A Higher Branch Success Academy help you get your life back under control.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to craft a fun, fulfilling and complete life.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019

What is Peak Performance?

Peak performance means you are highly energetic, mentally sharp and emotionally solid. It means you are performing at your very best. Not just in the gym, but across all aspects including love, sex and intimacy, parenting and family life, friendships and social life, work performance, leadership and wealth creation.

When you operate at peak performance, your self-confidence soars. You live life on your own terms because you have figured out who you are, what you want and (most importantly) how to get it.

You will start to say ‘no’ to the things you should have said ‘no’ to all these years. You will have a growth mindset and look at any failure and rejection as a learning opportunity. Emotionally you will become invincible. You will know how to deal with the inevitable rejection or failure. You will have more fun in your life, be more inspirational, and become more empathetic, loving and compassionate. You will start to make a difference and become a source of strength to everyone around you.

Our annual events are where you will begin this journey and use tools and methods to hit peak performance. Let the team at A Higher Branch Success Academy teach you how.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to live an incredible life at peak performance.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019

What is an incredible life?

Most people are pre-occupied with chasing goals and dreams that are not their own. They don’t realise they are merely mimicking other people’s lives and what they see on social media. They end up doing things, having jobs and associating with people that they don’t really like. They do this because they are not true to themselves. Deep down they are not happy or fulfiled.

At A Higher Branch Success Academy, we believe that you can never find the real you until you go on a journey of self-discovery. This journey first requires you to hit a state of what athletes call ‘peak performance’.

Hitting peak performance is surprisingly easy, once you know how. Some people stumble upon it, others are taught how to achieve it and can easily flick the switch into this ultra-effective functional state. The key to achieving peak performance is simply in realising that it is not a consequence of hard work or even chance – that it really can be learned.

Our annual events are where you will begin this journey and use tools and methods to hit peak performance. Let the team at A Higher Branch Success Academy teach you how.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 and learn how to live an incredible life that is unique to you.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019

What is Your Type?

What foods suit you best and at what times? What exercise routine best suits your personality and body type? What is your chrono-type and optimal sleep pattern? What are your creative and analytical hours of work? What are your natural talents? What is the best meditation routine for you? What is your core personality type? What wealth creation methods best suit your risk appetite? What is your ideal relationship? What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? How can you live until 100? There are so many questions and we can help you find your answers!

No two people in this world are the same. Even identical twins can be remarkably different. One person’s vegan diet is another person’s energy-downer. One person’s high intensity routine is another person’s stress. As western society moves from one fad to another, people are more confused than ever.

All the latest research is starting to show that our uniqueness requires a personalised approach to nutrition, exercise, relaxation, sleep, work, social life and even sex. That is, we all want to be happy and fulfilled but we all have different pathways to that destination.

You are the only you in this world and you are unique in every way. Our Upgrade Your Life 2019 event will honour and respect this uniqueness by providing you with the framework and prescriptions to craft an amazing lifestyle for you and the people in your life, filled with high energy, fun, laughter, growth and success.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to upgrade each of the eight areas of your life.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019

Do Not Defer Living a Great Life

Some people fall into the trap of compromising their health, relationships and having fun, with the notion that one day they will slow down and design a perfect life.

One day I will pay off my mortgage, start the diet, exercise daily, learn meditation, have more sex with my partner, travel more, guide my children or have more fun with friends…” But it never happens! Never!

Most people burn out, suffer chronic illness and experience relationship breakdowns. Some make enough money to design a new life but end up making it worse because they have lost the art of living. They make the mistake of thinking that buying new things will bring them meaning and fulfillment. They end up in a debt cycle where they must work harder to pay for things they never get to enjoy because they are too busy working to pay them off.

The most successful people in this world have one thing in common – they do NOT defer their happiness whilst they are in the process of working and making money. They develop an attitude that money will eventually come in bucket loads if they live a complete life every day. They wake up every morning and do the simple things consistently. They eat well, they exercise, they meditate and visualise, they schedule intimacy with their partner, they spend time with their family, they are constantly reading, learning and improving, they love their work, they have fun with friends and they are kind and generous. They create wealth before they create money. Living a complete and happy life is their wealth.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019 to learn how to craft a fun, fulfilling and complete life.

Join us at Upgrade Your Life 2019