How To Love Your Life

Three girls in a sunflower field

Three girls standing and smiling in a sunflower field

By Sam Makhoul

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. 

Here’s how:

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 – these words are powerful. Work just as much on your love life as you do on your work.

Family cuddling

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 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.

Man reading a book and drinking coffee

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 the landfill. 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.

The Rich Get Richer – The Wise Get Wealthier

Two people shaking hands

Image of two hands holding each other

By Sam Makhoul

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 – hopefully it will also help someone you know who may be experiencing some uncertainty:

“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.

Being rich gives you money, but being wealthy gives you freedom

“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.”

7 Morning Rituals for Success

Coffee mug that says begin

Alarm clock

By Sam Makhoul

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 (Sam Makhoul, founder of A Higher Branch) 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.

Check out the go-to seven-morning rituals that set me up for a day of success.

Morning Ritual 1: Deep Breathing:

Lady taking a deep breath

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 five 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.

Morning Ritual 2: Morning Detox Elixir:

Lemon in a glass of water

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. It’s made up of:

  • A cup of warm/hot water
  • Lemon juice
  • Turmeric
  • Crushed ginger

Sip this during your morning routine before you leave the house.

Morning Ritual 3: Supercharge Your Central Nervous System:

Personal trainer helping a man do a push up

Either jog for 15 mins or do five minutes of push-ups or 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.

Morning Ritual 4: Meditation Is Detox For The Mind:

Man sitting on a rock meditating

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.

Morning Ritual 5: Journaling Is Clarity:

Lady journaling in the morning with coffee

Spend five 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.

For example; what you will eat, when you will exercise and plan 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.

Morning Ritual 6: Prepare And Pack:

Two containers of food

The most common reason people don’t eat well or exercise is that 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.

Morning Ritual 7: Podcast Your Commute:

Headphones plugged into a phone listening to podcasts

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.

At A Higher Branch, we also have our own podcast that features many thought-leaders from Australian and across the globe. There are thousands of podcasts and audiobooks to choose from.

Why Forgiveness Is Essential to Your Success

Sign saying forgive

Image of the wording "forgive:

By Dr. Guy Winch

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 wrongdoing. We can forgive someone without excusing their behaviour.

Forgiveness is not the same as reconciling. Reconciliation may follow forgiveness, but we can forgive without 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 practised.

Written by Dr Guy Winch. Check out his profile here.

The Power of WHEN

By Sam Makhoul

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 setbacks, 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 eight 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 11 pm and wake at 7 am then stick to that and be true to your chrono-type.

If you prefer to sleep at 9 pm and wake at 5 am 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 And 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 the 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 eight areas of life. And learning is no different from 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 the worst time to make an 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 the 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.