How Do I Make More Money?

The Four Questions On Everyone’s Mind: Part 1 of 4 

Freedom By Wealth

By Sam Makhoul

These four questions may not be something you would like to admit, but the research tells us that it is pre-occupying most people’s minds. In this article, I am going to cover the first question…

1. How Can I Make More Money? #Tree of Wealth

The reality is that, in our subconscious, there is a fundamental human need for freedom. And, like it or not, in today’s world, freedom comes from having money. Money to live life on your own terms. But the first step to having freedom starts with defining your wealth in the eight areas of life.

You need to define wealth as:

  • Good health, high energy, peace of mind and emotional strength #Tree of Health
  • Being in an intimate relationship #Tree of Love
  • Having a loving and supportive family #Tree of Family
  • Being in a job that brings the best out of you #Tree of Work
  • Friends that bring you joy and fun #Tree of Friendship
  • The time to read, learn and grow #Tree of Learning
  • Having empathy and compassion for others #Tree of Charity

Ultimately, money is a double-edged sword. It can help you achieve those things listed above, but it can also stop you from enjoying them if your quest for money robs you of time.

The human desire for money:

There is a human desire for money and material wealth. This primal desire is natural and is the reason why humans have made progress. Like any desire, however, this can be corrupted. Let me explain…

In today’s society, there is underlying guilt associated with wanting to make more money. This guilt is sometimes propagated by popular culture and usually justified by misrepresenting eastern philosophies and misquoting bible scripture such as “Money is the root of all evil”. But the truth and correct scripture is that it is “the love of money” that is the root of all evil, meaning that it is greed and the pursuit of material things at the compromise of the eight areas of our life that is wrong.

You have often heard me say that “Owning things is not wrong as long as they don’t own you”, which means that you should never neglect your humanity in the eight areas of life for the pursuit of money. You should not define your identity by what you own. Things that can be taken away from you is like establishing an identity on shaky foundations. You will have an identity crisis and may end up suffering from depression if you lose some of the things that you own. And in this age of uncertainty and chaos, anything can happen.

This is not to scare you. In fact, it is to empower you to be fearless by living life without reliance on an addiction to consumerism. Getting off the hedonic treadmill is liberating.

One of the reasons I founded A Higher Branch Success Academy was because I saw many of my colleagues in the corporate world compromise (and in some cases destroy) their health, family and relationships in the pursuit of profit and promotions.

 

What is Real Wealth?

At A Higher Branch, we contextualize wealth as filling the fundamental human need for freedom. Freedom to live in the eight areas of life daily without neglecting any. Freedom to take care of your health, freedom to spend time with your partner, freedom to spend time with your children and family, freedom to relax and unwind, freedom to read a good book, freedom to ‘stop and smell the roses.

So I ask you… Where is the freedom in having to work long hours to buy things that sit there collecting dust because you don’t have the time to enjoy them? There’s no freedom in that! In fact, that is a form of enslaving yourself. I am amazed at how much time people spend at work and how little they spend on the other areas. That is not wealth. And for some, work is used as an escape from a personal life riddled with unresolved conflict and past hurts that we’d rather not face or fix.

So here is the principle I want you never to forget. Wait for it….

Freedom should not be defined simply by how much money you have but ALSO by how much TIME you have to enjoy in the eight areas of life.

 

 

The object of making money is to give you more TIME to do that, time to work less and live more. But there is an element even more important than time. It is your ENERGY level.

Now I think ENERGY is a better currency than both time and money. Because with high energy you can do more in your day. And ultimately, that is what living is all about. Having the energy to do as much as you can each and every day. In fact, life span should not be measured by the years in your life but rather the life in your years. That is, by how much you accomplish in the eight areas of life. As the saying goes, “I’d rather live a year as a lion than a thousand as a sheep.”

So ask yourself, do I have enough energy in my day to devote to each of the 8 areas of life? If the answer is no, then the reality is that you are probably neglecting one of those areas.

Can you guess where the true source of our energy comes from? Is it from eating healthy, exercising, doing yoga, meditating, sleeping well and taking supplements? Not really. These aspects affect the quality of your energy when it manifests itself, but they are not the source of your energy. In fact, the source of your energy is from living a holistic life in the eight areas.

Your source of energy comes from mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. It is from love, family, work, friendship, learning, wealth and charity that we stimulate those three ‘energies’. That is why it is fatal to chase money, work long hours and neglect any of those areas. Every time you do, you will diminish your energy by that one. I have known people who eat so well, exercise and meditate and still suffer from fatigue. Why? Because they are neglecting one or more of the eight areas of life.

The Role of Money:

So, if real wealth is about having more time and more energy, the questions become; how do I have more of both? The answer does circle back to money and the money conundrum. And this is where the game of life balance is won and lost. Let me explain….

Whether you work for someone else or work for yourself, earning a living does NOT make you “free”. Only passive income does that; passive income from share dividends, positively geared real estate holdings and passive income from a business that runs itself whether you are there or not.

But does that mean you stop working when you have enough passive income? No, because your energy will come crashing down when you do. And remember what I said earlier. Energy is a better currency for freedom than time and money, acknowledging there is a synergy between the three elements.

Many people make the mistake of aiming to build up enough passive income sources so they don’t have to work at all. This approach is wrong on many levels. It’s like saying I want to get married so I can stop dating. You should never stop dating your partner in a successful relationship; otherwise, it will fail. Likewise, you should never stop working when you have passive income because the Tree of Work fills a fundamental need for fulfilment.

Fulfilment is a critical element in the eight areas of life needed for optimal energy levels. Working gives us purpose. If we focus on making a difference, working also fills the fundamental need for contribution #Tree of Charity, especially if we have a job where we get to see how the fruits of our labour directly help others.

 

 

As I said earlier, I started A Higher Branch Success Academy because I saw so many colleagues in the corporate world destroy their health and relationships in their quest to make money. Still, conversely, I also started to see colleagues over-correct by abandoning their work to pursue an overly obsessive healthy lifestyle filled with supplements and yoga classes, only to lose their way and lose their sense of self-worth. AND to their frustration, their energy levels came crashing down.

 

What is the answer? 

So the objective is NOT to neglect the seven other areas of your life in the pursuit of building a business or climbing the corporate ladder.

Your objective is not to completely abandon your work when you make money. That will only make you feel lost and rudderless. And that’s not real wealth.

What is the objective, then? The objective is to work for love, NOT money. The objective is to work because you want to, not have to. The objective is to work for fulfilment and a sense of achievement. Ironically, people who take this approach make the most money because working for love makes you fearless and bold; and fortune favours the bold. This makes you play a bigger game and makes you more effective.

 

The Love Of Work

 

So, ultimately REAL wealth is about having enough TIME and ENERGY for the eight areas of life. 

Money does play a role in giving you time, but only when you assess how much you need to live a happy life. For many, they don’t know how much is enough because the goalposts keep shifting every time they spend and borrow. The fact is that the more you spend, the more money you need to make and the more personal freedom you need to sacrifice. Most people say that they have a plan to stop and enjoy life when they reach specific money targets. That can be in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or even your 60’s. My argument is that the less you spend, the younger you can be to have that freedom. It’s a simple formula; If you want freedom at a younger age, spend less.

Unfortunately, the big challenge is in knowing what to spend on and what NOT to spend on. You don’t want to compromise your happiness by being too miserly and stingy. It comes down to what value you put on things. This is probably one of the most important questions you can ask yourself in life:

“Do I really need to buy this? Is the short-term boost in happiness 

worth having to defer my sense of long-term freedom?”

The answers to these questions are outside this article’s scope, but I cover two scenarios that demonstrate my point in the podcast published on 15 April 2021; you can find this episode HERE. We will also be doing a deeper dive into this topic at Upgrade Your Life 2022, but I hope, for now, I have you thinking.

Therefore, the real question reframing wealth is this: How much money do you need to give you the freedom of more time? And the answer ultimately depends on how much money you feel you need to spend to be happy.

 

Freedom Through Wealth

Whenever I suggest this to my clients, the following questions often pop up:

  • How do I spend less? Meaning, what things do I really need to buy?
  • How do I work less? Meaning, how much time do I really need to commit to my job or business?
  • How do I live more? Meaning, do I really know what to do with my time? Or will I end up spending it on Netflix and other frivolous pursuits?

The answer to these three questions is a critical step in achieving freedom. It is also outside the scope of this article but will be covered at Upgrade Your Life 2022. If you would like to know more about our annual event, please subscribe to our mail list or Instagram to get the speaker announcement and be the first in line. Ok now that we have outlined the principles to defining your wealth let me take you through the….

The 2 rules to making more money:

Rule Number 1 

Whether you work for someone or have your own business, my number one rule to making more money is to exceed expectations.

How do you do that? In today’s competitive world, you need to go above and beyond to stand out, attract customers or spark that promotion, and that is the reality.

What does it mean to go “above and beyond”? It simply means to make a positive impact on all stakeholders in all your interactions. Not just your end consumer, but with your team, your suppliers, and within your industry. Whether it is an email, a phone call, a face-to-face meeting, or any place on the value chain, your aim is to make the person you’re interacting with feel like your contribution made a material impact on the customer experience. You need to spark a response where the other person thinks, “wow, I was not expecting that.”.

In short, you need to make your contribution unforgettable, so people talk about you. This is how a personal brand is built, and a business goes from being small to being large. Remember that all big businesses were once small. And the main reason they became big is that they exceeded expectations and created a following of raving fans. 

 

Rule Number 2

My second rule to make money is to invest in income-producing and capital growth assets. My investment strategy mix is unique to me but is not unique in itself. So, in all cases, you should get specific advice from your accountant or financial advisor.

I suggest you view investing in four primary vehicles:

1. Investing in yourself:

You need to see yourself and your energy levels as your number one asset. You need to view your energy levels as your number one currency because, in my experience, people with the highest energy get more done in less time, more sustainably and have the biggest impact. They tend to be the most energetic and engaged people in the room. As a consequence, they tend to make more money. Much more.

So you need to invest your money in things that make you happier and healthier. When I say on things, I don’t mean material things; I am referring to good quality food, quality supplements, good health care, meditation coaching, personal training, attending courses, mentoring, just about anything that boosts your energy and vitality.

2. Investing in your own business (if you have one) 

If you own your own business, it is imperative that you invest your super profits back into your business after allowing for your living expenses. This is where being frugal in your early years is so vital to your future success. As a lawyer, I have witnessed the number one reason why good businesses go bad. And it is because the owners take out the profits to spend on material things instead of re-investing back into their own business. The second reason is where they invest their money into ‘other’ areas where they have no competency; typically, things like buying listed shares or cryptocurrency. Listen to my podcast for a deeper dive into this investment strategy.

3. Investing in other people’s business. That is Shares on the stock market/index funds. 

This is not a contradiction of my number 2 investment vehicle. It is in addition to it. Only super profits should be involved in investing in shares and other speculative vehicles. Listen to my podcast on 15 April 2021 for my investment mix between direct shares and index funds. My 80/20 rule and when to cash in to buy real estate. There I also list some of the index funds that I like. 

4. Real estate.

I suggest owning positively geared real estate as a safe and effective vehicle for building passive income and/or capital growth.

What mix between shares and real estate? My strategy is to cash in index funds holdings to purchase real estate, giving me a 20-30% equity stake in real estate. I also prefer positively geared investment unless there is potential for capital growth greater than market movements.

Please listen to my podcast for more explanation. Remember that all geared investment depends on your business’s profits and your personal tax position, which is why you should always consult your accountant for more specific advice.

But I hope I have you thinking about your investment strategy.

How To Develop A Skin Care Regime For Your Skin Type

Lady washing her face in the mirror

Lady washing her face in the mirror
For many of us, a skin care regime is pivotal to our morning and nightly routines. But for others, it’s a task that we don’t put too much time, effort or research into.

Many of us tend to buy one product and use that on an ongoing basis, failing to review what our skin needs at different stages in our life. And in the absence of professional care, an enhanced skin care regime will serve the skin well and your mood too, because healthy skin means a happy individual.

So, to help you achieve glowing skin, we have collaborated with the founder of O Cosmedics, Maria Enna-Cocciolone to develop an easy-to-follow guide on acing your skin care regime.

Your Simple Go-To Skin Care Guide:

Step 1 – Cleanse:

Lady cleansing her face

Cleansing is the first and foremost most important step when it comes to keeping your face healthy. This is because “cleansing ensures you have the perfect canvas for healthy skin and that active ingredients in serums and creams can penetrate the skin and get to work,” Maria explains.

But when it comes to cleansing, choosing the right product for your skin type is important. If you suffer from dry skin a balm or oil cleanser is recommended, whereas if you experience oily skin you may require light acids and or enzymes to deep clean the pores.

If your skin type is normal, a gel or light lotion cleanser will do the job. Once you have the right cleanser for your skin “simply apply the cleanser to your fingertips, apply to the face and neck and work in tiny circles to ensure you are cleansing effectively accumulating makeup, pollutants, dirt, and grime,” Maria details.

Remove the cleanser with a damp skin shammy or face wash. If you’ve worn makeup during the day, make sure you double cleanse and for a super-effective cleanse, use a micellar treatment gel to ensure you leave no residue behind.

If you have thoroughly cleaned it the night before, you can opt for a simply micellar cleanse as part of your morning routine. Maria recommends the O Cosmedics Micellar Treatment Gel for a quick cleanse and anti-pollutant support.

Step 2 – Correct:

Liquid being dropping into a hand

When it comes to correcting your skin, using serums allows you to target specific skin concerns. A serum is a liquid or gel that contains high concentrations of skin actives, which can penetrate deeper than other topical products such as moisturisers.

Serums allow you to target specific concerns due to their high concentration and potency. While most basic serums contain a combination of antioxidants that will brighten the skin, Maria advises as part of an effective skin regime to use vitamin C in the morning and retinol (vitamin A) in the evening.

Step 3 – Hydrate & Protect:

Lady adding cream to her face

Keeping your skin looking radiant and healthy at all times can be a difficult task, but it can all come down to ensuring it is hydrated and protected from chemical products and harsh sunlight. To ensure your skin is being looked after, ensure you hydrate it every morning and evening.

“Choose [a product] that not only hydrates and nourishes your skin but also treats specific skin concerns,” Maria advises. “A great starting point is O Cosmedics Immortal Cream,” which contains super-antioxidants and potent concentrations of V8 Peptide Complex.

This product is also a mega-dose of vitamin C and is commonly used to awaken and hydrate the skin, assist relaxation of muscles and help to reverse and diminish the signs of aging whilst providing a feeling of instant lift. Perfect for assisting line and wrinkle relaxation age prevention super hydration youth and radiance.

Skin Care Regime By Skin Type:

Dry, Dehydrated And Flaky:

Lady with dry skin

When it comes to dry and dehydrated skin, they are too different conditions. Dry skin means you are lacking oil, whereas dehydrated skin lacks water.

To treat dry skin, opt for an oil-based cleanser and treatment, as well as essential fatty acids (topically and orally). Dry skin can also benefit from a hydrating booster; whether it is a hydrating face oil, a twice-weekly replenishing mask, or a serum with hyaluronic acid.

It is also important to keep up your water intake and hydrate your skin from the inside out. When it comes to treating your dehydrated skin, different molecular weights (molecule sizes) of Hyaluronic Acid is recommended for use.

Oily Skin:

Oily skin is caused by an overproduction of excess sebum (oil) and requires active ingredients to rebalance the productivity. When it comes to cleansing your skin, choose products that contain retinol (vitamin A) and Niacinamide (vitamin B3).

Sore And Red:

Young lady with red skin

If you are experiencing sore and red skin, it is commonly an inflammatory response and should be treated with TLC. To help soothe your skin, there are two recommended treatment phases:

  1. Calming and soothing
  2. Healing and strengthening

“It is not recommended to use actives, or exfoliating products should be used whilst the skin is crying for help,” Maria explains.

How Often Should I Be Doing An At-Home Facial?

Man having an at home face mask

Facials can now be done in the comfort of your own home (and for a fraction of the price). To keep your skin looking flawless, at-home facials are recommended once or twice a week.

Too often, and you risk overdoing it, which can leave your skin irritated. “Simply dedicating 30 to 60 minutes a week to a home-facial can make all the difference and ensure the skin is clear, even and radiant,” Maria says.

But according to Maria, “the most important thing to remember is to stay true to a cosmedical skin care and giving yourself some self-love is imperative to healthy skin.” 

Read our blog on Iso Skin: What Is It And How Can It Be Prevented?

DON’T FORGET YOU CAN ALSO LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST WITH MARIA HERE.

Iso Skin: What Is It And How Can It Be Prevented?

Lady suffering from iso skin

Lady suffering from iso skin

This year has been the year many of us are ready to say goodbye to. It has challenged us in new ways we never thought were possible.

For the first time in our lifetime, we found ourselves locked up in our homes with nowhere to go. Shops closed, outdoor time and travel restrictions in place and interactions with the human race was a distant memory.

We were forced to isolate due to the world health pandemic of coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19. Since March 2020, our lives changed forever.

Isolation itself changed many different aspects of our lives. While it has changed the way we work and communicate, it also had a dramatic impact on our mental and physical health.

But other than the fear of catching COVID-19, many of us experienced another health concern. One that left us thinking “what am I doing wrong?”

Take a moment to think about this…have discovered you’ve suffered from skin breakouts but you don’t know why? Well, it’s safe to say, you are NOT alone.

That is why we have gone straight to the experts and uncovered the reasons why you’re suffering from the new diagnosis of ‘iso skin’ and how you can stop it in its tracks. But firstly, what is iso skin?

“Iso skin is a result of COVID-19 and the pressure of living through a pandemic, being forced to stay home, living a more sedentary life and not being able to seek professional skin treatments due to clinic closures,” founder of O Cosmedics, Maria Enna-Cocciolone explained. “It can be an existing condition that flares up or a new one that is triggered by the stress that comes with living in uncertain times.”

3 Reasons Why Your Skin Is Breaking Out:

1. Stress:

Lady looking stressed

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that stress is the number one cause to our skin breakouts. Especially after the year we’ve had, where we have continuously been living in a world of uncertainty.

This is because when we stress, it releases hormones that increase testosterone that leads to oily skin. And when we have oily skin, our pores become blocked, causing us to experience breakouts.

“In one sentence, stress and skin are not friends,” Maria explained. “Stress triggers inflammatory markers, which can result in acne, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, dryness, oil imbalance, rashes, and hives.”

Stress can also affect our ability to digest and release toxins from within our bodies. “Stress can slow down digestion, which affects gut bacteria causing a cascade of bacteria in the body and can even be responsible for hormone stimulation that causes oil imbalance and triggers acne,” Maria added.

2. Diet:

Woman holding a glass of red wine

Spending more time at home has its ups and downs. But one thing that many of us can relate to is our growing relationship with the pantry and fridge – especially when we find ourselves procrastinating over a work task.

And as we continue to spend more time at home, many of us find ourselves snacking more and eating foods that are higher in sugar and carbs. This then impacts our hormone levels and causes breakouts around our mouth region.

But is it not just our diet that has changed, so too has our alcohol consumption. A new study from The Australian National University discovered that 20.2% of people reported that their alcohol consumption increased this year.

The study also found that one-in-four women who drank (22.8 per cent) reported an increase in drinking during May 2020 and one-in-five men (17.9 per cent) reported an increase in the same period. So next time you go to grab that block of chocolate or bottle of wine, maybe think twice about the consequences that may follow – your skin will thank you for it.

3. Masks:

Lady walking while wearing a mask

Many of us are now required to wear a face mask when leaving the house, whether it is at the shopping centres, at the doctors or on public transport. But what you didn’t know is that your mask could also be contributing to your irritated skin.

Introducing mascne. Yes, it is a ‘thing’.

“Mascne [acne mechanicha] is a new word and skin condition, which originates from acne caused by wearing a mask,” Maria explained. “Worn correctly and over extended periods the skin sweats, oil and redundant cells build-up, skin dries out and the imbalances clog pores causing mascne.”

We can minimise breakouts by thoroughly cleansing our face morning and night. “[And] if you choose to wear makeup [under your mask] make sure you choose a product that is clean and does not infuse toxic ingredients into the skin,” Maria said. “O Cosmedics 1Skin (pronounced one skin) Treatment Fusion Foundation is 97% Natural, is skin-friendly, preventing breakout and congestion.”

5 Quick Ways To Beat Iso Skin:

When it comes to beating breakouts, there are several approaches you can take. By making some lifestyle changes and switching up your skin care regime, you can help your skin flourish.

Here are five quick and easy ways you can begin to improve the healthiness of your skin:

1. Drink More Water:

Man drinking a bottle of water

We know; you have probably heard this many times, but it is true what the experts say… By drinking at least eight glasses of water a day it helps keep your body refreshed and provides it with the ability to flush any toxins, ultimately clearing your pores.

2. Eat A Healthy, Balanced Diet:

A salad in a blue bowl

Diet is a big contributor when it comes to achieving glowing skin. For healthy-looking skin, it’s recommended you consume meals that are high in fibre, whole grains and fresh fruit and vegetables, providing your body with nutrients to feed the skin.

It is important to also keep an eye out on foods that are high in salt. While you may be drinking enough water every day, if you are consuming foods that are high in salt, you are interfering with the positive results because these foods are stopping the water from reaching your skin and ultimately removing all the toxins.

3. Take Time Out And Meditate:

Person at the beach meditating

Yes, meditate. We all know breakouts can be caused by stress, so by taking the time out to meditate helps you manage your emotions and ultimately de-stress.

It also assists in adjusting your sleeping matters and reduces cortisol levels. So, use this time to remove yourself from the noise on social media, and the negativity in the world and meditate to relaxing music – do this daily and you will begin to notice a shift mentally and physically.

4. Move Your Body:

Man tying his shoes to go exercise

We know you probably don’t want to believe it, but exercise can improve the appearance of your skin as it helps balance out your hormones. When you exercise, you are delivering oxygen-rich blood to the skin to allow it to restore.

According to Maria, “lack of movement, fresh air and vitamin D can make an individual lazy, compromise circulation, slow down toxin removal and blood oxygenation.” So, make sure you dedicate at least 20 minutes a day to move your body and preferably outside, so you are exposed to natural vitamin D.

5. Feed Your Skin With The Right Products:

Lady fixing her iso skin with a face mask

While diet, movement and meditation contribute to healthy-looking skin, so does establishing a good skin care routine. When it comes to your skin, it is important to use products that keep it balanced, hydrated and nourished.

From picking out the right cleanser for your skin type and the perfect serums and moisturisers; each step of your regime is important to achieving gorgeous looking skin. Read our blog on How To Develop An In-Depth Skin Care Regime here.

But feeding your skin with the right products doesn’t stop at your cleansing products, it also includes the makeup you. According to Maria, choosing clean beauty needs to become your go-to beauty product.

“Look for Natural, Mineral or Organic,” she explained. “If the product isn’t one of those three then chances are everything else is a ‘chemical shit storm’ under the guise of a pretty camouflage,” the skin expert added.

DON’T FORGET YOU CAN ALSO LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST WITH MARIA HERE.

How To Slow Down Time

Person holding a clock

Person holding a clock

By Sam Makhoul

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 downtime 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 (Sam Makhoul) 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.

7 Useful Ways To Reboot Your Emotional Health 

husband and wife hugging
broken heart fixed with a bandaid

By Dr. Guy Winch

You put a bandage on a cut or take antibiotics to treat an infection, right? No questions asked.

In fact, questions would be asked if you didn’t apply first aid when necessary. So, why isn’t the same true of our mental health?

We are expected to just “get over” psychological wounds — when as anyone who’s ever ruminated over rejection or agonised over a failure knows only too well, emotional injuries can be just as crippling as physical ones. We need to learn how to practice emotional first aid.

Here are seven ways to do so:

1. Pay Attention To Emotional Pain:

Recognise it when it happens and work to treat it before it feels all-encompassing. The body evolved the sensation of physical pain to alert us that something is wrong and we need to address it.

The same is true for emotional pain. If a rejection, failure or bad mood is not getting better, it means you’ve sustained a psychological wound and you need to treat it.

For example, loneliness can be devastatingly damaging to your psychological and physical health. So, when you or your friend or loved one is feeling socially or emotionally isolated, you need to take action.

2. Redirect Your Gut Reaction When You Fail:

The nature of psychological wounds makes it easy for one to lead to another. Failure can often drive you to focus on what you can’t do instead of focusing on what you can.

That can then make you less likely to perform at your best, which will make you even more focused on your shortcomings, and on the cycle goes. To stop this sort of emotional spiral, learn to ignore the post-failure “gut” reaction of feeling helpless and demoralised, and make a list of factors that you can control were you to try again.

For instance, think about preparation and planning, and how you might improve each of them. This kind of exercise will reduce feelings of helplessness and improve your chances of future success.

Two people hugging outside

3. Monitor And Protect Your Self-Esteem:

When you feel like putting yourself down, take a moment to be compassionate to yourself. Self-esteem is like an emotional immune system that buffers you from emotional pain and strengthens your emotional resilience.

As such, it is very important to monitor it and avoid putting yourself down, particularly when you are already hurting. One way to “heal” damaged self-esteem is to practise self-compassion.

When you’re feeling critical of yourself, do the following exercise: imagine a dear friend is feeling bad about him or herself for similar reasons and write an email expressing compassion and support. Then read the email. Those are the messages you should be giving yourself.

4. When Negative Thoughts Taking Over, Disrupt Them With Positive Distractions:

When you replay distressing events in your mind without seeking new insight or trying to solve a problem, you’re just brooding, and that, especially when it becomes habitual, can lead to deeper psychological pain. The best way to disrupt unhealthy rumination is to distract yourself by engaging in a task that requires concentration.

For example, do a Sudoku, complete a crossword, try to recall the names of the kids in your fifth-grade class. Studies show that even two minutes of distraction will reduce the urge to focus on the negative.

5. Find Meaning In Loss:

Loss is a part of life, but it can scar us and keep us from moving forward if we don’t treat the emotional wounds it creates. If sufficient time has passed and you’re still struggling to move forward after a loss, you need to introduce a new way of thinking about it.

Specifically, the most important thing you can do to ease your pain and recover is to find meaning in the loss and derive purpose from it. It might be hard, but think of what you might have gained from the loss.

For instance, “I lost my spouse but I’ve become much closer to my kids”. Consider how you might gain or help others gain a new appreciation for life, or imagine the changes you could make that will help you live a life more aligned with your values and purpose.

Man with his face in his hand

6. Don’t Let Excessive Guilt Linger:

Guilt can be useful. In small doses, it alerts you to take action to mend a problem in your relationship with another person.

But excessive guilt is toxic, in that it wastes your emotional and intellectual energies, distracts you from other tasks, and prevents you from enjoying life. One of the best ways to resolve lingering guilt is to offer an effective apology.

Yes, you might have tried apologising previously, but apologies are more complex than we tend to realise. The crucial ingredient that every effective apology requires — and most standard apologies lack — is an “empathy statement.”

In other words, your apology should focus less on explaining why you did what you did and more on how your actions (or inactions) impacted the other person. It is much easier to forgive someone when you feel they truly understand. By apologising (even if for a second time), the other person is much more likely to convey authentic forgiveness and help your guilt dissolve.

7. Learn What Treatments For Emotional Wounds Work For You:

Pay attention to yourself and learn how you, personally, deal with common emotional wounds. For instance, do you shrug them off, get really upset but recover quickly, get upset and recover slowly or squelch your feelings?

Use this analysis to help yourself understand, which emotional first aid treatments work best for you in various situations (just as you would identify which of the many pain relievers on the shelves works best for you). The same goes for building emotional resilience.

Try out various techniques and figure out which are easiest for you to implement and which tend to be most effective for you. But mostly, get into the habit of taking note of your psychological health on a regular basis — and especially after a stressful, difficult, or emotionally painful situation.

Yes, practising emotional hygiene takes a little time and effort, but it will seriously elevate your entire quality of life. I promise.

Guy Winch with a quote that reads "emotional pain should not be a constant companion. Do not let it become one."

Have People Lost The Ability To Have Fun?

Man jumping into the water

Man jumping into the water from the jetty

By Sam Makhoul

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 into your life.

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. Trust me, I know.

I have built the entire MSA National business on this fun mindset. 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 (we even have to force people to go home at the end of the day), 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 on what fun is.

  • Fun is NOT getting drunk on a Friday night.
  • Fun is NOT watching TV or surfing 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?

Four people dancing together

As children, having fun comes naturally and easily. Making friends and being funny was a daily joy.

But then 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 taking 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 or lifestyle or even change the people you hang out with.

These changes require effort and time. 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. You need to force yourself to get up and get out.

So, How Do You Have Fun?

Girl swinging on a swing

1. Turn your frown upside down and for God’s sake 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 smarter, 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 the most 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. Please email me and I will forward you a list of what else you can do and how this works best.

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 make 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 also 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. Organise a cards night with whisky, cigars or whatever turns you on.
  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 and 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. So, 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. How do you have fun? 

Learning: Essential Daily Ritual #4

Images of books

Jim Kwik sitting on a table encouraging positive learning

By Sam Makhoul

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 four-five-six 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.

Diagram of the four-five-six methodology

In case you missed the three 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 this article we will go through:

  • 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 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.

3 mistakes we make when it comes to learning:

Gentleman drinking a drink while learning with a book

  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.

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.

What Should You Learn?

Two ladies learning a podcast recording

You should be seeking books and podcasts about all eight 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 with 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. To help you on your learning quest, check out the below podcasts.

  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

In these podcasts, the hosts are caring, knowledgeable, authentic and share information generously with no strings attached. They also interview experts, researchers and actual practitioners across the eight areas of life.

Is JIM KWIK The Best Teacher On Earth?

Jim Kwik standing on stage

The standout and foremost world-renowned expert on the superpower of learning is Jim Kwik. He is a world expert in memory improvement and optimal brain performance.

1 (founder, Sam Makhoul) 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.

Jim 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 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.

But my advice is that the people you must listen to first come from the eight 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.

Want to read the rest of this series? You can find them here:

Mindfulness Meditation: Essential Ritual #3

Woman meditating

Man in a suit performing mindfulness meditation

By Sam Makhoul

This article contains a very special video presentation of the meditation session presented by Tom Sullivan from our Upgrade Your Life event. Never-seen-before footage and compelling viewing.

But first, this article is third in a series about the four rituals, five habits and six life-hacks. If you have not read the first two essential rituals here are the links:

Essential Ritual #1: Journaling

Essential Ritual #2: Movement

Diagram of the four-five-six methodology

All the research shows that these rituals, habits and hacks work. Living by these protocols helps get back on track every single 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 we are asking you to dismiss them because how you live your life is totally within your control.

Forget about the outcome. We are 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 we 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 fourth ritual of learning 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.

Mindfulness 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.

Mindfulness 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 mindfulness 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.

Mindfulness meditation also de-clutters the brain and gives you clarity in a world full of noise. We could ask you to cancel your social media accounts, disable notifications and stop listening to the news but you probably 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:

  1. Visualisation meditation in the morning
  2. 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, 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.

Morning – Power Of Eight 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 eight areas of life depicted below.

It is about visualising your best day in each of the eight 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 superpower. 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 eight areas of life.

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 three 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 evening 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 mindfulness meditation coach and faculty member, Tom kindly prepared this guided audio practice for your personal use.  Listen to his Nightly Guided Meditation now.

Want to read the rest of this series? You can find them here:

Movement: Essential Ritual #2

Man running in Sydney Harbour

Image of a lady performing some body movement

By Sam Makhoul

This is part of a series of articles relating to the four rituals, five habits and six hacks that systemise your life. Remember 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 our last article, we shared with you the most important daily ritual of all – journaling.  Now we will share with you the second most important ritual you need to do before journaling, without compromise every morning and early evening – movement.

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 out-perform 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 the conscious effort but that makes it all the sweeter.

Movement In The AM And PM:

Person performing movement activities

 

Before you perform the first mentioned ritual (journaling), it is absolutely critical to start your day with movement. Anything from a four-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 7-8 am. 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 you are unwell, still muster the effort to do a brisk walk for 15-30 mins – you will always be surprised by how much it lifts your mood and energy.

And the best form of exercise is one that you enjoy. Think competitive sport, dancing and training with friends.

The second best and most natural source of movement is walking, jogging or running. Generally, the shorter the time you have to exercise the higher the intensity should be.

When you don’t have much time, do at the very minimum a 10 minute Tabata routine. But never ever skip moving in the morning.

Why Is Exercise An Important Morning Ritual?

Person running up stairs

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.

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.

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

Want to read the rest of this series? You can find them here:

Journaling: Essential Daily Rituals #1

Lady journaling

By Sam Makhoul

The Foundation for Identity Change

In the last article I, wrote about defining your identity clearly by asking yourself, “who do I want to become in each of the eight areas of life?”

I write to start you on the journey for identity change using the four rituals, five habits and six life-hacks, which 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 that 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. So, let’s start.

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.

You cannot stack the habits and hacks without mastering these four rituals first. The reason will become clear.

Infusing these four4 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:

Image of a blank journal

Journaling is the most important ritual out of the four. 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 night of deep sleep is the second biggest secret to winning your morning. 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 four-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.

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?

Pen sitting on paper ahead of journaling

At A Higher Branch, 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 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 eight 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 eight 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 eight 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 eight 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 afterwards.
  • Book a massage for Saturday.
  • Use the stand-up desk between 8:30 am – 11:30 am.
  • Buy blue-light blocking glasses.
  • Fast till 1 pm today. Have a no-protein day today.
  • Order more turmeric & ashwagandha.
  • Go to bed at 10 pm.
  • Rest day, do brisk walk after work.
  • Go out in the 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 my daughter.
  • Share chapter eight 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 a mate with his wedding prep.

Learning:

  • Listen to latest episodes of Dr Rhonda Patrick and Jim Kwik.
  • Research whether autophagy accelerates with exercise.
  • Research whether coffee breaks a fast.
  • Re-listen to chapter 11 in David Goggins book, You Can’t Hurt Me.

Wealth:

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

Charity:

  • Help son with setting up his new website.
  • Spend 9 am-12-noon training new recruits.
  • Write the 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 eight 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:

Man sitting on the side walk journaling

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 three 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.

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.

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 eight areas of life. I want you to devote some of those first few pages to list everything you are for in the eight 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.

Achievements:

You may have heard of the power of gratitude but heard little about the equally powerful task of listing your achievements in the eight 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, that we do not have enough, 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.

Want to read the rest of this series? You can find them here:

The 5 Powerful Daily Habits

Sign that reads habits are to be made

Woman waking up in bed as the hero image of the daily habits article

By Sam Makhoul

This article is part of a series in our academy’s four-five-six system – four rituals, five habits and six 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.

Diagram of the daily conscious living module
We have covered the four daily rituals in detail in past articles; see below. Now we swing into the five 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 four daily rituals as your foundation.

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

We know, we 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 our personal experiences, our lives started improving dramatically when we began to learn about ourselves. That process of self-discovery is where you will discover and unleash your talents and skills.

This in turn boosts your performance in all eight areas of your life, including your work or business. Here’s how:

The Power Of 5 Daily Habits:

Image of a dream capture

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 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.

We 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 Daily 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 shoelaces 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.

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 we reveal the first important habit you must be wondering….

How Do You Cultivate A New Habit?

Through repetition and reward. Neuroscientists 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, habits 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…..

Why You Needs To Make Smiling A Daily Habit:

Two women laying down smiling

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

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! The science of how our physiology impacts our thoughts and feelings has been established by many researchers.

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 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?

Image of Mr Bean

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.

Want to read the rest of this series? You can find them here:

How To Get The Best Sleep- Part 2

By Sam Makhoul

The Definitive Guide To Sleeping Longer And Deeper:

In part one 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 one, you can here: 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 superpower in promoting all of these qualities.

In part two of this series, I will outline the scientifically proven factors that impact good quality sleep, as they relate to the four elements:

  1. Duration
  2. Depth
  3. Continuity
  4. 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 eight areas of my life.

Depth:

Lady in a deep sleep

Depth is the most important element because, you will recall from part one of this series, that regeneration and repair of body and mind happen when you go into a 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 four 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 the 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 TVs.

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:

  • Replace your LED’s with low lux lighting which can reduce blue/white light by up to 80%.
  • Put dimmers on all your lights.
  • Light candles instead.
  • Eliminate screen time at least one hour before bed. Ideally three 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 three and four. 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: 

Electromagnetic 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 a 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:

Clock ticking

Duration is important because we all need five, 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.

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 suppresses the release of melatonin so it also affects duration. In fact, for every 60 minutes of artificial light, you get after sundown, you suppress 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 neutralising the effects of work or life stress. 

TIP: If you cannot play a sport or have the time to work out, try minimum effective dose exercise throughout the day. Do Tabata three, four minutes a day and go for a quick walk before lunch and dinner.

3. Stress boosts cortisol and adrenalin to 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 am-4 am with your heart beating out of your chest.

Stress also raises your body temperature which we discussed keeps you from going into a 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 five to 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 that are high in fat. It is best to avoid food within three 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 a 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 one 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 the morning.
  • Do the four, seven, eight breathing technique. Breath in for four seconds, hold for seven and exhale for eight. Do this at least five 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 earth negative ions. The latter is healing and calming. It engages the parasympathetic nervous system.

Continuity:

Coffee cup in bed

It is natural to wake in the last sleep cycle of the night around the six-hour mark. But if you are waking earlier in the first four 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 six hours?

Typically they are:

  1. Drinking too many fluids before bed.
  2. Eating too much before bed.
  3. Consuming more than one drink of alcohol within three 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 indulge in the list of four 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 resetting 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 10:30 pm, 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 9:30 pm and wake at 5:30 am.

Night owls should go to bed around 11 pm and wake at 7 pm. If you are an in-betweener, then anytime between 9:30 pm and 11 pm for sleeping and 5:30 am and 7 am 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 a 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 the 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.

Is Sleep The Fountain Of Youth? – Part 1

Lady sleeping in bed

Lady sleeping in bed with brown sheets

By Sam Makhoul

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. 

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, the 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. It will then 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 two 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. 

This 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 minutes duration. So, over an optimal eight hours sleep you will get five cycles.

During this 90 minutes cycle you go into four levels of sleep.  Level’s three and four being the deepest sleep where your brain goes into long delta waves.

Towards the end of the 90 minutes 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 five 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).

Diagram of the sleep stages

There are four layers to your health:

  1. Physical
  2. Intellectual
  3. Emotional
  4. Spiritual.

In this article we will discuss how sleep impacts the first three energies.

The  depth duration continuity regularity is what defines high-quality sleep. And it is the combination of all four 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 four cycles).

Regularity is how often you experience quality sleep. Every day? Five 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 six 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 six or fewer hours of sleep per night are four 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?

Lady waking up in bed

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 three 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.

Meaning, 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 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 Walker’s 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. Earlier, I outlined these were 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 two of this article (read it here), I discuss the four elements to good quality sleep. They are duration, depth, continuity and regularity.

I list the major factors that negatively impact these four 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 outline the following:

  • Depth: The two major lifestyle changes that will increase the depth of your sleep and activate autophagy and trigger high. These protocols will work almost immediately.
  • Duration: The two major causes of a reduction in the duration of your sleep. And how to prevent them with two simple techniques. I also share with you seven 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 three 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 share the exact best time to sleep and wake according to your chronotype.

Why Breathing Techniques Need To Be One Of Your Daily Rituals

Is Poor Breathing Making You Sick?

Is Poor Breathing Making You Sick?

By Sam Makhoul

This is the last of the six 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 second 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 at 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:

  • The 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? 

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 of 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 breathe 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 four seconds, hold for four, out for 4 four 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 four 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 the 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 four. Hold your breath for seven and exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.

Repeat three 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 coincidence 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 this for five 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.

Read more from this series:

Life Hack #1: Grounding & Sun Gazing

Life-Hack #2: Eating Properly And Maximising Nutritional Absorption

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

Life Hack #4: The Power Of Laughter

Life Hack #5: Your Sixth Sense

Why You Should Trust Your Sixth Sense

Child with glasses

Young man brainstorming

By Sam Makhoul

Are You Genetically Gifted:

You could possibly have a gene that gives you a competitive edge in harnessing the power of visualisation. Nobody ever thinks of their five senses as superpowers but all the science shows that it is our five senses that determine how we experience the world, how long we live and the quality of our living.

Now science is discovering a sixth sense that can create everything we ever wanted out of life. 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 a 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? Visions and 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 five physical senses… but this sixth sense 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 how to step into.

Child with glasses

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 phenomenon 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 sixth 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 three 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.

Read more from this series:

Life Hack #1: Grounding & Sun Gazing

Life-Hack #2: Eating Properly And Maximising Nutritional Absorption

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

Life Hack #4: The Power Of Laughter

Life-Hack #6: Let There Be Breath

The Power of Laughter

Three people running

Three people running

By Sam Makhoul

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 six? Just like a bodybuilder will focus on compounding exercises such as squats, the six life-hacks, including this one on laughter, all have a compounding effect on your health. 

In other words, the 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 thus 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. 

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 number four 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 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.

Read more from this series:

Life Hack #1: Grounding & Sun Gazing

Life-Hack #2: Eating Properly And Maximising Nutritional Absorption

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

Life Hack #5: Your Sixth Sense

Life-Hack #6: Let There Be Breath

Why You Need To Think About Oil Pulling And Saliva

Two people hugging

Two people hugging

By Sam Makhoul

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 superweapon. And it is quick, easy and cheap.

But first…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 fourth 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 toothpaste and toothbrushes. The following is what you should do morning just before you perform the four-morning rituals shared in previous articles.

  • Brush teeth and tongue in the usual way
  • Use a tablespoon 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.

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.

Read more from this series:

Life Hack #1: Grounding & Sun Gazing

Life-Hack #2: Eating Properly And Maximising Nutritional Absorption

Life Hack #4: The Power Of Laughter

Life Hack #5: Your Sixth Sense

Life-Hack #6: Let There Be Breath

Why Eating Properly Is Important For Your Body

How to eat properly

By Sam Makhoul

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 fulfilment 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 Three 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 three tests to start with. Blood test, hair mineral analysis and the 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 with the natural cycles of the earth.

This seasonal living is the single most important principle for 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 reviewing, 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:

Lady delivery two plates of healthy food

1. Eat More Protein In Winter:

We are generally less active in winter and so we need to eat fewer 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 changing 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 the 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 Or Move Before Your Meals:

Exercise expands 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 Or 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.  Eat More Of Your Carbs As The Last Meal Of The Day:

But… only if you have a stressful day and feel like you have been running on adrenalin all 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.

Read more from this series:

Life Hack #1: Grounding & Sun Gazing

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

Life Hack #4: The Power Of Laughter

Life Hack #5: Your Sixth Sense

Life-Hack #6: Let There Be Breath

Why We Don’t Step Outside Our Comfort Zone

Turtle swimming in clear blue waters

By Sam Makhoul

Stepping out of your comfort zone is a confronting experience. And for many people, it sparks a feeling of anxiousness, fear and worry.

So, what are the key contributors that are holding us back and keeping us feeling safe in an area of life that we feel most comfortable? Well, we investigate.

Is It Fear Of Getting Hurt Or Is It Laziness?

Close up of a ladies brown eyes looking out in fear of leaving her comfort zone

Being adventurous does lead us into unknown territory where we may feel lost and in many cases, it is out of your comfort zone. We get it, but 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 us wrong, we are not suggesting you do anything without research and assessment. Being fearless does not mean being reckless, but it is your duty to at least make the effort and conduct the risk analysis.

Risk Analysis:

So, there are essentially two obstacles. Not just fear but LAO taking the time and effort to conduct a 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”.  Meaning, it is simply fear stopping you from taking action even though you know 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. Ask yourself:

  • “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 the 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 we outline a process to help you.

Get Rich Or Die Trying?

Lady in bed under the blankets

Change ultimately requires not just fearlessness but constant risk assessment. If you are too lazy to make that assessment daily, 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.

  1. High State: Life is great! They wake up every day with purpose and passion.
  2. Low State: Life is terrible, and they are not excited about getting up in the morning.
  3. Numb State: They are neither happy nor sad, but stuck somewhere in the middle where it is not bad enough to change anything.

We are not judging here. Merely making an observation that the numb state often precedes the low state.

We’ve been in all three states and the one thing that we know for certain is that we have only ever achieved something in life when we have gone out on a limb, got hurt, dusted myself off and tried something new every day. But only when we 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:

Woman walking a flower field in happiness after learning how to leave her comfort zone

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. We are not saying it’s easy, but it’s definitely not numb.

There are steps we 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 – this takes courage.

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

Lady laying on top of her bed

Man turning alarm off because he can't get out of bed

By Sam Makhoul

Have you ever wondered why some people just can’t get out of bed some mornings? Well, the real reason is that 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 a purpose but lack passion.

Why? We all 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 to a concert. Visit a new restaurant,  see a new movie or read a new book?

Make a new friend, develop a new strategy,  use a new software program, to take a new route? 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.

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.”

Below we highlight how the sense of adventure is impacting some individuals ability to not be able to get out of bed in the mornings.

Adventure:

Man sky diving out of his comfort zone

Living a life where we bounce out of bed every day 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. The 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 eight 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 eight areas of our life because we are not living consciously.

We wake and hit the repeat button every day. So, our challenge to you this week is to ask yourself:

  • What new adventures can you try every day this week, using the eight 8 elements of life as your guide?
  • What new things can you do?
  • Or what old things can you do in a new way?
Diagram of the eight trees of life

Can You Eat Junk Food And Still Be Healthy?

Deep fried foods and lollies laid out on a mat

Deep fried foods and lollies laid out on a mat

By Sam Makhoul

The answer is YES. But we’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 sunlight?
  • 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 healthily and still not be a “well” being. Conversely, you can eat unhealthily 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. And this is through your eight tress of eight – or as we describe at A Higher Branch, The Power Of Eight.

To learn more about The Power Of Eight and how to live a holistic life, read here.

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 One Big Mistake Parents Make When Raising Children

Child running with fairy floss

By Dr. Guy Winch

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 of the human spirit.

Little girl eating a donut

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 five 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.

Read About Dr Guy Winch Here.

The Power Of Facing East

Sign facing east

Sign facing and reading east

By Mark Bunn

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.

Compass facing east

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?

workspace facing east

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 the 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?

Man sleeping in bed

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, a 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.

Video Games Can Boost Emotional Health and Reduce Loneliness

Man playing video games

Young boy playing video games

By Dr. Guy Winch 

When you think of video games in the context of mental health, what comes to mind? For most people, the association is not a positive one.

Concerns have been raised about video games causing violence; gaming culture being sexist, racist, and homophobic; and whether video game addiction should become an official diagnosis. But while video games and gaming can have detrimental impacts in some contexts, what gets lost amidst the psychopathology-skewed headlines is that they can also provide significant benefits to our emotional health and well-being.

In fact, game developers are now designing games with the specific purpose of addressing psychological issues and boosting emotional health. For example, Sea of Solitude—developed by Jo-Mei Games and published by video gaming giant Electronic Arts—was created by Cornelia Geppert after a painful break up in 2013.

In the game, Kay, the heroine, has to fight humans who have turned into monsters because they became too lonely. To save herself from becoming one of them, she has to fight her own loneliness.

The game is both emotional and compelling. I (Dr Guy Winch) recently met Cornelia at a conference and witnessed firsthand the engagement and immersion of the attendees as they played it. Multiplayer platforms can be especially conducive to increasing social connection, forming community, and reducing loneliness.

Tom, a married man in his thirties, spends roughly 10 to 15 hours a week playing a multiplayer strategy game on his phone, in which he leads a group of sixty other players on complex missions. For the alliance to succeed in the game, they need to communicate effectively and work together. 

Group of males playing video games

As do many gaming teams, Tom’s group established a communication channel outside the game to discuss strategy and delegate tasks. But like on other such channels, discussions go far beyond the actual game.

Players often share personal problems, challenges in their relationships, or difficult feelings such as loneliness. The outpouring of compassion and support they receive from the group in such instances fosters powerful feelings of connection and community. 

Indeed, a study of social interactions within and outside multiplayer gaming platforms found that these kinds of platforms allowed players to express themselves in ways they might not feel able to in their real lives. This has helped lead to the creation of strong friendships, long-term relationships, and even marriages.

And a 2014 review concluded that video games can help gamers flourish psychologically by generating positive emotions, boosting individual functioning, and enhancing social connections; all of which contributed to mental health and well-being. The bottom line is that while video games can be problematic and even potentially addictive for some people (both children and adults), and while some gaming environments can indeed be hostile, we should not throw out the gaming console with the bathwater — so to speak.

As is often the case, it isn’t necessarily the thing itself that is good or bad, but how we use it that matters. Playing games that foster emotional health and psychological recovery, and taking advantage of the connective social fabric that can form in certain gaming environments could offer valuable opportunities for supporting and enhancing our mental health and emotional well-being.

Copyright, Dr. Guy Winch

Guy Winch is a licensed psychologist who is a leading advocate for integrating the science of emotional health into our daily lives. His two TED Talks have been viewed over 20 million times, and his science-based self-help books have been translated into 26 languages.

He also writes for Psychology Today and has a private practice in New York City. Read all about Dr Guy here

Is speed killing your life?

Car racing

Car racing to slow down

By Carl Honore

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 three or more of the following symptoms? If so, you may be addicted to the stress of speed.

  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 or sweets.
  6. You rely on coffee for energy.
  7. You suffer from intermittent insomnia.
  8. You find it difficult to notice the beauty around you or you are numb to it.
  9. Loss of creativity and passion.

5 Business Consequences Of Speed:

Team members from office sitting around a desk discussing business strategy

Don’t believe the speed of stress will impact your business? Well, here’s how:

  1. Hurried consultations with no real customer connection.
  2. Inability to really listen to your customer.
  3. Higher error rates.
  4. Irate customers from regular misunderstandings.
  5. Lower performance.

12 Excellent Strategies For Slowing Down:

Image showing a slow lane and a fast lane

Are you ready to accept you live life in the fast lane? Are you wanting to take a step back and slow things down? Here’s how you can:

  1. Don’t schedule in more than two meetings per day.
  2. Don’t schedule any meetings after 3 pm – 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 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.
  6. Take at least two renewal breaks throughout the day to stretch, breath and meditate for five minutes.
  7. Don’t take on too much work and 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 – and 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, read our faculty member, Carl Honore’s books BolderIn Praise of Slow and The Slow Fix.

Learn more about Carl by visiting his profile here.

5 Lifestyle Choices Of The Longest Living Humans

Four people cheering at a dining table is a big lifestyle choice you should implement

By Sam Makhoul

Have you ever thought about the lifestyle choices you decide on? Have you ever thought how others across the globe continue to have a longer life expectancy and overall, live a happier life? 

I did – and what I learnt on my travels inspired me. Recently, I (Sam Makhoul, founder of A Higher Branch) travelled the Mediterranean – starting in Sardinia – 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 insight.  

Whereas, we in the west, are obsessed with the physical and the ‘secrets’ too 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. So, this had me thinking, what lifestyle choices can we start implementing to ensure we live a long, happy life?

Below is a list of the main lifestyle choices that I believe contribute to why people in these blue zones live such a long life. You will notice that these rules for a 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:

Lifestyle choice one is an image of a pile of fresh golden bread roles on the table

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: 

Blonde lady spending time in the sunshine

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:

Lady laying on the lounge having a nap

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:

Man staring infant of the sunset with his arms stretched out

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 a 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…”

So, why do they live long, happy lives? I think that ultimately it is this fearlessness that makes them live longer.

Read here for the list of lifestyle tips to help you live until you’re 100.

20 Tips On How To Live A Long Life

Four people in the car with their hands in the air

By Sam Makhoul

In the current generation Y and millennials, more and more will get the chance to live a long life until 100. You can be one of them too if you play your genetic cards right.

There is no doubt that medicine also makes this goal of a long life achievable. But if you look closely at the statistics, you will notice that whilst people are living longer, some are not living a quality life.

The following list of lifestyle tips has been carefully researched as having the most impact on our wellbeing to allow us to live a long life. 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 is 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. So, what are your goals going to be?

2. Socialise More With Friends:

A group of friends socialising

Friendships are one of the most important aspects of our lives – it is one of the most crucial elements. That’s why 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.

3. Stay In A Good Relationship:

For some, staying in a negative relationship is driven by the fear of change or being alone. But it is important to remember the positive impacts being in a thriving relationship can have and how it can help you live a longer, happier life.

Research has shown that those who are in a loving long-term relationship are much happier and healthier compared to their single counterparts. That’s because positive relationships form a bond; a  partnership that allows encouragement, achievement and passion to be shared with each other.

4. Travel Regularly:

Man with a suitcase off to travel the world

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 on weekend trips with your family and friends.

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. 

5. Wake At Sunrise And Sleep Within Two Hours Of Sunset:

Sounds hard, doesn’t it. Especially when you’re living life at full-speed and working long hours at work. Well, maybe it’s time to make a change?

Research has proven that every hour of sleep before midnight is the equivalent of two hours after midnight. Studies have also reported that waking at sunrise reduces our blood pressure, which is the single most dangerous factor leading to heart disease and stroke.

6. Follow A Diet That’s True To Your Heritage:

A lady at a table eating food of her 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 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.

7. Pick Up A Book And 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.

8. Mix It Up By Using Your Opposite Hand And Foot:

Lady writing with her right hand in a notepad

Our founder, Sam Makhoul commonly tries to use his left hand whenever he can, especially before he has to do some creative thinking. Why?

Well, using the opposite hand or foot helps to sharpen the mind and keeps both sides of your brain working. Studies have also suggested that if you practice this from a young age, the chances of recovery following a stroke in older age are greater. 

9. Have Afternoon Naps – Yep, Napping Is Allowed:

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 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 work the common Monday to Friday, but even a 10-minute power nap is sufficient. If you are unable to do this during the week, then definitely make it a ritual on weekend afternoons. 

10. Watch Comedies And Hang Out With Friends Who Are Funny:

Two ladies sitting together and laughing

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. So before flicking to a dark movie or TV series, make the switch to a comedy or opt to watch a televised comedy show with your favourite comedian – we guarantee you will feel so much better.

11. 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 eight or 80-years-of-age and still get the benefits. The best form is Wing Chun. 

12. Drink Filtered Or Spring Water:

A little girl pictured drinking clean, filtered 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 that is added to water and causes many ailments, which lead to premature ageing. 

13. 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.

14. Keep Your Bowels Clean:

Two baskets full of vegetables

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:

a) First, consuming lots of fruit and vegetables.

b) 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. 

15. Brush Your Gums And Tongue:

Did you know there is a 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.

16. Do Your Pelvic Floor Exercises:

A lady instructing another lady with her pelvic 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. 

17. 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 being affected by it in a negative way. So, how aware of your body are you?

18. Meditate – Yep Take The Time To Check-Out:

Woman standing with her eyes closed meditating

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 can also count. 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. 

19. 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 under-estimate the power of good wishes bestowed upon you by the people you are helping. But you need to remember, charity doesn’t always need to involve money.

Donate your time to someone who needs someone to listen to them. Donate your knowledge to help someone achieve and thrive at home, work and in life overall – the charity can be what you make of it.

20. Do A 12-15 Hour Fast Daily:

A group of lemons on a white board

Start by not eating three hours before you sleep. Why?

Well, research has overwhelmingly shown 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.

What is Your Type?

Family eating dinner

Family walking through a field together

By Sam Makhoul

What foods suit you best and at what times? What exercise routine best suits your personality and body type?

What are 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.

How To Improve Your Immune System Naturally

Immunity boosting foods

By Sam Makhoul

A Comprehensive Guide To Strengthening Your Immune System Naturally

DISCLAIMER: The following information is general in nature and not meant to be a replacement for any specific advice you should be getting from a healthcare practitioner. If you have any symptoms please consult your doctor.

Avoiding viruses and bacteria is difficult because we are so well connected. No doubt you have heard the basics for avoidance such as washing hands.

But what do you know about boosting your body’s own defence mechanisms? At A Higher Branch, we believe this is the ultimate way to take control and avoid the panic.

In this article, we will uncover how to improve your immune system by deep diving into:

  • Foods as medicine
  • Morning tonic
  • Supplements
  • Two smoothie recipes for optimal micro-nutrition

These all act collectively to help with prevention, the severity of symptoms and fast recovery.

Using Food As Medicine:

A capsule with fruit and vegetables floating out of it
 

As winter begins to kick off in Australia, we need to research and begin to eat foods that are in season. And here’s how you can do just that:

  • Turn to smoothies for breakfast, salads for lunch and soups for dinner. Liquid breakfasts and dinners take the pressure off your digestive system and frees the body’s defences to focus on immune support mechanisms.
  • Use garlic, ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, turmeric, thyme and oregano in your cooking because they are warming and naturally anti-viral.
  • Use lemon, apple cider vinegar and olive oil on salads to provide yourself with the extra boost.
  • Drink more herbal teas, especially peppermint, elderberry and marshmallow.
  • Drink mushroom coffees with reishi, lions mane, shitaki and chaga. These mushrooms are well researched and proven to boost immune system performance. You will find these mushroom powders online.

Immune Boosting Anti-inflammatory Foods:

Searching foods that are both immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory? Below is a list of foods that do just that and best of all, they are easily accessible.

  • Bone broth – preferably consumed as your first meal. You can also add crushed ginger, lemon juice, cayenne and fennel seeds for some extra benefits.
  • Berries – especially blueberries.
  • Fatty fish – such as salmon, sardines and anchovies.
  • Broccoli – this is rich in sulforaphane; an antioxidant that reduces inflammatory cytokines, which is what spikes from corona-type viruses.
  • Avocados
  • Green Tea
  • Extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil
  • Mushrooms – especially portobello and truffles (uncooked). Portobello is also a great source of Vitamin D.
  • Fruit – especially papaya, kiwi fruit, citrus fruit and grapefruit.
  • Dark chocolate – with a minimum of 70% cacao, cocoa and carob.

Foods To Eliminate To Reduce Inflammation:

  • Coffee, alcohol and sugar.
  • Junk foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, potato chips, pretzels etc.
  • Refined carbs like white bread, pasta, white rice, crackers, flour tortillas and biscuits.
  • Fried foods.
  • Processed meats like bacon, canned meat, salami, hot dogs and smoked meats.
  • Trans fats like shortening, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and margarine.

How Your Lifestyle Can Strength The Immune System:

Diagram of a headline that reads "healthy lifestyle" surrounding by exercise gear and fruit and vegetable.
 

Eliminate Every Morning:

Viruses and bacteria first take hold in your gut. So, you need to ensure you are constantly eliminating waste from your system.

The following tonic will help get you going and kill any pathogens in your gut:

  • Warm water
  • Lemon juice
  • Sprinkle cayenne
  • Crushed ginger
  • Crushed garlic (optional)
  • Manuka Honey

Night Tonic:

Mix together, apple cider vinegar, hot or warm water with manuka honey and a sprinkle of high-quality salt. This tonic is not only cleansing, but it also improves your ability to get to sleep.

Breath Deeply:

Did you know that 70% of our body’s detox happens in the lungs? To ensure this detox pathway happens efficiently, you need to ensure you are not hunched over and shallow breathing.

Take time every hour to breath deeply for four seconds, holding for five and exhaling for six. Do this five times every hour.

Do this standing up with shoulders back and chest out to open up the lungs. Listen to our podcast with Johannes Egberts for more tips on how to deep breath.

Reduce Stress:

Stress impairs your immune system by lowering the body’s ability to produce white blood cells. It is these ‘lymphocytes’ that protect you by killing viruses and bacteria.

  • Don’t work too many hours. Say ‘no’ to workloads that overwhelm you.
  • Don’t work out or train too hard at the gym (and make sure you recover well before your next workout).
  • Get to bed by 10 pm and wake by 6 am. The key is to get at least 7.5 hours of sleep. Sleep is the best way to neutralise stress.
  • Meditate for at least 10 minutes before bedtime and don’t watch stressful TV shows – comedy works best.
  • Improve your relationships with your partner, your family, your friends and your work colleagues. Often it is our relationships that cause us the most stress and by developing loving harmonious relationships we can take the pressure off our bodies.

Want to learn more about managing conflict in your relationship? Then, head over and listen to our podcast with Dr Guy Winch.

Have A Sauna:

They are a great way to normalise your immune system response. They also draw toxins out of the body, lower blood pressure and reduce stress.

How Supplements Can Help Build A Strong Immune System:

Image of spoons with supplements in them

Vitamin D3:

When it comes to vitamin supplement oral sprays work best. D3 is the most potent way to modulate innate and adaptive immune responses.

Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity, as well as an increased susceptibility to viral infection. It also defends the body from foreign, invading organisms, promoting protective immunity from direct sunlight on skin during the middle of the day.

As a side note, when your shadow is shorter than you that is the best way to get vitamin D, but for most of us, this is very difficult to do.

Vitamin C:

Vitamin C is preferably received from wholefood sources such as kakadu plumb (purchased as Gubinge powder) and elderberry lozenges. Otherwise, supplement form is great, especially with bioflavonoids.

Zinc:

When it comes to zinc, it is usually found in some vitamin C supplements; so make sure you always read the label.

Cats Claw:

This herb normalises the immune response. It regulates the white blood cell count to ensure that the immune system does not overreact to a pathogen, which is the big problem with the latest COVID-19 pandemic.

Olive Leaf Extract:

This is good for coughs, sore throats and upper respiratory infections.

Echinacea Root :

If you are searching for a supplement to help relieve pain, echinacea root could be your go-to…

Astragalus Root:

Perfect for cold and flu prevention, as it powers the immune system.

Elderberry:

These lozenges are great for kids. It helps boosts your immune system and is great to prevent and reduce the severity of cold and flu.

Curcumin:

An active compound found in turmeric – it is a strong anti-inflammatory that we recommend for all conditions.

Essential Oils:

Also never underestimate this powerful modality! Rubbed on the throat and chest – any one or combination of clove, orange, thyme, cinnamon, rosemary, eucalyptus.

Four bottles of essential oils on the table

Your ‘Liquid Meal’ Smoothie Recipe to Help Improve Your Immunity

Green smoothie on a wooden table

Morning Green Smoothie Recipe:

  1.  Filtered or spring water plus small piece papaya and/or organic banana.
  2. One compressed block of frozen spinach and kale.
  3. A flat teaspoon of spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass, moringa powder and matcha powder.
  4. Half teaspoon of broccoli sprout powder (this is an essential ingredient because of its high sulforaphane content).
  5. One teaspoon of bee pollen.
  6.  One tablespoon of flax seeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds.

Post Exercise Or Afternoon Brown Earth Smoothie Recipe:

  • Cold pressed almond milk or water.
  • A quarter of papaya.
  • One whole banana.
  • ¼ cup blueberries.
  •  ¼ cup pre-soaked oats.
  • One tablespoon of cacao and carob powder (try and opt for organic).
  • One tablespoon of plant protein or one whole raw organic egg.
  • One date.
  •  A quarter of a teaspoon true cinnamon (for insulin regulation).
 **If you would like to know brand names for any of these supplements, please email us directly at enquiries@ahigherbranch.com.**

Stay well and stay in touch with us by subscribing to A Higher Branch via the form below or subscribe and follow us on:

The 3 Essential S’s for Immunity

Lady laying in bed asleep

By Sam Makhoul

All three will boost your immune system in a profound way and make you bulletproof to ensure that any cold, flu or virus only has a mild effect.

It will also make you physically more resilient across a host of other more long-term diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer etc. Often, we don’t worry about these ailments because they impact us slowly.

Here are the 3 S’s:

  1. STRESS
  2. SLEEP
  3. SUNSHINE

1. How To Reduce Stress:

Stress will wreck your immune system’s ability to respond in a normal way. The best way to reduce stress is to sleep more.

And the best way to sleep more is to get more sunshine. More will be said about the relationship between stress, sleep and sunshine below.

For now, consider the following things to reduce stress. We must note, some tips are a little unusual but they address things that may be stressing you without you realising:

  • Do not watch the news on the TV, internet or social media. They are designed to shock and grab attention. At the end of the day, they are a business that’s all about ratings to raise advertising dollars, even the ABC gets government funding based on ratings.
  • Stay away from people who are preoccupied with talking about the pandemic. They will infect your mind with fear. And trust us when we say, this is worse than the virus.
  • Live frugally. Instead of eating out, cook at home, cook with your lover or your loved ones. And eat together with the TV off and no phones on the table. Spending wisely takes the pressure off you financially.
  • If you do get stressed at any time, stand up, go for a walk, take a break, breathe deeply in for four, hold for five and out for a seven-second count.
  • Don’t work too many hours. Stop work at 5 pm or your designated time. It’s not about hours worked, it’s about effectiveness at work.
  • Stay productive. Work fulfils us when we give 100%. There is nothing better at the end of the day than the feeling that you have achieved something. It relaxes you and makes you feel worthy of your leisure time.
  • Keep doing what you are doing, just do it differently. Don’t abandon your goals and dreams in the eight areas of life because of social distancing. Can’t work out in the gym? Go outside. Can’t go to the movies? Watch a movie at home or read a book. Commit to life education, not just entertainment. There are thought leaders like Dr Guy Winch, who tick both those boxes. His talks are both entertaining and educational.
  • Focus on the best qualities of the people closest to you, especially your partner. Working from home will bring us closer together and that’s a good thing. But to make the most of it, you need to shift your focus from the things that irritate you to the things you most love. Think of it as the daily ‘vows’ you make in your head every morning.
  • Live with gratitude. Feeling grateful throughout the day is the best antidote to stress.
  • Accept whatever flows in life. Don’t spend precious energy resisting, blaming and holding onto grudges. There is unbelievable power in surrender. You cannot control everything in life, and you cannot always get your way. And every time you resist that lesson you will waste the precious energy your body needs to modulate the immune system.
  • Watch comedy at night.

2. How To Get Enough Sleep:

Lady waking up in bed

Just about every expert I have interviewed on A Higher Branch podcast all have sleep at the top of their list to improve just about everything from beauty to brainpower. The following tips are a compilation of their advice:

  • Avoid artificial light at night for at least one hour before you prepare for bed. Dim the backlight on your TV and turn off all devices one hour before bed.
  • Eat light meals at night and if you are going to have a big meal, make it at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol at night.
  • Avoid caffeine after 2 pm – if you are sensitive to caffeine eliminate it altogether. You can have genetic tests to determine your ability to metabolise caffeine.
  • Socialise in the evening before bedtime. We don’t mean by text, take part in face to face or facetime socialising.

3. Get Out And Enjoy The Sunshine:

Young woman smiling towards the sun on a clear blue day

We are solar-powered. The sun influences not just our immunity but our mood. When we expose our skin and our eyes to the sun a complex series of electrical and biological processes are triggered to boost good bacteria in our gut.

These bacteria trigger the production of serotonin (feel good) and melatonin (energy and sleep). Together they will improve your ability to get to sleep and the quality of that sleep.

And this will reduce your stress levels considerably. So, it is the combination of all three S’s that will make you stronger to resist any viral attack on your body.

But consider one more important point. Sunshine at the right time of the day will boost your vitamin D levels. This vitamin, which is in fact a hormone, is a super powerful to resist, not only the viral and bacterial disease but also long-term disease such as cancer.

Is there a link between Covid-19 and vitamin D? It is interesting to note that the most severe impact of Covid-19 has been in areas of the northern hemisphere at the end of a cold winter when vitamin D levels are lowest.

No doubt in months and years to come there will be research showing the strong correlation between the severity of symptoms and vitamin D levels.
In fact, during the Spanish flu, they started healing patients by taking them outside of the hospitals and into the sun.

Note the following tips for sunshine:

  • Vitamin D only gets produced when the UVB levels are over a certain limit. Check out the governments ARPANSA website for that level. But generally, it is when your shadow is shorter than your height.
  • UVB cannot get through glass windows = no vitamin D.
  • People with darker skin need more time in the sun. Need to know how much sun to get for you? Generally, your body will send you signals that you have enough. If you start to sweat and your heart rate elevates then its time to get out of the sun.
  • The sun needs to hit your skin otherwise vitamin D cannot be produced. It cannot get through clothes or sunscreen. So, it is best to wear a hat and sunscreen for your face but the rest of the body needs to get direct sun.

4. Do Supplements Really Help You? (The Fourth Optional S):

Five spoons with vitamins on them

 

There are so many supplements that we covered in our last article about boosting your immune system. But if we had to choose three of the most essential nutrients it would be the following:

  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin D3

Natural sources of these nutrients are best but if you have to supplement then that is better than nothing.

Stay well and stay in touch with us by subscribing to A Higher Branch via the form below or subscribe and follow us on:

We will continue to bring you information not just on health but on all eight areas of your life that may become tested and strained during these uncertain times. We have one coming up on wealth protection.

Please note that the most valued quality during this time and one that people will remember most is your ability to stay calm. This does not mean ignoring health safety measures. It means going about your life in a different way, with no fuss and no Doomsday’ing.

“This too shall pass…”

Essential Habit #2: Situational Gratitude

By Sam Makhoul

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 one as part of the series in our academy’s daily system for living – featuring four rituals, five habits and six life-hacks. We have already covered the four 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)

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.

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 inhibiting 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 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: “Don’t 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. 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 3 am 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 practised by reminding yourself of all the things you should be grateful for in each of the eight 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.