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50 Life Questions With No Easy Answers

Life is filled with a lot of difficult and unanswered question. In many ways, these uncertainties add to the mystery and amazement of life. A short question, like “Who am I?” can lead to hours of introspecting and debating among friends and family. And by the end of it, we probably still won’t be able to agree on an answer.

In my experience, contemplating the answers to these questions sharpens our thinking and can give us a deeper understanding of ourselves and life in general.

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75 Affirmations for Self Improvement


In psychology, there is a saying that “neurons that fire together wire together.”

So the more we practice having certain thoughts or beliefs that serve our success, happiness, and well-being – the more naturally those thoughts and beliefs will play themselves out in our everyday lives.

Affirmations are one great way to develop these new thought patterns and make them become second-nature. They are simple positive statements that we repeat to ourselves inside our minds.

Every morning you can practice repeating positive affirmations to yourself with a clear and focused mind. And over time, these beliefs begin to take root inside your brain.

This article provides 75 different affirmations geared toward self improvement. Try to find the affirmations that “click” with you the most – or use this list as inspiration to create your own unique affirmations.

I highly recommend creating a document titled “Positive Affirmations” and starting a collection of your own. I find it can be a very positive resource to draw from when you need an extra boost.

You can start by choosing 5-7 affirmations from my personal list below.

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I’m The Prize: An Affirmation To Increase Self-Worth

I’m The Prize

“I’m the prize” is a common affirmation in the Pick Up Artist (PUA) community, but I believe it can be applied to all kinds of relationships. “I’m the prize” is about setting expectations for yourself and the kinds of relationships you want to cultivate in your life. It’s the belief that you deserve to be treated a certain way, because you are worthy of relationships that enrich your life.

You see, the opposite of a person with an “I’m the prize” mentality is someone who constantly sells themselves short. They don’t believe they deserve the kinds of relationships they ultimately want, so they settle for “second best.” Eventually they get used to “second best” – being just good enough – and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I’m convinced that being content with mediocrity is the latest plague, and I intend to help cure it. Being content with what you have is not the same thing as being genuinely happy. To be genuinely happy you need to live in accordance to your values, not settle for less.

People have a hard time getting what they want out of life, especially when they don’t know what they want. The very first thing you need to do is define what you value in others. If you’re one of those people who constantly finds themselves attracting the same non-fulfilling relationships, you probably need to reflect on your core values and see where you are making unnecessary sacrifices. One exercise I do that helps clarify what I want is to write out my values. You can do it in a list form, or write a short essay describing the types of people in your life you want to connect with. This will help prime your mind to look out for these values throughout your day-to-day interactions.

How to BE the “Prize”

Monotonously repeating an affirmation over and over again will be futile, especially if you don’t consciously act in accordance to those beliefs. I guarantee that no matter how many times you tell yourself “I’m the prize,” you won’t get anywhere unless you embody that affirmation, by actually being what you say you want to be.

You simply can’t create fulfilling relationships in your life solely by demanding them – you need to offer real value. All relationships are a kind of psychological “exchange.”

What value do you offer to others?

I’m obviously not just talking about gifts or money, but what psychological value do you offer others? Start by defining your strengths. What will make people want to be around you more? Are you: Kind? Understanding? Funny? Adventurous? Creative? Intelligent?

Identify your positive attributes. Write out a list of each, or write a short essay describing what is so good about you. This can be a great boost to your self-esteem, and it can also help clarify who you are as a person. Also, identify attributes that you want to work on and improve. Write a separate list or essay describing the things you need to do in order to improve yourself in the future. Just because you are the prize doesn’t mean you can’t improve yourself to be even better than you already are. Those who are the prize are always looking for new ways to grow and expand themselves. They apply a winning attitude to everything that they do.

And please don’t be too modest, everyone has positive qualities about themselves. Don’t be afraid to reveal these positive qualities when around others. They make you who you are, and people are going to appreciate you more when you let your personality shine through, rather than when you hide it and don’t believe in yourself.

Taming the ego

Okay, I understand that saying “I’m the prize” can sound a bit arrogant and egotistical. I certainly don’t want you to announce it out loud to others. Instead, it should be an internal and unspoken thought process. It’s a general attitude you have about yourself, the feeling that you are capable and deserving of positive relationships.

Don’t think of “I’m the prize” as a means of boasting or bragging, or trying to artificially inflate your value in front of others. A lot of people in the PUA community come up with little games and tricks that they believe “demonstrate higher value,” when really it’s a superficial cover for a shallow personality. If you ARE the prize, you don’t need to come up with tactics to demonstrate it. It should just emanate from you naturally, because that is who you are.

“I’m the prize” isn’t about tricking yourself (or other people) into believing you are something you are not. Instead, it is about building your potential, and being your best self using the resources you have available in the present moment. Be optimistic about yourself, but pragmatic. Believe you can achieve your values, but don’t expect the whole world to tilt its axis just for you, it’s not going to happen.

Being the prize is altruistic

If someone perceives you as a prize, that implies that they see value in you (as I’ve mentioned above). In that way, I see “I’m the prize” as not just about self-improvement, but also improving the world around you. When you are capable of building value in other people’s lives, they become better off, not just you.

In my post on magnetic self-esteem, I also describe how many people look up to those who are self-worthy. When we embody this characteristic, we inspire and motivate others to do the same. We become a type of role model, and the world could always use more positive role models.

Don’t just be the prize for yourself, be it for others as well.

Balancing Meditation: A Mind-Body Exercise

Balancing Meditation

Often times, individuals begin their meditation practice by using the breath as their main object of focus. But I’ve also written about how we can meditate on other senses, such as meditating on sounds, by making note of the different auditory sensations, as well as meditating on vision, like a sky gazing meditation during a sunset, or looking up at the stars on a clear night.

A big theme of this blog is to take awareness that we have cultivated during meditation and apply it to different senses, different experiences, and different actions. In truth, you can take any sense and use it as an object of meditation. And this includes our sense of balance.

I was messing around in my backyard the other day and I discovered a brick and a plank of wood. I laid down the brick on its side and then put the wood on top of it. Then, I stood on top of my new apparatus and tried to maintain my balance.

I became really focused on how difficult it was for me to keep a still posture. And as I became more aware, I noticed the subtleties of my weight shifting across the board. From one side to the other, and back again. I noticed when my feet were closer together it was easier for me to keep my composure, but when they were further apart it became more difficult. I kept experimenting, exploring, and discovering new aspects of my body and muscle control.

It fascinates me how taking our awareness and applying it to something as simple as balance can reveal new complexities about our conscious experience. I usually take my balance for granted. I get up everyday, walk around, and hardly ever think about how my weight is distributed throughout my body or how my body and muscles work together to keep me upright. But this is hugely important for someone who practices yoga, gymnastics, likes to skateboard, or maybe someone who is getting older and more clumsy.

Being more aware of our balance and practicing balance can have health and fitness benefits like:

  • Improving muscle control.
  • Improving posture.
  • Improving blood flow.

It can also strengthen our mind-body connection by:

  • Increasing concentration.
  • Increasing body awareness.

It’s a really simple and easy thing to practice. It’s not hard to just come up with some kind of “balancing apparatus” and begin playing with it. I personally find it really fun and a good exercise in self-awareness. I recommend giving it a go.

For some reason when I first started thinking about “balancing meditation” I didn’t make the connection that it was in fact a kind of yoga practice. Haha. Either way, this is something I want to keep practicing and integrating into my health routine. Being able to hold my body more still and calmly (and improving my muscle control) seems like a really desirable trait for long-run health and fitness. It also requires an interesting one-pointedness between both mind and body.

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Personal Branding and Social Media

Personal Branding and Social Media

I’ve been making a really conscious effort to personalize “The Emotion Machine” brand. When I first started this blog, I was very hesitant to talk about myself or to put my face on this site. I can’t explain it, maybe a part of me was shy and was afraid to be judged. But now I’ve realized that being transparent and showing myself (flaws, shortcomings and all) is exactly the kind of thing I want to implement into The Emotion Machine more.

And that’s what I’ve been trying to do.

That’s why I’m on social media, like Twitter and Facebook, so frequently. I want to show myself more, share my thoughts more, dive into personal conversations more, and build meaningful relationships. Especially with people who actually give a shit about what I write here – because, for all intents and purposes, they are the ones that keep me going. Thank you.

And that’s also why I’ve started recording videos on my YouTube channel. I want to show my face. I want to be more engaging outside of just digital text. That’s why I started recording videos a little over a month ago (now I’m up to 10) and that’s why I am going to continue with it. And even though I’m not the best public speaker, it strengthens my message. I think most people will watch me talk about this stuff and believe that I’m being honest and genuine. Mostly because I really do believe in what I say, so why should more transparency be a problem for me? It’s not. I’m ready to be judged. I’ve had people tell me I run a “shit blog” and that I believe in hocus pocus nonsense. I didn’t always have thick skin, but it grows thicker everyday.

And this “thick skin” actually plays a big role in what Gary Vaynerchuk has been advocating in his new book The Thank You Economy. Many business still don’t have the “thick skin” to use social media for anything more than a mini press-release. They are too afraid to read what their customers are saying about them, let alone actually respond to problems.

Any smart businessmen or entrepreneur should understand the goldmine of having access to what people say about your company. What better way can you find opportunities for growth and innovation? Not only that, but social media gives you the opportunity to solve problems in a public domain. If people can see you are putting in the extra mile, it matters. And as more and more companies begin utilizing social media, a new level of customer service is going to be expected.

Vaynerchuk’s book is captivating, thought-provoking, and strengthens a lot of the convictions I’ve had while trying to build “The Emotion Machine” (which is, yes, still a huge work-in-progress).

In the book, he talks about how business is coming around full circle. In the early days of markets and capitalism, there weren’t many corporations, but mostly “Mom and Pa” businesses – small and local businesses that thrived on building relationships and communities with their customers. But in today’s corporate world, businesses have become more depersonalized and detached from their consumers. People, in a sense, have been reduced to numbers. And the quality of relationships in business has declined. But social media is beginning to change that again:

    “I believe that we are living through the early days of a dramatic cultural shift that is bringing us back full circle, and the world that we live and work in operates in a way which is surprisingly similar to the one our great-grandparents knew. Social media has transformed our world into one great big small town, dominated, as all vibrant towns used to be, by the strengths of relationships, the currency of caring, and the power of word of mouth.”

Books like Wired to Care have also emphasized a similar transformation in business. The author Dev Patnaik gives numerous case studies on the importance of empathy (or as Vaynerchuk refers to it -”currency of caring”) and how building a community around your brand is crucial for long-term success. This means, of course, listening and responding to the needs of the people in your community. Social media now gives us the tools to apply these principles at a scale never before possible.

According to Vaynerchuk, social media is now even more important than search engines or SEO – because search engines lack the social context needed for long-term businesses to succeed. Often we Google something, we click on a relevant link, get the information we need, and never visit the site again. But sites like Twitter and Facebook allow us to build a social context around our content and products. Social context builds trust and relationships. And when a product is referred to you by someone who you like and trust, the impact is much greater than when you receive that information from a site you just visited for the first time. Social media is changing the way consumers make decisions:

    “A few months ago I was at Best Buy, and I watched as a teenager used his Facebook status to request recommendations on a Nintendo Wii game. He got feedback in real time, and used it to decide what to buy. Recommendations and contextual social search are the future. Is it any wonder I’m not bullshit on search engine optimization’s (SEO) long-term potential?”

In The Thank You Economy, Vaynerchuk also predicts that social engines are going to begin integrating sites like Facebook and Twitter. In the future, when you search “Nintendo Wii games” on Google, you are going to see tweets appearing at the top of your screen by people you follow who recently mentioned “Nintendo Wii games.” This is going to add tremendous social context to the information we now get off the internet. As a business, imagine how important it is today to start developing these relationships.

As I mentioned before, a lot of business still don’t have the slightest idea what social media is or how to use it. Gary mentions a recent article on Ad Age called “Most Brands Still Irrelevant on Twitter: Marketers Are Certainly Tweeting, but Users Are Barely Listening.”

    “The article actually explains the problem: ‘While marketers such as Dell, Comcast, Ford, and Starbucks have been, at times, clever participants on Twitter, the majority of marketers use it as a mini press release service. Only 12% of messages from marketers are directed at individual users, meaning marketers still see it as a broadcasting medium rather than a conversational one.’ So you see, it’s not that Twitter doesn’t work; it’s that most brands aren’t using Twitter correctly. It’s like saying a trumpet is broken because the first hundred people who try to play it suck. You can’t have a relationship with someone if you won’t shut up and let him or her get a word in edgewise. Brands have to realize that it’s not all about them. When they do nothing but push product, there’s no reason for the consumer to say anything back. It’s like that friend you have who always talks about herself and never asks how you’re doing. Eventually, she gets tiresome, and you lose interest in keeping the relationship.”

Holy shit does this message ring true for me! I find so many businesses and brands on Twitter are not using it correctly at all. After reading the Thank You Economy, I’ve made a conscious effort to go through everyone I’m following on Twitter – and if I don’t see that “@” sign being used, I unfollow them, because they completely miss the point of social media.

When I use Facebook and Twitter, I try to respond back to anyone that shows the slightest interest in what I do. And if someone shares a link I say “thank you,” because the point of social media is that businesses need to start listening to other people and showing appreciation toward those who support them. Remember, we’re going back to a word of mouth economy, and simply broadcasting your message (jamming it down people’s throats without listening or engaging) is going to become more and more irrelevant. Again, consumers are going to start expecting more from the companies they do business with.

In business, it’s so important to start listening to people. Not just for closing sales, but for doing research into what people want and adjusting your business accordingly. The other day someone critiqued something I wrote in an article, I thought they had a good point, so I went in and edited my post. Hello? Social media is a tremendous tool for improving your content. Sometimes I ask people, “What do you want to know about X?” And I get replies and then shape my next blog post according to those demands. That’s also why I post polls on my sidebar and on Facebook. I want to know what other people think. As I mentioned before, social media gives you the chance to correct and improve on things within a public domain; and people will begin to notice that you take notice. It matters to them.

Yeah I know – I’m not the best “public speaker.” Actually, for most of my life I’ve hated it. But this blog isn’t about staying within the boundaries of the past, right? It’s about exploration, making mistakes, and learning to overcome those boundaries. This is just as much true for personal development as it is for professional development, working on your career, or running a business. I’ll get better (I promise)!

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