Tag Archives: Mind Hacks

A Memory Champion’s Best Mental Trick for Remembering Where You Put Your Keys

If you’re tired of misplacing your keys around the house, this explosive memory trick will help you remember. All you need is a little imagination.

In this video from the Business Insider YouTube channel, Ron White, world record holder and two-time National Memory Champion, shares his trick for keeping his keys from getting lost. White suggests we misplace keys and other everyday objects because we go on mental autopilot, especially after a long day. To combat that, you need to find a way to focus on the moment you set something down.

For keys, White recommends you imagine they’re a small bomb that goes off wherever you toss them. For example, if you stick them on the counter, imagine a chunk of the counter top getting blasted out and your cabinets catching fire. This makes your brain focus on the moment of placement and associates a visual memory with a distinct physical location. After all, you can’t imagine how your coffee table might blow up if your brain doesn’t take a moment to study the environment first. Now when you need your keys, you’ll go “Oh yeah, I blew up the nightstand a few hours ago.”


A national memory champion explains how to never misplace your keys ever again | YouTube

If You Want to Make Witty Comebacks, Be a Better Listener

If You Want to Make Witty Comebacks, Be a Better Listener

The best witty comebacks use someone’s words against them, but you can’t do that if you don’t hear what they’re saying. When it comes to conversation, having a sharp wit means being a great listener.

Abigail Paul, the artistic director at the Theatre Language Studio (TLS), says most of us don’t listen to the whole message when someone else speaks. We’re too busy thinking about our own points and planning what we want to say. But to make a witty comeback, Paul says you have to quickly react to what’s already been said. Timing is everything, and you can only fire back fast enough if you’re paying close attention to each word. Otherwise your brain has to shift gears from planning your next point to making an actual retort, and by then it’s too late—all that comes out is “uh, well, so…” And if you know someone that regularly makes snide remarks, it’s extra important to listen carefully and turn their words back on them.


The Secret to Quick-Witted Comeback | BBC via Science of Us

Photo by Lan Bui.

Take Control of Your Temper With the “Walking Down the Hall” Test

Take Control of Your Temper With the "Walking Down the Hall" Test

Sometimes the best way to gain control of your emotions is to step back and think about what you might look and sound like to a stranger.

Controlling your temper is all about recognizing anger early on and taking measures to keep it from overriding your normal actions. The next time you’re upset with someone, Ross McCammon at Entrepreneur suggests you use the “walking down the hall” test:

The test is: What do you look like to someone walking down the hall who can see your interaction but can’t hear it? If you are acting aggressively, menacingly or otherwise “attitudinal,” then that will be apparent to an observer. But if you’re expressing yourself calmly, your “I am feeling anger right now and I want to talk about it” will look to an outside observer like “I have some thoughts right now and I want to talk about it.”

You can’t really prevent yourself from feeling emotions. If you’re angry, it’s okay to tell them you’re angry. But what you do have some control over is how you express those emotions. There’s always a way to do it without drawing the attention of passerby, make believe or not.


Don’t Pop Your Top: 5 Thoughts to Keep You Calm in an Angry Moment | Entrepreneur

Photo by Marco FrontSoldier.

Figure Out What You Really Love to Do With the “Laptop Test”

Figure Out What You Really Love to Do With the “Laptop Test”

You’ll find no shortage of tips from many of the most successful and powerful people on how to find your “passion”, or what you truly love to do. Here’s a simpler way: gauge how you feel about opening your laptop.

When you first open your laptop (or turn on your computer), it’s an important moment of the day because it defines whether you are doing exactly the kind of work you’re supposed to be doing. This is the thinking behind ex-Facebook employee and now full-time comedian Paul Ollinger, who wakes up at 5 a.m. every day for work just because he can’t wait to start writing material for his shows. He calls it the “laptop test.”

What’s your orientation toward your laptop when you wake up in the morning? Are you dying to open it—do you see it as opportunity? Or do you see it as Pandora’s box?

If you look at your laptop as a bug you’d rather squash because you dread looking at all of the emails or starting your work day, well, that says something. Of course, it’s not as simple as setting your laptop on fire and dancing around its ashes in defiance. The “laptop test” is just the easiest way to see if you’re on the right path. Once you know, you’ll have to put in the work and time to make your career shift possible.



An early Facebook employee says the ‘laptop test’ can help you figure out what you should be doing with your life | Business Insider

Image by Alejandro Pinto.

Why We Cringe at the Sound of Our Own Voices

Why We Cringe at the Sound of Our Own Voices

If you’ve ever heard your own voice played back on a recording and thought “do I really sound like that?” you’re not alone. Most of us at least cringe when we hear how we sound to others, and The Science of Us explains why, and what it says about us.

First, the reason why we sound different to ourselves then when we hear ourselves recorded is due to the physiology of our skull. When we hear our own voices, we hear it through an “extra” set of speakers as it were—bone conduction. More specifically:

This is known as bone conduction, meaning that when your vocal cords vibrate to produce speech, that movement also causes the bones of the skull to vibrate, and this, too, is registered in the cochlea. Bone conduction transmits lower frequencies as compared to air conduction, so this is one reason why your voice sounds so unfamiliar when it’s played back to you. When you hear the sound through your own head, your brain perceives it as being lower-pitched than it really is, because the transmission via the skull made it sound that way.

So, sadly, when we hear our voices played back to us, it’s how everyone else hears us. Yikes—but why do we cringe at the unfamiliarity of our own voices?

But you could think of a cringe as a shock of self-consciousness. Some psychologists and philosophers see a divide between the experience of the “lived body” and the “corporeal body,” and argue that emotions that elicit self-consciousness cause the two to collide.

…Put another way: Most of the time, most of us live inside our own heads, imagining that the person we believe we are presenting to the world is indeed the person that the world sees. Cringeworthy moments yank us out of that fantasy, forcing us to at least briefly take an outsider’s view of ourselves.

The next time you remember that thing you did that was so embarrassing it just makes you shiver or start talking to yourself to try and pave over the thought in your head, well, that’s why. The Science of Us goes on to explain that if you don’t cringe—or don’t have a problem at all with hearing your own voice, you may either have higher self-esteem than many of us, be better at handling that multiple-perspective approach to life, or, just maybe, you’re just used to it.

The whole piece is well worth a read, and packed with studies and citations on all of this phenomena. Hit the link below to check it all out.

What Cringing at Your Own Dumb Voice Reveals About You | The Science of Us

Photo by Alexis Nyal.

The Power of Going It Alone

The Power of Going It Alone

I like doing things alone—eating dinner, playing games, seeing movies—but for some, the idea seems depressing, sad, or only for people with no one to be with. That’s nonsense. Doing things alone develops self-sufficiency, gives you time for honest reflection, and, forces you to learn to like yourself a little—or at least figure out why you don’t.


You Don’t Miss Out On Great Experiences for No Good Reason

The more self-conscious you are about going it alone, the more you’re doing yourself a massive disservice. How many times have you wanted to do something fun only to stop because you couldn’t find someone to join you? “I’m not going to the movies alone,” you say to yourself, “It won’t be as fun.” But research suggests we’re terrible at guessing how much we’ll enjoy things on our own, and it holds us back.

Rebecca Ratner, professor of Marketing at the University of Maryland, has been studying people’s reluctance to pursue solo activities for years, and she believes such reluctance leads people to experience less joy in their lives overall. In Ratner’s study “Inhibited From Bowling Alone,” published in the Journal of Consumer Research, she found that people consistently underestimated how much they’d enjoy seeing a show, going to a museum, seeing a movie, and eating at a restaurant by themselves.

This becomes a serious problem when it becomes an automatic response to anything fun you’d like to do. Not only does it restrict your fun, but as Ratner notes, it gets worse the longer you wait. Your time is a finite resource, and everything you put off today because you didn’t want to do it alone won’t be an option later, whether you’re alone or with someone.

If you’re worried what people will think about you eating at a table for one or sitting in a dark theater alone, take solace in this: nobody cares. People don’t think about you as much as you think they do. Unless you’re sobbing while you eat your solo dinner or shouting about how your loneliness in the back of the theater, nobody is paying attention to you. Besides, when you make an effort to have more “me” time, it’s your choice. You’re in control. You don’t have to feel like a sad sack because you’re choosing to do it.


Flying Solo Gives You Freedom, Control, and Time to Reflect

What’s for dinner? Whatever you want. What’s the plan for tonight? Anything. What music should we listen to? That guilty-pleasure pop song you love to sing as loud as possible. You rule, and you get to rule with an iron fist. Solo time eliminates social democracy, and you don’t have to worry about anyone’s schedule but your own. You get to order food when you’re ready, see the movie you want to see when it’s convenient for you, and be as spontaneous as you please.

You also don’t have to worry about entertaining anyone. There’s no need to keep up appearances, try to be nice, or worry about someone else having a good time. All that matters is if you are having a good time. Plus, focusing on yourself means you’ll have more mental energy for when you do spend time with others.

Most importantly, doing things alone gives you time to ponder and reflect. You have more thoughts than you realize, and time alone helps you work through them. It’s meditative, and letting your mind wander unloads stress that’s weighing you down. It’s also time you can truly be yourself, or, if you don’t know who you are yet, it’s time you can use to find out. How can you be your authentic self around other people if you don’t know what that feels like alone?


Self-Sufficiency Is the Ultimate Skill

There’s nothing more empowering than independence. The less you need from others, the more you’ll ultimately accomplish. When you go it alone, you’re forced to learn how to handle everything by yourself. You go from being a screwdriver in a toolbox to being a capable multitool. This increases your self-reliance and boosts your confidence, not only socially, but in multiple aspects of your life. When you can’t rely on your friends or coworkers, you’ll know how to handle it, cope without stressing yourself out, and when you really do need to reach out for help versus pushing your own boundaries.

Furthermore, when you’re self-sufficient, no one stands in the way of your goals but you. When you’re comfortable doing things on your own, you’re the only one who keeps you from traveling abroad, taking classes, seeing that band you like, or doing something you’ve always wanted to. Of course, freedom is a double-edge sword. Having control also means you don’t have anyone to use as an excuse or as support, but it might just be the fire you need to get moving.


Being Comfortable Alone Doesn’t Mean Being Antisocial

However, balance is everything. Being comfortable in your own skin and being alone doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy spending time with others. It also doesn’t mean shutting yourself off from the world. I may love my alone time, but I still see my friends to play games, chat, and watch Game of Thrones. I meet with a running club every Wednesday, and I when I go out alone where there are other people, I strike up friendly conversations. In fact, going it alone has helped me cultivate my social skills. It’s good to meet people who aren’t like you, so go get a taste of the world beyond your clique.


That said, I also enjoy times where I’m a little more reclusive. We all need a break from the world sometimes, but it’s all a carefully choreographed balancing act. You shouldn’t spend all your time with people, but you shouldn’t spend all your time closed off either. We all need social interaction, but don’t let it become a crutch.

Whenever someone asks me why I like doing things alone, I’ll explain, but follow up with my own question: “Why do you need other people to do what you want to do?” I get answers along the lines of “doing stuff with people is more fun” or “is necessary” (sometimes true), or “I don’t want people to think I’m weird,” or some other vague answers.

Occasionally, though, my question hits home. People don’t know how to answer because, well, they don’t know! If you think doing things alone is depressing or weird, give it some serious thought. Why don’t you want to spend quality time with the one and only you? You might think you need a co-pilot to support you, but you’ll never know until you have your first solo flight.

Illustration by Angelica Alzona.

Treat Your Uninformed Critics Like You Would a Toddler

Treat Your Uninformed Critics Like You Would a Toddler

There will always be people who will try to bring you down without knowing any better. Treat them like toddlers, says author and entrepreneur Seth Godin: “Buy them a lollipop, smile and walk away.”

Whether you’re dealing with trolls on your blog or a family member who sabotages you for selfish reasons, think of them as you would a two-year old, Godin advises: someone who just doesn’t know any better:

Most people don’t get too upset at anything a two-year-old kid says to them.

That’s because we don’t believe that toddlers have a particularly good grasp on the nuances of the world, nor do they possess much in the way of empathy. Mostly, though, it turns out that getting mad at a toddler doesn’t do any good, because he’s not going to change as a result (not for a few years, anyway).

This is not to say that you should ignore all criticism you receive. We all can learn from others’ criticisms of us. But it’ll probably be obvious which of your critics are people who are criticising just for the sake of criticising and which actually have your best interests in mind. For the former, wait for them to grow up…or not.

The toddler strategy | Seth Godin

Photo by amseaman.

Instead of Saying “Yes,” Say “Yes If…” to Avoid Overcommitting

Instead of Saying "Yes," Say "Yes If..." to Avoid Overcommitting

When it’s so hard to say no, it’s so easy to overcommit. Get around this issue by responding with a “Yes…if…” to requests for your time and energy that don’t have the highest value for you.


The Strategy+Business blog recommends saying “yes” to the demands or requests that you are most skilled at meeting and that have the greatest value to your company. For everything else, add that “if” and find other ways to meet those requests without over-burdening you:

This discerning approach forces you to address your capacity problem head-on. It may mean delegating some tasks to others, negotiating a reduction in your specific contribution, or just saying no while making the business case for why your contributions will have a greater impact elsewhere. A secondary benefit of questioning the value and ownership of a task is that you confirm whether it needs to be done in the first place, and you challenge the assumption that it should be done the way it is being done.

So, for example, “yes, I can do that project—if the deadline can be moved two weeks back” or “yes, I can get you that TPS report if someone else can do the other TPS report on my plate.” You don’t have to say “no,” and you also protect yourself from taking on more than you can handle.

“Yes” vs. “Yes, If…”: Using Your Distinctive Contribution to Manage Priorities | Strategy+Business

Photo by PinkMoose.

Boost Your Confidence Before a Phone Interview by Dressing Your Best

Boost Your Confidence Before a Phone Interview by Dressing Your Best

Interviewing for a job over the phone can be just as stressful as interviewing in person. You can prepare yourself mentally and get in a good mindset by dressing up like they’ll be right there in the room with you.

Career coach and recruiter Peggy McKee at Careerealism suggests you dress up like you’re going to have the interview in person anyway. Put on your favorite suit, wear some nice shoes, and do whatever else you would normally do if you were trying to look your best. Even though they won’t see you, you’ll know that you look your best and you’ll feel more confident because of it. Dressing the part also puts you in a professional mindset. Instead of thinking about lounging around or the house chores you need to work on, your mind will be focused on work things and the skills you have. The secret to having a great phone interview is treating it like an in-person interview.


3 Phone Interview Tips to Build Your Confidence | Careerealism

Photo by John Blyberg.

Boost Your Happiness With This Exercise You Can Do While Brushing Your Teeth

Boost Your Happiness With This Exercise You Can Do While Brushing Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth only takes a couple minutes, and so does increasing your happiness. Here’s a super easy way to train yourself to look on the bright side.

Being happier is often as simple as finding appreciation for the little things in your life. To make gratitude a more regular thing in your life, happiness researcher Shawn Achor, from GoodThink and the author of The Happiness Advantage, recommends this simple exercise:

Try to think of three new things you’re happy about while brushing your teeth at night.

The key is to make sure the three things you come up with are actually new. Be specific, don’t ever repeat items, and try not to default to some lazy variation of “family, friends, and health.” Over time, you brain will start to make mental notes of things you can include on your list throughout the day. This makes you appreciate things more in the moment as well as later on when you reflect.

Achor experimented with this simple exercise on a group of people that tested as “mild pessimists” for 21 days. By the end of the study, the same group of people ended up testing as “mild optimists.” Sometimes being happier really is a matter of finding the silver lining, but you have to train yourself to look for it if you don’t do it naturally.


The Weirdly Easy Way to Make Yourself More Optimistic | Mental Floss

Photo by Jakob Renpening.