Thursday, 15 October 2015

10 Hacks that Help Improve My Life!

I did not have a good lifestyle, I was in bad shape and it felt horrible. My confidence level slumped to a rock bottom level I thought I would never be able to recover. Financially I was blessed enough to have had received the prestigious scholarship from my current employer, but being blessed with this amount of money doesn't mean I knew how to manage them. Imagine shoving RM470 to an eighteen-year-old kid and let him/her manage the money.


But here I am. Having lived my three years of undergraduate study in London and shed off 10kg from my all time high of 85kg, concurrently able to accummulate some savings, here are 10 life hacks that have helped me, and I hope can help you as well to live better physically, mentally and financially.


1) Drink Water when you wake up 

I am not going into too much technicality of how drinking water can help you once you wake up, but this is what I have been doing and it felt great! Not only it helps me to regain my consciousness quickly upon waking up, it boosts my metabolism rate. Because I am a lazy person, I tend to prepare a bottle of water just before I go to bed, so the first thing I will see when I wake up is my water bottle. No excuse for skipping this!


2) Sleep at least 7 hours a day

I used to suffer from insomnia, and it was not surprising for me to sleep at 2-3am and wake up at 8am the next day. While 6 hours may be enough for me, I always aim to sleep at least 7 hours. Anything less would make my next day feel like a zombie. Now I am feeling like a zombie because I slept too much yesterday (it was a public holiday), making me difficult to fall asleep yesterday night. For me to continue my morning gym session today, I had to sleep by 11pm yet I was still wide awake at 12:30am. Time management is important here. Sleep well and your next day won't feel like a hangover!


3) Exercises at least 3 times a week, 30 minutes per session 

Some people I know don't even exercise once a month, and this is a real problem for some of us. I used to be so lazy that I did not bother to walk. All these laziness had to change when I first went to the UK, where I had to walk a lot even in London. Although the nearest Tube station or bus stops are pretty much accessible within 10-15 minutes of walking time, but can you imagine my reaction the first time I heard about it? Thank God the weather was not hot like in Malaysia.

I lost 10kg the first year I was in the UK, all credit to my annual subscription to the Barclays Cycle Hire. With only £45 per year, I gained access to the Barclays bike which I can easily get it from the nearby docking stations and cycle everywhere within Zone 1 of London. If you think Zone 1 of London is small, think again. Anyone been to London will tell you how big London city is, although it may not seem so considering the efficient public transport system.

But even by spending only 3 sessions per week, it will make your life a few times heathier than those who barely move at all. When you are heathier, you will feel better and happier too. 3 sessions are just the minimum. I always try to exercise at least 5 times a week, with each time lasting at least an hour. Weight, cardio, sports, yoga. Whatever, even climbing the stairs instead of using elevator works! Just move!


4) Eat Better Each Day

Exercise is essential but eating the right food is even more fundamental! I used to frequent gym for 6 months but couldn't see any positive impact. I was still fat no matter how hard I tried. Maybe I wasn't trying enough, but that's a different story. I figured out it was my diet. Fix your diet and you will see wonders on your body! Even for those who don't exercise frequently, just by eating right (and sleeping well) will make you look good. I started to see massive difference in the next 6 months to come.

I now focus more on eating protein rich, low carb and low fat diet. Eggs and meats (especially fish and chicken breasts) are rich in protein, but never forsake vegetables and plenty of fruits. Vegetables like brocolli and brussel sprouts are gems. Mixed nuts and seeds can be healthy snacks as well. I personally love Greek yoghurt with honey (and milk with honey!), salmon and tuna. Fruits wise, avocado and bananas are my favourites. Always eat half rice (for Asians since rice is our staple food) instead of a bowl of full rice.


5) Meditate (for Christians like me, it's our devotion time)

Ever heard how yoga can help you to alleviate stress? Meditation. And the right way of breathing. Deep breathes will help calm you down. Stressful people have fast and short breathing style, but it is not the end. A deliberate effort to practice deep breathes will trick your body into slowing down, eliminating the stress at the same time.

On meditation, you will be able to clear your mind off work and things that are bothering you for a moment. Close your eyes and meditate for at least 5 minutes. Don't think of anything. In fact the best thing most guys are able to master, is to think of NOTHING! Just think of nothing for a moment. It will help you to recharge your energy, redirect you back to the right track.

For Christians, our devotion time is our time spent with God each day. It doesn't have to be fixed. Some people tend to fix their devotion time to 5 minutes, or 10 minutes, but by fixing the time, you are already making it an activity on your busy schedule just to be ticked off daily. Make it flexible! Be open to the Holy Spirit's nudge, and be attentive to His voice. It can be as short as 5 minute, or as long as half an hour or one hour. God's timing is always the best!


6) Be Thankful 

Not many people are thankful and contented with what they have. They may be making millions, but still complain on the little things. What I do daily when I wake up, is to be thankful. Just spend 5 minutes thinking of 10 things that you are thankful about, and your day will be different! You will find yourself wearing a different lens, seeing the world as a much better place. You will find sufficient energy to complete tasks that seem insurmountable before, and even have plenteous energy left to spend.


7) Think Positively  

Positive mindset radiates positive vibe, and it attracts positive people. Good things seem to happen around positive people. Does that sound familiar? Thinking positively also helps you to focus on the good side of everything and place less emphasis on the bad side. When we meet new people, it is our nature to judge and place our first impression on the new person. But if you are the one who focus on the negative side of the person, you will find plenty of things that are not up to your expectation. On the other hand, if you focus on the good things and strengths of the person, you will be able to bring the best out of that person.

Being optimistic also helps me to focus on what can be done better. Think again. It's normal if you think they are contradictory, but a closer introspection led me to a different conclusion. Because I am optimistic on the things that are not performing up to my expectation, it helped me to focus more on those areas and turn them into a self fulfilling cycle; instead of being all negative about things that disappointing.


8) Speak Positively 

The power of declaration is real! If you speak negative words, it brings down the people around you. Unless you are evil, which I hope not. It becomes a self fulfilling prophesy. Even if you are not optimistic about something and you feel bothered and distressed about some issues happening around you, speaking them out loud is like declaring death into those areas. Instead, you will find yourself thinking and feeling better if you forced yourself to speak good about it.

This is closely related to the previous point of thinking positively. But when you speak the good things, you are declaring the good things! You are hopeful that the good will come to pass. Recently, Goods & Services Tax of 6% has been implemented all over the country. Many people have complained about it, and many more are tempted to do so, me included. But I restrained myself. Not that I am not spending any money, but there is nothing good that you can get out of it from complaining and all whiny about it. Speak good thing and then, DO something!


9) Prepare a budget 

Budget is probably something many people have trouble coping with. It may be easy to prepare but it can be difficult to follow through. It requires immense discipline. For me, once I get my credit card from Maybank, I will start spending on petrol, some groceries and dining. Now that my dad has booked a new car, the old Myvi will be my daily car, therefore the petrol expenses. But if I am able to take into account my new expenses and keep track of all other expenses such as food, tolls and entertainment, I am in a good track to achieve financial freedom.

At least I know where my money goes! I have started preparing budget ever since college days, but only strictly followed it since university time. Everything was in GBP, so that ignited the urgency to keep track of my own finances even more. Things I normally spent on was on rental, groceries, commuting cost, entertainment and offerings. By knowing all my monthly expenses, I was able to gauge my monthly savings. I'm sure you can too!


10) Read, and Write Down 10 Ideas Daily 

I can't emphasise enough reading as my newly adopted habit! And so far so good! I read at least 7 pages every day and I am trying to improve day by day. Reading will take up your time, but it is beneficial for you. I am sure you are aware of how reading can help you, as you are already doing it now by reading this blog. And then comes writing.

Writing is difficult. It is difficult for me. I used to hate reading and writing. Every day the same blank space appears. Every day I have to think of something to write. But I love the initiative, I love the idea of doing it. And I definitely love the commitment. This has become my daily challenge for me to conquer.

Inspired by James Altucher, he actively advocates his readers to write down 10 ideas every day. This is to exercise our "idea muscle". The idea muscle atrophies within days if you don't use it, and it will take much longer time to get it back in shape. I am still trying to start writing ideas every day. 10 ways to improve your revision, if you are a student. 20 productive things you have done yesterday. 10 different ways you can bless someone today. Anything.

The ideas can be bad at first, it doesn't matter! They will only get better as time goes. Just start thinking!


Favourite Music! =)