The Simple Hack to Gain Mastery Over Your Life (Yes, Really!)

Can’t stick to your diet? Can’t stop procrastinating? Have trouble falling asleep? Don’t reach your goals no matter what you do? There’s a simple way to change your mental approach that will make all the difference.

I am a firm believer in simple. As discussed in a previous article, the principle of Occam’s Razor – that the simplest solution is often the best one – can work wonders in your life.

I grow skeptical when someone trots out their 9-point plan for success. By the time we memorize all the steps, we have trouble remembering just what the problem was we were supposed to solve or how this new plan will solve it.

Often, making just one small change and sticking to it will help you leapfrog ahead more surely than a “sophisticated” improvement plan. There's a simple change in mindset you can adopt that, if you use it consistently, can move you forward quickly in many areas of your life.

Recently, I discussed this technique specifically in the context of gaining control over strong emotions such as anxiety and anger. If you haven’t read that article, I suggest going to it now (you can read it here) as it not only gives you a powerful way to master your emotions, but provides the foundation to extend it to other areas of your life as discussed below.

In short, as I learned when I studied with Dr. Les Fehmi, when we try to reduce our anxiety or any other strong emotion, we engage in a battle with that emotion which we often lose. Try really hard not to think of a purple cow, and all you’ll see in your mind is a purple cow. Try really hard to reduce your stress (or any emotion) – i.e. not to be stressed – and that stress you're feeling will stick around with annoying stubbornness.

The simple hack to reducing your strong emotion is to not work so hard on reducing it. Instead, view it as a continuum. Try making your stress feel more intense, then less intense, and again more, then less, back and forth. Experiment with how far you move the intensity dial in either direction.

That of course feels counterintuitive and unhelpful (why would you want to increase your stress?). But if you enter a mental space w