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There are no guarantees that watching the sunrise will take away your seasonal sadness. The sun doesn’t have an ad budget or marketing campaign to make promises. However, sunlight is free and extremely reliable: Every day, it rises without fail, and its light brings a lot of impressive benefits. Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that the morning sun worked wonders on my mood.

In the past, I rarely saw sunrise. Maybe on a random trip during an early hike, or at the beach when I needed a quiet moment in nature. These intermittent sunrise experiences awoke something dormant
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in me—a lightness, a hope, a reminder to breathe, all of which seemed to lead to a better day and a sounder night’s sleep. That jibes with what research has found: Researchers at Northwestern University have discovered that exposure to light helps reset our internal clock so that we sleep better—which also helps us maintain weight and even shed pounds. Other researchers have found that light therapy is an effective way to treat seasonal affective disorder. (With shorter days on the way, make sure you know the signs of SAD.)

Like a lot of people in the Northeast, I struggle with winter. So I decided to set up my own version of “sunrise therapy,” a self-created balm for relieving the blues. I’d get up each morning to greet the sun outdoors, in person. I would journal my experience, and hopefully the entries would reflect the healing of my winter blues. The additional time in my day would be given over to volunteering—and, oh yeah: I would also lose weight, fall in love, get a book deal, and start juicing again. OK, that’s a lot to ask of the sun—but I wanted to aim high.

The first thing I realized was that the sun and I are not exactly compatible: It rises around the same time every day; my risings can be hours apart from one day to the next.

For my first day of sunrise therapy, I was successful. I headed to the reservoir in Central Park to find scores of New Yorkers running the 1.5-mile track around the water. In this sea of Fitbits and ambition, I felt both competitive and shameful, two feelings I didn’t sign up for when I enrolled myself in sunrise therapy. Why had I not been waking up earlier to work out? Morning workouts, science tell us, can make your whole day better. There were Upper West Side grandfathers in better shape than me! I let go of the regret and allowed motivation to take over: I’m surrounded by health-conscious go-getters—I can be one too. I’ll see you tomorrow, people.

The next day I overslept. Actually, “overslept” implies an accident, when I was quite purposeful: I heard my alarm and thought, “I don’t want to go. I don’t need the sunrise. This was the dumbest idea I’ve ever had.” This, despite knowing that waking up earlier has huge health benefits. That evening I did manage to take a short walk through Central Park to catch the sunset. Sunset therapy can also be a thing, right?
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As the days ticked by and I began doing a better job of kicking myself out of bed, I realized the best way to make sunrise therapy work was to go to bed earlier. Once I adjusted to the early hour, I discovered that daybreak is like an alternative universe. Regular mornings are for showers, coffee, catching up on the news, dressing for the day. Daybreaks are for quiet, peace, and standing on rocks to take bad selfies with the sun. Morning is responsibility, daybreaks are freedom—a smooth, blank page upon which I can write whatever comes to mind. Daybreak takes a while to get to know, but it’s worth the investment.

On my favorite day of sunrise therapy, I woke about 45 minutes before sunrise and walked up to Morningside Park. I stopped in a deli for a coffee, but the staff hadn’t made it yet. No one was out except a few stray neighbors walking their pets or an exerciser or two on their way to a morning workout. Under the glare of harsh streetlights, I made my way along Amsterdam Avenue to Morningside Drive where I found a spot on the cliff-like hillside of the park—named for its expansive sunrise views overlooking Harlem and Morningside Heights. The sun wasn’t up yet so I waited. A magenta, airbrushed line appeared and a flock of birds flew through it. As yellow and orange wavelengths of light came into existence, a lightness rose within me.

Behind me I noticed an elderly man standing with eyes closed, facing the sun with his arms outstretched. I looked around the park noticing the patch of light on the open field, seeing the bright reflection of the sun in a flower, and feeling the rays through the trees. Construction workers stood nearby and took photos. A couple carrying coffees lingered to watch. The elderly man’s eyes were still closed. I stood to get a better photo and realized that I was in a ray of light. Standing in a sunbeam feels as indulgent as a massage and or a leisurely bubble bath.

In the morning, even as the sun brightens, nothing is really clear. You don’t know how the day will go or what the future holds. Uncertainty can be scary, but during a sunrise that uncertainty is luminous. Watching the sunrise every day has helped me see light within myself—potential, possibility, peace, and the feeling that all will be well. We’ll see how many of my sun therapy goals I reach—but whether I get all or none, I know that my sun therapy already has me feeling more hopeful, centered, and eager to take on the day.

Ready to wake up with the sun? Here are the best places around the world to watch the sunset and sunrise, although someplace close to home would be the best bet. Watching the sunrise is a no-cost adventure that can be experienced almost anywhere. Every day, the sun will rise. All we have to do is rise with it.

This article was originally published in Reader's Digest
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There is widespread belief that an hour of physical yoga is enough cardiovascular activity to fulfill the average person\'s daily fitness needs. The truth is that many schools of yoga burn calories at a low rate and are therefore not the ideal form of exercise to target fat burn. Of course, it is also true that certain forms of yoga are considered more act
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ive and do burn calories while tightening and toning the body.

Different styles and yoga instructors vary in the physical challenge they present. A person weighing 150 pounds doing an hour of Hatha yoga burns 180 calories, for example, while an hour of Ashtanga yoga burns 350 calories. Asthanga yoga is considered one of the most physically difficult schools of yoga, but even this form is outpaced by a slow run. In an hour, a runner going at a slow 12-minute-mile pace can still burn upwards of 500 calories.

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Relaxing Blues Music 2017 2017 Vol 4"

Let me guess.

If you’re just starting out online, you wonder…

“How do I get clients?”

“How can I start monetizing my blog?”

“How do I get more traffic?”

The answer to every single one of these questions might surprise you. Ready?

The answer is this:

Write shit people want to read.

Every single day somewhere around two million blog posts are written. The sad truth, though?

The vast majority of those articles won't be read. The vast majority of them are – let's be real – crap.

A small portion are read by 100 people.
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A smaller portion are read by 1,000 people. And a few get noticed by “influencers”, syndicated on massive publications and are shared thousands of times.

Those few are the ones that bring in clients, sales, readers, and traffic.

So how do you make sure that your writing doesn't just end up in the pile of “content” that slowly drifts out to sea? How do you write the 1% of articles that will get you traffic and conversions?

Well, you write shit people actually want to read.

When somebody actually wants to read your writing, they usually want to share it. They usually get value from it, talk about it, and spread it around.

Creating shit that people actually want to read (or listen to or watch or gaze at) is one of the main ingredients in the “content” marketing cake, and without it you have no engagement, no fans, no clients and no sales.

My writing is a decade in the making and is still a huge work in progress, but I'm learning and I know some of these tips will turn your writing around.

If you're too lazy to read this post, you can get the checklist I use before I publish all of my articles.
Write like a pro: Click here to get my 44-point checklist for publishing amazing articles.

#1: Know Thy Audience

You could write Atlas Shrugged but if your audience doesn’t want to read it, it’s not good.

Yup, beauty is in the eye of the beholder in this case.

That’s why you need to know your audience.

Good content starts here. Good content to your target audience could be horrible content to me. Even if I hate your writing, if your audience loves it, then it’s good.

But be warned…

Do not take that as permission to rest on your laurels and stop improving. Instead, take that as a nudge to get to know your audience intimately.

Note two things:

What they want to read
How they want to read it.

What they Want to Read

One big difference between most good content vs great content is detail. Anyone can write an 800 word article on needing a budget. But not everyone will write a comprehensive, 3,000 word article on everything you need to know about budgeting that gets likes, shares, and traffic.

To be the one who is willing to do this and therefore brings in tons of traffic and shares, you need to be thorough.

Enter Answer the Public.

Answer the Public is a tool that allows you to plug in a keyword (in this case, a topic you want to write about) and spits out the auto-complete search terms behind that keyword.

Use these questions/search terms as prompts to include in your article. This is what people want to read.

Bonus: this is also a great way to rank for those long-tail search terms.
How They Want to Read It

The style of article you’re creating matters, too.

For example, I know that my audience loves in-depth, step-by-step beginner’s guides. Publishing an inspirational story isn’t nearly as effective for me.

That’s how they want to read it.

Find out what your audience wants to read by mimicking other popular posts (use BuzzSumo for this).

Look up your most popular competitor in your niche:

And start taking note of the *types* of articles your competitors are writing. These articles are the most popular on their sites for a reason – its’ because people like them!

One thing I’ve learned while I’m writing for my new blog is that marketing content styles do not work in the parenting niche.

If I hadn't done the research, I would have been cranking out articles that nobody (at least none of my target readers) wanted.
#2: You Have a Personality (So Use it)

Look, I know it's hard.

Shifting from writing business reports to the more casual, personal tone of blog posts can be like experiencing culture shock. It's difficult to adjust.

But do what you must to beat the boring out of your writing, because nothing will make a reader run for the hills more quickly than a lack of personality.

I should not read your articles and feel like I’m reading a text book.

People come for the information you're providing, but they stay for you. Inject personality wherever you can.

Here’s how you can find your unique voice:
Write like you talk

If you wouldn’t talk that way, you shouldn’t write that way. Writing how you talk is the best way to make sure you shine through.

If you're having a hard time going from stiff business report writing to blog writing, this tip is for you:

Read your writing out loud.

The way things sound in your head when you first write them sound a heck of a lot different when you say them out loud, so don’t limit yourself to proofreading in silence.

If you read your post aloud it will help you find your “voice” and a good flow for your article. It will also identify those sticky sentences that aren't quite right so you can rephrase them.

Modify anything that sounds out of place. If it sounds unnatural to you, your readers will feel the same way – and that means fewer shares, comments, and pageviews.

Chances are you don't say “however” and “thus” and “estimated time of arrival” (am I the only one who hates that last one?) while you're speaking. But you do say “but” and “so” and “when will you be here?”.

When you write like you talk, you’ll notice a few changes:

You use more contractions.
You’re self-aware. “Today I’m teaching you how to….”.
You write in singular and plural first person. “I” and “we” are thrown around a lot.
You ask rhetorical questions, right?
Slang slips out more often.
You use hashtags #truth

Here’s how Brian from Backlinko keeps a laid-back tone when writing serious SEO guides:

Talk about yourself

It’s ok to let your readers know there’s a living, breathing human being behind your website.

Your articles don’t write themselves, after all.

People read your blog because they also care about your opinion, your experience, and your perspective.

Don’t just write about yourself (no one wants to read that), but if it makes sense, add a personal touch here and there to resonate with your readers.

Look at how Bryan from Videofruit does it:

He uses a personal story that makes him relatable to his audience and highlights the point of his article (good design).
Don’t be afraid to use colorful language

If you curse and use slang, you might be scared that you’ll offend people by including that part of your personality in your writing. This may help:

The people who are offended by you using curse words or becomes annoyed if you use slang language are not “your people”. They’re not your target audience.

If they’re not your target audience, it’s okay to repel them.

Stay true to your writing style and you’ll find your people – the people who love your message and the way you deliver it.

If you’re still on the fence about cursing in your writing if you curse in conversation, recent studies suggest that swearing in public could actually make you more likable.

Jorden from Writing Revolt sprinkles slang and swear words in her articles, and her audience loves it:

You don’t have to curse in your writing to resonate with your audience if you don’t use curse words in conversation — the point here is to let your personality shine through by writing like you talk.
Make your audience laugh

Keep your readers glued to your words with a little humor.

Being funny and relatable will:

Make your readers more interested in what you have to say
Hold their attention for longer and make them more likely to finish your article

Help your audience remember the information better afterward

There’s a reason memes dominate the internet. We want to be entertained and amused.

If you can do that, your articles will be unforgettable.

Ramit Sethi, best-selling author and millionaire entrepreneur, is funny, irreverent, and loud, and it seems to be working pretty well for him.

Just take a look at his hilarious response to a millionaire who said people should stop buying avocado toast to afford a house (seriously):

Break some (grammar) rules

But not all of them.

Breaking just enough grammatical rules to sound conversational, but not so many that you sound like a 10-year old texting, is a delicate balance (although easier to achieve than you think).

Imagine texting your best friend.

You use all caps to show excitement or anger, periods between words for emphasis, exclamation points, or make words longer than they need to be.

As long as you stick to basic grammar rules, spicing up your paragraphs can make your personality shine through.

Lindsay from Pinch of Yum (one of the most successful food blogs on the planet) always writes epic descriptions of her recipes with relaxed grammar rules:

Ask questions

Questions pull your reader into the conversation.

It makes them think about an answer, nod in agreement (or disagreement), or leave you a comment.

You want your audience to feel you’re talking directly to them – and what better way than by asking them what they think?

Bryan from Videofruit knows what’s up. He often asks rhetorical questions at the beginning of his articles to engage his readers right away:

Example #1: Asking your readers to make a choice

Example #2: Asking a yes or no question

Example #3: Opening with a question

If you feel your writing is bland and boring, try injecting more personality into your articles with these techniques.
#3: Stop the Regurgitation Cycle

Think back to the last time you read an article, and boomeranged to the blog later.

Maybe you saw a headline on Twitter and couldn't help but click it, or had a date with the Google and stumbled across a post that impressed you. Why did you stick around?

Chances are, you stuck around the blog because it offered something unique. Instead of giving you five ways to save money this fall and telling you to cut out lattes, walk everywhere, and cut up your credit cards, the blog broke the same boring advice chain and offered you scripts to negotiate your bills.

You stuck around because the blog wasn't regurgitating the same crap that everybody else in the blogosphere is. In a crowded market, if you're trying to hawk the same wares as the next dude, you won't get very far.

There’s enough recycled advice out there. Don’t add to the noise.

Instead, focus on creating in-depth, impactful, and original articles that you can’t find anywhere else.

Here’s how:
Study your competition

Before you start cranking out epic articles, you gotta do your homework.

Read and re-read the most popular articles about your topic to find the angles and strategies that are covered already. Identify what advice is peddled non-stop and stay away from it.

Use Buzzsumo to find the top 10-20 most shared articles about your topic.
Figure out how you can do better

Now that you know exactly what’s out there, note two things:

What’s missing from the existing content. Maybe it needs: :

More images
Better copy
More examples
More in-depth advice
More case studies
Clearer steps
Better formatting
Fewer ads

How you can do better. What can you do to create better resources? Maybe….

Add more steps
Go deeper
Add little-known how-to’s and tools
Find real-life examples
Find more data

Then, create better content.
Share a new perspective

Coming up with a new angle is easier said than done. With the sheer amount of articles bombarding us each day, it feels like everything has already been said. What could you possibly have to add?

A whole lot, actually.

Millions of articles are published each day, but most? Most are mediocre at best.

That’s why editors are constantly scouring for original and noteworthy content. They want to receive great pitches, but they usually get the opposite.

The internet is starved for good content, and that’s exactly why you will stand out. Here are five ways to craft articles that cut through the noise:
Explore the topic from a different angle

The key to a fresh angle is taking an existing problem and solving it in a creative way.

For example:

Problem: How to get motivated

Conventional solution: 4 Ways To Get Motivated (Set a small goal, track your progress, reward yourself, ask for help and accountability from your friends.)

Fresh angle: The mental tools Victor Hugo used to make himself write the Hunchback of Notre Dame after a whole year of procrastination. (Interesting)

Which would you rather read?

Finding a new take like this one is easier than you think:
1. Answer a different question about the same topic (what, why, how, where, or who)

The first guest post I ever published was for Fast Company, with the headline 8 Tricks To Make Yourself Wake Up Earlier.

I didn’t pull this topic out of thin air. I did my homework and read the type of articles that were popular at the time. I noticed they published a lot of posts about why it’s important to wake up early, but not how to do it. I pitched this idea and the editor was on board.

My pitch stood out because there were a lot of whys on the site, and not enough hows.

You can do the same by answering different questions about one topic.

If there’s a popular post about the benefits of yoga (why), write a guide on how to start a practice at home (how and where).

If an article about the best plugins for WordPress is trending (what), create tutorials on how to set them up (how).
2. Share little-known tricks

Break conventional advice with little-known ways to solve a problem. Here’s how you can come up with new exciting ideas:

Reflect on what has worked for you in the past: Start with yourself. Do you have a hack for managing your inbox that you haven’t seen other people try?
Ask Facebook: Pick other people’s brains. Ask Facebook groups in your niche how they solve a particular problem, for example, “What’s the best strategy you’ve found for handling email?”. If you post an engaging question in the right group, you can receive hundreds of responses.
Research and ask forums: Chances are, someone already asked your burning question in Quora or Reddit. Search your question, go through the responses and write down solutions you hadn’t heard before. Discussion threads are a goldmine for new ideas. If you can’t find your specific question, create a new thread.

3. Get ultra-specific

When you write a how-to article, be as specific as possible.

Simplistic advice: write in your gratitude journal.

Ultra-specific advice: Write down 3 things that happened today you’re grateful for and why.

See the difference? Tell your readers exactly what they need to do, and how to do it.
4. Uncover new data

A simple way to stand out from the crowd is to talk about the latest research from your field.

Most people don’t bother to look at recent stats and findings, so they just go with what they already know.

But you’re not most people, right?

You write thought-provoking pieces with an impact. Using up-to-date research gives you an advantage and positions you as an expert.

If you’re in the marketing space, look for the most up-to-date stats on what type of content performs better on social media.

If you’re in the fitness niche, write about this year’s peer-reviewed studies on beneficial eating habits for athletes.

Better yet, create a spreadsheet with all the best data sources from your niche, and check if there are new relevant findings every time you brainstorm a new epic article.

Start with these:

Pew Research Center

Hubspot (marketing)

Curata (content marketing)

Social Media Examiner (social media)

Science Daily (awesome for discovering new peer-reviewed studies)

Science Mag

PLOS ONE (especially great for behavioral analysis and habits)


APA (psychology)
Protip: Create a Google Alert for new research, so you don’t have to constantly be checking the resources above.
 Create an alert with “research ”, “study ”, and Google will email you every time there’s a new online mention of these keywords.

Publish extremely detailed, crazy-actionable, and extensive guides

You know what’s better than a 700-word listicle about 7 tips to start a garden?

A comprehensive 5000-word gardening 101 guide that teaches you everything you need to know about starting your own garden.

The only problem? The “7 tips to start a garden” type of articles severely outnumber comprehensive guides.

It’s hard to find high-quality, practical, in-depth, and free resources with all the nitty-gritty details you need to do something right — whether that’s starting a blog, training your dog, preserving flowers, preparing for a baby, or learning to cook.

So become a leader in your niche by going above and beyond in writing the absolute best guides in your industry.

That’s exactly what we do at Sumo – and now it’s by far one of the best places to learn about growing your site from scratch.

Notice the Sumo-Sized guides?

Authority Nutrition creates some of the most in-depth science-based nutrition resources. If you’re serious about dominating your space (and you should be), roll up your sleeves and start writing.
Publish case studies

Instead of just talking about a strategy, show it in action.

Case studies are a unique way to show how a method, strategy or program works in real life. They receive a ton of attention, shares, and views because they’re:

Original. No two case studies are the same.
Interesting. We’re drawn to see the results of other people.
Juicy. A case reveals the exact process that gave people specific results.
Elaborate. A case study is not easy to put together. It takes time and effort to get in touch with people who have applied, tested, tracked, and succeeded at a particular strategy, or do all that yourself.

Another huge benefit to case studies is that they provide some amazing social proof if you can show a case study of a student, reader, or customer of your own blog or product.

Brian from Backlinko constantly publishes case studies to show the results of his own SEO techniques, and (unsurprisingly) they bring in thousands of shares:

How can you showcase the results of people who have bought your ebook, course, or coaching services?
Solve an old problem in a new way

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you can come close.

A little disclaimer: this strategy takes way more effort than the ones above, but it’s worth it.

Create a new solution for your industry. Spend enough time and effort coming up with innovative ideas, trying them, and tweaking them, until one sticks.

It’s not easy, but it will help you grow massively when you do. Nat’s Runway Calculator is the perfect example.

He took a common problem – not knowing how much money you need to quit your day job and travel the world – and came up with an original solution: A runway calculator that tells you exactly how much money you need per month to travel and live in different cities around the world.

If someone wants to know how much money they gotta make from freelancing gigs to travel the world, all they have to do is fill out a few numbers on a spreadsheet, instead of doing hours and hours of research.

You don’t have to be a mad genius to invent something new. All you need is the willingness to put in the work.
Do something challenging and share it with the world

If you want to write epic shit, do epic shit.

A little-known approach to going viral is completing a seemingly impossible challenge in real life and sharing your progress with the world.

In 2015, Assya Barrette went viral after sharing her self-imposed challenge of buying nothing new for 200 days – and challenging everyone to do the same. Her story landed her 130,800 shares on a single article and was picked up by media outlets including with Lifehack, Alternet, Salon, Yahoo!, Dawn and Alternet.

The Minimalists (Joshua and Ryan) were among the first to make minimalism cool.

Their lifestyle experiment of getting rid of all just-in-case items (based on the hypothesis that it won’t take you more than $20 or 20 minutes to replace it if you do end up needing it) went viral, and two years later they challenged their audience to play the 30-Day Minimalism Game, which consists of getting rid of one thing on day one, two things on day two, three things on day three, and so on, to see how far you can go in exercising object detachment.

To this day, it’s their most shared article, with a whopping 155k shares, and with over 43k Instagram posts about their game.

Doing a challenge is the perfect opportunity to go viral and reach thousands of people.

The best part about it? Anyone can do it. It doesn’t matter what niche you’re in, you can most likely pull off a viral challenge.

Make sure you write impactful content every time using this checklist:
#4: Back That Shit Up

It's not that we don't believe you. We do. Mostly.

But there's something sticky about backing your claims up that can't be done through hearsay.

You don't have to read like a textbook to back your article up. You can use:

1. Stories: Studies show (see what I did there?) that stories can be more persuasive than logic. Good storytelling is a powerful tool for keeping your audience hooked to your every word. It helps your reader visualize what you’re trying to tell them, and drives your point home more easily.

Have you noticed how hard it is to pull away from a good book? That’s how you want to make your audience feel.

James Clear opens most of his articles with a story. That’s not by chance.

Opening with a story immediately draws readers in and makes them more likely to stick around for the takeaway.

2. Studies: Because (gasp!) people tend to believe science more than they'll believe bloggers. The more up-to-date and relevant your sources are, the more trustworthy you’ll seem (because you are). Here’s how to cite like a pro:

Link to a reliable source when you make a big claim. It gives your statement more weight and credibility.
Explain the results of a study in simple terms. Translating a convoluted conclusion from a study in terms anyone can understand positions you as an expert.
Relate to your audience. If your target audience is women, highlight those studies done in healthy or overweight women. If your audience is male athletes, talk about findings from studies done in active men. Your audience will be more interested in the research if they can relate.
Be ahead of the pack. Include new findings whenever possible. Talking about new research makes your brand stand out from the rest.
Add images. What’s better than a link to a study? A graph from the study. A pretty chart that shows your reader the data adds extra credibility points.

Look at how Live and Dare does it:

An MRI image makes the findings clear and memorable.

3. Analogies: Analogies are like rocket fuel for your writing. Use them. Comparisons make your point crystal clear, grab your readers’ attention, and leave a mark in their minds. It makes your message memorable. Take a look at the analogies these bloggers used:

Melyssa Griffin

Militza Maury

Leo Babauta

4. Metaphors: Explain the gravity of a situation with metaphors. Metaphors help to simplify complex points, entertain your readers, and improve understanding. When you use a metaphor effectively, your reader should feel they “got it”.

Here’s how Tor used a hockey metaphor for building a business team:

And this is how Ramit used the “Truffle Principle” to give advice to interns:

5. “Expert” Quotes: Because people want to know that you're not the only one who thinks so. Adding “expert” opinions to your articles validates your own points and makes people trust you more.

You don’t need to reach out to an expert for an exclusive quote every time, though. You can simply take quotes from previews interviews and articles that back your point.

Here’s how Popsugar did it:

The best articles use a mixture of these to backup their claims.

I expect my hyper-backuptivity helped this article I wrote for Fast Company land me 600 email subscribers, be shared over 12,000 times and turned me into a case study for one of Jon Morrow's products. #legit
#5. Make Beautiful Word Babies

…with the thoughts in your audience's heads.

This is a…different way of putting it, but you want to pull the thoughts right out of your audience's brains like pulling at a thread on a sweater. Then, weave that thread into your own fabric.

See, studies show we love it when people mimic us. I'm not saying you subconsciously loved your little brother's copycatting, but when waitstaff in a restaurant repeated customer orders in your exact words, they get a bigger tip.

When you use the exact words your audience uses in your writing, you resonate with them; you make them feel as if you're reading their minds. Before I released the Etsy eCourse, I surveyed my Etsy-loving audience for two things:

To make sure I was helping them with what they actually needed help with, and
To find out what language they use to describe their pains.

Here are some of the answers I got:

And here's a screenshot of the email I sent out after analyzing these results:

See the part that is highlighted in yellow? “Allergic to social media”? I took that right out of my audience's mouth (the survey respondent even noticed and loved that I used it).

See the first question in the survey? I used the words “stand out” in my first bullet because that's the language my audience used.

One of piece of feedback I hear from Unsettlers is: “I feel like you read my mind”. That's because I did. You email me, I use your words in articles (anonymously) to write things you actually want to read.

If you’re starting from scratch and don’t have an email list to survey yet, here’s how you can steal your potential readers’ words from day one:

In Reddit and Quora, ask people to tell you their obstacles: Ask about the challenges and roadblocks they face in the area you want to solve.

For example, if you’re a health coach, ask people what’s the biggest obstacle that prevents them from eating healthy. Don’t be afraid of not getting responses, you most likely will:

Analyse the responses: Time to gather your data.

Add all the responses to a doc.
Find common themes and categorize the answers. Continuing with the health coach example, recurring problems can be “I don’t have enough time”, “I like junk food too much”, “I am too tired to cook when I come home from work”.
Identify commons words and add them to a list you can refer to later when writing articles, emails, or sales pages.

Use the same words and phrases in your articles, emails, and copy: If you noticed 10 people said “I don’t how to eat organic on a tight budget”, you must use this exact phrase and…

Create several articles addressing this topic. For example, “10 organic fruits you can buy for less than $3” or “How to find affordable organic produce”.
Add it as a pain point in your sales pages.
Relate to them on this issue when writing newsletters.

Instead of trying to read people’s minds, just ask them about their problems.
#6. Stop Being a Fatty

Nobody likes to look at ugly things.

This sounds really mean in the context of the subhead, but what I really mean is: Fat paragraphs are not okay. They're hard on the eyes, not scannable, and nobody actually reads them.

Research shows that people pay more attention to articles with short paragraphs, and completely skip articles with long paragraphs.

Break your paragraphs up into snackable chunks: a maximum of 2-3 sentences (or 4-5 if you use really short sentences).

Fat paragraphs:

Eyes bleeding, get me away from this article!

Fit paragraphs:

Ohhhh I want to read every word.

Whip those paragraphs into shape and trim the fat. Use these 3 tricks:

Remember the 1-2-3-4-5 rule. Created by Jon Ziomek, a professor at the Medill School of Journalism, the rule is to cover 1 main thought, expressed in 2 to 3 short sentences, taking up no more than 4 to 5 lines on the page.

Remember that anyone reading your articles on their phone get larger paragraphs due to the size of the screen, so keep it short.

Add bullet points. The bullets I’m using right now help me break down the ideas in a way that it’s easy to scan and digest.
Edit ruthlessly. Remove redundant phrases and condense your thoughts so you only need one sentence instead of three to explain your idea.

#7. You're not a Kardashian & Your Blog Is Not a Diary

Back in 2008, most bloggers just wrote about their lives. Since there were approximately 78,847% fewer blogs out there, this was fine. Some even did really well, a la Dooce.

Here's the thing though:

People don't care that much about your life.

If I had a dollar for every time somebody said “I should become a blogger. My life is like a reality show!” when they found out what I do, I'd have enough to ship at least one of those people off to a remote island for the real thing.

Your life is not as interesting to others as it is to you. Trust me. I know, because I think my life is pretty damn interesting, but to you? Hearing what I do on a day to day is like watching the yule log channel. It might give you the warm and fuzzies for five seconds until somebody posts about their baby's potty training progress on Facebook.

In a stuffed-to-the-brim internet, readers want to know about your life to the extent that they can apply it to their own. Weave small stories and facts about you into your blog post, but the whole “dear diary” thing should be reserved for your journal and the blogs of 2008.

This is how you can tell if a personal story will help your case:

It has a clear takeaway. Is your story helping other people overcome an obstacle or learn something new?

It’s relatable. Can people identify with your struggles? Relating to your readers creates trust and rapport.
It’s short and concise. A story shouldn’t be the sole focus of an article. It’s simply a vehicle to drive the point home. If your article is 800 words and your story used up 700 words, cut back.

Tiny Buddha’s articles are the perfect example of using personal stories to teach and inspire:

Each article begins with a relatable short story, and ends with a clear takeaway:

The story isn’t the article. It just supports the lesson.
#8. Don't Waste Your Reader's Time

Ever heard that we have eight second attention spans?

It's bleak, but true. Though this doesn't mean that you'll be forever doomed to writing articles that only take 8 seconds to read, it does mean that useless words are bad news. Stop using “that”, “in order to” and “there are” (in most cases).

Don't say: “Stop using these words in order to write better.” Say “Stop using these words to write better.”
Don't say: “I want to do work that I love.” Say: “I want to do work I love.”
Don't say: “There are many bloggers who use useless words.”Say: “Many bloggers use useless words.”

Eliminating these fillers also make your paragraphs shorter. Double win.

You catch my drift, so I won't waste your time concluding this point.

Want to have all these writing tips at your fingertips?
Grab the checklist: Click here and enter your name and email address to have the checklist emailed to you (like magic!).

#9. Become a Copycat

You don't need a formal education to write well.

The best writing education I've ever received has been 100% free and a go-at-your-own pace:

Becoming a copycat.

When I got serious about improving my writing, I zoned in on a couple of writers I admire. Then, I read everything they'd ever written (at least, that I could get my hands on).

I read blog posts, books, reports, eBooks, guest posts…

I stalked them on Twitter and analyzed their Facebook posts and immersed myself in their writing. Then, I'd copy them. Not completely, andI wasn’t plagiarizing them. But in an apprenticeship way.

I’d note how they transitioned to a new paragraph.
I'd pick apart their introductions and conclusions.
I'd study why they did what they did.
I'd analyze their headlines.

Their blogs became my writing college. I'd test out their methods in my own words.

They probably don't know who I am (certainly back then they had no clue I existed), but I admired their style, so I borrowed their structure. I suggest you do the same. Don't plagiarize anybody, but shop at the same stores as them.

Try their styles out for size. See what fits.

That’s exactly how Ben Franklin learned to write as well — copying the best.

He took notes of each sentence in a paragraph and tried to reconstruct it as closely to the original as possible.

Then he compared the original paragraph with this copy and studied the mistakes he made to improve and get closer to a perfect recreation next time.

Here’s how you can do what I (and apparently, Ben Franklin) did:

Read everything you can from your favorite writers. Get close and personal with their style as quickly as possible. Everything counts: articles, guest posts, Facebook posts, handwritten notes.

Pick apart each element of their articles. How do they open? What elements do they use? How do they transition? What’s their vocabulary? How do they close? Do they ask questions?

Incorporate those elements in your own writing. If they open with a story, open with a story too. If they love metaphors, by all means, use metaphors. If they give a lot of examples, find examples to share too.
Decide what feels right and what doesn’t. After extensively trying out new writing strategies, figure out what fits you the best. If you like humor but don’t love cursing, that’s completely fine.

After you get a hang of how the best do it, you can create a brand new writing formula for yourself.
You Don't Have to Be Perfect

To write shit people want to read, you don't have to be Jane Austen, and you don't have to be flawless.

You can make spelling mistakes, commit grammatical errors, and start sentences with prepositions. The point is not to write like you have a full team of editors proofreading your work. It's to write interesting things, like a human, and for humans.

If you can nail that down, you're golden.

Ready to start writing epic shit? Grab the free checklist:

The post How to Write Shit People Actually Want to Read (+ Free Checklist) appeared first on Unsettle.
You can train your brain to think better. One of the best ways to do this is to expand the set of mental models you use to think. Let me explain what I mean by sharing a story about a world-class thinker.

I first discovered what a mental model was and how useful the right one could be while I was reading a story about Richard Feynman, the famous physicist. Feynman received his undergraduate degree from MIT and his Ph.D. from Princeton. During that time, he developed a reputation for waltzing into the math department and solving problems that the brilliant Ph.D. students couldn’t solve.
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When people asked how he did it, Feynman claimed that his secret weapon was not his intelligence, but rather a strategy he learned in high school. According to Feynman, his high school physics teacher asked him to stay after class one day and gave him a challenge.

“Feynman,” the teacher said, “you talk too much and you make too much noise. I know why. You’re bored. So I’m going to give you a book. You go up there in the back, in the corner, and study this book, and when you know everything that’s in this book, you can talk again.” 1

So each day, Feynman would hide in the back of the classroom and study the book—Advanced Calculus by Woods—while the rest of the class continued with their regular lessons. And it was while studying this old calculus textbook that Feynman began to develop his own set of mental models.

“That book showed how to differentiate parameters under the integral sign,” Feynman wrote. “It turns out that’s not taught very much in the universities; they don’t emphasize it. But I caught on how to use that method, and I used that one damn tool again and again. So because I was self-taught using that book, I had peculiar methods of doing integrals.”

“The result was, when the guys at MIT or Princeton had trouble doing a certain integral, it was because they couldn’t do it with the standard methods they had learned in school. If it was a contour integration, they would have found it; if it was a simple series expansion, they would have found it. Then I come along and try differentiating under the integral sign, and often it worked. So I got a great reputation for doing integrals, only because my box of tools was different from everybody else’s, and they had tried all their tools on it before giving the problem to me.” 2

Every Ph.D. student at Princeton and MIT is brilliant. What separated Feynman from his peers wasn't necessarily raw intelligence. It was the way he saw the problem. He had a broader set of mental models.
Richard Feynman teaching some of his mental models to physics students.
What is a Mental Model?

A mental model is an explanation of how something works. It is a concept, framework, or worldview that you carry around in your mind to help you interpret the world and understand the relationship between things. Mental models are deeply held beliefs about how the world works.

For example, supply and demand is a mental model that helps you understand how the economy works. Game theory is a mental model that helps you understand how relationships and trust work. Entropy is a mental model that helps you understand how disorder and decay work.

Mental models guide your perception and behavior. They are the thinking tools that you use to understand life, make decisions, and solve problems. Learning a new mental model gives you a new way to see the world—like Richard Feynman learning a new math technique.

Mental models are imperfect, but useful. There is no single mental model from physics or engineering, for example, that provides a flawless explanation of the entire universe, but the best mental models from those disciplines have allowed us to build bridges and roads, develop new technologies, and even travel to outer space. As historian Yuval Noah Harari puts it, “Scientists generally agree that no theory is 100 percent correct. Thus, the real test of knowledge is not truth, but utility.”

The best mental models are the ideas with the most utility. They are broadly useful in daily life. Understanding these concepts will help you make wiser choices and take better actions. This is why developing a broad base of mental models is critical for anyone interested in thinking clearly, rationally, and effectively.
The Secret to Great Thinking

Expanding your set of mental models is something experts need to work on just as much as novices. We all have our favorite mental models, the ones we naturally default to as an explanation for how or why something happened. As you grow older and develop expertise in a certain area, you tend to favor the mental models that are most familiar to you.

Here's the problem: when a certain worldview dominates your thinking, you’ll try to explain every problem you face through that worldview. This pitfall is particularly easy to slip into when you're smart or talented in a given area.

The more you master a single mental model, the more likely it becomes that this mental model will be your downfall because you’ll start applying it indiscriminately to every problem. What looks like expertise is often a limitation. As the common proverb says, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” 3
When a certain worldview dominates your thinking, you’ll try to explain every problem you face through that worldview.
Consider this example from biologist Robert Sapolsky. He asks, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Then, he provides answers from different experts.

If you ask an evolutionary biologist, they might say, “The chicken crossed the road because they saw a potential mate on the other side.”
If you ask a kinesiologist, they might say, “The chicken crossed the road because the muscles in the leg contracted and pulled the leg bone forward during each step.”
If you ask a neuroscientist, they might say, “The chicken crossed the road because the neurons in the chicken’s brain fired and triggered the movement.”

Technically speaking, none of these experts are wrong. But nobody is seeing the entire picture either. Each individual mental model is just one view of reality. The challenges and situations we face in life cannot be entirely explained by one field or industry.

All perspectives hold some truth. None of them contain the complete truth.

Relying on a narrow set of thinking tools is like wearing a mental straight jacket. Your cognitive range of motion is limited. When your set of mental models is limited, so is your potential for finding a solution. In order to unleash your full potential, you have to collect a range of mental models. You have to build out your toolbox. Thus, the secret to great thinking is to learn and employ a variety of mental models.
Expanding Your Set of Mental Models

The process of accumulating mental models is somewhat like improving your vision. Each eye can see something on its own. But if you cover one of them, you lose part of the scene. It’s impossible to see the full picture when you’re only looking through one eye.

Similarly, mental models provide an internal picture of how the world works. We should continuously upgrade and improve the quality of this picture. This means reading widely from good books, studying the fundamentals of seemingly unrelated fields, and learning from people with wildly different life experiences. 4

The mind's eye needs a variety of mental models to piece together a complete picture of how the world works. The more sources you have to draw upon, the clearer your thinking becomes. As the philosopher Alain de Botton notes, “The chief enemy of good decisions is a lack of sufficient perspectives on a problem.”
The Pursuit of Liquid Knowledge

In school, we tend to separate knowledge into different silos—biology, economics, history, physics, philosophy. In the real world, information is rarely divided into neatly defined categories. In the words of Charlie Munger, “All the wisdom of the world is not to be found in one little academic department.” 5

World-class thinkers are often silo-free thinkers. They avoid looking at life through the lens of one subject. Instead, they develop “liquid knowledge” that flows easily from one topic to the next.

This is why it is important to not only learn new mental models, but to consider how they connect with one another. Creativity and innovation often arise at the intersection of ideas. By spotting the links between various mental models, you can identify solutions that most people overlook.
Tools for Thinking Better

Here's the good news:

You don't need to master every detail of every subject to become a world-class thinker. Of all the mental models humankind has generated throughout history, there are just a few dozen that you need to learn to have a firm grasp of how the world works.

Many of the most important mental models are the big ideas from disciplines like biology, chemistry, physics, economics, mathematics, psychology, philosophy. Each field has a few mental models that form the backbone of the topic. For example, some of the pillar mental models from economics include ideas like Incentives, Scarcity, and Economies of Scale.

If you can master the fundamentals of each discipline, then you can develop a remarkably accurate and useful picture of life. To quote Charlie Munger again, “80 or 90 important models will carry about 90 percent of the freight in making you a worldly-wise person. And, of those, only a mere handful really carry very heavy freight.” 6

I've made it a personal mission to uncover the big models that carry the heavy freight in life. After researching more than 1,000 different mental models, I gradually narrowed it down to a few dozen that matter most. I've written about some of them previously, like entropy and inversion, and I'll be covering more of them in the future. If you're interested, you can browse my slowly expanding list of mental models.

My hope is to create a list of the most important mental models from a wide range of disciplines and explain them in a way that is not only easy to understand, but also meaningful and practical to the daily life of the average person. With any luck, we can all learn how to think just a little bit better.

This article was written by James Clear and appeared on his blog

Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman. Pages 86-87.

Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman. Pages 86-87.

This idea is sometimes called The Law of the Instrument or Man With a Hammer Syndrome. The original phrase comes from Abraham Kaplan's book, The Conduct of Inquiry: Methodology for Behavioral Science. On page 28 he writes, “Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.”

With regards to the importance of reading widely, a quote from the wonderful writer Haruki Murakami comes to mind, “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

“A Lesson on Elementary, Worldly Wisdom As It Relates To Investment Management & Business” by Charles Munger. Speech at USC Business School. 1994.

“A Lesson on Elementary, Worldly Wisdom As It Relates To Investment Management & Business” by Charles Munger. Speech at USC Business School. 1994.


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You're reading 8 Tips on How to Live a Meaningful Life, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you're enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

We all want to live a meaningful life since after all, we only have one chance at doing this. Happiness and fulfillment is much more attractive than emptiness, which makes living a life with some kind of meaning one of the widest held goals in the world.

People measure their success in terms of meaningful actions. You will find that everyone is obsessed with life meaning &ndas
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h; starting from philosophers and scientists to the ordinary man. And while there is no single or final answer to living a meaningful life, there are several things you can do to get closer to this goal.

Here are 8 amazing tips on how to live a meaningful life:
1.    Focus on the Important Things

We all have some things that are more important than others. Pinpointing this is something you must do on your own, since there is no general definition as to what's most important in your life.
Once you determine the top 5 things that you find to be essential to your happiness, use them to live the life as you want it. If you prioritize your family, focus on spending time with them. If you like singing, turn this into your hobby or job. In other words, pursue your passion in life. The world is your limit.
2.    Find Your Life's Purpose

If someone put a gun to your head and said 'give me one reason for you to live', what would this reason be? What do you stand for? What is your life's purpose? If you want to make your life meaningful, you need to find its meaning first. Otherwise, you cannot really set a meaningful goal.
3.    Give to Others

Of course, this does not mean that you should base all your life actions to helping the rest. You are the focus of your life, but giving to others will give your life more purpose and meaning. So, focus on the things you find important, but make sure to help others. This will increase your and their life satisfaction. Sometimes, something as simple as lending a friendly ear or shoulder to cry on can give your life more meaning.
4.    Be Aware of Your Actions

What can you improve or change? Review the actions you take on a regular basis to learn what made you stray from your goal or imagined path. Focusing on details will help you accomplish more, as long as you are prepared to make some changes.
5.    Find Some Courage

You need to be courageous to live, but living a meaningful life requires a lot more courage. After all, you need to make many changes to achieve this, try new things and put yourself out there.
Once you determine the essential actions to improve your way of living, you can easily find courage. Don't be afraid to be different or try something new – you can rarely achieve your biggest goals without a bit of a risk.
6.    Focus

Rather than micromanaging 20 goals and focusing your attention on them all, focus on one thing at a time. This does not mean that you will leave the rest of your priorities behind. It solely means that you will dedicate all your energy in making sure they are all achieved, step by step.
You can easily achieve this. Make a habit of creating a list of goals you will do over the day or the week, not further. This list should consist of things that are achievable and realistic to avoid failure. If you learn how to do things at their time, you can achieve more.
7.    Simplify the Life

This may sound strange, but in order to make your living meaningful, you have to make the life simpler. The life is more meaningful if you spend your time doing things that fulfill you, so get rid of all those things that cause stress and frustration and basically, simplify your way of living.
8.    Express Yourself

You are who you are and there is no one else like you. Accept yourself for who you are and be authentic. Instead of fearing and struggling from fear of rejection and criticism, embrace this in a way that allows you to be who you truly are. If you aren't yourself, your life cannot really have a meaning. Finding your life's meaning is a journey that never ends. It is not something you will find and be done with it, but you must maintain your living meaningful every step of the way. After all, you may find something to be meaningful today, but this does not mean that you will find it meaningful tomorrow. Seeing that you are the one giving meaning to things, it is your job to pursue them.

Jade Parker is a marketing expert that has worked in the industry for five years. She is developing her own small business and helping others build successful marketing strategies. Over the years, Jade has started writing and contributed several of her works to assignment writing.

You've read 8 Tips on How to Live a Meaningful Life, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you've enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.
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The Getting Pregnant Plan is an e-book that will teach you all the secrets of fertility - secrets that will dramatically increase your chance of getting pregnant. From knowing the one type of specialist you should consult to determining ovulation with 100% accuracy, it\'s all in the book.

The Getting Pregnant Plan is based on clinical studies, research and the author\�
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