Book Review: The Future of God by Deepak Chopra

Future of GodBook 1 for my #50BooksIn2016 challenge. 
Find out more about the challenge here.

I picked this book up randomly at a Barnes & Noble a while back. (Yes, they still exist and I still go to them.) I’ve been struggling with my own feelings of religion and spirituality, and without getting too far into the weeds on that – another time and place, perhaps, the back cover of the book seemed as though it could shed some interesting light on my internal debate.

In the end, it did, although it took a long and winding road to get there.

Overall, I liked the concept of the book and what it had to say about God in our lives in modern society. In a very small nutshell, the premise of the book is that God (and religion) has fallen out of favor in modern society for numerous reasons, but there is a way to bring him back into our lives. In fact, we must bring him back if we are to not fall into utter chaos and despair as a society.

The long and winding road to get to the way we can begin to experience God again has a lot to do with a rebuttal to staunch atheism as espoused by Richard Dawkins and a few others. I think this rebuttal was the main premise of Chopra writing the book, and while that discussion was interesting on some level, it wasn’t what I was looking for. I could have selected a few chapters and gotten what I was searching for much quicker. Although saying that somehow feels like it goes against some of the main principles Chopra discusses such as “letting go” and “releasing expectations”. I just finished it, I need some time to practice.

Chopra’s main premise is that God is consciousness and existence and Being, and that alignment with this brings ultimate self-awareness or oneness or “enlightenment” as it is more commonly know. He provides daily practices, such as the mentioned “letting go” and “releasing expectations” and describes why they are important. He discusses evil in the world and how to comprehend it in terms of this God that is consciousness. While I’m not sure I bought into or understood it all, I like the direction he goes.

In general, I would recommend the book if you are on a spiritual journey that isn’t tied to a specific religion, although it could still be helpful if you are more a believer in the principles of a religion than the hard and fast rules of a religion. He does speak out about that type of religious belief.  I found the last third or so of the book on Knowledge of God to be informative and certainly a basis to begin seeking God, although not the final word. But a true spiritual journey shouldn’t have a final word, should it?

**Post contains affiliate links**

#50BooksIn2016 – The Books (1-10)

I have committed to reading 50 books in 2016 to increase my knowledge of varied fields to up my innovation skills and my ability to make connections between seemingly unconnected ideas. And also because I love books and learning. I’m an awesome nerd like that.

For more on the commitment, check out the original post here.

For books 11 through 20, check out this post.

This post will contain books one through 10 I read along with links to the reviews. Please follow along and let me know your thoughts, whether or not you have read the books.

Book 1 – The Future of God: A Practical Approach to Spirituality for our Times by Deepak Chopra

“Faith sees the divine in every aspect of creation.”

Future of God

 My review here.

Book 2 – The Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics can Teach us about Innovation by Frans Johansson

“Everything connects in one way or another. The trick is seeing how things connect and then knowing how to use those connections”

medici effect

 My review here.

Book 3 – Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science and the World by Rachel Swaby

“The materials of science are the materials of life itself. Science is a part of the reality of living; it is the what, the how, and the why of everything in our experience.” (Rachel Carson quoted in Headstrong)

Headstrong

My review here.

Book 4 – Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates

“Americans believe in the reality of “race” as a defined, indubitable feature of the natural world. Racism – the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them – inevitably follows from this inalterable condition.”

Between the world and me

I don’t really feel like I can adequately review this book, or really even comment. It is such a raw and emotional account of something that I could never possibly understand that I feel like any commentary I provide would be deficient on so many levels.
It is absolutely worth the read to gain some small perspective on this hugely important issue of racism today. None of us can every truly understand how something feels unless we experience it ourselves and Coates does an amazing job of detailing his experiences and background to provide a glimpse into what racism feels like. I don’t know that I have ever read anything that has given me such insight into how someone else perceives the world.

 

Book 5 – Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior – Leonard Mlodinow

“Our brains are not simply recording a taste or other experience, they are creating it.”

 

Subliminal - Copy

Book 6 –  I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

“I began to see that the pen and the words that come from it can be much more powerful than machine guns, tanks or helicopters. We were learning how to struggle. And we were learning how powerful we are when we speak.”

Malala

 

Book 7 – The Second Machine Age: Work Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

” We predict that people who are good at idea creation will continue to have a comparative advantage over digital labor for some time to come and will find themselves in demand.” 

second machine age

My review here

Book 8 – The Stranger: Albert Camus

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Book 9 – On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks by Simon Garfield

 “In other words, maps hold a clue to what makes us human… They reflect our best and worst attributes – discovery and curiosity, conflict and destruction, and they chart our transitions of power.” 

on the map

 

Book 10 – Poke the Box by Seth Godin

“I’m not encouraging you to be bold and right.
I’m not encouraging you to figure out how to always initiate
a smart and proven and profitable idea.
I’m merely encouraging you to start. 
Often. Forever.
Be the one who starts things.”

poke the box

*Post contains affiliate links*

#50BooksIn2016 – The Commitment

This year, I’ve committed to reading 50 books.

#50BooksIn2016

In all of the reading and research I’ve done on creativity, innovation, and breakthroughs, the most prolific theme is around making new and random connections between seemingly unconnected ideas. To up my innovation game and increase my knowledge of disparate worlds so that I may begin to make more of these connections, I have made this reading commitment, which is not quite a book a week all year (that would be 52, if you are counting).

My list of potential books spans multiple different fields (and includes some fiction, as well) and already numbers beyond 50. I am sure new books will be published this year I want to read more or I will be swayed by recommendations from friends and colleagues, so the list is fluid and flexible. This goal isn’t meant to be a hard and fast rule that binds me, but a goal that pushes my boundaries for disciple and learning. I will read what I am most interested in at any given time.

As a part of the process, I will be posting each book as I read it and will write some level of review when I have finished them. Some will be more detailed than others, depending on the content and my feelings about the book. I will be posting quotes on Instagram and Twitter as well, using the hashtag #50BooksIn2016.

I just finished my first book, The Future of God by Deepak Chopra, and that review will follow shortly.

I hope you will follow along and gain something from my reading and reviews. Feel free to join me with your own reading commitment, whether 50 books, 24, 12 or 1.

Here’s to continued learning and connecting ideas!

Use Creativity to Succeed – Get Motivation Post

I recently had an article featured on GetMotivation.com on using creativity to succeed. Check it out…

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Now, more than ever, companies need creativity and creative thinking in the day-to-day operations in order to truly excel and rise above the competition.

We often think of the great innovators such as Thomas Edison or Steve Jobs as the “creatives”, the kind of people who had such revolutionary ideas that they changed the world. Or we read stories like that of Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, who developed a simpler, less painful way to test blood that has turned her into the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world and we think “I could never have an idea like that.”

These stories are great examples of game-changing creativity and innovation, but they overlook the everyday creativity and innovation that makes companies tick. And that is the kind of creativity you can use to drive sales, product development, or customer service improvements in your own company. You don’t need to have ideas that change the entire world, you just need ideas to change the world you live in.

Creativity and innovation in the day-to-day starts with looking at things differently and taking on the perspectives of others. Get inside the head of your customer, boss, partner, or supplier to determine how you can impact their outcome in a positive way. This is especially critical for your customers, thinking from their perspective to understand what they want and need. But even if you don’t interact with your company’s customers on a daily basis, think of your boss or partner as a customer, and find a way to delight them with your work.

After you’ve flipped your perspective and taken the view of those around you, start testing. New perspectives on a problem or process can give you lots of ideas about how to improve things or move the needle in terms of sales or growth, but until you try some of those ideas you will never know which is the best or right choice. Without the feedback you get from trying out your ideas, you can’t have enough data to move forward. Don’t get stuck analyzing all of your options without testing at least some of them first. If testing isn’t really feasible with your specific situation, make sure and talk to a number of different people about your ideas and options.

Read the rest at GetMotivated…. 

 

You are creative… Whether or not You Know it

I used to think I wasn’t creative because I wasn’t an artist or musician. That was creativity to me.

creativityNevermind that I spent a significant part of my childhood with an imaginary friend named Anderson, or that my best friend and I played “bank” where we created money, checks, and a teller line and we waited on pretend customers, or that in middle school a friend and I developed a man’s entire life story just for fun. I never claimed to be an ordinary child, clearly.

Those things, among many other random things I did, required a lot of imagination and creativity. But at no point did I look at my life and see creativity. I mostly saw a weird kid, but let’s not get into my self-perception issues.

Now I know that creativity is about so, so, so much more than just making art or music. Any new idea about anything is creative.

One of the definitions of creativity is: the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.

Whoa.

That’s a lot. And it sounds kind of daunting. But it really isn’t.

We transcend traditional patterns of life every single day. We take new routes to work when accidents leave traffic at a standstill. We make up dinner with just the food in our fridge. We find some sort of tool, anything really, that will get the broken cork out of the neck of the wine bottle. That is all creativity. (It’s also problem solving, but we’ll talk about that later.)

Think about all of the things you have done today that wasn’t just your same old routine. Creativity! Bam!

Don’t be like I used to be, not seeing your own creativity and imaginative power. It’s all around you, if you just realize it.

So tell me, how were you creative today? Leave a comment and let me know.

3 Steps to Build Your Competitive Advantage

Have you ever heard businesses talk about their competitive advantage? The things that make them better than their competitors?

Competitive Advantage

This is an important concept for services and products because if they do not have some advantage over others in the marketplace, they will never succeed. Many businesses fail because they aren’t different or better than the competition.

What about you? Are you different or better than your competition? Competition might be a strong word to use when it comes to co-workers and I do not suggest you treat them as competitors to be taken down and beaten. {Side bar: I don’t think any business benefits from treating competition as something to be removed from the market. No one likes a jerk who does whatever it takes to win.}

However, there are times when only one person can be promoted or offered the lead of a new project. When you apply for a new job you are competing against the other applicants. Do you know how and why you are better or different? How you can make yourself shine without putting down anyone else?

Think of yourself as a service that your employer is buying and use these three aspects of competitive advantage to project your very best:

  1. Natural resources: What skills, processes, or tasks are you the very best at? Determine where you excel and do more of it. If your boss sees you continually succeeding, she will be more likely to look to you for better roles and projects. If you are looking for a job, highlight these skills as clearly and specifically as you can, using examples on your resume.
  2. Customer Service: You should think of your boss or those you support within your organization as your customers and you should give them the level of service you would want from any support line you call. Zappos is known for their excellent customer service and they continue thrive and gain customers because of it. Go above and beyond to delight your internal (and external) customers.
  3. Operational Effectiveness: This is about more than doing something really well. You can have excellent results that take a significant about of time or use too many resources. Continually be on the lookout for areas to improve processes. Can you streamline how something is handled? Can you consolidate certain reports to get the very heart of the information that is needed by leadership? Show that you not only do great work, but you use resources better than anyone else.

Treating the work you do as a service to be sold helps you hone in on what you are best and why someone should pick you. This is an important mindset even when working within a company and especially if you want to excel and move into more prominent roles.

What is your competitive advantage and how do you use it in the workplace? Let us know in the comments.

Engaging Others – A Lesson from James Altucher

Those of you that follow me know I’m a big James Altucher fan and that every Thursday at 3:30pm EST, he hosts a Twitter Q&A where anyone can Tweet him a question and he will answer as many as he can. And I love to participate.

If you don’t know James Altucher, he is a best-selling author and entrepreneur who has started more than 20 companies (some of which he sold for lots of cash) and who has written 17 books, the most recent is The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth* which I am currently reading and really enjoying. He writes a blog and has a podcast. He has done a little bit of everything.

His outlook on life and business is so fascinating to me.

I have been focusing on how you can engage others and play up your value in conversations, to your boss and coworkers, and others to help accelerate your success. People need to know how fabulous you are to promote you, either literally up the ladder or figuratively to others.

During Thursday’s Twitter Q&A, I asked James what you should say about yourself to get others engaged and wanting to know more about you when you introduce yourself.

His response: Don’t talk about yourself, ask about them.

 

I’ve heard this before, especially for introverts or people who don’t feel comfortable talking. Just ask about the other person and let them do all the talking.

I wondered what would happen if both people in the conversation tried that tactic though. So I asked James.

I laughed at his answer because it feels funny to say, but he has a great point. Talk about it with them and say “I too curious, you have to tell me.” I love it.

 

It is also an interesting take on engaging with others compared to my most recent post on developing your 90 second personal pitch, which is all about talking about yourself. It would have been nice if he had said something that aligned great with what I had written.

But I think his advice can be used along with an amazing personal 90 second pitch. When someone asks “What do you do?” give them your 90 second pitch, then ask about them. Engage them when your awesomeness then show them that you really care more about them than you do about you. Bam.

What do you think? How do you engage others? Do you ask about them? Let me know in the comments, I’d love your stories and suggestions.

 *Affiliate link. 

Your Personal 90 Second Pitch

telling timeStartups and companies looking for funding often develop a 90 second pitch, also known as their elevator pitch, to give to potential investors to garner interest in investing in the business. The pitch is clear, concise and succinctly tells the investor why they should want to be involved. The point is not to walk away with a check for millions, but to compel the investor to learn more – to secure a future meeting.

Founders spend a lot of time perfecting their pitch – including the most relevant and compelling information – into a few concise, fascinating sentences. It isn’t enough to promise a huge market and massive returns. Investors need to feel pulled to the business concept. The pitch must convey the passion of the team and make the investor feel that passion as well.

When someone asks “What do you do?” or says “Tell me about yourself” does your response leave them feeling your passion or your discontent?

Compare these two responses to “What do you do?”

“I am a financial analyst at a large healthcare company. I support our medical device division.”

“I analyze sales and revenue, providing leadership data that empowers them to make the best decisions regarding our life changing medical devices.”

Who are you more interested in talking to further? Who would you want to work with? Who would you want to hire? (And that isn’t even 90 seconds of information. Imagine if those two people kept talking for 75 to 80 more seconds.)

Here are five ways you can perfect your personal 90 second pitch (plus a bonus):

  1. Don’t say what you do, tell the value you provide. Financial analysis is what you do. Providing leadership data that empowers them to make decisions is how you bring value.
  2. Don’t say what your company does, tell the value it provides. You can work for a healthcare company or a company that creates life changing medical devices.
  3. Highlight your biggest strength(s). Give a specific example of a time you crushed it at work. “I recently developed a dashboard for our CEO with sales, inventory and outcome metrics that allowed her to see which devices were selling the fastest and also saving the most lives.”
  4. Include your passions. Make the person you are talking to feel your excitement. “I love digging into the numbers and finding the most relevant nuggets of information that can be used to improve sales or create efficiencies. Seeing my work have a positive impact on the company is so fulfilling.”
  5. Offer something. People connect more easily to givers. This will often be dependent on the situation and how much you know about the other person, but offer to make an introduction, talk more about a specific topic, or provide tips on an upcoming conference or event.

Bonus! If you have time and the situation warrants, you can include a personal tidbit.  “My partner and I recently traveled to Asia where we were able to play with tigers, visit some amazing Buddhist temples, and eat out-of-this-world food. I can’t wait to go back!” This shows that you have varied interests and your life is about more than just work, and could lead to a deeper connection about a shared interest.

Using these five tips (and the bonus) will allow you to make a first impression that won’t be forgotten.

Share your tips and tricks for pitching yourself to others in the comments below. I love hearing from you!

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To get clarity on your own value and strengths, sign up for our Success Strategy Session. Being able to articulate your value to others is crucial to your success and I can show you how.

Create Your Success Giveaway!

I have big news, friends! Big!

We are hosting our first ever giveaway here at Flipside Thinker! Things have been rocking and rolling for us, and we want to celebrate with YOU! Because you are the reason we are thriving.

We have partnered with some great companies and people to bring you some amazing products and services that will help you accelerate your success! Foster your creativity, learn more about yourself, and generate ideas with this bundle.

We want you to be massively successful! That is why we are here!

One Grand Prize Package valued at over $300 – it’s a doozey!

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In addition, the first 400 people that enter the contest will get a free code to take the Fascination Advantage Assessment, courtesy of Sally Hogshead.

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Look at all the awesome stuff one lucky winner will receive:

1. Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko (A signed copy) – from Michael Michalko ($20)

Thinkertoys

Thinkertoys is an amazing resource for learning tools and techniques to generate ideas and spark your creativity. The creative thinking tools in this book can help you tackle any type of problem and generate lots of new ideas. Michael Michalko has graciously autographed this copy for the winner! You can find him on Twitter, or on his website, CreativeThinking.Net

2. Conjure Your Creativity Tip Cards – from Unstuck ($25)

Creativity_Set

The Unstuck Conjure Your Creativity card deck is a handy, reusable resource to help you think through issues or problems that you are stuck on. There are 30 cards with different sticking points and suggestions for how to overcome and move past them. Find out more at Unstuck.com or follow Unstuck on Twitter.

3. Getting Things Done: The art of stress-free productivity by David Allen ($12)

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The brand new 2015 edition of one of the most influential business books since its original publication 15 years ago. You get the updated edition of the original “manual” for GTD with detailed overviews, examples and coaching advice to get your system up and running. This revised 2015 edition also contains new material on the rise of digital technology in our always-on world, and recent cognitive science research that validates the GTD methodology.Check out the book here or follow GTD on Twitter.

4. A $50 Magazines.com gift card – from Magazines.com ($50)

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Expanding your knowledge outside of your industry or specialty is a great way to foster your creativity. The broader your information base, the more likely you are to make seemingly random connections which often turn out to be the basis for revolutionary ideas. Magazines.com donated this gift card so you can get a couple of different magazines to expand your horizons. Check out Magazines.com website or follow them on Twitter.

5. How to Fascinate Assessment and How the World Sees You Book – Sally Hogshead ($30)

how the world sees youfascinate assessment

Discover how the world sees you with your Fascination Advantage. This test will give you your top two personality advantages and tell you how you can use them to excel by becoming more of who you are. Along with a copy of Sally Hogshead’s latest book “How the World Sees You” you will learn to recognize your own value and use it to impress and influence those around you. Learn more about the Fascination Advantage and Sally Hogshead at howtofascinate.com and follow Sally on Twitter.

6. Voice Technique for Video, Webinar and Podcast Success Online Course – from Tracy Goodwin ($127)

Captivate the Room

Voice improvement training is a set of techniques that gives you a more engaging and interesting voice. In this course, you will learn techniques that you can apply immediately to presentations to captivate your audience. Tracy Goodwin is known around the globe as the Red Sweater Lady for her extensive collection of communication and voice training videos. With over 20 plus years’ experience in voice, on camera and communication training, she is a master of her game. Tracy has trained clients all over the world from professional actors to news personalities to C-Suite Executives. She can teach you how to Captivate the Room by creating and delivering engaging content in a captivating and persuasive way. Tracy’s methods are guaranteed to work and have been perfected over the years through education, training and consulting. See all of Tracy’s offerings on her website TheRedSweaterLady.com and connect with her on Twitter.

7. Work it Out: Creativity in Problem Solving E-Mail course – from Flipside Thinker ($37)

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The highly anticipated course offering from Flipside Thinker. Get 15 daily emails that will boost your creativity, walk you step by step through the problem solving process, and propel you to success. More course bonuses to be announced during the launch in April.Learn more here.

8. Idea and Creativity Journaling – from Flipside Thinker ($20)

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A 3 pack of Moleskine Cahier Journals and ten colored Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens to record your ideas and creative sparks as they happen.

There could be more added as we go along, you just never know!

A big, huge, giant thank you to those that have contributed and good luck to all the entrants!

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Disclaimer: Giveaway is open to US residents only, void where prohibited. The contest ends 04/15/2015. The winner must respond with their mailing address within 48 hours of being chosen otherwise an alternate winner will be chosen. Prizes will be shipped or sent electronically once the winner’s mailing address is received. Entering your email in the giveaway provides agreement to be subscribed to Flipside Thinker email updates. If you are not interested in our updates, please do not enter the giveaway. Please do not mark us as spam, when we’re clearly NOT spam. It’s not nice. And you are a nice person.

How do you find your “Eureka”?

Have you ever struggled with a problem you just could not move past?

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At work, trying to get a customer to purchase your solution that you know will make their work easier and more profitable. Or trying to figure out why a once bestselling product has lost market share steadily over the last year.

At home, getting your children to finish their homework and chores before getting on social media.

You have been thinking and researching and asking colleagues and friends, but you just cannot find a solution that meets all of the important needs of the problem.

What do you do now? Give up the sale? Discontinue the product? Fight with your kids every night?

Is there a way to prime your brain for what seems to be the ever elusive EUREKA! moment?

According to an April article for Psychology Today, there is.

The Brain at Rest

Brain research has shown that most creative solutions and stories are created in the unconscious or resting parts of our brains and later fed to the conscious brain for editing and action. These moments can seem spontaneous or as breakthroughs, because we were not fully aware that our brain was solving problems in the background.

In fact, often thinking about a problem too hard can limit the potential to find solutions. Conversely, your subconscious can never solve a problem if some of the key pieces of information are missing.

How do you balance the need for the right information being there, in your brain, so that you can not think about it?

Catch-22 anyone?

Psychology Today recommends eight techniques to help you prepare your mind for a breakthrough moment and even recognize a potential breakthrough. They are great suggestions and I highly recommend them. But what about the other side of the EUREKA? Having the right information?

use your brain

Information Overload

Knowing which information is accurate and relevant is a huge task today with our access to the bottomless knowledge pit of the internet. Keeping track of good information is just as difficult. There are three keys to overcoming the overload:

  1. Be able to discern fact versus opinion – The internet is full of knowledge, but it is also full of pundits, critics, and those that want to seem important and powerful. Make sure the sites you get your information from are trustworthy. Are people experts in their field? Is there research backing their claims? Is the research legitimate? Sometimes it can be hard to tell. If you are not sure, note it as second tier information.
  1. Challenge assumptions – Take the time to treat what you think are known quantities about the problem as if you read them on a website you were not so sure about. Why do you (or other’s) assume the things you do? If anyone says “Because that’s how it is, or how it’s always been done” stop immediately (and maybe slap them on the back of the head) and rethink that entire aspect of the problem. Assumptions are not facts until they are proven.
  1. Organize information on the intake – As you find facts online or talk with people surrounding the issue, make notes and files as you go. Do not wait until later to try and organize things or find that one article that gave you such clarity but you forgot to bookmark or save it. There are tools such as Evernote and One Note that can help, but even a word document and a well-organized folder structure will do. Organizing electronically in this way and filing and recording as data comes in, will help with your brain’s internal organization as well.

Back to the Breakthrough

Now that you have the right information you can get to the business of priming the breakthrough pump.

The eight great techniques recommending by Psychology Today (and seconded by me):

  1. Take a technology break
  2. Exercise
  3. Travel
  4. Learn about and appreciate other subjects
  5. Contemplate a Koan (In Zen Buddhism, a problem or riddle that admits no logical solution)
  6. Learn to recognize the sense that something is there, just beyond the surface
  7. Write down everything you know about the problem
  8. Practice – follow through on other hunches, whether big or small

Take time away from the issue at hand and focus on other things. This gives your unconscious brain time to work through all the information you gathered and put the pieces together. Once the resting brain has done its work and the solutions are passed on to your conscious brain: EUREKA!

What do you do to work through issues? Do you have tips or techniques you would recommend to others? Share them in the comments below.

 

If you continue to think the same way, you will continue to get the same results.

If you continue to think the same way, you will continue to get the same results.

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