“Hey! How was your day off?”
“Pretty good! I had a good day. I wrote an article, read a book, cooked a few dishes, and cleaned the house.”

For someone who always feels the need to achieve more, do better, be better, get more out of each day, I need a constant reminder to be thankful for what I have and to realise that I am very fortunate. I am still not at a point where I can sit back and relax for a few hours, soak up the beauty of the world we live in and be grateful.

Today, I’d like to share with you five things that I do to practice gratitude in everyday life, which make me feel richer, happier and more successful.

Have a daily gratitude routine

I find that when I have a few quiet minutes during the day, or at nights before going to bed, reflecting on good things that happened throughout the day makes me feel more thankful and happier. There is always something to be grateful for; whether it is about having a roof above our heads, being able to provide for my family, or witnessing a random act of kindness when I least expect it. This is why Oprah shared that the single most important thing she’s ever done in her life is keeping a gratitude journal and writing down five things she is grateful for every single day.

Think in terms of progress, not perfection

I have a lot of goals in life, some are crazier and bigger than others. Writing new year resolutions without fail every December/January has been my jam since I was in my early 20’s. Sometimes, I achieved them, sometimes I didn’t but I realised that I was often too focused on end goals that I forgot to enjoy the experience or celebrate small wins. There must be some truth about neurons in our brains that cultivate positive states of mind, I am certainly more appreciative when I celebrate small wins.

Be mindful

Have you ever been in a situation where you were doing something else when eating your meal that you didn’t realise how you finished an entire plate? I have. Many times, in fact. Multitasking is an enemy of mindfulness. It is hard to be mindful and therefore grateful when my brain is switching back and forth between multiple activities. These days, I try my best to be mindful of what I am currently doing; be it eating, walking, writing, cooking or speaking. When I am mindful, I feel clarity and appreciation of the situation, the experience and the surrounding.

Practise a random act of kindness

Whenever I see the phrase “random act of kindness”, I picture an image of helping a homeless. While helping a homeless person on the street is indeed a random act of kindness, it is not the only act of kindness. Making way for someone who is in a hurry, letting an elderly skip the line, giving a listening ear to a colleague who is having a bad day, volunteering at a community event, donating to a charity, sharing my knowledge online or offline to those who need it, doing someone a favour without asking or expecting anything in return, or something as simple as picking up litter on a street are some ideas for random act of kindness that I have practised and each time after I have done a random act of kindness, I feel thankful. Thankful for the opportunity and thankful for having the capacity or ability.

Spend time outside

My couch at home is quite comfortable and I work at a pretty nice office but spending time outside beats staying indoors any time of the day. I am lucky because with a small human being (aka my daughter) to look after, I am forced to get out of the house every day. I notice that after going for a walk in the neighbourhood or a playtime at a local park, I feel much more alive and energetic. In summer when the sun doesn’t go down until 8pm, my family usually goes out for a walk or a play at a local park after dinner. This routine is not only good for my body but also for my mind.

I like practising gratitude every day because I feel richer and happier and it makes me a better human.

Every single day we are faced with a number of choices. From simple choices like what to have for breakfast and what to wear to work to bigger and more complicated choices that affect our lifestyles and our loved ones. Since making a choice or having to make a choice is always going to be a part of our lives, it is in our best interest to master it. Let me share with you five tips to making any choice in life and work like a boss.

1. Think of the outcome

Contrary to a popular belief, I’ve learned that one of the initial steps to making the right choice is to think of the outcome that we would like after making the choice instead of writing and comparing pros and cons on a piece of paper. Why? Because each pros and cons is subjective. For example, we might be faced with the option of whether to choose cereal or hash brown for breakfast. Both are equally bad for health and equally tasty. In this case, writing a pros and cons list is not going to help us make the right decision. However, if we think about the outcome we want after eating our breakfast, which, for example, is to feel fuller for a longer period of time, then the right choice is hash brown. Similarly, in our work life, we might be faced with having to make a choice between two job offers; the one that pays more vs. the other with a better career path. Based on what outcome we would like to achieve and what we consider important to us, we can make the decision that is right for us.

2. Apply past learnings and experiences

We are always encouraged to learn from our experiences in the past. There is no better time to apply our learnings than when making a choice. So for example, if we had made a similar decision before, then we should think back and reflect on the choice that we made. Was it a good choice? Could we have done better? Whatever we have learnt then, we can apply now.

3. Have default options

I am a strong believer in the phrase the less we have to do (for things that don’t matter), the more we can do (for things that matter). That’s why having default options that I always choose for certain circumstances work wonders for me. For example, my default option for coffee is skim flat white, my default choice for hairstyle is bob and so on. Our brains are great at making the same choice effortlessly after enough practice, which is why women always go to ladies toilet and men go to mens without having to think twice or think at all.

4. Know the difference between urgent and important

An urgent decision is something we need to make immediately, for example, when we get into a lift, we need to press which level we would like to go right away. An important decision is something that we need to consider thoroughly, usually after analysing, gathering and processing facts. With this type decision, we may need to sleep on it to ensure we are not rushing into something. For example, if we are thinking of buying a property then we will need to perform adequate due-diligence before choosing which property to purchase. Then there are both urgent and important choices which call for immediate and impactful decisions. And then we have non urgent and non important decisions, which are simply not worth fussing over. Knowing what type of choice or decision that we are making will help us make the best decision for each circumstance.

5. Think outside the box

Just because we are given choices, it doesn’t mean we must choose one of them. Maybe we can choose both; have your cake and eat it too. Or maybe we do not want to choose any, but come up with our own option. Or maybe we decide that we don’t need to do anything at all. One thing to bear in mind though is that we don’t want to be a rebel without a cause but we want to be curious and innovative leaders who inspire ourselves and others with choices that we make.

So there you have it, five practical and helpful tips on how to make any choice in life and work. The next time you are making a decision, I hope you think of the steps above and make the right choice with ease and confidence. Do share with us if you have got any tips that have worked for you in making right decisions.

About the author

Ei Sabai Nyo is a highly innovative and award-winning web technologist and people manager with over 15 years industrial experience in the Internet and web development industry. She is also a co-founder of an Internet start up, Sale The World. She is passionate about start ups, entrepreneurship and personal and career development.

Women get a lot of bad reputation for being emotional and looking stressed at the workplace. The truth is, everyone gets stressed from time to time when they are feeling overwhelmed! As a working woman and mother, I’m familiar with the feeling of being overwhelmed. However, the good news is you can avoid feeling and looking stressed if you know how to deal with those feelings.

Here are 8 tips on how you can stop feeling overwhelmed, and take control of your life.

1. Step out of the situation and look from outside

When you are feeling overwhelmed, the first thing you need to do is to calm down. Usually this can be achieved by stepping out of the situation and looking at it from a third party’s point of view. Then ask these questions; Why are you feeling overwhelmed? Do you have too much to do and not enough time? Do you have a particular challenge in completing your tasks? After knowing the cause, you can follow the rest of the steps and overcome the feeling of overwhelm.

2. Write a To-do list and priortise

Our brains are not capable of storing too much information, especially if the information is not related. When the brain has too much information to process or remember, then it tends to bring stress and anxiety. Therefore, write a To-do list and free your brain from information overload. Once you’ve written down a To-do list, it is easier to prioritise as everything is in black and white.

When the brain has too much information to process or remember, then it tends to bring stress and anxiety.

By reviewing your To-do list and prioritising, you might find that you don’t need to complete all ten items in the list. Perhaps only completing eight items is sufficient to achieve the desired outcome. Whether you are trying to complete tasks at work or at home, women are known for taking too much on! This step will ensure that we only do things that are important and have an impact on what we would like to achieve.

3. Be in control by giving up control

The art of finding a good balance and being at peace relies a lot on control – and surprisingly, it is not about having a lot of control. It is about giving up control and not trying to control what we can’t. There are some things in life that just cannot be controlled, such as weather. So for example, if you are organising a work event and are worried about bad weather or rain, then you are going to be stressed and overwhelmed. Instead, have a Plan B for when it rains.

Rather than trying to control what you can’t, preparing for what could go wrong actually puts you in charge of the situation. And when you know you are in charge of something, there is less chance of feeling overwhelmed.

4. Stop overthinking

Overthinking causes negative thoughts and fosters a pessimistic point of view. There was a cartoon that I saw somewhere that illustrated the negative effect of overthinking. The husband was not looking happy one day and the wife started silently worrying about it: is he not interested in me anymore? Is he going to leave me soon? Have I done something to upset him? And so on, and so forth.

But when a friend asked the husband why he looked upset, his answer was, “My bike didn’t start today, and I don’t know why.” It was spot on. Overthinking does more harm than good! It creates problems in our mind which are not even problems to begin with. The more we overthink, the further we are from making decisions or taking actions to resolve the issue as we become overwhelmed with unnecessary thoughts and worries.

5. Think about the big picture

It is very easy to get trapped in daily tasks, feel overwhelmed with current issues and forget what really matters: The big picture! When we think about the big picture, maybe it no longer matters that each of us do things slightly differently, or that a few things didn’t work out as planned. As long as we achieve our desired end goal within our set constraints, that’s all that matters!

6. Ask for help and accept help

There is a misconception that asking for help or accepting help is a sign of weakness. Working women, therefore, tend to avoid asking for help at work or at home. Maybe we don’t want to be seen as incapable. Maybe we don’t want to look weak. Maybe we want to show others that we can do it all. But knowing when to ask for help and accepting help is a strength.

But knowing when to ask for help and accepting help is a strength.

In her book Lean In, the author Sheryl Sandberg encourages women to support each other and lean in so we can achieve our full potential. I say, let’s take it one step further and lean in and get support from your colleagues, managers, partners, and people you deal with, regardless of their gender. Help them help you and return the favour when possible because there is no shame in that!

7. Choose your battles wisely

Sometimes, we have no control over a problem, but we always have control over how we choose react to a problem. Choosing your battles wisely applies not only to arguments and conflicting views but also applies to how we choose what problems to deal with. Not all problems need to be solved because they simply do not matter in the long run.

Rather than facing every problem so passionately, think of pros and cons and decide whether they are worth fighting over. After all, as working women, our time and energy are limited so don’t waste them!

“Choose your battles wisely. After all, life isn’t measured by how many times you stood up to fight. It’s not winning battles that makes you happy, but it’s how many times you turned away and chose to look into a better direction. Life is too short to spend it on warring. Fight only the most, most, most important ones, let the rest go.” ~ C. JoyBell C.

8. Take action

Last but not least, the most effective way to deal with overwhelm is to take appropriate action. Sometimes, we may be feeling overwhelmed about a small matter but when we go ahead and do it, we find that it is actually not that hard. To give you an example, there was one time I got overwhelmed with preparing and lodging a tax return. I spent many days and weeks thinking and stressing out about it.

But when I actually put a day aside, got all the receipts and documents and lodged the tax return on the same day, I realised that it was not that hard. Similarly, we could be reading many articles about how to overcome feeling overwhelmed at work or at home but if we don’t do anything or implement any of their suggestions, then we are not going see any difference in our lives.

So the next time you are feeling overwhelmed, simply take action. There is a quote by Nelson Mandela which reads, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ I couldn’t agree more.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” ~ Nelson Mandela


Ei Sabai Nyo is a highly innovative and award-winning web technologist and people manager with over 15 years industrial experience in the Internet and web development industry. She is also a co-founder of an Internet startup, Sale The World and is passionate about startups, entrepreneurship and personal and career development.