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KEY POINTS:

1. Here are the final 3 keys to Thinking Clearly.

2. Key 5: Focus relentlessly. When we focus on what’s important in the face of distractions and pressures, we can achieve incredible things.

3. Key 6: Use power words. Say Power Words to yourself right before your performance begins to remind yourself of what you need to do to be successful.

4. Key 7: Meditate. Meditation, when done consistently, can change your brain for the better.

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Here are the final 3 keys to Thinking Clearly.

Key #5: Focus relentlessly

The skills and techniques that athletes use to get into the Zone and stay there are not complicated, and we can all use them anytime to improve our performance and control our stress levels. The outcome of this improved performance is also improved mental and physical health. For example, we know that if you exercise before an exam, you will improve your academic results, and we know that exercise helps with depression.

When we focus on what’s important in the face of distractions and pressures, we can achieve incredible things. Baseball pitchers ignore the crowd and focus on delivering the pitch. Skiers focus on technique when they’re about to perform. Musicians get into the music they are playing and forget about the crowd. Actors become the characters they are playing, and the cameras become just objects in the environment.

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For you, this means you can think about your dreams and get excited and energized to follow them. You can control your energy to get into the performance state that you need to be in to move toward your goals. And then you can focus on what you’re doing that gives you the chance to achieve your dreams, goals, and objectives, thus crafting the life you have the potential to live.

Key #6: Use power words

At the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Skier Alexandre Bilodeau used a technique sport psychologists call cue words to help him win a gold medal. I've renamed cue words as Power Words - I think they're super impactful so the new name works better for me. I hope you agree. Let me explain. As Alexandre stood looking down on the moguls run, the potential for distraction was massive, including 10,000 cheering fans.

So he focused on the two things that he and his coach had decided were key to victory: letting his knees go forward over the bumps and being soft and relaxed during his second air. To do so, he stood in the starting gates and said softly to himself “forward” and “soft” – pre-arranged Power Words he used to focus on the most important elements of his run. The result? Pure gold.

We can all apply this technique at peak performance moments. Think about what you need to do to have a great performance and then see if you can describe those actions in one or two words. Then say those words to yourself right before the performance begins to remind yourself of what you need to do to be successful.

Key #7: Meditate

Earlier in the module, I described how meditation can help improve sleep and creativity. Meditation, when done consistently, can change your brain for the better. It is an essential practice for anyone looking to live a world-class life.

Recent research at Harvard University shows that meditating a few times per week for as little as 8 weeks can actually increase the grey matter in the parts of the brain responsible for emotional regulation and learning. 

New research has demonstrated that regular meditation helps to change the responses of a region of the brain called the amygdala to environmental events. Overall these changes result in better emotional control both during the meditation and in the hours that followed. 
 
Other research has shown that mediation improves mood, stress, your hormone levels, and can reduce anxiety, pain, and depression. It is an incredible tool that will make a huge difference in your life.

Today's New Habit: Practice Daily Gratitude

Practicing gratitude, or noticing the positive aspects of the world, can reduce stress, improve sleep, strengthen relationships, and has been shown to reduce mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. 

For the next two weeks, try practicing gratitude. One simple way to start is to have a gratitude journal. At the end of every day, write down 3-5 things that you are grateful for that day. It can be anything - grateful for a friend, grateful for what you have, or grateful for being in the present moment.

We’ll check in on how you’re doing next week. Have fun!