Life hacking expert Tim Ferriss reveals a simple but powerful exercise to help you thrive under stress

In Inspirational
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Life is a series of ups and downs, and it can seem like things will never get better for some people. Unfortunately for others, things don’t get better and their lives end before they should.

Close to ending his own life, Tim Ferriss decided to focus on a life of deliberation and became methodical about how he lived his life.

During his darkness moments he stayed present to be able to share his experiences with others to help them come back from the brink of self-destruction.

Ferriss says that the only thing that has worked for him time and time was a technique called “premeditatio malorum” which translated to pre-meditation of evils.

Watch the TED talk to find out what that technique is and how can help you live a better life.

If you can’t watch the video right now, here’s a summary of it in text

Defining your fears, Ferriss says, is more important than defining your goals because it alerts you to the things that could get in your way.

Being stoic or “Spock” like, as Ferriss refers to himself, has been the thing that has kept him on the rails. He’s not worrying about being overly happy and he is not paying attention to being overly sad. He is just being.

The idea of being present, standing still, allowing information to come to you goes back as far as human history can remember.

Ferriss says that being stoic in times of great turmoil can actually help you deal with high-stress environments and help you make better decisions because you learn to leave the emotion out of it.

The trick? Learning what you can control and what you cannot control. Great, but how do you do that?

Ferriss found the answer to control more things in his life while reading about an exercise called “premeditatio malorum” which translated to pre-meditation of evils. In other words, think of the worst-case scenario, play it through in your mind, feel the feelings, and then get over yourself because life never turns out how we imagine and the worst is in our heads.

Capturing how you feel before the events happen can help you handle them when they actually do come about. Ferriss writes down his thoughts over three pages answering various questions questions.

On page one:

  1. he asks “what if I” to determine what is causing him discomfort or anxiety.
  2. The next thing he does is “define” the worst things that could happen
  3. Third, he determines ways to “prevent” the worst things from happening so he feels like he has more control over the situation.
  4. Finally, he determines how he can “repair” the issue by asking for help or by finding an alternative solution.

On page two:

Ferriss recommends writing down all of the benefits for success, no matter what it looks like: half or partial success, an attempt or complete success. This helps you build confidence to deal with issues as they arise because you keep your eye on the prize.

On the last page:

Write down the cost of inaction. What happens if you don’t do anything at all. The thought of staying the same is often enough motivation to make people move toward achieving their goals and at the very least, it helps you frame how long you could live with the status quo before having to make changes in your life or situation.

Ferriss calls this process “fear setting”. Give it a try next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by something in your life. It might be just the exercise you need to get past the problem and start to see solutions.