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Recreation & Fun

Why singing in a choir increases your emotional intelligence

I do it every day. Under the shower. Whilst ironing my shirts. In my car. I sing where ever and whenever appropriate. A great way to express myself in a playful way. It seems like there’s a specific positive impact of singing in a group though. Let’s investigate this one the ExperienceZone way.

Singing is a beautiful social act

I can write books about the pros of singing. Well, first off: I’m probably not a “good” singer. Yet, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Plus it doesn’t matter if your singing voice sounds good to you or others. All that matters is that you do it. Become an experienced singer. Why’s that? In a nutshell: Through regulated breathing, and the resonance the tune creates with your body, you strengthen your immune system, release stress and produce endorphins.

Group singing bears additional benefits. By joining a choir or band, you become part of a social network. Since we’re all social beings, you’ll discover an additional positive impact on your well-being just by the act of getting together with others on a regular basis. What’s more? Collective singing seems to be a multiplier of all the advantages described above. Moreover, the music you create jointly will challenge you to adjust to the dynamics of the group. This will improve your intuitive intelligence, empathy and eventually emotional intelligence.

I recently visited a local choir. Although my Swiss German is everything else than perfect, I chipped into their songs. Stunningly, goose bumps appeared punctually. This kind of “skin orgasm” emerges once you experience flow during passages, which touch you emotionally. To this end, singing can be compared to a drug . Hold your horses: It’s a healthy one, which I recommend everyone to get addicted to.

Join the musical fun!

How do you dive into the experience and get the most out this great hobby? Here’re my recommendations:

  1. Do it yourself. You like music? Great! Then tune into it. Start to sing regularly. It doesn’t matter if you know the text (or even if the music contains text). Make it up. Whenever you’re alone and listen to music, sing out loud. If you’re sitting in a bus or train in company with your earphones on, at least hum or “sing into you”.
  2. Join a group. Are you a spiritual person? Good for you! Visit the local choir. Become a member. Work with others to improve your skills. Otherwise you can join a band. You don’t know anyone running one, then found your own band! It can consist of your partnerfamily members or friends.
  3. Hang in there. Singing is an ubiquitous Recreation & Fun activity. There’s no age limit. It guarantees a healthy and long life. So find or create a great environment, which makes you feel comfortable – to sing alone and in a group. Make singing a daily habit and experience its magic.

Why fun is an indicator of happiness

Fun, joy and satisfaction. All three terms represent moments of pleasure. Yet they seem to be of volatile nature – unpredictable in their appearance and disappearance. How can you preserve these occurrences or even transform them into a deeper and sustainable state of mind? Let’s investigate this one the ExperienceZone way.

Happiness is a choice – not a reaction

If this is so, we need to start from square one. This is where you make the most important decision in life: Do you want to be a victim or creator. Latter requires self-determination. Once you took full responsibility (better accountability) for your life, you want to work on your attitudes. In other words: The glasses need to be half-full going forward.

Why’s that important? The way you choose (or better “decide”, as a decision is exclusive and action based) to look at life impacts your inner processes. Gratefulness towards your past (e.g. the education I received) and confidence towards your future (e.g. the career I’ll have), creates a flow. The state in which everything works almost effortlessly and the right things seem to “happen” at the right time. Your flow is as stronger as your level of gratefulness and confidence.

There is an ExperienceZone recreation & fun continuum. It goes like this: Fun, joy and satisfaction are temporary phenomenons often caused by external triggers. Happiness is a sustainable state fueled by backward-looking gratefulness and forward-looking confidence. The combination of both create a flow in the present moment. Contentment is the result of surfing the happiness wave. It fuels your heart with rich experiences and reassures you to be on the right track. You calm down as you know that you don’t miss anything and that everything which happens has a reason and is good for you eventually (even if you don’t see the master plan behind the curtain instantly).

How do you live a happy life?

Yeah, there’s research around this. I don’t want to come up with my top ten advises. You can buy a book and read it over a good cup of tea. I only recommend you three simple steps:

  1. Run a personality analysis. Why is the pursue of happiness such a hype these days? Reason being, people are often confused in this complex and faster spinning world. Whilst being addicted to thinking about the outside world, they forgot what it takes to simply be. “Being” on the one hand side requires accepting external stimulus via your senses without judging them (like the smell of fresh coffee) whilst being grounded. Grounding can be reinforced physically and requires emotional stability. Latter you gain through a personality analysis. It helps you to find out where you’re from, who you’re and where you want to go (as a basis for your mission and aims in life).
  2. Decide to live a self-determined life. Self-determination implies accepting full responsibility for your life, i.e. what happened in the past and what will take place in the future. It requires you to finally jump on the driver seat. Of course, there’re other factors impacting your destiny like driving through rush-hour traffic. Yet, unconditional accountability makes you lighter (since you don’t need to blame anyone else) and gives you a boost of extra energy (since you are the designer of your life).
  3. Change your attitudes. Your attitudes represent the raw materials of words. Words shape the thoughts and thus feelings of yourself plus other people. As outside, so inside and vice versa: A two-way street, whereas the importance of this direction recently increased. I talk positive, I think positive thoughts and have good feelings. Also, I plant my ideas including their qualities into the heads of others.

Why traveling makes you rich in experiences

Imagine you’re lying on your death bed: What do you appreciate most by looking in the rear mirror? Interestingly many people don’t mention the houses they lived in and the cars they drove. It’s the experiences they made. Especially the places they traveled and the people they met. So, it’s worth to dive into traveling the ExperienceZone way.

Why is traveling so intense for your minds?

I’m writing this article on a white sandy beach in Egypt. Instead of making you jealous, I want to get a few points across. First and foremost, this a relaxation day. I deserve it, since I worked hard the last months. In other words: I drove on the fast-lane primarily in my comfort zone though. Now, it was about the time to tap into my experience zone to refresh my mind with new experiences. How do you make those whilst traveling?

  • New surroundings: Well, you go to a country you haven’t been to before. I was in Eqypt two times. Although I don’t like to go the same place more than once. This spot is an exception, as it allows me to do a lot of stuff. Plus it has other advantages, such as almost the same time zone, only a mid-distance flight, great sunny weather and fair value for price.
  • New people: Ok, I’m a fairly outgoing person. Every night, I would sit at another dinner table and meet people from all over the world. Last night I talked for four hours with a Canadian guy about various topics – ranging from self-determination to career and financials. The hotel is quite small, so that I bump into many people twice a day – at breakfast, dinner or during an activity.
  • New activities: I spent the last 10 days on the kite board, the beach volleyball field and the golf course. This made me learn new stuff (kiting is a great sports, yet can cause frustrations in the first days) or refresh things I learned years ago (my last dive was begin of 2014 and my last round of golf in last year too).

Bottom line, traveling throws you into a different environment with local people or fellow tourists  speaking other languages and having divers backgrounds. Also, you usually do things you don’t do at home; just because you don’t take the time or have a different type of social pressure (this is the reason why so many people have their first parachute or bungee jump on vacation down under). The higher the temperature difference between your luke-warm area back home and the ice-cold water at your vacation destination (metaphorically spoken of course), the more intense your experiences and the greater your learning opportunities.

How do you maximize the experience value of traveling?

Wait a minute. Leave your wing-suit in your wardrobe. Don’t overshoot the target by jumping straight into your danger zone. All it takes are some adjustments, which propel you into great experiences. Here’re my recommendations:

  1. Plan your trip: Choose a destination, type of travel and activities you want to engage in. There’s no die-hard-rule about the sequence of those. Just take some minutes and contemplate about where you want to go, what you want to do or how you want to travel. Do you feel attracted to Patagonia? Great! How do you want to travel the beautiful South American area? Do you want to hike? Take a tent with you, rent a car or check out some hostels along your way? As soon as you gained clarity about what your “inner child” wants to play, do your research plus consult anyone who’s impacted by your travel plans. This might be your parents (because you’re not grown up yet), your partner (because she wants to join you) or your grandparents (because they need to take care of the children).
  2. Book and hold on to it: As soon as you’ve got clarity about where you want to go and when, log it in. Purchase the trip, which is at least the in- and outbound flights for long distance trips. Keep a reasonable degree of flexibility. That allows you to stay longer at places you like. Also you don’t feel rushed. Two years ago, I investigated “Around the World” trips. One option was to book all flights in advance, which I discarded, since I wanted to stay flexible. Haven’t made it around the world yet. Still on my travel list. Anyway, if you fix the cornerstones soon, you usually pay less plus have something to look forward to. Don’t let anyone or anything go between you and your travel plans. There might be exceptions but they’re pretty rare.
  3. Go there and enjoy it with all senses: Embrace traveling for what it is. Probably the best opportunity to make new experiences. Hence, rather than spending the whole vacation between buffet and swimming pool, sign up for activities! Those might be guided or non-self-organized day trips, sports licences (mind me just receiving my kiting licence and two years ago my open water licence at the same spot) or group games. Meet strangers, say hello, state your name and stick out your hand. On vacation everybody is more open than in our daily hustle and bustle. Take advantage of the fact and make you friends. Take photos or tape the most precious moments. Yet don’t prevent yourself enjoying the moments by constantly thinking about the best motive and angle. One of the rookie mistakes I made couple of times. If you do it right, you enjoy your trip to the fullest plus preserve the best moments.

How clothes impact your self-esteem

Clothes have functional reasons: They cover our skin and keep us warm. In history, we invented formal dress codes and informal fashion trends. For centuries, many do live by the saying “fine feathers make fine birds”. Are these believers right or just shopaholics, fashion victims or even poor souls? If there’s only a modicum of truth in it though, let’s wrap our minds around it the ExperienceZone way.

Your attire talks to you and your surroundings

For a long time, I thought it´s superficial to judge folks by what they’re wearing. However, what I experienced in the last years changed my mind.

In terms of my inner game, I did A/B testing unintentionally. What’s that? Well, A/B testing requires you to build two straw-men and launch them. Based on the reaction of others, you find out whether A or B is more successful. Then you can evolve the prototype to a full-fledged version. In terms of my appearance, I chose clothes based on my daily mood. When I felt sad, I wore dark colors. My dress code would be rather casual. On happy days, I subconsciously went for brighter colors and dressed up more. In hindsight, I realized an interesting effect: My attire reinforced my mindset. The more I dressed up the better I felt. The more shabby my clothes, the worse I felt.

When interacting with others, I experienced something remarkable as well: The reaction of people I met varied with the clothes I wore. The more I dressed up, the better they treated me. Sales men gave me extra discount, clients more effective conversations and women were more willing to date me. Why’s that? Well, it might be a chicken-and-egg thing: If you feel better, you’re more confident. You dress up. People like you more if you’re in line with yourself. So, there might not be a mono-causality between your dress and folks’ reactions but your confidence level and their treatment. Yet your clothes do play an important part in social interactions. If you look into the animal kingdom, those males with the most impressive feather dress gets the female straightaway. The others have to fight hard and be inventive. We’re visual beings like most others with vision. It’s probably our most important sense. Just run a self-check: Would you trust financial advices coming from a beggar?

So, how do you increase your self-confidence and outside perceptions?

Dress to impress. In first place yourself. Here’s what you want to consider:

  1. Run a personality analysis. Gain clarity about where you’re coming from, who you’re and where you want to go. What’s your profession? What are your clients? Which impression do you want to create with your attire? If you’re working in a bank, you want to create a different customer experiences than someone who is a craftsman. Always think about which dress maximizes your credibility in the eyes of the observer.
  2. Clean your wardrobe. Based on the results of your personality analysis, check the clothes you posses. Do you’ve a good balance between, casual, business and functional dresses? Do you actual wear all of them? Can you get rid of some and replace them with new ones if necessary. Make space in your wardrobe as well as life in general. This creates structure and room, which you can refill. Just bear in mind that you can only wear one dress at a time anyway. So, focus on high-quality sustainable clothes rather than cheap shabby ones. You are valuable and want your clothes to reflect that, right?
  3. Dress up but not too much. Prior to every occasion think about what the best dress is. If unsure, call the host (might work for a party but not business meeting). If in doubt, strive to slightly overdress than underdress. You want to stand out positively. Also, observe yourself in the mirror before closing the door behind you. In first place, you need to be satisfied with your physical exterior as it has an impact on your mental interior. If you look important, you feel and behave important. This is a key ingredient of success.

Why recreation is productive time

Many people including me are productivity junkies nowadays. I used to slice my day into hourly units. 0630am wake-up and work-out. 0630am breakfast. 0700am way to work. 5-6 meals every 3 hours. Structured busyness is great to pow down roadblocks and slay dragons along the way. Yet slowly I felt exhaustion creeping up. What happened?

Busyness can make you addicted and overshoot the mark

If you push for success, it will inevitably show up. You create your own future with immediate effective actions. Successes satisfy your brain and make you feel good. You throw something in. You get something out. If it’s the desired outcome, you soon behave like a Pavlonian dog.

However, everything in your life needs to be balanced. In case you consider Recreation & Fun as non-productive, you’ll soon feel a gap. It might show up in form of missing creativity or simply lust for life.

Take time to recreate and have fun!

The continent Recreation & Fun is fully dedicated to doing those things you love without thinking about making money, building relationships, eating healthy or working out. If you think that recreation is unproductive time, you’re dead wrong. In contrast: It can be the most important time of your day, since you realign and reset your minds. That builds the foundation for creativity. Re-creation means you’re re-creating your-self, your personality and life. It’s one of the most precious capabilities in a clockwork-like world, in which most people function without questioning what they’re doing how and why.

Creativity is an expression of you passions.

You’re following your passions. This cheer act will recharge your mental as well as emotional batteries. To this end you’ll feel happiness and eventually contentment. Here’re the steps:

  1. Know your passions. Run a personality analysis to get to know yourself.
  2. Choose hobbies which are aligned to your passions. Whether it’s collecting stamps or going to your local chess club, try some activities and check if they make fun. A good indication is always if you lose track of time in the process.
  3. Carve out time to recreate every day. Do something which fulfills you on a daily basis. Schedule time for it. And: Don’t take life too serious. You’re only a couple of decades on this planet. Fulfill our collective mission: Have fun!

Fun is your life compass!

Try to reminisce some moments from your childhood or teenage years: Which ones do you remember? Most likely those of excitement, joy or love. You may also recall anger, disappointment and losses. Why do you think that is? Because you tag emotions – love or fear – or derived feelings to memories. Emotions are those inner allies, which trigger actions – internally and externally. They make you experience things and turn these into memories in hindsight. That’s one of the fundamental truths we leverage to learn and grow together at ExperienceZone.

When boy meets girl…

…or thought meets emotion, they make feelings. Emotions are their mothers. They’re rooted in your gut. Your enteric nervous system (ENS) or gut-brain produces them. There are only two emotions: Love and fear. Love is focusing on what you want. Fear is focusing on what you don’t want. Both cannot coexist yet do emerge in various intensities. Thoughts are the fathers. They represent the analytical male energy, which contextualize and evaluate emotions. Once that happens, feelings arise.

Fun is a feeling caused by love and mental awareness of the very moment.

Fun, pleasure and joy represent harbingers of great experiences. The more you dive into them, the more likely you’ll remember these moments on your deathbed. At the same time, they give you feedback: “Way to go! You are on the right track”. Track to where? Towards living your mission and accomplishing your aims in life. Latter represent the milestones towards your dream future. Your mission is the north star you want to follow. Joy is the compass which confirms you the right direction. Do more of the things you love. They’re usually based on your passions. The crazier you’re about something, easier you’ll be able to truly master it and the better you use your lifetime. Always bear in mind that you’re only a few decades on this planet. Life is too short to do things you don’t love. Yet many people apparently think they live forever (or that they got a second life in their trunk).

What happens if you only seek pleasure?

Life is about balance though. Don’t only rely on your compass. It might lead you astray. Especially the outside world bears many temptations. I used to be a hedonist par excellence. Party, girls, and everything else you can imagine a big-city-boy is after in his wild years. Yet I experienced that one-sidedness leads to emptiness. Especially without having defined an individual reason for existence. So know what you want. Then go after it. Some challenges might arise. Consider them being extra weights the universe puts on your dumb bells. It only wants to make you stronger and trusts you to lift them.

What is your experience zone?

Most of us spend 99% of our time in our comfort zones. Eat, work, sleep, and repeat. Days, weeks, months and years pass by. What a waste of time! We only have a few decades on this planet. Let’s use them! So, what do you need to do? Awareness is the first step towards change. Recognize your comfort zone. The functional area, in which you don’t take much risk yet don’t learn a lot too.

Do you want to stop existing and start living? Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Tap into your experience zone to learn, grow, and become truly happy. Experiences turn into memories in hindsight. What do most people think about on their deathbeds? Definitely not about the money they earned, the houses they lived in or the cars they drove. Rather the people they met, the placed they traveled, and the experiences they made.

Take deliberate steps into your ExperienceZone. Watch out: It is thin and you might overrun into your danger zone; uncharted territory, in which every step could be your last one. Do every day or at least every week something new. Start with small things like using the other hand to brush your teeth or taking another way to work without switching on your GPS. Write a bucket list of things you’d like to do before you die. Or best case create an aims in life folder. Make sure that those cover all areas of life: Nutrition & Energy, Family & Friends, Community & Environment, Sports & Relaxation, Recreation & Fun, Career & Financials, and Self Development. Also, ensure that it addresses all dimensions of being, doing, having, and giving.

Finally, go out and just do it. Jump fear straight in its face. Irrational fears are a great pointer towards the things which you need to do to learn, grow and become happy.

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