Unexpected Wisdom to Get Better Results

Small actions, done consistently, pay off huge dividends. It’s an effective way to get better results whether we’re talking about working out, increasing happiness, or fostering healthy relationships.

Getting in shape

My little brother is a beast. He is incredibly in shape, and it’s not genetic luck. He’s put in the years of hard work to figure out his optimal nutrition, and he puts in serious time at the gym. He’s experimented enough that he knows what to eat and how to workout to increase strength or cut to show off definition or bulk up, whatever. He’s a whiz at sculpting his physique.

I, on the other hand, try to be active but, like so many, struggle to be disciplined. In my head, I believe wholeheartedly that strength-training is critical for health and wellbeing. My actions, however, speak the truth – that I’d rather do anything but. Besides, I get overwhelmed sifting through all of the advice out there to figure out what I actually should be doing to get the results I want. Should I do tons of reps with little weights? Fewer reps with heavy weights? Functional training? Isometrics? Kettle bells? I don’t even know where to start! 

My brother is also one of the most inspiring people in my circle. I always leave our conversations feeling ready to take on the world and to be a better version of myself. For these reasons, I was really looking forward to asking his advice when we were together in Fort Worth a couple weeks ago for our nephew’s graduation.

“Hey, kiddo. I want to get buff fast. What should I do?”

His answer blew my mind a bit.

Unexpected wisdom

I was looking for a plan, detailed instructions on what to eat and how to exercise. Instead, what I got was actually beyond useful.

“Honestly, Ash, the best advice I can give you is ‘whatever you can do consistently’.”

His advice was like a light bulb going off. Duh! Of course, consistency is the highest priority. I could have the optimal fitness plan, but if I can’t (or won’t) follow it, for whatever reason, I’m not going to get results. It was freeing to cut through all of the noise and feel good about focusing on one top priority: just be consistent. Walk, yoga, run, dance, regret catching the occasional HIIT class. All of these will move me toward my goal. 

That conversation helped me realize that I was letting the pursuit of the best get in the way of progress. 

It got me thinking about how many other places and in how many other ways this mindset might apply. Where do we tend to seek out the best, the perfect, the right, the big pay off, or the grand gesture to our detriment? Where does focusing on big moves lead us to be ineffective or, worse, take no action at all? 

The Danish secret to happiness

Right around this same time, I stumbled across the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”). Denmark consistently ranks as one of the happiest nations on Earth despite having long, dark winters. I’d venture to say that a culture based on hygge is one of the main reasons. 

Hygge is cozy, warm, connected moments. It’s candlelight instead of harsh overheads. It’s snuggling up with a warm blanket in a welcoming nook to read or board games with your best buds. It’s comfort food and comfortable silence, laughter and intimacy. It’s coffee shops with close friends over bars with strangers. And it’s a priority, built into every day. 

In the U.S. (where I live), I think we often look to big, noticeable outside things to bring us happiness – shopping, vacations, dream dates and jobs, promotions or achievements – and we underestimate the cumulative effect that little moments of cozy pleasure may have on us.

What if we took that same “whatever you can do consistently” mentality and applied it here? What if we made efforts to design our daily experience – our activities and our environments – to promote hygge? I can’t help but think that would pay dividends in terms of happiness. 

The foundation of strong close relationships

Similarly, small things often trumps grand gestures when it comes to relationships. John and Julie Gottman are psychologists and the world’s leading experts in couple relationships, with about 40 years of research under their belts. They can predict with near-perfect precision which couples will stay together happily and which will not simply by observing them talk for a few minutes. Based on all of their research and knowledge, the Gottmans advocate for small things often. 

It’s the little moments that build – or break – your relationships. A grand gesture of rom-com proportions might make for a good story, but it won’t erase the damage of speaking unkind words or ignoring your partner’s bids for attention on a daily basis. When it comes to healthy, happy relationships, it’s the small things, repeated frequently – a habit of relationship-boosting interactions, if you will – that matters most.  

Life design and positive habits

At Peak Mind, we’re big proponents of life design – a process for experimenting your way toward a life aligned to you. A key aspect of life design is iteration – designing an experiment, testing it out, then tweaking. It hinges on a bias toward action. Take the step, have the experience, let that experience be your guide, then take another step. Let’s carry this attitude and my little brother’s wisdom forward to every domain of life. 

  • Consistency matters most if you’re looking to change habits and get better results.
  • Small changes are easier to maintain than big ones.
  • Small things, repeated often, pay off with big results. 

Can you imagine what life might feel like if we did that?

“Success is the product of daily habits – not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.
James Clear

The Self-Care Pyramid: The Components Most People Miss

Self-care is more than bubble baths and manicures, but unfortunately, most self-care content we see out there is missing important components. Arguably, they’re missing THE MOST IMPORTANT components.  

Today on the podcast, we’re diving into something we call The Self-Care Pyramid. Specifically, it’s the 3 key levels of self-care that you really need to have in order to support yourself as the asset that you are. Sadly, most self-care content only addresses one of these levels, and it’s typically the least important one.  

During this episode, we dive into: 

  • The 3 key levels of self-care and the distinct role each plays in supporting you at your best 
  • The role that life design plays in creating your unique self-care routine.  
  • The impact of basic necessities like sleep…and what happens when we don’t meet our basic needs (here is a link to the book Why We Sleep
  • Tips for creating a self-care routine. (Here is a link to The Self Journal, April’s go-to self-care tool) 
  • If you’re serious about creating a self-care routine that works for you, check out our popular mini-course Self-care [by Design].

If there’s one thing we want you to take away it is this: You are such an asset to the people around you, and as an asset, you need to be protected. Self-care is one of the protective mechanisms you need to have around you to make sure you can show up and perform at the level you want to. Take care of yourself. 


During this episode, we announced the beta release of our signature psych strength building program, Ascend. We couldn’t be more excited to send this baby out into the world! 

As a beta program, we’re releasing it at the lowest price it will ever be. If you’ve ever considered doing something for yourself. To build your own psychological strength and resilience. To dive deep into understanding yourself. To design your life around YOU. This program is for you. 

Learn more at 


The Reason Why People Don’t Want to Return to the Office

COVID caused major disruptions in everyone’s lives. As we adjust to living in a post-pandemic world, many employees are resisting the idea of returning to the office. It’s not the office itself that’s the problem. It’s what it represents.

COVID abruptly and dramatically altered our worlds. As we learned to work from home, among other changes, we also began to re-evaluate our lifestyles. While the pandemic certainly brought about many unbelievably difficult challenges, it also caused us to reflect on our lifestyles, which were stressful and unfulfilling for many. It showed us that we do not necessarily have to live and work the way we were before. 

And that insight was freeing to a lot of people. 

As we adjust to life and work in a post-pandemic world, that means returning to the office for many workers. Employers have been surprised at the resistance that many employees feel about returning to in-person work. Dr. April Seifert, Peak Mind co-founder and social cognitive psychologist, explains why so many people are resistant to the idea of going back to the office full-time.  


Design Your Way Into The Future With a Calendar Audit

Powered by RedCircle

As you look back on the past year, are you happy with how you spent your time? How about as you look forward. Do you feel confident that you have a crystal clear picture of how you want your days to look and feel in the coming year…as well as how to make that happen? 

One practice I’ve been doing on a semi-annual basis for the past few years is a calendar audit. This is a time set aside for us to intentionally look at how we’re spending our time, and set some general ground rules to bring our lives into better alignment as we look ahead. 

As we live our life with a conscious design process, it’s important to examine every part of our life. Pursuing a career path and trying to create a life fulfilling means examining our time commitments. This is part of what life design is all about.

To that end, this week’s episode is a bit different. It’s actually a hands-on episode where we guide you through the 10 steps we take to conducting a calendar audit and ending up with an “ideal week” that serves as a compass for how you make decisions about how to spend your time going forward.  

None of us will ever hit our ideal 100% of the time, but imagine how great an intentional B- will feel if it’s in the direction of your ideal.  

As we close out 2020 (April throws confetti), we wanted to give you the gift of time through this powerful, hands-on episode. We hope you find it valuable! 

One more gift for you! For a limited time, get 20% any of Peak Mind’s programs. Commit to building psychological strength in 2021. You deserve it!  

Visit the links below and use the code HAPPYNEWYEAR to get 20% off at checkout. (Offer ends on 1/6/2021) 


Designing Your Life for Happiness

Powered by RedCircle

One of the really cool things that Psychology has to offer is its ability to help us understand our own behavior.  

I mean, why is it that some behaviors or habits are relatively easy for us to adopt, while we struggle with others? Why do some behaviors feel more “authentic” to us, while others feel more fake?  

What underlies all of that? And, more importantly, how can we use it to our advantage? 

That is exactly what we’re talking about this week, life design, as we chat with Amy Bucher. Amy holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology and Undergraduate degree in Psychology from Harvard. She’s the author of the book “Engaged: Designing for Behavior Change,” and she is the go-to expert for how to use psychology in the design process. She uses her expertise in her role at the design firm Mad*Pow

I stumbled upon Amy and her work in a weekly behavioral design email I’m subscribed to, and I instantly knew I had to get her on the podcast. I knew she’d make a great guest, and wow did she deliver! 

In her episode we covered some amazing topics: 

  • How psychology informs the design process and how something called the self-determination theory helps explain our own behavior 
  • The myth between having “high or low” motivation, and what science tells us instead 
  • The role of authenticity in happiness  
  • How we can craft our life in alignment with who we really are in order to thrive through life’s ups and downs. 
  • How making life design part of your life and eliciting a positive benefit to your career path.

I’m sure you can see why I’m so excited about this interview. I can’t wait for you to meet Amy Bucher! 

If you’re interested in Amy’s book, visit and enter the code PeakMind0720 to get 20% off! (Code expires 8/31/20, so hurry!)


Life Design: Are You Spinning Your Wheels? 

Before I learned about Life Design and before I got serious about applying the science of happiness in my own life.

I used to wear busy like a badge of honor.

          “How are you?” my mom would ask.

          “I’m so busy! I’m working a ton, and I have to blah blah blah.”

I was on my way to burn out.

That was in the Before.

Now, I think very differently about how I spend my time and how I approach life. I am mindful of expectations and pressures and whether they are ones I want to adhere to or not. I am more intentional about and braver with my choices. That said, I am not perfect.

I am a human with a human mind, and I fall prey to its traps still. An eye-opening concept I recently encountered is action v. motion. As much as I like to tell myself that I spend my time in ways that really matter, that I’ve made big changes since those brink-of-burn-out days, I have a lot of work yet to do. I find myself slipping into motion more often than I ‘d like to admit. Perhaps you do, too.

Motion v. Action

  • Motion is running on the treadmill while action is running to a place you want to go.
  • Motion is brainstorming ideas for all the blog posts and videos you want to create, while action is actually writing or filming one.
  • Motion is researching new jobs online while action is applying for one.
  • Motion is planning out that tough conversation you need to have while action is having it.
  • Motion is worrying about everything that could go wrong while action is finding a solution for an actual problem and letting go of the things out of your control.

Motion is busy work, whereas action leads to an outcome. Part of your life will be spent on both. Motion takes up a lot of time and energy. It gives us a sense that we are being productive, that we are doing something or making progress, but it’s really just spinning our wheels because motion will not produce a real result. Moreover, it’s a subtle avoidance tactic. It may allow us to avoid saying no or making tough choices about what really matters. It may allow us to avoid confronting uncomfortable thoughts or feelings or being honest with ourselves. Motion allows us to avoid doing the really hard work, taking chances, failing, and, ironically, succeeding.

Action, on the other hand, leads to a real, tangible result or change. While the outcomes may not always be positive or ideal, they’re likely to be useful. Even full-on failures offer valuable lessons that we can use to grow. Through action and the resulting experience, we learn what works and what doesn’t, whether that’s in business, relationships, hobbies, or happiness.

I can’t help but believe that dedicating more time and energy to values-driven and effective action while wasting a little less on motion is going to make a noticeable difference in my life experience. What about yours?

Ready to make a change?

If you’re interested in getting off the proverbial hamster wheel and learning about Life Design, you may be interested in our ASCEND program. There’s an entire module dedicated to Life Design. You’ll learn the principles and process that have been so transformative for us. 

“Never confuse motion with action.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Are You Living Life by Design or by Default? 

29 years ago today, my dad died from colon cancer.

That experience was one of the most impactful experiences of my life, but for more reasons than the obvious.

One of the biggest things I learned from that experience is the importance of TIME and HOW WE CHOOSE TO SPEND IT. 

At some point, our time will run out. This is the one certainty we can count on in life.

And how we choose to spend our time between now and then is of critical importance. Whether thats your career path, or even small parts of your life, be sure it is all by your own life design. 

I want you to keep that in mind as you read on.

Where we are now.

We thought we were in volatile, uncertain times before, but if you’re anything like me, you’re noticing an up-tick in volatility these days as…

Some states begin to reopen…

Other states remain on lock-down…

Small businesses announce their closures…

Unemployment payments are sporadically given out…

Friends and family members hold differing opinions about all of that.

It can begin to feel like everything is out of control.

But here’s the thing: Much of that is out of our control, and unfortunately, those are the things we tend to focus on. 

However, there is so much that is inside our control, yet that’s not where we put our focus. We have so much control over how we experience our days, and that, my friends, is where Life Design comes in.

What is Life Design?

Life Design is an approach that helps us live intentionally by designing our life experience using the ‘human-centered design’ process.

Human-centered design is the approach that businesses use to create products that we LOVE. 

The Instant Pot. The iPhone. And so many more.

The process begins by getting to know the people at the center of the design project. Once we know them (their values, needs, goals, barriers, etc), we can design specifically for them.

Life Design takes this very same approach and applies it to YOUR LIFE!

We get to know you at an intimate level, and using that depth of knowledge, we begin to apply it to different facets of your life.

The result is a life that feels custom-tailored for YOU. Because it was!

It sounds powerful because it is. This is why it’s such a big component of our core psych strength program, ASCEND. We know first-hand the power of Life Design and are weaving it into everything we do at Peak Mind.

The Opportunity is NOW.

Believe it or not, we have an amazing opportunity to practice Life Design right now.

As many of us move into the next chapter of our lives, we have the ability to question the aspects of our ‘old lives’ that weren’t quite right for us. 

We can also design new elements of our lives that are better aligned to who we truly are.

Now is the time to be doing this work.

It’s time to get honest about what was, and WASN’T, working for us and how we want our next chapter to be different.

It’s time to think through what these changes should optimally look like, identify likely barriers to these changes happening, and establish support systems to help make them a reality.

It’s time to start living by design, instead of living by default. 

“Many of the things in our lives are a direct result of choices we have made. Active or passive, they’re choices none the same. If you want a different result, it’s time to start making a different choice.”

Living Life by Design After COVID

Powered by RedCircle

Stop. Stop right now. Consider for a moment the opportunity that stands before each and every one of us. We have a chance to change our futures and engage in life design after COVID and this great public health crisis.

Life is about to go back to “normal” after COVID. We’re about to go back to our jobs, and begin shopping, interacting, and living in a way that is closer to the way we lived before COVID. Imagine a world in which we no longer think day-to-day about the department of health warnings about masks, or checking the latest advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)

However, we’ve been through a formative experience, and if you’re like me, you’ve learned a few things over the past few months. 

There are things you want to change. 

Alignments to be made. 

You’re ready to live the next chapter of your life by DESIGN, and not by DEFAULT. 

Friends, the time is NOW to do just that, and this episode will help you do it. 

This episode is the audio from a recent workshop we hosted for the members of our Starter Pack. Specifically, we walked through a 60-minute, hands on exercise to align the next chapter of your life with your unique values system. 

Now this exercise is just scratching the surface of what Life Design can actually do, but it’ll get you a heck of a lot closer to an aligned life than if you leave it up to chance…which is what most people will do. 

Don’t live this next chapter of your life by default. Dig in. Do the work. And live this next chapter by DESIGN. 

Join the Peak Mind Starter Pack by visiting this link & you’ll find the module containing the download for this week’s episode. Follow along with us, and let us know what you’re going to do going forward!