Portrait of Alis Anagnostakis

Alis is a trainer and consultant in organizational culture, she writes on her personal blog to promote self-knowledge and she is passionate about exploring personal development. In 2011, she created Mind Learners, a coaching and training company with the goal to bring self-knowledge into employee development programs. “I think my mission is to open doors to self-knowledge for those I work with. I feel proud whenever I have the opportunity to accompany a client on the path of personal evolution and I can witness the positive changes that people bring to their lives through coaching” says Alis, an accredited coach for over 10 years.

She considers herself a perpetuated student of the mind, always being passionate about human behaviour, relationships between people, but also about the way we choose to live our lives. “I read a survey about how much of a day do people spend on auto-pilot and the figures were absolutely incredible, 80% or over 80% of each day. I think you cannot really develop as long as you get stuck in this routine: as long as you are physically in one place, and mentally focusing elsewhere, on something you have to do or you have not done yet. So, it seems to me, that the first step is to exercise our presence in our own lives,” Alis points out. She continues: “when I say presence, it means to totally be there. Kids do this very naturally, and I think each of us had this quality during childhood, but we’ve lost it since… and now, I think it’s worth finding it out, or make an effort in that direction.”

Alis works first and foremost with people from companies as coaching clients. So mentioning mindfulness practices has taken us a little by surprise, but she explains it to us: “There is a whole trend of employee development that involves mindfulness, in organizations of all sizes. More specifically, this ability to focus on the now teaches people how to keep their mind in the moment, instead of letting it wonder off in the past or future.” We asked Alis to explain more about the relationship between mindfulness and life hacking: “It is now known (thanks to neuroscience) that the state of happiness is very strongly connected with a certain part in the left pre-frontal cortex, which lights up when you’re meditating. And new connections have been made between mindfulness exercises and happiness. So, neuroscience has a lot of secrets to unveil about the happy brain, that we can take then and practically apply in our lives to train our brain to literally be happier.”

Happiness is a very interesting subject, but how much can we personally do for more happiness? “There is a branch in psychology, called Positive Psychology, which deals exactly with how we can be happier and how we can develop. One of the things that have been discovered is that fortunately, only 10% is related to circumstances (house you have, car you drive, etc.) 90% is divided between genetics and attitude (over 40%). If we want to start from somewhere, we could start from attitude. It’s about how you choose to look at the circumstances of your life: do you focus on what you still lack, or do you refer gratefully to what you have?” In this case, we asked Alis why aren’t there more people concerned about increasing happiness through personal development? “When I look at the life stories around me, I notice a pattern, that people make major changes when something happens that shocks their comfort zone. Often, that thing is coming from outside: losing a loved one, a disease, a family crisis, etc. Those are the moments when people stop and somehow reconsider what they considered normal until that point.” Still, Alis adds that “there is another way to get out of the comfort zone that fortunately I started seeing more often: people who consciously start to create challenges for themselves, expose themselves to new experiences, learn new things. And that seems to me a healthier and less traumatic way. I don’t think we have to wait for something bad to happen in order to wake up. We can consciously do things to expand our comfort zone.”

Looking at the big picture illustrated by Alis, we asked her what she thinks are best practices in life hacking? “I do not like the labels good or bad. I think good is what applies to each of us. I think it’s about asking ourselves why we make a choice, what does it really mean for us when we choose to do it with responsibility? I consider that assuming responsibility over your choice is more important than the choice itself. I think many of us are making very important life decisions without asking very often: why? What does that mean to me? And we’re going like this, by virtue of inertia. That seems to me to be a lack of responsibility.”

Discover life hacking through Alis Anagnostakis’ eyes at LifeHax # 1, March 23rd, 2018, at Cinema PRO.