We all want to feel more relaxed, be more focused and have more energy every day. Our overall mental, emotional and physical well-being is directly linked to how well we deal with our everyday experiences.
One of the reasons why the idea of mindfulness has become more known and practiced is because of the benefits it brings to our overall well-being.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being alert, open and present to what is going on around us at any given moment. In a state of mindfulness, we are able to observe our thoughts and feelings without any judgement, which means we can get a better idea of our habitual ways of thinking, feeling and acting.
In a state of mindfulness, we feel more connected to everything around us and more likely to be in the present moment instead of thinking about the past or the future.
When we are in a state of mindfulness, we will:
- Be focused only on the present moment.
- Not judge or categorise our thoughts and feelings as either good or bad.
- Avoid reliving past experiences, good or bad.
- Focus only on the “now.”
There is something inherently admirable about people who are calm and can hold themselves well, even when there is chaos in their lives.
Those people are the ones that will come out the other side of any adversity they may be facing, stronger and better equipped to deal with similar or bigger adversities. It comes down to their mental strength and how they process events in their lives.
This quote provides a good definition of what it means to be mentally strong; “Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.”
Some of the benefits of being mentally strong include:
- Being able to deal with situations with a lot more composure rather than being reactive.
- Solve problems a lot quicker by staying focused on solutions instead of the situation.
- Help others stay calm and composed as well.
- Cope with stressful situations a lot better.
- Develop the strength to deal with bigger challenges in life.
We’ve all been through phases in life where no matter how much we tried, everything just seemed hard.
During such times, it can be easy to get discouraged and stop pursuing the things we want in life.
Those difficult periods in life test our resiliency and our commitment to what’s truly important to us. It’s during such times that we need a lot more encouragement to help us stay motivated so that we don’t quit on our goals.
A few years ago, during the Global Financial Crises, I had to put so much attention and focus on my work in order to sustain a living, that I started to neglect my health. Days of no exercise turning into weeks, and sometimes I deluded myself by thinking a 20-minute stroll two or three times a week was good enough to stay healthy.
It was no surprise that my health started to suffer which included back aches, headaches and reduced strength and flexibility. The end result was I started to gain weight. While it wasn’t out of control, I could certainly feel and see the difference of being in an unhealthy frame of mind.
The ability to process disappointments and events we deem to be failures is extremely valuable because most of us will have more failures than successes in life.
The better our ability to deal with failures, the easier it will be for us to maintain our confidence and keep moving forward towards the things we want in life. It is our responsibility to ensure that no matter what we experience in life, we still continue to develop our confidence so that we can continuously challenge ourselves to do things we have not done previously.
When I first started public speaking, some of my early experiences were giving talks at different Rotary clubs. During my second or third Rotary presentation, I could sense that the audience was not resonating with what I was saying. I even saw a couple of people snickering, whispering and laughing, which I thought was because of what I was saying to them.
At the end of the talk, I received a polite round of applause but I knew I had not done a good job. That did affect my confidence and I started to question whether I could be a good public speaker or not. If I evaluated that experience alone, I could easily have rated it as a failure.
The idea of being alone can bring up mixed responses. Some people actually look forward to it, whereas for others, the thought of having to spend time on their own can bring up emotional reactions or fears.
Alone time can occur a couple of ways. Firstly, it can be planned, which can include:
- Scheduling time regularly for review and reflection.
- Going for a walk on our own.
- Taking a trip and getting away from our day-to-day activities.
- Experiencing something new on our own such as going to an event, taking up a new hobby or learning a new skill.
Secondly, it can be unplanned, which can include:
- Losing a partner or loved one we have come to rely and depend on.
- Losing a job, which can affect our identity and confidence.
- Feeling like we have so much to do and we have to do it all ourselves.
Whichever way we look at it, being alone can have both positive and negative consequences, however, there is a lot we can gain if we build in alone time into our daily, weekly or monthly schedule.
There aren’t too many people who don’t want to have more success. As we are beings programmed for growth, we will always have a desire to have more in our lives.
The challenge we face is, quite often, we may lack the confidence or self-belief that we can achieve the success we want. Also, if we’ve already achieved some level of success, we question whether we can have even more success in the future.
There have been times when I have failed to meet my expectations or did not do as well as I could and rather than look for the lessons from the experience, I often beat myself up about it. That usually affects my level of enthusiasm and makes me question whether I am on the right path or not.
The key is to be able to take what we need from all our experiences, good, bad or indifferent, and continue to move towards the success we want to have. It is about having that belief or knowing that we can create whatever success we want. The question is, “How do we know we are good enough to be successful?”
I remember watching the movie, The Secret, a decade ago, and one of the most powerful lessons I took away from it was that thoughts become things.
We are literally creating our future with the thoughts we think.
The challenge we face is that if our thoughts are creating our reality and if our reality isn’t what we want, then that is feedback a change must be made to how and what we are thinking. We’re in total control of what we think which means we have the ability to change our thoughts if they aren’t moving us closer to what we want.
While we will not be able to turn off our thoughts, we can train ourselves to originate empowering thoughts consistently so that we can give more attention to the things that are important to us in life. The better we become at being able to direct our thoughts towards specific outcomes, the better quality results we will enjoy.
Although we strive to have productive days consistently, even the most disciplined and focused people have productivity slumps.
It is no different to a sports person going through a period of bad form — we’ve all experienced it! When we’re going through such a period, everything feels difficult, heavy, mundane and demotivating.
If our productivity slump is not addressed and turned around quickly, it will:
- Delay the completion of what we’re trying to get done.
- Cause us to feel we’re not making progress or progress is very slow.
- Make us question the value of what we’re doing.
- Affect our energy levels.
The sooner we can apply strategies or tactics to overcome our productivity slump, the better off we’ll be.