Stop Being So Distracted and Enjoy The Moment

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There’s this idea in Eastern and Western philosophy that we must learn how to enjoy the present moment without getting distracted by the past or future.Ever since the invention of words, the human race has been lost in thought. We are constantly thinking, stressing, worrying, and being preoccupied with a force that seems outside of our control.

That’s why many of us search for refuge in philosophies that promise us inner calm. Stoicism, Mindfulness, Zen—most of us use the teachings to escape our thoughts.

We keep on treating the symptoms by using meditation apps, reading comfortable books and articles, getting rid of our devices, and trying the next solution that promises peace from ourselves.

I’m guilty of this too. I’m always looking for new knowledge and information. At some point, I learned that more information is not the answer.

But what CAUSES this state of mind we are in? The answer is our excessive desire. There’s an Epicurean saying that the stoic philosopher Seneca talks about in one of his letters:

“The life of a foolish man is fearful and unpleasant; it is swept totally away into the future.”

Like most ancient philosophers, Epicurus aspired to live a happy life. He aimed for peace, fearlessness, and a life that’s absent of pain. He proposed a self-sufficient life.

I don’t agree with all his views, but I like his perspective on pleasure. Pleasure is not only eating, drinking, and being merry—no, true pleasure is to live care-free.

But we live our lives far from it. We are always distracted by something. That’s why it’s difficult to enjoy the moment.

Removing Excessive Desire From Our Lives

Here are a few things many of us want to obtain:

  • To live forever
  • To have a lot of money
  • To be respected
  • To have power
  • To stay healthy
  • To have certain people in our lives

Epicureanism considers these desires as an illness of the soul. A soul that’s pure doesn’t want to “obtain” anything. It is complete. It doesn’t need anything.

It’s the same concept that Buddhism and Mindfulness propose. And it’s a viewpoint we can all benefit from. But how do you practice all this stuff without relying too much on external sources to be happy?

Turns out there’s a very simple way that we can be more present. We can stop thinking about the past and the future so we can enjoy the present.

Rely On Your Own Senses

Let’s do a little thought exercise. When you walk on the street, take a shower, have a conversation, or sit on a chair, what do you do? Think about it. What happens inside your head when you’re doing something?

Almost all of us perform the activity as a secondary thing. Our primary objective is to think. You can easily detect that by looking at how much you rely on your senses on an average day.

Do you FEEL the water on your skin in the shower? Do you HEAR the words someone is saying to you? Do you SEE the buildings you walk by? Do you SMELL the coffee? Do you TASTE the omelet?

We all know we have five basic senses. And yet, we’re not aware of them. We’re only aware of our thoughts. Your thoughts are stealing away your senses. Ever thought about that?

To be more at peace. To enjoy the present. To be less distracted. To be happy…All you need to do is rely more on your senses.

Feel, hear, see, smell, and taste life, my friend. It’s pretty good. But you already knew that.

“What about my goals?”

At first sight, having goals does not match with living in the present. After all, goals are by definition future-oriented. When you set a goal, you’re aiming at something in the future. Is that bad?

Like everything in life, nothing is good or bad by itself. We tend to turn our goals into a bad thing by thinking too much about them.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having the intention to make your life better. And if you think about it, all these philosophers, spiritual teachers, and sages all had their goals.

They wrote books, started schools, movements, and communities. So when some person tells you goals are bad, walk away.

Start Now

Sometimes we need a reminder to be more present. To enjoy our lives and to make the best of it.

Why not increase your awareness right now? Do you feel the device that’s in your hand? Do you see the beauty of the place you’re currently in? What do you smell? What do you hear?

Rely on that. And less on your thoughts. You’ll find that life will be peaceful. And you’ll find that you don’t need anything to be happy.

Life is good the way it is. You don’t need to read another book. You don’t need to meditate. You don’t NEED anything.

It’s funny how this awareness removes the worry and stress out of our lives. Because right now, at this moment, there’s nothing to worry about. Relying on your senses does that for you.

Enjoy!

This article originally appeared on Darius Foroux.

4 Compelling Reasons You Need To Be More Self-Aware

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In the FBI Academy, we trained how to run down and tackle individuals who resisted arrest. I was a lousy runner and came up at the rear of every race. The idea that I could run down or even catch up with a suspect produced snarky comments and rolled eyes from my classmates.

My ego took a big hit, but I also knew my competence as an FBI agent must be grounded in reality. I needed to be self-aware so I could make an honest assessment of my skills and strengths. Only at that point could I plan for ways to grow my strengths so I could manage my weaknesses.


How important is self-awareness? A study by Green Peak Partners and Cornell University examined the performance of 72 executives from a variety of companies. It found that “a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success.”

As entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders, self-awareness is essential to your success. It’s stupid to pretend that you don’t have flaws or weaknesses. Instead, be smart and get ahead of them so they don’t sabotage you when you’re confronted with a stressful situation.

Here are four compelling reasons you need to be more self-aware:

1. Understand how you come across to others

The way we perceive ourselves is distorted, but most of us are not self-aware enough to recognize it! If we don’t want to be known as stingy, arrogant or self-righteous, we don’t look for those qualities in ourselves. Of course, we readily identify those qualities in other people! If we want to be perceived as competent, polite and generous, guess what? Those are the qualities we find in ourselves.

There is enough ego in all of us to produce a flattering self-image that might not be congruent with how others see us. The way we see ourselves is often an illusion, and it can be a dangerous one if we misjudge how we come across to our colleagues and supervisors.

Conversely, if you suffer from a lack of self-esteem, you could be undermining your position and chances for advancement as you navigate the quagmire of office politics.

How to make it work for you: Be mentally tough enough to keep your ego in check. Ask trusted friends or colleagues to give an honest evaluation of how you come across to others in a variety of situations. Don’t take the easy route and ask for feedback on your best behavior. Let the good, the bad and the ugly hang out, and be brave enough to push for honest answers.

2. Become aware of your deepest needs

Since we all possess a somewhat muddled and inaccurate image of how we come across to others, it shouldn’t be a shock to learn that we tend to justify our motives through rose-colored glasses as well. In fact, psychologists believe it’s important that our brain sees a clear connection between our thoughts, emotions and behavior. This strong connection leads to good mental health. However, thinking or feeling one way and then behaving in a different manner causes cognitive dissonance, and we experience anxiety and stress as we try to justify the behavior.

Behavioral science has proven that human beings are motivated by several needs. At a basic level is the biological drive to eat, drink and sleep. Another motivator is reward and punishment, such as when we work for a salary and are rewarded with a paycheck. It is the third motivator that requires self-awareness — the things we pursue because they bring us joy and contentment. Shelley E. Taylor, UCLA psychology professor, has argued that we are wired to nurture others and care for their needs.

These are the hidden needs that ennoble the human spirit, but they also take effort and time to process because they are complicated and complex drivers of our behavior. Too often we settle for a fleeting emotion such as happiness because it’s both instant and a popular meme. But, at the end of the day, our deepest need is to make a contribution to society that is meaningful to us.

How to make It work for you: You can move toward a deeper and enduring sense of what motivates you if you are self-aware. Ask yourself, “What do I really want?” Another great question to ask yourself at the end of each day is this: “Was I better today than yesterday?” Again, ask trusted colleagues or friends for feedback, but make sure it is honest and constructive.

3. Create a mindset that wins

If you think of yourself as flexible and resilient, you will do much better in both business and life. Your image of who you are influences how you behave and thus becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Carol Dweck’s research at Stanford University has determined that if we view a trait as mutable, we are inclined to work on it more. On the other hand, if we view a trait such as IQ or willpower as unchangeable, we’ll make little effort to improve it.

Dweck is well-known for her work on “fixed vs. growth mindset.” People with a fixed mindset believe their basic abilities, intelligence and talents are fixed traits. They have a certain amount of talent and nothing will change it. People with a growth mindset, however, believe that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort and persistence.

If you create a growth mindset, you have the mental toughness to learn from criticism rather than ignore it; to overcome challenges rather than avoid them; and find inspiration in the success of others rather than feel threatened.

Self-aware people can create a growth mindset that’s focused on personal growth because they believe they can improve and develop their skills.

How to make It work for you: The best way to change the type of person that you believe you are is through small, repeated actions. Focus on the process, not the outcome. Don’t worry about how to write a best-seller; instead, commit to publishing your ideas on a consistent basis. It’s not about the result. It’s about how to create a mindset that enjoys the results.

4. Prevent self-deception

According to psychologists, our tendency for self-deception stems from our desire to impress others. We convince ourselves of our capabilities in the process.

Human beings are masters of self-deception. We lie to ourselves about why we like to wear designer clothes, drive fast cars and climb the corporate ladder. Most of the time, we’re completely unaware of the deception going on in our minds.

Companies lose serious money every year due to their employee’s lack of self-awareness. Inaccurate self-assessment leads to sales targets that can’t be met, deadlines that can’t be carried out and performances that are promised but not delivered.

Interestingly, most of us have no trouble seeing through the delusions of our colleagues! We recognize the bumbling idiot who postures for a promotion or the incompetent supervisor who mumbles in meetings.

If we are self-aware and see ourselves with greater clarity, we are more likely to land on our feet when confronted with the unexpected

How to make It work for you: Honesty is the best tool to combat self-deception. It means we will need to look in the mirror and take responsibility for who we are. Honesty requires a deliberate effort on a daily basis. We must learn to observe our emotions, thoughts and behavior without judgment or evaluation. If we are self-aware, it is easier for us to focus our mind, concentrate and direct our attention toward activities that will give us the opportunity to change.

This article originally appeared on LaRae Quy.

How to Accept What We Really Don’t Want to Accept

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Right now there’s something going on in my life that’s very difficult, something that I definitely don’t want as part of my life. I don’t want this to be my reality and yet it’s clear that all of my wishing it weren’t so has done nothing to make it not true. As is always the case: Fight with reality, reality wins.

And so it occurred to me (brilliantly) that this might be an auspicious time to practice acceptance, right now when I hate this particular reality.  And also, that it might be a good time to better understand what it means when we say (usually too nonchalantly) just accept what is, be with it, don’t fight it and all the other expressions we have for this very challenging and mysterious process.

When investigating an idea or practice, I like to start with what the thing is not. In this case, what are the myths and misconceptions about acceptance that get in the way of our being able to do it?

Myth #1: We’re okay with what’s happening. We can agree with it.

The biggest misunderstanding about acceptance is that it means that we’re okay with the thing we’re accepting, that we’ve somehow gotten comfortable and on board with this situation we don’t want.

Reality: Acceptance does not require that we’re okay with what we’re accepting.  It does not imply that we now want what we don’t want.  It does not include feeling good or peaceful about what we’re accepting.  It does not mean we now agree with it.

Myth #2: Acceptance means we stop trying to change it.

We believe that accepting what is is synonymous with agreeing to be passive, giving up on change, surrendering all efforts to make things different.  Acceptance is saying we agree that this situation will go on forever.  It’s deciding to pull the covers over our head.

Reality: Acceptance does not mean suspending efforts to change what is.  It does not imply that we’re giving up on reality becoming different.  Acceptance is all about now and has nothing to do with the future.  Furthermore, acceptance is not an act of passivity, but rather an act of wisdom, of agreeing to start our efforts from where we actually are and considering what actually is.

Myth #3: Acceptance is failure.

In our culture, acceptance is for the meek, for losers. It’s what we do when we’ve failed at doing everything else. We see acceptance as a choice-less choice, a disempowering and depressing end to a battle lost.

Reality: Acceptance is not an act of failure. It can, with the right understanding, be experienced as an act of courage. It is for those who have the strength to face the truth and stop denying it.  It can be, in fact, a first step in a process of genuine success and movement.

So if not the myths, then what is this thing we call acceptance?  What does it really mean to accept what is or stop fighting with reality?  And, is it ever really possible (I mean really possible) to accept what is when we so don’t want what is?

To begin with, I want to throw out the word acceptance because it carries so much misunderstanding with it. Rather than asking can I accept this? I prefer, Can I relax with this? Or, can I be with this as it is? Or, can I agree that this is the way it is right now? These pointers feel more workable given what we associate with acceptance. Because the fact is, something inside us will never fully accept or get okay with what we don’t want, and that part of us needs to be included in this process too.

To relax with what is means that we also relax with the part of ourselves that’s screaming “no” to the situation. It means that we make space for the not wanting in us.  So we accept the situation and also the fierce rejection of it at the same time.  We don’t ask ourselves to get rid of the resistance; that resistance is our friend.  It’s there to protect us from what we don’t want.  So we accept and allow the negative situation and also, the hating of it.

Secondly, acceptance is about acknowledging that this particular situation is indeed happening.  It’s not saying that we like it, agree with it or will stop trying to change it, it simply means that we’re accepting that it’s actually what’s so. The primary element of acceptance is opening to reality as it is, not how we feel about it, just that it actually is this way.

In my case, with the situation I have going on, I’m practicing relaxing with the reality that I don’t have an answer to this difficult situation.  I am accepting that this situation is what is and I hate it and I want it to be different and I don’t know right now how to make that happen.  All of that is true; the practice of acceptance right now is about letting all that be so, whatever is true, and still being able to breathe deeply.

What’s comical is that our refusal to accept what is involves a fight against what already is. What we’re fighting against is already here. We refuse to allow what’s already been allowed.  Seen in this light, our refusal to accept reality has a kind of insanity to it.

When we practice acceptance, we’re just saying one thing: yes, this is happening. That’s it.  And paradoxically, that yes then frees us up to start changing the situation or changing ourselves in relation to it. As a good friend said, the situation will change or you will change, but change will happen. We waste so much energy fighting with the fact that this situation is actually happening that we don’t apply our most useful energy and intention to what we want or can do about it.  We’re stuck in an argument with the universe or whomever, that this is not supposed to be happening, all of which is energy down the drain. The fact is, it is this way, and acceptance allows us at least to begin doing whatever we need to do from where we are.

Acceptance is a profound and powerful step in our growth and development. It requires the immense courage to be honest about where we are. And it requires the fierce willingness to actually feel what’s true, which can be excruciating, but is far more useful than avoiding such feelings by denying what we already know or arguing that the truth shouldn’t be the truth.  Relaxing with what is puts an end to the futile and draining argument that is this is not the way it’s supposed to be and gets on with the business of living life on life’s terms.

When we accept what is, which includes our guttural “no” to it, we give ourselves permission to join our life, to experience the present moment as it is. We allow ourselves to stop fighting with reality, which is exhausting and useless. It’s counterintuitive and yet supremely wise; when we’re willing to say yes to this thing we don’t want, yes, this is the way it is whether I want it or not, something primal in us deeply relaxes. We can exhale; the hoax we’ve been conducting is up at last. The funny thing is, we’ve always known what’s true and it’s only us we’ve been trying to trick in our non-acceptance. To accept what is offers us permission to finally be authentic with ourselves, to fully be in our own company. When we can say I accept that this is the way it is — even if I hate it and don’t know what to do about it — then we can at least be in the truth, which ultimately, is the most empowering, brave, and self-loving place from which to create our life.

Dispositional Mindfulness: Noticing What You Notice

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Many forms therapy and spiritual practice speak of mindfulness. Dispositional mindfulness (sometimes known as trait mindfulness) is a type of consciousness that has only recently been given serious research considerations.

It is defined as a keen awareness and attention to our thoughts and feelings in the present moment, and the research shows that the ability to engage in this prime intention has many physical, psychological, and cognitive benefits.

Mindfulness meditation is different. It has taken the Buddhist practice of mindfulness and introduced it to the western world as a form of preparing and training. Those who practice mindfulness meditation are often encouraged to have a “sitting practice,” where they have set aside time to meditate.

In the West, this practice is considered a means to an end. We will be calmer, have lower blood pressure, better relationships, and less stress if we use this practice. While all this is true, the mindfulness aspect of this practice — the essence of this style of meditation was not designed as a means to an end — it was designed to be a way of conscious living.

Mindfulness, when viewed in this way, becomes a quality in our life — a trait, not a state we enter into during practice.

Don’t get me wrong — mindfulness meditation and the wide variety of training programs and opportunities are all valuable exercises. But the original intention of mindfulness and the science now surrounding dispositional mindfulness may be at the very root of how we maintain hope, perseverance, and mental health.

Here is a sample of the research outcomes from nearly 100 studies using dispositional mindfulness:

  • Lower levels of perceived stress
  • Lower use of avoidance coping strategies
  • Fewer depressive symptoms
  • Greater perseverance
  • Less anxiety
  • More hope
  • Reduced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Improved adaptive coping strategies
  • Reduced rumination
  • Less catastrophizing about pain
  • Diminished neuroticism
  • Improved executive function
  • Decreased impulsivity
  • Increased emotional stability
Proof Positive

This is an impressive list as the intervention we are talking about is a non-judging awareness of our thoughts and actions. The non-judgment is an important aspect of this practice. Cultivating a witness, a self that views our own experience with a benevolent prospective, has importance and impact.

This means that even before we attempt to change our thoughts, there is value — exceptional value — in simply noticing them.

This wobbly space between perception and response becomes clearer once we are given permission to examine the gap. Dispositional mindfulness is an invitation to widen that gap simply by noticing it exists. As we step back from our moment-to-moment experience we are cultivating our mindfulness, which then opens the way to responsiveness and the possibility and potential to shift our perceptions for the better.

As the Beat poet Alan Ginsberg suggested, one way to enter this gap is to “notice what you notice.” The practice is simple enough. As you survey your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a present moment try to do so without judgment. This pause for thought is, in itself, the very dispositional mindfulness that research is showing has so many benefits.

In essence, the practice is strengthened when we catch ourselves thinking.

A 5-Minute Meditation Practice You Can Do Anywhere to Let Go of Jealous

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How To Overcome Jealousy Meditation

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If you’ve ever wondered how to stop being jealous after a scroll through your Facebook feed leaves you feeling like a crazy person, you’re not alone. I’ve been there, too. As ashamed as we might be to admit it, jealousy is a tough demon to beat.

Before Facebook posts were a thing, I could go about my daily life not knowing what my ex was doing with his new girlfriend or what amazing new job a high school classmate had just got. But now we’re in the modern world, and we have the privilege — and burden — of knowing everything about everyone. Well, maybe not everything. Social media, after all, is just a highlight reel.

Nevertheless, it’s difficult to remember that we shouldn’t really be comparing ourselves to others. Why? Because our feelings of envy can linger and have unpleasant effects on our mood and our perspective of our own lives. So, If you’re feeling or have ever felt like the grass was greener on the other side, you might want consider giving meditation a try.

How can meditation help jealousy?

Most people think of meditation for stress relief, but not everyone considers jealousy a stressor. The truth is, feeling jealous can indicate that a person’s sense of safety is threatened, so these emotions really should be addressed. Luckily, meditation can actually work to rewire the brain for more positive thinking and relief from envious feelings.

According to Psychology Today, meditation affects the prefrontal cortex, more specifically the “Me Center” of the brain — the same part associated with jealous feelings. It also affects the amygdala, or the “fear center,” that governs our fight or flight response. Balancing these systems with meditation can help you to gain control over negative thoughts and emotions, and can even improve your ability to connect with others. Scroll down for a simple practice to get started with today.

1. Notice your feelings.

The first step to overcoming any problem is becoming aware of it. Meditation doesn’t always look like someone sitting down in a tranquil environment with flute music in the background. It can be as simple as taking a moment — in any environment or situation — to pause and to notice.

When a jealous feeling arises, acknowledge it. Before you run off on a thought tangent, take a moment and a deep breath into your belly and recognize that the feeling is there. You might say (aloud or to yourself), “I am feeling jealous.” Observing your thoughts gives you the power to take control of their direction. Simple enough, right?

2. Breathe and reflect.

The magic of meditation is really in the breath. Once you’ve noticed that you’re feeling jealous, simply paying attention to your breathing and taking slow, conscious breaths can ease the tension by bringing you back to the present moment. It can even stop you from following that one negative thought down a rabbit hole of more pessimism.

This practice may seem really simple, but it’s tough at first since our brains are conditioned in old habits of thinking. Try to practice your breathing for at least one minute, with deep inhales into your belly and deep exhales out, making the exhales longer than the inhales. With repetition, this exercise can be the one that saves you from what may be the most common happiness killer — overthinking.

3. Practice letting go — and use a mantra.

If it were as simple as “just let it go,” then you probably wouldn’t have read this far. The idea of letting a negative thought or thought pattern go is great, but our brains don’t necessarily work that way. If we’re going to give up a habit that’s essential to the way we view ourselves and others in the world, we need to replace it with something. That’s where a mantra comes in.

Your mantra doesn’t have to be complicated; all it has to do is propose a positive to replace a negative thought. Because jealousy often arises as a result of feeling inadequate, mantras combat jealousy by focusing on abundance. Think about it this way, if you believe there’s enough for everyone, there’s nothing to compete for.

Your mantra could be something like, “I have enough. I am abundant,” if you’re struggling with feeling like others have more than you have, or “I am enough,” if you find that you’re struggling with feeling inadequate. To use your mantra, simply repeat it slowly over and over, with a big long breath in between each repetition. Do this for a few minutes, even if it feels like lying at first — which it might if your mind is fighting to tell you the old same story. Saying a mantra gives your mind something else to focus on and introduces a new way of thinking. Eventually, and with repetition, you’ll start to actually believe it.

A simple meditation practice like this one can do wonders in training the mind to think more positively about ourselves and the world around us. Taking some time in our day to pause, breathe, and reflect is an act of self care that allows us to connect with ourselves in a way that benefits everyone. We hope that you’ll give this practice a try and remember, the grass is always greener where it’s watered.

9 Ways To Free Yourself From Rumination

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Of all my symptoms of depression, stuck thoughts are by far the most painful and debilitating for me. The harder I try to move the needle from the broken record in my brain, the louder the song becomes.

Ruminations are like a gaggle of politicians campaigning in your head. Try as you might to detach from their agenda, their slogans are forefront in your mind, ready to thrust you down the rabbit hole of depression. Logic tells you they are full of bull, but that doesn’t keep you from believing what they have to say.

Ever since the fourth grade, I have been fighting obsessive thoughts. So for four decades, I have been acquiring tools for living around them, continuously trying out strategies that will deliver them to the back of my noggin. Sometimes I am more successful than others. The more severe my depression, the more pervasive the thoughts. I don’t promise you tips to get rid of them forever, but here are some ways you lessen their hold over you.

1. Distract Yourself

Distraction is an appropriate first line of defense against ruminations. If you can, divert your attention to a word puzzle, a movie, a novel, or a conversation with a friend, in order to tune out what your brain is shouting. Even a five-minute reprieve from the broken record will help your mood and energy level, allowing you to focus on the here and now. However, if you simply can’t distract yourself — and I fully realize there are times when you can’t — don’t force it. That’s only going to make you feel more defeated.

2. Analyze the Thought

Obsessions usually contain a kernel of truth, but they are almost always about something else. Understanding the root of the thought and placing it in its context can often help you to let go of it, or at least minimize the panic over what you think it’s about. For example, a friend of mine was obsessing about the size of his backyard fence. A few times a day, he knelt beside the fence with a measuring stick, fretting that it wasn’t tall enough. The obsession was never really about the fence. It was about his wife who had just been diagnosed with dementia. Scared of losing her, he exercised what control he did have over the fence.

My recent ruminations are similar. I was obsessing about a mistake I made, or a decision I made that had consequences I didn’t consider. Once I realized that my obsession was really about something that happened 30 years ago, I breathed a sigh of relief.

3. Use Other Brains

It can be extremely difficult to be objective when you’re in the heat of ruminations. The politicians are incredibly convincing. That’s why you need the help of other brains to think for you — to remind you that your rumination isn’t based in reality. If you can, call on friends who have experienced obsessive thoughts themselves. They will get it. If you don’t have any, consider joining Group Beyond Blue on Facebook. This online depression support group is full of wise people who have guided me out of ruminations many times.

4. Use Your Mantras

I have ten mantras that I repeat to myself over and over again when cursed with obsessive thoughts. First, I channel Elsa in Disney’s “Frozen” and say or sing “Let it go.” I also repeat “I am enough,” since most of my ruminations are based on some negative self-assessment — usually how I handled a certain situation.

The most powerful mantra for ruminations is “There is no danger.” Panic is what drives the obsessive thoughts and makes them so disconcerting. You believe you are literally going to die.

In his book Mental Health Through Will Training psychiatrist Abraham Low writes, “You will realize that the idea of danger created by your imagination can easily disrupt any of your functions … If behavior is to be adjusted imagination must interpret events in such a fashion that the sense of security … overbalances the sentence of insecurity.” In other words, there really is no danger.

5. Schedule Rumination Time

Sometimes a rumination is like a tantruming 2-year-old who just wants a little attention. So give it to him. Some parenting experts say by acknowledging the kid, you provoke more tantrums. However, my experience with tantruming toddlers and with ruminations is that sometimes if you turn your attention to the kid or the thought, the screaming ends. You don’t want to stay indefinitely with the thought, but sometimes you might get a reprieve by setting aside a certain amount of time for your brain to go wherever it wants. Let it tell you that you are a despicable human being and that you screwed everything up once again. When the time is up, say, “Thank you for your contribution. I need to do other things now.”

6. Lessen Your Stress

Like most people I know, the severity of my ruminations are directly proportional to the amount of stress in my life. Recently, when the stress at work and at home were off the charts, so, too, were my ruminations. My brain was literally on fire, and no technique could quiet the thoughts.

Be proactive about lessening your stress. You might not have to make the dramatic changes that I did — resigning from a job. A little tweak in your schedule to allow for some relaxation may be all you need.

7. Do a Thought Log

Take a sheet of paper and draw three columns. In the first column, record your thought and assign a percentage of how strongly you believe it. For example, “I’m never going to recover from that mistake,” 90 percent. In the second column, list the cognitive distortions associated with that thought. For example, the above example involves “mental filtering,” “all or nothing thinking,” “jumping to conclusions,” “overgeneralization” and “catastrophizing.” In the third column, write a compassionate response to the thought THAT YOU BELIEVE and a percentage.

For example, “My decision may or may not have been a mistake, but it surely isn’t the end of me, and chances are that I can learn a lesson from it that will improve my life in the future,” 90 percent. If your percentage of the compassionate statement is lower than the original thought, tweak the compassionate response until the percentage is equal or higher than the original thought.

8. Be Kind to Yourself

The most important thing you can do to relieve the anguish of these thoughts is to be kind and gentle with yourself. In her book Self-Compassion Kristin Neff, Ph.D., offers a beautiful mantra she developed to help her deal with negative emotions, a reminder to treat herself with self-compassion when discomfort arises: “This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment. May I give myself the compassion I need.”

Ruminations are, without doubt, moments of suffering. Self-compassion is your most powerful antidote.

9. Admit Powerlessness

If I have tried every technique I can think of and am still tormented by the voices inside my head, I simply cry Uncle and concede to the stuck thoughts. I get on my knees and admit powerlessness to my wonderful brain biochemistry. I stop my efforts to free myself from the obsessions’ hold and allow the ruminations to be as loud as they want and to stay as long as they want because, here’s the thing, they do eventually go away.

Fostering a Lust for Life

Author Article –  

February is often thought of as the month of love. For some people this refers to romantic love, and for others, it might refer to love for a friend or relative. It can also be about the love — or lust — for life and living life to its fullest, which means listening to the messages of your heart and going in the direction of what brings you the most joy.

Many people experience unhappiness at different times, and often they’re unsure of what to do to change or transform their situations. They may feel that they want something more out of life, but they don’t know what that something is. In essence, we all want to be happy and make some sort of impact on the world, and the places where we want to do so are usually those areas we feel passionate about, and which are connected to our life’s purpose.

Most often your life purpose is already present within you — it’s just a matter of finding it. First, you need to know yourself, what has shaped your past, and what inspires you to move forward. These are all pieces of information offering tools for self-awareness. This knowledge can be very empowering and a means to fostering a lust for life.

Journaling to Learn Your Life’s Passion

One way to figure out your passion and your reason for living is to begin a regular journaling practice. A good place to start is to write about what you’re grateful for and all the positive aspects of your life. This is also an excellent way to learn about the messages of your heart and to tap into your subconscious mind.

Sometimes people begin journaling during challenging times. My own writing journey began when I was ten and my mother gave me a Kahlil Gibran journal to help me cope with the loss of my grandmother. Although I began writing from a place of pain, I realized that during the creative process, I was tapping into some profound inner truths. This helped me heal and find my life purpose, which involves teaching others how to transform their lives through the written word.

Humanist Psychologists and Life Purpose

Humanist psychology, the newest branch of psychology that was born in the 1960s, highlights the importance of everyone living their true potential, which is also known as self-actualization. Psychologists Abraham Maslow and Rollo May were instrumental in launching this branch of psychology, and their influence remains significant today. In fact, May was influential in inspiring my own ongoing journaling process back in the 1960s. When I turned 18, my family doctor gave me a copy of May’s Love and Will, which informed a great deal of my adolescence, taught me self-awareness, and gave me myriad ideas to journal about, even though when I initially read the book, I didn’t really understand much of what the author was saying.

I shelved the book but knew that I would return to it at a later date, and when I fell in love in my early twenties, I dusted it off and began to read. May reminded me of the importance of love in my life, how to differentiate love from sex, and also to see where the two intersect.

Many years later when I became a published writer, I became enamored with May’s book The Courage to Create, which tapped into the idea of listening to the messages of the heart and mind when it comes to being creative, and having the courage to listen to those messages. In doing so, we break old patterns and release long-standing fears on the road to living a meaningful life.

The Importance of Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is key for anyone who yearns to foster a lust for life. Knowing oneself requires a deep sense of inner knowing. Writing is an ideal way to increase our sense of self-awareness, as it helps us see ourselves and the world around us in a nonjudgmental, clear, and honest way. Being self-aware helps facilitate writing for healing and transformation and also stimulates the mind-body connection, which offers an opportunity for positive change, and ultimately, happiness.

There are many ways to foster self-awareness, so you need to find what works best for you, but writing is a good way to start because it serves as a container to express and hold feelings, emotions, and experiences. It’s also a way to begin a dialogue with yourself. Dialoguing, whether verbal or written, is very healing — emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Identifying Moments of Being

In addition to knowing and appreciating all the positive aspects in your life, it’s wise to identify what writer Virginia Woolf calls “moments of being,” or moments that help define us. These moments could be simple things like remembering the shoes your mother wore or how your father played with you in the backyard. It could be the day your little brother or sister came home from the hospital as a newborn, or the time your family adopted a pet for the first time. These are moments when an individual experiences a sense of stark reality, which can result from a shock of some sort or a discovery or revelation. These are transformative moments. And sometimes, the moments that impact us most are those we don’t even fully understand at the time they’re occurring.

Writing prompt: Make a list of ten or more moments in your life that were pivotal and transformative. The memories that come to your mind can serve to inspire you in many ways and foster a lust for the rest of your life.

References

Maslow, A. (2014). Toward a Psychology of Being. New York, NY: Sublime Books.

May, R. (2011). Love and Will. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.

May, R. (2009). Man’s Search for Self. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.

May, R. (1994). The Courage to Create. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.