Cultivating a healthy mind for a healthy life:
If we want gain clarity, influence, courage to stay committed to our goals and influence others to join hands for the greater good, we must operate at optimum mental health. For that matter a good healthy mind is important for pretty much anything we want to accomplish in life.
Here are a few strategies to create a stress free life for yourself. These are lessons you can impart to your loved ones as well.
There are so many things out of our control. There are people whom can’t seem to agree with our point of view. Some days are good and some days are terrible despite our best efforts. Others who’re not just as hardworking or smart have gone on to do things and become what we can’t even imagine. The point? Life’s not fair and its OK.
This is how you arm yourself to face life. You assume that no one intentionally wants to hurt or harm you. Everyone sets out daily to act with their best positive intent. And when inspite of that bad things happen, you fall back on your unconditional love, faith and hope in humanity to move forward.
What otherwise is the alternative?
When we get busy with chasing a future fantasy for our lives, small pockets of joy slip away, unnoticed. When we stop to find the extraordinary beauty in the present moment, we’re filled with a poignant sentiment. And that’s gratitude. Instead of coming from a place of scarcity, a gratitude attitude can help us remember how well we’re doing inspite of what we think we lack. It fills us up with abundance, helps lower stress, and improves our relationships. Start today with a “What went well” gratitude journal every night with three things that went well in the day. And, see how life transforms.
We rush through lives without some basic checks and balances. We keep doing things over and over again as long as they’re working. Why improve something that’s working, why change it, right? But what if we’re forced to pause or stop? Like when that thing we expected to work for so long, doesn’t one day. Evolution is part of our existence and so is clarity of purpose. When things are evolving and changing around us, we must seek clarity to ensure we’re not going off on a tangent.
When we don’t recalibrate, there’s sadness and confusion. Because we’ve missed signed a misalignment was taking shape in our purpose and our sense of direction. How do we ensure we’re staying on top of our goals without distractions? By asking ourselves questions about our ideas, thoughts and actions.
Existential boredom is good sometimes. Its good for the soul, because you actually can sort through your thoughts and create priorities. When the brain in under stimulated, the brains looks for stimulation boosting creativity. It enhances problem solving in a myriad of ways. Slowing down helps you check if the route you’re on in life is the one you actually want to be on. Float away on a tube in the river. Slow down to the pace of nature.
The downtime that the brain gets during unstructured play helps children with critical thinking, divergent thinking and consequential thinking. That is because, when the brain is under stimulated, it looks for stimulation thereby boosting creativity. That helps them solve problems and understand the sequences of their actions and subsequent results in a better way. No wonder some of our best ideas come when we’re in the shower or when we go for walk in the woods. So, even for adults, a little existential boredom is good in a lot of ways!
Our digital landscape at home, work and life is becoming crowded. Once where it was just a television (the idiot box, an inert machine) has now been replaced by “personal devices” that feel empowering and are thus addictive. Our bedrooms, our living rooms and our classrooms have become inundated with instant messages on smart phones, virtual worlds in video games, personal playlists on streaming services, emails on laptops and poor quality videos masquerading as lessons thus crowding our brains, our most important resource.
Who’s checking our media diet and putting a tabs on our digital consumption as adults? Who’s ensuring our children are being exposed to only appropriate advertising and positive content in a constructive manner? Who’s driving this Big Tech agenda for us?
Shame is a deeply private and painful emotion that takes roots in the belief that we’re not somehow good enough and are not worthy of being accepted by others because of our shortcomings. It also stems from our deep regret for having done things in the past that we’re not proud of. But, we can all redeem ourselves and start all over again – today! But, only if we believe we’re redeemable.
When does it happen: Experience of rejection instead of compassion, support and understanding.
Here are some ways we can help ourselves in such a situation:
- Remember that someone else’s attitude cannot be your worry and grief.
- If your current situation stems out of circumstances out of your control, how is it your fault?
- Label your feelings and see them evaporate. Say those bad words louder and feel their power go away!
- No one is perfect.
- Learn what empathy is.
God, spirit, soul: What’s in the name?
“Where am I going?”, “Who am I?” and “What’s my purpose?” For no apparent reason, we humans, choose to complicate our lives. And these aha moments can even occur in the 4 boring seconds before the next Netflix recommendation starts playing. For those of us who become invariable seekers of the meaning of life, there’s hope in the word Spirituality. So many people mistake spirituality for religion, but spirituality by definition is the process of looking inward. It simply is the art of turning inward for any answers we’re seeking in life.
When we empower ourselves with spiritual education, we develop a capacity to understand ourselves as we are. We can quell the deep pain of our existential angst. We can learn to acknowledge and forgive our shortcomings and make peace with ourselves. Who knows when we become our own rock stars, we might well be on our way to enlightenment?
Wish we were all-weather winners, where wellbeing was our dominant emotion of the day. But reality is often the opposite, where situations outside of our control often dictate how we feel. Here’s something we can all do though. The fact is we cannot control anything that happens on the outside, so why not adapt our inside to our situation? Adapting ourselves means, less blaming and lesser excuses for not getting things done.
Why not build enough momentum with small wins, so we can have enough to move on with our day?
In front of nature, we remove our armor, because we can’t do anything but surrender in front of its magnitude. True joy is when you connect with your true nature. Nourish your inner nature and you won’t find yourself influenced by jealousy, anger, ego and greed.
Nature is continuous, eternal and unyielding. Nurture your own nature with the help of mother nature.
As humans, we’re driven by this singular goal, “I just want to be happy!”
So, let’s see how our happiness is determined by how we feel about ourselves on a daily basis. How satisfied are we about the state of our life? Do we experience a sense of pleasant emotions daily? How’s our ability to not get overwhelmed by the nature of our environment – mostly that is out of our control?
To take a stock of our personal wellbeing, we can start by asking ourselves how we feel in three aspects of our life.
a. Our sense of autonomy and purpose
b. Our understanding of our strengths
c. Our connectedness to others
Meditation, the art of mastering the moment, asks you for practice not perfection. Prime yourself to start your journey on a more centered and mindful life as a busy parent. Start TODAY for a few minutes of silence – with these three thoughts.
1. Belief in yourself.
2. Belief in the power of positivity.
3. Radical forgiveness. Letting go of judgment towards yourself and others.
Connect With Others:
Imagine if we were building a career with a single minded goal. We might feel productive at the end of the day but our uni-dimensional life will not be fun at all. Without incorporating leisure and creativity and pursuing what we enjoy, and creating a well rounded life, we will not be truly happy.
That’s where we can leverage the power of connection. By connecting with others, we can share our gifts and positively change their lives. We can share our predicaments and our sorrows and feel better. Connection to our fellow living beings, humans and animals, brings meaning and purpose into our lives. It impacts us and enables us to contribute to higher goals. We become capable of spreading hope, love and happiness all around. Imagine, if each and everyone of us was doing that, what it would do to our world’s collective happiness index?
We have two distinct inner monologues. We don’t start talking to ourselves in our head until we’re 6 or 7 years old. And when we begin to do that, usually what we’re thinking inside comes outside naturally. No wonder children talk about things just like they see them. Just ask them to do their homework and you’re the meanest person in the world. Just Google #ShitMyKidsSay and you’ll find out more hilarious observations our children make.
Seriously though, if we all start broadcasting our inner speech to the world, it will look like:
“Did I turn off the stove?”, “Why does my hair not stay in place?”, “Why can’t I get anything done?”, “Does he love me; I will never understand.”
If that sounds ridiculous to you, stop talking to yourself even in your head. But if your inner voice is rationalizing with you that, “You can do it,” don’t ignore it. And that’s how you crush self doubt.
Intermittent Fasting, Paleo, Keto, call it whatever, but the idea is – Listen to your body for its needs. Give your body rest intermittently throughout the day and to repair itself at night. Why else does Taco Bell open late if our bodies don’t need it? It’s for their own bottom line silly!
Know The Signs:
Our society tells us that when things don’t go our way, we must be sad, we must fret and if all fails, protest – sometimes very violently.
Here are signs of emotional suffering you can spot in yourself and others. Not just when we’re having a day of the blues, but an ongoing persistent sadness that can be seen in any of these below traits.
* A seismic shift in personality
* Agitated and moody
* Withdrawn and exhibiting poor self care
* Hopelessness and pessimistic views
In the end, it helps to remember that feelings of sadness, fear, disappointment or rage are not built to last. Emulate nature. No storm lasts forever. And in its wake, there’s always hope that comes from rebuilding our lives.
Grow a Plant:
Keep a plant close to you and see it grow every day. Its radical what growth feels like. Nurturing a plant gives you a space of unconditional love and joy. It can be a testament to your own personal and professional growth, to show you a place and time you had been to, to a place you’ve come to.
Tune Out Echo Chambers:
Like it or not, there’s no escaping the constant chatter of our inner voice or the contentious comments of people on social media voicing their opinions on topics ranging from how to raise children to solving controversial social issues like climate change.
Because of the ubiquity and the free nature of the internet, everyone has a platform, a cause to fight for and a reason to rally behind. There’re more opinion panels on TV than is news these days and more perspectives offered than actual reality itself.
One thing is for sure. If you’re sure you’ve an opinion one way or another, you better look again. Even if it’s your own opinion about your limitations and weaknesses. Not everything within the walls of our echo chambers is accurate.
We’re all raised to be grateful for what we have. And this determines how we see ourselves. We do so little to celebrate our strengths. We’re hard on ourselves often mistaking it for humility. We take constant guilt trips about our bad habits.
All I’m asking is that you grow your heart a little. To not take yourself so seriously and to forgive the way you look. To cut your losses and give yourself some slack. Take stock of your accomplishments and acknowledge your abilities. Appreciate for how far you’ve come.
In a way that Buddhism teaches radical acceptance to us. That we’re inherently lovely, wise and compassionate. If we were not that way, we would have seen all strangers as cruel and irredeemable. Wouldn’t we?
Ask yourself, right now, what is preventing you from having a strong sense of wellbeing. It’s mostly our thoughts of being wronged or ignored by people we cared for or love dearly. But, how can you decide the intent in their actions without knowing their full truth.
Your ideal life is quite different than what’s possible with so many unpredictable parameters in your real life. So, you didn’t read a book and tuck the kids into bed tonight or were not able to pack lunch that morning. Cut your losses and move on. Make tomorrow a better day! Try this. Lower your expectations every time you’re going somewhere or doing something for the first time. You’re guaranteed to have a golden time. Perfection is not progress.
If you catch yourself lingering on some negative emotions about yourself – the way you look or your past, reliving those moments when you said the wrong thing or did the wrong thing, STOP. Now, rephrase that context and see them as stepping stones for some well-earned wisdom and find yourself still alive and well. More on how you can become radically optimistic.
Here are empowering thoughts that give us permission to let go off our past.
* When we’re brooding our past, our present is holding our future hostage.
* What can I gain from what has already happened?
* Past is a different person, it would have done everything differently.
* Free will is making free choices instead of tying every counter argument to past outcomes.
* One thing is certain. We can’t find our future in the past.
* Even 10 minutes ago is our past, an undeniable part of our history.
* Resisting this moment to dwell on our past doesn’t change our current reality.
* Past does not EQUAL our Future.
* All you have is now, MAKE IT COUNT!
Become Autonomous (Once Again):
In our childhood we learnt everything through unregimented self-exploration and sheer force of willpower – like walking and talking. As children we found joy in the freedom of expression and creativity that unstructured play offers.
We had to explore, we had to touch, taste and smell everything. But, as we began to grow, we stopped playing to our strengths and started learning through text books. We started fearing failure and defeat when in reality only from adversity can we learn life’s biggest lessons.
Of all the things we can teach ourselves and our children, the virtue of patience – in a world of instant downloads, one-hour shipping, 1-minute meals – is the best tool we can use. Smart phones have made instant feedback almost the urgent need of our generation. But, children who are not taught the ability to train themselves to wait expect things in real life to happen instantly. Its our duty as parents to slow down the pace at which we provide for them with whatever they want (not need).
The ability to delay gratification means waiting patiently for our turn to come and our hardwork to bear fruits. Its no wonder, this is a huge factor in determining our resilience and our future success.
If we were all yes men to someone, not one thing on our list will ever get done. So its important to say “No” often so that you self-preserve. It can be said politely in so many ways. “No, I’m not able to do that.” “I am working on something that has a deadline. I can’t stretch myself further.” “I’m sorry, I can’t.” Simple. Don’t defend your niceness. And wouldn’t you rather be showing up and living up to your word if you said yes. Why say yes and struggle to keep up with commitments.
Pick Your Battles:
We mostly live our lives in a state of mental fog. We don’t define our own expectations, our boundaries and our goals. The problem with going with the flow is that we’re often at the whim others’ priorities and fighting for someone else’s agenda. Decide your daily top 3, weekly top 3 and your long term goals. Everything else can just slide. There’s literally no need to sweat the small stuff.
If humanity was to be described in one word, it might as well be “drama”. Take the lid off the pressure cooker you’ve created for yourself and breathe. Don’t take yourself seriously if you want to do something serious and important with life. Stay away from those energy vampires and create your core with people and ideas that lift you up rather than bring you down.
Let’s make our children anti-fragile by letting them handle life’s routine pressures. Real life needs courage. Are we making our children strong enough?
All around us there’s help in the form of physical sports activities and Math academies to help our children keep their bodies fit and shine in school. But, who’s offering help with our childrens’ brains? What are we doing to ensure their emotional wellbeing in the age of distraction addictions?
How are you doing? “Deeply insecure and extremely freaked out about my future.” I hope not, because, I was expecting your staple answer, “Doing great, and you?” Jokes apart, are you feeling unfocused, lazy and too overwhelmed to get to doing something meaningful with your life?
So, here it is. To live life not in the rote minutia but with a goal that’s bigger than you. Try this. Imagine you’ve got finite amount of days in your life left. Would you continue living the way you’re now, if you found out that you don’t have enough time to do everything you love??
Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.
~ Mary Shelley