life

What Really Matters in Life?

When you think about your life, do you think about what you don’t have? Or, do you think about all the things you have?

If you always think about what you do not have, do you find time to be grateful for what you have ?

In my conversation with people who seek my help, I always ask them “ What are you focusing on ?”, and more then often I get the feeling that they are a bit upset about the past, or worrying to much about future.

The simple truth is that we live only in present, so I say to them “let’s make each moment count! “. 

Once you understand this, and you break your negative beliefs, it is the moment to decide your goal and take action towards it. What will happen next is that you will immediately start to feel more alive, grateful, courageous, hopeful and genuinely more happier.

I would love to give you a magic formula for happiness, but I must tell you the truth. And the simple truth my friend, is that your success and happiness relies on the value you create for yourself and for others.

Nobody can decide for another human being what’s the thing that will make that person immensely happy or successful.

You get to decide for yourself But understand this, you enhance your life by understanding what matters the most for you and act accordingly with your core beliefs.

Below I’ve put down, in no particular order, different attitudes and actions that years of research on “What you need to be happy ?” have narrowed down to this:

  • have a positive attitude about life and future.
  • do sports at least once a week, often on a daily basis.
  • enjoy every moment and enjoys the simple pleasures of life.
  • pursue your goals and aspirations with perseverance.
  • have the power and the ability to cope with the difficulties tragedies and adversities.
  • have a full, socially active life and spend time engaging in the life of friends and family.

Did you decide?! Do you know what you have to do next?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mindfulness and Gratefulness

Meditation, Mindfulness and Gratefulness

 

When most people think about meditation, they imagine a person sitting in the lotus position trying their best not to scratch those itches. Because once you put yourself in the lotus position and stop moving, everything starts itching.

The bad news is that you WILL start feeling itchy the second you close your eyes. The good news, however, is that once you start doing it right (meditating), your itches go away. Your stressful thoughts go away. Your never-ending problems go away. 

Everything goes away.

Except you. 

You and the universe. 

You become one with the universe. 

You feel connected to everything and you feel compassion for everything.

You still feel good about the good stuff, and bad about the bad stuff. But you stop hating, you stop spiting.

You feel at peace.

You realize how bad it is and feel compassion for those who do wrong.

You feel their pain and you understand them.

You understand they’re wrong, you understand that they don’t understand.

And you realize that you can’t feel anger anymore, you can’t feel bored, you can’t feel pressed or stressed.

And you’re fine with it.

You’re fine.

If doing push-ups is a way of working out your body, meditation is a way of working out your brain.

Many people will feel a sense of entitlement once they start meditating. They will undoubtedly feel better than before, but unfortunately feel better as a person than every other person they know. That’s the path to enlightenment, but don’t worry, it will pass.

Meditation can also be done in groups. The most enlightening type of meditation I’ve tried was active meditation. We would spread out evenly in a large room, close our eyes, and let ourselves be guided by the guru. A tribal music would be beating away in the background, but as the time would pass, the beats would sound stronger and stronger. We would be instructed to forget about our thoughts and concentrate on our body. Later in the exercise we would move, jump and stretch with our eyes closed. That alone would disrupt us from our smartphone-driven lives. Half an hour later we would open our eyes and see everything in a new light. Our phones would now look more like a bunch of props from a movie scene, other people would look more like weird curious creatures in the wild. You would think everything would seem distorted, but the feeling we all got was that of clarity, focus, and presence.

I wish I could be more of a guide to you in your path to enlightenment, but this is not the kind of journey you read in article. The purpose of the article is to make you hungry, curious about your personal path, your personal development, and to make you realize you need a master, to teach you how to be better every day, and one day even outshine him, your master. You can!

 

What’s your personal experience with Mindfulness and Gratefulness?

Share your thoughts in a comment below, or respond in a new post and share the link.

I look forward to read your responses!

 

 

Mind Hacks

Mind Hacks

Our negative mindset can feel so powerful that we can easily lose sight of how quickly they can change for the better. They are significantly more malleable than you may believe. It’s no understatement to say that they’re often based on a house of cards.

These mind hacks originate from the Stoic Roman philosophers Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. We don’t need to re-invent the wheel; they had the answers thousands of years ago, before contemporary mindfulness, as we practice it in the West, was even a “thing”. Stoicism has been brought to the mainstream by contemporary philosopher Bill Irvine, as well as mindfulness teacher Sam Harris.

Here’s the crash course: What has happened to us is tragic; our quality of life is considerably better than that of our ancestors, but we’re not happier than they were. This depressing phenomenon is called hedonic adaptation: We get used to new pleasures, sources of happiness, and conveniences, and, thus, our threshold for what makes us happy inexorably rises. We become increasingly dissatisfied even as our lives get increasingly better.

For example, contemporarily, we continue to get used to luxuries, such as widespread internet, GPS, running water, and a flushing toilet, to the point that we have stopped appreciating them and, even worse, merely expect them. When this happens, our hedonic set-point (what needs to happen to make us happy, or feel good now) continues to climb progressively higher, leaving us in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction, no matter how much better our lives get.

To me, this is nothing short of a tragedy.

Unfortunately, the consumerist culture in the United States encourages hedonic adaptation by always trying to get us hooked on the “next best thing.” You can see this when WiFi or your iPhone malfunctions for a few minutes, and you righteously and indignantly complain: we’ve become entitled to a luxury that’s only over a decade old.

It also explains why a significant number of millionaires feel like failures because they’re not billionaires, and may be clinically depressed because of it. I’m not joking. Fortunately, we can interrupt hedonic adaptation and literally lower our hedonic set-points to wire our brains for more happiness.

Here are five hacks

1. Negative visualization is when you intentionally imagine how much worse your life would be if you didn’t have what you have.

This can refer to your relationships, car, friends, health, five intact senses, etc. It also includes imagining all the things that could have gone wrong, but haven’t. I know this doesn’t sound fun, but you’ll see its value after you do it, just like brushing your teeth when you just want to sleep, or going to work out even when you’re in a lethargic stupor. This seemingly basic mental hack directly lowers your hedonic set-point (so you’re happier more easily) and buffers you against the tragic hedonic adaptation ubiquitous in our society.

So, consider a few things, right now, that could be going wrong, or could have gone wrong, but haven’t. Imagine all the car accidents you could have had, earthquakes you could have endured, birth defects you could have been born with, or cancer you could have been diagnosed with, etc. Also, consider what it would be like to lose a few things that you really value now, such as your job, home, computer, spouse, health, and not having what you have.

This breaks the continual pattern of always wanting the next thing instead of savoring what you have. Happiness is really more about wanting what you have than getting the next thing.

2. Setbacks will happen; they’re inevitable.

You’ll bang your foot, you’ll get a ticket, a loved one will get sick, etc. So, wishing them away or dreading them simply causes more suffering. There’s an attractive alternative. Projective visualization is when you imagine a recent setback actually happening to someone else. This helps us get distance from our pain, because others’ misfortune is more palatable than our own. It really can take the edge off our own pain.

If a close friend had the setback, what would you tell them? How would you feel about what happened to them? It would seem more manageable and not as bad, right? This, in fact, is the “witnessing perspective” that we cultivate in mindfulness meditation. It’s also the root of loving-kindnessmeditation, in which we deliberately cultivate feelings of compassion and wellness for all.

This is also similar to video-game framing, in which you imagine a setback like you’re in a video game, and it’s a test of your resilience and strength—an enticing challenge to overcome.

3. Adopt the story-telling frame.

When misfortune strikes, which it inevitably will, instead of brooding and ruminating on it, you can document it, as carefully as you can, in a journal or free-association format (written or with spoken audio tech). Setbacks and misfortune, ironically, often make great stories. Humans have a unique affinity for stories; some of the best books and movies originate from this mental hack.

 

You can learn to put a smile in your mind by merely considering the happiest moments of your life or those of your loved ones. This takes a few minutes, and you can make it one of the best meditations in your life. Choose a joyous specific moment and imagine it visually, then access what you were hearing and feeling as well to engage all five senses to deepen it enough and savor your joy.

You can also picture your loved one’s smile in your mind, as well as literally hold your own smile. An additional hack: Holding a smile actually tricks our brain into being even happier (even if you know this!).


5. Embody the “last time” frame.

The sobering truth is that there will be a “last time” you do everything. I mean everything. With this in mind, even the most unpleasant and mundane tasks, such as cleaning your bathroom, being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or taking out the trash, can have a precious and poignant flavor to them. Slow down and enjoy them, at least a little.

 

Recommendations.

Yoga for Stress Relief

Yoga for Stress Relief

Did you ever consider to use breathing exercises, yoga poses, and meditation to calm your body and mind?

Did you know that an estimated 80 to 90 percent of visits to the doctor are stress-related ?! And that only less than 3% of doctors talk to their patients about how to reduce stress ? Or that Yoga, meditation, and other mind-body practices train the body and mind to be able to cope with stress better and improve overall health and well-being ?

In a national survey, over 85% of people who did yoga reported that it helped them relieve stress. Exercise is a very useful way to relieve stress, but yoga is different from spinning class or weight-lifting in that it powerfully combines both physical fitness with an underlying philosophy of self-compassion and awareness. 

One of the main concepts in yoga is being non-judgmental toward both yourself and others, which is a powerful tool for stress relief since much of our stress comes from us being hard on ourselves or frustrated with others.

A fundamental principle of yoga is that your body and mind are one and connected.

Stress in one domain will affect the other and vice versa. Many of us live primarily in either our mind or our body, which creates imbalance and even a lack of awareness. For example, people with very analytical careers may spend a lot of time in their mind, and may not realize how much tension is stored in their body. Or if you’re an athlete, you may be keenly aware of your body, but could benefit from becoming more aware of your mental state. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, yoga you helps balance and tone the connection between your body and mind.

Yoga also trains your counter-stress response system called the parasympathetic nervous system. With regular yoga practice, your chronic daytime stress hormone levels drop and your heart rate variability increases, which is measure of your ability to tolerate stress. This has been shown to improve even after a few sessions of yoga.

How can you integrate yoga into your daily life to get rid of stress?


1. Use your breath.

  • Breath is key to connect with your body and turn down the dial of stress.
  • Start with learning Ujjayi breath (a.k.a. Ocean Breath) and use it in each pose. Take a deep slow breath through your nose and exhale through your nose while constricting the back of your throat in the “ha” shape, but keep your mouth closed. Your breath should be loud enough that someone next to you could hear it and should sound like the waves of the ocean or like Darth Vader from Star Wars.
  • Try a calming breath called Alternate Nostril Breathing.

 

2. Here are yoga poses for stress relief. Use your Ujjayi breath in each pose.

 

  • Tara Brach, a psychologist and meditation teacher, describes this acronym RAIN— a mindfulness tool to help you deal with stress and cope with difficult situations:
  • R – Recognize what is happening
  • A – Allow life to be just as it is
  • I – Investigate inner experience with kindness
  • N – Non-Identification—the realization or awareness that we are not defined or limited by our emotions or stories.5. Aim to be kind to yourself.

 

  • Kindness and positive emotions protect and cushion you from the burdens of stress and have been shown to improve physical health and depression.
  • It’s really easy to learn to be hard on ourselves, so unlearning that self-judgment can be difficult but worthwhile. Being self-compassionate doesn’t come naturally for most people, so it takes concerted practice and intention every day.
  • How can you begin to remember to be kind to yourself on a daily basis? It’s different for everyone. Maybe you can give yourself time to spend time with a close friend, let yourself spend extra time playing music that you usually don’t let yourself enjoy, or perhaps try a loving kindness meditation.

 

By extending kindness and love to ourselves first and foremost, we are able to expand our ability to accept, forgive, and love.

Positive emotion will naturally grow around you and reduce stress both yourself and the people around you.

So even if you’re not doing a pose on your yoga mat, by being kind to yourself regularly every day, you are doing yoga in one of its most powerful forms.

 

 

 

Comfort Zone

From Outside Your Comfort Zone and Into “The Zone”

Your comfort zone is an awesome thing. 

          

You’ll always do something you know and love a lot better than something new and weird and complicated. That’s called the Flow. But you can only flow so much until you need to learn more about the new territory you’re advancing into.

This might seem a bit uneasy at times to a lot more people than you imagine. Including me, including you. The secret stands in planning and preparing.

         Ok, sure, there’s that. Doing homework. Planning something similar to what you did that one time shouldn’t be too hard. Learning about what where you’re going to go, planning what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it. You’ve done this before, it should be like a walk in the park.

            But then, there’s the other thing. How can you prepare something you know nothing about?! The path is to free your mind, become more focused, bring yourself into a proactive, calm and positive state of mind. This is what you should do. People don’t naturally do this. Just by preparing yourself for an event puts you in the right crowd. Then you can just run natural. You’ve already walked the gap.          

Comfort Zone

        We experience new things daily. We just don’t care about them that much to remember. And that’s… Well, that’s a filter, at least, if not something else. But even filters need to be cleaned out or replaced. I suggest you clean up your filters, review your attitude and fears and update your beliefs on a regular basis.

         Apply what you learn into everything you think you know. Compare things, judge them, change your mind a lot, make connections. That’s called learning. The actual learning. Not reading a piece of paper and remembering what’s on it, that’s merely memorizing.

Learning is updating what you already know (or you think you know) about something. We all remember a person we see enough times, a street we cross daily, a song we hear. But learning is getting to know about that person in relation with other aspects of your life, their life and somebody else’s life.

Learning is thinking how that street is linked to other streets, understanding where it starts, what it crosses, and where it ends. Learning is getting to know who’s playing that song, being able to reproduce parts of it, getting the lyrics, getting the beat. That’s learning!

            So is this article is about learning or comfort zones? Yes, yes it is. Comfort = learning + fearfulness. Once you take on your fears, you’re ready to go outside your comfort zone. Ready to flow. For you can only flow into What should you do about your fear of the unknown?


Grow out of it.

            Most of our fears have underlying causes. Fun fact: did you know that every time we think of or remember something, we actually remember the last time we thought of or remembered that? That means that for every time we feared something, we amplified or fearful state many times over. To overcome a fear you need a new perspective. You need a new take on life, on your purpose, on the importance of things, your place in the world.

              The best approach is to take on your fears when you’re not directly confronted with them. Do your homework, research your fears. Ask a friend, get a mentor, maybe call up a psychologist. Then take them down step by step. First step I believe you done it today!

Agree?

 

 

 

How To Stop Negative Thinking And Start Feeling Better

Like just about everyone else, I own a smartphone. My phone, a iPhone 7 is pretty darned smart, and I’ve grown accustomed to it.

Every once in a while, though, it acts kind of stupid. It will shut down while I’m trying to look at something or write a note. Or its smart little screen will get stuck while I’m flipping through photos.

When this happens, I’ve got the solution. Like so many other pieces of technology I own, I just shut my phone off for a minute, let it rest, and turn it back on again. It emerges from its nap all refreshed and ready to do more smart things for me.

In some ways, our brains are like smartphones. The visible stuff like producing speech and guiding your fingers to the right phone keys is just part of what’s going on. You know how that feels – you’re typing up a letter at work, and your brain is feeding you anxious about your checking account or nagging you for eating too much at lunch. It never seems to stop.

My friends, clients and even people that I don’t know that well, told me that they’re always running, always working, always tired. I ask them what they’ve done for themselves lately, and the answer is always the same – and usually comes after a slightly embarrassed pause. “Nothing.”

At this point especially with my clients, I do a little experiment. I have them close their eyes, if they’re comfortable with that, and I lead them on a one-minute guided breathing exercise. No point to it, no destination, just one minute of slow breathing. I tell them that if those anxious thoughts try to crowd into their breathing space, just notice them and then let them go. Observe and describe. “Oh, there’s a thought about money. Goodbye, thought about money.” “Hey, I’m judging myself for not being able to do a freaking breathing exercise correctly. Hi, judgment, I’m noticing you. Goodbye, judgment.”

And so on.

After a minute, I bring them back into the room. They’re often very reluctant to come back from that nice, centered, non-judgmental breathing space. I ask them when the last time they took even one minute to do nothing at all but breathe, and practice kindness to themselves. Again, the answer comes – never.

Next time you’re at work in a frenzied day, close your office door if you can, or just find a place to go (bathroom? Hopefully the boss won’t chase you there, although I had one in my past work life who would!) and take one minute for yourself. Breathe. Observe and describe your thoughts, and let them go. If it helps, visualize yourself next to a stream, and let your thoughts be washed by water. Now, you feel love and compassion for them, calm and relief.

If you still have a bit of anxiety, or negative thoughts that persist, release them it into the stream. Repeat.

If you’re lucky, this will become a habit. Everyone has one minute per day to spare. The more you visit your brain, the better you’ll get at quickly finding an uncrowded corner in which to relax.

One minute, one day. Try it.