Awareness is the first step to changing perspective

The daily grind.  You know, the day in, day out.  I’ve griped about it before.  But maybe my focus is misplaced.

It seems like some people are good at just being.  They flow with the natural rhythms of life.  Then there’s others, like me, who’s constant mental chatter just gets in the way.  While redirecting thought patterns has been difficult in the past, I’m beginning to understand that it makes all the difference.

Check out this video for some concrete advice on reigning in those damn thought trains.

And here’s a few tips I’ve cherry picked from a great article on life’s secrets:

The more we know about ourselves, the more power we have to behave better. Humility is underrated. We each have an infinite capacity for self-deception — countless unconscious ways we protect ourselves from pain, uncertainty, and responsibility — often at the expense of others and of ourselves. Endless introspection can turn into self-indulgence, but deepening self-awareness is essential to freeing ourselves from our reactive, habitual behaviors. 

Notice the good. We each carry an evolutionary predisposition to dwell on what’s wrong in our lives. The antidote is to deliberately take time out each day to notice what’s going right, and to feel grateful for what you’ve got. It’s probably a lot.

Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.

Develop an endless curiosity about this world. Become an explorer and view the world as your jungle. Stop and observe all of the little things as completely unique events. Try new things. Get out of your comfort zone and try to experience as many different environments and sensations as possible. This world has so much to offer, so why not take advantage of it?

Learn to focus only on the present. The past is unchangeable so it is futile to reflect on it unless you are making sure you do not repeat past mistakes. The future is but a result of your actions today. So learn from the past to do better in the present so that you can succeed in the future.

Even more specifically, live in THIS moment. Even 10 minutes ago is the past. If you live purely in this moment you will always be happy because there is nothing wrong in this split-second.

Smile more often. Whenever you get a grin on your face, your brain is releasing serotonin, the happy hormone. Smiling is the natural way to force yourself to be happy. Many people even smile for five minutes straight in the morning to get themselves in a great mood for the day. It is a very powerful tool that is utilized less and less as we grow older and need happiness more than ever. Just remember that while happiness leads to smiles, smiles also lead to happiness.

Don’t take life so seriously! Learn to laugh at the little things and this whole “existence” thing will be a whole lot easier. Be amused by your mistakes and failures and be thankful that you learned your lesson and won’t mess up like that again. And most importantly do things that you enjoy! Life is not strictly business, it can be mixed with pleasure.

Think positive thoughts. When you find yourself thinking a negative, stop it immediately. Do whatever it takes to get back to a positive mindset as such is essential for continual happiness and success.

Set aside a specific time to worry each day. Ponder all of your problems and anxieties during that time so that they will not distract you during work or moments of pleasure. This way you can be extremely efficient with your time and avoid focusing on negative things as much as possible. If you get all of your worry out of the way and have the mental fortitude to keep from reverting back to them, you will be much happier on the daily

The Rubber Band Method. This is the third way to rid yourself of negative thoughts. Place a rubber band around your wrist and snap it against your skin anytime a negative thought finds its way into your head. This operant conditioning technique associates a slight pain with negative thoughts like Pavlov associated food/salivation with the sound of a bell. Sounds a bit cruel at first but it only stings for a second. Plus the outcome, having only positive thoughts, far outweighs a little slap on the wrist here and there.

Visualize daily. It has been said and proven time and time again that what you focus on is what you get. If you complain all of the time, you will run into more of the things you complain about. The same goes for good things like health, wealth and happiness. So spend some time in the morning imagining yourself achieving whatever it is that you currently desire. Focus is key in this exercise, so choose a quiet environment where you won’t be disturbed. If you’re having trouble focusing and continually find that your mind has wandered to something else, read about meditation in the following life tip. There is a lot more to this concept, so check out the full article on visualization and the law of attraction here.

Meditate everyday for at least 20 minutes. In this modern world where everyone is so connected to everything else via cell phones, TV and internet, most people rarely enjoy the beauty of silence. The ability to quiet your mind and relax your body is an art and skill that everyone should develop. Simply sit somewhere, preferably in nature, and focus on your breathing or try to think about nothing. This is going to be extremely hard at first! You might find it boring or just plain impossible to think of nothing, but you will get better and you will learn to love it. Post-meditation, you will feel extremely clear-headed and wonderful. The only way to really understand this sensation is to try it.

Learn to control your mind. What kind of skilled human are you if you cannot even control your own thoughts? While the human mind is described as being a stream of consciousness, that does not mean you can’t decide where your stream flows. Techniques like meditation and the 3 ways to flush out negative thoughts will aid you immensely in learning to control your mind.

Learn to control your emotions. The only person that can make you unhappy is you! You are the one that decides to be affected by the words and actions of others. Realize this so that the next time you experience a negative emotion, you can find the strength within yourself to overcome it.

Learn to use and trust your subconscious/intuition. When you spend time in silence everyday, listen not for words but for a feeling that tells you to do something. Do not mistake your own reasoning and thoughts for those of your subconscious. If you can track where the thought came from, (this thought led to that thought which led to this thought, etc.) then it was not from your subconscious. Learning to accurately discern between the two will allow you to tap into knowledge that you don’t consciously have.

Love is all there is. If you truly want to be a master of life, let love be in your every action. Love your friends, family and enemies alike. Think Gandhi. Love is so rare in this world when compared to the massive presence of hate that by exuding love, you will immediately see yourself and the people around you change.

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