Mindful Monday #4

Do you want to find peace of mind and learn how to deal with disappointments?

I hope by now the practice of mindfulness is becoming an ingrained aspect of your life. I’ll keep talking about the different ways in which I calibrate my mind to stay present and the thought processes that help me get going.

In today’s post, I’ll run you through certain aspects of our thinking that we should try and take control of. This includes dealing with expectations, disappointment, hope and forgiveness.

Make sure your life vest is strapped on, it’s about to get deep.

Expectations

It’s almost impossible not to have expectations. It’s an evolutionary advantage to some extent. The key then, is to be conscious of those expectations and understand when they might be flawed.

Whether you agree with me or not, you’re constantly expecting certain things to happen. When you’re hungry, you expect yourself to get food. When you’re tired, you expect yourself to get some rest. When you’re out with your friends, you expect yourself to have a great time.

Issues arise when our expectations don’t coincide with reality.

More often than not, that’s exactly what happens. The food we ordered didn’t taste as lekker as we thought it would. We couldn’t fall asleep because our minds were restless. We didn’t enjoy our outing with friends because of complicated dynamics.

Our projection of reality is a direct reflection of what’s going on inside of us. The more we’re able to accept the fact that life is unpredictable, the better we’re able to expect more realistically.

Why then, do we get disappointed so often?

Disappointments

When our minds aren’t calibrated to the way reality functions, we constantly expect outcomes that aren’t feasible. I’m not saying don’t be a dreamer or don’t have ambitions beyond your current limitations. All I’m saying is that you shouldn’t allow yourself to fall prey to the mind’s illusion.

Disappointments are essentially a result of our expectations not being met. That is completely in your control. Who else made you expect that?

It’s infuriating yet absolutely liberating. We have control over our thoughts (to a certain degree). We therefore have control over our expectations. Which ultimately means, we are in control over our disappointments.

The more we expect, the more false hope we have, the more we’re disappointed. We need to constantly bring ourselves back to the present.

Hope

What is life without hope? Despair and despondency are satan’s allies.

When life gives you lemons, you squeeze the hell out of them and make something delicious. Then, you take the seeds and plant more lemon trees, giving you more lemons to squeeze. Thanks life.

Our minds are like gardens. Every thought is a seed that will eventually bloom. When we plant seeds of hope and positivity, it results in a plethora of beautiful flowers. Hope gives us something to look forward to.

As always, we need to acknowledge the fact that now is all we have. The way to utilize hope is to take action now. Be conscious of the seeds that are being planted in your garden and put in the effort to remove thoughts which aren’t serving you.

Hope is just another form of expectation. It must therefore be realistic for it to serve you.

Do you want to know how to remove weeds from infecting your mind’s garden? Through forgiveness.

Forgiveness

Possibly one of the best things you can do for yourself. It’s a concept that absolutely develops your characters and allows you to become a beacon of mercy. When we’re able to forgive others, regardless of all the wrong they’ve done to us, our gardens start to flourish.

This is not to say that we should ignore those faults and allow people to step over us. But let go of the mental baggage. Let go of resentment. Let go of the hate, envy, grudges and toxicity.

The mental clarity and relief you obtain from forgiving others is like no other. 

Keep in mind that forgiving yourself is just as crucial. You need to accept the mistakes you make – you’re only human after all. Love yourself by being kind enough to forgive yourself. Make a definitive plan to move forward and learn from where you’ve messed up.

By now, you should see the point I’m trying to make. Most us don’t take time out to mow the lawn or get rid of alien plants. It’s up to us to take charge of our mental garden and look after it. The thoughts we have directly influence our behaviour. Our behaviour ultimately influences our mood and emotional state. This cycles back to our thoughts.

By being realistic in your expectations and understanding that life is full of disappointments, you should find solace in maneuvering through your thoughts. Hope and forgiveness are key aspects of acceptance, don’t let go of them.

Mindful Monday #1

Have you stopped to admire the sky today? Did you take a moment to notice how the colours on the leaves are changing? Why do we always find a way to escape the present moment?

I’m starting a little series called ‘Mindful Monday‘. I’ve been part of a similar course before, so I just thought I’d make my own version of it.

This can be a space for us to talk about certain topics every week. I’d like to talk more about what makes you mindful of yourself and how you stay present. I’ll expand on the ideas to help us all gain some better self-awareness.

Please comment on what you’d like me to discuss over the next post and what intrigued you about this one.

I also realized that we’re going to have to be willing to develop ourselves, before we are capable of helping others.

We should start appreciating what we have within our current circumstances. Understand how now is all that we have and that we should really stay mindful of our daily habits.

Later

It’s always about stressing with regards to the future. The meeting at 1 pm. The assignment due at 5 pm. The assignment starting next Monday. The gym session at 8 pm. Making something to eat when you get home. Trying to wake up at 5 am.

Tomorrow always has more to come. It somehow feels like chasing infinity.

Wondering how the 4th industrial revolution is going to change our lives. Are the machines taking over? Why is there so much AI?

Accept, plan and do one thing at a time.

History

Or it’s remembering how tough yesterday was. How exhausted we are from the intense working hours. The sly remark someone made about us. How amazing the holiday was.

All but a fiction of the imagination, playing to our current perspective of past events. Accept, learn and let go.

Breathe

It’s the easiest way to ground yourself. Take a deep breath through your lower abdomen. Do it repeatedly for like a minute and you’re bound to feel present.

It’s incredible how you can only breathe in the present moment. You can’t really breathe later, or breathe in the past. You can only breathe now.

Wouldn’t that make breathing, the essence of your life?

To stay a little more mindful, why not try and breathe with more intent. Focus on the sky for a little longer each morning. Be grateful for having yet another beautiful day. Take in a whiff of the delicious coffee. Let the piece of chocolate melt on your tongue.

We’ll get through this. It gets tough sometimes, but you’re tougher. It gets lonely sometimes, but you’re loved. It gets stressful at times, but you’re capable.

We should be eager to try our best. Without fail. Each and every day. Not being afraid of failure or criticism. Not letting the world tell us no! Just not yet.

5 tips to help you with tough decisions

When was the last time you were stuck making a difficult choice? Do you feel like there’s a decision that will change the rest of your life? There’s always going to be a point in our lives when we’re going to have to make a sacrifice between several options, to move forward.

This post will deal with how to approach difficult decisions. Not in the sense where you’ll figure out exactly what to do, but rather a guiding tool to help you understand your situation better.

Better awareness, leads to better choices which ultimately leads to better result. So let’s try and enhance our self-awareness skill-set. I’ll dive into asking the right questions, starting with why, walking, then finding time to sit with your thoughts, praying & writing.

It’s like another collage of all my favourite topics. But again, reminders are extremely important, especially when you can use the concepts in every aspect of your life.

1-Ask the right questions

Questions are the answer. Every thought you have is a result of some question you’ve asked yourself. Once you realize the impact that has on you, you’ll be able to start asking yourself better questions.

I’ll give a few examples of what you can ask yourself in face of difficult decisions, but you should try and find what works best for you. Use them according to your own needs & circumstances.

  • Will this be in line with my values?
  • Why am I doing this?
  • Will this help me serve others?
  • What do I feel passionate about?
  • If I were to die tomorrow, will this really matter?
  • What impact do I want to have on the world?

Ask those questions relative to the options you have & use the most relevant answers to guide you.

I know some of these questions are rather vague, but you shouldn’t be expecting an immediate answer either way. It’s about giving yourself something to ponder over, and assisting your intuition to serve you.

2-Start with why

Another key aspect that directly relates to questions, ask yourself why you’re doing this. Find out the root cause of your indecision. Remember that the Golden Circle has 3 components, as introduced by Simon Sinek.

If both decisions are in line with your WHY, then you’ll have to do a lot more work. This would require some introspection and self-awareness. This comes in the form of meditation (or sitting in stillness) and journalling.

3-Go for a walk then sit in stillness

Walking as many of you may already know, is one of the healthiest habits to have. Not only does it serve as a mild form of exercise -which in itself has tremendous benefits- but it also does wonders for the brain.

Walking specifically helps you digest thoughts, get more creative, and deeply reflect. These mental benefits can’t be attributed to other forms of intense exercise (such as gyming or running), as those will distract your mind.

After giving yourself a topic to ponder over, go on a 15-20 minute walk (preferably in nature). When you’re back, find a safe space to sit in stillness. This would also be a lot better if you’re surrounded by nature.

Allow thoughts to come and go, without judgment or force. Focus on your breath initially, to immerse yourself in the present moment. Then allow yourself to reflect over the decisions you need to make.

You can also use your previous experiences to help you with the thought process. We’re feedback machines. We’re constantly learning from our mistake (hopefully), and using that knowledge to make better decisions in the future. So think of aspects in your life where you needed to make tough decisions and reflect on how it turned out.

4-Identify pros, cons and alternatives

Part of your introspection can include identifying the pros and cons in your decisions. Don’t dive too deeply into this, but use it to see if a certain decision would be far better than the others.

We often hold onto a tunnel vision and see things from one point of view. Look for alternatives (if possible) and try to identify other perspectives.

Asking people for advice can also work, but don’t rely too much on their opinion. Remember that it’s you who’ll have to live with the decision for the rest of your life (no pressure).

5-Pray, write & choose what feels right

Pray for guidance and constantly remember your purpose in life. We haven’t been created randomly. We’re here to each serve a cause greater than ourselves.

Time and time again, I bring up the notion of death. That’s because this life isn’t going to last forever. Don’t give decisions too much weight over you. There’s always room for learning and forgiveness.

Keep a tab of your thoughts by writing in a journal. This will allow you to easily notice patterns and aspects of your life that you wouldn’t otherwise see. It also gives you a bird’s eye point of view, seeing yourself from a completely different perspective.

At the end of the day, choose what feels right. The aforementioned tips will only serve as guide to help your intuition.

There’s no right or wrong. Life is full of lessons. Whatever you end up choosing, embrace it fully and live your best life. We can’t determine the outcome, but we can always choose our response. So choose optimism. Choose growth. Choose to learn.

Now is all we have, so let’s be thankful for that and strive to contribute to our best ability.