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.

Warming up for 2020

How would you like to start your new year? Any new year resolutions? Are there aspects of your life that you’re excited to change?

Surely you have plans to start chasing your goals and build in healthier routines. I’d like to use this post to discuss how we can start the new year with a bang.

I’m not at all an advocate for waiting till new years to start making progress. Which is why I think this is such an important topic, to see how we can utilize the time we have NOW, to work towards our aspirations.

By starting small, dreaming big, loads of reflection and gratitude, I’d like to help you successfully transition into the new year.

There is a psychological advantage in starting the new year on a clean slate, as it builds momentum. So let’s dive into how we can use these tricks and utilize our brains most effectively.

Start now

It takes around 2 months of consistent dedication to a create a habit. If you start thinking now of what you’d like to implement in 2020, you’ll already have an advantage.

Remember that time is a relative concept, we each experience it differently; although it passes at the same rate. So don’t add too much pressure on yourself to perfect new routines at the very start of the year.

By using December to warm up to your goals, you’ll enter the new year ready to rumble.

Start small

Here’s something that I’ve mentioned before: Start small. It’s such a recurring pattern that I keep witnessing; diving into large goals and getting overwhelmed.

A mental trick is to start small and make the first step as easy as possible.

You’re trying to build up towards massive goals and become the best version of yourself. Move from conscious incompetence, to unconscious competence. Once it becomes comfortable doing the easy task, make it a little more challenging.

Remember: Growth only occurs in a state of discomfort.

Stay consistent

The key to all mastery? Consistency. This is something else that I often find when people fail to achieve their new year resolutions; they stop being consistent.

Self-love is essentially keeping at your craft and taking care of yourself. It’s pushing one more rep at the gym. It’s refusing to go out when you haven’t exercised or read for the day. It’s refusing to order pizza when it isn’t your cheat day. It’s journalling consistently and working on your emotional intelligence.

Be like the sun. It rises and sets everyday without fail.

“We are what we do repeatedly. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Yes that quote is a little overused, but it’s very true. First we form our habits, then our habits form us.

Don’t stop believing in yourself. Especially when it gets difficult. That’s where it counts the most. Everyone can make progress when it’s easy or when it’s a good day. It’s about making progress when it’s difficult or when you dread it.

Read, reflect, plan and grow

If you have been journalling throughout the year, now is the time to look back on those entries and see the changes you’ve endured. You’ve survived all the tough times and achieved so many goals. Celebrate your accomplishments!

Embrace the progress and reflect on your life in general. See what has worked and what hasn’t worked for you. There’s so much to learn from our own life, if we just give it a little more attention.

All the L’s that I’ve received this year are just Lessons.

“I never fail or lose, I always learn.” Keep that mentality and nothing can crush your momentum. Foster a growth mindset and your blessings will be so much clearer.

As for planning and growing, my post on time management sums it up pretty well. If you can form structure in your life, your days will become exponentially more productive. Don’t forget to write down your goals and visualize yourself achieving them. Consistently.

Stay mindful, give thanks & forgive

Stay mindful of your thoughts and behaviours. Notice the aspects of your mentality that are holding you back. Remove the self-doubt and negative self-talk. Once you become aware of a thought or emotion, it no longer holds any weight over you.

Don’t be afraid to feel. Don’t be afraid to fall or fail. Don’t be afraid of rejection. Life is a set of trials and errors. If you’re not willing to make mistakes, you’ll never come up with anything original.

Focus on your blessings. Think of all you have to be grateful for every single day. Think of how blessed you are to live through another year. Remember that death is the only guarantee we have in life, so live each day as if it’s your last.

This Kurzgesagt video perfectly explains gratitude! One of the best YouTube videos I’ve come across.

Do yourself another massive favour and learn to forgive. Holding onto grudges only causes more suffering for you. Does it make sense to start a new year with resentment of the past? Make peace with your demons and those who’ve done you wrong.

Not for them. For you. Forgiveness is another form of self-love. It’s a reflection of your character and the type of person you are. The more you’re able to forgive, the more peace and clarity you’ll witness in your life.

This post was meant to be a quick summary of my favourite topics. I want us all to try our best, each and every single day. Don’t wait for the new year to start. Now is all you have. You don’t know if you’ll have another day to live. Spread love, joy and peace to your best ability, each and everyday.

Smile more. Laugh more. Be grateful. Be merciful. And most importantly, don’t be crippled by fear. Life favours the bold and courageous. You are fully capable of achieving your wildest goals and ambitions, don’t let anyone (especially you!) stop you.

Self-actualization

I’ve been choosing topics from my Instagram followers and I think this one is super interesting. I’ll be speaking from my own understanding of what self-actualization is; finding a fulfilling way to live life.

The aspects that I’ll be considering are: Going inwards, understanding your environment and asking questions. I’d also like to emphasize how important contentment is (again), especially with regards to having a healthier outlook on life.

The reason I repeat topics are for it to serve as a reminder.

Going inwards (Reflection, introspection, journalling, meditating)

Being non-judgmental towards yourself and others. This is something we don’t pay enough attention to. We’re constantly in a state of judging. Whether we choose to be conscious of it or not. Our minds are quick at naming, blaming, comparing, and judging. Ourselves first and foremost.

Going inwards constitutes that we notice the thoughts that arise. No attachment, just awareness. Treat thoughts like clouds in the sky. They’re always different, always changing, and usually unpredictable. When we attach ourselves to thoughts or judge ourselves for the thoughts that we do have, we act as if the sky is in a permanent state.

But how untrue is that? Considering that change is inevitable, we should be kinder in dealing with our thoughts. Let’s look at a few ways to do just that.

-Meditating. The reason we should sit down and give ourselves space to let thoughts come and go, is to truly realize how impermanent they are. This would constitute setting a specific time every day (preferably early in the morning or just before you go to bed), to just let your mind wander. No attachment, just observation.

I like to think of it as going to the gym for your brain. You’re training your mind to be more present & to detach yourself from distractions.

Journalling. Oh hey, it’s this again! I honestly keep bringing this up because it has proven to be paramount in developing self-awareness. When you journal consistently, you gain insight on thought and behavioural patterns that you would otherwise just ignore.

Journalling provides a space for you to unwrap thoughts and ideas that are just floating around in your mind. It allows you to dump out unnecessary thoughts too, and clears up your mind. You also become very aware of trends in your life, that you can improve on or correct. I’d also recommend doing this either in the morning or before bed.

Consistency is the key to mastery. So make sure you try and implement both these habits on a regular basis, to truly reap their benefits.

Understanding your environment (Parents, friends, school)

Are we shaped by our circumstances? Are we able to change those circumstances? How much are we affected by our peers? How do we try to live up-to other people’s expectations of us?

Reasons reap benefits. Remember to keep asking your self important questions. This allows you to reflect quite easily on the person you’ve become. So let’s try and answer some of these questions, then dive into deeper ones.

A huge part of our psyche has been shaped in our childhood. This always fascinates me because that’s where we usually have the least control. Our parents, peers and environment largely shape the type of people we end up becoming.

We definitely do have inherent and innate talents, as well as some control in the way we deal with our circumstances. But they’re still influenced by the way we were brought up. Understanding yourself therefore requires unwrapping the parts of you that you never think of. The younger versions of yourself. The parts that you’ve evolved to ignore.

When we’re able to be vulnerable with ourselves, there’s no limit to how much we can learn. Just look at the past year. You’re nowhere near the same person you were at the end of 2018 (hopefully). Indulge in the lessons.

Constantly think back on what has worked for you. What hasn’t worked for you. Areas of your life that you want to improve. Areas of your life that have already improved.

More Questions

  • Why am I here?
  • What is my purpose?
  • How can I contribute?
  • How long will I be here for?
  • What happens next?

Start your day by refreshing your intentions. Ask yourself important questions. Think clearly of your vision. If you don’t have one yet, work towards it.

Now (Is all there is)

How can we use the present moment to extract valuable lessons from the past, to make wiser decisions in the future?

By being conscious of where you are now. By realizing that there is no way back, time only moves forward. By understanding that there is no such thing as failure or defeat, only lessons to be learnt.

By being vulnerable. Stop holding yourself back based on what other people are going to think. Have the courage to be yourself. Fully immerse yourself in the present moment by being vulnerable with those you love.

I spoke about how being vulnerable with yourself opens up doorways to learning. Being vulnerable with others opens up doorways for teaching.

Don’t fear failure. Don’t fear rejection. Don’t fear being laughed at. You are meant to live your best life, and achieve your full potential. Whatever that means to you. Take the leap of faith. Chase your dreams. Follow what ignites the flame within.

It must be acknowledged that self-actualization is something achieved through privilege. Only once your physiological and safety needs are met, can you truly start to climb the ladder. It’s crucial therefore, to be grateful if you’re able to start developing a feeling of belonging and high self-esteem.

To wrap things up, I just want to talk a little about gratitude. If you’re reading this, it means you’re probably high up in the hierarchy of needs. This is something to be extremely grateful for. There are so many other people who can’t achieve their dreams or pursue their passions, purely because of their socio-economic status.

Being thankful is the least we can do, alongside helping other people, to truly find contentment in life. I’m going to end by bringing up this wonderful quote again, because it’s imperative to this topic.

“You find yourself, when you lose yourself in the service of others.”

Time management

I’ve been requested to talk a little about time management, so let’s give it a go. I’d like to first try and define time, or at least come to an understanding of what it is. Then we can dive into how to maneuver through the time we have. I aim to make you feel more comfortable with all the time we have.

The advice that I share here is not something that I expect you to follow or do. My intention is for you to absorb the wisdom behind it, and apply it in your own way. We each have our own idea of what is considered valuable and our own set of responsibilities.

We find value in different activities and behaviours, therefore there can’t be a guide on what to spend your time doing. We can try and find healthy habits, which enable us to find more time in our rigorously busy schedules. Again, we each have our own idea of healthy, so let me elaborate on what I mean by that.

Healthy to me is something that enables you to find fulfillment, contentment and contributes to longevity and endurance. Let’s try and form some healthy habits, which can enable us to spend more time on what we consider to be valuable.

What is time?

Such an arbitrary concept. Something we’ve made up to allow us to fully utilize the changing of the seasons and to form some structure. Like an opinion, time is perceived differently by everyone.

The young (who often have less to do) feel it passing by slowly, anticipating boredom. The old (who often have much more to do) feel it slipping between their fingers, hardly able to hold onto a few minutes.

Tomorrow is a fiction of our imagination. Yesterday will never return. Today is all there is. Keeping that in mind, let’s utilize the present moment with structure, consistency and some balance.

Structure -Necessary as a base.

This is forming a skeleton of your ideal day. Think of it as the foundation of your empire. How do we form structure? By setting out goals and objectives, each and every day. To do lists work exceptionally well here. Before you start the day, set out specific tasks that you’d like to accomplish.

This cannot be random. You need to look at your schedule, and fill in the gaps with whatever you need to get done. I cannot emphasize how important it is for you to have a solid morning routine. If you haven’t already, check out my post on The 5 AM Club.

Writing down objectives of the day is relatively simple. Following through and respecting it is a completely different ball game. To actually notice a difference, you need to be committed to your craft.

You need to love yourself enough to keep your promises. So don’t treat the list like it’s insignificant.

Follow through. Work hard. Don’t end the day without ticking everything off. Find the satisfaction in pursuing the targets. [Reasonably of course]

Here are a few examples of what I put on my list everyday:

  • Morning Routine (Pray, meditate, journal, 10-20 min exercise)
  • Read (30 min a day)
  • Blog (I’m ticking this off rn!)
  • Attend lectures and complete tutorials for the day
  • Gym (or some other form of exercise)
  • Cook (or just prepare lunch)

You don’t want your day to be overloaded, but you don’t want it to be bare either. Find slots in your day to fit in important activities and don’t allow procrastination to push you off track. Watching series aimlessly or scrolling on your phone for hours will definitely suck up valuable time.

Leave your comfort zone. Be ambitious. Dream wildly.

Structure curates a space for spontaneity and creativity. It only becomes mundane or boring when you allow it to be. Continue to explore in your free time and find something to learn.

Consistency– Necessary in order to keep the structure in tact.

This is something else I love speaking about. Consistency! Little by little, a little becomes a lot. To be successful in any aspect of your life, there are certain actions which you just have to repeat.

Want to be fit? Exercise consistently. Want to be smarter? Read and learn consistently. Want to form healthier relationships? Show your love and care consistently.

So in order to manage your time better, the key most definitely lies in consistency. When you’re consistent with the structure you’ve formed, it opens up time for you to do more. You gain confidence from consistency because you know what to expect from yourself (to a certain degree). That confidence enables you to move forward and make progress towards your goals.

So with structure and consistency, we need to find balance. To ensure we’re living a wholesome life, where we’re constantly contributing, and being leaders to those around us.

Balance – Resting is necessary.

Having such a rigorous schedule definitely sounds exhausting, that’s why we should always account for some rest time.

Your structure should include time for you to rest, recover and reload. Make sure that you’re getting the right amount of sleep every night. Make sure that you’re putting in exercise at least 2-3 times a week. Make sure that you’re spending some time in nature too.

I can’t emphasize how important it is to spend time around nature and to just let your mind wander. Being bored can be very healthy. You need to give yourself time to allow thoughts and ideas to manifest and come to fruition.

Find a balance academically, spiritually, mentally and physically. My post on equilibrium explains it in much more detail.

Islamic perspective

Salah (Prayer). One of the most fascinating aspects of Islam to me, is that we have 5 obligatory prayers each day. This kind of puts what I’m speaking about into the spotlight; structure, consistency and balance. The structure and consistency of these prayers, enables us to revive our spiritual relationship with God each and everyday.

Knowing very well when it’s time to pray, allows us to work around it. Making it easier to slot things into an organized schedule.

I know everyone follows a different belief system, but it’s still critical to form some type of spiritual practice.

I want to change the self-fulfilling prophecy that people say: “I don’t have enough time”. It’s just not a good enough excuse for your strive towards mediocrity.

We all have the same amount of time, some people learn to use it more effectively than others. It mostly depends on what you choose to prioritize.

Utilize your time more effectively by building some structure. Form a schedule that works best for you and respect it. Being consistent is the best way to show yourself some love, and to build confidence in your ability to follow things through. Lastly, find balance within the structure. Your mind, body and soul all need to be taken care off.