We are only limited by the things that we allow to limit us from within. The keys to success and productivity are already
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A simple guide to be mindful throughout the day—whether you're washing the dishes, eating a snack, or sitting down to meditate.
By Jeffrey Brantley
Have you ever started eating an ice cream cone, taken a lick or two, then noticed all you had was a sticky napkin in your hand? Or been going somewhere and arrived at your destination only to realize you haven’t noticed anything or anyone you met along the way? Of course you have! These are common examples of “mindlessness,” or as some people put it, “going on automatic pilot.” Which may lead you to wonder—how can I bring more mindfulness into my everyday life?
We all fall into habits of mind and body, of attention and inattention, which result in our not being present for our own lives. The consequences of this inattention can be quite costly. They can result in our missing some really good things, and also in our ignoring really important information and messages about our life, our relationships, and even our own health.
We all fall into habits of mind and body, of attention and inattention, which result in our not being present for our own lives.
An important antidote to this tendency to “tune-out,” to go on “automatic pilot,” is to practice mindfulness. To practice mindfulness means to pay more careful attention in a particular way. We all have the quality of mindfulness in us. It is the quality of bare awareness that knows what is here in the present moment. Mindfulness knows what is going on outside, and also, inside our own skin.
Our reactions to the stressful events of our lives can become so habituated that they occur essentially out of our awareness, until, because of physical or emotional or psychological dysfunction, we cannot ignore them any longer. These reactions can include tensing the body, experiencing painful emotional states, even panic and depression, and being prisoners of habits of thinking and self-talk including obsessional list making, and intense, even toxic self-criticism.
All we have to do is to establish attention in the present moment, and to allow ourselves to be with what is here.
So, we can practice mindfulness and become more present. All we have to do is to establish attention in the present moment, and to allow ourselves to be with what is here. To rest in the awareness of what is here. To pay attention without trying to change anything. To allow ourselves to become more deeply and completely aware of what it is we are sensing. And to be with what it is we are experiencing. To rest in this quality of being, of being aware, in each moment as our life unfolds.
And, to the extent we can practice “being” and become more present and more aware of our life and in our life, the “doing” we do about all of it, will be more informed, more responsive, and less driven by the habits of reaction and inattention.
Make the effort! Whenever you think of it in your day or night, remember that you can be more mindful. See for yourself what it might be like to pay more careful attention and to allow yourself to experience directly what is here, especially including what is here in your own body, heart, and mind.
There are three simple ways you can add more mindfulness to your daily life:
In these situations, use the sensation of the breath as the “anchor” for awareness in the present moment. Establish mindfulness on the narrow focus of just the breath sensation. Allow yourself to feel the breath as it goes in, and goes out and the pause between in and out. Do not try to control the breath. Simply let it come and go. Bring as much attention, as completely and continuously as you can to the direct sensation of the breath.
After awhile, if you wish, when you have established awareness on the breath sensation, you could widen the focus to include all body sensations along with the breath sensation. Again, not trying to change anything at all. Simply allow yourself to feel, and be aware of the changing sensations in the body.
After awhile, again if you wish, you can further widen the focus to include all that is present. This means whatever you are hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, touching, or even thinking. Just practice being with these different experiences as they unfold. Allowing yourself to feel your life in this moment. Resting in mindfulness, the open-hearted choiceless awareness of what is here in this moment.
Anytime you feel lost or confused or frustrated, gently narrow the focus and return awareness to the sensation of the breath. You may have to do this frequently. It is ok. Or you may wish to concentrate mainly on the breath, especially if you are new to meditation. That, too, is ok. The important thing is the quality of awareness you bring to the moment. One moment of mindfulness, one breath when we are truly present, can be quite profound. See for yourself.
You can practice mindfulness in this way throughout the day and night. Practice for a few breaths at a time, even for a few mindful moments. And, if you wish, you can make this a more “formal” meditation practice, by setting aside some time (from a few minutes to an hour or more, as you wish) free from other activity or distraction to devote full attention to simply being present, being mindful of what is present. Over time you may find that the “formal” practice supports and strengthens your ability to practice “informally” throughout the day and night in different situations.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Psychiatrist Jeffrey Brantley is the director of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, North Carolina. He is author of Calming Your Angry Mind
For more on this subject, look inside:
"The Power of Your Mind: 7 Hidden Keys"
by Mario R. Flores
By Erica Ariel Fox
Mobius Executive Leadership
Martin leads the largest division of a global company. You feel his presence immediately when he walks into a room. Not because he’s flashy or full of ego, but because he’s neither. Instead, it’s the unshakable confidence that comes from knowing exactly who you are, and the star power that accompanies a certain kind of seniority. It’s hard to imagine him in a moment of self-doubt.
And yet on the inside, he does berate himself. If something catches him by surprise, he’ll think, “You should’ve seen that coming.” After giving a keynote, he tells himself, “Lousy talk!” If a client turns down a proposal, he asks himself the aching question: “What’s wrong with you?”
Dominique, an executive at a European company, has a similar kind of inspiring confidence — and critical inner monologue. I’ve seen rooms full of people stop talking and turn their attention to the door when she shows up. She’s a force of nature, but they look up to her with admiration, not fear. She’s tough but fair. She hears people out. Still, at the end of the day, it’s her team, and no one is confused about who makes the final calls.
But despite her hard-earned stature, she’s pulled down by an inner voice that questions her every move. Though her team talks to her with respect, the way she talks to herself is far from it. “Why should they listen to you?” she sometimes thinks. “Why didn’t you prepare more?” And other times, “You’re a fraud.”
Advising Martin, Dominique, and other C-suite executives, I’ve learned that for successful senior leaders like them, the hardest difficult conversations they have are the ones they have with themselves.
When it comes to having tough conversations with their colleagues, clients, or direct reports, they often take them in stride, seeing them as just “part of the job.” A common reaction is, as one leader told me: “We have an opportunity to build something truly special here. I don’t shy away from tackling anything — including “people issues” — that stands in the way of our mission.” To be sure, none of the people I work with enjoy confronting people on performance issues, or delivering bad news. Yet, they tell me, it comes with the territory. They expect it.
Though these executives are comfortable dealing with topics most people would find stressful to discuss, they still struggle with how they talk to themselves. What I’ve learned, however, is that leaders whose gravitas runs deep don’t run away from this struggle. The ones who make it to the top learn to deal with the universal voice of self-doubt head on.
When I ask executives how they think about difficult conversations with others, they say things like, “We’ve built a culture I call ‘high challenge, high support.’” So I build on that, encouraging them to apply the same standard to that critical innervoice.
The negative voice in your head wants something. It wants to be heard. It needssomething, too: a bit of compassion and friendly reassurance. When you provide these, the conversations with yourself start to go a lot better. Instead of silencing or denying that inner voice, respond to it. Here’s how it sounds:
Other techniques you use for difficult conversations with others can also work when contesting with your own inner voice. With other people, you ask yourself “is this battle worth fighting?” Pick your battles with yourself, too. You know best practice is not to lecture someone, but rather to have a dialogue. Embrace the tone of dialogue in your inner speech as well. Hostile confrontation is rarely the way to go, with other people, or with yourself. Do you give people second chances? Do you forgive a small mistake? Then give yourself a second chance, too. Forgive yourself when you miss the mark. If you expect the people around you to learn from their mistakes and move on, then you can, too.
What makes conversations difficult is the desire to avoid them, and the way we lose our cool when we have them. Practice makes powerful. The same is true whether you’re talking to someone else, or to yourself.
About the Author
Erica Ariel Fox is the author of the New York Times bestseller Winning From Within: A Breakthrough Method for Leading, Living, and Lasting Change. She is a founding partner at Mobius Executive Leadership and she teaches negotiation at Harvard Law School. She also teaches negotiation at Harvard Law School, and is founder of the Harvard Negotiation Insight Initiative (HNII) and the Global Network for Negotiation Insight and Exchange (GNNIE). A highly sought-after advisor, Erica works with senior leaders around the world with her partners at Mobius Executive Leadership, and she is also a Senior Advisor to McKinsey Leadership Development.
A simple guide to be mindful throughout the day—whether you're washing the dishes, eating a snack, or sitting down to meditate.
By Catherine Beard
When was the last time you took a moment to reflect on your life? Maybe it was at the end of December when you were getting ready to welcome the new year (we all love a little end-of-the-year reflecting, right?). Other than that, there aren’t many times when we might feel compelled to spend time in self-reflection.
The truth is that many of us are so busy trying to move forward with our lives that we rarely take a moment to slow down and be at one with our thoughts. Plus, we often don’t recognize the importance of self-reflection and the impact it can have on our lives.
What if we made self-reflection part of our everyday routine instead of a yearly thing?
In my opinion, self-reflection is one of the best ways that you can shift your mindset, increase positivity in your life, and discover a greater connection to yourself.
Self-reflection has helped me to understand more about the way that I respond to situations, to not be completely oblivious to my faults, and to find ways that I can deal with situations positively instead of letting them consume me.
Today, I want to share what self-reflection really means and why being a reflective person is so important for a positive mindset.
Self-reflection is all about creating self-awareness. So many of us focus on getting ahead that we don’t necessarily take time to reflect on what’s going on within us.
There are many ways to practice self-reflection, but I’ve always used writing as a way to process my thoughts and feelings. Journaling has helped me to learn more about myself by identifying patterns, habits, and regular themes that come up my life. If I never took the time to get my thoughts out of my head, I probably would not be the positive person that I am today.
Self-reflection is one of the best things you can do to create a positive mindset and discover a greater connection to yourself. Here are seven reasons why you should make self-reflection a priority in your life:
“There is no greater journey than the one that you must take to discover all of the mysteries that lie within you.” – Michelle Sandlin
Self-reflection can help you process your thoughts and feelings. When we keep our thoughts floating around in our heads, we only confuse or frustrate ourselves more. Getting your thoughts on paper can help you understand why you’re feeling a certain way and make those feelings a little easier to navigate.
“The soul usually knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind.” – Caroline Myss
Whenever I write, I end up with some sort of solution to my problems. I recognize what I need to do next because everything is laid out in front of me. When we keep thinking the same thoughts over and over without taking action, we see our problems as bigger than they really are. By taking a moment to pause, reflect, and look within, you’ll find that you actually have many of the answers you’ve been seeking for so long.
3. TO CHALLENGE YOUR THOUGHTS
“Don’t believe everything you think.” – Byron Katie
Self-reflection offers us the opportunity to challenge our ways of thinking. Most of us have a tendency to ruminate on the bad things; for example, our perceived weaknesses, mistakes we’ve made, or embarrassing moments. When you actually take the time to reflect and write these things down, it’s important to ask yourself if you really believe them. Eventually, you’ll start to realize that the things you tell yourself about yourself are not always true.
Read This Next: How To Move Past Self-Doubt And Do That Thing Anyway
“Self-reflection is so healthy. When I record the details of what I’m going through, whether it’s a relationship issue or negative thoughts, I can look back and see how far I’ve come. It makes me proud to see my progress and how I got through a bad situation.” – Kelly Rowland
Self-reflection allows us to look back and see where we’ve come from. If you take the time to write down a few thoughts about your day, you can look back on it in weeks, months, or years later and see how much has changed. This can help you recognize that the things you were so worried about before were perhaps not so significant.
“Change requires two things: a goal, and an awareness of where one currently is in order to assess the discrepancy between the two.” – Psychology Today
If you’re on your own self-improvement journey, you need to know both where you’re going and where you are right now. Without self-awareness, we can’t fully understand our emotions, values, goals, or strengths. I’ve learned so much about myself simply by reflecting on the place I’m at right now and considering how it will help me get to where I want to be.
6. TO INSPIRE SELF-ACCEPTANCE
“The journey into self-love and self-acceptance must begin with self-examination… until you take the journey of self-reflection, it is almost impossible to grow or learn in life.” – Iyanla Vanzant
I’m all about POSITIVE self-reflection and making sure that if I ever say or write something negative about myself, I follow it up with something good. This has helped me to increase my self-acceptance and keep going even when I doubt myself.
For example, I was having one of those days when I kept comparing myself to everyone. In my mind, I was telling myself that I wasn’t beautiful or pretty enough. I started to write because I knew this was something I needed to let go of. As I started to write down my feelings, I began to wonder WHY I needed to believe I was *pretty*. What importance did that have in my life? It seemed so inconsequential to who I am as a person. I started to write, “I just have to be confident in myself and know that I AM beautiful, inside and out.”
7. TO LIVE WITH MORE INTENTION
“When you’re living deliberately, you’re living from a position of responsibility; you’re making choices with greater awareness.” – Lauren Mackler
Reflecting on what’s going on in your life can simply serve as a reminder of what you do on a daily basis. Most of our days end up blending into one another, so regular reflection can be an opportunity to show you that the days are different. On the other hand, it can encourage you to think about how you can add more joy and fun into your daily life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Catherine is a mindset & self-care coach, blogger, and the creator of The Blissful Mind. I’m here to help you enjoy less burnout and overwhelm in your life so you have the time, energy, and confidence to pursue what matters.
So many factors can affect your mood from day to day. From stress to sleep to hectic schedules—even the weather—it can be tough to catch a break. But there’s a natural way to stay positive that you might not have considered: nutrition. Nutrition is critical to your overall health, wellness and fitness.
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The Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Pita (full recipe here) – Start your day with a savory high-protein sandwich. The chicken sausage combined with zesty parmesan gives you a meal so delicious you won’t even know there’s spinach in there too. (Kidding, spinach! You know we love you.)
PB&J Energy Balls (full recipe here) – Here’s a helpful hand-friendly snack that’s great if you have to eat on the go (i.e. in your car). Like the overnight oats above, there’s no cooking required. A food processor is all you need. Knock out one batch on a weekend, and your healthy breakfasts are ready for the week.
Eggs on the Go (full recipe here) – Get a high-protein breakfast that’s packed with veggies that fits in the palm of your hand. Tastes so good you’ll feel like you sat down for your favorite omelette, but you can do it on the road. You get it all with no mess and no clean-up. Spend 25 minutes making these one night — you’ll have eliminated the need to think about breakfast for the rest of the week.
Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oats (full recipe here) – Get all the health benefits of oatmeal, and the protein to start your day right, no cooking required. You simply mix the ingredients together the night before, which takes about 5 minutes. The next morning, voila! Breakfast is ready, and so are you.
The True Breakfast For Champions (full recipe here) – Crunchy, crispy, sweet and satisfying, this bowl delivers all the whole grain goodness without much added sugar. [Honey is an ingredient, but you can ditch it if you want.] For many, the blueberries and bananas provide more than enough sweetness. Combine them with the fiber from the steel cut oats and healthy fats from the almonds, and you’ve got everything you need to fuel your body to win the day.
The Bro Scramble (full recipe here): Eggs, roasted veggies and bacon, together at last. Here’s a power-packed recipe that will impress your friends — or provide you with meals for a couple of days if you don’t feel like sharing.You’ll be delighted by the combination of flavors and textures. The combo of sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts will keep you feeling full to lunch. Best of all, they all come together in a single pan, meaning no mess and very little to clean up.