Mindfulness For Modern Life


KJC

Welcome to 2015, or should I say, life in the fast lane. We live in a world of instant gratification, instant information and learning stuff about people, places and things that we never imagined possible. I think a lot of us would agree that it’s tough these days to keep up with the pace of modern life. Technology is continually invented to save us time, but ironically we use that time to just do more things. Then soon enough we again have no free time and end up rushing through the days even faster. There’s a lot to be gained when we slow down and live in the moment but it’s not always easy. So how do we adjust to both thrive and survive in the chaos of modern day life? My answer suggests mindfulness and turning off and tuning in, even if it’s for a few minutes a day.

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Mindful Communication: Talk that Promotes Your Happiness and that of Others


KJC

By Dr. John Mark Froiland

I originally became interested in researching inspirational and autonomy supportive communication because it has a powerful potential to help children love learning, reduce anxiety and depression, increase motivation to help others and increase happiness (Froiland, 2014; Froiland, 2011; Froiland, 2015). Inspirational communication entails conveying warmth, using parables or analogies to help someone see learning or healthy behaviors in a new way, explaining your passion for a healthy habit and many other science-based components (see Froiland, 2014 for all 22 Inspirational Motivational Style techniques).

Recently when I was presenting at a symposium in Philadelphia about this type of research, an audience member asked if I think parents are becoming happier themselves when communicating this way. My answer to this astute question was essentially, “Yes, but it’s time to do more intervention research on this topic.” Usually, research on autonomy supportive communication focuses on how it helps students, patients…

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What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger


KJC

Even if you’re not a fan, it’s true that Kelly Clarkson sends a powerful message with her song, Stronger.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone
What doesn’t kill you makes a fire
Put that thing on lighter
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Just me, myself and I

Strength is an interesting concept. I think there’s a myth that being strong means something went wrong or that something bad occurred, which in turn equates a negative association with this idea of strength. While this may be true, strength is also a gift and it’s okay when you have to use this gift. Being strong in the face of adversity is something to celebrate.

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.
-Leonardo da Vinci

Our…

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What Keeps You Up At Night


KJC

I’m sure you’ve heard this once or twice in your life. I both like and dislike this question. Why? Because it forces your mind to go right to the negative, the bad, the stressful and the worry. Maybe we should start asking the question what are you doing well and what could be improved upon? What makes you happy and what puts you to sleep at night? What are you grateful for? Why do you care, what is your passion? See when we re-frame the question we still get to the root of the problem and find a solution, but we do so in a more positive and optimistic way.

Millions of Americans suffer from sleep deprivation and are simply overworked. Why create more drama, stress and negativity? We all have enough on our minds and our plates as it is, it’s time we start celebrating the successes, encouraging each…

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What Are You Feeding Your Mind?


mindbodyBeware of Mental Junk Food–You Are What You Eat
Article Written by Clinical psychologist Cheryl Fraser, Ph.D is a writer, speaker and meditation teacher (http://www.mindful.org/)

The other day I gave in to a junk food craving. After a day of clean eating—kale smoothies, quinoa vegetarian chili, fresh fruit—a little voice said “come on, you know you want to” and I was seduced. Before I knew it I was munching on balsamic and pepper kettle chips and nuclear-orange cheesies. The next morning I woke up feeling bloated and unpleasant. Hmm, no kidding. Like my Granny often said, “Garbage in, garbage out.”
spiral-lightSo how does my lapse in compassionate eating relate to mindfulness? Well, for both mind and body, you are what you eat. What we consume mentally influences how the mind feels—pleasant and happy or roiling with indigestion. Imagine you are facing a difficult work problem. If you focus on unpleasant “what-if” scenarios, anxiety arises. If you dwell instead on possible solves for the difficult issue, you feel calm and empowered. We all want to be happy. We all want emotional and mental well-being. But are we practicing conscious mental consumption?

Try it right now. Think for a moment about what you are feeding your mind right now. Are you worrying about a future event? Chewing on a bone of contention from the past? Watching a celebrity gossip show? Perhaps you are watching an iridescent juvenile hummingbird feed on the newly opened purple iris in your back yard. Maybe you are musing about what to have for lunch. Once you have brought awareness to what the mind is currently munching on, gently notice how your mind is reacting. Is your current mind-snack wholesome or unwholesome? Continue reading the full article at mindful.org: Beware of Mental Junk Food–You Are What You Eat.

 

Dealing With Disappointment


Ah, yes, disappointment, that dreaded word. It doesn’t feel good, it doesn’t look good, in fact, it doesn’t even sound good. Disappointment is the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations. Not reaching your goals, not getting that call back or watching your dreams fall apart can be hard to swallow. It takes mindfulness, a positive attitude and honest reflection to continue on.

How do you deal with disappointment? Do you get angry, make a situation worse, beat yourself up, or just simply give up? Or do you thrive on challenge and closed doors? We all deal with disappointment differently, and that’s okay, but if you’re someone who struggles to bounce back after a setback there are skills and exercises you can learn to help you carry on in life.build-your-confidence

In a previous blog post I talk about expectations. If we don’t have them, or keep them in check, we become freer to let life flow and we become open to what might be coming next. I’m not saying to not set goals, I’m saying to remove rigid mindsets, unrealistic expectations and keep an open mind. Life isn’t meant to be easy, and most of the time it’s played out pretty imperfectly, and yet, here you are, still going on.

If you allow your brain to feed on disappointment and have all or nothing thoughts then you’re setting yourself up for a rough ride. I like to think of disappointments as a message that is saying, “Something better is coming. Be patient. Live life. Have faith. Remain hopeful.”

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If you let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams you’re just making it harder on yourself to pick up the pieces and move on. You end up shutting down and closing off communication to the world. You start believe that whatever just fell through was your only option and hope for success. Well, anyone who has been through a tough time and came out on the other side, knows this just isn’t true. Believe in yourself and have the courage to know you’re worth it.

Don’t cover up your disappointment or pretend it didn’t happen. Let yourself feel the pain, but then ground yourself in the present moment, rise up and tell yourself that you’re moving on with your life.

 

Cause & Effect


A cause is WHY something happens. An effect is WHAT happens. I’d hate to break it to you, but luck isn’t always going to be on your side. So, do you believe in luck or do you believe in cause and effect? Which motto do you live by? What seeds are you planting in your life? Intention and determination are overlooked far too much when reflecting about life and why we might be feeling unhappy.

You’re free to make any choice you want, but you are not free from the consequences of the choice. Mindfulness helps you slow down and learn to make decisions and take action based off of deep thought and consideration. Doing this helps minimize surprises and questions about why something happened the way it did.

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For example, if you’re trying to lose weight and eat healthy and you continue to make unhealthy choices and not exercise, you will not achieve your goal. If you set your mind straight and take appropriate action, cause and effect will produce the results you wish to gain. It sounds very simple, but it’s human nature to blame external factors and disregard our own intentions when analyzing cause and effect. Crazy, right? Think about all the good things that could come our way if we just accepted that we have control over our own life and destiny. That the choices we make bring the outcomes they deserve. I love this quote by Viktor E. Frankl, Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, “When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”

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Life is sure to bring a few upsets and disappointments, but it’s how we navigate through these bumps in the road that matters the most. One way to do so is to look inside yourself and change your attitude so you are able to stay grounded and focused as you move forward. If you want happiness and joy in your daily life you need to be mindful of the decisions you make, accept responsibility for your own actions and acknowledge that there will always be consequences.

So ask yourself, what is the first thing you think about in the morning? What thoughts and actions are you generating throughout the day? What is the last thing on your mind at night? Simply put, what seeds are you planting? Cause and effect is real and it will control you if you don’t control it.

Attitude Is Everything


Live the life that’s right for you, not the life that’s right for everyone else. Only then will you be free from self-doubt and negativity. Say it with me, I am free to be ME!

Happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to everyone else and what they want. It’s found when you stop living for other people and their opinions and start being true to yourself.  You’re the only person in charge of your life. The only question is: What do you want to do with the rest of it? Businessman and philanthropist W. Clement Stone once said, “There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.”

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Life isn’t perfect but it sure is great. Our goal shouldn’t be to create a perfect life, but to live an imperfect life in great astonishment. This means getting up every morning and taking on the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. It means that you start to see everything as extraordinary. Each day is a gift. Never treat life casually. To be spiritual in any way is to be amazed in every way. Be mindful, and be joyful. It’s okay to have down days, but it’s important to let go and be at peace with the reality of life’s ups and downs. You’ll soon find and accept that life’s ups require life’s downs.

einstein

Happiness is simply the result of one’s thinking. Happiness starts with you – not with your relationships, not with your job, not with your money, but with YOU. It’s not always easy to find happiness in ourselves, but it’s always impossible to find it elsewhere. Regardless of the situation you face, your attitude is your choice. You simply can’t have a positive life with a negative attitude. When negativity controls your thoughts, it limits your behavior, actions and opportunities. If you realized how powerful your thoughts were, I bet you’d try your best to never think another negative thought again.

If you want to be successful you must remember that attitude is as equally important as ability. If you want to be a good person you must remember that character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you. These are important lessons that are often overlooked, simplified or taken too lightly. The people who live life to the fullest and make the most out of each day are those who truly see the beauty in everything and those who see the joy through the sadness.

When you live in the present moment with an open mind you are able to quickly validate your emotions and see the light in any situation. When you remove the drama and charge forward with love and gratitude there’s nothing you’ll not be able to handle. You can either wallow in your own sorrow or embrace life’s ups and downs and keep your head up. Train your mind to see the good in every situation and you won’t be caught off guard when things don’t go as planned. Strive to inspire people and be the reason they don’t give up. A positive attitude will lead to positive outcomes. I really believe that the difference between a good day and a bad day is attitude. And one thing that can quickly change a good attitude is change.

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Change is inevitable, that’s a fact. So, if we know it’s always going to happen, why is it still very difficult to accept? It’s difficult even when we know there are rewards and positive gains waiting for us on the other side. People who handle change well don’t try and fight it, they accept it and charge forward.

If you’re not being challenged you aren’t changing, growing or bettering yourself. It takes a lot of small, mindful steps and patience to make progress and move in the direction you’d like to go. It’s about doing more than just existing and leaving things up to chance. Max De Pree, American businessman and writer, once said, “We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.” We can’t change our past, but we can take action in the present. We can make mindful efforts to practice and build up our confidence until we really believe we’re strong enough to accept change, or make a change.

We take chances and face change all the time, whether it’s in our personal lives, our work, our relationships, fitness goals, the list goes on and on. The word change seems like a simple word with a simple meaning, but really it’s constant chaos. That’s why we must find ways to work within it and accept that things will not stay the same.

Every new day that we’re granted is a chance to learn and grow. When life changes to be harder, change yourself to be stronger. The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance (Alan Wattskatieswim (2), Philosopher).”

I’ve always taken life pretty seriously, but am (slowly) learning to lighten up a bit, and can say with confidence, that I love this new-found freedom that comes from letting go. It takes courage and strength to really embrace the ideas that: it’s okay to make mistakes, we learn from experience, and perfection applies to math problems, not real life.

I want to leave you with a lesson I learned from Bruno Mars’ song, Uptown Funk. In the song he sings the lyrics, “Smoother Than A Fresh Jar Of Skippy.” This phrase made me laugh when I heard it.  I thought to myself, who doesn’t want to be smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy!? Cause I sure do!

My definition of smooth is having emotional intelligence, a good attitude, accepting change and being able to laugh at myself. It means making time for things that matter to me and spending time doing things that make me happy. What’s your definition of smooth, what does being smooth look like for you?

If you haven’t already started, I challenge you to turn up the volume in your own life. Smile. Relax. Dance. Let loose. And if nothing else, be smooth.

Featured on She Is Fierce HQ: http://sheisfiercehq.com/fierce-living/attitude-is-everything/

Music video: 

Using Mindfulness To Break Habits


Breaking habits isn’t an easy thing to do. A habit is a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. Practicing mindfulness is a way to get control of your thoughts and emotions and is a catalyst for change. Doing things the same old way, without thinking and out of routine is comfortable and easy. It’s easy because you don’t habitshave to think or deal with something new.

Forming good habits and breaking bad ones is a process and it takes time. You need to train your brain to break and change habits. Willpower is not going to work in this case. There’s something in our brains that literally causes us to lose self-control. Dopamine is one of the main chemicals regulating the pleasure center of the brain. It sends signals that say, “This feels good.”

new-habit

Nora Volkow, M.D. and Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), found that images alone affect the rise of dopamine in our brains. This means you can see something and it may unconsciously drive your motivation for action. It’s important to recognize the power of the pause in the process of breaking bad habits. When you’re in a mindful state you have the ability to pause, notice a sensation or urge and surf the urge as it peaks, crests and falls back down. Urge surfing teaches you to use the focus of your breath as a “surfboard” for riding the wave of uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and sensations rather than the usual approach of avoiding the discomfort and urge. Some of you may have heard this before, “ride the wave” because whatever it is will pass.
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Start by getting curious about what sparks your compulsive urges and bad habits. For example, we’re all addicted to our phones in this day and age. When you catch yourself wanting to go for your phone, notice what cues are triggering you to check it. Are you killing time? Do you see someone else on their phone? Are you bored or uncomfortable waiting for someone or something? Training your brain to recognize a cue can help you put space between you and the habit. It will give you room to ask, “What do I really want to pay attention to in this moment? What matters right now?” As you get better at recognizing this crucial space between the stimulus and response, you’ll start making choices that better align with your values. Over time this process will start to come more naturally. good-habits (Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Be honest with yourself. Face what’s bothering you or what you’d like to change. Set a goal and be patient. Recognize what triggers are causing you to repeat bad behaviors. No one else can make the change for you. The power is in your hands. With the right mindfulness skills and support from friends and family, you can learn how to break out of routine and create a better life that’s enjoyable, healthy and rewarding.

Feeling My Highs and My Lows


“If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a lot of time dealing with a life you don’t want.”

KJC

This morning, I woke up, feeling brand new and I jumped up. Feeling my highs, and my lows, in my soul, and my goals. Just to get by, just to get by. We commute to computers. Spirits stay mute while you eagles spread rumors. We survivalists, turned to consumers…just to get by. I think about a struggle and I find the strength in myself.

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These are lyrics that hold some truth and meaning behind them. Ever get up and you’re feeling great but by the end of the day you feel as if the universe has sucked your happiness and energy right out of you? We’ve all be there, just too tired, exhausted and worn down because we’re trying to do it all.

Time is money you know. Well time is also a created thing. To say “I don’t have time is like saying, I don’t want to” (Lao-Tzu). Listen…

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