BELIEF

I believe everything begins and ends in the mind.

A belief is the story you tell yourself.

A story which determines how you live your life.

Your beliefs are influenced by a number of things: culture, religious/non-religious ideologies, politics, parents/guardians, family, school, books, friends, socio-economic status, the news, internet, social media, TV, your neighbourhood, the list goes on.

Basically, everything you are exposed to in your life will shape your view of the world. And the way you perceive the world, shapes your reality – Tim Chang.

So how do you view the world?

Thoughts and feelings directly influence behaviour.

Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person?

The glass half full people view life in a positive manner.

They understand the world to be a place to develop and grow as a human being.

These people tend to see beyond the cards they have been dealt and beyond their immediate environment. They don’t think of their current situation as the only situation they will ever find themselves in. And it is likely they seek opportunities to better their circumstances.

Their behaviours are a reflection of their beliefs and more often than not their experience of life is a positive one. In the occurrence of unpleasant events (illness, loss, financial hardship, uncertainty etc.) a glass half full person is more likely to frame their thoughts in a positive way. I’m not saying they won’t be upset or find it difficult, but what I am saying is that they are able to look at these life events and see them from a different angle; which may allow them to cope better with these challenges.

Now the glass half empty folk tend to view life with a more negative outlook.

Their cards have been dealt and that is final, for example their story may sound like, “I am x, y, z and this means I do what every x, y, z person does” or “the world is set out like this for people like me and there is no point of trying to do something different, because it never works out anyway!”

Do you see how self-limiting this narrative can be?

Their cards are stacked against them and they have no way out. 

Their own little bubble is the entire world and seeing far beyond that is unlikely.

However, this may not be their fault especially if they don’t know any better. Their significant others possibly thought exactly the same and this approach to life is all they had been exposed to. Therefore, how can you expect someone to know they can live differently, if nobody showed them what thinking and living differently looks like?

I want you to understand that if you approach any situation with a negative outlook it is likely that the outcome will turn out unfavourable for you.

However, go in with a positive attitude and yes the outcome could still be unfavourable; but at least you’ve given yourself the chance of a potential positive result. As the famous Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

Remember, you choose what to believe in. 

You can accept the beliefs that have been ingrained in you as absolute, or you can question them and explore beliefs outside of that.

It’s your choice and it’s entirely up to you. 

Being aware that you have a choice is the key here. 

Your beliefs determine how you navigate through life. 

So what kind of life would you like to live?

B is for the BREATH

The breath is a simple way to remind yourself that you are here, that you are alive and that you are in the present moment.

Whenever you feel like your mind is scattered and overwhelmed with thoughts, you can tune in to the breath and use it as a point of focus. By spending a few moments following the breath it can be a useful way to quiet all of that noise.

During meditation the goal isn’t always to quiet the mind, it varies depending on the practice. With that said, I like to follow the breath to begin and to end my meditations and even at points during it. I find it particularly useful when I notice myself moving from being the observer of my experience to getting lost in it; when that happens I use my breath to guide me back to being a witness.

The breath is regularly likened to an anchor, it is always with you and acts as a reminder that you can regain control and stability whenever you may be feeling uneasy.

The breath is great because it is a subtle coping mechanism. You can rely on the breath in most, if not all situations to help you de-stress, reset and return to a calmer state of mind.

A few moments honing in on the breath can make a huge difference. Think about the stressful situations that you have experienced; naturally you may have taken a few deep breaths to put yourself at ease. For example, when you’re waiting nervously before a job interview, during a heated discussion, or patiently waiting for test results.

The breath allows you to pause, you may have heard the phrase; “thinking clearly” well that is what tapping into the breath enables you to do, it gives you a moment to think with some clarity and make more rational decisions.

The breath is a tool and when used intentionally can be beneficial in so many ways; to re-focus, to relax, to prevent potential unfavourable outcomes, to help sleep, to de-stress and to check in with yourself.

I know it is easy to but let’s not take the breath for granted. From time to time acknowledge that you are alive only because you are breathing.

A is also for ACCEPTANCE

I’ve been meaning to write this but it didn’t happen. I recently enjoyed a short holiday and I have been out of routine since then; a routine that has changed slightly which I am slowly getting used to.

I wanted this blog to be free from rules, no deadlines or targets of when to post. I just want to be free to write and share as and when I feel like it. Doing so, means that I have not created any expectations of myself and avoid unnecessary pressure that would ultimately come with needing to post x by this time or date. As we all know life does what it wants. Yes we may attempt to control it, but at the end of the day we can only control the controlables.

Of course I still think about things outside of my control however, I try my best not to stress. I achieve this by completely accepting that some things are just that, outside of my control and there is absolutely no problem with it.

Acceptance is sitting with what is and not requiring anything else from yourself in that moment. There is a peace that comes with accepting the moment exactly as it is; not wishing things could be different or trying to change it and not desiring something more.

Cicero said it perfectly: “Only the wise are rich”

Naval broke it down and explained that someone is poor if they always feel like they are lacking something and they feel as if they need to get something in order to feel wealthy.

A person can get to a place where as long as their basic needs are met, they don’t feel as though they have to do something in order for their life to be rich.

There are so many examples of the “thing”. A common delusion we have as humans is we think that if we obtain this, that or the other be it more money, a promotion, a bigger house, a newer car etc that these things would make us feel happier or more fulfilled. Yet in actual fact these things are only going to make us feel this way temporarily.

Acceptance is allowing the moment to unfold exactly as it happens.

I practice acceptance through my daily mediation. I give myself permission to sit with whatever occurs without trying to do anything about it. I will think about the past, plan for the future, daydream and fixate on the sounds that may appear.

But the key thing is I don’t try and change anything, I sit and experience.

You see accepting things as they are is not a good or bad thing, it just is.

And that is okay.

A is also for AWARENESS

I have wondered why the present moment isn’t our default mode.

Why is it that we are stuck in the past or dreaming about a future that is yet to arrive?

Our minds are distracted with what has been and what is to come, but never what is now. We can spend all day long lost in thought and for the most part we are not even aware of it. And this is most obvious to me when I bear witness to my mind jumping from one thought to the next during my meditation practices.

Awareness is defined as knowledge or perception of a situation or fact, it is to pay attention, and to observe.

Dr Michael Gervais explained that when you are aware of your thoughts, you can negotiate your thoughts so they don’t run wild.

We get caught up in streams of thought and tend to live in an automated mode; just like robots we fall in to patterns of behaviour that are repetitive; doing the same things, thinking the same way and reacting the same.

Ultimately, we miss the life that is unfolding in front of us because we are unaware of what it means to live a life in the present moment. Mindfulness has taught me to expand my awareness and pay attention to the subtleties of life.

To be mindful is a way of attending to the same life in a different way, without doing anything significant, apart from simply paying attention. By being aware you give yourself the opportunity to welcome the things that occur right in front of you.

Awareness brings clarity and clarity brings choice, without clarity one is essentially living in the dark, unaware of the great things life has to offer. Garrain Jones said it perfectly; “you cannot change what you are not aware of”.

 So I put it to you, have a think about the things that you may not be aware of that perhaps are preventing you from changing a situation that no longer fulfils you, brings you happiness or maybe stops you from developing as person.

What is the thing you do, day in and day out that you just do because you have always have done it that way?

A is for ATTENTION

Attention is what you choose to focus your energy on.

I always say that my attention is my most prized possession. When it comes to attention there is a choice; I can always choose where I place my attention. My mind is constantly battling against the many distractions that exist (including my own thoughts) but I am learning how to better deal with that.

Your attention is so important; what you attend to shapes your experience, which shapes your decision making, which ultimately shapes your life.

What you pay attention to will determine how you perceive the world.

Life could be spent engaging in meaningless activities that only serve to temporarily fill that window of boredom and give you ephemeral highs that do nothing but leave you on a chase.

We all know that time does not wait for anyone, and I aim to be intentional with my time by being mindful of what I give my attention to.

Here are a few things I stopped paying attention to and better off without.

The News

• I do not watch any news channels

• I do not follow any kind of news on social media

• I do not read the newspaper

• I do not listen to the radio

The majority of news I used to consume often evoked some kind of negative feelings and I did not like it.

Maybe it is good to know what is going on in the world, when people discuss the latest happenings, at times I do feel ignorant and unable to contribute to the conversation. With that said, I feel as though not knowing far outweighs the consequence of being barraged with information that causes me to feel fearful, anxious, sad or angry.

Other People

• I used to watch daily vlogs all of the time

• I also spent a lot of time watching people’s snapchat & Instagram stories

• I no longer watch reality TV shows

• Celebrity gossip is something that does not interest me

I am not saying the above is a bad thing, but I realised that watching someone else’s life does nothing significant for me. Living vicariously through someone else can actually serve a purpose in terms inspiration/motivation. But one needs to be mindful of being consumed and wrapped up in that individual’s life. Ask yourself; am I acting on this inspiration? Is watching this person adding value or happiness to my life or am I just bored?

Notifications

• Turning off my notifications was a game changer

• I now choose when to look at my phone and not the other way around

• My phone no longer dictates my attention

I wanted to be more deliberate with how I use my phone, I now think of it as a personal tool rather than an object of entertainment.

There have been many occasions when I have felt overwhelmed with the number of notifications I had received and it made me feel out of control. I decided to turn off the notifications on apps I deemed non-essential or that did not require an immediate response from me; (one could argue that nothing on your phone requires an immediate response, but that’s for another day) which includes social media, language, dating, music and video apps. It was a matter of recognising how something made me feel and changing that to make myself feel better.

Not paying attention to the news, other people’s lives and stopping notifications has meant that I reduce the noise and gain more control of what I give my energy and therefore attention to.

You could spend your time scrolling and switching from one app to another and doing something that does not really engage nor add value to your life.

Or you could be mindful, and intentional with the time you have; learn a new skill, find a way to improve your health and wealth, meet up with that person you have been longing to reconnect with, amongst many other things.

You see time is precious but your attention is even more so.

It is up to you to decide what deserves something so invaluable.

Live a life with intention by using your attention more wisely.

 

Mindfulness: The IS and ISNT’s

If I live my life being mindful, then I am living a fulfilled life, a life with intention, and a life that I am in tune with. Over the past year or so I’ve really felt that mindfulness has had a positive impact on my wellbeing and overall quality of life.

I’m speaking from my own experience here, but I know for a fact that I have never felt so good within myself. And I really owe that to paying attention and embracing the moments that this life offers me; there is a peace that comes with accepting things exactly as they are, not trying to change things or striving for something more. Acceptance is not to be confused with complacency, as they are not the same*. Mindfulness is about attending to the present and being aware that no amount of ruminating about the past or planning for the future is going to change what is happening right now in front of you, simply because it is already happening. Does that make sense?

The IS’s

– Paying attention to the present moment

– Awareness

– A way of being

– Observation of experience

– Accepting all as it is, exactly as it is

– A practice

– Non doing

– Noticing

The ISNT’s

– Solely a religious or spiritual practice

– Just focused meditation

– Goal oriented

– Blocking thoughts

– Striving for some kind of higher/blissful state

A mindful life will look different for each person. Mindfulness is not just about the formal practice, it is being aware of all the moments that unfold throughout the day. You can practice being mindful whilst showering, cooking dinner, taking the dog for a walk, driving to work, basically anything you do is an opportunity to be mindful. It is noticing the little things we take for granted or never really acknowledge because we tend to live in autopilot mode; which is thinking the same things, doing the same things and reacting the same way. We spend a significant proportion of our lives distracted. Although many people would say time is one of our most important resources, I don’t think it is, time passes by regardless and we can’t control that. This is why I say attention is my most prized possession; the present is the only moment you can truly operate from yet we are always stuck reliving the past or planning for what is to come.

So I’ll leave you with my definition: Mindfulness is about being here right now in the present moment, as it is. It is about participating in the act of being alive.

 

*The difference between acceptance and complacency

Can You Accept Yourself Without Being Complacent?

 

 

 

 

No More Buying Clothes

I haven’t bought a single item of clothing for over a year.

I have a lot of clothes, in fact two wardrobes full of the stuff.

Do I wear every item? No.

Do I need all of it? No.

Did I need to buy more? Definitely Not.

I don’t know why or how it came to be that I just felt the need to continue buying more and more clothes.

In my head, a new occasion = a new outfit.

And what happened to all of the clothes that I already had? Well, they just collected dust, there were even a few that still had the labels on.

Well this is what I have I learned from no longer buying clothes.

You can repeat your clothes!

It is perfectly fine to wear something more than once!

I have never ever been told me that I couldn’t recycle my outfits.

But I had a feeling that it just wasn’t “acceptable” to wear the same thing twice. I literally thought that I must buy a new outfit every time there was a new occasion.

Let me tell you right now; nobody cares what you wear.

I have had birthdays, weddings, Christmas, baby showers, dinners, concerts, holidays, family events, festivals plus more. And not once I repeat not once has anyone said to me “oh gosh why are you wearing the same thing again.”

I felt confident repeating my clothes. Honestly, I can’t quite believe that I had this ridiculous idea that people may talk if they saw I was wearing the same thing.

Saving money

There was no more mindless spending on clothes.

The sales in my favourite clothing stores no longer enticed me. This was a breakthrough! There was a time that I couldn’t walk past my favourite store without going in and purchasing something, even if my intention was to do something completely unrelated that day, such as going to the library. No matter what, I was always swayed in and couldn’t fight the temptation. I would walk out with something I didn’t need, and excuse myself because it was on sale and a bargain.

Well it’s all changed now! When I accompany my family/friends to the clothing store, I have no desire whatsoever to buy anything. I don’t even rummage through the rails, I have no concern about purchasing any clothes at all.

More creative

As I said at the start, I have two wardrobes full of clothes. And because I no longer buying any more; I’ve been forced to actually wear what I already have. I have become more creative with my outfit choices and think about what I can put with what. I really enjoy the process of mix matching and thinking of new ways of wearing the same things.

I learnt what enough is

This is my biggest influence from The Minimalists (Ryan Nicodemus & Joshua Fields Millburn)

Their aim is to help people live meaningful lives with less.

I’ve learned to live and be content with what I have. I no longer strive or have this desire to buy more. Although this started off with clothes, it has impacted other areas of my life such as my screen time, purchasing gadgets, food items and all the other miscellaneous stuff that we tend to be consumed by.

I still buy things (not clothes), but the difference is that when I do, I really give it some thought.

What I’ve learned from the minimalists is that buying the thing is only the first step. I am now aware that it actually costs space, time, energy and/or money to keep the thing.

Before I buy something now, I ask myself.

How and for how long is this thing going to positively impact my life?

That one question has caused a huge internal shift and it just means I am more mindful with what I consume.

As it’s Black Friday I thought this post could as a little reminder to pause before purchasing and to be conscious of your consumption.

A Ten Month Social Media Detox

Social media plays a significant role in the modern day life.

It’s the way we connect, everyone feels way more accesible, you may feel as though you really know someone despite having never met them, but as you have been following their journey for the longest of time; it kind of warrants why you feel that way. And it keeps you up to speed with the day to day lives of your friends, family, celebrity’s etc.

At the beginning of this year I got tired and decided to quit my personal social media. It began with a thirty day challenge and it turned into ten months. Initially an experiment, it became a new way of living for me. I’ve been in my own little bubble for the most part of this year and I’ve loved it.

The Findings

Connecting With “Friends”

I’ve put friends in quotations marks because one could argue that the people I spoke to less could be thought of as my “on the surface friends.” These are the people I get on with, but they aren’t my ride or dies. My closest of friends, are the people who I regularly speak to, visit and go on trips and dinners with and of course this group of people have my mobile number.

If I’m being honest maybe the frequency at which I spoke to them had reduced but not so much that I felt it was detrimental to our relationship. Ultimately, I felt that the quality of the relationship remained the same.

What I would say is that social media is an amazing way to interact. But I would be mindful of not letting your online relationships outweigh the tangible friendships you have in real life.

Make friends online, connect with people & use social media as a vehicle to then make that relationship tangible. Social media should not be a replacement, it should be the tool. It should be the mechanism by which you connect with people which then leads you to connect with them in real life.

Life was Less Noisy

It goes without saying with lots of information comes a lot of noise.

Things have been quieter, I’ve been in my own little bubble and to be honest the ignorance has been bliss. I was no longer bombarded with constant instagram posts, rants on twitter, life updates on Facebook. I’ve been in control of the information I consume and I soon realised that a lot of what I had spent hours scrolling through was arbitrary. I recently came across a quote by Herbert A Simon and he stated that a wealth of information has created a poverty of attention. These words couldn’t be more true for the mindless time I would be hopping from one form of social media to another. And I bet many of you could relate.

The Need for Validation

When I stopped posting pictures or tweeting I completed removed the need of validation from others. My issue specifically related to Instagram. I’ll quickly explain; I would post a picture because I LIKED it and wanted to share it with everyone hoping that they would like it to. However, the success of the picture depended upon the amount of likes/comments or overall interactions it received. And if it didn’t get as many as I had hoped for I would begin questioning whether the picture was even nice at all. For me that was an issue, I would noticed that I would check every few minutes to see whether the likes have increased and I thought this isn’t healthy. This whole seconding guessing wasn’t good for my self-esteem. I knew the picture was nice before I shared it and I’ve come to realise that I shouldn’t be intimated or care about other people’s opinions. I will continue to say, that the most important opinion is that of myself and that is all that matters. And when I stopped posting, this need for validation also stopped.

Feeling Compelled to Share My Life

I had a discussion with my friends and we struggled to pin point the time in our lives when started to feel as though it was a necessity to share our day to day lives online. We thought it may have begun when we used msn messenger and we could change our status emoji to reflect the emotion we were feeling at the time. We all post a highlight reel of our lives, and that’s fine but it’s not the full story. I’ve spent a lot of time this year learning to be mindful and to live in the present moment. And I came to realise that it was almost impossible to do that when I felt the need to show that I’m having a good time. The very act of stopping to snap or Insta story the event removes one from the present moment. There has been a few significant things that have happened this year and the need to pull out my phone and share it wasn’t a behaviour I no longer felt compelled to do, I noticed that it allowed me to take advantage and really appreciate the moment.

The Fear of Missing Out

I haven’t paid attention to the news, Twitter was literally my online newspaper.

I had no idea what was going on in the world until someone had told me.

I found things out as I did before but the difference was I wouldn’t find out first, it wouldn’t be instant “breaking” news. I just found out later, I found out the same exact information just much later on. Because I found out later, I wasn’t able to take part in some conversations as they revolved around the latest thing that’s had happened. I was ignorant but was that such a bad thing?

The societal conditioning of needing to know first, alongside the anxiety & fear driven news isn’t actually necessary.

What does being one of the first people to know do for you? I don’t see it as beneficial nor detrimental to be honest.

To be frank, finding out that bit later made no difference to my life whatsoever.

In fact, I preferred it when someone would tell me, we would have a conversation, I learnt something and if I found it interesting I had the opportunity to research it on my terms and cultivate my own opinion without the influence of others.

Laughing Less

It sounds silly I know. But I genuinely thought that I would laugh less. I always used to say that I would never get rid of twitter as I thought and still think it’s the undefeated app in terms of how funny it is. We live in meme culture and all I had to do was open the timeline and I would be laughing in a matter of seconds.

So when I stopped using my personal Twitter I thought oh no what am I going to laugh about now?

And you know what, I’ve continued to laugh. Firstly, I still laughed with my family and friends I mean that never stopped. The podcasts I listen to are hilarious, they mention a lot of memes in their episodes. And although I’m not able to actually see what they are referring to, by listening alone and imagining what it is; it’s almost, if not even funnier because I have no limits on what it could be as my imagination would run wild with their descriptions.

Productivity & Self – Development

When I quit social media I thought to myself what am I going to do with all this free time?

I decided to learn Spanish and it’s going really well, I’m thoroughly enjoying the challenge and I feel like I’m making so much progress.

I learned more about investing and as a result developed my investing portfolio.

I have learnt a lot from people I hadn’t previously come across through their blogs & podcasts, which has made me think differently about the way things are. And I have consistently meditated everyday, and I definitely feel more aware and present.

Comparison

This was the biggie, and the initial reason why I decided to come away from social media.

First and foremost we’re a nosey bunch aren’t we? It came to the stage when I thought to myself why am I so concerned with other people’s lives? And I didn’t really have an answer, I guess it could be a source of inspiration. Instagram allows you to look at everyone’s wonderful holidays, homes, places they go out to eat, activities they do etc.

It allows us to live vicariously through someone else and yes it feels good, feeds your brain with some Dopamine, and makes you happy. That’s all well and good but it’s temporary. Unless you’re truly fulfilled with your life from within you will never be happy. My question is: Would you be satisfied with your life if you had nothing to compare it to? And if we are being honest, the answer is probably yes, because you wouldn’t know the difference would you?

For me social media is a bit too far fetched and not authentic, and that really irked me. I played into it as well dont get me wrong. But it’s nice to see if for what it really is and it’s not reality it is more like a reality show that is staged. By having that awareness alone I think you can’t go wrong and it stops you from thinking you’re life isn’t as good as others and that you should be doing this that and the other because x person has done it already. If you really think about it, your life is probably going just as it needs to be and that’s alright.

So here are my findings. I wonder if anyone can relate? I decided to post on Instagram at the start of October because it is Lupus Awareness Month and I wanted to share my story and spread some awareness.

I’ve noticed since then, that I’ve checked it maybe once every few days whereas before I’d check it every hour. I really don’t see myself using social media the same way again. I feel like it can be a waste of my time and most importantly my attention. I won’t completely abandon it though I’ll use it for more educational and beneficial purposes relating to sport, nutrition and money. Regarding the news I’m not too bothered I’ll hear about it when someone tells me.

Have you ever known life without social media? I challenge you to give yourself some time and space away from it, just to see what it’s like.

Meditation is an Investment

When you mediate you invest in yourself and here’s why I think so…

When you meditate it is probably the only time that you completely do nothing.

It is simply you and your thoughts.

How often do you get to spend time alone?

And I mean really alone?

When you’re not being asked to do this, that or the other.

When you are not glued to a screen being bombarded with messages, tv, social media, the news, YouTube or Netflix.

It’s the rare occasion when you can dedicate time to yourself.

No distractions. No nothing.

Just sitting with what is.

Meditation isn’t always about quieting the mind, it’s about accepting everything in its entirety. That’s all of the noise; those random thoughts (even the negative ones), the to-do lists, the plans, the dog barking in the background, basically anything that comes to mind.

Just allow it to be without a reaction.

Oddly enough, there’s a peace that comes with no resistance.

For me, mediation is an investment because each time I mediate, I learn more about myself.

I’ve grown to be more self-aware, I am less critical, more patient and have become more accepting of myself.

The better I know myself the more stable I feel in different situations. I’ve noticed, that I am more empathetic toward others; maybe it’s because of the growing self-acceptance that I am now in turn less judgemental and more accepting of someone as they are.

I believe if something compounds its a good thing.

Well each time you meditate you gain more clarity; about yourself, your surroundings and how you interact with others.

You begin to notice the little things that were always present but you never attended to.

Eventually, the way you perceive the world changes and you’ll start having a new appreciation to life.

All of this from simply doing nothing.

If only for a minute take time out and see what happens when you sit still and do absolutely nothing.

You’ll be surprised by the compound effects that it has.

You see mediation is an internal investment.

How I Feel

Despite the ongoing frustrations I’m facing with my sport, I feel pretty happy.

I am aware that what I do is not who I am. Justin Kan tweeted the above recently and I thought to myself, that’s definitely true.

Yes I am an athlete, and yes it’s a significant part of who I am.

But it is not entirely who I am.

I’m disappointed that I got injured.

I feel that I put so much in to get so little out.

I feel like I haven’t achieved what I set out to.

I feel behind in my progress.

I feel that my body has let me down.

At the same time

I feel grateful that I genuinely enjoy doing what I love.

I feel lucky to be surrounded by a group of people who adopt the same mindset as I do.

I feel that I am able to challenge myself day in day out.

I feel that I’m still learning and growing.

Acknowledge the things that aren’t going so well for you right now, without allowing it to consume you.

It may not seem clear to begin with but I bet whatever it may be, has benefitted you in some way. I encourage you to take time to think about that. And you may just begin to feel better.