A challenge to put mindfulness to work: Quit complaining

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You might have heard, at one time, that you can do anything—for 60 seconds, 10 minutes, a half hour a day. It’s also said you can create or break a habit in just 21 days. In my recent posts, “A month of mindfulness…” and “7 tips to incorporate mindfulness…,” I suggest myriad ways to daily practice a deeper awareness within each moment—which could seem overwhelming. However, I’d like to propose a challenge. For the next 24 hours, choose one area of focus in which to incorporate mindfulness: quit complaining. As I write about in “Complaints don’t change a thing,” we can get caught up in negativity and miss out on the positive, the good that surrounds us. Even seemingly harmless comments like, I’m so tired, or the weather, traffic or XYZ sucks… can quickly turn our thoughts inward and escalate a pessimistic mentality. Just for today, let’s create a complaint-free zone and watch the life-changing magic unfold.

How hard is it for you to quit complaining?

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When you feel like you’re getting nowhere

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When you feel like giving up

 

A couple of weeks ago, I submitted a 2,000-word story to a writers’ contest but can’t stop replaying the prose in my mind, knowing I could have done X, Y or Z to create a more compelling argument for why I should win the New York trip to study under a top-selling novelist. Then there’s a guest blog post I committed to writing, due in less than a month, yet I’m not sure I’m on the right track. During a recent yoga practice, I experienced one of those light bulb moments when I realized that, even after nearly four years since stepping foot into the hot room, I continue to learn something new—about yoga, about writing, about myself: Practice is simply the art of repetition—a habit or routine we adopt. And, whatever it is we’re practicing might not ‘click’ until we’re ready to move to the next level. So I keep writing, studying the craft and, most importantly: breathing.

What do you commit to regular practice?

Image courtesy of holohololand at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

An exercise in self-discovery

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Self-discovery

 

In my post, “Living in the ‘ah-ha’ moment,” I share my insights about enjoying the journey with no attachments to the past or future. Throughout the last two weeks, I’ve put this concept into practice—in my writing, my job and my relationships. Pertaining to my daily writing habit, I prefer to work on more than one project. This way, I can pick and choose what to work on depending on how I feel in that moment. I might opt to ramble in a blog, experiment with poetry, explore character development or draft a contest essay. For my job, I chart each day and manage the tasks as I go, adjusting as needed contingent on priorities. And in my relationships, I exercise a ‘go-with-the-flow’ mindset. This includes a spur-of-the-moment trip I booked to fly home and play catch up with family and friends. I’ve discovered that living in the ‘ah-ha’ moment is my favorite place to set up camp.

What have you discovered while living in the moment?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Avoiding self-imposed ruts

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Self-imposed ruts

 

According to Oxford Dictionaries, a rut is “a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change.” A friend of mine recently said the difference between a rut and a grave is its depth. (We also have a choice about the one in which we get stuck.) At any given time, we might find ourselves trapped in old thought patterns or routines and feel like guinea pigs going round in one of those wheels because sometimes it seems easier to go through the motions. However, each day is an opportunity to transform our reality—to jump off that spinning wheel and reinvent ourselves. A few tips that have worked for me are to: practice 1) letting go of things I can’t control; 2) making choices that advance my goals; 3) not worrying about what others think; 4) prioritizing and learning to say ‘no’ and 5) engaging in activities that make me happy.

How do you avoid or escape the self-imposed ruts?

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A recipe for happiness

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Recipe for happiness

 

[Image Credit: digitalart]

Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are
Something to do, something to love,
And something to hope for. ~ Joseph Addison

With April 1 around the corner, so are two 30-day personal challenges I’ve set up for myself: make a different salad every day and do something [new] each day that makes me happy. I’ve been reflecting on the latter and drafted a quick list for starters. Although subject to change—depending on my mood and the circumstances—here’s what happiness looks like to me:

1. Iced green tea latte with soy.
2. Volunteer my time.
3. Practice Bikram yoga.
4. Read something for fun.
5. Plan a trip.

The beginnings of a simple list, really. One that makes me realize how easy it is for happiness to become a regular habit. As long as I have something to do, something to love and something to hope for, I’ve got my recipe for a lifetime of happiness.

What are your essentials to being happy every day?

Overcoming resistance

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Overcoming resistance

[Image credit: meepoohfoto]

What you have to do and the way you have to do it
are incredibly simple.  Whether you are willing to do it
is another matter. ~ Peter F. Drucker

In my recent post, Taking the first step, I mentioned I’m writing a book.  Recently, a friend of mine turned me on to a study guide by Victoria Lynn Schmidt called, “Book in a Month.”  It includes a plan on how to — you guessed it — write a book.  In 30 days.  Schmidt includes steps for overcoming resistance, which make sense for anyone with a goal.

  • Create an outline.  From start to finish, how are you going to get where you want to go?
  • Break your goal down into small, realistic tasks.
  • Hold yourself accountable; gather support.  Join a writer’s group, fitness club, weight loss program.
  • Visualize the entire goal from start to finish.  Stay focused.
  • Create a deadline.
  • Celebrate your successes.
  • Make it a habit.

What are you willing to do to get where you want to go?

I’m working on it

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

One of my goals for this year is to improve myself by breaking a bad habit.  The good news: at any given time, I have several to choose from.  The bad news: at any given time, I have several to choose from.  With so many areas of my life I’d like to improve upon, you could say I’m in a constant state of flux.  This isn’t so bad unless I become overwhelmed with all the changes I’m attempting to enforce, like working on being more spontaneous, speaking up, making better choices (and then not complaining or regretting the ones I do make), improving my body image, being more timely — to name a few.  But I notice that when I try to work on too many modifications at once, my common MO is to shut down and withdraw.  It seems easier to just talk the talk and forget about the walking part.  Not to mention, it sometimes leads to those unpleasant funks.  To keep on track, I need to focus on one thing at a time, and then pat myself on the back when I succeed.  After all, it’s not like anyone else is keeping score.

What’s one thing you’re working on to improve yourself this year?