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5 Ways to Practice Mindfulness That Will Make Life More Enjoyable

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10 years ago, there were relatively few people in the western world that actively took part in meditation or mindfulness exercises on a regular basis. Now, mindfulness is top of mind (pun intended), and individuals and organizations are starting to see the real benefits associated with teaching and training methods used to focus one’s thoughts and momentarily reconnect with a deeper sense of self.

Studies have shown that people who practice mindful meditation on a regular basis are happier and exhibit lower levels of anxiety than others from the same group that do not practice mindfulness. Interviews with top performers and leaders around the world have also uncovered that a vast majority of them attribute their success to the benefits derived from regular mindfulness activities.

But finding the right mindfulness regimen or meditation practice isn’t as simple as picking what to watch next on Netflix. I have practiced one form or another of meditation for over 15 years, and I have yet to find one system or mindfulness regimen that suits my needs perfectly. Ultimately, meditation is a personal journey towards the better understanding of oneself and one’s purpose.

Consider these five approaches to mindful meditation below to see which appeals to you most:

1. Concentrate on one thing or on nothing in particular

The intent of this approach is for you to focus your mind on one object, sound or image through intense concentration so that all other thoughts evaporate and you are left with a clear mind. This type of practice is often partnered with some kind of mantra or chant, although it does not have to be.

Next time you are feeling anxious, angry or frustrated at work or school, take 2-3 minutes to sit somewhere quiet, close your eyes, and allow yourself to direct all of your energy and emotion towards one object, sound or image until everything else floats away.

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama

2. Pay attention to those things in your sphere of influence

This approach is what most practitioners would refer to as true “mindful meditation”, and it is widely recognized as being able to alleviate stress and even treat depression. The emphasis of mindful meditation is in cultivating highly receptive attention toward any action or objects within your sphere of influence.

Described in a different way, mindfulness is a human’s capacity to be fully present in the moment while not getting overwhelmed or overreacting to the world around them. Anyone can practice mindful meditation in any particular moment, in as little as 10 seconds. Mindful.org has a great description of what mindfulness meditation actually is, and how to integrate it into your life on a regular basis.

3. Reflect openly on one question or problem

Often described as “thinking meditation”, focused reflection requires the person to come up with a specific question, theme or topic and then conduct a thorough analysis of the question over the course of meditation.

The more you practice this type of disciplined thinking, the less frequently your mind will wander, and the more clearly you will be able to develop arguments and perspectives based on your observations. This type of meditation is particularly useful for business people or entrepreneurs looking to work through work challenges or come up with new ideas.

4. Focus on strengthening one personal quality or targeting one goal

Visualization is a powerful tool that can help to set far off goals or strengthen existing personal attributes or qualities (i.e. kindness, compassion, focus, etc.). There are many ways to practice visualization, but for me the easiest way to start is in one of two ways.

The first way is by imagining “My Perfect Day”. Take the time to imagine, in great detail, your ideal day from start to end. Where do you wake up? Who are you with? What do you do for work? How do you spend your day? Do this in your head or on paper. You’ll be surprised what you come up with.

The second way is to consider one personal trait that you feel could be improved upon. Now, visualize the pieces that make up that attribute, and imagine that you are the human embodiment of that trait. Again, think about this in your head, or write down your visualization on paper. The choice is yours. What you have to remember is that, just by visualizing yourself as having this trait or imagining yourself in this perfect day, you are subconsciously training your brain to want and seek out that end goal.

“You must see your goals clearly and specifically before you can set out for them. Hold them in your mind until they become second nature.” – Les Brown

5. Express gratitude and compassion

Perhaps the most powerful of the five, meditating on gratitude and compassion is one of the best ways to reduce stress and gain a deeper understanding of the world around you. By focusing on others and by sharing yourself with those around you, you will find that the worries and cares you once thought were important simply slip away. In the grand scheme of things, this type of realization will take you in all sorts of new directions.

I’m curious to know what you’re doing. What ways are you practicing mindfulness/meditation? Please leave your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

McVal is the founder of We Write For Growth, a platform for businesses to connect with talented writers and researchers and growth hackers. He is also the author of How to Make $2,000 a Month Online and Start Up your Life: Why we don’t know what we want, and how to set goals that really matter. McVal writes about motivation, decision making, and strategic thinking. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in Spanish, and has since worked as a market researcher and business consultant in Washington D.C., New York City and London. You can reach him on Twitter @mcval or on IG @mcvaliant. 

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How Your Psychological Blind Spots Keep You Stuck in Life

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Sometimes, life doesn’t seem to make any sense. Albert Einstein once said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Here’s the funny thing. We will say that line about someone else, have a good chuckle, and then DO THE SAME THING OURSELVES! This time, it’s not that funny, is it? I know. I’ve done it myself. (more…)

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The secret to happiness lies in the way you live your life. People think of happiness as some destination they’ll reach when they’ve accomplished the hundred things on their life to-do list. Happiness is often associated with money, material possessions, or even great relationships. (more…)

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4 Reasons Why Content Is Pivotal For Mental Health Healing

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One of the most important things for an entrepreneur’s mental health is expressing their feelings, thoughts, and emotions. This is where content creation and writing becomes pivotal. Whether you read something that resonates with you or you write a compelling blog post, the act of expressing yourself through content can help to put a smile on your face and make you feel better about things.

Most entrepreneurs don’t spend as much time taking care of their mental health as they should. Over the course of your career, you will experience a lot of ups and downs; these emotions have the potential to take a toll on your mind and body if you don’t learn to manage them properly.

Here are four reasons why expression through content is pivotal for healing, slowing yourself down, and giving yourself grace when the going gets tough.

1. Content can be a form of self-expression

When you are an entrepreneur, you frequently face feelings of insecurity, doubt, fear, apathy, and exhaustion, just to name a few. Some days it feels like no one is on your business’s side and everyone else has it all figured out. On those days some of us try to look at our website’s analytics to cheer up. 

But an even more freeing task is creating content. You create content to improve your business and reach more people’s lives. But, there is something special that happens when you write with the intention of expressing your thoughts and feelings — you open a door to yourself. 

Content is inherently personal, which means content creators open themselves up when they share their thoughts on a platform. Everything from the title of the post, the keywords they choose to include, and even the content itself helps you to understand who the author of that post truly is. And as an entrepreneur, this can be an important experience because it allows others to empathize with you.

2. Self-reflection will lift you up

As you think through what to write about and how to express yourself, the process of self reflection is a valuable step you need to go through. You’re able to reflect on the blessings you have, assess what you learned from the negative experiences, and create a plan on how to maintain the positive experiences you’ve had. 

There are a few ways that self reflection can help you with mental health healing. The act of reflecting on your experiences helps to create clarity in feelings, thoughts and emotions which will eventually lead into acceptance for what has happened or is happening currently without feeling overwhelmed by it all. This process also leads people towards finding new things they enjoy doing. Self reflection is therapeutic and can be implemented anytime you feel the need to overcome overwhelm.

“Writing in a journal each day allows you to direct your focus to what you accomplished, what you’re grateful for and what you’re committed to doing better tomorrow. Thus, you more deeply enjoy your journey each day.” – Hal Elrod

3. A sense of belonging and camaraderie

It is important to have a support network of people who will listen and understand what you are going through. When you post a blog or upload a video on YouTube, there are others who feel the same way and experience a sense of connection with you.

When you put time, attention and thoughtfulness into your writing, it is amazing when someone reads what you’ve written and comments on it thanking you or expressing how they resonate with what you’re going through. It’s hard to put into words how powerful it feels when someone who has gone through the same experience and reads your words then reaches out.  There is power in expression but miracles happen when people bond over a similar experience.

4. Library of content to share with more people

It can be very difficult to know what content to share with people as the symptoms of mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.) vary from person to person. But as you accumulate more and more content, this will increase the number of articles or videos available for readers to choose from depending on their specific purpose. It also builds your personal library of resources you’re able to share to different people you encounter or engage directly with.

As chaotic and distracting social media can be, it can also be a beacon of hope with the right content. Many people share viral posts, or content that interest them. Since your content is valuable and personal, the more you share it, the more likely it is to be shared with the right audience.

You never know who is watching (reading)

Your content is speaking to someone and even though they may not be actively engaged, their experiences with your work are impacting them. Think about the last time you watched TV: did everyone in the room have something entertaining to say? 

You never know who’s watching because there’s always somebody reading your posts or viewing your videos-even if they just skim through it briefly. This is why creating content worth consuming is critical, not only to get you out of your funk, but also to serve your audience.  Be authentic and stay true to yourself; make every post count as an opportunity for connection with your best self and for potential readers to bond with you.

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