eace and tranquillity are possible. But we’ve got to take time to train our minds.
Our thoughts – which aren’t us – pull us into thinking and worrying about the past or future. However, it’s in the present where happiness and contentment lie.
So, how do you become more ‘present’?
Practice mindfulness and teach the mind to detach from the cacophony of your thoughts. Here’s how:
Your mind spends a lot of its time thinking about the past and future. The trick is to bring it into the present
Pushing down negative feelings only makes them stronger. Acknowledge them and let them go
You are not your thoughts. The sooner you can understand this, the happier your life will be
Think of your conscious mind as a filter for your thoughts. It takes it all in but decides what to catch, what to throw away, and what to keep
Mindfulness includes attention (focusing on a specific task or object); open awareness (being receptive of your environment); and intention (cultivating a positive and compassionate attitude to life)
Mindfulness can be focused on many things including: your senses; bodily sensations (e.g. rumbling of stomach or heart beat); mental activities (e.g. feeling, thinking and remembering) and things outside of the body
Mindful focus on positivity can benefit your brain. Yes, your thoughts might be negative but you don’t have to believe them. If your mind can decide to be positive or negative, why be negative?
A life without pain isn’t possible. But a life without suffering is
Suffering comes not from the pain itself, but your reaction to the pain
Try RAIN to accept and dissipate negative emotions.
- Recognise (what you’re feeling)
- Accept (remember that it’s just an emotion and you’re in charge of it)
- Investigate (where do you feel it in the body)
- Non-identification (step away from the emotion and it will pass)
Create a cue for yourself in everyday life (e.g. looking at your watch). Whenever you look at your watch, remind yourself to be present
See if you can remain present in conversation rather than let your mind wander
Every situation has the capacity for positivity. It’s not the situation that makes us unhappy, it’s our perspective on the situation that leads to unhappiness
When you have a thought, your mind has a choice: invest in the thought or see it for what it is – a thought
You can’t control your feelings any more than you can control the weather
Everyone’s life is pretty boring. There are many more ordinary hours than extraordinary ones. Perhaps the key to ‘happiness’ is seeking contentment in the ordinary rather than a ravenous quest for the extraordinary
Focusing on future goals means you miss out on today’s joy. But there is joy in the steps that we take to achieve our goals. Don’t wish away the present
Meditation is about accepting the world just as it is
The idea that we’re in control of our thoughts is illusory
There’s no such thing as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ meditation practice. If you have to bring yourself back to the present consistently, it’s working. Don’t cling to the idea of being good all the time
Your mind needs to be trained like anything else. You wouldn’t expect an athlete to perfect his sport without putting the work in
Everything comes and goes, especially your thoughts
Try to engage in only one thing at a time. For example, looking at multiple devices when watching TV means it’s hard to live in the moment