There was an article I came across Facebook, and the title caught my eye as I’m trying to start a more healthy lifestyle for both the mind, body and spirit. This was article was written by someone who was struggling, depressed, and uncertain. Hey over came these struggles with some mindful habits that he shared:
- Positive Affirmations
- Thought tracking
- Behavioural tracking
- Highlighting wins.
These seem really obvious. But I haven’t been doing them consistently. I think # 1, and 5 will be pretty easy to do – just add them to the blog
Positive affirmations will be something I do every morning in meditation now.
# 3 and 4 will be harder as they were a more cognitive and discplined aspect, but will try to incorporate those into my life as well.
The whole article is below:
I’ve spent the last couple of years testing countless habits in a personal quest for self-improvement.
Many focused on mindfulness – being more present, more aware, and more objective.
I wanted to identify which behaviors and activities made me truly happy, productive, and motivated.
Two years ago, I was desperately struggling. I was depressed, uncertain, and on a dangerous downward trajectory.
Now, life’s completely different. I have a passion and purpose, and I’ve just accomplished my dream of launching my own business.
For the first time ever, I consider myself fulfilled. And I’d like to share the five mindful habits that helped me get here.
I’m no Tony Robbins or Tim Ferriss (yet). I’m just a regular guy. That means if these habits have worked for me, they can work for you, too.
I tried this in many forms, and settled on writing down three things I’m grateful in the morning and three in the evening.
Sometimes they’re personal, sometimes they’re serious, and sometimes they’re ridiculous. For me, it’s the first part of the sentence “I’m thankful for…” — the awareness of gratitude — that provides the benefit, not what comes next.
And it’s not just mental. Studies suggest that those who practice gratitude will have 10% fewer stress related illnesses, 12% lower blood pressure, and can add up to seven years on their life.
Part of my preparation in launching a business was reading innumerable books on entrepreneurship. What was a common theme in all of them? That the most critical attribute for success is self-belief.
The average ratio of compliments to criticism to enable high performance in the workplace is 5.6 to 1. How we speak to ourselves is no different. Without reminders, it’s easy for this belief to get lost and self-criticism to reign.
I incorporate positive affirmations into my morning and evening routines, and have quotes up all over my apartment. Affirmations don’t have to be corny and sentimental, stick to whatever makes you comfortable.
This is the process of recording your negative thought patterns, recognizing the feelings you attach to them, identifying their source, and retroactively modifying your mood.
A popular method in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, with practice this process can become automatic, countering negative thoughts before they even begin.
I think this should be compulsory learning in all schools. It’s incredible. You take control of your mind, and for those who have struggled with this (myself included), the results are remarkable.
I highly recommend you try it out yourself.
As with thoughts, identifying the physiological consequences of certain behaviors can be incredibly beneficial. One example might be how a lack of sleep can be detrimental to your mood and abilities.
For almost a year, I spent time tracking and ranking how behaviors affected my overall well-being, both immediately after the behavior and also at the end of the day. This gave me real data with which to say “I always have good days when I do ‘x’ and ‘y’, while every time I do ‘z’ I succumb to a more negative mindset”. Critically, this has also taught me to say “no” – something I’d always struggled with.
There are various apps that can help you get started with this, such as FitBit, MoodPanda, and Stop, Breathe & Think. Or go old-school like me and use a pen and paper.
This was a habit introduced by my business mentor. I’m my own worst critic, and identified just how detrimental this was to my work and wellbeing. By not recognizing my wins, I was inflicting unnecessary stress on myself. In turn, this stress reduced my effectiveness.
I integrated “daily wins” into my evening routine, and set out clearer weekly and monthly goals. Now, I can look back at hundreds, perhaps thousands, of successes I’ve achieved over the last year, from small things like reaching out to a prospect to big things like launching a new marketing training product.
Studies by Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer identified small wins as a critical component in what they call the “progress loop”. By focusing on successes, you improve your mindset (emotions, motivations, and perceptions), which increases productivity and leads to more success.
Will Russell is digital marketer living in San Francisco helping nonprofits and social enterprises use marketing to increase their impact. For more information on his consulting and training services, go to http://www.willrussellmarketing.com. Follow him on Twitter here.